Calling Upon our Mother – A letter from Terrance Nelson to Chief Wallace Fox of the Onion Lake Cree Nation
Many people have no understanding of how strong a spiritual person you are. When the UN Special Rapporteur came to your community, he had tears rolling down his cheeks as he listened to the children of Onion Lake singing in Cree. At another time, I also witnessed the Onion Lake students singing and for me even though I have Sundanced and am Midewiwin it was still one of the most powerful spiritual ceremonies I have ever witnessed. I was told that the Special Rapporteur explained his tears. He said, that at the United Nations many indigenous people come there and cry about the problems they face. He felt overwhelmed by the pain of indigenous people. Hearing the children of Onion Lake singing as loud as their little voices could in their own language lifted his spirit so much, that here finally was a powerful sign that our people will not only survive but they will excel beyond expectations. It made him cry with joy.
For over a year now, Dakota Elder Albert Taylor has been asking me to use our power. He has been telling me that we need to lift the pipe. He kept saying, we need to ask for help. He says, “we still have power”. On Saturday January 19th 2013 at the RCMP Station on Portage Ave in Winnipeg, at noon Winnipeg time, the Elders will ask for spiritual help. Albert Taylor asked that my older brother Charles lift the pipe while Elder Taylor will sing.
Albert Taylor is 85 years old. He will sing the death song used by the 38 Dakotas who were hung in Mankato Minnesota in 1862.
In 1998, when others backed out of the trip to Iraq, my brother Charles accompanied me to Iraq. He did ceremony in the places where thousands of Iraqi children died. Taylor wants us to pray for the future generations, that they may have life from our Mother Earth. The elders want us to pray for forgiveness. We are destroying our planet. They are asking others to pray at the same time they lift the pipe in Winnipeg. They will do this ceremony at noon Saturday January 19th and Clyde Belcourt our AIM leader in Minneapolis will do the same thing at the very same time with people in Minneapolis. The Elders are asking all our people all over North America to join in and to pray at the exact same time. If other people around the world want to pray at that same time, it will be welcome.
I am not as spiritually strong as you or my brother or Elder Taylor but I know that we must ask for help. Some of our people are not happy with just protests and not doing enough about the environmental concerns. Our mother does not need us. Some of the white people do not understand. The Earth is not only alive, the earth is conscious, the Earth has been alive for millions of years and it has an intelligence far beyond our ability to comprehend.
Some of the whites in the media will make fun of us for the way we think but they cannot laugh at the environmental disasters to come. Global warming isn’t the most danger we face. If we do not listen to our elders, we too will be destroyed.
At the Treaty 1-11 Gathering in Brandon this summer, the spiritual fire got away and the wind picked it up almost burning down the gathering. People were running to their cars. In Winnipeg at the protest, a bald eagle flew over the legislature and the people who gathered at the Forks. Something is happening. Most eagles do not normally winter here.
When we were in Iraq video taping children dying in the hospital, children dying without medicines in severe pain, I was tearing up. It was too much. Looking into the eyes of children dying, stuck inside a body racked with pain and we could not help them. The feeling is something that I never want to feel again. I told my brother, God will punish us for this. By us, I meant the western nations. The United Nations released a study in December 1995 with the conclusion that 567,000 Iraqi children had died in the first five years of the economic sanctions. When Charlie lifts that pipe, he carries with him a lot of spiritual power if those children we saw dying in Iraq hear his prayer. I will burn my tobacco asking those children to carry our prayers to the Creator.
As Elder Taylor says, we still have power. Most people who have no understanding will dismiss this as something akin to the Ghost Dance. We know that we are still alive today because the Dakota Ghost Dancers prayed for us, now we must pray for the future generations. We must ask for forgiveness. Bishop Diego De Landa burned the entire libraries of the Mayans in 1562 saying:
We found a large number of books in these characters and, as they contained nothing in which were not to be seen as superstition and lies of the devil, we burned them all, which they (the Maya) regretted to an amazing degree, and which caused them much affliction.
We will blockade in Manitoba on Wednesday January 16th, three days from now. This will be the physical part of our overall protests. The Elders are asking for time to consider the spiritual side of our understanding. On Saturday January 19th, we gather to protest at the RCMP station in Winnipeg but for one hour from noon to one, our Elders will take over and remind us of the spiritual part of our people. Midewiwin women have been walking for years praying for the water, they walked across North America and around the Great Lakes but few know of their strength. The Midewiwin women will join the ceremony at noon, bringing their power to help and they will pray for the water. Many whites and some of our own people do not understand this and will be like Diego De Landa thinking that this is only superstition. As more people become victims of hurricanes and weather disasters, they may yet come to understand that our Mother is conscious and aware of us, even if some are not aware of her.
Please share, post and tweet to all your email lists and your contacts. The more that help in the prayers, the better. Normally, I stay on the physical part of the movement, doing what I know best but once in a while I too have to be reminded that Elders like Taylor need to take over and remind all of us of our spiritual responsibilities to the future generations.