Its been a week since I got home from Turtle Mountain Reservation, North Dakota. It feels like I was there yesterday. My heart misses the learning, the deep immersion in the knowledge of my people, the love of my new teachers and friends, the land full of space.
This past week has been a rollercoaster emotionally.
I am happy to be home with my family. Happy to have time to rest and process all that I’ve learned and the things I’ve been through. Excited to have time to clean out things that no longer serve me in my emotional and physical space.
But all of this comes with a longing to be back in the immersion of the knowledge, surrounded by the land that my ancestors and family call home.
Realizing who I am and where I come from is huge. I mean, I thought I knew myself…but I was only skimming the surface. I am realizing that you do not know yourself until you dive deep into where you’ve come from and the lineage that your connected to.
The events and situations my mother has gone through…
The events and situations my grandmother and grandfather went through…
The events and situations my great mothers and great grandfathers went through…
all of these things have built the foundation for me to be who I am.
And again thats only skimming the surface, I still have my fathers side to learn.
Its interesting the difference I feel when I think of learning about my mothers side versus my fathers side.
My father is German…we have a family tree and written history…the Germans have integrated into American culture almost so completely. When I ask people their ethnicity, a lot of people say German. When I want to look into the history, I find a lot of it in textbooks, many written accounts, as well as stories from my fathers relatives.
Though as I sit here and write this I think there must surely be something I do not know about my German heritage as well. I feel in my heart it is just as important and valuable to learn about my fathers side, however there is something about being Turtle Mountain Chippewa that is calling me and drawing me to know more. Something about my Ojibwe lineage that feels close to my being.
I learned so much about the ancient traditions, ceremonies, legends, and stories of my people. I learned so much about life on the reservation, yet I still only know very little.
The Turtle Mountain Chippewa Reservation is only 6 miles by 12 miles wide. Only a small percentage of people practice our traditional Ojibwe ways. Only a small percentage of people know the traditions of their people.
The most eye opening thing to me is how little people know about themselves even though we might think we know who we are because we know where are parents are from, and we know our favorite people, places and things…we know how we feel about certain issues, and what we think about certain topics… but it wasn’t until my trip that I realized most of us know nothing of our true selves.
We are all connected to a lineage of people who have gained and sacrificed things which have allowed us to become who we are and to have what we have today. Our lineage is an important aspect of ourselves that we don’t always think about, nor have an opportunity to know. There are many cultures that have lost the knowledge of their ancestors, due to natural disasters, diseases, as well as colonization. Its sad that colonization plays a major role in the lost of knowledge, when we are taught that colonization is about gaining knowledge.
Imagine if people would have celebrated each others differences and learned from one another in brotherhood… how much more prosperous and thriving the human race would be. If we could see each other through eyes of love and curiosity instead of fear, we would know all the mysteries of the universe.
I am home from being fully immersed in the tradition and culture of my Ojibwe lineage, to reintegrate into the culture which comes more from my German lineage. I will to walk the middle way, realizing that both are important to making me who I am and receive all the universe has in store for me.
As I learn more about myself… I realize the magnitude of what I have to share. I realize what I am called to do. I see now the importance of deeply knowing ourselves.
Raining in the Dawn Woman
Turtle Mountain Chippewa