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Road Trip Recap… Part deuce

It still feels like yesterday… driving to North Dakota with my co-pilot Holly. If you missed my first post about our trip you can check it out here … Road Trip Recap Part 1

So I wrote a little about what it was like being there but not in depth.

On Thursday, November 23th, 2017 … Holly and I woke up early after an energetic evening of communing with our elder about the lineage of the Ojibwe people, my people. We woke up, made our coffee and headed down rte 3 towards Cannon Ball North Dakota.

Energies were all over that day, we felt excited, nervous, hopeful… on a mission.

Energies were showing themselves through syncs this entire trip, however day felt different. We were heading to the energy center of a ripple that will affect what is drawn to us next. Like a drop of water into an empty basin…each person there, each person aware is another drop in the same spot… filling up the basin and creating momentum through a powerful ripple.

We stopped at the geographical center point of North America, in Rugby North Dakota. Some people say  its not exact, to me that’s not the point… because points are all subjective anyway. The obelisk and flags are interesting, as is the bell tower sculpture the next building over. I’m always curious of the details of monuments.

Continuing our travels south, we learn more about each of our history…Holly’s Quaker lineage and my Ojibwe linage… we learn about the doctrine of discovery. This was one of the most eye opening things to learn that I was never taught growing up. The fact that this is not taught as apart of our history to know, is very telling.

Driving while listening to this was life changing. Nature talking to us…showing us ourselves. Connecting to the harmony of the earth while being uprooted from our previous perceptions of our reality. We slow drove down this road and saw an abandoned house surrounded by these energetic trees. So we stopped, and got out to explore. The geese circled above our heads as we walked around. The house was a beautiful reminder of how time passes and material things fade, but mother earth… she remains through it all.

After our magickal stop, we pushed on 2 more hours to Sacred Stone Camp which is the first encampment created by the Standing Rock Sioux in protection of the water and mother earth.

When we finally arrived at Sacred Stone camp it was as if I had been here before. I felt at home, peaceful and in loving arms. I experienced the magnitude that gratitude has on the human spirit. Everyone working together for one cause, our mother Earth… love… brotherhood. We dropped off our donations to the medic clinic, and they were received in pure love and gratitude.

I stopped into the new school tent, and met a beautiful woman who told me all about how they just moved the school into these car ports and were reinforcing them and insulating them with hay and blankets so that the students could learn in a space that was warm and comfortable for them.

I noticed the students had a lot of books, and there were many visuals on the walls. The students create a mural on canvas, posters to share new knowledge and artwork to express themselves. Seeing what I do everyday, being done in a place with less resources and support, really experiencing it first hand was powerful.

Thanksgiving is a day known in our history for the relationship between the light skinned settlers and the native people of the Americas. Historically, the story goes there was peace with all who sat and ate together. People all over celebrate this day of thanks… this day of giving. Instead of focusing on the irony that the police ate their thanksgiving dinner on top of the Standing Rock Sioux tribes ancestors burial ground and ignored the peaceful pleas to respect their ancestors and move off the hill, I  remained in gratitude for all I have, knowing that even the toughest and smallest things deserve my love and appreciation.

Grateful to experience the love and brotherhood of thousands of people. Grateful for my friend Holly, for my auntie and giwaa, for my partner and kids, for my mother and father… for my coworkers, my friends and acquaintances, for my job, for the system that my job is apart of, for the world I live in … for better or worse… because there is no such thing as worse… there is only experiences and my perception of those experiences.

Gratitude is the key to realizing who we are… gratitude opens your mind… to be grateful for something starts a chain reaction of appreciation for life its self, ups and downs, for without one there would not be the other.

So after visiting Sacred Stone camp we decided to travel to the large front lines camp, Oceti Sakowin. Driving up to the camp was surreal… seeing all of the people setting up camp, to stand in solidarity for our earth, our water.

It was fantastic seeing how we come together and express ourselves through art… there were so many beautiful banners, and amazing installations showing unity through art!

After exploring the grounds, we found out there was a water action happening at Turtle Island, the burial grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux’s ancestors. This was the hill that the police set up their post to watch over the water protectors. So Holly and I walked to the front line with hundreds of other people of all different nations, to stand for peace, love and respect.

When we arrived it was ominous to see the police standing on top of the hill looking down on us. It was like right out of a George Orwell story to see drones flying over and around us. It was beautiful to hear hundreds of people chanting words of intention for peace and love… for the protection of our water, and our mother earth.

We participated in a Lakota water ceremony with hundreds of people from all over… praying to our grandmothers and blessing the water with cedar. Infusing love and blessings into the water and land, and each others hearts.

Talk about a fantastic day of thanks… experiencing the true meaning of thanksgiving… gratitude… appreciation on every level. Our drive back was reflective, and our experience brought out new insight on our perspectives and how we can be more grateful for all things and in all things we experience, and how we can show unconditional love.

Everyday we should reflect on what can we do to be more appreciative and compassionate in our lives …

Migwetch & Giizaagin

Raining in the dawn woman.

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Road Trip Recap… Part 1

Ok, I am ready to share our road trip adventure with commentary! I posted pictures on Facebook as we traveled, but I have yet to sit down and elaborated on the journey.

Sunday November 20th I met Holly and Nikki at this awesome restaurant called Grain + Verse Bottlehouse! It was such a cool place… lots of different beers, and good food! Holly and I left around 2:30 to begin our 1,500 mile journey to Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota.

This drive was beautiful, as we went through amazing tunnels and into some snowy weather near Pittsburgh. Holly and I chatted a lot about the our perceptions of the universe and experiences in it, as we always do. I really enjoy taking road trips because of this very thing… communing with another being.  Getting to spend time talking about our different experiences really shows me new perspectives and helps me to grow! If I could just find people all over the world to take hour long trips with… I’d see the world in a whole new way.

One of our very first stops was at the Blue Heron Service Center! Holly saw a sign for the rest area and we knew we had to stop! If you’ve been following this journey you’ll know the significance the blue heron has played… if not, read my blog post about the lovely messages I’ve received from this sacred water bird.

After driving for a few more hours, we got to Elkhart where we stayed our first night on the road. This too was a big universal sync that we were on the right path! We made our drums out of Elk, and the drum represents the heartbeat.

Monday was a long day for us, We had plans to visit the historic dunes, however we decided we didn’t want to detour…we just wanted to get there! Though the universe put a detour in a our way anyway…we drove way around Chicago! We were rerouted by a GPS that has a mind of its own, and added about 3 hours to our trip that day.

Even though we drove for about 14 hours that day, it wasn’t a horrible because the universe was speaking to us the whole time. We saw 17 hawks and a bald eagle before the day ended! We went through a vortex of wind turbines, and saw a sundog in all its glory! The long journey was a well deserved time out now that I look back on it; in the moment though I had thoughts that changed my perspective. For instance, it took me some time to be able to let go completely to any expectations I had, allowing the trip to just flow. But when I did, beautiful things happened and presented themselves.

Like we stopped at Hamburger University and the Hyatt Lodge to use the bathroom and saw one of the largest Buckeye Trees in the nation!

After driving for hours we finally stopped in Avon Minnesota where we had dinner at El Tequila Mexican restaurant. It was the cutest and most hopping place in the town! We shared a large burrito and hot wings. Ha ha, it was a much needed break to balance out all of our intellectual conversations and universal syncs.

Not much longer after we finished dinner, we decided to stop for the night to sleep… we were completely out of steam. There was snow in Fargo that day, and when we pulled off the exit towards the hotel we saw on the sign… we started to wonder if we should drive a few more hours. Pulling into the Comfort Zone Inn was a bit like the twilight zone… a very unusual exterior for motel, compared to what we are used to back in PA. The parking lot of covered in a layer of ice, and as we parked we decided we were way too tired to keep driving. So we sucked up our fears and reservations and headed in the door.

Upon entering, there was a weird room that looked like a bicycle shop, however it was closed off with bars like a holding cell in a jail. The man who checked us in was very polite and the more we talked to him the more comfortable we got. Before we headed to our room, we saw a lovely box of stones!! That was a good confirmation that we were ok, and in a good place.

Even more confirmation was when we walked into our room… oh my, it was perfect! Decorated like a little cabin, with a wooden ceiling and cute country decor…and the best part was the vibrating bed. Wow, this bed was so soft like one huge pillow… and it vibrated! We were so giddy… coming in feeling scared and unsure and realizing whoa we totally manifested an awesome place to stay!! Why did we even question ourselves!? So we made a video to share with everyone our crazy adventure.

The next morning, we woke up around 8 and had breakfast at the little diner right next to the motel. We were again pleasantly surprised by the experience. Our breakfast was off the hook, and so was the diner coffee and rice crispy treat!  Upon leaving that little highway exit… we decide to park and run towards this giant prairie chicken sculpture before we headed off. We didn’t know there were such animals as prairie chickens! They are a pretty unique looking bird.

That afternoon we stopped in Grand Forks and had a little taste of holiday cheer from the women at the visitor center. They were busily decorating beautiful Christmas trees with themes and the whole place felt of the holiday season. Both Holly and I noticed it and even commented to each other that was the first time we felt like it was a holiday season.

Finally, we were only hours from Turtle Mountain! We jammed out to some KT Tunstall and Stevie Nicks while driving through the plains of Wisconsin and North Dakota. Stopping to enjoy the view of Devils Lake while we read about why it is called that.  Come to find out this lake has been growing every year, swallowing up parts of the town since the people of the area prayed that the lake would not dry up! It’s a beautiful sight to see this lake on the same exact plain as the road…very surreal.

Then we entered Turtle Mountain, and I felt home. I remembered where things were from my last visit as a young teen, having flashbacks of taking trips to the laundromat with my cousins. Feeling the atmosphere and realizing how different it is from where I live.. I didn’t feel that feeling as a teenager.  This is different, like having a sense of self built into my environment and being able to really see myself through a new perspective in a different environment.

When we got to my auntie’s house, she was not home so we unpacked and rested for a minute before we headed to my giwaa Debbie’s house. Giwaa is the Ojibwe word for “one who names.” She is the medicine woman who did the naming ceremony for me and my younger sister. It had been 23 years since I saw her last, but as soon as I stepped into her house I felt at home.

We sat with her for hours and hours every day, learning about traditional ceremony, listening to the legends of the Ojibwe people, and hearing about life as an traditional Ojibwe living on the reservation.  So many stories, so many emotions…so much learning about my people and myself. On top of all of that, I am learning more about my best friend Holly, and we are formed such a deep bond through this experience.

I think I am going to stop here for now… because this is only half of the trip. I still have a little more about our experience with Standing Rock on Thanksgiving to share, along with our journey home… but I will write about those another day

Migwetch and Gizaagii’n
Raining in the Dawn Woman
Turtle Mountain Chippewa

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Turtle Mountain Chippewa

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.

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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.

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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.

Turtle Mountain

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.

Boozhoo!
Raining in the Dawn Woman
Turtle Mountain Chippewa

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The Middle Way

With all that’s happening in this world, I know many may feel as though they are suffering, and yet others feel a sense of centeredness that they may have never felt before.

You might ask how that can be? If we are all living in the same world… how can some of us feel as though we might not be able to make it, while others seem so bright and cheery.

I feel like the answer is within, as with all things.  Personally, I am not sad, nor suffering… I have no fear of what the future brings because I know that no matter what, I am that I am… and all is as it shall be.

I am that I am…

I am what I think… I am what I focus on… I am what I put my energy into. Life IS what I make of it. MY perception shapes my experiences.

So how does this relate to the middle way… well if you think about all the options of ways to respond or even sometimes react to situations… we always have choices. This or that, left or right, up or down… most times we even have more than just two options to choose from.

Imagine a ball in your hand, with rays shooting out from the center in 360 degrees. Each ray is a different perspective to the experience. Now imagine you area of and know each perspective… you can then grasp how each perspective is just as valid as the others because each ray is necessary in making up the whole of the ball.

energy_ball

Seeing it this way helps in realizing that… every ray is interconnected, no matter how different they might be, they are all apart of the ball.

Now what!?

Well…once I realized this, I was able to see myself clearer… I was able to get that the middle way is in this realization. The way of self awareness, self knowledge. Standing in my center, because that’s the only perspective that I will ever know with 100% of my being.

This ties directly into the Ojibwe teachings that all roads shine light and lead to better awareness of each person’s own journey.

This moment in history aligns with many native prophecies, where The New People, and the young generations will start asking questions, start seeing, and start listening to all of their relations and realizing we are all connected.

That’s what I feel is vital about going back to our elders and learning the traditional ways… those roads are roads that will lift us up and out of this suffering, and back to our center… our inter-connectedness with all of existence.

Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ (All Are Related)

We are one part of the whole, but our part is most vital…. Being who we are to the best of our ability. Knowing thyself allows others to know themselves more clearly…its a ripple effect.

But it all begins with the middle way, the drop into the unknown… letting go of fear and knowing I am that I am….and that is exactly what I should be. I couldn’t be anything other than myself.

I am reminded of a quote from one of my favorite movies, I Heart Huckabees…. “how am I not myself?

Migwetch & Gizaagin <3
Raine dawn

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The Ojibwe Creation Story

My giwaa directed me to read the Mishomis Book written about the history and teachings of our people, the Ojibwe.
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This book is fantastic! Edward Benton-Banai wrote this book so that in sharing these teachings, together we can begin our journey to rediscover a way of life that is centered on the respect for all living things.
I love how he puts this journey as one to find the center of ourselves, so that we can know the peace that comes from living in harmony with the energy of the Universe.
“…with the teachings of yesterday we can better prepare ourselves for the uncertainties of tomorrow.”
The first chapter is about the Ojibwe Creation Story, how man was created on this earth. Ojibwe stories were usually handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation, and sometimes recorded on scrolls made from wee’gwas (birchbark).
“When Ah-ki’ (the earth) was young, it was said that the Earth had a family.  Nee-ba-gee’-sis (the Moon) is called Grandmother, and Gee’-sis (the Sun) is called Grandfather.  The Creator of this family is called Gi’-tchie Man-i-to’ (Great Mystery or Creator).”
As in many cultures, the Earth is said to be a woman because from her come all living things.
Water is her life blood, flowing through her, nourishing and purifying her, and with her all living things.
The Creator gave the Four Sacred Directions to the Earth, North, South, East and West, each with physical and spiritual powers. He then sent the birds to carry the seeds of life to all of the Four Directions to spread life across the Earth. On earth he placed the swimming creatures of the water, gave life to the plant and insect world, placed the crawling things and four-leggeds on the land. All of these parts of life lived in harmony with each other.
Gitchie Manito then took the four parts of Mother Earth and blew into them using a Sacred Shell…the Megis Shell. From the union of the Four Sacred Elements and his breath, man was created, and lowered to the Earth as the last form of life to be placed on Earth.  From this Original Man came the A-nish-i-na’-be people.
In the Ojibwe language if you break down the work Anishinabe it translates to “people from whence lowered.” Another definition refers to “the good humans,” meaning those who are on the right road or path given to them by the Creator. The Ojibwe historian, linguist, and author Basil Johnston wrote that its literal translation is “Beings Made Out of Nothing” or “Spontaneous Beings,” since the Anishinabe were created by divine breath.
The Original man was created in the image of Gitchi Manito. He was a natural man, apart of Mother Earth, living in brotherhood with all that was around him.
All tribes came from this Original Man.  The Ojibwe are a tribe because of the way we speak,  believing that we are nee-kon’-nis-ug’ (brothers) with all tribes, separated only by our tongue or language. No one way is better than another.
There are many roads to the High Place. The teachings of one tribe will shed light on those of another.
This knowledge runs through my veins, and is one of the reasons why I am going to North Dakota. To know my native language, teachings and ceremonies so that I will be able to pass this sacred way of living on to my children and all that I encounter along my path.
<3 Migwetch
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My Journey to Sacred Stone

Boozhoo! (hello)

friends, family and colleagues,

Some of you may know me from painting parties, workshops and craft shows. Others know me as a friend and an educator. What you may not know is that I am a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa from Belcourt, North Dakota.

Born into a family mixed with American and native culture, much of my native history was not known, and could not be passed down. My mother was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain reservation, and grew up at St. Joseph’s, a Native American boarding school.

When I was age 11, my Ojibwa name was given to me by a medicine woman elder of our tribe, I am raining in the dawn woman. In my tribe, I am a water blesser, and speaker to the four corners. Throughout my life, I have developed a deep reverence for the sacredness of Native American culture and for our earth. As a teacher, Native American and as an American, every day I learn more about my place in life. This reflects in both my personal and spiritual life.

Spiritually, in the past 2 years I have realized how deep the ways of my people flow through my veins.  My mother was the first person to tell me of my Native American heritage, but she wasn’t able to share much. Every day I uncover a deeper connection to this land, deeper than just being an American. Learning that the Ojibwe are Anishinabe, which means original people, initiated my thoughts about what other history there is to learn about my Ojibwe culture, as well as all of the stories and history passed down to me from American culture. The difference between the two was eye-opening.

One story that was passed down was the story of creation. It’s fitting that both cultures have passed down the story of creation by word of mouth.  The Anishinabe’s ancestors shared the story of the original man with Edward Benton-Banai of the Lac Court Orielles Band of Ojibwe. He shared this history in the Mishomis book, which my giwaa (the one who names) suggested I read so that we can discuss our history more in depth.

In Ojibwe culture, as well as with most creation stories, the Original Man was the last life form created, and was lowered to earth. All tribes came from this Original Man. The Ojibwe believe no one way is better than another, and that we need to support each other by respecting and honoring the “many roads” of all tribes.

For the past two years I have felt as though I have been called to go and revisit y native heritage. Last year a trip back to Turtle Mountain reservation, and to visit the historical site, International Peace Gardens, was tentatively planned but the timing was off.

With everything happening around us, now is the time to respect and honor the many ways of all tribes, which we can see through example of what’s happening in Cannon Ball North Dakota. The Standing Rock Sioux have created Sacred Stone Camp, which is about 2 hours south of my reservation, where people from all over the world have gathered in protest and protection of sacred native lands and our water. As fellow Americans, native or otherwise, we have a powerful thing in common…we all live, drink and eat from the earth, and the earths life blood is water.

I am called take a trip to Sacred Stone Camp and I would like to ask for your support. During this trip I will be visiting Turtle Mountain reservation to speak with my giwaa to learn the traditions and ways of the Ojibwe people, as well as take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity to be a firsthand account to such a historical moment.

Just like our ancestors passed down stories by word of mouth, I would like to be one who assists you in passing on this historical moment to your loved ones. My blog is up and running, and I will continue to share so that you can take this journey with me. In addition, all sales from my first solo art showing at Mending Roots Wellness center in Camp Hill, Pa, will go towards this journey.

The winter is coming, and the cold air is already upon the people in North Dakota. The water protectors at Sacred Stone Camp are in need of supplies to keep safe and warm.

Things I will be taking with me are their top needs: gift cards for lowes or menards (there is no home depot nearby), tents, sleeping bags for subzero temperatures (inc. Military style), and lighters. They have an Amazon wish list if you wish to purchase other supplies.

The trip will begin the evening of November 20th, 2016 and I will return on November 27th, 2016.The drive is about 3,300 miles total and will take 24 hours, Pennsylvania to North Dakota.

Please consider contributing.

Your monetary support is welcome and needed to make this trip possible.

To contribute, as well as follow the journey go to:                    http://rainedawn.wixsite.com/journeytosacred

Please Share this with your friends.

 

Miigwetch (thank you)

Gizaagin (with love)

Raine Dawn Valentine
Raining in the Dawn woman
Turtle Mountain Chippewa

Please email me if you have questions

raine.dawn@gmail.com