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Indigenous Knowledge

South Africa – Art for Social Transformation

Johannesburg South Africa is the location of the 5th ARTIZEN Conference presented by the Teaching Artist Institute.

Incase you weren’t aware, I am Raining in the Dawn Woman of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa people. I am a spiritual leader and learner, intuitive, mother, artist, and art educator. I have been honored to share my journey and passion with the people of South Africa, and I could use your support.

This sacred journey of life has led me to learn many things and meet many people. The importance of our sacred journey is shown in the story of Anishinaabe, the original man, and his first responsibility. Great Mystery said to Anishinaabe “go and name all the things on the earth.” To name something is to form relationship with that thing. To acknowledge, observe, and share your journey with them as they have shared theirs with you.  This teaching helps us to recognize the importance of following our own paths and sharing our experiences with each other. When are aligned with our paths, our light shines bright and shines on others paths so that they might see themselves clearly.

Turtle Island to South Africa

I grew up in American, one generation out from being raised in a boarding school. My mother and her brothers and sisters attended boarding school, having their spiritual way of living taken from them. My parents raised three amazing daughters, while dealing with their own trauma, because they always instilled in us the importance of compassion. Love is what moves us, but we first must know and love ourselves.

I believe in the importance of sharing our journeys with one another, as this is how we remember that we are all connected. Now I can see how all that I have experienced and all the experiences of those who have come before me, has led me to connecting with the Great Mystery through art to help heal the trauma that we hold.

The arts enable us to express ourselves authentically with one another, in ways that surpass any language barrier. Art is a powerful tool, not just for gratification of self-expression, but as a vehicle of personal and collective transformation. Art is Prayer, a sacred and vital discovery of one’s own special presence in the world.  Through creation, a person illuminates and illustrates their inner being, while creating something which also stands separate. Through exploration and experimentation each of us can shine light on our inner world, allowing us to utilize expression as a means of awakening our Divine I Am.

Turtle Island to South Africa

I feel blessed to take knowledge from my journey on Turtle Island, to the Mother Land – Africa. To share the teachings of the Anishinaabe people, and shine light for others to know themselves more completely. Turtle Island is the North American continent. The turtle has deep meaning to the indigenous people, as is told in their creation stories.

Sharing the Indigenous teachings of the Anishinaabe with people of South Africa will form connections that remind us in a powerful way how we are all connected. I am certain that the teachings I learn in South Africa will be powerful for the people of Turtle Island to learn and grow on their paths in life.

Join me in supporting real change. Let’s support good in the world and make a difference. Help us create connections and pathways for healing and transformation through Indigenous arts around the world.

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Deep Beyond Buckskin

While I was in North Dakota visiting my reservation, we stopped at the Turtle Mountain shopping center in town. The aesthetics were fairly plain, and looked as if we were on the set of an old movie. When we walked into the shopping center there were HUGE prints of Chippewa natives, and a few stores that were open. Our lunch at the little diner inside, which was delicious!

As we go to leave the shopping center we notice an interesting sign on one of the doors…so we decide to look inside to see whats going on.

After walking in, it was like we were taking to another place. All of the aesthetics in this little hidden shop were fantastic! The energy I felt when walking in reminded me of a shop I would’ve went to back on the east coast. This was a huge shock to see, after being on the reservation for a few days, seeing nothing but dirt and old broken down buildings. I would say this shop was up to par with the quality of our brand new casino, Skydancer.

This amazing boutique is Native owned and operated, and is an international online shop.

Beyond Buckskin launched in 2009 by Jessica R. Metcalfe (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) as a website dedicated to showcasing and promoting our continent’s first artists and original designers. In 2012, the original blog website expanded to include an online boutique as well. The origin story of this boutique is rooted in positive activism and a desire to share our cultures with the world through fashion design.

Based out of North Dakota, Beyond Buckskin is dedicated to advancing creative small businesses located throughout rural and urban communities by providing an online store where customers can connect with Native American fashion designers and jewelry artists.

They currently work with over 40 individual artists and small businesses to get their unique work out to a broader audience. All of their designers advance traditional Indigenous artistic practices by bringing ancient designs, natural materials, and cultural stories to modern fashion.

Diversity, beauty, utility and tradition come together in the garments and accessories we share with the world – from our hands to yours.

While I was there I purchased a lovely Native sweatshirt, and a beautiful prayer doll. The quality of the merchandise is superb. I even got to meet the artist of the prayer doll. She told me all about her story and how these beautiful healing dolls came to life.

The dolls are handmade by Margaret Judy Kakenowash Azure (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) and features pink regalia to bring awareness and strength to those battling breast cancer. I purchased this doll for my mother, and she loves it! I almost didn’t give it up because of how healing it was to hold the doll.

Each doll is made with hide, wool, ribbon, seed beads, and feathers, with pink horsehair and cowry shell detailing. A sacred medicine bundle of tobacco, sage, cedar, and sweet grass fill the body of the doll. Her gift is to provide protection and strength for whenever needed. She wears a protection shell that is sacred to the Anishinaabe people and represents our journey in life. Each is one-of-a-kind with a unique personality. Mashkawizii means ‘s/he has inner strength’ in Anishinaabemowin. This sister doll makes a wonderful gift to celebrate someone, remember someone, or to give someone strength, courage and balance

Check out their Facebook page for news, events, and merchandise updates!

Thank you Jessica… for sharing your talents with the community and helping to restore reverence to our native traditions!

<3

Migwetch and Gizaagiin

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.

turtle-mountain-reservation

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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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

 

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Taking a Journey…

In November I will be taking a trip to North Dakota to visit Turtle Mountain and the Sacred Stone Camp, Please follow my journey 

turtle-mountain-flag