Recently, I attended a Gathering of Nations in Canada to gain a greater understanding of my Native American Heritage. In preparation, I searched for written documentation and historic records kept by my family to back up my claim of being a direct descendant of two “princesses” from two Canadian tribes. I had their first names, the names of the tribes, and the areas of Canada they came from. My grandmother told me before she passed that the gift of healing was passed to me by one of these ancestors.
Following an exhaustive search, I realized the scant information I did have was all I was going to get. I had to let go of the definition of who I was and where I came from and be present for whatever experiences came my way.
After landing in Detroit, I rented a car and drove to the Canadian border. I was stopped at the border, questioned extensively, and underwent a search of the car I was driving. The same thing happened when I crossed the border again from Canada to Detroit upon leaving. It seems to me the border patrol doesn’t appreciate anyone visiting an Indian Nation that has never been occupied by anyone other than Native Americans. And while I cannot say I was embraced by everyone on the island – I am a “white” person with no tribal affiliation card after all – that did not stop me from having an incredible learning experience, which included the following:
- The wild animals were unafraid and came to me unbidden – even offering a gift (a freshly killed salamander called a Mud Puppy).
- Paddling a freshly handmade birchbark canoe can be a spiritual experience.
- Healing the Native American way involves prayer, healing herbs and singing.
- Sharing a peace pipe as an offering of gratitude around a Sacred Fire during the daily sunrise ceremony grounds you and brings you closer to God.
- Native drumming ceremonies and Pow Wow dances can make the bones vibrate while connecting everyone as a group.
- The Potawatomi were known as seers and shapeshifters but many had lost the knowledge (My Ah Ha! Moment).
- Not all Native Americans embrace the idea of WiFi, casinos and hotels as a means of supporting their way of life.
- Organic gardening is more than steering clear of pesticide use. Organic gardening means re-purposing things including seeds, soil, and old odds and ends, while using plants as herbs for cooking as well as medicine.
My most important experience by far was an opportunity to gain insights from a Medicine Man who allowed me to hold the carved amulet he uses for protection. Holding the amulet was both frightening and intriguing at the same time. The Medicine Man was more forthcoming than others I had talked to and provided the insight I needed. He told me I needed to find a teacher as he did (still searching) and learn to speak the language. He provided information about my guides – both Spirit and Animal – and said I was selected by the ancestors to serve as a healer and seer (psychic) because of the “the way I am with people.”
The experience was so much more than anything I could conceive in my mind, simply because I let go of my presumptions and experienced the moments as they unfolded.
Another Life-Changing Experience
Another life-changing moment came recently during the Total Solar Eclipse.
Having never seen a Total Solar Eclipse before, I headed with my partner to the North Georgia Mountains. We set up camp at the base of Yonah Mountain then traveled to Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee the next day. There I was among a small gathering of 20 strangers experiencing a once in a lifetime event.
There was not a cloud in sight. The duration of totality was 2 minutes and 27 seconds. Silence fell over us as we gazed up into the sky awestruck as the moon glided in front of the sun, leaving behind a yellow ring of fire. My seven-month-old puppy barked in confusion as the day went dark at 2:35 p.m. in the afternoon.
In that short period of time, so many feelings and sensations passed through me. I shouted out in exhilaration as the moment happened and felt permeated with the energy of both the moon and the sun at once. I realized how powerful the sun truly is and how much I depend on it. I understand now how little I know about life that lies beyond our solar system, and how blessed I was to be there to experience the moment.