Real Ceremonies Are Multi-Layered

A number of Indigenous nations carry out ceremonies that are designed to restore the places and the relations who are parts of their indigenous ways of being. These ceremonies also teach, and restore relationships with, non-Indigenous descendants of those who colonized Indigenous Lands.

The Little River Band of Menominee, White Earth Ojibwe, Rainy River First Nation and other tribes who are working to restore sturgeon in the Great Lakes “have designed public ceremonies and community feasts to commemorate the ways sturgeon plays a key role in highly interdependent, local ecosystems. Little River’s sturgeon-release ceremony invites the public to attend when juvenile sturgeon are released into the river each fall” and hundreds of non-Indigenous people participate in the feasts, dances, and other ceremonies that “commemorate accountability to the fish.” At the Odawa ceremony, children of many ethnic and cultural heritages get to release a juvenile sturgeon into the river (Whyte 2018:142).

Despite their festive atmosphere, the sturgeon ceremonies carry the full measure of ceremony’s meaning as it’s described in the pages of this exercise. “Indigenous peoples who seek to rekindle sturgeon populations . . . are dedicated to returning the fish to abundance and using the process to renew humans’ own sense of accountability for the relationships of ecological interdependence they are part of but often ignore” (idid:141). Whyte observes that “Winona LaDuke, writing on the restoration of sturgeon at White Earth, has expressed hope that ‘Maybe the fish will help a diverse set of people work together to make something right . . .The fish help us remember all of those relations, and in their own way, help us recover ourselves'” (ibid: 20).

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