Relationship and Reciprocity

Chief Gary Batton leads Choctaw and Irish dancers in the traditional Choctaw Snake Dance at the June 18 dedication ceremony for the sculpture Kindred Spirits in Bailick Park in Midleton, County Cork, Ireland. Photo by Deidre Elrod/Choctaw Nation. Posted on July 3, 2017 in an article on the website of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

 

The Irish get it. They remember and understand relationship and reciprocity. More than 170 years ago, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma responded to word about the Irish potato famine by digging scarce money from their individual pockets to send to the Irish.  This happened in 1847, at the very beginning of what would be a seven-year famine, and just about 15 years after the devastating Trail of Tears (on which one of my own great-great-great grandmothers died). Yet when the Choctaw learned of the sufferings of the Irish people, their own suffering gave them greater compassion rather than less. So “they gathered $170 (the equivaent of $4,400 today [2017 dollars]), and sent it across the Atlantic Ocean to help feed the starving nation of Ireland.” The bond between our nations has been strong ever since, with visits back and forth between Irish heads of state and Choctaw leaders. It’s all chronicled on the Choctaw Nation website. More recent developments are also covered in this news story at Indian Country Today (added May 7, 2020).

And now the Irish are stepping forward to really be there for the people with whom they’ve been in relationship ever since. As one Irish donor, Michael Corkery, wrote, it’s the right thing to do because “The Choctaw and Navajo First Nation people helped the Irish during the Great Famine, despite their own suffering.” As a result, “Already more than $1.3 million has been raised with donations flooding in from Ireland” to help Indian nations hit particularly hard by COVID-19.

YAKOKE, people of Ireland!

 

Anthem for a Time of Challenge

The Snake River and Grand Tetons range, photographed by Ansel Adams in 1941-1942. From the National Archives, in the public domain.

The Land that’s literally the ground of our existence can support us and give us strength as we grow weary of a crisis that begins to seem endless. Almost a month ago, I pointed out that the title number at the end of “Oklahoma!” speaks with an Indigenous voice, expressing the inherent power of the Land in a way that can uplift our hearts. Today I want to share another piece of music that conveys this same uplifting power in lyrics that speak in an unexpectedly Indigenous voice. A transcription of the lyrics appears beneath the video. The singer is Josh Groban, and the song is titled “Anthem.” Listen carefully, and let the power of the Land lift you in this time of turmoil and conflict, fear and frustration. The Land holds with strong power those who understand where their lives are truly rooted. Ansel Adams (no relation) certainly understood that power, letting it speak through visual image. Music, image, dance, and story are all ways that Knowledge of real relationship can speak to human hearts, bringing a timeless message of hope.

“Anthem”

No man, no madness
Though their sad power may prevail
Can possess, conquer, my country’s heart
They rise to fail

She is eternal
Long before nations’ lines were drawn
When no flags flew, when no armies stood
My land was born

And you ask me why I love her
Through wars, death, and despair
She is the constant, we, who don’t care
And you wonder will I leave her
But how?

I cross over borders but I’m still there now

How can I leave her?
Where would I start?
Let man’s petty nations tear themselves apart
My land’s only borders lie around my heart

Songwriters: Mathias Per Andersson / Mikael Berndt Claesson / Geir Pedersen /
Robert Samsonowitz
Anthem lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics are from LyricFind.

Original song is from the musical Chess.

Some COVID Hope in Quarantine

We’ve talked about how important it is to slow down and start living in Real Time if you want to get in touch with the beneficial wisdom of Indigenous Knowledge that can generate COVID hope. Here’s your opportunity to experience Real Time, at least a little bit, and the peace it can bring in a time of great anxiety. We all need COVID hope while we’re in quarantine, self-isolation, or shelter-in-place.

Play the video below. Focus on the sound of the wind in this video. Listen for the birds. Look at the grasses moving. Breathe. Let your body relax. Open your heart to the earth and the sky, the wind and the trees. Let the Land give you a sense of calm peacefulness. Exhale.

Now play the video again. See the area on the hill to your left at the beginning? There are fewer trees there because some years ago there was a very large and devastating wildfire that burned through this entire area — even the place where the photographer was standing to make this video! Why is this important? Because it reminds us all that sometimes things change, and in ways we consider devastating. That’s simply a part of life. But life goes on. And somehow there is beauty again. The world isn’t exactly the same as it was before, but the wind still blows through the grasses and the pines, the birds sing their winter song, and the sun shines even in a clouded autumn sky.

Life will come back again. Breathe. Relax your body. Release your anxiety. Resist the habit impulse to engage in displacement behaviors that will only make make your body more tense.

Watch this video whenever you want. It’s the Land’s gift of Real Time peace for COVID hope.

Filmed by Jo Belasco on the Pine Ridge of northwestern Nebraska, November 2019. The view is to the south and southwest, which are the directions associated with Experiential ways of knowing and Spiritual ways of knowing, respectively. If you look at the directions of south and west on our Circle model, you will see why these directions will help you receive healing from this video.