Sunday, March 7, 2010

WW/ Thoughts before Leaving for New Zealand

The reality of the Winnemem People meeting the Ngai Tahu people is solid now. We have received our itinerary. We will fly into the south island and be met by a gentleman from the Human Rights Commission of New Zealand and a woman from the United Nations. The United States and its present leaders may not recognize the Winnemem, may insist that they are nothing without the government saying they exist and should get no attention, but in New Zealand, it is a different story.

On the first day we will meet at the Human Rights Building and learn about Marae protocol. We will prepare for our trip to the Waihao Marae, and then we will go to the Rehui Marae, nation between nation, and ceremony with them begins, the songs, the cultural exchange. The next day, Tuesday is all about the Salmon and the Water.

Wednesday we will go to the Waihao Marae and again ceremony and cultural exchange there. We're allowed to stay overnight at their Murae.

Then we get up really early to travel to see the ancient rock art of the Waitaha and then to the dam. It seems that day we will travel to many of their places and then back to the Waihao Marae.

On Friday the Fish and Game will connect with us and take us to the area where we can see the salmon spawning. Incredible. We will spend a good time on the river and the spawning area. Then we will go mid-day to the hatchery to talk about salmon fry returning home.

That is also the day we will begin to prepare for the Winnemem Salmon Ceremony, the Nur Winyupus and Hee Chala Olelbis ceremonies. The Winnemem men will be fasting for four days.

It seems like our hosts will also be carrying out the Whakanoa ceremony.

On Wednesday, the fourth day, there will be the Hakari, or feast.

Just reading the schedule, and reading about our departure day makes me sad. I already feel the richness of our time together, Winnemem and Maori, and therefore can feel sorry when it's over. At times like that, you want time to go on and on, days of ceremony, a lifetime of ceremony for the salmon and the waters, never having to return to the time when those who push their authority over the water and the salmon don't care about their continuity and don't see The People -- don't "recognize" them.

Perhaps this time in New Zealand will help me let go of the disgust which has piled layer upon layer over my heart toward the policies, the arrogance, the ignorant brutish attitudes of this administration and all the other administrations before it toward the First People of California, their poor stewardship over the great Salmon of the rivers and ocean, the salmon who are the true "climate changers" for the good, the "protectors of the water." Perhaps the meeting of these Two Great Peoples on the Rakaia will help bring the balance which is so needed to our blind and greedy part of the world.

Right now and for some time now, I feel on the edge of time. I think about the ghost dance days which are described as desperate times for the Indian people in our textbooks, and I think now, those were not acts of desperation but of necessity. Who will pray for the Earth except for those who still belong to the Earth and the sacred circle of life. What does it matter that 97 percent of this country runs on the earth dying? You have to do what you have to do. This small tribe can hear the salmon song, can feel that salmon ceremonial dance, can hear the earth, the spirit of the bear and the eagle, can speak with the sacred water, remembers they were born out of the spring and lives still (in their hearts) on the River, are tied to every stone, and medicine plant, and the pure water gushing from the roots of the sugar pine tumbling down the mountainside. No one in that big White House, no one in the glass offices of corporations hear or feel from the Earth what is happening to it, nor do they see or feel how hard nature is working. They think they are doing everything on their own -- making a mess of it. So those who can listen to all of nature, to their ancestors and whose hearts, spirit and mind are fully connected, they have to carry on the ceremonies whether it is along their river or along a river with each other around the world into Tomorrow and into another season where there's a hint of winter's approaching cold while the sun warms the fields and the red bush trees begin to bloom at home.

I don't know if this is enough to turn the destruction tide which lies just ahead so close we can see it because the greed and arrogance seems so huge. If things were right over here, President Obama would be calling the Winnemem into his office to hear what they learned about salmon, climate, earth and water during ceremony. Feinstein and Boxer would be thinking, it's an embarrassment and a travesty what we've allowed in California -- heaping human rights violations on 90 percent of the tribes in the state. The world is beginning to learn about this. We'd better do something about it. Feinstein would be kicking herself for trying to sneak in something which would basically put the salmon back into extinction by stealing their water to run casino fountains in the irrigated deserts of southern California. If things were right, these people would be able to feel their spirit, their thin and ever-thinning tie to the earth and feel the BIGNESS which is undoubtedly going to come from the meeting of the Ngai Tahu and the Winnemem in ceremony, the link of the Rakaia and the Winnemem River, the Great Mt. Shasta and all the other sacred places connected to the Winnemem River in the cosmology of the tribe. But how can I expect people who don't even see the Winnemem are tribal people to see this Biggness. How can a government who are coldhearted, blind and deaf to human beings born with inalienable rights hear the Fish, the Water, the Earth. So they will miss it. But I have faith. As Granny says, tell the world and the good people of the world will listen. Hopefully, that number of people will be enough.

These are my gloomy thoughts before leaving for New Zealand. I'm recording it here with faith that all of this will be changed by ceremony.

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"from Outside the Belly" was also known as "TBAsian" from 2008-2010. Thank you for reading.

from Outside the Monster's Belly

from Outside the Monster's Belly
. . . following Earth instead (Rakaia River, site of Salmon Ceremony, photo credit Ruth Koenig)


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Eugene, Oregon
I am a citizen of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. I am a Nikkei descendant sansei (third generation);retired teacher, involved in the Winnemem tribal responsibility to Water, Salmon, and our belief that the Sacred is our Teacher. Working locally for human rights and supporting youth leadership.