Friday, April 9, 2010

Down Time

Today Ruth Koenig was kind enough to help us out. Winnemem Support Group will be presenting at the Human Rights Summit which is attracting people all over the state. We have just gotten back and don't have the video ready, we're all down with allergies, but we do want to tell the story and attract more supporters to the work. I asked photos from one person, but he's sick and concerned about where the photos should be shown so could give us only very few, not enough or even the kind of photos to tell a story -- New Zealand, salmon, ceremony. So Ruth came over with a CD full of all of her photos. The cool thing is we could take our time going through it, remembering New Zealand, our new friends, the bold landscape, the good memories but something else stood out. It was striking.

One was a picture of Caleen, and another of Mark their faces more relaxed than we've ever seen them. They probably didn't know they were being photographed. And for sure, someone else (our Maori hosts) was taking care of the business of transportation, cooking, scheduling, everything. They were surrounded by their favorite people -- their family, their kids -- and they were in a country where they were listened to and accepted for who they are -- tribal leaders. I remember saying at the Marae the night we all said our goodbyes, treated like we were normal.

This is something to consider since the Headman thinks it's his responsibility to take care of us all. And in New Zealand, it wasn't the load it could have been in a less safe place.

There was lots to be done, great responsibilities, but without the conflict, it was different.

The two photos told the story, what it must be to be just in a normal situation.

What can I say.

We got quiet for a moment.

I had just browsed the internet today. I do that when I'm homesick for Winnemem. Sally had made a film -- the mudball race -- something she shot at Coonrod last summer. Check it out. There they were -- Michael, Marine, little Aurora, and joined by others one by one, constructing ways in which a mudball could roll, zig zag, and stop short of Ash Creek, maybe even cross it? Thinking, imagining, completely intrigued,testing, engineering, re-doing, cooperating, all ages.

I had other choices of videos. There's a lot of video about the Winnemem. But today, just today, I decided not to be reminded through videos about the necessities -- lawsuit, fighting for the water. However, I did spend a moment to click on the invitation to Michelle Obama and her daughters to Puberty Ceremony for Nina, Jessica and Winona. Check it out. It's so beautiful -- clips of Marine's ceremony, clips of the three girls giggling, holding puppies, friendly. It's sad for me because of course the girls did not get any reply. They received no short note of "thank you for the invitation, we wish you well although we can't come." Not a peep from the White House. I guess non-recognized tribal youth don't get responses to their heartfelt invitations.

As it was, there was no puberty ceremony because the Forest Service does not have the will, the language, to honor the Winnemem's freedom to exist and practice their traditions and the tribe didn't want the girls swimming across the river, cut down by a jet boat exercising their freedom to have fun yet another weekend on the river. We will have puberty ceremony this summer no matter what -- no choice -- but one of the girls has opted out. That's a big deal. I'm saddened as I remember how excited she was, working on her regalia last summer.

Hmmmmm. Today is Thursday. I've been home from New Zealand only six days, and my bad attitude is creeping back. I think I need to watch the mudball race one more time.

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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.