I haven't written on my blog for quite awhile. Something has rocked Will and my world to its foundation. But it would not be cool to talk about it. We just have to endure it. In crisis is opportunity, though, as sages have said. And it seems that in this crisis, which has to do with a crisis in leadership, our Chief has stepped up to the challenge, and takes one day at a time, doing what needs to be done, keeping her vision clear, and her spirit connected to the Old Ones and the Sacred Places.
The opportunity is that the Winnemem lineage reveals what their women Chiefs are made of. It is not difficult to imagine Granny, alone in her leadership, going through the killing time, going through boarding school assimilation, going through Shasta Lake Dam and the drowning of her people's homes, sacred lands, and the extermination of their salmon, going through the criminalization of her ceremonies and medicines, and yet keeping it together, bringing her people through. I imagine she did the same thing, took every day as it comes, go step by step. There seems to be almost an instinctual way of knowing what needs to be done -- much like their beloved salmon, a sort of navigational device imbedded, which helps them even if they meet a crisis which is an anomaly to their people. Dams, hatcheries, bounties, boarding schools, racist laws, influenza and today, dams, assimilation policies, federal unrecognized status, privatizing of water, cremation remains in the sacred spring,Harmonic Conversions, 2012 crazy madness, and on and on it goes.
Because of their active relationship, the unbroken historical tie to sacred land, to leadership by lineage, a tradition of spiritual doctoring, holding on to language, songs, ceremonies, even bringing them back with the help of the ancestor spirits and the sacred lands, they endure.
Will and I are so lucky to know how because we are under the wing of the Winnemem.
Did you know that everything does not come from a human being? knowledge, songs, language, ceremony, medical knowledge? If you pray and you've kept that relationship strong with the sacred places and your ancestors, you can get it all back through communication, through faith, through walking step by step behind them. Did you know that even if there is scientific finality that a species is terminated, you may find out if you are still tied to the land, if you are still tied to the ancestors, if you bring back the ceremonies, Olelbis will hear you, the salmon will hear you, the bear and all the Sacred Mountains will hear you, the Oceans will become one to turn that extermination, that killing time around? The ancient ones anticipated great disasters and losses and took care of it, laying their faith that far in the future when it was safe, when it was ready, the Winnemem will still remain, and then, the work can begin with that new Chief to restore what was exterminated, like the Nur, the sacred Chinook salmon which the Winnemem follow still, 70 years after they last swam up the McCloud, a good 20 years before Chief Caleen Sisk Franco was born.
Thank you Great Olelbis, the great Mt. Shasta, that our current Chief still carried on so that she could be there when the salmon was ready to come back to their Home Waters, before time on the wild salmon ran out. Thank you Great Olelbis that she carried the faith and hope of her ancestors over that time so that there will still be Winnemem. She made things ready. She brought her people back to the village, she taught the next generation, she listened to her dreams, her spiritual people listened to their dreams, and they made everything ready for the miracle of the Nur's return to happen. They did not lose one step.
I have seen it. I have listened, witnessed, felt, touched an been touched by the Winnemem way of life. This is how it happens, these everyday miracles. No scientist, inventor, President, or Parliament, no lobbyist, no strategist, no CEO can restore as the Olelbis would restore except the faithful and humble who know their place and responsibilities no matter how hard it is, no matter what crisis is thrown in front of their path. Step by step. Prayer by prayer.
We are witnessing the legacy of Caleen Sisk Franco through her hardest time, her biggest crisis, OUR hardest time and biggest crisis, and we'll just continue the old way and get there a day at a time, a prayer at a time, one everyday miracle at a time. As she says no matter what has happened, "Life is good in so many ways." We can't give in to grief and loss.
Dedicated to the Waitaho Maori family, the Kingdom of Hawai, the Hoopa Tribe the Kiwi allies for standing with us, 100 percent and to NOAA who is drawing up their papers to seal the relationship. We will bring home the Nur.
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