"Outside the Belly" blog is proud to present a photograph by Kayla Carpenter, Hoopa, a young leader and good friend. I pushed some buttons just to see what would happen and my blog design completely disappeared with the Rakaia River of South Island, New Zealand. So it was time to find another picture, and here was Kayla's ready to upload, permission and all. I hope it's ok to use it for my blog because it carries a meaning with it.
Grandma Florence, Winnemem Wintu Chief and Spiritual Leader took us into her home, introduced us to all her sacred places and invited us: The Winnemem Way of Life is a Hard Life but the Best Life in the World. We found that to be true, refugees from an Empire, the Monster's Belly. Now we have a good view of the belly, on the outside, tribal in an empire, federally unrecognized, a ceremonial life among secular and having to struggle for freedoms people take for granted to the point they don't even know the meaning of the "freedoms" they believe themselves to have. Definitely the Winnemem take nothing for granted and the struggle is hard, and every victory sweet and shared. Everything good ripples out.
So thank you Kayla, for the perfect picture for my blog. Salmon spawning. Salmon sacrificing their lives for Life. At the end of its Life Cycle, everything grows from it. The Chief says that scientists have found salmon DNA in the trees. She says, "we need more salmon in the trees."
I cannot imagine a more important being for humans to follow, a being which knows both river and ocean, the being who lives its whole life to reproduce and to help everything to live, a being who struggles against all odds to do its sacred responsibilities. The Chief talks about the great salmon who hurled themselves at the dam over and over and over again until they killed themselves just to go another 100 miles further.
I am once again reminded of the Cuban artist and school principal when we were conversing and joking about living in the Belly of the Beast, reminding us with encouragement, "But remember! Jose Marti said, 'I have lived in the Monster and I have seen its belly!!' " I named my blog with the insight of the great Cuban philosopher and revolutionary, and I write about my life as a grandchild of immigrants who have found her place outside the belly with my tribe, unrecognized and undefeated, the Winnemem Wintu.
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.