Monday, January 12, 2015

Stefan and Winnemem Language Lessons

This summer, I went back to the village for a week to learn as much of Winnemem as I could from the teacher who was there for the summer from Germany.  We met in the Chief's trailer and for hours, Stefan tried to teach us Winnemem.  He succeeded with many.  Rick and his mother Helene were definitely stars.

Staying in the house with Stefan every day was lesson day.

Stefan was working on the next lessons in his room, and Helene was on a phone call in her room.  I was in the kitchen getting lunch ready.  I nicked my hand with a sharp knife and it was bleeding a lot even with cold water pouring on it, so I took of to the bathroom and yelled to Helene for a bandaide. She was in her room, and I realized she was on the phone, so still bleeding quite a bit, I had my arm up trying not to drip and asked our linguist friend Stefan for help and he kept yelling from his room, "Ch'uqut!" "Ch'ugut!" He was trying to encourage me to say it in Winnemem. Then he saw me dragging the first aide kit out in the bathroom with one hand trying to open the band aid box, and realized I really needed help. Luckily Helene ran in with a phone to her ear, and waving a band aid in the other. I rinsed off the blood and Stefan helped me put the band aid on and all was ok. I had to run to the kitchen to "stir the food" and when I ran back to clean up the bit of blood splattered around the sink and found he had already cleaned it up. Thanking Stefan for heeding my Ch'uqut then. Because I'm on Granny's herbs, my nicks heal up very quickly and I can't even remember where I cut myself because there is no sign of the cut at all. That's my Winnemem language story for today.

What is Human

My sister, Bahati Ansari, posted this on my Facebook timeline. It gives me an opportunity to say something I've been thinking about Black Lives Matter. And Indigenous Lives Matter. Brown Lives Matter. I believe the State represented by the police and their violence targeting Black, Brown and Indigenous youth reveal starkly the underpinnings of the wealth of this country -- a wealth which is enjoyed by only the few and oppresses many. The underpinnings are the twin evils -- institutionalized slavery for profit by color and colonization by genocide. 
This critter you see Killing the snake for pretty boots without a blink of an eye or a thought is called "Man" but it is not a Being at all. It is Mr. White Supremacy who created himself. Human Nature is not greed and violence. Human Nature is to care for, to care about, to tend. That is what we were made for. Check you heart. What do you know about yourself. This aberration that this animation shows we have become is new and it is without rules, regulations, unbound in destruction.
Everything in the way of the destruction is destroyed and bottom line is Black Lives, Indigenous lives, Indigenous resistance to cultural genocide is in "Progress" way. Everything is topsy turvy now in this world. Progress is destruction, death. And nature is backwards. Progress is profit for the few and nothing for many.
Why is making waste so important? Because as we acquire THINGS and turn our backs and turn off our hearts on what is REAL in Life, (can't even use the word Reality any more because reality means some horrible screaming drama ridden thing on tv) we become like this animation guy who represents Man.
Well, he does not represent me. I am a being who is part of the Circle of Creation. I have a sacred responsibility just as the other beings do, innately. We have choice, but the choice is to be always for Life not Death. Sadly the human being has broken out of that sacred circle of life for a long time and we live in the destruction. But we still can choose at any point to be Human. Like the Chief Sisk said this weekend, we might not see the end of this destruction, but we must do our part during our lifetime at least for the young ones to build upon. As for the ending of this animation, I don't believe in aliens, even aliens who've come to destroy the destroyer, but I believe in indigenous ways of life. Follow indigenous out of this mess. Don't allow projects which destroy their way of life. Don't put up with the killing of innocent Black. Brown and Indigenous lives. It is all related. And we are all part of the whole, if we choose to be. This little animation is an interesting way to show how we look to the rest of the world, out of control and so destructive that the universe sends out the universe cops. It's a same sad storyline. But we can change it movement by movement, action by action, prayer by prayer, ceremony and commitment to Mother Earth, for Life and for all Beings.


George Price Well-said, Misa. I agree that this way of being is an aberration, and not the true nature of humanity. It is just so dominant and prominent to us that it is normalized in our consciousness, because we have forgotten the first ways, the Indigenous Earthways. So, what I also see as incorrect in this film is that this wrong way or "upside down" way, as you say, and the wetiko way, as Jack Forbes called it in his book, Columbus and other Cannibals, does NOT go back 500,000 years. It is actually a very recent aberration in the time scale of homo sapiens sapiens (which is actually estimated to be a little less than 200,000 years). Vast destructive empires and megasocieties in human history only go back about 4,000 years (or 2% of modern human history) and the more intensely-destructive modern industrial capitalist and state socialist empires only go back less than 200 years. I also agree with you that sustainable, Indigenous lifeways have the guidance to a new direction that we need. I don't depend on space aliens or politicians.


My sister and I had chores -- probably by age, but not in a checklist of course. It felt like from our perspective, we were pitching in to help. No allowance. We were doing this "for the family" was what mom always said. Allowance was definitely a foreign concept to us. They inculcated in us an attitude that still is a big influence today -- to do because we're part of a group. We have to make it happen. And "on" had to do with it, which is a concept that doesn't really exist in the English language without imposition of another way to look at what is simply respect. "On" is a little deeper because it lasts a lifetime; maybe I'll learn when I transition out, it lasts beyond a lifetime. It's the "debt" one owes their parents, grandparents, ancestors which cannot be paid back. The ones who gave you life; raised you. All we can do is be good human beings. 

I feel that feeling for Granny too. When she said she was my mother, I may have felt puzzlement, but only for a moment, accepting the gift offered during a rather confusing time in my life where I had come to her for help with our daughter and later a foster daughter with all my faith. Besides the spiritual doctoring and teachings, chores of daily life played a big part -- helping with the water, the wood (everything had to be brought in), the garden, the animals, getting ready for ceremony, spring cleaning, -- going up to Dekkas, cleaning the trailer out after the winter, uprooting the mice, assessing the bear damage, starting the sacred fire, doing Granny's bid when she was in bed, cooking, canning, making feasts, all of it. Two months a summer we lived chores together. They still look back at those days as their happiest times. Chores does not have a bad connotation in our daughter's mind anymore now that she's an adult. She said in Utah, her girlfriends (probably girls who didn't HAVE to do chores) looked to her for advice because she knew how to do everything having grown up with us and at the village. 

Although she never did it, she even knows how to build a fire. At the LCC pig roast, she looked at the scattered wood on what was to roast the pig, squatted down from her 6-inch heels and quickly rearranged them, saying "There! It'll start now." An orange flame leaped up, and I secretly smiled at the girl with the eyelashes, manicure, who came to a pig roast in a little dress and 6 inch heels, dusting off the dirt from her hands unconcernedly, who the Village raised with chores.

"Selma" the Movie

Will and I went to "Selma" this afternoon. I got emotional within a few minutes and stayed that way. First I want to give a nod and thank you to Spike Lee for doing it his way anyway whether Hollywood was ready to fund it or push it or not, and doing whatever he had to do to get a powerful Malcolm X film to the theaters from his own pocket and his friends' and set the path for films like this one. 

"Selma" came at the right time in Hollywood's development -- a generation of producers and the financial backing to do everything right and a new generation of directors to bring it into the now. And just in time. 

Seeing it tonight just brought it home like a punch to the gut which path we have chosen. Dr. King said in his Beyond Viet Nam Speech, that this nation was at a crossroads between being a thing oriented society or a people oriented society. Clearly we are quite a ways down that road of thing-oriented if one is to look at how vulnerable these precious voting rights, hard won with the lives of young martyrs and the blood and sweat and many tears, have become in this time, how militarized the police violence against Black Lives. I say this because there is a direct correlation between oppression against Black Brown and Indigenous and the rise of a Police State and erosion of rights. In our country, that would be suffered on racial lines and with genocide. 

You've heard the talk about the great movement in civil rights made at such great sacrifice and cost in the Sixties being rolled back in this century. This film brings that home. Police brutality and killings of innocent Black people, militarized technology used against courageous protest, and police getting away with it should be a thing of the past. That the brutality was shown on the televisions at home in living rooms across the US, it mobilized a nation. But now, the lack of media coverage of Ferguson, of Black Lives Matter, except through social media, and the militarization of police, blatant murder Black and Brown and Indigenous lives by shocking numbers without justice, that alone shows a roll back. The false blocks to voting, in fact the manipulation of the democratic process to prevent one person one vote has our attention now. There are more than I want to list here but the point is this is an all too relevant film which reveals how far backwards we have fallen into this country's white supremacy noxious weed roots. 

I applaud the director and her powerfully talented and gifted actors for making all the points with such humanity and love. Such respect was shown to the civil rights warriors of the Sixties. Some still living helped by sharing those small facts and stories we did not know, by helping the director see and feel how it was then to go into the towns and villages where Jim Crow ruled with violence, how it was to be welcomed, how it was to be in the company of the families of a great resistance movement who refused to just quit fighting for justice generation after generation. This film does not leave Selma caught in history. This film brings Selma to life right here and right now. This film does not take the guts out of a speech made by Dr. King and serve it out fluffy. This film, first shows the MANY, elderly and children, martyred or relentless, who inspired such courage in him to lead. The shadow of President Johnson, unleashing the distorted FBI on King hung over the preacher activist leader from the moment Johnson picked up the phone to consider J Edgar's crazed offer, to get rid of "him." It shows that working for justice through legislation in the Nation's Capitol was as dangerous and isolating as any place could be, an assassin's smile came with every politician's handshake. This is not kumbaya non violence -- or, because I am from that time, kumbaya was never fluffy, but always face to face with the most virulent kind of violence. 

"Selma" should be shown every year to remind people what non-violence REALLY is and why so much is owed to the Black martyrs and White martyrs who marched among the devil for the right to be human beings during and AFTER segregation was supposedly dead. Selma should be shown to every school child if for only to hear the activist elder say to Coretta that running through her veins was blood of the great ones, the scholars and great leaders, chemists, and those who resisted fearful things to courageously fight for justice and THAT is what their training is, to be descendants of such ancestors!
"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.