Archive for the ‘2009 May’ Category

As spring takes over from winter, there are many celebrations across Native America. From the Hopi kachina dances in Arizona, to the Cherokee corn planting ceremonies, traditional Native people are celebrating the new growing season. Different tribes have different customs depending on what type of climate they live in and if they are nomadic or sedentary.

Buffalo hunters would tear down their winter camps and set out for their summer hunting grounds. The buffalo hunters would often have ceremonies and offerings of food or sacred herbs that would ‘call’ the buffalo to them, in hopes of a plentiful hunt, and if it was successful, they would have more ceremonies and celebrations to thank the Creator and the buffalo for their gifts of food and clothing.

Fishing people would have been repairing their fishing gear over the winter, and they would also have ceremonies and offerings for the Creator and the fish. Many sedentary tribes existed solely on agriculture. This caused many tribes to have complex religions and ceremonies. Because agriculture depended on the sun, moon and season, the ceremonies would coincide with the sun, moon and seasons changes. The Hopi for instance have one of the most complex religious systems in the world – everything has a ceremony for it. The life giving corn, beans and squash are regarded as sacred beings and are treated as such.

The Ojibwe and the Iroquois have similar complex ceremonies and religious traditions, the corn, beans and squash are called the “Three Sisters,” since when planted together the three plants nourish each other and support each others growth and health.

There are so many aspects to an agricultural society that dozens and dozens of books have been written just about the subject and many more incredible things are still being discovered about Native American religious traditions. The thing with these traditions, is that they are alive, they are still passed down today from one generation to the next. Native Americans know that this is a vital part of who we are as a human being, a people, a tribe and a clan, to remember these traditions and beliefs and keep them strong and pass them down for future generations. Our family respects, practices and takes to heart these traditions.

There is an old saying that goes, “We did not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we are merely borrowing it from our children.” This philosophy is respected and practiced everyday.

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Mother’s Day is upon us and we feel the need to send out our love in a tangible way. Many of us long for the good old days of making her a special gift, like the tracing of our little hand in the shape of a bouquet of flowers or a colored macaroni necklace.

Some of us have lost our mothers, but this in no way diminishes our desire to continue to express our love and affection for her. Maybe if we didn’t have a mother or weren’t close to our mothers, we have a mother-figure in our lives. We still have the feeling of that strong tie to ‘mother.’

In many indigenous cultures Mother Nature/Mother Earth is the ultimate of all mothers, and many of those cultures continue to celebrate Mother Earth with numerous ceremonies and celebrations. In this blog we would like to share other ways to celebrate all mothers, those who give and sustain life and who are our first teachers. Please take the time to look around you and see what difference you can make in the life of a mother or celebrate Mother Earth. Happy Mother’s Day!

Dear Friend of the IRC,
My name is Trisha Gourley. Every day I work with new refugee mothers in Salt Lake City as they complete an arduous journey – the journey from harm to home.
When war and violence erupt and refugee families are forced to flee for their lives to the safety of a new home in America, motherhood does not simply pause and wait.
That’s where I come in.
In my work at the International Rescue Committee, I help expectant refugee mothers receive quality pre and post-natal care. I work to ensure their children are healthy and have proper medical checks. I give them information on how to provide adequate nutrition for their families and protect and provide for their children.
I am fortunate in being able to help refugees experience the joys and learning of motherhood in the safety of a new home. And this Mother’s Day, I hope you will consider giving new refugee mothers – like the ones with whom I work – an IRC gift basket.
For every basket you give, you can send a gorgeous card or e-card to honor a special mother or woman in your life.

Not only will your support assist the mothers I work with every day, but it will also help the IRC ensure the safe delivery of babies to mothers all over the world.
Fifteen percent of all pregnancies require surgical or medical intervention – a luxury we take for granted, but women in conflict and disaster zones do not. Most women in areas of unrest deliver their babies without electricity and clean water with no doctor present.
You can help the IRC protect and champion new mothers by giving a gift basket filled with quality prenatal care, blankets, emergency services, and other critical supplies like diapers, bottles, and baby clothing.
The mothers I am honored to help know that life in a new home in America with a new child will be full of challenges. But they always share a common sentiment – how relieved they are to raise their child in safety – without fear.
Your support will give a new mother the health, strength, and confidence to raise a family.
• A gift basket of $25 can provide ten mothers with blankets to keep their babies warm in IRC’s international programs.

• A gift basket of $50 can provide a car seat for a refugee family here in the U.S.

• A gift basket of $100 can cover the cost of a safe delivery of a child born abroad.

• A gift basket of $1,000 can provide English classes, job training, and placement for three newly resettled refugee mothers in America.

In this season of celebrating motherhood, make a meaningful gift by providing help and hope to a refugee mother. Send an IRC gift basket today.
Thank you for your time and your generosity.

Trisha Gourley
Maternal and Child Health/Wellness Caseworker, IRC Salt Lake City

Food for thought from Alternet.com:

“Around the world, refugees are forced to flee their war-torn countries and find a new home in America. Many of these refugees are expectant mothers, alone in a foreign country, without proper medical care. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) provides pre and post-natal care, ensuring that these children are born healthy. This Mother’s Day, support IRC and give a gift basket to an expectant mother. Blankets, car seats and other essentials for raising a child are among the elements of the baskets. Celebrate motherhood and consider making a gift today.”

Don Hazen
Executive Editor, AlterNet.org

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McCormick Cafe

Every time we get to Billings, Montana we make it a point to visit our favorite cafe there. The McCormick Cafe goes on our list of “great places.” You can find it in the historic district at 2419 Montana Avenue. The food is fantastic, the staff is gracious and we always find it a welcome relief when we’re on tour. Stop in and say hi to Kevin for us!


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Take a deep breath

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In this day and age it seems that you can connect with more people over greater distance through technology. We can share ideas, stories and histories through thin air from across the planet. Lately, many more indigenous people are connecting more and relating their respective stories online. Aboriginal people in Australia can hear or read traditional Native American stories and histories online, and can tell and share theirs with us. It seems that our great World Wide Web has indeed been prophesied by our ancestors in North America.

Chief Seattle said “All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life. He is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” We have always known that we are a part of the great web of life, and that if we destroy or harm a strand of it, we are only harming ourselves. The World Wide Web is no different, and can be a source of great unity and learning and sharing among different indigenous cultures. The online resources we have will only get better and continue our learning of one another’s cultures, beliefs and stories.

We feel in this day and age, we need our traditions more than anything, to keep ourselves grounded, secure in who we are and where we come from. Take the time to learn about your ancestors, may they be Irish, German, English, French, Tlingit, Cherokee, Aztec, Inuit, Ute, etc. Find out what part of Europe, Africa, Asia, the America’s they came from. What language/s did they speak? A certain dialect? A certain region? Did they have clans? It is important to know who you are, whether you are Native American or not, your roots and all of the genetics behind them make you unique and who you are. That is what is important to Native cultures, who you are, and how we all belong in the Web of life. In Native American cultures a person will introduce him/herself by their name, then their clan/family and where they are from. Unity and cohesiveness is what will make us a better and stronger citizen of the world and will help us learn to grow and learn from each other, no matter what culture we come from.

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“Standing Tall”
“Chief Robert TallTree and his wife Terri Lynn speak to pupils at Fairbanks Elementary School Wednesday. The TallTrees have been presenting Native American cultural programs for more than 30 years, appearing on PBS, the BBC, Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel.Through traditional Native American music and stories, they teach children to respect themselves, the earth, and all living things. The program was funded by Union County Health Department.”

from the Marysville Journal-Tribune http://www.marysvillejt.com

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Last week we shared the story of a whale rescue. We heard about it from a friend, and it was taken from an article in the San Fransisco chronicle that shows how animals are more like people than we generally think.

For thousands of years the Native peoples of the America’s have always known that animals have thier own spirits/souls. We shared this article with you as a perfect example of how another living being, not human, can show that they are grateful.

Take a moment to think back on your own life and reflect on a time, when you truly felt that an animal was showing a ‘human’ emotion. We have been blessed to share our journey with many ‘pets’ who have been a part of our family. There are so many ways that we’ve seen them show their love and appreciation.

This is why when Native people say prayers or do ceremonies, we pay respect or give thanks to all living things, plant, animal, earth. It is the basic acknowledgement that humans are not above the Earth and nature, but are a small part of it. We are all related.

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“Every man on this planet is taking his initiation in love.”
– Florence Scovel Shinn


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tall-trees“TREE, purifier of air, nourishing, sheltering, supporting, its roots tap the depth of the earth.
Dependent on water, soil and sun, everchanging, a timeless indicator of regeneration, symbol of wisdom, a cosmic tree, a tree of light, lie down beneath one.”

Printed on a tee shirt that says “copyright 1991 MAZE”

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