Saturday, January 11, 2014

Learning about the Land

I often tell people looking to understand the spiritual side of nature to connect with the Land where they are, and to learn about how the tribes where they live, and what they thought about the Land and its animals and plants and weather. Too often people live in someplace like New York or Iowa and focus on the Navajo or Apache culture, while they would be better off learning what the Six Nations (Iroquois) (if in New York) or Ioway or Meskwaki (if in Iowa) people thought about there, where they live. When I was in school in Santa Fe, although I was an Ioway, I wanted to learn what the Pueblo, Apache, or Navajo thought about the Land there in New Mexico.

Learning about the Land is one thing, or about the history and the people there. But one should not copy the religion or ceremonies of another people, because those represent a particular "contract" (way of life) between that tribe and the Land. People from another culture or place can learn about the Land and its Beings, but they have to develop new "contracts" with the Land and its ways themselves, not copy someone else's.

You can admire someone's Driver's License and learn what one must do to take the test and pass, but you can't use someone else's Driver's License. You have to study yourself, take the test, and pass yourself, before you can drive a car.

Heck, I was raised in Montana, so I know a lot more about Montana as a Place than I do here in Kansas about this place, the country of the Nemaha. If I woke up from a coma in my old home in Montana and looked out the window, I could tell what direction I was facing, what time of day and what time of year it was, and how the Land was doing. I can't do that here in Kansas yet. I haven't lived here long enough. So I am studying it here, learning from Ioway people, from the other tribes here, from the white farmers and hunters, and from the land itself  Bit by bit, step by step...

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