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Journey provides life lessons
Dear Buffalo Spirit:
I have read with deep respect your article on recording our Elders' stories. I began what I call a 'journey of healing' back around 1995 ...
Part of my 'journey of healing' related to wanting to rid myself of my abusive behavior towards women. I was a very angry young man in my twenties, and I believe my anger had a lot to do with my 10 years in the abusive children's aid society after the breakup of my parents ...
I was very touched by your eloquence and sensitivity towards the issue of recording our Elders' knowledge and life experience related to spirituality, culture, and the Indian way of life.
I am intrigued by your deep understanding of Aboriginal spiritual and cultural ways, such as pointing out that the medicine wheel is not of the coastal societies. That is an excellent point of which I have had experiences in my sharing with Manitoba Aboriginal Elders.
I recall one Elder from the Opaskwayak Cree Nation who stated to me that the powwows that are happening today and some of their ceremonial activities are not true Opaskwayak traditional ways.
I attended a youth conference in Lac Brochet (Northlands Dene First Nation). I spoke to one Dene Elder during a mini powwow held in the elementary school gymnasium and the Elder was watching the powwow dancers. I spoke to the Dene Elder through an interpreter and I found his response to my questions very interesting. He stated to me that he had never in his life seen a drum such as the one being used in the mini powwow. Dene people use a hand drum traditionally. Also, he stated he never saw a powwow.
One other story I recall was listening to an Elder from Sandy Bay during a powwow we both were attending in Ebb & Flow Ojibway First Nation. He stated to me during our discussion that the powwow of today was different than the traditional powwows. He said that the powwow of traditional times was the last event before people departed after holding Sun Dance ceremonies.
The main event at that time was the traditional Sun Dance. Today, he stated Aboriginal people treat the powwow as the main and basically only event when Aboriginal people meet.
One final thing I would like to say is that my healing journey taught me a lot. I realized that I felt so angry and that I was abusive in my younger years because I felt ashamed, abandoned and powerless about who I was as an individual. My journey to find out my true identity has taught me to care for myself, and to respect others.
I feel Aboriginal men who are abusive are covering up in many different ways their innermost fears of themselves. I have learned to empower myself for teachings such as humiliation, healing, trust, and love. The rest is a lot to do with simple life-long learning and staying on the right path.
Of course you'll make mistakes along the way, but if you are true to yourself you can succeed and be happy and be a vital member of your family and community.
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