Several years ago, I was deeply touched to witness the mayor of Hood River, Oregon, Paul Blackburn, on his knees apologizing to the native people assembled on Indigenous Peoples Day. He stated his apology on behalf of his and our community’s ancestors. We all dropped to our knees with him. Tears poured out of the eyes of the Indian Wyam Celilo woman being honored.
This small act of reconciliation is an important part of weaving a healing web. We witness these acts of humanity and feel more hope rise in our hearts that more amends will follow, voices will be heard, wounds will continue to heal. I wish to be part of the healing process.
At Earth School, I love to share a practice initiated by tribal members in the US and Canada to teach immigrants how to be more respectful and aware of the indigenous people and history of the land. This practice is a powerful way to begin opening relationship with land, native indigenous people, and spiritual ancestors that may still walk the land. It is also a way to begin making amends to the original caretakers, water-keepers, and earth-keepers of lands.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of these practices in connecting your heart with the spirit of place. I do this practice when visiting lands, before events, teaching, ceremony, and when I feel called to connect with the ancestors of place. My personal experience doing this over many years has been profound. My heart swells as I feel the ancestral spirits communicating their gratitude to me. They love being recognized, honored, and respected. They participate in my ceremony and land work. And, it is a way we can learn to ask permission, or consent, from the original caretakers for what we bring forward.
On the website of US Department of Arts & Cultureis a beautiful 4-minute video on the practice of recognizing the traditional Native inhabitants of land. It’s worth watching and being part of this movement to spread these land and ancestor honoring practices. You can also download the honor native land guide from the website https://usdac.us/nativeland. Created in partnership with Native allies and organizations, the Guide offers context about the practice of acknowledgment, gives step-by-step instructions for how to begin wherever you are, and provides tips for moving beyond acknowledgment into action.
The act of apology is important, and we are moving deeper into reconciliation. I met Montee (Cree, Lakota) this summer at an event. He accepted apologies from our group, but said he didn’t need an apology from us. Let us come together and care for Mother Earth. She needs the apology and help, not me.
Ridgefield, WA: I want to respectfully acknowledge and honor the Cowlitz, Yakima, Klickitat, Confederated Tribe of Warm Springs peoples who have stewarded this land throughout the generations. Thank you.