Three weeks ago was my first time celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day (formally called National Aboriginal Day). It was also my city’s first time celebrating too! *grins*
MY TOP 3 MEMORABLE MOMENTS at the Indigenous Day Event…
#1 – Meeting people from Wiky: I was surprised and excited when I met a few folks from Wikwemikong A.K.A. Wiky! About 3 years ago I spent the summer with a group of interns creating programs for the children and youth in Wiky (an unceded reserve on Manitoulin Island). Talking to them brought back great memories of the friendships and connections I had made with their community. What a small world!
#2 – Jingle Dress Dance: I was so happy when my friend/colleague and her partner came to the event. They looked so amazing in their regalia and it was great to see them partake in the Grand-Entry and inter-tribal dance. There was a portion of the inter-tribal dance when the Indigenous dancers were asked to pick someone from the audience to teach them a traditional dance. Lucky for me I got to learn the Women’s Jingle Dress from my friend. It was fun getting out of my comfort zone and dancing with her!
#3 – Prayer Song for the Water: In some Indigenous nations it is the role of their women to offer prayer and protection for the water. In one portion of the event Suzanne Smoke and two young girls sang a prayer for the water in their language. It was beautiful to see these young girls take part in their cultural traditions because it reflects the resiliency of their people to almost 200 years of cultural genocide.
In my last post I came up with a list of 6 things that I wanted to accomplish at the event. I am happy to report back that I completed 4/6 on the list…
- I learned how to say two greetings in the Mohawk language from a friendly conversation I had with one of the performers – David R. Maracle. “Sago”, which translates to hello, and “guno roonkwa”, meaning love medicine. (I don’t think these are the proper spelling of these words but I wrote them down phonetically). I also learned how to say “akweni ki” which is translated to you can do it in the Oneida language. I am still trying to master the correct pronunciation 🙂
- Quick Facts from the teach-in:
- Indigenous people own 0.002% of the land in this country, yet they are this lands first inhabitants. – Suzanne Smoke
- Indigenous peoples are not one nation, they are different nations. Just as the Chinese are different from the Irish, that is how different one Indigenous nation is from the other. – Bob Goulais
- The Women’s Jingle Dress Dance originated with the Ojibway nation. This dance is sometimes used in healing ceremonies. – Bob Goulais
- I had the privilege of meeting Donna Keul, the CEO and founder of Oneida Circle. I thanked her for bringing the event to my city and she shared a little bit of her personal story and her creation of Oneida Circle!
- The audience was invited to demonstrate their solidarity throughout the event, mainly by participating in a few of the dances (Round Dance and Inter-tribal). I didn’t have the chance to ask what it means to be an ally from an Indigenous perspective, however, from what I took from the different speakers at this event is that being an ally begins with self-awareness and re-education around misconceptions/myths.
Thank you for reading and watching,