Friday, October 20, 2017

Dear Settlers: Before Using Our Medicine, Be Aware of Your White Privilege

Authors Note: I’m not an Elder or Medicine Person, so I’m aware I have no authority to say who’s allowed to use our medicines and in what way. I simply want to explain how I feel and why.

I’ve noticed a lot of well-meaning non-Indigenous people have really taken a liking to our traditional Ceremony. This has me feeling a mixture of a few intense emotions that I’ve needed to unpack for a while.  

Specifically, I've seen trendy hipster stores selling ‘emergency smudge kits’ with sage and a smudge bowl, maybe a feather, all promoted on Instagram. Or a non-Indigenous yogi selling dream-catchers to wear around your neck like a necklace. Or self-proclaimed spiritual healer who uses sage to smudge her clients and promotes it on Instagram. Or most recently, a non-Indigenous man leading a “medicine picking” excursion teaching others to pick sage.



The teachings I received taught me to never pay for medicine, and to never boast about it (by posting a picture online), so when I see these images in my timeline I know these people haven’t received teachings to use these tools, or the same teachings I’ve received, at least. But does that mean they’re not allowed to use the medicines? Absolutely not, at least I don’t think so… but I’m not sure…

On one hand, I’m happy to share. Traditional teachings have taught me to respect the environment and remind me that all living things are connected, that there is a greater force at play in the world than just simple humanity – we’re a small piece of life in the vast universe. It would be great if the world knew Indigenous teachings. I feel like the world could benefit from it, maybe global warming could be stopped… and commercial farming of animals would stop, maybe the world could know peace? Lofty goals yes, so the more people who know the ideology behind traditional teachings, I think, the better.


However, part of me wants to see the teachings shared properly. When I see a non-Indigenous person giving teachings about Ceremony or using our medicine in a public place like a settler event opening ceremony or somewhere public, I immediately questions their authenticity. Where did they learn this Ceremony? Do they understand the power behind the tools they’re using?

I recognize that this initial desire to be upset, question and confront the person is partially because, for so long, we weren’t allowed to practice our Ceremony legally and that makes me want to fiercely protect it. The government of Canada and residential schools forbade us from practicing our “indianness”. Recently at a family dinner my Dad, Aunties and Uncles were reminiscing about being beaten at residential day school. My Aunt shared being slapped by a priest when she was 6 years old for accidentally bumping into him in the school hallway. He wound up and slapped her hard across the face. My Dad shared witnessing being forced to watch his friend get beaten with what he would only describe as “extreme violence.” I understand that our parents didn’t teach us our language or Ceremony because they didn’t want us to experience the same shame and abuse they went through.

So when I see a non-Indigenous person publicly practicing Ceremony and using Medicines I instinctively want to hoard it and feel protective of it. My immediate reaction is to think, “Why do they get to use Indigenous Ceremony when my family was beat for being Indigenous?” It’s like they get to pick which part of my culture they want to adopt while brushing aside the bad stuff. Bad stuff we didn’t have the (white) privilege to avoid.

Essentially, they’re choosing which parts of our culture they want to appropriate. They can walk into a store and buy a knock off of our beautiful beadwork or art without having to worry about being followed in that store for being too brown and a security threat. They can use our most sacred tools, and our medicine, without having the blood memory of being beaten for using those medicines.

If you had to unwillingly give up your babies to be sent to be abused at residential school, would you still want to use those medicines? Because that's the price that was paid. 

It all seems so backwards to me. And hurtful. A different kind of hurt that I can feel really deep down in my soul. They took everything from us. But then they gave it back and are now taking the parts they feel are of (financial or spiritual) benefit to them. It fills me with rage.

I’m not an Elder, or a medicine person, so I realize I have no authority or wisdom to be the “Medicine Police.” In my more empathetic moments I think “Maybe these settlers received teachings from an Elder to use these medicines?” Not all teachings are the same so maybe they received a different message? It’s totally plausible. And I realize these settlers have no ill intent. They’re just ignorant.



In my ideal world, I wouldn't feel anything when I see these things posted online. I try to believe that if the Medicines are bringing positivity to someone buying these things, then what's the harm? Is it still appropriation? 

I don’t know what the answers are. But to all the settlers using our Medicines and Ceremony online – please be aware of your white privilege, and that you are appropriating a culture that my family was beaten for practicing. 

86 comments:

  1. Everything is backwards.
    White people want traditional Native Medicine.
    ...and what do Natives want?
    I work at a clinic that serves Native Americans. I am a doctor. I am a First Nations Naturopathic Doctor. Which means I have been trained in “traditional” western Medicine and I can and do prescribe pharmaceutical drugs, antibiotics and antidepressants, but I also have training in herbs, acupuncture, physical medicine, homeopathy, nutrition and hydrotherapy. I have had people doubt my qualifications and comment that I just treat my patients with “nuts and berries” and what I do is “woo woo”.
    I WISH I had training in Traditional Native Medicine and ceremonies. My grandfather was a Medicine man. A lot of that knowledge has been lost, totally lost because of colonialism.
    There are Native peoples, particularly elders, that don’t even want to try herbs, they want pills. I wish pills would solve all the health problems. I wish that there was a pill to address the trauma of residential schools, fetal alcohol syndrome, diabetes, and addiction.
    White people make money off the pills, and now they can make money off of our traditional ceremonies too.
    I went to school, medical school, so that I could help Indigenous people improve their health. It’s not easy. People don’t trust that herbs work. Where do you think those pills came from? Western medicine and pharmaceutical companies have only been around for a few hundred years, what do you think we did before that?
    I mourn our lost knowledge. I understand the caution of elders to share traditional practices when they can be packaged and sold for monetary gain.
    Traditional medicines are tokenized and sold as novelties rather than respected and valued.
    Colonialism has worked so well that even when health care for Natives is provided by Natives trained in herbalism it is scoffed at and disregarded as not being real Medicine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is good to hear that you (and others presumably) are making roads into undoing some of colonization's harm and spreading respect for Indigenous knowledges in the medical field.
      I am a mature student, learning about Indigenous knowledges at university, adding to what my father taught me growing up. He is an Englishman, and came to Canada in the late 1950s as a teen with very naive, but mostly positive, ideas about Indigenous Peoples. The best lesson I learnt from him is to listen, to be receptive, and that is what I try to do always. Too many settlers think they 'know' history, but they don't, and white privilege has to be understood & processed before it can be put aside so that respectful learning can begin.
      Being pagan myself, I am supportive of Indigenous Peoples reconnecting with their own practices & spiritualities. Appropriation of Indigenous practices for profit by non-Indigenous people is a sickening idea to me.

      Delete
    2. I am so sorry to hear of your heart break. As a med professional I am sure you must have seen... Every thing isn't backwards... Just sideways... Pitting one against another. This all has nothing to do with peoples in the past. Has to do with what all/// both indigenous and others newly arrived or arrived here in the blink of time -yesterday is told. Knowledge must be passed down... While some are serving ages old harms...all are harmed. The colonization. Happened a long time ago. One must let go of past... or keep the same harms going, through promotion. I wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for what I was taught in healing. Stage 4 cancer survivor... 10+ years. I see my grands now walk this planet. As a learned woman of my age... All need to not fight a fight that has been before. Make law change... Take over the "insurance companies". Expect better for all lives regardless of origin. Peace and wellness wished to all. I am available to teach even though my time is now limited.

      Delete
    3. The past? You do realize the last residential school closed in 1996. Healing will take generations. And unfortunately healing takes significantly longer than the initial harm. Generations of Abuse and broken families shouldn't have ignorant people telling others to forget the past let it go. No. We can't forget because it stares back at us through heartbreak and chilling loss still felt today.

      Delete
    4. It is not possible for the indigenous people to receive reparations equal to the degree of their suffering. Trauma can only be processed by work, time, and an honest desire to make things as right as they can be. The hard part is understanding how to keep moving forward, work toward a healthier way of being on the planet together, as the healing is happening. It does take generations to heal, and we as a species do not have generations to find solutions to the problems of intraspecies communication and compassion. I have no idea how we can do this in time to save our species from extinction.

      Delete
  2. I'm non indigenous and this bothers me too. I've been invited to many ceremonies and consider it an honour to be included as a guest or alie. I use some medicines I've been introduced to there, in my home or for staying connected to something that feels important. I really REALLY can't stomach the pick and choose attitude of how some love native art, ceremonies, medicines and worse... posting pics of themselves displaying this or flaunting their self importance of being associated with a medicine or tradition as some sort of status of their own... all while obliviously ignoring the history and current conditions of so many of the peoples. I don't know what the answer is either, or my point to comment here... other to say that I hear and agree with you from this side too! If I don't feel the humility in the group or practice I've learned to stay away, but I don't know it that helps at all other than I don't support it. Anyway, those are my own thoughts on this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you for the comment, i'm glad some people get it :)

      Delete
  3. Thank you very much for this.
    It's of the utmost importance that white settlers are aware of the context.
    It seems as though capitalism will swallow up any cultural artifact or practice and spit it out in masses to make money.
    We need to foster greater understanding of our colonial history.
    You are right, the misuse and careless production of Indigenous medicine is based in ignorance.
    Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you're welcome! thanks for reading!

      Delete
  4. Thank you Wahji for your sharing. We've had many discussions about wild crafting and herbalism. When its inappropriate to sell, I do like your response. If you were in our region I'd come and see you! This is the other important thing to remember, when I am looking for a First Nation naturpath, doctor etc I don't know where to look. Perhaps you can send me a note where your whereabouts is to gwetin@yahoo.ca . There are those of us that follow the traditional, and the naturpathic, reiki etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am of two minds of this. I'm Apache and Cherokee. I am of Two Worlds. I don't think the sacred medicine belongs to anyone else at this particular time and yet they need it. But my feeling is this belongs to the native people my people are we need to restore our selves first before giving our knowledge away. You see how it is sold and Bartered. It's still only the white form of respect that brings even the most well-intentioned Souls 2 our ways. To it is not us who owns anything. But this is our history our culture our ways that we need to reclaim and grow amongst our youth to repair and heal. It is very true that giving is one way of healing oneself. However you cannot give what you don't have and every native person deserves their history and their culture their own ways first before sharing it with others non-native. I'm sorry I have to disagree with you as much as we don't own it it is in our blood to know. Thanks

      Delete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you sincerely for sharing this and for sharing your discomfort about not being medicine police. I am a woman of colour in south africa ... My immediate family dispossessed of our home through forced removals of apartheid. Today privilege continues unabated and i am also followed in stores or dismissed as an other in still white communities.
    My connection n resonance with first peoples worldwide is deep but i have an unconcious inexplicable connection to first peoples America. Since my childhood the teachings, symbols and nature based values made sense to me. I am now 48yrs old. Today ... Just today i facilitated a dreamcatcher circle. Most of the circle was about connection to the values of Lakota and Ojibwe peoples. In addition, a deep connection to their suffering, persecution, othering, systemic violence. As people of colour in south africa and all of whom lived under apartheid, the trans historical trauma is tangible.
    I struggled secretly because i did not feel i had any place doing such a sacred act. I am still struggling but i could not deny the prompting to conduct the circle. So i sit with my struggle but reading your post somehow comforts me. I realise after reading this that we connected deeply to relatives in the west from the south. I realise that we came seeking healing from similar wounds. i realise that our deepest intention was for connecting and witnessing. I realise that as we wove our webs and told stories of Iktomi n grandmothers and brought our intention for transformation to the circle we were connected in the sacred hoop of unity. i still feel unworthy and perhaps i have overstepped and dishonoured relatives. For this i trust i will receive a pardon. For now i thank you for your sharing of your struggles and bring to it my struggle. In this place i know we will be met by the wise ones .....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for sharing your stories. I think that acknowledging our own limitations is where we can begin. And that with every story we share, we are bringing something new and needed to the world. Make the dreamcatcher workshop your own and speak about your history. It is needed. Much love and respect my friend.

      Delete
    2. Thank you Julie for your response. So much has happened since the workshop and reading your post for all of us who were present in the circle that day. The spirit guides have been so gentle yet powerful in helping me through this struggle and my own trauma. Thank you for starting the discussion Julie ... it is bring its own healing way down at the very tip of Africa.

      Delete
  7. Where do us "mix race" folks fit in? My ancestors died on and survived the trail of tears. My other ancestors may have been Indian killers...although most immigrated to the states in the late 1800S. Am I a settler or am I native? Well, I'm both. I don't know any of my native relations... I don't even know my father, who is almost half native. (I think) I have taken up using traditional medicine as a way to reconnect with a part of me that was stolen. Maybe I don't have the proper training, but I still respect their power.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for posting!

      Delete
    2. What community were your raised in? If not your Native community, you should go home as often as you can and make yourself known to the people so that they will come to know you, and you can learn your culture.

      Delete
    3. Us now in between the sights of shots fired at anyone that remotely looks as another. My grand-babes as well. Dna tested. We are what we are and are proud. Dis-enrolled, denied, disavowed as a relation- either to dark or too light.. I teach my grands we are green with purple polka-dots or purple with green. Either way... they understand. Let not the eyes deceive one. What community were any persons raised in. Both my parents military. My community moved for the resources. Survival. Equally proud of all my many tribes members or heritages. One must not be a card holder to have heritage. The purity club... was experienced decades ago... a century ago, several centuries for some of us. All across the world and here for countless times we have learned. People can be upset over my words... but I speak truth.

      Delete
    4. respecting it is all you need. I'm mixed as well. And we fit in both worlds...

      Delete
  8. I've always believed that had white man taken indigenous ways,we wouldn't be in the trouble (globally) we are in. And yes this is my practice and I have been taught to do it all n an honorable way??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i believe that too. Instead of taking and banishing there should have been more sharing and learning.

      Delete
    2. I believe this as well. I am non-indigenous and open myself anytime to learning and understanding. My indigenous friends have been great and helped me be a better ally, and have taught me that respect goes a long way and, once given, must be upheld. The colonists totally wrecked a beautiful country and its people, and the things that have been done to indigenous families are atrocious and are not to be forgotten or passed over. I do know that I enjoy white privilege, and endeavor to become a better ally.

      Delete
  9. My maternal grandparents, my parents and my siblings attended residential school. This makes me a third generation survivor, so many of these teachings were lost through the ages. When I graduated from university I knew very little about my culture other than what I learned in history, anthropology and native studies classes. But, somehow I didn't know who I was, or what my purpose in life was. So, I went back to the bush to learn about our traditional ways. This is what I learned.

    First of all, as a two-legged we do not have the right to judge another two-legged. Breaking this law will often lead to gossip, jealousy and anger. Second of all, the medicines have a spirit. They balance the two-legged world by breathing in carbon dioxide and exhaling oxygen that is so important for us to survive. When certain medicines are used for smudging they take our prayers to the spirit world. In other words they speak for us in times of need. We are not allowed to claim ownership of these plants because they have a spirit and a two-legged cannot own another spirit. Creator put these plants here for everyone to use regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or religious belief. Which brings up the question around ceremonial teachings. Should we be allowing other Canadians into our sacred ceremonies? Most definitely, because no one has a right to keep anyone away from Creator. As long as a person is not under the influence of drugs and alcohol they should be allowed to attend the ceremonies. If this is your first time and you have a question find out who the ceremonialist's helpers are and approach one of them with tobacco and ask your question. Okay that sounds easy enough. But, how much tobacco should I give? Many people will offer a pouch of tobacco, or a pack of cigarettes which is good. As long as you present enough to fill a pipe bowl in the spirit world and the brand doesn't really matter. You can even wrap your tobacco in 4" x 4" piece of broadcloth to make a prayer tie. Once again, the colour of the broadcloth for this purpose doesn't matter. However, keep in mind that the Cree do not use black in their ceremonies as the black spirit is too powerful for humans to work with.

    Finally, is it okay to buy medicines from vendors? As long as a person has a good heart they will travel in the right direction. Once again it becomes a matter of choice. If you don't feel comfortable buying medicine from a shop or vendor, then go out on the land and pick your own medicine. Remember to pick extra so you can offer some to friends and family who may run out during the long winter months. If you can't make it out to the country during the summer then these "hipster" shops are doing you a favour by having it available to those who need the medicines. If you decide to buy a braid of sweet-grass or sage from one of these shops, then offer them some tobacco with your payment. In all likelihood the vendor will use the money to cover his/her overhead expenses and part of those expenses include travel, accommodations, and meals. Not to mention all the business expenses that need to be paid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Blackfoot country, learn to at least say hello in Blackfoot. Learn their history so you can mingle with that understanding. In nature, I use sweetgrass, Sage, or tobacco because I feel it is a good natural way to connect with Spirit, Creator, God, or whatever you refer to.

      I take my cues from the earth. If a ceremony is born from the earth after thousands of years it must mean something. I like to think the act of prayer and the attempt to thank Creator via plants with power, is pleasing to this great Spirit. So few humans even think about their spiritual aspect. I encourage it any which way.

      Delete
    2. No way should money be involved with medicine's. No good has ever really come from or out of the creation or use of money. It suffers many even the one's who have mega money. In stores and other places they sell for money, plain and simple money exchanges hands. Native before out lawed shared all their medicine's. But was unable to maintain their lives by being banded from practicing it, band from living the way we use to, being in prisoned onto reserves and just awful thing on awful things through out impact. Money stands as the shadow behind all hurt and pain did to us. So how is it you can buy the use or abuse of the spirits behind the medicines, with this awful blacken spirit showdown behind that in which money represents.

      Delete
    3. I agree. The earth provides. No form of money need help another. All need to help if they have the knowledge - this is the duty. The knowledge doesn't belong to us or big pharma.

      Delete
    4. Wonderfully written. No one owns the plants, trees, water, sky, the colors, or the patterns. I am 3rd generation Prussian / Indo European descent. My grandmother came over in 1893. Many of her cousin's were here by 1863,leaving Europe because of wars and pogroms - brought into MN during the Indian movements as land was being colonized by the government. She was raised to be American, as we are now American with a heritage that is lost but can be researched and read about. She brought her healing ways to America, she taught me how to walk in the woods and byways to collect things, listen to Mother Nature speak in all things. I was taught prayer, and what was called White and Black healing. As healing was Balance in all ways. Night to Day, Good to Bad, in thoughts, diet, prayers, actions. Only one other cousin embraced a few of grandmothers ways. Because both of my Grandmothers were considered 'healers' by those who believed.Laying your hands on a person in peace could do wonders for them. One from far north eastern Prussia, the other from the Black Forest near Luxonborgia. These ancients were slaughtered by the 100,000's even before the 1890's. There were whole lands destroyed, wiped barren of whole tribes and languages. But we do not talk about that in America. Because we focus on the desecration of the tribes here. Violence occurs in every region of the world. The way of healing is the circle, the fire, the prayers, and the herbs with stones. That is a UNIVERSAL way of healing. To be learned and shared by all. We are humans, with all the same bones, heart and skin. And we all have the same ability to learn balance, from all who live around us. Our hearts and spirit don't know ' country of origin', they only know how to guide us and listen to the world around us.

      Delete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have a few reactions here:

    1) I have definitely gotten uneasy watching my fellow white folks put on feather earrings and give themselves Indian names. There has been more than once where I've gotten smudged with sage smoke and a turkey wing and thought "you're really working hard at playing Authentic."

    2) But the same reason I go to occasions where I'm getting smudged and going into trances is because this modality is EFFECTIVE. If I had "stayed in my lane" and stuck with western medicine and talk therapy, I'd still be dominated by anxiety and depression. Using shamanic/indigenous modalities has literally transformed my life experience into something with much more joy and happiness than I would have had otherwise.

    3) More of a question for discussion: There is a Peruvian shamanic tradition in America which has a direct lineage to Peruvian shamans. They have passed but it's easy to trace the teaching chain back to them, as it's only three or four iterations.

    Does this feel less like appropriation, when the traditions have been passed by indigenous teachers who demand long apprenticeships? (Think Carlos and Don Juan, except not fictional.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. !. Okay?
      2. If you are appropriating and using if for your own means, then think through why hundreds of years of religious,social,and social persecution of Native Americans (which led to mental and physical manifestations of trauma and pain that spans generations) is far greater than you singular uses of Native American spiritual practices. You are not the center of the world and it is far more personal and important to Native Folks (whom might also be suffering from the things you are)than you. You being transformed is not what matters in the bigger picture. They were not created for your transformation.
      3. Peruvian Shamans are Indigenous. First Nation peoples are indigenous. Their migrations and trades and cross cultural fluidity has nothing to do with you, and outsider. That is Indigenous American peoples conversation to be had.

      Delete
    2. To the above reply; this is a very dangerous sentiment to impart: "You being transformed is not what matters in the big picture." The shared transformation of every individual on this earth toward understanding their collective resonance, is essential and integral to the health of us all. The plants are our ancestors, and to admonish, or create false barriers between their sacred work and a human of this earth, is very dangerous indeed. We can all be respectful of lineage and tradition without using the same rhetoric of those who oppressed and separated all indigenous cultures from their sacred relationship with the plant world in the first place.

      Delete
    3. I'm glad using the medicine has transformed your life, but please use it in the proper way with teachings from an Indigenous person. You'll gain so much more :)

      Delete
  12. Thank you for taking the time to educate us. This opens my eyes to more oppressive behavior, and I will amplify your voice in hopes others will listen.

    ReplyDelete
  13. It belongs to us and we need to reclaim it before we can give it away again and again and again to be economize and capitalized and sold and misused. Some of us don't have it and we should. We should take care of our own first and then we will be in a position to share when and how we wish. I'm sorry that's how I feel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its a plant. It grows in the ground. It doesn't belong to you.

      Delete
    2. ^ Get outta here with your hurtful comments. It doesn't make it alright to express your anger anywhere you like just because you are a stranger on the internet.

      Delete
    3. Sure it does not belong to any one, in the way you state it, but person before being told it was used by natives and for specific matters and means go way beyond what you state. Can you say other races of beings have used it before learning of it's use from the native peoples it's self. No where in history prior to this land and the native peoples was this used and in the way in which it was used? And no it is not just a plant to us it is the spirit with in the plant it's self and the teachings and stories around it.

      Delete
    4. I am a white person and I live in an area between two indigenous communities, where there are more indigenous than white people. When I was invited to, I attended a medicine circle to receive some plant teachings. What my teacher/elder/medicine woman taught me was that once she has given me a teaching, it is for me to use and pass to others. She says that most of the indigenous people around her are not interested in the teachings, and she feels that sharing with respectful folks of other nations is a way to preserve the teachings. I don't think it's okay for people to sell medicines, that is also what I was taught. And I sure do feel like ALL white folks need to be aware of what a privilege it is to receive any teachings at all, and what a responsibility to keep and use those teachings for good.

      Delete
    5. I think there's also a difference between selling for profit and selling close to cost to make ends meet to continue your work. I don't know where inbetween that the line is drawn. I believe selling to buy yourself a large home or whatever isn't ok - but to cover the cost of where you heal people? It's a necessary in the society.

      Delete
  14. Thank you..Chi-Miigwetch, thank you for your words..This has bothered me for a longtime..Iam Ojibwe medicine woman, and I feel that our medicines..are ours..we know the teachings,thank you for saying how I feel,your my granddaughter, my daughter,my sister..somuchlovexxx

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank you for this window in to your heart. I hear it.
    I long for some one who isn't what whose had training to study from.
    OK. One. I'm white. And
    2.Elders who are present in this world are reclutant to teach. Understandably.
    My information has come mostly from my internal memory.
    Yes. I smudge clients w a feather and sage. Yes. The woman who taught me ran a pagan supply shop. No. No one in the physical realm was Native. It's just not readily available.
    But my soul speaks. I use animal journeying formyself and others.
    Spirit led me to that information too. At a Pagan gathering. Was she Native? No. Dis she speak to my cells? Yes.
    I have visions of things I know nothing about, until I grab on to the word, and start asking. Like "Sun Dance". I heard it in the vision and was told to go find out...so I asked and got many different stories. I've boiled them down now to understand the message. But not because I could ask and elder. But because it's calling my spirit.
    I am 39 yrs old and just found out in the last 7 years of what ACTUALLY happened so long ago.
    I'm heart broken sick to my stomach. Remorseful for something I didn't do. Feeling, as am empathy, the pain. And rage.
    I hear and feel you. Thank you for speaking up in such a beautiful way.
    P.S
    I just moved and found a Native offering drum nights at a local shop. I'm so excited learn and expand from this person willing to share.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. You being white means that you are not entitled to native knowledge or medicines.
      2. You not knowing about the history of this continent (and the reason of the subsequent wealth of the western world) is wholly your own problem and privilege. There are those of us who feel it every day and who face social, political, economic, and health issues due to it (often for generations).
      3. Your entire post is asking for both forgiveness and privileges which is so disrespectful and entitled of you.
      4. You should donate that drum to the Nation it comes from. Your entire post shows that you really should hold off from engaging with Native Cultures until you learn how to appreciate from the outside.

      Delete
  16. Holy fucking shit. The people using this plant that grows ON THE GROUND today are not the same people who beat your forefathers. Its fucking grass. Its not yours any more than it is their. We get it you hate white people, but that doesn't give you a right to say they can't use a plant that GROWS ON THE FUCKING GROUND.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why are you so angry about this? You are free to connect with plants that "grow in the fucking ground" as much as you like. What is harmful and ignorant is to appropriate and misuse deep spiritual/cultural practices from other indigenous nations as if it was somehow your "right" to do that, especially since there is an ongoing war between indigenous nations sovereignty and traditional territories and the capitalist police state of kkkanada/usa/worldwide. Why do you feel personally offended when someone expresses their own feelings and boundaries? No one said you can't connect with plants man.

      Delete
    2. I didn't get that at all, the writer is asking people to be conscious of the historical and contemporary context surrounding the use of indigenous medicine. While we are privileged, or advantaged in having access and understanding to these traditional practices, as the author wrote, "please be aware of your white privilege, and that you are appropriating a culture that my family was beaten for practicing." This isn't something from our distant past, these are living people that experienced this. Asking people to be conscious of reality is not hate.

      Delete
  17. This type of comment (quoted below) is probably one of the main reasons this article was written. There is no respect for the medicine, the traditions, the people or the spiritual practice. The article doesn’t say “You cannot use this”. The lack of empathy for the suffering of the indigenous people is indicative of the biggest problems we face in this world. The white people just took everything, claimed it all; the land, the people and now the medicine. Then, we act all entitled because “Hey, I didn’t beat your ancestors”. Maybe not. But maybe your ancestors did. I know that mine were involved in the atrocities against Native Americans and African Americans. Did I do it? No. Am I sorry for it? Yes. So, when a Native person asks me to respect where the medicine comes from and who it belongs to, I listen. Comments like yours, below, that’s the white privilege the article speaks of. Also, the belief that the suffering is all in the past is another fallacy of white privilege. There are generations of human beings whose lives were forever altered and who are still discriminated against and they deserve to be respected and heard. Also, how about just don’t be an asshole?

    AnonymousNovember 11, 2017 at 1:20 PM
    Holy fucking shit. The people using this plant that grows ON THE GROUND today are not the same people who beat your forefathers. Its fucking grass. Its not yours any more than it is their. We get it you hate white people, but that doesn't give you a right to say they can't use a plant that GROWS ON THE FUCKING GROUND.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't base my remarks on color of my skin. Dusky as the far northeast tribes - as well as bleached as if I were albino... I and my grands are leopards. Cancer and treatments had their way. With all. The grands are processing what have been put into our dna. I am really failing to see the arguments of many. Very confusing. The earth provided long before any of us was born. Long before we were all split apart. Origins. Perhaps... some of us have the tests showing 40,000+s years on this planet. Many seem to be focusing early in the timeline of life and history - where they didn't live, didn't even exist at the time... Open the eyes. SHT... happened to a great many people. That is history. Now time to lead but not by anger. Be proud and strong- determined to pass to future generations what knowledge has been passed to them.- Sans the anger. Perhaps less heated talk would help all. Anger will ensure many languages and knowledge... never reach the youngers.

      Delete
    2. as a white person I must call out my fellow people here (to the original comment) - why are you on the defensive? why are you so threatened by this article? The article didn't HATE white people. It simply pointed out an area where in general white people are silencing others. This is a very "white lives matter too" sort of response to this. It is deflective and not self accountable. White voices have been the main voice for so long. Our feelings have been coddled to the point that when we're grown adults we can't handle opportunities for growth without taking things personally. We scream about reverse racism (which isn't actually a thing since we can't be oppressed on a systematic level, and I say that as a very poor single parent. Class oppression isn't the same thing). You need to start by looking in yourself and finding out why something like this makes you angry and defensive. And then you need to go take some classes about privilege so that you can be better to other humans (since your question was answered in the article but you were too angry to comprehend that and chose to act out in anger instead). The YWCA classes are a great place to start. I have had a much better life since letting go of this defensive anger and fragility and learning how to let people of color and indigenous people have space at the table. Human rights aren't some sort of pie chart - we won't lose our space at the table by letting someone else join. I've had many more opportunities. I've built better relationships. It is a growth process and sometimes it's hard but it is definitely worth doing - instead of commenting while yelling on articles like this. You're using so much energy on being defensive and it doesn't get you anywhere.

      Delete
    3. Also yes people clearly don't understand that in the US and Canada alone many indigenous people don't have safe drinking water, don't have the same firefighting resources, don't have the same education resources. The alcohol, suicide and domestic violence rates are due to systematic oppression. Even when the population of natives in my area is low (about 3%) - more than 20% of the men in my jail are native. They're stopped at higher rates and punished harsher for the same crimes - and usually in a manner that poor people can't over come. They face the same violence as black people by police. Yet people assume it's all in the past. They assume because whites "gave" them reservation land (instead of forcing them into some sort of camp) that we're done with - but we still don't honor any of the treaties.

      Delete
  18. I agree 100% , from a very young age we were told of our people's suffering at the hands of colonists ! He taught me great respect for our ways and that Mother provides all we need in life , and to take no more than is needed and leave the rest alone ! The Trail of Death and Tears took many ancestors of our people ! You don't understand the pain and suffering in our heart and soul ! I grow my own sage , cedar , sweetgrass , and gifted feathers from winged ones ! I smudge in private and never share that with anyone ! Use to racist whites telling me , " you don't look like a Indian , can I come see your teepee , your not gonna scalp me are you " and then laughter ! That's white privilege. We didn't have running water , had to draw water from the well . no heat except wood from the land , and no air conditioning ! Grew our own food and men fished and hunted ! Thank you for sharing !

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is a very giving response, but I'd like to remind there is no Pan -Indigenous way with these teachings. This is one Cree way of a few Cree nations. There are many different nations in North America. Ceremony is not identical, so at the least one could learn whose nation they are practising.

    ReplyDelete
  20. In general, I'd remind everyone to at least learn which of the 100s of Indigenous nation's ceremony are they using. Why are they choosing yhat nation's ceremony? What do they know about that nation?
    These people who 'feel the healing' so much more deeply should realise the power of that resides in them. If a ceremony draws that out, know what that ceremony is for and who it comes from. Otherwise, an awful lot of people are just content to make shit up and call it Native American. That’s an amazing level of disrespect and arrogance.
    The Indigenous are a culture of nations. It is not one size fits all.

    ReplyDelete
  21. When something is so powerful that its written from the soul such as this, it demands an answer. Being the descendant of a "coloniser" aka white person I have pondered the predicament we find ourselves in, so I will speak from this angle. I believe this happens because people such as myself are born into countries where they don't not belong "spiritually" on an ancestral level. We are like plants that have been cut off at the roots. Which leads some to becoming absolute racist anuses, and others into misappropriating cultural thieves, and the rest of us are left confused when it comes to matters of spiritually traditions etc. We cannot change the past and what brought us to this point, but we can ensure a better future. And I think a beginning point is by giving respect and acknowledgement to the traditions and spirituality of the indigenous people, and by not misappropriating, leading and profiting from them. Participation in /Healing should be an honour/ privilege given from the indigenous people if and when they feel comfortable with the situation and not be something demanded/claimed for from them. I think a lot of todays societal problems are due to the fact that so many are born into countries where they have no ancestral connections to. Not to mention the damage done to the indigenous populations who had their countries invaded and traditions wrecked. How to fix all this is beyond me, I just wanted to reach out to the writer of this post and say I am sorry you feel this way, your words touched my soul and saddened me. Thank you for starting this conversation its a very important one and its only when we reach out and start to talk to each other, that we can begin to sort out the mess we find ourselves in.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Good article and words that needed placement in the open. I have long respected the Native cultures and challenged myself to learn and understand the ones in my area. I have had some dark times and ironically it was Lakota Ways by Joseph Marshall III that helped me in ways I cannot measure. I respect the ceremonies and like another person mentioned, I feel humbled when I am invited to them. I would never accept an invitation to Sun Dance or other sacred ceremonies. It is not my place.

    I agree with Doddy Apples comment about many people being born into countries where they have no ancestral connections. I believe there is something to that thought process. People are drifting and they are searching for something to root themselves. They lack a sense of spirituality in their lives with their lack of roots. I don't how to answer for the pain or undo the damage of the past but your words reflect the pain. I respect that pain.

    It is a place as a colonist that makes me ponder the predicament of our society. It is a pain that leaves me lost for an answer but it opens my eyes to the fakes. It is a pain that never goes away. Thank you for starting this conversation.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Burning sage is one of the oldest and purest methods of cleansing a person, group of people or space. While Native American sage burning is the most commonly recognized form of it today, it has nevertheless been a shared practice in other cultures too.

    From the ancient Celtic druids who used sage as a sacred herb alongside Oak Moss for burning as well as medicinal purposes, to the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon whose Palo Santo (sacred wood) sage burning ceremonies are still practiced to this day.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thank you for this perspective. It is, indeed, a VERY challenging situation. I am aware that, in recent years, some Lakota/Dakota/Nakota leaders actually declared war against all such practitioners and "plastic shamans". I can appreciate their sentiments. I am also aware that a white guy, Michael Hull, was honored to be the first white Sun Dance Chief among those tribes. I am grateful for that. So there seems to be no clear "black & white" answer. As some may know, it was prophesied that the great leaders of the Indigenous nations would return in white skins, but be red on the inside. It is humbling to see, but apparently so, and perhaps necessary.

    What you have done is remind us all that there is both good and not-so-good being shared, for good and not-so-good reasons. In all cases it is good to simply be aware. I thank you for furthering that awareness.

    A'ho.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Smudging with sage was a "white" man's tool long before coming to America. It was not appropriated from Native culture. My people used it for the same purpose on a different continent, hundreds of years before we settled in Canada.

    ReplyDelete
  26. First, the words here are beautiful, "...words needed placement in the open." or "...window to your heart" or "I will amplify your voice in hopes others will listen." Just beautiful and this resonation with the article shows the article was necessary. Second, some of these comments are so upworthy of more articles in themselves. I loved the comment from the South African woman who holds First Nation Ceremonies in South Africa. Wow! Thirdly in my own life my son is in a long term relationship with a woman who all her life thought she was Tejano. Her father takes a DNA test and finds out he his 100% First Nations Native American. This shocked the family, what losses of their culture! There was nothing left of their heritage in their own minds, just wiped out like a blank slate! I feel this is the ongoing travesty and pain of many, many peoples which needs addressing. And lastly, I am a mixture of heritage from France to Scotland with a little gypsy thrown in. I can say from my perspective my people's medicine is an ongoing scourge upon the planet as it was by design evil. Vaccines, population control, chemotherapy, surgery and I could go on. My hope is that the medicines of old which were really meant to heal the body and spirit will once again be used fully to heal this planet, awaken the soul to correct all that is devastating the earth. I use a little medicine from many nations, including Chinese, African, First Nations, East Indian with Essential Oils from all over the world and new technology such as a Rife frequency machine and crystals under pressure with resin. Until I open my mind to all healing modalities, I cannot from my pinpoint of reality attempt to heal the pain of others. Be at peace, spend time in nature, learn to be still and quiet and always keep learning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Africa isn't a nation, you should know that if you're doing ceremonies in South Africa. Also South Africans don't call themselves First Nations here. Also the privilege and entitlement in this comment is beyond upsetting. Your opinion is not equal to that of native peoples (of any of those nations you listed). Our loosing of our culture is due to European colonialism and christianizing. That of which the western world has benefitted from monetarily and socially. Us on the other hand have lost our physical heritage to "explorers" and colonial agents who tried to civilize us and steal our religions. You deciding to use them to some way preserve them is to ignore how we deserve them far more and hold all rights to the direction and uses of our medicines.

      Delete
    2. Not all Western medicine is "evil." Vaccines and chemotherapy have saved many, many lives. Would you rather return to the days of small pox and the iron lung? And surgery - heart surgery has saved lives, as have many other surgeries. Let's not be ridiculous.

      Delete
  27. Thank you for sharing your feelings and helping me understand. Appropriation and is confusing and conflicting for me to sort out. As an herbalist, I believe the plants have called me to help people reconnect with them. It is local plants that I can spend time with that are most healing and can best teach me. I took a DNA test this year and was surprised to learn I am mainly Irish. I want to learn more but have no experience of where my family comes from. Without roots, we must learn from someone for the sake of the earth. I was told by an Anishinaabe healer, "We are Great Lakes people. You are not leaving. You must become Great Lakes people with us." This is a very giving attitude and not something we have any right to expect, but I am thankfully practicing things she taught me. Our societal values are so wrong and must change. The only thing I know to do is to contribute in what small ways I can, while remembering your deep loss.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree partially with you, but also feel that in addition to remembering the deep pain and loss of Native Peoples, that we must fight for their privileges to first and foremost be autonomous agents and creators of their cultures and knowledge. We must fight for their rights in the present and call out fellow white people who are appropriating. It is our first duty before even thinking of engaging and learning from their elders. Human rights is our duty. Native Rights is our duty. Remembering others loss is not enough.

      Delete
  28. Settlers is too nice a term. We whites were committing genocide. If only my ancestors had listened and learned instead of persecuting and demeaning. This one is grateful for the elders that have taught him the beauty of the ceremonies that has been the culture of this land for millenia.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I'm a writer now, but originally I wanted to be a physician. One of the most important classes I ever took was my sociology of medicine class. In it, we talked about how culture informs medicine. We covered the medical practices of many, many different cultures and even more importantly, we covered how the cultural beliefs of different ethnic groups impact compliance and even understanding and how important it is when practicing Western medicine to understand Eurocentricism. And to take the time to listen. And to not just assume non-compliance is equivalent to ignorance or apathy. In truth, it's the physician who is both ignorant and apathetic. Western medicine is one way, not the only way. It may even be the best, most effective way in a given situation, IF you could divorce that situation from the social and cultural elements it was bound to. But since you can't, you must work within those parameters, and more importantly, you must respect them.
    I have tribal blood on both sides of my family, but most of the information about those family members have been lost. I wish I knew more, but at least I know enough to be respectful.

    ReplyDelete

  30. I think people all over the planet should go back to their roots. I believe that the North American indigenous route is really the only one that is able to be “learned”. I’m French and German, I would love to learn of my past and the indigenous ancient ways of my people. It’s difficult to do this because well.... I don’t speak French and I’m not in France. The dominating culture that took over Europe erased MY indigenous past. We all have a lot to learn and we should all teach each other, as brothers and sisters. There should be an awareness of the sacredness of the objects and plants. People all over want to learn the old ways. Most quite respectfully. Just my thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would be nice and easy if history didn't happen. Trail of tears, colonization of America, and continued brutalization of Indigenous people of the Americas. There were entire slogans to remove them from their cultures and religions in order to make them more "civilized" and European (like Germans and the French). They and so many other native peoples have had to fight and resist colonial and white authorities to be able to speak their languages freely and practice their cultures. That is why is is completely disrespectful for non-natives to just pick up a Native American religion (roots) to fufil some internal spiritual boredom. The boredom of being French and German is privilege in comparison. Read a book.

      Delete
  31. I am sorry that you have to write these words and that these pains are felt. I am also disgusted by the amount of ignorance, non-native fragility/tears, and negativity in this comments section. As a settler of color (whose religions and lands were also compromised by settler colonialism) I deeply respect what you have to say and fully empathize. I have in two occasions purchased sage and Palos Santos from white pagan supply stores. Though doing so troubled me initially I didn't sit and try to understand what felt wrong. My use of the two medicines was not of the European traditions but similar to that of native peoples in South and North America. I will sit with what appropriating these medicines means without the invitation of my Native friends who first invited me. Impact is so much more important than intent. Ones self-wellness should not be more important that the respecting of and protecting of sacred rites of other peoples. Figure something else out, people died for speaking in their languages and practicing their medicines(my peoples included). You enjoying without that generational and current traumas and stigmas is a sign of ones privileges. Do better folks

    ReplyDelete
  32. So am I to get this straight that no other culture in the history of this planet ever used sage to smudge? Never the Celts, the Africans, the Slavs? No one anywhere but on the continent of North America has ever used these tools?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. People are specifically appropriating Native American methods and types of sage. That is what the author is addressing. They are also bringing up the double standard when it comes to religious practices in relation to race (i.e.. being First Nation and being brutalized for natural remedies) and how now non-native people are doing harm by not being culturally compassionate and monetizing specific cultural rituals and items. Also, Africa is not an ethnic group like the Celts and Slavs and to address them with the other two is to erase hundred and hundreds of unique ethnic and about 1000 unique linguistic groups. Peace to you Wolfmaan.

      Delete
  33. Thank you. I'm in my own deep sorting out process right now and am grateful to have this to sit with. I'm a white women with an indigenous name given to me in my early twenties by an Ojibwe elder when I was part of a learning community centered on her teachings. It has now been my name for 24 years and feels far more like me than my birth name. And yet... all of this. There is a simultaneous rightness and wrongness to this that I am sitting in the intense discomfort of.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Has anyone ever heard of the story 'the 4 colours of man?' Essentially all the races were given a gift to develop with the goal of coming together as a United collective to share those gifts for the good of all humanity. As a person with white privilege who grew up on an Indian reserve, I am intimately acquainted to the intergenerational impacts that continue to be experienced, exacerbated by pervasive poverty and marginalization. I however was fortunate to have a family that was both socially active and culturally grounded - my late stepfather was a residential school survivor yet he always believed and modelled inclusiveness. He even hosted fasts for Catholic Priests! I believe the medicines, songs and ceremonies are meant to be shared - with a good intention and heart - because the gift of healing is needed by so many. That being said, as someone with white privilege I would never presume to step into that space when there are Indigenous people who are ready and willing...

    ReplyDelete
  35. I'm glad you wrote this. I am a white person that sells essential oils through doTERRA. I am so thankful to have the ability to keep finding options to help my emotional and physical health, and that of my son, that don't involve big pharma's chemicals. I am so thankful to share this knowledge with other people so that they have an opportunity to practice PREVENTATIVE medicine and to understand that emotional health impacts physical health. I am thankful that the world is finally going towards a mixture of "Eastern and Western" medicines. It's better for the Earth and our long term health to not over use Western medicines. Ans as you said these teachings could help the Earth be a better place humanity wise. But in this journey I have seen some things that make me uncomfortable - some things that scream cultural appropriation. I have had quite a few times where I've had to stop myself and make sure that doTERRA was elevating indigenous people where these oils come from and not just trying to be white people in the photo (luckily my research on doTERRA in that manner pans out that they're there for the right reasons however they just need a more varied group of employees.). So many times I enter these little "hippie" shops and they're run by white women who sell dream catchers, stones, sage, you name it. I don't think they shouldn't be allowed to do such (as we said the whole world needs these benefits and I love when big pharma loses profits and control)- but I do think they should make an effort to be better trained and make sure what they're doing is correct and respectful and not just profitable so it's important to talk about. I align with so many indigenous views now that I am older (and in America our textbooks lie about indigenous people so it took me many years to understand this). I very much believe in mother nature and utilizing elements of the earth with honor. I very much believe in elevating people of darker skin tones and protecting them at every turn, from housing and education and policing statistics to that of suicide and domestic assault. But I still needed the reminder to make sure I am not stepping over some one else who is better able to teach or use these methods. And I need to make sure that I am not using these methods in ways that cause emotional pain for someone else. I live near a tribe and have some friends in the tribe. I've done some thinking after your article and I now want to reach out and see if I can learn some things through them in the correct way. And to see if there's other ways to include them. Thank you again for putting this into words. Even the best intentioned people still need reminders to check their privilege now and again.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I feel your pain, however, mine is of a white person of Scots background. Who didn't choose to have their ancestors beaten and deprived of their homelands and heritage any more than you. My ancestors came here as strangers in strange lands and had to give up everything they knew. Their land, their heritage, their healing arts. I've always felt the pull of the earth and healing and I've always been stigmatized with "white-privaledge". I would happily go back to Scotland if only I could, its no longer allowed to be my home and I'm not welcome there.
    My forefathers had to scrounge for everything they could here in the US and give up the ability to seek plant-lore. The healing arts are the sciences now, but that's not enough for me. I want to learn the old ways of the earth and the moon. There is a deep calling I can't explain, that working as a nurse only partially fills. And accusing some of abusing their white-privaledge is shallow and unfair. Natives are not the only ones who had everything stripped from them by white men, other whites suffered too. The color of your skin doesn't preclude anyone from feeling the loss of one's heritage. It's just another excuse to lay blame.
    My forefathers didn't cause your forefathers strife anymore than I cause yours. We both suffer the consequence of being humans. Humans suck and shit happens. I just want to regain what little bit of heritage and plant lore I can before it's too late for any of us to find any history. My families tartan, homeland and spiritual ways are fading too quickly to save. Maybe, I can help save someone else's.
    Some are so offended by history itself they would destroy it all in an attempt to sterilize humankind. Only a sterile humankind can be harmless to each other in their past and in their future. What most don't realize is to sterilize humankind you need to eliminate humans.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, my ancestors were forced from their lands by the English, beaten and arrested for wearing their native tartan, forbidden to speak their language, Gaeilge, and forced on ships and sent here, to America. The healers were hung, drown and burnt at the stake for possessing herbs or assisting with births and illnesses. It is in my blood memory,too. I wish none of this had happened, to your people or mine. I share a dislike for people who profit from what was once sacred. As a white person I have never felt safe on Native land and never felt welcome to learn the ways. So we blunder forward. I wish I could turn back the time.

      Delete
  37. Coming from the Fort Peck Nakoda/Dakota in eastern MT, I absolutely agree that traditional medicines should never be for sale. On the other hand, I don't know if you are familiar with John Trudell (Santee Dakota) but he speaks of how, if we go far enough back, all people had tribes and clans, all people had ceremony, all people wore feathers, and all people had traditional medicines. Unlike many Indigenous groups across the world, non-indigenous people lost those practices (many as a result of colonization, genocide, etc) and many have been seeking to reconnect with what they lost. Access to what currently exists may be their only resource. I'm curious if you see a solution to helping all people reconnect, heal, and support each other in traditional ways? Pinamaye

    ReplyDelete
  38. the waking up of the westerner to it's old spiritual self, which it had lost almost completely, is a slow, ugly confused mess. The part of those westerners who want to wake up and return to ancient knowledge has nowhere to go but outside of itself. Like a spoiled child, it wakes up after thinking it knew everything, discovering it knows nothing. That child makes awkward steps towards the ones it use to put down.

    We are ignorant, inappropriate, even disrespectful. We just don't have a clue. But we need you. And we are humbly and awkwardly asking for help, from you, from all nations who have preserved, in spite of us, their precious ancient sacred roots.

    I don't expect our indigenous brothers and sisters to agree, why would they? ...except that, given the state of the world, it is time. High time. That we all unite as one, the people of planet earth, and stop finding reasons to be divided, and start sharing all.

    Much love from the deepest part of my heart.

    ReplyDelete
  39. this issue is bigger than native vs non natives, you forget that europe was the first to fall from christian beliefs, you forget that europeans also lost their ancient rituals, herbal medicine and conection with the earth, we also had our spiritual leaders murdered and sacred spaces desecrated. we weren't just hit in the head we were burnt at the stake, drowned and tourtured. This cycle of destruction has repeated all over the world. all the displaced people belong to the story of the lands they now walk,it is up to all of us to share whatever we still remember, to find the way forward because each land has a unique set of cycles that need to be respected and remembered. the whole cultural apropriation thing is just a tool to keep us devided and concored, to keep us in the consumerist cycle, too afraid to look outside our curent state of existance for fear of offending someone.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I use salvia officinalis (common sage) because it has been used for purification in Europe since Greek and Roman times, over 2000 years ago. I do call it smudging, since smudge is a native English word, coming from the same root as the word smoke does, and I do use plant and animal parts, drums, mouthbows, etc in ways shown in the European archaeological record going back to the stone age, but I don't use, make or buy Native American art, spiritual tools, etc. My people have their own ways.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Thank you for writing this so clearly. I learned a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  42. This is going to be sort of long- so bear with me. There are many layers that need to be addressed. 1st Thank You for writing your heart. Thank You also goes to your ancestors that insured one day you would be safely born.They made great sacrifices so that you would be here now! I am a very tiny percentage Indigenous but that is not the point I am here to make. I am here to share the invisible understanding that "might" help. Most Europeans are a Lost Tribe. Their traditions were taken away from them by blood, torture, rape and force. They have virtually no surviving elder to show them their roots with the Land. Those Women were connected to the land and traditions- they knew the plants, songs and ceremonies. They were drowned, hung and murdered in the millions. You are speaking of the lost children that don't even have enough knowledge to be hurt and angry about their oppressors. The Holy Roman church took from them everything that was taken from you. Many of my own ancestors fled for the New World hoping to begin again. Hoping to be free. Well- they are free "to a degree" still under the lock and key of a force they barely even know how to rebel against. All ways natural were taken from them. This brings me back to you. Please try and find compassion to those whose nature draws them to the Spirit of Sage, Sweetgrass and your traditions. Whether you "like" it or not they are the children of this Land. The spirits of this land draw them and whisper them back towards balance. That means the Plants have a plan. I trust the plants. I trust the whispers. I trust that airing your pain and putting your feelings out there is your step toward healing your own blood soaked past. But a family is crying out to you. One whose skin is pale and whose past cannot be reclaimed without love and inclusion. We "colonizers" are mostly just your lost brothers and sisters. Filled with sadness, confusion and a lack of proper training and guidance. Be angry so you can burn through the darkness, be sad for what has been lost on all sides but please also be soft enough to connect with the same people who have been called By Your Ancestral Medicine. This is our way back to each other. A note about my sage use: I learned how to use it when I was taught by a Lakota elder when I was quite young. I burn it frequently. In the "white" world no one knows where to find it or pick it so they buy it. I actually think that's a good thing because no one taught them how much is "enough" or even how to respect the plant should they try to harvest it! All I can think of is there would be that one overzealous idiot who would pull the whole darn plant up OI! So thank goodness they purchase rather than pick. And last note- looks can be quite deceiving- if you saw me I appear soooooo white. But I am not. Like most Americans I am a hodgepodge of heredity which is the result of peoples being both nomadic and running from a blood thirsty and power hungry enemy. My skin color comes from my mothers British and Irish background. I am also Egyptian and Indian (from India) but you can't tell by looking at me. Final word, I from my heart to yours personally request that you see the beauty that is before you in the people who's hearts are knowingly or unknowingly seeking You- Your People- Your Ancestors. They are in Love with you whether they are aware or not. You don't have to teach them your ways as your freedom and autonomy are hard won. But until someone does educate them they will guess their way through sometimes getting it right and sometimes wrong. It's still their souls seeking the Medicine. Many Blessings to you and yours. Thank You if you read my "book".

    ReplyDelete
  43. Thank you for your thoughts. I must admit, some of what you said here is unclear to me. I understand how infuriating it must be to have a group of people waltz up and cavalierly pick bits and pieces of sacred ceremonies and mash them together in inauthentic ways. It is disrespectful at the least and is insulting to the people that suffered for keeping those traditions alive. But then you go on to say "If you had to unwillingly give up your babies to be sent to be abused at residential school, would you still want to use those medicines? Because that's the price that was paid." It seems like you are implying that people who had suffered through this would not want to continue these practices and at the same time those are the only people that should be able to. I would really like to hear your thinking on these seemingly contradictory viewpoints.

    I am also unclear on whether you take issue with non indigenous people burning sage and other sacred herbs in general, or just with the ceremonies themselves. For me,I think anyone should be able to burn herbs and do whatever they want as far as meditating, using them in ceremonies or whatever. However, when you try to take over another traditions practices without fully understanding them, it can have consequences and this is where I have issues. When you have a sacred tradition like this, there are often strong cultural guidelines for things like harvest. These guidelines are not typically based on random rules that people created, but rather based in a strong connection to the earth, the living creatures here and what is best for all. This supports a system of sustainable harvest. If you use these sacred plants without this context, you can have a situation occurring as we do right now, which is that the white sage you see in all these new age shops are being over harvested and often harvested at the wrong time of year, thus damaging stressed plants and reducing the overall plant population.Ultimately this could lead to endangering the plant and effectively take away the use of that plant to the indigenous population, adding further injury to the people through denying them their sacred traditions. So, no, I am not a big fan of anyone gathering up a bunch of plants when they don't understand how to do it sustainably just because they can slap a "native american" spin on it and make a buck. Also, many of these commercially produced smudge stick have other, cheaper plants mixed in that can contain all kinds of toxic chemicals that you shouldn't be breathing in. Add to it that there are very strict laws regarding the ownership of certain kinds of feathers for much the same reason and you have a whole lot of people wanting eagle feathers and the like - well someone is going to supply those by whatever means. It is shameful,really.

    But as I said, I am definitely in favor of people being to burn some herbs. Burning sage has been shown to have anti bacterial and anti fungal properties. However, it doesn't have to be white sage. There are many other traditions that burn herbs and resins for both spiritual and medicinal use. Moxibustion is still an important practice in Traditional Chinese Medicine, but unless you have a degree in acupuncture, I wouldn't let you burn mugwort on or near me! The traditions are there for many reasons - spiritual, medicinal and mundane. If you cannot understand what the impact of using them is, you shouldn't be using them. Gathering these herbs was a part of the sacred ceremonies for a reason. When you are buying them in a shop where you, the seller and possibly the supplier have no idea under what circumstances the plants and feathers were obtained, that is a problem.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Look up Hoodoo, Voodoo and Santeria also Wicca. This isnt exclusive to Native American practices.

    ReplyDelete
  45. why we europeans want to try out herbal medicines like cannabis?

    ReplyDelete