We are Hunkered Down
Boozhoo Hello from the sequestered lodge of the WeWan Wisdom Keepers, Kelly Talking Heron and Jim Great Elk. Like much of the world today we are hunkered down in our lodge to help prevent the spread of this damnable Novel Coronavirus 19, COVID 19. Like you, we are doing our part.
In our oral traditional of storytelling we are reminded of the power of the tribe in any crisis. During this pandemic we thought it would be of help to share one of the stories about the first Stepping Stone of Life… FEAR!
…and also learn how others are doing their part.
In the time of our grandparents in the place before time, where all tradition was created this story was first spoken.
As the Shawnee story goes… In the time of our grandparents in the place before time, where all tradition was created, this story was first spoken.
The lodge was dark, with only the light from the small Sacred Fire¹ and the last flickering of the warm cooking fire. All was quiet except for the muffled breathing, and occasional snore, of the family deep in sleep. Outside, the cold of squochee keso, sun cannot thaw, the frigid winter winds howled, rattling the bark outer covering of the wicon home.
Snuggled beneath the heavy kiththippe bison robe, the child whispered, “Grandmother, kotàganezi I’m afraid! Is Kitch Makadewa Makwah the Great Black Bear trying to tear our wicon apart?”
“Ssssh, Quiet little one… it is only wesehan the strong wind.” Grandmother uttered softly, “I will give you strength with a story of how our Shawandasse People have always conquered the imaginary enemy… Fear.”
“The Evil One Madji-manidò created the ghost creature Fear to control and weaken the children and frail of heart within our Circle. The “magic” it used was the strange sounds, great noise, the unexplained and the utterance of the name of the Spirit of the Black North. Kewade…”
She paused, not finishing the name out of respect for the Great North Spirit.
Taking a quiet breath she continued. “Close your eyes… and vision of our ancestors. See on the inside of your eyelids, the strong battle hardened men as they form a protective circle around you, with their sharp spears pointing outward in all directions, as the kitheppe* do in times of danger… the women warriors circled behind the men, their spears pointed outward and finally the Elders and Pipe Carriers, forming the inner circle. Together they are all protecting you from any harm. The Tribe of the Ancestors in your vision are always there for you to recall when Fear tries to control you my child.”
“With all the Ancestors protecting you little one, there is nothing to fear. The tribe, both then and now, are ever ready to defend you.”
The child now filled with the vision of herself within the circle of her Ancestors, and a sleepy smile on her young face , drifted off in peaceful slumber.
When threatened, Musk ox, like the kiththippe bison, form a circle and protect the herd with their sharp horns pointing outward in an impenetrable defense.
And so it is across the Great Turtle Island (North America, both the United States and Canada), our people together, while separated… are protecting everyone. This is happening around the world. With rare exception, politics and ideologies have been set aside for a common good.
Here in our home state of Arizona, Governor Ducey issued an order to “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Similar orders are in place everywhere.
Like the circling of the herd, or the tribe… If we circle together, while isolated, we will get through this and we will have proudly done it together.
On April 5th, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II gave a most inspirational message to the UK and the Commonwealth of 53 countries (31% of the world’s population).
In part she offered, “…Together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it. I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge.”
Around the world, people are coming together while apart to keep alive the continuity of tribe. This unity within every small town, city, state, region and nation is the key to beating this pandemic.
Here in America our leaders have created a path for our people to conquer this pandemic.
Stay informed and in touch – Get up-to-date information about local COVID-19 activity from public health officials in your area.
The official United States CDC recommendations include the following:
Stay home and speak to your healthcare provider if you develop any of these symptoms: Fever or, Cough or Shortness of breath.
Emergency warning signs include*: Trouble breathing – Persistent pain or pressure in the chest – New confusion or inability to arouse – Bluish lips or face… get medical attention immediately!
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately!
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
We can be proud of ourselves as a civilization and our own tribes large and small, in this great accomplishment. As we move forward together it is important that we not forget the lessons we have learned.
To many this has become a great hardship filled with the fear that the changes we are making may cause us to keep separated forever. This will only be true if we allow it to become the rule. The importance of cooperating with each other even to the extent of distancing.
The value of understanding that everyone is in this together, and our dogged willingness to overcome any adversity.
As the health of our nations, and region are restored it is important that we also maintain our connections with family, friends, neighbors and communities. Also with our world states and friends abroad. This rebounding can only make all civilizations stronger.
“With all the tribe protecting you my child, there is nothing to fear. The tribe, your people are ever ready to defend you.”
The final lessons we can learn from this crisis
We are not alone. Others depend on us, and that working together we will accomplish miracles. Let us continue beyond the “Togetherness through Separation” to never again be divided for any reason, even a world crisis.
¹Sacred Fire: This fire was a small ceremonial fire kindled from the Ceremonial Fire in the village Great House. That flame was first gifted to our people by the Potawatomi – The Keepers of the Fire. It was kept constantly burning, as was the Tradition of our Ancestors. A Tradition lost to most today.
Our thanks to our new friend for use of his image of Musk Oxen.
Dr. Wayne Lynch