Five years ago, when I moved to Hawai’i, I was steeped in the question, “what is the indigenous soul?” This term, which made me uncomfortable because I felt like it objectified and homogenized Native peoples, and because I wasn’t even really sure what it meant, had nonetheless seeded in my mind and taken root. It gave a name to a deep longing I felt. One day, I asked my friend Chris Quiseng what phrase indigenous soul evoked for him. Chris responded: “We are our landscapes.”
What can we do, when we receive a message directly from the land, but respond?
For many years I’ve been working on a book manuscript, and it has been working on me.
The need to write the book came to me in a flash. It was March 2009; I was in Botswana, in the Okavango Delta...
Seeking relief along the banks of Pennsylvania’s Brandywine River, I found a perfect spot in the shade of a huge sycamore tree. The tree’s strong roots held the bank firmly in place, cutting a still, deep eddy into the softer riverbank below. The water provided welcome relief from the thick, heavy air. As I floated in the still waters gazing up at the clouds, I dreamed of the lives of my relatives of one hundred, two hundred, and three hundred years ago, imagining trips to the river just like mine...
What were the earth-based traditions of my ancestors?
I am learning that I will never know for sure. Given my distance from the traditions of my indigenous ancestors, I no longer believe this is information that can be reclaimed in one lifetime. But I have learned is that my own experiences of being in intimate relationship with nature teach me far more than historical sources.
Note: As I officially launch my blog, I am beginning with a 3 part series, musings from my ancestral pilgrimage in last summer. As we navigate these tumultuous times with an unknown future, I am learning more and more about the importance of studying the past: both our collective past, and the specific lineage(s) which we each carry. I feel blessed and privileged to be able to trace some of my ancestral history, and to have had the opportunity to walk in their footsteps and the landscapes they call home. Here is some of what came forth from these times.
There are three ways to travel in unknown terrain:
-Learn the language before you go. Become fluent.
-Find a trustworthy guide to interpret and lead you.
-Flail your way through with a series of missteps and dead ends....