“It is a ‘given’ in Native traditions that deep knowledge is not easily gained and requires time and dedication to attain.” Greg Cajete, “Native Science”
I am writing, writing, writing – hoping to create a body of good works in the world. And practice, reportedly, makes perfect.
We are 40+ years past the epic environmental era of the 60’s and 70’s and yet most days I feel like we have actually lost more ground than has been gained. Rather than be discouraged (at this moment in time), I will look at this as evidence that time and dedication are the seeds of success.
It is an uncomfortable paradox to feel as if the survival of life on Turtle island is in immediate peril while at the same time realizing that meaningful paradigm changes can only occur with time and dedication. That feeling of immediate peril is, to my mind, the result of bioamplification: we are so many, and our consumption of the gifts our more-than-human relatives offer outpaces their ability to heal and regenerate. Add to that the fact that we rarely, if ever, reciprocate anything meaningful and quickly the feelings of distress can begin to mount.
Is it possible that for the last 40 or so years we have rushed an environmental ontology without first having built a strong foundation necessary for changing the hearts of mankind and not just their habits? Have we set ourselves up for what feels like a backdraft of greed that drives the extraction and consumption to unsustainable levels?
It may feel like we don’t have the luxury of time, but really, we are here for a very short time, and keeping that in perspective is key. Additionally, we can’t afford to ignore the opportunity for ‘lessons learned’ here.
Native pedagogies are metered in time with the laws and timing of nature. We can change our ways and change our minds and get back into a rhythm and relationship with aki, nbi, giizhig, ziibii and mitigoog, to name only a handful. It is a long game, requiring focus and adaptability as well as humility. We can effect powerful changes by applying dedication, consistently, over time.
Our challenges may be wicked, but we were made for this time. We are not here by accident. I hear the wisdom and knowledge of my ancestors when I sit with aki or sing with nbi. These relatives hold the memories, they remember me and my lineage, and they remember the compacts. When I slow myself to the rhythms they keep, the healing of the reciprocal relationship gains a little more ground and becomes a living relationship.