Passing this beautiful, rich, profound way of life onto that next generation

Interview by Paul DeMain
 - News From Indian Country -

Punkin Shananaquet: Okay. Boozhoo, Waasnoday...[Northern Lights Woman is my Anishinaabe name. I am of the Lynx Clan and I am a Potawatomi/Ojibwe woman].

“I am very happy to be here and I give thanks to Gitchi Manitou, the Creator, for giving us this air to breathe and this opportunity to connect that unseen spirit that connects us like water, that air.

“We were brought to northern Michigan as a dedicated group of Anishinaabe and non-Anishinaabe thinking people that are here to revive some of the natural traditional work of our Ojibwe people, working with that beautiful birch tree, that one that we remember that gives us a lot of a lot of gifts that we need to be reminded of. You know, that our ancestors took great care to pass these words, these actions down to us to this present day, this place.

When we go down there and see that connection that those kids are making with that birch bark, that spirit, when they were making connections to that smell of that natural food, it’s that spirit that we got to be reminded of, our senses that defines us to this place, this land, who we are.

Like how many other people can come in and make those definitions through smell cognizance? With the medicine’s, it’s so important. This one here takes us to these places like those animal  doodems (clans), our relatives that stood up for us, those doodem powers that always keep us seeking, seeking that knowledge gendaassowin,  Anishinaabe ashkigendaassowin (new Indigenous knowledge), when that new working Anishinaabe thought that each and every one of us here possess. And to me that is ... it’s really profound, to be sitting here with this knowledge.

“When we see the assault on our mother, on our beautiful mother. You know, what she gives us each and every day, her power, her vapor, her essence.

“And we are just some seeds, handful of pitiful seeds that are passing this beautiful, rich, profound way of life to that next generation. And it’s so beautiful to see that these spaces open up for us like this. You know, these land places, these land teachers allow this movement to happen and bring in such a mixed, beautiful energy that you can see that our children ... whatever state that we may leave this earth in, you know they’re going to make a difference because what we are doing here is for them.

“I had a new granddaughter born in May, that sacred time of the flowers. And I’ve even looked at her little characteristics in our star realm and what placements of teachers will be there when she’s going to be born. And there are so many things that happen in the spring when those spirits come. How they’re all lower to this place.

“There’s so many beautiful relationships happening now between the land and her forces, her energies, her spirits, that continual battle of sacredness of pureness, all of those things that come with what we acknowledge in our language and in our seeds and our foods and our way of life and our dress and what we choose to put on each and every day, the color that we pick. But moving into that forward time.

Punkin and Dave Shananaquet are traditionalist who can be found through-out the Great Lakes region, dancing, painting and most often working with birch bark making bowls, drawing and unique artwork and merchandize like the birchbark hat that Punkin is wearing above.   
            Facebook photo by Kee Boon Mein Kaa

DeMain: Let me ask a question. Looking forward in time? Let’s talk about Standing Rock and the Back 40 Mine and water and seeds. What’s the connection or disconnect and is that a choice, mining, Standing Rock, seeds and hemp and Tell us what the connection is?

Shananaquet: Well, for me it’s like we’re almost being pulsed into that, into that time, into that river of... we’re all being forced like, when we look at a flood, what do we see? We see a mishmash of everything, of garbage, of tree stumps, of dead animals, and all that comes together, you know?

“And for me, it’s like somehow we are being forced like that movement that’s happening with that water. That somehow we have to make that right and we acknowledge that what we have done to that water through pollution, through mining, through plastic, invasive acts.

“You know the most destructive thing on this earth is that plastic and what it’s doing to her and her creatures and her creation. But think of us as as being that movement of how that’s bringing us all together. Like so many minds are coming together from all over the world.

“We are being awakened. All various parts of the world. People like us protecting their sacred mountain, their sacred spring, their sacred cave, their sacred waterways, their sacred maple trees, their sacred island. And I think that that movement is ... we should look at it like that instead of being negative about that, being negative about how we have to be forced to look into a new way of thinking. Because we are bringing a lot of people together that are like minded.

“So I don’t ... That’s just how we can, just for a brief second, think of how we are ... how this energy is brought together by force. We are riding on these silent rivers of creation, of energy, of movement, of time, of space. And to think that we’re just haphazardly just going down and not thinking we’re not doing a thing or not working, that our movements aren’t being recognized, is not right. We are being recognized. Earth is recognizing us. Our languages recognize us, her spirits are recognizing us.

DeMain: You find a lot of hope in all that. For your grandchildren and great grandchildren. If you were to give  a message a hundred years from now someone’s going to look at this video and see you talking. What do you want to tell them?

Shananaquet: Yeah. I do. I think we’ll be in that sacred time of that beautiful newness of creation that our prophecies speak about. I know we will. I know creation will be beautiful. She continues to be beautiful despite all of this destruction anyway.

“You know, look out at how beautiful she is. The snowflakes, they’re like an imprint, an embrace to her as they fall. So, think of all her thousands of embraces that she’s receiving without us even acknowledging that. So, I think she’ll be fine and creation will still take good care of her, like they’re doing now. But it’s up to us to, I guess ...

“When I think about it, a hundred years ago there was a grandmother of mine that sat alone and scared because she was taken away from her existence. And it seems like we have a lot of care and love and resources in this time that keep us connected to what we need to ensure that what we are teaching her children comes from this teacher, this earth teacher.

“And there are a lot of kids that are awakening to that message, a lot of smart kids. I mean, some of my grand ... two of my grandchildren included, incredible spirits, incredibly smart and gifted. Beautiful. I know that they’re going to do so well in this place because they have teachers like you, they have movements like this that they can look up to. And even if they aren’t here, they have family members that will take this message back to our communities and try to make it known there in our own home communities, which we all know is so hard to do as Anishinaabe.

“It’s so hard for each and every one of us to struggle with our own identity and our own home community. And I think that’s the fire that kind of drives us as Anishinaabe people too, is to go and seek that other like-mindedness where you can sit ... our people sat in common counsel with one another, in common knowledge with one another, with shared knowledge and the love of the knowledge with one another.

“And I think we still do that to a great point today. Like what ... this is what we are doing for that future, giving this common existence of who we are to that bundle that we need to carry to that time where we put it down when we cross through that western door, our work is done.

DeMain: I want to switch your emotions around a little bit. What role does humor and laughter have in the fight to keep Mother Nature’s resources clean? Does it play a role? Should it play a role?

Shananaquet: Yes. Oh Gosh. It’s the spirit that we carry that we know Weniboozhoo entrusted to us Anishinaabe, has been the fuel for our darkness, our blackness, our ability to find the beautiful way to laugh in the face of everything taken away from you, your land, your culture, your language, your pipe, your weather bundles, your clan songs, all of that. Yet we defined ourselves and we still laughed at everything. And it’s ... we laugh in ceremony, we’re irreverent in ceremony and you can see the spirit of Weniboozhoo come in and affect us with that and make us ... give us that what I call ... like, if you study yoga and chakra, there’s something that you must bring up from your inner belly to bring out. And laughter is one of the movements of your body to purge and to keep yourself clean from the inside.

“So, besides drinking your water and walking your mile a day or your 10,000 steps, they say to laugh. And it’s been part of our Anishinaabe marriages, our relationships with our families.

“I mean if we don’t ... I’m notorious for just being able to walk and I’m just the butt of the joke because I said something really funny and I am just being made fun of because of it. But that’s okay because it made everybody laugh and I’m laughing with them. And I don’t take offense to that because part of my spirit, I like to be that one that probably gives humor to to life, part of that chapter of humor that we can lend to others.

“Laugh at ourselves, laugh at what we see. So, it’s a definite part of our struggle. It will continue to be the one seed that will keep our minds. It’s what keeps our minds propelled, when we laugh and able to laugh. We can move and think about in a new way.

DeMain: Any last thing you’d like to add?

Shananaquet: Just, ChiMiigwetch minogiizhigad - very happy for this day. Very happy for this time. Even though we know what’s out there in that majority society, we see it, we have to be part of it when we turn on the TV, we should always think that right here is our seed of our knowledge, in these places. So, Miigwetch.


Support IndianCountryTV.com or NFIC. Thank YOU!!

 
0
0
0