“We, the Indigenous Peoples, walk to the future in the footprints of our ancestors” Kari Oca Declaration, 1992
Turtle Island is where I am from. Some people might think it sounds funny to say it that way, but that is indeed where I live. And obviously, in english, it sounds different than how we express it in our own languages. The settler constructs of Canada and the United States are there of course – but their presence doesn’t change the lands or the responsibilities and relationships we maintain with them. At least they ought not to. Of course, there have and continue to be some truly painful and low points to the interactions Indigenous Peoples have had with the settler governments, and those stories are and will continue to be told as well so that we and future generations don’t forget about the importance of peace, friendship and respect in all of our relationships. These experiences and stories have helped strengthen my own resolve over the years and I hope they will continue to help us persevere in restoring balance when it’s absent - which of course means we need to be free and encouraged to point out when it is and tend to it.
Today is solidarity day and this year, I’m going to celebrate it by starting this blog and attending a few events in the community. And I have to say – that I absolutely love our community. It is a gorgeous place where my loved ones and I grew up. My siblings and I have had tremendous adventures here – hunted, fished, picked berries, made mud pies, played music, created art, explored and learned about things and life. Laughed, cried, loved, lost. Learned to drive. Families and friends of mine have learned about Treaties and exercised their treaty rights in this part of Turtle Island for generations. It is hugely exciting for me to be able to participate in that. I’m grateful for it every day and I’m extremely proud and humbled by the fortitude and foresight of my ancestors in making Treaty – hence the title of the opening post. I’ll probably blog about it again some time in the near future – because this particular declaration has always resonated with me, especially the opening lines. And especially right now, when Indigenous Peoples are gathered at a second summit in Rio de Janeiro talking about our lands, our relationships and our responsibilities.
But for now, I will just say, that I can appreciate the spirit of this declaration. I’ve really come to see how much of the happiness I get to enjoy is fashioned from efforts and contributions my ancestors have made. They had enduring thoughts and care for us, these lands and waters. Somehow, that just makes what I get to experience all the sweeter. I want my nieces and nephews to have a wonderful experience here as well. And that means, I have to do my part to embrace and respect our shared inheritance now.
It is an awesome day to be Indigenous. Happy Solidarity Day Everyone!
Here’s a link to the full Kari Oca Declaration. Enjoy. http://www.dialoguebetweennations.com/ir/english/kariocakimberley/KODeclaration.html