Friday, April 30, 2010

Historic ceremony with the Anishnabes in La Verendry Reserve

SunBôw TalkswithWolves Greetings dear allies,

We are just coming back from an historic ceremony held on April 27th and 28th by the Anishnabes in La Verendrye reserve, for the signature of the Algonquin Constitution. This ten pages document defines the traditional government based on a council of elders, with a council of women and a council of youths. Were also present some representatives of the Haudonesaune six nations, from the Mohawk, Cayuga and Tuscarora nations, as well as a few non-Native observers. This Constitution is answering a dire need for the Anishnabe (Algonquin) communities of La Verendrye reserve and it comes out to fill a legal void, after years of corrupt leadership or lack of it.

The traditional Anishnabe have come together in a sacred spirit, to reaffirm their sovereignty and recreate their traditional government, to practice their right to self-determination. They honor their ancestors' ways and stand up to protect their homeland from the ongoing desecration and over exploitation.

The three strings wampum and its teachings about man, woman and child, the birth of the family and the basis and balance of the community, came back to life. You can see in our archived pictures, the photo of the five wampums held by the Anishnabes of the area in the 1930s. Two of those wampums have been lost, including the oldest one at the left, the three strings wampum, but it has now come back to life, meaning the family and community are being rebuilt, after the chaos of the residential schools era.

Another one, the arrow wampum made by Jo Wawatie, went from hand to hand around the Earth to the five continents, until it came back through the Hopi to Jacob, Jo's oldest brother, at the Return of the Ancestors in Arizona last year. Prayers and sacred teachings were shared on this last full moon.

The ceremony was held in a turtle lodge built for the occasion, on Camatose hill, at the same location where the Anishnabe gathered two years ago to sign the Declaration of Sovereignty of the One Nation, which can be found in the archived discussions of the group. This place is the highest point in La Verendrye reserve. The Ottawa river has the unique particularity of flowing on a spiraling course, and Camatose hill stands around the center of the spiral.

The event was filmed and we will try to make images available as soon as possible. You can see on our group some images we took from the ceremony at the same place two years ago, with the Ironwood Log Project.

A brief overview of La Verendrye reserve

In the 1850's, when colonization was reaching the north, the whole territory was burned and logged to apply the colonialist policy of terra nullis. The Anishnabes were driven out of their hunting grounds into Maniwaki and later other reservations, while large part of their homeland was being occupied. A lot of knowledge about plants and the land was then lost. The reservations' era also started the sad and infamous era of the residential schools.

Some Anishnabes kept living on their ancestral homeland. In 1917, they obtained the recognition of a territory for their exclusive use for hunting and fishing. Although it was originally planed to be larger, La Verendrye reserve covers an area over three times the size of Rhode island and counts over 4000 lakes. But the Native's rights were never respected. Soon roads and loggers came in. Villages were flooded without notice by hydro dams. In 1928 came the contaminated blankets. Fifteen people a day were dying and the number of the band went from 1200 to 250 members. the survivors moved further up north to Barriere Lake.

In 1939, the reserve was turned into a game reserve for touristic hunting. Foreign hunters and fishers came by the thousands, while Natives were controlled for ''poaching'' by government agents or enrolled as guides. The band was moved to Rapid Lake, where was the Hudson Bay Company trading post, next to the road. But some Anishnabes refused to move and kept living on their ancestral hunting grounds. Over time, Rapid Lake became the official seat of the government recognized tribal council, while traditionalists have kept occupying other areas. In the 1990's, after several frauds and corruption were exposed involving the tribal council, criminal groups, governments and multinationals, many people moved out of Rapid Lake to establish other traditional communities in the area, most of which are not legally recognized by the federal, provincial nor tribal governments. The last two decades were a period of political turmoil, division and destruction of the Earth, but now, traditional people are uniting around their elders' wisdom to save their land.

After the Rainbow World gathering was held in their territory in 2004, six Anishnabe communities stood up to end logging activities on their homeland. Since then, connections have been growing and victories have been won. The Constitution that was just signed will be presented in court on May 3rd in an ongoing trial over forest protection, in which the Anishnabes have kept the Crown speechless over the basis of Sovereignty.

Some of the elders used to live in their youth in birch bark wigwams and traveled in birch bark canoes, living from the land. Today, two third of La Verendrye reserve has been clear cut and game has become scarce. It holds three huge man made reservoirs with a fourth one on its outskirts.

The message

We are not warriors, we are braves. We are gatherers and Peace makers. We are responsible for the future generations. Some never seen species have been appearing in the last few years, as a sign of the Earth's changes. We can't go back to the past, but with what we have saved, we can face the future.

The Call of the Wolf

We also went to explore different places and scouted the gathering site for the Call of the Wolf, Return to the Sacred Hoop, at Wolf Lake airport. It is the perfect gathering site, a large open flat sandy area covered with a bed of moss and lichens, with over a dozen of standing frames for kitchens, tents, yurts, domes and sheds that were built in collaboration between the Anishnabes and Rainbow peoples. There is also a dozen of picnic tables, a big wood stove and a couple of clean barrels on site. The abandoned paved landing strip can be a huge parking lot, for hundreds of cars. We can haul water from the next settlement a kilometer away and it is between two lakes.

The closest elder from there, Mary Whiteduck, gave us a written permission to gather 2000 people from over 50 countries on her trap line grounds in 2004. There is a council lodge in her place which can hold 100 persons.

In fact, it is not allowed to go and camp anywhere in the reserve, unless buying a government touristic permit, or else by being invited by the Natives. So by gathering with the Anishnabes of La Verendrye, we support them in their claim to their traditional homeland and help them protect it from all kinds of abusive exploitation like clear cutting, mining or hydro dams.

We also scouted other sites which could be used for smaller side ceremonies. And sure enough, we came across fresh wolves' tracks even on the main gathering site. Hope to see you there at next full moon of August, and if not, hope you organize your community circle in coordination with this gathering for the Return to the Sacred Hoop, a permanent circle of Earth keepers for the next seven generations. Prophecies are coming true and Earth changes are happening. The Medicine Wheel will be made whole again and the tree of life shall blossom. The missing corner will be fixed and balance will be restored.

Poster and flyers will ome out soon. We will keep you informed of the developments. Thanks Migwetch to all and to Great Spirit.

Peace to all my relations... SunBow Talks-with-wolves or Kinosh Mowegan

Your thought advocates Judaism, Brahmanism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. In my thought there is only one universal religion, whose varied paths are but the fingers of the loving hand of the Supreme Being. In your thought there are the rich, the poor, and the beggared. My thought holds that there are no riches but... life; that we are all beggars, and no benefactor exists save life herself. Many a doctrine is like a window pane. We see truth through it but it divides us from truth. I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit. Kahlil Gibran

1 comment:

PinoyApache said...

The hill will rise and the rivers will flow with milk...

Over there, a tree will bloom to life and a circle is healed...