First Peoples

Beyond Settlement: Energy, Cascadia and the Portland Protests

Let’s look at energy by getting going.  There is a way forward.

You did not make it. No human made it, yet humans have followed it for, perhaps, 10,000 years. Deer made it, coyotes helped out, water, too, gravity through some dust at it, the sun and a tree or two pitched in, not to mention the turning of the Earth around its axis and the roll of the Earth around the Sun, but, all in all, the deer made it and it is there for anyone to find. Trees have come, as “modern” humans, not realizing that this is energy, confused it with space and broke the human-deer relationship to make room for trees.

Trees are lovely things, sweethearts, really, but if you follow a deer track through them and tracking along the gravity gradient of the hill, you might see readily enough that they do get in the way of the grass throwing its hair over its head. No point going uphill when you don’t have to.

If you who might be reading this are a modern human or even one of Google’s electronic dwarves, you may likely be trained to recognize that readily as a bit of poetic thinking, this “grass growing its hair over its head,” and even as a bit of anthropomorphic behaviour, this making of the Earth into a human story, with human intentions, and discard it, but you might also, I’m thinking, look at the grass without a human shape, as understood by a human body not by the mind. After all, it is your body that is on this journey through its minding. These images are only a record, and not the experience. At any rate, it is not human hair-throwing that is the case here, nor is the stone monolith in the distance, in its world of stone monoliths …

… a human shape, nor are the trees. They are all, however, people, just as humans are, and readable as bodies. Humans are equal to them but not more, and not less. The degree to which you see them as stone and not as bodies is the degree to which you live in your mind and training rather than your bodily experience. Let that be a measure of your day. It’s good to know these things in this web of life, in which the stream takes many forms, none different from the others. This constriction in the trail (cloven feet are helpful at this point)…


… for example, is this:

It has life, because it has movement, even in stillness. If your mind balks at that poetic-way-of-seeing, set the darned thing aside, please, and be within your body, where this knowing is. Looking up helps. It’s a tree thing. Very good at rooting. So, done?

Good. Now, climb just a little further through your life, away from the deer path because you are a human with more flexible joints than a deer and like to wander, just a little, to see what you can see, and what you can see when you reach that log and turn to the south is this:

As a human, with legs and lungs and a pumping heart, you like movement, but processing all that sky within you “takes it out of you,” as you might like to say, so take a rest and see that energy not as your movement but as the movement it just took part in. It’s not just you, either. There is what looks like a bear track leading to this log, right where its bark has sagged to the ground, and the deer track you have been following in the lower left corner, and if you’ve noticed that the pine cones have filled the deer track, and the grass looks like it is making footprints, too, you are close to entering the energy field. You ca see it there if you peer over the hill. Go on, have a look.

Do open the image in a new window so you can see the images in the rock. You might as well have fun in this life: meet your companions, so to speak.

You can also see it in the rocks, if you stop and look. I recommend it.

This community was already ancient two centuries ago. Believe no one who says there is a pre-history here.

When Europeans first came to this story some time between 1811 and 1858, there was grass here…

…many fewer trees, and stone shapes understood by bodies not by minds. This stone pillar, for instance:

 No log. No dead tree, and not those firs rising up out of the creek. They are part of the energy, but to ground yourself, go closer…

… and closer…

… and closer…

What’s a camera for if you can’t play with it? It’s a way of thinking with your hands, which are eyes by another name. Now, perhaps,  after walking with your body and mind together, you, who are as modern a person as I am, and as decked out with gadgetry, can see the energy in its process of speaking. There is the 35 million-year-old red volcano rock. There is the grassland slope. There is the far wall of the Thompson Fault, gouged by glacial tongues licking out from the great Lillooet Ice Field and glacial outflow floods. There are the trees that have come and the fire that has taken them away again as it made its own wind rising up the hill. There is snow and sun and the crumpled stone on the ridge to the right. All of this is the story you have entered. It is a story of volcanic islands rising from a rift in the Pacific, drifting East and rising out of the sea, joining into arcs, mingling with other island archipelagoes, dragging the seabed up with them as the ancient rock of North America travelled west and blocked them and all rising up on the North American shore while the most of the seabed around them descended 1,000 kilometres, folded over and over and over, just to the south. These are not old things. They are still going on.

This is an image of ongoing protest in the region’s first large urban centre, Portland, far, far to the south, which began as an affirmation of black identity and became an affirmation of the power of the government of the United States to assert state control.

Don’t, please, be fooled by the human-centric metaphors of this struggle. It is a far older story than that. This is just how it can come out within a human-centric state. It is, however, readable here…

… far to the north, and here:

And here:

We are bodies in an ancient story. Read it above and live. It might be that we move together from the rock to town …

It might be that we move from the town to the rock…

Lake Lenore Cliff, Grand Coulee

… but we’re not moving. We are within, we are held, and we are spoken. However we are aware of seeing with our hands and hearing with our feet, this is not our story, or, rather, it doesn’t start with settlement’s desire to continue the state of settlement forever.

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