Dawn on Earth

It is a wave breaking on a shore.P1240161
It is sifted by trees that hold the night within themselves.

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The sun enters the water, and shines from there. (In the image below, it catches a tree that fell here before I was born, and has raised generations of trout in its weave.)P1240181

As the sun is filtered by the living trees over the shoulder of the forest, it lifts the water and the land together.

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During the day that follows, it is a memory, written in light.

wet2 This is when the wind carries the wave forward, through all the dimensions.wet

The water and the light flow with it, right through you.

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Where they become one is where you are. Only there. In all this universe. Earth creature, this is what your thinking looks like.

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Right through dusk. Of the day and of the year.

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Into the night.

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Then it begins again.

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That is your mathematics, earth dweller.

P1230289That is your music.You who live where the sun and the water meet …

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… and become one.P1230277

If you understand that, or find yourself trying to understand that, or think that these words or this conception is poetry, or that these are images of nature or psychology, please go back …

P1240196 … and try again.P1240219

 

And again.

 

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And again.

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Please take your time.

 

 

Sustaining the Okanagan 18: Truth and Reconciliation Through Indigenous Selfhood

Five days ago, I found a psychological diagram attached to a dropped hand-out for the truth and reconciliation process for creating healthy selves in adults who had suffered personal or cultural violence during Canada’s residential school program, which was intended to erase indigenous political issues in Canada by removing indigenous languages and cultures, including attachment to land and place. The diagram was a black and white variation of this famous pyramid:_69571892_triangles_464

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

It works on this principle: you need to sustain your body; only then can you look after your security; only then can you love and build community; only then can you receive positive reinforcement and find pride; only then can you actualize a particular technology within your body, called a self, which directs this step-by-step program and internalizes exterior cultural and environmental forces. 

I was struck by how colonial this process is, and how it is, in itself, a form of de-indiginization. After all, it contains a hierarchy, in which having a “self” is given priority, on this hierarchy:

  1. Food and shelter. These are”resources” taken from the environment (which is not on the chart).
  2. Safety, security, and so forth. These are things separated from the environment and from the environment of other people competing, seemingly violently, for the same “resources”.
  3. Love, family and community. These are things built within safety, which is separated from the environment, which remains as a competitive, violent source of “resources.”
  4. Esteem, honour, praise, worth. These are things built out of family or social life, which is built within safety, which is separated from the environment, which remains as a competitive, violent source of “resources.”
  5. Self Actualization. This is a integrated, interiorized representation of the entire pyramid, which makes this ladder of competition and protection into a self-standing process, both supporting society and independent of it.

Nothing could be more “US American” in the world. In Indigenous identity, the very premise of this hierarchy is not present, because identity and environment are one. That means that there are no resources, that safety and food, or community and earth, or praise and shelter, and so on, are not separate as they are on this list, but are all present at once in a unity, which is not “the self,” actualized or otherwise. Sort of like this:

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Toad Hanging Out

… or this Native American image of all that:

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There is no hierarchy here. The diagram shows four different forms of the same energy, which is the energy at the centre of the wheel, or this (for example):

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Thule Reeds and Kayak Waves

Houses, mats, food, sources of feminine power, vital trade goods, and important energy for many other living forms of energy, such as loons and dragonflies and beavers and trout.

In comparison to that, all that this …

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… can do is to replace indigenous identity with a social code, for use in interacting with a non-indigenous culture that forms abstract patterns and divisions in place of unities. And that is the colonization project in a nutshell. It has some use in a power-oriented society based on certain classes of privilege, but at the very least the image could include a foundational step, called Earth Needs. At best, it should be a circle, with the understanding that humans are part of their environment, are formed in response to it, and that all points of self, from 1 to 5 on this chart, are always present, although always formed by what comes through from the “previous” level. If the levels are barriers, or doorways, then only what can pass through barriers or doorways can pass and be available for the next level. If the transfers are points of unity instead, then what can pass through unity will be available for the next energization. If all transfers transfer unity, then 5 won’t be self-actualization but world actualization, instead of the actualized self living inside a 5-walled fortress, in a world it has a part in only by “taking” and owning. I’m sorry, but we can do better, by giving not taking, along a unified flow between spirit, body, mind and emotion, from one to the next, within unity. Like our sister, Siya?

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Who gives. Who we know as the sound of children moving through her and accepting this gift, among birds and deer and bees. Who we care for so we can give her to them, and them to her, for their training. These children who bring us berries on her behalf. Berries which bring us into the afternoon summer sun:

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World actualization, earth actualization, valley actualization or indigenous actualization would all help sustain us in our earth. This…

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…does not. We should put it in a museum.

 

Why Beauty?

Beauty is a signature that a human was present, using its bodily senses to measure the precise balances in a landscape and to align its body with them.palepond

Some beautiful early morning light on the Big Bar Wetland, for sure, but also beaver, fish, frog and bird habitat, under precise conditions, and damselflies, which give life meaning.damsels at dawn

Yes, that’s another sign of a human presence, and is the resting place for an apprehension of beauty, recorded in memory. These physical abilities are useful, and powerful. Memory is consciousness.P1200646

Early Morning Moon Over Big Bar Lake

Consciousness is beauty. It is the reading, for example, of a hawk at rest and in flight, with one’s own body.

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After awhile, you become it. That’s the point.

Memory in the Grand Coulee

When people first looked out of this rock shelter in the Grand Coulee, there would have been no scree on the cliffs on the far shore of this ancient river, but there would have been rhinos down below.lenore

This is what the memory of a people looks like.

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The people were here before the river.