I’ve loved mountains since I was a little girl living among the tiny waves of the glaciated region of Wisconsin. Hills tell us so much. They are the home of our ancestors, those giant stones that tell the stories of our past and the trees … Continue reading Reflections on My Travels 2023- The Alps
Standing on Top of the World
The trip to Mount Pilatus wasn’t a planned one. Our group was supposed to just have an afternoon off to relax and mill around the town of Lucerne, Switzerland. Spending the afternoon wandering about Lucerne would have been great, just sitting in a coffeeshop somewhere … Continue reading Standing on Top of the World
Blue Eyes Flashing and other words
I’ve been continuing to face an ongoing struggle with writer’s block. I strongly suspect a sort of fear of writing, a fear of what I might learn if I go to deep, but I have no choice. There are words that I need to share and they’ll be there inside me until I let them out. So, I am continuing to work on letting them out. Today I’m going back through old journals and finding bits and pieces to revise and share more publicly. The first piece has no title yet, but maybe I’ll call it Boots. It was written on 7-6-2000 on the shores of Lake Superior while on a walk around the big lake to protect the waters.
I am standing here
on a precipice
afraid to fly
wanting so badly to walk away
but my boots
will not walk backward
like the staff
my being is feathered
and I will
Another story that I found came from a few years earlier. It is called Blue Eyes Flashing and is dedicated to my great aunt Sr. Christine Mondloch. Sr. Christine was born in 1898. She served as a School Sister of Notre Dame, teaching school for many years before retiring. She lived out her final years in Elm Grove, Wisconsin in a tiny blue room in her convent. She was an inspiration to me. She found such joy and meaning in the simplest life.
Blue Eyes Flashing
(a revision of the 3-4-96 version dedicated to Sr. Christine Mondloch who walked on 2-24-96)
Blue eyes flashing
From behind the clouds
Not recognizing a brother
Only crying out
Imagining your smile
Wishing for you the great beyond
Remembering the cardboard cutouts
Stored away in my parent’s basement
And wondering how the demons
Caught your spirit, stole your soul
All my life you gave me cardboard boxes,
Toothpick flags, and empty suitcases
All your treasures in the world
I think of you of your autobiography
98 years written on one page
I remember the tiny blue room
Charity called your home
I walk the halls and feel your footsteps
In time with mine
Care for the Water, Care for the Women
I was back at the state capitol today. Sometimes I wonder if I should maybe just avoid that building. It seems every time I go there something makes me cry.
Today, I was there to join with hundreds of other to remember and honor all the missing and murdered Indigeneous women. As of 2016, the National Crime Information Center reported 5,712 cases of missing Native American women and girls. I am terrified to considered how much the numbers have grown since then. Indigenous women and girls are ten times as likely to be murdered as all other ethnicities. More than half of Native women and girls experience sexual violence. According to the Center for Disease Control murder is the third leading cause of death among Indigenous women.
Today, we sat and listened to the stories of survivors and to stories of the families and friends of those who didn’t survive. I found myself in tears and thinking about some of the little girls I got to know during my time in Minnesota. In particular, I found myself thinking about two little girls who are now both just coming to that stage of life of entering womanhood. I remember that time being confusing and hard enough with body changes, the discovery of sexuality, and noticing the cute guy at school. These girls live in a different world and I could only cry as I can’t protect them on my own.
Why is it this way we wonder? Well, all I can come down to is that it’s about power. These little girls, these women are too powerful. If they are allowed to keep their power, the forces of evil would be crushed. Rape is a tool to control and break down not only the individual, but the whole community. If the women are controlled with the force of violence and fear, the children are controlled. If the women and the children are controlled, the men are broken. Nothing works anymore. The community struggles to merely survive when the women are no longer safe.
Who profits when the community struggles? Big oil, mining companies, all the corporations who make money off of Indigenous people’s lands and waters. That’s why we see the numbers of women disappearing and being murdered going up when the mining companies and oil pipelines come in. It’s control. It’s breaking down the community and tearing out the heart.
So, what do we do? Listen to the women and the girls. Honor them and respect them. Don’t allow for this injustice to continue. Remember that these women, they are the keepers of the water. Respect the water and you will respect the women. The two are not separate. Care for the water. Care for the women. I can’t protect those little girls on my own, but together we can. Each action, every day keep remembering. Care for the water. Care for the women. Respect the water. Respect the women.
Can’t Drink Oil
Thinking this afternoon of that Cree proverb “When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money.” Over the years I’ve seen different translations of the words, but the idea is … Continue reading Can’t Drink Oil
Enjoying Time with the Neighbors
Today is just for sharing a photo of some neighbors. I’m surprised to see them still in the neighborhood as we’re almost into November, but I suspect the grain that spills from the railroad cars is a fine delicacy that makes life much easier at … Continue reading Enjoying Time with the Neighbors
It’s one of those mornings when I feel I ought to write but am unsure of the topic. I sit with the blank page for a bit and it comes to me. I am turning fifty in three days. My god, how is that in … Continue reading Compost Time
Some years ago I was starting to play with the idea of writing a book and asked some friends for ideas. Several people encouraged me to write about my own experiences as an activist and organizer. They assured me that I had much to teach … Continue reading Standing Strong
Save A Walleye, An Ongoing Lie
It was in 1974 that two brothers went fishing. Mike and Fred Tribble, two Anishanabe men from the La Court Oreille reservation in Wisconsin had called the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to inform them of the fishing trip and then went out on Chief Lake, crossed the imaginary reservation line, cut a hole in the ice, and speared a fish off the reservation.
This small action would lead to more than decade in the courts resulting in the historic Voigt decision which acknowledged the Chippewa’s (name used for Anishanabe in legal records) right to 1) harvest fish, game, and plants off-reservation on public lands (and on private lands if proven necessary to provide a modest living); 2) use both traditional and modern methods in the hunting and gathering; and 3) barter or sell the harvest.
The decision took the hood off a long simmering Klan-like hatred in the Northwoods. The boat landings were filled with protesters like those in the photo above. Still, despite threats to their lives the Anishanabe stood strong and fished. Over four years, a Witness for Nonviolence made of allies from around the state grew to stand a peaceful guard along the landings.
Over time, the protestors drew their Klan hood back over their being and things quieted. Many who weren’t Anishanabe started to believe that the struggle was over, that it had become safe again. That wasn’t the reality. Whether the protests are small and quiet, not magnified by the media or loud and in the light of the cameras, they are there and they are threatening.
Just yesterday I learned of a family who were out spearfishing and attacked by white men. The men threw things and harassed the family with racial slurs and threats and one of the white men pulled down his pants exposing himself to the children who were fishing with their father and other family. This is nothing new. Some fishers can tell stories of being shot at every year. Yet they continue because they are Anishanabe and they must be who they are.
When will we learn? The Anishanabe have hunted, fished, and gathered here since the great spirit guided them to this place. Their harvest is miniscule in comparison to that of those who sports fish and the tribes work hard to care for the environment and replenish the fishing stock. This isn’t an issue about fish. This is Wisconsin’s version of the Klan and it is simply wrong and needs to stop.
Want to really save a walleye? Support Native spear fishers and keep the racist freaks off the water.
Speaking to the Water
I came across an interesting character in science today, or some would say pseudoscience. I was listening to a meditation video my friend Ivan was doing and he mentioned studies that were done back in 1990’s by a Dr. Masaru Emoto. Emoto believed that water could be structurally changed by the way that it was treated. He had people actually speak kindly or cruelly to the water and then would freeze it with the idea that the ice crystals of the water that was treated cruelly would look different, more “ugly.”
There were multiple problems with Emoto’s studies and few scientists considered them to be scientifically viable, but the idea does make me wonder. Afterall, most ideas are foolish until they are accepted.
There are many cultures who have spoken to the water over thousands of years. They’ve prayed to her. They’ve thanked her for the gifts she’s given. They’ve watched her, paid attention to her messages, planned their lives based on the things she’s told them and she treated generations of people well.
These days not many listen to her. Not many speak to the water with kindness. Most of us, in reality, use her and abuse her. What happen then? Well, it seems the storms are growing while she is dying and we’re losing our food, our drink, and our way. I wonder what would happen if we spoke to the water with kindness?