Friday, October 30, 2015

New music

Listening to Bazille "Tell America I'm sorry" from his Bandcamp page this is a very prolific artist so I will let you know what else looks good.  Also enjoying the visuals of the Supaman's video "Why".

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Birds of sadness

Fernando Vicente:
Fernando Vicente
Went to Kumik lodge today at lunch.  I like coming back afterward smelling like smudge.  I can carry that with me all day.  Today the Elder spoke about her joy in getting a pipe and pipe teachings.  She was still overcome with emotion about this gift.  At first as I sat there I was a little frustrated.  I came for teachings, not to listen to someone talk about the good thing that happened in their life.  But of course, that is the teaching.  Sometimes it is not about you and someone else's joy can be yours.

Nicole Eisenman, "Coping":
Nicole Eisenman, "Coping"
Also thinking about this quote and a very similar story someone told me this week - from "Looking at Mindfulness" where the author quotes a Chinese proverb "You can't prevent the birds of sadness from flying over your heads, but don't let them nest in your hair."  I have been trying this week to let go of a particular expectation that I have that I know will never be met, but which makes me sad.  I am doing this by trying to accept that need won't be met and let my expectations about it go.  At this point I am the only one it is making sad.

I am also being thankful for the old medicines.  While my mooshum (grandfather) never did "Métis stuff" I see lots of that life in retrospect.  For example, whenever you start getting sick you need to sweat.  So often I find that this quiet time under the blankets is enough to push off a bad illness.  I treasure these bits on culture that I can identify and reclaim.
So lots to learn, but feeling a bit like this picture, still tired and a little sick, but not too much I can really complain about cause I smell like sage and the sun is out.

Born Ready

IT'S A GOOD DAY TO RESIST, Roger Perkins, Mohawk:
Found on Pinterist
Enjoying "Born Ready" by Frank Waln

From the track "AbOriginal "

"I'm not the noble savage.
Doing damage to the perception of who I am
Self destruct when I self construct my own plan of my identity"

"So when I rise you rise.  So come on let's rise."

"Digital blankets give us spiritual small pox."

"Call your Calvary as I leave stereotypes as casualties." 

Roogaroo questions

Stories of Our People Lii zistwary di la naasyoon di Michif:
A Metis Graphic Novel Anthology
Runa has been making us read her bedtime story from "Stories of Our People" all week.  She makes us read the same story about Roogaroo each night.  I keep asking her what she likes about the story but she can't articulate it yet.  This book is a little odd.  The stories are still raw, the edges have not been knocked off.  It is like having a person tell you a story with all the little language quirks and weird details included.

This anthology also includes a P'tite Jean story about leaving his butt in charge while he takes a nap and how it lets him down.  Needless to say this is a beloved story with the younger set.  However some of the other stories are a lot darker, with a Wendigo/Witigo story and the much requested Roogaroo story.  I would say that this book would be too much for a sensitive child, but my younger one loves more conflict and really enjoys it.

As the way to help someone to stop being a Roogaroo is to cut them on the ear my, family has been teasing me as I have a phobia of having my ear touched that this must be latent Roogarooism.  That would be a shock in the office if someone went full Roogaroo.  I bet they don't have an emergency preparedness scenario for that one.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sassy goats and sanity

☽✪☾Tsahizn ☽✪☾: When we were smudging at the Lodge last week, someone asked to smudge their cell phone with the rationale that it is how they communicated with many people.  This raised a little side discussion on keeping ceremony up to date and someone mentioned that they receive this smudge on facebook sometimes.  What do you think?  Is it a tacky cop-out or a recognition of modern indigenous reality?

I also wanted to note that Mrs Universe, a Cree woman, won a role model award from the UN.  We are still here and still representing.
Kanae Entani:

Needing some sassy goat embroidery in my life but a sore hand is slowing me down.  So many good ideas and so little time. 

Thinking about the book "Going Sane" by Adam Phillips.  I read this book some time ago but I like to come back to the quotes I took.  This book in many ways is the companion to "Madness and Civilization" by Michael Foucault which I am part way through.  Phillips speaks to the focus on "madness" in post-European culture and the lack of a mature discussion about what sanity looks like.  "There was too much unhappiness, too much madness to talk about" and "There are no modern utopian stories that tell us how we might live in a way that would make the fear of madness disappear. " This he says leaves us as, "becoming extremely narrow-minded about what we want, about imagining possibilities for ourselves. Imagining possibilities for ourselves involves telling stories about what we think we are like, what we think we want, and what we think we are capable of."  So in short, we don't focus on what healthy mental spaces looks like so we get drawn into unhealthy models. as they are more familiar.   In this context he talks about our societal love of the mad artist so that, "Accounts of good mental health are scarce and usually trivial."  I feel like finding these healthy models and this valuing of sanity can be challenging.  This is a very thoughtful book that weaves together a wide number of thinkers to present a coherent story on sanity,  So go forth.  Be sane and get some sassy goat into your life.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Heart beats

As I have been working on my Cree, Runa has been quite supportive while Sophie understands when I say something but would not try herself in Cree.  However, last week she told me in Cree that she loved me.  It meant a lot to hear here trying in Cree.  It also encourages me to keep trying as it does rub off on them. 

I have been pretty down again the last month.  I try to dig into my cultural medicines, but old habits die hard.  All I want to do is hibernate for the winter and just not think about or deal with anything. One of the essays from "Looking at Mindfulness" by Christophe Andre has words that speak to me "When we cling to our painful thoughts by ruminating on them, we solidify them.  We give them substance and importance.  We ruminate on our ills and turn them into monsters.  Rumination is the solidification of our mind's chatter.  Without meaning to, we turn ordinary reaction into suffering...Having given birth to these little monsters, we then bond with them like mothers.  A negative thought doesn't hurt us if it comes and goes.  It becomes painful if it fills our awareness, takes root and stops all the other thoughts from taking root or even existing..."  He continues "But how can we stop our mind from being drawn toward these magnetic sufferings?  The only solution is paradoxical - we must make more space for suffering, in order to loosen its grip."

I feel like that is where I am stuck with the little monsters I have birthed.  So I have committed to rooting out these monsters and making them see light of day.  I spent a long time thinking about this last night and had a very vivid dream afterwards where society was broken after a disaster and the government was printing books instead of feeding people and finding the missing.  I was struck that when something is broken you need to take care that you build it back into something healthy not just built to stay busy. 

A while ago I set out a vision for my self  which is focused on this building, both personally and in my community.
Architect - building road to precious resources, supporting others on their journeys                                                                                   Being and balance - how we exist day to day matters                     Create - space for dialogue and beautiful things to sustain my soul
I am going to try focusing on what I am building, making healthy spaces for suffering in my life and putting aside those monster who I have let grow through ongoing love and attention.  What are you working to build right now?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Action and getting stuck

Waldemar Strempler:
Waldemar Strempler
I continue to work through "One Story, One song" but have not found as much in this section on action that moves me.  This lack has made me think about my relationship to action right now and whether I am disinclined to action and need to push myself or whether I am in a contemplative place and the that is ok.  However there is one line that struck me reading yesterday in an essay on displacement for those who grew up without attachment to their culture.  Wagamese writes "They'walk into our powwows, our ceremonies and our events with no idea of how to present themselves.  They'll have no idea how to wear their skin.  We need to be there when they show us.  We need to extend a hand in welcome and make them feel at home."

This struck me particularly as I went for teachings at the Kumick yesterday.  In the smudge you see those people who are not sure what to do and those who  do come with all kinds of different traditions.  There is no right way to smudge and it can be scary walking into that room the first few times.  I appreciate the gentleness of those who accepted me and made a space in ceremony for me.  And while I might not be in an action space, that welcome is something that I can do.

The Elder was Jane Ann Chartrand (Algonquin) and she spoke about the difference between dreams and visions however in this teaching she also spoke on grief and loss.  The discussion on loss caught my attention as the last elder also talked about loss and I think that I need to make some decisions that will involved loss and grief.  They are decisions that will make things better, but even knowing that I focus on the loss.  The other teachings I took home to Sophie and the Elder promised to meet Sophie in the dream realm last night.  Sophie has been feeling very alone in her spiritual journey.  I think Sophie appreciated the Elder coming to meet her.  I hope we will be able to provide her the support she needs in this area.  I don't feel these are things that I understand or can teach her in.

Do you ever feel stuck in your journey?  What do you do to move forward?  How do you find the courage to stay stuck if that is part of the journey?


By / DC WOMEN presents: "My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit":


wealth is not about having a lot of money, it's about having a lot of options - Chris Rock #quotes #budgetsaresexy:
I think the same thing could be said for privilege.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Of civils war and furnaces

"Teachings of the Sweat Lodge", Aaron Paquette:
"Teachings of the Sweat Lodge", Aaron Paquette
When I was six or seven our furnace broke and was not repaired.  I had loved the air vents to cuddle over on a cold morning while waiting for breakfast.  To this day, the sound of the furnace coming on is safety and comfort.  Without the furnace, the house was cold in the morning and all the heat came from a fire that needed to be tended all day.  I didn't love that fire.  It was too hot up close and too cold in the rest of the house. 

I also had a deep fear of burning and having the fire be the only heat made it worse.  I was afraid of fire from watching Atlanta burn in Gone with the Wind and I was convinced it was only a matter of time before my town burned down.  I was also sometimes locked in my bedroom when I would not sleep, which made me hysterical as I could not leave if there was a fire.  All together, I don't like a closed door or a wood stove.  I like the safety and calmness of the furnace where the fire is hidden and I don't have to think about it, just enjoy the outcome.

But I see a great metaphor there too.  So much of life right now is removed from the messy parts.  We buy our food sanitized from the relationship with the farmer/land and buy our clothes from nameless makers.  The lack of distance can put us at danger of not knowing when things are going wrong until the problems are big and we don't see the secondary consequences.  I might like not knowing a lot better, but it does not leave me any better off.

So I am grateful to have a working furnace where I can turn up the heat and not worry about money in a house that is well insulated and safe.  I know there are many who don't have that.  On this note, one of the women from Idle No More has launched a crowd sourcing campaign to fund a house.  Take time today to enjoy one of those simple things that makes you happy.

Congratulations to those indigenous folks and indo-Canadians headed to Ottawa.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New Peoples

I have been working through the book "The New Peoples
Being and Becoming Métis" for quite some time now.  It is a series of essays on how to Métis came to be.  My imprint of the book was printed backwards, so whenever I read it, it looks like I am reading backwards and upside down.  I keep trying to decide if that is somehow symbolic of us as peoples - just put together a little differently?  The one thing that really struck me in the book was the deliberateness of the French government in their interactions with the indigenous peoples.  The French government wanted intermarriages in order to increase population and support their claim to sovereignty and empire over the land. 
Perhaps it is naïve of me, but I didn't think of beurocracy as being such an organized thing at that point in history.  Imagining someone in Paris thinking about how to encourage French men to marry Indian women seems kind of surreal.  The Charter for the Company of New France included that "the Savages who will be led to the faith and to profess it will be considered natural Frenchmen, and like them will be able to come and live in France when they wish..."   I think of my own female ancestors, sent away to learn how to be good French wives following a vision by some civil servant in Paris.

This book is not the easiest of reads, perhaps reflecting it's age (from 1985).  However, it is rich in references, many of them standards if you want to start from the beginning of Métis scholarship (in a university context and from a white French male perspective.)  It covers the move from inclusion (accept jesus then you can be French), to a binary - choose to be European or Indian, to the "halfbreed" separate status with both the positive connotation of a separate culture worth preserving and the negative of being neither culture and belonging no where.  One essay has a little throw away wonder about how people transmitted "Métisness" which I found interesting as the most cursory examination would have clearly shown the familial pride in this identification as Métis which was shared with children together with the expectation that they would contribute to their community.

Some of the essays contain interesting bits about the early ways of life and  the growth of the metis population.  I am about half way through now and I will finish this book, but I don't think it is the easiest introduction to the "new peoples" and depending on your background and interests I would recommend starting somewhere else as an introduction to this subject. However, I think there are parts of this text that are worth reading and which provide some interesting perspective.  I'll update here when I finish this book.

Strangely this makes me think of the Dean Koontz book I just finished about Frankenstein and created men.  Overall our current vocabulary for talking about created identities is a lot richer than existed when this Metis book was created and that is a good thing.  We are all a lot more cobbled together as people, some of us consciously creating ourselves as we go along. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Finishing things

I finished my cuff this week, but the clasp I sewed in is messing with the shape so I will need to try again.  I hate these fiddly end bits of projects.  I was originally going to fill the water in all the way but I liked how the natural leather looked with the beading.

I need a new project and Runa is asking for moccasins so I am slowly planning that out.  She would like wolves.  Found a couple of options.  I like this one with colour as Runa is such a colourful person that the blacks and greys don't seem right for her. 

Beaded Wolf Amulet Native American Made by NativDesigns:
bead embroidery, grey wolf design, Janet Dann:
However I do like the one with the landscape around him as well.  I also played around with glue to make a spider's web necklace.  I would like to paint this a bit so it is less shiny and add a spider.  I like how it turned out but I am a bit worried about how sturdy it will be.  You are supposed to be able to use these as window decals as well, so I may try that if it does not work as a necklace.  Do you have a favorite wolf?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Leather, circles and farts

I have been wanting to work with leather all week in between feeling exhausted.  After staying home on Friday to sleep the whole day, I went to the fabric sale yesterday and found some nice bits and pieces.  I made these two necklaces, one with the jingles and one with a lovely giant button made from a piece of birtch.  I love going to this sale each year and being around all thoose people full of ideas for things to make.  It is inspiring to be in that energy.

We did circle time this morning.  Sophie told us the ancestors could only come for a short time as they were busy today.  Runa brought her fart putty for the ancestors to enjoy.  She is convinced that they find farts very funny.  Runa did the opening "we are opening the ancestor hole so that we can see what they are doing."  These times seldom have the solemness that I would like, but they are time together talking about things that matter and really, that is the point right?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bits, pieces and space invaders

The 3rd in my NDN GQ Hipster series. Mixing photo’s from the 1800’s (in this case Black Horn - Hunkpapa - 1872) with pictures from today. Looking good then and now. - Steven Paul Judd (Kiowa/Choctaw): 1800s hipster GQ NDN series by Steven Paul Judd: Quite enjoyed this Steven Judd "NDN GQ Hipster series"  Having a hard time finding an artist site.  Also quite like his space invaders picture.  He has an Etsy page by it is mostly empty.  Love the juxtaposition of the fashion models with the real people's faces.

Planning to check out this new Australian show featuring indigenous teens.  Has anyone seen it yet?

Hadn't heard about this red dress project for missing and murdered women.  The pictures are quite evocative.

Art by Steven Paul Judd, "A little something I whipped up. Dig it if you can...Dig it if you can't.":
Trans-girls can now be girl guides in Canada.

Still thinking about the teachings from yesterday.  Thinking about how I connect with those around and how I influence them.  Still processing the panic attack and accepting that it is fall now and dark early. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Panic in the cubicle

Forgiveness Medicine, 2005  Leah Marie Dorion is a Metis artist raised  in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.:
Forgiveness Medicine, 2005 Leah Marie Dorion
I have anxiety disorder.  Mostly it is managed and overall it gets better as I get older and more experiences at dealing with and understanding things, but yesterday I had a bad day.  I still feel very tender today.  The world is very heavy.  But even in the midst of that there was some good stuff.  Sophie has been feeling very alone that there are no other people like her.  She believes in mystical things in a way that I don't quite understand and while we have talked about it and I have tried to show openness, she kept feeling that I did not get it.  So yesterday I went to the crystal shop and got her a book and some tarot cards.  I said straight out that I do not understand what she has in her heart, but that there are other people out there that believe what she does and that she is not alone.

I was amazed how much that small conversation and gift seemed to mean to her.  She came and spent time with Joel and I for the first time in a long time.  It was good to just be with her.  It was good to see her happier for a bit.  She even got going to school with happiness this morning reading to do readings for all her friends.  While I hear the voices of my past that these things are "wrong" I am glad that I went with my gut and gave her what she needed.

I also took the time today to go over to the Kumick Lodge to listen to the Elder.  Just sitting in the room and doing the smudge was a blessing.  The teachings were by Elder Mac Saulis who spoke about the circle.  My first thought was that this would be kind of boring - I already know about the circle, but it was so much more than this.  He spoke about the need for self reflection or else how will we know how we and our lives are changing and that in that self reflection we need to be able to look at both the dark and light parts of ourselves.  I was also struck by his discussion of the physical part of the circle as being so much more than just our body, but that it was the whole extension of ourselves into the physical world that we need to consider.  I need to think on that some more.  He also spoke about the teachings of those who walk on to the spirit world and our continued relationships to them.  Overall it was very good to take the time and listen.  I am struck by the incongruity of self reflection and children, where so much of our ceremony is about keeping people close to the circle and not setting things on fire.  Not so much time for quiet reflection.

But there is learning there too eh?  Take time for yourself today.  Self reflect.  Be.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Runa came home the other day to tell us that there were two of them in the class that did not celebrate thanksgiving.  We never made a conscious choice; but it never quite happened for us.  Maybe because Joel's family is American or maybe because holidays were always a tightrope of tension, we did not celebrate as a couple.  As I have taken on my role as a metis woman I also feel more and more a wrongness to the celebration as it exists in our society, perhaps the church roots or maybe an overdose of the pilgram stories; it does not seem right.  I am working with my children to make thankfulness as part of everyday and not something set aside.  I also like that it gives them does of what others in our society, those who have come from far away might feel outside of these traditions we take for granted.  There is much I am thankful for. 

It is exciting to see changes in the US where some cities are no longer celebrating Columbus day and are now celebrating indigenous peoples.

Punishing Raccoon

Nanabush punishes the RaccoonFor circle time this week we read Daphnie Odjig's "Nanabush Punishes the Raccoon".  I did not like this book as much as others in the series, but it inspired Runa and she put us to work making picture of the story. It is really inspiring to see her taking on this role and getting people to work together.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Of leather and acceptance

Class VII: Diverse Arts winner, Jamie Okuma & Sandra Okuma (Mother and Daughter) (Shoshone Bannock/Luiseno), 'The Haute Couture of the Indigenous Kind: Yesterday and Today;' two mannequins together as an installation – concept is Native fashion and its evolution and adaptation to contemporary times; textiles, beading, jewelry, handbags, ornamentation in multiple mediums and materials. Photo: Daniel Nadelbach. Source:
Jamie Okuma & Sandra Okuma  (Shoshone Bannock/Luiseno),
'The Haute Couture of the Indigenous Kind: Yesterday and Today
I am still working through  "Looking at Mindfulness" by Christophe Andre.  I blogged about this book about a month ago.  He is talking about impermanence and acceptance.  I have always thought of acceptance as a sort of giving in - as a defeat really, but this section made me think differently about this "...we decide to receive everything, to give space to what happens and what is.  Through acceptance, we open up an infinite inner space..."  and a little later  "Accepting what is makes us calmer, more intelligent, and therefore more able to change what should be changed."  I don't need to be defeated, but I need to see things as they are, even when that might mean being in a way that I don't like.  What a burden that lifts.
On a different note, I have been inspired by all the wonderful indigenous folks making fashion and decided to do a refashioning of my own last night.   I started with an old dress and added red and gold leather.  It is so nice to work with the leather, even if it is hard to sew and I love how it feels.  I was pretty happy about how this turned out and Runa joined for a while to work on her own leather project.  I am trying to find the balance between these quick project that give immediate gratification and the beading projects that take many months.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Buffalos and namoya (no)

Street Walker - iPhone photography by Kevin Russ:
Street Walker - iPhone photography by Kevin Russ
Watched another couple of episodes of "Moosemeat and Marmalade", in particular one where they shoot a bison.  It was strange how emotive that episode was.  The episodes hunting the beaver and a moose did not bother me, but the dead bison/ buffalo made me uncomfortable.  Perhaps a reflection of the strong symbolism of the buffalo?  Even the presenter seemed quite moved as he laid down his tobacco.  Sophie asked to watch the show last night which I found interesting.  She said "it is good to see the old ways being kept alive."  But was a lot of dead animals for a vegetarian who had recently been vomiting.

I made myself a number of posters with the Cree words for interacting with children on them.  I have been using them to tell the children I love them, that it is time for bed, to get up, and to get moving.  It is interesting how much more thoughtful I have to be when each word is an exercise to get out.  It is humbling to feel like a child trying to use new words and think about how they combine with other words I know.  When I used "go to bed" and Runa asked me to look up what the Cree word for "No" was.  I hope that we will be able to learn together.  It is exciting to hear them talking Cree on the Moosemeat show and to keep learning.  What you are learning right now? 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sho Sho Esquiro

Sho Sho Esquiro couture (Diné & Cree):
Sho Sho Esquiro couture
I love fascinators and I love inspired designers.  So much inspiration here.
The 2013 Collection by Sho Sho Esquiro (Kaska Dene/Cree). Native American designer.:
2013 Collection by Sho Sho Esquiro (Kaska Dene/Cree). Native American designer.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Story Medicine is the best medicine

Seung-Hwan Chung ✶✶✶ Pin no. 5000 goes out to the love of my life, who makes me feel like the universe is at my feet.:
Seung-Hwan Chung
The essays of Mr Wagamese have so much learning.  Almost everyone leaves me full of thought.  This latest one called "The Puzzle" from "One Story, One Song."  was a wonderful articulation of a problem I have discussed here before, how do you balance the living and growing you need to do with contributing to your community?  How about when you can't give a lot back as just getting by takes up everything?

In this essay Wagamese discusses the story he was told when asking this question to a friend. That the friend being busy, tore a picture of the galaxy out of a magazine to make a puzzle for a restless child.  The friend thought that this would take the child a very long time to put back together, so he was surprised when the child returned quickly with the picture put back together. When he asked the child how he did it so quickly, the child said "Simple...there was a picture of a man on the other side.  So I put the man together first, and the world came together just fine."

That is some pretty fine story medicine. I would highly recommend this book.  It is perfect for a morning meditation/ contemplation.

Orange Shirt day

We actually missed orange shirt day this year despite having gotten shirts prepared for everyone.  Glad to see others sporting their orange.  We can't forget.  It is part of who we are now.

Not quite lullabies....

Runa went to a sleep over this weekend and came back crazy tired and bad tempered.  As I corralled her I overheard Sophie singing the Woman's Honoring Song and since it was in my head I sang it to Ru to calm her down.  There was something powerful about singing her a song of our culture.  My heart was so full.  Later she came to me annoyed that my song had "magically made her sleep".  I thought that as I am just learning our culture as they are older I would never have the chance to lull them to sleep in a "traditional" way.  It was a very special moment to share with her.

Sophie brought her drum to circle time again this week to play.  She also offered to read the story.  It is a blessing to see her able to read after so many years of hard work.  She read the story of Nanabush and the dancing ducks, where he ends up with his bottom on fire.  This is a much loved Nanabush story in our household.  We also practiced our Cree numbers.  I really want to try and incorporate this language learning into circle time every week.

For parenting, I found this list of Cree words for interacting with children here.  I am also going to try these lesson plans that look like a good way to build vocabulary.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Wisdom of the animals?

Les albums de Céline E.: Raven - Opus 2:
Les albums de Céline E.: Raven - Opus 2
I have been learning to watch the animals around me for their teachings. I suppose that they are good teachers as they are like us yet outside of our rules.  Yesterday our cat, stood under a tree for a long time asking the bird to come down into her mouth - she didn't even try to climb the tree, just acted sad that she had no bird.  Later she got so scared by a man with a moustache that she ran out on the road in front of a car.  During the evening walk, she ran under the dog while he was peeing and got her head covered in urine.

So I am thinking about what the learning is from this.  We all have bad days?  We all do stupid things?  Or forgive yourself and keep being fabulous? 


Happy things

Marc Chagall: Métis in Space is back for a second season.  Deconstruction of cultural products is fun.

H&M had their first ever hijab wearing model.

Strong Nations has a cool poster explaining the colors in the Métis sash.

Loving these puzzle identity pieces.  These would be so awesome for group facilitation.

Enjoying Leonard Sumner's album "Rex Poetry" especially the tracks "The One" and "They Say"

Kinda linking this Mac Chagall painting.  It reminds me of the medicine wheel.

Made our first bannock last night.

Enjoying the giant grandmother moon accompanying cozy nights tucked in beck.

What are you enjoying these days?