With Spring Comes the Fast

I need spring to arrive! I’m longing for it much in the same way as I would for the sight and company of a dear friend disappeared from my life long ago. I want to feel the warmth of the spring sun on my face and to hear the songs of happy robins once again. My spirit stirs in my heart even as I recall memories of glorious spring days of my past.

The winter was/is long. The snow will not melt away quickly, so high its layers rest now on the valleys and hills of my ancestral land. My bet would be that there will still be traces of snow through to the end of April.

I remember a fasting ceremony I partook of in Northern Ontario a few years back. It was mid-May, yet snow was still in great abundance that year in the traditional territory of the Temagami First Nation. At least 25% of the landscape was covered in snow. It might be hard to believe, but one morning I left my fasting circle and as I made my way to the sacred fire to make a tobacco offering, to my surprise, I encountered a snake. The snake was a messenger who foretold that changes in how I viewed life were soon to arrive for me. And they did.

Fasting at a special site in the forest is big medicine, you gain greatly in both the emotional and spiritual realms when you complete it.

The centre of the fasting circle is a sacred place where the bad become good, if that is their intent, where the addict will find the strength to turn away from the bottle and where the mind of a dysfunctional human being learns a new way to deal with bitterness and rage. At the fasting site every sound coming from nature is spiritually noted by the individual hearing them. The fragrances emitting from plants, those alive in the circle and even those decaying on the forest floor around you, sit on your tongue and you give thanks for it as if it was the most precious and sweetest of candy. And your soul sings gleefully with each breath you take. Such is the power of the fasting circle.

Prayers at a fasting site often come with tears. You see, your physical self is weak and when your spirit speaks in the circle, you are eventually overtaken and tears flow. Prayer is something serious. Your words of prayer must come from the heart. Prayer, the heart, the spirit, the fasting site, spring, a human being, when we are one we conquer all of life’s challenges. I bring the hands of my children and grandchildren with me when I go to the fasting site. I hold them tightly and though my loved ones are not physically with me, they gain spiritually as I do from the fasting ceremony. Of this I have no doubt.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind.

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Omushkegowuk Walkers

Another group of First Nations heroes are on their way to Ottawa from the far north of Ontario. They are travelling by foot, one step at a time, over pavement and snow-covered landscape on their way here (Ottawa) to deliver a message to government officials. They are the “Omushkegowuk (People) Walkers” who are “Reclaiming our Steps, Past, Present and Future”. Danny Metatawabin, who was Chief Theresa Spence’s spokesperson while she fasted at Victoria Island, is leading the walkers and gives daily updates as to their progress. And to share with all following on Facebook the acts of kindness and generosity of the First Nations communities they come into contact with as the walkers slowly (30 km a day) make their way south. Danny is one of four original walkers, the other three are Brian Okimaw, Paul Mattinas and Remi Nakogee. All are mature men.

The walkers are true heroes. What else can we call them? They selflessly sacrifice of their time, giving up out of their lives the many days which have already passed since beginning the walk and the many more days the walkers will count before they enter the Nation’s Capital. At this point of their journey the walkers endure pain in their feet and legs brought on by the continuous lifting of heavy winter boots with each step they take, leaving that much less space before their destination appears on the horizon. They are weighted down with layers of heavy coats and thick sweaters, necessary to keep out the bitter cold following them all the hours of the day. But these men are focussed and determined to stay the course so they can arrive in Ottawa, standing proud and ready to deliver their important message to government leaders. The walkers are heroes but they need our monetary support and our prayers so they will not worry about accommodations or travel back home. Give them money and prayers if you can but either one or the other will be greatly appreciated by them. I’m sure!

The walkers pray each morning before taking the first steps of their daily 30 km quota. They pray silently, too, as they walk. Their prayers and meditations are heard by the trees along the roadside. The eagle and ravens and owls carry the prayers of the walkers to whomever it is, the walkers have directed their words to. The sound of the heartbeats of the walkers will forevermore be remembered by the hills and ravines the walkers came across on their life-altering journey. Let there be no doubt that the spirit of the land took note of their sacrifices and the walkers will hear an honour song composed special for them by the spirit of the season at a point in the future.

The walkers have no doubt benefitted spiritually since the beginning of their journey. The road cutting through the forests they travel through are trails from which the walkers can see, hear, smell and even taste what is alive in and around the trees of a forest surrounding them and even taste on their tongues the amazing scents emitting from all life therein. The walkers notice that the rabbit of winter reclaims his steps from the night before. The rabbit does not stray from the pathway he designed for himself, to do so would be dangerous and could bring great harm to him. He reclaims his steps and is healthy for doing so! On the waterways the walkers pass the beaver rests in his lodge, secure and confident that he will survive another winter. It is a time for the walkers, if they wish, to reflect on these things and then to offer words of contrition for any harm, we the human beings, have needlessly brought to the forest and to the animals and birds living there. For me, I can say how sorry I am for any tree I have ever cut down without good reason or any animal or bird who ever suffered or died because of my foolishness. If the walkers were to put tobacco onto the land for me I would be most grateful to them for doing so.

I will make a contribution to this cause. If it pleases you do so, the banking info is: RBC account, transit #05112, account #1010669

Migwech to all.

To follow their journey, check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Reclaiming-Our-Steps-Past-Present-Future/768816863131863

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind.

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Standing up to the Haters

The ‘Big Spirit’ moon (January 15 – February 13) has shone a beam of her precious light into the dark valley of racism so it seems, with the editorial ‘Standing up to the haters’ which appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on Wednesday, January 22, 2014. Let us acknowledge the message of the Citizen’s editorial with a word or two expressing gratitude to the Citizen’s editorial board for doing so. It will only take you a moment. DO IT NOW!!

The “Citizen” is about common sense and balance whereas Ottawa’s other newspaper is all about promoting hatred.

Just last weekend Ezra Levant at the Ottawa Sun (the rag) and one of his lap dogs (Lorne Gunter), both wrote opinion pieces bashing First Nations and treaties, calling the latter “fairy tales”.

Want to hear something weird and far out? Ezra Levant calls himself “Canada’s Freedom Fighter”. What the hell is this guy’s definition of “freedom”? The kind of “freedom” he “fights” for is the kind I can do without. Hate literature sucks!

Just two generations ago, Canada’s First Nations did not have the right to vote. My Dad, who was an honest, hardworking man, had to apply to a white man for a pass to leave Kitigan Zibi if he hoped to work in the lumber camps at that time. First Nations children were suffering unspeakable abuses in the government-sponsored and church-run Residential Schools until just a few short years ago. Ezra, the “Freedom Fighter”, couldn’t care less about this, nor does he give a damn that First Nations soldiers who fought on the front lines of war-torn Europe to stop the Nazis from exterminating Europe’s Jews came back home to Canada, not to be welcomed as heroes but to endure further oppression by folks here who viewed themselves as a race superior to that of the First Nations. Our gallant soldiers have never been acknowledged at the Ottawa Sun for their sacrifices. The Freedom Fighter and his lap dogs are too busy promoting hatred of the First Nations to even consider doing it.

There is serious money to be made in the industry of ‘Hatred’. Ezra and his lap dogs know it all too well.

Hatred is not a Canadian trait. Canadians are a people who understand that being open-minded, open-hearted and tolerant are the hallmarks which make Canada a stronger, greater country than any other on earth. A story in the Citizen about a group of knitters who recently wrapped scarves around the necks of statues in this city during the recent deep-freeze says everything about the kind of people we are in Canada. A note is attached to each of the scarves, it reads “I am not lost! If you’re stuck out in the cold, take this scarf to keep warm!” Now that, my friends, is what a real Canadian is all about.

Ezra Levant, the wannabe Freedom Fighter, couldn’t care less if someone was stuck in the cold without a scarf. You know as well as I do that, if Ezra was out in the cold freezing his little buns off, many people would throw him a scarf. I know I would. I would even go further than throwing a scarf at him, I would wrap it around his neck (gently of course and not too tight) and wish him warmth and good health in his future endeavours. That’s the difference between Ezra and people like myself. He promotes hatred while the rest of us reject it.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind.

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Close Call on the 105

A Blessing! I raise my hands skyward and my feet softly touch Mother Earth in gentle caress. My heart emits its song of gratitude and crow, robin and pine spirits sway joyfully in acknowledgement of my song. I have received a blessing and I do not take it lightly.

Just yesterday, I was returning from Kitigan Zibi on Highway 105 and had reached the Farley Road intersection (Val Guertin, Shell gas station) when I noticed a large delivery truck at the Farley Road stop sign. I proceeded without concern, until the truck began moving onto the 105. I assumed at this point that the truck driver was only going to move forward a few feet and then stop. For him to continue onto the highway was unimaginable to me. But continue he did. I was right on top of him by then and had to make a split-second decision. The choice: hit him or have him hit me. I chose the latter. I swerved and sure enough, BANG, an explosion of glass sprayed me like ‘rock salt’ shot out of a barrel of a 12-gauge. Though my foot was no longer on the gas pedal, my car accelerated down the road towards propane tanks being sold by the gas station. I pulled on the steering wheel and found myself in line with a Bell phone booth – didn’t want to go there either. Last choice, a big snowbank to the right of the phone booth. Again I pulled on the steering wheel at the last possible blink and my car plunged into the snowbank with tremendous force. The nose of my car was pointed down into the snow, the rear wheels up in the air spun at a high rate of speed. I calmly pulled the keys out of the ignition. The motor shut down and the speeding tires slowly came to a stop. It was quite the rush, to say the least.

The crash I describe could very well have been deadly, for me or the truck driver or both. There were no injuries and for this I feel as if I have been blessed once again with the turtle shields of my protective ancestors. My car is a write-off but I am intact, to love, to sing, to dance and to stand with enormous humility before the greatness Kichi Manido has placed before me.

My friends, do not take this precious life of ours for granted. Do not go to sites where people are gathered who wish to bring healing for themselves and for the land, only to disrupt their good work with personal agendas. Take the time each day to speak words of love to your closest family members and your sweethearts. Take in a breath, deep into your lungs each day and release it with the words, “I am grateful, Good Spirit, that I am a human being.” Let your heart reach to the height of cirrus clouds.

Not many are aware of when their last moments of life are at hand. Be prepared, make peace and denounce war.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind.

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In Defence of the Sacredness of the “Kettle of Boiling Waters”

 

A place to offer tobacco near Chaudière Falls.

I sometimes feel an ache in the centre of my heart. It is not because of blood trying to squeeze itself through arteries clogged by the over-abundance of fat in my diet that the pain shows itself!

The ache in my heart is born when I experience negative emotional interaction with people who, I believe, would if they could, remove the sun from the sky and hide it in a cave to be held prisoner there by them until the rest of us saw the world through their own narrow-minded lenses.

Recently, I responded to a reader’s comment on my blog “The Kettle of Boiling Waters”, who demanded that I stop ‘claiming’ this region as Algonquin territory. According to him, what I was saying was ‘fictitious’. Then another reader jumped in to say she had a ‘huge problem’ with me ‘claiming’ to be an ‘elder’ and pushing forward ‘the European His-story’.

I want to make it as clear as the waters of the many pristine springs deep in the hills of my ancestral homeland that I am not ‘her’ elder, and never did I say I was. In fact, I never set out to be known as an elder! If there is an individual living in my homeland who regards me as an ‘elder’ then I will do my utmost to be this for you when you approach me with tobacco and make a request of me. I, as a human being who has reached the winter of his years, will be duty-bound to help you overcome a crisis impacting you emotionally and spiritually to the best of my ability. To those who do ‘not’ regard me as such, Godspeed to you. I wish you well just the same as you move to conquer the demons which trouble you.

The reader in her criticism of my blog also attacked my Chief, Gilbert Whiteduck, as an ‘employee of the Federal Government’ who is ‘dividing’ the people.

It really does bring a big ache into my heart to read her words. Chief Whiteduck is an honorable man. I have never known anyone in all my life who does not define the word “honour” stronger than he. My Chief works for the people of this territory. The original inhabitants, whether they are human, bird, animal or fish, whether they are the waters of our rivers and lakes or the grand trees, the Chief speaks for all when confronting the governments about the ‘rights’ all have to live and thrive within the boundaries of our ancestral lands. There are so many people in this area who despise Chief Whiteduck and who wish he really was ‘an employee of the Government of Canada’. If he were, they could fire him and he would no longer exist as a thorn in the side of governments who work to exterminate our rights as First Peoples. They then would feel free to continue to rape the land unopposed until nothing is left. If all chiefs in Canada were as committed and dedicated to ‘truth’ and rights as Chief Whiteduck is, everyone and all things would benefit and Canada would truly be a beacon of light all other countries could look to for guidance.

I have heard Mr. Jason Arbour speak of his belief that this region is Mohawk territory. I do not believe it is. This region is not only Algonquin land but further to this, it is a place of great spiritual significance to us (Algonquins) as well. I have never demanded that Mr. Arbour ‘stop’ claiming this territory as his own as he did to me in his response to my blog. In my opinion, his words to me were neither graceful nor honourable. Mr. Arbour can claim the land as his own if he wants. I however, reserve the right to disagree with him in a respectful way.

To make quarrel over this is foolish. Can we not just join hands in a circle and together give thanks that we live here in this wonderful place of healing and prosperity?

Mr. Arbour and Ms. Duchene and anyone else are welcome to pay homage to the land as Mohawks. Nobody will attempt to stop them! In turn leave us (the Algonquins) in peace to do the same in our own way.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind.

 

Note: A friendly reminder that there is a policy on comments on this blog. Migwech!

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The Kettle of Boiling Waters: Chaudière Falls, Algonquin Territory

I recall many years ago, standing on the Chaudière Bridge in Ottawa with an elder from Pyramid Lake, Nevada. She was in the territory to share teachings of her people, the Paiute Nation. I had been delegated to assist her during her two-week contract at the Kumik Lodge at the then Department of Indian Affairs. Over the course of the first few days of her stay, I had occasion to speak to her of the mighty Chaudière Falls nearby, where it was customary for my ancestors to offer the gift of tobacco into them before undertaking a hazardous journey.

The elder, intrigued by what I told her about the falls, wanted to see them for herself. We went for a walk one day and found ourselves on the bridge, completely mesmerized by the power of the falls. We listened to the painful roar of waters rushing over shale rock blackened by currents no longer free like they had been before the islands and shores were developed and the river’s flow was harnessed to operate paper mills and power stations. Though in a weakened state, the Ottawa river’s waters fell into the Kettle with a great spiritual force, still carrying within its boiling bubbles the hopes and dreams that the Anishinabe, who had lived around them for many thousands of years, had for their descendants living today and far into tomorrow. The falls are a place of tremendous spiritual energy and a person sensitive to such energy can lose control of his/her emotions when standing in close proximity to them.

The elder at my side suddenly clasped my arm with one hand and grabbed the bridge railing with the other. I saw tears roll down her cheeks as she silently wept. I did not respond until she began sobbing uncontrollably. I asked what was wrong, and she answered that the power of the Spirit coming from the Kettle had overwhelmed her. “I feel the love and strength of your ancestors at this place,” she told me.

Water, even when quiet and not stirring, still contains life. The spiritual messages of the wise moon are reflected on its mirrored surface. The birds go to it to bathe. It quenches the thirst of the bear. Water sings! It brings out songs from us. Where water is silent, power remains. But where it roars is the place where the spirits of the river gather.

Illustration of Chaudière Falls before it was dammed in the 1800’s.

Since the “Kettle of Boiling Waters” (Chaudière Falls) first sang its mighty spiritual songs for the Anishinabe, the people have revered it as a sacred site. The people saw that the spirit of the strongest men and women among them shook with excitement when in the presence of the boiling waters. In prayer, the people heard the falls, even as they lit their pipes many leagues away. The voice of the sacred falls was ever-present in their ceremonies.

Nothing was more free than were the waters of the great river before contact with white people was made. Nothing was more pure of spirit, nothing nurtured and sustained more life! For all which the river provided, we were thankful. The Kettle of Boiling Waters was a special place on the river and known as such spiritually to all Anishinabe of our territory. We gathered there to pray and acknowledge and honour the force of Kichi Manido. The falls were truly the centre of our woodland cathedral.

But much has occurred over the past 200 years. As a place of spirituality, the falls have been neglected. Forgotten by a people converted to Christianity! We can measure the health of our people by the wellness of the river. The falls were placed where they are by the Great Spirit, to act as a gauge to do this. That is the way it was before the white people came here and it will remain as such for however long into the future we exist as First Peoples. We will only survive if the river is healthy, and only as long as the great falls of our river are held sacred to us as a special place of prayer and ceremony.

You have probably heard about Windmill Development Group signing an “Agreement of Purchase and Sale” for Domtar’s property on Ottawa’s Chaudière Island and downtown Gatineau.* Chaudière Island is right next to Chaudière Falls. You may also have heard about late Algonquin Elder William Commanda’s Vision for the area, which included plans for Chaudière Island. Windmill wants to build a sustainable mixed-used community (with residential and commercial areas) on Chaudière Island. Commanda wanted Chaudière Island to have a City Park and a Historic Interpretive Centre, part of his overall Vision that included an Indigenous Centre on Asinabka (Victoria Island). Kitigan Zibi Algonquin Chief Gilbert Whiteduck stated in the Citizen that this Indigenous Centre “should be the jewel in the crown” of any redevelopment of the former Domtar lands. Chief Whiteduck also said he and his community members are concerned about the future of the Chaudière Falls, whether they will be visible and “free”, or turned “into a tourist attraction on the backs of the Algonquin people.”

The current debate about the fate of Chaudière Island is important to resolve. But my focus here is on the sacred Chaudière Falls. One thing I feel is important, and has not to my knowledge been discussed in any of the plans for Chaudière Island, is that I believe a place must be provided at the falls where the Algonquins can go and once again offer tobacco and prayer for the health and well-being of the river. I only speak for myself, but nothing less would be acceptable to me.

Keep the Circle Strong,
Albert “South Wind” Dumont.

* A note about the purchasing Agreement, from Windmill’s Press Release: “The Agreement with Domtar commits Windmill to purchasing the property, with the only remaining condition being rezoning of the property for a mixed-use community-scale development. Windmill plans to present its planning application to Ottawa and Gatineau city councils in the spring. The financial terms of the Agreement are not being released at this stage.”

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The Ottawa Sun, A Racist Rag

The fields are quiet and white with snow! The Little Spirit Moon dutifully brightens the night sky! A perfect setting to be sure for that special time of year when Christians are instructed through the teachings of their Bible, to express tidings of peace and goodwill towards their fellow man. Whatever the case, the badasses at the Ottawa Sun newspaper do not allow Christmas and what it represents to slow them down in their hate mongering. Ezra and his crew hardly allow themselves to come up for air. Christmas be darned, they would prefer to promote hatred instead of peace and goodwill.

In their December 18th newspaper (check out the hate generated by the Sun’s editorial “Help regular folks on reserves”), just six days before Christmas Eve, the Sun’s Editorial writer notifies his readers of a “handwritten note” sent to Ottawa by someone claiming that corruption and abuse of funds are occurring on the Big Island First Nation in Saskatchewan. The editorial repeatedly uses words such as “it’s claimed”, “alleges”, “unproven”, “if true” when referring to the contents of the “handwritten note” sent to Ottawa by whomever. No name was given which would identify the note writer. Yet as poisonous as the note is and without proof of any kind to confirm the charges being made therein, the Sun still receives it as a document worthy of commentary. Are the chief and band council of Big Island really guilty of anything? The Sun couldn’t care less. At the Sun, a First Nations’ chief is guilty until proven innocent. The opportunity to attack First Nations has arrived in the form of a handwritten note and they have jumped on it like buzzards on a gut wagon. And they call themselves “freedom fighters”! It’s enough to make me gag.

Imagine if I wrote a note claiming corruption and abuse of funds against the mayors and municipal councils of towns like Almonte or Smith Falls and sent the note to Ottawa. Would anyone take it seriously? Would an editorial in the Sun scream “if it’s proven, those responsible need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law” regarding the unfounded and unproven charges like the Sun is demanding should come down on the leaders at Big Island?

A new, modern stereotype against First Nations to suit the times has been created in the last few years. The big lie being spread today like manure over a freshly tilled field, is that “all” First Nations chiefs and band councils are corrupt, evil desperadoes who live like kings and queens while the people they are called upon to serve live in unspeakable misery. Another falsehood promoted as “truth” by Canadian hate mongers is that the chiefs and band councils follow “no rules or structure” during elections. According to the hate mongers at the Sun, First Nations leaders “make it up as they go along”. The saddest thing about it all is that many Canadians believe this nonsense as the gospel truth. Racist Canadians believe it because they ‘want’ to, and because they ‘need’ to, so they can find peace in being able to say, “Those damn Indians got everything they deserved in the residential schools.”

To ‘hate’ other human beings is not our way as First Nations Peoples. We believe it is unnatural for human beings to do so. Hate is unnecessary. It is what often comes as a prelude to violence. The amount of hate in the heart of a man gauges the failures of his faith leader as a counselor, and measures accurately the extent of the worthlessness of the holy book he pertains to embrace. In our (First Nations) circles hate is not welcome. How can a man be balanced spiritually, if hate occupies his heart?

Keep the Circle Strong,
Albert “South Wind” Dumont.

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Performance Enhancing Drugs

Like many Canadians, I write poetry! The stanzas I put together are uniquely my own. My life’s experiences, along with a little bit of my heart and soul, are definitely in the most passionate and spiritual of my works. A drug did not contribute in any way, shape or form to the poems I write. I say it with pride!

I dig Steve Earle, long may he run. His songs (the ones telling of an experience of his) and their captivating melodies can for sure get my toes to tapping and my lips to turn upwards. My face brightens with a smile! I am greatly entertained by Steve’s singing skills. Spiritually though, his songs do naught for me.

To be sure I never heard a Steve Earle song I didn’t like. Was Steve stoned when he wrote all or most of his greatest hits? What’s your guess? He said himself that the 70’s, when he produced his greatest hits, were more of a blur to him than anything else!

If Steve was stoned when he wrote his songs, does it mean that Steve without heroin or whatever other drug he ingested when writing, would not have been able to do so without the force of the drug to inspire him? Is it possible that without drugs Steve would have been just another no-name brand musician? We’ll never know the real answer at this stage of the game. Personally, I believe he would not have been as successful as he was without drugs. Less successful, too, without drugs would be the big name sports stars who take drugs to help them hit the ball harder or to push with more force so as to assure “they” will win the contest and that their opponents will lose.

“Performance-enhancing drugs”. Say the words five times. Now ask yourself if you would take a drug which assured greater success for yourself in a sport or in the writing of a song or poem? If your answer is “yes” then ask yourself if you would also be OK with the children you love, either your own or those of your family members taking a drug to break a sports record? I tremble with the heebie jeebies just thinking that many would be OK with it.

I don’t have much in the way of belongings, but what I do have, I earned it by working hard and never giving up. Drugs and alcohol did not contribute to what I have. As a matter of fact for me, a no-name brand grassroots human being, I can say that I would have acquired much more in life if not for me being slowed down by my alcohol addiction. The monetary cost of quenching my thirst for alcohol are dollars I shall never be able to recover. The damage my addiction caused me and my loved ones, emotionally and spiritually, was enormous and I intend to spend the rest of my life fixing myself by helping others. Don’t worry about me, I’ll do just fine!

Imagine a forest where deer are on performance-enhancing drugs so the wolf cannot catch them. Where birds take drugs to sing sweeter, longer and louder. Where catfish shine in the murky river waters, as if draped with flowing capes covered with diamonds. And the branches of the pines stretch a hundred feet, all made possible because of drugs. Such a forest would be unnatural to the point it would freak me out to go there!

In the natural world, things are the way they are for a reason. The weak and sickly rabbit assures that the fox will survive. The skin of the catfish is the colour of the river bottom where he feeds in peace, unseen by the pike.

I am a human being! My senses are intact. I can sit in the centre of my circle and take in the fragrances of the land. My mind allows me good thoughts and the ability to reason. My heart soars when it feels the energy of the sun pressing onto it. My soul is as one with the spirits of the forest. I smile (or weep) when the voice of Kichi Manido is carried by the winds through the valleys of my ancestral lands. I can raise my hands skyward, night or day and sing a song of thanksgiving that I am a human being. What more do I want or need?

Keep the Circle Strong,
Albert Dumont, South Wind.

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Migwech Ancestors

Since snow and ice arrived, already many accidents are occurring. People are being careless and not giving the snow, ice and cold winds the respect due them. The ice does not make promises of health and safety to anyone. Even the super-cautious among us can experience injury from falling on black ice. So please take extra care!

Had a visit to my camp last week with a couple of guys to do some work. We manually carried in materials, enough to get the men with me started on a project. Once I put them to work, I walked the kilometre back to the van with a toboggan I had hidden at my cabin, to retrieve the rest of the supplies we needed to complete the work at hand. The snow-covered trail was rough, trees were strewn across it, fallen by the great strength of a storm which passed through about 10 days ago. Pulling the toboggan, loaded heavy with tools was not easy. A trip which usually takes 12-15 minutes took a brutal 45 minutes and I needed to sit for a while after getting back to the shack.

As bad as it was, the toboggan made my work so much easier. Back home much later I got to thinking about the inventions of the First Peoples. The structure and design of equipment and tools they dreamed up were truly deeply rooted into their sacred beliefs and of course their natural ingenuity when it came to working with things from the forest to improve their lives. The canoe, snowshoes, wampum beads and the toboggan are just a few of the things our people brought forth hundreds if not thousands of years ago that even the greatest minds of today’s modern technology cannot improve upon. Let us stand with humility before our ancestors who are responsible for these things.

A human being who steers clear of technology (as much as possible) and who cannot be seduced by money does not think like most other people. This is a human being whose mind is in constant communication with the spirit living in his/her heart. Such a person understands what prayer is. The land works with such a person. Our Anishinabe ancestors, the ones who invented snowshoes and the like, were such human beings.

I leave you with this winter wish:

Long ago, an ancestor would sit near a small fire where the “cold moons” of Winter had instructed ice to begin to form at the lake’s edge. Ice appearing on the lake directed the ancestor to acknowledge the moon, the water and the changes taking place on the land which had potential to bring suffering and hardship to family, friends and community. The ancestor would pray, with pipe or drum and the spirit of “Winter Season” and Kichi Manido would hear the prayer. With humility, the ancestor would request that the harsh winds of the season would be few. And that “fire” would warm the skill of the storyteller. The ancestor’s words, heard through the smoke of the pipe or the beats of the drum, were that “Winter Season” would be kind and bring peace and joy into the lodge of the good people.

It is with this in mind that I make my request that you, my friends, and all your loved ones, have a safe, healthy and accident free “Winter Season”.

With blessings,
Albert Dumont, South Wind.

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Tobacco Good, Cigarettes Bad

I hear volunteers are being sought to settle on Mars before 2020. “A one-way trip,” they say. Are you interested? I think I’ll pass! Bungee jumping? I’ll pass on that too! A cigarette? No thanks!!!

I was a big smoker at one time. Started out with Export A in my teen years, then switched to Player’s Filter in my early twenties. Puffed on at least 32 of the poison sticks each and every day of the week. What did I get out of it? Nothing good, I’ll tell you that. I remember when I vowed to kiss John Player and his disgusting weed goodbye once and for all.

An elderly lady I respected greatly had passed away from an illness brought on from smoking. Her body was found sitting in her favorite armchair, a cigarette, yet to be lit, rested between her fore and middle fingers, her right hand held a ‘Bic’ lighter. On the table near the body a freshly opened large pack of cigarettes, full minus one, sat atop a glass ashtray. I heard the news and went to pay my respects. At the funeral home one of her relatives asked me if I wanted the cigarettes found near the old girl’s corpse. I took the cigarettes and standing beside the coffin I requested that she (the deceased) help me to quit smoking. “I know you wanted to quit yourself,” I said, “but could not do it. From the world where you are now you can help me find the strength to give up cigarettes.” The cigarettes in the package the dead lady unwrapped in the few seconds before her death were the last cigarettes I ever smoked. The lady who could not find the motivation to stop smoking herself, obliged me my request. The spirit world is a powerful place. Never, ever, doubt it!

Leaving the land where the bones of my beloved relatives, deceased many moons ago, are returning to dust makes no sense to me. To leave Turtle Island and go to Mars, even if Mars offered more opportunities for me and my loved ones, would not diminish the nonsense I see in going there. To tie an elastic cord around my ankle and then jump off a high cliff is a big thing of foolishness to me, too. But even more crazy for me is the thought of putting the end of a paper wrapped, smoldering, chemical filled, tobacco stick into my mouth and willingly drawing poisons into my lungs. Man, the crap in the cigarettes can possibly bring about a torturous death for the people who smoke them. How could I do that and still claim to be sane? Cigarettes are not cool, they’re nonsense!

I smoked for many, many years. If I got a buzz from a cigarette it must have been pretty minute, ‘cause I have no memory of any joy or feelings of Shangri-La I received from them. I do remember coughing like hell in the morning and getting winded almost to the point of falling over after running a hundred feet. Smoking is a nasty addiction. I recall after smoking, bringing my hand up to my face to scratch my nose and smelling my nicotine covered fingers. Stinko!!!! I imagined taking a long drawn-out sniff of my lungs after a day of smoking. The stink would no doubt have made me woozy. To my friends who smoke I ask: Have you ever taken even 10 minutes out of your life to ponder the catastrophic damage smoking can do to your health?

I quit smoking about 15 years ago. The 3 weeks after my last cigarette were not good. But it wasn’t so bad after that and I was good to go in short order. Today, I wonder how it came to be that I was so foolish as to ever begin smoking in the first place.

I talked with a friend the other day who said, “In this world everything begins with money.” Maybe it does today, but there was a time in the past where everything began with tobacco. Tobacco was not associated with death in those days. It was connected to the good life. It was offered onto the forest floor for the pipes of our long dead ancestors. It was given into the rapids of the Great River as a gift so our journey on the river of life would be a good one. When we wanted assurance that a promise or commitment would be kept, we brought tobacco into the circle. Fire could only be made sacred when tobacco was placed into it. Somewhere along history’s pathway, abuse of tobacco became rampant. Too bad, too bad indeed!

Keep the Circle Strong,
Albert “South Wind” Dumont.

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