An Interesting Experience…
Waking up to the fog and ice this morning made my soul feel a great sense of peace. The morning light gleamed purple across the Rockies and the dense morning fog covered the plains leaving a sense of mystery and oneness with the land. As I drove into Browning the sun rose shining behind us and grew to expose the beauty of this Reservation. As the light grows stronger and brighter I reflect on the passing day. The day began as normal with class. I have been helping with Ms. Lask’s 7th grade class. She is a good teacher and the kids are fascinating. Sometimes they challenge me and other times I could not wish to be anywhere else. This day was going to be different. At 10 we went over to the parish offices where we meet with a local hardware store owner who talked about Reservation Economics. This was information that was interesting to hear. Unfortunately this caused me to miss a field trip with the 7th graders. On the prompting of some other students however they told me to go on the field trip anyways with a different grade. So I loaded up on the bus with the 5th graders and left to Darnell Ridesatthedoor’s house. This would be an experience that I would even be pondering the next day in the icy morning.
When we got there I did not know what to expect. The teacher, Mr. D, had told me that we were going to see a teepee. That was enough for me. The bus was full of the antics and fun of 5th graders. They were immediately interested in the new face and had a string of questions for me as we rode out there. On arrival we were greeted by Darnell and ushered into the teepee. The ladies entered first sitting on the north side and the boys entered second sitting on the south side. Mrs. Ridesatthedoor then began with smudging first and blessing the teepee. This is a process that involves cleansing yourself so that you are ready to connect with the spirits around you. Her next words were that of the construction of teepees and some of the legends that go with the process. She then went into an explanation of Native American spirituality and history. I think honestly that Chelsea, Hayley and I were more interested than most of the kids. As she spoke however I could not help feeling a bit déjà vu. I felt like I had known what she was going to say and how it tied in. This was fascinating to me since I have never really learned about Native American culture. The whole spirituality here draws one closer to everything around you. Once in however things start to seem different. I think the most amazing part is how close to Christianity their spirituality is. I think that this fact alone makes us more family than any of us realize. I hope that by our coming here we are beginning to change things for the better.
The last experience before I end this blog is about Native American mediation. Coming from a very insightful question by one of the students we got on the topic of good and evil spirits. What then followed was a meditation exercise to recognize the good spirits around you. Darnell led us down a path to washing away all of the bad things in our lives so we could be ready to communicate with our ancestors. The best part of this was how excited the students were to try meditating. Experiencing this was so great. The kids even saw things and their selling out made us college students not only amazed by their spirituality but also awed by their maturity. I hope that I can remember this experience as vividly as it was that day and that this will help draw me closer to this place and these people. I encourage every person to come experience this place and your ideas of reservations and Native Americans will be altered forever for the better.