Browning leaves and swaying trees, colder longer nights bring us inward. In this space of introspection we are invited to look at our shadows. These shadows that dance during the darkest of nights, the parts of ourselves that like living in the muck. We are invited to address, make peace with, and heal the parts of ourselves that refuse to be brought to the light. It is our responsibility to illuminate the ignorance within and usher in a new way of being that replaces the old and outdated versions of our soul. The invitation is for all, all with a soul , all with a past, and all within the present so that we can create a brighter and more sacred future for all. Autumn leading into winter isn't a time where we address our own personal needs and imbalances only. In fact it is a time to gather closely with others, despite the ongoing internal reflection of peace making. The colder and longer nights makes it possible to gather more intimately with loved ones as it has been done traditionally. To sit around the warm fires with intention, warm cups of tea in hand, and oversized sweaters for warmth. Seems simple, we simply need to layer up then we can go inside and watch the snow fall outside of our windows. This is truly a privilege and one not many folks on the land can relate to. The gripping fear of surviving through yet another winter is the reality for many Native Indigenous peoples, and peoples who live close to the land. The movement that inspires folks back to the land, is the same cause that requires we authentically understand what it means to live close to the land. Do we remember the age old tasks of collecting firewood to warm our dwellings, harvesting water, canning foods, or knitting a sweater for warmth? While the majority of the colonized world looks towards this time as means to purchase more useless and vain clutter, the folks who live close to the land are preparing for survival. Wood piles are being built while the last of our harvest is being collected. This time of the year naturally brings about a bit of melancholy. What we loved to grow in our gardens may be on its last leg. The promise of warmth is slowly dwindling. While the sun is sure to shine, it may be behind snow filled clouds or rainy skies.
Washing your clothes by hand this time of year brings about the depth of dread that forced our grandparents to buy washing machines. The conveniences of the modern world while essential for some are unavailable to many BBIPOC folk who live on reservations or in remote areas. For many washing clothes by hand is their only option, even if it is cold outside or if there is snow on the ground. Washing your clothes by hand is but one aspect of living close to the land that Indigenous peoples must do. Rain or shine if you'r on the land, you are showing up and present in order to ensure your basic needs are met. From washing clothes to taking care of livestock, building the soil, collecting fire wood, and sourcing out food all such tasks do not stop simply because it is wet or cold outside. We must remember that when reclaiming aspects of our Indigenous souls, that there are in fact regular chores that come along with rematriating ourselves to the land. Of course, if it were our ancestral lands then we would be fully in alignment with that reclamation truth. However, wherever it is that we exist and take up space it is important to remember that there isn't anything fad or trendy about being a responsible steward for the Earth. Indigenous peoples fill the role and live the part of care taking the land in a good, sustainable, and ethical way. Washing clothes by hand while simple is only a metaphor of the bigger act of being self reliant. Growing your food, raising your animals, processing and canning, saving seeds, and ensuring the survival of your family isn't always a pretty sight. Land stewardship isn't without the grit and grime of being fully immersed in the elements, in fact it is entirely made up of just that.
Compassion must fill our hearts as we consider the Native folks all over Turtle Island who are enduring the elements on the Rez without assistance from the outside world that wrongfully inhabit their lands and lay ruin to the natural resources their ancestors have stewarded for thousands of years. This time of year should encourage us to redefine all of the ways in which we stand in solidarity. Are we supporting fast fashion, fast food, and destructive companies that do more harm than good? Or are we engaged in any sort of community service or grassroots movements that seek to provide basic needs to those who are underprivileged and go hungry? Do we know our farmers yet, how about the ethics of the brands we support, are we actively engaged and aware of the ways in which the products we buy are created?
It is essential that we show up to the front lines in our advocacy and become aware of the every day actions that affect Indigenous peoples and those on land. If we are in fact in this together, then how are our individual actions affecting the whole? When we think of climate change and injustices it is imperative that we consider the Indigenous people and those who live close to the land as being first line responders. These Indigenous folks work with and live by the natural elements, if there is disarray on earth and our natural environments are at risk the people who will be effected most are those relying on these habitats for sustenance and shelter. It is important that we align ourselves with our local tribes, and make ourselves available in case we can be of assistance. That will look different for every tribe, for example the Pomo are fighting the logging of the Jackson Forest, follow this link to learn more about their cause https://www.pomolandback.com/ . While the Apache are striving to save Oak Flat a sacred site their ancestors have gathered at to connect with Creator for millennia, this link will allow you to learn more http://apache-stronghold.com/ . Many Natives refer to the Rez as prison, and for most it was meant to be just that. It is truly important we consider these facts especially as the coldest darkest time of year matures before us.
The Rez isn't always a beautiful place where Natives live tribal lives outside of the criminal sanction that surrounds their sacred space. In fact it can be hellish for many and most people outside of their communities don't even bother to find out how Native folks live. Many people think Natives still live in teepees or in remote villages in the forests. Non native people don't bother to learn about the current every day lives of the people whose land they wrongfully live on. It isn't until movies like Women of the White Buffalo come out where Native people actively create awareness around their causes that people begin to wake up and bear witness to the truth of the matter. The truth is that Native communities need our support just like all other BBIPOC communities do. From The Lakota Sioux tribes on going efforts to save their Buffalo and protect the people, to the Run 4 Salmon drive that strives to save the Native foodways of the Winnemem tribe each and every local tribe has a cause that you can stand in solidarity with and support. You need to first know your local tribes. This November is celebrated as Native Heritage Month, and the ways in which Non- Native people can get involved are many. It is our responsibility to be good stewards of this earth and give to those who are deserving and in need. This giving Tuesday November 29th, strive to reach out to your local tribe and offer your services. Whether it is through monetary support , emotional support, or physical support it doesn't matter how you show up, we simply must lend our hand. This is what connects us as BBIPOC folks , we have similar struggles just as Black folks in the south are at risk during the winter months or Brown migrant workers living in poor conditions through out the country. We truly are in this together. It is important we show up for those who are less privileged than we are. Instead of thinking solely about what we want this year or buying more clutter, let's gather our sacred thought in the direction of assisting someone in need and standing in solidarity.