Connecting with our Roots

7 Mar

Like many others I have Native American blood running in my veins.  On first appearance I may look to be from one of Europe’s nordic lands but in reality I am as American as one can get with a diversity of blood lines.  The ancestry I’ve connected the most with throughout my life is of the various Native American tribes that make-up my being.  I’ve always felt a deep sense of connection with this part of my ancestry.

I have such fond memories of spending time with my father and Aunt Hunter on the reservations in northern Minnesota in the summers.  We would spend our days fishing in the lakes, building campfires in the evening, and listening the sounds of nature as we slept.  We also spent some of our days walking for miles and miles down dirt paths in search of the Wild Buffalo – and yes they do still exist.  I remember when we ran into a cowbird defending its territory and we sat and watched for what seemed like hours.  And one afternoon we stumbled upon a water moccasin cascading and slithering down the river where we had been fishing.  The list of memories could go on and on.

As a young girl I spent many weekends with my mother, grandparents, and other family members at Native American festivals.   We’d also savor all the delicious traditional cuisine – stew, fry bread, buffalo, and the list goes on.  We’d spend time with the rescued birds of prey, and we would weave baskets and other traditional crafts.  We’d make our own dreamcatchers adorned with beads and feathers, and carefully hung them above our beds or by windows at bedtime.  We would spend the days around the dance circling – watching, listening, feeling, and sometimes joining in.  There will always be something innate in me that will draw me into the song of the drum and flute, and the natural movement of Native American dance.  I still listen to my collection of Native American music regularly.  I found that when I was pregnant and even when Kai was a small baby, I would always play it for him too – reminding me to stay connected with my roots.

When I was in college I remained connected to this part of me through art, music, dance, and regular visits to a colleagues sweat lodge.  I drew and painted the rhythms that I felt as a child and young adult.  I cleansed my soul and being at my colleague’s sweat lodge.  And I still hold close to me a rock that was given to me at my last visit to the lodge before I embarked on my life’s journey down to Central America.

All of these memories of connecting with my roots hold a special place in my heart.

The first museum we took Kai to was the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (by far my favorite!) when he was just a week old.  While I carried him in the ergo, I read him all of the ancient Native American creation stories throughout the museum.  It was a special moment with Kai, his Nanna, and I. This past October marked another special moment for my family and I, as we were able to introduce Kai to his roots by taking him to our local annual Native American festival.  There they played many of the same rhythms and danced similar dances in traditional attire.  Again it reminded me of where I come from – of where we all come from. Kai was mesmerized by the music and of course the traditional attire – feathers, beads, bells, and ornately decorated blankets.  He also tasted venison stew for the first time, was able to see a falcon up close, and even pet a horse.  Then I brought him into the center of the dance circle with all of the other children and together we danced the traditional bunny dance.  He smiled and smiled.  I was able to guide him in connecting with his roots for the very first time.

Baby Watching Traditional Native American Dance

There is a battle of two wolves inside us all.
One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, lies, inferiority and ego.
The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.
The wolf that wins?  The one you feed.
– Cherokee Proverb


Traditional Native American Dancing and Song

2 Responses to “Connecting with our Roots”

  1. Bill March 8, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    Love your memories, it means a lot.

    • vivevivir March 8, 2014 at 10:02 am #

      And you were a big part of those great memories. Thank you for all the photographs you took, I remember all these great moments like they were yesterday. Thanks Dad! You are the best. 🙂

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