Tobacco

There are some MASSIVE changes going on at Talking Stick Radio, and in the world at large.  I’ve chosen a new blog theme, taken new pictures, I’m going in a new direction with the show and with my life in general, EVERYTHING is changing with me from the cellular level out, and this is simply one of the ways I’m seeing it made manifest in my daily life.

Last night I stopped in Winnebago, Nebraska, on the way home, and took some pictures at the Statue Garden, some of which will show up on various pages around the blog from time to time.  It was getting dark; I did what I could and drove home.

This afternoon I stopped again at the Statue Garden and took a few more pictures while the sun was blazing.  The Statue Garden, by the way, is located in the new section of Winnebago and is the “heart” of the new area.  It’s a circle of twelve statues, each statue representing one of the twelve Ho-Chunk clans.  At the east gate, stationed behind the Thunder Clan statue, there rises a great statue of a man with an eagle descending upon him.  Currently that Eagle Man is the picture that’s set at the background and at the top of the blog.

I took the talking stick around to various places to get the right mix of sun and contrast, sun and grass, sun and grass and talking stick, sun, talking stick and cedar, sun and statue, sun, statue and talking stick…and when I was finished taking pictures, I walked back to the car.

Opening the door, there, on the threshold of my front driver’s side door lay a wrapper — what?  What’s this?  I hadn’t dropped anything…

I picked it up.  It was the wrapper of tobacco rolling papers.

I hadn’t touched my tobacco in months.

tobacco Just how did it get there?  Then?

I’d been out walking around the circle taking pictures…my dog was the only one in the car…I keep a pouch of loose tobacco for ceremonial purposes in my car…the pouch of loose tobacco was way at the bottom of the driver’s side “door pocket”…this must have popped off the outside of the wrapper and landed on the threshold just then.

Hmm.  Tobacco.  Recalibrating everything.

I had forgotten the tobacco.

I wrapped up my camera and put it away, pulled the pouch of tobacco from its resting spot way down at the bottom of the door pocket, got back out of the car, and headed back toward the big Eagle Man statue.  I put some tobacco in my hand and felt gratitude for this reminder from the spirit world…for the reminder that this little internet radio show I’ve got going is bigger than me…gratitude that the spirit world is interested in my comings and goings…gratitude that I have the support of the twelve clans, and that they’re watching me, and watching out for me…gratitude for walking, gratitude for breathing, gratitude for being on the earth, gratitude for the sunny day, gratitude that I can do what I do…gratitude for all of it.

I sprinkled a little tobacco at the bottom of that statue, then went back out to the Thunder Clan man and sprinkled a little there, and all the way around the circle, honoring each one of the twelve clan statues with a little bit of tobacco and my gratitude.

I returned to the Eagle Man statue and put the last little bit of tobacco there, in gratitude.

And amazement.

The spirit world is working with this Recalibration, and with me, and with all that is coming next.  I have no clue what that is.  All I know is that change needed to be, I am willing to bring the change into my be-ing-ness, and I needed to remember the tobacco.

So I did.

And thus starts the Recalibration.

With gratitude and thanks, with breathing and connecting with the earth, and with a little reminder that Spirit Is Watching and Listening.

Yes, indeed.

As the Ho-Chunks would say, Pinagigi.  Thank You.

Manape LaMere and Frank LaMere honoring Reuben Snake

HONORING REUBEN SNAKE

“THE EAGLE THAT SITS ATOP THE STAFF FROM WHICH HANGS THIS COUNTRY’S SYMBOL OF JUSTICE AND DEMOCRACY, THAT IS MY LAWYER.  THAT IS THE INTERCEDER BETWEEN HUMAN BEINGS AND THE CREATOR OF ALL THINGS.  THAT IS MY UNDERSTANDING OF THE INDIAN WAY OF LIFE.”

I HEARD REUBEN SNAKE SAY THESE THINGS AS HE CAMPAIGNED TO BE THE CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL CONGRESS OF AMERICAN INDIANS.  I REMEMBER HIS WORDS AND I REPEAT THEM QUITE OFTEN.

I KNEW REUBEN SNAKE WHEN I WAS A YOUNG MAN.  MY INTERACTION WITH HIM WAS INFREQUENT BUT IT WAS ALWAYS MEANINGFUL, INSIGHTFUL AND PURPOSEFUL.  WHEN I LOOK BACK AND REFLECT ON THE DISCUSSIONS WE HAD OF THE PAST, THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE I CANNOT HELP BUT THINK THAT OUR COMING TOGETHER WAS BIGGER THAN US. THAT IT WAS PRE-ORDAINED AND GUIDED BY THE CREATOR THAT GOOD WOULD COME OF IT FOR THE FAMILIES, THE CLANS, AND THE PEOPLE.

THAT IS THE WAY WE USED TO SEE THINGS AND IT IS THROUGH THAT LENS THAT I REFLECT BACK AND GIVE TESTAMENT TO THIS MAN TODAY.   IT IS AN HONOR TO DO SO AND INDEED A GREAT PRIVILEGE TO BE ASKED TO SHARE SOME THOUGHTS WITH YOU AS WE BEGIN THIS HOMECOMING CELEBRATION.

REUBEN WAS A MENTOR TO ALL AMONG THE PEOPLE WHO WOULD LISTEN.  ALL THAT I HAVE DONE AND ALL THAT I HOPE TO DO IS BECAUSE OF HIM AND OTHER WINNEBAGO PEOPLE WHO TAUGHT US THAT IT IS OKAY TO BE BOLD, TO STEP FORWARD AND TO TELL EVERYONE THAT THE WINNEBAGOES ARE HERE AND THAT YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO LISTEN TO WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY.

THAT IS BECAUSE IT WAS THE WINNEBAGO WHO FIRST CONSECRATED THE GROUND ON WHICH WE LIVE, GROW AND FLOURISH. WHO FIRST ASKED FOR BOUNTIFUL HARVEST, FOR A GOOD HUNT AND FOR PROTECTION FROM THE ELEMENTS.  IN EXCHANGE FOR THIS WE PROMISED TO BE GOOD STEWARDS OF THE LAND AND TO BE MINDFUL OF THE GENERATIONS WHO WILL COME AFTER US.  COVENANTS HAVE BEEN MADE AND COVENANTS MUST BE RESPECTED.

REUBEN SNAKE UNDERSTOOD THE COVENANTS THOUGH THEY ARE NOT WRITTEN IN STONE.  THEY ARE CARRIED IN THE HEARTS OF MEN WHO WILL LEAD AND WILL SPEAK AND ACT IN DEFENSE OF THE PEOPLE. REUBEN WAS ONE WHO CHOSE TO ACT AND WHO CHOSE TO LEAD.

HE DEFENDED HIS CULTURE, HIS TRADITIONS, HIS RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND HIS INDIAN PEOPLE.  HIS BATTLES ARE CHRONICLED, HIS VISION WAS CLEAR, AND HIS VICTORIES ARE STILL CELEBRATED!  HE AUTHORED BEING INDIAN IS, A SNAPSHOT OF NATIVE EXISTENCE AND STRUGGLE WHICH REMAINS A MUST READ FOR WINNEBAGOES AND ALL INDIAN PEOPLE TODAY.

HE HELPED TO MOLD MANY OF MY BELIEFS.  “THERE ARE NO LITTLE PEOPLE,” HE SAID. I HAVE COME TO KNOW THIS AND BELIEVE THAT THERE ARE NO INSIGNIFICANT PEOPLE AMONG US.  NO ONE IS GREATER OR LESSER THAN THE NEXT. MAO-UNA HAS GIVEN TO EACH AND EVERY PERSON GATHERED, CERTAIN TALENTS AND ABILITIES TO BE USED NOT ONLY FOR THEMSELVES BUT FOR ALL OF THE PEOPLE. I DO NOT HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT REUBEN GAVE HIMSELF TO THE PEOPLE AND HE LEFT HIS FAMILY AND THIS SIDE OF MAO-UNA’S CREATION MUCH TOO EARLY.

REUBEN HAS BEEN CHARACTERIZED BY ALL AS A HUMBLE MAN AND I RECOGNIZE HIM AS SUCH EVEN ON THIS OCCASION SO LONG AFTER HE HAS LEFT.  I DO SO FOR A REASON.  THERE ARE MANY IN OUR SOCIETY AND EVEN AMONG THE TRIBES WHO RAISE THEIR VOICES FOR SOME STATED PURPOSE AND ANNOUNCE TO ALL THAT THEY ARE HUMBLE MEN WHO LIVE HUMBLE LIVES.  I DARE SAY THAT TO SPEAK OF YOUR HUMILITY ONLY SHOWS YOUR VANITY AND YOUR FAILURE TO UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR WHOLE LIFE IS A SEARCH FOR HUMILITY AND THAT ONLY ON YOUR DEPARTING DAY AND THE YEARS AFTER WILL YOU BE JUDGED AS TO HOW YOU LIVED YOUR LIFE.  WHEN WE DEPART AND OTHERS SPEAK OF US IT SHOULD BE OUR HOPE THAT ONE MAN RISE UP AND SAY TO ALL THAT HE WAS A GOOD AND HUMBLE MAN.  ONLY THEN WILL WE KNOW THAT WE HAVE ATTAINED THE HUMILITY THAT WE SOUGHT AND THAT WE WILL HAVE LIVED A GOOD LIFE.

REUBEN SNAKE FOUND THE HUMILITY HE SOUGHT, HUMILITY THAT ELUDES THE REST OF US.  ALL HERE CALL HIM A HUMBLE MAN AND ALL OF THE INDIAN NATIONS HAVE JOINED THE WINNEBAGO PEOPLE IN ECHOING WHAT WE KNOW TO BE TRUE.  THAT IS GOOD!

REUBEN WAS A MAN WHO POSSESSED A CLEAR AND LASTING VISION, A DEMONSTRATED WISDOM AND THE FORESIGHT THAT HAS BROUGHT THE WINNEBAGO PEOPLE TO WHERE WE ARE TODAY.  THERE CAN BE NO ARGUMENT ABOUT THAT!

IN HIS LIFETIME;

REUBEN AUTHORED AND SHEPHERDED THROUGH THE TRIBAL COUNCIL A SELF-SUFFICIENCY PLAN FOR THE PEOPLE THAT IS BEING RECOGNIZED AND SEEN AS THE VEHICLE FOR POSITIVE CHANGE THAT IS EVIDENT IN THE COMMUNITY AND AMONG THE WINNEBAGO PEOPLE TODAY.  HE HAD VISION.

HE GUIDED THE EFFORTS OF THE NATIONAL CONGRESS OF AMERICAN INDIANS AND FOUGHT FOR REPATRIATION AND TO HELP SECURE RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS FOR NATIVE PEOPLE EVERYWHERE.

HE BROUGHT INDIAN SPIRITUAL LEADERS FROM THROUGHOUT NORTH AMERICA TO WINNEBAGO TO PRAY FOR THE PEOPLE AND FOR MOTHER EARTH.  IT IS ACKNOWLEDGED AS THE GREATEST EARTH DAY OBSERVANCE EVER EXPERIENCED IN INDIAN COUNTRY TO THIS DAY!

REUBEN WORKED TO EMPOWER THE WINNEBAGO PEOPLE AND ALL NATIVE AMERICANS POLITICALLY AND SPOKE OF OUR NEED TO TAKE OUR RIGHTFUL PLACE IN THE PROCESS.  HE WAS ONE OF A HANDFUL OF INDIAN LEADERS WHO STRATEGIZED AND UTILIZED THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY TO GET THIS DONE.  THEY FORMED THE NATIONAL INDIAN DEMOCRATS WHO GAVE ME THE FORUM TO BECOME THE FIRST AND LONGEST SERVING NATIVE AMERICAN ON THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE AND THE CHAIR OF THE NATIVE AMERICAN CAUCUS AT SEVERAL NATIONAL CONVENTIONS. IT CAN BE SAID THAT I, AS A WINNEBAGO, WAS ONE OF FOUR NATIVE AMERICAN SUPER DELEGATES TO ELECT BARACK OBAMA AS THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE FOR PRESIDENT IN 2008.  IT MUST ALSO BE NOTED CHAIRMAN BLACKHAWK IS WIDELY RECOGNIZED FOR THE POLITICAL SUPPORT THAT HE BRINGS TO STATE AND NATIONAL ELECTIONS AND THAT HE HAS MADE THE WINNEBAGOES MUCH SOUGHT AFTER POLITICAL ALLIES!  REUBEN’S DIRECTION THAT WE EMPOWER OURSELVES DID NOT FALL ON DEAF EARS AND HAS DEFINITELY NOT GONE UNHEEDED. HE WAS A ROLE MODEL IN THIS REGARD.  HIS TENURE AS A STAFF ADVISOR FOR SENATOR BOB KERREY LENT TO HIS RESOLVE THAT OUR PEOPLE BE HEARD!  WE HAVE A BIG VOICE!!

IN THE 1990’S REUBEN TALKED OF A NEW NEO-LIBERAL APPROACH THAT WAS BEING PROPOSED BY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT THAT WOULD AFFECT OUR BROTHERS SOUTH OF THE BORDER.  IT REMAINED IN THE BACK OF MY MIND AS HE SAID WE MUST FIGHT IT AND TRY TO ENGAGE LAWMAKERS WHO WOULD SUPPORT THE MISGUIDED EFFORT, LATER CALLED THE NORTH AMERICAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT.   I TRAVELED TO CHIAPAS IN SOUTHERN MEXICO TO TALK TO INDIGENOUS PEOPLE AND ZAPATISTA REBEL SUPPORTERS WHO WERE OPPOSED TO THE EFFORT AND ADVISED SENATOR JIM EXON WHO WANTED TO KNOW WHAT THE

IMPACT WOULD BE ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLE.  IT WAS TO NO AVAIL!  NAFTA WAS PASSED AND DISAFFECTS INDIAN PEOPLE EVEN TODAY.  REUBEN SNAKE KNEW OF THIS NEO-LIBERAL DICTATE AND SPOKE OF IT!  SUCH WAS HIS WISDOM AND FORESIGHT!

I ONCE WROTE A SPEECH AT REUBEN’S REQUEST AS HE WAS BEING HONORED IN WASHINGTON, D.C. AND MADE A MEMBER OF THE NEBRASKA SOCIETY.  BECAUSE OF TIME LIMITS HE COULD NOT USE IT.  HE TOLD ME THAT IT WAS A GOOD SPEECH AS IT ACKNOWLEDGED HIS WORK AND HIS LEGACY AND THAT HE LOOKED FORWARD TO USING IT.  THAT OPPORTUNITY WOULD NEVER COME.

I OFFER THAT HE TRUSTED ME YEARS AGO TO SAY WHAT WAS FITTING AND APPROPRIATE.  HE KNEW THAT I WOULD DO THE BEST I COULD.  I HAVE TRIED TO DO THAT TODAY.  I THINK HE WOULD APPROVE OF THIS MISSIVE THAT I SHARE FOR HIS FAMILY AND THE PEOPLE.

REUBEN SNAKE AND THOSE WINNEBAGO LEADERS WHO SHARE HIS VISION HAVE GOTTEN US TO WHERE WE ARE TODAY, AND WILL CONTINUE TO GUIDE US INTO THE FUTURE.  THOSE WE HONOR HERE BY FLYING THEIR FLAGS GAVE US ALL THE RIGHT TO SHARE IN THAT VISION AND TO BE HEARD.

“THE EAGLE THAT SITS ATOP THE STAFF FROM WHICH HANGS THIS COUNTRY’S SYMBOL OF JUSTICE AND DEMOCRACY, THAT IS MY LAWYER.” HIS WORDS ARE HIS LEGACY. HIS WORK FOR THE PEOPLE HIS TESTAMENT.  AND HIS LOVE FOR ALL HIS RELATIONS WILL ENDURE UNTIL THE SNAKE FAMILY IS NO MORE.  REUBEN SNAKE IS FOREVER.  REMEMBER HIM AS YOU GATHER.

PI-NAH-GI-GI.

~Frank LaMere, 7/25/13

Join the Circle!

Join hosts Lu and Susan weekly on Saturday mornings at 11:00 Eastern, 10:00 Central, 9:00 Mountain, 8:00 Pacific on Talking Stick Radio.  We invite you to listen in online at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/talkingstickradio or join us on air live by calling (424) 220-1870.

The experience of “holding the talking stick,” whether it’s a real piece of carved wood that you hold in your hands, or an imaginary anything you might be “holding,” simply reminds you and everyone around you that “you have the talking stick now” and you can speak and connect with your inner wisdom, and all other voices stop and give you that space to explore yourself, connect with your voice, and speak from the calm, uninterrupted, unhurried space.  And the others know that they’ll have the chance to speak, as well.

It’s such an honoring way to be with one’s self and with others, giving one’s self the chance to be fully heard, as well as giving another person the chance to fully connect within.