By Lindsey Lickers, Medicine Water Woman
Haudenosaunee (Six Nations of the Grand River),
Anishinaabe (Mississauga’s of Credit First Nation)
I sat for several days mapping out information to share for this post. I had a plan consisting of walking you, the reader, through all the details about birch bark baskets that I have learned. How they are constructed, when and how we harvest the bark and what so many different Indigenous nations use it for. It all looked great on paper but something wasn’t allowing me to move forward in sharing this. So I did what I usually do when I find myself in this type of stagnant energy, I prayed. I asked, what do I need to share? What do people need to understand? When I woke up it was clear, we need to start simply.
This project is intended to share knowledge of the natural spaces around us from different perspectives. It is very much rooted in sharing, remembering, connecting and then expressing these very personal understandings creatively.
So how do we start? Well, how does anyone develop a connection, a friendship? Introducing yourself is helpful and a great first step. Your name and where your family is from help to let the other know a bit of your history. Next you may want to take some time to understand the other better by asking some questions, asking them where they are from in return. We should also reflect inward and ask ourselves why we want to know the other. What is our intention in wanting to build a relationship with this person? The most fulfilling relationships are the ones that are rooted in love, respect, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility, truth and gratitude.
What I just described to you is how many Indigenous people are encouraged and taught to approach creation. Creation is all things; the stars, the earth, the soil, the trees on the earth, the sun and moon in the sky, the water, the rocks, the creepy crawlies, all the animals and the people. Creation is vast and just as people carry a heartbeat so does all of creation. As people we have a spirit, a life force. The same goes for a tree that is 150 years old, some birch become this accomplished. Just in age it knows more than you do, it has so much to teach you.
So then, does it not make sense that if we want to remember, to create a meaningful connection with creation, that we should start by introducing ourselves and taking the time to get to know it? Before there are birch baskets that carry our babies and our medicine, before we harvest chaga for it’s ability to heal the body, before canoes are made to travel, this relationship is formed.