We might think from a western view that Indigenous peoples in fourth world circumstances need to be empowered, but in reality, we already know what real power is and how it works. Reality is, we are waiting for western cultures to grow up, and to exercise a more spiritual and ethical power-with that is respectful of self and all relations.
Power from my Mi’kmaq view is about knowing and experiencing the power of creation flowing through and around me. This kind of natural power is not something we take lightly. Being aware of this power demands responsibility and justice-making on a daily basis. My whole life depends on living in this kind of realistic balance and beauty. This is the only way to live a sustainable life.
Even western people now use rhetoric of “sustainable development” but reality is, no form of western development is sustainable. Development as a principle and a practice is itself deeply flawed. We Indigenous people do not need development. We need respect. We need to be heard. We need to hear. We need to practice these dimensions of our spiritual and cultural role as Custodians of Creation. This is the only path to health and well being for us and for all people of this planet.
I am constantly gob smacked at how deeply connected mental health is to ecological balance and harmony. Once we are out of sync, our bodies register sickness and dis-ease. Our bodies like Mother Earth carries memory over long periods of time. To cleanse our body we need to de-tox. We need to smudge and do ceremony of cleansing. We need to eat really healthy and cleansing foods and herbs. We need to take baths in fresh and flowing water. We need to sit in the wilderness and allow the first beauty to penetrate our mind and heart.
Getting back to the first beauty is the key. Only then do we know who we are created to be.
Power in the west is a very twisted thing. Power of this kind controls knowledge. But creation is not like this at all, in creation what is known is felt, shared, open, and flowing. Water is the carrier of knowledge in creation. Only human beings build dams and collect water to hold it still without allowing water to move. Just think about this spiritually. We presume so much. We would stop the very flow of water and be proud of destroying vast ecosystems because we can build massive concrete structures. This is what we have come to, and to me, it is very sad indeed.
What gives me hope is sitting in the red dirt of Mother Earth. Let go of the sadness, I say. Let go. And get back to country. She will tell you how to live. She will bring you back to health.
The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.access here