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of Saskatchewan Since 1995
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Volume 11 Issue 1
May/June 2005

A Traditional Knowledge Keeper Awakens Spirit Through Stories

A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts

Leaves of Three, Let it Be: Poison-ivy & Its Antidote, Jewelweed

Anti-gymnastique Therese Bertherat: A Method to Reveal Your True, Harmonious & Balanced Body

Covenent Groups:
Finding Our “Selves” Through the Small-Group Experience

Editorial

A Traditional Knowledge Keeper Awakens Spirit Through Stories
by Naomi Lepage
Naomi Lepage


I first met Wes Fine Day, a Cree Elder and Storyteller from Sweetgrass, Saskatchewan, four years ago at a “Gathering” southeast of Regina. I remember thinking it would be fun and interesting to hear stories told about First Nation’s culture and history. Little did I know how profoundly that day would influence my life. I remember the first moment I heard Wes speak; everything within me stopped to listen. Through the use of stories, this Traditional Knowledge Keeper awakened my spirit on a level that is ancient and beyond the bounds of time. My intellect and logic could not understand how these stories resonated and connected with a part of my spirit, both emotionally and physically. Since then I have been fortunate enough to work with Wes learning the protocols for earning knowledge about medicines, sacred stories, and ceremony. I thank Creator for bringing Wes into my spiritual family and I am grateful for the opportunity to pass on some of his teachings.

Today there is a lot of interest in the world-view and awareness of our First Nations people and it has to do with their “traditional knowledge”, which is a way of understanding at a completely different level than simply an intellectual one. It is a science too, but it is more than what is passed on as science today. Science is well-defined by parameters which are understood physically and intellectually. But in traditional knowledge there is a level of awareness, a level of science, a level of knowledge, that goes far beyond that.

In the study of plants, for example, all things are measured and quantifiable because they are at the physical and intellectual level. But there is a part of that plant that, while you are studying it, you may miss. So many times we are taught that to be professional, or to be scientific, we have to remove the equation of spirit and emotion from the picture. When you add the level of contact to the point where it is an emotional contact, then that has reverberations spiritually and you have a whole other dimension of awareness and a whole other dimension of relating. If you are not accustom to it you might even find it embarrassing at first because you have been taught that this is not possible or that it doesn’t make a difference. But when you add the emotional contact, your heart feels it, your heart knows it makes a difference, and your heart remembers. It opens spiritual doorways.

According to Wes, when working with medicines (plants), for example travelling around picking them, you make offerings of tobacco to the ones you did not pick. You speak to them, you pray to them, and you ask them to reciprocate by praying for you. You have an exchange happening that is intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and physical. Your physical body and the plant’s physical body relate to each other in a spiritual way. You know it matters and so does the plant. Just because you speak English and plants have their own language you still move beyond the boundaries of the intellectual and physical and thus you learn to understand how communication with language, and the origin of the languages of communication, both begin with intent. This involves learning about yourself first as a spiritual being, and then learning about yourself as an emotional being, a physical being, and an intellectual being.

One of the roles of a Traditional Knowledge Keeper is to be a teacher and this teacher tells stories so that people might learn what it is they need to learn in a non-confrontational, non-threatening environment, where laughing is part of the norm, where laughing happens because people enjoy what they are hearing and because their spirits are feeding and healing their bodies and their emotions. In the world of sound we first have to learn how to listen. Today we have more and more opportunities to learn about things and to begin to journey into that level of the unknown in order to explore our very own personal, individual, spiritual realities. There is one of these opportunities happening right here in our province in May and it is called the Moostoos Ohtsi Spring Gathering.

It is said in the old days that the buffalo would come north to have their calves in the spring time. They would spend the spring and summer nurturing and growing on the prairies before they would go back south in the fall. It was said that wherever a buffalo cow dropped a calf, a flower would grow there and today that is what we call the crocus. As a result, the crocus was given the name Moostoos Ohtsi, which is Cree for Buffalo belly button.

As early as the 1820s there is mention of a ceremony in the spring where the chiefs would send out the young scouts to go and look for the Buffalo belly button as soon as the snow was gone. If they found one they were to dig it up and bring it back to the camp and there would be a Pipe Ceremony and a Feast to give thanks to Creator.

The crocus was one of the first plants that would begin to grow in the spring time and was a sign of the medicines to come in that season. It was a time to give thanks with a Pipe Ceremony because medicine comes from Creator and medicines are intended for the health and well-being of humanity.

There would also be a feast and feasts are done to interact with and to feed the ancestors and also to share the blessings with the spirit world (Spirit powers, not spirits that were once human beings but spirits that have always been spirits—ones that are children and helpers of Creator). They would make a feast and invite the spirits to come and share the food. They would feed them and they would ask them, in exchange, to speak for them in the Spirit world and to Creator. When these things were done they would be sprinkled with good from the Spirits who would be dancing, singing, and praying for them. It would feel like drops of light, or raindrops of healing and goodness, being sprinkled upon them.

People can receive great benefit from participating in traditional ceremonies and gatherings such as the Moostoos Ohtsi Spring Gathering, however in order to do so it requires a shift into being open-minded, caring, considerate, compassionate, and loving; in other words, being the person Creator intended us to be and living our life in that way.

Wes Fine Day is a Cree Elder, Traditional Healer, Ceremonialist, Medicine Person, and Storyteller from Sweetgrass, Saskatchewan. He works as a Traditional Knowledge Keeper and Educator in various schools and universities. He leads Healing Gatherings, Fasting Camps, and workshops for professionals, with more in-depth workshops for more spiritually-advanced or aware people. Wes is an Executive Director and the President of Moostoos Ohtsi Gatherings Inc., which aims at bringing Traditional Knowledge Keepers from many different cultural backgrounds together to bring awareness to the general public.

Naomi Lepage, BFA, is a Self Regulation Therapist and has completed several courses with the Upledger Institute. She has a private practice in Saskatoon, SK, where she integrates Self Regulation Therapy with CranioSacral and Visceral Manipulation body therapy. She is currently studying as an Apprentice Helper learning about medicines, Ceremony, and Traditional Knowledge. She is an Executive Director and Project Coordinator for Moostoos Ohtsi Gatherings Inc., a registered non-profit charitable organization. For more information contact her at (306) 222-7337.

 

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