Artist's Way

I am actually at this state hearing about the mining bill. Many of these speakers I heard their testimony first hand as I was at the state Capitol for 8 hours and 5 hours in the hearing room itself. -Wenona Morning Star Gardner

Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative

January 25, 2013  by Rebecca Kemble

On Wednesday, January 23, 2013 a joint hearing of the Wisconsin State Senate and Assembly mining committees was held in Madison as the one and only opportunity for the public to weigh in on a controversial mining bill being rushed through the legislature. The hearing was announced just four days prior, causing hundreds of people from the northern part of the state where a catastrophic open pit iron mine is being proposed to scramble to make arrangements to make the 5 to 6 hour trip downstate.

Members of the Bad River, Red Cliff, La Courte Oreilles and Lac du Flambeau bands of Lake Superior Chippewa as well as Ho Chunk and Menominee tribal members made the journey. What follows is exerpts from their testimonies.

“I’ve come here today to speak a little bit about our culture. I’ve been hearing two sides to this story…

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Artist's Way

Wellness from a Native American Perspective




My name is Wenona Gardner. My Native American name is Wapaan Alaangweew which means Morning Star the symbol of hope. I am Native American enrolled in the Stockbridge-Munsee band of Mohicans. We are a tribe of Woodland Indians with our tribal office and reservation located in Shawano County, Wisconsin. Upon receiving my name I increased my activity in participating in various ceremonies and during this time I was taught about wellness through the Native American Medicine Wheel the balance of the mind, body, heart, and spirit.

I also have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bipolar Disorder. As a person rooted in Native American ways and trying to walk the Red Road and also walking in the world of Western medicine seeking to address the mental illnesses I have, I often feel overwhelmed walking in these two worlds. On top of struggling through symptoms I feel trying to deal with two cultures many times there is miscommunication between the two from my experience. In my Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) I hope will communicate my personal viewpoint on wellness to bridge the gap.

My understanding of the Medicine Wheel is intuitive as I experienced in ceremony smelling the sweet grass burn and calling the four directions for prayer. We are taught to think in circles. That life is circular and flows in cycles likes the seasons. The Medicine Wheel teaches these things and much more. Teachings that have been passed down through the ages orally.

Many Native American people are trying to address such things as the high depression, substance abuse, and suicide rates (according to Federal Office of Minority Health & Health Disparities. “Minority Health Determines the Health of the Nation” ) in the native community by going back to the native community by going back to the Native American Medicine Wheel and other traditional ways of healing.

Many Native American spiritual leaders and healers believe that the way to heal many members in the community from mental illness is strengthening all four dimensions of one’s being mind, body, heart, and spirit signified by the colors of yellow, red, black, and white respectfully. Each of these represent the balance of the four nations. These are the colors that I was taught about the Medicine Wheel, though I am aware other tribal nations do sometimes use other colors.


Why the four directions of the Medicine Wheel?


Even though one may have a mental illness they can strengthen their quality of life by not just focusing on their mind, but also other aspects of their being such as the heart, physical, and spiritual strive to achieve the circle. In doing so we are trying to be the best we can be at the highest level of health we can achieve. For example, when one is hospitalized to deal with mental illness issues it would help if that Native American person has access to their Spiritual Leaders. Also, in the Native American ways the use of tobacco is sacred and it’s smoke is considered prayers that go up to the Creator. I heard word that locally they deny patients from having access to tobacco. What if your Native American and believe the use of tobacco carries prayers to the Great Creator, you would be denied access to worship in this way if you are in a hospital that prohibits tobacco use. I am not sure the Western doctors and staff see this from a culture perspective that many Native American Traditional Spiritual leaders do.


                                            Cultural Wellness


I do believe there is such a thing as cultural wellness. I remember hearing the phrase reading about Medicine Wheel and wellness. What I got from the article basically was that respecting someone’s culture in dealing with wellness and in this case mental healing is very real. I strongly believe that a health care systems that respects and seeks out to honor my culture background regardless of prejudicial judgments of my fair skin would be greatly appreciated.

There are ways to learn about the Medicine Wheel and wellness through talking with Native American people. Many Native American healers work within local Indian Health boards and Tribal Health Centers. Speaking to Native Americans is most preferred over books cause our culture is an oral based culture. I recommend using books as secondary source.

There doesn’t have to be a situation as the Native American character played by Will Sampson in the movie “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” whose only perceived way he could deal with the Western medicine mental health system is to bust through a window and flee like mad from a system that was supposed to be healing. I am hoping the teachings of the Medicine Wheel can be understood as it relates to wellness and be bridged as a gap to help me better to those who want to help work with my mental illness.


Artist's Way

I saw Great Disrespect to our Native People

I saw great disrespect to our native people in terms of how the Wisconsin government treated the Ojibway representatives at the Wisconsin State hearing of mining at Madison, WI Jan 23, 2013. I sat in the hearing and watched a delegation of three representatives of an Ojibway nation after they drove 6 hours to get there and watched 7 hours waited to testify to be told that they were only allowed 2 minutes for the entire group. Not 2 minutes each person within the group but 40 sec per person in the 3 person delegation. THIS is what they call an equal partnership nation to nation meeting? My heart broke watching such a travesty! There needs to be a talking circle where all parties the Wisconsin legislators and the native tribes are all on equal footing to promote real cooperation, partnership, and nation to nation negotiations. The Native American people are the Caretakers of the land according to the Creator. We must honor the treaties which are international law and supreme law of the land.

Artist's Way

A Clash of World Views

I see a great disconnect between the tribal nations and the Wisconsin in terms of the worldivew of Mother Earth herself. I have participated in the Native American science fair for 8 years through the American Science Indian Science and Engineering Society and University of Wisconsin of Milwaukee. I won 8 gold medals at the state level. I was studying to be an Environmental Engineer. I had an internship at the Center for Great Lakes studies. I went with great interest because I was passionate about the study of water. I remember receiving a tour and an explanation of what they do. They said they study the lake by studying the fish. He then took a very large test tube and loaded it up with fish and then gleefully grinding the fish and while maniacally laughing. Total disregard for life, no sacredness for the spirit of the fish. It’s then I saw the truth that the Western world of science sees Mother Earth as inanimate and dead and that is why there is such total disregard for life. That was the day I stopped pursuing Western science. For I was raised in the native traditions that Mother Earth is alive and can feel. That is why the Wisconsin Legislators won’t understand the Native American point of view because the Wisconsin Legislators come from a world view where they think Mother Earth is dead and they can do whatever they want.

Artist's Way

Cold Glass of Water

I remember one story that came out of the drive on the way back from Madison from the mine hearings. Sarah was talking about the importance of the Idle No More movement and the mining issue. She said why aren’t more people waking up it’s time. It was at this time I shared a story about my sister who is a heavy sleeper. I am the oldest child of 8 children and it was my responsibility to wake up my younger siblings and make sure they get ready to get to school. The alarm went off and I noticed that my younger sister had not woken up she was a heavy sleeper. So I called out to her and said it’s time to wake up. I left our bedroom and went into the kitchen to start making breakfast. I noticed that most of my siblings were up but my younger sister still hadn’t come into the kitchen. I went into the bedroom to find her sound asleep. This time I made sure to get her out of bed and made sure she was standing on her feet. I went back to the kitchen to making breakfast. Still no younger sister. I went back in and she was seriously gonna be late for school. She was still Sleeping! I didn’t want her to miss school so I went back to the kitchen and got a cold glass of water. I came back and poured the water on her head. Finally my sister got up and went to school!

True the Cosmic Clock has rung and many of us have heard it and are acting upon it. However, there are many who are very deep heavy sleepers. They have not heard the alarm. They are not going to wake up just by you saying “Wake up.” You can pull them out of bed and get them on their feet but they will easily crawl back to bed and go back to sleep. These individuals need help waking up. Remember we have been hiding and sleeping for a very long time. Life had become to painful to bear with all the loss that many protect themselves by sleeping to get comfort they can not find in life. These souls need our help to transition back into fully participating in life. In my case, getting my sister to school was important to me because it was my responsibility to help her get her education. Education she needed to grow and participate in life and to serve others. Those of us that are awake recognize that it is most important to stand up for treaty rights and protect the land and water. We see the dire need for more people to stand up. How are we going to do that if there is a significant amount of our people that are still sleeping? We need to be come a cold glass water. Water that gives life, coldness to alert us. Water represents the emotions. We have to help them to feel again. The peace marches, the rallies, the flash round dances, testifying in hearings are the cold glass of water they help our people to feel. I know when I first started seeing the Idle No More flash mobs flying across the country that was the cold glass of water that snapped me awake. My boyfriend and I spent hours after hours watching the Idle No More flash mobs. I was like look at all of our people coming forward. Look at how beautiful they are singing and dancing. Seeing the Idle No More videos moved my spirit like water. Next thing I know I found myself in Madison, WI for the first time ready to testify against the mines. We need to continue to do the activities that act as cold glasses of water. To gently pour new life into people. To help people to come alive.

Artist's Way

What will it take to get you down to the Capitol? Your very life might depend on it.

Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative

January 25, 2012 By Barbara With
In one of the most stunning displays of fascism yet to be witnessed in the hostile takeover of Wisconsin, yesterday Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale) declared war on the all 11 sovereign tribal nations within the borders of the state.

During yesterday’s executive session of the Jobs, Economy and Small Business Committee, AB426, the horrific new ferrous mining bill was brought up for amendments. Most now believe the bill was written by and for the protection and profit of the mining company for the specific purpose of gaining control of the iron ore and fresh water resources in the northern part of the State. Despite a huge outcry from residents of the area, environmental groups and Assembly Democrats; and despite the fact that AB426 has been overwhelmingly rejected two-to-one at both public hearings, Republican Fascist committee members once again used their majority vote to move…

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