I was once was invited to speak at an American Indian Education Conference in Stevens Point, WI. I pre-planned a speech and to play my Native American flute. At that time, I was a student at UW-Milwaukee in the fine arts department specializing in drawing and painting and part of the Multicultural Expressions Group. I was all prepared to go on when I was swept up in emotion. My Mohican Grandmother had passed away and this was my first time up north since she had passed. The smell of the forest surrounding me was awakening memories of my Grandmother. At a spur of the moment, I walked out of the building skipping lunch and started walking up the road not knowing where I was going. Up ahead I noticed a nature preserve and turned off the road. I walked down the wooded path alone and I noticed a mound. I climbed up the mound and fell to the ground sobbing reflecting upon the loss of my Grandmother. I cried and cried laying in the grass and then all of a sudden I felt something touch my hand and a wave of peace washed over me. I slowly looked up and saw a spider sitting on my hand. I remembered the teachings of Grandmother Spider and felt that was my Grandmother on my hand and that she came back to comfort me as a spider. I felt relieved and calmer. I got up and promptly returned to the conference to do my presentation. When I was up there I made an impromptu speech about my love for my Mohican Grandmother and how I sung her favorite song at her funeral because her spirit told me to and how I hadn’t known beforehand that it was her favorite song. Her spirit reached out to me. When I was done with my speech a small boy pushed through the crowd and came straight for me to hug me. He said he was Stockbridge too! I saw then the power of a healing story and the sense of tribal proud this boy had because I choose to honor my tribe and my Mohican Grandmother. Now when I see a spider on the wall as I am typing on my computer writing my story I smile inside knowing she is watching over me and encouraging me to tell my story.
Wenona Morning Star Gardner
Stockbridge-Munsee band of Mohican Nation
Wiping Away the Tears
I am enrolled in the Stockbridge-Munsee band of Mohican Nation and I was in foster care for a few years. I was told that Native American people who were adopted or went through foster care were considered “Lost Birds.” A longtime mentor brought me to a special ceremony called the Wiping Away the Tears ceremony at Indian Summer Festival during September 2002. The ceremony was part of that Indian Summer Festival’s theme “Coming Home,” which extended honor and healing to Indian adoptees and Indians that were in foster homes. Lakota Chief Arvol Looking Horse Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe performed the “Wiping Away the Tears” describes the special emphasis the “Wablenica Ceremony”, prayer and pipe ceremony, American Indian adoptees and foster care children are welcomed back to Native culture and their spiritual home. This ceremony also helped families who were separated by adoption or foster care begin the reconciliation process. The Wiping of Tears Ceremony to heal the grief caused by the years of separation from their families and communities. The entire ceremony for all of us Lost Birds in a circle praying and singing together. I hope, if you haven’t had a chance to participate in one, that you have the opportunity to participate in such a ceremony, it’s been very healing and life altering experience for me.
Wenona Morning Star Gardner
Stockbridge-Munsee band of Mohican Nation
I am passionate about healing, arts, hope, and recovery.
My purpose is my vision of the White Turtle Rainbow because I am a Rainbow Warrior a bridge builder sharing native wisdom connecting people, races, cultures, and nations through my recovery story of hope.
I made the print in my very first printmaking class where I carved the design for my Big Vision and Values. White Turtle Rainbow is the vehicle to how I will tell my Two Step story which includes the journey with Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages.
- Honor the circle
- The balance of the Mind, Body, Heart, and Spirit.
- The coming together of the four races to teach the other races wisdom.
- A recovery story of a Mohican woman finding herself, her higher power, and true love.
WHITE TURTLE RAINBOW
- A bridge builder connecting people, races, cultures, and nations together with native wisdom
Waapan Alaangweew – Morning Star
- A light shining in the darkness a sign of hope of the coming of a new dawn.
The Artist’s Way Circle
Basic Principles of the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron:
1. Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure creative energy.
2. There is an underlying, in-dwelling creative force infusing all of life–including ourselves.
3. When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the creator’s creativity within us and our lives.
4. We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.
5. Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God.
6. The refusal to be creative is self-will and is counter to our true nature.
7. When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to God: good orderly direction.
8. As we open our creative channel to the creator, many gentle though powerful changes are to be expected.
9. It is safe to open ourselves up to greater and greater creativity.
10. Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source. As we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity.
- Lenape Fourth Crow prophecy: “We now know that the First Crow was the Lenape before the coming of the Europeans. The Second Crow symbolized the death and destruction of our culture. The Third Crow was our people going underground and hiding. The Fourth Crow was the Lenape becoming caretakers again and working with everybody to restore this land.”
- 7th Generation prophecy in order to help the next 7 generations we must go back and learn the past 7 generations
- 8th Fire prophecy reach a path where Native Americans and settlers work together in harmony, peace, and love.
Back in May 26, 2000 in desperation I was trapped in my house bound in a wheelchair and just released from a mental hospital after experiencing a massive mental breakdown. All of this forced me to have to drop out of art college as a fine arts student specializing in drawing and painting. It was from the ashes of losing everything including the suicide death of my dear friend Stephen Nemacheck who was a fellow art student at UW-Milwaukee who had PTSD and was Blackfoot Indian who always wore his medicine bag wherever he went. Through Stephen Nemacheck’s death was born The Artist’s Way Circle. I wanted to let his spirit live forever by being there for artists who were struggling to make their dreams happen. I wanted to be there for them in a way I couldn’t be there for Steve. In my deepest pain and loneliness I needed to reach out to the art community that existed on the Internet. The only art community at that point I could reach from my home. The Artist’s Way Circle was my way to redeem myself in my eyes to be part of a greater art community. The Artist’s Way Circle started as my personal art therapy and then expanded to reach over 1,000 members over the course of 13 years. And before me I witnessed miracle after a miracle. I saw new hope be born as I help midwived others people creative hopes and aspirations through the Artist’s Way tools and process and in doing so I gave birth to myself. I give all the credit to the Creator. The Creator who inspired Julia Cameron herself to share her creative journey and soul with all of us. The same Creator that led me before the storm to the High Wind bookstore with all the power to change my life and spark to inspire others.
The countless number of my friends in my life are tied to me through encountering The Artist’s Way Circle. My Artist’s Way Circle that meets in Waukesha was a milestone in my personal creative recovery journey. My Artist’s Way friends and I share our journey together. We help each other in ways we never thought possible. The journey is powerful and it has opened doors and opportunities like never before. I know the fact that I even took a chance on myself and pursued the opportunity to apply for the Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages in Washington DC is the mere belief I can take a calculated risk thanks to the Artist’s Way. And the same insight inspired so many others to take calculated risks in their own lives. A Mother and Daughter once joined The Artist’s Way Circle and through their joined journey I heard the love of for a mother for her daughter. I heard the story of the Pennsylvania Lenape people through the Artist’s Way Circle member Chief Robert Red Hawk Ruth who poured his heart out to me about how his people were putting together a cultural museum display and that it was the Artist’s Way that inspired him. And when I look at the museum display I have tears pouring from my heart knowing that my Lenape people are waking up and finding themselves again. Just like I am waking up to myself finding I am searching for Mahican and Munsee language in the archives of the Library of Congress and Smithsonian Institute through Breath of Life. Through the Idle No More movement the Native American nations are waking up more and more and going after that which fires their spirits again reclaiming themselves. My Two Step story as told through words and video honoring the oral tradition is a story of my journey as a Mohican woman searching for recovery but is also in a way telling the story of my Mohican people too. We are finding ourselves through The Artist’s Way the parts of us long forgotten or numbed out. We are rising back and reclaiming that which is lost hunting down the fabric pieces of ourselves. We write our Morning Pages and a little more of us surface. I go out to do an Artist’s Date and I ask the Creator come spend time with me speak to my heart. Talk with me. I need you as I need to find myself. You are a part of me and the mirror of my heart. Let me be in the middle of your heart.
See on Scoop.it – Revitalizing Munsee Language
Over half of the world’s languages are endangered. The Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages is working with Native Americans to revitalize their languages before they are gone forever. During a two-week program, participants will connect with libraries, archives and museums to support language learning and teaching. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History will host Breath of Life workshops June 9–21, enabling activists from North American indigenous endangered-language communities to partner with linguists to navigate archives, locate and acquire documents, interpret writing systems and transform archival materials into practical lessons for language learning.
“Washington is an ideal place for the Breath of Life because we have access to the collections of the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress,” said Ruth Rouvier, Recovering Voices program manager.
The Breath of Life Institute is based on the model developed for California languages in the early 1990s by the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival in partnership with the University of California, Berkeley. The 2013 Institute, like the one held in Washington, D.C., in 2011, will replicate the Berkeley model.
“Because the Breath of Life will be held by a public institution and because we want to foster future conversation, we hope to engage a wider audience through online media,” said Lisa Conathan, co-director of the 2013 Institute.
The conference will document much of the process and make it available through online channels. One of the main difficulties in language revitalization is building a community of speakers. By documenting the event, the Breath of Life organizers hope to create a resource for future generations interested in language revitalization.
Wenona Gardner‘s insight:
I was accepted into the Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages and assigned to the Eastern Alongquian Team.
See on newsdesk.si.edu