It has been snowing for days where I live with no end in sight. The suffocatingly beautiful kind of snow and I’m gifted with a fresh blanket of purity every morning. Aesthetically, the world outside is breathtakingly gorgeous. Spiritually, the world outside is becoming smaller and the tiny life I live has become more clear. My community is in focus and the noise of the globe is muted in the trappings of the weather. The people before me, the Native Americans, understood that nature has so much to teach us if we allow it to, and the never-ending snowflakes have brought forth the importance of my small little world.
This modern world has been a blessing and a curse. It’s put the world at our fingertips and has allowed us to connect with others unlike us for the first time in human history. I can talk to someone from Australia within seconds. I can learn of other’s cultures and experiences any time of day. This modern world has shaped me into a human being aware of the small little planet we all share, and all the catastrophic problems we face. However, it has also distracted me from the tribe I am apart of, the little town I reside in.
The snow has a way of opening your eyes and putting your tribe in focus. We all share a common struggle right now. Winter. Driving. The cold. Before civilization, humans lived communally in their little tribes. There was no time for judgments or ego because they were simply fighting for survival. I can’t imagine life without electricity, grocery stores, or 4 wheel drive. Amazingly, the human race learned how to survive through hardship, but they did not do it alone. They did it together. The men hunted for food. The women gathered. The tribe worked together and helped raise the babies. They weren’t so selfish as we are today.
If I time traveled 250 years into the past, geographically I would be a Native American in the Ottawa tribe. I wouldn’t know a thing about Christianity, politics, or Kim Kardashian. People in my tribe wouldn’t be fighting about baking wedding cakes or about who deserves food or healthcare. My concerns would be trading copper for corn and defending my family from the Iroquois. I would have to depend on my community for everything. Food. Shelter. Clothing. Love. Nature would be my teacher, the animals my family, and the Sun and Rain would be my Gods.
My physical body is white. However, some of my ancestors were Native American. Their blood lives in me, and I share some of their DNA. I have no right to claim it as the percentage of my Native American ancestry is very minuscule. But I’m honored to have come from such a beautiful culture. I’m humbled by it, and I’m in awe of their beautiful spirituality and connection to nature. They were warriors. Protectors. Helpers. They loved the earth, the animals, and learned ways to survive that benefited everyone. We have so much to learn from them, and it’s so important to keep their culture alive and educate ourselves on the original dwellers of America. I don’t think we’ve done so well with their land.
In conclusion, may we learn the lessons from the elements and from the people before us. May the snow bring you back down to your small life and help you see that we are all in this together. The drug addict down the street. The alcoholic next door. The elderly that may not have anyone to go get groceries for them. The homeless that do not have a warm bed to get into. The migrant family that doesn’t speak English. The single mom that needs her driveway plowed. The children that need educators and positive role models. Change starts with small little efforts in your small little worlds.
We’ve forgotten the simplicity and hardship of being human. We’ve forgotten our neighbors.
We need to remember.
“When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned,
only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.”
Native American Saying