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  • Writer's picturezhaawano

The Way of the Heartbeat, part 9: The Knowledge in Our Hearts

Updated: Jul 5, 2022

Miin-giizis (Berry Moon) / Abitaa-niibini-giizis (Halfway Summer Moon) (July 4, 2022)


"Blood runs the heart. The heart knows what it is." - La Donna Harris, Comanche

The way I see it, the old knowledge is important. This is why we must go to the Elders who are still alive and still have this old knowledge. But many of us have no Elders to go to.

There is however much knowledge in our DNA and our hearts, and dreams can teach us a lot too. In Anishinaabemowin, the Ojibwe language, it's called manidoo-minjimendamowin: spirit memory, or blood memory. We all have it, no matter how diluted our Native blood may have become over time, or how far we were raised from the lands of our ancestors.

I too, am of mixed blood. I too, was raised far from my original homelands. So I taught myself to listen to manidoo-minjimendamowin. To inde', my heart. To bawaajiganan, dreams. Gichi-apiitendaagwadoon bawaajiganan: dreams are important.

The late Lakota teacher and healer Tȟáȟča Hušté once said that his beliefs in the concepts symbolized in the Sacred Pipe identified him as Native. He realized that to truly understand what it meant to be a Native American was to understand the Sacred Pipe. This is true, but it is also true that the pipe is only an instrument. It is the land, our sacred tie to it, that defines the essence of our identity. In the beginning and in the end, it is the spiritual tie to the land where our ancestors lie buried that makes us who we are.

The land, the pipe, and receiving dreams, have always been very important with our ancestors in seeking knowledge and wisdom. Much of my art and storytelling is drawn from this.

Remember, you are never too old to dream.


Illustration: "THE ELDERS"

© 2022 Zhaawano Giizhik

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