1. Grandfather is very much a realist – that isn’t to say he lacks imagination,
    just that one doesn’t overlap the other and he knows the difference.
    Sometimes we talk about words, what their meanings are and what was
    the process of creating a specific word for a specific item or purpose.
    It can get pretty funny at times as often enough it all seems a little alien to
    Alien – words like satan, lucifer, and evil, how they can become a sort of
    catchall depending on ideologies and beliefs, maybe for dramatic effect,
    or a sense of self righteousness.
    Grandfather says he never uses words like these, and in thinking about it I’ve
    never heard him say a one of them.
    Not that he doesn’t believe “evil” exists, or bad spirits for that matter, only that
    he thinks the more a person uses them to define or explain something the easier
    it becomes to portray things in such a light and if I’m stating it correctly becomes
    a sort of intellectual laziness.
    In reading this latest blog to him and discussing related comments made here
    and elsewhere I asked what his opinion was and he just kind of shook his head
    and said it sounds a lot like what our people used to hear in the boarding schools
    and from missionaries – that if you did or didn’t do this or that or if you said
    this or that “god” was going to punish you, visit some great calamity upon you.
    Then he told me he remembered a story he was told following some perceived
    infraction about a man in “their book” who did something wrong and was punished
    with boils all over his body.
    I asked him if he believed that? And he replied no but the nun who told must have,
    and in a way he felt sorry for her because she must have lived her life being afraid
    she might become covered with boils.
    So I asked him if he thought people who are so quick to label things as being of
    satan or evil and someone being punished with a fatal illness believe it?
    A few moments of silence, a sip or two of coffee and then grandfather replied they
    must just like the nun did or why would they say it? And he wondered aloud if they
    too live in fear of boils?
    So I asked by way of comparison could people who say these things be considered
    to be like the nun and grandfather replied it would depend on the person and why
    they said what they said.
    But he also aid he doesn’t believe it and never thought the nun was right – but then
    maybe she was at least in her own mind as the believers in this book seem to think
    they know all about their god while we say Creator is the great mystery we cannot
    know all things about.
    So if we don’t know we shouldn’t be saying Creator made anyone sick or made
    them die.
    Like I said ….. a realist, and a man whose opinion I place a high value on inspite of
    the fact that he like myself isn’t an “educated” person and doesn’t carry a ceremonial
    pipe or scared bundle.

    Whenever anything related to the boarding schools comes up there is a plaintive quality to grandfather’s voice I’m not even sure if he is aware of, and so it is a subject no one brings up and only arises in instances like this when he speaks of it.
    It is a topic that always requires a suppression of anger on my part – it is unsettling to think of a child, any child in such a circumstance when everything they are, have ever been taught serving as anchor to give value to them and a way of life is systematically attacked leaving them with nowhere to turn other than conforming or being physically, emotionally, and sexually beaten into submission ….. at times even unto death.
    I can’t speak for grandfather but when it comes to myself I say to hell with apologies that have become harder to extract than an abcessed tooth, nothing wipes the slate clean.

  2. ” When you fill the Chanunpa, there is a pipe-filling song that goes with it. During that time everybody should respect that Canunpa and not talk. They can sing that song if they want to. There is a certain way you put that tobacco ( mixture) in there. You have to educate your fingers, your pinch, for that. The old people told me that you have to be really careful when you’re accepting the Chanunpa. When you put your mixture into the bowl, you should never put bad words or bad thoughts in that offering. Don’t wish bad luck or death or like that. If I hear what’s in that Chanunpa, like death or bad luck for someone, I will take that Chanunpa, disconnect it, and return it to that person.”

    ” When we place that medicine, that tobacco in there, it attracts electricity. So you see those lights come in during the ceremony. There are a lot of things you people have to learn. You have to start over again. So I’ll put you all back into kindergarten, but this time you’re not going to see a dog jump and say ” Arf! Arf!” This time you’re actually going to hear it talk and learn how to sniff. You’re going to learn how to hear, how to taste, and how to feel. You’re not just going to rely on your naked eyes. We overload our naked eyes. We overload that little computer chip, so the wires short out. There’s an electrical storm going around in our head. So we have a big storm going on in our head. So we have to stay close together and stay behind this Chanunpa. Never sidestep it or go along the side. Don’t go in front of it. Let the Chanunpa always lead. That’s the instruction that we carry. And that Chanunpa will lead us to safety where there is no end- where there’s happiness and joy. There’s no pain. There’s no death. There won’t be anybody coming around to collect rent or taxes or anything. Eventually, the Chanunpa will lead us all back into the hands of Tunkashila. Grandmother, she will cradle us again. She knows that we have been naughty kids, but instead of spanking us, she’ll wipe our tears and forgive us. They are the only ones that could forgive. Instead of punishing us, they’ll forgive us. So the real amnesty is there. We know that. So don’t be afraid. What we left behind, leave it back there. Try to do some good. Let’s try to take a step, try to think something good. Try to take a step in a good way. So that is my prayer.”
    Wanbli Cikala Wallace Black Elk

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