Return to Turtle Island
Children of the Dawn
Knowledge Wisdom and Truth
[Stan Nolton, Blackfeet, Circa 1990]
Return to Turtle Island – Knowledge, Wisdom and Truth –
Throughout the course of recorded history, humanity has taken upon itself the responsibility of establishing a world order of social harmony and personal fulfillment. Although the virtues of this noble concept are worth striving for, most of the directions taken to this point, have also proven to be a significant factor for human conflict. As the global population approaches the threshold of another era, it does so wielding all the power and might that only centuries of physical experience could muster. Yet, deep from within humanities obscure beginnings which to a large part remain locked in mythology and speculation lays the veritable source of the natural Wisdom and Knowledge to have properly accomplished the task.
For as long as “Aboriginal” people can remember, the primary goal of Western civilization has always been to provide humanity with a uniform social conscience that would allow for the development and perpetuation of a single society. From this unified culture it was proposed that humanity could reach the pinnacle of its progression if unobstructed by the burdens of war and misery. Although one societal concept has emerged from the rest as the proclaimed model worthy enough to carry and interpret the collective skills of the species, it has in the process of of accomplishing this, compromised certain intrinsic values, that according to “Aboriginal” people, they should have been preserved. As a result, the turmoil, confusion and strife this world order was suppose to eliminate has inadvertently created further problems to solve.
With this world order now stumbling around beneath the weight of its synthetic inhibition, and, with no clear direction on how to reach the next level of development, all that there is to sensibly hold on to is the past.
As far as this situation goes, there is an old story among the “Blackfoot” people, that when translated, describes how as people, we all need to learn from our mistakes. In this old story, “Aboriginal” people are portrayed as existing in an unbroken, circular continuum of reality, never really progressing; yet, always remaining in a constant state of motion. This large circle of life, is compared to the greatest circle of the Sun. In the beginning, it is said, that all life came into being in the morning of creation. As far as progress was concerned, this perfect balance was the height of civilization. However, as some of the first people became too comfortable with perfection, a kind of disenchantment soon set in. Some people grew restless and thought they might like change. These people are known as Napi Kwan (The Changing People). Others were content and preferred things in there originality, for this they were named Ni Tsit Ta Pe (The Real People).
The Creator, seeing the discord among the people and their ways of thinking offered up a challenge to both. To each group of people there was given a gift, and set of rules or a constitution to live by for the duration of the contest. To the restless, the Creator gave the gift of change. To the content, the challenge of maintaining what there was in the face of change. For this contest the Creator provided one complete day which would start with the sun at high noon and end sometime after sunrise the next day. At the completion of the contest, the participants would again sit and evaluate what they had learned.
For the restless people the gift of change would be in the form of fire and would be used to litht their way; but, because of its limited intensity they would not be able to see beyond the light that they made for themselves. For the content however, the sun, moon, stars and the light of that first day would always shine brightly in their minds to guide them through their journey which would take them through several generations. As each generation would come into being as a part of the Great Circle of Life, they would mark the position of the sun for the contest and assume the responsibility of their particular period.
Although, this is only a condensed version of a more elaborate story which was last told in its entirety by a “Blackfoot” Elder who was of the generation known as “The Children of the Dusk,” it nevertheless bares a striking resemblance to what is happening today. As each generation has a different responsibility for maintaining the continuity, this Elder fulfilled his part by conveying the message from the “Children of the Setting Sun” to “The Children of the Night” and “The Children of the Dawn.” Since this story was told by the Elder, another generation has since entered the Great Circle of Life. Without a clear understanding of how all people form an important link in the Great Circle of Life, can we afford to negate our responsibility because we no longer appreciate the value of the old stories?
– The Perspective –
As a person belonging to the generation known to the “Blackfoot” Elder as “The Children of the Dawn,” I am also a product of the “Children of The Night.” What ultimately distinguishes night from dawn is the distance that a person is able to see. Having said this, it is not to say that one generation is any better than the next; but rather, it simply means that each generation has a different responsibility for maintaining the continuity of the Great Circle of Life.
After surviving the great period of darkness, I can only be thankful to “The Children of the DArk” and the previous generation for having seen to it by their enormous sacrifices and endurance that we, “The Children of the Dawn” have arrived.
The period of darkness which was marked by the reservation system and the apparent removal of our ability to see who we really are, has given way to a period where what we thought we had lost, was in fact only temporarily obscured by the night. This new period which we have now entered will be marked by a time of unprecedented, renewed excitement. Just as the birds are aroused into a singing frenzy each day in anticipations of the first rays of light; so to will it be with the “Children of the Dawn.”
After a short time of jubilation, there will be much work to do. Even though this period will be one of the most exciting times to live it will unfortunately be one of the hardest; for, in the period of darkness which we have come through, various nocturnal creatures scattered pieces of our belongings over the face of the earth. Therefore it is our duty as “The Children of the DAwen” to go out and put things back into their rightful order. Although we may not know what some items are, or, what they are for, the time will surely come when all will be answered.
As “The Children of the Dawn” it is our responsibility to prepare for “The Children of the Rising Sun.” As the enlightened generation, they will understand who we are and see how all people fit into the Great Circle of Life. Once again, just as the first people had seen clearly in their day, we will also understand what our purpose is. Not only will we clearly see who we are, but we will also see where we have come from and to where it is that we all go. Together, at the “Grand Sunrise” all generations will gather in celebration of completing a magnificent journey through the Great Circle of Life.
-The Assemblage –
As “The Children of the Dawn” it is with great honour that we have the responsibility of awakening our people. Although some may not wish to be disturbed at this time, it is important that they are at least given the opportunity to be properly reminded of their duty and reassured by our actions that it is alright to be who they are.
For most of “The Children of the Night,” the reservation system and the boarding school syndrome has taken a heavy toll. The people traumatized by these extreme forms of conditioning were effected to such an extent, that for some, reality goes no further than what they were taught. Although descendants of these people may speak a variation of their original language and claim to represent the position of their Elders before them, to a large part, there is little correlation between what was said in the past and what is actually happening today. Although “The children of the Night” are essential carriers of information vital for future generations, their vision seldom persist beyond the limits to which they were confined. What unfortunately resulted from the time of the forced indoctrinations was that a psychotropic wedge was temporarily driven between their original thought process and what is considered to be the spoken part of the language. However, with proper commitment and the right healing process, our societies can be restored back to their rightful position.
It has only been until very recently that “Aboriginal” people on the reservations have been permitted to leave their reserves. As more and more people become confident enough to reacquaint themselves with the land, the stories of the old people will slowly begin to take on a renewed reality. This relationship or bond connecting the “Aboriginal” people to the land and their environment, can be best described as a type of sacred constitution. It is from this constitution that everything which contributes to the identity of the “Aboriginal” people emanates. Whether its their lines of communication such as language, song and dance, ceremonies or, whether its their circuits of knowledge and wisdom concerning Geography, Astronomy, Philosophy, Sociology, or, what ever names they may go by today, what is known for cetain is that the entire being of the “Aboriginal” people has emerged as a direct result of the close, personal relationship they have with the environment through this constitution. Furthermore, from this constitution, it is the environment and not the people that determines who they are.
To date, “The Children of the Dawn” have converged on a massive campaign of utilizing the combined wisdom and knowledge of all our previous Elders to reestablish and appreciation of our original constitution. Although, the focus of this movement is to bring into question the perceived truth of our present existence, this can only be done by removing and carefully examining the layers of prevarication that accumulated during the period of darkness. What is rather unfortunate about the whole process is that it can not be done without offending cerain certain people who are determined to forget about the past. However, because we are confident that the culture of our constitution is based on the values of equality, sharing and understanding, the potentially disruptive problems that currently exist can only be resolved once the balance of the original “constitutions” or “thought patterns” are restored; for, without truth, there simply can be no knowledge or wisdom.
What ever the popular ay of thinking may wish the “Aboriginal” people to be, what is certain is that an entire society of people, complete with their own distinctive institutions, existed relatively undisturbed for thousands of years in what is now known as the “Americas.” Although it may be the consensus in some academic circles that the “Aboriginal” people have lost, or, are in danger of losing their identity, for most of the people of this continent who chose to store the information of their identity in the huge, living, storehouse of the environment instead of in print, their identity is still very much alive. As a result everything from the very minute up to the most significant features of the environment still have a purpose and reason for being. In practically every instance where a particular name was used to describe something, it also serves as the means to access other information vital for all people.
Therefore, in order to fully understand the Pe Ka Ne people, it is important to understand all the other “Aboriginal” people of the “North American” continent as well. In order to understand the it is imperative to know the continent first. However, in order to know the continent from the proper perspective, a person must be able to see beyond the countries, provinces, states, and cities which disguises what is actually there.
Before there was such a thing as “North America,” this land was known to most of the inhabitants as Turtle Island. With a little imagination it is not too difficulty to see why this would be. Alaska, is said, to represent the left front flipper of what resembles a huge turtle. Baja California is said to be the back left flipper, Mexico, is the tail, Florida, the back right flipper, Labrador, the right front flipper and the Elsmere Islands in the North are the head. As is the case with all turtles, the back or shell is divided into thirteen large areas which are then surrounded by numerous smaller areas. As with the real turtle, all the parts or areas of the turtle are what contributes to what it is. So too is it with all the areas of Turtle Island; in fact, this relationship is the basis of what determines the parameters for the sacred constitution of Turtle Island.
Within one of the thirteen areas on the turtles back which now takes on the present countries of Canada and the United States, the “Blackfoot” people still occupy one of these specific territories. As with all the other areas, the “Blackfoot” People have a responsibility of maintaining and protecting their area for future generations. This protection is more than just a matter of defending the area against outside intrusion, it also involves providing a mechanism for preserving the knowledge and wisdom from whatever adverse influences might occur.
For the “Blackfoot” people, Geography is far more than just a vast, open, empty area waiting to be discovered. Everything from the mountains, rivers, trees and rocks is considered to be a sacred keeper of knowledge. Within the area of Turtle Island which the “Blackfoot” people still inhabit, the land holds all the knowledge and wisdom as to who they are, their responsibilities as people and their relationship to past and future generations. As a living entity capable of such a feat, the land is respected and treated with the utmost honor. Despite the numerous attempts made by early “Blackfoot” people to demonstrate the integrity of their position, the difficulties in transferring the information from this medium to a print has proven to be one of the greatest obstacles to overcome. As a result, a large percentage of the common knowledge open to all people remains trapped in a metaphysical state of limbo.
It is only after careful examination of how the “Blackfoot” and English languages correspond with each other, does it then become obvious just how incompatible the languages really are. this in turn has a tremendous impact on the ability of the different has a tremendous impact on the ability of the different people to communicate. Although there has been an extensive amount of dialogue taken place in the past, for the most part, the communication that occurs remains at a very superficial level.
A good example of how this language distortion can be physically demonstrated is by simply observing the differences in nomenclatures used by the “Blackfoot” and the non-native people to describe the same geographical areas. For the non-natives, place names have little significance other than to identify a certain place or a particular feature. As a result there is Alberta, Calgary, the Bow River, the Elbow River, the Belly River, the Old Man River, the Rocky Mountains, the Nose Hill and so on. Without a map it would be very easy for a person to become disoriented and to eventually get lost. Place names are given so little consideration that they can be easily changed as the need arises; such as the case when the Belly River became the Old Man River in 1914.
For the “Blackfoot” people, place names are a manifestation of the special relationship that exists between the two legged and the rest of the universe. In the areas which include South Western Alberta and Northern Montana, the “Blackfoot” people consider this area to be the land of the Old Man. Just as Turtle Island is divided into specific areas, so too is it with the Old Man The Rocky Mountains of Alberta are said to represent the back bone of the Old Man. The Nose Hill in Calgary is the centre of his face, the Elbow River is a part of his arm, The Bow River is his bow, the Little Bow used to be his arrow, there was the Heart River, the Belly River, Chief Mountain was his organ, there was the Thighs River, the Knees River and down by Missoula, Montana there still is the Blackfeet River.
Further to this, there is the Old Woman with all her body parts listed in the vicinity of the Milk River, and in addition to this there is a whole collection of birds and animals arranged in a definite pattern throughout the whole region of what is now known as Alberta, Montana, and parts of Saskatchewan. From this mosaic of esoteric beings which holds the autobiography of a group of people from Turtle Island, lies the key for understanding the otherwise mythological world of the “Aboriginal” people of Turtle Island and other “Aboriginal” people around the world.
Since the time when the “Children of the Night” were confined to reserves many changes have occurred to the environment, the people and to the land. This in turn has had a significant impact on the thinking process of the people. From actual geographical alterations to simple changes in names, the entire continent of Turtle Island has become a corporate empire of Canada, Mexico and the United States. Although each have their own economic agenda, “Aboriginal” people have had little or no input into these changes which have greatly effected their lives. Although a lot of our knowledge is preserved for us in the stories of our Elders, many of our people who still remember these stories have never actually had the opportunity to personally experience the areas where certain events important to their culture were supposed to have occurred. For those who have venture out to look for these sites, there is the increasing problem of accessibility to many of the sites from development.
As “The Children of the Dawn” we have a duty to see that the knowledge from these stories are once again connected back to the Earth to become living parts of our identity. To accomplish this task, it is necessary to completely return to Turtle Island and do a comprehensive examination of how all “aboriginal” people relate to each other and access the impact of how progress has effected their relationship and understanding of the Universe from how they originally knew it. This journey to Turtle Island, although totally mental in nature, will nevertheless be an exercise in repatriating the mind, body and spirit with a place that actually exists. As such, it has to be remembered that as of now, we are only visitors to this foreign place which has a completely different set of rules or constitution from that which we are familiar with. This journey which is essentially the same as taking a trip to Asia or other parts of the world has in itself certain conditions that must be followed.
That a Universal Constitution exists for the continent of Turtle Island complete with its own institutions.
Recognized that the territory of the “Blackfeet” is only one part of Turtle Island and others exist.
That the original institutions were excepted as the legitimate pillars which contribute to a distinctness of the society and therefore served a specific purpose.
That these societies still exist as distinct societies and must be respected.
Now that we have a partial map and a definite direction to follow, we the “Children of the Dawn” would like to resume the journey to Turtle Island. In the territory which is held under the responsibility of the “Blackfoot” People it is essential that all place names and original nomenclature be restored to there original title. Eventually, as we pass through each area to be visited, a more detailed map and understanding of Turtle Island will appear.
Come, let us walk together as one people on this journey.