Tag Archives: Teresa MacColl

Water (PDF)

(Excerpt from my master’s thesis titled “Remembering Our Future: The Search For The Salmon ! of Wisdom”, Naropa University – May 2006)

!Water. Myfavoriteplacetobe. “She’sinhernaturalhabitat”,mymomwouldsayaboutme

!The Stanislaus River is the first river I fell in love with. When I was a kid, my family would go rafting down the Stanislaus River on overnight rafting/camping trips, along with my mom’s brother Tom and his family, the McCarthy clan. Those were some of our two families most memorable times, with many enchanting stories shared.

!Atafamilyreunionrecently,myUncleTominsistedweshareouroldstories. “Rememberour rafting trips down the Stanislaus River before they dammed it? Remember the cliffs we dove off of into the warm water pools at Rose Creek? Remember how young Mikey was the first to jump off the cliff? Remember Widow Maker rapids? Remember when Mark Dubois chained himself to the rock to protest the building of the New Melones dam? Those were such amazing times!

!Everyone then began recalling and retelling their stories which at one point in time had been part of our family connectivity, our own river that united our families. But, like a lot of American families, we had built many dams in our own family river system, and the stories stopped flowing. That day at our family reunion, we removed some of the dams, and stories flowed freely. Together we had painted a picture of the river, our river, and our hearts were opening, family restoration was taking place. When we had finished talking story about the Stanislaus, I said “This is the work that I want to do. I want to remember the spirit of the river.”

!Today the Stanislaus River is blocked thirteen times by dams on its way from the Sonora Pass in the Sierras to the San Francisco Bay. After a ten-year battle, the last long whitewater stretch was dammed with the New Melones Dam, which was built to supply the agricultural interests in the San Joaquin Valley by the Army Corps of Engineers, and then eventually taken over by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

!My experiences and memories of the Stanislaus River, and my own personal grief as well as my family’s grief when they dammed the river, has had a profound effect on my wanting to become an environmentalist. It was the actual experience with the river that made a difference. The connectivity dug deep into the core of my soul.


War Dance (PDF)

Teresa Rae MacColl

(Excerpt from my master’s thesis titled “Remembering Our Future: The Search For The Salmon of Wisdom”, Naropa University – May 2006)



“What gives the white people the right to come here and kill my people, take our homes away and treat us so badly? Our blood is the same as other human beings. We are people, too. Just because the color of my skin is brown that doesn’t give them more rights than the Creator put down for all people. I’m trying to make the white man see that the sacred spring on Mt Shasta, the herbal medicines, and the spiritual doctoring we use to heal our people are all connected. It is not something that can be separated out. Don’t they know that the Wintu have had religion to stay well all these years before they came to our land? Our children will need our religious ways, our language and sacred places to call themselves Wintu Indians in the future.”     

  • Florence Jones (Pui-lu-le-met),
  • Winnemem’s spiritual and tribal leader61



When the Shasta Dam was built in 1945, the Shasta Reservoir drowned more than 90% of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe’s ancestral land. The Winnemem (McCloud River) come from Mount Shasta. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is today proposing to raise the dam again by 19 feet, which would flood many of the remaining Winnemem Wintu Tribe’s sacred sites. On September 8th, 2004, the Tribe performed a War Dance, “Hu’p Chonas”, at Shasta Dam to declare the Tribe’s opposition to the Shasta Dam raise. It was the first war dance performed in over 100 years.62



We sing to water. The sacred places must be protected. We cannot survive the flooding of our people a second time.

–        Caleen Sisk-Franco

Spiritual leader of the Winnemem Wintu


A mural was created in San Francisco to honor the struggle of the Winnemem Wintu tribe against the raising of Shasta Dam. The unveiling of the mural was in November of 2005. The wall mural depicts Winnemem members at the four-day “War Dance” ceremony that was held at          Shasta Dam in September 2004. The mural is titled “We sing to Water”. Members of the Winnemem Wintu tribe danced in full regalia at the event and talked about their opposition to expanding Lake Shasta. The ceremony was a dedication for the mural and a memorial to Florence Jones, the Winnemem’s spiritual and tribal leader, who died just more than two years ago, Nov. 22, 2003. Her successor is her great-niece, spiritual and tribal leader Caleen Sisk-Franco.


We sing to water. We have to give the river a voice. We have to give the fish a voice.”

–        Caleen Sisk-Franco


I was blessed with the great fortune of being present for this ceremony, which took place in a narrow alley in the Mission in San Francisco. I almost did not make it because I was hurrying and scurrying to finish the last pieces of my thesis. After attending the dance, I saw that this was what I needed to experience, this was part of the completion of my thesis writing.

Tears came to my eyes immediately, even before the dancers danced, and before the singers sang. I knew that my experience was different than it would have been had I not spent the last two years working with Apela and all the Elders in ritual and ceremony. I was there at Shasta Dam, at Shasta Lake, and in the water with the salmon and the sturgeon. I could “feel” the water, as they sang for water. I was swimming with the salmon, when they sang for the salmon. And I too was a warrior when they danced their War Dance, one who has been called to fight for the waters of the world. My story, in its completion, is now just beginning.

Dreaming with the Ancestors (PDF)

Dreaming with the Ancestors

by Teresa MacColl, MA

International Association for the Study of Dreams

Psiber-Dreaming Conference

September 5, 2008

Dreaming with the Ancestors

by Teresa MacColl, MA

In Irish myth, the Salmon is the oldest and wisest of all the animals, and it was said that any person who ate the Salmon of Wisdom would gain the gift of prophecy… they would be able to see their future. By seeking and working with the Salmon of Wisdom, we can gain an understanding that is rooted deep in the collective awareness of all humanity. By remembering the dreams and stories of our ancestors, we can remember our ancestor’s future, and reclaim a more balanced, holistic, and ecologically sustainable world.

My name is Teresa Rae MacColl, and my tribes are Celtic from Ireland and Scotland, Teutonic, and Anglo-Saxon. I am a graduate of Dr. Apela Colorado’s Indigenous Mind (IM) Master’s Program at Naropa University, where I chose to research my Celtic Indigenous roots or rather my roots chose me that’s how the ancestors work.

When I first met Apela, she called me “Fish Girl” , and she said to me “I’ve waited years for a Fish Person to come along!” I had been working with white sturgeon in the fisheries department at UC Davis at the time, designing fish ladders for the sturgeon. Apela is from Wisconsin and her tribe, the Oneida, have a deep reverential connection to the sturgeon. So Apela too is a “Fish Person”.

After working in the sciences most of my adult life, where one is trained to not talk about or have feelings or emotions connected to the animals they work with, I had finally found a teacher and mentor who I knew loved and cared about fish and ecology in a very deep spiritual, ancestral, and traditional way, and I knew I was on the right path. So began my training as an indigenous scientist.

Indigenous science is a holistic discipline that considers nature to be alive and intelligent. Unlike western science, the data collected from indigenous science are not used to control the forces of nature. Instead, the data shows ways and means of accommodating nature.

Students conduct research using the critical distinctions that indigenous scientists rely upon (please see list below). This research offers a unique opportunity for students to encounter their ancestors and their whole self with the support of mind, body and spirit.

The indigenous scientist is an integral part of the research process and there is a defined process for insuring this integrity.

All of nature is considered to be intelligent and alive, thus and active research partner.

The purpose of indigenous science is to maintain balance

Compared to western time/space notions, indigenous science collapses time and space with the result that our fields of inquiry and participation extend into and overlap with past and present.

Indigenous science is concerned with relationships, we try to understand and complete our relationships with all living things.

Indigenous science is holistic, drawing on all the senses including the spiritual and psychic.

The end point of an indigenous scientific process is a known and recognized place. This point of balance, referred to by my own tribe as the Great Peace, is both peaceful and electrifyingly alive. In the joy of exact balance, creativity occurs, which is why we can think of our way of knowing as a life science.

When we reach the moment/place of balance we do not believe that we have transcended — we say that we are normal! Always we remain embodied in the natural world.

Humor is a critical ingredient of all truth seeking, even in the most powerful rituals. This is true because humor balances gravity.1

Indigenous Mind is a masters program where students study and research their own indigenous tribal ancestors earth-based spiritual traditions within a Western Academic framework.


Students individually and collectively go through a deep decolonization and ancestral remembrance process. This is especially important for those of us who are of European ancestry, who are more removed and disconnected from our indigenous roots, or even having awareness that we have indigenous ancestors. Students spend time with traditional native elders and learn what it means to remember who they are in an indigenous tradition, and make an ancestral journey to the land of their ancestors. The quest is to access earth-based spirituality, remember the traditional ways of ones own genealogical ancestors without appropriating from other cultures, healing both wounded masculine and feminine, maintaining balance, and promoting inter-tribal healing and understanding.

In 1855 Chief Seattle warned the white settlers of America that “when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men”, it would signal “the end of living and the beginning of survival.” Those American settlers had forgotten their own native tradition in favor of a religion that taught man he must “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish in the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Gen.I.26). This view of the natural environment denied there is any spirit in nature.

Most people of European ancestry believe their culture is rooted in Christianity, and are unaware of the tens of thousands of years of pre-Christian heritage and spirituality preceding the last two millennia of Christian experience. Christianity is relatively recent, and before it was the pre-dominant religion in Western Europe, most people practiced a spirituality that wasn’t expressed in sacred texts, but which arose out of the experience of being sensitive to the land and sky — to the changing seasons, to the power of the hills and rivers, to the mystery of the stars, and the movements of the sun and moon.2

To the ancient Celts, the realms of the Otherworld were in full view all the time, which included the ancestors, the deities, and the sidhe or faeries. In the Scottish Highlands, you find the “two sights” or an da shealladh in Gaelic, also known as the “second sight”, which denotes the capacity to see both the normal waking world (ordinary reality) and the world of spirit and energy that is intertwined and connected to this one. We find the two sights among certain individuals, who are the dream-seers and the vision-seers.3

When St. Patrick came to Ireland in AD 432, he spent nearly 30 years traveling throughout the countryside bringing Christianity to the local people and establishing churches and monastic foundations upon many Druidic sacred sites. He was not the first one to bring Christianity to Ireland, but he was the one to abolish the pagan rites of the Druids at Tara. Supposedly, first he got rid of the snakes, and then he got rid of the dragons. There were no snakes in Ireland. The Celts used the serpent imagery as a symbol of the universal life energy, a positive symbol of the goddess. So this legend of St. Patrick ridding the land of snakes and dragons was about the conversion of the pagan priests and the killing of the goddess, the feminine. St. Patrick also banned different forms of divination as “giving offerings to the demons”, which included the dream-seers and the vision seers.4

2 Carr-Gomm, 4-11.

3 MacEowen, 253

4 Concannon, 150-151.

“Your dreams are your doorways” —

Auntie Poepoe, Hawaiian elder

Much of our post-modern world does not have elders or intact cultures to link the modern and dissociative way of studying our dreams, with the ancient integrated ways of our ancestors. So in the IM program, we are attempting to reclaim what our indigenous ancestors did, and that is to use our dreams as guides, and to connect with our ancestors, and dream tribally.

Students learn how to understand and interpret dream messages from the ancestors and the spiritual world, and are taught by elders how dreams work on multiple levels to impart messages and understandings for today, and simultaneously reconstitute tribal ways. Tools for understanding dreams as guides in the waking world, particularly in their propensity for cross-cultural understanding and healing, are also provided. Dreams are one way the ancestors “speak” to us.

Our ancestors used to dream together as a tribal group, and they would share their collective dreams with the community. As we re-create a tribal dream community, we are able to gather up and perceive patterns and large writ ancestral communications that may come only to a group, and may be too much for a single person, or perhaps the dream is unifying people towards something that involves a group. We can perceive a collective Gestalt.5 In our IM tribal dream community, we collect and record our dreams together in a “dream database”, where we can look at our dreams collectively and track different patterns and themes in relation to the phases and signs of the moon. Working with dreams using indigenous protocol has enabled us to bring back the sacred art of tribal dreaming

5. A structure, configuration, or a pattern of physical, biological, or psychological phenomena so integrated as to constitute a functional unit with properties not derivable by summation of its parts (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gestalt).

“It’s time to make your dreams come true.”

-Mr. Hale Makua, Hawaiian elder

IM Dream Data:

Those of us that are the “Dreamers” started dreaming with and for each other or what I like to call “dream weaving”, and the collective dreams give a more informed story of what the dream messages were communicating to us. Ancestral information would come through the dreams of others as well our own individual dreams. Working with the community, one let’s go of their attachment to the dreams, because sometimes we are being “dreamed through”. The other message that comes through is that Mother Earth needs healing, and through our collective dream research we find that our ancestors used this dream information such as this to help maintain balance and harmony.

Below are some examples of storytelling through the dreams, and “dream weaving” with other students, connected to the ancestors and the land of the ancestors. The first dream I had is an example of one of many dreams I had that was connected to someone else, their ancestors, and the land of their ancestors. I was being “dreamed through”, and “seeing” ancestral information for someone else (this is how my Celtic ancestors dreamed, they had dreams of prophecy or the “second sight”) but also there was a message and work for me in the dream. What we are also finding is that we are becoming a global tribal dram community, and that ultimately the dreams and the “work” transcends space and time. For me personally, I know the dreams I have are connected to healing Mother Earth, which is not separate from healing and finding balance in the masculine and feminine within ourselves.