Heading to Columbus Ohio today to teach at the 2011 Authentic Leadership in Action Institute with my friends Pawa Haiyupis and Tim Merry. We’re teaching a module on indigenous wisdom, ancient wisdom, universal wisdom. It’s new for me to be doing this, kind of a chance to sum up my last 20 years of learning, living and growing as a human being. I’m nervous and mindful of elder Herb Joe’s name for us: “poor weak human beings.”
I always feel humble coming to ALIA and this year I feel maybe more humble than ever. Our module is fully subscribed and many friends and colleagues will be with us. On the eve of the work I find myself far more curious about what I am about to learn rather than what I have to teach. And immediately that frame of mind brings me back in a deep and powerful way to the first steps I took learning about Anishinaabe culture and practice back in 1987. My journey has always had a bit of coming home to it even though I’ve never been completely at home in the culture. It has been a salve to heal intergenerational dynamics in my own life and to prepare for my role as an ancestor. And I have always felt both inside and outside of the teachings at the same time.
So I sit here waiting to depart on a delayed flight to Toronto, grateful for all of the indigenous teachers in my life. Remembering Tom Little, Paul Bourgeois, Edna Manitowabi, Jake Thomas, Manny Boyd, Art Soloman, Marlene Castellano, Eddie Benton-Banai, Shirley Williams, Wayne Kaboni, Fred Wheatley, Bruce Elijah, William Commanda, Sylvia Maracle, George Cook, Umeek, Fred Johnson, Lila Brown, Cease Wyss, Dustin Rivers, Grace Nielsen, Willie Charlie, Leonard George, Pawa Haiyupis, Wally Samuel, Herb Joe, Satsan, Luana Busby-Neff, Taupouri Tangaro, Michael Elkington, Orlando Pioche, Mikk Sarv, Mick Dodson, Peter DuBois, David Newhouse and Sonny Diabo.
All of these men and women, some older, and some younger than me, are my teachers. they have shared some deep kindness with me, some important teaching that has brought me to a place of belonging either in myself or in the place in which I live, and I am grateful to them all, and many more besides.
As I head out on this trip, this quote seems important:
“The circle is one of the strongest shapes in nature. When we see the world from a Native American perspective, that circle shapes our vision. We find circles and the idea of the circle everywhere, from the shapes of most Native dwellings to the view of the world as a series of continual, repeating cycles. Human life, itself, is seen as a circle, as we come from our mother, the Earth, when we are born and return to that same earth when we die” . Lesson stories keep the Native people of each generation from repeating errors which their ancestors made. And today, because (as Sitting Bull is reputed to have said) “there are no longer just Indians here,” that circle of stories is desperately needed…”<\blockquote>49.195409-123.18282