From the stone, from the drums, from stories, memories, images of a life, living. A golden thread ties us all together.
My father turned 88 this summer. He is the rememberer and story-teller of his generation. When I went home to celebrate his birthday, I asked him if he would tell me in a most simple way who we are.”Our family came from Sweden.” A truth, and a statement my father would normally leave just as that. But, to me, he continues, “We were not like other Swedes. I always knew this as a child”"How so?”
“We are pagan.”"Yes.” Then, because I could not resist a tease, since of course I was raised without ever having been in a church, I asked, “Like wicca?”
“NO.” And he opened his arms to the forest, “This is us, who we are. We are this,” and he swept his arms over the landscape, “and it is us. No difference. Our way is being in balance. Simple.” Then, as an afterthought, “A big responsibility.”
There have been so many secrets that have unraveled in the last few years. It is the right time. Secrets served their purpose. They allowed my people who like many other indigenous, found themselves hunted, hung, burnt at the stake, to slip into anonymity. Secrets were necessary, even in more recent times, my parent’s time, children were taken away from families to boarding school. Cultures were destroyed or held secretly with only small bits in the open.
I was in many ways luckier than most. My beautiful, exceptional parents chose to live with Native Americans. For us a relationship had developed between two cultures in Alaska with my great-grandfather and continued with my parents at the Dxwlilap reservation. I am the lucky child, raised “inside the way.”
I am not of one culture nor another, but a blend that has at it’s root the one thing my ancestors were protecting; life lived as a sovereign self in harmony with the sacred land.
I do not know the language of my ancestors. My father remembers Sámi words, and they feel familiar to me. But, the most important language, my parents did pass to me. I hear it in a yoik, the song that spills out from the heart; earth, wind, trees speak, this I know, it’s the same language. It belongs to all of us who listen.