Honor the sacred.
Honor the Earth, our Mother.
Honor the Elders.
Honor all with whom we
share the Earth:-
plant and rock people.
Walk in balance and beauty.~
Native American Elder
My summers have been spent on a lake in the north eastern corner of Michigan’s mitten. Clean and pure, set along side Huron National Forest, the area is rich in natural resources and history. Native American lore is strong in Michigan; myth and legend abound for many tribes. Their names and spirit echo in many ways, some subtle, and others so strong they are apart of the national language of our country.
The shore my family has been blessed to stay on was once considered sacred to the Chippewa tribes. Once a year, during the Festival of the Harvest Moon, all the tribes came together on the shore line of which our home now rests. They came not only for tribal discussion and ceremonies, just as their forefathers had done, but also to chant, dance and sing in their full Chippewa ceremonial attire. Indeed, the Chippewa made powerful offerings on the sacred burial grounds of their Chiefs.
When you were born, you cried
and the world rejoiced.
Live your life
so that when you die,
the world cries and you rejoice.
Whether we are conscious of it or not, energy is imprinted on the land, in the water, in the very air we breathe. The spirit and intentions of those who come before us resonates, and calls to us subtly, encouraging our souls to take on their lessons and wisdom so that future generations continue to grow and expand their consciousness.
As I reflect, I understand that bonfires along the lake that began as quiet evenings with family honored those who came before us. The dancing and singing around the fire that came later were inspired by the spirit of the Chippewa. Our journeys to the top of the “mountain”, which we later learned were the site of their ceremonies, were a must on every visit. Once we reached the top, we more often than not sat in silent appreciation of the beauty surrounding us. The appreciation of the land; the desire to protect what was here before us is surely what the Chippewa felt about this area.
There are less obvious ways I know that this land speaks to me, has influenced my soul and life. The necessity to return yearly is a strong calling to not just me, but to all of my family. The feelings of home and of healing are distinct and palpable. This land that we converge upon annually is sacred to me, and I wish to pass that on to future generations.
Are we conscious as a people of the imprints on the land by others? More importantly, are we aware of the energy we are leaving behind for others? Other cultures continue to hold ceremony to their forefathers and nature spirits that have resided and continue to reside upon this earth. Is there a lesson for us all? How shall we help and honor our earth and those who have come before us? What traditions do we need to embrace again to honor our Mother Earth?
The spirit of the Chippewa lives on in the guardians of the land here. Efforts are underway to have a nature conservancy purchase the sacred ceremonial grounds, and through this research and effort, traces of Mound Builders are being discovered. Relatives of the Chippewa remain, but they no longer canoe the lake, or hold their ceremonies here. Their names linger on street signs, school names or at state parks; but more importantly the spirit of their medicine remains here at the lake and in the people who remember.~Tracy Paddy
I do not think the measure of a civilization
is how tall its buildings of concrete are,
But rather how well its people have learned to relate
to their environment and fellow man. ~
Sun Bear of the Chippewa Tribe
Authors Note: This blog was never intended to be about the Chippewa or about the lessons of energy we leave upon Mother Earth. The spirits of the land used me as their instrument so their story could be shared and not forgotten.
The Chippewa called this sacred lake Bottomless Lake. What we would call a shrine once was a part of these ceremonial grounds. Carved from solid rock was the form of a man, his head covering was the shape of a sailor’s sou’wester hat, which was removable. Lifting the hat exposed a cavity underneath and into this cavity was placed tobacco, beads and other offers. In the 1890’s this idol was removed and parts of it were shipped to various museum’s.
Photo~Chippewa Chief Rocky Boy (Stone Child)
The author with her elder sister at their beloved lake.