As part on my Breath of Life Archival Institute of Indigenous Languages experience, I had the privilege to visit the National Museum of American Indian Cultural Resource Center (CRC) in Suitland, Maryland. The CRC, is home to the extensive collections and research programs of the museum. While at the CRC, I uncovered Mahican and Munsee baskets, bowls, mortar and pestles, as well as beadwork. As a beader myself, I am especially fond of beadwork so in this post I wanted to highlight some of the photos of my favorite Mahican beadwork that I had the chance to see.
I learned from L. Frank Manriquez that the purpose of surrounding ourselves with the original items of our people like our beadwork is because it helps with connecting to our native language. Since our old items and beadwork contain the memory of our language, if we were able to hold them you can feel that memory of our language of our people.
On June 7, 2013 I left for a 2 week trip for the Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages in Washington DC. While in DC, I searched the Library of Congress and Smithsonian Institute Archives searching for the Mahican and Munsee languages of my Stockbridge-Munsee band of Mohican Nation. While I was riding on the train from Chicago to DC, I spotted an owl in broad daylight flying over a children’s playground in Chicago. I took that as a very important sign from the Creator.
At the National American Indian Museum I wheeled past in my wheel chair and randomly noticed a display of Owls made from various tribes. A couple days later while in my wheel chair, I was rolling through the National Museum of Natural History just quickly passing through by random chance I encountered another display of Owls without even trying to look for them. In my research at the National Anthropological Archives in Maryland I discovered a Mahican story in Mahican called The Owl Story. This is the original version of The Owl Story August 4, 1914 and was in Linguist Truman Michelson’s papers of a story told in English by Mohican Sot Quinney and then is translated into Mahican by Mohican William Dick which is the most accurate version of the story. I felt extremely honored to touch Michelson’s original papers handwritten in Mahican. According to Breath of Life Eastern Algonquian Linguist Conor Quinn who spoke to Linguist and Algonquian Language Specialist Ives Goddard, Quinney and Dick worked cooperatively on The Owl Story plus the six other Mahican stories I uncovered and both deserve credit. Within The Owl Story I learned the Mahican word for owl which is Mcō’ksasan.
According to the National Museum of American Indian This Day in the Mayan calendar , I learned corresponding with “June 25, 2013, is 8 Kame. Kame is the Owl and the recognition of death; 8 is a double balance. A day that recalls the night, tranquility, and silence, Kame is a good day to ask for the ancient and recent ancestors who have gone on, to thank them and remember them with purpose. Without fear, it is a good day to approach the spiritual dimension, ‘the enchantment.’”
Personally, I have associated the Owl representing the keeper of hidden knowledge and it seems most fitting to me as I explored the National Anthropological Archives in Maryland. I associate Owls with wisdom and spirituality which I perceive my Breath of Life journey to be focused on. I spent from February to June preparing myself spiritually with regular prayers and ceremony for the healing journey of Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages. I even invited my community to pray with me as I included them in a Breath of Life Prayer Circle. As I shared my research with my online tribal group Mohican-8 I attempted to make Breath of Life a community project so that they too were part of the process of uncovering hidden knowledge about our Mohican people. Owl also indicated to me the connection to our ancestors and I felt that as I touched the old papers in the archives that were handwritten with Mahican words.
I have been surrounded by Owl medicine during and after my Breath of Life journey. I am blessed to be in touch with the spirit world and by searching the archives to discover hidden knowledge. I am grateful the Owl has come with me on this sacred journey. I feel blessed.
Wenona Morning Star Gardner
Stockbridge-Munsee band of Mohican Nation
The Breath of Life Prayer Circle.
I am coming to you asking for prayer support as I go on my journey to the Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages in Washington DC. I will be searching the archives of the Library of Congress and Smithsonian Institute searching for Mahican and Munsee languages from my tribe. I will be going to Washington DC June 7-June 22, 2013. I am requesting that you regularly provide your prayers both before, during, and after my trip. I need prayers before I go to get ready for my journey. I definitely need prayers as I am actually traveling during June 7- June 22 since I am physically disabled and traveling poses special challenges for me. I will need prayers to help me locate and find hidden knowledge in the archives. I also need prayers to help me retrieve the information and bring it safely back to my tribe the Stockbridge-Munsee band of Mohican Nation and the rest of the Lenape Nations. Most importantly I need prayers so that the information I get can be implemented and properly put into use.
Prayers that can be shared so that I can see them when I am in Washington DC would be much appreciated. I would like to see prayers written, pictures created, video of songs or music playing posted so I can view and hear them while I am on the road. I appreciate if you chose to pray silently and I am grateful for that. However, I am especially asking for prayers that I can see and hear while I am actually in Washington DC. Please post your prayers so I can be inspired and lifted as I take on the challenge of this intense two weeks.
I am grateful for you being part of my Breath of Life Prayer Circle. I am grateful for all and any prayers. I look forward to see what prayers you have to share.
Anushiik Thank you!
Wiping Away the Tears
I am enrolled in the Stockbridge-Munsee band of Mohican Nation and I was in foster care for a few years. I was told that Native American people who were adopted or went through foster care were considered “Lost Birds.” A longtime mentor brought me to a special ceremony called the Wiping Away the Tears ceremony at Indian Summer Festival during September 2002. The ceremony was part of that Indian Summer Festival’s theme “Coming Home,” which extended honor and healing to Indian adoptees and Indians that were in foster homes. Lakota Chief Arvol Looking Horse Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe performed the “Wiping Away the Tears” describes the special emphasis the “Wablenica Ceremony”, prayer and pipe ceremony, American Indian adoptees and foster care children are welcomed back to Native culture and their spiritual home. This ceremony also helped families who were separated by adoption or foster care begin the reconciliation process. The Wiping of Tears Ceremony to heal the grief caused by the years of separation from their families and communities. The entire ceremony for all of us Lost Birds in a circle praying and singing together. I hope, if you haven’t had a chance to participate in one, that you have the opportunity to participate in such a ceremony, it’s been very healing and life altering experience for me.
Wenona Morning Star Gardner
Stockbridge-Munsee band of Mohican Nation