|Written by Nick Metcalf,
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Reverence for the magnificence of the
environment didnít come until later in life. The responsibility for
the beauty of it, I didnít know until my son came along. It was
then that I became connected between generations of people who came
before me, and generations of people who will come after me. It was a
My disconnection from being a caretaker
of the environment began long before I was born. My upbringing is a
consequence of the boarding school experience of my parents. I had no
sense of being rooted to place, time or circumstance until I was an
adult. It was during my healing and a result of my reconnection to
our Native ways of living that I was reintroduced to the essence of
being amongst the beauty of nature. It was in this realization that
there was a calling for stewardship. It was a deepening of an
understanding of the need to care for the beauty that I am surrounded
Being an acculturated Native, I often
times meet some strange characters of people who love Native culture
and spirituality. They are well-intentioned environmentalists,
typically, they are new age people, wannabe-Natives or grungy
activists. What they all have in common is they talk and supposedly
know about Nativeness. One of those moments stood out so from a
former, potential suitor of mine:
"When I take my shoes off I feel
the vibration of Mother Earth through my body. That energy goes up
through my chakras. I can sense her vibration through my crystals. I
love Native people and their spirituality. Do you want to touch my
medicine bag? You're cute."
I'm cool with the vibrational frequency
that youíre feeling without your shoes on but it's a major turn-off
when you want to talk about spiritual matters when we first meet. I
don't know you like that. Also, if we meet in a bar, then Ė no, I
don't want to touch your medicine bag. Nope. Here's some advice, take
a shower cause your funk is devastating me, your hair is stringy and
eat something cause you are awfully thin.
My connection to the environment began
with me staring out of my window at the rolling reservation prairie.
Iíd daydream about adventures, the world and people different than
me. I learned about the exotic places in the world from books. I
wanted to discover those places, I wanted to meet those fascinating
people. I wanted to do all of it so I could compare how similar they
were to what I created in my mind.
Here are some steps to helping the
1. Walk more, drive less.
2. Use cloth grocery bags.
3. Buy Recycled/Recyclable Goods.
5. Use less Water.
6. Plant a tree.
7. Plant a garden.
8. Plant a garden.
9. Donít liter.
10. Teach your children to care for the
†The river is the place where I go to
when I want to think, to pray, to reconcile my desires and to release
some pent up emotional baggage. It is there as I watch the water
glisten, listen to the water crash along the river banks and feel the
cool breeze hug my body that I feel the release. My body calms. My
mind finds a smooth rhythm. The noises in my mind quiet. It is in
that moment that I began to recognize how my life is a brief moment
in the environment. The world will continue on long after Iím gone.
I recently went home to the Rez for a
funeral. Over the years, my life in the city has gotten busier and
more rooted, so the opportunity to go home is not there. When I first
left the reservation, I would go home monthly. Over time, it was a
several times a year then once every other year. Now, I go home to
bury family. Yet, the reservation where I was born and I was raised
still calls to me. I yearn for it.
Home is now Minnesota. It has been my
home now for a few decades. Being a plains Native, Iíve learned the
comfort of the trees, the appreciation of lakes, of the frigid cold,
of the beautiful spring, the colors of the fall and the moments of
summer. What I thought when I moved here in 1994 was going to be for
a few years became a love affair with this land that continues.
What Iíve come to know about the
environment is: there is a rhythm to nature. Weíve been listening
to it for many generations. We know the stars. We know the earth. We
know the animals. We know the wind. We know the weather. We sense the
sacredness of everything around us. My hope is that you can sense it