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Nick-izms: Rez Born, Urban Raised
Friday, July 10 2015
 
Written by Nick Metcalf,
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nickmetcalf-web.jpgThe Environment

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 sobering thought.

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 by.

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 environment.

1. Walk more, drive less.

2. Use cloth grocery bags.

3. Buy Recycled/Recyclable Goods.

4. Compost.

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 environment.

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 too.

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