Community contributions ... from Finisia Medrano

   It was always the intent of the longhouses to watch until they knew the magic that was being used against them and then dance it in reverse unwinding it. This would expose these methods and tools of genocide and assimilation and reveal them for what they are. Jesus, even your jesus would tell you how you can take the very word of truth of God and make it ineffectual and nonsense with this “tradition.” We will shine a small light on this tradition.

    I see how great truths are given a totem or some symbolic thing or gesture that is supposed to represent these truths, whereupon the truths themselves are soon forgotten and only a symbol or tradition of ignorance remains. This is hardly a subtle shift on one hand, but subtle in that it seems to go largely unnoticed.

    Our religion as Snakes here in the sagebrush was practically arranged in our life way. We lived in between our Earth mother and our Father sky. The rain from the sky and clouds rising from the Earth is their intimacy and intercourse in us and around us. The rivers we drank from were Father, and Mother pushed up our little sister root plants and flowers to feed us. This was our connection to the tree of life, therefore it was our interaction and our understanding.

    We waited till our sisters had had their life. The lomacium and lily would be in their joy. They would be full of seed when we dug. When we waited for our sisters to have their joy and their lives, their seed would fall into the ground. Being fed by our sisters this way put us in a place where life was fuller and more abundant, not less, because we were fed this way.

    Sometimes in trying to share this way there was no seed available, so some would take a pinch of tobacco or coffee and represent that way by giving that pinch in return for some gift of the Mother. Over time the pinch of tobacco that was to represent the life way of the people and the seed loses it’s meaning. People know the tobacco symbol, but know nothing of the seed or the interaction with the people that was the joy and life of our sister plants which fed us. Any thought of waiting for her to have her life and joy before we made her our bread root had been forgotten, replaced forever by a symbolic gesture.

    When I went to a dance recently I saw near the alter one of our antler cuppen, or root diggers. When I asked why it was there I was told it grounded the whole ceremony. Driven into the ground there by the alter it staked the whole thing down there by making the whole of the dance possible. I asked about the evergreen tree, it was different and not the kind of tree I had seen growing out in the woods here before. I was told it represented the tree of life.

    That tree and even the thought of a tree of life was a symbol that to us Snake people was all our interaction with life. That tree would then represent how we moved across the land and how the Mother and our Father and sisters fed us and how we in turn fed them. We would move like a dance or poem or song, impossible without that root digger. We would gather bread roots on the Southern mother in the spring, by late summer we would be gathering 500 miles away, camas and sowit or yampa, they now being ripe and full of seed as the biscuits were full earlier. Then we would hurry off to the water’s edge at the lakes to gather wocus before the ducks got it all and winter comes. Now, represented by a tree and all thought of these greater things forgotten if it is not taught in this way.

    If all of this understanding is lost in a symbol that soon has no meaning because it has lost connection with what it represented, then your dance and religion become nonsense, much like all those European traditions that have lost their meaning, the results of the same process imposed on a hunter-gathering people there long ago, leaving behind these nonsensical symbols where once had been a living traditional way of life.

    I want to take all these symbols and fill in their meaning for you. That would require your presence in the sage before the Mother and Father humble on your knees with these forgotten or possibly unknown sisters. This would require time for you to put your hands to this way, to be hungry and then fed in this way, to be made full, warm, and safe in this life way. This is an offering you have never been presented with before but this is the offering I am making. This is that root festival I am talking of.

     Am I now dancing your dance in reverse, unwinding it? You would know it is your dance and magic I am unwinding because you see me as contrary or backwards. What are you, if unwinding a contrary thing looks backwards to you? You don’t understand me not because I do not speak my meaning well, it is because you have no point of reference. Come dance this dance on a 500 mile long dance circle. Come PowWow with the biscuits and learn their quiet wisdom.

            Finisia Medrano
            c/o 113 Arco, ID. 83213-0113
            ph. 108-604-0938

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