First time I heard those words, I had a flash. They came from the music of Cody Coyote, another amazing young leader I’ll spend more time writing about a little later on. Like a connection had been re-established, like I had just been made to remember a solution to a problem I’ve been having for too long, I’d been offered a teaching of wisdom.
The Western world is failing and our value system as a society is shallow and destructive. Every day that goes by, we suffer the consequences of the terrible choices we’re making as a civilization. War, poverty, injustice, exclusion, hatred and the destruction of our environment. All in the name of profit and the enrichment of a powerful few who divide to conquer.
I am a son of the oppressor. An unwilling member of this broken system looking for better answers. I found many of them, on a personal level, in running and endurance. Through it, I’ve also been extremely fortunate to be welcomed in many Native circles, to be taught and guided by ancient knowledge. For a while, it felt like a personal, intimate journey and a privilege. I hope I’ve shown worthy of what I’ve been taught. But as time passes, I’ve been increasingly wondering what I can do, on a more global level, to bring change and hope for a better world.
Then I heard Cody sing “Indigenize the World”.
Here I was, always worried that my endeavor in Native knowledge and culture would be seen as appropriation. Tip-toeing in a new world, eager to share my excitement and discoveries, but shy and afraid of being inadequate, out of place, wrong. I had it backwards. I wasn’t taking anything from anyone, I was being generously given a gift. I was missing a concept. I was missing a word.
I am simply becoming indigenized. I am invited in circles and taught. I am being healed and rooted back into the culture of Nature and all living things. I am being made a witness to a living, breathing culture that has lived on from millennia until this very day, always following the same basic principles; Respect yourself and others. Share more, own less. Take care of the land, air and water. Respect and abide by the Circle of Life. Realize that we are all related.
Like it happens every once in a while, I was invited last weekend to talk to a group of inspiring young people who’ve embarked on a great physical challenge; they will run a 250+ km relay between Montreal and Quebec cities, in May. So instead of having “the usual”, where we talk about adventures in endurance, motivation and the numerous benefits of tackling a challenge, I decided to share a bit of what I’ve learned over the past couple years.
From the Raramuri to the Hopi to the Navajo to the Cree and Northern Peoples, I spoke to these teens about the importance of sharing, the respect for water and all living things, humility, pacifism, openness to others, feminism and matriarchal societies, and the center concept of Kuira Ba, of being one.
I gave them examples of young leaders like Theland Kicknosway and spoke of their own leadership and dedication. I congratulated them on their efforts. I told them to stay aware and open to the signs life would bring along their journey. I told them the importance of having a dream, a vision, and to hold on to it.
I didn’t know if I made any sense, but I just let the words flow and I didn’t hide my emotions. It only took a few minutes after I was finished to see that the message had resonated with them, and the teachers, and the parents. It was a beautiful, powerful thing.
Our world needs healing. We, as Humans, need to get back to better, more sustainable values for the sake of our global future. Some of us, including a lot of young people, are ready to instill change and spread the word. We are many more than it seems. We need to grow the confidence to oppose the Western culture and to promote a humbler, healthier and happier lifestyle.
It's time to get back to our roots.
Time to get indigenized.