Cultural Identity

On Cultural Identity

"Recognize you are a person first and your culture is your living."

Joe P. Cardinal , Cree

Culture is your living. You bring your background, but the first thing you have to recognize is you're a person first. Too many of them try to say that they're an Aboriginal first and then go to the person, but it's the other way around.

So I put up a fast every year. Many people come to fast at my place. Many people ask me, to get them to be medicine man that they can perform a shaking tent or something like that. I says 'no, I can't do that. I want to help you. That's why you're going to go too fast.' 

Before you go to that lodge, when you are on that journey to the lodge, we stop four times. The first one, when we stop, there is a lot of people following, going to see these guys going to their lodges. We stop and we're supposed to think when we were small, growing up. How was it at that time? How do you feel when you look back to your childhood days? And then the next stop, you are now a teenager. How was it? You are the one to know, because you are the one to grow up. And then the next stop, you became a parent. You are now a parent. How was that? How are you raising your children? What are you doing to help your children? And there is a lot of things there. That is a big area. And then we go to lodge after. And then you start thinking about these. And you are the one to deal with them.

I cannot help people to be a medicine man, to be able to perform a shaking tent. Some things are given to people. That Raymond, it was given to him. He says, 'I grew up with it. At 21 years old' he says, 'I was told to start, to deal with that, the people. And I went to the priest,' he says. He was raised in a boarding school, and went and had a talk with the priest. He says' if you start that,' he says, 'never come to this church.' So he didn't. But I was there when he died, and that burial, that funeral they brought him back to the church and the priest talking there, somewhere, he said, it was a misunderstanding. He said that. I didn't understand that, a misunderstanding. I couldn't understand that.

 But yet, a lot of people that he worked with are still carrying on their way of life, the way he taught them. And that's the way I am trying to work too. But the thing is, we all have the same thing. There is no one that's made differently

You develop your love, the love for your children, the love for your family, the love for your community. Just remember, when you were conceived in the womb of your mother, the first thing that was made was that heart start to pump, and life was built around it. But you guys are not using it. Today we find people trying to come back to an area where they can understand that feeling too."


The Supernatural Force of Life - The Nowaluk

"Performing ceremonies is vital to our connection with the forces that govern our lives."

Daisy Sewid-Smith - Kwakwaka 'wakw

They consider the nature as being Nowaluk, super, super natural; you know the birds, the animals, and the trees. They, they our people believe there's life in everything including the rocks, and they believe that something supernatural is the one that's keeping that force going. That's what Nowaluk is.

Chief Adam Dick - Kwakwaka ‘wakw

I ask the Nowaluk to be there, y'know, to help me, bring me the knowledge, the wisdom and all that, y'know, because y'know there's five, six hundred people that are witness everything that we're going to do, what we're going to talk about, y'know, y'know all about the part that is coming up. And, the Nowaluk, like what she said, it's very powerful. I believe in that sort of thing, we believe in that highly ‘cause when the Nowaluk connects with, connects with the eagle down that we put on the floor, me and her before we start with, y'know, in the big house, clean it like what she said, the Nowaluk holds, holds, the ugliness down so it doesn't come up.


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