“A word has power in and of itself. It comes from nothing into sound and meaning; it gives origin to all things.”
-N. Scott Momaday, Native American author
Most of us are surrounded by stories. Whether we think about our lives in terms of stories or not, we are being shaped by them every day.
Here at Native Hope, we have made it our mission to focus on storytelling as the path to healing for Native Americans and Native communities. This emphasis on storytelling comes from a desire to honor and continue the oral tradition of Native peoples.
Stories are how we understand who we are and teach others about what they ought to and can be. Through stories, we pass this historical knowledge on to next generations. They connect us to our pasts while also giving us the wisdom we need to guide our futures in fruitful ways. Stories are healing medicine. We need stories to understand our identity, dignity, worth, and our place in the world.
Supaman Shares His Story
Native American hip-hop artist Supaman shared about his love for storytelling on the Native Hope Facebook recently. Check out the video below to hear how Supaman was inspired by a story he heard as a young child.
"Storytelling is powerful. When we tell our story and someone connects with that story, that builds community. And when we build community, that allows us to heal together."
J. Shields Shares His Story
A relative asked the other day how I sobered up...
I wanted to share my answer here to reach more relatives. As most in our community are aware, I was a drunk for many years...
One day, I came home and my house was empty, my wife and beautiful daughters had left, they moved back down to Ihantowan country.
As I stood in my bathroom crying and asking “Why”, I realized at that moment that I had caused too much hurt for my wife to carry. I chose alcohol over my family, and as I stood there looking at that man in the mirror, I did not like who I was looking at. That was my point of realization... it was right then and there that I made a choice to be a better husband, a better father, a better brother, a better son, a better uncle, a better relative to everyone.
I will no longer put alcohol before my family, as a matter of fact, alcohol will no longer be a thought in my mind.
Alcohol had controlled me for far too long and I will not allow it to take anymore time away from me loving my family. I will no longer allow alcohol to take away from my children.
Today I am sober, just for today... when I wake up every morning, I thank god for not giving up on me, and make the choice to be sober for today. Before you realize it, you are sober for 8 years and counting.
I will never be better than anyone, nor act like I am. I do my best to help as many relatives that I can, because I know where I was as an alcoholic, and where I am today with the help of Tunkasina...
Relatives, if you need me, I am here... I love you and want better for you and your family...
Thank you for being a part of my life, and thank you for helping me be the man that I am today...
Hau Mitauye Oyasin...
R. Hunt-Connor Shares Her Story
I want to tell my story, struggling in a world of bad governance, racial abuse, broken families, put on contaminated lands that kill our Native American peoples, IHS hospitals to kill us slowly, taking away our children, schools that are training us to be enslaved, prescription drugs that are even worse than the street drugs they flood the streets with, killing our lands with their greed. We all need to come together as one nation, and stand up to a government that is killing all of us.
We should all be loving, respectful, and with a good spirit and honor each other, and what we have to live on and live for, Mother Earth. We wouldn't be nothing if it wasn't for the land, water, and love. We are the Holy ones with Holy hearts. He chooses the ones that are in belief of Him. And if he is the only one that I know and could pray to. I trust in him, throughout all my struggles, Jesus Christ is my lord and savior. Gitchi Monitou.
D. Gerard Shares Her Story
Humanity comes in four major colors
White is winter, cold and sterile
Black is summer, hot and fierce
Red is fall, changeable but grounded
Yellow is spring, alive with possibilities
White is a cloudy day
A snowy day
Beautiful but frigid
Black is a sunny day
A humid day
A sultry steamy day
Red is cool
Grounded in nature
A changeable season
From hot to cold
Yellow is potential
Plants and animals reproduce
Life renews itself
Black, white, red, yellow
Four colors of humanity
Different yet the same
Winter, summer, fall and spring
Past, present and future colliding
Cooperation or confrontation
Will we save Mother Earth
Or destroy ourselves
The choice is ours
M. Martinez Shares Her Story
My name is Mercedes. My great grandmother was 'OTOMI'. I understand that this is an indigenous tribe in Mexico. One of the first brave tribes to fight fiercely against the advances of the European invasion of Mexico.
I feel a strong connection with my Native American brothers and sisters. I began to join a Pow wow every year about three or four years ago. I met a fascinating Native American, Moses Brings Plenty at a Pow Wow in Naper Settlement in Naperville in September.
I was drawn to his Lakota roots and his love for our creator. He told an incredible story about his ancestors. On a CD I bought he told the story of his ancestor who was instructed to speak to the elders many years ago, as his people were getting ready to protect the village against the white men's advancing assault on the village people. The elders told Moses Brings Plenty's ancestor of his mission. As the men of his village prepared to protect the village against the onslaughter of the angry white men. He boldly jumped on a horse and threw a buffaloe skin over himself. He charged towards the white men on horses advancing with weapons drawn without fear. They began shooting but Moses Brings Plenty's ancestor continued to advance.
The white men's faces became paler and white as chalk. They abruptly turned and fled, terrified that the their bullets made no impact, caused no bloodshed. How could they fight the 'UNSTOPPABLE'!
Moses Brings Plenty's ancestor returned to his people, opened the buffaloe skin and a number of bullet shells fell to the ground. He miraculously unharmed, returned to the village with food and provisions.
At the end of this Pow Wow in Naper Settlement, my mother and brother gathered by a camp fire. The fire keeper welcomed us. It had been a grey, cloudy day. Suddenly, Moses Brings Plenty and his family joined us. I had been praying to God for an extraordinary weekend. My work in providing mental health services had been very challenging lately, not because of the patients. My coworkers in the field appeared to have their own challenges in life that they brought to work causing unnecessary strife and conflict.
Be that as it may, meeting Moses Brings Plenty brought a breath of fresh air and what I can only describe as the 'supernatural'. He is someone who truly loves his Creator.
Moses Brings Plenty carried an authentic drum with him that he had auctioned off that day and began to sing five songs. The first was to honor the Creator. The next two were songs of gratitude. The remaining two were songs of healing. During these extraordinary moments of incredible peace, the very essence of the Creator's presence was a feeling that permeated every cell in our bodies.
The clouds parted and we all witnessed the eclipse of the full red moon.
At that moment it became clear to me, as Moses Brings Plenty stood in awe of his Creator, how much 'real love', faith and true covenant he had with his Creator. This inspired me to seek a similar relationship with my Creator. This relationship with God, our Creator is tangible and opened to anyone willing to seek it.
Just a few days later, my brother, who had been homeless, had been unemployed for a long time and who had drowning his sorrows by drinking after he and his wife divorced was blessed with a job on his birthday, October 1st. He also was able to secure an apartment.
God sends us messages regularly to join in a special 'real love' covenant with him. It's up to us in our own personal prayer to speak to him and ask for what we need in Faith and with 'true love' for our Creator.
P. Badwound Shares Her Story
In 2008 I received a kidney transplant after 2 years of dialysis after a 2000 diagnosis of diabetes. When I began to get real sick, my second oldest son was deployed to Kuwait (2004) for one year. He returned in 2005, and we learned of my oldest son's imminent deployment in November of that year. By October, I was hospitalized for a week, after suffering what was incorrectly diagnosed as a heart attack. During that hospital stay I was diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease and told that I could either be placed on the waiting list for a kidney–which meant dialysis–or do nothing. Thus began my journey to becoming healthy, and the road has been littered with misdiagnoses and Medicare rules.
In the 10 years since my transplant, my two oldest sons have each been deployed twice; my youngest son has deployed once, and my third son died after bouts with pneumonia and pancreatitis. One of my brothers left this earth in 2016, and my son's dad passed earlier this year, due to his own health issues regarding diabetes. In 2009 I lost a friend I had once considered marrying. I continue to breathe, although I was once as unhealthy as any of my friends and relatives who I have had to say good-bye to during these past ten years. I guess I didn't believe that it was a good time to die.
I do write. I am currently working on a book which describes my experiences with the health care profession, and I've also submitted a few song lyrics to Nashville music companies (although I can't read or write music), and there are many, many short stories and poems I have in my "portfolio."
It's important not to give up, no matter what culture you are part of. When the road got rough, I would often think of my son in the desert of the Sunni Triangle, hiking with that 100 lb. ruck sack on his back, and I would tell myself that if he could do that, then I could certainly complete my dialysis treatments.