Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Native Heartbeat

Jeffrey French-Begay, Mohawk and Army medic came to us after the Pow-wow in State College Pennsylvania bearing gifts.

He said “I’m so glad you guys didn’t leave, I just ran to my car to bring you this.” He presented to Herbert two red feathers wrapped in soft buckskin at the base.

“I wanted to give you this, they are red hawk feathers. It’s not finished yet – this means that we need to meet again so that I can finish it.”

He turned to me, knowing that my son was a Navy Corpsman, and presented me with his gift. “This is my pin that I wear on my uniform.” Jeffrey is an Army Medic. I took it in my hand it was a small enamel pin shaped like a shield. The design contained two crossing arrows and three flames of fire.

I looked at him incredulously. My son is so proud of his ribbons and the pins he received – each one he had to earn. “This is precious.” He replied, “Yes, I know, that is why I am giving it to you, you and your husband have touched our hearts.”

This was the culmination of our first Pow Wow in State College.

After enjoying a meal of Buffalo burger we entered the hall just as the powwow was starting with the Grand Entry. A procession of dancers were entering the previously blessed dance arena. The procession was led by the Eagle staff representing their Nations, elders and their way of life. The flag bearers were the Native American US Veterans of War. They represented soldiers from as far back as World War II.

Then the Men in traditional costumes entered the circle of dancers followed by the women dancers in traditional attire. The jingle dancers were particularly enthralling .

The Jingle Dress is also called a Prayer Dress...The dress came in a dream to a medicine man who's daughter was gravely ill. The dress is decorated with rolled up snuff can lids that are hung with ribbon close together to jingle as the woman moves creating a beautiful, joyous sound. The jingle dance asks for good health for the people.

The drums sets the rhythm of the powwow. It represents the heartbeat of the Mother Earth. As the circle of men sing their songs and strike the drum in their midst, the drum acts as an agent to bring harmony and balance to all in the powwow. It is the intermediary to the spiritual realm.

The rhythm and the percussion felt like it reached the depth of my soul - there was so much energy in their song and in their drumming. They enjoyed it so much, their faces were beaming!

Just as we were leaving Jeffrey said to me, "As I understand it, Namaste means, the essence in me recognizes the essence in you. In our language we say, mitakuye -oyasin, which means we are all related - we are all one."

This is Sonya French-Begay WIA Program Director of Three Rivers American Indian Center, her son, her husband Jeffrey and yours truly Angela Reininger.

Sonya was recently interviewed by WPSU public television trying to raise awareness about the desecration of Native Indian land by mining companies strip mining for uranium, causing devastating environmental and health problems. Please view this informative interview at A Conversation with Sonya French-Begay.

1 comment:

  1. The Native Heartbeat.
    Angela this is a very profound, intimate statement. We all are Natives of a universal homeland of which Mother Earth is only a representative. All of us are individually different,we come from different countries which makes us all a very diversified world population, each with its own culture and tradition. What we all have that is very powerful, and that never misleads us is a Heart that communicates with us in the most intimate and explicit way. The heartbeat is like a compass that guides us very precisely. This power that controls the heartbeat is our consciousness, and it resides and manifests itself through the rhythm of the heartbeat. It is always reminding us of its presence. We cannot influence it, it acts as a judge informing us immediately as to what direction we are taking through each heartbeat. The heart was programed according to the standarts of our original homeland and only we who are natives feel the direction to where our freewill leads us - the choice is ours.
    The goal was already set for us, the guidance was given to each one according to the different levels of our evolution. The password is - PEACE - JOY - LOVE.


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