RUN AWAY

Run Away

The landscape of home pulls at me -- the pulsing sound of cicadas, those humid summer days that make everything slow down, the rolling hills and tall wildflowers of Ohio. 

I wrote Run Away my senior year of college after living away from home for over three years. Graduation was quickly approaching, a new reminder of the growing distance between me and my childhood. In that time of unknowns about my future, I craved the comfort of a place where I belonged. I craved the land and trees and water that I knew so well. But I also longed for a past self, a simpler time when I built forts in the pine woods.

While we cannot hold onto our childhoods forever, I believe we can stay connected to our local environments. My generation is moving far from home. It is a strange turn in human history for young people to be leaving those who raised them to live in places unknown to them. For me, the unsettled feeling that comes from having moved away manifests itself in my desire to be in touch with Ohio’s changing seasons. I want to know if the black-eyed seasons are in full bloom or if Joe Pyeweed has grown tall. 

We have a responsibility to know the land around us, regardless of where we are currently living. When we move to a new place, let us introduce ourselves to the white oak in the backyard and the sugar maples up and down the street.  Let us learn the names of cattails, lambsquarters, monarda, and loosestrife. When we know our neighbors, we will work to protect them. 

This music video was filmed on our trip to Ohio, where we began this residency. We hoped to capture that week of uninterrupted creativity, as well as film the landscape that this song longs for. We want to thank Kate for this opportunity to share our voices and our musings with the Loam community. This residency has challenged and nourished us in surprising ways. And we think that the work that you all are doing is inspiring. 

We’d also like to give our gratitude to Robin Wall-Kimmerer who guided much of our thinking throughout this residency. Her book, Braiding Sweetgrass, was hugely influential on our songwriting, our conversations, and our relationships to the natural world. Do yourselves a favor and go get a copy. 

Warmly, 
Molly, Julia, and Abigail 

WE ALL LIVE IN THE SAME HOUSE

WORDS & MUSIC: MAMA CAUGHT FIRE

It was a sticky summer afternoon when the seed of this tune came to me. I was home by myself, feeling tired and lonely. I laid down in my bed, hoping that a nap would relieve my mind of the thoughts that had been ruminating. 

While in between a state of awake and asleep, I heard a chorus of people singing “we all live in the same house” over and over again. It was so loud, it brought me back to consciousness. At first I thought it might be coming from the stereo in the other room. But no, it was a message from within yearning to be heard. 

Upon embarking for our trip to Ohio, I shared this folk melody with Molly and Julia. We discussed how the simple phrase, “we all live in the same house” has many layers of meaning. The most obvious one, and the one we sing about in the verses of this song, emphasizes communal living. 

When writing this song, we asked ourselves what a community like this would look like and how it could be a solution, within our reach, to the changing climate. Certain images came to mind. 

We imagined a multi-generational family that lives off the land. They grow their own food and cook meals together. They care for one another; the older siblings watch out for the younger ones and the neighbors are an extension of the family. Mama teaches the kids about wild plants: how to use jewelweed to soothe itchy skin, how to cook dandelions, watch out for invasives, and avoid poisonous plants. In this, Mama passes down knowledge to her kids, teaching them the practical skills they need in order to be self-sufficient and live in harmony with their environment. 

It was easy to envision this way of living from the front porch of Molly’s family farm, looking out at the vegetable garden. However, each of us seemed to imagine communal living in a pre-industrial context. We wonder how, rather than reverting to an older time, we can bring these timeless practices into our lives now. What does it look like to live communally today? How do we, from our duplexes and one-bedroom apartments, cultivate communities that care for one another as a daily practice? How do we have a relationship with the land when we live in the city? 

While this song takes place in a rural setting, it is our hope to see the same values carried out in a more urban setting as well. We challenge ourselves to put down our phones and get to know our neighbors. To grow herbs on our doorstep, learn about which weeds are edible, and slow down enough to share a meal. 

“We all live in the same house” also acknowledges that all living beings share a home, our planet. This is communal living on a larger scale. The impacts of our actions extend far beyond our immediate environment. For example, the consumptive behavior of the American people is a major contributor to climate change, yet those who suffer its harshest effects are on the other side of the globe. Conversely, our interconnectedness allows for us to mobilize in the face of climate change. If we could all remember that earth is our common home, we would feel the responsibility to care for it. 

WHAT HAVEN WILL WE HAVE?

WORDS & MUSIC: MAMA CAUGHT FIRE

After spending a few days together in Ohio, we wanted to give ourselves time to focus on our own personal relationships with nature. We headed off to separate spots around the farm to write about our gratitude for nature. In sharing our reflections, we noticed that many parallel themes ran through our writing. The woods from our childhoods, in particular, have deeply affected us. 

While we live in Minnesota, the three of us come from different parts of the country. Abigail from the East Coast, Julia from the West Coast, and Molly from the Midwest. The trees of our homes helped to raise us and this song came to reflect that nurturance. 

When one spends so much time amidst trees, especially at such a young age, the trees become more than their roots, bark, and branches. Being among them leads to the same feeling one gets after spending the afternoon with a beloved grandmother who cares for younger generations and bestows wisdom upon them. 

When one spends so much time amidst trees, especially at such a young age, the trees become more than their roots, bark, and branches. Being among them leads to the same feeling one gets after spending the afternoon with a beloved grandmother who cares for younger generations and bestows wisdom upon them. 

Robin Wall Kimmerer writes about this relationship in her book, Braiding Sweetgrass:

“In English, we never refer to a member of our family, or indeed to any person as it. That would be a profound act of disrespect. It robs a person of selfhood and kinship, reducing a person to a mere thing. So it is that in Potawatomi and most other indigenous languages, we use the same words to address the living world as we use for our family. Because they are our family” (55). 

By sharing this way of referring to the natural world, Kimmerer reminds us to consider the sentience of trees in the everyday.

When we feel gratitude for the treasured woods, we simultaneously fear the prospect of losing them. Those we love, we fear losing. We, as a larger society, have to ask ourselves what the world will look like when the cedars on the West Coast are lost to unending forest fires, when the pines in Massachusetts are cleared for logging. What haven will we have? 

The lyrics in this song suggest that when we lose sight of ourselves — as individuals, as a species — we might find meaning in the ways of the trees. By planting ourselves in the soil, closing our eyes, and inhaling deeply, we can be like the trees who sheltered us. While the image of a human literally growing as a tree is surreal, the meaning of this lyric extends far beyond the magic. By reaching into the soil, we enter a network of communication, the intricate language of roots, of spores, of water. 

We can become attuned to the trees, become them, and in this, we find truth. The truth? We must honor and care for the trees as they have cared for us. The trees pour their love and bounty into us. We must be willing to nurture them similarly. We must give them our love, our bounty, and our voice. 

THE WATER HOLDS THE WISDOM

 

WORDS & MUSIC: MAMA CAUGHT FIRE

Mississippi River,

what do you need from me?

If we ask our rivers what they need from us, how do they respond? This is the question I asked myself while driving to northern Minnesota, crossing many small rivers along the way. When I passed the Grindstone River, this tune came into my mind. I shared it with Abigail and Julia, and we decided to record ourselves singing to the Mississippi River, as it is the major waterway in the Twin Cities and one of the primary rivers in this country. Whenever we perform this tune, however, we sing to the closest river, asking her what she needs.

I grew up hearing about the year the Cuyahoga River caught on fire. But water doesn’t burn. Oil does. In 1969, this industrial river was ignited by sparks from a passing train. The oil-slicked debris on the water caught the spark and flames spread, reaching heights of over five stories. That image always fascinated me as a kid -- the idea of water on fire. The absurdity of the event captured other imaginations as well. Local citizens worked to clean the water, and Congress was inspired to pass the National Environment Policy Act. That was the thirteenth time the Cuyahoga caught on fire.  

I spent a lot of time as a child in southern Ohio, where I would play in the creeks and rivers, searching for crawdads and peepers. Since becoming an adult, I’ve learned that many of the nearby rivers were metallic orange and void of life, at the same time that I played in my favorite creeks. Due to the history of mining in this area, acid mine drainage has polluted these waters. When mining exposes sulfide to water and air, sulfuric acid is created. The extraction of resources deep within the ground causes rivers that were once clear-running and fish-filled to fall to a pH of 4 or lower, similar to that of battery acid.

Our rivers are talking to us. They’re sending up bright orange flares. Through thick oil slicks, they’re asking to be water again.

As Robin Wall Kimmerer writes about the polluted Onondaga Lake, “...The water has been tricked. It started on its way full of innocence, full of its own purpose. Through no fault of its own it has been corrupted and, instead of being a bearer of life, it must now deliver poison. And yet it cannot stop itself from flowing. It must do what it must do, with the gifts bestowed upon it by the Creator. It is only people who have a choice” (Braiding Sweetgrass).

If we listen, the water will tell us what she needs.

I’ve been looking for some answers

From these long-forgotten trees.

But the water holds the wisdom

Of the changing land beneath.

The water also gives voice to the land around us. She does not leave us alone to interpret the changing world or figure out how to manage climate change by ourselves. Whether it’s a glacial river in the Yukon redirecting its course due to fast-melting glaciers, or our nearby Mississippi setting record high levels and record low levels over the course of just two months, our rivers are reacting to a warmer climate and giving warning signs of a volatile future. As MPR’s Chief Meteorologist, Paul Huttner, says, “Our rivers and lakes are a barometer of climate change.”

When a river flows, her path and direction reflects the environment through which she moves. For example, a slow, meandering river often points to unstable shores, which erode and fill the water with sediment. Deforested riverbanks change the shape of the river’s path. But as surrounding forests are regenerated, tree roots stabilize the soil and the river flows stronger, more fixed in her course. This is the language of rivers. I take solace in the fact that if we can read the rivers, then we can understand the land. To solve climate change, we must acknowledge the wisdom of nature.

Mississippi River,

Listen as she speaks.

When we perform this song, we teach our audience the first and last lines and invite them to sing along. We sing the last verse in unison, bringing our voices together in one simple melody. To sing these words together feels like a necessary act. We fill the room with a question, “Mississippi River, what do you need from me?” And then we listen.

 

 

 

MEET OUR ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE: MAMA CAUGHT FIRE

Dear Loam,

 

We are Mama Caught Fire, a vocal trio based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The three of us met as students at Macalester College and began singing together almost four years ago, when we realized our shared interest in folk music. We got our start by covering some of our favorite female musicians’ songs, including The Staves’ Winter Trees, Holly Near’s Mountain Song, and Patty Griffin’s Cold As It Gets. We would gather in the campus Veggie Co-op on Wednesday nights, drink whiskey, and revel in the healing power of singing harmony. Amidst the stress of academic work and being away from our respective homes for the first time, music became our haven.

 

Eventually, we started to share original songs with each other, revealing personal stories of losing loved ones, leaving a toxic church, and longing for the familiar landscape of home. Our original music has come to explore some of our more collective experiences as well, such as the mother-daughter relationship and finding peace amidst political turmoil.

 

We now perform regularly in music venues around the Twin Cities and beyond, and enjoy connecting with other artists and musicians. We’re grateful for the support and openness in the Twin Cities, as it reminds us of why we sing and share music in the first place: art has the power to bring people together.

 

We are drawn to Loam because of its dedication to using goodness and creativity as tools to achieve change. Along the same lines, we use music to bring attention to the causes we care about. Whether singing for a benefit show, writing songs about resilience, or gathering friends and musicians in our backyard to celebrate the solstice, we use music to make a stance in a turbulent political current and to give back to our community.

 

To wrap our minds around this project, we set off for Ohio to hole up in a cabin on Molly’s family farm in the foothills of the Appalachians. We spent a week writing songs in the humidity, listening to the night, riding horses, and cooking good food together. This was the first time we had created music so collaboratively. While we have always contributed harmonies to one another’s songs or given suggestions for arrangements, each of us typically comes to the group with a melody and song structure that we’ve thought of on our own. For this project, we sat down and wrote lyrics together, word by word. We improvised melodies and played around with chord progressions as a group. To us, this process mimics the communal efforts that we must take to tackle climate change. Each of us had to bring our unhindered creativity to the group, without fear of judgement. We had to share our opinions boldly, while learning to listen and compromise.

 

Over the course of this month, we will share four original songs with you. Our writing will elaborate on the stories behind the music, and our videos will offer a window into our live performances and our trip to Ohio.

 

We are eager for this opportunity to explore our environmental voices. And we are grateful for this space to reflect on the landscapes of our homes, sustainable solutions to climate change, and our shared responsibility to care for this planet.

Warmly,

Molly, Julia, and Abigail 

ON FEAR

WORDS & IMAGE: KAILEA FREDERICK


I write these words while the Eclipse is ongoing. I have not planned for this celestial event. I have not traveled out with my car into the world to stand in a field. Instead I stand in my yard and look up while a thick layer of fog casts out any glimpse I may have of the open sky. The world feels quieter and there is a flock of birds that call out again and again into the stillness, I wonder if they know. I can detect a subtle shift in the atmosphere and I feel truly alone for a moment.

I have not wanted to participate in the collective gathering of energy around the Eclipse and I do not fully know why. I do know that I am tired by the Eclipse posts in my feed and the repetitiveness that they represent. I do know that most days I feel angry and that at night an old type of fear has traveled its way into my bed. Before Charlottesville I was starting to lose my footing, post Charlottesville I can feel within my skin an under current of my old childhood temper. Flashes of red-hot, bursts through my bloodstream, the word ‘”fuck” comes out of my mouth frequently and I feel real hatred when I think of our current Presidents face. It’s the type of hatred that I so openly speak out against and that knowing makes me want to fall into myself and out from our mass channels of conversation. I don’t have something so pretty to contribute at the moment. I don’t have the energy to pick your spirits up. I want to tell you that there is a way forward, but I cannot be your guide. 

I have been re-reading a letter I wrote to Adam, my boyfriend about my fear. This was in the month of December, and I had yet to arrive back in the states post our disastrous election results. I had woken up from a dream where I had spoken out at a rally in support of Trump. I said “we have to resist. Do not listen to his lies. Get up off the ground, go home, you do not have to be here.” In the dream I knew that part of doing this would put me and the people that I loved in danger. I could feel that our right to publicly speak out was slowly being taken away. 

The night before writing this letter to Adam, I had watched what I would still consider the most impactful piece of media that I had taken in since the election. It was a video of Daryl Davis, the black man who is famous for befriending KKK members. A recent news article on him reads, ‘How One Man Convinced 200 Ku Klux Klan Members To Give Up Their Robes’. This video back in December was the first time that I ever heard of Daryl Davis and this mans story was a direct confrontation to everything that I had been taught. I was suddenly held accountable to my own ideas of hope and the strong boundaries that encased them.  I realized I had never seen a black man standing next to KKK members, not counting a dead body swinging from a tree. I didn’t know this could be a possible reality and it felt as though a strong beam of light was shining down into my face. I felt like a hypocrite, hiding behind my fear of the perceived ‘other’. I quite literally had to raise my arm up and cover my face with my scarf from the friend that was watching this video with me. I felt ashamed as I started speaking out all of my fear. Childhood thoughts surfaced. Men in white robes are the images of my nightmares, I realized that this ingrained fear I have been carrying my whole life led to thoughts like, “These people are not human. These people are demons… these people.” I tell my friend, “I’ve only ever had two friends that were Republican. I have been raised in such an us, them mentality.” My world seems so small against the story of Daryl Davis. I am shaking inside to think about the possibility of really deconstructing these walls that I have been shaped by. I hear the stories of my family told to me at bedtime, about the one time my Indian father encountered a KKK member, how the man spoke hate into his long native hair. I am thoroughly saturated through by my mother’s plea for my safety, “Kailea the rules are different for you because you are brown. If the police stop you, you must comply. Please be safe!” I have been knowingly and unknowingly diligently building up walls of security over the past 26 years. There has always been the feeling to be small in moments of mass fear, to glide under the surface, to be an unnoticed face. This is our family’s way of survival. 

I have never let these thoughts move out of my mouth into the air. I have never let them be fully realized and I feel foolish as they burst forward in my babbling. I am not brave. I am a human girl. I harbor prejudice that can be seen through the scarf that I hold over my face. When I finish talking, my friend hugs me and I cry. Suddenly there is space to think the words, “What is possible?” It had never fully occurred to me on such an embodied level that I could meet hate crimes with humanity. The idea of it grates against my insides; I take a breath and call it a night. 

That was eight months ago. Eight long months in which we have been watching our government accelerate into its own inevitable collapse, taking a part of our society with it. Eight months of a continuing rise of white supremacists. Eight months of each of our own personal turmoil as we look for shelter in the echo chambers of our feeds.  I know just as much as you that there will be no solace there, yet I can’t stop looking for it even as I can feel the sucking of our progressive views becoming smaller and smaller. I am not satisfied by anyone’s anger, least of all mine. 

And then Charlottesville happens and it is like watching every one of my childhood nightmares come out of the night. I have been waking up from sleep and shaking Adam’s arm and speaking my fear into the dark while he tries to listen half asleep and tries to comfort while wrapping me in his arms. I lay there still awake unable to shake this feeling in my bones, it feels ancient this type of fear.

I have a personal strict protocol to not move forward fueled by hate, and so instead I have been stalled out. I know this is not what you want to hear. I am still moving, just in place. I put in my hours, check off my to-do’s and when I can, I walk up into the hills where you can hear the dry sounds of summer crack the long grasses in half. I find a bit of fuel in books just like I always have and I think everyday about how to tell the truth about the fact that I feel more and more uncomfortable in the left. How the spaces made to help POC and native people feel ‘safe’ make me furious.  I feel I don’t belong anywhere. I am tired of being so careful with my words. I am tired of fitting myself into neatly crafted PC packages. I am yearning to be in conversation with people brave enough to say it wrong, brave enough to say, “I don’t know.” Our lack of exploration leads me nowhere. All of our right-ness is starting to sound very similar to everything that we say we stand against. I am starting to forget what it is we stand for. I miss hearing into the true words of people’s hearts. 

Today is the day of the Eclipse. I have not read any of the horoscopes, and the fog of the North Bay blocked out my view of the sun. Instead I went and sat down in my own yard. It was not mystical, it was not deep, it was just me and my tomato plants, my half drunk cup of coffee going cold, the feeling of dry soil against my feet. I placed a prayer down for this emptiness that I feel in the form of a contained circle made of dried bachelor button petals. Dark purple, indigo, light pink, the colors tell the age of each flower, bleached lighter and lighter by days growing under the strength of the sun. Here we are as well, running around in our frantic pain while the sun ticks time, day after day. Putting ourselves to bed in the well-known fears of the past. Asking for something different while we practice all the same motions. Forgetting that we are more alike, than different, forgetting that we are rarely original in our thoughts about the world. 

 Rumi left us with the well-known lines, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” There are more words though that are part of this particular passage that are less known. They read, “When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn’t make any sense.” 

I am putting down my big ideas of making sense of any of this. Instead I am asking for the courage to live into a humble life; a life where there is space to speak my fears and to hear yours too, before we set them down.

The Eclipse is over now. 

AN UNRAVELING

WORDS & IMAGE: KAILEA FREDERICK

I don’t yet have a name for this moment that continues to repeat itself over the years, but it looks something like this. What starts out, as a conversation with an elder on today’s current affairs, quickly turns painfully honest as the elder speaks to what is likely in store for my generation. This last happening occurred on Sunday while at my boyfriend’s mother’s house for her birthday. It was a women’s only affair and I suddenly found myself in a room of white hair, the youngest by easily 45 years. While sipping tea and eating scones and clotted cream I found myself deep in a conversation with two other women on climate and politics. Two grandmothers dressed for tea were suddenly in the thick of their passion, struggling to keep their voices even as they spoke to the reality of our times. Berkeley's late afternoon sun poured into my lap while I sat mainly quiet, sandwiched between the two. I could feel where this was heading, and suddenly we had arrived at ‘the moment’, where the grandmothers had talked themselves out, and all that was left to do, was turn to me in sadness. “All I can say”, spoke one, “is that I’m grateful I was born at the time that I was.” The other woman silently nodded her head in agreement. “We’re sorry, we don’t have to talk about this any more, it’s too depressing” she finished with. 

This is the moment that I have yet to name. I wonder about the other times in the history of humankind, when the passing of the baton to the next generation was such a somber ordeal? When elders felt more grateful for the fact that their lives were nearing an end, when looking into the eyes of those who still had so much life to live out. A few years ago when these odd interactions first started happening they confused me. I was used to looking towards adults for guidance and support, and it was a strange sort of societal initiation when I realized that I was now also considered an adult, in that I was no longer shielded from all that was falling apart. Perhaps what was most unsettling was the ease that sometimes accompanied an adult handing over ‘the world’ to me. “Here,” some would say, “we may have fucked it up beyond repair, hopefully you can make it better.” These dead end comments would leave me infuriated and struggling with myself when I couldn’t seem to create the capacity to internalize that we seemed to currently be living out some version of the end of the world. Now I realize, that this is a near impossible task. I am not sure that we humans are fully equipped to comprehend on an emotional or psychic level what it is we are in store for. We are struggling to realize in the midst of the unraveling, that we are unraveling. And we are struggling with the ability to take responsibility for our part in it all. 

 


The Prayer: 

I’ve had a small collection of rose buds drying over the last weeks and I took them with me outside, with these thoughts in mind. I sat and slowly began to peel a bud open, petal by petal. “This is me consciously creating an unraveling,” I thought to myself. I picked up a second bud that was still intact and placed it in the center of the petals, and questioned the possibility of new growth from something old and decaying. Often I find myself feeling stuck, conscious that I am living and working within an old and dying system with the hopes of creating something new. I feel frustrated when I bump up against what seem to be immobile boundaries. “Will I to one day be an elder grateful for my passing time on this earth, simultaneously saddened by all that I could not or did not do? Will I give up early, and eagerly throw the baton of responsibility into the hands of my grandchildren?” I ask myself these questions and it makes me feel like a coward. I pick up a pinch of tiny dried petals and sprinkle them within a larger petal, “this will be a prayer for courage”, I say to myself. Moving to the next petal, I place a prayer within for belief. I desperately need to believe in something beyond our current environmental and political crisis. I do this 9 more times, moving around the center bud, laying down prayers for my own responsibility, for growing into eldership, for steadfastness even when I am scared. And then right as I place my last prayer down, a small gust of wind comes through, overturning a petal, sending bits and pieces of my thoughts into the air. An eternal reminder that we will never be in control and that everything is already in motion. 

 

FROM THE ROOTS UP

WORDS & IMAGE: KAILEA FREDERICK

“So long as Hawaii was a monarchy, however, a non-Hawaiian would never have complete control of the government and therein lies the tale of Bayonet, the Overthrow and the American annexation.


The same founders of the Independent/Reform Party in 1883 made up the committee of safety that took control of the government in 1893 under the protection of American soldiers and warships. In 1895, in a particularly spiteful and cynical piece of timing, they declared their republic on July 4, a “government” that had all of 4,000 mostly white citizens, and declared Sanford Dole president for life. That this “republic” was set up for no other purpose than to encourage the Americans to annex the islands makes it impossible to commemorate the Fourth as a day of independence. I cannot imagine how any Hawaiian, knowledgeable about this history and feeling any sense of kinship with his or her nineteenth century ancestors, celebrates the Fourth of July.”


– Jonathan Osorio, Excerpt from ‘A Hawaiian National on Independence Day’


My family is First Nations from northern British Columbia, but I grew up in Hawai`i, and have an American passport. These identities are more than present for me, from July 1st through the 4th as Canada celebrates its Confederation Day and America their Independence Day. As I’ve become an adult, these four days have also become all the more confusing for me. I didn’t grow up with a nationalistic sense, as my parents were always honest with me about the history on which this country was founded. My mother, an African American woman, had us watching Roots at an early age so that we would always understand how the color of our ancestors skin was linked to the inequity of the ‘American Dream.’ I remember having serious doubts around the age of 10 about the daily standing in school to observe the flag while pledging allegiance to “The United States of America”. So much of my ancestry and present reality did not lend itself to comfortably believing in this pledge. Hawai`i is geographically isolated from the mainland of America. We were literally, not united with the rest of the states, and culturally we were being raised with what seemed to be a very different mentality than those raised on the mainland. 

The Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement has been present my entire life. On the side of the highways are homemade signs that state just this: "Reinstated Kingdom of Hawai`i". I couldn’t always comprehend the full immensity of these signs as a child, but by the simple fact of being native, there was a deeper sense of knowing. I often sit with myself now and ask, “What does it mean to be native?”  For me the answer is tied up with an understanding that at some point, invaders arrived on the land of my ancestors and took over through any means necessary. Today we use words like colonization to sum up the before history of massacre, disease and religion, when really colonization is only possible after indigenous populations are left decimated, hanging onto the bare threads of survival. Assimilation is also a part of this process. Through the use of shaming the native or Indian out of populations, total control can be taken, as cultural identity is lost to the larger mass identity of nationalism. 

A few years ago new language began to rapidly move around me in the islands. “Occupied by the American Military” was suddenly a way to understand the deeper ‘why’ behind Hawai`i as a state and the large military base that is on the island of Oahu. “The Overthrow” of the Hawaiian Kingdom became a focal piece of history as the general public started untying the knot between water issues, the shipping industry and our extreme dependence on food and other resources from the mainland. People started understanding their place in it all. The word settler, became commonplace as those non- Hawaiians accepted the actual history of the place they now inhabited. We were not Native Hawaiians, we were from somewhere else, but that didn’t mean that we couldn’t work together. As it was most recently explained to me, if you are not native to the land you are currently living on, then your responsibility is to support those who’s ancestors are of that land in their rightful fight for sovereignty. Part of this process is supporting the re-framing of what was once commonplace. I don’t write any of this in an act of shaming, but I do write in an act of honesty.  Simply put from my perspective, the celebration of Canada Day and The Fourth of July are a celebration of continual land theft and most importantly, the celebration of Indigenous resiliency in the fight for survival against all odds. 

I am aware that there are many other perspectives that one can bring to my viewpoint, but as our “democracy” unravels for all I am sure many more are beginning to feel into this loss of “independence” that native peoples have felt for hundreds of years. There are ways forward, and together, but they will not fit into our conventional sense of business as usual. As The United States takes pause to observe and remember false histories built upon slavery and war, I ask you to take a moment aside from the usual agenda as well. Ask yourself, who are the original caretakers of the land I live on and where are they today? How is their history wrapped up in the one that America is celebrating? And lastly, what do I want my place to be in it all? That might be the most important question, because against all desires of our government at hand, you still have a choice in how and where you bring your voice. 

The Prayer:
I’ve been watching dandelions spring up within my yard over the last months. At first there were just a few, lone yellow topped stalks that budded closed at night and wisped across the yard over the days, seeding the barren soil. Now they are everywhere, covering whole areas with their thick dark green leaves, I can’t help but look at them and think, “against all odds.” Dandelions are incredible. The plant itself is a token of resiliency, a reminder that even where seemingly nothing can regrow, there will be life again. When used medicinally to treat inflamed livers, they whisper, “this too will heal.” I decided that for these thoughts I wanted to sit with these plants as a way to provide healing for my own anger and pain. The prayer that wanted to come forward was one that asked for wholeness. 


I collected petals that had fallen from their stems over the last week and began to weave them into the base of dandelions, re-forming them into a larger flower. I thought about how many of us are scattered from our true places of origin, how many of us hurting in our search for a place to call home. There is so much that cannot be rebuilt to replicate what was, but that does not mean re-building cannot happen. The reality is just that what will be born will look different than what was. I don’t think its wrong that it hurts to come to that realization, because it does hurt. In matters of reconciliation we ask, “What is possible?” Sometimes the answers seem futile, not enough for all the wrong that has been. But then I have to ask myself, “Will my anger feed me and those around me into further right action?” I know that it won’t. I know that the real injustice is to live my life out of anger and the only real possibility of reconciliation is to define my own healing. 

This is my own prayer for healing from the roots up.