May rivers run free. Here is a success story of the Elwha River and restoration back to natural life. The project gives hope to citizens and native people alike. The dismantling of Glines Canyon dam will allow the water to run where it can do the most good. This is natural habitat for wild salmon and other species. Let the rivers run free!
Saturday, July 30- There were thunderstorms surrounding the valley in late afternoon. Water sisters arrived at the Hospitality House in Minong. We began by dressing up in skirts. Sandy Stein mentioned that when women wear a shawl and skirt it represents mountains and being close to Mother Earth. A skirt worn in ceremony is respectful and helps women remember that we are feminine energy and connected to Mother Earth. We put our sacred items together to carry them out to the sand dunes. I had on my glass water pendent that Worth Cooley-Prost had made for me. Sandy wore her medicine bag. It is good for women to have their very own medicine bag. We have several small beaded butterfly medicine bags made by an elder Marilyn Vig, Rice Lake, WI. I will exhibit and offer them for sale in September at our online store at http://stores.ebay.com/happytonics
While still at the house we witnessed a rainbow. This was a beautiful sign.
Then it started to lightly rain again as we walked to the sand dunes. Sandy Stein said, “Rain is good.” I responded, “After all we are praying for the water.” We felt blessed as we entered Sacred Space and the rain began to lighten up and then stop.
Sandy, Deborah and Godavari met the sweet fern for the first time that is now growing over the dune and into the site. I love this fern, years ago I put my intentions on the fern and wished that the fern would climb the dunes from the other side. Each of them smelled the plant and were joyous when they smelled the sweet fragrance having never smelled anything like it before. I reminded water sisters that we needed to be silent as we entered Sacred Space.
We put our individual sacred items on the blanket alter in the sand. Before we began the Nibi Wabo (Water Song) each of us added our pure water to the water bowl to marry the waters. We tried to smudge but couldn’t get a match to light the sacred sage; it was too damp. We each took a pinch of tobacco in our left hand. In turn each spoke their intentions of remembrance before beginning ceremony and added a pinch of tobacco to the basswood Two Headed Bear Dream Bowl handmade by Frank Galli. The bowl was made especially for Water Ceremony offerings. Then I gave a short talk on the observations of water to the sisters.
Message: Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer is one of the Ambassadors of the White Buffalo Family in Oregon. She is with them now and doing ceremony as we stand in circle. Worth Cooley-Prost is traveling from Arlington, VA to the Carolinas. Worth is standing with us in ceremony at the same hour where ever she is. I remembered Shelley Ruth Wyndham, Cape Town, South Africa, who asked that she be remembered each time we stand in Water Ceremony. She is with us in ceremony. Mother Earth is going through a Great Cleansing and weather is and will become more violent. We are to stand firmly grounded to the earth and hold any fear in our feet which is solidly planted in communication with Mother Earth. We are not to let fear rise up through our bodies. We are not to be afraid when great and turbulent changes occur around us. We are to know that Mother Earth is protecting us. We are the Water Walkers, water sisters and water teachers.As women we are called to protect water. We are not alone. We are here to grow in healing energy work as we band together all over the world. Each of us in our own environment is here to teach others not to be afraid and to help people cross over the rainbow road after a storm. We are here at this moment to personally adapt to Climate Change and its consequences. We need to learn what our agricultural plant growing zone is and may be in the predicted future. We need to plant appropriately while we look towards the future. Current plant zoning is changing. In Northwest Wisconsin instead of planting the same species of downed trees ( Birch, Red Pine and Jack Pine) of the last storm in Minong on July 1, we need to look at a zone or two further south and plant accordingly. We need to personally adapt and teach others to adapt. There is no sense in old programming of being alarmed when our immediate world is changing and negatively lamenting the changes. If we survive I believe this is sufficient enough to be grateful. The solution: Think positive because we are still here doing our work. Adapt! This is the message.
Then we sang to the four direction, using our birch bark clapping sticks. The clouds were getting black and thunder clouds came closer. After concluding the Water Song we ended ceremony sooner, packed up our ceremonial objects and headed back to the Hospitality House. Before we left the sand dunes, Sandy put down the sacred items she brought to the ceremony. These were a shell and rock. I left a tear drop shell in a special place also which was significant because we were blessed by rain during ceremony.
Parched sand dunes from drought.
One of the observations I have noticed since I started working on water issues and Water Ceremony, with the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites, is that I am forever thirsty. Northwest Wisconsin experienced a seven-year drought . I am conscious of having a dry mouth and wanting to drink water.
I am grateful for all the rain in 2011 even though we have had to deal with strange, unpredictable and more frequent violent storms. Even the clouds have changed to forms I have never seen before. Now I keep a weather radio on.
I am secure in knowing that there is pure water at the artesian well in the woods where sweet water flows to the surface from deep within Mother Earth. What a happy woodlands it is that surrounds the artesian well. Even though the trip is long and I need to drive 60 miles round trip from Minong to Shell Lake and back, I am happiest when I am drinking this precious pure water.
After the Water Ceremony Godavari wrote, “Thanks so much, so very much, for having us at your place, especially right after the trauma of the storms, when it must have been hard for you to get ready. I like that it rained on our ceremony. In Siddha Yoga rain is auspicious (highly beneficial, a good omen) because it is a blessing upon the earth and its people. As you said, it is life itself. After our ceremony, I began drinking water with much gratitude, knowing we are blessed to have clean water on this part of the earth. And inside, I feel a purification beginning, which the water ceremony seemed to launch. Purifying me of anger and resentment, making space for greater love. So in a personal way too, I am grateful to you for leading us in honoring water, in honoring Mother Earth.
Note: Godavari means goddess of a holy river, and there is a River Godavari, as they call it there, near the Siddha Yoga ashram in India.
Worth Cooley-Prost says, “My part of Water Ceremony was brief and on the move, but held my Heart and I hope added something Good to the whole. My old (85 now!) friend Dot, who co-founded the Light Group in Kinston NC in the early 1970s, brought me a little container of water from there. (It used to be artesian well water, now it’s a mix of that and water from the Neuse River… anyway, Water from close-to-me Ancestors’ home since 1841 or so.) And our car smelled so wonderful with sage lit!
Tonya Whitedeer Cargill is a Clan Mother of the Bear Clan of Medicine Creek Metis in Laytonville, CA. She holds women’s circles and Grandmother Net of Light Ceremonies. She is one of the Ambassadors’ for the Sacred White Buffalo Family in Northern Oregon. She is currently working on a novel that is coming to her through Spirit. Tonya works with endangered species Medicines of the Green Nation and maintains a Medicine Walk open to the public to educate all those that come to her land named through Spirit as Medicine Creek. Visit the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites at http://waterblessings.org/
Mary Ellen Ryall is a Council Guide of the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites and Executive Director of Happy Tonics, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) environmental education organization and public charity. Ryall is the author of My Name is Butterfly published in 2011 by Salt of the Earth Press. The book will be available on Amazon shortly.
The fully illustrated children’s book gives testimony of why native plants are important for pollinators. The charming book teaches about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly and its only host plant milkweed. Over the last eight years Ryall has planted milkweed at the sand dunes. Monarch butterflies flitted about the day of the Water Ceremony. This is another good sign that the monarch butterfly abounds in Minong in and near the sand dunes.
As many of you may have heard by now, I walked with the copper pail with water from the Gulf of Mexico last Saturday when Sandy Stein and I caught up with the Mother Earth Water Walkers between Old Post and Reserve at LCO. Anna Merritt and I are going to Bad River Reservation tomorrow, June 10. Follow-up on this day afterwards.
Please take the time to read about the important issue of protecting water for all species and for generations to come. Water is a gift and not a resource to be plundered, contaminated, bought and sold.
Today when you take that sip water, be sure to thank the water. She has been taken for granted and disrespected for far too long. In ancient times and with many tribal cultures of today, people remember to thank the water and honor her for the gift of life she brings.
Today I woke up at 5:15 a.m. excited because today has finally arrived. Sandy Stein and I will meet at Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation’s tribal college at 9 a.m. with anticipation of meeting up with Mother Earth Water Walkers. The Water Walkers will be coming through Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation on their way to Bad River on June 12.
The purpose of the water walk is to raise awareness to protect clean fresh drinking water from pollution and privatization around the world and to protect water for seven generations out. Water is a gift not a commodity. Water is coming in a copper bucket which Grandmother Josephine Mandamin and others who have been water on and off since April 10. Men often have carried the Eagle Feather Staff to protect women. Water Walkers are coming to Bad River to converge on June 12 from the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans Hudson Bay and the Great Lakes.
Will report on if we made the connection today. Sandy and I plan to walk with the Water Walkers from the tribal college to the Honor the Earth Pow Wow grounds. LCO has opened up the event to the public and invites the public to come and meet the Water Walkers. There will be ceremony and feasting.
Mary Ellen Ryall is a council guide of the Sisterhood of Planetary Water Rites with headquarters in California. She will carry the intentions of women who shared that they wanted to be on this walk with the Water Walkers. The names will be typed up and added to a small butterfly beaded medicine bag that she will wear as she walks with the Water Walkers.
Ottawa, ON (17 May 2011) – The Native Women’s Association of Canada is acknowledging with the highest esteem the Grandmothers and other supporters who are walking from the four oceans that surround North America. The leaders of the Water Walk carry copper vessels that contain the “healing and sacred salt water” from the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and from Hudson Bay that will be used in a ceremony where the waters converge in Bad River, Wisconsin on June 12, 2011. The water will then be united in Lake Superior where the first Water Walk began in 2003.
Water is a life force that has been respected and honoured through ceremony since time immemorial by the world’s Indigenous peoples. With this respect it is of growing concern that many Indigenous people and others around the world do not have access clean drinking water.
The women in the Water Walk, many whom are Elders have taken on a physically daunting campaign journeying over 10,400,000 steps to raise awareness about the crisis. Like many great concerns it is the women who lead and give voice to the issue.
“The Anishinaabe, also known as the Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi, are the caretakers of the eastern woodlands and Great Lakes, the largest freshwater system on Earth. Anishinaabe women, as givers-of-life, are responsible for speaking for, protecting and carrying our water.” (Mother Earth Water Walk, 2011)
NWAC, NGO’s and government officials are listening and will respond. You too can support the walkers! For more information see http://www.motherearthwaterwalk.com/ and follow them on Facebook.
This year’s Water Four Directions Mother Earth Water Walkers is imperative as we realize we must honor water which is sacred and a gift to all living species. Please support the many who are walking and will converge at Bad River Reservation on June 12. A council guide from the Sisterhood of Planetary Water Rites plans to attend. We hope that several women from the Water Ceremony group of Minong, WI, will attend also.
The vulnerable white trillium lily of early spring grows in the sweet woods. The sounds of happy gurgling water and singing birds gladdens the heart. Sweet watercress grows in the stream where the water spills out into a pure stream. Watercress will not grow in unpure water.
We must protect our local drinking water sources. After seeing Blue Gold, I am going to ask my village where the water source is and where the sewage goes. The film suggests we do this to be informed about our own community water supply.
For the past two years (2009-2010), Happy Tonics, Inc. has exhibited at the Xeriscape Council of New Mexico’s Annual Xeriscape Landscaping and Water Conservation Conference. We are proud to be connected with the Council and their work. The following article was sent by Scott Varmer, Executive Director, Xeriscape Council of New Mexico.
by George Radnovich
Americans are staying inside in record numbers; they are playing on computers, watching television, eating perhaps too often and generally leading a very sedentary lifestyle. This has at least in part caused skyrocketing healthcare costs and obesity, especially in our children. Collateral disadvantages to this situation are that we are paying less and less attention to our outside environments as a society. This situation also does very little to educate our society about the way the natural world works and how important water is to us in arid lands. The Xeriscape Council of New Mexico sees this as an epic problem; we need to get people out into their landscapes and those of our public lands, we need to instill the wonder of looking at a flower into our children and we need to re-energize our connection to the environment and water use. Re-Connect to the Environment is the Theme of the Water Conservation Conference presented by the Council this year and I would like to be the first to Welcome you to our conference and this interesting topic!
We at the Xeriscape Council of New Mexico work very hard to deliver the most relevant topics and issues concerning our environment, water conservation and water management along with green technologies and water appropriate landscaping; these are among the most important issues of this century, and we will discuss them. However, our conference this year will concentrate on the nexus of getting people outside to learn, learn about watersheds, landscapes and yes water use.
Our speakers this year will be led by our keynote for the first day of the conference Pat Mulroy. Her leadership at the Southern Nevada Water Authority has brought water and drought issues to the forefront in Las Vegas and her strong leadership style has catapulted Las Vegas to the front of the debate. On the second day of the conference I think you’ll enjoy hearing from Mitchell Joachim (pronounced Jo-ak-um) an architect with decidedly different ideas about architecture and the natural world. He will discuss the nexus of architecture and biology and some very interesting ideas in architecture and urban design. Other speakers will talk about the importance of wild places, how to treat them and particularly how to get people out into them! We hope this year’s conference will give you the tools to understand these differences and treat them with healthy environmentally appropriate regard. Last year’s conference was much better attended than our expectations for this year – the economy is at play here. However, that hasn’t dampened our enthusiasm and we are proud that we are one of the largest national conferences devoted to outdoor water conservation in the country. We will continue to provide one of the best venues for new ideas and concepts for water conservation, policy, and methodologies for design.
Thank You and Best Regards,
George Radnovich, President
Xeriscape Council of New Mexico
Ryall, M. E. (2010 October 27). Happy Tonics October News. Washburn County Register, p. 9
October 22 – Mary Ellen Ryall, a 2003 graduate of Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College, Hayward, WI, received a 2010 Outstanding Alumni Award. The award honors an alumni’s outstanding contribution to the college and community.
Marie Basty, was selected to receive the first-ever Alumni Award. Basty graduated in 1996 and was recognized for her personal and professional success. Jason T. Schlender, 2007 Native American Studies graduate, was also honored as a 2010 Outstanding Alumni Award winner.
October 15 – Janine McNulty and her young family visited Happy Tonics Visitors Center/Store. The children brought native seed to help seed the Monarch Butterfly Habitat. McNulty works for the LCO Hertel tribal offices.
She is interested in planting native wildflowers around the tribal buildings in Hertel. She is now able to collaborate with Happy Tonics and LCO in Hayward for leads in how to obtain work study students and interns to assist with this project.
Samuel Thayer reaches for salsify leaves.
October 19 – Samuel Thayer’s Wild Edible Class, UW Barron County, Rice Lake campus, was attended by Ryall and Rochelle Becker, a Happy Tonics volunteer. Thayer is the author of The Forager’s Harvest and Nature’s Garden. For the final class, students brought in wild edibles which were cleaned, prepared and added to the community soup pot. We drank hazelnut milk, ate wild fried parsnips and tossed fiddlehead ferns, puffball mushrooms and chopped dandelion roots into the soup pot. For dessert, we had black nightshade berry – some used to think it was poisonous – topping on cheesecake. The meal was fun and delicious. Every student in the class contributed to making a success of the program. Happy Tonics plans to start one of the first Wild Edibles Club in the USA in Shell Lake, spring 2011. Many students of Thayer’s class are interested in being members of the club.
NOTE: I stand to be corrected about shipping Tall Bluestem Native Grass from Happy Tonics online store. Recently I spoke with Dave Vold, of Shell Lake City Hall. He suggested we not ship the seed because it may not be a native plant elsewhere. Tall bluegrass is a native grass more frequent in prairie states. It is used for prairie restoration, soil erosion, water conservation and as a forage plant for deer and cattle. The plant is also used by birds for nest making and seed. Happy Tonics is always willing to listen. Often opinions add to the collective knowledge base.