Reflections on the Mother Earth Water Walkers

by John Schneider, June 12, 2011

I watched the ceremony on the Lake Superior shore yesterday of the convergence of the Water Walk. Luckily I got there early and had time to run along the beach and soak and meditate in the lake before I ran up the road from the beach and caught up with the group coming down to the lake. I was tuned into the experience from the point of view of the lake, and from years of running daily
in the wilderness and swimming in lakes and rivers. And from the point of view of opposition to the mine that would send runoff and bring bilge spewing pollution from ore freighters on that beach. And level mountaintops (nearly weathered by time to hills) to feed industry, industry that should already feed from recycled metal first, but doesn’t. And be powered by Lake Superior ind/wave
power melting and recycling materials with zero carbon pollution in the atmosphere and no acid rain in the rivers and lakes.

But thanks to a Facebook friend I never met before, and her guide to the ceremony, a young native girl, and several kids swimming and wading in the mother lake. And several moms comments….but especially a 6 year old who was barefoot and remarked as I was putting my running shoes back on after swimming, “Oh I should have brought my shoes down too..” I realized the point of view of
my childhood again, I had camped in that very same area with my family as a kid, and still I think that trip is in my dreams.

Mother Earth Water Walkers Bad River copyright Jennifer

Mother Earth Water Walkers Bad River copyright Jennifer

Dream on… this is looking through their eyes, the children and their mothers and grandmothers hopes for them…And then!! The great moment for me.. a small thing, but I happened to be right there where the boats would land with the Water Walkers.. the grandmothers….A man stepped up and asked if I would help pull the boats up. A great honor.. a few of us pulled together. Wonderful experience I will meditate on for years… Then I went to the North Country Trail at Upson Lake to explore the Penokees where they would be effected by mining run off. These mountains are wonderful. Their waters are beautiful; I meditated
beside a stream on the trail, watching the intricate insect life. I saw butterflies sucking moisture from mud on Upson Lake boat landing, now to explore this whole area via the trail and get others there too. We need to draw inspiration to fight the mine and fight for those precious waters feeding our very lives and the life web we inhabit.

Importance of water stressed – MiningJournal.net | News, Sports, Jobs, Marquette Information | The Mining Journal

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.

Importance of water stressed – MiningJournal.net | News, Sports, Jobs, Marquette Information | The Mining Journal.

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.

Mother Earth Water Walkers reach LCO in Hayward, WI

Saturday morning, June 4, I drove up to Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Reservation in Hayward, WI and parked at the tribal college to wait for Sandy Stein, Secretary of Happy Tonics. Our plan was to meet up with up Mother Earth Water Walkers and join them.

First I must tell you that the old ravens that guard over the college let it be known I was there. They landed in trees near me and I bid them good morning as they cawed. These ravens have been in the forest near and around the tribal college for years, perhaps even generations. I know because they or their descendents were there when I graduated from the tribal college in 2003.

Sandy arrived and we put on our skirts over pants to show a sign of respect and then we headed to Hwy. E going in the direction of Reserve. We said our intentions silently and put down some sacred tobacco as we drove. I called WOJB the tribal radio station while we were on the road and a nice young man told me that the walkers were about at the hill headed for Reserve. What hill I thought? Northwest Wisconsin is all hills since the four glaciers passed through this country long ago. Sandy understood that the walkers stayed on the reservation last night in Old Post so she turned down a road that might be where they were.
And they were. The walkers of the southern direction have been walking since April 20th, carrying the salt water of the  Gulf of Mexico to Bad River, WI where it will meet with the other waters from the Atlantic, Hudson Bay and Pacific on June 12th.  The southern direction included Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin – The walk is ongoing until the water from the south reaches Bad River, WI

Brody helped walkers between runs. Mary Ellen waiting to walk.

Brody helped walkers between runs. Mary Ellen waiting to walk.

Not knowing how to join them in the well orchestrated walking event, she asked a driver with the back window displaying WATER WALKERS. His name is Brody and he said, “Jump in” and I did.

Mary Ellen Ryall carrying water and Conner Beauleu carrying Eagle feather staff.

Mary Ellen Ryall carrying water and Conner Beauleu carrying Eagle feather staff.

He and his wife Barb Baker-Larush have been on the road for a
long time and they were orchestrating the walk through the reservation. Sharon Day has been on the walk since April 20. It is so important that the water never stops. It has to keep moving until it reaches its destination being Bad River on June 12 where all water walkers from the Four Directions will converge; Pacific and Atlantic Ocean; Hudson Bay and the Great Lakes.

Conner Beauleu carries Eagle feather staff.

Conner Beauleu carries Eagle feather staff.

The same respect is held for the Eagle feather staff that men usually carry to protect the water and the woman carrying the water. If a man or young male is not available than the water carrier herself has to carry the staff also. The staff is sacred.

Water runner Barbara Baker-LaRush. Eagle Feather Staff runner Conner Beauleu. Isaiah Martinson, Conner's cousin slightly cut from photo copyright Mary Ellen Ryall.

Water runner Barbara Baker-LaRush. Eagle Feather Staff runner Conner Beauleu. Isaiah Martinson, Conner's cousin slightly cut from photo copyright Mary Ellen Ryall.

Sharon Day copyright Mother Earth Water Walkers.

Sharon Day copyright Mother Earth Water Walkers.

To start my walk, Sharon Day, one of the main event organizers and grandmothers smudged me so I would be pure before I carried the copper pail with water gathered from many clean and fresh sources. Brody told me Sharon was in a hurry to get back home for a few days and had started to step up the pace so that walkers knew that it was important to help her in their own pace in order to help Sharon achieve her goal. She has been walking through many states and was near closing of her part
of the walk. I think that was probably spurring her on. I was impressed that a Grandmother could walk at a clip like this. It was almost like she was dancing the steps as she fast walked to the beat of drum music.

I had to hold on to the pail handle and walk at the same time as the walker started to pass it to me. I matched my steps with hers until she was sure I was walking on my own. I felt honored to finally be walking on this important journey. I have wanted
to be part of this walk since Grandmother Josephine Mandamin started walking with a vision of protecting and respecting water back in 2003 when she walked around Lake Superior.  Brody told me the walkers stayed at his house last night June 2, in New Post. In the evening they sat around a bonfire to relax after a long day. I must say I never saw such fit Native American women as I did today. These are warrior women who have the heart beat to walk from their hearts. They are dedicated to bring this
important issue of fresh and pure drinking water forward for all species and for seven generations out. The vision is global.

Multinational companies don’t want us to know that they are buying up rights from countries to “OWN” the water. Colonization is still ongoing. Then the multinationals turn around and bottle the water and sell it back to the very poorest of the poor in
developing countries such as in Africa. It is unethical to dishonor water in this way. Water is a gift from the Creator not a commodity to be bought and sold.

While on the walk, I was happy to see Paul DeMain was there doing a live stream from News from Indian Country. We have worked together on several occasions over the past few years. His wife Karen was there too but we were concentrating on our roles
and didn’t have time to meet and greet. When I walked I felt empowered and in the silence all I could feel was my own breath and heartbeat. I remember there was drum music, sounds of singing birds, sights of cotton fluff blowing on the wind from cottonwood trees and fragrant green forests on both sides of the street. It was an honor to finally be part of this sacred walk. A young man, Conner Beauleu, held the staff and ran beside me was focused as we both were. He did two runs, one after the other, and was my silent strength. I am a 66 year old woman with mild emphysema and it felt so comforting to have a young warrior  beside me. Such a noble young man true to his Ojibwe culture.

This was a once in a lifetime experience for me. I wouldn’t have the physical endurance to do the action miles that are required to fulfill the total trip through many states. I am a Council Guide for the Sisterhood of the Planetary Rites, founded in  California by Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer. I carried a butterfly beaded medicine bag handmade by Marilyn Vig, an artist in Rice Lake, WI. Inside were the names women who sent emails saying they wanted to be with the water walkers  in spirit. Their names are: Worth Cooley-Prost, DC, Anna Dunn, MN; Cassie McCrow, WI; Anna Merritt, WI; Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer, CA and founder of the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites (SPWR) in CA; Kunda Wicce, Island  near France; Sandy Stein and Mary Ellen Ryall, Happy Tonics, WI and SPWR, WI chapter participated in the walk; Ginger Wilcox, WI; Chris Doolan Ottose, WI and Akasa WolfSong were women who were spirit walkers.  Inside the medicine bag was a prayer bundle of red cloth. Inside the small bundle was a pinch of sacred tobacco, made by Ginger Wilcox.

Sandy took lots of photographs which we will publish later because a CD needs to be made first and uploaded to my hard drive. I am so proud of her and her insight in knowing how important it was for me as an elder to walk in this unfolding vision. Women
are the protectors of water. I would like to mention that Worth Cooley-Prost is an artist in Washington, DC. We are water sisters through Facebook and have never met. Worth recently sent a beautiful water necklace that she was inspired to create through ceremony, moon and water. She doesn’t make her glass jewelry until she has been inspired by her rituals and ceremony first. Now I wear this water necklace to all water ceremonies. I was wearing the necklace today and as I walked with thoughts of all the women who have touched my life, I touched the medicine bag with sacred intentions within.

I gave the little medicine bag to Brody’s wife Barbara Baker LaRush. She will know who should hear the story when they sit around another bonfire.

Be happy insectamonarca friends wherever you are.

Mother Earth Water Walkers Press Release

Press Release – For Immediate Release

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.

Art and Spiritual Quilts

Please visit http://www.carolbridgesartquilts.com or http://www.sacredarts.infoto to see Carol Bridges beautiful quilts. This is fiber art at its best. Many are already sold. We think you will love her work. In honor of the water and dedicated to women who are the protectors of water, we are showcasing Carol’s quilt on our Blog. The quilt Emergence is a prayer to protect all water species especially after  the oil contamination in the Gulf of Mexico.

Emergence by Carol Bridges

Emergence by Carol Bridges

Carol Bridges quilt Emergence

Carol Bridges quilt Emergence

“Emergence”  is an homage to the creatures of the Gulf of Mexico. May all the fish and turtles and dolphins, whales and others be lifted from their suffering, their souls again returned to the Mother of the Sea. 30″ x 30″. $1200.

There is a connection between the monarch butterfly and the creatures and plants of the Gulf. Many monarchs willl be flying through the gulf area and we wish them good speed to the other side as they return to Mexico. Here is a poem from the 18th century Polish poet Ignacy Krasicki:

The Wagon-Driver and the Butterfly

A wagon got stuck in the mud, and couldn’t move.
The driver was tired, the horse exhausted.
A butterfly, sitting on the wagon, thought:
“I’m told compassion is a virtue.”
He flew off, calling back to the wagon-driver:
“Now get going, bless you!”

Source: Ken Parejko, Monarch of the Butterflies, page 88.

Water Ceremony sacred for two participants in Northwest Wisconsin

Sand dunes changing to pine barrens

Sand dunes changing to pine barrens

On Saturday, September 11,  a participant and I gathered up our ceremonial materials and walked to the sand dunes near my home in Minong, Wisconsin.

Jackie arrived about 6:30 p.m. and we shortly found our way to the sacred sands. We put a cloth down large enough to make an altar. I brought flowers and the vessel to carry the artesian water. Beforehand I went to the woods between Shell Lake and Spooner where the water flows free of contaminants and chemicals. Mother Earth’s blood (which is water) just bubbles up to the surface in this enchanted forest. I always thank the water before taking any.

Jackie brought a photo picture of her guru. I brought gourd rattles. One gourd is from the gourds I found growing in a dirt pile last year and the other gourd was from New Mexico. It is a peyote medicine rattle.  I brought my birch bark clapping sticks and drum which was given to me by an elder who made me promise I would use it only to pray for water. I never dreamed a few years ago when Frank gave it to me that someday I would be a Council Guide. I am honored to say I am now with the Sisterhood of Indigenous Water Rites.  I feel very honored by both blessings. 

I can’t really tell you what took place at the ceremony. Perhaps someday if you are a woman you will come and share this sacred ceremony with us. I can say that we prayed for the Net of Light workshop in Ireland who were connected with us through mutual intentions and ceremony. I can say that we thanked the water and each in turn talked to the water and told her we loved her. I did say I knew that mankind often did not respect her, contaminated and polluted her. I asked for forgiveness of these unconscious and sometimes cruel acts.  I acknowledged that we are made up of mostly water and we need fresh water around the world for humanity and for seven generations out.

Both Jackie and I performed the Nibi Wabo water ceremony. We also danced around the altar and sang. I did notice the tiniest of little miniature flowers on sliver stalks. I wonder if anyone on Earth saw such sweet flowers that we were careful not to step on as we danced. As we bid goodbye to the ceremony, we saw the new moon on the third day as a sliver of light, first star and the sunset all at the same time.

Smoke signal

Smoke signal

 It was glorious how the clouds turned pink to the east as we looked over the horizon and saw the valley hills around us.

We took the blessed water afterwards and gave some to Mother Earth at certain spots. One was at the sweet fern that I prayed for several years ago. I wanted her to come up the hill from the other side and adorn the sand dunes. Then we carried some to the fir trees that are starting by succession to come into the sand dunes. Then we blessed milkweed and sacred prairie sage that I planted in 2008. I have been seeding this site for years in the hopes of making a sanctuary for the monarch butterfly. It is working, butterflies do flutter here in season.

We need to respect water.  Please visit and learn that not all people are as fortunate as we are in the USA. Many people and countries need water. Can you imagine being thirsty?  Have a heart and open your eyes to others in need at http://twitter.com/charitywater

Remember: Water is not a resource to be squandered. Water is the source of life for all living beings.  Say a prayer of thanksgiving when you lift the water of life to your lips and be grateful.

I am grateful to Congressman Dennis Kucinich who wrote a bill to stop the privatization of the Great Lakes water. You can learn more at http://kucinich.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=202500

Washington, Aug 7 – “Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today announced H.R. 6006, which closes a loophole that allows the bottled water industry to divert or export an unlimited amount of water from the Great Lakes.  The bill was introduced along with cosponsors Bart Stupak (MI), Marcy Kaptur (OH) and Betty McCollum (MN).”
Source: Congressman Dennis Kuchiich’s Web site.

Be happy insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

WATER MEDITATION Sunday May 9 for PLANETARY WATER SISTERS

Tonya Whitedeer of the Sisters of the Planetary Water Rites in California sent the following excerpted email:

Pure Shell Lake in Shell Lake, Wisconsin

Pure Shell Lake in Shell Lake, Wisconsin

  I wish I was not writing to tell you that the Gulf of Mexico is experiencing an epic oil spill.  I wish we were not witnessing what may become the largest oil spill in US history.  I am asking for your help.  I am calling for a group meditation on Sunday evening.  (Of course…any time you love water…whether today or tomorrow or Sunday…it will make a difference…so join when you can.)

I am calling for a miracle.  Let’s join in a meditation to cap the oil leak Sunday night at 5:00 p.m. Pacific & AZ time. I feel that this oil spill has served to wake us up.  Maybe this will allow us to refocus, and find a better solution to meet our energy needs.  For that awakening, we give thanks.  Our hearts open to the families who have experienced loss, and trauma.  Our hearts embrace all life in the area affected; people, wildlife, flora and water.

Shell Lake and diminishing water table due in part to Climate Change

Shell Lake and diminishing water table due in part to Climate Change

  Grandmother and water sister Tonya Whitedeer says, “Invite the Spirit of Water to be fully present and enlivened and one with the Spirit of the Gulf of Mexico.”  Turn your thoughts and prayers towards purity of water and to cap the oil leak Sunday evening 5 p.m. Pacific & AZ time, 6 p.m. Mountain time, Central standard time 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern standard time.  Let’s stand in solidarity and prayer for five minutes and give our healing energy to water.  Tell the water that you love her and are doing your part to protect her insectamonarca friends where ever you live.

Blessings,
Memengwaa Ikway

Water Ceremony Nibi Wabo

The Sisterhood of Planetary Water Rites by Tonya Whitedeer Cargill and excerpted from her email to share with women around the world.

Greetings:

Water is the first foundation of Life.  Without it there would be no life upon our Planet Earth.  We have been brought together through Spirit as a dedicated voice for our waters.

Our mission is to teach, to support and to be a unifying force for ceremonies to bless, purify and restore our planet’s waters and natural water systems, that there will always be clean and fresh water for all.

So many of us are feeling overwhelmed and devastated over what has been happening to our Mother Earth.  We have found that through prayer we can make a difference.  Prayer and ceremony has been used since time memorable.  It is our hope to renew our faith and empower ourselves with our spiritual energies given to us since our first breaths as human beings.

Several prophecies and visions have been brought to the surface to educate us on the changing of times and how we can help. These messages all say to Turn to the Power of Prayer!

There has been a date brought to us from the Universe through the Planets that a day for a World Prayer for Water Day would be May 18th, 2010.

Mark your calendars and say a prayer for water on May 18th. 

Without water there is no life.  We are in a great global water crisis. 

Capture rainwater where it falls.  Don’t let it patter down the street.

Recycle water for gardens and insects.

Thank you insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

from  Butterfly Woman

 

 

Day Five- HELP US GET 100 VOTES Over Weekend Brighter Planet

We are only 14 VOTES away from 100 VOTES.  I know we can do it with your help.  Please REGISTER AND VOTE for Climate Change Native Habitat and Community Garden Shell Lake at Brighter Planet at http://brighterplanet.com/project_fund_projects/100

monarch hat

Wear your passion and show others you care.

We want to thank Salt of the Earth Press at http://www.saltpress.com/

for voting today.  Be sure to check out our beautiful butterfly art wear created by Lindy Casey, owner of Salt of the Earth Press.

 Lindy was kind enough to create butterfly product designed by artist and Happy Tonics former member Kathy Maas at CafePress.  All sales support Happy Tonics’ Monarch Butterfly Habitat and Morph Your Mind Environmental Education Programs. 

Earth Friendly Water Bottle art by K. Maas

We will campaign over the weekend on the blogs to recruit, recruit, and recruit for your VOTES. Be happy voters where ever you are.

Dawn White on the Importance of Water

Happy Tonics was a co-sponsor of the Environmental Film Festival and the movie Flow at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College on 28 January 2010 in Hayward, WI.  Nick Vander Puy, News from Indian Country, interviewed Dawn White of the Sustainable Living Institute at the college.  She spoke of the purity of the water at her home, the plight of the poor around the world with no access to clean drinking water, pollution of sand tar sites near Lake Superior and the women’s water ceremony that took place that day.

Read the interview here and watch the video at http://indiancountrynews.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=8455&Itemid=1

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