Fishing For Answers
By Giibwanisi aka (Richard Peters)
“The only way to learn patience is to be patient.” (Japin Asin/Elder Vern Harper)
Boozhoo, aanii, Giibwanisi dizhinizkaaz. Mkwa Dodem, shkakimikwe doonjibaa. Hello. My name is Red-tailed hawk, I am from the bear clan, and I come from Mother Earth.
This is my first blog/journal/piece.. I’m more of an orator then a writer, which is why that I have taken so long to write anything for the website. Recently a discussion came up, and it was proposed that I help write something for a video. The discussion ended on a sour note, with me saying that I am not a good writer, and that I am much better at speaking. Also, in recent months, I have developed a children’s story about pigeons how I see them paralleling the Anishinabe peoples. (Think colonization)
While I was at camp this week, I was thinking about patience, and how I can be more patient. And all this thoughts surround patience came up. How are people patient with me?…Why don’t people have more patience? How can I be more patient?…etc.
All this thinking about patience led me to thinking about an experience that Oshkimaadziig had while in Asubpeechoseewagong (Grassy Narrows) organizing a youth gathering. This particular incident involved Kaikaikons (Johnny Hawk) and I while we attempted to fish.
We borrowed a canoe, a fishing net, and set out on the lake to go drop some nets. The net that we borrowed had a few holes, but was all tangled up. But we didn’t take notice, and just set out on the lake. (Keep in mind that I have never set a net in my life). We tried a few shallow areas that someone had suggested, but it was indeed too shallow. We proceeded to head out to deep waters, and drop the net there.
As we started setting the net, it became apparent that there was some holes in the net…and that the net was all tangled up. I started to grow impatient. In my head I started casting blame on the people that lent us the net, the people that suggested that we go to shallow water…to Kaikaikons for not checking the nets before we went out…etc. (never blaming myself mind you)
After an hour or so of struggling out on the lake, we decided to head to shore and give in. (We had bought $300 dollars worth of food, so it wasn’t that urgent to harvest any fish) When we got to the shore, Kaikaikons said, “Well, there is teaching in all of this.” My thinking at the time was, “Yeah, I was taught never to head out fishing with Kaikaikons!” Of course I was angry, and I was angry, because I was impatient.
Biskaabiiyaang – “We are returning” (decolonization)
My involvement with ACTION and Oshkimaadziig has been a test of patience. At every corner I turn, I am having to be patient. I am constantly being tested. I get angry, and that anger can be a deterrent to peoples willingness to help. So I had to sit down and seriously analyze this entire situation. And look directly inward, and search for that answer. “How do I become more patient?” So I started breaking down the process of becoming more patient. And trying to come up with analogy for me, to explain to people, on how they can be more patient with me. The analogy came in the form of the fishing experience with Kaikaikons.
My life, through my experience with colonial oppression, is exactly like that fishing net. As I go through this “returning” process to our ancestral ways…I will be pulling out ugly holes and scars from deep with inside. Its all tangled this way and that way. There are some major holes that need to be restitched. It is so tangled and jumbled up, it might be easier to suggest that the net should be just thrown away. But I am hungry. I am so hungry for the ancestral knowledge that it burns like a fire so hot, that I will do anything and everything to fix this net. To weave through all the kinks and knots and tangles and to fix it. That way this net will be of use to someone. It may take me my entire life to fix this net, and I will need several people to help me fix this net. In doing so, my net/my life will be of use to the next person and the next 7 generations to come.
I have not always lived the way that our ancestors have instructed. But I am learning. I am returning. Have patience with me, as I weave through all the tangles and knots.
I am returning.
I am decolonizing.
“To all the ancestors who have lived and died so that I may exist, you have not done so in vain. I am returning. We are returning. Biskaabiiyaang.”