Whats in a Language….
Its not how we speak! Sometimes its in the feeling behind the words. Ever talk to an Elder and listened to their stories….the way their eyes light up, or their voices get louder or softer to really emphasize their point. The way the hand gestures are? If you have not had the pleasure, you should try it sometimes. I mean really listen, open your heart, your mind and your ears. Watch, what happens is purely a miracle to behold. Treasure that moment , for all too quick time with our Elders is fleeting and fading….and whom will be there to share the stories, the wisdom, the knowledge of an entire life lived to the fullest?
When I was a little girl, I had a Papa, he wore a cowboy hat faithfully everyday (even when he napped!) He had cowboy boots on and the jeans with suspenders. He was magnificently tall, he hung the moon and the stars in my little grandbabies eyes. I sat at his feet while he played his guitar and harmonica(which was attached to the top of his guitar) and sang. I still remember the sound of his voice, and the smell of the room and the feel of the songs. This is how his legacy lives on in me. I learned to play the guitar. I learned to sing. I knew that what ever I learned I wanted to share with my children.
Well, this past year has been a whirl wind of learning, frustrations, hurt feelings and Lord knows….anger!
I was so excited because this year an amazing Elder and a good friend of mine were teaming up to do a preschool language program. (Because we homeschool this meant that myself, my 8 yr old, my 3 yr old and 1 yr old would be participating) Also on Mondays and Tuesdays in the Fall was Language class and guess what my husband attended them with us!
I was sooo excited to start. First, I had to get a Statutory Declaration signed my my biological mom. You see I was starting all of the paper work to get my Status. The little white card that tells you what band you belong to, and that says Hey you are Native! Yuppers here we go!
She refused to sign it, she needed to sign it because my dad was never placed on my birth certificate. It was an emotionally draining situation that blew up my a thousand percent each moment. A drama that could surpass any on television. Albeit, she has her own personal reasoning, it was hard to walk through and harder because it left a lot of questions of the paternity and if the man I have know as my dad (for 28years) was my dad. It was a very hard, emotional situation. God, was my focus because without my faith in Him and what was to be would be…..I might have had some other things that happened. At times, the hurt would spill into an anger that consumed my heart, it made me want to lash out at her. It made me so tired, drained, it made me feel like I belonged nowhere. God gently kept telling me that I was I was His daughter and He had it in His Will.
Now, let me tell you. Although, I knew for better or worse God had His ways and reasons……this sent me for a hard hit. I felt lost, looking at my dad, at my family members, the resemblance’s I had once seen so clearly were hazy. Like it was murky water that I couldn’t quite see the same as the clear crystal blue they were before. I was afraid, afraid that a man I grew up with, lived with , fought with, respected and loved, a man that I so knew was my dad, our tempers, how we talk, how much we talk! All of these things were in question. I had been living in our sweet gorgeous valley, for two years! Two years pouring into our language, learning our culture, meeting cousins, auntys, uncles, friends. Don’t get me wrong, it was not wasted time. It was cherished moments, and loved moments. But if I was a LSIB what was I?
I also, started having weird memories flooding over me, dreams that felt soo real. Memories I had long since forgotten and pushed aside. I had a very hard growing up. There were good times but a lot of scary, angry hateful, spiteful moments. These were consuming my sleep.
My husband and I talked about it, prayed about it and decided to lay to rest. We got a DNA test. Now just so anyone else out there knows these tests are not cheap. It cost us $700 just for a scrape of the inside of my cheek and my dads. Yes, I know there is a lot involved with this process but it cost us a lot of money. It was worth it. To know for sure that my dad is my dad! It gave me clarity and although it didn’t stop the emotional rollercoaster I had been riding it did give closure to a question that he had kept locked away in his heart for all these years as well!
Now for applying to become a First Nations Status Card holder……ugh and sigh and allot of praying! They tell us, that the DNA is not good enough! That I must have my birth certificate changed over to have my dad added. So we think sweet simple I have my dna test this should be a breeze…think again! Stats Can will only change the Live Birth Registration to add my dad if my mother signs the documentation. Which, she refused to sign anything! So we hired a lawyer (just to let you know, no we are not made of money but we felt that this was an investment in our family!) so we buckled down and didn’t spend money on anything that we didn’t 100% need! We had been blessed so that it wasn’t such a harsh burden! The lawyers says that INAC cannot do that. They cannot legally require a birth certificate, that a DNA test is admissible as one in the same with my birth certificate. So, we called to see if we could go around all of this, turns out we can pay to go to the court house and see a judge explain situation and prove our case and have him stamp the birth certificate…..we don’t have money for that. We have three children at that time and really couldn’t do it. So we researched and talked to the lawyer. For all legalities the INAC cannot legally refuse the dna test. So we submitted anyways!
Then the waiting game….
During this waiting, we had the priviledge of learning our language! I learned from an Elder that sometimes its ok to not have a regular school type setting. My 3 yr old son would not sit in circle and just wanted to play. This beautiful woman told me to let him….boy oh boy it took a lot for me to do that! And you know what she was right….he learned more language from osmosis than anything! It made my heart sing! My Elder is a beautiful woman, I enjoyed sitting on the floor and listening to her teach and gleaning and learning! I learned more than a language, more than a culture I learned a love for people and a love for my life. I believed God gifted her to me at the right exact moment.
My dear friend, she is an amazing teacher. She helped me learn to calm down, to soak it in and to let things happen. She has six children all under the age of 14. She is a super hero mom. She worked along side of this beautiful Elder and I tell ya I was gifted an education of language and an education of motherhood, compassion, love and determination. This education is far more precious than anything I have ever learned in school! For you see my dear friend, although I know she is a closet superhero, she is a normal mom, good days, bad days amazing days! I have been blessed to get to know her and learn from her. All at a time where I felt I was a failure in so many ways! God gifted me amazing women, mothers, grandmothers….friends and He knew that I needed them.
I also was gifted the opportunity to learn how to make traditional ribbon shirts, moccassins, and yarn bags for berry picking! We had so much fun! We forged friendships with other moms, and I tell ya nothing surpasses the laughs, the smiles and the amazing time we all had!
For you see a language is nothing without the people in which speak it. A people is not really a people without the love, laughter, faith, confidence, strength of who they are!
I am a born again Christian, I love my faith!
I am a Lower Similikamean Native woman! I love where I came from!
I will teach my children about God, about Christ and along side it all I will teach them of their heritage, language, culture! I will teach them to love others, to serve others, to be kind and to always always help when you can. No matter who the people are! For God called us to love one another, not just those you think deserve it! He called us to love one another and to serve in love! Forever my children will learn from example and from what we do.
Go listen to your Elders, hear with your heart, visualize the story. Fall in love!
Another post, will be my status situation for now, learn your heritage, learn your language! Learn Learn Learn!
Praying that this post encouraged!