TURTLE ISLAND

Time for healing in the Algonquin community
Letter to the Editor  - The Eganville Leader - May 1, 2002


Dear Sir:


I really think the larger Algonquin Nation needs to think more seriously about healing.  Unfortunately, there are few Elders and traditional healers on the Golden Lake Reserve to begin the process.

Prior to the European invasion, we were rich in ceremony, rituals, and symbols.  Many of these traditions served to keep us unified as a society as they gave us constructive and representative function.  These ceremonies and rituals operated at an evocative level and served to give us direction and common goals.

Most of these traditions were banned and destroyed through Colonial rule.

Now as a Nation, who have suffered 500 years of divide and conquer, we are having a difficult time resolving the insidious effects of internalized oppression.  Unfortunately, the dynamics of internalized oppression are manifesting as power dynamics and are continuing to prevent us from unifying.

We need symbols to represent our unity to help guide and direct our behaviour towards our future Nation.  Healing and unity will begin with a symbol that can continually re-enter our psyches and serve to remind us what our common goal is.

I propose that a member of the larger Algonquin Nation make a large medicine wheel with the sections labelled; status, non-status, on-reserve, and off-reserve.

The status should be in the top left and the non-status in the top right (avoid opposing them symbolically - it is better if they are side by side).  The on-reserve and the off-reserve should be placed in the bottom right and bottom left respectively.  Around the outside of the medicine wheel the words "Out of Territory Algonquins" should be written.  Algonquins who live out of the territory are a product of Colonial rule and they need and have a right to be included.  To be Anishinabe is to be inclusive.

As a cultural anthropologist (I am also an Algonquin) I am aware that humans need symbols to function as a group (why else did the oppressor take them away from us) and I believe this medicine wheel representation could potentially have the strength to guide Algonquin unity.

I truly believe in the larger Algonquin Nation.  There has been enough written about Algonquin pain and division.  Please print this letter and help us come together.

Chi-Miigwetch,

Lynn Gehl,
Toronto


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