Archive for July 8, 2014




8 July 2014

 Our Native elders have taught us that before a person can be healed or heal another, one must be cleansed of any bad feelings, negative thoughts, bad spirits or negative energy – cleansed both physically and spiritually. This helps the healing to come through in a clear way, without being distorted or sidetracked by negative “stuff” in either the healer or the client. The elders say that all ceremonies, tribal or private, must be entered into with a good heart so that we can pray, sing, and walk in a sacred manner, and be helped by the spirits to enter the sacred realm.

Native people throughout the world use herbs to accomplish this. One common ceremony is to burn certain herbs, take the smoke in one’s hands and rub or brush it over the body. Today this is commonly called “smudging.” In Western North America the three plants most frequently used in smudging are sage, cedar, and sweet grass.

(By Adrienne Borden and Steve Coyote:


At noon, as I was passing the entrance to the park, I heard my name being called. I turned and saw Sammy sitting at the gate, on his rolled sleeping bag. Hi Sammy, “Do you know when the memorial service is being held for Shakes?”

“It was yesterday at St. Paul’s church.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear any information about it. I would have attended, had I known.”

“A lot of people hadn’t heard about it. I’m holding my own Smudging Ceremony here. I’ve been here since midnight and will be staying until midnight tonight. I mix sweet grass and sage, light it, then waft the smoke with an eagle feather.

“When we were staying together Shakes told me his last wishes. I blame myself for not being there for him. I even showed him my ticket indicating that I would be back in a few days, but our tribal chief, of the Fort William First Nation, asked me to stay to submit a proposal to the government.  It kept being delayed, then on the day it was to be presented, the federal Minister of  Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development wasn’t in attendance, so they just submitted my notes.

“The Fort William Reserve, on the western end of Lake Superior near Thunder Bay, was set aside under the provisions of the Robinson-Superior Treaty of 1850, also known as the Crown Treaty Number 60. The agreements arrived at have never been met. We now have the support of the Supreme Court of Canada and the United Nations.

“I came back to Toronto and on my way to Osgoode Hall, where the Law Society of Upper Canada meets, I met a lawyer friend of mine. He said he would accompany me. Near the end of their session, the judge asks if there is anybody has anything to add. I asked my friend to open and close the door when he said that. Then I went in and said that I wished to address the Society concerning our proposal. The judge said that they had our proposal on file, but I told him that was only in point form, that I would like to elaborate. He gave me the floor.

“As soon as I heard about the death of Shakes, I came straight home. Unfortunately, when he was evicted from our apartment, he had no way of storing my belongings and art supplies. He tried for three days to contact his worker, but when she didn’t return his calls he just said, ‘To hell with it.’ You know how Shakes is. Someone was able to save my talking stick. I’m very grateful for that. As for the other things, they can be replaced.

“Dennis, would you do me a favor and go to the native store up the street and get me some sage?”

“Of course, Sammy, I’ll go now.” I went to the store, but unfortunately, they were out of sage.  It was suggested that I try another store about six blocks away. I gave Sammy the news, then I had to return to work.

Before I left I wanted to pay my respects to Shakes. Sammy instructed me to take some tobacco in my left hand, sprinkle a bit in the smoking bowl, say a prayer, then put the rest in a container off to the side. This would be taken to Sacred Mountain, where there would be an Ojibwa tribal ceremony held in his honor. I said my prayer and my goodbye to a great friend.





8 July 2014

“Good morning, Chuck. Have you heard anything about Shakes’ funeral.”

“No, I haven’t heard a thing.”

I said, “I’ll check at the park, at noon, someone must have information.”

“There was a woman who came by earlier. I could see her coming from quite a distance. As soon as she saw me, her steps quickened. She usually gives me a little peck on the cheek, but this morning she gave me a big kiss, right on the lips. She patted Goldie for a while, then got up and gave me another kiss on the lips. I think she might be married. I don’t want to have to fight off any jealous husbands.”

“You’ve got quite a life here, Chuck.”

“Well, I wish it was a life that I chose, instead of one that’s forced on me. I could stay home, just go out to buy groceries, but what kind of life would that be. They might cut off my television. We still haven’t resolved that overcharge on my bill. Every month I pay the amount that I know I owe them. They can take me to court for the rest.

“It’s like the last time I had health problems. I called an ambulance and asked the driver to take me to St. Mike’s, instead he took me to the East General. They sent me a bill for forty-five dollars. I’m not going to pay that. At the General they kept me waiting eleven hours. I told them that I had a double hernia and needed pain medication. By the time they got around to giving me the prescription, me the pharmacy was closed, so I took a cab home. That cost me twenty bucks. I took some Tylenol and a sleeping pill when I got home. In the morning, I just splashed water on my face, didn’t worry about a shower or shave, just went to the coffee shop to wait for the pharmacy to open. I was at their door when they opened at seven o’clock.

“I don’t get along with my daughter. Do you want to know what our last argument was about? The number of places I was in at the hospital. I remember the first place they put me in, then I was in the operating room, then they moved me after they implanted my pacemaker, then I was in recovery,  then they moved me to the geriatric department. So that’s five places. My daughter argued that I was in five different rooms, not places. What’s the difference? Rooms, places, it’s all the same. She just had to have the last word.

I said, “Women like to have control. That ‘s why a bunch of women together can’t get along. Someone, always wants to be in charge;  nobody wants to take orders.”

“That reminds me, when I was out-of-town last Saturday for the get together, a guy said, ‘There’s no point complaining, nobody listens anyway.’ You’ve heard people say that. This other guy pipes up, “That’s not true. Eighty percent of the people hear you and don’t give a shit. The other twenty percent don’t like you and are glad that you’re having problems.’ What do you think of that?”

“That’s a good one, Chuck. I have to go to work, but if the weather’s good I’ll see you tomorrow.”