Normally during this time of year, the weather becomes warmer, daylight longer, and families enjoy community events like the Fun Run and Flag Day. Normally playgrounds and basketball courts are active with our children. Also during this time, you can find tribal members in the mountains carefully harvesting, caring for, and preparing our sister roots.
Normally, we are honoring our First Foods with feasts (celery, root, salmon) in acknowledgement of our perpetual dependence, and in reciprocity. We gather at feast to hug, to sing, to laugh, and to eat together as a People. We gather to show gratitude to nuunim Hanyawaat (our Creator).
Unfortunately, this year has not been normal at all. The best guidance in order to protect our Elder population … is to continue to practice social distancing. Nobody knows how long, nor what course this virus will take next. In short, we have a new normal to adjust to.
Any change to one’s daily, weekly and seasonal routines is not easy (especially if it feels forced upon) … but as a community, we are in a scary situation where we must decidedly and collectively – as one Nation – work together to reduce potential, adverse impacts. We need to do this for a bit longer.
But alas, springtime means renewal!
Trees and flowers are blossoming, birds chirping, animals giving birth. That vibrancy and optimism is what I’d like to leave you all in closing.
Here are a few ideas that may help you re-connect with yourself, and with each other during this abnormal time. Meditate. Read or write a book. Practice your hobbies and crafts. Listen to old school, or new music. Start a journal. Checkmark items off that long ‘honey-do’ list. Call instead of text.
Whatever you choose, keep your faith strong, and keep looking for things to be grateful for – including the love and people around you.
As a reminder, the best way to stay up-to-date with current BOT decisions is to follow one or more CTUIR Facebook pages: CUJ, General Council, Yellowhawk and Atawisamatas home visiting program are very informative.
And finally…be sure to express your love to the backbone of the Nixyaawii People … our mothers, grandmothers and aunties … on their special day May 10th.
Until I see you again (q’oc pamaawa), may Creator’s blessing fall upon you and your loved ones.
Weetu maawa pala’amno – we will never fade.
Lindsey X. Watchman is Chair of the General Council for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.