Highlights from our resent Newsletter “The Drum Beats”
The Native American Medicine Wheel can be a template for life, all life. The Medicine Wheel depicts cycles within cycles. For example, birth to death to rebirth, movement from thought to action, spring to winter, and sunrise to sunrise. Within these cycles also lies the spirit, or medicine, of all life. As we prepare to experience another spring equinox on March 20, and with this equinox being the first in the new cycle, we will experience life as it begins again within the new energy of the first Procession.
I thought sharing about the spirit or medicine of plants could be helpful as we enter the balance of energies, the spring equinox, and as we move toward the eastern part of the Medicine Wheel.
The spirit or medicine of the eastern part of the Medicine Wheel is the season of spring. Spring denotes new beginnings, birth, sunrise, morning, being an infant. Specifically, the crosswinds of the spring equinox are about rebirth and the energies of giving birth or the end of gestation. The spring equinox also carries the balance of light.
We experience the balance of sunlight and night at this crosswind. For me, the element of air as well as thoughts or ideas are in the east. We dreamed the dream during the full night of the north. As we move from the north toward the east on the Medicine Wheel, we begin to set our intentions for those dreams. Sometimes we refer to these intended dreams as seeds or thoughts we plant.
As full spring is experienced at due east on the Medicine Wheel, we begin to feel, see, or sense the intended dream that begins to build energy or life as it moves around the Medicine Wheel to take form in the physical world.
In my study of the Medicine Wheel, I noticed that some of its variations in meaning from one Native American nation to another is based on their different geographic locations.
For instance, here in the upper Midwest, maple tree medicine is used in the eastern part of the Medicine Wheel because of its sap running in the spring, which is made into maple syrup. The southwestern nations, such as the Kiowa, may use mesquite tree medicine for the east, as it has been harvested for food and its sap is also made into syrup. Mesquite can also be used to heal headaches.
Almost any plant that blooms in the spring, such as daffodils or crocus, could be considered to have the spirit or medicine of the east. I also place tobacco in the east, as this is the sacred plant given to Native Americans and used in the Medicine Pipe.
When a plant is harvested for its medicine or spirit to be used for healing or a ceremonial purpose, we consider how it is being used and for what reason. For instance, willow can be placed in the east because we use it as medicine in aspirin for headaches, or some Native people use the willow bark as part of the mixture of sacred plants in a Medicine Pipe.
We appreciate and love plants, and our connections to all things green can go far beyond their beauty. We can nurture our connections to plants by considering their medicine or spirit and how they enhance our journey or walk in the Medicine Wheel we call life.
The 3rd Annual Gathering of the Sizemore Tribe was held on Aug. 11 & 12th , 2017. On the Friday the 11th the Tribal Council, accompanied by some of their family members, toured the area occupied by our ancestors since the early 1700’s. Lunch was enjoyed on top of Whitetop Mtn. surrounded by clouds and beautiful scenery. The second day, The Gathering was held at New River State Park. Here ceremony, food, crafts, and a traditional Stickball game were enjoyed by all in attendance. The Gathering always provides us with ample chances to learn our traditions, see our fellow members and share the beauty of our home lands along the New River. When you are there it is easy to see why our our Ancestors chose to return here and finally settle after a century of being displaced by a growing nation. Here the majesty, grandeur, solitude and peace of the natural world will put you at ease and hold you in their memory till you can be there again. Here you know the meaning of Hihi.
Members of the tribe attended the 22th Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration in Raleigh, NC on November 14, 2017. Representatives from all eight state recognized tribes were present in the state’s capital. There were crafts, storytelling, singing and dancing, and hands on activities. Here is an example of a social song sung by Arnold Richardson and his group:
The following is one story about the meaning of the Canoe Song: “The women of the village are paddling canoes down to the river to do some washing. They see the men of the village paddling upstream. The men are tired from the hard work of the hunting. At first the men pass the women, but they are so happy to see each other that the men turn around and they all paddle downstream together.”
Many artists were present demonstrating screen printing, bead work, pottery, flint knapping, wood carving, and many other forms of native crafts.
Tribe members attended two symposiums. The first was entitled “Where’s Your People?” and focused on the geographic distribution of people of Native descent within Robeson County. Robeson County is the home of the state recognized Lumbee tribe. It was interesting to note that while the Natives of Robeson County originally inhabited the undesirable land and swampy areas of Robeson County, by the 20th Century they controlled more of the desirable land in the county.
The second symposium was entitled “Spiders, Panthers, and Snakes, Oh My! Southeast Indian Symbols” and was presented by Lumbee Tribe member Jamie Oxendine. Mr. Oxendine discussed the origin and meanings of many of the symbols most associated with the Southeastern Indians. One of those is the spider symbol seen below.
One Native American story described by Mr. Oxendine says the spider was the creature that brought fire to mankind. She carried the first ember in a web on her back, thus becoming a sacred insect to Native Americans. Mr. Oxendine went on to discuss the four directions and the medicine wheel.
The day was wrapped up with singing from two champion drum groups, Stoney Creek and Southern Sun. Stoney Creek hails from the Haliwa-Saponi tribe and sings in the style of the Northern Plains. This style has the men singing in a high falasetto and frequently incorporates Native languages into the lyrics. Southern Sun is a southern style group led by veteran singer and Native culture advocate Joe Liles. Southern style groups sing in the style of the Southern Plains which originated in Oklahoma and nearby areas. Southern singers sing in deep bass tones and use vocables, which are words with no real meaning. Examples of a vocable phrase would be “yo whay ay ya ah ha, yo whay ay yo hey yo hey”. Vocables were used by tribes as a universal language so that members of different tribes could share songs without sharing languages. This has made modern powwow music a cultural bond between tribes all across the country. Here is a song from Stoney Creek (with members of champion groups WarPaint & Blue Moon Singers):
“It was a great day and a wonderful experience.” said Chief Jamie Harris. “It was amazing to see all the tribes come together and create such a beautiful day of culture right in our state’s capital.” said Harris. Jamie hopes to attend the celebration again in 2017.
- written by Seth Harris