During this week’s Hope Beneath Our Feet reading, “Indigenous Mind”, Kaylynn Sullivan Twotrees struck me when she said: “… awareness i not a state of achievement. It is like walking.” The awareness she describes, of the land, of herself, of the world, is amazing to me. Then I wondered: Am I aware? How much? Am I aware so much that it is like walking to me as well?
Of course, the sad realization followed suit: walking isn’t even natural to me. Living on campus, I rarely trek past the Faith and Life Centre. Even when I do, it’s in a carpool to the grocery store or begrudgingly to the bank. I never just walk. It’s not very natural for me to put a foot in front of the other, whether there is a destination or not, and balance myself towards something. Despite having a gorgeous view of both Rotary Park and the ski trails, I am perfectly content sitting at my desk every day, admiring the trees rather than walking among them and breathing the oxygen they provide.
I also, probably subsequently, never feel aware, never feel as though I have an indigenous mind. Twotrees describes the indigenous mind as being an awareness of our locale that can shift to the grand scheme of things, connecting us to the world. Every speech and every reading of this class so far serve as a sad reminder of my disconnection to the land. I wish to be more aware, but I can’t help but fall into my cycle of polyester clothes, of imported foods, of disposable plates and the delusional notion that food comes from the grocery store.
I found a bit of solace when Twotrees pointed out that all humans are indigenous to the Earth and are therefore capable of the indigenous mind. Augstana is my twelve school. I’ve lived in over a dozen cities, even more “homes”, three provinces, two states… Floating like a dandelion seed, I don’t feel as though I’ve quite “blossomed” into anything yet. I have no attachment to the soils I walk and fail to differentiate them from the other soils I’ve set foot on(albeit probably through plastic soles). Now, through a different lense, perhaps a more indigenous one, I get to appreciate the different experiences I had in various senses in my different locations. Ultimately, now I am more aware than ever at the fact that this world is my world and what happens affects me. I am learning to love the shades that trees form, the sunlight on my skin, the hardworking critters all around, the flowers that blossom year after year. I am getting closer to forming a stronger indigenous mind, to connecting with the spirit of the land.
“How do I live my life right now?” Every day, I think about the source of my food, water, and air a little bit more. I think about what it means to be alive or to be a citizen of this world. I definitely have a much different perspective of life than I did before taking this course. I am challenged by frustrations of my own lifestyle and am eager to know more about the land. I tend to dwell on the past and worry about the future, and sometimes it stops me from enjoying- or even being a part of- the present, where so much is happening. I don’t know if how I live my life right now is with an indigenous mind, but I do believe it is a process. I am aware of this.