This blog series is to share our week-long Kinship Journey to the Four Corners region to experience first-hand the amazing work undertaken by our partners with from the Colorado Plateau Intertribal Conversations Group, and inspired by our collective efforts to protect the Rights of Nature.
Anything written in this blog series reflects my personal interpretations, and does not reflect Bioneers Collective Heritage Institute or the opinions of the other people with whom I traveled.
To read about the Bioneers Kinship journey leading up to this blog post, please see:
DAY 6: TAKING THE LESSONS OF NAVAJO AND HOPI HOME
On the morning of the sixth day, we formed a talking circle under the shade of the oak trees on the banks of Oak Creek. We were joined by Indigeneity Native Youth Leadership Program Partner, Alvin Dahozy (Diné), and our Colorado Plateau Intertribal Conversations Group hosts, Deon Ben (Diné), Sunny Dooley (Diné), Ruby Chimerica (Hopi) and Carletta Tilousi (Havasupai). We reflected on the question: “What obligations do we have to each other in our mutual efforts to restore balance to Mother Earth?” The cicadas joined our talking circle, seemingly on purpose, and we began to share our words as their buzz swelled and faded in sound waves over our heads. We could hear the chorus of thousands of insects, but could not see them.
As with all good talking circles, a fundamental trust was established in our group that created the space for each person to share from the heart, and touch the rest of us. I felt the powerful and good energy of this cross-cultural, and intertribal gathering. To be completely frank, the talking circle gave me great hope for the future of our planet. In today’s America, it is becoming more and more difficult to find places where we can share in open and honest cultural exchange without an imbalance of power, unspoken assumptions, pride, shame or guilt.
After lunch, we dispersed for a free afternoon. Most of our group met up at the creek behind the property and visiting, taking much needed time to slow down and enjoy a few hours without an itinerary.
We came back together for dinner at Cucina Rustica, an Italian eatery in West Sedona. As we finished dinner in our private room, whose baroque-inspired architecture and faux finished walls created a special atmosphere, Sunny Dooley began to tell stories.
Prior to this trip, I had heard through the grapevine that Sunny is an otherworldly storyteller, but to experience it was something else. I doubt I can convey the magic Sunny makes with her words to take her listeners on a whirlwind journey. Through what can be described as a kind of measured stream of consciousness channeling, Sunny took us on a whirlwind journey for the next two hours. She brought us to feel exactly what it was like to be her as a little girl growing up on the Navajo Reservation. We learned the Navajo sacred cosmology as woven into a basket, whose designs I had spotted in other places and moments earlier on the trip. Sunny transported us alongside desert animals, far back in mythical time, when they could all speak with each other and when they made the world the way it is today. I usually forget stories, but I will never lose the exact image of funny little bluebird, a main protagonist in one of the stories Sunny told that taught us about the relationships between animals and the landscape.
We all went to bed that night with our souls fed even better than our stomachs.