Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

April 11, 2012

Anishinaabe Renee Gurneau: Mother Earth, memory and being

Anishinaabe Renee Gurneau shares a dream, the Creation Story and an understanding of the reality of being

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Watch video below

HASKELL INDIAN NATIONS UNIVERSITY, Kansas – Speaking at the Rights of Mother Earth Gathering, Anishinaabe Renee Gurneau shared how a dream led her to better understand the Creation Story and the reality of being part of the Earth and feeling its pain.

Gurneau, former president of Red Lake Nation College in Red Lake, Minn., was among the featured speakers at the gathering at Haskell, April 4 – 6, which continues the efforts of Bolivia President Evo Morales and the World Peoples Conference on the Rights of Mother Earth and Climate Change in 2010.

Gurneau begins with sharing the story of Original Man, who at the time of creation had all the knowledge of Creation. This knowledge included cause and effect.

She also described the duality of life: “For every action there is an opposite reaction.” She said that beyond that duality, which includes the opposites such as light and darkness, there is unity in Creation.

Creator gave Original Man a way of being. The ways of being are very simple and are very profound. These include living in harmony with the earth.

“We always give before we take,” she said. “We give thanks, we give offerings.”

“Everything is spirit,” she said, adding that we are all individual manifestations of the Creator. The ego was given to man so he can experience life, egos which must be kept in check.

We were given this incredible knowledge on how Creation operates. She said the invaders tried to cut Anishinaabe off from this knowledge, but it lives within each person.

“We know it again when we hear it.”

By way of her dream and the Creation story, she came to understand how Anishinaabe people are made of the earth itself.

“The Creator took the earth and molded the earth into us.”

Now, many of the ancestors have gone on and the earth is literally made up of the people. She said when we see the desecration of the earth, there is a hurt in the body. When one sees the trees cut, the strip mining and the tops of the mountains cut off, there is pain within the body.

“It hurts your body.”

There are different places where the energy is concentrated, such as places where there is oil and other places where they are trying to take the energy.

"This is why we feel the pain of it ourselves.”

She said the people carry this knowledge in their blood memory, in their DNA.

“I don’t know about you guys, but I didn’t come through the Bearing Strait. The Creator put Anishinaabe right here at Red Lake.”

She encouraged the people to embrace higher consciousness. “Stand in that strength.”

“Otherwise we are always on the defense, or in reaction.”

She said for those who are engaged in decolonizing their thinking, they are in opposition to tribal governments. Commodification -- transforming goods, ideas and identities into commodities -- is the foundation of capitalism, she said.

It is to make things less than, to make it other than that sacred spirit.

All living things are all one spirit.

As an educator, she said it is difficult to work within one's communities. "Our people are not aging well, so you know they are living in contradiction."

Gurneau said we are living in the time of the Seventh Fire. The people live with the memory, grief and sorrow of the past generations, when the people were killed and brutalized in unimaginable ways.

Speaking of those hundreds of years of oppression, brutality and sorrow, she pointed out there were millenniums beyond these recent centuries.

Gurneau said there were thousands of years of well-being, with the knowledge of living in a relationship with Mother Earth.

"We are all related because we have the same Mother."

"We have a lot to draw from."

"We can stand and operate in that position of strength."

Listen to more of Renee Gurneau’s talk below at the Rights of Mother Earth Gathering in Haskell:

Video recorded by the Indigenous Environmental Network and Earthcycles
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