Years ago, my family hiked into the Navajo Nation forest with a medicine man in search of a tree that could act as an intermediary to the Creator. It had to be sturdy enough to match our prayers for positive growth and young enough to have time to mature so its protection could last a lifetime. The medicine man selected a young Douglas fir that had no blemishes, bends, or twists. It was perfect.
We offered the little fir gifts that signified our gratitude. My husband and son placed turquoise while my daughter and I laid a white shell near its trunk. We sprinkled corn pollen on its needles to honor our lives as part of nature.
When I was 21, my birth mother died of cancer. Seeking grounding, I turned to the natural world, and soon, to the indigenous people most connected to it. In this way, I met Ursula Knoki-Wilson of the Táchii’nii, who adopted me as the daughter she never had and hired the medicine man for my Blessingway Ceremony. Later, I was adopted by Elaine Abraham’s family of the Naa Tláa of Yéil Naa, K’inéix Kwáan from the Tsisk’w Hit of Yakutat, Alaska, who named me Guna Kadeit Seedi Shaawat. My relatives taught me that everything has a spirit and needs to be respected.
Trees are people to be negotiated with and lived with on shared terms. Their lessons are available to anyone who hikes among the forest with an open heart, and listens.
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