Living History

Reawakening Our Indigenous Selves: Living History

The living history of a people results from living connected and aware of the Earth and all life. It’s an essential concept for understanding the experiential understandings held by nearly all earth-based Indigenous traditions, including those of our European ancestors.  This understanding is also essential for the reawakening of our Indigenous selves.

To be more specific, consider that your ancestors lived in the same place for ages – so long they saw small seedlings grow into great trees, whose seedlings themselves grew into great trees – a cycle observed repeating itself for millenia.

Throughout these millenia your ancestors lived in close connection with the other living beings around them like the animals, plants, waters, wind, sun, moon, and earth.  They understood every living being is alive, connected, and communicating with every other in some way. These relationships were strong and intimate like family – like relatives.  And like a family,  they learned from each other,  talked with each other,  and took care of each other.

The knowledge our ancestors learned from these relatives was like an instruction manual for how life could exist together in this place with health and balance – so they did not destroy their place.

This knowledge was understood to always be changing and growing just as the people were always changing and growing – becoming a living history of the people and the place they live.

This profound, place-based connection also resulted in an awareness of ancestral experience and intuitive (spiritual) knowledge that was celebrated and communicated  through cultural practices.

Sacred songs, drumbeats, dances, stories, and healing remedies are just a few tangible things that originate for people who live with, and honor, a living history. These aspects of culture celebrate, and transfer, the knowledge of how to live in health and balance between relatives, and across generations.

Living history has confounded scientists because it draws upon things that are not measureable or quantifiable. For instance, how does a Western educated scientist explain that the knowledge and preparation of a medicinal plant was given to a native healer by the living, communicating spirit of that plant?

Yet in order to truly understand the knowledge of our ancestors, and the recovery of our own Indigenous selves, it is an understanding that must be internalized and given life again.

Consider the idea that what we see, hear and experience in this world, is just one small part a greater mystery of life. If you can accept this mystery, then you can begin to understand the living history that makes the reawakening of a so-called “lost” Indigenous culture truly possible.

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