tv Mosaic World News LINKTV October 11, 2012 7:30pm-8:00pm PDT
the sioux native americans, their door is different. where you enter the sweat lodge is to the east for an ojibway; well, it's to the west for the sioux because they're the sun people, they believe in the sun, the sun dances and - so it's a lot of different conflict with how you put it. just like the languages, i speak a totally different language than my wife does. but her beliefs are pretty much the same as mine. >> it's a troublesome thing, trying to enter in - even in a small class and speak about a broad native american spirituality because, as tom was saying, it's incredibly diverse, the language groups are very diverse. sure. a question? >> what elements are common to most native americans? do they all have sweat lodges? >> yes, the majority of them do. the majority of them do. >> does that mean that they all
came from one large tribe at one time perhaps? >> yes. >> you've been trying to get in here. >>a sweat lodge is a - can you have a sweat lodge anytime you want, when you are in the mood for a sweat lodge? or do you have it for special occasions? >> it can be either or. it can be whenever i want or for certain special ceremonies. if a person is not feeling good, maybe a loved one is sick. >> will someone often have the - will you ever have a sweat lodge where it's just you, just by yourself, or is it almost always - >> it's always upon request of another person or persons. i've never sat in one by myself. >> okay. >> yeah, chris? >> could you tell me a little bit more about the native american church, and also how your son deals with
the conflicting things between you and your wife? >> yeah, that's a good question. the native american church is the beliefs of many different tribes, and that's where they all bond to one, they believe in one thing. there could be a person from south dakota, a person from minnesota, a person from montana, all getting together, and they believe in one unity, one thing together. my son has been raised around the ojibway way all his life - he pretty much grew up in minnesota and he sings the songs and dances the songs of the ojibway, so he has no - he hasn't asked really yet, but there will be a time when he asks and a time, i'm sure, he'll want to learn the ways of his mother's tribe. >> i have a follow-up question. i know with the navajos,
it's paternal, that you are traced through your mother, and your mother's mother. with the ojibway, is it fraternal or paternal, or is it the same as the northern cheyenne? >> it's the same. basically, all native americans believe in the mother - the mother earth. the females created us; without the females, we wouldn't be here. and that's the same way we believe we have a lot of respect for the female - the females. >> yeah, as you said - and i love this image with the sweat lodge - you're actually moving back into the womb, back into the mother earth. >> yeah, that's grandmother earth's womb. >> yeah, that's an amazing, concept in that area. question? >> yeah. i thought first you said
your son was being raised in your wife's religion. >> no. >> now, it's just the opposite i hear. is it usually through the mother's religion, or each family decides which way the children will be raised? >> basically, it goes with the father - the father. and like i say, he's been raised - >> because you're ojibway. >> yeah, ojibway all his life, so he sings - i'm teaching him the songs of the ojibway. but yet i'm learning from my wife of her songs and i'm trying to learn - her language is one of the hardest languages to learn, the northern cheyenne tribe. >> the marriage ceremony, is that native american as well? is there any civil aspect? >> it's the same as any other kind of marriage. there's nothing different.
>> how did you come to be the one to preside over the sweat lodge rituals, and was it a rite of passage and if you're not present, can anyone have this ritual? >> first of all, you have to be - walk in harmony as a person. you have to be totally chemical-free. your life has to be something positive. and i was asked by a person, a medicine man, asked me to start doing this. he felt i needed to be running sweat lodges. so i still call upon him back to minnesota about questions and - in fact, i called him about being here today, and he was for having me come in and do a little explaining. because there's certain aspects that we can't reveal due to the privacy of our sweat lodges,
and also our ceremonies. >> tom, just a follow-up on that. are you on a track to be what we might call a ritual specialist or a shaman or the person that will ultimately become the wise leader of your group? >> well, actually, there isn't anything that other people compete for. it's nothing to be like a priest it's just something that is asked upon you when an elder sees - when an elder sees it in you, he'll ask upon you to carry on the traditions of our people. >> and so they sense an integrity in you, an honesty - >> yes. >> yeah, and that's how you get it? >> yes. >> so is it something your father did and you inherited the trait from him? >> no. no. no, i was raised a traditional, but my father pretty much
didn't really believe in the religion. it is my mother that taught me the language, taught me to dance, to get involved and sing, and i thank her for that now. >> i have a question. you said you have moved to chicago? >> yes. >> have you found other ojibways here, or how will you continue your rituals and such without maybe losing... especially for your son if he's going to school here? how does that affect you? >> well, see, right away i got involved with - how i got involved was through the american indian health services of chicago - that's the first place i went. and i asked them, told them that i was interested in running sweats here, who i talk and who i contact, is basically what i did. and my first sweat i ran was for the staff, the doctors and nurses,
through the native american health services here in chicago. and from there, it just, i started getting calls to speak and things around chicago within the indian community. >> i'd like to follow-up on a question, tom. in our class - and we may differ over the terminology - but we've been looking at how the great stories - and you've talked about the singing and the songs, and by that, the ones we're talking about that talk about heroes and powerful events and they guide a person's life. can you think of any story in your tradition that relates to a specific kind of ritual practice, any great ancient story that you use to do some sort of ritual practice, whether it's purification or something along those lines? >> well, actually, the story is from the place where i'm from, it's called boys fort.
boys fort, that's where - that's the indian reservation i was raised, and i always like the story of how it was found. >> that's the kind of thing i'm looking at. >> it's where the ojibway people all met around, the lake heron over here, and they split up where - with the pottawatomies, they're the ones that came here to chicago. some went to upper michigan, upper peninsula michigan, some went to the upper part of wisconsin, and minnesota is all full of ojibway. well, actually, the person that founded our reservation found it, through like a vision quest. a dream came to him, to where he seen a lake full of wild rice, deer, moose, good place to farm, and this was while they were traveling, you know, up in northern minnesota. two days later, he found this place, and that's the story i always
like to quote on. >> see, that's the kind of thing we're looking at, here in our class is how stories like that that are passed on - they bring meaning to the group, give them a sense of where they're going. interesting, we're going to be looking at cynthia jones and diana's grove, and she said almost exactly the same thing to me one time, that she had a vision - she had a vision of land, and then the land materialized. other questions? yeah, chris? >> how do you define myth for your own definition of myth? >> that's a good question. myth, i define it as just basically as i just explained about the story here of how we came to be and where we are in northern minnesota, the woodlands of minnesota. i do believe in that story. i believe in everything that pertains to our culture,
and that's basically all i have. >> sure, chris. fire away. >> i have another question. how did sweat lodges come about? >> sweat lodges became a part of our - as i explained the mother earth, her womb - it came in a vision from a person. i can't really explain too much about it, but it explains - all the native americans, it came as a vision, as like a dream, as you'd call it a dream. but that came about where we were at, to renew ourselves. it's just like we're children inside of that sweat, in the womb. >> sure. >> is magic used, and how is magic defined? >> no. i don't believe - no, there's no magic. it's just, our beliefs,
as native americans, is everything is spiritual, and we pray every day. i pray every day with the tobacco and the sage, but i don't believe it's magic, i believe it's real. >> see, that's an interesting question on the terms like that. some people would embrace magic as a term that means to pray, to work with the cosmos. others still has that connotation of kind of funny stuff in las vegas, so you wouldn't want to do it there. so i'm glad you brought that up; it's's a good question. sure. >> tom, what is your idea about a supreme being, that one god? >> yes, yes, we believe in one higher power. we call it the great spirit, gichi-manidoo, we call it. other people call it god, jesus, but we believe in one higher power. >> let me just follow up on that because
it's an interesting question. with christianity and all its various forms being the dominant religion in this culture, do you feel comfortable with the christian symbolism, with the idea of god or the idea of jesus, or do you feel that that takes away from native american spirituality? >> pertaining to me, you mean? >> or just a general - >> no. i believe everybody has a right to practice and speak their own religion. i believe in harmony for all of us. i believe there is one higher power up there. >> yeah, and with many different - depending on what kind of person comes to it, they respond in a way - maybe some christians, some native americans- >> yeah. there are some native americans all over here in chicago, that believe that our method is lutherans, and they're more free to believe in what they want to believe.
but i was raised traditionally. >> so that it could be quite possible that a methodist native american might still come out and participate in a sweat lodge? >> sure. sure. >> well, there you go. >> how difficult is it for you to carry on some of your religious practices here in a very large city, such as a sweat lodge? where do you set that up in a very large city? >> that's a good question, because the one i ran here was two months ago and it was out in burr ridge. one of our practices is we use willow building the sweat lodges. so i say it took me five hours to find willow in chicago. and i looked all over, around the rivers, and i finally found it. but there's other places, out in the suburbs. one of the hardest things is finding wood, wood to burn. more or less,
they want to buy the wood, and i say we should go and cut the wood and - but it can be done, nothing can be stopped. we'll always be, i'll be running a sweat here, hopefully, by saturday. >> warren, have you been in here yet? >> yeah. i was wondering if native americans have developed some pool of mythic stories about the coming of western man to united states, for example? have they - is there anything in the myths that spoke to that? >> well, there's nothing- the way i was raised and brought up is we're all here together now. i hold no grudges against nobody. as far as the stories that i was taught from my grandfather and grandmother, father and mother, is no, there was never any myth of coming across here.
>> sure. >> i'm interested, do you have specific rituals, i suppose, or methods - if there's a drought, if you need rain, for example - >> or less rain. >> - the other way around - >> you mean, do a rain dance? >> no. no, no, i really didn't mean a rain dance because i know that's specific to the southwest where they're more arid. but are there different ways you evoke this greater spirit to help your group? >> yes, there are a lot of different ways. from what i know is the southern people, every different way we pray for it, we're always praying for something. like today, i was really nervous to come in front of a tv camera, so i saged and i prayed, to do well here, before i came here today. >> it worked! [laughter] go ahead.
>> do you feel there are threats in today's society to your faith - like the indians going into the casinos in connecticut and various parts of the country. >> i didn't get the question. >> yeah. i think she's talking about the casinos, that there's a threat to the traditional native american way by i don't know, gambling, the casinos those sorts of things, by modern society? >> oh, okay, now i understand. traditionally - how can i say this? traditionally - i go to casinos. we all want a little excitement. but the casinos there, there are still powwows and things going on, but i really can't answer - that's a political question to me. but i myself go to casinos and spend money and lose. i lose too. [laughter]
>> but i have heard that the - on the reservations, the casinos are better run than the ones that we would say go out to vegas or something like that or atlantic city, not only that, but because they are not taxable to the owners if they're indian - >> you're right. >> - that there's a better return on the money and more people are going to be coming because of two things, and that is your honesty and the fact that they're going to get a better return if they're lucky. >> yeah, you're right. the casino that's from our - from my tribe is, i think it's 75 percent payout, and we are tax-free. we don't pay the state of minnesota no taxes, and right now they want us to pay taxes, but it won't happen. that's another political question. >> i mean, we don't want to get near these political ones, but i just can't help but wondering if a native american going into the casino might do
a ritual practice to evoke from the spirit - >> luckyness? >> yeah, lucky. right. >> no. no, no. >> but just to clarify one thing you said that i think is very helpful about - you didn't want to get into a political discussion about casinos, but i think what you're saying is that if a native american, like any other human being, goes into the casinos with a sense of honesty, integrity, and therefore, enjoyment, then fine. if they're there for other reasons, then they're going to have a problem no matter who they are. that kind of thing. >> could you explain a little bit about the native americans, what they think about the afterlife, and how that relates to what you were talking about, the rocks and stuff? >> afterlife, i believe we'll all be back together, united in a spirit world. we all live, we're all here for now, but yet there is another world.
there's another spirit world, and we'll all be together, we'll all see each other again. >> do the native americans believe in reincarnation? >> oh, yes. >> will it be a better world - the spirit world? >> yes. yes. >> and our ancestors are already there? >> yes. yes. the lost ones, the loved ones, that are gone are there. >> okay. see, that's a very, very comforting, comforting world-view. one of the struggles we all have, and religion deals with, of course, is death - what happens to the ones we love. and to conceive of that, it's very comforting. >> yes. >> sure. >> where do your bad loved ones go? [laughter] >> that's a political question. >> i have no idea. i can't answer that question. >> it's a tough crowd here, i'll tell you. >> yes. >> sure. >> in terms of the evil
and the good, you talked of one spirit. is that a dualism, like we experience in some forms of christianity, the evil forces and the good? >> yes. there's always - we believe there is evil forces out there. but continuing to practice our rituals and beliefs, there's only one way, and that's the positive, to walk the good way of life. but we believe if you get off track and start drinking and getting in trouble, then you're leading the life of the bad. >> chris? >> could you talk to me a little bit more about harmony, and your definition and how you and how we can stay in harmony with the world and with each other? >> actually, we could all get
along and get rid of all the nuclear weapons out there. but i believe we all, we're all one. we're just different color, we're all alike. and that's the way i was raised, that's the way i still believe, and that's the way we will be in the spirit world. >> i could just follow up on that a little bit. it's always a debate that's never resolved when we talk about religion - do all religions lead to the same truth - and it's something along the lines of what you're asking, chris, is that the case. and i like your answer. i mean, from your perspective, from your tradition, you see a sense of oneness. now what, i think from the perspective of our class, works here is that no matter how diverse your cultural background might be, all of us still deal with
those basic life questions. we've called it boundary questions or we call it rites of passage and rituals come in many different forms to help us deal with them, but that certainly is a commonality that we all have. and maybe in some sense, that's how we are all one. sure. >> i'd like to hear you, if you would, sing us a song in your language, or such? >> i can sing a little short version - it's an honor song. >> oh, that would be great. >> it's in regards to the bald eagle, this feather here. this feather carries our - the eagle carries all our prayers upstairs. so i'll say one version, one part of the song. my son wanted to - it's a song i taught my son, the first song he ever sang. so it goes a little bit like this, it goes
[sings song] and that's the first version of this honor song. that's a veterans song that - that song is honoring all our veterans of the wars, and that's a song that i was taught when i was about nine years old. >> and with the drumming and the rhythmic feel, i mean, it evokes a certain sense of power - we could feel it just as you were singing it here. it was very well - very well done. i think we're getting down to about the last minute here with tom.
i mean, the time went by so very quickly, and i'll just take one more quick question maybe. >> in terms of conflict, i read once that some tribes had the tradition of the grandmothers determining whether or not the people would go to war or into battle. are you familiar with that? >> yeah. well, i know a little bit of it, and it's - basically, it fell upon the elders, the older people of our tribe - not specifically the grandmother, but the chief, or the war chiefs - and basically, it all came down to the woman's decision. we have a lot of respect for the woman. every native american does. >> it seems to me there would be fewer conflicts if the grandmothers determined that worldwide. >> yes! you're exactly right.
>> that's not a political question, eh? jamie, you had a question you wanted to ask? >> yeah. do you foresee a time when the burning of tobacco will be discontinued as a ritualistic practice because of the harmful effects of inhaling burning tobacco? >> i believe it never will be. that's our spiritual rite is tobacco, and i believe it will never be - within the native american community; you know what i mean? they'll never take that rite from us. i believe, some people believe that it causes cancer, and i just believe it's always going to be part of our religion. >> it's a very - it's an interesting comparative element here to the devout hindu bathing in the ganges river. from the secular or the outsider's perspective, you see people doing their laundry in there and the sewage in there and you think, how could this possibly be? tobacco, we hear so much about tobacco lately because of the move to ban it for health reasons,
but in your tradition, it takes on a sacred power, it becomes a sacred substance - it's not smoking cigarettes out on the corner. >> yeah, the burning of the tobacco is carrying our prayers and thoughts up to the great spirit. >> i love that comment you made about the eagle carries the prayers up. so the eagle becomes a - has a very, very special power in your tradition, then. >> yes. the bald eagle - any eagle, the golden eagle, that's a lot of power to us, and we as native americans have the right to carry these feathers, and it's a lot of honor to have one of these. this came off of my first outfit as you've seen on the tv. and when i passed it on, my mother kept this feather, and just sent it to me here about a month and a half ago. >> tom, i want to thank you so very, very much for coming down,