Reflections – January 29, 2021

Who would believe
that the mixed ancestry
which made my life
and that of my descendants
so challenging
is a phenomenal gift?

It represents an inheritance
of courage from ancestors
who challenged strongly held social conventions
in acts of resistance and diplomacy
to forge and cement peaceful alliances
between cultures and nations
in contested spaces
during times of conflict and war.

This inheritance is not an easy one to carry.
It conveys a sacred responsibility
to walk the bridging, healing path
of inclusion and peace
in a world so easily divided
by powerful fears
of those who are different.

It means living in a world
that reifies distinctions
between cultures,
and political views,
to name but a few of the differences,
often demonizing those who dare
to challenge social conventions
and the ruling elite.

Yet the legacy passed down
from the builders of bridges
created new possibilities
for peaceful coexistence –
hybrids, if you will,
who carry the legacy
of courage
and a sense of responsibility
for living in harmony
with others and the earth
within their blended DNA.



Sharing with deep gratitude for the participants in yearning circle dreaming who inspired these reflections.

20 thoughts on “Reflections – January 29, 2021

        1. I often think of you too, D., and your powerful stories. I so wish I had time to read your work rather than academic books and articles, and student papers. Although I am grateful to keep learning, I much prefer works that open up new worlds and different possibilities.

          You are right. Haaland’s appointment promises hope, too. She has so many daunting challenges to face, though. For the sake of all we hold dear, I will root for her and do what I can to help when and where I can. I know you will, too! 💜

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Powerful reflections, Carol. When the inherent challenges we inherit and face become gifts, our healing has truly begun. It’s hard to know that when we face to deepest darkest days of those challenges and yet…how wonderful when we see the blessing. The grace in aging. Beautiful picture…smiles of light and love. 💜🙏🏻

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Hello, Carol, I hope that you are well. The ways of the World have been changing for centuries; though not always in a fair ethical fashion.
    I’ve proudly served my Queen and country, and even to this day, the union jack flies in my garden.
    I think it’s good for people to maintain their identity, but not to the point of rigidity that causes conflict. We could all do with taking a leaf out of your book by adding some love and compassion to the mix and bring down the walls of nationalism that seem to be springing up at the moment.
    It has been a long hard journey to get us to where we are today; let’s hope that the lives and efforts of so many before us are not spoilt by the few.
    Best wishes to you and your family, Carol, take care.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Mick. Thank you so much for your thoughtful and thought-provoking comments. I appreciate your honesty and the important perspectives you shared. Your comments inspired to reflect on similarities between the history of Great Britain/the United Kingdom and the Ojibwe people.

      I’m certainly not a history scholar, but I do remember learning a little about the deliberate alliances Britain established with other nations (France and Spain) through royal marriages. Those alliances created a somewhat peaceful co-existence between nations that had frequently been at war with each other in the past while each nation still retained much of their own sovereignty, unique culture, and language.

      The issues of sovereignty and the survival of their people were paramount for Ojibwe leaders as well. But the context was profoundly different. The geographically dispersed Ojibwe nations were not in a position to negotiate as equals with colonizing nations (Spain, France, and Great Britain). They drew, instead, on the diplomatic skills of hereditary Ojibwe leaders and a culture based on individuals who worked collectively to ensure the survival of the community as a whole within a challenging northern environment. The favorite, best-suited daughters of chiefs willingly accepted the responsibility of protecting their communities by marrying prominent colonial settlers. Like their fathers, they were given opportunities to develop leadership skills Diplomacy and marriage alliances were largely successful in preventing wars between the Ojibwe and colonizing nations in contrast to the experiences of many other Indigenous communities. It also protected their claim to the lands where they lived and prevented the massive relocation of their people to other parts of the country that was forced on other Tribes.

      In one sense, the situation for the 574 Tribes recognized by the U.S. government is similar to Great Britain. They are part of a larger nation, like Scotland, England, and Whales are all part of Great Britain, or like the United Kingdom which also includes Northern Ireland. Yet Tribal sovereignty can be revoked by the US Congress, and has been for some Tribes in the past, with harmful consequences. Tribal sovereignty is fragile and especially at risk when Tribes control resources that are valuable (oil, coal, uranium).

      There’s no easy answer to the question about the costs of these strategies for Ojibwe people in the long run. They did survive as 22 distinct political “Chippewa” Tribal communities with limited sovereignty. The culture and language, like all cultures and languages, have changed over time, but they are still being taught in some communities and schools.

      Still, Tribes are controlled by a government that does not understand or value their cultures and contributions. It seems those of us who are direct descendants of Ojibwe tribal leaders of the past (as well as English, French, and Danish ancestors) still have a role to play as advocates and diplomats on the margins between cultures. We don’t really belong in any of these cultures, but the role we have inherited to help our communities survive by bridging differences remains ever more important. Few recognize the sacrifices we have had to make or the gifts we have sometimes received in the process. I felt it was important to help my family understand the importance of the responsibility they have inherited. Choosing to take it on is their decision, as it was mine decades ago.

      Again, thank you. I am so grateful for your thoughtful, honest comments, Mick. You inspired me to think about issues in a deeper way, and look up new information on the internet, so I could respond in a thoughtful manner.


    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Pam, and for sharing your insights. We do have such a long way to go toward learning how to live with a peaceful acceptance of differences. It’s hard to envision ever getting there, though, when dealing people who can engage in the types of violent and destructive mob behavior that we recently witnessed. Education is a key, but I wonder how we will ever get there.

      Liked by 1 person

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