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The Kainai Nation Lessons about transformation learned on high prairie land by a grateful sojourner & honorary guest

"Traveling leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller." - Ibn Battuta

The Land Of The Kainai Nation

The experience of being 3555 feet above sea level on flat grassy land with an ever changing sky so big that it seems endless was unexpected. So unexpected, that now that I'm back on my homeland at sea-level on the Coastal Plains of Eastern North Carolina, I realize that part of my heart will always remain on the prairie under the big sky of the Kainai Nation. For someone sensitive to indigenous sacred places and empathic with the energy of the land under my feet, my immediate connection is understandable but not at all what I anticipated when I started my journey. What follows is a visual journal of the land, the people, the Honor Shawl Dance and my transformation from brokenhearted loneliness to healing by transferring knowledge and medicine associated with creating natural color with plants, flowers and earth pigments.

The view from the front porch of the house where we stayed and shared Poo'miikapii indigo dyeing. It was here that I met Janet McCloud, Helen Augare, Tracy Day Chief, Pixie Eagle Speaker, Shelly Eli, Veronica First Rider, Diana Fletcher, Martha Fox, Veronica Oka-Wells, Tara Sun and Sophie Tail Feathers. After this photo was taken I saw an eagle fly by, swoop low and land in a tree across the road. Sheep grazed early each morning in the adjoining pasture.

The Rocky Mountains can be seen in the background. The large flat top mountain is known as Big Chief Mountain.

The big sky is ever-changing! The openness of the prairie opened up primal feelings of big expectations buried deep inside the dense claustrophobic lush green swampy woodlands of my collected Toisnot Tuscarora and Seminole ancestral memories. The land shows me that "What If?" possibilities are endless.

Lesson #1 From Kainai Land:

Be humble, generous, gentle and patient and let the prairie winds blow through me and clear out all the cobwebs in my broken heart.

Poo'miikapii Transfer Of Knowledge at Tatsikiisaapo'p Middle School

Middle School at Kainai Blackfoot Nation

Lesson #2 From Kainai Land

Grief isn't a simple thing! Healing my brokenness comes by sharing creative hands experiences. I have to be willing to be of service to others with no expectation of what I'll receive in return. As my Momma would say, "share with the world and the world will share with you!"

The People Of The Kainai Nation

"Some people cross your Earth Walk and change your whole direction."

The Children: Aeron, Angela, Angie, Cheyenne, Justice, Kyra, Nellie, Robin, Siobhan & Tyra

Lesson #3 From Kainai Land

No matter what we believe about ourselves, none of us have everything we need to transform ourselves. That belief is a false colonizer misdirect to separate us from seeking unity with other indigenous people. No one Nation has it all! As indigenous people, we are all wounded and traumatized, however, one stick can be easily broken. On the other hand, a bundle of sticks bound together can't easily be broken. As long as we think in terms of just ourselves, we are the one stick. Our collective indigenous children need help, so as adults we need to step up and be part of the healing medicine to bring unity on the peoples of Turtle Island.

Jeannie Smith-Davis and Patti May-Derbyshire arrived in my life and imprinted my heart with kindness and generosity in May 2018. I remember the day that I met them, but I can no longer remember what my life was like before they became apart of it. My Poo'miikapii Sisters wearing ribbon skirts made from fabric I dyed before we were part of each others lives. The circle of our friendship is amazing!

These are some of the Poo'miikapii first year master of education students. The interdisciplinary program, Poo'miikapii: Niitsitapii Approaches to Wellness is sponsored by The University of Calgary in collaboration with the Blackfoot Nation and Red Crow Community College.

Shawn Singer with Regalia representing Blackfoot historical figures.

Standing beside the Honorable Clan Mother & Blackfoot Spiritual Advisor, Georgette Fox.

The Poo'miikapii Pow Wow

My Story

Seven years ago I was a potter and art teacher, living and working near Asheville, NC when I received the phone call that my mother had fallen and was injured. I relocated to Wilson to take care of her. Momma never fully recovered from her fall and developed Dementia. However, even though her short-term memory was diminished, her long-term memory was perfect.

In her sweet loving voice, her words inspire me every day. She repeatedly stated in the fog of Dementia, “I’ve never asked you to do anything in art but I’m asking you now!” “Share our stories of survival, love, and loss in Coastal and Eastern North Carolina because we were born to The Blues!” She would go on to explain how I couldn’t let the accumulated indigenous knowledge about natural dyeing with plants, flowers, and nuts from four generations of women in our family disappear. As my mother took her last breath, her open eyes staring into mine, and her mouth open saying, “Share our stories of transformation from making color and stitching.”

In the three years since my mother’s death, I’ve honored her dying prayer. I’ve transferred knowledge to adults and children about how to grow color, harvest it, forge in the woods for it, and create it from fruits and vegetables from the grocery store and create it from plants, flowers, and nuts. I share with others what my mother, two grandmothers, and two great-grandmothers shared with me – the lessons of community, self-reliance, and transformation.

My Momma always said that if we see the transformation of color on fabric, we would know that we could transform ourselves no matter what circumstances we face. My journey is transforming my life and empowering me to share with others the spiritual healing that comes from indigenous traditional textile practices. Art Heals!

My Momma -- Doris Lee Haskins Jones

Created By
Carola Jones
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