Exploring my spiritual roots: an ancient Indigenous story

Searching for the suppressed stories of my ancestors by returning to the land to pray
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a scene from Oak Flat, small shrubs cover the ground and mountains are visible on the skyline.

Wendsler Nosie has been leading his family and Apache Stronghold to protect Chi’chil Bildagoteel, Oak Flat, from Resolution Copper. Wendsler reminded us CPT partners that we too are Indigenous; our Indigenous roots were suppressed centuries ago. Our DNA had a spirituality before the first Christmas. 

To learn more, I have begun to walk the land; I notice what the sun, moon, land, water, and air teach me and ask my ancestors about this.

My seventeenth-century ancestors lived in Great Britain and Gaul. Christianity was first spread there by merchants, immigrants, and other legionnaires before Roman soldiers began their move to convert the masses around 117 CE. 

This means around seventeen hundred years ago, Christian colonizers (capitalists) suppressed my ancestors’ spirituality in a similar way as has been attempted for centuries on Turtle Island; I am pleased to have been invited to participate in ceremonies that remain with resilient Turtle Island Indigenous friends.

I love Christ’s teachings and use them every day; it’s what I have. I would also love to be able to sing the old songs and hear the teachings of my ancient ancestors. I do hear ancient teachings in my dreams, and I pray for the intercessors to give me a song.

Now, I’m living on the land at Chi’chil Bildagoteel and praying where my friends pray; I listen for wisdom from the land. The sun tells me when it’s 3 o’clock, and the puddles and plants tell me when to pray for rain. The warm sun allows me to appreciate the cool.  The chilly shade sends me to the sunshine. Various tracks tell which animals and birds have walked here recently and remind me that this is shared land. Oak Flat is saturated with the sacred, and I sense those who shared the land before. I sometimes feel their pain and loss, but mostly feel their joy and contentment with this place. 

I also see the ever-present mine, the massive iron A-frame over the number 9 shaft that has penetrated more than 1400 feet into our Mother Earth.  I feel her pain and shame at the callous way humans ride the elevator to the depths, where the water is being poisoned with chemicals and runoff. My prayers are for her healing and protection from further desecration. 

In my prayer, I especially ask for guidance, the words to say and the silences to keep. I ask for this from the ancient ones of this place, the Gaan of the Apache. I also visualize my Episcopalian Communion of Saints, the teaching that when I take the cup (pray), I’m taking the cup with anyone who has ever taken the cup, which includes my pre-Christian ancestors. 

With all of that support, as I walk in prayer, I barely feel the earth beneath my feet; but there it is. May you also walk with me. And may I walk with you?

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