Miikawaadenim – To Be Beautiful

Welcome to this edition of Firelight: Wisdom to Support & Inspire!

This edition of Firelight is written by Winona Laduke who shares reflections on co-creating a more kind and beautiful Northland, Minnesota, nation, and world.

This Month’s Curator: Winona LaDuke is a rural development economist and author working on issues of Indigenous Economics, Food and Energy Policy. She co-founded Honor the Earth with the Indigo Girls, as a platform to raise awareness of and money for indigenous struggles for environmental justice. Globally and nationally, Winona is known as a leader in the issues of cultural-based sustainable development strategies, renewable energy, and sustainable food systems. She is one of the leaders in the work of protecting Indigenous plants and heritage foods from patenting and genetic engineering.


Miikawaadenim – To Think It Beautiful

Being beautiful. I often ponder as to why humans should hang around. After all, we mess things up pretty well. There’s some old Anishinaabe stories about how we messed things up a few times, back in the day. No society, or no person really is exempt from some of our dumbest moves, we just hope we learn from it. That’s human error and folly. Honestly, the scale of mistakes today, is ginormous. There are a lot of contaminated and injured parts of the world- like Australia for instance, and some never- ending wars. It’s a gruesome drama of government mismanagement, ego, climate change, and folly all unfolding in front of us, as we watch the koala bears burn.

Boy, some days I just hang my head and wish we could be beautiful. After all, humans can do some beautiful things. We make beautiful art and music. That I’ll say for us. I’m grateful to the musicians for holding it up for us, from Bach and Beethoven to the Beatles, and some locals like Corey Medina, Midnight Express, or Smokey Hills. Then there’s art. I’ve watched my mother Betty LaDuke, paint for decades, brilliance is worth seeing. And, some days I just look at Christi Belcourt paintings for hours. Humans, at our best, take my breath away.

The problem is that we don’t do enough of it, we do more making a mess of things, bombing and fracking and such. All sort of ugly past times. I retain my faith in beauty and in love.

Take a water crystal for instance. It turns out that molecules of water are unique, like snowflakes. Take a good look at a water crystal under a really powerful microscope, and each water molecule is different. And, they transform, because, water is alive. While the dictionary defines water: as a “polar inorganic compound that is at room temperature a tasteless and odorless liquid which is nearly colorless apart from an inherent hint of blue.”, Dr. Emoto, a Japanese scientist found otherwise. Emoto demonstrated how water exposed to loving and compassionate human intention results in what he referred to as aesthetically pleasing physical molecular formations in the water, while water exposed to fearful and discordant human intentions results in disconnected disfigured and unpleasant molecular formations. That’s heavy. He prayed and sang with the water. It turns out that water liked Mozart’s Symphony Number 40 more than heavy metal music. Using high powered microscopes and magnetic resonance analysis, his research documented how contaminated “…water, when exposed to prayer and intention can be restored to beautifully formed geometric crystals found in clean healthy water…” the Wellness Enterprise writes. Water is life, that’s what we say.

The basic premise is that being kind, beautiful, and loving is healing. That seems simple enough. This applies to all of us.

In my travels I go a lot of places. Let me tell you about Louisville, Kentucky. Now, I’m a northerner, a woman of color from the north to be exact, so going south, has always made me nervous. All that KKK stuff, Deliverance and all. Well, Louisville, Kentucky is a Compassionate City. Turns out that there’s a movement by cities internationally (at last count 311 communities in 45 countries had joined), committing to a charter of being compassionate. “In a Compassionate Community, the needs of all inhabitants of that community are recognized and met, the wellbeing of the entire community is a priority and all people and living things are treated with respect. Or, put it this way, “ in a compassionate community people are motivated by compassion to take responsibility for and care for each other.’(www.charterforcompassion.org) That sounds, well wonderful to me. Sort of like healing water crystals.

It’s a cruel world we have made out there. I prefer to be kind. Like kinder and gentler, didn’t even Bush II say that?

In as much as I worried about traveling to the south, it turns out they are compassionate. And sweet tea is pretty good. As Beltrami County comes out as the first county in Minnesota and second in the nation to ban refugee resettlement, I worry about the Deep North. Need I point out that that four of the five county commissioners who voted, descended from people who were once refugees? (Tim Sumner is the only Ojibwe on the Board, and he, along with Reed Olson, opposed the measure.) Native people have taken in a lot of European refugees, and in that process, many of us have become refugees in our own land.

Besides that, we might want to look at the making of refugees. Most come from wars, many of them financed or carried out by our military, and more recently millions of climate refugees are looking for new homes. The Pacific is going under water. I’d like to quit making refugees. People would rather stay in their beautiful and peaceful countries, the countries their ancestors loved and the land which holds those memories. That’s all of us.

In the end, I know that northerners can be compassionate and loving. I know many. Oshki biboonigiizi. It’s a New Year. Time to be beautiful, compassionate and loving. Miikawaadenim, time to think about beauty. That would be a good way to start things off.


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Submit Your Sparks: What’s sparking for you lately? What poem or song is sustaining you on these chilly days?  Each month one edition of Firelight will be guest curated by a leader of the larger MNIPL network, faith leaders, artists, organizers, maybe you! Wisdom to support and inspire calls for a diversity of voices. Email joe@mnipl.org and our editorial team will be in touch!