|The Original Medicine Wheel|
I yanked my wool cap over my head, wearing gloves and a warm coat. I gripped my hot mug of coffee and strode through the wet yellow grass, on the windy path down the hill. As I approached, the bushes that hid the medicine wheel at the edge of the rocky beach, a hint of light wood flickered over the top. When I rounded the bend, I stopped cold and blinked once, twice as I took in the scene before me. The center pole of the medicine wheel that held the prayers was gone, in its place surrounded by the center rugged rocks, stood a large wooden cross. As I stepped closer to the medicine wheel the center stick which held the prayers were lying in a heap outside the circle, tossed away as if a worthless piece of garbage. Several rocks forming the circle and each of the directions had been scattered and moved as if someone had taken their hand and mixed up their purpose, a subtle, deliberate disrespect. From a distance, this spiritual medicine wheel appeared intact with its meaning changed.
I took another step closer approaching from the West. In the space, between the West and North was a plastic shopping bag tied up and filled with some mysterious goods. I remained outside the circle, stepping around clockwise to the North. In the space, between the North and East stood a forest green tarnished camping lantern, the type you’d fill with propane. I took a breath then another when I studied the sturdy cross built with 2 x 4’s and solid screws. Something someone took time to build. Staring at the cross, anger rose toward the Christian Churches history of residential schools and what they’d done to the Native people. Someone with no understanding of what this spiritual wheel represented, for the higher good of all. Hadn’t wars been started on less?
My son strode behind me, and I sent him back to the house to grab his camera. He returned in a hurry, down the grassy hill with his camera and flicked it on. We took photos from the four directions, cataloguing this desecration. I squatted outside the circle in front of the white plastic bag to look inside.
“Mom don’t touch it.” My son yelled behind me when I tried to pull open the knotted bag, and study its contents.
I pulled my hands away but could see the carton of milk, the wrapped piece of ham what appeared to be something dark, a candle and a lighter. Something used for a ritual, not someone’s garbage. I couldn’t see what else was in the bag as I stepped back feeling ill for what I’d touched.
I realized then this was much more than a mere statement of Christianity. There was nothing good or loving in what had been done. A message, not of love, had been sent.
We left without touching anything else. With no answers except I knew we needed help. And the realization this was not as it appeared, but a trick to confuse and scapegoat the Churches for its past transgressions, something with intent of deception, to mislead, and confuse.
This was beyond me, and not something I could repair myself. So I sought out help from those with a greater understanding of what had been done. The photos were downloaded and sent to Panji Mishiikenh Quay, (Little Snapping Turtle Woman) but most know her by Mishikeenhquay or Mishi, the wise native lady who built the medicine wheel. Throughout the day and the evening help arrived from long distance, through emails, and the telephone rang. Mishi and “The Sisters” were on it. This was not something I fix alone. Help was on its way.
***to be continued Part 2—The Storm