1) Knowing your "Self".
When we experience self-realization, and accept what a wonderful creation we are with awesome powers at our disposal, we then have the opportunity to see others in the same majestic way. A man once asked me if anyone in my immediate family had ever asked me to be God in their lives. I said "No" and he said,"Well then, let go and let God". You see, we try to act like God and "fix" the people we love. We are not God, and must learn how to let go and let God. It is easy to say and easy to understand, but it is very hard to do. It is almost as though we don't quite trust God to really do it, but if a person can let go it then becomes the smartest thing he or she can do. It also lets you off the hook to look after yourself, because we are far from being perfect and we need to work on ourselves. When you get right down to it, we can all say how someone else should live, but in reality we should follow our own advice. We all want a good rewarding life full of good friends, a good job, travel, good home and a loving family. No one is going to give us that but ourselves, and the sooner we learn to do it is all up to us as to how our life turns out. We can continue the way we are going, or we can try to change. Usually you can do it if you try hard enough.
Some people have taken the time and a good direction to further their education to become the person they are. Respect them for their dedication and discipline to self improvement. Respect our Elders for their prayers and struggles, so we would not have to live through many of the trials forced upon them. Respect our young people who understand this and go to universities and stand up and challenge the thinking of those continue to subjugate First Nation peoples. Respect babies as they are helpless and need us as we in turn will need them when we are older and helpless. What goes around comes around! Respect your Mother and Father as they brought you to this world and loved you and fed you and clothed you as well as they could. Respect people in authority as they have been chosen to lead. Respect Mother Earth, as each day we heap insults upon her and yet she continues to feed us.
3) Getting along with yourself and others.
Search for and recognize the gifts you have been given. Use them in a good way to help yourself and others. Look after yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. Maintain natural growth using your culture, ceremonies and exercise. Study while you are in school and pass your grades. Work hard and try to learn as much about the job as you can and you will get ahead. Avoid those people who gossip, lie, steal and run others down. Hang out with people who like to laugh and share your interests. Don't let people walk all over you. Stand up for yourself and others that are less fortunate. Know that you are someone special and always believe that. If someone else doesn't think you are, then that is their problem.
Go to school and study hard the lessons they give you. This is a good time to exercise your brain and learn self discipline. In large crowds of people there are natural rules that must be followed and you will learn the natural rule of crowds. At the same time you will experience some natural inclinations you have and what interests you and makes you happy. Learn to follow your heart and listen to your intuition and you will begin to feel out your talents and what you want to do. Listen and observe others as they too will see the things you are best at and will try to use you in those capacities. Have fun, as we are a laughing people and we think best when we are in good spirits.
5) Goal Setting.
Now that you are in school, everyone is talking about your need to go to university. Think about it carefully as to what will you do once you're there. Perhaps you already know. If so, lucky you. See the career counsellor and participate in the career fairs. All the different careers out there want you, and they send their officers to your school to try and interest you. Study the choices presented, choose, and then give it an honest effort.You will know in a couple of years if it is for you or not. Remember this: "if you want it, then you've got to work for it."
As you go through school, you will begin to realize you are better in some things than your fellows. You will feel good about this, and others will know that you are the one to call upon to get the job done. Perhaps people will come to you just to talk, as you know how to listen. This is a great gift, as not everyone knows how to listen. Perhaps you have pride in your personal appearance and always wear nice clothes. This is good as people like to see you. Perhaps you are a natural leader and are called upon as such occasionally. All of the above will give you pride in yourself. And when the day is done (and none of this has gone to your head) you can sit back and relax and give thanks.
In most cultures, there are special places, dances, songs, feasts, workshops, protocols, languages, smudge blessings, giveaways, and ceremonies where a person is looked after spiritually and mentally. When a North American Indian speaks, the whole world listens, as people know we speak in a spiritual way from our hearts and not from our minds. Many times our spirits starve because we hear and see and do nothing spiritual. We have to take it upon ourselves to go out and find the Elders and listen to them. Here are some ways you can feed and nurture your spirit.
a) Special Place: sweat lodge where we purify ourselves.
b) Sun Dance Lodge: where we can pray and dance and get pierced for our loved ones.
c) Dance Grounds: special places on First Nations Land where we can dance undisturbed by unruly outsiders.
d) Dances: special songs with special dances for special occasions (ex:Sun Dance).
e) Songs: sacred songs, spirit healing songs, sweat songs, society songs, ceremonial songs, social songs (ex:round dance songs).
f) Feasts: for the dead, memorial feasts.
g) Languages: mainly spoken at ceremonies in the old way of praying and fasting and giving thanks.
h) Ceremonies: These happen all year long, but the main ones occur during the Sun Dance.
i) Protocol: the respected age old way of doing things in the right way.
8) Personal Inventory.
You will now be looking at yourself a little more carefully as you get better educated and more older. Some of the things that once worked and were even interesting to you suddenly have turned sour. More interesting things are being made available to you every day. Some are good for you and some give you second thoughts. It is at this time you should sit down and do a personal inventory on your total spiritual schooling.
a) Make a list of all the good things and all the bad things: Write down why they are good for you and why they are bad for you and make a choice to keep them or to distance yourself away from them.
b) List your achievements to date and why you succeeded in making them.
c) Make a list of the people you hang around with and ask yourself if they have positive roles in your life or negative roles: Once again
make the choice to keep them, or get get rid of them from your daily activities.
d) List the foods you eat: Are they good for you or bad? How do feel after eating them? Do you know how to read labels?
e) Look at your personal study habits: Do they work for you or are you just scraping by?
f) Make list of the things you say all the time: How do you feel when you say them?
g) List how you feel about the opposite sex: Are your thoughts good or bad? Is it fair to think about them the way you do, and would you
want them to think about you in the same way?
h) Have you started to experiment with alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs? What are your expectations? Do you care if it kills you or destroys
you, or do you think you are exempt because you're you?
i) Have you started to experiment with sex? Do you use a condom and if not, then why not? Do you care? Can you raise a child? Do you
want to? Would you? Are you working? Are you ready to become a parent?
Everyone does it - or has had it done onto them at one time or other. I have a good video made by the Native Counselling Services of Alberta on this, and relevant questions and answers for a good discussion after. When I look back on my life, I realize that what is totally unacceptable today happened to me every day from my peers and many of the ignorant adults in the town of Battleford, Saskatchewan where I grew up. As a youth it caused me heavy mental anguish which I never realized until fifty years after I left Battleford. I never wanted to go back there and it wasn't until 2007 that I understood why. I did not have good memories as a child growing up there. But I realized of all the people that lived and died there I was the one person that had an extreme right to be there through my heritage. If I wasn't there who would love the land for me in the way the land was supposed to be loved. Who would sing for her and pray for her according to our spiritual customs and what she had always been used to? I then realized that I had turned my back wrongfully on the land that loved me, and so I returned her love once again as a strong adult, knowing what I was doing and why. Bullies come and go, but the land stays there, and she needs the prayers and songs and love of the Indian people.
10) Peer Pressure.
I remember one time when I was young we were playing soccer, when along came one of our peers with a car. He offered to take us all for a ride. We all jumped in and went for a ride out into the country. On the way back we smashed into the bridge as we crossed it because someone asked the driver for a cigarette. We were all fingerprinted by the police that night, even though we were only guilty by association. Other times we drank because we didn't want to look like we a were "chicken". I hated the taste of beer, but I drank just to be cool. I learned how to smoke in the same manner. After all, everyone else was, and we looked "chicken" if we didn't smoke. We had car accidents because the drivers were not good drivers or perhaps mad at their girl friends. That was always scary. I got kicked out of school many times because I was always making the other guys laugh to the dismay and good order of the teacher and room.
Even with the threat of being kicked out of school we still smoked around the corner. Today I understand it to be "peer pressure". We smoked dried leaves, liner sticks in the hockey pads and just about anything we could light up and stick in out mouths. Thank Heavens I never did like smoking. A friend of mine just died of cancer caused by heavy smoking. Before he died he said to me, "If I live, I am going to tell people to stop smoking. Look what it has done to me". Another close aquaintance discovered cancer in her lung from years of heavy smoking. Thank Heavens for prayers and chemotherapy and radiation because it has been reduced to a point where she feels quite good. She is now expected to make a complete recovery!
I drank simply because others did. By myself, I would never even think of buying a case of beer, but I chipped in many times much to my own chagrin. On turning 21, I joined the Canadian army and there I really learned how to drink as a way of life. I now learned how to be irresponsible and think nothing of it. In the army we were told what happens on the road stays on the road. Looking back now I can see this was a formula for disaster for I did many things on the road a married man should not do. Today I cringe when I think of the emotional hurt and pain I caused my unsuspecting wife. I cannot turn back time but I can love my children now to the best of my ability. I apologized to each one of them and they all forgave me, and we cried together. One day I will apologize to my first wife and ask her forgiveness. If a person can have one drink and leave it at that, I think that is just great. But I can't, so I haven't touched alcohol since 1977.
13) Family Life.
My childhood was good, even though we missed food sometimes. But we all learned how to work, and our parents had total belief in us. We all loved our parents as they were good. From this perspective, we were able to go to many parts of the world knowing who we were. It was never a problem for me to know who I was, but pride in my identity suffered while growing up in Battleford, Saskatchewan. It was always plain to my peers I was the Indian, and many of the ignorant cusses delighted in calling me that in a derogatory way, but only when they were in groups. Historically I found out later in life if I had given every one of them a good licking right at that moment it would have been called a "massacre" or an Indian ambush. I wonder what the church would have called them to their faces. We were brought up to be Indian, think Indian, and be proud to be Indian. We knew who we were, and always did. Our relatives were in reserves all around the town of Battleford. For us, culture was not something we talked about, but lived. My earliest memories are of sitting at the Sundance between my Father and Grandfather. Later on as I grew older, I like the rest of my family were very popular in school for our personalities and our smarts and our oratorical powers. Our home was always filled with kids singing, thanks to my sister Amy on the piano and me on the guitar. It was a safe place to be for all the kids, but we had our preferences.
14. Resolving Conflicts.
Over the years, I found that one of the best ways to resolve a conflict with my children as they were growing up was to write and rewrite a letter over and over until it was totally logical and without emotion. The receiver could then read it without getting mad and finally say "That makes sense". Today there are courses available where you can train how to become a conflict mediator. A good mediator is impartial to both sides and has no vested interest in the outcome of the conflict. His aim is to set down rules of conduct, which allows both sides to tell their side without interruption. It is also wise to create conflict situations and mediators amongst your peers to practise conflict resolution. As a group create an imaginary conflict having two sides and two different ways of looking at the same thing. Appoint the mediator. As the conflict resolution proceeds and each side tells their story, stop occasionally for comments from the audience and then proceed as before to the final logical solution acceptable to both sides.
15) Optimal Cellular Nutrition.
This is an explanation of the mitrochondria in every cell and how it stays alive by the food we eat. It's a very interesting topic and an necessary one. Seventy years ago, the earth was healthy enough to send enough vitamin and mineral nutrients up the stalks of plants to satisfy the needs of our bodies. Today, with crops going in year after year on the same soil, global and local toxic wastes and fallout, poisoned rivers and rapidly depleting forests, the earth is suffering greatly. The earth and air are no longer capable of supplying the plants what they used to. As a consequence of this, the United States Government stated in 2004 that every American should be on nutritional supplements to get the extra vitamin and mineral nutrients the body needs. In 2005, the Canadian Government stated the same thing. It is a basic fact that our bodies require vitamins and minerals to be healthy. USANA is an nutritional company that supplies those needed vitamin and mineral nutrients. The Canadian Government hired Dr. Lyle MacWilliams, BSc, MSc, FP to research nutrional supplements across North America. He published his research in a book called "THE COMPARITIVE GUIDE TO NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS". (OVER 500 nutritionals compared). You can buy it from "Northern Dimensions Publishing" in Vernon BC,Canada.