Monday was Indigenous Peoples Day (formerly mis-named as Columbus Day) But when I arrived that morning at Squaxin Park (formerly Priest Point Park) in town, I was there to get to know more about these people whose home for thousands of years has been on this land we call Olympia. I brought my sketchbook, because that’s the way I learn things now. But after a few minutes I realized that I needed to be fully engaged with all my senses, and particularly my feelings to the unfolding of this event. My sketchbook became a jumble of notes as my iPhone occasionally took the pictures I would need to use later, and occasionally tears streamed down my face.
The tribal leaders opened the dedication ceremony and prayers while drummers and dancers filled the open meadow with chanting and waves of movement. We la ho yaa ye ye ye ye kaha ye or something like that. They were invoking the spirit of the land.
“The land is alive and it sings to us. The plants are alive. They are our teachers and medicine to the people.”
“We are the people of the water. “
“We are joyful all of you have arrived!” (This is written on the sign in the native language as you enter the park now)
“We as Squaxin wrap our arms around you.”
And then the mayor and council members each read a passage of the proclamation vowing to stand together with the Squaxin Island tribe for the mutual benefit of our shared home.
A minister of the Interfaith council asked everyone present to find ways to embrace the truth that indigenous wisdom holds the salvation our world needs for healing.
And then the tribal leader proclaimed “Thank you for welcoming us back to our home.” The flag of the Squaxin people was raised next to the American flag and the tribal members served a free feast to everyone.
What more can I say. I wish you’d been there. The Ancestors definitely were, in the magnificent towering trees around us.