An advocate of traditional living and natural spirit teachings. Topics address concerns to do with wellness and balance in life as well as environmental enrichment. A student of native teachings from Ojibwe Elders, Algonquin language based people, living throughout the Great Lakes Region of the US and Canada. The audiences for presentations vary from youth to elderly.
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
A better way to educate our youth?
I'll Tell You a Story !
by James Beard aka Noodin
Young people come to the mountain to meet a story teller
called Noodin at the Hikers Cabin and to hear a story.
Hikers Cabib, White Dot Trail
Twelve high school youth with two teachers knock on the
door. The door opens and each person files into the large open room. As they enter
they are looking around with a caution and natural curiosity. They see strange items
laid out on the table and around the fireplace. They have entered a different world!
You know the youth are glad to be out of school. It is
obvious they are taken with going to the Grand Monadnock Mountain in
southwestern New Hampshire in the middle of the winter. Walking up the snow
bound trail from the White Dot trailhead to the hikers cabin is beautiful in
the serenity of the forest, the mountain and the winter snow. It is a gray, cold and overcast day and yet the quietness of the forest is enchanting and holds its own beauty.
James Beard aka Noodin
The fire is giving an ambiance of comfort and a minimum of heat in
the large hearth. It crackles now and then just to keep everyones attention. The building is not insulated and does not hold the heat
well. The room is comfortable and has a warm welcoming feel even if it is a
little on the chilly side. After all, it is ten degrees outside. Everyone sits in a circle with the fireplace taking
one side of the circle. This is the home of Noodin at Monadnock State Park.
What is that strange smell? A girl asks. That is sage, I
answer. My name is Jim Beard in English. My name in the native language of my teachers is Noodin. I am an adopted one to these people and have been given some things by them to share with you.
I pick up a shell with leaves of sage burning and walk around the
circle allowing each person to take a wiff of the pungent aroma of the sage. Sage
is used by Native American people to open any gathering, I explain. They use it to invite
good spirits and feelings of the people and to bring everyone in the gathering
to a oneness in focusing. After walking around the circle I put the shell
containing the burning sage on the floor in the middle of the circle.
Hold this for me, I say to a boy as I hand him a drum. He
looks at it and feels the tightness of the Elk Hide on the drum. He looks at the way the Elk cord is tied to hold the drum together. I then hand a
shaker to a girl in the circle. This is called a shizigwan I tell her. Shizigwan
I will tell you a story and we will need these things in the
story, I explain. The story is of the creation of all things and the connection
of all things of the universe. As I tell the story there is not a sound other
than the words of the story, the drum and the shaker. It is an ancient oral teaching of the people. Not to be written down but passed from one to another through all time.
We are all connected to all that is and to one another. It
is our responsibility to care for one another and all that we know. To be
respectful to all that is.
There are many items on the table by the door. You can look at
them before you leave and I will answer any questions I can about them.
We are sitting in a circle.
I explain to them; No one in the circle is above
another or below. We all are equal in the creation. That I share in the circle
does not put me above or below. Your teachers sitting in the circle are at one
with you. Not above and not below. Native people use the circle to teach that
we are all equal and should be right size with one another. A feather will be
passed around. Each person will have the opportunity to speak when handed the
feather. You can say whatever you feel called to say and no one may speak other
than the one holding the feather. When you have finished saying what you have
to share then you pass the feather to the next person.
Each person speaks in turn as the feather travels around the
circle. The first time only a few words are spoken hesitantly by the youth. The
feather travels again and the group opens up. The people share their hardships
and concerns and gratitude’s. All of the people in the circle respect the
feather and no one speaks out of turn. One can feel the sense of healing in the circle. Tensions dissappear and a feeling of oneness and relaxation begins to fill the room.
As they leave the cabin each one is welcomed to return
whenever they wish. I know that I will see many of them again over time when they
come to visit Grand Monadnock Mountain and the Hikers Cabin.