It’s simple to categorize all Native American and First Nation peoples as if we are all the same.  And by the same, I mean like the fantasy images of plain tribes people who movies and TV and books and posters and art have created.  Where all of us wear fringed leather (women in white because that’s practical), men with no shirts on if its summer, everyone in highly decorated, beaded items because we always wear our Sunday best (no irony there!) and in full war bonnet finest because every day is a day to be ready to kill someone.  Oh, and don’t get me started on those images of Native American women looking into pools surrounded by baby animals with images of dream catchers, eagles/wolves floating in the air behind them.  And men in war bonnets riding horses raising their arms in battle cries or prayer to the eagle spirit.  Because you’ve got to be s****ing me!

So let’s be clear, those images and most other fantasies created by white western culture are amazingly wrong, if only because they don’t have one ounce of common sense in them. Let alone the issues with colonialism and spiritual tourism…..well, anyway.  Those pictures of what it is to be Native are waaaayyy off base even for the tribes that they could actually be associated with.  Coastal and river tribes never hunted buffalo, tribes in hot country like the south-west weren’t wearing heavy leather unless it snowed, and those of us who lived in the south-east made clothing out of birch bark and grasses before white settlers arrived.  And when we saw calico cloth, which is beautiful and light, easily cleaned and hard wearing, we were all over it.  Which is why at pow wow’s you will see us in what look like prairie dresses rather than buckskin.  Because we never wore buckskin so why would we now?  🙂

Sequoia & the Cherokee Syllabary

Sequoyah (ᏎᏉᏯ) & Cherokee Syllabary

But I digress.  Not all Native American tribes are the same.  Cherokee culture is noted not only for its tradition of being healers, but for our balanced relationship between the sexes.  We strive to honor both men and women for their unique attributes, what they bring to the table, so to speak, but also how they make each other better by joining together.  Men are seen, not as bread winners or dominant decision makers, but as an interlocking piece in the whole which is created in partnership with women.   It means that we look at the Divine Masculine, not just as men are from Mars and so can never be understood.  We support each man in defining for himself what his path is.  We watch him choose how he will fulfill it using the roles and opportunities laid before him as the raw material to create his life as a living work of art which is always in progress.  It means that his life unfolds just as a woman’s does, one moment at a time.  That while he may seek a ‘mission’ or several over a lifetime in order to grow and become, to feel satisfied personally and professionally, to serve a purpose and utilize his gifts for the betterment of all things, he is not judged on doing or not doing so.  And he is not valued solely by what he achieves, but on who he chooses to be in each moment.  Because we are not the things we do, we are who we are with nothing to prove to anyone else besides ourselves and Spirit.

In this 21st century changing paradigm women are being called to turn outward to express themselves and men to turn inward to discover themselves.  Which is exciting for all of us.  Because while it may seem that these paths have already been trod, that women are catching up to men and men are catching up to women, nothing could be further from the truth.  How men have expressed themselves in the world will not be how women do so, although some things will be similar, I’m sure and we will make some of the same mistakes and discover some of the same truths.  And this can also be said for men.  How they walk the inner roads of their own becoming will be uniquely theirs, holding as much truth as our own, but with so many new insights and discoveries it makes me anxious to know what comes next.  I can hardly wait.

Will men’s internal journey be going into the cave and experiencing the spiral of life that begins there?  Seeing the Earth as mother birthing possibility?  Or will it be an experience like the Egyptians where they see the Earth as father, seed the impregnates the Universe?  And what is it like going inward into the seed that ignites the creation of things? What is it like to be enfolded fully in possibility?  What insights and truths and new knowledge will come from this journey?  One that is less like the hero’s journey of the patriarchal myths and more a new/ancient journey the flows outward spherically from the feet of those who walk it?  Hopefully they will tell us or perhaps even show us…