By Chelsea J. Morgan, grade 11, *Creek*
Honorable Mention – 2011/2012 Reconnecting The Circle Essay Contest
What does it truly mean to be Native American? Some may answer this question by saying it is simply a race or a culture that some people share; a commonplace set of values shared amongst a tribe or group of people, but I see more. I see it less as the gene in my blood, and more as the passion that runs through my veins. I see it less as a nature I have adopted over time, and more as the love I have embraced for the nature around me. I see it less as a set of life values to learn and apply, and more as the value of life itself and just how beautiful that life can be. You see, often we don’t realize just how deep of a meaning being Native American has. This is why it’s so crucial that we reconnect to this heritage and never forget just how large a part of us it really is.
Firstly, to reconnect to the passion that runs through our veins, we should figure out how we can express that passion to the world. For some, passion is expressed through dance, others music, and still others through the stroke of a paintbrush or pencil. Communicating our passions can bring us joy, but more importantly, it can inspire those around us to find the joy that we have too by searching for their own passion. Passion is what fuels us to chase our dreams, no matter how big and daunting they may seem. By reconnecting to this passion, we are reconnecting to our own dreams and also to the people around us who are chasing their dreams too.
Next, we must abandon the carelessness the world seems to have for the nature that surrounds us. Everything is truly interconnected, so there is no way we can harm only one thing. Harm inflicted to one thing will soon cause a domino effect and end up influencing many things, sometimes even without our knowledge. This is why we need to reconnect to the nature around us and treat it as the beautiful living and ever-changing thing that it is. When you look at the ground what do you see? “Dirt”, you might answer, but think about that for a moment. Is it dirt that you’re seeing or earth? The difference is that dirt is something we are always trying to rid ourselves of, to wash away, something we see as harmful, while earth is the beautiful planet beneath our feet, the source of life, and the food we need to sustain us, and the place into which we will go when we perish one day. It’s all about your perception; we need to reconnect to the idea that every action we make has an effect on the nature around us, so that we will stop being so careless and start appreciating this earth more.
Finally, we need to value life in all its forms, no matter how big or small. This is a concept even the creators of the Disney movies have captured through songs such as “The Circle of Life” from Lion King and “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas. “The Circle of Life” shows us that every living thing, human beings included, is a part of a continual cycle that is never standing still. It portrays just how dependent we really are on one another for all our needs and how we couldn’t survive alone because every creature, no matter what size, has something to offer this world. “Colors of the Wind” offers phrases such as, “…You can own the earth and still, all you own is earth until you can paint with all the colors of the wind”, and, “you think you own whatever land you land on, the earth is just a dead thing you can claim. But I know every rock and tree and creature has a life, has a spirit, has a name”, which provide some deep insight as to the value we should put on the life of the living things around us. The first suggests that just owning or controlling the land on this earth means nothing until you truly realize what that earth is worth. We need to reconnect to the earth, to be one with it in a sense, meaning that we stop to listen to what it has to say before we commit actions that may potentially harm it. The second explains that the earth is its own living being, not simply a possession we can claim as our own. It also goes on to say that everything is worth something, by giving it characteristics such as names, spirits, and lives, which we typically associate only with human beings. In summation, just as a tree’s roots stretch far beneath the surface and extend to reach deeper areas, we need to reach back into our own roots and reconnect with the deep bond we have to this earth.
In conclusion, reconnecting to all of these things: our passions, our love for nature, and our value of life will reconnect the circle with Native Americans today. If we can apply all of these ideas to our lives then maybe we will reach the connection we’ve been seeking. We will no longer be on the outside only seeing the circle from a distance, but instead, a major link in it holding it together. We are all just a piece, or a link, in this circle; we just need to choose to reconnect so that it will finally be complete.