Learning about the precious Nano Chameleon – a new creature to western science – rushes back memories of basic biology. When the focus was on kingdom phylum class order family genus species subspecies. Where did this belong and that belong, based on its digits or ears or scales or reproduction abilities. Sorting, always sorting.
With the world continually showing itself for what it is – or the world we created holding a mirror back up to us and our souls is maybe the better description – I think about this structure and how these old white men, long dead, yet still present, who were products of their place and time constructed the construct as I live it today, created order through hierarchy. One thing more supreme than another. A higher order of being, doing, knowing. Humans at the center, control, plow, raze, clear, excavate, drill, level. Erasing the truth and wisdom of those before us, those who knew the truth and wisdom, the meaning of time. Stamping them out, or trying to, like throwing water on the burning embers of a campfire, but the smoke signals drifted up to the sky, a warning, a tea leaf, a cloud pattern from which to discern which way to safety to hold onto any shards that could be salvaged from the bones and slivers that could be held in memory.
I think of all we’ve lost just because of this system, this worldview, that has been taught to millions of people like me around the world, maybe billions.
In the Potawatomi Native American language, there is no pronoun, no binary, no hierarchy. All things are equal and in action – rocks, water, the wings of a bat, a spirit, the clever crow, the person manifested. They – plural, multitudes – are in a state of being, doing, knowing. Everything has energy. Can you imagine it?
What would a walk in the woods feel like with these lenses? A swim in the ocean? Sleeping under a starlit sky, waxing moon peaking over the horizon?
I learned about an Anishinaabe wampum belt that was repatriated from a museum somewhere in the UK. Or put another way, stolen goods were returned to their rightful owners. The wampum belt had a pattern on it, a story that was long forgotten. No, not forgotten, it was stolen too. Like words grabbed from the breath of your chest, the front of your mind, the end of your tongue.
In the bitter cold winter of the Northern Great Lakes, the women in the community sat with the belt, without food or water, for days. Days. Resting on mats in a dark room. Breathing in each others exhales. Eyes closed, eyes open. Until, until the memories came to them, the story, the meaning. In a dream or awake, it doesn’t matter, because it’s the same thing. Because what they know in their cells, the epigenetic thumbprints of their ancestors singing to them through the tunnel of time. And they now know it in today’s breath, can share the story in Anishinaabe.
Like the Nano Chameleon, staying alive through time and with homelands under duress, clinging onto single blades of grass.