Footprints of the Ancestors

Gratiot Beach, Lake Superior,  Calumet, Michigan

Gratiot Beach, Lake Superior,
Calumet, Michigan

In May of this year, I had the privilege of participating in a trip to Calumet, Michigan to learn about the American Indian culture.  I spent several days creating several pieces of art, cooking meals with my fellow classmates, spending time on the beautiful beaches of Lake Superior, and learning valuable information from my professor Dr. Keenan, and our class instructors Jikiwe and his daughter Teri.

Beach glass I found on Gratiot Beach at Lake Superior.

Beach glass I found on Gratiot Beach at Lake Superior.

There were many things I took away from the trip, but I think the most important lesson was to take time to slow down and enjoy nature and the small things in life.  Although the trip was filled with activities from sun up to sun down, it was one of the most relaxing trips I have been on.

My life track, pinch pot, and beads that I made at the Calumet Art Center.

My life track, pinch pot, and beads that I made at the Calumet Art Center.

Of course, I also learned several things about art and appreciating that everything is beautiful in its own way.

The copper bowl I made under the instruction of Jikiwe.

The copper bowl I made under the instruction of Jikiwe.

To better relay how I felt during the trip, here is a snippet of one of my journal entries:

“Culture defines the way people and live, but an understanding of a culture outside one’s own custom is life changing.

On May 13, 2013, twenty students and one professor from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin embarked upon a journey to Calumet, Michigan to immerse in a culture with which they were unfamiliar, the Anishinaabe culture.  Prior to arriving in Calumet, the students read The Mishomis Book by Edward Benton Banai; however, the stories in The Mishomis Book could only give the students a glimpse of the knowledge offered by the Anishinaabeg.  A deeper understanding for not only the Anishinaabe culture, but also for their own cultures, did not blossom until they met Jikiwe.”

The cover of my journal.

The cover of my journal.

And here is my reflection from half a week after the trip:

“It is hard to believe I have been home for half a week already.  But the lessons and memories (and the cold I caught!) are still fresh with me.  I have tried to remember what Teri said about taking time every day to be alone with nature.  I try to reflect more and stare at the beautiful landscape just a little bit longer.  I’m also trying to slow down more.  I don’t want to get caught up in “trying to be perfect” again.  So, I’m slowing down; I listen to people speaking before I speak; I look into their eyes when I have a conversation with them; I make sure that I’m more respectful; and I try to do one kind thing a day.

Even though the trip was intended to teach me about the Anishinaabeg, I also learned about myself.  Not only has my strength in my Christian faith grown, but also my faith in humanity.  This trip truly has helped me become a better person in so many way.

Mi’gwetch!”

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