Sunday, November 27, 2022

Second Annual Wopila Gathering

A message from Chase Iron Eyes, Co-director of the Lakota People's Law Project:
I'm excited to announce that our Second Annual Wopila Gathering is almost here -- and you're invited! Please come spend a couple hours with me and many of our Lakota Law leaders at the live-streamed event this Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. Mountain Time.
I'm very much looking forward to hosting you for these candid conversations. Four powerful women -- Madonna Thunder Hawk, Phyllis Young, Waste Win Young, and DeCora Hawk -- will join me to talk with you about three of the most critical issues in our Native communities. This year's topics are Water is Life (including the importance of Indigenous resistance to environmental racism), Indian Child Welfare (and protecting ICWA), and the Native Vote.
It still gives me great joy to think back to our inaugural Wopila Gathering last year, when thousands of supporters like you gathered with us throughout the day. This year, we'll have a more focused and intimate event, spending about two hours shining a light on what you helped us accomplish in 2022 and looking ahead to next steps in our shared journey toward greater justice.
So I hope to see you there! And please extend this invite to those you love by clicking the social share icons -- to Facebook, Twitter, and email -- on our Wopila Page. Let's continue to grow the circle of support and come together to honor, inspire, and activate! Stay tuned for more info soon.

Wopila tanka -- thank you, always, for your friendship!
Chase Iron Eyes
Co-Director and Lead Counsel
The Lakota People’s Law Project

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Thanksgiving in All Circumstances

Celebrating a bountiful harvest once a year is a wonderful tradition. But giving thanks should be more than just a yearly event. Rather, the expression of gratitude ought to be a daily practice. Gratitude, like any other spiritual practice, is something we do, not just something we feel. And it is something we need to practice. Try to cultivate a spirit of gratitude in all things. Even in situations that seem difficult to give thanks for, just remember that you are on the Earth to experience, learn and grow. An "attitude of gratitude" in all things helps connect us to our core values and purpose for being here.
Foster a reciprocal relationship of meaning to the Earth. Take time to honor and respect the reciprocal cycle of give and take, for Mother Earth provides everything we need to live and flourish. Express your gratitude through prayer and offerings. Give thanks also for the things you are praying for. Giving thanks before needs are met is a way of making space to receive them. Reciprocity is the guiding principle of the indigenous shamanic path. We can restore balance to the planet. We humans have all the necessary talents to be reciprocal caretakers of Mother Earth. In this season of gathering in, let us bring forth the spiritual fruit of thanksgiving in all things.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Manchu Shamanic Drumming

In her scholarly article "The Symbolization Process of the Shamanic Drums Used by the Manchus and Other Peoples in North Asia," ethnomusicologist Lisha Li establishes a universal framework describing how the drum as a symbol transmits symbolic meanings among shamans, people and the spirit world. She provides an in-depth analysis of the symbolic functions of the drum from an ethnomusicological point of view. All elements of drum music such as timbre, rhythm, volume and tempo play an important role in Manchu shamanic ritual. By using different parts of the drumstick to play on different parts of the drum, different timbres can be produced for transmitting different meanings. Different rhythms transmit different meanings and enable the shaman to contact different beings in different realms of the cosmos. Volume and tempo arouse feelings in the listener and communicate symbolic meanings directly as aural sense experience. The drum is also a visual symbol loaded with symbolic meanings.
In Manchu shamanic drumming, rhythmic patterns with odd accents are frequently used, which are related to the cosmology of Manchu shamanism in which the cosmos has nine levels divided into three regions. As Lisha Li points out, "before healing a patient, the shaman beats his drum very hard three times, then chants and beats the drum repeatedly in three-fold rhythms. According to old Manchu shamans, "Three-accented Patterns" are for accessing the Celestial Realm, "Five-accented Patterns" are for conveying the intention of spirits to the people, "Seven-accented Patterns" are used to drive away malevolent spirits, and "Nine-accented Patterns" are for working with all living beings in different regions of the cosmos."
Lisha Li. 1992. "The symbolization process of the shamanic drums used by the Manchus and other peoples in North Asia." Yearbook for Traditional Music 24:52-80.