I’ve been a fan of Weyakpa Najin Win, Woman Stands Shining, Pat McCabe , since I first heard her on a podcast a few years ago, with Sharon Blackie. Since then, whenever this member of the Dine (Navajo) Nation, mother, artist and ceremonial leader turns up somewhere, giving a talk, I try to tune in.
Earlier in the month, Pat McCabe led what was billed as “an Indigenous Listening Session”, presented by Flourishing Diversity, Invisible Dust, Synchronicity Earth and the British Library, as part of Living Nature 2021. Living Nature is a new offering designed to explore the future of human relationships with nature through a lens of art, science and Indigenous wisdom.
Pat draws upon the Indigenous sciences of ‘Thriving Life’ to reframe questions about sustainability and balance. She’s devoted to supporting the next generations, Women’s Nation and Men’s Nation, in being functional members of the “Hoop of Life” and upholding the honour of being human.
Pat was joined by three Listeners with influence in their sectors, who committed to donating the power of their voice and to invite the rest of the world to join them in quietly, respectfully, and intentionally listening to someone whose wisdom provides vital guidance on how the world can address the slide towards the sixth great extinction. Each Listener was invited to ask one question at the end. The were Alison Sudol, American singer and actor who plays Queenie Goldstein in the Fantastic Beasts films; Wendy Tan White, a British technology entrepreneur and CEO of Intrinsic, an Alphabet company; Daniel Growald, a 5th generation descendant of Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller, and Trustee of the David Rockefeller Fund; and host Clare Dubois, founder of Tree Sisters.
If you find you have a lot more questions than answers these days, and are mostly perplexed at the mess we’re in, how we came to be in, and what we can do about it, hold an hour of space in your life to listen to this. I feel so completely reoriented and returned to myself, after listening to this.
A few highlights:
- If sustainability is the highest technology, who do we need to listen to, right now? Those people who know how to live in one place for an extended period of time, in harmony.
- “Culture” is not a human construct. It is the Mother Earth expressing herself as human beings in any given place.
- Our clothing and adornments, if we stay in the same place, will be a product/feature of that place, constrained by the plants and animals that are there.
- Humanity has low self-esteem right now, as a species, because everything we touch we destroy, so it seems. Not so. This is not inherent. It is learned behaviour. Tales of the Americas, on first contact, recount an Eden, a paradise of co-creation and land management. And the geologic record (core samples) are showing that the number of species of plants exploded in sync with the arrival of humans.
- That deep science of sustainability was interrupted and lost through colonization and residential schools and the intentional efforts to extinguish Indigenous people. Recovery work is underway.
- Colonizers came carrying a deep system of thinking that dancing, singing, joyfulness, was child-like, and that intellect and rationality was what it meant to be a proper adult, so Indigenous people, who never stopped singing, and dancing, and befriending Nature and communicating with plants, were assumed to be “primitive and child-like”.
- You were born into beauty, as beauty, for joyful Life.
- To call yourself “white” erases your lineage and culture and this disconnection is the root of white supremacy.
- Your joy is your compass. Whatever makes you want your life, is where you should go. Your joy matters.
- Men have been as, if not more, damaged by the patriarchy/modern world paradigm, and “men’s nation” is holy holy holy, an untapped resource of beauty and power.
- If you practice morning ceremony every day, as Father Sun greets Mother Earth (“and she likes what he’s saying”), you’re the child witnessing that love.
- Money is the largest and deepest unconscious agreement humans have ever made. We made it up! It’s a form of energy, but one you can’t eat. At some point very soon, it may have no meaning, so, what can you do now, while it is meaningful, to direct energy and attention to serve Earth and Flourishing Life.
- Let money be life unleashing. Hoarding it is withholding life from life.
- Spiritually, it’s very important to declare your consent, or your dissent. “I do not consent to the destruction of the Earth, or of children.”
- We have free will. And we can have it any way we want it. And right now, we’re choosing this.