Last night there were a lot of fireworks going off on my reservation. I admire the pretty colors on display, but I can’t stand the loud noise. To me, the explosions sound like guns and bombs; this is not the sound of freedom.
Luckily, our more than human relations are quick, as always, to remind us of another pathway forward. They remind us of simple, honest, and true teachings. “Do you want to celebrate being free on this land?” X̱wɨɬx̱wɨ́ɬ (Meadowlark) sings the question as a pretty melody. “Observe. Listen. Move. Sing. Speak,” X̱wɨɬx̱wɨ́ɬ instructs.
And so, I do.
This morning I hear the sound of Hulí (Wind) rustling leaves on the tall trees in my grandpa’s backyard. The soft, gentle sound is punctuated by the bursts of Áy’ay’s (Magpie’s) call, almost siren-like when several speak at once, “Ay-Ay-Ay! Ay-Ay-Ay!“
Now my parent’s K’usík’usi (Dog) is barking, the deep voice of a large shepherd who watches over us. Mimím (Mourning Dove) coos a greeting, encouraging me to keep noticing and learning from my beautiful more than human relations.
Like a good soup broth, Hulí gently rustling leaves keeps all the sounds of this morning tied together in a cohesive whole; each being belongs and has an honored contribution to make. I’m so glad I paused to listen and learn this morning.
As a Yakama person on my Yakama homeland, I’ve learned the sound of freedom is not the explosion caused by gun powder. Rather, it is the sound of wind tickling leaves on trees who have provided shade to generations of my family, as well as the symphony of voices of all the other beings who people this land. As I go about my day, I remember and give thanks for all my ancestors who bravely and prayerfully prepared the way for me to be here.
It is another good day on Yakama homeland.
Read more about lessons from Mother Nature’s classroom, including a story about “4th of July on the Rez” in Dr. Jacob’s book, Fox Doesn’t Wear a Watch.
Thanks for reading!