Alvin Manitopyes: Culture and spirituality are our greatest allies
"The first International Roundtable Supporting Ancient Indigenous Knowledge was held at the Turtle Lodge on the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba in early summer. Traditional healers, elders and spiritual leaders from around the world attended to share knowledge and encourage respect for traditional teachings. The following is the first in a series of excerpts from the four-day gathering.

Traditional knowledge is very powerful. This knowledge is our birthright. It was given to our people when we were placed here on Mother Earth with sacred instructions on how to live as caretakers of Mother Earth. But if it is not used and shared, then it becomes useless.

My uncle used to say the transmission of traditional knowledge is a sacred process. There is a protocol to it: Presenting tobacco, having the elders speak, listening carefully while they shared teachings and history and stories. That’s how we learned.

He said it’s up to each of us to decide whether or not we use that knowledge for the benefit of our families and for our people. He warned that if we don’t take responsibility as fathers, mothers, parents, grandparents to learn that knowledge, it’s like we’re running away from the Creator.

Today, our people are suffering from disease and alcoholism, and it has become a war. The greatest battles are against alcohol, drugs and addictions. Our greatest ally is our culture and spirituality, because that’s what gives us strength and keeps us healthy."

Get the Story:
Alvin Manitopyes: Our survival depends on indigenous knowledge (Indian Country Today 8/20)