Smudging the United Nations – A Native American woman leads the way and it is about time.
April 7, 2016
and moderating a panel with my sisters
at UNCSW60 Commission on the Status of Women:
United Nations and afterwards…
ceremony outside for Native Women and Girls and
smudging the 193 Member flags led by Carmen Baraka.
Here is a little of my story. Unplugged. Raw. Unedited.
Spirit Warrior takes the UN by storm and smoke. She is asking for an apology for Native Peoples of the territory that is now known, as the United States.
Smudging the United Nations
I don’t sleep the night before.
The energy is too big here in New York.
I eat the big apple one bite at a time,
Especially at the United Nations.
Close to 200 flags wave their consent to Human Rights.
I buzz around the cosmos to see who is really in.
And what it means.
I choose to be part of a nation of people who care.
I don’t feel I can represent the United States as it is now.
I don’t recognize my country.
I see our flag waving and make a silent prayer for justice.
I choose my outfit, red, black and white in the night.
I am afraid 8:30 is too early. Will anyone come?
Our room at 8:30 am on the10th floor at CSW60 begins to fill.
Roses red, and pink bringing beauty to the space.
Sisters, Cosmic Cowgirls, around the room holding space.
Presence. Vibration. Overwhelm translates into excitement.
Must stay grounded with the support of gravity.
What am I really doing here?
What can I really bring?
What could make a difference for these dear ones gathered?
From every nation, they crowd in. Bright colors.
Red, Gold, Green, Blue, Black, White, Amber, Hot Pink.
People sitting everywhere and all over the floor.
I said I would need 100 chairs. They provided 50.
On our table a stack of thick white cardstock and pens.
This is our altar. Must have creation supplies on hand.
My two 30+ slide Power Point presentations summon me to share.
Share facts. Share evidence. Share the work.
Share my months of preparation with others.
Prove the work worthy.
One is our survey on the impact of Intentional Creativity.
259 women from around the work speak to the work.
The other presentation, hand drawn on a digital board,
Showing HOW Intentional creativity works with story.
How stories can be transformed post trauma through art.
We are here on behalf of Sustainable Development goals.
Implementation. I have implemented, and want to show
How it can be done,
How our community can help your community
Use Intentional Creativity to heal.
This is why I am here.
I choose instead, red thread.
I want to give them a tool to use now, right now.
To experience in this moment.
Not a concept of Intentional Creativity,
My life work will have to wait.
I don’t need to talk about it. I need to do it.
I feel the room,
I don’t want to talk about me and my work in the world.
I want something real. Something red. Something they can take home.
Circles of energy to those they serve.
Clients, Beloveds, Colleagues, Students sitting in circle.
Red Thread with over 100 people from around the world spins fabric.
I ask who feels overwhelmed and exhausted by their service.
Hands are raised.
I ask them to share what their piece of the red thread is as they understand it now.
What is theirs to cause and create.
I teach them about seeing the big circle,
then seeing the piece they are holding.
Each get a chance to share a bit of their red thread with another.
They tie the thread on each other’s wrists.
The room is alive with love.
The buzz and hum and thrum of my heart is rising.
Fear combined with hope. Wonder combined with anticipation.
Sisterhood, brotherhood, weaving a tapestry at the UN.
Sharing this unfolding story with my sisters
Who stand for love,
The women who said yes to this experience of a panel
To being in the conversation.
This isn’t the General Assembly, this is a gathering of those on the ground.
Those not-for-profits who give their life for this work.
An opening prayer to the grandmothers.
We declare this as sacred space.
Lois Herman, of WUNRN sharing the suffering, to wake us up.
We cannot believe what women are going through, violence, is rising.
She asks us to know. To see what is hard to see. To pay attention.
How poetry can be a part of the healing of women.
I call her the Grandmother to the United Nations.
My sister, Patty Melnice, sharing her oh so tough, Tough Angels story.
The name and laughter of Lady Fair and
her story resounds from Africa to the UN.
Sisters standing together working for a common goal, safety. Justice. Truth.
The room stands to celebrate a woman’s story, Patty,
who has gifted her life for others because she was called to.
The death of a tiny girl inspiring her towards creating a safer future.
Spirit Warrior, Carmen Baraka asking for justice for Native Women and girls.
This genocide continues now.
Do we know this is the largest massacre of a people? Indians.
Most don’t know, she tells us, asks us to know. We need an apology.
We need the media to report on Native news in the US.
What are they hiding? Does the US know we are in occupied territory?
Will the UN ask the US to create a formal apology?
How can we create this? The room is surprised by her story.
We are angry. We are women with a right to be angry.
And yet we hold the good red road of anger into action.
We close the circle in beauty with song.
Lucy Mathews Heegaard, sharing a story song for Cancer survivors,
One True Step.
Yes, one true step at a time.
Surviving turns to thriving when the story is told.
One woman speaks out against some of our stories.
I had told her there would not be Q &A, so she just started talking.
In the middle of our panel.
A voice who tries to incite others in the room to her particular cause.
She is mad that our panel of 5 is made of mostly white women.
Because we talk about the challenges facing
women of color in some of our stories.
A thread in our own stories.
Not THE story we are telling.
We are showing up, weaving our stories together.
Not tearing them apart.
She missed the beauty that is happening.
The reason we are called to service is from our hearts.
She judges us. She is also white.
I see she is defending her sisters.
So are we. She slams us on social media.
She is on my thread so I tell her story too.
I know this conversation must be had.
I thank her for her voice. All voices needed.
Yet she has spoken into another woman’s story space in anger.
She has missed the thread in her rage.
And yet I know
This conversation has to be taken to another place,
But it can’t happen now.
My black friend, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide tells us,
I would have liked to tell the woman,
How you do not reject hands that have come to help.
This isn’t about what color the helper is.
The room takes a breath.
I search for how to bring us home.
I know I don’t know what is really going on
but trust the unfolding as I try to turn my own anger into peace.
The room is silent as I say something like:
We all have our own piece of the red thread.
And we are here to educate one another and do the best we can.
What she said and how she said it is a letter for another day.
A thread of a different color, many colors.
Time has expanded and stretched for us.
I have so much more to say, but time is running out.
Honoring the lineage must happen.
Of how I got here.
I am looking for a space in my moderation.
Weaving context between each speaker and the whole room.
Trying to create relevance and stitching between stories.
Finally on closing I find the thread.
Sue and Lenore’s names reverberate throughout the UN grounds.
Eleanor Roosevelt you were right to choose
Lenore to create for the New Deal art.
Bringing emotion into art to tell stories.
The preamble to the constitution set in stone
by a woman’s hand in the 30s that we speak of today.
All three of you were in our circle.
My love, Jonathan working technology miracles.
Projector broken. Mic stand won’t stand.
With two projectors, three computers and five presenters’ material.
He makes it work. This is his 4th year of wrangling the technology.
He does so in stoic kindness.
And makes us laugh in the in between.
I want to reach him but there are too many people between us.
The isles have filled, with shoes from soil
from foreign countries toe to toe.
Today we launched the Hoya-Straus Library of Art Education.
A free video collection called A Brush with Healing has begun.
Intuitive art and painting are supposed to be shared.
We choose to share our gifts of Intentional Creativity.
Hundreds of fliers are passed out. Social media buzzes.
The registrations begin to pour in.
We will bring art to those who need it the most.
Spirit Warrior closes our circle with a chant from the ancestors.
The room becomes liquid. Particle and wave become fluid motion.
Time stops. As she chants and drums.
My knees shake. My stomach quivers.
The walls turn to listen.
The world listens. I think the United Nations heard it.
A Native American woman at the UN is calling for justice.
Justice that has not been served or acknowledged.
I remind everyone if you are in this room
you are supposed to be here.
The red thread has shortened the distance
between you and this circle.
I invite everyone to come away with an action, and inspiration.
IC teachers pass out card stock paper.
Ask people to write down an action to take.
I pray the love and power in that space and time expands.
Grows and blesses.
At the end, our speakers are rushed with women from many lands.
Women wait to speak to us,
and give us their stories and information.
Invitations connect threads in Africa,
India, China and the women behind them.
The Chinese women cry at the mention of the red thread.
The legend says that those who are supposed to meet
are connected by an invisible red thread since before birth.
Connections are made
That have been longing the making between worlds.
In our Intentional Creativity community we teach
That we each have our piece of red thread.
That we may be able to see the whole circle,
and because of that, may feel overwhelmed,
but really – all we have to know
Is our part, to name it and live it out.
What is your piece of the Red Thread?
Whispers of, this energy rarely happens here.
This is needed. We feel this. This is what we want.
Most panels aren’t like this. Don’t feel like this.
Not just statistics and facts,
but shared love among those who serve.
Sharing tools, resources, stories.
One of the things I remember is this:
When I say I will not present my report of statistics,
That I will share a tool they can bring back home to their work
They cheer. I hear the room humming with stories
From all nations as the red thread is shared.
We invite everyone to the streets before the flags
To be a part of a ritual on UN grounds (or near)
We hope we won’t be arrested
But we will try to get in as much as we can
Before we are discovered by police.
Spirit Warrior leads us in ceremony.
She smudges us with sage. People on the street join us.
A man who is filming with his i-phone stops and asked to be blessed.
A woman on the gender continuum journey asks,
is this really a blessing?
I want a blessing.
She asks me what it means.
I tell her it also clears negative energy.
Her eyes get wide. I need that she/he says.
We pass out roses from the Great Mother.
Then the idea comes – smudge the United Nations.
Every flag from every country represented.
We made our own procession
Guided by a Native Woman on whose Ancestors land we stand.
We raise up our hands in prayer and blessing
We sing the women’s healing song as we go.
I can’t help but wonder
Has the United Nations ever been smudged?
We feel the power. The presence.
The work being done on behalf of all beings. All nations.
This day, we have each held our piece of the red thread.
That which is ours to do.
We lunch together, a party of 18, making plans for change.
Plans get set in motion.
Ideas of classes, scholarships, new allegiances are born.
We agree to create a scholarship fund for Native American Girls.
We agree the stories of white women and black women
and brown women working together
is ready for a the next part of the conversation.
We need to open up in new ways.
Standing side by side and saying the impossible words
that will dissolve the invisible and visible barriers,
many of which are created by patriarchy, not by sisters.
If we don’t say the unspoken, who will?
Those who lead from the heart,
don’t help each other from guilt.
We help each other from love.
The story continues and the table is loud and alive.
Later that evening in a little café in Chelsea.
I am exhausted and yet filled with life.
I need a bowl of pasta and red wine.
I talk with my husband over candlelight.
We make plans for next year.
We hope we did a good job.
I pray we offered a blessing.
I pray for all beings.
Holding my piece of the red thread.
Thank you to all the sisters gathered – for their support and presence and a few I know by name….especially Cosmic Cowgirls and Color of Woman teachers.
Lois Herman, Carmen Baraka, Denise Wreden, Patty Melnice, Rachel Bavis, Karen Murphy, Mary MacDonald, Valerie Kravette, Shauna Henry, Elizabeth Gibbons, Carole Thomassy, Leslie Nolan, Barbara Ann Michaels, Christine St. Pierre, Felicia Thompson, Marie Claudine Marie Claudine Mukamabano and more….
“We stand firm in our commitment to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression, including artistic and creative expression. In addition to being an integral part of the protected human right to freedom of expression, artistic and creative expression is critical to the human spirit, the development of vibrant cultures, and the functioning of democratic societies. Artistic expression connects us all, transcending borders and barriers.
Artistic expression can challenge us and change the way we view the world”.
This quote comes from a joint statement made by 57 State Members at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva
Welcome to the Hoya-Straus Art Education Library
at the heart of Intuitive Art & Intentional Creativity.
Our first project, A Brush with Healing provides access to free video classes to be used for self healing and education through the arts for both personal and professional use.
We have one more event at the United Nations on March 24 – where we will be showing a film about intuitive art and intentional creativity alive in the world.