A wise Haudenosaunee elder explained to me once what the traditional concept of using “the good mind” is. He said it very plain and simple: “a good mind is one that works”.
At first I thought he was kidding but he went on with his logic, explaining that a good mind of Ganigohiyo is not a mystical concept or religious tenet of the longhouse — but rather the root of the Haudenosaunee tradition in using logical thought and freedom of expression to find the best thoughts that are out there.
He said that the good mind is when we all sit down and, without fear of judgement, bring every thought, dream, vision and question to the table and that is where we can all come to one mind – Sgatnigoha. That process of bringing everything together is what the good mind is.
This week the Six Nations Community Planning team released a summary finding of their Arts and Culture community consultations and the suggestions and feedback documented are the very definition of the good mind. If you have time to check out the summary you should. Some of the ones that caught my eye are as follows.
Create a grant program for families during bereavement to pay for speakers and singers to preserve this ceremony and reduce stress on families.
Build more community gardens, grow cultural plants to teach next generations to grow traditional foods.
Create an Indigenous Lacrosse Association to take back our game.
Tell stories from the female voice.
Create a language café.
Require leadership to take language classes.
Fund all language programs from zero to elder.
Revitalize tattooing arts.
Implement more visual Arts in public spaces.
People in authority positions should take part in spiritual healing.
Revise residency bylaw for mixed families to reflect Haudenosaunee identity.
Establish cultural advisory positions.
This only reflects a small portion of the suggestions within the report of the community plan — but it shows the substance within the Haudenosaunee of Six Nations when we are free to celebrate our diversity, put everything on the table and use our good minds. We are vibrant. We are evolving. We are brilliant.