Community members learn the value of independence

SIX NATIONS – Presented by Six Nations Child & Family Services and Six Nations Mental Health, Osedwataho:da or Finding Our Way is a series of presentations featuring various community members providing Ogwehoweh knowledge. Last Monday was the first presentation which featured keynote speaker Leroy Hill. Hill spoke about the importance of independence and what it means to be independent from a Haudenosaunee perspective. 

“Let me tell you a bit about myself,” stated Hill. “My Cayuga name translates to Long Path. I am also a Cayuga Sub-Chief, Faithkeeper and caretaker of some of the wampums. I sit on a committee that oversees the wampum belts and am also a speaker of the Great Law.”

“Be mindful of simple things,” stated Hill, “Our culture and our teachings is our toolkit. I belong to a committee that is sanctioned by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Grand Council, where I work on the Great Law. I am trained to speak for hours in reciting the Great Law. It takes a lot of discipline, responsibility and commitment to do that,” explained Hill.

Hill spoke of the Creation Story from what was passed down to him from his Aunt and explained that there is good and bad in each of us. “You constantly have to be aware that there is a good and a bad struggle within each of us. Being materialistic isn’t our way. It is not the value that our Creator has taught us. Being too materialistic means you will never be happy because you will always be wanting more.”

Hill explained that knowledge and awareness of who you are as a Haudenosaunee person is the essence of independence. “Being independent is the ability to think clearly for yourself. The more knowledge you have of your cultural identity, the more tools you have to draw out of your toolbox. Be mindful when you think of what independence means. I really think it has more to do with your mind, logic and state of mind. Being confident.

That’s one thing we’re struggling with, is low morale and lack of confidence.”

Hill said, “We need people to understand where we came from. Our history. Residential schools and the priests and black robes, all that impacted each of us. No one was left unaffected. It really rattled our people’s confidence.”

“So with the concept of being independent,” stated Hill, “you have to take responsibility to use your own logic and reason based on the tools you have so the more knowledge you have, the more tools you have to be independent to make good choices for yourself, your family and your community.”

Hill concluded his presentation stating that “there’s a struggle that goes on in each of us. Each of us is capable of doing good, each of us is capable of doing bad. Being mature is being able to sort that out for yourself. It takes patience.”

Leroy Hill will be speaking again on Independence next Monday. Other presenters include Jane Burning, Wendy Hill and Dave Williams. All ages are welcome and the event is free. Presentations run every Monday evening from 5:30-8pm from now until July 28, at the Social Services Gym.

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