Love, Respect and Defiance: Ashes to Ashes

By: Bubzy Martin


Ashes to ashes, let us give thanks for the faces in the earth that have yet to be born. Tread lightly, for everywhere we walk on Turtle Island is upon the bodies or our ancestors.

Ashes make nitrogen, and nitrogen is an active ingredient in fertilization. The Haudenosaunee would burn the bodies of our departed. The Grandmothers would stir the ashes looking for hard bone, find it and grind it up on rocks – every bone that remained that wasn’t burned. Then the ashes were spread amongst the territory with the utmost respect for the deceased. We have been here forever, since the Sky Woman fell to earth, so that’s a lot of ashes to help with the fertilization of our Mother Earth. The circle of life goes round and round – this life is only a little breath so let us not think we’re the pinnacle of the universe for our minds are supposed to be humble and holistic.

The stirring of the ashes ceremony at Longhouse comes from this custom. That is why we are told not to make footprints. Coincidentally, the modern environmentalists say the emission of pollutants in the air today will blacken the next 7 generations of coming faces with soot from our garbage

It’s all about perspective – we’re relearning respect for our lands. Everything moves in cycles or circles. When we dig into the earth there is layers upon layers of bodies of our loved ones. We Haudenosaunee must walk our talk lest we get swept up in the seas of fast food wrappers and 50 inch plasma TV boxes.

The language ceremonies and land are all we have that defines us – we have to protect it with our lives. The bush behind my house is where I spent weeks as a kid hunting and playing. I’ve grown quite attached to my dusty road where all us ten year old kids had grey hair, coarse like wool after playing in the front yard, from all the dust that kicked up from speeding bush cars. Talk about a carbon footprint that’ll make your eyes water and ear drums rattle.

This is Six Nations and I care about it all – the lushest Carolinian forest teaming with every kind of animal. This is home so there must be balance so we don’t disrespect life. If we cut trees we cut our newborns’ lungs.

We are stuck between two worlds, the natural and the unnatural technological world of “progress”. Is it really “progressive”? Sometimes I wonder. It is becoming a serious situation of computer spying, drone surveillance, tyrannical control, and natural world destruction. If we heal ourselves we make one less person that aids and abets this negative energy wave, thus changing this world for the better. What are those ancient words of wisdom? “The flutter of a butterfly’s wings here, makes a cyclone on the other side of the world”.


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