Who speaks for the trees, medicine plants and all the natural world?
Comforts food came to me from a tree. I was around three or four years old when I realized the beautiful tall hickory tree I sat under every day, also gave me food (nuts) oxygen to breath, shade, a home for the birds and comfort food.
The tree always welcomed visitors, family, children, and elders. I learned much of what I know today sitting with that comfort tree. The old hickory tree is still standing; at the place I was born and raised and loved by two wonderful parents.
The memories come back often, while listening to by father, who attended the Mohawk Residential School from four to 16 years old. He often shared his experience of being hungry, and how he would sneak among the comfort apple trees in front of the school and find an apple to curb his hunger.
The fear of getting caught and being punished never left his memory. Being comforted was much more important at the time, and he was willing to bear the consequences.
Yesterday, I cried as I drove up the driveway and was excited to visit his comfort tree.
Help! Who took his comfort and mine? This year I won’t have a comfort apple from his comfort tree to ease my pain.
All of the beautiful trees were part of the story of many hundreds of children who went to the trees of comfort. “What do we have to live for now?”, my father would say.
Jan Kahehti’:is Longboat
First generation residential school survivor