Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Paradigm Shifted November

So every November it's all about elections, Veterans, ME, and Thanksgiving complete with the whole pilgrim and Indian "first Thanksgiving" at Plymouth Rock-esque renditions of memory, along with many talks on gratitude and people speaking of thankfulness, graciousness, etc.

I guess that's all there, but this year it's somehow different for me.

First, last night I experienced a new use of turkey (the obvious staple of Thanksgiving Dinner) I have never before considered. Turkey Bowling. One uses a smaller, perhaps five pound, frozen turkey as the bowling ball. Our experts laid down sheets of plastic. The pins consisted of two liter soda pop bottles 1/4 of the way full. By the time we finished one turkey was completely out of the bag, it had been so brutalized. I was waiting for the accumulated pressure of the remaining carbonated soda to explode one of the bottles on impact. To my everlasting dismay this did not happen. Alas, it was still a really enjoyable experience.

Second, today we had the opportunity to walk to the local Paiute Tribal Building to enjoy their tribal dances, drum circle, and story-telling in the native Paiute tongue. What a marvelous experience! The grass dancers, the traditional and fancy dancers, the shawl and jingle dancers. Their regalia alone was a presentation of art and dedication, but to see the skills that have been inherited, taught, and passed down from generation to generation was incredibly moving. And the reason for it all, November is American Indian Heritage Month. Whoever knew? Certainly not me. To see children ages three to teenagers at 19 stand in front of their peers and perform was truly an experience of a lifetime.

Perhaps the most moving part came at the end when an Elder, who had been asked to offer a prayer at parting, explained, "We are not Pagan. We are not Heathen. We are people. People who have a mind. People who have a heart, and we put them together." It stirs within me the desire to know more, and a greater sense to be more closely attuned to my own heritage.

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