All my Relations. You might have noticed that this is how I end all my posts. All my Relations or Mitakuye-Oyasin (pronounced mi-TAHK-wee-a-say or Mee-tah-koo-yay Oy-yah-seen) is a saying in the Obijway or Lakota language meaning We are all related or All are related. It is a part of my life, so much so that it is permanently tattooed on my foot….It is at the core of Native beliefs and spirituality and said in many ceremonies. For example, during a smudge or a talking circle, once one is done smudging or talking, one will say All my Relations, as a way to let others know they are done and recognizing everyone who is there. Others, will often acknowledge (especially during talking circles) the saying with a sound such as “ho” or “aho”, signifying they have heard the one speaking and recognize what was said.
But what does it mean? Well, it means that all living things are connected, to each other and to the Creator, the Higher Power. I cannot exist without you and you cannot exist without me. What I do affect you and others and what you do affects me. Everything we do has an effect on others and on our world. It means that everything has a spirit and that’s how we are connected to each other as well as to the Creator. Native practices and beliefs honor the saying. How? By treating each other and what Mother Earth and Father Sky has given us with respect.
The Drum, is also used as a mean to acknowledge the connection between the physical world and the spiritual world. When the stick strikes the drum, that connection is recognized and the spirit world is joined with the physical world. The beat of the drum, at times rhythmic, like a heartbeat or a pulse, like a mother’s heartbeat a foetus hears in the womb, soothes and allows us to connect. Like a child finds consolation in hearing the steady beat of his mother’s heart, we hear the heartbeat of Mother Earth in the drum and find peace. By beating, your drum (pulse) connects you to the Spirit world. When it stops beating in the physical dimension, you return to the spirit dimension.
But I digress….I often do, as so many teaching and beliefs are related. Oh! See what I did there? I put us back on track 😉 But really, the concept of every thing being related is central to the Native culture. The image of the Creator lives inside of us and we need to recognize it in others. We are all the children of Mother Earth, we are all brothers, sisters, cousins. Yesterday, today and tomorrow, The weak, the strong, the rich, the poor, the young and the old. We are all related. We relate through love and hate, joy and pain and life and death. As some Navajo people say: “We are related because we share the same breath. We are related because we are from the same place. We are related because we are. What is, is”.
P.S. You will see me alternating between saying the Native people and Aboriginal people. I will use those words interchangeably as they often are in Canada. I am aware that in other parts of the world “Aboriginal” often means something else. Here, however, I am using it as a synonym.
Parts of what I just discussed come from a fantastic resource that I would like to share with you below. Listen to the Drum by Blackwolf Jones and Gina Jones. Check the resources page later on to see where you can order it.