Walk a Mile in My Moccasins


All I can say about my life since the last blog entry is PHEW! I just finished with my fall retreat in Joshua Tree. Marisa Ryan, David Lintner, and I put this on every year. Every fall, we sweat blood over it. Every fall it is wonderful.
It’s over. Until May, when we have our spring retreat in Idyllwild. Time to start planning that one now. I know it will be as wonderful as ever too, but only because we all put in so much effort to make it seem effortless.

This year, at Joshua Tree, our Sacred Journey theme was Native America. We made spirit rattles, experienced a sweat lodge, had a drumming circle that included my ginormous (spelling?) Pow Wow Drum. We danced, meditated, and had our sacred journey to our source.

This whole thing started me thinking about my own Native American Heritage. I am such a hodge-podge of nationalities that I have sort of placed that one in the background. The only time I played the “Indian Card” was in Taos some years ago. I went to a place where the Native Americans were selling jewelry, blankets, rugs, and such. I spotted an old woman sitting on the ground with all of her beautiful turquoise and coral jewelry spread around her. She reminded me so much of my grandmother.

I knelt down and saw a turquoise and pink coral rope necklace that I fell in love with. AAAHG! Sticker shock. So, I introduced myself and casually mentioned my Native American ancestry. Her craggy face smiled and she gave me the “special” price. I almost refused, until I looked at the sublime expression on her face. She reached out and touched my arm and said, “Even with a drop of true blood, we need to stick together.” My heart melted and I bought the necklace, plus a couple of other pieces.

I’ve never forgotten how beautiful she was with her silver and black hair, sleek and shiny  braided into a thick rope that hung down her back. Her eyes were as black as the jet and contrasted with her creased, bronze skin. Her aura was of a proud heritage that is struggling to maintain its special place in the world. At that moment, I connected with my own Cherokee and Apache ancestors. But it wasn’t the right time to move into that phase of my life. I returned to my mulligan stew heritage and forgot, until recently, how that moment felt.

At the Joshua retreat, I again started feeling the stirrings of interest in that part of my past. The Trail of Tears that forced Cherokees through miles of harsh landscape to relocate them in Oklahoma. So many suffered and died. Were my people on that trek? The fierce and proud Apache, now relegated to rampant alcoholism and despair. How did my great grandfather cope. He was hung by the Klu Klux Klan. Perhaps because he had married a white woman. No one really knows.

I have long believed that Native Americans are, by many people, falsely lumped into a neat package of people who thought the same and had the same traditions. They have been mythologized. Is that a word? I guess it is now. The noble Indian, mystical, spiritual, taking care of the land. Peaceful. Innocent victims of white America’s greed and cruelty. Although much of that is true, it is also true that each Nation is unique. They have tremendous differences. Some were peaceful; others warlike. They fought among themselves so much they couldn’t unite and drive back the white American invaders.

My grandmother said once that if all the tribes had been able to unite, no one would have been able to dislodge them. Maybe that’s true. Maybe not. We’ll never know. My grandmother was part Cherokee. My grandfather, half Apache. I wish I had been interested in their heritage when I was a child and living with them. But, I wasn’t.

Spirit is now directing me toward learning more about the beliefs, practices, and traditions of the Cherokee and the Apache. I am finally ready to adopt those parts of myself into consciousness. I believe it can only bring me closer to completion of a spiritual being having a physical experience. I have memories of past lives as Native American. What tribe? I don’t know. How long ago? I don’t know. I haven’t explored that either. Time to unite my spirits journey with the physical and honor the ancestors that have made this life possible.

What about your people? Do you relate? Do you know about the traditions of your ancestors? Is it important? How do you relate your physical heritage with your spiritual? Is one more important than the other? Let me know what’s on your mind. Thanks.

help me always
to speak the truth quietly,
to listen with an open mind
when others speak,
and to remember the peace
that may be found in silence.
Cherokee Prayer


About anitaburns

Confetti Head: My life of change, and color, weirdness, and fun. From the colorful days of Hippie, to all night rocker parties, to married life, contemplation, meditation, and more. My life has been blessedly full and rich. Anita's Real Food: I have loved cooking since my first Easy Bake Oven when I was four. I bake, cook, invent, share, and eat. Enjoy my Real Food Blog. Astrology Learning and Secrets: LIttle-known facets or a deeper dive into the wonderful world of Astrology
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3 Responses to Walk a Mile in My Moccasins

  1. Guitain says:

    I can’t express what it was like to read your thoughts. I am also mixed, while my father’s family has forced my Dutch heritage into every area of my life, my Cherokee was almost like the family shame. The Cherokee woman who sat in the corner and did not speak in my mother’s memories. My mother instilled a quiet adoration for my past, giving me the name Guitain (heart of a young wolf). I am often rejected by the Dutch because of my dark skin, hair, and eyes… my parents say that I look Cherokee. I want to give honor to the people God has made me from. It is wonderful to know that someone else has felt such leanings.


    • anitaburns says:

      Hi Guitan,
      I’m sorry not to have replied earlier. I usually receive notice of comments but for some reason just got yours. Thanks for your thoughts. I certainly understand your plight. Won’t it be wonderful when what’s in a person’s heart is more important that what’s on the outside or what cultural heritage they follow. Respect for all paths is, I am hoping in our near future.




  2. Charles Rogers says:

    My Great Grandfather was full blooded Cherokee from NC. My mom with her dark skin and long black silvering hair is so beautiful. My father never would talk or admit his heritage but you could see American Indian all over him. I am proud to have even a drop of Cherokee blood running thru my veins.


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