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Water is Medicine, Water is Life

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Issue: 76 Section: Original Peoples Topics: climate justice, Indigenous

April 25, 2011

Water is Medicine, Water is Life

by Neddie Thompson

AKWESASNE—Water is life. When we carry a child, that child is in that water—the amniotic sac. That water holds our life for nine months that the women carry a child.

Once you go to a birth, you know how connected you are with the earth, and all of the creation around us. All my life I was told that it is the water that’s going to be really important.

We have rites of passage where the older women have the young women doing their moon ceremonies, which are still going on today. We teach our young women how our Grandmother Moon had made all kinds of sacrifices, and that we’re only here for a time on this earth, as beings, and we have our laws. One of the laws is to take care of the water.

Right now we have to make our language strong, because our language means a lot more than what we are talking now, using the English language. That’s our power: our language and our culture.

They try to destroy us and their own people with whatever chemicals and prescription drugs. Now that’s going into our water source, all the chemicals. The water runs through all of our territories and goes into the ocean. In that is all the sickness.

It’s genocide what they’re doing. They’ve been doing it since they set foot here on our lands. It’s time to tell them that they have no more powers to do so, no matter what kind of law they write.

We have our laws, and it’s to protect all of creation. All the women need to rise up, no matter what, all of the stuff that we’ve been put through. The men are there to protect us, and stand by us and what we do.

We have to go and use our voices and speak out. And tell them that we’re here to tell them that our Mother Earth is sick now and we have to take care of her. With that, we have to start renewing everything.

That’s what it’s going to take. It’s not going to take money and how much land you own, because you can’t put a price on the land. We have to put a stop to all the industries, corporations, and that money, the dollar. Their world isn’t going to work. It’s going to all come down.

It’s going to be a long process. You can’t just do it overnight. And no, you can’t sign any piece of paper, because they change their laws all the time, and ours never really did.

Once our people wake up from the oppression, from all the damage, one day soon, we’ll all get together and go to the ones that try to change all the laws.

Everything is dying now, all around us. They’re killing all our people and their own people. We can’t sit with them. We have to let them know—we have to tell them—because they sit with us for a little while, and they smoke that peace pipe, and okay, it’s just a band-aid effect for a little while.

There comes a time when our generation has to say the time is now. You’ve done all this hurt. It’s going to be all of us, the people, who are going to have to get together, from all directions on this land, and say: It’s over.

All the original people have that spiritual connection to all of the creation. It all has to do with how we talk to one another, and the medicines, and the spiritual part of it.

It’s going to be the women, or the children, that will be strong to do that, that’ll be able to just understand who they are and why they come to this journey here on the land. Since time immemorial, it’s the women that give birth to all of our children, to take care of this land.

Neddie Thompson is an original woman and traditional midwife from Akwesasne, Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) Territory. Her Frontline account was recorded via phone, transcribed, and edited (due to space considerations only) by Sandra Cuffe in Vancouver.

This article was published in A People's Forecast: The Climate Justice Issue, our 2011 special issue. To read more articles as they are published, click here.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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