by Courtney Stucker
Here in the Midwest, we have been very fortunate to have had a beautiful spring so far. People have started to emerge from their homes after the long winter. We are all soaking up the warmer sunlight, enjoying sounds of birds, seeing new bud blooms, and breathing in fresh air. Besides spring cleaning, we also have Earth Day to celebrate this month.
However, this makes me think: what if we appreciated and celebrated our beautiful Earth every day and not just on one day of the whole year? I am not just talking about getting out and picking up trash and planting new trees, but also simply being mindful about the world around us.
The Yankton Sioux believe that we have a natural connection to Earth and that Earth has a natural connection to us. Here is an excerpt from Maria Pearson's autobiography to explain this connection further:
“You know, we all wonder what our relationship is to the world, and how we are related to everything. But if we think about how we come into this world and how we go out, it's the same way. If you can just think about when your grandmother and grandfather go back to Mother Earth, the chemicals from their bodies feeds the soil that pushes up the grass and the plants, and so the grass and the plants become a part of your grandparents and as such, a part of you.
That grass and those plants that grow, they give off seeds that feed the birds of the air and so the birds become a part of your grandparents. The birds, in turn, feed the four-legged and the two-legged and then they, too, become a part of your grandparents. And when the four-legged feeds the two-legged, they again become a part of your grandparents.
And so goes the eternal circle, the sacred circle of life. All things are one. The sun coming up in the morning brings forth life from the earth where you buried your ancestors. These are your family ties. The plants generate the air you breathe and as such, comes the breath of your ancestors, back again. So when we think about it, death is part of the progression of life. Our grandparents die so we can live, so our grandchildren can live, because it regenerates the cycle. Death is part of life, and life is always sacred. we talk about the ecological balance of nature.
Every time we move a blade of grass, we create a catastrophe in the unseen world of the insects, and in the worlds of all the other little creatures who live there. Even when the rain falls and erodes, it makes a change in the ecology. So, when you disturb anything in nature, when you disturb the burials, you disturb the living--and you disturb the dead. And you know, who really has the right to do that?
I feel, personally, that our responsibility is to our ancestors. I think they've left us with the responsibility to see that their resting places are left alone. I think we are supposed to teach those around us about the sacredness. And I don't believe any of us are exempt from protecting our ancestor's final resting places.”
The moral of the story? Take some time and enjoy the gifts that nature brings us.
Excerpt taken from Maria Pearson's autobiography. Big thanks to the Ames History Museum for giving us access and sharing her story with us!
Courtney Stucker is the Digital Producer for Simplex Stories. Originally from Danville, IA, she has around three years of experience in content management, social analytics, and web development. Feel free to reach her at email@example.com.