Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Native American Museum in D.C.

You have
noticed that everything
an Indian does is in a circle, and that
is because the Power of the World always
works in circles, and everything tries to be round. In
the old days when we were a strong and happy people, all
our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation, and
as long as the hoop was unbroken, the people flourished. The
flowering tree was the living center of the hoop and the circle of the
four quarters nourished it. The east gave peace and light, the south
gave warmth, the west gave rain, and the north with its cold and mighty
wind gave strength and endurance. Everything the Power of the World does

is in a circle. The sky is round and I have heard that the Earth is round like a
ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds
make their nests in circles. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a
circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons
form a great Circle in their changing, and always come back again
to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood
to childhood, and so is everything where Power moves. Our
teepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were
always set in a circle, the nation's hoop, a nest of
many nests, where the Great Spirit meant
for us to hatch our children.

----Black Elk

I had an interesting syncronicity occur this past week. While enroute to the National Gallery with my friend Rose, we went to the Horticultural Museum. There, Rose decided she absolutely had to have a cup of coffee before proceeding, and the nearest place to obtain such, we were informed, was down the street at the American Indian Museum. So, even though unplanned, there we went - an amazing building, very modern in design and concept. After coffee, we decided to see the exhibits, which were so well done as the museum attempted to address the myths, histories, and what has survived of some thousands of Native American tribes and languages. Their logo? A circle of hands around a circle!

On the way out, we stopped at the bookstore, where my eyes were immediately drawn to a book by psychologist and storyteller Susan Hazen- Hammond, called Spider Woman's Web - Traditional Native American Tales About Women's Power. Such a wonderful collection of stories by many different traditions, many of which I did not know. And the logo running throughout the book (at the end of each story, with the title "Connecting the Story to Your Life"?) A hand holding a thread!

All tales are born in the mind of Spider Woman,

and all tales exist as a result of her naming."

---Paula Gunn Allen

The Sacred Hoop, 1991

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