Connnections to our Land Create Health
Boozhoo! I am an Indigenous person from Turtle Island (North America) and I am convinced that because of this, I should be consuming foods that are natural to this territory. I have a passion for trying to understand more about traditional food systems and sharing what I have learned with others so that we can become healthier. I have been fortunate to have several inspiring teachers in my life who have shared stories with me about how we can live a good life. Many of the teachings shared with me relate to the understanding of how we ought to love and respect our Earth Mother because she provides us with everything that we will ever need to live a beautiful life. I was taught that our Ancestors lived harmoniously with Creation and understood that the land, plants, and animals were teachers, and when used in a good way, could help us move closer to Mino-Bimaadiziwin (the good life).
Our Earth Mother provides us with waters, plants, and animals so that we can nourish our bodies. These spirits are gifts to us and we should acknowledge, appreciate, love, respect, honor, and protect them. We should show thanksgiving to Creation for this beautiful life and for these beautiful gifts that were given to us because without them, we could not survive. We live because these spirits willingly give up their lives for us.
My interest in traditional food systems came from listening to stories shared to me by inspirational knowledge holders who were certain that eating in a traditional way will improve our health. This encouraged me to want to learn more, not only for the health benefits, but also because in a sense, I was learning more about my Indigenous identity. In the following, I would like to share some my thoughts and ideas that I put together after hearing their stories and teachings. I would like to point out that these stories do not belong to me; they are the Ancestor’s stories that have been passed forward. What I am sharing is my perspective, or understanding of their teachings. I hope that by sharing, I am able to help in some small way.
I will try to unpack this idea for you using the bear as an example. I choose to use the bear because, my family is Bear Clan, and just as the Ancestors believed, I also understand that the plants and animals are our teachers and I can look to the bear for guidance.
A bear that lives in Northern Ontario will consume a diet based on what is available to them. They might eat berries, fish, roots, insects, grasses, and other plants because they are readily available. Since they live in a particular biosphere where particular foods grow, these foods will be the most appropriate because these food sources and the bear share a relationship to the same land. By consuming these foods they will maximize their chances of survival because they are eating what Earth Mother has provided for them. It is rare to see a bear from Northern Ontario eating oranges, pineapples, or mangos. They are not eating these foods because they do not grow naturally in their territory. They only eat the foods that are within their biosphere; these foods will provide the appropriate and adequate nutrients that they require to live a healthy and sustainable life. The bears are not over-weight, have diabetes, or are dying from cancer. They are healthy because they are eating what nature has provided for them.
Imagine if we transferred this understanding into our lives; maybe we can become healthier. I think we should be consuming food sources that come from the lands to which we are from since we share a deep connection to that land. I believe that our health greatly depends on the relationship that we have with our Earth Mother because connecting with her can create health and happiness for us. As an Indigenous person I believe that our health greatly depends on our connections with Creation and we should be looking to Earth Mother for guidance. Miigwetch!