I Speak in Dignity not in Anguish



A message from Tsimshian Elder, Shannon Thunderbird

 I first heard the phrase "audacity of hope" when President Barack Obama said them in his inaugural speech, January 20, 2009. The words ploughed into me like a runaway train. "Well," I thought to myself, "There is an actual term for how I feel."

I have lived a relatively long life that has been full of challenges, and many days I've simply wanted to roll into a little ball and give into the fear that sometimes haunts my soul. Yet, even at my lowest there was this ridiculous and persistent streak of hope that kept flickering. "Leave me to my angst." I despaired. "It is what I know, what I can revel in. I am comfortable with the predictable outcome of my usual responses. Leave me wasting away in the black void of my spirit, I am really good at this, and haven't I told myself often enough that I should always do what I am good at!"

And yet.....There it was, the starlight of hope flickering softly, sent by the soft voices of my Ancestors - the audacity of hope!

 Damn! I spent so many years as a desperately unhappy child, and young woman crying for my spirit to be fed, my emotions weeping to feel safe, my tumbling mind begging for relief from the darkness of my soul. Everything about my mind, emotions, spirit, body were clouded. I could not (would not) see the signs and gifts of healing that were lovingly placed around my heart like soft, peaceful down from under Eagle's wings. I was a victim.

And Father Sky turned many times (years went by)....

There came a day when my Ancestors upped the ante so high I could no longer ignore their messages. Finally, I understood the honour that was being offered to me, to do their work for myself, and also to  make it the work of my life. I listened, reluctantly at first, but I listened and in so doing saved my own life all because the audacity of hope stoked the fires within me.

'Audacity', what a great word, bold courage, daring to go beyond the damaging patterns that had defined my life -- a quantum leap from fright to fearlessness. I moved from Victim to Survivor.

 I accepted that all that happened in the past had brought me to this moment in time shaping, moulding, making me, despite my best efforts, stronger and stronger. To give into the old patterns dishonoured the Ancestors who had suffered; as well, it dishonoured me. I have been gifted with deep Ancestral knowledge, I have taken up the mantle of Cultural Guardian all because Hope chose to be audacious. I moved from Survivor to Person.

And Father Sky continued to turn....

At this point in my 'Elder' life I have been gifted with Eagle Feathers, Sacred Pipe and Drums. I am humbled by how much the Ancestors believed in me, before I believed in myself. I trust myself that I am strong enough to carry these sacred items, speak their words in dignity not in anguish, and to conduct myself in a manner that pleases them despite the occasional challenges from the human world who have yet to do their own spiritual work.

Such is the tapestry of human life, to learn from the different choices and keep moving forward. The second half of my life is spent concentrating not so much on what needs to be changed in others, as to what needs to be changed in me.

As I walk my earth walk towards my day of quiet I pray to arrive at my destination, as the Great Spirit Prayers says, with "clean hands and straight eyes, so that when life fades as the fading sunset my Spirit can rest in the arms of my Ancestors without shame." 

Wilwilaaysk, All My Relations.




  A VERY SPECIAL EVENT:  (a) A Blue Moon, (b) a Partial Lunar Eclipse, (c) on New Year's Eve 2009! As the Moon slips through the shadow of the Earth the magnetic pull sends a cosmic shower of good energy. Earth Mother sings to her sister, Luna and emotional, physical, spiritual and mental wellness is balanced. It is Women's Time. Sisters, walk 2010 with positive strength of vision and purpose. Give thanks for the new doors opening from the shadows of the old. There is a prophecy that says the Ancestors will return to see what we are doing with the Earth, how we are treating each other. These photos are testament to the prophecy being realized, our Ancestors are very concerned about us as evidenced by the eyes watching us.


The Ancestors are Watching! Amazing photos taken by the Hubble Telescope (also called the "Eye of God"). The Phenomenon is a Helix Nebula or Dying Star. Cosmic dust scatters & flouresces.  Breathe deeply, calm your heart,  mind, spirit & emotions.



Oh Great Spirit whose voice I hear in the wind, Hear me.
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.

Make my hands respect the things you have made and my ears
sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people.

Help me to remain calm and strong in the face of all that comes towards me.
Let me learn the lessons hidden under every leaf and rock.
Help me to find compassion without empathy overwhelming me.

I seek strength not to be greater than my brothers and sisters,
but to fight my greatest enemy - Myself.
Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes
. So that when life fades as the fading sunset, my spirit may come to you without shame.

Wilwilaaysk, All My Relations.




Among other things, Shakers represent the tears of the Ancestors. They cleanse your Spirit and break through blockages in your heart, mind, spirit and body. However, when your tears stop flowing, they become crystals, hardened bits of glass that continue impede your emotional progress. They multiply until, like Superman, you are living in a Fortress of Solitude, unable to escape.  However, crystallized tears can melt, and so your task is to continue on your life's journey seeking always to find ways to allow your tears to melt and to flow - this way you can live in the present and you can float on a river to the ocean.


By Shannon Thunderbird (copyrighted, July, 2006)

From the Rivers to the oceans Native people on the rise
Wings of Eagle carry our songs to the moon and Father Sky

From the rivers to the oceans we are speaking with one voice
Walking softly hand in hand with Mother Earth we will rejoice

We place our canvas on the shore and paint a different scene
Our tears are crystals on the waves, we drum to set us free

From the rivers to the oceans we survived the stormy seas
And now we lay our burdens down for soul and mystery

From the rivers to the oceans, float on hearts of ages past
A thousand stories are released - at last, at last, at last

No more cries falling on deaf ears, we're fresh water streams
 Ancestors chant a song of peace and love and harmony

From the rivers to the oceans, we listen for the hum
Rippling softly across and in between our voices and the drum

From the rivers to the oceans we are sweeping clean the beach
Weaving new patterns of destiny on the currents of the sea

There is beauty and serenity in the clouds of misty rain
Medicine Wheel teachings in the gentle hands of women

From the rivers to the oceans Native women on the rise
Wings of Eagle carry our songs to the Moon and Father Sky
To the Moon and Father Sky.......



May all who enter, rest in peace and safety beneath my wings. May all who leave, take with them wings of comfort
(Tsimshian Prayer)


The cycle of abundance is complete only when we give thanks for the abundance we have been given.

But, giving thanks is not linear, it is part of a circle. Therefore, in any moment in the circle of timelessness, thanks can be given, although it appears the abundance has not yet come forth.

A circle must be unbroken and each part of the whole is essential but has no order.

(John McIntosh & Jo Ann "Ananda" Polito)


I see myself as part of the larger order of things. I accept my role in humbleness for I do not need accolades to know that I am an integral part of the whole. I accept that it requires courage to walk my earth walk and wisdom to know when I need to make changes. Yet, each day I awake, my day is a blank canvas upon which I can paint a new reality for myself.

My goal is to walk in a good way so that I can go to the spirit world with 'clean hands and straight eyes' as the Great Spirit Prayer says. I will face my options, make my choices.
 Depending on what I decide indicates whether I must return for another earth walk if there are lessons yet to be learned.

Each day I see and embrace more of my inner beauty because this is the essence of who I am. I do my best to walk and talk the talk sincerely and in truth. I am guided by my Ancestors and that which is greater than myself and I walk my path in peace secure in the deep knowledge given to me by my Ancestors. 

Wilwilaaysk, All My Relations.




Today, I ask for the presence of my Ancestors to come and touch my face & heart. I ask that they return to me balance & harmony which will lead me to discover my own spirituality & return me to a state of respect & oneness with the Universe

I place myself under the guidance of my Ancestors & Mother Earth. I surrender myself to their loving & protective embrace. I am an integral part of a peaceful & harmonious universe. The Ancestor's divine wisdom & love are dominant within me & around me.

I give thanks to them for being patient as I make my way through my life. I give thanks for understanding that belief and tradition do not have to be written upon tablets of stone by the iron fist of God. The Ancestor's way is through dreams in the solemn hours of the night or day.

These teachings are written on my heart and I am grateful.

Wilwilaaysk, All My Relations.



My Cycle of Life is perfect, whole & complete. There is a time of beginning, a time of growth, a time of being, a time of withering or wearing out, and a time of leaving.

 I accept these cycles and rhythms as normal & sacred. There are always wondrous beginnings with no endings, only a constant cycling & recycling of substance, sacredness & experience.

Life is never static or stale for each moment is new & fresh. An ending is a new point of beginning. There is always time, in other words, to right wrongs or change directions.

 I am flexible & flowing & at peace with the natural order of things. I trust in the power of that which is greater than me to protect me at all times & under all circumstances.

I am empowered by all that is sacred to live my life with meaning and kindness.

Wilwilaaysk, All My Relations.



  • Treat the Earth & all that dwells on it with respect.

  • Remain close to your Ancestors and that which is greater than yourself.

  • Treat people under all circumstances with respect & dignity.

  • Work together for the benefit of all people.

  • Give assistance & kindness whenever & wherever it is needed.

  • Do what you know to be right.

  • Look after the wellbeing of your mind, body, spirit, emotions

  • Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good of all.

  • Be truthful & humble at all times.

  • Take full responsibility for your actions.


When despair for the world grows in me  and I wake in the night at the least sound, in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be.

I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.

I come into the presence of still water and I feel above me the day blind stars waiting with their light for a time.

I rest in the grace of the world, and I am free.

(Wendell Berry)


As I move closer to the end of the world as I currently know it, I ponder those outworn habits & attitudes that no longer serve me.

Many patterns of behaviour that once fit the soul of my awareness now drag me down & hold me back from my highest purpose.

Let me ponder within, and listen for the direction from my True Self who has always known what parts should be retained and what parts I must let go of.

The success of my personal earth walk can be sweet for a time, but only that which falls into the category of 'right thought & action' lasts forever & is worthy of my focus.

Only my True Self knows the way through the labyrinth of my earth walk to attain this most worthy of destinations.

Wilwilaaysk, All My Relations.



Even after I have felt a healing occur, a remnant of the original sensitivity or fear still remains. I recognize that some of my thoughts lie and lie a lot.

With strength of purpose & belief in the 'right action' of my mind, body, spirit & emotions I can put the brakes on a return to the darkness that surrounded me in the first place.

I cannot always keep from reacting in a predictable way and I cannot always anticipate when I will engage in emotional fragility,


 I can decide how long it will last and this is all the Ancestors can ask of me on any given day.

I am Well....
I will be Better....
I am Here

Wilwilaaysk, All My Relations.



When I honour my memories, I am letting the truth of my existence into the light. I realize it is disrespectful to stifle memories no matter how painful they might be, for to do so, stills the voices of my Ancestors & the Spirit World where my memories reside.

My Ancestors speak to me from memory & when I walk in reality, I am remembering their lives whose energies I resonate with on a day-to-day basis. In my daily earth walk, in other words, I am a living memory.

When I can honour the past & my memories, I am now in a position to understand them. When negative memories are put to rest, they no longer resonate in reality, they no longer control me.

I honour them because they have helped bring me to this place, in this time & and I am stronger for all my experiences. I leave their previous hauntings in the arms of my Ancestors.



Within me is Divine Discontent which constantly urges me to remember who and what I am. It is my inner voice that warns me when something is not quite right with the present picture I have framed & called my 'present-day reality'. Divine Discontent urges me to take action.

My ego sometimes interprets this Divine Discontent as guilt and prompts me to engage in "not right" action that will quench the fire of my guilt but does not win the war.

Guilt is an unquenchable burning that leads only to a sense of unworthiness as I slam the door to receiving and facing the truth.

Always, the ego seeks but never finds, nor is it ever satisfied; it always leads me back into a dream-illusion I have created as my reality.

I release my guilt so that my True Self can embrace my Divine Discontent and show me the way home.


Warriors of this great land,

Warriors of all races,

Let your anger melt like the melting snow.

For the melting snow brings new life in the spring.

Let your hatred go to the Great Thunder.

For thunder strikes only once and everything listens.

Respect all  people and all that you see, like Grandfather Sun.

For when the Sun shines it shines on everything.

To be a warrior of peace is to be yourself.

(Author unknown)


What would you do if you knew you could do anything?

Imagine the freedom of thinking beyond limitations & doubts.

What would you do?

What brings you joy? What brings you peace? What brings your Love into full expression.

Let go of the false restrictions of age, & allow the essence of your dreams to flow in and through your life.

Now go within and ask your Inner Guide to show you the way to manifest your dreams.

Imagine you can do anything. In Truth -- you can!

(Author unknown)



No matter where I am there is only infinite good, infinite wisdom, infinite harmony & infinite love. It cannot be otherwise. There is no duality.

Therefore, right here & right now in this place I declare there are no problems that do not have solutions. There are no questions without answers. I choose to be beyond the problem to seek the wisdom & guidance of that which is greater than me that will provide solutions to any discord that may appear. I am willing to learn from the confusion & release all blame as I turn within to seek the truth. This is Bear Medicine.

I enter the home of that which is greater than myself for it also the home of that which is not yet in form. I give myself up to the experience of a changing consciousness. This is Raven Medicine.

I ask Raven to help form, shape & guide the magic of healing & my change of consciousness. I am willing to release old patterns of behaviour that keep me from my sacred mountain.



I choose to know the truth, no matter how painful in order to be free. The divine, wisdom, & harmony with the Universe are dominant within & around me.

 I choose to work towards balancing my Mental self, the home of the Teacher; my Spiritual self, the home of the Healer; my Emotional self, the home of the Visionary, and my Physical self, the home of the Warrior. This is Eagle Medicine.

I declare for myself and for each person I come in contact with, peace, security, harmony and a deep sense of purpose, love of self and the joyous willingness to love others. I am centred in truth and live in joy.

I choose to use the power of gentleness to touch the hearts & minds of wounded beings, including myself, who are trying to keep me from my sacred mountain. This is Deer Medicine and it connects me to my centering place of serenity & and I am guided by the Ancestors.

Wilwilaaysk, All My Relations.