I saw hope this weekend. It looked like:
Truths being acknowledged.
Respect for all beings.
Gratitude for everyone’s contributions however small or big.
The hope I saw this weekend looked like this:
For 12,500 years the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians lived in what is now called the Sonoma County coast. In the mid-1800s a group of Russian boats appeared on the horizon of the Pacific Ocean and the lives of the Kashia people changed forever. Their land was violently taken from them, as were many of their lives. The connection between the Kashia and the land was then and is today a deep, deep connection. The brutal separation of land from the Kashia people had a profound impact on every Kashia person’s soul.
Through many partnerships, a lot of hard work, and vast amounts of hope, the Kashia celebrated the return to their ancestral land this weekend. They now own 700 acres that includes the coastline, prairies, and redwoods. The Kashia can hear the sound of the ocean, harvest food from the soil, and take deep breaths in the shade of the trees. They are home.
This is not my story to tell, really. I am not Kashia. Nor am I Russian or even a resident of Sonoma County. I had nothing to do with making this return to their homeland happen. I do not understand the pain and trauma that the Kashia have suffered. I am not a historian, archeologist, psychologist, or any other -ologist that gives me any credibility in ‘knowing’ this story.
There are a lot of things that I’m not, but it is paralyzing to let myself stay in that way of thinking. If I believe that I have to be a Native American (or African American or Latino or …) to make change, then I’m missing the point. It’s us white people who need to change.
For me, the change started with listening. It started with one conversation with one Tribal Chairman which turned into more conversations which led to a 3-day summit of Native and non-Native people and all of this resulted in a film I produced about partnerships between Native Americans and land conservation organizations. The film brought me to the Kashia and the Kashia invited me to attend this past weekend’s celebration.
This world contains so many realities. But if we believe that our reality is everyone’s reality, we miss the opportunity to grow and learn and make a difference. We miss the opportunity to take all of our gifts, talents, and privilege (if we have it) to make a wrong right or build bridges or plant new seeds of hope.
This weekend I saw hope, and it was beautiful.