About the Author
Gae Ho Hwako Norma Jacobs is of the Wolf clan in the Cayuga Nation of the Great Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Gae Ho Hwako is her Ongwehowe name. It means ancestral females holding the canoe before me, and it positions her in an ancestral line of great women of the Wolf clan. She has been given the responsibilities in the canoe of empowering herself, family, community, Nation and Confederacy. Her mother told her that it was important to know their cultural ways so she would be able to help explain them to people, and it is these experiences and responsibilities that she holds as Longhouse Faith-keeper, advisor to the National Inquiry on MMIWG and Elder who has taught in universities, colleges and other institutions.
When I look around, I see the many gifts that surround and nurture us – all of life in its many forms, from plants and medicines to trees and animals. This great abundance of energy and love that is this great Turtle Island, North America, came from E tinoha ongwesidage’dra gwe’ (our Mother Earth).
Gae Ho Hwako N. Jacobs
A Gratitude Activity
The book opens with Gae Ho Hwako Norma Jacobs offering the Ganǫhǫnyǫhk (Thanksgiving Address), and you can follow her words here in their oral form.
As these words are the root of all that follows in the book, it is important to take time to reflect deeply on what they can teach us about how to approach our diverse relations. For this activity, you can engage a natural place on a weekly basis for an hour or so, and based on those relations begin opening out to the spirit of each relation reflected in the Thanksgiving Address (e.g., people, Earth, trees, plants, animals, birds, water, sky…). Focus on what you can learn about being in relationship as part of creation, and also how colonial processes often sever those relations from our ways of living. As you journal and learn, try to ground your words in experiences and cultural teachings ancestral to yourself (rather than appropriating Haudenosaunee words) that you could perhaps begin to “naturalize” into good relations with these lands.
About the Circles of Ǫ da gaho dḛ:s
In approaching the sharing spirit of ǫ da gaho dḛ:s, it becomes clear that the living Indigenous cultural teachings carried in the Ganǫhǫnyǫhk and the Two Row Wampum cannot be constrained by the boxes of colonialism... The circles of this book embody what Gae Ho Hwako describes as “ḛsḛhsgwaowhaneh, meaning that you need to expand the teaching or story beyond what you hear and see; it is about clarity, questioning, and seeking answers.” Each of her three sets of teachings are followed by reflective responses from four of the circle participants, who write from their Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, Métis, mixed or French Canadien relational positions. Some are scholars who work in the university, others are authors, and some are community activists, but we all have attempted to bring our experience and knowledge into reflective relation with the teachings... Through such a cycling process, we each ḛsḛhsgwaowhaneh (expand the teaching).