By Kelly MacNaughton

I have a deep frustration at the lack of knowledge amongst our people. I have always felt a need to ‘fill in the gaps’, when I see that someone doesn’t have the same understanding that I do concerning the way we are meant to live. I am not trying point a finger at anyone, only sharing what I have been taught and how I see the world around me. All this being said, I also wish to say that any fault one might find here is mine, so please accept that I can make mistakes, and the mistakes are purely mine.

I have a deep and unabiding love for our people, the Onhkwehonh:we, and only ever wish for a harmony and love amongst us where we lift each other up. Our Kayenera:koa teaches us that in order to have friendship we first need to have respect and love. I am also well aware my understanding is not the only one.

I can only hope that what I share in some way, shape or form can help more of our people, or anyone for that matter, to live and understand a life of love, sharing and compassion. We all have innate talents and love within us which speaks to us about to how we are to live our lives.

When I was a little girl, dancing was that ‘thing’ that spoke to me and as it turned out, was something for which I had an innate talent. In my mind, whenever I danced and people enjoyed watching me, I felt I was helping them to be happy. Happiness is important in living a life of love and caring, so I felt that by dancing, not only was I making myself feel better, but that I was sharing the feelings of happiness that dancing gave me.

Over the years I began to understand that absolutely everyone in this world has something to share and if we are paying attention to the world around us, the gifts we have to share can help to make this world a better place to live.

I am saddened when I find that there are people willing to tear others down, unwilling to listen to the answers they are given and then speak about how they are looking after the interests of others. These are the people that do not have an understanding of our Kayenerah:koa and are too impatient to research the answers to their questions within our own People and understand that the lessons to be learned, never end.

One doesn’t always have to like the answers given, but we do need to understand that there is a reason for those answers. Arrogance is a dangerous attitude to have when dealing with issues of protecting and maintaining our people’s culture.

We, the Onhkwehonh:we, at the river Ouse, currently known as Six Nations of the Grand River Territory have recently suffered horrific loss due to a lack of compassion and accountability. Young lives have been taken because responsibility and reason were missing. We have failed to take responsibility for each other and to use reason to benefit all of us and those coming faces. Could this horrific event have been avoided? Who’s to blame? What can be done to right this travesty?

Compassion seems to be sorely lacking amongst the people in the world in general, and specifically here at home. I recently saw a child taking swings at his mom, thinking it was funny. I know he would not have hit her, but I still found it upsetting that he would think others would find this acceptable or humourous.

I am crestfallen to think that we have let our families break down into many pieces that are no longer cohesive. Our support and love for one another is distant and in many cases silent. How then can we expect situations to be righted if we first refuse to address the wrongs we see with our own two eyes and hear with our own two ears?

As I have said, we all have something which speaks to us, and it’s about time we give voice to those things that speak to us. We need to start taking action to right the wrongs taking place.

I have long known – from the time I was a little girl and my mother was teaching me about our Kayenera:koa that there is no such thing as “law” in our instructions. I was always told that we were left instructions by the Creator, our Kayenera:koa. Our Great Good Way, Our Enormous Peace. Our instructions contain the guidelines meant to live a good and harmonious life.

When I see obvious breaches of protocol in our council this disrespect and lack of understanding concerning our ways is painful. Our people need to decide to carry themselves within our Kayenera:koa or not to espouse those values at all.

Our Grand Council takes place the first Saturday of every month at the Onondaga Longhouse. All the chiefs meet to counsel over the matters concerning their families, clans, and in turn their nations. At this council, individuality is not present, as all the chiefs counsel for the good of all together. In order for all to function with consistency, protocols were left for us to use and must be followed in order to allow all exchanges to take place with respect and love and harmony. Consensus must then be reached.

Consensus is not reached by asking everyone in attendance, consensus must be reached among the chiefs.

There is so much more to understand about our protocols in council then is possible to write about here. Our instructions(our Kayenera:koa) and our elders help us on our journey to this understanding. The lack of understanding about our protocols is one of the issues that speaks to me. I implore our People to come to council, learn our protocols and in turn you will learn so much more about yourself, your family and all those around you.

Watching a woman spring to her feet and yell at our Chiefs was one of the most disturbing incidents I have ever seen at council. This incident occurred because this person does not understand protocol or understand her responsibility to seek out her clanmother and family. Not the other way around. Her belief that her voice was not carried forward was her error. If one does not attend the meetings called among their family, whether or not they like that person, it is still your family and responsibility to attend.

Another upsetting episode occurred a couple of councils back when an older Onondaga woman, purporting to be Mohawk, jumped up with a feather and wanted to form a ‘peace circle’, after we had already spent the morning praying for peace and good mind. Once again, a prime example of a person unable to understand the importance of protocol who interrupts council for purposes other than the good of the people.

These are all issues which have spoken to me and I feel I have addressed them very superficially. Much more is to be said about how we now live our lives and the responsibility we have to each other and the coming faces. We need to be more demonstrative in our love for each other in order to help prepare the way for the coming faces.