Whether you have just recently learned of your Indigenous ancestors, or want to revisit traditions and cultural practices from your childhood, there is never a bad time to reconnect with your Indigenous roots. Learning more about where your ancestors came from and how they lived can be both fascinating and highly-emotional, but to do so could give you a deeper connection to your inner-self and the world around you.
When our founder Mallory left her childhood home, she found herself answering countless questions to other people about her heritage and life as an Anishinaabe-kwe, an Ojibwe woman of Curve Lake First Nation. As she shared stories and information with friends, family, teachers, fellow students, and even some total strangers, she became closer to her heritage. Now, Tribal Trade Co. offers people a chance to learn and connect with the Indigenous culture through lessons, sacred medicines, traditional clothing and accessories, books, and so much more.
One of the most common questions we receive from people who want to reconnect with their Indigenous cultural roots is: Where do I start? Luckily, we’ve helped thousands of people to begin the journey of discovering their Indigenous heritage, and know just what you need to do to get started.
Learning About Your Nation
There are more than 500 Indigenous nations in North America alone, all with their unique practices and traditions. Like knowing what country you are from, knowing to which nation your roots belong can help you to more deeply connect to your heritage, and give you a clearer image of the history of your ancestors and elders.
For Mallory, growing up in Curve Lake First Nation meant attending pow wows, learning traditional stories from her elders, and spending lots of time with family. Because she was able to learn and experience so much of her Native heritage, Mallory now has lots of tools she can call on to keep her roots close even when she is away from Curve Lake First Nation.
By learning about the specific nation where you grew up or your ancestors came from can help you to connect with yourself and your cultural roots, no matter where you are. The experience of learning about your nation can also help you to connect more deeply with your family, and with other Indigenous people, and will allow you to feel more confident when future friends ask you about who you are.
Discover the Power of Smudging
If you grew up among Indigenous people, or have ever explored anything related to Indigenous culture, you have likely come across something called “smudging”. Smudging is a traditional process of cleansing mind, body, spirit, and environment, and has been used by Indigenous people around the world for centuries in both everyday and ceremonial contexts. For most North American Indigenous people, smudging involves burning sacred herbs and medicines in order to produce smoke, which in turn helps to cleanser and purify the person’s thoughts, surroundings, and spirit.
While smudging is used for a variety of purposes (like cleaning the air of harmful bacteria or focusing positive intentions), it can also help you to reconnect to your Indigenous heritage. We believe that the sacred medicines were given to us as gifts by the Creator and Mother Earth, and can help the Indigenous people to connect more closely with the Spirits and with themselves.
Study the Medicine Wheel
The medicine wheel is the basis for many Indigenous beliefs and practices, and is, therefore, an important symbol and part of the Indigenous culture. Learning to interpret and use the lessons of the medicine wheel can help you to live in accordance with Indigenous beliefs, and can give you a deeper, more personal understanding of the positions of your ancestors.
The medicine wheel is most commonly represented as a circle divided into four equal quadrants. The number ‘four’ has particular significance in the Indigenous culture, and can be found in many places like the four seasons, the four elements, and the four sacred medicines. Each quadrant represents a variety of things like one of the four directions or one of the four states of being. The quadrants depend on one another, and one cannot exist without the other three to create balance.
Through careful study of the medicine wheel, one can begin to develop a balance within oneself, and could discover a new level of spiritual health and wellbeing. As an Indigenous person looking to reconnect with your roots, the medicine wheel could offer some answers to your questions, and you could discover missing parts of yourself along the way.