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Reflections on Indigenous Peoples' Day

Note: In this blog post you will see my daughter coloring with Crayola super tip markers. These markers are an awesome creative staple to have in every household. In case you'd like to buy them or check them out I've linked each photo to

I hope you all enjoyed Indigenous Peoples' Day this past Monday, October 12! My daughter and I spent a lovely afternoon together hiking in the woods and enjoying the coloring page that I designed specifically for this special day.

As my daughter and I hiked in the woods we admired the trees turning from cool colors to warm. Greens fade into yellows, reds and oranges as the trees suck all of the energy that they will need for winter in from the leaves and down into their pith. Having lived in California for the last decade I am delighting... actually let me capitalize that to show my true pleasure... DELIGHTING in the drama of autumn descending on the Northeast.

Spending time with the land and appreciating all of our non-human neighbors felt like an appropriate way to quietly celebrate and honor the first people. 2020 has been an awfully hard year. Countried all over the world been slammed by Covid and, as many other families have been, we were displaced by record breaking wildfires on the west coast. The Covid crisis and the fires have something clear in common- we are out of balance with nature. I know that sounds hokey and anyone who knows me knows that I'm not especially hokey. I like facts and I like reasoned arguments. But we are out of balance with nature. We take it for granted. We exploit it. We push it. We create arbitrary and erroneous intellectual structures in which we are the master and nature is our subordinate. Of course this is completely backwards. If we disappeared nature would continue on. We are after all, a part of nature. We are like her fingernail or an exhaled breath. But if nature disappeared??? Well, that would be the end of us.

I am descended from Europeans who brought all sorts of technologies of material and of thought, that insulated and protected us from the natural world. My intellectual inheritance teaches me to look at the natural world as an "other", as an entity separate from the reality of my own existence. Over the past few months, that explanation of reality has begun to wear thin. No building technology or air conditioning system can ultimately keep my family safe. Our medical infrastructure suddenly seems brittle and insufficient under the onslaught of a deadly, highly contagious virus. It is for these reasons and also perhaps because of my loneliness, that unanticipated side effect of pandemic, that these walks in the woods feel like a communion or a homecoming. When the wind catches my hair I find myself saying, "hello sister." A tiny bug lands on my shoulder. It navigates the fibers of my jacket and I let my eyes wander over its exoskeleton, a rainbow shell revealing itself with each new angle of sunlight. We sit there together, experiencing one another. I found a snake dying in the road the other day. It had been crushed by a car. I sat with it so that it would not have to be alone.

And so this year on Indigenous Peoples' Day, these are the things that I am thinking about. This year the forest, the trees, the mountains and the air have come alive in ways they have not been before. And the whispers I hear on the wind seem like the wisdom of the first people, reminding us all of the precarious balance that we rely upon and that we must fight to maintain.

Peace and happiness to all of us, great and small, on this Indigenous People's Day.


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