|Posted by Val Fox on July 28, 2014 at 9:00 PM||comments (0)|
It's that time of year when pow wow enthusiasts load vehicles and travel to various celebrations hosted by First Nations communities throughout North America. The following photos were taken July 20 at the Kainai Nation annual summer pow wow and rodeo here in southern Alberta.
A July sunrise greets participants of the summer 2014
This bustle is attached to the backside of a Chicken Dancer.
Technology helps the audience see the dancers in the arbour.
Young Fancy Shawl dancer watches other competitors.
Esther W. of the Standoff Hutterite Colony shades her eyes
from the late afternoon sun.
Summer celebrations included midway, hand games and fire works.
Three lovely Jingle Dancers getting a closer look.
July 2014 Southern Alberta sunset.
Thanks for visiting everyone! If you have any photos you'd like to share with our readers, I'd be happy to see and share them. You can reach me through the Contact Me button and I'll be sure to respond to your message. Stay Safe.
Tags: summer activities; colourful regalia; pow wow circuit; traditional dancers; pow wow drums; drum group competitions.
|Posted by Val Fox on April 28, 2014 at 3:50 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted by Val Fox on April 24, 2014 at 7:35 PM||comments (0)|
We live in an area of Canada where the Southern Alberta sky stretches far in all directions; a view that also includes about 160 km (100 miles) of jagged snow-capped mountains about a half-hour's drive west.
The Rockies are always present yet they change throughout the day depending on the season, wind direction, precipitation and where the light shines. Immense cloud formations often swirl around the peaks, creating vistas that make you want to stop what you're doing and look. Sunsets leave vivid silhouettes that seem to celebrate the heavens.
On a clear day you can view stormclouds gathering 100 km (60 mi) north, plenty of time to assess direction, but speed can be deceiving. The sky of Southern Alberta displays a blanket of glittering stars and thick ribbon of the Milky Way on an inky, moonless night.
We once watched the wide,orange glow of a massive forest fire burning to the south in Montana. And, the tell-tale white of a grass fire sends everyone scurrying when strong winds blow in with no warning. They howl through the Crowsnest Pass carrying moisture that falls onto the mountains, leaving warm, dry air (Chinook Wind) to warm the prairie landscape.
Winter creates fog banks and mirages to test our perception. Once we gazed outside and saw the LDS Temple located 19 km away (13 mi) shimmering high into the sky. It was a mirage created by the cold air and bending of light. We've witnessed flickering pink and green ribbon dances of the aurora borealis; once it glimmered directly over top, crossing in two long quivering spotlights reaching high into the atmosphere.
Summer features knee-high, rolling grasses like ocean waves, splotches of color paint the rolling prairie: purple burgamot, pink prairie smoke and sticky geraniums. Gold and green foothills sprinkled with tiny eight-story wind turbines, the glow of the nearest city 80 km (50 mi) away, and the distant glare of a fracking site catch the eye.
Coyote and fox; white-tail and pronghorn; bison and moose; raptors, pheasant and sage grouse, robins and loons; horses and cattle, badger, muskrat and weasel are just some of the area's inhabitants that travel the vistas.
The vast displays of earth and sky delight the eye and feed the soul. Do you have a favorite vista that inspires you?
The Letter "V"
Thank you for coming; I'll be back tomorrow to feature the letter "W." Bye for now.
Photos © Val Fox
Prairie wildlife; east of the Rockies; Southern Alberta sky; diverse landscape of Southwestern Alberta; Alberta scenery; Southern Alberta sites; Southern Alberta photographs
|Posted by Val Fox on April 12, 2014 at 8:20 PM||comments (0)|
Kiribati is an island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, straddling the equator and bordering the international date line. Its closest neighbours are Japan, Australia and New Nealand. While the 33-island nation could be a tropical paradice for some, scientists believe it will be the first country to succumb to the effects of global warming.
Kiribati was originally colonized by the British but achieved independence from the UK in 1979. The country became a full member of the United Nations in 1999.
The islands are scattered over 3.5 million square kilometres (1,351,000 sq. mi); some of them were formerly used by the United States and Britain for nuclear weapons testing. Today, Kiribati is one of the poorest countries in the world. Most residents squeeze out a living from serving aboard ships or as fishermen.
The 103,000 residents of Kiribati are mostly of micronesian decent and are Christians; about 56 percent are Catholics, 34 percent protestant, and there are smaller groups of Latter Day Saints (Mormons,) Baha'i and Jehovas Witnesses. The village household is the most important social unit with family and extended family (Utu) sharing common ownership of land plots.
Their houses are open sided rectangles with thatched roofs and raised floors. The maneaba or meeting house serves as a community center where the oldest malesmeet to discuss matters and make decisions. The I-Kiribati (name for the people) are largely a classless society but new, younger leaders threaten village-based traditional elder authority. A president is democratically elected every four years.
Family life consists of monogamous marriages, some arranged. Direct eye contact is rare, especially with someone of a higher status such as an elder. Touching of the head is considered an extremely intimate touch and would be frowned upon. The women traditionally perform tasks related to home and child rearing; modest dress is important. Children are indulged until age four, then strict rules are enforced that discourage crying or other emotional outbursts.
In spite of the threat of rising waters to the land, the greatest threat to the people of Kiribati is disease. Many of the people drink heavily; there is Tuberculosis and frequent cases of food/water poisoning due to bacterial contamination. There is also a problem of overcrowding with many people moving into cities ill-equipped to handle the numbers. The government has begun encouraging the population to spread out onto less inhabited islands.
Their dances emphasize outstretched arms and sudden bird-like head movements. You will not see them smile during a dance as the movements were not just about entertainment; dances were a form of storytelling that displayed the beauty and skill of the dancer. The Kiribati continue the practice today.
Kiribati - The letter "K."
Another group of Earth's Inhabitants
Tags: Micronesia; cultural practices; Climate Change and rising oceans; world's poorest nations; arranged marriage; tropical countries; no employment opportunities; subsistance living; family rules;
|Posted by Val Fox on October 21, 2013 at 8:25 PM||comments (2)|
Yesterday there was a bison kill nearby. People gathered to pray for the animals, then a number of participants cut up the meat to be used in ceremonies and feasts. Nothing is wasted. When I realized what was happening I turned my head away from the window and got busy with other tasks. I respect those who uphold past traditions, yet my love for animals keeps me from participating. I would rather see them running in the field, living as they did a century ago.
Last week another stray dog arrived and we've been trying to locate its owners. Yesterday, two more stray horses showed up. Sometimes I wonder if we should start or work together with an animal rescue organization, It would take some serious fund-raising to build such a thing, but we have plenty of space and a deep regard for every animal that crosses our path. We would have to come up with a plan for a not-for-profit entity. I will look for some direction from those who have or are currently operating such a venture. Below is a photo of the little dog we have not yet named. I hope we can find his family.
The trailer continues to provide a cozy place to sleep and work. Now that summer is over I have parked the RV next to the house, out of the wind. The yard is big enough so that it still feels like I'm camping. The closest neighbours live about 1/2 km away. Each day I nurture the gratitude I feel for living in wide open spaces, where I can watch the birds and animals, where I can light a campfire in the yard and view a star-filled sky at night.
I'm currently working on a story for a Christmas anthology to be published in time for the holiday season. My book about working the front line with kids is almost complete. Then, I must decide to market it the "old" way with a publishing house, or publish it myself. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. I am eager to get the opinions of others who have already published one or more books. Writing website copy also keeps me busy.
For those of you reading this, I'd love to hear from you. Just send a note on the CONTACT ME button and I will be happy to reply. Bye for now, and stay safe.
Tags: southern Alberta; writers; Alberta prairie; life on the rez; dog rescue; horse rescue in Alberta;
|Posted by Val Fox on June 10, 2013 at 2:30 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted by Val Fox on December 3, 2012 at 11:30 PM||comments (1)|
For many years I’ve searched for answers about God, the universe, this world and others, asking questions and reading, discussing, then avoiding. After attending several different churches I eventually made a choice about just who or what I would pray to. It got tiresome feeling confused when so many different religions claimed to be a direct channel to God and the one and only true church. With a small seed of faith I opened my mind and heart. Since that day I have still questioned and researched, but always end back at the same place…one on one with Someone in my own heart Who Hears, Someone I will be honest with.
When I act as though a greater power exists, that’s just what I get. Inspiration, wisdom, guidance, truth – a friend. When in doubt or pleading for favors, the result is frustration and despair. Quantum physics tells us that we create our current reality, and that there are other realities available to us when we think different thoughts which lead to different choices which lead to different outcomes ( or similar.) Kind of fits right in with a simple faith in a creator and teacher. He is or he isn’t, we are or we aren’t, It is or It isn’t, they are or they aren't depending on what we allow ourselves or challenge ourselves to believe. And, of course, what our culture has taught us to believe.
Simple until our ego gets involved. EGO is sometimes used as an acronym for Easing God Out. Kind of fits, don’t you think.
What to let go of and what to keep…how to forgive, what will we reap
Whether to stay or whether to leave, how to excel or at least to achieve
When to take risks, how far will we go to do what we must or accept status quo…
The answers will come or are already here, so trust in Spirit and cradle your tears.
Thanks for visiting,
Tags: Spirituality; rejecting religion; spiritual practice; seeking truth; church membership; world religions; finding peace; using discernment
|Posted by Val Fox on November 28, 2012 at 5:00 PM||comments (1)|
When “trying” to pray this afternoon, the chatter in my mind distracted me from That Place…where the breath meets the Spirit; Truth can be found there.
Fragrant smoke floated around windows and doors. For a second it felt as though Emma might be present. Minutes later it happened again. This time I stopped and looked around. I don’t know what I expected to see for she has been gone from this world a while now.
Thank you for blessing our loved ones, our home, our vehicles and the animals…Thank you for your guidance…
I stood at the top of the stairs looking down at the front door; leaned over and brought the smudge up and over in a rectangle – the shape of the door. It was then it felt like she was behind me, gentle yet firm, reminding me to go down all the way to the door and do it again.
It’s all in your mind.
That thought aside, I smiled and said Hello. Told her how much she is missed. Perhaps she checked in on her dog. Whatever the facts, I wanted to share this with you. This is not the only time it has happened. Others would tell me it’s just a tweek from my subconscious when I miss them…Emma and the mother that raised me. I’ve felt her too, especially when working with the kids. Mom had been a teacher.
Then, the moment was gone.
Have you ever experienced similar “feelings?”
tags: spiritual; angels; death; those who are no longer with us; family that has died; intuition; missed loved ones; grief; healing; prayer
|Posted by Val Fox on November 25, 2012 at 2:00 PM||comments (0)|
A November 22 National Post article, Financial Bill Set to Pass in House of Commons, has highlighted some of the issues that many First Nations communities face when dealing with elected officials. If the financial transparency bill is passed, First Nations in Canada will be required to publish their financial statements including pay, honorariums and travel for Chiefs and Councillors.
Although the concerns are similar to some other reserves in Canada, Writer John Ivison cited the example of Alberta’s Kainai reservation, stating that he’d received “the kind of information that is currently inaccessible to non-band members.” Ivison shared that Kainai Chief and Council claimed $1.7 million in tax-free expenses “last year.” Locals of this community are now repeating that one or more councillors make even more money than Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Non-band members aren’t the only ones in the dark. For years I’ve listened to members of Canada’s largest reservation express concerns over monies spent, and programs/services that have vanished due to lack of funding. Residents who demand accountability are sometimes bullied, fired or forced out of their jobs, leaving a frustrated community that is unsure of all the facts.
Ivison stated that Lethbridge auditors reported, for example, that all monies may not be accurately recorded – that the risk of fraud and misappropriated funds is high in both past and current tribal governments.
And then, there is the upcoming election. Not being a band member, I have no voice, no vote. But I will share my observations with you, having lived on this reserve for several years. There is a lot of talk, some based on fact, some on rumor and innuendo. Many voters do not understand the bigger picture. Others lack the education to make informed decisions. I listened to one candidate speak on Lastar radio about his plans for the future. He has no more than a grade nine education, yet wants to manage global funding from the federal government that numbers in the millions. Families band together and try to gather power in numbers. Others talk about the same issues but never offer a realistic solution. On November 27 there will be approximately 100 candidates vying for 13 positions – 12 councillors and one Chief.
It will be an interesting year if the transparency bill is passed and becomes law. The people may be shocked to find how well their councellors are paid when most of the community faces lack of employment and lost services. My foster children can’t even secure a ride by a transporter to a family visit. The head of the department is now gone. And so is the money.
tags: honesty; government; accountable; elections; votes; community issues; poor vs. rich; entitlement; corruption; uninformed voters; secrecy; secrets
|Posted by Val Fox on September 24, 2012 at 9:35 PM||comments (1)|
|Posted by Val Fox on July 22, 2012 at 8:25 PM||comments (0)|
Visitors from all over North America gather this weekend under the century-old cottonwood trees here in southern Alberta. They are dancing, honoring and feasting with family and friends.The annual event held on the Kainai First Nations reservation near Lethbridge features a variety of activities for people of all ages. Midway rides, food /craft venues and handgames also entertain. This year four new members will be inducted into the Kainai Chieftainship which honors people that have made significant contributions to Canada's First Nations population. Last year"s recipient included Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Tepee Ears Adjust Smoke From Inner Fire and provide protection from bad weather
Dance competitions include traditional dances passed down for generations (Chicken Dance and Buckskin) and more recent dances that include Men's Fancy Dance and Women's Jingle. Large drums surrounded by singers also compete for status and prizes. Generations ago dances like this were held to celebrate the warriors' return or a good hunt. Today the event mirrors culture and tradition (thru dance styles and outfits) while providing opportunities to live a summer lifestyle and to earn money and prizes. But the most important goal seems to be the fellowship and renewal of old friendships. Everywhere people gather around campfires and tables of traditional food. Laughter rings in the air, as does the news crier early in the mornings.
Some examples of what is polite behavior among Blackfoot people are included in the following link. These are also included in my Feb. 12/2011 blog.
When this event is finished many will move their camps up the hill to participate or watch the Sun Dance. The Sun Dance is the most sacred event in Blackfoot Country. I am cautious about what I photograph at the Sun Dance and at the opening of Medicine Bundles. There are strict protocols and if in doubt, I always ask first. I also learned from my Blackfoot family that it is appropriate to wear a skirt during ceremonial events.
Ribbon Dress & Moccasins
The next link is an article on the Sun Dance and came from my August 3, 2011 blog. If you wish to learn more about First Nations culture, always be cautious about who you get your information from. A true teacher will never ask for money, although it would be appropriate for us to give them an offering of some sort (money, food, tobacco.)
The summer months include plenty of activities for those interested in First Nations culture. Visitors of all kinds can attend and ask questions to learn what is appropriate clothing and behavior. It also helps to have someone with you that speaks the Blackfoot language.
I hope you are all well and safe, friends. Till next time,
Photo's: Creative Commons
Tags: Native American, celebrations, traditions, dance outfits, ettiquette, cross-cultural protocols, pow wow, feast, traditional cuisine, indigenous
|Posted by Val Fox on June 28, 2012 at 4:35 PM||comments (0)|
Sometimes I hate the thought that I'm on someone's list. When I first joined Facebook I decided I would not collect friends but choose people I could actually have some sort of relationship with. Whether it was other writers, parents/foster parents, work or school collegues didn't matter. They were all on the same list of friends.
Then FB introduced lists where you could sort your friends into categories - aquaintances, business leads, work-related and so forth. I know how valuable it can be when networking with others. But I still struggle a little with the list thing. It seems so impersonal. Just some thoughts.
And while we're at it, I struggle like hell with the thought of marketing myself. Yet, in today's publishing world it's a necessity to plug yourself into all kinds of social media and strategy. Since I have not yet completed all the steps I've kept my friends list manageable, with those who I have something in common with and would like to know better.
This website is the place where I encourage visitors from all over the world to come. This site is a place of acceptance for all people of our earth, whether or not I agree with them on certain issues or share similar values. People will not be put on lists here, as you are all valuable and have something to say. The only thing I ask is that comments be respectful of others, which they have always been. I want to hear your stories, about your lives and about what matters to you, and welcome your input or messages.
I am still camped down at the dam and and am lucky to have an opportunity to meet new people and live among the wildlife of the area. Three nights ago the campground was hit with a violent hail storm. The photo below shows some of the hail still lying on the ground. My trailer was hit by golf-ball sized hail stones which dented the roof and broke two sky lights. The campground was littered with broken branches but no one was hurt. It is the season here for thunder and lightening storms, with June rains. Last weekend members of my Blackfoot family had a ceremony where they opened a medicine bundle and prayed for many people. The bundle is opened each year when the thunder begins.
From now on you can expect posts on Thursdays when I can access my computer at home. Thanks for visiting, friends. I'll be back soon with more photo's and music from around the world. Let me know if there's anything you'd like me to share with other readers.
Hail storm June 25
Young robin stayed still for the camera. No zoom lens needed.
Many of these small ground squirrels live all around my camp site. Their interactions are funny and entertaining.
tags: camping, southern Alberta, weather, friendship, culture, people, cultural diversity, writing, story-telling, amateur photography