M'Hoq Toq's voice is written like this
Nel's voice is written this way
Did you ever have a lifetime as a woman?
Once or twice.
Were you a healer in those lifetimes as well?
Yes. Once. It was a much harder life.
Yes. You mean because of the physicality of child-bearing?
Yes. It would take a lot of energy. Not only to grow another human being inside, but taking care of them, raising them, making sure they will be on their path or at least trying to do the best one could to put them in a direction. At some stage, if they were educated well, they would still make their own decisions.
And you lived all over the north part of America, in the north, the west, the south.
Over to the east as well?
Did you ever live by the sea?
Ah. The big lakes in the middle of the island?
It was more or less one big lake.
Like, like a sea. You could not see the other end of it.
Yes. I’ve seen some of that lake.
I did. I went to Chicago.
So it’s still there.
It’s still there. I was there not long ago. But didn’t get to see much of the land, just visited some friends who haven’t seen me a long time.
(Whispering) Chi-ca-go. Chi-ca-go.
Very extreme climate there. Very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter.
We did not stay there in the winter. Only fools would stay there in winter.
Such a cold wind.
Yes. Not enough shelter.
Mmm, very open.
Shelter from the big winds. No big hills or mountains.
Yes. Big open plains going forever. I lived there as a young woman for a year. They were growing beans and corn and hogs.
Or we went fishing. Hunting for buffalo. Not in the winter. We went further south when the first snow arrived.
Mmm. So you were with the Illini. Was that the name?
Ah yes. Yes, of course. The people are still around, you know, of course.
Good to hear. They’re still around. But you can sense they are in trouble. They forgot to move around more. People put barriers there to stop them moving around. Almost like different countries.
Different ideas, very different ideas, in different areas. People grabbing private land. Not allowing people to travel through any more.
Yes. It’s a very strange idea to own land, isn’t it?
Yes. We were, as they said, native to our areas, big areas. There was a lot of moving around. We were very busy feeding our families and animals. Moving around, getting new shelter. Collecting food and things needed for shelter. All different, you call it, seasons. So we were too busy to fight with others because everybody was busy with the same task. Sometimes there were some of them that had the idea that they would not have to hunt, or plant seed, or grains, or roots, so they would try to let other ones do this work and then come and steal it when it was ready. These would be times when there was fighting.
But it happened because someone had the wrong idea. We did trade with other tribes. We might have had medicines or dried fish and we traded it for skin, bear skin, for example, if we’re talking about areas further away. For colder seasons.
So when it was cold and you traveled south did you follow the river, the big river?
Yes, at times we did. We went further south along a river. Sometimes we stayed further away from the river. It was too dangerous. There were areas that were like swamp where they had these critters that could cause disease. So we stayed away from these areas.
So even in those days you had the mosquitoes causing disease. Or other insects.
Or big things with big teeth. When you got further south.
They were good to eat. We did not engage much in hunting them but we traded skin and meat with other tribes.
So your people traveled great distances.
Most people did.
Did you have horses in that lifetime?
That makes it easier.
Yes. They could carry things that we didn’t have to carry. Things to trade with others. Or they could carry children and older people if they got tired.
Yes. Beautiful country.
And wonderful sunrises and sunsets.
Yes. Very rich. Rich in animals. Plants. Everything. We went there in the winter time because there were less bitey animals around. When they got too much we knew it was time to move north again - when it gets humid and hot it is not a good place to be around.
So too many insects means it’s time to go north.
And the horses are happy to go too, they want to get away from them too.
Yes. Some of the insects would get into our food if we stayed too long.
Mmm, very unpleasant.
Sometimes we had to stay longer at some places, or go slower, because of childbirth. Or when people got sick. It slowed the whole tribe down because we would not leave members of the tribe behind. Except some, when they were quite old, they decided to be left behind. It was for the greater good of the tribe. But it was their decision.
A very loving thing to do.
The tribe would always support all their members and they would support each other and help each other. Except when one member of that greater kind of family could feel that they were going on to what you would call a different reality. Those wished at that time to be left behind. But leaving this reality to go on to the bigger reality was part of tribal life. And everybody attended it, this event.
If we were, for example, at our winter or summer grounds, sometimes it happened while we were traveling big distances. That’s when some of them decided that to be left behind would be the best for everyone. But normally, childbirth or moving on was a normal part of life and it was a part of tribal life. It was not a very private thing that someone had to do on their own. We did have individuals that decided for themselves that’s what they wanted to do. For example, we had plenty of women who, when they were expecting new life, went into the forest by themselves. The rest of the tribe would respect it and not follow her. Sometimes they took another person who was close to them with them. But a lot of the time they went there alone and then came back with the new life.
Did you use herbs to help bring a new life or to help somebody to pass on?
So if somebody wanted -
We did if they asked for it, or we did if something happened and we knew they would have asked for it but they were not able to do so.
So when you give medicine you always respect the wishes of the person.
It’s their decision whether to take the medicine or not.
It’s about their decision and it’s about respecting their decision. You might call it dignity. An important, important part of our life.
We had very strong spirited people, very proud people. And we had to respect each other.