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Mother Earth

Rainbow Ribbons for Peace & Harmony

It is time for us all to weave the Dream


Rainbow Bridge is 'the true bridge of life'

By Brenda Norrell

Photo by Brenda Norrell of Indian Country
Navajo medicine man Thomas Morris arrives at Rainbow Bridge for the Blessing Way ceremony.

RAINBOW BRIDGE, Utah - Chanting the Blessing Way for the restoration of all that is sacred, the voices of Navajo medicine men are joined by the singing of the rocks coming from the red stone arch.
"We say they are the rocks that talk, rocks that sing," said Thomas Morris, president of the Diné Medicine Men's Association.
"Some people call it in an echo, but for us, we say the rocks are singing. It is sacred," said Phil Bluehouse, Navajo police officer and peacemaker for two decades and secretary of the association.
Morris and Bluehouse traveled here by speedboat from Page, Ariz., to sing the Blessing Way chant. The position of the Diné Medicine Men's Association is clear.

"It is to drain Lake Powell and get this water level down. So the canyons, the Earth, the Nature will be healthy again," Morris said.

"This is the main artery, how would you feel if your main artery is plugged up?" "Open the artery."
Sharing concerns with Living Rivers based in Moab, Morris said beneath the water are Anasazi petroglyphs and a sacred place for Navajo prayer, now flooded by man-made Lake Powell.

He said the red stone arch of Rainbow Bridge, one of Navajos most sacred places, is a bridge between the "old people and the new generation of technology.

"This is the true bridge of life."
Navajo legends tell of an earlier world of disharmony, when Monster Slayer and Born of Water got rid of the monsters, dinosaurs, here.

"From this bridge they crossed back and re-harmonized to have the Beauty Way of life, like the rainbow," he said.

Morris and Bluehouse are among 64 medicine men in the Diné Medicine Men's Association. Only a few apprentices are learning ceremonies from singers today.

"It takes close to 20 years to know just maybe half of it," Morris said. Earlier in the morning, on the speedboat ride to Rainbow Bridge, Bluehouse said the journey over water to the rainbow is a sacred journey.

"For me it is actually a pilgrimage. I am very interested to see the rainbow, to see the place where Monster Slayer and Born for Water returned to Earth Surface after coming back from their journey to Father Sun."

Referring to Glen Canyon Dam, Bluehouse said, "We have created a plug in the natural flow of our Mother's blood, the water here. The arteries need to be unplugged and flow in a natural state."

When people fight over the water that runs through this region - Green, Colorado and San Juan rivers - Bluehouse said it "shows we are sick."

Returning these rivers, running alongside 22 American Indian tribes, to their natural states, would be to return the region and people to harmony, he said.

Owen Lammers, executive director of Living Rivers, formerly Glen Canyon Action Network, and David Orr, director of field programs for Living Rivers, traveled here with medicine men, their families and half-dozen friends.

Speaking of decommissioning the site and draining Lake Powell, Lammers said, "It is not a matter of if it will happen, but when it will happen."

With a blue flag proclaiming "Drain It" trailing the speedboat gliding over Lake Powell Memorial Day weekend, Lammers said the lake is filling with sediment from the San Juan River.

"This is the most ambitious initiative in the world supported by Native Americans," Lammers said of the move to drain Lake Powell.

Lake Powell is the 19th largest lake in the world and the second largest reservoir in the United States. Created as a reservoir, it serves as a recreation lake and in the production of electricity at Glen Canyon Dam.

Since 1963, Glen Canyon Dam has halted the flow of the Colorado River.

"Water is life," Lammers said.

"We're killing the rivers, the rivers are dying. The Colorado doesn't even reach the sea anymore. All of the water is diverted before it reaches the Gulf of California. Most of it is wasted in inefficient irrigation."

On Lake Powell, Bluehouse said, "We are traveling on sacred water, nurturing water, female water. We should be nurturing it and it should be nurturing us."

On the rocks above are Anasazi petroglyphs.

"People have always misinterpreted the word 'Anasazi' to mean 'Ancient enemies,' but it means the 'Relatives around us,'" Bluehouse explained.

Navajos have had many migrations and many journeys, but they have always been here between the Four Sacred Mountains.

Bluehouse said Navajo legends, connected by language to the Athabascan-speaking Dene in the north, Apache to the south and Hoopa to the West, tell of migrations.

"There is a lot of description of how we separated.

"But we have always been here."

At Rainbow Bridge, water runs green beneath the arch, like a river of life. Black shiny ravens circle overhead chil-chin (sumac bushes) and medicine plants surrounding the red rock rainbow.

Seated on a rock and holding wild tobacco, Morris said, "My grandfather said water can talk. You can confine water, but it can escape."

No dam can completely stop the flow of water, he said, pointing out that water seeps through dams and earthquakes cause dams to collapse.

Clogged rivers destroy sacred places and wash over ancient rock writings; clogged rivers cause Earth to grieve.

"You see some of these canyons crying, the water is coming down. Why is that water coming down? That canyon is crying."

Nearby there is a sacred place so still and quiet it is called the "rock that talks, canyon that talks."

Sharing more instructions from the Navajo way, Morris tells those present not to walk beneath Rainbow Bridge to the other side of the rainbow's arch, so their lives may continue to be in harmony.

Pausing beneath the midday sun, he pointed to a small leafy wild plant, explaining that when smoked as tobacco, it is medicine and restores a person's neuro-transmitters and nervous imbalance.

"White people always write things down and it is there," he said, adding that they often forget what they write down.

"If it's for you, it's going to stay in there."

Morris and Bluehouse talk of all of the sacred elements here, the need to protect the sacred from bio-piracy and the genetic memory that travels within DNA.

Referring to the oxygen and other gasses in the atmosphere, Morris said, "What is the wind? It is oxygen, the spirit of the people passed on.

"This is heaven here. Heaven is not way up there. The face of this Earth is heaven. This is paradise here, but we don't know how to live in paradise. We abuse it. We damage it."

©2001 Indian Country Today


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