Hui e, haumi e, taiki e. Let it be done.

Join us on our pathway of learning…

With our intense study of and emotional connection to the Fauntleroy Watershed this year and the visitation of the whales as they escorted a ferry filled with artifacts back to their home on Bainbridge Island, we have been drawn to the whales and to artifacts; what they are and what they mean.

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When we visited the Duwamish Longhouse and listened to the stories of the Duwamish people, we also watched a film about the carving of a Totem Pole by Mike Halady, a 5th generation grandson of Chief Sealth. We set out on an adventure to see this pole along with the pole at West Seattle Rotary Viewpoint Park. Upon our return we have created our own story poles about what we have experienced as a community; what animals we have seen and what path we would like to take in the future.

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During our studies, we were also involved in cleanup of the Fauntleroy area during our study and days of service surrounding Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This has brought up many different kinds of conversations surrounding artifacts, what people of the future might see our artifacts to be due to all of the trash we constantly pick up in our waterways and trails. This has spurred discussions about use and what we buy; our food, our containers, our plastics, what goes back into the land and what will be here forever for people/animals of the future to find. This discussion has also led into our food and food supply. While we have watched the food chain occur, literally in our backyard, it is hard not to have this conversation.

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Because we so very much want to be submerged in the culture of the land we live in, we are constantly being guided away by the “new” and the “shiny”. Things that might feel easy or satisfying in the moment but that really don’t give us the deep satisfaction that we find when we commune with the land, the animals and each other. We try to reuse everything, make our own artifacts from what others and nature have discarded. Our hopes are to make food that is as container-less as possible, create with supplies that we can glean in a non-toxic and more organic way. We are also hoping to inspire others to do the same. And our hope is to do this in a loving and understanding manner; without ridicule and self-righteousness. We are learning that this is a hard-line to tow as it is easy to become a mouthpiece without following through. We hope this comes to you with an open heart, as we are truly finding our footing in this vastness as well.

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As all of these important and heavy topics have been making waves in our brains we came across many stories that felt like a parallel to the stories we’ve studied, our own stories and the experience of wanting desperately to be more connected to the nature and history around us. I specifically began to think of the story of “The Whale Rider” from New Zealand. And we decided to embark on an expedition of self and community exploration; a deep dive into the realm of prejudice (both race and gender), the disconnectedness that is felt between humans, animals and the land/sea and how tradition can stand in the way of forward progress and the timeless ties to all that is a part of the web of life.

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We broke Whale Rider down into chapters. We would read a chapter in a day, talk about it, write about it, draw about it. The next day we would revisit that previous chapter, read the next chapter, talk about it, write about it, draw about it. At the end of each chapter is the phrase: Hui e, haumi e, taiki e. Let it be done. We learned many Maori words and phrases but due to the emotional intensity of the book, by the end of each chapter, I couldn’t always get the words out, so it became a kind of echo of understanding that the kids gave back to me at the end of each chapter as they propelled this phrase through the air as the words to each chapter ceased.  As the story neared its end, as I am reading with tears coming and the kids are realizing that the chief’s granddaughter, Kahu is the wise one, the direct ancestor to Pakea, The Whale Rider, Caiden ever so softly begins to chant Pakea, Pakea, Pakea. When Kahu saves the whales and her tribe, the kids burst in triumph. I’ve never been a part of a read-aloud so profound and emotional. The work that we do, is magic, pure magic. And thankfully our kids hold this close to their hearts.  At the end of the book, Jaala said, we should go down to Lincoln Park and call the whales like we did before when they came. I said, “I don’t think I could emotionally handle it if they actually came”. These whales not being our Orcas that visit us but whales that don’t often visit this area, could they come?. And I now know the power of what our small community can do together. We are family. Real family. Believing in something so much larger than ourselves. Part of this earth, this land, this hallowed ground we learn on. And as we stood and called to the whales each in our own way. They came!

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Thank you for allowing us this opportunity to tap into the magic of the earth and grow together. The work we are doing is so very important to all aspects of life.

All my love,

Michelle

Hui e, haumi e, taiki e. Let it be done

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