“This was the way of our people long ago—to follow the stars…to be influenced by the stars and they say in the teachings of our people that the ancestors sit at nighttime in the stars watching over all of us and they say during this time of rebirth and this time of challenge that the spirit of our ancestors would be allowed to be lowered within our presence to help lead us out of this darkness that we find ourselves living today and many of you will feel the presence of those ancestors…. “
-Anishnabe Elder, Dave Courchene from MANITOU API~Where the Sun Rises
Back in 2008, I was having dinner with Dave Courchene, an Anishnabe Elder from the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba. We were having dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico as Dave had come down for a special screening of our documentary, The 8th Fire.
We had very recently finished The 8th Fire which features Dave and his visions and before that, Dave had done the voice over for our award winning documentary, Starblanket A Spirit Journey
Filming and then editing these documentaries is exhausting and anyone who has not experienced the making of a film, cannot appreciate the enormous amount of work that goes into them. When my son and I went to Saskatchewan to film Starblanket, we had only enough money to get there and until we got there, we didn’t even have a camera. Fortunately we were able to borrow one at the last minute from a small film company. A test of faith to say the least, nevertheless we won Best Short Documentary at the highly acclaimed American Indian Film Festival held every year in San Francisco.
Anyway, needless to say, I was not ready to make another film, at least not for a while.
Dave, however, had an idea he wanted to talk about. I remember I was sitting across from him and he was not feeling well at all—he had pneumonia and a high fever but he had not wanted to miss the screening.
He began telling me his idea and I started to think he was crazy… maybe it was the high fever because he didn’t seem to be making sense.
He kept talking about the Manitoba Legislative Building and a mystery that he and some architectural historian named Frank had uncovered.
Though I didn’t understand, I could feel that he really wanted to tell this story, that it was somehow very significant, and so after consulting with my son,who does much of the editing and sometimes the filming, I agreed to do one more film.
The result, a few years later was MANITOU API~Where the Sun Rises, a most amazing, true story that is somewhat similar to The Da Vinci Code or The Lost Symbol.
In order to tell the story the way it needed to be told, we filmed in Winnipeg MB
at the Bannock Point Sacred Site
at the Turtle Lodge
and at Cambridge and Glastonbury in the UK
It was a huge undertaking and there have been times I’ve wondered why we did it. But very often, the answer to why we made a film, comes much later, sometimes years later.
At the heart of MANITOU API are The Seven Sacred Teachings, teachings which Dave had received several years before. They may sound familiar: Love, Respect, Honesty etc. and we have all heard these words over and over but they are usually just words, overused and meaningless.
The Seven Sacred Teachings go far beyond words. They are a deep re-connection to the truths found in Nature and each teaching is represented by an animal and carries the essence of that animal. COURAGE for example is represented by the BEAR and the teaching is:
It takes a lot of courage to listen to your heart and to your spirit as it’s telling you what to do even when your mind tells you something else… it takes a lot of courage and that’s why the Bear is there.
The Bear, they say, goes out and hibernates in the winter— but our people don’t understand it that way. The Bear goes to fast. It’s fasting all winter and this is important for us as a people… the Bear taught us how to fast… how to go on a Vision Quest.. that’s where we got the Vision Quest from.
The Bear fasts for Mother Earth and he fasts all winter because he’s fasting for the Earth. He represents the love and the courage that is needed to show that love of the land and of life.”
WISDOM is represented by the BEAVERwith this message:
Wisdom is to know that each of us has a gift, a special gift, a unique gift. That gift is to be used to serve life, to serve humanity.
One of the gifts the Beaver has is 2 sharp teeth that he uses to create and build the dams and change the landscape. If that Beaver chose not to use his gift and to lay on the shore while the other beavers were working, his teeth would grow so long that he would not be able to use them and he would die, physically die. If we do not use our gift we will also die or we will become sick, mentally, emotionally or physically.
A few nights ago I had a dream about sharing these teachings in a blog post. They’ve always made sense to me but because of the dream, I have this feeling that their time is NOW and that they should be shared on a much wider level. As the world grows darker, increasingly violent and insane, these teaching offer meaning and hope and light in the darkness- for adults of all ages and most definitely for young children.
The dream that I had began with a sort of threatening voice that told me I didn’t have the right to share these teachings. This happened twice-it was as if the voice came from the dark side which doesn’t want the truth to be told. I ignored the voice and then I was at an event with a First Nations women who explained the teachings in a very profound and beautiful way and we ended by showing MANITOU API.
“Manitou API – Where the Sun Rises is by far the best Native American film I have ever seen. A MUST see!”
– Diego Mulligan, KSFR Santa Fe Public Radio Host of “The Journey Home”
“All around us is the spirit that our great Creator has put there to help us in our individual life..spiritually…one can have the presence of the bear beside them, one can have the presence of the eagle, one can have an angel beside them, one can have the spirit of light which comes to guide and to give that individual inspiration in their spirit and their heart to guide them toward their own greatness in life…. but we don’t hear it because we’re so fogged with materialism, we’re so clouded by hatred and fear and anger that that is in total opposition of the reality of the essence of spirit…in order to attract that spirit, you must become the essence of the spirit you want to attract..if you want to attract the spirit of love from the eagle, you must be of that love…”
-Anishnabe Elder, Dave Courchene from Manitou Api~Where the Sun Rises
There are many prophecies which point to this time when the First Nations People will be recognized as the Teachers and their original way of life revered. Watch the film clips below: Manitou Api and The 8th Fire……
A sideline: As I was looking back on my editing notes for ‘MANITOU‘, I found these 2 sacred writings, one from the Essene Gospel of Peace and one from the Qur’an, both acknowledging our oneness with nature and Mother Earth:
I tell you in very truth, Man is the Son of the Earthly Mother…I tell you truly you are one with the Earth Mother; she is in you and you are in her. Of her you were born, in her do you live and to her you shall return again.
Keep therefore her laws, for none can live long, neither be happy but he who honors the Earthly Mother and does her laws.”
-Essene Gospel of Peace
Behold, in the heavens as well as on earth there are indeed messages for all who are willing to believe …….And in your own nature, and in all the animals which He scatters [over the earth] there are messages for people for people who are endowed with inner certainty. …….And in the succession of night and day, and in the means of subsistence [rain] which God sends down from the skies….and in the change of the winds: [in all this] there are messages……