What is it about bears that we all seem to respond towards? I see videos of bears waving hi and bye, and people just cracking up. I see pics of baby bears and pass them along myself. And my brother-in-law has been flat out slapped down and bit by a bear on his back shoulder – then flighted out to a hospital. We seem to all have a lot of varying attachments to and discussions about bears and how bears greet us.
In the Oneida Language Animation Series on YouTube (see OniedaProductions, “Charlie the Bear Personal Questions”), Charlie Doxtater becomes the animated “Charlie the Bear.” He teaches important basic Oneida language lessons and again his animated bear-self just cracks me up. (Good job on the animation to Michelle Danforth.) At the 1:25 minute mark, with Lesson 1, the Basic Greeting is asking about and telling if there is peace within you.
Recently, a friend and I were discussing the concept of noticing the health of our clan animals. The health of our clan animals also indicates the health of our clans. When we greet each other, we actually are saying, “I see the health/peace within you.” The answer in the “Charlie the Bear Personal Questions” video is “I have peace within me.” This everyday greeting is designed to remind all of us, with each relationship interaction, of the importance of recognizing our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health or peace that is within each of us. This overall health/peace is the strength of the individual and thus becomes the health/peace of the family, and then the health/peace of the community.
Similarly, below is a video in the Mohawk language, where the greeting refers back to the Peacemaker, “Do you have the Great Peace?”
“Double Medicine Bears” carries the greeting of health that makes for overall peace. This is one the of strongest forms of medicine available to each of us, each and every day. It reminds us to attend to our health and internal peace through our daily practice and greeting each other in health and peace .