Children of Grandmother Ocean Renew Their Bonds
• Visitors Have Special Meaning to Indigenous Peoples Who Look to the Sea for Their Roots
BY Georgiana Valoyce Sanchez
Chumash Women's Elders Council of Wishtoyo
In the distance, just below the horizon, six vaka moanas, ocean-going outrigger canoes, heralded their approach to Paradise Cove in Malibu. On shore, the Elders and Spiritual Leaders of the Chumash Peoples waited with open hearts and gratitude for the incredible journey made by the Pacific Voyagers. The shared vision of the Indigenous Peoples, Tahitian, Hawaiian, Samoan, Fijian, Cook Islanders, and others—and those of us from the coastlands of California—was so apparent and powerful. As Indigenous Peoples of the ocean, we know we cannot separate ourselves from Grandmother Ocean. We are reminded of this truth daily as saltwater runs through our veins, bringing balance and strength to our bodies and minds. We are deeply connected to the ocean; its life-force shapes our cultural identities and our reality.
The main message that was told by the people of the vakas and the Indigenous coastal peoples is that our ocean-planet, earth, is in deep trouble and the health of our oceans is absolutely necessary for the future well-being of our earth. We can only survive if we come together as cultures and as "crew-mates" to preserve the health of our ocean-planet. What was so apparent during the ceremonies on the beach at Paradise Cove was the weaving of our collective voices to create a vision for positive global, societal and bio-cultural health and harmony. The Polynesian Hakas (dances and chants) and the songs and stories shared by the Chumash Peoples at Paradise Cove are a beautiful example of how powerful our indigenous ways are of giving voice to ancient truths.
Among Indigenous Peoples of our world, story and song (often embodied in dance) were some of the most important of the oral traditions for teaching and passing on the sacred and ancient knowledge and practices of our unique cultures. Oral tradition, carrying ancestral voices across a long trajectory of history, is one Indigenous People have had to maintain stability over the years, even in times of cataclysmic change. We are now in a time of cataclysmic change and need to pay attention to what Indigenous Peoples are saying about the health of our oceans and our planet. We have ancient stories and songs about ancient trade routes that connected us across the vast Pacific Ocean.
Today, linguistic, sociological, anthropological and archeological sciences affirm what our stories and songs have never let us forget—we are relatives, children of Grandmother Ocean—and we must take responsibility for our place on Mother Earth, for the health of Grandmother Ocean, and for the well-being of all Peoples, everywhere.