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The Elements of Honor

The Elements of Honor By Swil Kanim My name is Richard Marshall. That is just my name. Who I am is Swil Kanim. That is my Lummi name. I am an enrolled member of the Lummi Nation. That is what they call us. The Lummi Nation. That is not who we are though. For centuries we were called the Laq'temish. ~The People from the Place of Frogs.~ Maybe something got lost in the translation during assimilation. Some would say that I am part Chillawack, part Nooksack, part Upper Skagit, and part Samish. I don't know which part of me is which. I guess that means that I am everyone I am. Not part anyone. Like in the spirit of ~We the People~ we are everyone we are. Not part anyone. We are all of our stories told and untold. We are all of our mistakes, failures and our victories. We are our 500 word essays and our haikus. We are all the right answers to the wrong questions. We are every version of the truth and every feeling, meaning and decision we have made. That is who we are. For thousands of generations my ancestors have addressed the people in the language of the land by saying, ~All my relations.~ Albert Einstein in the language of physics said, energy is equal to the mass times the constant squared. E=MC2. The constant is the speed of light. The result of this theory is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. You see, we are all related to the speed of light through the night sky. We are all related to enlightenment and bigotry, ignorance and inquiry. For every privilege there is an equal and opposite oppression. I may stand before you in the privilege of being a public speaker. When I speak, I will speak for every one that has ever been told they weren't good enough to speak. Like when I play my violin in front of an audience there is no doubt someone is in the audience that 'used' to play because they believed the lie that they weren't good enough to keep on playing. I have received accolades as a 'sensitive' man when a woman behaving the same way would have been perceived to be weak. We the People must learn to be generous with our being. We must use every privilege to uplift the oppressed. That includes assuming the privilege of overcoming our own internalized oppression for the sake and honor of all. In 1983 Native American elders met at the University of Lethbridge to address substance abuse on reservations. Their conclusion was, ~The hurt of one is the hurt of all. The honor of one is the honor of all.~ It is my responsibility to honor all by expressing who I am in the context of community. My self expression has most constructively been expressed through my heritage of music and spoken word. Self expression in community is not selfish. In fact self expression in community identifies who we the people are. © 2004 Richard A. Marshall aka Swil Kanim


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