Átaw: Dark & Light

Emily Washines

Have the changes in astrology brought questions or reflection for you?

Ataw: Dark & Light

I will share oral history prompts and a poem for reflection

There is a lot to be said on this topic. I like to see the different discussions and questions from different tribes. From other Natives, I've seen a popular question: What does the eclipse mean for our tribe?

As far as one of the teachings for the Yakama tribe, the short answer is: It’s a reminder. Tribes have different beliefs. Even within tribes, depending on circumstance or if there is a specific state such as pregnancy or mourning, there can be more specific rules. Additionally, if like the Yakama tribe, you have more than one tribe confederated, then there may be variations of the stories. Also, many of our teachings are in the oral history, which means that it is best to talk to your family in person.

Oral History Prompts

To assist with this discussion, here are some prompts to guide discussion and thoughts:    

Think of the sacred tranquility of the sun, moon, and stars.

  • Are there are stories to share?
  • Are there some short stories and some long stories about the sun and the moon that might connect with the different types of eclipses and astrology?

Think of the balance.

  • Is there a lesson of balance among the moon and the sun to learn?

  • Is there an individual balance you are working on?

Think of the change.

  • Think of change on both an individual-level and broader-level.
  • Is there a lesson of change to think about?

Balance and Change Within

On an individual level, have you thought of balance and change? I share this poem with you because sometimes the world has darkness and sometimes, it has light. In living our full lives, there are going to be moments of pain and moments of joy. As much as we want to share the wisdom, we do not always share our stages of questions and confusion.

Which is okay. Sharing your process with people is not required. At some point, it’s good to remember that learning process on an individual level. A lot of these moments of awareness come when we least expect it like doing the dishes or driving. Sometimes, we anticipate individual reflection like we anticipate an astronomical event.

Sometimes, we anticipate individual reflection like we anticipate an astronomical event

Think of a time when you have a to-do list a mile long and something happens that brings a lot of clarity to your life. Is there something specific that you did to help that process? Periodically, there will be opportunities and challenges. As we grow, we can forget to reflect on the challenges and opportunities from long ago. These can be everyday times or monumental moments such as birth, marriage, and death. 

At times, we might be uncertain about a situation or how to approach it. Or we are sad about our failed attempts. Life just keeps going on. Dishes need to be done and you need to find where baby put his shoe (seriously: I can't find his shoe, let me know if you see it). But, one day, something works and you feel such relief spread over you. I think often of believing in hopes and dreams. Of giving space to the process of learning in relationships. So, I share this with well wishes to you.


Átaw: Dark & Light

In the time of squabbles, confusion

They stumble along the path

Worn out by sts’át

Attempts at reaching out

End in missed grasps

Eclipses bring reminders

Don’t stay too long

This journey has challenges

The temporary warmth of giving up

Can turn expectations to anger

And hope will start to die

More chills mean movement

Up, down, or sideways will they go?

Unnuh! Just try

Tip toe along if you must

In this darkness, they have come to know

They pull together their courage

Like a net from Nch’í Wána

Weave faith in rhythmic twists

Held like a wápaas around the waist

Now their steps feel less blind

When they come together in átaw

It brings them x̱áyx̱t

Ataw: Dark & Light - A poem by Emily Washines (Yakama/Cree/Skokomish), Native Friends

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