Native American author offers young people guidelines for life and life in the wild | Navajo-Hopi Observer
FLAGSTAFF, Arizona – Native American teens, who feel lost, can find guidelines for living and living with nature in adopted Native American author Doniga Markegard’s book “Wolf Girl.”
Doniga, who was raised by a single mother, was a lost teenager on the run until she started attending a Nature Awareness School (WAS). It was there that the Lakota elder Gilbert Tatanka Mani took her under his wing and later adopted her in an indigenous ceremony.
The most important advice Mani passed on to Markegard was the Lakota’s Seven Sacred Principles for the Secrets of Life.
First, have an inner calm to calm your mind so that you can feel at peace with yourself and your surroundings.
Second, have love and compassion for those close to you.
Third, it is to have a deep concern for all living things, including animals, roots, trees, and all of nature.
Fourth, take your feelings and use them to help those in need.
Fifth, it is the feeling of being fully alive so that you can enjoy every moment of life.
Sixth, the genuine joy that comes from childlike curiosity, wonder, and the pleasure of enjoying every moment of creation.
Seventh, is the sacred state of mind, body and spirit in order to use the instinctual powers that come when the three work together.
Markegard said his adoptive father Lakota was an incredibly kind, gentle, and gentle soul. Unlike some Native Americans, he was not brought up in missionary schools and only learned English at the age of twenty, as he was raised in refugee camps. He found his way to WAS around the same time as Markegard, except he was there as a mentor for the youth.
Markegard said she was grateful that Mani was there to help her find herself and sort out some of life’s problems.
“He told me he wanted to adopt me as his daughter. He didn’t have any children of his own, ”she said. “I remember that moment. It just humbled me that he trusted me. I would share this with other people. I felt this wave of love and compassion. It came with responsibility in a joyful way.
Mani died 13 years ago, but Markegard said she passed on some of the teachings he taught her.
The seven sacred principles of the Lakota are displayed on Markegard’s kitchen wall, and each time they share a meal, one of his children reads at least one of the principles aloud. She said it helps her reflect on her own personal journey.
“It would be nice if more people learned to live with them,” she said.
Markegard said it’s hard to pick a favorite among the seven as the first on Inner Calm comes first because she seeks to have that moment every day.
For her, it helps set the tone for the day.
“If I miss this, it’s not that peaceful,” she said.
As for helping lost teens, she said it was tricky in today’s world because it is difficult to escape the technological environment, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. She strives to limit the time her own teens spend on their computers or phones.
“I try to extend that childhood innocence that they get when they go out to play,” she said. “It can take the abandonment of cell service in the wilderness where they have no choice.”
Markegard said his kids love playing games in the woods and come back happy after doing this.
Most Aboriginal teens may not be aware that there are wilderness schools. She said the wild school had found her because she was in the right place at the right time.
Markegard’s mother was in contact with an old friend and was hosting one of the instructors and a visiting elder. When Markegard was at home, they saw that she was trying to figure out her life and convinced her to enroll in school when she was 14. Markegard still doesn’t know if this happened by accident or if his mother planned it.
One of the most important lessons she learned at the wilderness camp was the interconnection of nature.
She said that when humans don’t realize it, problems like climate change arise. She said people can’t just be told about this; they need to see it. She added that this means children have to learn the interdependence of nature early on, and adults have to mold their love of nature. It means asking where the food comes from, what actions you take to support nature and find this interconnection with nature.
Markegard said the wilderness is important because it offers limitless possibilities.
On his ranch, Markegard is involved in permaculture and regenerative breeding. Permaculture is the way humans ecologically produce food that takes care of the earth and people while preserving abundance for the planet. Permanent agriculture means moving forward in harmony with nature.
Regenerative breeding helps build healthy soil so that pastoralists not only produce food, but sequester carbon in the soil and create more life than each life that is taken.
Markegard is working on a section of a book for a friend on the farm-to-table movement.
‘Wolf Girl’ can be found on Amazon and other online sites.