Marilou Awiakta is a Native American writer, essayist and poet whom I met and enjoyed conversing with at a gathering at the University of Memphis. I remember her because of her warm and gentle presence. She shared many things about her culture and some of her pearls of wisdom were used in my first novella, A Golden Leaf in Time Revised.
She is an Eastern Band Cherokee and she told us about her community and assured us that they were no different from others. Her tone was light and humorous as she spoke about the Indian community. I remember her.
Ms. Awiakta said that the women are extremely important to the decision-making process in their tribal communities. Of course, we liked hearing that. They have always been invited to sit in on the governing bodies’ meetings because it is understood that they bring balance and calm during times when grave matters are being discussed.
The women’s opinions are highly regarded because women are more likely to look for peaceful solutions. They are maternal in nature and will do all that they can to avert a war. They keep the safety of the children in the forefront of their minds. What a wonderful qualifying trait for women as we honor them during Women’s History Month.
At the end of her session, she showed us a peace ritual, which I ended up using in my book. We stood and raised our hands in the air. We repeated the words, “Out of ashes my will rise,” and faced all four directions – north, south, east and west. My main character, Phoenix, used this practice in A Golden Leaf in Time Revised as she tried to reassure herself that things would get better in her life.
Awiakta wrote, “When the people call Earth ‘Mother,’ they take with love and with love give back so that all may live.” We all have a responsibility to preserve and protect the earth and each other. In her books, she blends stories, essays and poetry. Her books include Selu: Seeking the Corn-Mother’s Wisdom and Abiding Appalachia; Rising Fawn and the Fine Mystery She lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.
A simple meeting can leave a lifetime impression as Marilou Awiakta did on my life. Thank you, Ms. Awiakta and Happy Women’s History Month!
Lynn March 20, 2015