Women's Health Fair keynote speaker Paulette Jordan.
By LACEY WHELAN
FORT HALL — The Shoshone Bannock Health and Human services hosted the Women’s Health Fair “Catch the wave” event Thursday, May 9.
It started off with a fun run starting at the hotel parking lot. The fun/run was a full mile circling around the new casino and down around the old casino. After the fun run, the participants made their way to the hotel to have a fresh start breakfast.
Women's Health Fair Fun Run participants.
The event continued with Fort Hall Business Council member Donna Thompson, saying the prayer, Elizabeth Ann Jim gave the introduction, and Paulette Jordan, made her keynote address.
Jordan started off speaking on her experience running for Idaho governor. She said when the election was over, she decided it was time for a break. She feels we all need that.
Something she has learned is that as women, we constantly give of ourselves, and we need to remember to take time for ourselves. She spends time with her two sons whom she loves dearly, and all the things she does in her spare time, when she is not working. She is involved with so much, but said there are two weaknesses she has, taking time for herself and telling people no.
She further said it’s hard for her to not be busy all the time, and do things around the house, she knows that is how all women feel. “We are so closely related to each other, and are able to use ceremonies and this is how we are going to continue to strengthen ourselves,” she said.
She recalls a time when her great great grandmother was around, and you can only imagine the soil around that time, which was much healthier and more nutrients were in it, “We had stronger foods and medicines, and we took care of our bodies we got out and exercised, and took care of our spirits and minds,” she continued. “We had good connection to each other and tried to stay positive to each other.”
She would like to see tribal people get back to their roots, and the core of who they are. “It will take some time, because we were all impacted by boarding schools, and western culture,” she said. “If you look at our kids today, they play video games instead of going outside and climbing trees or horseback riding, and riding bikes. Our challenges are how do we go back to this? We are disconnected now. We need to find out how to connect again and it will take some time.”
She said tribal people are the ones who are closer to nature. She remembers hearing of the time long ago, where the women were the leaders, and made all the decisions. She talked of a story of when the early settlers came and said they wanted to speak with the men, when in fact the women were in charge, so they had a couple men who they referred them too, who went back and reported to the women leader who told them how to respond.
The whole deal was very unfortunate, because it caused a shift in tribal culture and how women are treated. They were once treated with higher power, and had a place in the front, but you don’t see that anymore. She says it hurts to see some women revert their eyes down to the ground when a man speaks to them, or being subdued to being second place, which has never really been that way among our people. “When you look at our country and even how the president is, you know that it is time, that the only solution is a strong woman, stepping up and representing our people. We have to be ready, we have to be prepared, and we have to heal ourselves to be strong enough to get there.”
Jordan said there are two things that are very important for us all to do, the first is to take care of our bodies/vessel. To be sure to eat well, be active, and keeping positive. By being negative and talking bad about others, this seems to become like another disease affecting people. We’ve got to get back to thinking in a mindset, about what matters most.
The second thing is, we have to get back to nature. Her grandmother taught her how to harvest the medicines, by gathering roots, and using these things to prevent certain types of sickness and disease. These older medicines can help prevent these things, most of the diseases that western medicine cannot. Nature needs to be a part of the great circle, human kind has become so egotistical and they’ve forgot about nature. “We think we are higher than. We think we are the center of everything, instead of a part of the circle of life. If we don’t take action and humble ourselves, and allow nature back into the circle of life, everything will become deconstructed. No more clean air, no more clean water. We will lose part of our ancestral ways,” she continued.
Jordan asked everyone in the room, how many people can raise their hands and say they are happy? The room was divided in answers, and she said we must all find a way to be happy, whether it be going back to school, or finding another job, or even find a mentor. She said some people don’t even know what a mentor is. Those people didn’t know what a mentor was growing up. She herself had many, starting with her uncles, aunties, elders, and leaders who are doing great things. She wanted to be like these people, even if it was a fraction of who they were. She said many should visit their elders and use them as mentors, and remember to listen. “Be thankful and grateful to have them pass the knowledge, stories and whatever teachings they had to pass on to you. We’ve go to learn to humble ourselves, and remain grounded.”
Jordan says something she struggles with is to forgive. “It is something we all need to do, and to also be able to forgive yourself. We have to let go of that trauma from many years ago. We have collectively inherited that trauma from long ago, and then what happened? We hurt, and take it out on many and lash out. We have to address it and heal.” Something else Jordan said is the integrity portion comes in, and then you think of all the things that happened, you think about the war era, the boarding school era, and wonder why our children and women are being stolen, and murdered. Thousands of indigenous women are being murdered everyday and she asks why is that? Our indigenous women are ten times the average, compared to other nationalities. She speaks of the many horrific stories of how the women have been hurt. It is happening all across the country and no one is paying attention. She asks, “What are we doing? We are too busy worrying about other things this is part of the problem and challenge. It is something we all need to do something about. This takes commitment from everyone being healthy, strong, to make a change.”
She remembers her son being in ceremony, and he said he wanted his family to be protected. She remembers her great great grandfather saying the same thing as he was starting down a barrel of a gun, when they were trying to take away his sovereignty. Her great great grandfather told these people, that he is not leaving this land because he is fighting for our way of life, our traditions, and my future generations. He wants them to have a tomorrow. She is happy to have him make these sacrifices and had the courage and the strength to do that. Her son would not be able to say the same things, if he didn’t have that comfort and security to feel safe enough to do so. As a mother, grandmother we have to teach these children these things.
She is thankful for many things she has done, and what has happened to her. She reminds all to be grateful for the positive things happening in your life. She recalls her mom participating in the Sundance ceremony and she is so grateful, and mentions it is such a beautiful way of life.
She further talked about the other ceremonies Sho-Ban country has to offer.
She concluded her keynote with her experience in politics. Politics is a very negative, dirty, toxic place. She asked her elders for advice on how to be above all the toxic politics. They were attacking her good character, and she worked hard for her good reputation and it hurt her to have people saying bad things about her. Her elders advised her to ask your people watching over you, to talk the snakes off the path. Jordan said when she would pray in the morning, and throughout the day, to remove the snakes off her path so she can focus on what the people need, and when she has people speaking to her, she wants to be fully present in the moment. She reminds all to stay focused on your path, and don’t let the snakes on your path influence you. Don’t let the negative influences affect you.
“You can take a break and reflect to find your purpose.” She reminds all that we all have a purpose, and to never forget that. “Keep yourself healthy, pray over your water, and be thankful.”
She wanted to make sure and tell everyone that she keeps everyone in her prayers. She reminds all that if we could get back to our original ways, we all could benefit greatly from them. Jordan closed by thanking the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes for asking her to be a part of the event, and also the elders of the Sho-Ban Tribes.
Immediately following Jordan’s keynote, there were a series of breakout sessions for all the participants to attend. After lunch, closing remarks and door prizes.