Acknowledging the Living Land

Acknowledging the Land Herself as well as her original peoples…

Land Acknowledgement —
My preliminary Notes for Compass Roses

Bobbye Middendorf

My work (and life) touch on the sacredness and living entity of the Land itself. Mother Earth, Mama Gaia. (notwithstanding that Gaia is a Greek conception introduced here.)

Before the people, the Land was, the breathing, living Land. Mother Earth’s heartbeat was everywhere, from deep within, alive within every particle of her being and every living one. In her embrace, the elements: slow, still, silent stones; the standing ones, sinking deep roots into her body and branches reaching toward the sun’s fire and starry night sky; the waters gentle and with fluidity, a capacity to shape-shift the land. From deep in her belly lived fire, coming to cleanse at times, as Mother Earth danced in the embrace of fiery sun of the daytime sky. Always the clouds spoke in languages of dampness, movement, and freedom on the wings of the wind. Creatures came, visible and invisible kingdoms alike. She welcomed all her children, and finally the beings we call human padded softly across her surface.

As the story has come to me, those we know as the Ancestors—those on the land early and long— lived in close and right relation to the living, breathing body of Mother Earth and all her creatures. Honor, reverence, appreciation for her and all her gifts was woven into the everyday fabric of being, with love, awe, celebration, with practices of honoring, reciprocity, and giving back. The interconnection was palpable, with love, partnership, and wisdom exchanged with the Earth and across generations for living in harmony with Mother Earth and all her creatures.

Others came, with different attitudes, of power-over, superiority, of taking and not giving back, and without the honoring of the living body of Mother Earth. Grief, rage, tears, bone deep sadness and anger flooded Her body and her children’s bodies. Innocence was betrayed along with all that was holy, sacred, cared for; all degraded by the flowing of blood of the Ancestors of the land and the living land herself. There followed the flowing of blood in waste of innocent expression of all her beloved creatures, her people, the living land itself desecrated.

Her beautiful living body, now scarred with grievous wounds, continued to support life in spite of extraction, greed, and colonial erasure of her family who had overseen Her in right relation and with care unbounded.

This tale of horror are we faced with shape shifting as we bring all life into sacred wholeness once again. Humans have a birthright to be in right relation with Mother Earth in sacred exchange, giving and receiving simultaneously, with simultaneity of healing on all sides through praise, love, gratitude, reverence, devotion, innocence, unbridled glad expectations, and hope. My work is to invite exploration and evolution of such a  new relationship, starting by deepening within our own beings first, to touch living truths from the living land through the listening body-heart-mind.

The institutions in charge and places that have been set aside are culpable to the people who lived in harmony here on this land first and for long generations. I sense that  part of my calling is to bring this polarity into a sacred dance— culpability and starting point for change and healing– simultaneously.

These are the places  (several noted on my map) we have available to start in the mending of relationships, the sacredness of interconnection with the living land herself and with the original peoples — ancestors and those living now — whose lineage is one of cultivating this sacred interconnection with the living Earth. We can do better, yes, and we can only start where we are with what we have.

Together within this Compass Roses project, we can open a space as we envision a greater and more comprehensive healing that can unfold—honoring peoples and with the living being, Mother Earth. Coming into right relation with the sacred, speaking, living land involves, in my experience, a portal through which greater wholeness for all life can emerge. In its greatest expression, it comes through in partnership with Mother Earth, as we co-create sacred space, place, and time in a new octave for a new reality where all life flourishes.

Acknowledging the living land, Mother Earth herself, and the peoples on the land before colonizers arrived is a healing start to honor the people who are here now and whose ancestors embraced the living interconnection with Mother Earth.

This is my credo and intent:

My commitment is to hold a sacred space for a new reality to emerge — a reality where All. Life. Flourishes.

Bobbye Middendorf

2 April 2021

To read the final “Land Acknowledgement” for the entire Compass Roses Exhibit: