Many Indigenous people who have heard Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Moonshot” (1972) lyric, “he can call me up without no telephone”, instinctively knew what she was singing about. Growing up in Manitoba we knew about the ways people could make contact with just their minds. Akin to extrasensory perception (ESP) or sixth sense, we heard stories about so-called coincidences and magical happenings that the early Europeans considered curiosities. Living in Winnipeg, with all its electrical wiring and satellite radio waves, would we still be able to tap into this unique wavelength and make contact with loved ones? I have learned that the spiritual realm is never far away, even in the city. About ten years ago, I was sitting in my downtown apartment, prepared for an uneventful Sunday afternoon when I unexpectedly received a call from an acquaintance, Barry, who soon arrived for a visit. He had brought along a man he was mentoring, Carl. Carl was an older Residential School survivor and he was just beginning to learn about Indigenous teachings and culture.
As we talked, my phone rang again and it was another acquaintance, Charlotte, who soon arrived at my apartment. We talked casually about local events and then Charlotte mentioned that there was a Sundance being conducted at Birds Hill Park just north of Winnipeg. We shared what we knew about the Sundance with Carl and then the idea of going there was proposed. Despite not knowing if it was open to the public, we decided to go anyways. We climbed into Charlotte’s van and headed toward Birds Hill that sunny afternoon.
Thirty minutes later, we parked the van close to the Sundance arbor and stepped out onto the warm earth. I recognized a few people and realized that it was a Lakota-style Sundance, led by a local Lakota Elder. We had arrived during the healing portion, when the Sundancers bring people through the Eastern Doorway into the arbor and up to the Sundance Tree. Barry, Carl and I instinctively took off our shoes and socks and made our way to the line-up. Within minutes of arriving we were leaning on the Tree being brushed down with eagle wings.
Afterward, I reflected on the experience and realized how benevolent and close our ancestors and Spirit Guides are. That afternoon, four people who felt the need for community came together and within an hour were standing at the Sacred Tree. It happened to be the fourth and final year and the fourth and final day of this particular Sundance. So, if one day you feel called outside of your comfort zone, follow your intuition and get up and go.
Albert McLeod hails from Nisichawayasikh Cree Nation and the Métis community in Norway House in northern Manitoba. He has over twenty years of experience as a human rights activist and is one of the directors of Two-Spirited People of Manitoba Inc. Albert lives in Winnipeg, where he works as a consultant specializing in HIV/AIDS and Aboriginal peoples, Aboriginal cultural reclamation and cross-cultural training.