Teachings From Mother Earth: Book 1 - Think Inside the Circle

Teachings From Mother Earth: Book 1 - Think Inside the Circle

by Judith C. Stern

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August 1969. Judy’s mother-in-law is killed by a priest in a car accident during a visit to Fort Ridgely, Minnesota, where in 1862, Dakota Indians had been jailed before being publicly hung in Mankato. Judy has a powerful dream. The deceased woman bears a mysterious Indian message. A homemaker and mother of four, Judy uproots the family for a two year sojourn when her husband is accepted into EdD Studies at UND in North Dakota, where they visit Indian schools. Her life changes radically. She is inspired to begin her degree in American Indian Studies (Ojibwe Language) and Applied Arts. She joins American Indian causes, leaves her church and abusive husband, and embraces a life-long quest to immerse herself in one big question: Why did Euro-Americans have a different attitude toward nature than indigenous people? She returns to the University of Minnesota to graduate after interviewing thirty Indian artists for her senior thesis. A string of uncommon adventures reveal conclusions relevant for us today. Her Ojibwe mentor tells her, “This is what you MUST teach them.”

The memoir begins in 2006, while she is a university instructor of Indian art. In local restaurants one eager student named Allison learns Judy’s teachings from Mother Earth. Lunch dates spiral into a series of dialogues. Just like savory dishes served at the Signature Café, Judy gives us unlikely combinations – a strange stew of historical figures that come to life as she compares native and European creation stories. We learn about Omamama- Cree creator woman, Wasakayjack- Cree trickster, Brady Barber- a Dakota Greek philosopher, Miz,- a sensitive Ojibwe mentor, Dayshun (Harold Goodsky)- college graduate-blanket Indian, Mr. McLaughlin- Mormon head of Papago schools, Katrina- conflicted Eskimo, Grandfather Monongye- Hopi elder who defies US officials, I’itoi- Tohono O’odham trickster, Jezebel- defender of Baal, and Eagle Man (Ed McGaa)- Lakota Sun Dancer/author. Many other characters delight or anger us, but always enlighten us.

Judy and Allison continue their serious, yet funny, conversations in Judy’s flower and vegetable garden in Marine On St. Croix, a quaint country village, where they share concerns about women’s struggles, current news, family, jobs and men! All with a passion for food- especially chocolate. Allison’s lighthearted attitude and Judy’s easy-to-understand explanations of scholarly events move the story along.

For three years, 2006 through 2008, at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, lively classroom discussions evolve around art history – a comparison of Euro-American and Indian expressions. We learn about symbolic patterns in nature and circular holistic systems – contrasted to linear, competitive unsustainable ones. Students remark, “We never knew there was so much to learn about Indian art.” We meet Judy’s family and friends with whom she faces personal challenges- a painful divorce, a college education, and how to invent a career to support four small children alone. However, she’s always mindful of her philosophical question, “Why did conquering Europeans think differently about Mother Earth than the natives?”

Judy travels often- to pueblo villages in AZ, to Sprit Lake, ND, to Nett Lake, MN, and to the UN in Switzerland with 100 Native Americans. She formulates a vision, a paradigm of hope: A healthy change in America will rise out of beliefs and attitudes – not religions and laws, because we are all instinctual, emotional creatures. Simple codes of conduct can inform a world free of religious dogma and capitalistic greed. Indigenous, givingaway values would be more equal, practical, and spiritually connected than Middle Eastern religious traditions that promote one-man hierarchies. Nurturing, common sense values exist right beneath our feet- teachings from Mother Earth. Judy asks, “How can you be more important than what you eat?” and “Do you want our children to die for things, or live for water?”

Product Details

BN ID: 2940148663522
Publisher: P.J. Penguin Publishing
Publication date: 10/11/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Judith Carol Stern was born in Robbinsdale, Minnesota in 1942. In 1971 she moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota with her husband and four children. She became a student at the University of North Dakota, returning to the University of Minnesota to graduate with majors in American Indian Studies (Ojibwe Language) and Applied Arts. In downtown Minneapolis she owned Judith Stern Gallery featuring modern Indian art, and Judy Stern Inc., which manufactured and sold her clothing designs for twenty years.

Judy studied at the Playwrights’ Center under Lee Blessing. She learned storytelling at the Guthrie Theater with Maren Hinderlie, performing with a troupe. In 1993 at the Jungle Theater, she had a one-woman show. In 1989 after moving to Marine On St. Croix, MN Judy joined the St. Croix Storytellers. At the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Warner Nature Center she taught “Exploring American Indian Spirituality in Contemporary Society,” with Ed McGaa- Eagle Man and Chuck Robertson, Lakota teachers and writers.

In 1995 Judy began a retail store selling log cabin furniture, art, canoes, and clothing she designed. She soon owned eleven commercial rental units. A journal writer, she saved boxes of notebooks, interviews and articles about her travels to Indian lands, then began her ‘big book’ about spirituality in 1990. She also published “PJ Penguin, A Race to Save Penguin Land,” a children’s book. In 2006 as a three-year visiting instructor at the University of St. Thomas she taught American Indian Art to elementary education students. An active environmentalist, she served on the Superior Hiking Trail Association board, is a member of Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota and is currently working with the Friends of the Boundary Waters to protect precious waters near border lakes and Lake Superior from acid mine drainage, caused by copper sulfide mines owned by foreign corporations. She loves gardening and cooking for her children, grandchildren and Rudi Hargesheimer, her man.

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