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The Medicine Wheel and the transference of Indigenous knowledge from grandmother to granddaughter - AND - The power of words and Medicine Wheel teachings as a tool for decolonization

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Essay 1: For four decades, Marjorie Mackie facilitated a Medicine Wheel workshop that she, herself developed for therapeutic purposes in the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction amongst Indigenous peoples. The research for this paper was done in an interview format between Marjorie, my grandmother, and I. This paper reflects a co-creation process resulting in my grandmother passing her knowledge of the Medicine Wheel on to me. This paper demonstrates several things: 1. The relationship between my grandmother and I; 2. The responsibility I have shown as the researcher to honour my grandmother and her teachings; 3. The passing of knowledge from an elder to the next generation; 4. The Medicine Wheel teachings themselves, which serve as a moral guide to a well-lived life; and 5. My grandmother’s work with the Medicine Wheel as intellectual labour. Essay 2: It is vital to explore not only the history of words and their effects, but to also explore how an understanding of words can be used to decolonize language. This paper examines some of the ideas found within the Medicine Wheel. These ideas are not meant to be kept in the abstract, but to be applied to one’s own life in order to achieve wholeness and peace of mind, body and spirit. As an Indigenous woman working with her Grandmother in order to learn and to explore Medicine Wheel teachings, understanding the power of words and their impacts is essential because it prevents the projection of false beliefs and myths onto the teachings. My exploration of language and the Medicine Wheel is accomplished through both a westernized lens and through an Indigenous lens. I consider and use western academic discussions of discourse, structuralism and myth in combination with affirming the historical trauma associated with being Indigenous, as well as Indigenous storytelling, spirituality and community. The process of deconstructing language and myth in my own life is a journey of both frustration and healing. The discovery of the ways in which false belief systems have impacted my life and my understanding of the Medicine Wheel has left me with an acceptance of personal responsibility in knowing that I alone, choose what to allow into my consciousness and that which I choose to release. This Essay is a journey of healing and of understanding. It is a journey of self-acceptance and personal responsibility. To decolonize language is to decolonize one’s own heart and in doing so the journey continues.
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