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Woodrow Morrison, Jr.

As we strive to end violence against all people, we especially focus on those most vulnerable; women, children, and elders within our Native communities. The story and lessons addressing anger help us to understand the need for balancing emotions. They also help us to know that all of our emotions are valuable, and that we must learn to listen to the messages delivered by each one.

In the following lessons, writer Numpa Foxes Singing presents teachings designed to help us re-establish respect and harmony throughout all generations of Native families and communities. These teachings include the integration of positive identity development with building healthy relationships, encouraging appropriate conduct and skills development, and the restoring of traditional cultural values back into our family relationships.

Woody Morrison, The Changer

Teaching Young People

“We have to start teaching our young people—how do we start getting back together again? If we’re going to deal with alcoholism, deal with drug addiction, and all that physical violence, and all the stuff we do to each other, we have to start seeing how we all fit back together. It’s taken us a few hundred years to get here. But we have it in us to do it. It’s here, the [???], the [???], my spirit, it’s right here, but we have it in there. And when you feel that empty hurt feeling, push it out, because it means you gave up your power.”

– Woody Morrison, Jr. 6

“Quite often, a big part of our problem too is, we don’t listen to our kids. When I was a kid, we’d come in a room where there were a bunch of old people were sitting, and they’d stop what they were doing and say, “Maybe these small ones have something to tell us. You know, a lot of elders blamed the young ones, saying, “It’s your fault you don’t know your language. It’s your fault you’re a drug addict. It’s your fault you’re on Welfare. It’s your fault. It’s your fault. We didn’t teach them. They’re exactly what we taught them to be. If we don’t give them anything to work with, they’re not going to be anything but what they are.”

– Woody Morrison, Jr. 6

Teaching about Spirituality

“Each one of us has to, again, be able to see it, and there’s a very simple way that you can start learning it. It was all part of when I was being taught to be a storyteller. If you’ve got a place where you can go and sit down and you’ve got trees and grass and it’s not noisy. Go there and sit down … just look, to see what’s there. You don’t analyze anything. Your mind will take you to certain things because of sounds, but don’t pause there, just look. Take your time, look at things, and when you’re ready, leave. Next day, few days later, sit down, do it again. And do it again and again and again. It’ll slow you down, that’s what you got to do, slow down. But we keep trying to go faster and faster and faster and faster. Now you know that your spirit can come back. You’ve given her a place to come back to. You sitting there with the power that’s always there, [????], all the things that our ancestors learned, they’re here, we just have to be able to see them, to be able to hear them, to be able to ask for them.”

– Woody Morrison, Jr. 6

“So in Haida I was told that there are four things I could ask for when I prayed, I mean five: Give me the strength to be strong enough to be weak, the courage to be tall enough not to be small—my stature is determined by how tall I am, not how small I make somebody else look, the clear vision to see where I’ve been, the guidance to take me where I’m going, and the protection I’m going to need on my journey.”

– Woody Morrison, Jr. 6

Supporting Family

“My two children, well, my daughter turned 39 for the first time, but anyway, when they want advice, I don’t give it to them. I never offer it to them. What I do is tell them a story and within the story is information they can use, but it doesn’t tell them which way to go.”

– Woody Morrison, Jr. 6

Teaching of Tribal Culture

“When we talk about family violence, about what we do to our families, like I said, they turned everything backwards on us, they turned everything upside down. In Haida, the whole basis of our culture is based on women. I was told that when the totem—they’re not true totems in the sense they’re on the east coast, because there’s no spiritual relationship between me and any of the figures on that pole, that’s a family history, called [???]. [???] means “it’s standing.” I was told that the person that commissions that pole, the top figure is his clan, crest, whatever, and then probably his uncles. But the bottom was always the crest of his wife. So when people say low man on a totem pole, that’s as far from being correct as you can get. That denotes someone of very low stature, someone that’s really worthless. But, again, that’s not correct. They dig a hole, they put that pole in, they stand it up, and it’s said that the woman’s feet are in the water, her body is in the land, her upper torso is in the air. So it says that female energy ties together water, earth, and sky, and her husband is balanced on her shoulders, so if she loses her balance, they fall. So not only does that female energy tie together that water, earth, and sky, the balance of the cosmos is entirely dependent on the stability of that female energy. That takes us totally out of the realm of everything that’s been brought and dumped on us. Children and women are chattel. They’re owned. They can be abused. They can be bought and sold, sexually abused, physically abused, and mostly whatever, because they’re not even humans. But for us, a child is an adult who has not yet learned the proper ways of doing things.”

– Woody Morrison, Jr. 6