I normally don't blog other's writing, but there is something that I really want to share in the world that I don't think has gotten nearly enough credit. Ulali is a First Nations women's acapella trio, (First Nations, for those who may not know, is the title some of the indigenous tribes of North America more commonly but inaccurately known as Native Americans have chosen for themselves.) and they are amazing, brilliant, talented and inspiring. Their album Mahk Jchi is a powerful work of art, rife with gorgeous harmonies, deeply felt but never dramatic emotion, humor, and a most compelling sense of compassion.
One of the last tracks on the album, called All My Relations is the most powerful statement in acceptance, inclusiveness and unconditional love I have heard anywhere, ever. The degree to which they succeed in offering their devotion to all their relations, meaning all of us, as in we truly are all one family on this planet, the good, the bad and the heinous amongst us, is astonishing. It is profound.
This entire album tends to make me cry for a host of reasons. Just the sheer beauty of these women's voices evokes a strong sense of love and loss and challenges overcome which is plenty to yank a tear or ten from me. Also, when my beloved lost his mind and ended up in a rehab in Tennessee a couple years ago I got into the habit of listening to this album on the drive to visit him. That was, naturally, a very emotional time in my life and that album brought to mind for me the beauty of the world in contrast with my own pain, the pain of women struggling in such a broken world, and the overwhelming tragedy of cultures lost and how that has affected all of our ability to be whole. I would drive and sing and cry and cry and cry.
And All My Relations in particular culls the strongest response from me because it so eloquently reminds us that we need to include all in our prayers, even those who seem like the perpetrators, the enemy. To hear a dedication coming from the mouths of First Nations women directed not only to their ancestors and all the victims of the atrocities of relocation and extermination, but also many who have caused suffering along the way is a humbling reminder that we all could work a little harder at cultivating compassion in our hearts and minds. Compassion is a way of life whose purpose is to allow us to forgive those who seem not to deserve forgiveness, but in our forgiveness we serve love in the highest and that can only elevate us and the plight of our species. At least that is what I believe, though I am not always perfect in my attempts at compassion. This song prompts me to strive for it.
All My Relations by Ulali
To our elders who teach us of our creation and our past so we may preserve Mother Earth for ancestors yet to come, we are the link.
This is dedicated to our relatives before us, thousands of years ago, and to the 150 million who were exterminated across the western hemisphere in the first 400 years time starting in 1492:
To those who have kept their homelands and to the nations extinct due to mass slaughter, slavery, deportation and disease unknown to them, and to the ones who are subjected to the same treatment today,
To the ones who survived the relocations and the ones who died along the way,
To those who carried on traditions and live strong among their people,
To those who left their communities by force or by choice and for generations who no longer know who they are,
To those who search and never find,
To those that turn away the so called non-accepted,
To those that bring us together and to those living outside keeping touch, the voice for many,
To those that make it back to live and fight the struggles of their people,
To those that give up and those who do not care,
To those who abuse themselves and others and those who revive again,
To those who are physically, mentally or spiritually incapable by accident or by birth,
To those who seek strength in our spirituality in ways of life and those who exploit it, even our own,
To those who fall for the lies and join the dividing lines that keep us fighting amongst each other,
To the outsiders who step in, good or bad, and those of us who don’t know better,
To the leaders and prisoners of war, politics, crime, race and religion- innocent or guilty,
To the young, the old, the living and the dead,
To our brothers and sisters and all living things across Mother Earth and her beauty we’ve destroyed and denied, the honor that the Creator has given each individual, the truth that lies in our hearts…
All my relations.
There is no way I can do this song justice by just publishing the words. You need to hear their voices speak their truth. Please find Ulali and support them by purchasing their music so you can experience their gift of beauty yourself and so they can continue to generate music of the highest vibration.