December 2020

Greetings Seneca-Cayuga Nation,

I know that we are all tired of hearing about Covid-19. When the year began no one could have imagined it would come to this. The year 2020 has been inundated with bad news every day. In the beginning it seemed far away almost like a storm that was going to pass us by. But now going into the holidays it has hit all of us full blast. It makes us often wonder why or how can this happen? But there are no easy answers, only hope, I guess.

As you know there were many firsts in 2020 and hardly any of them good. We saw Covid-19 shutdown much of the world, and the effect this sickness had on families which still continues to grow. It was also the first year where we could not complete our ceremonies.

I have never heard of, either firsthand or in stories from my ancestors, that this has ever happened before. However, after much discussion it was decided that the risk was too much to proceed in a normal capacity. While we did not have the dances at their respective time frame the Faith Keepers did the best they could with prayers to represent each ceremony. Hopefully, when Spring arrives, we will be able to “safely” begin our ceremonies again. Our tribal brothers and sisters from other nations were also affected as they too opted not to have or limit their ceremonies due to the risks involved.

We have also been touched with the loss of many loved ones and friends to this sickness. But while the bad will leave a mark on our memories we must also look to the future and what is good in our lives. I too was affected by this sickness and I am thankful to still be here today. Going through this also made me appreciate life even more. And a lot of it is the little things I never took time to notice before. One of the many things that stands out for me was when I came home from the hospital. You see in the hospital they had these large blowers running 24×7, which took the air in the room and funneled it through a plastic sleeve over to the window to the outside world. It was loud and made resting difficult. But I remember coming home after being released and laying down in bed and when I looked up through the windows I could see the trees, and as I lay there I watched them swaying and it was almost like the leaves on the trees were waving at me; welcoming me home. The feeling of peace that fell over me was so strong it is hard to explain and thus began my journey to getting well.

 I spent most of August laying on a futon outside on the carport watching hummingbirds fight over the feeders Leanne had put up. You see, sometimes these small blessings make you realize that what is important is all around you. It could be anything like watching your kids, grandkids playing, kids talking to you, asking you questions or the cool fresh air in the morning when you step outside, the stars in the sky at night shining so bright as if to say “I am here”. For me, I have a lot to be thankful for as it was the family and friends who helped and prayed for me during this trying time, for my loving wife who stayed strong but also everything the creator has put on this earth.

The pain of losing our loved ones is sometimes almost unbearable; coupled with the mental and physical strains put on us it can almost seem hopeless. But they would want us all to carry on, take care of ourselves, be safe and be happy. If you are facing troubled or hard times; try stepping back for a minute, go outside, go for a walk, turn the TV off (definitely since it’s all bad news anyway), call a friend or better yet an elder if nothing else but to say “Hi”. I know they would appreciate that, and it would help you feel better. Maybe if we are not focused on the bad or sad things going on around us the burden will leave, or at least not seem so big.

I pray as we bring 2020 to a close we can look to what possibilities the new year holds. We must stay strong, strong for our families, kids, friends and our elders. While we will cherish our memories of the loved ones we lost, we should also appreciate all that life has remaining for us. We will get through this.

Nya-Weh,

Toot-No-Sone-Dee

Charlie Diebold

Ceremonial Chief

Seneca-Cayuga Nation