Modern Folk

015 Sherri Mitchell: Sacred Instructions, Indigenous Wisdom for Living Spirit-Based Change

March 5, 2019

Welcome, new moon, new Modern Folk. I am very excited for you to hear my interview with my guest today. I recently had the honor of connecting with Sherri Mitchell, the author of the book Sacred Instructions. If you know me well personally, or listen to this show, then you have heard me talk about Sherri Mitchell before. Her book and her teachings have inspired me deeply and changed my life and I am extremely excited to share our conversation with you. But first, here is a brief update on what Emily, Clemence and I have been up to..

If you are listening to this on the release date, March 6, then perhaps you have set some intentions for yourself during this time of opportunity and new beginnings. If you are listening to this at some other time….well then hello from the past. As i have mentioned several times, Emily and I have committed to doing a 3 day cleanse every new moon this year. We take this time to clean up our inputs…..omitting coffee, alcohol, processed sugars, grains, dairy. And also taking more time for individual and family reflection and goal setting. This is basically replacing the 2 or three week cleanses we often do once or twice a year. This also represents a tangible step towards our goal to physically, spirituality and emotionally orient ourselves to real and observable phenomena around us.  Releasing this podcast on new moon is another step in that process, one that i had overlooked, but that was recommended by my friend and previous guest on the show, Allison Murphy. These are subtle changes, in practice and in perspective, but they feel good.

Hunting. I have been researching hunting quite a bit lately. I am a complete newcomer to hunting and there is a lot to learn. I find the whole idea of hunting both exciting and intimidating. There is also the choice of bow or rifle. I am pretty sure I have settled on bow hunting for this first season. I have gone back and forth on this many times in my mind. Ultimately though, everything about bow hunting feels like a better fit for me. Typically, bow season is late summer/early fall so it isnt quite as cold out, which in my mind makes for more pleasant time in the woods. Bowhunting requires a more intimate knowledge of the animal being hunted. I like the idea of learning more about the animals I am hunting. This really goes back to the idea of orienting to the natural world around me. For much of my life i have been oriented to the seasons in a very different way. When i was a kid, summer was when the swimming pool was open and we would visit the grandparents. Winter was when we would cross our fingers hoping for now days to cancel school and we would build forts with sticks and leaves left behind from autumn. As an adult, winters have been for skiing, all the other season are for mountain biking. Summer used to be for climbing road trips. I used to think there were only rumors of Elk in the forests of oregon, i sure never saw one from my mountain bike or on a hike in the Three Sisters Wilderness. Now I am learning that the elk are up there, but they are smart and observant and stay far away from the areas where me and most everyone else from Bend is recreating. So yes, hunting….I hope to use it as a means to understand the seasons and the land and how I am part of the whole thing rather than just a spectator, consumer, or recreator. The same can be said of our efforts to grow more food here in our yard.  Again, small changes, big lessons and better late than never.

It is snowy and snowing outside currently in Bend. The last couple weeks have shown us that winter did not forget about us. However, Spring is just around the corner and I am looking forward to getting outside and pruning my trees. I love pruning trees but i always feel like I have taken off way too much. My friend Megan over at Boundless had some recommendations for my trees, I should have her and David over for dinner and to formulate a pruning plan. I also will be expanding the capacity of our garden so i need to prepare a new garden bed. I am looking forward to getting some seeds in the ground as soon as all this snow melts, which may be a while.

In the dietary realm, I have been avoiding wheat this last month, and I have been feeling pretty good about it. I have known for years that i should probably avoid wheat, both from the results from a food intolerance test and also from personal observations about how my body and my mind responds to wheat. Interestingly, the intolerance test told me to avoid wheat, not gluten. This means that according to this test, i can still eat other grains containing gluten including rye and spelt. Emily has been making some delicious Sourdough 100% rye bread, and we have also made SD rye, spelt biscuits and spelt pizza. Last winter i did most of the bread baking but Emily has taken the reigns on the bread baking, I need to get myself back in the game. Anyhow, I feel really good having omitted wheat from my diet.

Some things I have been learning from lately.

Rich Roll Podcast, Two episodes with guest Zach Bush
GMO's, Glyphosate and Healing the Gut

The Science and Spirituality of Personal and Planetary Transformation

Farmers Footprint, is a series of short films that shed light on how big pharma and big agriculture have eroded our soils and our health in the name of making more money and under the disguise of scientific progress. The film also shows how small farms are using the techniques of regerative agriculture to take back the land and the health of their families and communities. This film highlights what i believe are some of the most biggest opportunities at hand to address important issues from individual and community health to national security to environmental stewardship.  

Heart of Business, Heart of Money online class with Mark Silver

This is something that Emily discovered and when she brought it up as something that we could maybe do together i thought it sounded like a great idea. At first glance the class looks like a course on money and i immediately pictured sessions on budgeting, spending, debt and topics like that. Now, while those topics are discussed, the class is really more about understanding and healing our emotional and spiritual relationships with money and with our selves. It has been really interesting and has helped me to put certain parts of my life into better perspective.

For me personally, some of the key words or feelings that come up when money or spending or debt is involved are scarecity, paralization, fear, hoarding, security and protection. These teachings have helped me to be less controlled by some of these concepts and find a bit more of a feeling of abundance and safety. I am sure that anyone working through these teachings would describe it differently because it is very personal work.  But i have found it helpful, so i wanted to share that with you.

Most of what i have been pondering or working on these last few months falls into one of a couple broad themes.

  1. Listening to your heart, and finding your true path, and sharing your gifts with the world.
  2. Environmental stewardship, manifested in regenerative agriculture, local food, social justice issues.

These themes are a large part of what Modern Folk is meant to explore. Also, these themes are among the many important topics addressed by my guest on the show today. Sherri Mitchell, Weh’na Ha’mu Kwasset is an Indigenous rights activist, spiritual teacher, and transformational change maker. Sherri was born and raised on the Penobscot Indian reservation (Penawahpskek).  She speaks and teaches around the world on issues of Indigenous rights, environmental justice, and spiritual change. I hope you enjoy our discussion. 

Interview Notes:


Modern Folk logo by Stefan Perkinz
Theme music by Lee Rosevere

Support for Modern Folk comes from my wife Emily Wiggins.
Emily is a Naturopathic Doctor in Bend OR.


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