The Spirits of our Ancestors will always lead us home

A Personal Story by Michelle Greer

For as long as I can remember I have always been a dreamer. Whether it was someone crossing over into the spiritual realm, natural disasters, or direct messages from my own deceased loved ones or those of others. My vivid memories of specific dreams and/or visions goes back to the age of 7. I always knew that I was different from others my age. Not different in the sense of better, but different in the sense of being somewhat of an old soul.

My childhood was blessed with love from both grandparents and great-grandparents; however, my time with them was short. Prior to reaching an age in which I could truly experience the benefit of their wisdom and ancestral knowledge, I lost most of them to death. Coping with what I consciously knew I had lost was enough, but what I had unconsciously lost did not reveal itself until I had become an adult. I experienced this awareness of some disconnect in my life like a quickening of sorts.

Dreams, visions, books, changes in how I interacted with everything around me, and the people I met by chance literally flooded my life. One of the most profound, yet simple things that happened was when I woke up one day with a strange and sudden urgency to get a tattoo. Now this may seem normal to most people given the popularity of tatooing today. However, it wasn’t quite as popular in 1995, and I certainly held a strong personal distaste for it. The entire experience of getting this tattoo was like sleepwalking.

In fact, when I arrived I had no idea what type of tatoo I even wanted because I truly didn’t want one. So I proceeded to look through the various images that were available to choose from and after looking through maybe 10 or more poster size selection sheets, for those who have been to a tattoo parlor, my finger without deliberation instinctively pointed to what I then thought was a cheetah. I went through the painful and still baffling experience of getting this rather sizable tattoo on my right shoulder, and then all was quiet, at least in terms of the tattoo, for a year or more.

Then I began having very vivid dreams of a panther that was always pursuing me. In one dream, this panther was literally following me through a residential area while people were washing their cars and moving about as if they didn’t even see this huge black cat. In that same dream this panther later appeared in the form of a male native elder who gave me information and instructions about prayer rituals that were previously unknown to me.

In another dream, this same elder appeared again, this time he walked out of what appeared to be tall swampy grass. In the dream, I asked him where we were and he said, “You’re in the Everglades”. Silly me, when I woke up I immediately asked my husband what was the Everglades and his reply was a swamp located in Florida. I asked him what kinds of animals were there, and he replied, “Alligators and stuff like that”. Unfortunately, our computer was down so I couldn’t research the Everglades personally, but I asked a dear friend to do so and the printed information that she gave me changed my life forever.

When I looked through the packet that she gave me, there was all of this wonderful information about the Seminoles, including details about their various clans, one of which was the panther clan. Tears literally rolled down my cheeks as I read, but the icing on the cake was when I saw a photo image of the exact same black cat that I had tattooed on my shoulder years before ever having any knowledge of the Everglades or the Seminoles.

For over a year, I referred to the cat on my shoulder as a cheetah when in fact it was a panther. Over the next several years, the spirits of my ancestors guided me on a beautiful journey back home. I contacted the tribal members of the Seminole Nation with no success. I even visited Florida in hopes of sitting with some of the elders, but my inquiries were met with closed hearts, minds, and spirits. The tribal members that I met didn’t want to discuss the possibility that I was a descent let alone the fact that I had been led there by dreams.

Wow, how disappointing considering the history and traditions of our people. Dreamers were always honored and valued by both native and african people. That emptiness has remained with me and is shared by my children to this day. To go so far and be so close, but not welcomed because we are of mixed descent. About 5 years ago my only remaining grandfather shared with me on his death bed that some of our ancestors were Seminole. He had never shared this information with me before nor did he have time to validate it with proof, but then again why should proof be required?

A couple of years after he died, while in law school, I had the opportunity to take a course on race and the law and it was then that my journey would experience yet another flood of information. I researched and discovered various treaties and resulting laws that would ultimately serve to create a permenant separation between african and native-american people regardless of their shared ancestry. It was also during this time that I found my great-grandfather’s name on the Dawes Roll for the Florida Seminoles.

I know that centuries of separation from our history and traditions has left most of us disconnected in many ways from ourselves and the world of spirit. And so I have shared my story with the realization that many won’t believe or even care. But I had to share it anyway because all of us, especially those who have been separated by virtue of having both african and native-american ancestry, need to know that although we may not be welcomed by our various tribes, the spirits of our ancestors will always lead us home.

I am humbled, honored, and inspired to be a part of the “I Love Ancestry campaign. And, in closing I would like to end by saying one of my favorite quotes, “I am not part of this or part of that; I am all of this and that”. I give thanks to Great Spirit and our ancestors. Peace and Blessings to each of you.

 

~Michelle Greer

 

TELL MY STORY: Contemporary Realities, Our Ancestral Past, & Our Liberated Future

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I Love Ancestry is a global issue advocacy campaign that explores identity, diversity, heritage and culture, highlighting the experiences of marginalized people and Indigenous communities around the world.

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