Shauna Yellow Kidney from USA
If you follow the Old North Trail along the backbone of the world, you enter a realm unique for its breathtaking, rugged beauty. Within its borders lay Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshal Wilderness and the sacred, Badger-Two Medicine. A place where stars, sky and mountain peaks meet, our people blessed with a superabundance of traditional knowledge and strength: Blackfeet country. In this place of our ancestors, my son’s story nearly came to an end. Our family spends as much time as we possibly can back home, gathering medicine, picking berries, roots and attending ceremony. This summer while camped ‘where God likes to be,’ I witnessed my baby becoming less and less the rambunctious boy I love. He was lethargic, sullen and lacked his usual joy in everything. As I watched him closely, I knew something was very wrong. A couple days and a couple nights of this turned his whimpers and wheezing into sounding bells. So that last night I decided to take him to the clinic after our work was completed the next day. That morning, I noticed the retractions of labored breathing and lifelessness had crept into his beautiful brown eyes. I left my daughters in the care of my family, immediately rushing him to the Blackfeet Community Hospital ER, where he was quickly life-flighted by plane to a larger hospital, able to provide greater medical intervention. I can’t share the details of what I witnessed. What I can share is that, as his mother (and as a previous employee of a level one trauma center) I understood the doctor’s whispers and grave warning of possible immediate intubation. My son’s story did not end that day and I will forever be grateful beyond comprehension that it did not. The cause? Bronchiolitis and reactive airway disease. In mere days, the weeks we had intended to spend together as a family in our traditional way, vanished into smoke. Wildfire smoke inhalation was the source his exacerbated symptoms that resulted in my 1-year-old son’s life-threatening respiratory distress. Never had we seen smoke like this, our lands are changing and we wonder what future our children have. A wildfire (set by a man), impacted and nearly devastated our family. Climate change (given rise to by mankind) will impact, then devastate our entire world… unless we decide to unite, immediately to heal and protect the sacred.