Keewaydinoquay of Garden Island: A Story of Hope and Healing

by | May 2, 2021 | art & performance

Eunice Foote’s experiment for her studies on greenhouse gases, as recreated in the 2018 short film “Eunice.” Credit, Paul Bancilhon and Matteo Marcolini

Presented by Sara Warber, MD
for the Beaver Island Historical Society

Earth Day, April 22, 2021

Watch the archived 50-minute talk followed by a 30-minute Q & A on YouTube.

Sara studied and sometimes lived with Keewaydinoquay for over fourteen years while also training to become a physician. Grandmother Kee, as she was known to the people who gathered around her on Garden Island and elsewhere, generously shared her life-changing perspectives with all who came to her with an open heart. On Earth Day 2021, you are invited to dip into this story of teacher and student, intergenerational friendship, and Nature’s gifts of healing.

I deeply enjoyed remembering and reflecting on times I was fortunate to be with and learn from Grandmother Kee.  There was such richness in these memories, some too personal to share, some too important to protect privacy to share, some too sacred to share.  What I chose to share is my story and how Kee influenced the living of my life and continues to do so.

In preparing this talk, I asked myself “What would Kee want me to say?” and closed the presentation with this bit of writing.  I share it here in response to requests from listeners.

“This is a time of crisis for Mother Earth and all her life-forms: climate crisis, biodiversity loss, pollution, and pandemic because of our ways of mastery rather than harmony. But we have ways of reconnecting with Mother Earth and with Gitchii Manidu (Great Spirit). 

We can live more simply. We could embrace a gift economy rather than an extractive greed-based economy. We can practice an earth-based spirituality. We can practice compassion. We can be love. We can humble ourselves beside each other, the animals, the plants, the singing rocks.  We can heal each other.  We can open to healing within nature.  We can change our hearts. We can follow our hearts. We can find true joy in clear purpose. We can be the ones who make a difference. 

Peace and Harmony. Laughter and Love.

Come home to nature and to Spirit and to community. Come home to kinship across species, across time, across Mother Earth. The work takes each one of us choosing in each moment the path of destruction or the path of regeneration.

The Scarlet Tanager in my back yard says to me: We are dying, we will come back!”

Sara L. Warber, MD is a Clinical Professor Emerita of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan (UM), Ann Arbor MI, USA where she co-founded the UM Integrative Medicine program. Her research focuses on how holistic health programs and time spent in nature affect human well-being.  She has authored numerous articles and chapters about holistic medicine, nature-based interventions, and processes of healing. She completed a Fulbright Scholarship on ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder’ at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter, UK.  She is currently a Scholar at The Institute for Integrative Health in Baltimore MD, USA, where she is exploring how womxn’s expressive arts illuminate their dreams of nature, health, and a balanced life. Contact: swarber@umich.edu

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We are especially grateful to The Institute for Integrative Health for the visionary, scholarly and material support that makes this project possible.