“It is only at the scale of our direct sensory interactions with the land around us that we can appropriately notice and respond to the needs of the living world”.  David Abram

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Ihiya Biological Reserve: What’s in a name?

Ihiya is Cherokee for “reed”.

“On a Sunday in October 2017, a dynamic group of us met to dream in the possibility of preserving the beautiful area now known as Ihiya Biological Reserve. We took a walk out onto the land and left paho (cornmeal offering) and felt into the magic of the realms there.

As I ran my hand over the fading yellow stalks of wild grass and the reeds, I could see where the area was getting ready for the winter. A pair of the last of the nesting birds, a male and female of the colorful varied thrush, were in the alder thickets. The season quickly changing toward winter, there was yet evidence of the many wildflowers and beings that called the meadow home. A buck appeared on the horizon, antlers fully spread for the fall rut, and went over the ridge in his majesty. There were seedpods of wildflowers I knew well and some I did not recognize from my botanical survey days. I very much looked forward to returning and exploring, breathing in this sublime beauty.

In the ensuing weeks the image of the many reeds and grasses continued to remind me of the San Juans and this special land. When looking for a name, the idea of having the Reeds speak for the beauty of this area came to a few of us, and so we went with the name, Ihiya, which is Cherokee (Tsalagi) for Reed. It is interesting that the teachings I gave on land nearby that month were about the Cherokee day sign of the Reed, and that the day we walked the land was also the day of the Reed! The teachings of the twenty days of the Cherokee ceremonial calendar, and the serendipitous nature of the moments spent there seem to wave to us in encouragement as we step out with a continuing conservation and educational vision for the land.

Ihiya ( pronounced Ee-eye- ya or Eye-ee- ya) is a day of honoring the light within. We recognize we are each a channel for the highest good. We look for the ways of indigenous balance, and promote passing knowledge of ancestral streams for the good of the next generations to come, as well as to heal the past. With these healing stories and ways we can accomplish much together, for one of the teachings of the Reed is to remind us we become as a Reed bundle together – stronger.

Thank you to my Cherokee Elders and teachers of these ways, to my indigenous relatives. Thank you to all for supporting this sanctuary to happen and continue. Wado!”
– Nunutsi