Pulling heritage into daily life

Eraka Sims’ business card is a two-sided affair that invites explanation – her REMAX realtor consultant services on one side, her Cherokee Holistic services on the other.

“It is the sum of who I am. Professionally, I find homes for people, but there is a connection with my tribal ancestry as well,” Sims said. “I am Bear Clan and traditionally the Bear Clan was responsible for finding new living areas for the community or tribe. Growing up in Tuscaloosa as a child I always felt something was missing and I know now that it was the connection to my native culture.”

Sims’ Native American lineage is Cherokee (maternal) and Choctaw (paternal). She has traced her maternal ancestors back seven generations to Dr. David Kyzer and Redama Weaver in South Carolina. At a family reunion, Sims further learned that this couple later lived and were buried near Vance, Ala, not so far from her present day home.

In a ceremony at Three Fires Midewiwinn Lodge, Sims’ was given her spirit name: Mudwayway Geezhigukwe Kwe.

Grand Chief Eddie Benton Banai bestowed this name in his native language, Ojibwa, and it translates as “All the music in the sky woman.” In native language, the reference to music would include the singing voice as well as sky sounds -wind, thunder and lightning.

Just over a year ago, Sims had a near-death experience while visiting friends.

“I collapsed and my friend felt no pulse. I remember him squeezing my hand and heard him calling me to squeeze back,” Sims said. “Then I felt a large gray cloud pushing my spirit back into my body.”

Sims does not recall the CPR performed on her. After three days of hospital tests, the diagnosis given was hyperthyroidism and dehydration, but Sims intuitively felt the incident was related to her liver. Chief Eddie Benton Banai told her to inhale yarrow and a Creek shaman instructed her to take a tincture made from milk thistle.

She had already begun this regime when doctors informed her that further tests indeed did indicate that her liver enzymes were high. Sims is now well from using the milk thistle and Reiki.

The experience led Sims to intensify her Reiki practice. Reiki is a form of alternative medicine believed to unify mind, body and spirit. Sims now offers Reiki and energy balancing sessions and classes from her home.

Online resources include: CherokeeHolisticServices.com: BirminghamHomes.org and American Indian Movement at Aimmovement.com.