As we move out into the world to be with such diversity and complexity, we feel it is critical to be rooted in an understanding of who we are and where we come from.

This includes the essential analysis of race, class and gender, and also a deep reaching back to the long lines of our ancestry. Some call this ancestral tracking, and others simply call it knowing your roots. In either case, the practice of knowing who we are and where we come from changes profoundly when we start looking back through the generations.

On a 2009 BB pilgrimage, as we journeyed out to work with the global community, each of us was also asked to deepen our understanding of our lineage by tracking our ancestral lines. Though how we were to do this was left up to each individual, for most of us, this played a significant part in our independent months of learning and service.

What unique lines of people and place have made our lives possible? Who were the people or ancestors that most influenced our life choices? How did relationship with land or the animal or plant kingdoms influence our stories? There were many questions that we explored on a personal level, giving time an inquiry into the depth of our ancestries. We continue to do so today and encourage such in others.

Only by knowing who we are do we have a chance of knowing where to be. Learning more about what aboriginal people have named songline, we may begin to listen for our gifts and giveaway in our community and in this world.

Gigi Coyle, Beyond Boundarian

Our shared work with ancestry was a great beginning to an exploration of my maternal lineage. The time spent in Scotland, visiting relatives and the places where my grandmother was raised, were key to literally and metaphorically bringing home gifts to my family in the United States. I was able to retrieve photographs, stories and goods that belonged to my great grandmother that had never been seen or known by my American family. My interest pulled many of our stories together and through this process, I was able to create a cohesive understanding of my maternal lineage for the first time in my life. This connection in conjunction with the on the ground experiences with European stone circles and other ancient sites in Mexico and Malta has given me a deeper understanding of indigenosity and my place in the world.

Sharon Shay Sloan, Beyond Boundarian