From dust to tribe . . .

Dust and Tribe (D&T) is the experience of growth through adventure.

Our fall and spring signature excursions are annual opportunities for Muslim men and women to push through the boundaries of supposed mental and physical limits into a new awareness of what we can be when we support one another.

It is where we discover what we are (dust) and what we become together (tribe).

Spring 2016: D&T Grrrl!

On April 22nd, fifteen women left for three days and two nights camped out on an island two-hours off the California coast. This blog is their story!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Me or Us?

I was perusing the National Park Service website when I came across this:
A visit to the Channel Islands is an exercise in preparation and self-reliance. There are no services such a food stores or gear rental shops on the islands, no remedies for poor planning once you have arrived.
I think I understand the intention behind the message. Once you're on the island, you don't have a lot of options outside of your planning and preparation. But that nonsense about "self-reliance" bothers me.

Because it brings this guy to mind:

Why is he all strapped and junk when the Chumash who lived on these islands going back some 13,000 years were virtually naked?

And they look a lot less angry than him, too.

Their relatively unencumbered presentation is tied to their sense of community and their intimate relationship with the spirit world. Not that going to church pot-lucks necessarily precipitates the wearing of loin-cloths, but hear me out.

The self-reliance fantasy is firmly rooted in our darkest imaginings about our fellow man. No one can be trusted. What's mine stays mine. Responsibility does not extend beyond oneself.

When our vision is limited to the desperate pettiness of our individual experience, these become reasonable ideas. But that mindset is a recipe for almost certain disaster in the wilderness. It is in the wilds, before anywhere else, that you will discover the depth of your need for others.

Indigenous peoples everywhere organized themselves into tight-knit clans where knowledge, skills, and resources were shared. You didn't have to figure out a way to handle every contingency by yourself. You worked together or you died. The formidable wilderness guaranteed it. A powerful spirituality naturally developed among these early tribal peoples and groups were woven still closer by honoring taboos derived from their notions of the unseen world.

Close-knit communities. Respecting limits. Reverence for life in all of it's forms and awe before the animating Power behind it all. Sounds like us, doesn't it?

Or the idealized us. We have a lot to learn about the power that comes out of keeping to limits and prioritizing service. God can teach you these things quickly on the island, though. You can only carry so much gear comfortably, for example. Or you might run out of water on a long hike. You might get caught in a rip current. In every case you will hit a non-negotiable limit. After that you will need help.

And if you've made a practice of helping others, aid will come easily enough, insha Allah.

With about nine weeks left to go, it's a good time to ask yourselves about how your preparations are coming along. Are you working together or in isolation? How free and frequent is your communication? What are the skill sets that you have individually that might ease the collective challenge of managing the numerous logistical considerations? Have you considered your food? Transportation to and from the dock? Do you know who has gear that can be borrowed or shared?

Lean into each other, women.


  1. I guess this is a good time to ask who our partners are? (I heard you do that?) ...will you elaborate more on what is good food to take for good energy? Yea I agree with you ... We are taught to take the middle path right? So a bit of self reliance and then helping each other.. Got it! Inshallah:)

    1. Great questions, as always! And I have to say again how much I love your spirit, masha Allah.

      Partners? Somebody's giving away my secrets! It's true, I will sometimes put campers into groups, but we still have two spots to fill and I'm waiting to see what happens with that.

      There will be a whole post coming up soon on food, insha Allah, but I highly recommend asking the other ladies in an email thread- there are some very experienced backpackers in your group, masha Allah.


    2. Thanks for the response.... Yea a little too excited lol. I check my mail every Wed and Saturday...will definitely mage sure I get input from the ladies too.

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