A new year has begun and we are bound by this numbering and marking of days, not by original design or intent, but because we find ourselves in a place where the day to day calendar is a imposed upon us.
Perhaps it is that and in the onset of this “new year” I feel compelled to say the following-or maybe it’s because so many misconceptions have been crafted, spread, and embraced for purely feel good or monetary considerations.
I’m not ashamed of who the nations are or have been-I have no need to revise or re-invent so much as a single iota of our history, I leave that to individuals like Russell Means, Leonard Peltier, Dennis Banks, and others with all their endlessly re-told stories, books, personal public relations efforts, and all the Youtube, Alex Jones, Al Jazerra bullshit that would distort and reshape who we are.
I can think of no other explanation for such steadfast denial, revision, and editing of what is a part of history, and it reminds me of the media and public sentiment of the time that referred to any of the nations victories as being massacres perpetrated by howling savages.
I leave it as well to the legion of new agers from the “lost rainbow tribe” who follow “lil’ grandmother” whose very choice of names is laughable, and all the other chosen and enlightened “shamans” who while waving crystals about as they “channel” brazenly co opt those things are that are uniquely ours-ours as in given to us by a Creator along with a spiritual understanding they cannot even begin to comprehend.
They would have all to believe that we walked on water, held great mystical powers and knowledge and cavorted about in peace and harmony with all the nations. That we are going to save everyone when we are struggling to save ourselves.
Nothing could be further from the truth – our collective history is one of survival, inter tribal warfare, appropriating land that belonged to others, and each tribe believing they were the “people”. Special, and somehow superior to others.
Our history is as bloody as any other culture, whether it be the Vikings, Romans, Mongolians, or any other you care to name anywhere on the face of the Earth. Is that a bold statement? I don’t believe so-I think it is stating a truth, and to do otherwise is deception.
There was a time when Hollywood, the media, school texts, and historical literature portrayed us as being singularly barbaric, ignorant savages who reveled in all manner of mayhem and destruction-this while conveniently overlooking their own history of huge wars on such a scale as to take tens, even hundred of thousands of lives…they were civilized while we were savages.
Hollywood changed course with movies such as Dancing With Wolves and suddenly everyone was part Indian-everyone knew and could interpret who we are and what our beliefs are and mean.They added crystals and the ignorance of channeling, they not only claimed the ability to communicate with spirit guides but could put you in touch with your very own as they saw it-usually for a fee.
Seeing the cash flow these things generated some among us lacking principles, respect, understanding, and above all honor, jumped on the gravy train offering DVDs, CDs teaching the “sacred ways”.
They created websites to promote themselves, opened up ceremonies to the public, and in doing so generally spat upon us and our traditions. They alluded to being such ridiculous things as the seventh son of a seventh son, iconic figures from previous times come again-or worse, medicine men, patriots, and liberators.
They promoted themselves as the bearer of a new way, bringing a new ghost dance they would not only instruct us in but lead as well-and don’t forget to send those donations or fail to purchase the latest literary offering or work of “art”.
Scalping wasn’t foreign to this land-there were nations that did so long before any whiteman ever set foot here, there is a global historical record of it among countless cultures.
But we never paid a cash dividend for a scalp, be it man, woman, or child, and the incidence of scalping was ramped up as are all acts of war when the invaders began to pursue scalps for profit in much the same way as they did with furs and buffalo hides.
We did take captives, and often enough abused them – women and children were slain as we fought among ourselves and against an invader from foreign shores, women were raped and abused. We decimated tribes and took their land and resources.
All of humanity has done such things at some point or another, and we are not innocents in this ,we are not exceptions -we’ve made our own mistakes, had our own dark moments- in that we are no less or no more human.
I am satisfied and at peace with who we are, who we have been. That isn’t to imply I believe it is all good, only that what has been cannot be changed but can provide a lesson what NOT to do as we move forward.
What I am not satisfied with is that we still haven’t learned some important lessons we need related to the conditions we face such as rez life, poverty, addictions, drug smuggling, youth gangs, the abuse and hopelessness of so many of our own-the devastating breakdown of our culture.
A breakdown that includes the forgotten languages, lost meanings of our sacred symbols, songs, music, clothes, stories and rituals, the rampant commercialization that turns it all into the cheap marketing of “beads and feathers”, of tall tales having nothing to do with our beliefs and or the understanding of them, wrongly translated and attached as quotes and prophecies to nations that are “popular” at the moment-all that is required is to add the names Lakota, Cherokee, or Maya and Hopi.
All this coupled with attempts to deny our history- to revise, edit, and re educate us in what amounts to little more than the new age/ Youtube doctrine of bullshit.
The greatness of our past, and the SECOND part of our history is being written in this time- it was and must again be embedded in our understanding that we are not separated from the land and all living things-that we were a part of an all encompassing flow of life and bear a responsibility to it and each other
We need to remember that we lived simply and had standards of conduct within our communities that are an accusation in the face of civilized societies, and modern rez life-standards that were predicated on the welfare of the community, not that of the individual-no me first.
“Villages” did raise, nourish, and protect children -it was a communal responsibility, villages did honor and respect elders and see them as the repository of a collective wisdom.
We didn’t have stores and utilities to become dependent upon, no welfare checks or commodities to stand in line and collect, and in that we were a strong and self reliant people. We fed , clothed and housed ourselves, and gave thanks for the bounty they were to us.
We wasted nothing, nor did we strip and pollute the land. We made agreements with others, such as the fourlegs would sacrifice themselves to provide nourishment and the things we required to sustain ourselves, we did not trophy hunt to abuse the agreement or the spirit of an deer or elk to mount their head to hang on a wall and “adorn” our home.
These agreements were part of the act of creation wherein a balance existed, and established an order where chaos could have been the way of it.
We didn’t even have the wheel as a means of mobility, and yet we flourished and lived, loved, fought, and died just as all people have. Only I think when the scales are set – we did so better than most.
I am accountable for what I do – not the actions of another, just as the credit due another or an ancestor belongs to them and not to me.
The land and our spirits spoke to us as we were and where we were – they were accessible to all, and not by any ritual of baptism or whim of a preacher or priest. We offered to them, but not in an obligatory manner when a collection plate was passed during a service.
We did so because we understood what we believed. We knew who we were honoring and why we believed as we did. It’s time to know, understand, believe, and honor those thing again.
I know there are those who will howl in indignation, gnash their teeth and rend their garments at what I have said. New agers in the throes of defense ridden seizures – Indianists and hobbyists who think they understand and that their appropriating and mimicry are an homage.
Liars, editors, and revisionists- apoplectic at the mere thought that anyone would dare to think such things, to question their version, much less publicize a conflicting opinion-to those I say have the integrity and strength of your convictions to state them here in this blog.
Don’t comfort yourself with kindred spirits who practice the same deception and mindlessly nod their head in agreement, or the security of familiar surroundings and fellow practitioners-if you believe it defend it-a failure to do so speaks louder than anything you might otherwise say.