Sunday, July 05, 2015

An American Indian Fourth of July : Not So Much


Herein, an editorial sampling of American indian ideas of the 4th of July. Like many other "holidays" on the American calendar, American Indian communities participate, because really everyone loves a holiday, especially the children. Yet we view them with some consternation, some suspicion, some dread.

Rezinate is an interesting blog narrative, often controversial, and clearly, like many of us, not enamoured of the myths, crimes, and corrupted plastic heroes of "AIM", the so-called American Indian Movement...here is his latest post on 4th of July, for your editorial consideration:

HarrietNahanee 2
“What I would like to see is people with [traditional] knowledge to teach the small, little people how to grow up with pride. This generation is lost. My generation is lost − they’re  assimilated. They don’t think like an Indian. What I’d like to see is our five-year-olds being taught their language, their songs, their games, their spirituality, their Indian, eh, their Indian-ness. I’d like to ask all the people out there to reclaim their culture − practice it, teach the children, and let’s reclaim our backbone, our culture and put some pride in our children.”
The above words were spoken by Harriet Nahanee who passed away in 2007 – the loss of another tradition based grandmother/elder the nations can ill afford.
It isn’t just the little ones who no longer think like an Indian, but a great many who were little ones when the AIM era of destruction and corruption began.
Pride….can be misplaced, manipulated, ego centric, inflated, and entirely unwarranted – but it is also an integral part of any culture.
An essential ingredient that contributes to communal well being and standing in opposition to assimilation blunting it’s advance – this is the pride Harriet spoke of.
Not tats proclaiming it, not alcoholism, substance abuse, dependency, gangs, or the likes of cultural genocidists such as the AIM leadership.
Not the selling and corruption of ceremonies that characterizes shaimsters like Leonard Crow Dog, Dennis Banks, Clyde Bellecourt, or the great bunko artist Russell Means.
Harriet was a diminutive grandmother, but more than that a true woman of the nations and proof that women can be as much a warrior as any man, and more than some, when the need arises.
We are more than sheep or cattle to be confined to pastures, we are the land.
Which brings me to this day, The 4th of July, and it’s significance for the nations:
People will be celebrating and watching the fireworks displays.
The children of our nations are no exception, no different than other children when it comes to such things, they too are captivated by the thunderous display of fireworks and I have no issue with that, but at some point they should also understand that as nations our Independence Day has yet to come, that the fireworks only represent bright lights in the night sky for us, for them….and for those who know and understand the history something entirely different.
Hopefully one day we as nations will have a comparable reason to celebrate, and in doing so will not have enslaved or oppressed anyone. 
In the interim our little ones may watch and marvel if the opportunity presents itself while they too wait as do all within the nations.
©2015 Rezinate

This, from the Museum of the American Indian:

Do American Indians Celebrate the 4th of July?
The following was originally posted on July 3, 2013 by the National Museum of American Indian and has been updated with more readers’ comments and descriptions. Follow the discussion on the museum's Facebook page.

How do Indians observe the 4th of July? Do we celebrate? To answer, let’s turn back the pages of time. A reasonable chapter to begin in is July 1776, when the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence and 13 colonies became the United States of America. With the emergence of a nation interested in expanding its territory came the issue of what to do with American Indians. History tells us that as the American non-Indian population increased, the indigenous population greatly decreased, along with their homelands and cultural freedoms.
From the beginning, U.S. government policy contributed to culture and land loss. Keeping our focus on the 4th of July, however, let’s jump to the early 1880s, when Secretary of the Interior Henry Teller developed what has come to be called the Religious Crimes Code—regulations at the heart of the Department of Interior, Office of Indian Affairs, Code of Indian Offenses that prohibited American Indian ceremonial life.
Teller's general guidelines to all Indian agents were to end tribal dances and feasts. Enforced on reservations, the code banned Indian ceremonies, disrupted religious practices, and destroyed or confiscated sacred objects. Indian ceremonial activities were prohibited under threat of imprisonment and/or the withholding of treaty rations.
The Secretary of the Interior issued this Code of Regulations in 1884, 1894, and 1904 through Indian Affairs Commissioner's circulars and Indian agent directives. Indian superintendents and agents implemented the code until the mid-1930s. During this 50-year period, Indian spiritual ceremonies such as the Sun Dance and Ghost Dance were held in secret or ceased to exist. Some have since been revived or reintroduced by Indian tribes.
In response to this policy of cultural and religious suppression, some tribes saw in the 4th of July and the commemoration of American independence a chance to continue their own important ceremonies. Superintendents and agents justified allowing reservations to conduct ceremonies on the 4th of July as a way for Indians to learn patriotism to the United States and to celebrate its ideals. That history is why a disproportionate number of American Indian tribal gatherings take place on or near the 4th of July and are often the social highlights of the year. Over time these cultural ceremonies became tribal homecomings. American Indian veterans in particular were welcomed home as modern-day warriors. The Navajo Tribe of Arizona and Pawnee of Oklahoma are two examples of tribes that use the 4th of July as an occasion to honor their tribal veterans.
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During these celebrations, tribal flag songs and veterans’ songs are sung. More than 12,000 American Indians served during World War I, and after the war, the American flag began to be given a prominent position at American Indian gatherings, especially those held on the 4th of July. This symbol of patriotism and national unity is carried into powwow and rodeo arenas today. It is extremely important to note that before the Reservation Era, when most Indians saw the American flag coming toward their villages and camps, it symbolized conflict, death, and destruction.
Today tribes hold ceremonies and celebrations on or near Independence Day for different reasons. The Lumbee of North Carolina and Mattaponi of Virginia use this time as a homecoming for tribal members to renew cultural and family ties. The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma holds Gourd Clan ceremonies on the 4th of July because the holiday coincides with their Sun Dance, which once took place during the hottest part of the year. The Lakota of South Dakota and Cheyenne of Oklahoma continue to have some of their annual Sun Dances on the weekends closest to the 4th of July to coincide with the celebration of their New Year. Some American Indians do not celebrate the 4th of July because of the negative consequences to Indian people throughout history, while others simply get together with family and have cookouts, like many non-Native American citizens.
Jumping ahead to the present: To find out how American Indians across the country spend their 4th of July, we went to Facebook. This handful of replies represents both the diversity of responses we received and the direction of the discussion:
Carnegie, Oklahoma: We celebrate every 4th Gourd Dancing, camping, and visiting my Kiowa people while we’re here, listening to the beautiful Kiowa songs. For three days we are just in Kiowa heaven. Been doing this for years. Now my parents have gone on, but we will continue to attend the Kiowa Gourd Dance Celebration.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Do American Indians celebrate the 4th of July? Answer: Yes, it represents freedom in the United States of America. Freedom to continue to worship Creator, freedom to dance my prayers, freedom to sweat, freedom to rise early and pray the day in and be up late to pray the day out. We, the Host People, celebrate the 4th of July every day!
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Prewitt, New Mexico, and the Navajo Nation: No, I do not celebrate. Because I as a Diné will never relinquish my belief or understanding that we as a people and a nation have the right to be loyal to the Holy Ones before all others, including the United States of America, since we as a people existed long before there was ever a United States.
Taos, New Mexico: Taos is a very close knit community, and even more so at Taos Pueblo nearby. Both have had many citizens serve in America's military in the heartfelt belief that they are protecting our nation. One of our honored tribal elders is Tony Reyna, 97, who survived the Bataan Death March in World War II. I have been told many times that, for us, the idea of protection goes deeper than for most Americans, because this land is where our people emerged, and that any threat to it is met from a place of deep, deep meaning. People here celebrate Independence Day pretty much as they do everywhere. It's a day off, and there are parades and fireworks displays. But for many we remember WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the sacrifices our people made. I wish all people could remember that, especially those who allow blind bigotry and hate to cloud their judgment.
Parshall, North Dakota, and the Three Affiliated Tribes: The 4th is the celebration of independence, which Native people have practiced as sovereign nations for generations.
Shawnee, Oklahoma: No, I do not celebrate Independence Day, simply because the Declaration of Independence labels my people "our enemies, the merciless savages of our frontiers." You notice they were already calling the frontiers "ours" when the land was not theirs. Because I do not celebrate Independence Day does not mean I am not proud of our Native American veterans and soldiers. I am very proud of them and of the fact almost all Native American families have a family member who is a veteran and/or an active member in the Armed Forces.
Anadarko, Oklahoma: I am Kiowa/Delaware/Absentee Shawnee, my mom is a Kiowa/Comanche, my uncle is a vet, as many of my other relatives are, as well as my stepdad (Comanche/Caddo). My Delaware grandma always said, “This is not our holiday. Out of respect we will honor their day, because our people helped them.” She said, “I will mourn on this day.” She would wear a black dress that day.
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Laguna, New Mexico, and the Pueblos of Acoma and Laguna: I celebrate the 4th of July and I do so proudly. … When you have been lucky enough to travel and see life in other places, you come to appreciate the home and land you live on. Maybe I'm not as bitter as some of my other Indigenous brothers and sisters because my tribes were not relocated and have been lucky to remain on ancestral lands. Our Pueblo people … fought against the Spanish in the Pueblo Revolt, but also learned to harmonize with the Catholic Church. Many years—even centuries—of healing have taken place to get us to this point. And I think by celebrating the 4th of July, I feel I am honoring that healing my Pueblo ancestors have prayed for. …
Sawmill, Arizona, and the Navajo Nation: I recognize Independence Day as a day off, as time with family. I recognize that the United States declared its independence on that day, but Native people weren't a part of their envisioned emancipation. As Native people, we recognized our independence through our prayers and practicing our traditions. We didn't need a special day to mark our freedom, we just were. So on the 4th of July, I will practice my American heritage and celebrate this country's Independence Day. But my heart knows I don't need a day to recognize my autonomy.
Oklahoma City and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma: I think of the 4th of July as American Ideals Day. If only America would live up to its own stated ideals, none of what happened to American Indian people would have happened. Today, if those ideals were finally acted upon, American Indian sovereignty would be fully recognized and the treaties would be kept intact. The fireworks celebrate the great ideals that could be America, if only greed were not allowed to pervert them.
Norman, Oklahoma: My 13-year-old son (Comanche/Cherokee) is currently reading the U.S. Constitution (just because). When I asked him about the 4th the other day, he kind of shook his head and said that most people just don't get it. Reading the comment above on American Ideals Day made me think of how true it is—how little we know about America's ideals of the past and where we hold them now.
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Wichita, Kansas: My people, Kiowas, have always held this time of the year as a gathering of all our bands. They would celebrate for a week, indulging in each society’s dances, renewing friendships, visiting relatives, and so on. As we progressed into this modern society we are a part of, we recognized the importance of this celebration even more so. To honor our freedoms and the men and women who sacrificed for us today is truly a reason to celebrate the 4th of July. Does it mean we are to forget our struggles and the plight of our people? NO, but it commemorates the beauty of our land and the resolve of this nation we call America.
Pawnee, Oklahoma: [It's a day] to celebrate all our Native men and women who served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America, our Native men [the Codetalkers] without whose tribal language, [World War II] might have been lost. To honor our fallen ones, who sacrificed their lives for us, and the veterans who are buried in our tribal cemeteries… and overseas. To honor my daughter … in the U.S. Army, a proud Native American woman who is serving our country.
Waikoloa, Hawai'i, via the Red Cloud Indian School, Pine Ridge, South Dakota: It is a sad time, … thinking of all the treaties never honored. I try to hold my children and grandcubs near and invite others who are alone or ill or elderly to eat lots of food that I cook until I am very tired and thank the Creator for another wonderful day.
As Americans everywhere celebrate the 4th of July, I think about how many American Indians are taking their yearly vacations back to their reservations and home communities. All across Indian country, tribes hold modern celebrations— including powwows, rodeos, and homecomings—that coincide with the United States’ Independence Day celebrations.
As for me, I’ll be with my two daughters, and we'll watch a huge fireworks display!
Dennis Zotigh (Kiowa/San Juan Pueblo/Santee Dakota Indian) is a writer and cultural specialist at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

...and THIS, from 1854 by John Quinney, a Mahican American Indian:


Fourth of July Address at Reidsville, New York

by John Quinney (Mahican, 1854)

From Great Documents in American Indian History, Edited by Moquin, Wayne and Charles Van Doren (1973). 
It may appear to those whom I have the honor to address a singular taste for me, an Indian, to take an interest in the triumphal days of a people who occupy, by conquest or have usurped, the possessions of my fathers and have laid and carefully preserved a train of terrible miseries to end when my race ceased to exist. 
But thanks to the fortunate circumstances of my life I have been taught in the schools and been able to read your histories and accounts of Europeans, yourselves and the Red Man; which instruct me that while your rejoicings today are commemorative of the free birth of this giant nation, they simply convey to my mind the recollection of a transfer of the miserable weakness and dependence, of my race from one great power to another.
My friends, I am getting old and have witnessed for many years your increase in wealth and power while the steady consuming decline of my tribe admonishes me that their extinction is inevitable. They know it themselves and the reflection teaches them humility and resignation, directing their attention to the existence of those happy hunting grounds which the Great Father has prepared for all his red children. 
In this spirit, my friends, as a Muh-he-con-new, and now standing upon the soil which once was and now ought to be the property of this tribe, I have thought for once and certainly the last time I would shake you by the hand and ask you to listen for a little while to what I have to say.
About the year 1645, when King Ben the last of the hereditary chiefs of the Muh-he-con-new nation was in his prime, grand council was convened of the Muh-he-con-new tribe for the purpose of conveying from the old to the young men a knowledge of the past.
Councils for this object especially had been held. Here for the space of two moons, the stores of memory were dispensed; corrections and comparisons made and the results committed to faithful breasts to be transmitted again to succeeding posterity.
Many years after, another and last council of this kind was held; and the traditions reduced to writing, by two of our young men who had been taught to read and write in the school of the Rev. John Sargent of Stockbridge, Mass. They were obtained in some way by a white man for publication, who soon after dying, all trace of them became lost. The traditions of the tribe, however, have mainly been preserved, of which I give you substantially, the following:
A great people from the northwest crossed over the salt water, and after long and weary pilgrimage, planting many colonies on their track, took possession of and built their fires upon the Atlantic coast, extending from the Delaware on the south to the Penobscott on the north. They became in process of time different tribes and interests; all, however, speaking one common dialect. 
This great Confederacy, Pequots, Penobscot, and many others (Delawares, Mohegans, Manses, Narragansetts) held its councilfires once a year to deliberate on the general welfare.
Patriarchal delegates from each tribe attended, assisted by the priests and the wise men, who communicated the will and invoked the blessing of the Great and Good Spirit. The policies and decisions of this council were everywhere respected, and inviolably observed. Thus contentment smiled upon their existence and they were happy. 
Their religion communicated by priest and prophet, was simple and true.The manner of worship is imperfectly transmitted; but their reverence for a Great Spirit, the observance of feasts each fear, the offering of beasts in thanksgiving and atonement is clearly expressed. 
They believed the soul to be immortal—in the existence of a happy land beyond the view, inhabited by those whose lives had been blameless. While for the wicked had been reserved a region of misery covered with thorns and thistles, where comfort and pleasure were unknown. Time was divided into years and seasons; twelve moons for a year, a number of years by so many winters.
The tribe to which your speaker belongs and of which there were many bands, occupied and possessed the country from the seashore at Manhattan to Lake Champlain. Having found the ebb and flow of the tide, they said: "This is Muh-he-con-new," "Like our waters which are never still.” From this expression and by this name they were afterwards known, until the removal to Stockbridge in the year 1630. 
Housatonic River Indians, Mohegans, Manhattans, were all names of bands in different localities, but bound together as one family by blood and descent. 
At a remote period, before the advent of the European their wise men foretold the coming of a strange race from the sunrise, as numerous as the leaves upon the trees, who would eventually crowd them from their fair land possessions. But apprehension was mitigated by the knowledge and belief at that time entertained, that they originally were not there, and after a period of years they would return to the west from which they had come. And they moreover said all Red Men are sprung from a common ancestor, made by the Great Spirit from red clay, who will unite their strength to avert a common calamity. This tradition is confirmed by the common belief, which prevails in our day with all the Indian tribes; for they recognize one another by their color, as brothers and acknowledge one Great Creator. 
Two hundred and fifty winters ago, this prophecy was verified and the Muh-he-con-new for the first time beheld the paleface. Their number was small, but their canoes were big. 
In the select and exclusive circles of your rich men of the present day I should encounter the gaze of curiosity, but not such as overwhelmed the senses of the Aborigines, my ancestors. Our visitors were white and must be sick. They asked for rest and kindness; we gave them both. They were strangers, and we took them in; naked and we clothed them. 
The first impression of astonishment and pity was succeeded by awe and admiration of superior intelligence and address.
A passion for information and improvement possessed the Indians. A residence was given—territory offered—and covenants of friendship exchanged. 
Your written accounts of events at this period are familiar to you, my friends. Your children read them every day in their school books; but they do not read—no mind at this time can conceive, and no pen record, the terrible story of recompense for kindness, which for two hundred years has been paid the simple, guileless Muh-he-con-new. 
I have seen much myself—1 have been connected with more—and I tell you I know all. The tradition of the wise men is figuratively true that our home at last will be found in the west; for another tradition informs us that far beyond the setting sun, upon the smiling happy lands, we shall be gathered with our fathers, and be at rest.
Promises and professions were freely given and ruthlessly and intentionally broken. To kindle your fires was sought as a privilege; and yet at that moment you were transmitting to your kings intelligence of our possessions, "by right of discovery," and demanding assistance to assert your hold.
Where are the 25,000 in number, and the 4,000 warriors, who constituted the power and population of the great Muh-he-con'new nation in 1604? 
They have been victims to vice and disease, which the white men imported. Smallpox, measles and firewater have done the work of annihilation. Divisions and feuds were insidiously promoted between the several bands. They were induced to thin each others ranks without just cause; and subsequently were defeated and disorganized in detail. 
It is curious, the history of my tribe, in its decline, in the last two centuries and a half. Nothing that deserved the name of purchase was made. From various causes, they were induced to abandon their territory at intervals and retire farther inland. Deeds were given indifferently to the government by individuals, for which little or no compensation was paid. 
The Indians were informed, in many instances, that they were selling one piece of land when they were conveying another and much larger limits. Should a particular band, for purposes of hunting or fishing, for a time leave its usual place of residence, the land was said to be abandoned,and the Indian claim extinguished. To legalize and confirm titles thus acquired, laws and edicts were subsequently passed, and these laws were said then to be, and are now called, justice. 
Oh, what mockery to confound justice with law! Will you look steadily at the intrigues, bargains, corruptions and log rollings of your present legislatures, and see any trace of justice? And by what test shall be tried the acts of the colonial courts and councils? 
Let it not surprise you, my friends, when I say that the spot upon which I stand has never been rightly purchased or obtained. And by justice, human and Divine, is the property of the remnant of the great people from whom I am descended. They left it in the tortures of starvation and to improve their miserable existence; but a cession was never made, and their title was never extinguished.
The Indian is said to be the ward of the white man, and the negro his slave. Has it ever occurred to you, my friend, that while the negro is increasing and increased by every appliance, the Indian is left to rot and die before the inhumanities of this model republic?
You have your tears and groans and mobs and riots for the individuals of the former, while your indifference of purpose and vacillation of policy is hurrying to extinction whole communities of the latter. 
What are the treaties of the general government? How often and when has its plighted faith been kept? Indian occupation is forever next year, or one removal follows another, or by the next commissioner, more wise than his predecessor, repurchased, and thus your sympathies and justice are evinced in speedily fulfilling the terrible destinies of our race.
My friends, your Holy Book, the Bible, teaches us that individual offenses are punished in an existence—when time shall be no more—and the annals of the earth are equally instructive that national wrongs are avenged, and national crimes atoned for in this world to which alone the conformation of existence adapts them. These events are above our comprehension, and for a wise purpose; for myself and for my tribe i ask for justice—I believe it will sooner or later occur, and may the Great Spirit enable me to die in hope 
Back To History Is A Weapon's Front Page
'Each generation must, out of its relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it.' 
—Franz Fanon


As for The World Journey's feelings on 4th of July...a feeling of "not so much". Yet, who does not really like fireworks, or BBQ, or a chance to take a day off from work? On a personal level, American Indians like everyone else, looks at holidays as free time with family and friends and a chance to share good feelings. You don't have to be for an American Holiday to be against it.

So much is being lost...and even more has entered into a great maze of confusion, indifference and redirection. Everywhere, not just with American Indians. Perhaps this is just the normal movement of society, the inevitability of time.

We are loosing animals species at unprecedented rates. This sad statistic mirrors the loss of languages, ideas, insights and actual direct and beautiful knowledge itself; also at an unprecedented rate.

So, pass the baked beans.

Editor. July 2105.........






Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer Solstice : Summer Dream 2015



doors open
my heart pounds the earth
like an ancient drum
fast and free
I am awake, I am alive
I may be on fire
even as I become like water
even as I weep in lonlieness
even as my life becomes short
even as I fall into a dream
I have followed my hopes
I have followed even my fear
I have spoken with the silence
I have forgotten
my shadows
even as I pass through
the open sky
singing
and breathing
even as I pass from there to here
a song in an open sky

(solstice of summer twenty fifteen)

turtle heart ©2015

Friday, May 29, 2015

Sacred Indifference : Pope Francis' Shiny New Shadow


Why, among nearly all the world’s people, are the American Indians invisible to the modern world, to the Vatican, and now it would seem, surprise beyond surprise, Pope Francis? This is part of his questionable politics to “engage” Hispanic peoples of the Americas by canonising one of their own, the first and only Hispanic Saint in the Americas. What sort of actual leader would be motivated to overlook so much blood on the hands of a man for such a shallow reason? I have liked very much in fact much of what Pope Francis has accomplished to date, but this really stinks. It hints at a racist indifference towards indigenous peoples that is perverse at best, in my view. Not a single North American Indian accepts this as a good idea. We are all against it. We are appalled by it.

The facts of this situation in fact approach the obscene, bump up against the limits of what is reasonable, and even test the limits of international law on the subject of genocide…there in this portfolio of grave issues…invisible…what I call Sacred Indifference. Right now.

Father Junipero Serra? His own hand-written notes show an incredible indifference to the human dignity of the American Indians under his power. One must also note that at that time a standing “Papal Bull” stiputaled (and has never been withdrawn) that “American Indians have no souls” and are the same as animals, not human beings. This official policy of the “church” of course enable the selling of American Indians as slaves, otherwise prohibited, and ensuring that there would be no moral consequences for their imprisonment, enslavement or murders. 

Thousands of California Indians lost their lives directly under the so-called leadership of Father Serra…..those who resisted “baptism” and conversion were shackled, tortured, beaten, starved and imprisoned, by the thousands. Converted tribal citizens were then prohibited from using their language, ceremonies, culture, clothing and even having contact with non-converted members of their own families.

On that fact alone, so much blood on his hands, blood not from a “righteous war” but purely from conquest by intimidation of a peaceful people….how can a “saint” possibly be found in this deeply flawed man?..It is nearly impossible for me to understand the thinking that has lead up to this tragic moment in the unfolding history of this “new” Pope. The hypocrisy alone stinks all the way to heaven.

‘There's no question that his goal was to radically alter native culture, to have Indians not speak their native languages, to practice Spanish culture, to transform native belief patterns in ways that would make them much less native.’
...Steven Hackel
Junipero Serra biographer


Investigate this link: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/5/28/sainthood-for-california-missions-founder-angers-native-american-groups.html.

…Posted by Alzazera America, the linked article lays out both sides of the argument fairly well…in conclusion it comes down clearly on the side of condemnation of the great harm imposed upon tens of thousands of American Indians unable to resist or make another choice to the violently enforced “enlightenment” imposed by the church under Serra’s leadership.

My spirit is tired. My old heart is tired. During this period I had “my first” heart attack, a rather serious one. While visiting Bologna, and so by that good fortune ended up in a fine old Italian hospital, saving my life. So I am in Italy. I am a representative and voice for a circle of American Indian tribal elders. I have the right, perhaps the responsibility to at least imagine a conversation with this Francis. The last home I had in the USA was 50 feet away from a 350 year old adobe mud church dedicated to San Francisco. This seems rather to odd to be a coincidence. I have no idea how to go about making this possibility happen….yet here I am in the back yard of the Pope and the Church of Rome. I operate a small Ojibway Morning Tobacco Fire, a very old ASmerican Indian ceremony. I built a house around a bundle of Sacred Pipes, and this ceremonial
And moral reality takes place in Italy.

I am opposed, absolutely opposed, to the canonisation of Father Serra.

Once the bloody shadow of Serra becomes a Saint, pilgrims will start, pilgrimages will be made. Thus will begin a long slow river of pilgrims with the wrong idea…right up in the face of so many wounded ancestors. It would seem to be an acceleration and a doubling down on the original insult. A choice made for political rather than saintly reasons. Francis “needs” a latino “saint” in North America. Think about that, here at the end of the argument. Serra made no miracles or healings. He is a saint with a ledger book in one hand and a meat clever in the other.

I am an Ojibwe man who has said these words, right here on Italian land.

Turtle Heart
Ahnishinabek Wabeeno
Pantelleria, Italy




Monday, April 20, 2015

Change Log : Spirit Upgrade

CIA Spy Plane on Pantelleria Island April 2015 @2015

When I listen to TV parents talk to their children; I find it intensely suspicious. I would have been so amazed if my parents told me anything useful at all that I could remember. I listen to these written dialogues about what a family could talk about. It is often very compelling. It evokes a strong emotion at times. Particularly when the writing is very good. I have been following the people in the drama “The Americans”. The leading characters are spies, killers, professional liars and skilled at disruption. Yet for their cover, they have  two teenage children. They really love them and have these honest and open and sometimes brilliant conversations. My father seemed to detest talking to his family…his wife and his children. And she picked up his habits as a thumbed down wife would. As she not doubt should. That left my brother and I out. I did not come from a family where the family talked together, shared stories, expressed aspirations or stood up for their independence.

Maybe for the writers, people who live so closely to life and death are more honest and more direct…more willing to just engage. So the writers search their memories or what do they do? These conversations can be great conversations.

Reality for many people, for me, is more quiet. With longer spaces between the silences. I do at this point in my life have a companion with whom I can and do discuss, explore, argue, examine, question and share every possible thought I have. Perhaps some of the things we talk about are just as good as the things great writers write down. It is hard to know for sure.

Perhaps one needs a mission. For The Americans it is the Motherland of The Soviet Union and their missions in America. But I do in fact have a mission, several in fact, or like the spies, or like the Fellowship of the Ring or even the man in the Gods Must Be Crazy…or a good boy going to the market for eggs for my mother when I was a child…a mission…today my mission is .taking care of the fully loaded tribal sacred pipes and bundle of mystery life objects from the Old Indians. I wander through periods of life where art is everything, a carving or a painting. Working on a great carving or painting is very transportive, a journey of sorts.. Even so, I realise, or accept, or impose upon the great Silence that surrounds the sacred pipe, even the art. There is more content in the silence than in the conversations that one might have about these things. In my view. My mission has been to stay alive, put one foot in front of the other, and somehow find my way around the world with a small, seemingly sacred ceremony, sanctioned by tribal elders from all across North America.

Lately, it has become more and more clear to me that the American Indian is invisible. The latest exhibit in this situation involves the rather new “Pope” of the Roman Catholic Church, in Rome, Italy. While speaking straight up about the genocide of 168,000 Armenia Christians in the WW 1, the Pope excited the political protests of the creepy, possibly insane President of Turkey, who has taken strong exception to the use of the term “genocide”. While His Holiness was speaking “truth to power” and calling genocide by its first and proper name in Turkey, he continues, unblinking, in the canonisation of a catholic Bishop who murdered and disappeared American Indians, by the tens of thousands, in North California in the early 1800s. Even though every American Indian tribe in North America opposes the elevation to saint of this proudly self-admitted killer, and sent official delegations to the Vatican, no one from His Holiness’s office will even meet with these delegates. The hypocrisy and contradiction between this international speech and this elevation of a murderer is astonishing…and produced not a single word of question or outrage outside of the (invisible) American Indian community. This is just the most recent example of many.

After more than 30 years of working every day to move this sacred pipe around in the world, I am no further along today than I was 30 years ago. I have never, ever, lost for even a moment, my belief that this world ceremony is a great idea; an idea that has real potential to change many things. I can count on one hand the number of people who believe, along with me, in the value of this work. I am not complaining so much as expressing astonishment. Everywhere I go, if the subject of “American Indian” comes up, there is a lot of sympathetic agreement. A positive response. Everyone I meet treats me very well precisely because of my work. Yet not one of the sympathetic listeners has ever stepped up to provide help in the real world effort. Not even once.

Invisible. An invisible man with an invisible mission. Constantly in motion. Some days, lives are changed. The imagination of strangers all over the world is activated. We can all wonder, “what are we doing to help the world”…and the answer is not easy to come by. I have found, over and over, situations where a simple act, like making the morning fire, can change almost any life. It is easy and straight forward. Yet give it to most people and they won’t do it. There are answers, but they are to much trouble, to stand up and walk outside and do something sacred for ten minutes. That is to hard. Trouble boils in a pot with an open flame…all you need to do is turn off the heat. Yet people do not.

I live about 20 miles from the top of Africa. Recently our little airport has been hosting a high tech scanning and monitoring aircraft. Along with an undetermined cast of Americans on the island. We have this little part of the “war on terror”. No one feels any safer. These guys have a mission as well…well funded, sophisticated. War Missions are popular. Sacred Missions, not so much.






Sunday, March 22, 2015

Equinox of Spring : An ode to open doors

Equinox Ceremony Pantelleria : ©2015 Turtle Heart




















.............
equinox :

a door opens
yet another door, another passage
who will follow
their dreams to the other side

is there something you need to put down
is there something more you could do
is there a light to guide you
is there something behind you
you need to turn around and look
see what is there
in the long shadow of might have been

the great wind has carried you here
the great light is showing you the way forward
even as you are standing still
yet you are carried forward
perhaps there is a dream you remembered
perhaps there is something you really wanted to say
perhaps there really is something you can do
yes, that door has opened once again
for eight breaths
eight heart-beats
eight times a blinking of the eye

seeds have opened once again
mother earth warm and sweet
yes, a door has opened
another chance
to follow yourself
find yourself, to pass through
over, under and around
a sacred life, inside a sacred heart

turtle heart
for the world journey of a sacred pipe
©2015 words, text, photography Turtle Heart

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Soldier's Lament : Arrest George Bush


Clip from a film : "Prosecution of an American President" ©film owners
  • Islamic state destroying art
  • The equipment worn by modern soldiers
  • Netenyahoo….
  • Our soldiers. Thousands of them dead. Gone. Their families devestated. Tens of thousands injured, broken, their lives changed forever into something less. Suicides. By the thousand. By the thousands. Suicides.
  • For what?
  • George W. Bush. Criminal. Liar. A disgraced American President. An non-prosecuted criminal. A liar. A coward.  A hallow and empty man. A disgrace to his country. A disgrace to human history.


When I was a young man, I loved to study history. In every country and culture. Part of this interest came into my young bones from the efforts of Mrs. Wells. Even after so many years I remember her great passion for history at Eastmoore High School in Columbus Ohio. Also her legs. She had such beautiful legs. It was her habit to sit on her desk, on the top, in front of the class, with her beautiful legs crossed..she seemed to get lost in the stories of things that happened a long time ago. It infected me and I have never lost that interest.

Like many young people, I grew up in my life believing the world would be better and sweeter. I believed absolutely that the “adults” had learned from all the horrible mistakes made in the past. I believed the world would be sweeter and better.

Now I am an old man. I see how foolish, how stupid, how selfish our society truly is. No one seems to have learned from the mistakes of the past. Most of our so-called leaders do not even know about the past. So many of our leaders these days are people, men in particular, with no education. Yes, they have elite degrees. A dumb as a rock US President, George Bush actually went to one of the finest universities in the world. He got through it with a low, barely passing grade. Bush is such a stupid, stupid man. He can barely form a complete sentence. If you watch a video of him walking, it seems to take all of his concentration just to get one foot in front of the other. He stumbled and mumbled his way through a life that has proven an absolute disaster for this country, indeed, for the world. History taught me much about the “accidents” that often put stupid, empty human beings in enormous positions of power. And history is littered with the consequences of those men and their lives.

History also teaches us about those who grovel and scrape and kiss the sacred asses of those in power. This is the America we have today.

I can’t hep wondering, if she were alive, what Mrs. Wells would think of the suicides, madness, homelessness and confusion of today’s generation of veterans? Of the bloviating cowards, men gipped in fear and loathing of their mothers, like Rush Limbaugh or Ted Cruz..or the apparently motherless Plastic Cubano, Rubio, a United States Senator from Florida?

1969. Seven or eight young men, and myself. Their medic. We were attached at that moment to a group of the Eighth Calvary, commanded by an obese, confused and shallow officer, one Col. George S. Patton, IV. Yes, General George Patton’s son. Most of the time our little group was sneaking around the wet jungles on our own. Thinking back on this scene now, years later, we were sitting ducks, or waddling ducks perhaps. Completely exposed.

I was intoxicated by the beauty of that great forest area. It was so green, so clean and pristine. The only trash I ever saw was the trash dropped by American soldiers. Most of the time, the only people we saw were “locals”. Villagers. They seemed to live in a kind of suspended animation. There were times when I saw them shot to pieces, literally. I never understood exactly what they had done. Looking them over, there were no weapons, no important documents. No clear links to trouble. 

One time, ina small village we passed through, all the young men and a few women came up to me with gigantic smiles and rubbed my belly. They ignored everyone else. Not one of us spoke the language. To this day I have no idea that was about.

We just had our clothes, a helmet. A rifle. Our little packs with food in cans. Free tobacco. Looking at the protective and tactical clothing today’s soldiers wear into combat, it feels like we were nearly naked out there. Alone with our little “lurp” platoon. At first, as a medic, I saw no need to carry a rifles..an M-16. I carried a .45 pistol, Army issue. I liked it. As a medic I was under no obligation to carry a rifle; at least there, at that time, in that situation. After the first occasion where we were taking arms fire directed at us, bullets flying everywhere. I felt pretty foolish. A few hours later, as we were being resupplied by a helicopter, with more bullets and actually some fresh-cooked food (steaks), they delivered me a brand new M-16. So much for my childish idea as to what my role in that platoon was. I went from being a quasi-pacifist to being a fully armed combat soldier. Locked and loaded. I even started carrying hand-grenades. Used them to.

Not one of us understood why we were there. To this day I have no idea why. After walking around in the magic jungle for 4 or 5 months, I feel into a pit, breaking my right ankle. This got me “medivacked” back to my headquarters unit, I forget where that was. After floating around there a few days, they sent me to Japan for surgery on my ankle, inserting a metal pin, titanium, to hold it together. My ticket back home, to an Army hospital and months of lingering around, doing nothing. It was a really strange fucking experience.

I came home. Lost. Not much idea what to do next. For months. I ended up going off to Canada. Toronto. I stayed there for a year. When I finally came home, I was thrown out of the Army and drifted back into a confused life as an American vet.

In this state of mind I returned to contacts within the American Indian part of my family. Those old Indians changed my life. They forgave me. Taught me to forgive myself. And gave me a new life. The life I have today. An old Indian myself now. Traveling around in the world and trying to do for others what those old Indians did for me. With mixed results. But always with gratitude for what those old Indians did for me, for what I was able to do for myself.

Soldiers come home from today’s wars. To their families, to their country. And kill themselves. There is no one to save them.

I wish, at the end of this narrative that I could say something more hopeful. That somehow, all the young men and women who have given their lives in this service did the right thing. I am not so sure. I lament. All of that service. If I had a son or daughter, the government would have to kill me to get them inside a war. It is not so much that the pacifist has returned, as it is my faith in my country, at that level, has been destroyed. I have zero faith in our leadership. Our military leadership in particular seems absolutely incompetent. Our soldiers seem better than ever, those precious young people. With their really great equipment and their dedication. Betrayed by their country. Left all alone to die in pain and isolation and confusion.

I think back sometimes to my experience getting to know George Patton’s son. He was such a pig of a man. He really enjoyed collecting “souvenirs” from the dead bodies of Vietnamese. I watched him do that quite a few times. It was disgusting. He was disgusting. He tried to steal my camera on one occasion. I stood up to him and insisted he give it back and finally he did. Seeing and feeling this incompetent pig of a man was the beginning of my loss of faith. Like many students of history, I sure admired his father. To this day I admire his father. I think all my heroes are people who lived and died a long time ago.

It has been many years ago, so many years, that I was a soldier. Funny really. It seems like it was just the other day. Under dark and stormy skies. Before the rain begins to fall.

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©2015 Turtle Heart : For the World Journey : Pantelleria Island



Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Public Death By Military Service : Suicide of Our Vets




copyright ©2015 Turtle Heart
Editorial Opinion



I am 66 years old today. I am a Vietnam vet. 1969. HHC : 1/18th : 1st Inf Div : MOS 91 Charlie. Yes. It was heartbreaking. I came home an animal. An unhappy animal. The old Indians saved me. From myself. From the wounds and rage.

Today. 22 vets will kill themselves. Suicide. Death and Gone. Every fucking day. There was only one man, to use the term loosely, who said no to important help for those men and women. Tom Coburn. A legal, registered and numbered and enrolled Oklahoma American Indian. A final poke in the ye before he crawled back under the rock he hides under when the sun is shining.

Today, on my birthday, the bill is supposed to be passed through, at last. So all of us who expected so much, are at last relieved. Until we find out it is not enough. And that’s what we will find out.

The Islamic State and the AlQuida cowards/sick dogs, must take a lot of satisfaction in this news. No one in America has ever publicly addressed this sad aspect of the death by suicide of our young people fighting for our “freedom”. This is clearly yet another way in which "the terrorists are winning"....

I have lived 46 years since coming home from my generation’s war. Thank you Grandfather. Somebody cared and helped me and reached out and saved me. I was suicidal when I came back. I was also a bit homicidal. I considered signing up for the coming “revolution”. Not many people realize, even today, that there were planes and ideas and money and people, serious people, thinking about an armed attack on the United Staes Government. On the personal level I was a dangerous, malcontented American Citizen. I had the good sense to look for help. It was nowhere to be found in the government, at the VA or in church I could find anywhere. My parents wanted nothing to do with me. Zero. They were terrified and disgusted. My brother was already smashed and burned up, yet still alive in a destroyed body, from his journey to Vietnam a few years before. We have not spoken a word since 1971. Not one word. Tomorrow he will be 70 years old. Another vet who lived those years.

These lost soldiers break my heart. Suicide. Twenty Two or more every day. 22. Aren’t statistics just great? Those lost lives. Those fatherless children. Those widows. Those mothers and fathers who buried their children. Our United States Congress. Our Senators. Rush Limbaugh. Bill Maher. Scott Walker. Chris Christy. War criminal Richard “The Balls” Cheney. From the fields of sorrow, into the wilderness of conservative politics and the “colored” United States President. Contrasts and Outrage. A search for coherence. A difficult, painful and confusing search it is. Wandering in the darkness without a light.

If some mad dog was murdering 22 people every day, the entire national would be mobilized. The truth is, is is rarely mentioned. It appears to be a more or less invisible wound, un-addressed in American Society.

My 46 years of life after surviving my war. The struggle of that experience, my friends, has never gone away. It has not full healed. I have not completely forgiven. My country. Myself. Happy Birthday Turtle Heart. Welcome Home. May God Bless You. Peace To You My Brother….yes. I accept.

46 years ago I went Under the Drum. I went inside the Ma.do-sho-Win. The old Indians carried me. I was able to pass through and keep going. Originally I wanted to be a biologist/zoologist, a man of science working with Animals. The War changed all that. In order to survive I had to make different choices. I had to pass through hell, through loneliness and isolation, through fists and jails and fear to hold that sacred pipe, to be touched by that eagle feather, to find that song. To become a Keeper of the sacred peace, of the awakened dreamer. I did that. Myself. All alone, almost on four legs. Bleeding but not broken. Enraged but yet my hands remained open and I took responsibility and I opened my heart.

Today I felt tears on my cheek as I watched yet another clip of tom coburn saying no to helping the new vets. Tears when I heard that maybe today, now that he is gone at last, the bill will pass. Four vets have killed themselves as I write this and wait for the server to post it. At least one will take himself out as you read this.

But, anyway, how about that Patriot’s game? That was great, hey?

William Frederic Posey
RA 11710033

United Staes Army (discharged)

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