Monday, August 03, 2015

Every Animal on Mother Earth Is In Danger : Dead World Chronicles




 The long historical disgrace of our treatment, abuse, exploitation and murder of animals….

Animals.

All of them, from the highest to the lowest. From the microscopic to the leviathans.

I liked every kind of animal right from the very beginning. My mother told me I used to walk around with insects parked on my arm or in my hand; talking to them. Telling them stories, Singing them songs. Even “Flys”, she said.

The betrayal and destruction of so many animals; the exploitation and brutality of the commercial and medical use of animals…all of it. There are billions, billions I say again, billions of animals used up one way or another. The absolute magnitude of the assault on the animal population of the earth is, to me, utterly unspeakable.

As a kid, I started out as a kid; I feel really let down. Every animal on earth is either in danger directly, or living in nervous fear of every human being around it in anticipation of danger. When I was a kid, the very idea that this portfolio of information about the fate and condition of our animals, was unthinkable. As an old man, I still remember the feelings that kid had for the animals.

Even as we continue to discover new species, animals all over the world are on the run from civilisation, from corporations, from poachers, from the indifference of idiots. Some countries have placed entire categories of animals under armed guards.

Spider killing tourist: A woman, middle-aged, short and a little stocky. She was accompanied by a man. They were walking up to the well-greened entrance to my art gallery in the PNW  and I was coming up to meet them just at the first stair to the gallery entrance; the woman stops, stomps on a spider, just as I catch up with them. I was quite agitated..immediately asked her why she was killing spiders on my land? She had nothing to say, she and the man. I told them directly off the land and watched as they walked back to their automobile. That was so long ago, but I will never forget it. I was never the kind of person to stomp on or smack insects or lizards or ants as they go about. Yet, this kind of behaviour is so common, no one thinks anything about it at all. Even now, if an insect gets into the house, I take a few moments and just carry it or direct it out the door. That feels a lot better than slamming them into a smear.

I don’t like dogs so much. All that unrestrained barking. But I don’t want to hurt them. There is nothing so sad as the face of an abused and neglected doggie. It is complicated. Our attitude towards the animals. Or it seems to be.

What about Cecile the Lion? A beloved and “protected”, majestic animal, with a large family depending upon him, shot with an arrow…in terror and pain, running for his life for hours…bleeding, filled with fear and rage: finally murdered with a bullet from a high powered “sport rifle”…skinned, his head cut off. All done by a coward with money, an ignorant white man, a medical professional (dentist)…from what was once the heartland of Ojibwe lands.

There appears to be some outrage. Is there enough outrage to change anything? Maybe. Just a little. Some 600 lions are “legally” hunted each year. That needs to fucking stop.

Some time ago a man world famous for his life long work with Elephants passed away in Africa. For days Elephants from all over Africa made their way to his home base to say goodbye. !!!! A teaching moment for all human beings. How did they know? Why did they care? This is one of the most incredible events I have seen in my entire life. No one is paying attention.

For centuries human beings have dismissed, ignored, abused and denied that the animals have souls, feeling, memories, intelligence, awareness: all lies…cowardly, ignorant, arrogant and deeply disturbing.

We have all heard stories about dogs or cats separated from their adopted families, sometimes by thousands of miles, finding their way home again…somehow, some way. The consequence: humanity has learned nothing. We ignore and refuse to take into our comprehension these lessons, these revelations, these absolute proofs.

Dead Eagles in New Mexico: years ago there was a federal agency who set up an operation where they would buy animal bodies, Eagles in particular. In that area Eagles had made a great recovery after years and years of being rare. This part of New Mexico is very poor. Very few jobs for anyone. The word went out that this little group was paying cash for Eagles, up to $10,000 for a single Eagle. That is a lot of money in an area where there are no jobs. Up until that moment, no one was bothering the Eagles and they had made a strong recovery. However, as the word got around about this cash being available, people who had never broken the law started killing Eagles. Dozens were killed and sold to these undercover agents. Eventually the buy operation was closed and police closed in and arrested all those poor people who had sold them dead Eagles. Once the cases came to court, however, something strange happened. The judge hearing the case was outraged. He felt that the cops had set everyone up. He felt that until the cops showed up, there was in fact not a problem. In his outrage he actually dismissed all the cases against the so-called poachers…AND brought charges against the agents who initiated this stupid program. To bad there are not more courageous judges like this one. I have been poor. In my life I have even been homeless, without food also. Yet I never would kill an Eagle to get money. I am not sympathetic to poor people who loose their souls and feel they should kill an Eagle to feed themselves…BUT I do understand the pressure, the desperation. It is this same sorry pressure that leads poor Africans to murder endangered animals for their body parts. Like the stupid cops in New Mexico, really, it is the BUYER, the people willing to buy endangered animals and their parts that create these problems. IF no one would buy Rhino horn, the Rhino would be safe.

The old Indians lived in great harmony and respect for the animals and the plants around them. These facts are well known and well documented. YET it is these humble and intelligent people who were called savages and condemned by the Europeans who swarmed over the “new world” like a vicious virus, killing every animal in sight, harvesting the ancient forests, creating massive, farms dependant upon toxic chemicals and insane ecological devastation to make their money. 

Modern people are still doing this…it has in fact become elevated to a high art with huge factories processing thousands of chickens, cows, pigs, corn, tobacco, vegetables at unimaginable scales. Plants feed on chemicals in dead soil in arid deserts. Pigs and cows spend their entire short lives standing in pens where they cannot even turn around.

That kid who walked around the house with a bug on his arm, discussing the merits of affection and friendship, wanted to change the world. He thought all the animals would help him, would believe him, even if he never really said this to anyone else, to the adults. Sixty years later everything has changed. But not in the way I imagined. Not in the way that I hoped. 

As a boy I thought education was the root and the key. In my regular classes in pre-college schools, the balance of nature, the value of animals, the ethics of responsible behaviour was “taught” to us almost daily. As an adult I have watched the GOP gut and decimate schools, teachers, curriculums. I have watched how even so-called religious organisations have forbidden and repressed honest science…and politicians fuelled by corporate profits fight, resist and destroy common sense regulations and laws that would protect and preserve nature…every fucking day I see this.

It is like watching the inmates of the asylum become the overlords. The criminals become the law givers. The cowards become the protectors. In the America this disaster is fuelled entirely by the political right, whose God is Ronald Reagan. 

How can this be changed? Hundreds of millions of animals tortured for science and for cosmetics…majestic, ancient species murdered for some small body part…ancient species murdered for the sport of despicable, bored, men and women with money…I know absolutely no one right now who has any idea how to stop this terrible momentum.

I did learn some important lessons from the old Indians who were my teachers in this life. Those lessons are humble lessons. Lessons about the power of the individual. Lessons about individuals learning to take responsibility for their lives, for their choices. YOU. ME. I. That is our only hope. You and I have powers of choice. Power to choose what we buy, whom we vote for, what we do with our feet and hands. Saying this feels almost, but not completely, hopeless. There is so much apathy, indifference; so little courage. I have not in fact changed the world, but I have changed little things…one by one, day by day, in small groups, in private conversations, in small ceremonies.


Each individual who struggles to Wake Up can help one other person Wake Up. The Power of the One. Of you. That is, today, our only hope. That is our most sacred resource. You.


Thursday, July 09, 2015

South Carolina : I Am A Child of the South

©2015 WF Posey || My Mother Mary Christine Hutto and her bothers and sister.
2 brothers and one sister not shown. Uncle Fred (Butch) Hutto on the lower right.

Child of the South || The Shattered Myth, A New Southern Strategy

I am, perhaps not uniquely, a child of complex history. While in my adult life, my professional and spiritual life identifies with and works and lives within my American Indian ancestry, I was born in the south. I am a child of the southern culture in as many ways as I am or am not a worthy child of those Ojibwe ancestors.

I was born, in fact, in South Carolina; in Bamberg County, in Bamberg itself. Much of what is my nature, honestly both good and bad, is from my nuture experience as a child in a southern culture. My life-long work within the American Indian culture, also a part of my heritage, has often eclipsed that Southern part...but it is always there, some operational part of my attitudes and passions.

I remember, in these later years, so many sweet circumstances and adventures very precious to recall. Southern Hospitality was once legendary. Welcome everyone. Food was often used to bring everyone together. As a child I attended beyond counting BBQ, Socials, Holiday diners and other feasts that instilled in me that, in a southern home, the center of the home and family and community, was the Kitchen Table.

When I was a child, we had relatives who lived deep in the forest in Bamberg County. We had to park the car, my father always favored Chrysler products, and walk down long and narrow foot paths to the house. For a kid, this was a great experience. Of course these days, all those old deep forest farms are gone and everyone has a driveway…yet even today, many of them are red dirt.

It was a childhood swmming in the new great lake at the border with georgie; old Xlark Hill resevoir. I had several Uncles who helped build that lake, heavy euipment operators. My oldest Uncle, Fred (we called him “Butch”) was  a forman on the building for many years, his wife the Administrator/Manger of the lake for many years. I floated and payed and fished and lived on that lake every summer from the time I was 8 or 9 until I was 18.

My Uncle Fred, in the summer months, always held and hosted at least one major BBQ and Fish Fry. There was always a full pig barbequed in the old way. Uncle Fred had a “black man”, a local man he knew for years and years, cook this pig all night the day before. Quite often the 4th of July was when this scene came together. I don’t recall this man’s name. Last time I saw him I was 16 years old. My two coinsins, Fred’s sons, and I always stayed up all night with this man and “helped” him cook that pig. Those nights with that man are some of my most precious memories. My cousins and I had our first sip of Moonshine on those sultry summer nights. Moonshine and cigarettes. And ghost stories. We would stay up all night: it takes about 14 hours to pit cook a fully grown pig. As far as eating meat goes, it does not get any better than this. The "black man" of course did not eat with the family and was invisible to everyone but Uncle Fred and my cousins and I.

Today, and in recent years I spend some time observing, and lamenting, the political scene in South Carolina. In the daily debacle that has become the absurdity of the United States congress and the United States Senate, South Carolina unfortunately is to often at the center of that sorry situation:

Take the senior US Senator of South Carolina: Lindsay Graham. Political posturing of the bat shit crazy variety. 

 Over and over. For. years. 

 Yet, since opening a candidacy for the US Presidency, has said some quite reasonable and charming things…showing us with unfortunate clarity that his US Senator hob is driven by posturing alone. That seems unforgiveable to me. Trusting someone who so easly becomes a song and dance man for the lunatics to the right of reason in the US Senate. I feel only shame every day that Graham is the senator of South Carolina….what does it say about the people of that state that this is their man? That is perhaps the most surprising part…not that Graham has the ambitions that he does, but that the good people of South Carolina agree with him.

On the other hand, I learned all my lessons about the importance and value of respecting women from my mother, herself a child of South Carolina. Southern manners and courtesy towards women is itself, once upon a time, quite legendary. Then came Governor Nikki Haley, demonstrating yet another dimension to the tragedy of consciousness dominating the politics of that state. And. Contributing to the severe bullshit overload dominating American politics right now. Haley, like lunatic fringe, ugly bag of mostly water, Gov. "Bobby" Jindal, is an "immigrant" from India. Both of these two strange people posture as children of the south, putting in the trash every clue, symptom and trace of their actual heritage (which seems perverse to me). There are a lot of these transplanted, "trans-Southern" actors in South carolina politics at this moment.

It stretches my inborn instinct of support for women, this Gov. Haley. She is to bizarre to talk about. When she lifts her voice to get rid, at last, of the confederate flag that floats over the state capital, the vote in the South Carolina senate agress, as it should…but this is a smokescreen. As the bill to advance the removal of the flag, a single white South Carolina senator has added more than two dozen amendments to this simple bill. This behavior is designed to kill the bill to remove the flag…all while keeping a pretty low profile. To protect the racist flag. A message to the Governor, a message to the klan.

South Carolina has now several expensive, exquisite public monuments, the best ones with enclosures, landscaping and enclosed in the manner of shrines. The founder of the klu klux klan. A celebrated hero from North Carolina to Louisiana.

Hundreds of bridges, public buildings, highways, schools and parks are named after the most notorious protectors of the slave trade. Without being loud about it, this particular face of South Carolina eclipses all other possible ways to look at that state and its people.

Posturing. The New Modified Southern Strategy, Part Two. I grew up knowing boys like Lindsay Graham. Boys who never had a date with the girls. There is a type of man in South Carolina that is androgynous. Graham is probably not gay, he is probably not even heterosexual like a normal manly man. I had several relatives, males, who showed the exact inflection, style, “wa” as the Japanese describe the manner…boys with lonely childhoods and subjected to multi-generational rumors and gossip (but quietly).

We have an aggressive leadership that has one unforgivable flaw: they do not believe the words that come out of their own mouths. This is political machine politics at its most desperately determined. A formidable force. In fact.

It is fascinating that the African American community stayed so calm in the face of the recent massacre of some great citizens, beloved citizens, by a skinny, deficient nothing of a confused white boy. No riots. No swat police out in tanks. Quiet. Dignified. Suspicious perhaps.

Finally, early in the morning, 1 AM, on the 9th of July, 2015, the vote was passed to remove this damned flag. At least on the lawn of the South Carolina State House grounds. There was an embarrassing amount of posturing from the white GOP, nearly fatal posturing...but it was finally burst by the emotional and moving outburst of passion and sufferance by Rep. Jenny Horne...and she really laid it on the line; a really great little speech. 10 AM, 10 June, 2015. The "flag" will come down. At least from in front of the South Carolina State House.

an editorial muse
Turtle Heart, aka William Fredric Posey, aka "Skipper" in SC.

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

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