Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice Twenty Twelve || Children Screaming

6:11 PM CET || These days my emotions and my attention goes to those children and their teachers who were murdered in Connecticut. I am one of the Keepers Of Sacred Pipes and Ceremonies of Connecticut. I know Newtown very well. I know the land and the elegant lifestyle of the rich and well to do who favor Connecticut to raise their children. The Old Indians call it the Golden Tower.

The Tower has exploded. Before I thought about or heard about or had my heart beaten like with a stone about those children in Connecticut, I was thinking that every American Indian woman has, or is standing next to someone , who has been abused, raped, beaten, shot . And no one is ever arrested and it never makes the news. And then came this event. I watched the President of the United States hand his head and weep. And gun sales have actually gone up every day since that moment.

It was hard for me to give up my life in America. I have unfinished business for one thing, with my family, with Taos Pueblo, with the land. Finally leaving America eight years ago, I became desperately ill for several years….just from the shock of doing it. It was really hard. I have a job to do, to take the sacred pipes of the four directions unity bundle in a circle around the world. Or at least as far as I can get. So far I have not been able to leave Italy.

We Wabeenos call Connecticut, “Long River”. We call the sacred pipe which belongs to the Five Tribes there, the Long River Sacred Pipe. It is the only inter-tribal, blessed my many elders of many tribes, sacred pipe at the Eastern Gate. It is the Eastern Gate. If you are not aware of Wabeeno ideas, that’s OK. You could understand the idea that a properly blessed, sanctified, historical object of sacred power and faith, certified before heaven, sacred pipe is right there.

My point? I have a voice in this argument about mass shootings, violence against random strangers, about the children who inherit our world. Though I am far away I grieve for what happened at Sandyhook Elementary school. Honestly, I can imagine that sometimes people wish they could kill the government. There are a lot of “kill” language points in all political arguments. I can’t get my heart around the murder of innocents. The feeling I have is just a numbing grief and sorrow. The murder of these innocents is an act to far. As a sacred pipe I want to help, but holy men help by praying and making ceremonies. So that is what I did today, the solstice. I made the sacred ceremony of the Northern Gate, also called the Solstice. I welcomed in the slowing down of the earth, the biting coldness of the wind,

Here is a link to a video (quicktime) of my ceremonial song for the Children and the Solstice...

Ceremonial moments are about good feelings. They are about celebration of life, all lives and all life. They are also moments of awareness, of accountability. Of responsibility. For your life. For your community. For the peace of your house.

It is easy to see, from here, how the GOP, the political right, and its billionaire bag men (the Sandyhook shooting was sponsored by a rifle made by particular “investment” corporation, their most profitable product)…easy to see ho they use the language of fear and difference and redirection to social issues to no one will notice what the corporations and the underlying philosophy of the GOP really is. America and Americans are being cynically manipulated, even now. Sandyhook may be the exception that breaks through, somewhere. I know something will come, a gesture. A gesture over the fields of blood. But sometimes, almost always by way of ancient and tragedy, people and communities and even cultures can make a great leap forward.

The sacred ceremony is an agent for empowering and enacting self responsibility, so that you, the one in that sacred moment, can take responsibility. There is something you can do. There is always something you can do. Pay attention.

The way is open. Right now. All that a holy man, a sacred pipe, can do is pray and look you in the eye and ask you to speak the truth. Feel the truth. Pay attention

(Solstice of Winter || Twenty Twelve)

I can hear children screaming
While the old men in their hand-made suits
Eat fried chicken to prove how much they hate Obama
And the poor
And the hungry
And the lost, as they lock and load
One more time
As they count the money in their designer bags
As the bullets pass through the hearts
Of screaming children, of mothers
And dreamers suddenly awakened
In pain and clenching rigid jaws
I turn and measure the long shadow behind me
And sit down to pray and sing
In a sacred manner
And welcome in the winter’s rise
Another gate has opened….but I am sitting very still
This time
All the movement is inside

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fruits of a Mafia Culture: Life in Italy Part Two

©2012-Turtle Heart

In the last year our little island, home of the Sacred Bundle of the Four Directions of Unity, is being ponded into submission and poverty. The bad news started in the summer with the opening of the 44 million Euro airport. While Armani and other billionaires and multimillionaires were hosted in air conditioned splendor for the festivities, the local people, the pantesche, stood in the boiling sun surrounded by heavily armed state police. They were not allowed to attend the opening of the airport. In protest, many of the island’s citizens stood in the boiling sun with guns pointed at them in defiance of this absurdity. Inside Armani and the other rich people showed us all which side they are on. Not our side.

A few weeks later we lost one of the only two boats that supply the island with everything we need to survive. Everything. As I write this note, it has been 16 days and counting since any boat has come at all, even the one tired, rusted, slow boat we do have.

In December we have learned that all the taxes are being doubled. Property taxes. Business taxes. Documents fee. My wife’s little company now has to pay over twelve thousand Euro just to keep the doors open. Twenty-Five percent. Suddenly the parents of all the children are told they must pay 100 euro every few months for each child in school or the bus. Each child. That comes to several thousand euro for each family every year. For the school bus.

Unlike in America, where most official forms are free, in Italy there is a double digit fee for any official document…..any document. My marriage license for example cost around 400 dollars.

Armani and his rich friends pay nothing. The rest of us are being piled on relentlessly. Italy has money police. They can show up at any time, stop you on the street, and ask you to prove where you get your money for life…prove you have paid the mafia tribute the state conveniently calls taxes. There are taxes on the food, the clothing, the insurance, the gasoline, every official document, the land, the tires on your automobile, the marriage license and many others.

Gasoline is about 12 dollars a gallon here.

In the last month there were two tragic deaths. In one a man trying to turn his auto around went into the sea and drowned inside his auto. In the other a 5 year old boy had his head blown off when his father’s rifle went off accidentally after a hunting excursion. Seven Carabinieri, the fascist national police, were arrested for brutally beating many citizens over the last several years, including their commander. A priest was arrested for repeatedly abusing sexually young children.

It was not like this when I came here eight years ago. I understand now that Italy is a mafia culture. The mafia is a state of mind. Every agency puts the squeeze on you, has the palm out. Everybody pays. Continuously The idea of the mafia is that you give them a percentage. In Italy, every part of the government from the lowest to the highest gets its taste. This is my first experience with a government that treats its citizens with this level of disrespect. The result is that most people resist the government mafia culture by doing business off the book. The government makes it impossible for a small business to function, so there is no choice really. My partner works a legal business on the books. She ends up working about four months just to pay the government taxes and fees. Four months or more. Just to pay the government fees. It is painful to watch how oppressive this is to the development of a small business.

No bread. For the first time in eight years I have lived here, the bakeries have no flour for bread. Some have run out of flour and so there could be a no bread situation. But those that have flour are sharing with those who do not, so the bakeries remain open. After 11 days with no boat. There are absolutely no eggs anywhere. Fresh food comes in from Sicily, so fresh food is running out. It is not a crises but it is not at all a good development. It looks like the next few seasons at least are going to follow this pattern….downward is the prognosis.

Months ago our “mayor” was removed from office because of his greed, his mafia state of mind, taking bribes to give a young man an important job approving building permits and related issues. Once he was on the job, the mayor become livid when the young man actually wanted to do the job honestly and efficiently, so he was fired. This lead to the investigation which removed him from office. He just barely missed being put into prison.

The guy who is running the island was not elected. He does nothing but sign documents. So we have no voice to yell back to Trapani and Italy about our predicament. We are invisible to Italy. Except the many billionaires and multimillionaires who have vacation homes here. But they have never done anything real for this island. Ever.

Pantelleria is a sweet and loving place. Six thousand or so native born and raised citizens live good and gentle lives here. It is a place of peace and generosity. The power, beauty and grace of nature is spectacular. It is historic and unique in all the world. I love it here. It is a great and unexpected place for the Sacred Pipes of the Four Directions Intertribal Unity Bundle.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Last Word || Native American Awareness Month: American Indians At the Back of The Bus in American Politics

©2012 Turtle Heart

America has nearly three million American Indians. Many of these human beings are sequestered on the American Indian Reservation system. Present financial obligations to these many American Indian communities is something like four billion dollars. There are also dozens of legal treaties, legal before law agreements on a variety of issues regarding the land, minerals, plants and other resources of those lands and of those people.

American Indians have, for many years in fact, been imposed to military orders, Christian missionaries, forced schooling, forced renunciation of their languages and ceremonial duties, and management by the United States government…

In modern times, every issue that affects American Indians, is placed on the back page, like an after thought, to congressional, senate, and federal legislation. Amendments and new policies are sneaked on to the back pages of lengthy legislation on any subject imaginable except American Indian affairs. Every single issue affecting American Indians stands way in the back of the bus. American Indian issues and people have no seat at any table, anywhere in the world.

Seeing the US President in Myanmar made my hair catch on fire. What if a sitting US President made a state visit to the Hopi Reservation, or the Apache, whose historic leader’s name was used to kill Osama bin Laden? Most American Indian reservations do not have the internet, schools or hospitals. Like many foreign countries, the people in charge of American Indian reservations are corrupt and/or incompetent. Like many foreign nations, American Indian reservations have human rights issues, undeveloped resources and few development opportunities. Allegedly, this is one of the motivations for presidential diplomacy…to encourage, support and stimulate less fortunate foreign nations. By law, American Indian reservations are foreign soil, sovereign in their own right, inside their own legal borders.

This report is a little dated, as we now passage into December. Post elections, the future of American Indian communities is no higher on the list than it was before. The new activity on the table is the pending release of so-called settlement checks for American Indians who are members of tribal communities robbed of their income by the federal government over a period of decades. Once again, not an issue most Americans have ever heard of. The original investigation concluded that tribal communities had been robbed of fifteen billion dollars in fees and commissions over the use of their lands and resources. Fifteen billion dollars trimmed down to three billion…the checks are in the mail. This is apparently good news. Somewhere.

American Indians are the most likely of all Americans to be murdered, raped, beaten, robed and cheated. They top all of the most violent statistics. In the US Government, American Indians are invisible, their rights and their future added as watered down after thoughts to the legislation that moves the Great American Dream forward. And this portfolio of disturbing news comes from a US President that is the most pro-active ever on American Indian issues.

Happy Native American awareness month.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The (Shiny New) Southern Strategy || Twenty Twelve Edition


The Southern Strategy: emerging, polished, and relentless in the GOP…..opinion from the Editor of the Four Directions Unity Blog.

Note: || The so-called Southern Strategy is based upon an idea that "the wite man is superior to all human beings of color. Their rights are more important. Their preferences are most important. All other people are in effect ""slave class""....editor

I am an American Indian. Most of my adult life I have given much of my attention to American Indian interests and issues. My professional work is in creating both art and words which reflect and seek to engage the waiting world on American Indian issues.

I am also a modern American. My genetic heritage is American Indian, but it is also a bit Celtic and possibly Pantesche or Sicilian.

I am also a Child of the Old South. I was born in 1949 in the doctor’s office, one Doctor Stuckey, by natural child birth into a small southern town. My mother’s family was multi-generational old southern. In my youth I experienced this small town southern culture as decidedly distinct from my American Indian, and Indian my American heritage. Unlike residents of the other states, those of us born into the old South are quite distinct…not just in how we speak or what we like to eat, but different in that as a culture, we “southerners” were, at least in the hearts of our political, military and social leaders (if not as individuals) dedicated to the idea that human slavery was both good, and profitable. When, in a dirty and terrible war, the United States Federal Government took that right away from the old South…it was never forgotten, and never forgiven.
I can no more take out the “southern” in me than I can take out the “indian” that is in there with me. Like many modern Americans I am more than one thing at the same time.

It is with increasing sorrow that I watch, before my eyes, every day, implicit proof that the leadership, both business and political, of the old south is just the same as it ever was. I recently finished reading the first four volumes of the must read works by the legendary Robert Caro; a truly rich and remarkable study of the US Senate through the decades of service of one Lyndon Johnson. God bless him. By looking at Johnson we see the skeleton and bones and raw DNA in fact of just who the political right actually is. The surprising thing, now, is that the roots of the old south, the southern states right strategy, was with the democrats. That has reversed itself. It is also a point almost never made, in my viewing and reading, of any modern discussions of the bat shit crazy American republican Party.

I have been content most of my life to keep my work and attention with the Indians. It has only been since the debacle of twenty ten (the arrival of so many GOP governors, anti-Negroe negroes like Adam West, and moral morons like Todd Akin, the ascendancy of Jan Brewer of Arizona, enshrinement of Rush Limbaugh, the growing haze of confusion and vitriol of Senator McCain…etc). Yes, since that moment it was clear that the Southern Strategy has Grown Up. It has more money, voices, networks, newspapers, talking heads, even more money and corporate protection than anyone would have imagined in 1965.

I became even more interested in this situation when, in the presidential election of twenty twelve, a majority of Americans of all races and types voted against the money, the disguise and the capital (corporate). Using new inventions to disguise the dog whistle emporium which sustained the GOP campaign at all levels, the determined White Men openly suppressed the vote, intimidated, insulted and dismissed every minority, including their own daughters. The GOP White Men did all this and a long revolting list of other open but disguised, evil but legal terrible intrusions into freedom and the right to life itself. An unprecedented and mountain of gold funded effort….and they failed. They lost.

What will the Old White Men of the Republican Party do now?

In the past the men of the old South turned to lynching. Interesting. As I write this Senator John McCain and the little lying US Senator from South Carolina are publicly, almost hysterically, verbally lynching (vowing to destroy) a woman of color who happens to be the Honorable Ambassador of the United States to the United Nations, Mrs. Susan Rice.

This lynching instinct so soon after the election, by these white men, is the give away, the “tell” that the Southern Strategy is more determined than ever to (1) disguise itself (2) proceed full throttle. Or are these at last the first dying gasps of the final exposure of the Southern Strategy and its renunciation at last? This election proved once and for all that the White Man alone cannot win elections to high office. US President Barack Obama was elected by a clear majority, by a stunning diversity of voters. All the GOP got was the white man’s vote, and they lost.

I hope, rather than permitting the (somewhat sociopathic McCain) GOP lynching of Susan Rice, that other voices will just say no. And Stop. The actual human beings who live and die in the lands controlled by the Southern Strategy have perhaps arrived at the point where they have had enough, at least some of them. More than yesterday. As a child, raised in the old South I never signed on for the "strategy". But its evidence and consequences were easy enough to see in my daily life.

In the grand defeat and shellacking of the GOP this year was at least one US Senate race, in North dakota, that may have been decided for the Democrats by the American Indian vote in that state. American Indians came out very strongly in favor of the Obama ticket. The editor here has asked Nate Silver and others if it is possible to parse the American Indian vote for this election cycle. Most American Indians believe that a Romney and larger GOP victory in this cycle would have been a disaster for treaty obligations and American Indian programs across the board. This GOP has persisted year by year to end all treaty obligations to American Indians and abandon tribes to sink or swim on their own. The GOP frequently tries to sneak in very amendments to many legislative bills that are harmful and destructive to American Indian issues. Collectively, the American Indians maintain a congressional presence to catch and lobby against these many vile and evil amendments.

As a child of South Carolina, I am disgusted, ashamed and outraged by everything about US Senator Lindsay Graham. I don't like his face, the way he dresses, his toes, his hair or his voice. How such a great old, historic and gracious state like South Carolina continues to empower this lowly character is a source of many questions in my mind and heart. How are the Southern States able to keep these retrograde, somewhat moronic white men in leadership there? It is difficult to completely avoid the vitriolic tense when discussing Graham and his associates. They represent such an extreme, far right agenda that is just insulting to reason. I hope the Democrats of South Carolina, or the independents, will find their way to field a champion to take the seat of this man in his next election cycle. Please.  With the sudden demise of US Senator Luger, it has been shown to be quite possible to move out some of these entrenched Senators, letting in some fresh new political air.

While the GOP and its agents spend the next four years lying, distorting, blocking and denigrating, let the rest of us that at last the voices of reason have some motivation to feel a mandate for correction.

The old Indians always said to me, that if you lose something, lose your way, you can loook back, look closely and you can find something you can use. You can make what we call a "correction ceremony" which is similar to but somewhat more elevated in its aspirations that the "proctology examination" Southern US Senator Haley Barber recently suggested.

Are you fired up? Are you ready to go?

PS...a call out and congratulations to Elizabeth Warren, one of our American Indian relatives, who has taken her seat as the Distinguisged US Senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Brava!!!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Vote Vote VOTE

©2012 Turtle Heart
I voted early, for Oboma, no question. I hope you will do the same.

It is so strange to imagine that an ugly bag of mostly air like Mr Romney could get a single vote. The closeness of this political race indicated that a significant number of people remain attached to racism, attached to big GOP government telling women what they can or cannot do with their bodies, that people of color need to be suppressed and silenced.

In my 64 years, I have never seen a more insane election. The GOP has spent nearly 2 billion dollars attacking Obama. To what end?

Tomorrow we have the final vote. We will also see what really comes to pass with the crazy efforts by GOP to suppress and block the vote. How have they gotten away with this?

We are all witnesses to a conspiracy by a consortium of angry white men to steal the US Presidency. In the end, my great hope is that those millions of us who believe in reason and respect will push back against the toxic clown show that is the GOP today, and re-elect Obama.

Go for it. Even if you have to stand and line and dance and sing, protect your vote and go to the polls.

Vote Vote Vote


Friday, October 26, 2012

Russell Means || The Shiny Object At the Bottom of the Dark Pit

Means speaking at Harvard Law School
around 1979. || ©2012 by Turtle Heart.

26 October. Italy

The article below is a repost from about a year ago...when the world first heard that Means was seriously ill. Now, he is dead. He passed away some days ago in close company with his fellow gangster and bully Leonard Crow Dog.

The two of them showed such enormous promise 30 years ago. In the memorials being passed around the country, it is this young Rusell Means that is being remembered.

Over those years many American Indians have stayed inside their lives and said all the things Means is celebrated for saying. There were no cameras and reporters around to make a record of what they said. The burning question for me has always been why the Main Stream Media only followed, reported on and quoted this American Indian above all others. That remains the question.

As Means life de-evolved into drunkenness, abuse of women, lies, embezzlement, and probably homicide, only the other American Indians seemed to notice. The media continued to allow themselves to be flim-flamed, seduced and made fools of. From the New York Times to Indian Country Toady, American culture has been slightly desperate for a hero American Indian, for all the wrong reasons. Means was handsome and photogenic, a natural sociopath who easily was able to dominate all the attention in any room he entered.

The Mainstream Media has shown itself as shallow and uninterested in any substantial issue represented by any American Indian anywhere, except for Russell Means. This folly, this absolute failure of investigation and interest in the real truth is alive and well, and still the status quo for American Indians and the American attention span.

For most American Indians there is no life to be mourned in the passing of Russell Means. There is only a sense of relief...and sorrow for the deception he presses onto the American scene even in death.

the earlier article...

In the beginning, his life seemed promising. He ascended into the mainstream media as  articulate, knowledgeable and charismatic. It did not take very long for him to be corrupted, for his dark side to become the boss of his life. Through decades of lies, criminal acts, abuse of women, of the truth and in supporting of murder of innocents, Means has come at last to the end of his broken journey.
For reasons that have never been quite clear, the limited attention the world’s media pays to any kind of American Indian issue, was directed mostly at this man. He has seemed to have what some call a “gift” for getting media attention. Of all the American Indians, living or dead, Means got the most media attention, worldwide. Every moment of this coverage was dedicated to Means love of himself, and nothing at all to do with any issues affecting American Indians. It is partly the media’s fascination with its own fantasies about American Indians and a general indifference to any issue affecting American Indians. Means was a product of this media void, somewhere near the middle of fantasy and indifference.
Many years ago….I am not good with dates: I was present as the Keeper of the Sacred Pipes of the Eastern Gate when Means, and the Bellecort brothers, addressed Harvard University Law School. It was a spectacular speech. It was well attended, but not by the Harvard Law School population. Most of those present were other American Indians from around the Boston area. There was some curiosity. This was just before the scam the world came to know as “Wounded Knee”.
These days we have some evidence that the Means story is winding down. If we can believe what is being written, he claims to have cancer and is in the situation of greeting his own mortality. Any words about Means published in the national media must be viewed with some suspicion. You absolutely cannot believe, in the case of Means, that what you are hearing is the truth.
Some of us imagine that right now there could be a sort of Means awakening. A moment in his long life of lies and crimes and bullshit where he decides to do the right thing, one time, before the end. 
There is much he could and should and might yet tell us regarding the murder of Anna Mae Aquash, for example. There are other crimes he could illuminate. There might even be a justice department willing to grant him some favors if he tells society the truth about his long-standing criminal enterprise.
If he actually cared about any American Indian on this earth, he would want to tell the truth at the end of his life. He knows how to do it. I have seen him speak truth to power. After so many decades of his little game, he could stand right up and tell us the truth. He might then realize that his many American Indian relatives did not ever stop loving him…they just preferred to stay sober.
There are two ideas about what is a good Indian.
One… is that he is dead. A good Indian is a dead Indian. A dead, lying Indian. Go ahead. Whine and cry and keep asking for money.
The other is that he looked into the clouds and sings the song of his death, the last song of a Lakota Man, a child of the Sacred Pipe, the male child of his male ancestors, a Grandchild of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse and all the other Grandfathers who held their sacred and spoke the truth in the face of their deaths.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mormons, Catholics and the American Indian Experience || Oppression Through Faith

Sadly, for American Indians, the history of the Mormon Church’s destructive programs directed for generations against American Indians is apparently unknown. Romney, the Romney males, the father and grandfather, as ranking officers of their faith have supported and formulated the Mormon programs targeted at American Indians.

For generations, decades, Mormons systematically removed, by various means, American Indian children from their tribal families and communities to raise them as Mormons. One of these severely brainwashed children, for a time, was the central American Indian of the Federal government, overseeing all American Indian programs. Heralded as a great breakthrough in the high appointment of an “American Indian”, this man, Larry Echo Hawk, after a very short time, proved he knows nothing about his own ancestors and communities, leaving his elevated federal position to become a high-ranking officer for the Mormon church…not American Indians, but the Mormon church. His distaste and incompetence in actually meeting with and understanding American Indian questions was proven very quickly. He is solidly a Republican…a member of the New Extreme Bat Shit Crazy Political Right.

American churches like to promote their humanitarian assistance to tribal communities. The poorest communities in America are more often than not American Indian reservation communities. Yet, the price for their “assistance” requires that they not speak their languages, wear traditional dress, or, in particular, conduct their ancient, honest religious ceremonies and beliefs. Yet, nowhere is this suppression of tribal identity more polished, quiet and persistent than i8n the Mormon community.

Visit this blog space, American Indian Media Research, and go through the details of the poverty, violence, unemployment, abuse, rape, suicide and chaos on American Indian reservations.

The Salt Lake Tribune this week endorsed Obama for United States President, over its most famous Mormon resident, on Millard Romney, Mormon Bishop. Yet, one cannot but worry what a Romney presidency might look like for American Indians.

Romney is wearing a mask. A Coyote Mask. He works, rather desperately, to convince voters that he is not against women, Latinos, Black Americans, American Indians, the working poor, and students struggling for an education. Because of the miracles of technology and the art of Spin, he has fooled many people, hiding his empty soul behind this mask. 

It is also true, that the rabid, racist political right, championed by the Lord of the Southern Racists, Mitch McConnell of the US Senate, would vote in an “empty chair” against the first African American/American Indian US President. Yes, do not forget that Obama is part American Indian and was formally adopted by the great Crow Nation in 2008. This adoption by that tribe is a very serious, ancient, highly respected sacred ceremony. It is not something done casually.

The best we can hope for in a Romney presidency is that he will rubber stamp all the extreme proposals of the extreme right….breaking unions and workers rights, lowering the basic wage, blocking access by women to health care, rolling back affirmative action, making abortion and even contraception illegal, raising taxes on the working poor while lowering taxes on the insanely rich, and on and on….Romney and his Mormon faith present the most depressing, oppressive, reactionary collapse of the great American Opportunity than any high public official in my lifetime, at the very least. And this is the best case scenario! At the other end, he may propel us into a deadly war with Iran and foster the complete collapse of the American economy.

The political right, in the most vivid and scary detailed view possible, have shown that they have no hesitation to destroy the economy, the environment and world peace if it means getting a black man out of the white house.

Somehow, in the face of these toxic lies, the Coyote Candidate stands a chance of winning this election. Yes, this seems utterly incredible.

I hope all  of Americans, when it comes down to the day of the VOTE will understand what is at stake here, understand how dangerous and fatally flawed and just rotten the GOP is, from its Presidential candidate, to its Tod Akins Allen Smith (a black man wearing a white fascist mask).

On the 21st of October, the so-called Pope of Rome is making an American Indian an official “saint” in the catholic Church. Tens of thousands of American Indians are opposed to this insult to tribal culture. Even more than the Mormons, the effect the Catholic Church has had on American Indians is tragic and brutal. The Vatican still has on record a Papal Bull which states that American Indians have no souls. This was signed by the Borgia Pope so that American Indians could be sold into slavery. It has never been rescinded. The history of oppression, murder, and violent conversions of American Indians by the Catholic Church is one of the great shames of history. Like most issues affecting American Indians, it is an invisible fact among the MSM. Not one media outlet ever considers talking to American Indians to see how they feel about these issues.

From the political right, to the Vatican, to the halls of Federal Government, the oppression and abuse suffered by American Indians everywhere in the United States is of no interest, and receives no attention. It seems little has changes, as America positions a Mormon to be US President, and a distant, deeply disliked Pope insults American history by exploiting yet another American Indian, the MSM, whom we hope to believe keeps us informed, has nothing to say. Nothing at all.

American Indians have their own ancient and honorable religions. Like every other issue related to American Indians, this fact is invisible to American society.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sacred Pipe Goes To Italy: Part One || Falling Down In the Garden of Ulysses

I left behind the United States, my art gallery, and my long life in my country in 2004. This is why.

In the Summer of 2004, I was invited to Italy. The year before I had shared an open ceremony with a group of Italian visitors, 18 of them if I recall correctly. I found their comportment, respect, and intelligence a really refreshing experience. When, a year later, I was invited to come and share some of my ideas and a few of the open ceremonies of my culture, I was very pleased to accept. That meeting took place in August. By November, I was living on the small island of Pantelleria. Italy and Italians were a revelation to me. 

The old Indians who were my Grandfathers and Teachers had asked me, in the early 1980s, to consider taking the bundle (gathered collection) of Sacred Pipes that I carry, out into the world. In 2004 the door opened for me to keep the promise I made at that time to those beloved and wise American Indians. When I left my home in Taos, New Mexico, in 2004, my intention was to keep moving and complete a circle of ceremonies, specific ceremonies with the sacred pipe, in a circle around this Mother Earth.

When I arrived on Pantelleria island, the energy and spirit, the force, that came up from the land there had a powerful affect on me. For weeks and weeks it affected my dreaming, my waking thoughts and my emotions. I felt such a strong affection for these peaceful, creative, polite and loving Italian people. It was irresistible. Almost as if, at least as clearly as, a voice I trusted spoke to my inner soul and said to me, “Bring all your sacred objects and ceremonies to Pantelleria.” At that moment I made the choice to move the headquarters or home of my sacred bundles from Taos to Pantelleria.

That decision changed my life forever. The first thing that happened was that I became seriously ill, for some years. For four years I was in a sort of waking coma, with little detailed memory of where I went or what happened. This illness was triggered by a traumatic accident which injured my left eye. It quickly escalated into a full blown crises that affected my entire body. It kept me isolated inside my new island home, away from light, away from the wind, staying as still and quiet as possible and hope for healing.

Yes, the decision I made to change my life was an explosion…an explosion in my body, but in my heart and soul as well. As I healed and waited and asked questions, I understood how stressful, traumatic and dangerous my life had been in the USA. America does not love its American Indians. Being an American Indian in America is dangerous. Being an American Indian in Italy is a blessing of peace and tolerance, and opportunity.

Coming to Italy saved my life. When, as a young, wounded, angry Vietnam Vetran, I came to the old Indians with fury, rage and confusion about that war, about America, about our lives as American Indian people, they saved my life at that time as well. The sacred Pipe has saved my life many times. By trusting those old Indians, I reached for the teachings, silences and ideas of that ancient spiritual education, the ceremonial life of my Ojibway ancestors…I reached into that rich resource through my anger and pain and desire and learned to trust the voice of love in my own heart. I learned to listen to that voice when I stumbled a broken old soldier, who before had been but a boy, into the arms of the old Indians. I listened to that voice when it told me to fall in love with Italy and bring my life-long work with American Indian ceremonial teachings out into the world.

The old Indians told me if I could get these sacred pipes in a circle around the Mother earth, that it would change everything. My heart believed them. And so I fell in love in Italy, with Italy and with this little island.

In this series of writings I will share my experiences with the Italian people who have shared in the many ceremonies, over 100, that we have made together, learned together, here in Italy.

"I am the one who made this life, my life
With my two hands I have made it
Going in eight directions I have made it
Standing Stone and Brother Mysteries I have made it
It was I who made this life
With my two hands I put it on the earth
I lived it, it is right here
I have taken it
Inside my song I will carry it
I will show you, my friend,
The open heart of the earth"

|| --- Nagamowin Gashk'ewizi || Turtle Heart

(Part Two in Two Weeks: The Awakened Dreamers

Friday, October 05, 2012

Sicilian Austerity Crushes Little Pantelleria But Armani Parties On

Port of Scauri, Pantelleria Island. ©2012 Turtle Heart

Armani's black yacht at Pantelleria port,  Summer 2012 ©2012 Turtle Heart
....special, from the Home of the Four Directions Unity Bundle....
I live on the little Mediterranean island of Pantelleria. It is an island of gardens and farmers, rather than fishermen. It is 25 miles north of Africa. It is a sweet and charming place. It produces the world's best capers, as well as a unique sweet wine called Passito. It is a wine made entirely by hands, without machines.

Armani and other so-called celebrities like Carol Bouquet of France talk about, exploit and seem to cherish their vacation homes on the little island. You can rarely read an article about Armani which does not mention is Pantelleria home.
In 1974 Pantelleria produced 2.6 million bottles of wine.
In 2012 Pantelleria produced 300,000 bottles of wine.
The 2013 wine production (now) looks to be less, far less.
The Sicilian government took away one of the two transport ferries that serve Pantelleria from Sicilia. The other boat is available only four days each week, providing the sea is passable. So this year, as the trucks carrying grapes to go to Sicilia lined up to get on the one boat, there was no space. So the grapes were eventually put in the trash. This was in August and September.
Now, in October, the dried grapes used to make Passito are being left on the earth.
There are only a few very small facilities on the island for fermenting and bottling Pantelleria wine. All over the island grapes are in the trash or going brown on the vine.
On the other hand, Armani, Bouquet, the clueless Bishop of Trapani, and all the other rich one per cent vacation home owners celebrated, recently, the opening of the beautiful new international airport….and the Pantesche were not invited, not one of them. The local people were surrounded by Italian National Police officers, armed with rifles, and kept standing in the sun and told to say not a word for the hours during which Armani and other self-satisfied celebrities were entertained in the air-conditioned spacious new airport. The Bishop of Trapani, wearing his sunglasses and Armani designed phoney priest robes blessed the rich celebrities, politicians and engineers of Italy and said not one word to the people and population of Pantelleria Island.
The island has lost most of the emergency services at the little worthless hospital. For a while there was a helicopter to take emergencies to Trapani….that is being pulled out in a few weeks. Leaving us with no emergency services at all beyond the basic broken bone.
The contrast between the rich and selfish elite of Italy going into the airport in their fine clothes, arriving in helicopters, private planes and private yachts….while the people who live here every day were kept standing in the sun, bullied by the police is really stark. The rich people who “love” their vacation island give nothing at all to the island. They only take, and then take some more.
Now, today, the island has lost its most important treasure, its rare and unique double-harvest grapes which make one of the world’s most interesting wines, all gone, put into the trash.
This portfolio of bad news came shortly after the Governor of the island was arrested and removed from office for being a criminal.
Italy’s path to auesterity has apparantly been engaged with the idea of crushing the economy and life of its smallest islands.
What is next?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Equinox Muse || Severe Failure of American Indian Leadership To Back Elizabeth Warren

Ceremonial Fire at the Equinox September 2012  ||  ©2012 Turtle Heart

This post comes up on the Equinox this month and then leads into my views on the severely racist campaign by the GOP against Elizabeth Warren who reasonably claims to have American Indian ancestors.

American Indians all have ceremonies, ancient ceremonies, called "finding lost relations", very sacred ceremonies at the very root of almost every tribal culture. These racist attacks are lead by a GOP that is hostile, very hostile, to any program or service for American Indians.

It is tragic that American Indian leadership cannot see this situation clearly. Failure is what I call it. Failure and a missed opportunity.

As to the Equinox, the little gateway for breathing ourselves into a new season, we had some spontaneous visitors to the sacred fire, to the ancient songs. In this season we also started a spirit keeping ceremony for our dear friend Ralph who passed away recently. He was so young and bright.

So for two years we will carry on the "keeping the spirit" ceremony.....we will send our old songs and our hope that some tribal leadership will wake the fuck up and stand with Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

20 September 2012

Moving Towards An Equinox

Our ancient ancestors spent enormous amounts of energy, time, resources and attention in marking, measuring, and changing their everyday behaviour at the moment of solstice and equinox.

No one today, it seems, remembers why.

Most of the really ancient structures found in the world (all of the most spectacular ones) were constructed to measure and be in alignment with solstice and equinox.

Today, nothing official is built to do that, anywhere.

Today as the Sacred Door opened
I was breathing, I was singing softly
I said my name in four directions
And released my prayers to a sacred fire
Burning upon the earth
Where I was standing

A moment to find myself, remember myself
Lift myself up, stand straight
And feel my feet upon the sacred earth
Yes, a moment my friend, a moment sweet and fleeting

Seven times I heard my heart
Beating, life flowing, my dream clearly in motion
My dream, my name, my song
Yes, my friend, I made myself again in that moment
I was the one making myself, it was my hand that was open
My heart that was beating, my body that was standing still
As the earth moved again
In its long Dream with the Sun

Equinox 2012, September
Pantelleria Island

©2012 Turtle Heart

30 September

Massive American Indian Failure || Support For Elizabeth Warren

All tribes have ceremonies for finding and bringing home lost relatives and ancestors. These are considered very important and sacred responsibilities. Once agin tribal leadership anywhere has defeated itself and turned a blind eye to their rights and responsibilities. There is no reasonable reason to doubt Ms. Elizabeth Warren’s understanding of who her ancestors are. Zero. If her tribes would embrace her and stand up for her, there would be many blessings, a lot of positive attention, and the making of powerful friends. But no tribe has done that. Some individual American Indians have put on phony outrage press releases which are only racist driven rants probably planted and paid for by supports of Republican Scott Brown. These few American Indian voices ranting and posturing their fake outrage represent only themselves. The only voice that matters is really the voice of the ceremonial leaders of the tribes. Wait. Where are those people? They  seem in short supply. Most tribes these days use the public voice of a federal government BIA elected leader to speak to the world. None of these persons have any authority, and usually very little understanding of, the ceremonial and religious roots of their tribe.

The truth is almost any American Indian tribe could stand up and through its religious and ceremonial people support and adopt Ms. Warren  at any time. I am surprised none of them have. Most of their political leaders never talk to what is usually only a few spiritual leaders among the tribes. They are in short supply and the tribal governments never listen to them. So many tribes sit silent when they have this perfect opportunity to present a more loving, accepting, forgiving and progressive face to the world. And strike a blow for the Democrats. Republican Brown will never do any favors for American Indians…it might be better to think of him as a deeply racist opponent of American Indians.

Stupefying That is how I feel when I look at how the American Indians as a group have responded to the Warren situation in Massachusetts.

The "proof" thing is such a fiasco. There are thousands and thousands of well known American Indians that would be hard pressed to produce "documentation" if they were suddenly confronted by an international journalistic frenzy, believe me. I can also tell you that I know many old American Indians who would never show you, tell you or tolerate anyone asking for "proof" of anything. 

We also need to hear from Tribal Elders. These people know who their relations are. Among tribes that actually honor their sacred traditions, it is the tribal elders who have the only real authority to name who their tribal relations are or are not.

I would say to Elizabeth Warren that one day she should, and perhaps she has, present herself in friendship to one of the tribal elders who live in massachusetts, as there are in fact several respected Tribal Elders in the state of Massachusetts. That has always been my best advice to people who tell me they have American Indian ancestors. I tell them to look for an Elder and just talk to them in a friendly way. Tribal Elders know what to do next. You can always trust them. If Elizabeth Warren were to introduce herself to the Grand Medicine Society Elder of Massachusetts, she would find a friend immeditaely. I must stress the rule among tribes here: YOU have the responsibility to one day find a Tribal Elder who will talk to you. It is up to you, not them. 

My Dear, If you believe in yourself, the Tribal Elders will embrace you and respect you. Their voice is the ONLY VOICE that matters in this argument. However, no FREE person has any obligation to be intimidated into producing pieces of paper. Pieces of paper mean nothing. The truth is always present in the human heart. As a Keeper of tribal ceremony for more than forty years, I can clearly see the heart of Elizabeth Warren and I accept her understanding of who her ancestors are. I embrace her and support her. I would do this publicly, but I am way over here in Italy.

By keeping silent, tribal leadership is losing a golden opportunity and even worse, they let the loud mouths of their craziest members set the official reaction in the minds of the media. 

I am waiting even as I write for some American Indian leader might wake up, look around, and stand up for the incredible racist insult delivered by a white candidate, Scott Brown, for the Senate of the United States. Where is that tribal leader?

I wrote a few years ago a detailed and very strong argument on these issues of who the Indians are and who they are not, full blood, fake indians, and so forth. You can find a link to that PDF here.

Turtle Heart
Ojibwe Artist
Keeper of the Four Directions Unity Bundle
Keeper of the Sacred Pipes of the Eastern Gate
...enroute in a circle around the mother earth....

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Solstice of Summer Twenty Twelve

My quarterly poem to my friends:

My poetry just comes straight out of me in a rush.
I believe they come spontaneously from my spirit.

The old Indians had a line in an old song, I have always remembered;
"a song comes unasked out of my body, a mark of my spirit"

Here is the solstice song in 2 parts
the song
the translation of the song

Solstice 2012June
Pantelleria Island

00:08 22 June

The song is available to listen, click THIS link.
Google Blogger does not support sound uploads.

The wind and the sun
Are staring in silence at each other.
Time is melting the stones beneath my feet.
It is a harder season, where
Our cup and bowl are full, filled up
And cold,
Feeding yet another dreamless night.
So we sat down
We started singing this old song
Time had stuffed in our memories.
And we believed in a better day,
Inside the same skin we have lived in all along.
The gifts and prayers of the Old Indians
Were spread out all over the table.
I could feel their old memories bumping against my bones.
I sat in the silence, in the darkness of the night.
And could feel all these things.

Turtle Heart
Pantelleria Island

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Sharp Knife and the Sacred Pipe

Late Spring Twenty Twelve

I am recovering these days from complicated and extensive surgery to my shoulder. As anyone who has gone through it knows, it is quite painful and a long time before the shoulder is once again normal, if it ever is. It Italy, home now of the World Journey Sacred Pipe...this was gratis, that is, free. I had to spend several thousand dollars coming and going from Pantelleria to Milan in external costs, like transportation, flying; food. I am very pleased with the doctor who did this work. I do not think in the USA I could have gotten this level of care, even considering the medical of the BIA and the Vetrans Hospital. (I am a Vietnam Veteran: HHQ, 1st Inf Div, 1/18th, "Swamp Rats" LRP).

This kind of thing is so distracting. Yet, the good life goes on. We keep the prayers and the candle on the bundle.

Consider donating some long-burning candles to the sacred bundle. We need more than 100 candles each year. You may in fact get a very good feeling knowing that you can help a Sacred Pipe Bundle in this modest way.

This photo is of that Root of the Four Directions Unity Bundle Sacred Pipe. This is the inside altar, or at least part of it. There are eight altars on the and around the house.

It is an HDR photo. Taken with a Nikon D7000 with an 18-55 mm lens, set on 18 mm. Eight exposures from 10 seconds to 1/320 th second at f22. I like it. Zing. Enjoy.

All this pain and recovery and candlelights confirm to me every moment the sweetness of life, the urgency of compassion, and the loneliness wrapped up in any sickness. More than anything I want to keep going, continue learning, continue the songs and hopes of my old teachers.

Copyright 2012 Turtle Heart

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Preening, Pretending || While the Elders Fall Asleep

An Open Letter to Robert Mirabal of Taos Pueblo

Using Google search, I was a little surprised to learn that an American Indian Musician, Robert Mirabal, has now an extensive web site and blog presence. From his blog you learn about his travels all over the world. the tribulations of rainy airports and anecdotes about the cool mountain weather around Taos Pueblo, of New Mexico.

Mirabal is an American Indian musician. he is arguably one of the handful of American Indian names known to the general public. For most American Indians it is an on-going reflection, meditation and source of silent contemplation about what sticks in the American public's mind about American Indians.

Throughout the history of this blog, and my position as one who writes frequently about American Indian issues and people, I have looked with some suspicion about who these people might be and exactly why are they the ones who receive so much attention from the poorly-informed world audience.

Russell Means, Dennis Banks, Leonard Peltier, Carlos Nakai, Robert Mirabal, are a few names that come to mind as being names many people around the world have heard.

At Mirabal's blog I was surprised at how friendly and personal it is. It is somewhat seductive. He weaves a nice illusion around his life. I have known people of the tiny American Indian Tribe of northern Tiwa Taos Pueblo Reservation and World Heritage Foundation Celebrated World Treasure for more than thirty years. I lived in Taos about 4 years or so, from January First Two Thousand to November 2004. I watched it slide from a place of great mystery and polished characters to an ambling crowd of silent, confused, shy and passive people more or less herded by a much smaller group that has been dominant for the last 15 years or so. Taos sits like a tourism jewel and is visited by thens of thousands of people every year. Yet it remains invisible and its crises deepens and almost no one is paying attention.

Those American Indians who are focused upon by the main stream media are perceived from a carefully woven projection that does not see, and does not want to see, the long shadows of the problems leaking in every direction. I can understand that Mirabal is a striking young musician, some consider him quite talented and his music has a large following outside of American Indian culture...out in the world you could say. I noticed when Mirabal had a chance to say something to the world, i could not relate to it very well. I took the opportunity to leave a comment, which is posted below:

"I am a 64 year old Ojibwe American Indian man. I have friendships going back forty years to Taos Pueblo. I notice you never get any comments here by American Indians. We American Indians all call you “Mirabal The Pretender”. We have even spoken a few times, but have never been introduced by name.

My tribal people are people of the sacred pipe and we have all commented on the crime of you and your brother selling what you call “peace pipes” to the tourists in Taos. As you know very well, the sacred pipe is not in any way a part of your Kiva religion. The tribal elders of the sacred pipe have always been offended that you and your brother do this, but you could care less.

I was also around when RISE was organizing to try and get some basic human rights enacted at the Taos Pueblo. Most of your fans do not know that at Taos Pueblo the residents there have no basic human rights, no right to vote for their leadership. Most live in poverty and isolation and so have no blogs and web sites to post chatty comments to. The fans probably do not know about the corrupt leadership at Taos Pueblo where your family sits in wealth and privilege as part of the leadership that does nothing to help anyone there have a better life. You do not talk about the Spanish imposed system of changing the government every year and that only your friends ever get appointed to serve. I am sure you forget to talk about the fact that no one is allowed to vote at Taos Pueblo, as they endure the appointments every year of the same circle of uneducated, selfish and corrupt friends of yours to sit in the government offices refusing to answer the phones, open the mail or meet with any of the rights groups that ask for appointments. There are third world dictatorships that have more rights for their people than does the Taos Pueblo. And you and your family are always at the center when favors are passed out, money is given away or important visitors arrive hoping to see what is really going on there.

I notice you talk so much about your travels all over the world but never mention that so many of the young people at Taos Pueblo kill themselves with alcohol and drugs since the tribe does not have even one program for education or jobs to help them. I noticed also that you never talk about the several millions of US dollars that come from the little Casino and the tourist fees at the gate to your village. Perhaps this is because none of that money is ever seen by the people in the village who go hungry, have no heat in the winter, or jobs by which to take care of their families. Since it is all invisible money, I could understand why you don’t talk about it.

Yes, we call you Mirabal The Pretender because you want the uninformed citizens of the world to think you are an American Indian hero and musician, even though your music has nothing to do with the traditions of any American Indian tribe.

So, it is very nice that you have this fine blog here and agree to talk to everyone on earth except your own people. May the Great Mystery continue to guide you and bless you on your sacred journey as a representative of all American Indian people. Even though your tribe is pretty much the only one that does not allow its people to vote for its leadership and do not allow freedom of speech, gatherings or petitions to be presented to the invisible government, we all know you are in fact a Real Indian."


I posted it on his blog and signed it by may own name. I am the one who has said these things. It does not feel right to me that the Mirabal family sells pretend peace pipes. This is a sad and somewhat heart-breaking crime....a kind of proof that the story you are hearing is not the story that is being lived there. It is sort of like an African American selling black face dolls on the street corner....or as grandfather looks out the window one morning and sees only cardboard Indians that are printed with digital montages of the same romance story a rapist must feel when he violates his victims. And something is lost. Something that should not be lost. So I am the one who has said that is so. Knowing what I know, I could do no less. The Taos Pueblo people have no rights to ask the questions I have asked. That is not right. It is dangerous. Much is being lost every year.

There are some sweet and strong voices, quite a few really...voices never heard by the media which brodcasts out the video, music and stories of the world. Voices that are contained within what the Ahnishinabeg call the eight-sided character. People who have an eight-sided character are apparent.

At the end I realized that at this moment in my life, there are several colossal assholes on my mind that I feel I need to say or do something about. Realizing this took me aback I should say. Quite a bit. I had to question why this was so, and why now? because so much of my work is about the sacred ceremonies, the fires and the songs, and the dreaming I try never to be pre-occupied with the social politics of the Indians or the Waiting World (by which I mean the rest of all of you). It is never a pretty picture. Who likes being the cop on duty calling out the gangsters who make victims out of all of us? I was left with a real feeling, a strong emotion in my spirit that I felt I needed to take some time aside from the ceremony and say these things. I have a feeling that it is time to consult the ways and means of the coyote school of accountability. I do it every day when I awaken and stand on the morning earth and sing to the earth and sky.

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