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.

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