Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Live and Learn

Sacred knowledge, archived in aboriginal cosmologies, begins with long, careful observation. This keen awareness is honed by trial and error, discussion and reflection, as well as vision and insight.

An example of a first step toward sacred knowledge is the relatively recent scientific discovery that all things are connected. I remember the revelatory delight of a neighbor who returned from a summer nature school with her daughters, telling me about the connections abundant in the ancient forest where they'd camped.

Understanding that this insight is merely the trail head of a long path to wisdom, allows us to be persistent and patient, knowing that one has to pace oneself as well as make many choices along the way. Seeking regular guidance is also a good idea.

Once a critical mass of knowledge and understanding has accumulated, it is wise to document and archive this information for others to make use of. Given the state of the world, we don't have the luxury of starting from scratch.

One civilization that has taken this task seriously is Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico. Zuni Pueblo protector societies meet regularly to discuss threats to their social harmony and well-being, and develop means of guarding against poisonous ideas -- be they economic, emotional, intellectual, medicinal, physical, political, or spiritual.

The Zuni means of preservation of memory of these tools of survival are recorded in their architecture, food, pottery, and regalia, enabling them to adapt and endure without sacrificing their core values.

For those of us who are relatively new to this continent, I find this instructive in the need to develop our storytelling through art, ceremony, dance, oratory, and ritual, if we, too, are to adapt and endure. In a simple sense, we need to live and learn.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Reverence requires that you have some self-discipline, and you pull yourself back and wait for another entity or power to establish a relationship.

—Vine Deloria, Jr. (Lakota)

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Plight of Guam

Indigenous Chamoru activist Julian Aguon discusses the plight of his homeland as a US colony. The people of Guam, who are non-voting US citizens, are preparing for the impact of a major military buildup on their island already contaminated from 67 nuclear detonations by the United States in the Marshall Islands. Guam is one of 16 non-self-governing territories remaining in the world despite international human rights law.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

An Indigenous Invention

Democracy is an indigenous invention.

--Jay Taber

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Nature v Progress

Friends of Peoples close to Nature chronicles the ongoing invasions of Fourth World nations by modern states and transnational corporations. The forum for 'friends of Peoples close to Nature' is a movement of groups and individuals, concerned with the survival of tribal peoples and their culture, in particular hunter-gatherers. As the first and last societies on earth to have a non-exploitive relationship with the natural world, their task is to help them preserve their unique cultures from enforced assimilation, alien religions, the ideologies of 'progress' and 'growth' and absorption into the global economy.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Promoting Bigotry

With the recent Canadian government apology to First Nations in the news, the fact the US government has yet to even consider such a conciliatory gesture is striking. Three summers ago, our Ioway colleague at Idyll Opus Press took a look at Ayn Rand Institute, one of the think tanks promoting Anti-Indian bigotry in the United States. Later that year, racism as philosophy was the subject of seminars held for American Indian youth. Preparing intellectuals for this war of ideas is a responsibility indigenous protector societies view as a fundamental responsibility.

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