I was raking my pea sized brain for something meaningful to post on the Blog when someone emailed me with this inquiry. As I was replying it occurred to me that this is a great source of interest to a lot of folks who simply do not know what to do about their natural need to know more about First American culture and what they might do as individuals to help correct the incredible wrongs being done to them by the white culture.
It has also occurred to me that many uneducated non- native people now think they have no further responsibility to the native community because all Native people are rich due to the fantastic riches provided by the gambling casinos! I am here to say this. These casinos by and large are being run by what we native people call Red Apples. Red on the outside, white on the inside. They are anything but traditionals and you by now know a traditionals opinion of a nontraditional First American.
These casinos are benefiting but a very few people and the rest of us are not or will not glean any benefit from ill gotten gains from a Non – Native community activity. In addition these casinos are only located in a select few locations and most of the native people live far away in areas that barely support the local wildlife to say nothing of supporting a large enough community of people to benefit a casino. On top of that in states like Montana , gambling is legal so there are as many corner gambling parlors as there are corner convenience stores making it all but impossible for a casino to survive.
So on to the question posted by this interested person:
“Hi, I am not a Native American but have always been interested and respected your ways as Native Americans. I was born & raised In London, England but my Parent's are Irish. I’ve been in the United States now for just over 5 years. Is it possible I could join some kind of Native American organization? I love the way you people are so wise and your prayers and the respect for the earth and people and Animals are wonderful. I would be honored if I could become part of your Native American ways. Thank you.”
Oki - First I must welcome you to the US. We hope that you bring more happiness than you seek.
In the First American world there is no "organization" other than possibly AIM that you could join. AIM "American Indian Movement" is a semi radical organization that after the incident at Wounded Knee has had their guts torn from them by the US government and now is simply ineffective as any kind of source for change in the US.
If you find any organization that claims its purpose is Native based you can bet that if you look at the originators, you will find a non native person at its inception. So much for any validity!
First Americans are a very reserved group of people by and large and do not organize for the benefit of non natives. This is not to say however that if you approach your cause in a correct way to the native people that they will not let you in. But it's a show me what you can do society where you have to prove yourself to them with not only right intent but also right action. There is no way to do that but to move close to them, become involved in their daily life and in some way provide a better way of life for them than what you found them in.
This does not mean learning and performing their rituals which any Tom - Dick - or Harry can do but it does mean, helping them in their daily fight for survival in some way. Do for them what you do for your own family and you will have instant friends for life. Otherwise you’re just another white man to them wanting to steal their culture.
Aho - Two Feathers
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
To Be or Not to Be First American
All through my life I have found myself caught in the conundrum facing both First Americans and folks of foreign nationality concerning blood quantum and its relationship to the right to claim membership in the First American community.
We get from the Native community opinions ranging from a complete welcome into our world for anyone who shows an interest to Keep Out signs from others who scream "if you’re not Full Blood you’re not First American."
While I understand the mindset of a person who makes such a claim, I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone can do so and also lay claim to their place in the Native Community in any kind of traditional manner! Again one must understand that I respect and recognize traditional people, and I would even say that if you’re not a traditional Native American you need resign your membership in your tribe and apply for membership in the white community which is where you belong.
Why do I say that? Because in the world that I belong to living traditionally is the correct way to live given that it has been the way of our people for thousands of years, and having supported us for so long a time as human beings coexisting within our environment without destroying it ever, is the correct way to live. Especially given the fact that in the white man’s world where one lives out of harmony with life, the environment responds in a very negative way to a very selfish and mindless grabbing of anything not tied down.
While it is true that First Americans are among those who are the keepers of a wisdom that most of Western so-called civilization has forgotten or chosen to disregard, being a wisdom keeper does not mean clutching the treasure to your breast muttering white man style, "mine, mine, mine!" It means that we have been put in a position to give! That according to the laws of Creator, we are in fact under an obligation to share!
What I am driving towards is that to live in a traditional manner is to live in a very spiritual manner – you simply cannot have one without the other. When I talk spiritual I am not talking religious which is a very different thing. Religions follow the doctrines and dictates and interpretations of other men who claim to have an in with Creator that none of the rest of us have and a belief that without those others to interpret the Word of God we would be forced into paganism and live without proper guidance. This specifies that there is a common understanding among all people who follow a religious life that most of us do not have the capability to think for ourselves and need to follow the Ego driven dictates of another human being who is susceptible to the same stupidity that the rest of us are.
I’m sorry, but that kind of life is for those who are simply too lazy to get off their suffocating mindsets and do their own work on themselves. It leaves them open to suffering the same fates as their parents and grandparents into oblivion. It is a sorry state of affairs to look at where we are now as a society and be presented with the sudden realization that we haven’t improved the way we interact as a society for thousands of years. We are still dealing with the strong beating up the weak, global conflict and hate for us emanating from our children.
If you are a Spiritual person you have a better understanding of your responsibility to yourself to live a very different life than those who allow others to tell them how to think. You understand that your place in the world is dictated by how you interact with others – with life and all its inhabitants. You understand the consequences of the lesson of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"! The ethic of reciprocity or "The Golden Rule" is a fundamental moral principle which simply means "treat others as you would like to be treated." It is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights.
Once you follow this principle as a spiritual person you understand there is no difference between you and say a white person or a black person or yellow or any color. You understand that we are all in this together to help each other as best we can and to try to make life a bit easier for others! You understand that the lessons given to us by Creator are not something to be owned by any one ethnic community to be summarily doled out at the behest of any single entity but that they are to be shared equally so that we all have equal opportunities to progress and develop with the help of our social partners.
If you understand this principle of sharing and how Creator defines its use, not your brother or mother or tribal chief, you understand that you cannot be the wall that blocks another from finding how beautiful life is in all its simplicity! You understand the value of sharing your sweat lodge with another or the beautiful experience of the Pipe as you give thanks to Creator for all the friends you have and all the wonderful experiences you have that you want for your bother or sisters no matter their color.
As do all of us, I have a very special spiritual mentor who said a long time ago – "We are all in this together. We all have a common goal and that is to find our way back to the Light of Creation. Until we all get there – none of us can." That means we must share and help each other no matter what our walk in life is. It does not mean that any one of us get to pick and choose who we allow in.
It is worth remembering that in many Native traditions, be they First American or Aboriginal Australian or Greenland Inuit or whatever, peoples all over the world have called themselves by names that would translate into simply The Human Beings or The Real Human Beings. What this tells us is that the real issue here is not about being a First American but simply whether you are a Real Human Being or not, irregardless of blood quantum or skin color or place of birth!