Saturday, April 21, 2007

 

"Religion" And Indigenous Peoples


“Religion” and Indigenous Peoples

Prior to columbus washing up onto Great Turtle Island (misnomer “western hemisphere”), Indigenous Red “Indian” Nations and Peoples lived beautiful Ways of Life in harmony with nature. Their daily lives were not divided or separated into the categories of “time, work, play, religion, vacation.” As prevalent within the societies exploiting the world’s people and resources today, governmental ‘control’ creates discontent, unhappiness, fosters alcohol/drug use and a desire to escape responsibility and reality through such ‘escapes’ as “religion.”

There was no word in Indigenous languages for “clock” in 1492, as there was no want or need to be controlled by “time” when people were truly free. Summer and fall food gathering and drying allowed for a warm, plentiful and joyous winters for Indigenous Red Nations prior to the columbus invasion. There was no stress such as those present in today’s world; paying the rent, lights, and gas bills, worrying about the safety of the children getting run over by cars, falling victim to abuse and neglect.

It remains true that the Nakota (N/DN/D/Lakota; misnomer “Sioux”) Nation did not have a religion. The Nakota language is free of the words “god” or “prayer.” However, crying - a sincere ‘from-the-heart’ offering of thanksgiving and appreciation to Grand Mother Earth and Grand Father Sky is a true aspect of Indigenous spirituality.

Before columbus or the slave owners and suicide-committers “Clark and Lewis” came to the northern great plains region, the DaNakota had no prior belief in a “religion” or that an “invisible man in the sky watched their every move” and “might send them to a miserable, hot place forever” if they didn’t “believe in him” or follow a book allegedly “written by him” (but that the invisible man “truly loved them”).

An example of Nakota “thanksgiving/appreciation” exercises a ceremony of the Sacred Canunpa (misnomer “pipe/peace pipe”) called “Hanble Ceya” or “Crying For A Vision At Night”; also known as “fasting on a hill.” An individual is left free from all other human contact for at least one complete night and day (oftentimes four nights and four days) - naked, without food or water - with only the sacred hide of an animal like the Ptehcaka “Buffalo” Robe to sit upon and a sacred Eagle Feather or Canunpa in hand.

The Hanble Ceya allows an individual to begin to understand and appreciate water, food, shelter, and all the great gifts of nature afforded to humankind upon the sacred Unci Maka “Grand Mother Earth.” The Canunpa ceremonies insure respect for Earth and Sky and prevent those who practice from any desire to exploit the sacred Grand Mother.

It is believed that all races of human kind lived “like Indians” ten thousand years ago, with their personal hunting/gathering responsibilities met by each individual, respect of sacred fire place – living with nature, without the controls of one man over another. But there was a major (and quite successful) attempt 10,000 years ago to rid the world of the understanding that the Earth is “Grand Mother Earth”. At this time, money, greed, domesticated animals, land ownership and religion were invented. This negative, male-dominating system is known as the “pyramid hierarchy system”. In 1492, this terrible system contaminated the eastern shores of Great Turtle Island and spread across the country like a terrible plague.

Ignoring and disregarding Grand Mother Earth – the overall disrespect of the female gender – is crucial for the existence of the destructive “pyramid hierarchy”, which systems are today “led” by kings, presidents, prime ministers, chairmen, chiefs, dictators, gods, and other male figureheads. The denial of Grand Mother Earth is used to facilitate the exploitation and abuse of the “global object.” To make way for exploitation of resources and power over the masses by a few greedy ones, Grand Mother Earth must become an object, a “globe”, a mere “planet.”

Many “Sioux Indians” have been forced into “christianization” as attempts to occupy their land and gold reserves (and now coal) have been taking place over the recent 150 years. Many were manipulated into believing in a “god” or a male “higher power.” This plays into the religious sanctioning of greed and exploitation.

In the Lakota language there is no word for “god”, so “great spirit” or “tunkasila” (the Lakota word for “grandfather”) was implemented as such among “christianized Indians.” Most don’t even realize this oppressed condition exists within them, as even today many Lakota claim to be “traditional” and separate and distinct from the “white man”, yet they still pray to a “god/tunkasila” – embracing the foreign, alien concept.

The “religious” issue is a touchy subject because many remain in the learned “denial” mode and must “justify” their dysfunctions so as not to be “shattered” by reality. Many get “angry” when they begin to hear the truth about their situation, instead of being open minded and willing to always learn and grow at any age as they proceed, hopefully, towards wisdom.

The Nakota were satisfied and appreciated Nature and all of the Great Mystery. They did not have to try to dissect or study the molecular structure of a blade of grass or warm summer breeze to be content and to try to find themselves or the meaning of life.

They often say people “need an education.” Yet it is believed that the best education is experienced from nature and the wisdom of the old people and new born babies.

There remains, however, an understanding among a few regarding the importance of balance within Indigenous communities through the recognition of Grand Mother Earth and Grand Father Sky, which make up “Wakan Tanka” – the “Great Mystery” (“All That Is”).

Many Indigenous Peoples today Cry For A Vision for which to help their people and practice the ways of the sacred Canunpa. Ceremonies occur daily across Great Turtle Island by sincere Indigenous Peoples trying to make their lives better. Imagine how strong these will become once they became total exercises of thankfulness and appreciation to Grand Mother Earth and Grand Father Sky, instead of thoughts and requests in honor of a man-made “god.”

Remove “god” To Regain Health

Another key factor remains untapped which will insure the health of the Nakota. The Ihanktunwan DaNakota Nation (“Yankton Sioux Tribe”) is the last remaining band of the Nakota who have managed to preserve and maintain “Oyate Omniciye”, Nakota for “Circle Meeting of the People”. Through Oyate Omniciye governing (called “General Council”) all adults of the Nation, both men and women – all with equal voice - gather to discuss and take action upon a particular subject, with the final decision becoming the “supreme law of the land.”

In 1934 congress adopted an illegal “Indian Reorganization act” which removed females from the governing circles of most Indigenous Nations and replaced their legitimate democracies with male dominating, puppet governments who now dictate to their apathetic citizenry.

Oyate Omniciye is true democracy, where the people rule. Practiced in its true form, it insures balance, contentment and happiness within family, community and, therefore, nation. It is a daily life practice or exercise of male and female balance just as is the Canunpa and the balance afforded once the bowl and stem join together for one of the Seven Sacred Ceremonies.

Participation in open, female-inclusive, religion-free Canunpa Ceremonies and active participation in Oyate Omniciye are crucial to Nakota wellness. Hopefully someday soon great pilgrimages will take place as the “Tetunwan” Lakota bring tobacco offerings to an Ihanktunwan Oyate Omniciye Meeting and ask for guidance as they begin efforts to reestablish their ancient, traditional Oyate Omniciye’s within each of their communities back home.


“Wal-Mart in the Sky”

To many Indigenous Red People, the store chain known as “Wal-Mart” is considered “Indian Heaven.” In the past, great herds of Elk and Buffalo served as the Indian’s “Wal-mart.” Today, they are forced to shop at wal-mart.

Mocking the ignorance of american belief in a fantasical “god” thing, the Lakota would say “Happy Hunting Grounds” – meaning they thought it ridiculous to hunt on this earth, then go to “heaven” only to “hunt again?!?!?” What would be the big difference? The intent of the term “Happy Hunting Grounds” reflects the belief by the Lakota that this life is sacred and the earth and all of nature must be respected and viewed as holy.
False claims of a “heaven” or “hell” only create controversy, judgment of others by their fellow human, lead to great crusades and wars for the exploitation of labor and resources and keep “believers” ignorant to reality.

It is ironic that simple things are replaced with technical nonsense. When a person views the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie or the U.S. Constitution, they may or may not believe it – yet it is a real document and actually exists. However many who don’t believe in the documents can believe in an instant in a fantasy “man in the sky” who made everything and who watches over each and every one of them. Selective beliefs in fantasy find psychotic individuals harming nature and other life forms – backed by their “higher power” beliefs. The ludicrousness of thinking in wayward minds about something so totally outside the realm of all reality is a great concern to the natural world, which remains in jeopardy and danger because of it.

“With closed minds, the truth may sometimes hurt – but the truth must be told.”S. Charles Bartay, 2007

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