Category: Justice

Restoring Brigid, Restoring Justice

Shannon Michaela Doree Smith for Women of the Water. Updated February 28, 2021.

 

“We sing a song to Brigid

Brigid brings the spring

Awakens all the fields and flowers 

And calls the birds to sing…”

In the rekindling of the sacred fires of early Christianity, a Celtic Christianity that was not afraid of earth based traditions, we pause at the cross quarter days of Imbolc to welcome Brigid – Goddess or Saint – as she brings spring back to the land.

Brigid (Brigit, Bhride, Brighid, Bríd) as Saint is Patroness of Ireland, she is also a triple Goddess figure of a pre-Christian time. She represents the aspects of Irish traditions and culture encompassing blacksmithing, animal husbandry, hospitality and justice. She holds the teachings of the elementals and of alchemy from the forging of iron and shaping of tools to the forging of words, philosophy and humanity into poetry.

There is much to learn from the history of the Irish and Irish American people’s experience having been colonized on their own soil by the British; then emigrating, persecuted and punished; then assimilated into western ‘American’ culture. Similar to other colonized peoples such as those indigenous to “the Americas” and “Australia”, the Irish, despite being white bodied, were subject to beatings and humiliation in their post-colonial schools if caught speaking their native language. Their skulls were measured, some on their heads and some stolen from graves, by British researchers in an attempt to prove the Irish as the ‘missing link’ in evolution between monkeys and black bodied people. When the British came to Ireland they burned the trees to enforce their domination. It destroyed the shelter in which the Irish could hide from their colonizers and simultaneously destroyed a cultural connection to the land, terrorizing a free people away from their language and traditions rooted in the trees. For the Irish, their first laws and language emerged from the trees. Brehon Laws were passed to wisdom keepers by oral tradition until the monastic scribes wrote down what they could to preserve them. The Irish language formed from the Proto-Celtic Ogham alphabet where each letter was representative of a species of tree. This system of law and language for many is interwoven with their living indigenous forms of timekeeping which align seasonal, agricultural and archetypal calendars.

Image by Yuri Leitch, author, The Ogham Grove

When the Irish came to the shores of Turtle Island they were leaving under duress fleeing famine and persecution at home. As descendants of Irish immigrants in the Americas many of us learned a skeletal version of the story of the potato famine. But as has been done with other genocides and actions against marginalized peoples, much has been erased from our schoolbooks. For example, many of us were not taught how the English sent food that was growing in the nearly barren soil back to England, starving the poor and the hungry natives while burning their houses and their forests. Some report the most sacred Oaks were cut and used to build the stately homes of the oppressors.

We know that this was not the only instance of colonization enforced through the desacralization of trees as the British had also applied a similar tactic at home. Hawthorne trees, for example, are sacred to the Celts and pre-Celtic nations of many European lands. You will find them commonly beside sacred sites, especially holy wells, as one of the designated ‘guardians’ of these sacred openings into the womb of the Mother. The English co-opted use of the Hawthornes from their place in indigenous culture and turned them into shrubbery used to demarcate property – another design of the dominator culture to enforce ‘ownership’ of the land – a concept both foreign and demeaning to original peoples and their relationship to the land.

During the time of the Great Famine many Irish departed for foreign lands from a place called the Bridge of Tears in the north of the republic near Donegal so named because it was the place where families said goodbye to loved ones making far-away journeys. Those leaving did not know if they would ever be returning home – those staying behind not knowing if they would ever see their loved ones again. Some left for the likes of Australia or South Africa, others to Nova Scotia where Irish communities still exist some co-mingled with Native populations like the Mic Maq on Cape Breton. Some came through the gates of the ‘New World’. Into the twentieth century they may have faced the signs of racism “No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish”, or in London ‘to let’ signs reading “No Coloureds, No Irish, No Children.”

Photo Credit: Hamil Clarke, ‘Two generations. One fight’: Black men talk about their experiences of racism in Ipswich’, ITV

Patrick became the Saint they carried with them – a Roma-British missionary from a wealthy family credited with the arrival of Christianity to Ireland and driving out the snakes. Patrick himself was brought to Ireland initially as a child under capture and ‘found God’. When he returned to Ireland as an adult he challenged the Druids – and drove the earth based traditions into the ground – a story told in the allegory of driving out the ‘snakes’. Brigid herself – Irish patroness, symbol of justice, love for the stranger and care for the earth and all her creatures was largely forgotten. This is easily evidenced by the promotion of Saint Patrick’s Day You can read the online Catholic encyclopedia’s full story on Patrick’s battle against the Druids here. The success of replacing Bhride with Patrick is evidenced easily by the popular parades each March 17th in the US, Ireland and all around the world. It is also noted by oral tradition keepers like John Willmont of Carrowcrory Gardens, stories of more subtle but enduring maneuvers, such as renaming holy wells to shift their dedications and veneration from Brigid to Patrick.

In a time of great upheaval in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and a wholly unacceptable number of black brothers and sisters in the United States, white descendants of immigrants (and sometimes of the original colonizers themselves) have been asked or rather tasked with a sometimes uncomfortable demand – to go back and wrestle with the truth of our own heritage and the sins committed both by and against our ancestors. We are tasked with undoing the inculturation of white supremacy – of all supremacy – to relieve our black, brown, yellow and red brothers and sisters of the burden white supremacy has placed on them. To relieve the burden the doctrine of domination has wrought upon the earth.

White bodied people are told not to culturally appropriate from the traditions of others in our ‘melting pot’ but what – if anything – does that leave?  Shame? An unending apology? Reparations – yes. But if we can look at that shame and make that sincere apology we can begin to retrieve our cultural and spiritual identity.

So this year, begin. Begin by honoring the ways of your ancestors. Begin by not only making relations with the land you are on and the waters where you reside, but also, begin to research to study to understand and even to practice what it was that your ancestors did to offer their gratitude, to pray, to connect to the earth. To honor the cycles and the seasons – just begin.

As social justice innovator Sonya Renee Taylor offers, there are some questions to ask, and a quest to fulfill:

“White people cannot escape the violences of whiteness without reckoning with their history. Without reckoning with their ancestors…The history of whiteness is a trauma on the whole world, and every day people of color have to deal with the trauma of whiteness. The problem is white people have been trying not to deal with the trauma of whiteness in their own lives.

And the only way to do that is to actually go back and heal –

•To heal the relationship with your ancestors

•To grieve the loss of their humanity through their violent acts

•To learn what it was that it made them

•To seek who they were before they became white 

•To see what can be salvaged from that place that is within your own culture 

•and to account for that which was done in harm to gain power.


That’s the only way to move from whiteness…
It is in the cultural mindset of whiteness to figure out how to not have to sit in the discomfort of that history. Be clear I’m talking about an indoctrination in whiteness (not the color of your skin). You actually have to become really clear about how whiteness operates as a system and where it operates as a system. And then the work is to not only remove it from yourself, but to remove it from the systems and structures in the world where it continues to wreak harm.”

Sonya Renee Taylor – Being Assigned White at Birth – Complete Video

 

This is our call to the Both / And. 

Not the both / and that asks us to give equal airtime to the oppressors and the oppressed. This is the both / and of both dismantling the broken system of white supremacy – and beginning to sow new roots in the culture and traditions we have been uprooted from.

Just for today, just for now, remember and recognize that your people, wherever your ancestors are from, they were connected to the earth. No matter how far back you have to go to find it. They prayed with the fire and the water. The forests were sacred. In Ireland, the ‘lawyers’ were the keepers of the wisdom of the trees.

Leave prayer ties out on your tree branches for healing on the night of Jan 31st – Brigid’s Eve. Walk to your well, your river, your stream and make a prayer. Be a Brigid of hospitality to a friend, a family member, a coworker, or a stranger who needs it. Do the work of justice on the inside. Let that guide you in the work of justice without. Be in community. Take care of one another. Alchemize – metal into fire, words into inspirations, poetry into action.

*Author’s Note: Immediately following the original publication of this post, the Irish daughter of a Mother and Baby Homes survivor Laura Murphy penned an Open Letter to the Taoiseach in response to the recent controversial 3,000 page report. In her letter she addresses themes and issues brought forth here, and suggests the designation of Brigid’s Day, February 1st as a National Holiday in Ireland. Her words speak volumes to the loss of Brigid for the Irish and descendants worldwide and to the potential watershed of healing as we acknowledge and repair the trauma of colonization and the ‘perverted’ religious narrative that continues to perpetuate trauma unnecessarily, in lieu of healing both in Ireland and around the world. Please read her letter and support #ExtendtheCommission and #BrigidsDay2022.

You can learn more by watching Ms. Murphy’s Feb 26, 2021 interview with Carrie Ford on One Boat International Chaplaincy for Covid Times. “The Friday Conversation with activist Laura Murphy discloses a terrible history of shame, cover – ups, lost lives, workhouse conditions, silencing, traumatised lives, and over 9000 documented infant deaths in the recent revelations of the twentieth century experiment of social control exercised by the Catholic Church and State in the first century of the Republic of Ireland. And opens up a pathway for healing and hope. Tune in to disclosure and hope.”

Resources:

The Irish Famine: Complicity in Murder, The Washington Post

Saint Patrick in the DIB, Royal Irish Academy

CEE Update and Vote the Earth!

The Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University are launching Vote the Earth, an interactive poetry project connecting place and voice. Expanding on the Earth Stanzas community poem project launched in honor of 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, Vote the Earth draws on the inspiration of George Ella Lyons’ poem “Where I Am From,” and invites visitors to view the short videos and poems on the map and to share their own poetic voice.

Participate

As the election approaches, we invite you to help inspire voters to put their love for the Earth behind the power of their vote – to #VotefortheEarth! In a time when wildfires burn out west, tropical storms flood the Gulf Coast, and we remain in the grips of a global pandemic, many of us seek the healing experiences offered to us by the land. There is no more important time to come together for the climate, ethics, voting and justice. Let’s make our vote count for the places we love – to consider the question of positionality through an ecological lens, giving poetic voice to our forests and our watersheds, invoking their political agency through Ecological Citizenship.In the lead up to the U.S. elections on November 3rd, we offer this platform to map the creative voices of the Earth and ask your networks to help us spread the word.

Full link:  www.vote.earthstanzas.com or click below:

The Center for Earth Ethics is a forum for education, public discourse and movement building that draws on faith and wisdom traditions to address our ecological crisis and its root causes at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

The Wick Poetry Center, in Kent State University’s College of Arts & Sciences, is home to the award-winning Traveling Stanzas project, and is one of the premier university poetry centers in the country. It is a national leader for the range, quality, and innovative outreach in the community.

For more information please contact:

Email David Hassler, Director, WPC

Email Shannon M.D. Smith, Communications Manager, CEE


Center for Earth Ethics Director, Karenna Gore was honored to speak at the Global Vision Summit lifting up the teachings of the Dalai Lama on five concepts as keys to overcoming the climate crisis: karma, inter-dependence, universal responsibility, happiness and compassion. Listen Now.


Join CEE and the Big Shift Global Campaign in telling the World Bank to stop using public money to fund fossil fuel development projects. 



Sign the Petition here:
https://bigshiftglobal.org/world-bank


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Support the Center for Earth Ethics

Environmental Justice for All Act

The Center for Earth Ethics has been participating in the Climate Crisis Policy review of climate bills and legislation for 2021.  This week, CCP discussed the Environmental Justice for All Act.  If you missed the CCP call and would like to learn more about this legislation, you can join the

Environmental Justice for All Act – Improving Lives of Marginalized Communities

Facebook Live Online Tour – Next Stop: Tuesday, Sept. 15 from Los Angeles 1:00 – 2:30 pm ET

Sponsored by Rep. Raul Grijlav (D-AZ) House Natural Resources Committee Chair Rep. Raul Grijalva is leading forums on Facebook Live to promote the “Environmental Justice for All Act,” which he and Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA.) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced. See fact sheet

Grijalva and Rep. McEachin will discuss the impacts that decades of neglect have had on Cancer Alley and how the Environmental Justice for All Act would give community members long-sought legal powers to protect themselves from polluter abuses. The bill was written after a collaborative process with impacted communities lasting more than a year, and has been praised as a new model for preparing legislation.

Event details and links will be made available on Rep. Grijalva’s website HERE.


Join us for the upcoming Climate Crisis Policy review sessions:

Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Wednesday, October 21, 2020

19th Amendment to the Constitution – Women’s Suffrage 100 Years Ago

19th Amendment to the US Constitution — Women Suffrage approved by Congress 6/4/1919, ratified 8/18/1920, one hundred years ago today.

Compiled and shared by Rafael Jesús González, Earth Stanzas contributing poet and first Poet Laureate of Berkeley, CA.


When women’s suffrage was gained in the U. S. in 1920, my mother Carmen González Prieto was newly come to the U.S., not yet thirteen. She did not become a citizen of the United States until 1957 while I was serving with the Marine Corps in Kaneohe Bay, the territory of Hawai’i. Shorty after she died at the age of 86, while I was visiting my brothers in El Paso, I accompanied them to vote; everyone at the voting place asked where Mrs. Carmen González was; they had never known her to miss voting since she became a U. S. citizen. (She always voted Democrat.)
—  Rafael Jesús González
19th Amendment to the US Constitution —  Women Suffrageby Deborah Tutnauer
(2010)

This is the story of our Mothers and Grandmothers
who lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden’s blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of ‘obstructing sidewalk traffic.’

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the ‘Night of Terror’ on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson’s White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their food–all all of it colorless slop–was infested with worms.

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory.. Some women won’t vote this year because – why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn’t matter? It’s raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO’s new movie ‘Iron Jawed Angels.’ It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women’s history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was–with herself. ‘One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,’ she said. ‘What would those women think of the way I use, or don’t use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.’ The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her ‘all over again.’

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn’t our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn’t make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: ‘Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.’

Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party – remember to vote.

(Helena Hill Weed, Norwalk , Conn. Serving 3 day sentence in D.C. prison for carrying banner,
‘Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.’) 

History is being made.

Deborah Tutnauer (2010)

The Declaration of Sentiments
Seneca Falls, New York, 1848
(Source: U.S. Dept. of State)

The Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions was drafted by Elizabeth Cady Stanton for the women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. Based on the American Declaration of Independence, the Sentiments demanded equality with men before the law, in education and employment. Here, too, was the first pronouncement demanding that women be given the right to vote.
Sentiments

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience has shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they were accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of the women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled.

The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise.

He has compelled her to submit to law in the formation of which she had no voice.

He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most ignorant and degraded men, both natives and foreigners.

Having deprived her of this first right as a citizen, the elective franchise, thereby leaving her without representation in the halls of legislation, he has oppressed her on all sides.

He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead. He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns.

He has made her morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master-the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty and to administer chastisement.

He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper causes and, in case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given, as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of the women-the law, in all cases, going upon a false supposition of the supremacy of man and giving all power into his hands.

After depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single and the owner of property, he has taxed her to support a government which recognizes her only when her property can be made profitable to it.

He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration. He closes against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction which he considers most honorable to himself. As a teacher of theology, medicine, or law, she is not known.

He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education, all colleges being closed against her.

He allows her in church, as well as state, but a subordinate position, claiming apostolic authority for her exclusion from the ministry, and, with some exceptions, from any public participation in the affairs of the church.

He has created a false public sentiment by giving to the world a different code of morals for men and women, by which moral delinquencies which exclude women from society are not only tolerated but deemed of little account in man.

He has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his right to assign for her a sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience and to her God.

He has endeavored, in every way that he could, to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.

Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation, in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.

In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule; but we shall use every instrumentality within our power to effect our object. We shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the state and national legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit and the press in our behalf. We hope this Convention will be followed by a series of conventions embracing every part of the country.

Resolutions

Whereas, the great precept of nature is conceded to be that “man shall pursue his own true and substantial happiness.” Blackstone in his Commentaries remarks that this law of nature, being coeval with mankind and dictated by God himself, is, of course, superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries and at all times; no human laws are of any validity if contrary to this, and such of them as are valid derive all their force, and all their validity, and all their authority, mediately and immediately, from this original; therefore,

Resolved, That such laws as conflict, in any way, with the true and substantial happiness of woman, are contrary to the great precept of nature and of no validity, for this is superior in obligation to any other.

Resolved, that all laws which prevent woman from occupying such a station in society as her conscience shall dictate, or which place her in a position inferior to that of man, are contrary to the great precept of nature and therefore of no force or authority.

Resolved, that woman is man’s equal, was intended to be so by the Creator, and the highest good of the race demands that she should be recognized as such.

Resolved, that the women of this country ought to be enlightened in regard to the laws under which they live, that they may no longer publish their degradation by declaring themselves satisfied with their present position, nor their ignorance, by asserting that they have all the rights they want.

Resolved, that inasmuch as man, while claiming for himself intellectual superiority, does accord to woman moral superiority, it is preeminently his duty to encourage her to speak and teach, as she has an opportunity, in all religious assemblies.

Resolved, that the same amount of virtue, delicacy, and refinement of behavior that is required of woman in the social state also be required of man, and the same transgressions should be visited with equal severity on both man and woman.

Resolved, that the objection of indelicacy and impropriety, which is so often brought against woman when she addresses a public audience, comes with a very ill grace from those who encourage, by their attendance, her appearance on the stage, in the concert, or in feats of the circus.

Resolved, that woman has too long rested satisfied in the circumscribed limits which corrupt customs and a perverted application of the Scriptures have marked out for her, and that it is time she should move in the enlarged sphere which her great Creator has assigned her.

Resolved, that it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise.

Resolved, that the equality of human rights results necessarily from the fact of the identity of the race in capabilities and responsibilities.

Resolved, that the speedy success of our cause depends upon the zealous and untiring efforts of both men and women for the overthrow of the monopoly of the pulpit, and for the securing to woman an equal participation with men in the various trades, professions, and commerce.

Resolved, therefore, that, being invested by the Creator with the same capabilities and same consciousness of responsibility for their exercise, it is demonstrably the right and duty of woman, equally with man, to promote every righteous cause by every righteous means; and especially in regard to the great subjects of morals and religion, it is self-evidently her right to participate with her brother in teaching them, both in private and in public, by writing and by speaking, by any instrumentalities proper to be used, and in any assemblies proper to be held; and this being a self-evident truth growing out of the divinely implanted principles of human nature, any custom or authority adverse to it, whether modern or wearing the hoary sanction of antiquity, is to be regarded as a self-evident falsehood, and at war with mankind.

            Elizabeth Cady Stanton 1848

The Spirit is Action: A Call for Justice

Mindahi Bastida, General Coordinator of the Otomi-Toltec Regional Council in Mexico, issued a statement in response to the murder of Maya Traditional Leader, Domingo Choc, in Guatemala. A video of Mindahi reading his response was recorded and can be viewed here. Read the statement below.

The Indigenous Peoples of the world are the ones who care for life and the Earth, our Mother, since time immemorial. It is time to recognize our work and that others recognize it fully. We are the main guardians of Diversity and Biocultural Heritage in the world. The greatest biocultural diversity is found in our territories, and this is thanks to our material and spiritual practices, which are based on the ancient wisdom of caring for life and relating with the sacred.

Our territories and the collective life of our peoples, both material and spiritual, are seriously threatened by the increasing deterioration of ecosystems and territories resulting from neoliberal economic development. It is urgent to halt ecocide and ethnocide not only to protect nature but to protect its guardians. If we want to protect the biological diversity of the world, it is necessary that national and international entities give absolute guarantees of protection to indigenous peoples, and especially to their spiritual and material leaders.

The historical and recent events of assassinations of indigenous leaders throughout the world have being taking place since the invasion of our territories. The Doctrine of Discovery has been in effect for at least 520 years and the colonial process of domination has been, and still is, devastating. Among other acts against life that we witness and suffer daily, we see with horror that those exercising ancestral spirituality in their own right are being victims of practices from the times of the Inquisition.

On June 6, Domingo Choc, Maya-Q’echi, a Spiritual Leader and Traditional Maya Healer, was burned alive in the Chimay Village, San Luis, Petén, Guatemala. A number of Pentecostal evangelicals set him on fire accusing him of being ‘a witch’. They killed him for practicing Mayan spirituality and, as inquisitors, they did it in proclamation of their Christian faith.

This aberrant and horrendous event is not an isolated case, for it happens often in many countries of the world. In Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and in other countries and continents such as Africa, indigenous spiritual and material leaders are assassinated or arrested for who they are and what they do—which is only in benefit of a good life for the community.

Taking into consideration the circumstances that led to this act, we demand Justice in the following terms:
1. Criminal and spiritual punishment to the material authors of the murder of Domingo Choc, basing the criminal punishment on articles 36 and 66 of the Political Constitution of Guatemala which refer to freedom of religion and that recognize the ethnic origin of the nation.
2. Granting of protection to the spiritual and material guardians and traditional authorities of Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala, Central and South America and the World.
3. Establishment of an inter-religious and spiritual dialogue to raise awareness and application of spiritual justice based on religious norms.
4. Investigation of cases related to bioprospection and access to traditional knowledge of medicinal plants in the territories of Indigenous Peoples.

It is time to promote the unification process with dignity, recognizing diversity. We all have rights, and we all have the responsibility, individually and collectively, to promote intercultural and inter-spiritual dialogue.

With respect and self-determination, on day 10 Reed, Zanbatha, Valley of the Moon, México. Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz
Otomi-Toltec
Member of the Alliance of Guardians of Mother Earth
With the support of the Center for Earth Ethics

World Environment Day 2020 – Karenna Gore

Today is World Environment Day. Our nation is going through a painful reckoning with systemic racism and worsening economic inequity, so the “environment” can seem to be a lesser concern. But as many Native American and Black voices have pointed out, ecological, racial and economic issues have always been intertwined.

Consider Donald Trump’s current favorite word: domination. The presence of “white” people in this land began with a theological claim, based on an interpretation of the concept of “dominion” in the book of Genesis. In the mid 15th century, the Vatican issued papal bulls (declarations) that stated that European explorers were on a mission for Christianity to “conquer,” “vanquish” and “subdue” the regions we now know as the Americas and Africa. These bulls explicitly stated that the people in those lands were part of the flora and fauna. This dehumanizing thought system later became enshrined in law as the “Doctrine of Discovery” which was used to justify the taking of land from Native American peoples. You can learn more about this in the book Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery by Steven Newcomb and through the Indigenous Values Initiative.

Donald Trump’s call for domination was paired with a photo op visit to a church to hold up a Bible. This is not just a superficial dog whistle to a racist white evangelical base. It is a desperate grasp at an entrenched and deranged theological tradition that was foundational to our nation.

The marriage of Christianity and empire began with the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine in the early 4th century. This was the driving force in stamping out indigenous Earth-based spirituality (“paganism”) in Europe. The famous essay by Lynn White, Jr.—The Historic Roots of our Ecologic Crisis, argued that this was the defining moment for the trajectory of ecological devastation that he identified as perilous even back in 1967. One thing White does not mention, but many other scholars have (particular in the fields of eco-feminism and eco-womanism), is that this also involved the persecution of the the women who kept the Earth-based spiritual traditions of Europe, and the characterization of the female body as profane and the female mind as inferior. Needless to say, there is plenty of that spirit in Trumpism too.

Our American civil religion, including the notion of “manifest destiny” and the concept of “American exceptionalism” is so secularized and commonplace that many do not see how deeply theological it is. As the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas has brilliantly documented, whiteness is a theo-political construct that was honed over centuries to be an inherently oppositional force against black and brown bodies. You can learn more about this in her book Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God.

In this moment, we must make the connections to theology to understand the deep historic and psycho-social forces that Donald Trump is drawing on. As he blatantly invokes Christianity to dominate people he deems dangerous and unworthy, his administration has also ordered a suspension of enforcement of environmental regulations. What is the number one indicator of the placement of a toxic facility in this country? The race of the people who live nearby. Black children are ten times more likely to die of asthma in this country than white children. There are many current struggles around racial discrimination in the sitings of petrochemical factories, fracking wells, compressor stations, pipelines, incinerators and so on. The toxins from these sites cause respiratory, cardiac and other underlying health problems that also make people more vulnerable to coronavirus. You can learn more about the role of structural racism in health disparities on this Earth Institute blog and also from the work of the NAACP environmental and climate justice program.

The United Nations established World Environment Day in 1972, part of the same wave of consciousness that led to the first Earth Day in 1970, the establishment of the EPA, and the passing of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, all of which are under assault by the Trump administration today.

That consciousness was quickly stymied by the Reagan Revolution. The Reagan Administration’s statement on World Environment Day in 1986* claimed that “Americans turned a nearly unpopulated continent into a prosperous, peaceful, and protective home for 240 million persons” and dismisses the concept of sustainability, not to mention the intrinsic value of nature. It is actually worth reading in its entirety, as a record of the deeply mistaken thinking that got us into the mess we are in. Here is one of many places you can learn more about the diverse and vibrant Native American cultures that were here before Europeans arrived: Nation Museum of the American Indian.

Now is the time to change on the level of cause rather than react on the level of effect. As we mark this World Environment Day, let us examine the thought systems that have been so prevalent they have become invisible. Let us honor those Black and Indigenous voices that have led the way in the environmental movement. And let us continue to sit with the profound meaning and implications of the words spoken by both Eric Garner and George Floyd: “I can’t breathe.” That is the charge of World Environment Day 2020.

Irish help raise 1.7 million and growing for Navajo and Hopi Nations impacted by Covid-19

In a time when many are struggling, and challenged to summon the will to care for those most suffering, a centuries old bond between nations shines a light on human kindness and solidarity. 

Over 1.7 million has been raised so far for the Navajo and Hopi families COVID-19 Relief Fund with thousands of donations over the first few days of May. During the night of May 4th and into the wee hours of the morning hundreds of donations raising hundreds of thousands of dollars poured in with multiple donations per minute. Along with the financial support came hundreds of messages of solidarity remembering the kindness shown to the Irish people by the Choctaw who sent $170 during the Irish Famine in 1847, the equivalent of thousands of dollars, soon after they had gone through their own Trail of Tears. 

**UPDATE: as of 2 pm EST May 6th, the total raised is over 2.6 million dollars.  And the relief fund has expanded it’s goal to 3 million dollars.

**UPDATE: as of 1 pm EST May 11th, the total raised is over 3.5 million dollars.  And the relief fund has expanded it’s goal to 5 million dollars.

This story is being tracked by Naomi O’Leary, Europe Correspondent with the @IrishTimes.

The exchange between the Choctaw and Irish during the Great Famine is memorialized by the ‘Kindred Spirits’ memorial in Cork and in the etchings on the NYC Hunger Memorial.

Link to the thread on twitter: https://twitter.com/mariafarrell/status/1257381654873673731?s=20

Visit the Go Fund Me page to donate and to read the responses from the Irish offering up their thanks for the kindness of Native American ancestors.

Three Headlines that caught our Attention during the Coronavirus spike

In a time when the United States is preparing to brace for the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and struggles to ensure emergency supplies for its citizens, there have been interesting announcements affecting civil rights, earth rights, and indigenous peoples.
BREAKING: The Bureau of Indian Affairs today told the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe that the Secretary of the Interior has ordered that their reservation be disestablished and their land be taken out of trust.

Message from the Chairman: We Will Take Action to Prevent the Loss of Our Land

At 4:00 pm today — on the very day that the United States has reached a record 100,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and our Tribe is desperately struggling with responding to this devastating pandemic — the Bureau of Indian Affairs informed me that the Secretary of the Interior has ordered that our reservation be disestablished and that our land be taken out of trust.  Not since the termination era of the mid-twentieth century has a Secretary taken action to disestablish a reservation.

Today’s action was cruel and it was unnecessary. The Secretary is under no court order to take our land out of trust.  He is fully aware that litigation to uphold our status as a tribe eligible for the benefits of the Indian Reorganization Act is ongoing.

It begs the question, what is driving our federal trustee’s crusade against our reservation?

Regardless of the answer, we the People of the First Light have lived here since before there was a Secretary of the Interior, since before there was a State of Massachusetts, since before the Pilgrims arrived 400 years ago.  We have survived, we will continue to survive.  These are our lands, these are the lands of our ancestors, and these will be the lands of our grandchildren.  This Administration has come and it will go.  But we will be here, always.  And we will not rest until we are treated equally with other federally recognized tribes and the status of our reservation is confirmed.

I will continue to provide updates on this important issue in the coming days as we take action to prevent the loss of our trust status.

Kutâputunumuw;

Chairman Cedric Cromwell
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)


Citing virus, EPA has stopped enforcing environmental laws

The Trump administration says it will forgo a sweeping range of public health and environmental enforcement during the coronavirus outbreak

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday abruptly waived enforcement on a range of legally mandated public health and environmental protections, saying industries could have trouble complying with them during the coronavirus pandemic.

The oil and gas industry were among the industries that had sought an advance relaxation of environmental and public health enforcement during the outbreak, citing potential staffing problems. The EPA’s decision was sweeping, forgoing fines or other civil penalties for companies that failed to monitor, report or meet some other requirements for releasing hazardous pollutants.

Read More…


U.S. Supreme Court Rolls Back Historic Civil Rights Protections In Comcast Ruling

ECONOMIC SECURITY NEWS  03.23,20

WASHINGTON – Today the United States Supreme Court instructed a lower court to reconsider its ruling in a discrimination case involving National Association of African American Owned Media (NAAAOM) and Comcast. The decision issued by the Court weakens the reach of Section 1981, a core provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 – a historic statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and ethnicity when making and enforcing contracts – imposing a burdensome pleading standard on victims of discrimination.

“The Court’s decision imposes a tougher burden of proof that will likely make it more difficult for discrimination victims to invoke the protections of Section 1981 in discrimination cases,” said Kristen Clarke, president & executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “This ruling weakens our nation’s oldest civil rights statute and may shut the courthouse door on some discrimination victims who, at the complaint stage, may simply be without the full range of evidence needed to meet the Court’s heightened standard. That said, the Court has ordered the district court to review its earlier decision to determine whether ESN’S claims satisfy the standard. We will be watching closely to ensure that courts give discrimination victims a fair opportunity to be heard in these cases.”

Read More…

CEE Stands with Wendsler Nosie / Poor Peoples Campaign

Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the new Poor Peoples Campaign said, “I really feel that, in some sense, Apache elder and my brother Wendsler Nosie Sr. is America’s Gandhi in this moment. A lot of our struggles start with lone individuals acting in ways that affect the whole.”

The protection of sacred sites of the original peoples is a moral and ecological imperative.  The United States of America is built upon the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness including freedom of religion, and equal protections under the law. The Center for Earth Ethics stands in solidarity with Wendsler Nosie, Sr. and his commitment to protect and defend the Sacred Sites of the Apache Nation.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

We share with you the story of Wendsler Nosie’s return to Oak Flat, from the Poor Peoples Campaign published by the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice.


Wendsler Nosie Sr. Returns to Oak Flat to Protect Sacred Land from Extraction

On Thanksgiving Day (and National Day of Mourning), former chair of the San Carlos Apache, Wendsler Nosie Sr., left their reservation and began his return to the Apache holy site of Oak Flat (Chi’chil Bildagoteel) in Arizona.

Oak Flat is under threat of destruction by Resolution Copper, a joint venture owned in part by Rio Tinto, one of the largest metal and mining companies in the world. Wendsler, with the blessings of the Apache Stronghold, has decided that he will not leave the sacred site until it is protected, and his tribe’s Constitutional and moral rights to religious freedom are respected, even if it means losing his life. National Co-Chair and President of Repairers of the Breach, Rev. Dr. Barber, along with Rev. John Mendez, Rev. Dr. Robin Tanner, and Ms. Yara Allen were present as he started this journey home.

Sign the petition today to protect this sacred land.

Oak Flat
Wendsler Nosie Sr. returns to the sacred site of Oak Flat.

STEVE PAVEY

In the Apache tradition, the waters at Oak Flat are the source of all life. Generations of Apache have come to pray for thousands of years at this most holy site. After years of unsuccessful negotiations and a corruption scandal that landed an Arizona Congressman in prison, Resolution Copper was given the rights to mine Oak Flat as part of a last-minute rider that then-Senator John McCain added to the 2014 Defense Spending Bill. To process the copper ore, the proposed extraction would use 6.5 billion gallons of water annually — as much water as a small city — which would then be polluted with sulfuric acid. These operations would replace the holy ground with a gaping crater, two miles wide and one thousand feet deep.

The only thing standing between Resolution Copper and the mining rights they have already been granted is an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS must be certified by the federal government before private companies can begin mining public lands. During the required public comment period on the EIS, Wendsler argued that, while the environmental impact of this proposed project would be devastating, the bigger issue is in fact religious liberty.

In a joint statement with the current San Carlos Apache Chairman Terry Rambler, Wendsler wrote, “the Oak Flat Draft Environmental Impact Statement does not address the current religious significance and the value given to Oak Flat by the Apache people, Yavapai people, Aravaipa and many others…Native American Religion has been excluded from the areas of concern and value.” However, the U.S. Forest Service has refused to consider the Apache’s religious freedom claim in its EIS.

DC
Wendsler Nosie Sr. with Rev. Dr. Barber in Washington, D.C. before setting off on his journey.

Two weeks ago, Wendsler and a delegation from the Apache Stronghold went to Washington D.C. to meet with the U.S. Forest Service and deliver the statement of his intent to return to Oak Flat. They were joined by Rev. Barber, Rev. Theoharis and a delegation of multi-faith clergy.

signal-2019-11-28-092531
Rev. Dr. Barber, Wendsler Nosie Sr. and Rev. Mendez on the day of Wendsler’s departure.

STEVE PAVEY

Rev. Dr. Barber was introduced to Wendsler seven years ago by Rev. Mendez, who has been engaged with the Apache Stronghold for over twenty years. Since then, they have built a relationship across faith, race, issues, and geography, to find common ground in this sacred and moral struggle.

Wendsler is a member of the National Steering Committee of the Poor People’s Campaign. Along with a delegation from the San Carlos Apache, he joined the December 4th, 2017, official launch of the Campaign in Washington D.C. And in June 2018, following a sacred journey connecting with indigenous people across the country, the San Carlos Apache joined the Campaign in Washington D.C. for the 40 Days of Action. There on Capitol Hill, Vanessa Nosie, Wendsler’s daughter, spoke to the conditions they had witnessed on their journey.

AS-in-DC-June-2018
The San Carlos Apache joined the Poor People’s Campaign in Washington D.C. for the 40 Days of Action last year.

STEVE PAVEY

The Poor People’s Campaign now calls on all of the people in our movement to support the Apache Stronghold in their struggle for religious freedom and the right to their sacred lands at Oak Flat.

In Rev. Barber’s and Rev. Theoharis’ words, “As Christian ministers who are committed to the freedom of religion for all people, we call on all people of faith to stand with Wendsler Nosie and the Apache Stronghold before it is too late. To preach the resurrection of Jesus is to proclaim that no one and no one’s tradition must be crucified for the greater good. We can protect the waters, protect Oak Flat, and still have enough resources for every family in this land to flourish. The history of terrible violence this nation has committed against indigenous people from the Trail of Tears to Standing Rock is a reminder that the apocalypse Nosie goes home to face is a real possibility. But it is not a necessity. We pray Americans will act to show genuine gratitude for the original stewards of this land and their religious freedom. We join our brother, Wendsler Nosie, in the call to save Oak Flat.”

 

Support this critical struggle by signing the petition and please consider making a donation to the Apache Stronghold at this pivotal moment.