Category: Original Caretakers

CEE November Update – Join us for Forest Defenders, Original Caretakers Events & Hudson River Panel

Dear Friends,

Karenna Gore and CEE’s Herbalist in Residence, Poppy Jones, were joined by the Dogwood Alliance for a walk in the woods at NY City’s Van Cortlandt Park this fall.  Please enjoy Stories Happen in Forests‘ video, “Finding Faith in the Forest” giving you a window into their time together and a deep spiritual connection to the woods. The Dogwood Alliance is dedicated to reminding us how both magical & critical to our survival our Forests really are.

Join us and these heroic #ForestDefenders in building a powerful movement to protect our sacred forests. Learn more about their amazing work!

In Gratitude,
The Center for Earth Ethics Team

 

Join CEE this Month


Indigenous Timekeeping
and Sacred Sites Workshop

with Mindahi Bastida and Geraldine Patrick
Nov 17th, 2018, 11:30 am to 2:30 pm

Developing a Time-Space Consciousness
Activating Sacred Sites
Writing a Letter to our Beloved Home Landscape

THE RUBIN MUSEUM
150 West 17th St.
New York, NY 10011

Climate Change from the Perspective of Religious Traditions

“Indigenous American Religious Traditions and a ‘Wholistic’ Ecological Vision” with Karenna Gore, Mindahi Bastida and Geraldine Patrick

Sunday, November 18th
11:15 am – 12:15 pm

ALL SOULS CHURCH, NYC
1157 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10075

 

Sunday Scholars Panel: The Hudson as Life Force

How has the River been changed by us,
and how have we in turn, been changed by it?

Paul Gallay, President of Hudson Riverkeeper, moderates
with Karenna Gore, John Waldman, David Schuyler & Lee Bitsoi
Nov 18th, 2018, 2:00 – 3:00 pm, RSVP Required

Co-Hosted by Hudson Riverkeeper and
the Hudson River Museum

HUDSON RIVER MUSEUM
1511 Warburton Avenue
Yonkers, NY 10701

Mindahi Bastida joins International Gathering of Indigenous Leaders and Artists

Commemorating the First Anniversary of the
Return of Mungo Man

A Choice for PEACE Awareness

Grandmother Maria Alice of The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers is sending a message of peace and awareness for what is going on in her home country of Brazil, and asks for your prayers at this crucial time.  Her plea calls us all into a place of conscious choice.

————————–———

A CHOICE FOR PEACE AWARENESS

As a woman, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother my choice is for peace, for life and for the respect of all lives.

At this moment, I share this message to all who can hear me, and to Brazilians in particular.

We are facing a serious scenario that challenges the inner harmony of people, both personally and socially. The beliefs and convictions, and the physical, emotional and mental stability of people are in jeopardy. We are facing threats and counter-information. In the media there is no longer any control over the truth of what is being reported. What is going on is referred to as a “democratic process”, but that is not what we are seeing or experiencing. There is a violent power connected with international groups’ interests and greed, which is creating an obscure atmosphere intended to manipulate our choice. Most simple people are confused, frightened and disoriented believing in false news and in false promises.

At this point we are challenged to make a choice and this choice will define the future of our nation and our people, impacting our children and nature. It will even influence the whole world. We need to be really aware. We cannot act under pressure or impulse. We must meditate seriously within ourselves, within the inner temple of our hearts. Do we want weapons? Do we want torture? Do we want inequality? Will we condone racial persecution? Or do we want peace and freedom? Is it possible that guns, torture and brutality can serve to bring us peace? I think history has already proved to us that the answer is NO. The more weapons, the more suffering, the more hate, the more revenge, the greater the consequences for everyone. Why should we believe in the illusion that a weapon gives us power when we can believe in the power of love of a brother and sisterhood?

Whatever spiritual path we choose to follow, we learn that we are all in the likeness of the same Creator. That the light that shines in me also shines in every being of Creation. When this light is given the opportunity to shine in each one, it is then that we will know freedom.

Freedom teaches us the responsibility of our choice. If we are free and we choose evil, we will reap the fruit of this action. If we choose weapons, one day we will be hit by them. If we choose the destruction of the Amazon, we will be responsible for the drought all over the planet, not to mention the extinction of thousands of animal lives and plant species that hold great medicinal power. If we choose to withdraw the right of the indigenous peoples to their lands, we will be annihilating the guardians of life and the natural richness of our planet; furthermore, we will be diminishing our roots and our ancestry.

When our choice affects the collective, then our responsibility is even greater. We must step with calmness and maturity, for if we act impulsively we can fail. The question is, do we choose peace or violence? In this moment we are being confronted with such a choice. Such is the gravity of our situation. If we choose to be neutral we are also deceiving ourselves. Neutrality here is an illusion. The one who thinks he is being neutral is also responsible for the result of the collective choice.

This choice seems political, but it is not. A deeper and more decisive choice is at hand. Are we going to choose to be human or are we going to negate our humanness? If we are human, we need to embrace our diversity, those who are most alike and those who are different. Everyone has the same right. Therefore, if our choice affects the rights and freedom of the other, our rights and freedom will also be affected.

Time now puts us before a great opportunity to develop and grow our consciousness. We must act with awareness. Not react. Do not act on impulse or by pressure.

My awareness as a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, teaches me to act with love and respect for all creation. We are all different, yet in all of us there is a longing for good, a longing for peace. Sometimes the disappointments that we go through in life create calluses in our feelings, and that may create reactive behaviors. We become rigid and disconnected from the original longing of our heart. But if we are calm, and if we learn to deepen the yearning for the child that dwells in each of us, surely we will find the choice for peace, happiness, freedom and respect for the beauty of nature and all of life.

I invite all of you to unite now around this great alliance for good, for brother and sisterhood, for the respect of our lives, with all its differences, and be a pillar and an instrument for love.

MAY ALL BECOME AWAKENED IN PEACE AWARENESS!!!

Grandmother Maria Alice Campos Freire, Brazil

Reflections on the Conference on the Doctrine of Discovery

By Petra Thombs

Attending the conference on the Doctrine of Discovery, provided an opportunity to deepen our collective understanding of these edicts, which are based on the Papal Bulls issued by the Catholic Church in the fifteenth century.

I find that I always have to start at the beginning in discussing this because knowledge of the Papal Bulls and the Doctrine of Christian Discovery are not a part of our American conversation regarding the ills of our society. They should be, as they are directly relevant to our hierarchical structure; these edicts determine who rules and who is subjugated. We are constantly thinking, talking, acting in a vacuum, not knowing how our society was formed. Those who are activists struggle with gaining a foot hold into making change, without ever knowing how we got here in the first place.

My constant thoughts are why do these failing ideals of freedom continue in the land of the free and the home of the brave? Why are me and mine left out of the picture of prosperity when my ancestors’ enslavement actually built this country’s wealth? And my other ancestors were the first and only ones here before the age of discovery, but now, are dispersed, landless and drained of our language, history and culture? Why do we continue to be a part of the vulnerable masses who could lose everything and actually have nothing? Many of us do not /cannot claim who we are for fear of social retaliation. We have been told to remain separate from ourselves. That, of course, has been to our detriment.

The directive given in the first such Papal Bull, Dum Diversas, in 1452 to King Alphonse of Portugal by Pope Nicholas was to go into west Africa and: Invade, capture, subdue, and vanquish all pagans, Sarsens and enemies of Christ. They were to be put into perpetual enslavement with their lands land and possessions given to the Crown.

Thus, began the colonization of Africa, and the enslavement of Africans, forty year before Columbus, so we can see why he felt so disposed to enslaving the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean islands.These “marching orders” would leach into the mindset of European monarchs, who using the Papal bulls as a base, who moved onto non-Christian lands and claimed them for their own.

Another Bull, Inter Caetera, issued by Pope Alexander VI, written in 1493, with the influence of Columbus, was instrumental in creating Spain’s monopoly in the conquest of the “New World” and established the infamous “line of demarcation”. It further stated that any lands occupied by non-Christians were available for exploitation by Christian nations, as long as no other Christian nation had claimed it. (It is important to
note that “Christian” became synonymous with white, fitting into the ideology of White Anglo Saxon supremacy.)

In our United States, Thomas Jefferson, declares in his Notes of the State of Virginia, that the “infant United States” follows the lead of Christian European nations in exercising the actions directed in the Doctrine of Christian Discovery. I find this particularly interesting that the author of our constitution, a proponent of our liberty from England, proposed that this infant nation take the example of subjugating nations to dominate sovereign peoples. This Doctrine lives throughout our laws, particularly in our claim to indigenous lands, even the claim that these lands are vacant of people- as the people are not Christian and therefore, not white.

Other foils are used to perpetuate the charge of a righteous cause. The bible is used – particularly Genesis – to emphasize our right to have dominion over the land. Exodus is used to justify taking land belonging to other people and claiming the “promised land” for one’s own. These orders have been used to severe sovereign nations from their land, giving them only the right to occupancy and not the right to ownership over resources of their ancestral lands. As far back as Johnson v. McIntosh,1823, (“that principle of discovery gave European nations an absolute right to New World lands.”) and as recent as Ruth Bader Ginsberg v Oneida, 2004, specifically citing Genesis, everything for the Doctrine of Discovery to the creation story has been used to justify the US taking resources from other sovereign nations.

Manifest Destiny was desired by George Washington and put into action with each administration, until finally, non-white people are removed through genocide, from their land. As laws serve to govern and build this nation, attitudes serve to support the leanings of the government, in order to justify these actions. These things would not and could not take place without the consent of the governed. What would justify taking land away from people? What would justify genocide of people? You first have to believe that these are not actually people or that they are somehow less than you and not worthy as you are. The thinking and actions which created the Papal Bulls of Dum Diversas as carefully fed to the populace. They worked hard to teach the populace that “the only good Indian was a dead Indian”, that this country should be blessed for “sea to shining sea.”, and if they were poor, “at least they were not Black”. They were to be a part of carrying out these edicts, these marching orders of the monarchs of Europe and the faithful of the church.

Our conversation in the conference brought about how the Doctrine is experienced in our daily lives. We are still impacted by Dum Diversas, we are still invaded, captured, subdued, vanquished. In prison, we are put into perpetual enslavement. Many of us do not belong there.  We are placed in prison for petty crimes no white person would be arrested for or we are held because we could not afford bail. We are subdued into ghettos, reservations-ghettos, and held in poverty. We are continually subjugated by trauma from boarding schools where we or our relatives were abused. Our culture was taken away and the bond to our families and communities broken. We are punished for speaking our language. We are racially profiled, we are mocked and murdered, our women are kidnapped, raped and disappeared. We are held in alcohol and drug induced prisons. Often these things were brought and forced upon us and now we struggle mightily to escape them. Our lands and waters are poisoned by
industry, our people succumb to cancer and die.

Today as we walk into stores to be served, we know we are not welcomed. We are demonized in our character and our culture. The country still does not find it offensive to use caricatures of us as a symbol of their football team. It is as though we are dead, just as society has orchestrated. But we are here and we are not going anywhere. It is time for a change. It is time for white Americans to realize that our way is the way to renew the earth that has been damaged through industrialization and pollution to our planet.

As we move forward and expect for Rome to rescind the Papal Bulls, we ask our allies, have you, can you reflect on the attitudes, biases you hold which emanate for these same papal bulls? It would be ludicrous to think that these ideologies which permeate every aspect of our life in this country does not affect our relationships with diverse communities. The United States is a segregated society, this makes it difficult for individuals to hear and acknowledge those outside of their usual sphere.

Micro aggressions abound. What in our conversations and /or actions dominate? What can we do to rescind our habits, turn the tide and become more respectful of others? We have to let go of our prejudices, our fears, our sometimes invasive and insulting remarks about our hair, skin, or clothing, or having to justify our right to our homes, job and /or positions, which many POC find offensive. We have to acknowledge that POC want to have conversations regarding race relations as we live the negative impacts almost daily. Whites will ask, “Why are we still talking about this? Aren’t we over this?” or say, “I am not responsible for this”, despite benefitting for it. It is not merely truth and reconciliation; we have to prime ourselves for actualizing a change in the power dynamic. If we are ever to live up to this country’s creed of liberty and justice for all, then we must begin this work. The time is now. Let us rescind the Doctrine of Christian Discovery which we have internalized. Our next step is to talk about equality, what it really looks like, what it really sounds like, then act to make it so.

***

Taking on the Doctrine of Discovery Conference

Organized by the American Indian Law Alliance & the Indigenous Values Initiative

Aug 18 at 9:00 am to Aug 19 at 1:00 pm

Skä·noñh—Great Law of Peace Center Liverpool, NY, ONONDAGA NATION TERRITORY

Prayer of Thanks for Creation

Leader :    Let us pray.

 

Thank you, God,

Thanks for beauty:

The twinkle in an older person’s eye,

A child’s shout of laughter;

Thanks for the greening trees and frozen waterfalls,

Stunning buildings and flowerbeds in summer.

All:    Thanks for beauty.

 

Thank you, God,

Thanks for creativity:

The skills of the tapestry weaver,

The imagination of a web designer;

Thanks for bakers and dancers and crossword compilers,

For spiders’ webs and city murals.

Thanks for creativity.

 

Thank you, God,

Thanks for abundance:

For seeds and raindrops,

For grains of sand and infinite galaxies;

Thanks for seagulls, plankton and shoals of mackerel,

For wriggling worms and golden dandelions.

Thanks for abundance.

 

Thanks for your world, God,

And for our part in it.

Thanks that you are a maker,

And that you made us makers, too.

 

Help us to love creation as you love it,

To take risks to value it as Jesus did,

And draw us into the wildness and wonder

Of your Holy Spirit

Today and every day.

Amen.

***

E-Liturgies and Prayers on Creation from the Iona Community

Celebrating the Season of Creation 

Image: Navajo (Dine) pictorial rug with Spiderwoman emerging from the center of the earth and emerging into the Middle World, as per the Navajo Creation tale, with stylized spiderwoman crosses represented throughout the textile. From Marcy Burns.

 

Letter to Pope Francis

This summer, Mindahi Bastida traveled by invitation to the Vatican to attend a conference organized by Cardinal Turkson titled “Saving Our Common Home and the Future of Life on Earth”The conference brought together indigenous and young activists, scientific experts, religious leaders and Vatican officials to assess the impact of Francis’ 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”

While there, Mindahi was able to meet Pope Francis and deliver him a letter by hand. The letter requests the following:

  1. To announce your support for our initiative to protect and restore sacred sites in the world.
  2. To give back to Indigenous Peoples the sacred objects and artifacts that are in possession of the Vatican and to support our demand to Nation States in this regard.
  3. To rescind the historical Papal Bulls, affecting indigenous peoples lives and territories.

You can read the full letter below

——

The Spirit is love

Protection of Sacred Sites in the World

Indigenous Peoples around the World are the caretakers of Mother Earth. It is the time of the New Dawn, it is time for the acknowledgement of their Biocultural wisdom to protect life and we need to pay respect to their spiritual and material sustainable practices.

Biocultural diversity and biocultural heritage are related concepts that intertwine culture and biodiversity. In Indigenous Peoples’ thoughts and philosophies, culture and biodiversity are interrelated and seen as unity. Precisely, thinking and feeling about the web of life as an interconnection allows us to think and act in a biocultural way of being.

Given the continuous deterioration of life systems of our Mother Earth, it is urgent to restore the most affected places in the world. The Ancestral Sacred Sites play a key role in the restoration of those affected places because Ancestral Sacred Sites are energetic points that elevate the capacity of Mother Earth to restore systemic balance.

Worldwide, Ancestral Sacred Sites are interconnected. This means that they work together energetically and potentiate the capacity of a single Place to restore the balance of a nearby affected area or region.

It is through reciprocity and specifically through ancestral rituals, by offerings and payments, how we as Ancestral Spiritual Leaders can accelerate and assure the healing process.

The proposal of biocultural sacred sites for humanity (Spiritual Reserves of Humanity) before UNESCO is crucial when we understand the connection between conservation and spiritual and cultural practices of indigenous peoples. We are presenting this initiative in order to strengthen and protect our territories and sacred sites and to mitigate the effects of Climate Change worldwide with emphasis in indigenous Peoples’ Territories.

We kindly request Your Holiness and the Vatican:

  1. To announce your support for our initiative to protect and restore sacred sites in the world.
  2. To give back to Indigenous Peoples the sacred objects and artifacts that are in possession of the Vatican and to support our demand to Nation States in this regard.
  3. To rescind the historical Papal Bulls, affecting indigenous peoples lives and territories.

In gratitude and deep respect,

Indigenous Peoples Representative in the Vatican City, July 4, 2018.

Mindahi Bastida (Otomí-Toltec, Mexico)

Mindahi Bastida Muñoz: The Meaning of Life and Earth’s Sacred Elements

Excellence Reporter is conducting 1000+ interviews on the topic: What is the Meaning of Life?

In a time of so much turbulence and seemingly insurmountable challenges, this project is dedicated to inspiring awakening and insight.

Contributors to the site include author Rev. John Dear, activist Bill McKibben, yoga innovator Ana Forrest, Fr. Thomas Keating, Nyikina Traditional Custodian of Western Australia, Dr. Anne Poelina, and Arun Ghandi.

CEE’s Original Caretakers Program Director, Mindahi Bastida, also participated.

Read Mindahi Bastida’s full contribution here…

Excellence Reporter is also collaborating on the Charter for Compassion and with Compassionate Cities working towards meeting UN Sustainable Development Goals.

***

 

Eagle and Condor Curriculum: A Visit to the Yánesha, Indigenous Peoples of Central Peru

The sky was black and beautiful. The stars shone above like glistening guardians of the night. Guided only by fire light, we scaled the Amazonian hillside. I yearned to take my shoes off and so I did. I wanted the soles of my feet to touch the silky, black soil that nourished the rainforest all around us. I wanted to plant myself to the land, like hundreds of different tree species do, so silently and wise. Constellations spoke stories to our skin and I felt alive with gratitude, joy and amazement.

The leaders of our pack—The Yánesha Indigenous Peoples of central Peru—guided us to a beautiful rock outcropping that they have prayed to for generations unknown. The medicine man of their community made offerings of tobacco, hoja de coca, smoke, and beautiful words. “Abuela. Abuelo. No queremos oro ni plata. Queremos la vida,” he pronounced to the night. “Grandmother, Grandfather Stone. We want neither gold nor silver. We want life.” I shuddered with joy and pride, that I could be a human among this human…a human among these humans. Then, one by one, he invited the souls who came to join him to stand before the sacred stone and share their heart’s dream. A collection of Peruvian students, professors, and local community members offered their sincere words to the rock, to the soil, to the sky, to the plants, and to the spirits that held us in a cradle of beauty.

Finally, the people of the North, the people of the Eagle, stepped forward to state their cause and plant a promise of support at the side of their Condor relatives. Dr. Greg Cajete, of Santa Clara Pueblo. Jacquelyn Cordova of the Diné nation. And myself, a mixed blood of Diné, Cheyenne and other bloodlines. We came forward to give our songs, the precious words of our language, our deepest prayers to our Yánesha relatives who took us in so graciously. The sacred pipe of the Plains People was laid on the ground before the stone and co processes that would be appropriate for the creation of our own lessons and units. We were determined to design language curricula that effectively taught the youth how to speak our dying languages.

There was a lot of emotion to this process. For 500 years, all of our nations had been told, over and over, that our cultures were inferior to the rest of the world. For many of us, we had come to believe this was true. And so even though we yearned to spend time in the communities, ceremonies, pedagogies and learning styles of our people, many of us felt as if it was not enough. We had come to believe that in order to have success we would have to play by the rules of the ruling class. For instance, many of us believed we would have to teach in secular, university settings to be real teachers and to teach real things.

Dr. Cajete and I sought to shatter this illusion. We spoke stories of our own experiments in community education. I told them about how I organized 100 Diné elders, children, parents and teenagers to create our own summer school. I talked about how we devised the curriculum ourselves in a liberated space. I showed pictures of all our classes which included lessons in weaving, traditional foods, land restoration, traditional architecture, philosophy, sacred songs, botany, yoga, moccasin making and other topics that were important to us. I showed them how we didn’t ask for any government permission to do this and did not adhere to any state education standards. I showed them how my community members, some of whom did not even graduate high school, created entire plans of learning that were implemented with incredible success.

I showed them how our education doesn’t have to be like Western education. It can be intergenerational, instead of age-stratified. I showed them it can be communal, instead of individualistic. I showed them it can occur outside, instead of in fluorescent lit rooms. I showed them we can share the work of teaching with all the students, instead of positioning ourselves as the only experts. I showed them we can learn through doing an activity instead of reading about it. I showed them we had more than enough knowledge and cultural metaphors to be effective educators in our own right.

After my presentation, I had the extreme honor and privilege of working with a group of Yánesha educators as they devised their curriculum. We followed the Zais model as explained to us by Dr. Cajete and outlined every facet of the teaching plan. They decided they would teach the Yánesha language to their people through “La Siembra,” or the traditional practice of planting seeds and growing forests. They decided that their tribal values and paradigms would guide the process and the vocabulary would arise from words needed and used while planting. About 8 of these professionals engaged in vivacious discussion about how it would all go down. I felt joyous to see that they were connected to each other and to their work. Our prayers planted just one night ago were already being answered. What a blessed time it was.

I am home now. Back in the deserts of my people in what is now known as the Southwestern United States, but what I know as Diné Bikeyah. I love the way the sun shines and the sand beams. I am a long way from the lush forests of Amazonian Peru, the land of Yánesha brothers and sisters. And yet, a piece of me still lives with them and I have carried the lessons they bestowed on me. I am deeply honored to have had this miraculous and magical opportunity to board a steel bird, fly across Turtle Island, and establish kinship and solidarity with the people of the Condor. And what a smile I get when I realize that this is just the beginning.

In case you missed it: CEE Update

“We don’t practice con-sci-ence, we practice consciousness, because the former is a state of mind that slices reality into pieces,” says Tiokasin Ghosthorse.

Dear Friends, Thanks to so many who joined us for this event.  Here, where we exist in a shared consciousness with the water, the fire, our ancestors and with each other.  We sit in presence.  We experience together.  “We don’t try to explain mystery, we live in the mystery.”

The Center for Earth Ethics is honored to continue our partnership with Author, Tiokasin Ghosthorse (Founder, Host and Executive Producer of First Voices Radio) exploring perspectives which reach deep into the heart of an emerging consciousness that is both ancient and new.  We are called home until we understand, “Mother Earth misses us.”

Aliou Cissé NiangNew Testament faculty at Union Theological Seminary, offered reflections beautifully weaving in indigenous perspective from his native Senegal, West Africa.

Watch the Panel Discussion Here

~ The Center for Earth Ethics Team ~



Original Caretakers & Sustainability and Global Affairs

Mindahi Bastida-Munoz spoke at the Indigenous Peoples Round Table at the WUF9.

Indigenous Peoples’ Voices at the World Urban Forum 9, UN-Habitat

Roberto Borrero and Catherine Coleman Flowers at Beyond GDP: Lessons from Indigenous Cultures and Faith Traditions.

Field Ed Reflections: CEE’s Beyond G.D.P.


Partners in Education, Community and Justice

Close to three months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, many Puerto Ricans are struggling for survival and fighting to remain, reclaim, and rebuild. Many of their struggles are related to a climate crisis fueled by a legacy of colonization and extraction. As the crisis continues unfolding,  #OurPowerPRnyc is a community-led initiative working to build a Puerto Rico recovery designed by Puerto Ricans. Learn More.


Contribute to the Work of the Center for Earth Ethics


Field Ed Reflections: CEE’s Beyond G.D.P.

Beyond GDP: Lessons from Indigenous Cultures and Faith Traditions, SU 190 – KA1
Presented by The Center for Earth Ethics & Karenna Gore
Friday, February 2, 1:00 – 6:00 pm; Saturday, February 3, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Course Description: This class will focus on the flaws of current economic measurements such as Gross Domestic Product and the ways in which Indigenous cultures — along with voices from faith communities— are contributing to alternative ways of measuring the success and well-being of a society. Topics to be covered include the UN Sustainable Development Agenda, the impact of colonization on the bio-cultural heritage of Indigenous peoples, the conflict at Standing Rock, the Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, and the role of religion in development policy.

***

Reflection:

I don’t believe that there is a single person on this planet who isn’t aware of the climate system’s change. I fully include so called climate deniers in this as well because even they have to go outside and wonder why they can leave their homes, on many a winter day, in nothing more that a light jacket. Most are aware that something is just not right, that the coming days will bring forth even more uncertainty in weather patterns. For a majority of the world, however, this uncertainty is something they are already living with every day-this is the reality of the most vulnerable in our society: the poor For it is the capitalist project which has brought us to this crisis, and it is through its exploitative and violent nature human suffering has increased alongside Mother Earth’s ecological degradation.

The course went by the name, Beyond GDP: Lessons from Indigenous Cultures and Faith Traditions. Prior to attending the class, participants were sent a short reading list which included excerpts from “Laudato Si”, an article from the acclaimed scholar and activist Vandana Shiva, and a beautiful collection of articles and testimonials written from the perspective of Indigenous people advocating for their rights, as well as sharing the great Original Wisdom which still guides them today.

With around 30 participants, the class was a great mixture of students, religious leaders, professors, activists, farmers and herbalists, and lawyers. We were also blessed and honored by the presence of members from the Ramapough Lenape Nation- Chief Dwaine Perry and Owl Smith. Upon opening the class with a ritual presenting the four elements, C.E.E. Director, Karenna Gore, invited us all to introduce ourselves and ask that we share our names, a product which we depend on most, as well as, something within greater creation which we feel most connected to. It was incredibly powerful to witness the palpable feelings of joy and wonder we all associated with our non-human family.

Bipasha Chatterjee: Environmental Economist, Hunter College; Board of Directors, Energy Vision

Just as powerful, were the presentations. Karenna started the discussion by bringing forth the idea that capitalism and our globalized obsession with the gross national product index is greatly failing us all. The next presenter was economist and professor Bipasha Chatterjee who was able to pass on to us a great deal of information about how our global economic system works. For me, however, the most inspiring part of her presentation had to do with introducing us to the many alternatives uses of measuring value. My favorite definitely had to be the Gross Happiness Index used in Bhutan. Dr. Chatterjee explained that with this new system, Bhutan may be one of the poorer nations of the world monetarily, but it was also the happiest country in the world.

Ken Kitatani: Executive Director, Forum 21 Institute

Ken Kitatani gave the following presentation, in which he introduced the UN Sustainable Development Goals emphasizing how the global community is coming together to create a better future.  We were asked to take into consideration the people who might feel excluded by such an agenda-particularly indigenous communities who have no interest in developing within the capitalistic confines which very much inform the SDGs.

Dr. Geraldine Patrick Encina offered the final presentation of the day, bringing to the forefront Indigenous People of the Americas and the wisdom of original peoples, highlighting their cosmology, traditional way of life, and deeply rooted connection with all of creation. It was moving to hear her reflecting on the to groups of people she is connected to, the Mapuche of Chile, and the Otomi of Mexico. It was wonderful to hear about these tribes both maintaining their traditions, as well as, the challenge they have had in having to reclaim and relearn customs and practices which had been lost upon the “first contact”.

On day two, Roberto “Mukaro” Borrero was the first to present, and spoke about Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Being a member of the Taino Tribal Nation, Dr. Borrero brought forth the perspective of Indigenous people who continue to resist settler colonialism, and its predatory ways. One highlight of this presentation, I believe, was the time taken to talk about the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and the struggles they endured against the Dakota Access Pipeline. That moment, Dr. Borrero argued, could serve as the perfect reason Indigenous people are so in need of their rights. What happened at Standing Rock was not only about a building a pipeline, it was about protecting the water and land which, to the Standing Rock Sioux, was sacred and worth protecting at all costs. To add, Standing Rock was a moment in which, twenty-first century Americans had to grapple with the reality of what it means to disregard and dehumanize Indigenous Peoples. Granting rights to indigenous people is not only a matter of symbolism, it is necessary in order to save lives.

Roberto Múkaro Borrero, Taíno artist, historian, musician, writer, and storyteller, sits with Catherine Coleman Flowers, CEE Director of Environmental Justice & Civic Engagement

Next, Catherine Flowers gave a presentation on what was happening in her community in Lowndes County, Alabama. She talked about the terrible sewage conditions so many residents are dealing with in addition to other ecological crises affecting the health of residents there. Into this conversation, Catherine also challenged the participants to think about what other factors, beyond capitalism, might have caused this reality for the people of Lowndes County. Racism was also an incredibly powerful force in this oppression which allowed politicians and public servants to ignore the demands for help by the people of Lowndes County, and other similar communities dealing with public health crises. The G.D.P. index does not help these people, and worse, it requires, and only benefits from, their continued suffering.

The last presentation was given by Adam and Shaily Gupta Barnes. Sharing reflections about their time in the Peace Corps, the two talked about the rural farming community they worked with in Niger, West Africa, and the sustainable farming being practiced despite such vicinity to the desert. Additionally, the two presented on the work they are engaged with in the Poor People’s Campaign. Led by Rev. Dr. William Barber II, the movement was highlighted as a moral revival for America. An opportunity to this nation to reflect upon ourselves, especially after the 2016 election, and commit ourselves to a way of being less focused on greed and power, and more focused on the Revolutionary Love Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was so passionate about.

It was a jam packed two days, with so much to take away and reflect upon. For myself, the biggest take away was the realization that we must divorce ourselves from capitalism as well as the greed and over consumption that comes with it. We must be willing to recognize the rights of Indigenous people, and more importantly, we must be willing to learn their earth centered practices we have forgotten as we have attempted to perfect civilization. With scientists constantly reminding us of how dire everything is, I am very appreciative of this class for making me be self reflective on the ways in which I am complacent within this system. The urgency is very real, and I am so very grateful for the space this class opened up for us to become aware of solutions which have already been working on a small scale, and must be adopted – for the fate of all of creation.

By Katilau Mbindyo, Field Ed for CEE

 

 

Eagle and Condor Consciousness: Three Thinkers in a Native Way

Please enjoy the Program Description and Video below.

February 21, 2018
7:00 – 8:30 pm
Union Theological Seminary
James Chapel
3041 Broadway
New York City, NY 10027

The “Original Caretakers Program” of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary; The Contemplative Alliance, an Initiative of the Global initiative of Women (GPIW); and the Lake Erie Institute invite you to this groundbreaking event.

Background  This program grew out of a series of GPIW sponsored dialogues with Native Americans. It will be the first in a series of programs offered throughout the country intended to bridge the gap between Western anthropocentric consciousness and indigenous holomorphic (holistic) consciousness by offering non-natives an opportunity to listen in as Natives speak to each other in their own terms about how they experience the natural world. Pilot dialogues of this kind have demonstrated their power to break through anthropocentric (human centered) categories of thinking to seeing ancient perspectives that address the critical issues facing Mother Earth and humankind.

Eagle and Condor Consciousness:
An Evening with Three Thinkers in the Native way.

The North Dakota Standing Rock prayer resistance in 2016 brought the world’s attention to an invaluable perspective, that Native Peoples have a bond not with the human race but the with living Earth.  Over thousands of years, the dominant mode of human consciousness became the one we see today: technologically adept and increasingly self-absorbed—an anthropocentric or human centered consciousness that left behind a holistic mode of consciousness that was equally humanity’s endowment. The building of hierarchical and object-based “civilizations” with all of its glories and horrific conflicts came at the high cost of a steady loss of our holistic consciousness with its spiritual connection to nature.

The good news is that humanity’s holistic mode of consciousness is still active among Indigenous Peoples and may now be reemerging from its millennia-long obscurity. In the last year, for example, Indigenous groups have begun to form an alliance of Natives across the Earth in an effort to heal the devastation being wrought by anthropocentric “development.” For millennia, indigenous people throughout the world have lived in ways that maintained a balance between human life and the life of all other beings. Over time, as various cultures became more and more anthropocentrically (technologically, hierarchically, object-ively) oriented, they have disrupted that delicate balance. The environmental and ecological movements have emerged in reaction to the disastrous effects of that imbalance but have continued to apply an anthropocentric focus and anthropocentric solutions. They have largely ignored the holistic indigenous wisdom that maintained the balance between ourselves and the earth for tens of thousands of years.

This event will be a dialogue among three Indigenous thinkers whose lives are deeply rooted in traditional Native consciousness, but who are uniquely qualified to share that experience and express to the anthropocentric consciousness what a person experiences of the world as whole and interrelated. The audience will have a unique glimpse of this “holomorphic” consciousness. One of the three describes this dialogue as a process: “Wherever the spirit goes, that’s what it is,” and dialogue will happen after “we ask the Earth what she wants us to discuss.”

The holistic or holomorphic consciousness engaged through their traditional cultures is different in quite important ways from the holism found, for example in Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism, Christian mysticism or many reported altered state experiences. The audience will discover their own parallels as they listen to Natives talk about THEIR holistic consciousness without immediately “translating” what they’re conveying into categories of what we know or think we know.

The dialogue will explore such subjects as ceremony; the “I” as “the we” way of thinking; awareness of balance and blessing; awareness of the consciousness of all beings including those beings that anthropocentric thinkers have defined as inanimate—such as water and stone—or have defined as lacking consciousness such as trees. In this time of environmental and psychological crisis for the “developed” world, Native voices and Native thinkers bring, in their presence and outlook, calm reflection and healing wisdom to an agitated and unbalanced world.

In the past few years, some non-Natives have begun to listen to what the Indigenous people have to say to us, their “younger brothers and sisters.” Their perspectives go to the heart of a potentially awakened and emerging consciousness that is both ancient and new. Three exceptionally qualified individuals representing different indigenous cultures join in sharing their experiences and traditional wisdom.

With Reflections by:  Aliou Cissé NiangNew Testament faculty at Union Theological Seminary and native of Senegal West, Africa.

Tiokasin Ghosthorse (Lakota), Cheyenne River Lakota Nation of South Dakota. Tiokasin is a survivor of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs Boarding and Church Missionary School systems designed to “kill the Indian and save the man,” and the “Reign of Terror” from 1972 to 1976 on the Pine Ridge, Cheyenne River, and Rosebud Lakota Reservations. He has a long history of Indigenous activism and advocacy. He is a guest lecturer at many universities and international speaker and on Peace, Indigenous and Mother Earth perspectives, cosmology, ecology and forestry and perspectives on the relational/egalitarian vs. rational/hierarchal thinking processes of western society. Tiokasin is the founder, host, and executive producer of the 25 year-old “First Voices Radio”, a weekly one-hour live program syndicated to 70 radio stations in the US and Canada. (www.firstvoicesindigenousradio.org)  Tiokasin was awarded Staten Island’s Peacemaker Award in 2013 and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 by The International Institute of Peace Studies and Global Philosophy. He serves on boards of several charitable organizations dedicated to bringing non-western education to Native and non-Native children. He is a master flute-player and teacher of magical, ancient and modern sounds. He has performed for audiences worldwide. A Sun dancer in the Lakota Nation tradition, he describes himself as a “perfectly flawed human being.”

Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz (Otomi) is currently the Director of the Original Caretakers Program in Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York and General Coordinator of the Otomi-Toltec Regional Council in Mexico, a caretaker of the philosophy and traditions of the Otomi-Toltec peoples. He has been an Otomi-Toltec Ritual Ceremony Officer since 1988. Born in Tultepec, Mexico, he holds a Doctorate of Rural Development from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico. He has written extensively on the relationship between the State and Indigenous Peoples, intercultural education, collective intellectual property rights and associated traditional knowledge, among other topics. He has been coordinator of Postgraduate Academic Studies for Peace, Interculturality and Democracy, Universidad Autónoma Indígena de México (2014). He was advisor of the Provost of Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Unidad Lerma (2010-2013).  Director of Sustainable Development Division, Universidad Intercultural del Estado de Mexico (2004-2010). He also has been or is consultant of the UNDP, UNESCO, UNEP, IISD and other international agencies. Mindahi is also deeply involved with the Biocultural Sacred Sites for Humanity, an Original Peoples Proposal, to be presented to UNESCO. He is working in the Process of Unification for the Latin American and the Caribbean Region that was initiated in Sierra Santa Marta by the Kogi and the spiritual authorities who participated there in 2013.

Geraldine Patrick Encina (Mapuche descent) is a third-year Scholar in Residence at the Center for Earth Ethics, member of the Otomi-Hñahñu Regional Council in Mexico and an in-depth researcher of the ancestral ways of conceiving and measuring cycles in Mesoamerica. She understands why the Otomi and Maya chose 2012-2013 as the time for the closing and opening of big cycles. Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina is a member of the Otomi-Hñahñu Regional Council in Mexico, and a professor of ethnoecology. Born to Chilean parents of Celtic and Mapuche origins, Geraldine received her doctorate in ethnoecology and social sciences from El Colegio Mexiquense, A. C. in 2007; she also holds a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences. She has been a visiting professor in Honduras and Argentina, and held faculty positions at several Mexican universities. Her research focuses on archaeoastronomy and cultural astronomy, particularly on ancestral and current ways of measuring and conceiving time and natural cycles in Mesoamerica, especially among Maya, Nahua and Otomian cultures. Geraldine brings extensive knowledge about the astronomical underpinnings of religious celebrations among Mesoamerican cultures. She analyzes the implications of Catholicism in current spiritual practice in Mexico and Guatemala, explaining how and why syncretism has worked for them in the past five hundred years.

Moderator for the Dialogue
John Briggs is a Connecticut State University Distinguished Professor of Aesthetics and Creative Process, author of Fire in the Crucible and Fractals, the patterns of chaos, Metaphor: The Logic of Poetry, and Seven Life Lessons of Chaos, among other books focusing on the subjects of creativity, Chaos Theory, and new scientific theories of wholeness. He holds a PhD in aesthetics and psychology from the Union Institute. John and Robert Toth of the Contemplative Alliance are currently at work on a book that explores the possibility and necessity of awakening the ancient holistic consciousness still active among many traditional peoples as a foundation for addressing the climate crisis and repairing our current cannibalistic relationship with the natural world.