Category: Original Caretakers

Climate Underground – Interview with Sioux Chef, Sean Sherman hosted by CEE Director, Karenna Gore

About

Sean Sherman is one half of the founding duo that is The Sioux Chef behind Indigenous Food Lab in Minneapolis, MN.

Indigenous Food Lab is an education and training center that will serve as the heart of NATIFS’ work establishing a new Indigenous food system that reintegrates native foods and Indigenous-focused education into tribal communities across North America. We envision a future of developing and supporting Indigenous kitchens and food enterprises in tribal communities, bringing cultural, nutritional, and economic revitalization across North America! Learn More at www.natifs.org.

 

Karenna Gore is the founder and director at the Center for Earth Ethics.

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. Learn More at www.centerforearthethics.org.

 

With many thanks to Climate Underground 2020!

One Word: Sawalmem – Lifting up Indigenous Voices on Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Lifting up Indigenous Voices on Indigenous Peoples’ Day – Recommended by CEE Senior Fellow, Catherine Coleman Flowers

Check out this beautiful preview shining a light on the sacredness of life we all share and the importance of including indigenous voices in education and academia.

Learn more about this project and others at Micro-Documentaries.com.

Released in March 2020, One Word Sawalmem was a finalist in the short film program of the Tribeca Film Institute, and has been selected for and won awards at 20+ festivals in Argentina, Bolivia, Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, India, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the US.

Directors Pom and Natasha have been invited to speak at a number of events including UNESCO’s International Congress on Indigenous Languages in Cusco Peru, NY Climate Week, UC Berkeley, Cornell University, California College of the Arts, the Sunray Native American Elders Gathering, middle school classrooms and youth leadership groups.

Our next public screening + sharing circle will be on October 15: you can register here.

If you would like to screen One Word Sawalmem at your school, university or organization please contact us here.

Tlazocamati: Fuego de amar / Tlazocamati: Fire of Loving

   Tlazocamati: Fuego de amar

(al modo nahua)

Traer las cuatro banderas
(la roja, la amarilla, la negra, la blanca)
y las cinco cuentas (de piedra verde, de oro,
de pedernal, de obsidiana, de barro)
a esta altura no es fácil.
Se marchitan la flores,
se desgarran las plumas,
se gasta el oro, se astilla el jade.
Se ponen las banderas
al este, al sur, al oeste, al norte;
en el centro se arreglan las cinco cuentas.
Se celebra la ceremonia,
se hace la penitencia,
se abre, se valora el corazón.
Se alza la flor y el canto,
se dan gracias a la vida.
La Tierra escucha.

© Rafael Jesús González 2020

10 octubre 2020


 

   Tlazocamati: Fire of Loving

     (in the Nahua mode)

To bring the four flags
(the red, the yellow, the black, the white)
& the five beads (of green stone, of gold,
of quartz, of obsidian, of clay)
to this height is not easy.
The flowers wilt,
the feathers are tattered,
the gold is worn, the jade chipped.
The flags are placed
to the east, the south, the west, the north;
in the center are arranged the five beads.
The ceremony is celebrated,
penance is made,
the heart is opened, appraised.
Flower & song are raised,
thanks is given to life.
The Earth listens.

~ Rafael Jesús González

October 10, 2020

 

Rafael Jesús González

Born in the bicultural/bilingual setting of El Paso, Texas/Juárez, Chihuahua, attended the University of Texas El Paso, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, & the University of Oregon. Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing & Literature, taught at the University of Oregon, Western State College of Colorado, Central Washington State University, the University of Texas El Paso, and Laney College, Oakland where he founded the Mexican and Latin American Studies Dept.  The first Poet Laureate of Berkeley, CA.

Contributing poet for Earth Stanzas, Earth Day collaboration between the Center for Earth Ethics and Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University and our upcoming project on the theme “Where I am From.”

Visit Raphael’s Blog Spot

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

Mindahi Bastida and Tiokasin Ghosthorse join other indigenous voices contributing to National Geographic Corona Virus Coverage

Traditional indigenous beliefs are a powerful tool for understanding the pandemic

Native American spiritual leaders say this is a time to recalibrate for a better future.

Read the complete article at National Geographic online – May 12, 2020

***

‘Blood memory’

For indigenous people, history plays an unavoidable role in interpreting the pandemic. One elder from Michigan called Joseph to talk about how difficult it’s been for her to care for herself and her family. After some reflection, the woman realized why: She was weighed down by thoughts of the smallpox epidemic that had killed so many Native Americans. She felt she needed to forgive the U.S. government for intentionally giving her people the illness.

While documentary evidence that Europeans or Americans purposely spread smallpox is scarce, there’s little doubt that colonizers brought infectious diseases that killed an estimated 90 percent—some 20 million people or more—of the indigenous population in the Americas. “Even though we may not have been alive in the time of the smallpox epidemic, that’s in our blood memory,” says Joseph, “just as historical resiliency is also in our blood memory.”

Those deeply rooted experiences can lead to acceptance, especially among elders. “They have been through so much and experienced so much that there’s no need to fear or even panic,” says Tiokasin Ghosthorse, the Stoneridge, New York-based host of First Voices Radio and a member of the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation from South Dakota. “It’s almost like this [pandemic] is familiar.”

As such, indigenous communities aren’t dwelling on the pandemic’s backstory. “Indigenous peoples don’t always need to go and explain what happened, why it happened,” says the Reverend David Wilson, a Methodist minister in Oklahoma City and member of the Choctaw Nation. “We just know it’s there.”

“We’re taught not to think of nature as separate,” explains Ghosthorse, and that includes COVID-19. “The coronavirus is a being,” he says. “And we have to respect that being in an ‘awe state’ and a ‘wonder state’ because it has come to us as a medicine” to treat spiritual ills.

Lessons for the future

While this pandemic is presenting an opportunity to find meaningful ways to connect, it’s also a wake-up call with important lessons for the future. “If we don’t learn from now,” warns Mindahi Bastida Muñoz, general coordinator of the Otomi-Toltec Regional Council in Mexico, “then another thing, more powerful, is going to come.”

Bastida, who is also the director of the Original Caretakers program at the Center for Earth Ethics in New York City, says the world is out of balance and that anthropocentrism—our human-centric outlook—is the cause. “We think that we are the ones who can decide everything,” he says, “but we are killing ourselves.”

It doesn’t matter where the coronavirus came from, says Mindahi Bastida Muñoz, a member of the Otomi and Tolteca people in Mexico who is sheltering with friends in Granville

… Read More PHOTOGRAPH BY JOSUÉ RIVAS, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

“Mother Earth is saying, ‘please listen,’” adds Joyce Bryant, known as Grandmother Sasa, the Abenaki founder of a healing center in New Hampshire. “We have to care about others. You know, the grass, the trees, the plants, the air, the water—all are extensions of ourselves. And they teach us.”

“Living in harmony with Mother Earth is a lot of work,” says Bastida, but it can be done by reviving the indigenous idea that humans serve as caregivers of nature. He’s working with spiritual leaders across the world to return to the old ways—producing food by hand, finding medicine in plants, animals, and minerals, and performing rituals and ceremonies that send prayers to Mother Earth.

Perhaps the biggest lesson that indigenous spiritual leaders hope people will take from the pandemic is that it’s a time to be still, to reflect, and to listen to elders. Both Joseph and Wilson likened this period of stay-at-home orders to a long winter, when people would traditionally stay inside and listen to stories. According to Joseph, it’s like Earth is saying “not today, humans, you need some more reflection.”

‘We Hold the Earth’ Interfaith Climate Prayer Earth Day 2020 – Mindahi Bastida

“We greet All Our Relations and All Our Relations means based on the sacred elements of life.

We greet the fire, the air, the earth and the wind.  We human beings are the reflection of the sacred elements and we are circumstantial to the Mother Earth.

We pray for Mother Earth to stand up with us in these critical times of anthropocentrism.

We are facing bio-cultural crisis and we as human beings we need to remember who we are, why we are here on this planet that we call Mother Earth.

We need peace.

But also, we need also to make peace with Mother Earth.

We want to come together. We want to work together. And we need to come together in order to overcome this crisis, this civilizational crisis that is killing life.

We pray for Mother Earth and the sacred elements to help us and stand up with us.

We have come the problem but we can be the solution.

We ask all the spiritual leaders, the spiritual leaders around the world, that we have a lot of work to do in order to conserve life.

Because we came to this beautiful planet to take care, not to take over.

We call attention to all people even if they are not religious, that they come together in order to live in harmony, in balance, in peace and in dignity.

Kjamadi (Thank you)”

Parliament of the World’s Religions – Earth Day 2020 Interfaith Climate Prayer

       Center for Earth Ethics - Faded Logo

Mindahi Bastida’s Message on Toltec Wisdom

Toltec timekeepers knew about the 26 thousand year cycle of the precession of the equinoxes. That is the time it takes for our planet to be aligned to the same north star back again. It consists of five cycles of fifty-two hundred years. We have just completed the fifth of these cycles, which for the Toltec was known as the fifth Sun. It was composed of ten cycles of five hundred and twenty years each. The last cycle started in 1492 and ended in the year 2012.

They knew that it would be a time of destruction and degradation. They knew that the last fifty-two years would be the worst, for by then every single aspect of Creation would be completely eroded. They knew that starting on 2012, year 1 Flint, Mother Earth would start a thirteen-year cycle of cleansing until year 1 House, which is 2025. This cycle was announced as 4 Movement, because it refers to the Four Elements moving powerfully together, which means, Earthquakes, Fires, Hurricanes and Floods.

As you can see, I have not mentioned people as agents of that destruction and degradation. But we know that we are participating in the cycles of life with Mother Earth. So, the destruction that started in this continent of the Americas in 1492 led to the degradation of bio-cultural traditions, exerted by civilizations that had chosen to stop respecting and relating to the cycles of life. Those civilizations thought that their purpose in life is to achieve salvation, and that it did not matter to kill, destroy, or extract, if by doing that they could get a place in heaven.But now that they have polluted their own water, their own air, their own soil and their own fire, now that they have polluted their own bodies, their own organs, their own cells and their own genes, they are crumbling as a civilization. Mother Earth will continue to go through her cleansing process.

Those of us who have kept to the Toltec ways, have been preparing for a long time. We have kept our medicinal systems, we have kept our food systems, our sacred sites and our sacred calendars.

We accompany Mother Earth in her cleansing process with much respect, acknowledging that this is her time, and we are paying close attention to all that is unfolding during these thirteen years. We are sharing what she is communicating with everyone, and whoever is ready to listen and take in with wisdom and humility, will know what to do, how to behave, what to change in their way of life.

All of us have a chance to rise to a new level of consciousness, with an attitude and a renewed commitment of living with Mother Earth.

***

Originally Published by The Fountain for Sacred Lands / Sacred Cultures / Sacred Economics. 

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.

Lighting the Sacred Fire – May Fire Festivals and Prayers in Solidarity

Today we light our sacred fires across the country and indeed across many sacred lands, to stand with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe for peace and right action. During this time of the Coronavirus the Mashpee have received notice of dissolution of their lands from the US Department of the Interior and have filed a court injunction. Arguments will be heard by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by phone Thursday, May 7, 2020.

“The Mashpee Wampanoag tribal people have called this land home for over 12,000 years. Their history predates the United States and they were the tribe who welcomed the Pilgrims in the 17th Century. The Tribe fought the U.S. government for recognition for nearly 40 years before finally becoming a federally recognized tribe in 2007. However, they have remained landless.” – From Massachusetts Congressman, Joe Kennedy’s statement of support.

Tonight, May 3rd, we light our candles and sacred fires sending our prayers and support as they prepare for a court hearing on Thursday, May 7th.

This call to action coincides with other significant events rooted in the traditions associated with lighting fires.

It’s no surprise International Workers’ Day, also known as Labour Day in some countries and often referred to as May Day (May 1st), was chosen for a celebration of labourers and workers. The beginning of May is a traditional time for the lighting of sacred fires across the world and truly a time of festivities for the people.

In the Celtic Wheel of the year, May 1 is the common observance day of Beltane, one of the High Holy Days of the Celtic calendar. Notably celebrated in the British Isles, Beltane is marked by a many days long festival culminating in the dance around the Maypole weaving brightly colored ribbons. The weaving is in honor of the marriage of the May King and Queen, or the God and Goddess of the Land and the fertility that expresses itself at the on-set of summer in flowers and trees, in birdsong and the dance of the sacred masculine and feminine. In present day Ireland, the festival is celebrated with the lighting of a sacred fire at the center of the Emerald Isle in the place where the ancient kings would have gone to be ‘married’ to the Goddess of the Land, Eiru. The early peoples of these lands believed the king could not rule well unless he was in service to the land and to the life-giving Mother Goddess. Fires are lit at each of the 8 major seasonal holidays of the calendar – the four Solar Festivals of Solstices and Equinoxes and the Cross-Quarter days that fall directly between them, also known as Lunar Sabbats. Beltane heralds the entrance to the Light Half of the Year, completing the first or Dark Half that began with the Feast of the Ancestors or Samhain, celebrated on October 31st, and is considered one of the most sacred festivals of the year.

May 3rd, is also a sacred day in Mesoamerican Cosmovision that can be celebrated with the lighting of a fire.  CEE’s Scholar in Residence Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina explains:

May 3, 2013 (and not December 21, 2012, as miscalculated) was conceived by ancient Olmecs some three thousand years ago as the ideal date for the culmination of the great cycle of 13 Baktuns. This cycle—5,128 years and 280 days long—would be ruled by evening Venus heralding the waters over the western horizon of the Yucatan Peninsula on that May 3, 2013, or 4 Ajaw 3 Kank’in in the calendar system inherited by the Maya. Such event would provide most favorable omens for the Corn People to thrive in the 13 Baktun cycle unfolding. Evening Venus, the great wind deity, marks its agency as a bringer of rain clouds by appearing at its northernmost position around May 3. This appearance is so important that multiple temples and pyramids, built over thousands of years, were carefully aligned to May 3, including the Feathered Serpent Pyramid at the Citadel of Teotihuacan.

The great cycle of 13 Baktuns offered omens of abundance and fertility to the Corn People, that is, to both the Corn-Corn Deity and the Corn keepers who care for the seeds, observe the arrival of the rains and fulfill calendar-based ceremonies in harmony with entities of the natural world.

At the completion of the great cycle of 13 Baktuns one of the five Bacabs—deities as giant as the sacred Ceiba and upholders of the Sky and the Earth— lets go of its burden. For thirteen years, every May 3, the Corn People have the responsibility to present to Grandfather Fire what they no longer need for the new cycle. They will thus be prepared to accompany the Bacab in its standing ceremony on May 3, 2026, entering together a new cycle of abundance and harmony with Mother Earth, Grandmother Moon, Father Sun and Venus.

At noon of May 3, the Primordial Couple in the Pleiades fuse their beam of light with the Sun’s rays directly activating the baby corn stalks that have been helped by its caregivers to stand upright a few days earlier. This is a happy encounter between the heart of the sky, the heart of Earth and the heart of the Corn People. When sunset falls later that May 3, the favorite son of the Primordial Couple, born on day 9 Wind, brings the rains with his breath of life, ensuring abundant corn offspring six months later, on November 3.


Contributing authors:

Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina, Scholar in Residence

Shannon M.D. Smith, Communications Manager