Category: Original Caretakers

Statement from the Gathering of Indigenous Spiritual Elders of South America & The Abya Yala

The process of unification of spiritual leaders around the world is taking place. CEE’s Original Caretakers Program Director, Mindahi Bastida recently participated in one such gathering of Indigenous Spiritual Elders of South America & The Abya Yala.  In order to take the next step among the Latin American peoples, native intellectuals and Spiritual Elders from Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica and Guatemala came together in this unique meeting to share insights about the state and future of Mother Earth, and to share knowledge, ideas and actions through the unification process.  Following is their statement in English with a Spanish language pdf below:

March 2019, Cauca, Colombia

In this way we commit ourselves to weave the knots that connect the local to the global, to revitalize the centers of ancestral thought and knowledge, the centers of the action and knowledge of women, to revitalize ancestral communication, music, songs, dances, rituals and sacred ceremonies of the peoples, the ceremonial lunar and solar celebrations, and the recovery and purification of the sacred sites. We commit to working with sources of energy to re-establish balance and restore natural order. This is a call from our hearts to the hearts of all those who feel this collective conscience of caring for and protecting our common home.

We call upon the following:

1. To the social and political organizations: so that they can listen to this message and realize that the wisdom of our ancient peoples is the solution to heal the illness that our Mother Earth is experiencing.

2. To governments: to recognize and value the wisdom, knowledge, science and ancestral spiritual authority that has maintained the integrity of indigenous territories.

3. To the United Nations: to support the endorsement of the rights of Mother Earth.

The new dawn ushers in unity, happiness, peace and harmony and the continuation of the spiral of life.  We call on all Indigenous Peoples to do translate this document in their native languages.

CHINCHAYSUYU CAJIBIO (ATLÁNTIDA ECOVILLAGE), CAUCA, COLOMBIA, MARCH 9TH 5527 (2019)

To communicate, spread and fulfill.  #HealingMotherEarth

This gathering has been carried out thanks to the support of the organizations:
International Center for Cultural Studies (ICCS US) | Center for Earth Ethics | The Fountain

Visit ICCS website here for more information on The Gathering and other participating guests.

 

Downloadable pdfs in English and Spanish:

Declaration – 2019 Gathering of Spiritual Elders – Cauca, Colombia

Declaración – 2019 Encuentro de Mayores – Cauca, Colombia

 

 

What is the Doctrine of Discovery? Why is it relevant in our world today?

In a nut shell, the Doctrine of Discovery, which is based on the Papal Bulls of the fifteenth century, is the origin of the European colonization, providing the answer as to why and how the actual degradation of peoples and nations began globally.

For me, as a historian, knowing this information serves to understand the context for why enslavement, genocide and ongoing suffering exists. It explains the imbalance of power which is supported and maintained by countries who claim to be democratic and justice seeking.  As Indigenous peoples work to decolonize, knowing the origin history helps to understand what is operating in our society and what needs to change.

I have made this my work because history matters. This is the mechanization of systemic subjugation which has remained in place for over 500 years. Unveiling this is akin to revealing the wizard behind the curtain. We are taught about Manifest Destiny, in order to participate in promoting it. That allows us to be in lock step with Empire; removing Indigenous peoples and clearing the land of them.  Our country does not teach this history, but uses this system to maintain power. Teaching this history helps people to understand why efforts to create a just society fall short. Unless we confront this reality, we will be at a loss to understand the systems which impact every aspect of our lived experience.

Theologically, the Papal Bulls are antithetical to the teachings of Jesus, who did not endorse stealing, subjugation or enslavement. His message lifted up and liberated the lowly, the oppressed, and taught us to welcome the stranger and to treat others with dignity and love. The Christian world follows the dictates of empire in conquering peoples and taking all of their possessions and land. In following Jesus, one would be more closely following the practices of Indigenous peoples, who worship God, lived communally and respected the earth.  

Now that we are in a crisis with our earth, we are turning to Indigenous wisdom, the very wisdom that has been demonized for centuries by empire for pagan practices.  And as we are looking to access this wisdom, Indigenous communities are still under attack with threats to water sources and sacred sites. Our system of hierarchies run counter to practices of community. Our society needs reorientation and to stop the subjugation of vulnerable peoples and communities.  Will empire let go of its greed for resources and land in an effort to renew the practices of Indigenous peoples? Will they be willing to let go of their pre-conceived fears of The Other in order to save our world? These questions and many others need to be examined.

People can educate themselves by researching the Doctrine and its use in removing people’s possessions and land, connecting to the legislation which supports these practices and advocating for justice (Johnson V. McIntosh, breaking of treaties with Native nations, relegating Indigenous rights to ancestral lands to merely the right of occupancy). Many of the traditional writings of our flawed history need to be re-examined, unlearned, rewritten and taught in order to create a more equitable society. Our constitution needs to be rewritten in order to represent all people, not just land-owning men of European ancestry. The mainstream societies fragility around these issues and unwillingness to change, need to be addressed in order to make any progress. (Columbus was not a hero, the civil war was fought to end slavery, etc.).

Petra Thombs is an Intern with the Original Caretakers Initiative at the Center for Earth Ethics. Petra is a recent graduate from Union Theological Seminary earning a degree in a Masters of Divinity, where she majored in Church History. She is currently interning as the Center for Earth Ethics, as part of her path towards Unitarian Universalist ministry. 

CEE Update: Water, Women and Planting Seeds of Change

IN LOVING MEMORY

We ⁦at the Center for Earth Ethics and Union Theological Seminary were honored to know Grandmother Josephine and give thanks for her life and teaching.

Reciprocity, Responsibilities, Hope

“We’ve known for a long time that water is alive. Water can hear you. Water can sense what you are saying and what you are feeling… Give it respect and it can come alive. Like anything. Like a person who is sick… if you give them love, take care of them, they’ll come alive. They’ll feel better. It’s the same with our mother, the earth, and the water. 
Give it love.” 
Grandmother Josephine Mandamin Remembered
by Water Docs Films and the trailer for The Water Journey

ORIGINAL CARETAKERS

Marrying Indigenous Wisdom & Scientific Knowledge:
Reimagining the Human Place in Nature

A very special evening with Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer in conversation with Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina, Scholar in Residence for Union’s Center for Earth Ethics and Union Theological Seminary faculty member John Thatamanil.

 

Reflection by Geraldine Patrick Ensina and Complete Program Video

 


The Gathering of Indigenous Spiritual Elders of South America and the Abya Yala

CEE’s Original Caretakers Program Director, Mindahi Bastida, will travel to Colombia to participate in this sharing between indigenous thought leaders and tradition keepers of Central and South America.

The Gathering of Indigenous Spiritual Elders of South America and the Abya Yala, will be an expression of dialogue and reciprocity to heal Mother Earth for present and for future generations. It promises meaningful discussions, as well as the development of pragmatic action plans.

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Earth Ethics, ICCS – International Center for Cultural Studies, and The Fountain.


ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE / CIVIC ENGAGEMENT

Catherine Flowers to Testify for Congressional Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment

“The Clean Water State Revolving Fund: How Federal Infrastructure Investment Can Help Communities Modernize Water Infrastructure and Address Affordability Challenges”

LiveStream March 7th, 10 am EST


A Moral Call to Action on the Climate Crisis – Atlanta, GA

Thursday, March 14th
7:00 PM, Doors Open at 6:15 PM

Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA
In the tradition of the mass meetings of the Civil Rights Movement, Former Vice President Al Gore, Bishop William J. Barber II, and CEE Director Karenna Gore will join Reverend Dr. Raphael G. Warnock and other local faith leaders to gather inspiration from religious texts, and bear witness to the injustice of the climate crisis. The mass meeting takes place alongside a three-day environmental justice and climate activist training with taking place March 14th-16th. CEE’s Catherine Coleman Flowers also to join!  Learn More

ECO-MINISTRY

Annual Ministers Training May 30 – June 1

Application deadline is March 29, 2019. Applicants will be notified of decisions by April 30, 2019. Click here to submit an application.


 

You can support Grandmother Josephine’s vision
Women & Water Coming Together Symposium 
August 4-8, 2019
www.spiritofthewater.org

 

A Very Special Evening with Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer: Reflection & Video

“Last night I had the joyful opportunity to interview Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass, Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. She is sweet as the sweetgrass, loving as a mother and attentive as a wise elder. She was delighted to hear that we, from the Center for Earth Ethics, are offering the course Plant Wisdom and Ecological Consciousness and wants to know all about it. Surely we will have opportunities to interact with her, as we actively engage in braiding together plant wisdom, science and traditional knowledge as a practice of being in the world. Certainly all of humanity needs to remember that communing with all sentient beings is the original purpose of living a human experience. The art of reminding about this purpose is something that Robin has become exquisitely passionate about. Last night, over two hundred people stood in ovation to express their deep gratitude for her overflow of wisdom, joy for life and caring for Mother Earth. Let us spread her word and make her dream –a shared dream– come true in her lifetime.”
~  Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina
***
Join us for a conversation with Robin Wall Kimmerer as she helps us rethink, reimagine and, renarrate our relationship to the sacred and the natural world. Can the objective, data-driven approach of science be enriched by non-anthropocentric spiritual worldviews? As a botanist and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Dr. Kimmerer draws on both indigenous wisdom and scientific knowledge to enrich and animate our understanding of the natural world. This expansive way of seeing and relating to creation privileges regeneration and reciprocity, and offers novel solutions for ecological restoration and climate change resilience.

Dr. Kimmerer will be joined in conversation with Union faculty member John Thatamanil, and Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina, Scholar in Residence for Union’s Center for Earth Ethics.

 

About Robin Wall Kimmerer:
Dr. Kimmerer is a mother, plant ecologist, writer and SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York. She serves as the founding Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment whose mission is to create programs which draw on the wisdom of both indigenous and scientific knowledge for our shared goals of sustainability. Her research interests include the role of traditional ecological knowledge in ecological restoration and the ecology of mosses. In collaboration with tribal partners, she and her students have an active research program in the ecology and restoration of plants of cultural significance to Native people. Read More.

About The Insight Project:
The Insight Project is a new multi-year program series that explores modern conceptions of theology and spirituality through a diverse array of thought-provoking lectures, screenings, performances, and on-stage conversations. Click HERE to learn more.

What Would Dr. King Think of Our Progress?

Frigid. I cannot remember a King’s Day celebration that wasn’t. Born on January 15th, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was remembered today in many places throughout the country on what would have been his 90th birthday. Here today, Chief Dwayne Perry and I were in Newark, New Jersey, participating in the demonstration with the Peoples Organization for Progress. The march slowly began in front of the MLK monument.

As we drove around searching for the location, we reminisced about our younger years, trying to find work, direction and purpose. What would we have done at Dr. King’s young age? How did he manage?  It’s interesting to know that Chief and I traveled in the same parts of New York City at different times, Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn and the Bronx, areas that were dangerous; drugs were brought in to the old neighborhoods, the steady climb toward mass incarceration began. The dreams of the Civil Rights era shattered by Urban renewal, which at first seemed like a good thing only to find that it really meant urban removal of Black homes and businesses. The drive showed us the changes made in the city; large empty lots, huge sections of new builds. The communities are impacted with gentrification. Again, at first it seemed like a good thing, but then, it wasn’t.  Our communities are co-opted, our businesses cannot pay the high rents, our homes are being taken over by developers. It’s as if the clock had stopped. Dr. King had preached that we each needed to become leaders. In our own way, we and those we gathered with took that to heart, to continue the struggle.

What would Dr. King think of our progress? Our society does a kind of slow dance with its people of color, one step forward, two steps back. We had a Black president for eight years, and now the progress we made is being systematically rolled back. Dr. King would want to know that we are still positioning ourselves in justice work, that we are still mobilizing, we are still working for income equality. In his speech on economics and reparations, he outlined how our government subsidized the white peasants from Europe with land, with colleges to educate them on how to farm the land, and with tools and supplies to use to produce their farms and machinery to work the land. This same government had refused to provide any land for former enslaved people. Those same immigrants are now receiving millions in subsidies not to farm and with their privilege, telling Black people to pull themselves up by their boot straps. King’s tone and stance had changed over time, as he came to see that conditions for Blacks and poor folks remained the same. Martin was angry as he advocated for a radical redistribution of wealth.  He challenged us to march on Washington and demand to get paid. Today, we are only just approaching a living wage as laws are past for $15.00 an hour.

Our income disparity has grown with new tax breaks for the rich, while the lower classes are forced to pay for defense, infrastructure, and perhaps a new border wall. Corporations pay wages below the poverty line and those who are incarcerated are paid dollars a day to manufacture goods. Even more egregious, is using untrained inmates to fight fires and handle other natural disasters, their humanity seen as expendable, their lives as throw-a-ways. What can we do to help them, what can we do for the children held by the thousands in detention centers at the southern borders, or the families marred by gun violence, those in government working without a pay check, to say nothing of our endless wars?

What would Dr. King make of our current dilemma? Our march focused on the deaths of so very many of our youth at the hands of police. This is surreal in Newark, New Jersey, today. The litany of names read echoed into the cold. We know that those who protest these acts are demonized in the media, but we are in solidarity with them. Voices of intolerance have gotten louder and bolder, evoking concern and fear. And still, we pressed on. We sang songs of the movement, teaching a new generation to carry on the tradition.  The senior organizers were passing the baton to the younger college students.

Chief Perry reminded the crowd gathered to use their right to vote, and their advocacy to encourage others to do the same. We have to combat voter suppression nationwide. There are those who claim that voting is happening illegally, taking away from the fact of their suppression of this precious right, so many have died defending. He is heartened by so many women in Congress, he feels the tide is turning in a new and better direction. I am reminded that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”. The calendar has turned, we are fifty years later than when Dr. King was with us, and the struggle continues. On his birthday and every day, it does not matter how cold it is, Dr. King continues to walk with us, as a revered ancestor, whose constant and abiding love holds us in faith. His voice echoes on, teaching and inspiring us, giving us hope as we continue to work for justice and our Beloved Community.

***

For more on the continuation of Dr. King’s work:

www.poorpeoplescampaign.org

www.leadtolife.org

thekingcenter.org

CEE November Update

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

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 on Protecting Sacred Sites

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

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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)