Sunday, December 30, 2012

This is About Mother Earth (and Indigenous Sovereignty)

Today Chief Arvol Looking Horse issued a statement in support of Chief Theresa Spence:
This is About Mother Earth!

As Keeper of our Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe, I would like to send out support for the efforts of Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation, for giving of herself through fasting with prayers for the protection of Mother Earth.

Throughout history, there have been many Voices from different Nations trying to alert us of the prophecies that are now upon us. We are in a time of Great Urgency, especially since the animals have been showing their sacred color white to tell us we need to change the Path we are on.

The war in the Middle East over money, oil and power, in the name of Spirituality, has been affecting us for far too long. A Healing now needs to happen from that lesson. Those lessons now exist in those territories in the lack of animal and plant life, as well as the many orphans and childless parents.

Political decision makers throughout history have made decisions that have affected many People, lands and animal/plant life;  the recent decision made to subject Mother Earth and take away any protection she had left, is a decision that affects all humanity.

This effort has to be understood the same light of our Peace work, which is “All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer”. This effort to protect Mother Earth is all Humanity’s responsibility, not just Aboriginal People. Every human being has had Ancestors in their lineage that understood their umbilical cord to the Earth, understanding the need to always protect and thank her. Therefore, all Humanity has to re-connect to their own Indigenous Roots of their lineage - to heal their connection and responsibility with Mother Earth and become a united voice.

In a Sacred Hoop Life, where there is no ending and no beginning!

Chief Arvol Looking Horse
19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe

Chief Arvol Looking Horse

A heads-up for folks in areas that want to support Idle No More, but that may not have large NDN populations. We have seen some non-Natives, including some pretendians and shameons, trying to colonize Idle No More.

Please forgive my redundancy if you've seen me post this stuff elsewhere, but...

I want to make sure that the non-Natives who have been misinterpreting and misrepresenting the concept of "Indigenous" and "Indigeneity" don't use Arvol's words to try to justify appropriation or identity theft.  Arvol wrote:
"Every human being has had Ancestors in their lineage that understood their umbilical cord to the Earth, understanding the need to always protect and thank her. Therefore, all Humanity has to re-connect to their own Indigenous Roots of their lineage - to heal their connection and responsibility with Mother Earth and become a united voice."
I have always found this to be a beautiful and inspiring statement, ever since Paula first spoke it to me. But lately we have come across some appropriators and exploiters misinterpreting the idea of Indigenous roots, thinking that "Indigenous Roots of their lineage" means that they are also Indigenous People (NDNs), or that they can choose to become Indigenous (through stealing ceremonies, terminology, and identities from NDNs, or through buying a fake title from pay-to-pray, outcast exploiters). Some of these appropriators and ceremony-sellers have come in through the "Occupy"/"Decolonize" movement. So, just making a note here for anyone else who gets odd reactions from non-Natives when they share this, or if they see shameons posting it in places and misrepresenting what Arvol is saying.

The concept, as I understand it, is beautiful. But due to the white privilege and white supremacy of some who are latching onto it, the "Indigenous Roots" meme itself is becoming toxic. This is tragic and horrible, but we need to look it square in the face and call out the people who are attempting to poison the well.

Reconnecting to our ancestors' Indigenous roots means taking the challenge of learning the languages, ways and ceremonies of our own ancestors, not stealing ceremonies or identities or terminology from Native people, and not making stuff up and pretending it's "Indigenous European" (a term largely used by Neo-Nazis). Or "Celtic" (which some nuagers, in total ignorance that we have living Celtic cultures and lifeways, are attempting to pervert into a shorthand for "white appropropriator," thinking no one will notice they are simply doubling down on the misappropriation and misrepresentation). Doing this work of preserving and reviving the ways of our own ancestors does not make us Indigenous; it simply puts us in touch with our ancestral roots. Hopefully, it also makes us stronger and more whole, and leads to a spiritual fulfillment that erases the desire to steal from other cultures.

Here's a post from the Idle No More founders on advice for non-Native allies: Idle No More: The Indigenous Peoples' Movement - I’m Non-Indigenous, How Can I Participate in Idle No More?

If you want to do a local action, or join a local group, find out what Native people in the area are doing - in most cases they have already organized groups. For the most part, so far things are overwhelmingly Indigenous at the demos. If you live in an area where this is the case, be very grateful. Because in other areas we are also seeing a bit of a problem with non-Natives wanting to form and lead Idle No More groups, and some of these people have questionable agendas. In some cases, there are non-Natives and known pretendians who are misrepresenting themselves as Native (or as "Indigenous" to a non-Native culture) and forming a group where there is already a Native one, or attempting to colonize rounddances with their own agendas, or scheduling thoroughly non-Native events that conflict with NDN ones (and misrepresenting their non-Native event as the Native event).  NDNs in my area have already had to do some creative re-scheduling, and making networking for events private, in order to avoid being colonized or "occupied".

While I'm seeing that respectful support is very appreciated, we need to make sure this is truly solidarity and not appropriation. For instance, if people are doing a solidarity action that does not involve Native spiritual leaders, and they want to sing and pray and purify, they should do these things in the ways of  their own ancestors, their own living cultures, and not imitate the ways of NDN people. It is not solidarity for non-Natives to  try to use NDN sacred songs or ceremonies (including smudging);  it is misappropriation. If you don't know the ways of your own ancestors, please, just leave attempts at anything sacred out of this and simply be there in solidarity and fellowship.

And if you know who your ancestors are, but only know a tiny bit about their ways, show some respect to the tradition-bearers and ask them to represent, instead of stepping into the spotlight yourself to present misinformation.

Non-natives, if you go to an action and find that pretendians are misappropriating, stand up to them and say something. Part of being a real ally is stopping the appropriators. As non-Natives, we know all too well what appropriators and exploiters get up to when they think no NDNs are watching, how much worse they behave when they think everyone there is on their team. Have the courage to step up and do the right thing or you're no ally at all.

crossposted. apologies for any redundancies.

1 comment:

Kathryn Price NicDhàna said...

I posted this for Chief Arvol Lookinghorse as Paula, Arvol, and members of their family are personal friends of mine. However, Paula sends these statements out to a very large mailing list now. There was a time when that was not the case, but nowdays, having a copy of these public statements does not mean someone is a friend of the family or a relative.

Some skinstealing newagers, including those who falsely claim to be doing "reconstruction" of "Celtic" traditions, people who are NOT a part of any of our communities, have been misrepresenting this statement by Chief Lookinghorse to say white people in the diaspora can choose to become Indigenous. Chief Lookinghorse has now had to stop allowing photographs at many of his talks and public appearances because boundary-violating non-Natives have been sneaking up and trying to get their photo taken with them, without his permission, and then some have used those photos to imply he approves of their devious ways.

If someone is implying a connection with any spiritual leader based on things like this, contact that spiritual leader's people. You can find many of us on social media. The CAORANN Facebook page has council members staffing it with relatives all over Indian Country and most of the Celtic Nations, for example. Please be smart and don't support scammers and exploiters. Check out everyone and every claim.

I go into this more here: Colonists, Descendants of Colonists, and "Indigenous" Identity

And the CAORANN statement here: On Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous Identity