An open space for global conversation
8-10a PDT | 11a-1p EDT | 3-5p GMT
Click here to register for all our Monday Vital Conversations (new working link!)
The resilience of the Lakota Nation in the face of brutal oppression inspires us even as the continued suffering of these people breaks our hearts.
Dallas Chief Eagle joins us as our conversation starter this Monday for a very special Cafe Call. Dallas and Occupy Cafe regular Mushin are working together with others to launch Friends of Lakota, an initiative that will create "a clearing for learning" between the Lakota and the world.
Transforming the human presence on this planet, many believe, requires the spreading of "New Stories," including stories about integrating the ancient wisdom still carried forth by indigenous peoples with the modern understanding of man's capacities for manipulating the material world. Another dimension to this exchange is the need for healing, coming from a place of deep listening to the painful and devastating legacy of the oppression that has been deeply intertwined with the building of the modern world. As Alex White Plume, a 60-year-old Oglala Lakota activist states in National Geographic magazine's cover story on the Lakota this month:
“They tried extermination, they tried assimilation, they broke every single treaty they ever made with us,” White Plume said. “They took away our horses. They outlawed our language. Our ceremonies were forbidden.” White Plume is insistent about the depth and breadth of the policies and laws by which the U.S. government sought to quash Native Americans, but his delivery is uncomplainingly matter-of-fact. “Our holy leaders had to go underground for nearly a century.” It wasn’t until Congress passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, in 1978, that any interference in native spiritual practices was made a crime. “And yet our ceremonies survived, our language survived."
Chief Frank Fools Crow (pictured above) famously addressed the US Congress in 1976 to insist on the return of the Black Hills to his people:
I would like to ask you why when we speak you do not listen, and when you listen, you do not hear, and when you hear us, you do not choose to understand what we say.
We come together with Dallas Chief Eagle this Monday to listen, to hear and to choose to understand. As always, we also invite you to begin the conversation right now on this forum, and to continue it here once our call is complete. We can start with this question:
What might you want to explore in "a clearing for learning" as a Friend of Lakota?
On our call today, we take inspiration from the experience of the Pachamama Alliance's work with the indigenous Achuar people of the Ecuadorian rainforest. An Achuar elder famously told these US activists:
If you are coming to help us, you are wasting your time. But if you are coming because your liberation is bound up with ours.....then let us work together.
Mushin and his colleagues are considering the idea of forming a group within the Cafe to steward a new regular conversation series as part of the larger Friends of Lakota initiative. If this occurred, what might the focus of our "clearing for learning" be? Put another way (and this will be our main question on the call today): "what question, if answered, might make the difference in our ability to work together for liberation?"
Photo of Chief Frank Fools Crow
I'm not finding your note where you asked for it, but Paula Underwood's book is The Walking People. you can find it and her other works at http://www.tribeoftwopress.com/ her daughter sells the books
Here is a video of Dallas Chief Eagle, our conversation starter (pictured at right), performing the sacred hoop dance with his daughter Star.
Being blood brother to a Sioux I am of the mind that a massive "Woodstock" type protest be assembled in
Wounded Knee, sort of Occupy Wounded Knee, for the purpose of returning all Lakota lands denied by the U.S. Government.
I offer that Dallas Chief Eagle has a perspective tomorrow that is an opening for recovering the deep rooted language of the Lakota at the inner altar of being as a pathway of healing the emotional impoverishment men, women and children who have suffered for the last 150 years, and is the next step in gaining authentic sovereignty in an ancient wisdom continuum that truly owns who they are; and maybe an opportunity in liberating ourselves simultaneously.
The clearing for learning I see is validated by a recent statement I heard from Russell Means in an AIM exchange in Sioux Falls SD; that we American's are all suffering in the "Indian Conditional Situation" today. Maybe the 1% on the bottom has turned into the 99% creative collapsing opportunities happening in global predatory chaos? One thing is for sure we will not transform the 1% holding power in violence rather by creating a mutual liberation in unity regarding the notion of ownership, and it's a rather ridiculous notion when your connected to land, water, air and the web of life in feel versus intellectual power.
At the inner altar of the human heart felt knowing love there is not predator or victim, and the battle of sovereignty is enjoined together in caring for wholeness in a wise maturity. In January 2012 at Dallas Chief Eagle's retreat the great great grandson of Chief Big Foot who survived wounded knee came to visit a gathering of men and it was precious indeed. The impression he offered was for the Lakota and the world to move beyond Wounded Knee, and recover the love inherent in the Lakota language as way of seeing and being in the world. In addition he added that the USA is a young nation and the future of the Lakota is tied together with the Nation, if America falls the chaos in the world would be unending. He offered that in this moment America needs the Lakota elder wisdom to survive.
Maybe its time for us to learn Wolakota person to person, and see putting of the Lakota language like 4D lenses in the Avatar movie and disclosing a whole new natural world. I am looking forward to the day when demands to speak English is offset with our desire to being submerged into Oral Native Scientific Life Ways social distinctions in the web of life? In Lakota there is no utterance for goodbye, animal or profanity. Imagine that!
Here is a YouTube of Leonard Little Finger's Mission of Love and he teaches sacred beings of tomorrow Lakota and offers to be a Kola (friend) to everyone who shares his mission. One of the most starling stories I ever heard in Dallas's sacred circles of men was a Sun Dancer that refused to get angry with an injustice that happened in his life. He shared the Lakota elder wisdom with this story. A warrior had got carried away in playing a game of war and killed a Native brother in the game. He attended a circle of men and was boasting of his accomplishment in detail. An old elder ask to speak and was granted the right and said "that was my son who was killed." The warrior responded in an aggressive manner and threatening the elder. The old elder got up and walked over to the warrior and took his hand into his and said "now your my son." Wisdom always wins in arrogant aggression and creating a clearing of learning to enact that kind compassion is a heartbreaker for the predatory, aggressor, arrogant competitor, and requires deep courage (skan skan) from the inner altar of being a Homo sapiens amans knowing the depth of love in the living universe which the Lakota consider the Milky Way. Prepare yourself Dallas father was a leader in the AIM movement and translator for Lakota elder's in two books "Fools Crow" and "The Pipe and Christ." I feel the valley of tears of the Lakota people and also hear the wisdom of a traditional leader Alex White Plum in National Geographic "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse: the Rebirth of the Sioux Nation." I want to learn Lakota. I assert we see the world in the distinctions embodied in our languaging.
Thank you and yes maybe we all do need to Occupy Wounded Knee in our hearts? And learn wisdom from the survivors that eliminates this notion of 2nd amendment's right to have automatic military weapons for protection and nothing to do with hunting, and is no reasonable answer to solve social problems at hand.
Where are the voices of the Lakota women?
A great question and believe me they have a strong a voice and will be joining the conversation in due time. Maybe Marie Randell "Nation Woman" will join a call in the near future and tell us the story of the water of life. She is a great great grandmother, Lakota precious speaker, and also an activist as a "generation builder." Here 92 year old Marie Randell is stopping the XL Keystone Pipe trucks in Wamblee from passing freely through the reservation inspiring the Lakota Nation to stand up and own their sovereignty.
Another is Grandmother Debbie White Plume speaking in Washington DC against the XL Pipeline she is another possible future guest.
Just as a point of clarification, is the call already closed? When I tried to register I got a page that read "this conference is no longer accepting registrations". And I would echo Ellen's question regarding the Lakota women.
Thanks for bringing that to our attention, Carol. There is a new registration link here: http://bit.ly/NU585a
I will fix the other links now as well. (Ben)
How do we " integrat[e] the ancient wisdom still carried forth by indigenous peoples " without cultural appropriation? My Scandinavian ancestors may once have had similar wisdom, but it was lost during the era of Christian colonization a thousand years ago. I would be very interested in hearing a Lakota perspective on the right path for Euro-Americans to walk when integrating current indigenous perspectives.
My Cafe Friends,
WOLAKOTA is a treaty of peace and friendship without greed! Let this be our "clearing for learning" and "designing a future together" that is based in knowing love as the social wisdom continuum constituting, sustaining and maintaining the entire living web of life and every ancestral pathway in our humanity. Our victory today isn't in the fight with those who claim to have power, they are bankrupt, in panic and confused in demanding more institutional power in positions, titles and written publications (mass manufactured media). Rather our liberation is in the truth of our wholeness is being Homo sapiens amans ~wise sing up social loving beings. Something I contend the Lakota know in a manner of human dignity in social relations. One only needs to attend a wake upon the passing of a Lakota person to experience the knowing embodied in this social wisdom continuum thousands of years old understanding they live in the Milky Way and it's alive not dead.
We are the solution by creating a clearing for learning and in solidarity bring forth the ethical fundament we enactively embody in reality, we share common concerns, and by adorning the presence of one another with compassion experience realization of living in unity, not separation, isolation or scarcity as a community of sacred beings. This one ancient Lakota word "Wolakota" speaks volumes in what constitutes true power in our lives that is the light of wisdom to the shadow's in Plato's Cave causing fear, ignorance and death.
An oppressed people may be temporarily dominated by an outside force and yet never possessed inside in reality. The Lakota language is still intact and their creation story has never been violated being passed down form wise elder's lips to children's ears generationally. Freedom is an eternal state of being and this truth applies everywhere in our world. I submit this is even more true today for people who's entire existence is dignified in oral languages. In 2004 I became a friend with "Chief Mel Lone Hill" a common ordinary plain old Indian who shared with me the wisdom of Wolakota in true friendship over the years. In June 2011 at the Crazy Horse Camp in Beaver Wall Nebraska I first met Dallas Chief Eagle hoop dancing with his daughters sharing the creation story in movement. My friend was being honored that evening and brought out a beautiful bonnet for the first time. The notion of "Friends of Lakota ~ Wolakota" was born in Maka Si Tomni/The Order of Earth, and yes we love grandmothers.
A "Clearing for Learning" by it's very nature is an acknowledgement that there is a blind spot, pain point or knowing we don't know, yet are willing to slow down, hear a new story teller, let go of past certainties or current questions to explore the unknown new territory of wisdom. The notion of living in natural law is accepting that by being in the present in the moment we tend to our survival and a trusted pathway emerges in surprise as we walk together in a clearing for learning. We need each other now and we are all in the same boat of saving the earth and it's people. Maybe the oppression of innocent people's is what we need to see, feel, regret and embrace to liberate ourselves from mental structures in our own lives demanding explanations, obedience and negating the knowing love in our deep dark living hearts? Facing off with what owns us is meeting the "Dweller on the Threshold" in the "Dark Night of Our Own Souls" and crossing a bridge to a new beginning, not the end of the world.
I pray our gathering in appreciative inquiry liberates the common ground in our humanity and brings forth friendship in caring for all of our permanent human concerns and designing a future for the sacred beings of tomorrow. Lakota people have great gifts and so do we in this celebration. In this manner of human dignity (love) we can occupy earth as responsible proprietors stewarding our concerns and caring for each other on a holiday eating, singing, dancing, learning rather than being arrogant and aggressive fighting over indoctrinated institutional power causing human suffering on to many fine beautiful days.
Thank you for your attention and commitment in this appreciative inquiry of Friends of Lakota "Wolakota",
In the closing grafs of this month's National Geographic cover story on the Lakota, Alex White Plume connects the challenge of restoration with the limitations imposed by our existing economy and currency. This is then brought home in the vision and protest of Olowan Thunder Hawk Martinez, who makes the important statement that "we’re in dire distress, but we don’t need anyone to come and save the Indian:"
By conventional Western mores, Martinez’s vision would seem unambitious to the point of meaninglessness. Still, her mother would have approved of Martinez’s setup on her land. And it’s something Alex White Plume would respect too. “Everything in the U.S. is designed around money,” he had said to me. “So how do we live in that mode—with the white man’s houses, the white man’s pickup, the white man’s currency—and still keep our traditional Lakota culture?”
In the tepee Martinez heated baked beans over an open fire surrounded by her two young daughters, her son, and half a dozen coming and going Oglala Lakota youth. As in her vision, the youngsters were dressed in camouflage, many of them wore their hair in long braids, ribbons were flying. For a few sacred weeks Martinez wasn’t in mold-infested, government-issued housing. She was off the grid. (She can rarely afford her electricity and water bills when she isn’t.) She woke up early and walked out of her tepee and directly into the grace of the morning star, to which she gave her Lakota thanks.
And outside the tepee, against the restless Great Plains sky, bleak with heavy spring snow clouds, Martinez raised an American flag, union down. According to the Flag Code of the United States of America, the flag should never be displayed union down, except as a signal of dire distress or in instances of extreme danger to life or property. “That’s almost right,” Martinez said. “We’re in dire distress, but we don’t need anyone to come and save the Indian. When we honor our customs, and when we perform ceremonies, and when we listen to our ancestors, then we have everything we need to heal ourselves within ourselves.” Martinez thought for a moment, and then she added, “Write this: When the lights go out for good, my people will still be here. We have our ancient ways. We will remain.”