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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
Inspiration drawn at random from the GroupWorks card deck for today's call:
THE BARN DALLAS CHIEF EAGLE 13 ACRES IN MARTIN SOUTH DAKOTA
A final note
Thank you Dallas Chief Eagle and all the participants, especially the women attending and voicing the deep dark heart felt care and concerns in modernity's marginalization of the feminine. As an observer today I see that wounded immature arrested adolescent behaviors of being a boy for 61 years is a very difficult challenge in our world. Part of me wants to knock the living shit out of the behaviors I have experienced in governance, corporations and religion. As a man among men with a 34 year daughter, 24 year old son and a 3 year old grand daughter, it's my deceased great grandmother (my mother Alice) who taught me from the first moment within the womb to care, feed and nurture, to really love life, and my father still alive, 90 years old WWII hero was actively drafted onto the boy's immature playground ringing the bell for time out , and paid a price in our family by losing both ear drums. The resulting pain point in the intergenerational familial unit was we learned to yell at the top of lungs to be heard. So the dinner table conversations seemed like arguments when in fact we were just having appreciative conversations. Yet, as a young boy tonality in living speech is like earthquakes that rock your nervous system. This man is working on the wounds and we definitely need a great great grandmother in this "Friends of Lakota" that can share the story of the water of life from which all sacred beings arise and somehow is our eternal home as well. Thank you for allowing me with all the defects, imperfections and mistaken views to be a part of this emerging community as a man becoming whole. Dallas you were great voice for our first appreciative conversation in "Friends of Lakota." Magick thanks for new distinction "matri~focal" that resonates and is congruent with biological cognitive science's notion of being Homo sapiens amans ~ wise~sing up social loving animals not gods! And of course that applies to all gender distinctions. Lakota have no word for children rather sacred beings.
Notes from final sharing for today's call:
How do humans get over their stubbornness and get into vulnerability and be more gentle w/ one another so that we can work better together. Can we get liberated with one another rather than from
Noticed no question has emerged. Inquiry is difficult..may require a lot of cleaning out before we start inquiry
Though topic of women came up, felt I was talking about it, but too pre-occupied w/ what I was thinking to relate authentically(?)
Talking about hearing others; our own wounding is in the way of hearing one another;
Can we hear the wisdom of all tribes and bring that together?
Women spoke but men didn't seem to repond. Did bring forth a question; How to we let ofthe ownership of the Earth and species? Focus on I and capitalist culture rather than connection. Freedom doesn't mean we can do anything we want
Witness the injustice going on by this dominant white culture; robbing and taking away by this culture;
Notice person tried to express tribal governance for democracy in college democracy class- knowledge rejected as invalid by dominantr culture
How can be acknowledge what is good so that we can bring this wisdom out into the world?
I feel quite owned in certain ways. Question: Difficult to decipher in language. We each as individuals have to emerge from solitude-fact of our existence creates community-individuals separate from community-how do we emerge from hiding in our closets-to realize connections in community?
Dallas Chief Eagle: closing thoughts: Long time ago men & women would have separate talking circles-now, today, we talk together-share truths we're processing together;
I could feel especially the females and men in the circle- the technoilogy today allows these circles; this is a beginning circle for me as a participant
I believe my children deserve circles like this; believe my ancestors, who we call upon to support our circles and talks to help us improvve our circles and talks to not have any judgments; we all have parts of ourselves that need more honesty with ourselves;
We have words for gay men and women -they are extraordinary people-they are born that way - they can see both sides -they're special people that we hold space of honor in our circles; modern powers don't allow space, put these people on the outside without a place; not oK that our little girls don't have a voice/place-that they have to compete to speak
Women's voice need to be heard and equal representation; We need to have a man & woman president together
I'm trying to get this 7th Cavalry man out of me so I can be a true man
Grateful to be here in this new circle with this new technology; to be bring people together in many homes
Mark Daly: Friends of Lakota is an initiative comes from non-profit called Order of Earth. Collecting funds to fund Dallas' efforts with Lakota men; create a clearing for learning; Supporting the Lakota wisdom continuum in culture, language
Dallas as leader is beginning a journey that will bless us all
Special appreciation to Dallas Chief Eagle for sharing your wonderful work. I am especially grateful for your willingness to collaborate with friends beyond the Lakotas. I believe liberation will only happen when we unite across all types of diversity.
For those interested in other ways to understand our history, I recommend the Walking People by Paula Underwood. www.learningpeople.org She was the keeper of a 10,000 year old oral history for a people who were part of the Iroquois Confederacy (our constitution is based on it with one major omission - the role of clan mothers). You can order her books from her daughter at www.tribeoftwopress.com .
Also, consider: How Choctaws invented civilization and why choctaws will conquer the world. Birchfield is an academic himself and has an interesting perspective on how Indians are written out of our history.
blessings to all . . .
First breakout. "Find a meaningful question..."
(my Q) "Are we afraid to love one another because complete surrender is necessary for selflessness?" Others had their questions too, but no unified interest to be explored emerged. Perhaps time limited the pursuit somewhat. But inquiry, coming to a question and staying with it, is extremely difficult.
1. Influence of the Holocost stopped eugenics... Think now about how ones perspective changes based on how close up or how broad the view of it. Isn't the Holocost related to all plights of all peoples, the suffering, the learning, resulting from catastrophe, horror... man-made or natural... It isn't at all obvious that those who bring harm are indeed harmed themselves. So, it repeats itself over and over, it occurs to me, that until we find love... "...after an agonizing life as a hunter, I finally let go and got hunted down and became free" (Rumi). We may not immediately notice how (looking from a distant view) that earthlings have been changing, and are indeed slowly finding our humanity.
2. All of my most important life lessons have come from women, e.g. honesty, integrity, compassion... It occurs to me I'm dissappointed in men as a group. I'm also not so happy about so many women's lasting anger, many wanting retribution, and hoping this will soon pass.
3. Brama, Vishnu, Shiva. (syns, Creation, Sustain, Dissolve) no permanence. All nations, including Lakota people represent, like our own changes, Birth to Existing to Death. To die and to be born again is happening at each moment in our 'space' of life, each cell of life, each thought, feeling, intuition, spirit. So, this brings to me much wonder about traditions, ceremony, wisdom... ways that we want to cling-to (maybe cuz it looks easy to just follow, or cuz it is mysterious or enchanting). My wonder includes how to make use of these 'ways of the past' in open, sentient manner-- not simply accepting or relying on dogma without challenge and understanding. Often one must be willing to stand alone to do this. In my own life I view this as finding reality by painstakingly stripping away ignorance by removing my hiding places.
4. It is my opinion that 'I Groups' that Dakota & others spoke about have a particular danger... that of men unquestioningly accepting (going along with) traditions, procedures, etc., in order to 'belong' and get support or affirmation from others. I see this as a weakening of men when they have no real understanding but think they do because they can repeat some words. A particular strength I see in 'I Groups' is providing space for genuine affection (giving and receiving) by it being encouraged (with no need for procedure or explanation).
+5. One more thing that I hear repeated a lot. We "Make Mistakes" as men,,, as humans. But, we are not defective are we? How can nature, the most perfectly balanced intelligence we know, be defective? I would say I am exactly what I need to be, doing what I need to do, at this moment, at this particular place in my own journey thru this temporary life. Physically, I will soon be termite food... how can that be wrong? Spiritually, I will soon know oneness with everything... what's so wrong with that?
Children 'grow into' from latent potential... a pool of resources, intrinsic knowing, truth, compassion...
Aren't we as children... doing what seems inevitable, struggling, no matter the apparent harm or ease it brings, to make it possible to learn and grow?
Dyck, here's my two cents.
With consciousness of consciousness, humans are different from all other beings and each from each other. Not everything that beings need simply comes to them; all apply attention, energy and time (AET) to accessing what's needed. Humans allocate their AET uniquely; when they devote some to consciousness of consciousness, they are at sea.
With strong traditions that acknowledge the voyages playing the parts of navigational equipment and lighthouses, humans manage to return to shore, not only the basic-needs-meeting place, but the meeting-place of their society. Without those services, humans generate unnecessary differences and much potential for confusion and mistrust.
Humans have done a staggering amount of that.
I'm willing to listen carefully, at least briefly, to 'the one who has the truth'. But to be credible they would quickly need to fully expose their awareness of their own frailties as a messenger. I say this with affection and encouragement.
"to be credible they would quickly need to fully expose their awareness of their own frailties as a messenger"
I am certain that I cannot fully expose anything but my body and (sequences of) words that satisfy my spirit/heart/mind system. In these ways, my character approaches your awareness.
Thank you David. Since your body isn't relevant in this format, I have to suffice with your sequences of words... and whatever appears 'between them'. And between them I sense you are coming from a hypothetical or academic basis rather than actually having ever been lost at sea... let alone experiencing your life's utter smallness and lack of control (yet awesum grandness).
I think I'm getting your intent of a deeper metaphorical meaning. Granted the question remains "how can I as a single wave, locate myself in an ocean?" But, it appears the larger question obviates the possiblility there exists a shore at all.
It's true that I'm a lifelong learner with a college degree. Sorry about that. It's not true that as I approach my seventh decade I utterly lack human experiences. Sorry we could only pass in the night.