Manataka American Indian Council
A Message of Hope and Unity
Commentary by Marty Fire Rider, (Elaya Kayaka Hokshela)
It is the American Indian warriors, leaders and advocates that are taking the fight to the American legal and political system. It is hard to say when the governments Indian War policies will end, but it has not stopped since the Black Robes of Columbus.
Since arriving on our continent the dominate culture has assaulted the very existence of our native culture while forcing Indian people to be on the defense. Today Indian activists and leaders are offensively taking the battle to the dominate culture placing them on the defense. All across America our people are initiating numerous legal and legislative battles. As our people gain more educational opportunities to understand the legal and political system we become spiritually stronger as cultural warriors promoting and protecting our traditional ways. Understand; “Many people spend a lifetime wondering who they are, the American Indian does not have that problem.”
There will come a day when we will speak with one voice and be united as one people. For apathy serves only those who wish you to serve them. However, we need vision to move into this new century strong and confident while forging our own destiny by our own hands. That day will be the defining moment when the adversarial relationship with the U.S. Governments attitude changes from romantic belligerence to great respect. A binding covenant contract of sovereignty will be forged. Our united leadership will one day be the cohesive force that will heal a divide nation. Hope, tenacity and our spiritual culture has been our great strength that has survived 500 years of overt and covert genocide. Vine Deloria, said it right in 1968, The Sentinel, "We wish more tribes could realize that through UNITY and willingness to work hard together much can be done." Today we now live in a time of great hope when our young are proud of their Indigenous identity where the ceremonies and language are growing with renewed cultural interest.
We must respect each other and especially our detractors, adversaries and enemies. One must know their opponent to overcome them. Remove the anger from your hearts, for hate begets more hate. Listen though your heart and the spirit will guide you. Be kind to one another, support each other as our ancestors did. We must not act like the dominate culture with greed and ego. “Ego is the absence of Wisdom; For wisdom is to serve the greater good, while ego is to serve ones own self preservation.” We must avoid evil if we are to ever heal and apply our energies in a positive way. Learn that all the material wealth can not go with you to the spirit world. Materialism is a nice comfort, but learn what our ancestors taught, generosity and reciprocity.
Stop the hate. Indian people need to adapt a National Commandment that states, “We Shall Not Speak Ill Of Another Indian”. Constructive criticism is healthy it is a chance to not find fault but to improve upon another’s hard work professionally. Personal attacks and character assassination only lower that persons virtue to a level worst than the person they are criticizing. So do you speak through your heart by the spirit or do you speak through your ego? Who do you serve? Whose god are you serving, your own god of ego or the god who serves the greater good of all mankind? That day will come when each one of us must answer that question.
Character, Honor, Integrity, Humility and Sacrifice are the core of Traditional Indian Warriors and Leadership; there is no substitute. Be a good leader by setting an example for your people. Leadership is sacrifice and commitment by humbly serving the people before your own needs. Understand your strength comes from the people and leadership is a gift from the people; use it wisely. Put your people before yourself and you will always be first in the eyes of your people. Be distrustful of disenrollment, for you might be disenrolling all Indian sovereignty; the U.S. Congress (big brother) is watching. Remember, titles are to give structure to an organization. It was not meant to confer power in the hands of a few. Be a wise leader, listen and lead from your heart.
If we are to ever achieve true sovereignty then we must put our petty differences aside and stand united as One. Unity will be our great wall against the flood of the corruption and materialism from the dominate culture. For their houses, families and communities are divided. Their children easily succumb to substance abuse and peer pressure, their spirits are sleeping. A strong family and community values are positive preventative measures. The Mormon religion highly values “love your family and your neighbor” above materialism. They live in crime free communities with a communal sense of respect for all mankind. Despite their strong spiritual belief that parallels our native spiritual culture, they live in spiritual harmony while utilizing technological materialism to better their daily lives without allowing it to dominate or destroy their communities and family cohesiveness. What has happen to our Indian communities? We must keep our daily lives in perspective with prioritizing family, community, cultural and spiritual ceremonies by placing them first, not last. Get involved be committed to your families and communities. For our traditional ways are a “Repository of Moral Wisdom.”
When your prayers are so heavy with the pain and suffering for your people that the tears run down your face while your body trembles and falls to the ground because your heart can not endure the evil inflected upon our people, that is when you are walking a spiritual path for your people. That is when leadership will spring from your heart and the people will come before ones own personal needs. You must feel their pain to heal their hearts.
As a collective national indigenous people we need intellectual debate in a positive arena of ideas to find common ground with uncommon solutions. An example is the AMERIND Risk Management Corp, a not-for-profit American Indian insurance company. What a great idea to serve our peoples needs. We need to keep the Circle strong through sharing knowledge while focusing on wisdom and the spiritual vision to better our people’s lives. Yet, be not afraid to think outside the circle when it comes to the dominate culture. We can be a positive advocacy "think tank" of dedicated proactive Native American leaders who volunteer their time, money and resources for the betterment of all Indian people. Our goal should be to create strategies to find solutions to continuing problems in Indian Country. We need programs that encourage self sufficiency, not dependency. For the governments dependency programs has created third world poverty resulting in the social ills of abuse and lack of self respect.
We need to encourage the legions of volunteers to participate in positive activities for example; spiritual, traditional, community and activism. We should encourage our people to work within the educational, political and legal institutions of America as needed. To more effectively utilize those institutions knowledge to empower our People with the tools to develop a better future. Yet, we must not allow them to influence our traditional culture. We need to challenge and question the political, social and contemporary status quo. To become the voice of the people, especially those who have no voice.
Keep your spirit strong for our time is coming. Some have seen the visions and have heard the prophecies. The time to heal is NOW. As warriors we will continue this political battle with the dominate culture. For real sovereignty and unity is not just a dream if we continue to believe in something greater then ourselves. After generations of unbearable suffering and sacrifice we are still here, and growing spirituality stronger with each day. I have always stated that the Indian Wars have never ended just the tactics have changed, for today our new weapons are the pen and the projectiles are now our words. They (the writers of history) can not keep avoiding the arrows of truth forever.
"That takes dedication and faith in Indian people that somehow, someday, Indians will UNITE and become the force that they should." Vine Deloria, 1968, published article, "The Sentinel"
Marty Fire Rider, Northern Ontario Ojibwe
Submitted by Stephanie
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