Editorial from RavenHawk (12/30/99)

I sit and look across the valleys that lay in between the Smoky mountains as the North Carolinian sun slowly lowers itself to the horizon in the last few hours of the day. Somehow the beauty always seems magnified as a day is just beginning or just about to end. I guess that one is literally seeing things in a different light.

I have been fortunate to have always lived in places that were filled with natural beauty. Never have I known what it is like to live in a city, town or suburbs, or to live close to a highway or to have neighbors too close by. But I try to never take these things for granted. I could always appreciate such things as having the woods within a few yards of my back door, a running stream close by and the sights and sounds of wildlife being an everyday experience. My experience of these things haven't been from the outside looking in, either. I grew up here in the eastern mountains where neighbors didn't live too close. Where raising chickens, hogs, beef, gardens and canning your food was a part of life. From the time I was old enough to be carried on my dad's shoulders, I have spent a major part of my free time roaming the woods and being close to the earth.

My ancestry, like many, is comprised of many races. In my European family tree there is German, Scottish, Irish, Dutch, Italian and who knows what else. My American family tree consists of Cherokee and Cayuga and possibly a few others. I, as many others, choose to follow the path of my Native American ancestors. This leads to the point at hand. First, how many people are ever asked if they are able to prove any of their "White" European blood? Secondly, how often does anyone have to prove a bloodline before they will be allowed to worship a certain way? Very seldom, I assure you... unless you profess to have Native American Blood or want to follow their ways. Then the question is, "Where's your BIA card? These ceremonies are sacred, you can't come in here unless you're Indian.

There are certain groups out there who think that it is fraud, fake, stealing and/or cultural genocide for anyone other than Indians to follow Indian ways or even to be interested. They even discredit their own people, their own elders, who following their vision, share their ways with others. Anyone who is even interested Native American ways is accused of exploiting Native American Spirituality and Ways for monetary gain. Somehow these groups have the crazy idea that everyone is making thousands of dollars and spreading disinformation. Well, I think this is pure childishness. How would it weaken anyone's beliefs, if someone else of a different race believed the same way? The way I believe doesn't tarnish or desecrate your beliefs, does it? A candle looses nothing by lighting another candle.

Well, believe me, it is not the whole Native American population that is on the campaign to limit everything Native American only to Native Americans. The culprits are small vocal groups of Native Americans and others who flourish on media coverage and publicity and think that they speak for all Native Americans. But who elected these people to represent ALL Indian people? Not ALL the Indian people, you can bet. Most Native Elders I have spoken to agree that their ways should be shared with all people and the world would be better off if that happened in a respectful and responsible way. And I've spoken to more than just those out there on the seminar circuit.

I know that there are people out there who will abuse anything. There are those who are blatantly selling and desecrating Native Spirituality. There are those types everywhere and in every culture. And it's wrong! But is this any reason for anyone to play the "This is mine and you can't have it," game? People are called to certain paths and I don't believe that the Creator plays racial favorites. Even if a race could own a belief system, where does that leave children of interracial marriages, adopted people, etc.

So what are things coming to? What do these groups want? Are we going to have to have racial identification cards in order to practice our spiritual beliefs? Boy, wouldn't that be a mess to sort out?

There's a law in effect that states that for a person to make Indian art etc. and/or to sell it as Indian made, the maker has to have a BIA card or be listed as an Indian artisan to prove its Indian made. Prevents fraud, sure. But where does it leave all the real Indians who are not federally or state recognized?

Is the same going to happen to religion and belief systems?

Don't get me wrong, the BIA card/government relationship serves a  wonderful  purpose. But the Bureau of Indian Affairs itself admits that there are possibly as many, if not more Indians in the US who are not recognized in any way, state or federally, than those are who are recognized. The ones the government is mainly concerned with are those with whom they have treaties or those who they owe money.

I'm not talking about just people who claim to have Indian blood, but what about those real Indians who don't have the "card"!

Is it going to come down to them being denied their religion because of proof of race? Be real. The whole world has been a melting pot for thousands of years. Who can really prove what they are? Blood wasn't really all that important to people in the past. What really mattered was what was in a person's heart, what they stood for and believed in. Who can help what blood they were born with?

It can all get really sloppy and complicated when you mix politics and religion... and then throw in a little racism.  Its kinda like the 1/16 blood Indian with a BIA card who called the full blood without a card a wannabe.

It is sad for all this mess to come about at a time when most feel should he a time of sharing, at a time when we all need healing, the Earth and all our relations need healing.

Perhaps now would be a time to quote a person who is above reproach, even to those groups who are screaming  fake, fraud and genocide. It is a quote from Fools Crow of the Teton Sioux who was possibly one of the greatest Holy men of this century. It is from the book: Fools Crow, Wisdom and Power, page 18, by Thomas E. Mails.

Fools Crow said.

"The survival of the world depends on our sharing what we have and working together. If we don't, the whole world will die. The ones who complain and talk the most about giving away medicine secrets are always those who know the least."

Enough said!

I hope you enjoy EarthKeeper, find it's content informative and helpful in your life and will continue to send in letters and articles. It is not an easy task to put together a site such as this, even a small one without the support of friends, visitors and readers. Thanks for all your support! We are always open to suggestions and encourage you to have your say about what we are doing. Either way, good or bad, let us know! If there is something you would like to see in EarthKeeper, tell us! We will make every effort to conform to our reader's wishes.

Remember, we need to continue to make our voices heard or we will continue to loose rights daily. We must be strong and stand together or the few in power will own us.

May you walk in a sacred manner!


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