Thursday, January 19, 2017
“Prayer is more powerful than any man-made law…Mother earth is calling out to all of us who can pray.” ~ Water protector at Standing Rock. Photo by John Briggs
In the last few days the country received the news that the Obama administration has put a stop to the construction of the Dakota pipeline, and will seek alternative routes that do not invade the sacred Sioux lands or threaten their water supply. Many see this as a victory for the tribes who stood their ground. A victory it is, but a victory of far greater significance than the rerouting of a pipeline. Far more was taking place at Standing Rock than what appeared to be the story. What follows are excerpts from a report by John Briggs, who along with other members of the Contemplative Alliance visited Standing Rock.
Robert Toth, John Briggs, and Tiokasin Ghosthorse traveled October 5-11 to the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. Since the spring of 2016 members of over 300 tribes from the US and around the world have come to Standing Rock as “Water Protectors” to stop a crude oil pipeline slated to run beneath the Missouri River immediately upstream of several Sioux reservations. The travelers represented the Contemplative Alliance, an inter-spiritual movement based on the premise that inner spiritual work can change the course of things and significantly impact the external world. This belief was in clear evidence at Standing Rock where for many months thousands engaged in prayer, meditation and sacred ceremonies around the clock in order to protect the sacred lands and waterways. Indeed it was this prayer energy and Mother Earth’s response that led to the successful retreat of the Dakota pipeline.
The Lakota word for “white man” is Wasi’chu (Wa SHE choo). Wasi’chu means literally, “takes too much.” Early in our visit to Standing Rock, our colleague, Tiokasin Ghosthorse, tells us the Wasi’chu story. He says that at a time when the Europeans arrived, a starving immigrant showed up in a Lakota camp. Nutrient rich tallow fat from the sacred buffalo was drying on racks in the sun. Without asking, the man seized and consumed all the tallow that he saw hanging there. Tiokasin tells us, “He didn’t leave any for anyone else. The Lakota had never observed that behavior before.” So the Lakota word for “white man” describes this takes-too-much behavior and attitude–a manifestation of his thought process–not his skin color. The term Wasi’chu applies to any non-native.
The “takes too much” behavior of the Wasi’chu encapsulates metaphorically what the Standing Rock movement to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is about. As the indigenous peoples of North America come together and pray–creating an historic movement to prevent Wasi’chu’s latest desecration of nature–they illuminate a profound difference between the everyday holistic consciousness that has guided indigenous peoples since Paleolithic times, and the everyday aggressively anthropocentric (human-centered) consciousness that has led to our contemporary world. The visit to Standing Rock that Bob, Tiokasin, and myself made for five days in early October 2016, provided us with an unsettling glimpse into the mirror that the first peoples have been holding up to us since first contact. That mirror provided an enlightening perspective on how indigenous peoples view our Wasi’chu consciousness.
Native Peoples understand, with an anguish that we don’t feel, that the Wasi’chu form of human-centered, or anthropocentric, consciousness has conjured up idea-things such as profit, ownership, domination, salvation, information, knowledge, the mainstream media (with its limited attention span), and the vast empire of science and technology. Wasi’chu consciousness has commodified nature, leading to the oil extraction technology and corporate profit dogmas that drive the Dakota Access Pipeline to the brink of completing $ 3.8 billion line intended to carry toxic shale sands crude oil underneath the Missouri River just north of the Standing Rock reservation.
We learn from Tiokasin that in the Lakota’s earth-mind way of thinking (and experiencing), water is a living being. Beings, Tiokasin says, “are not objective or subjective,” whether the Lakota are talking about the beings we call animals, plants, rocks, or water. Mother Earth is not made of things but of beings. The being of water is the First Consciousness of Mother Earth. This First Consciousness means “the awareness of the movement that sustains life.” Water provides a “shining mirror to the universe, its transparency offers a model and a path to creation.” Water, Mni, he says can be translated as “that which carries the feeling between you and me” –and the “you” and “me”–and the “you” and “me” are not just humans: trees, sky, wind. Mni also translates as “mother’s milk” or a “mother’s breast.” This is earth-mind thinking. The Lakota are calling attention to water in a way that makes you feel water as you and as your connection to Mother Earth.
For many of the first peoples drawn to Standing Rock, the central issue is not the environment as an organic assemblage of objects, as it is something profoundly spiritual. For many of the first peoples drawn to Standing Rock, the central issue is not the environment as an organic assemblage of objects, as it is something profoundly spiritual, an issue of human consciousness and purpose in the mystery of life, an issue of solidarity with one’s relatives: the water, the buffalo, the hawks, the grass, the wind, the hills and the countless beings that cohabit the earth along with the individual, collective and ancestral spirits of the human tribe, the last tribe of beings to appear on this earth, and still the most ignorant.
We arrive at Standing Rock to observe, experience, and acknowledge the earth-mind spirit, if we can find it, in addition to offering our support to the practical effort to stop the pipeline. The brief meeting with Starkey [Lakota elder] alerts us to a truth that will become abundantly clear as the week wears on: What the first peoples bring to this moment in history is a spiritual awareness of the earth that indigenous cultures (including about 500 extant tribes in the US alone) have kept vibrantly alive for 10,000-20,000 years and that has no parallel in the consciousness of the dominant anthropocentric society. The earth-mind is a spirituality of reciprocity and obligation to the natural world in all its manifestations–a spirituality of intimate, holistic relationship with other beings. Mitakuye Oyasin [literally, “my relatives you all are”] is the central expression of this spirituality: we are all related, all beings, animate and inanimate, are related.
Our speculation is that when early humans roamed the world, maybe even when they were still evolving, they naturally possessed the anthropocentric mode of consciousness that allowed them to invite new technology and navigate their terrain by engaging it as objects. At the same time, their holistic earth-mind mode of consciousness kept them in touch with all their relations, with the understanding that the Buffalo they chased and killed was not actually an object; it was a being, a spirit, a relationship, a gift for their own existence so that they could enjoy the blessings of life.
Standing Rock seems to be a proving ground for a process that some here term the “de-colonization” of Native people’s consciousness. Simply put, de-colonization means scraping away the anthropocentric thinking encrusted on the earth-mind by the forced education of generations of Native Americans; many were removed from their parents’ homes, forbidden to use their native language, restricted or forbidden to engage in their religious ceremonies, propagandized into the anthropocentric ideas of ownership, economic advancement (the American Dream, or as Starkey might put it, the American Illusion) and conditioned to the American ideals of ambition, evaluation, and status, and the supreme importance of the self and ego. All of that overlay obscures the earth-mind and leaves people born into Native cultures with sicknesses difficult to heal.
Simply put, de-colonization means scraping away the anthropocentric thinking encrusted on the earth-mind by the forced education of generations of Native Americans. One level of de-colonization seems to involve resetting the relationships among the tribes, a coming together over the deep roots of Indigenous spirituality.
“When you have peace with Earth, she is the ultimate consciousness. She is the first consciousness. She is the sanity. She is the intelligence…Why aren’t we asking her, can we go to war? Why aren’t we asking her, can I build here? Why aren’t we asking her, can I take your water? We are not doing that because we’re assuming that that one god said this was built for you.” ~ Tiokasin Ghosthorse
From the Native perspective, Standing Rock is a spiritual action, Mitakuye Oyasin, not a political action. Because for the first peoples, spirituality means relating with the earth, our anthropocentric, human-centered consciousness doesn’t provide us with the language that can adequately describe it, we should probably first accept that the Indigenous peoples simply think and feel differently than we Wasi’chu do about what we rather blandly call the environment.
LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, the woman who started them movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline by allowing land she owns to become the site of the Sacred Stones camp, said “the camps that have grown up near Cannon Ball, North Dakota are about “healing and empowerment of the people. I see song and dance and sharing and families and children. So much more is happening there than what we we’re allowed [to see] with the press right now.” “Did you see where I live? Oh, my god, it is so beautiful. I mean every day the buffalo are out there. The eagles are out there. I love my river.”
“Every breath in our body is a prayer. You are a prayer answered by our ancestors.” ~ Woman water protector at Standing Rock.
Linda Black Elk (Catawba Nation) is an ethno-botanist, restoration ecologist and instructor at Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates, North Dakota, on the Standing Rock Reservation. She has been present at the movement since its start on April 1, 2016 on Ladonna’s property. “Over and over, people come to the camp and then they leave camp and they say to me that they miss it. My soul wants to be there. Because it’s so positive. I think a big part of it is unity. “We are seeing the tribes—and not just the native people, our allies—coming together. It’s just so beautiful to witness. Because we are the peaceful revolution. We are working to heal all these past wounds of mother earth, also of ourselves, our souls. She says, “The other day there were folks from a country near southern Africa and they were playing their drums. It’s not just Lakota drums, it’s drums from all over the world that are coming and singing and praying for the planet. This is the center of the universe right now.”
Prayer — ceremony and ritual — is communitarian. When there is a disturbance in the balance, when Earth is traumatized and grieving, her Spirit calls out to all beings to pray with her, and those who pray hear her and come, bringing their spirit to the place of her pain. Their presence is their prayer and the connection of their spirit to the spirit of the place, and all who are present there makes it difficult to leave it until balance is restored. That is the calling of the Natives gathered at Standing Rock. The prayerful response at Standing Rock confronts the destructive spirit driving the construction of the pipeline to bring it back into balance. Until the spiritual balance is restored, the physical destruction continues.
When we hear Indigenous people say that they are standing at Standing Rock “to protect the water” we think of their heroic action as one opposing the modern day consumer culture and protecting a fundamental environmental resource. But the truth is they are protecting something more fundamental than that. They are protecting the spirit of earth, which includes the human spirit. They’re doing their job as humans.
This is the deeper significance of what has been taking place at Standing Rock.*
This report comprises extracts from a full report by John Briggs.
Kin 136: Yellow Rhythmic Warrior
I organize in order to question
I seal the output of intelligence
With the rhythmic tone of equality
I am guided by my own power doubled.
In the galactic lexicon an archetype is a model of behavior based on an inherited memory pattern represented in the mind by a universal symbol.*
*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017.
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Ajna Chakra (Gamma Plasma)
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Yankton Sioux Elder, Faith Spotted Eagle.
Faith Spotted Eagle is an activist and PTSD counselor. She is a member of the Yankton Sioux Nation who helped block development of the Keystone XL pipeline and now the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
The elder and water protector has been at the forefront of the struggle against DAPL since it began. She has testified before members of the U.S. House of Representatives, written personally to President Barack Obama and even gotten a vote for President herself, from the Electoral College. She was the first Native American to receive an electoral vote for President of the United States, garnering one from a so-called faithless elector in Washington State, who cast a vote for her over Hillary Clinton. Amid all this, Spotted Eagle found time to sit down with Longhouse Media on a few occasions and talk about what makes the DAPL fight so important.
In this interview, Faith discusses the far-reaching impacts of the “Settler Colonialism” mentality, and its pervasive role in shaping current issues affecting the camps at Standing Rock. Namely, the increasing role of white organizers in relationship to an indigenous-centered movement and how this shift could change the overall intentions of the camp. She is concerned that the new demographic, of roughly 80 percent non-Native water protectors, taking up space and making independent decisions at Oceti Sakowin Camp, is more reflective of the larger American society than an indigenous-led initiative. This highlights the need to confront settler colonialism within the movement itself, she explains. Without meaning to, some of the non-Natives who come to help are in fact seeking something.
“We have non-Native people who come here, bless their hearts, who are looking for their spirits,” she says. “Now they’re looking to try to be Indians. And we don’t have their answer.”
This is one in a series of conversations with Faith Spotted Eagle at Standing Rock, North Dakota, in December 2016, conducted by Longhouse Media.*
Kin 155: Blue Overtone Eagle
I empower in order to create
I seal the output of vision
With the overtone tone of radiance
I am guided by the power of abundance.
The Earth, the stars, the Sun and all the planets are ultimately divine creation thought-forms emanated from a Central Source.*
*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017.
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Muladhara Chakra (Seli Plasma)
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
White Self-Existing Wizard/ White Galactic World-Bridger - Resonant Monkey Moon of Attunement, Day 8
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King’s Quotes on Humanism an Inspiration and Source of Support for Rights of Indigenous Peoples
On August 28, 1963 when more than 250,000 people gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. for a massive civil rights march, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was introduced as “the moral leader of our nation.” The civil rights leader, scholar and Baptist minister took the stand and began his famous “I have a dream speech” with the following words: “I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.”
King talked about Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which he said was a beacon of hope for “millions of Negro slaves seared in the flames of withering injustice.” He could easily have included “millions of Indigenous Peoples” in that statement since the United States was founded on the genocide and labor of Indigenous Peoples and African slaves. A year later, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. By the time King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, he had expanded his vision of freedom and civil rights for African Americans into a universal message of freedom and human rights for all. Along the way of becoming an American icon of non-violent resistance and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, King left a legacy of soaring oratory on peace, justice, and the dignity of being human. Here are some of his most inspiring words from his writings, speeches and sermons:
“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.”
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
“I want to be the white man’s brother, not his brother-in-law.”
“If physical death is the price that I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive.”
“It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society.”
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
“The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers.”
“Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: – ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”
“We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.”
“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tired into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.”
“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.”
“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”
“In some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”
“When we look at modern man, we have to face the fact…that modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast to his scientific and technological abundance; We’ve learned to fly the air like birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters…”
“I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream—a dream yet unfulfilled.”
“Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away, and that in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”
Other inspiring quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.:
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
“I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events, which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.”
“At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.”
“The world in which we live is geographically one. The challenge that we face today is to make it one in terms of brotherhood.”
“The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education, which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.”
“They tell me that one-tenth of one percent of the population controls more than 40 percent of the wealth. Oh America, how often have you taken necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes.”
“On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ And Vanity comes along and asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But Conscience asks the question ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right. I believe today that there is a need for all people of good will to come together with a massive act of conscience and say in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘We ain’t goin’ study war no more.’ This is the challenge facing modern man.”
“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. … Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”*
Kin 134: White Self-Existing Wizard
I define in order to enchant
I seal the output of timelessness
With the self-existing tone of form
I am guided by the power of heart.
Offer your ego body and all of its attachments to the ether to be absorbed and dispersed
*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017,
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Sahasrara Chakra (Dali Plasma)
Monday, January 16, 2017
Historic Day benefits tribes in Montana, Oklahoma, and California
On Friday, January 13, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Deputy Secretary Michael L. Connor joined with tribes and members of Congress to celebrate the enactment of four historic Indian water rights settlements that will benefit nine tribes.
The celebration included leaders from the Blackfeet Tribe, the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, the La Jolla, Rincon, San Pasqual, Pauma and Pala Bands of Mission Indians, and the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Mission Indians.
U.S. Congressman Tom Cole was also in attendance, along with a number of tribal leaders. During the announcement and celebration, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell thanked the leaders of the tribes in attendance and informed the attendees that the Obama Administration has reached more water settlements than any administration in history.
“With these four agreements, the Obama Administration has completed a dozen landmark Indian water rights settlements – more than any previous administration – that put an end to complex and litigious water rights controversies for 20 tribes in New Mexico, Arizona, Montana, California and Nevada,” Secretary Jewell said. “Today’s celebration marks not only these incredible accomplishments, but the start of a new journey working together to implement these hard-won settlements.
“The settlements, which have been a top priority of this Administration, represent the culmination of generations of hard work and dedication by the tribes and their neighbors,” said Deputy Secretary Connor.
“Each of the settlements had widespread local and bipartisan congressional support, and implementing the agreements will bring much needed investments to Indian country, help stabilize water supplies in various communities, and improve water resources management for all concerned, including non-Indian communities.”
According to the Department of the Interior release, the tribes will be benefiting from $3 billion in funding authorized for Indian water rights settlements to help in providing safe drinking water and support for economic development such as hydroelectric power, agricultural improvement and more in the face of the need for water on many Indian reservations.
The tribes listed by Interior and the corresponding benefits are as follows:
The Blackfeet settlement reflects decades of struggle and commitment by the Tribe – and negotiations with the State of Montana – to quantify and secure a tribal water right of more than 800,000 acre-feet while protecting the rights of existing water users. The settlement includes funding for the Tribe to develop and manage its water resources.
The Pechanga settlement, which will partially settle litigation filed by the United States in 1951, was achieved only after a long and arduous struggle. The Pechanga Band negotiated the settlement with its neighbors, the Rancho California Water District, Eastern Municipal Water District and the Metropolitan Water District. The Band has tirelessly pursued the quantification of its water rights and engaged its neighbors in a multi-year process of building mutual trust and understanding. The resulting settlement benefits all of the parties, securing adequate water supplies for tribal members and encouraging cooperative water resources management among all parties.
The Choctaw and Chickasaw settlement in Oklahoma – the first Indian water settlement to be finalized in that state – reflects a unique and collaborative approach to water management in the Nations’ historic treaty territories. It will advance a collaborative approach to water management and help achieve water security for the State of Oklahoma and the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations. The settlement includes important protections for the Nations’ future and existing water rights, conserves water resources and provides for cooperation in the regulation of water use.
The San Luis Rey settlement allows full implementation of amendments to the 1988 San Luis Rey Indian Water Rights Settlement Act that benefits the La Jolla, Rincon, San Pasqual, Pauma and Pala Bands of Mission Indians in southern California. The agreement allows the five Bands and the local parties to realize the full benefits of the 1988 Act, including: expressly recognizing the continuing federal reserved water rights of the Bands; addressing the fair allocation of water among the Bands; protecting the water rights of allottees; waiving all past claims the Bands may have against the U.S. regarding water rights and breach of trust relating to water rights; and allowing the Bands to access a trust fund established in 1988 that has now grown to approximately $60 million.
During the event, many tribal leaders came to the podium to express appreciation to the Obama Administration and spoke of the decades-long fights for justice they had endured.
Chickasaw Nation Ambassador at Large Neal McCaleb noted how the Bureau of Indian affairs had not been a friendly ally in history, but now the Interior Department had made considerable progress in restoring long-needed water rights.
Leaders of the Blackfeet Nation spoke well of incoming Secretary Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) and due to his positive history in working with tribes, said they were hopeful for continuous progress in the upcoming administration.
Geneva Fitzsimmons, Vice Chair of the San Luis Rey Authority perhaps summed up the day’s event with a sincere statement of appreciation. “This is more than just a water rights settlement. It is a lifetime of work and effort. It wasn’t always easy. I dreamed of this day.”*
by Vincent Schilling
Kin 133: Red Electric Skywalker
I activate in order to explore
I seal the output of space
With the electric tone of service
I am guided by the power of navigation.
The components of all creation (past, present, future) can be located synchronically on the always-existing screen of the ever-present now.*
*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017.
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Anahata Chakra (Silio Plasma)
Sunday, January 15, 2017
Native American Passion by Brad Robertson More.
Decolonizing Native America and Palestine:
New Book by Steven Salaita
Steven Salaita’s new book, Inter/Nationalism: Decolonizing Native America and Palestine, explores possibilities for shared academic research about Indigenous Peoples against a background of activism in global decolonization efforts. He writes in an academic tone, but repeatedly focuses on intersections between academics and actions.
Steven Salaita engages multiple layers of history, theory, and politics. The very title of the book raises complex challenges: He posits “inter/nationalism” as a mode of thinking about relations among self-determining peoples, differentiating it from “internationalism” as the name for a unified global order arranged by the dominant (and dominating) states.
The Standing Rock water protectors provide a good example of Salaita’s concept of “inter/nationalism”: “action and dialogue across borders, both natural and geopolitical…[among] heterogeneous communities…attached to particular land bases.” Standing Rock did not stand alone, but was joined across natural and geopolitical borders “in…contestation to the Western state.” To the extent the “Western state” represents the global “international order,” Standing Rock represents Indigenous Peoples worldwide.
Salaita’s subtitle links Palestine and Native America, implying not only that Israeli Zionism constitutes colonialism, but tying Zionism to American colonialism and positioning Palestinians and Native Americans as subjected to a single (though complex) colonial phenomenon.
Steven Salaita’s book may be characterized as a “radical” approach to contemporary world politics; but we must be clear what we mean by the word. Some people use “radical” as an epithet, meaning “extremist”; but the word actually means “going to the root” or “foundation.” Salaita’s book goes to the historical and political roots of international colonialism and explores the foundations of inter/national decolonization.
The quickest way to see the roots of international colonialism—including Native American and Palestinian—starts with understanding the slogan, “A land without a people for a people without a land.” This slogan, used in the 19th – 20th century Zionist movement to establish the state of Israel, means the same thing as the doctrine of Christian Discovery—terra nullius—”no one’s land”—originating in 15th century papal bulls authorizing Christian colonization and domination of “heathens and pagans” in the “New World.”
Thus, Johnson v. McIntosh (1823)—repeated in Tee-Hit-Ton v. U.S. (1954) and cited hundreds of times—declared the American federal government to be the owner of all the lands of Indigenous Peoples across the continent—on the quasi-legal religious basis that they were non-Christians.
The Israeli state shares the messianic, Biblical origin story from which the papal bulls were issued: a “chosen people” destined to carry out a “divine mandate” to occupy lands where others were already living. Those “others” do not count; they have not been “chosen” by God. In fact, as the Bible stories show, the “others” are targeted for “removal” and domination.
If I may take a detour here, we will see how the fundamental (“root”) Bible story sets up the foundation for ongoing wars of domination among the three branches of the Family of Abraham—Christians, Muslims, and Jews—as each of them tries to claim God’s “covenant” to “inherit the Earth” (a colonial project).
God’s covenant with Abraham offers an explicitly colonial mandate and promise: “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. … At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land” [Genesis 12, 15 (NIV)].
The covenant “to give the land” informs a multi-pronged history of mission, crusade, settlement, colony, and jihad, as Abraham’s “offspring” fight each other to claim the fruits of the covenant. Belief in a divine mandate to “inherit the earth” remains today a major obstacle to peace in the world.
Salaita explores the ways that Palestinians and Zionists both claim to be “like the American Indians.” Steven Salaita, while disputing the Zionist claim, points out that each party thus acknowledges the “moral authority” of American Indians through their dispossession and domination by America.
Steven Salaita takes pains to insist that American domination of Indigenous Peoples constitutes an ongoing, present process, similar to the present conflicts in Palestine. The two colonialisms are both “past” and present. This view echoes a line in William Faulkner’s 1951 novel, Requiem for a Nun: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
Through a kind of mirroring process, Biblical dispossession of the Canaanites provides the paradigm for American dispossession of Indigenous Peoples, and that dispossession in turn provides the paradigm for understanding Israel in Palestine today.
The “past” of American colonialism exists in present-day doctrines of federal Indian law, enforced by courts, carried out by agencies, and sometimes—oddly enough, when you think about it—endorsed by Indians.
The U.S. doctrines of “trust” and “plenary power” are rooted in Christian domination, yet they are applied as if they were somehow part of a “government-to-government” relationship. The Israeli state’s “occupation” of Palestinian lands and overall militarization of the region dispenses with any notion of “trust,” but relies heavily on an application of “plenary power.”
Salaita’s book weaves stories of on-the-ground activism, but primarily explores ways in which Palestine becomes an academic subject for Native American Studies and Native American Studies becomes important for the study of Palestine. He demonstrates the extent to which academic departments and disciplines carry “political agendas,” not necessarily as overt programs, but—more insidiously—as paradigms for the management of research and writing.
As Salaita recounts, the operation of academic institutions and professional associations reveals underlying—and sometimes overt—perspectives that try to bind “rationality” and “objective research” to “neoliberal” views that devalue and demean Indigenous Peoples, in favor of global capital and a nation-state world order.
Ultimately, Steven Salaita positions “Inter/Nationalism” as a challenge to the narrowness of academic boundaries, specifically with regard to the boundaries that try to keep the study of Palestine separate from the study of Native Americans. He cites for this project not only the work of academics, but also the writing of poets—an unusual partnership that allows Salaita to say that the decolonizing project becomes “most profound at a level of discourse and ideology”—how people think, talk, and imagine.*
by Peter d’Errico
d'Errico graduated from Yale Law School in 1968. He was Staff attorney in Dinébe’iiná Náhiiłna be Agha’diit’ahii Navajo Legal Services, 1968-1970, in Shiprock. He taught Legal Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1970-2002. He is a consulting attorney on Indigenous issues.
Kin 132: Yellow Lunar Seed
I polarize in order to influence
I seal the process of free will
With the lunar tone of challenge
I am guided by the power of flowering.
All of the ever-present "nows" that ever existed are happening in this ever-present now.*
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Manipura Chakra (Limi Plasma)
Saturday, January 14, 2017
A detail of Diego Rivera’s “Flower Day,” 1925.
From now through May 7, 2017, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is showing an exhibition entitled Picasso and Rivera: Conversations Across Time. The presentation chronicles a parallel expression and development by both Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Diego Rivera (1886-1957) in their artistic, philosophical, and personal discussions. Both painters rebelled against the domination of Greco-Roman art standards and methods that ruled the art world when both men were young students.
Picasso and Rivera sought ways to move beyond European Greco-Roman art as the ideal and leading form of artistic expression. Both painters looked back into their indigenous roots to find alternatives to the goals, values, and artistic rules of Western Civilization. Rivera was a Mexican, and he looked to studying and interpreting the indigenous cultures, histories, and art of the Aztecs, Mayans, and other Indigenous Peoples of Mexico and Latin America. Picasso looked to the indigenous cultures of Spain, and to the cultures and art that pre-dated the Greek colonization and Roman conquest. In both cases, the artists were influenced by pre-Christian worldviews, art, and national political identities. Rivera collected thousands of indigenous art pieces, studied the Popul Vu, a Mayan creation story, and used indigenous themes and patterns in his art.
Picasso and Rivera grounded their work in the roots of their indigenous ancestors and cultures. They both developed an understanding of their indigenous cultures, and wanted to express those worldviews.
The facade of Greco-Roman art civilization was not wholly rejected, but rather seen as a late layer of human culture and expression. Western civilization tried to extinguish indigenous cultures and knowledge in history and throughout the world. Both artists rejected the total domination of Greco-Roman art. They wanted to recover art that expressed cultural continuity with indigenous cultural roots and history.
Picasso and Rivera worked out worldviews that did not hide or destroy indigenous roots and reaffirmed expressions of indigenous culture and knowledge. They rejected the mono-cultural domination of colonial Western art, but at the same time synthesized the patterns from Greco-Roman art and worldview, with patterns, variations, and extensions based on their studies and expression of indigenous concepts. Politically, both Picasso and Rivera were strongly democratic, and opposed to the fascist movements of Franco in Spain and Hitler in Germany.
Picasso and Rivera wanted to restore the principles of indigenous being and presence to the world, and do so through their artwork. For both painters, the indigenous worldview and ways continue in contemporary life, history, art, and politics. The Western political and artistic tradition wants to push the indigenous art, politics, and philosophy to the sidelines, into the dustbin of history.
While both painters are students of indigenism in their own national histories, they do not engage contemporary Indigenous Peoples and traditions. Rivera works within a pattern of Mexican Mestizo nationalism, and is interested in the ways that Mestizo Mexicans draw on indigenous cultural symbolism and history to help form contemporary Mexican national identity. However, the Mestizo and Mexican nationalist positions are also rejections of a contemporary indigenous position.
Picasso draws on a fuller range of history, culture, meaning, and artistic expression that includes indigenous historical, cultural and artistic expressions. But he, too, does not engage contemporary indigenism, and tends to use indigenous knowledge as an expression of non-indigenous nation building, or civilization building, or a base for artistic expression. As Picasso and Rivera so ably express, the foundations of contemporary cultures rest on indigenous relations and knowledge. Indigenous Peoples, however, are also part of the contemporary world, and contributors to both the past and present-day artistic and cultural diversity.*
by Duane Champagne
Pablo Picasso, “Student With Newspaper,” 1913-14.
Kin 131: Blue Magnetic Monkey
I unify in order to play
I seal the process of magic
With the magnetic tone of purpose
I am guided by my own power doubled.
Everything that appears is a passing ephemeral manifestation, and yet it represents some deeper construct or value of another dimension.*
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Visshudha Chakra (Alpha Plasma)