Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Inupiat Spirit Mask.
Arctic Drums and Dreams: A Journey in the Inupiat Spirit World:
Inupiat history is filled with tragedy and resiliency
The plane trip north from Seattle is always a memorable one, skirting along edges of jagged green forests, flying high over deep-blue emerald waters of the Inland Passage. We are now above the clouds as I page through a tattered copy of Anchorage, Alaska’s visitor’s guide, loaded with glossy back-country photographs, alluring images of glacial cruises, ads for world-class fishing resorts and weekend specials for upscale restaurants.
Beneath the surface of Alaska’s magnificent landscapes, her Arctic drilling controversies and media-blitzed Iditarod lie hidden worlds. Remnants of a fragile yet dynamic spiritual reality reside here, having sustained Native peoples who for thousands of years have lived on the edge of the Seward Peninsula. The history of the Inupiat is a saga riddled with the catastrophic impacts of acculturation, 20th century epidemics and the traumatic loss of traditional culture and values. It’s also a story of resiliency, economic savvy and precarious survival based on a spirituality that has sustained a 12,000-year-old subsistence culture. The state’s Department of the Interior identifies 11 distinct cultural groups, and 20 languages and dialects among its 120,000 identified Alaska Natives. Those of Inupiat and Yupik descent live mostly in communities scattered along the rim of Alaska’s Seward Peninsula and North Slope, a part of the world some geographers call the most physically inhospitable place on Earth.
Educated and trained in theology and psychiatric disciplines, much of my professional life has been spent working with mental-health agencies, faith-based interfaith organizations and tribal communities in the Pacific Northwest. After conversations with Inupiat elders, an Alaskan Lutheran bishop and a village school counselor, I accepted an invitation a few years ago to assist in facilitating a series of dream circles as part of a spring gathering for five Inupiat village churches. During my time with them, village elders requested I offer a presentation on suicide and dreams for a community wellness conference at Brevig Mission, a small fishing community on the edge the Bering Sea. Out of respect, I left my camera behind.
In the snow-covered city of Anchorage I’m served tea in the modest home of John and Louise Maakestad. Now in their 80s, the couple talk about their years serving remote Inupiat missions in Shishmaref and Nome and their work with Natives in Anchorage. I’m told their personal library holds Alaska’s best collection of original journals and documents tracing the Native mission work on the Seward Peninsula.
My hosts talk about missionaries who have served the peninsula Native churches. Official histories of mission work in Alaska generally perpetuate the heroic archetypes of missionaries, but John Maakestad doesn’t buy it. After reading the last correspondence of Tollef Brevig, founder of the Seward Peninsula’s Lutheran mission in the late 1890s, he believes Brevig struggled against the lionization of his contributions. According to Maakestad, there’s evidence Brevig became disenchanted with religious institutions, which he believed pushed their own expectations and needs onto the Eskimos.
Aware that one of the purposes of my journey here is the long-revered tradition of dream work, I mention to the Maakestads a dream Brevig wrote about in his journals. In March of 1896 Tollef and Julia Brevig’s 5-year-old son Carl died from a severe fever.
Early one morning Avitarluk, a chieftain and medicine man, came knocking upon our door and inquiring as to how Carl was. Our Inupiat visitor had just returned home during the night from a trading tour and heard that Carl was sick. The two were good friends. Frequently Avitarluk would come and sit beside Carl. They enjoyed picture books together all the while prattling on in Eskimo.
“After Carl’s death, a few days later Avitarluk came and told me that in the night he had a dream. He had seen Carl hovering over him on wings like those of angels, which he had seen in pictures. In the dream he tried to grasp Carl but then woke up. He was sorrowful at the time he could not go there where Carl was. I instructed him how he and anyone could go there.
“Avitarluk died from the effect of measles in the city of Nome a few hours after I landed there in June 1900. There was given me then only a few moments opportunity to speak to him. He was so close to death he scarcely recognized me. It was thus impossible for me to determine whether or not he wished to be baptized.”
Louise Maakestad joins us with a cup of tea. She mentions their son Gene died 30 years ago in a hang-gliding accident. She remarks, after a pause, that her son appeared to her in a dream shortly following his death: “He said nothing to me, but was present to me, as if to assure me he was all right.” She continued, her voice almost a whisper, “Inupiat people in Shishmaref frequently talked about such visitations. I thought their experiences were not for me. Until that night.”
It’s shortly before noon. I’m sitting alone in a corner booth with a cup of coffee at the Polar Bar in Nome, Alaska once the state’s most notorious gold-mining town. Pull-tabs lie scattered on the floor, cigarette smoke swirls up toward a dark wood ceiling, neon lights illuminate a shadowed makeshift stage. The jukebox plays country music. The Native bartender is speaking Eskimo with two inebriated middle-aged Inupiat women at the end of a stained bar table.
Once a tent city of 30,000, Nome’s population has dropped to under 3,700, around 55 percent of them of Native descent. This morning the city streets are muddy with melting spring snow. It’s the end of my fourth day here and the last of a series of dream circles for a gathering of several hundred Inupiat people. Services begin each evening at the local church and singing and witnessing goes into early morning.
The dream work takes place late in the morning on consecutive days. Formats for our discussions are simple, informal and framed by ritual. After an opening silence, an Inupiat co-facilitator and I sit in a circle and invite participants to a sharing of dreams. As a group, we focus on one or two person’s experiences and “walk around the dream,” careful not to venture interpretations. We listen and ask thoughtful questions. Over four days we work with 23 specific dreams. Some elicit laughter, others hint of warnings that invoke an eerie silence. Others seem to assure, while some connect time and space in extraordinary ways.
Conversation is gentle, intentionally indirect. There are no formal interpretations. Each circle closes with a prayer for the dreamer.
One 16-year-old—dressed in a Nike sweatshirt, jeans and tennis shoes, his eyes glistening like a deer, hair shoulder length, black as a raven—offers up this dream experience. I ask if it can be shared with others when I leave Nome. He agrees.
“My mother died when I was 2,” he begins. “I never knew her. Two years ago, she returned to me in a dream. I was 14. She walked along the ocean shore asking all about my life. Three times she returned. She didn’t give me any advice, but just was there—just her and me. She was curious about what I saw and felt in my life and asked me a lot of questions. It made me sad. But also strong and thankful.”
From a window of a bush plane 5,000 feet above the ground, the villages of Brevig Mission and nearby Teller appear as two lines of black dots against a vast blanket of ice and snow as far as the eye can see. There’s not a trace of a tree, patch of gravel, or exposed tundra in sight. A friend and his wife working with two Inupiat schools in Teller and Brevig describe to me the light of the sun dancing across the barren brutal horizons as “shifting, awesome magic.”
It’s two a.m. I unroll my sleeping bag on the floor of the Lutheran church in Brevig Mission. A few feet away, stored in a cramped office are some rifles: a .458, a 20-gauge shotgun, and a .30-06. A copy of Tollef Brevig’s journal, published in 1943, lies wrapped in a cloth among boxes and dusty files on the desk. A pail of dried fish fills the room with a dank, sour odor. Parts of snow machines and dog sled harnesses lie scattered in the corner. On the wall, typed on faded brown parchment and set in a simple wooden frame, is a list of 72 names. It reads “Died in the Epidemic July 1916-1919.” The list begins with Howard Meligotok, age 2, and Florence Lignaook, age 11.
Brian Crockett, the Lutheran pastor serving this remote community, is my host. He’s respected by the Inupiat as a hunter and spiritual leader, but he’s an elusive personality—by his own admission, complex, edgy. For 13 years he has lived here as one of only a few non-Natives in Brevig. He served a stint as mayor, and runs one of the village’s two dog teams. His wife teaches in the local school. They have three children. Over a cup of tea, he and I talk about dreams and life on the peninsula. Joe Magby, a strong, clear-eyed village mechanic stops by to chat.
Brevig’s pastor likes to remind visitors that Peninsula Native communities are not “cute little Eskimo villages.” He says addiction, depression and self-inflicted violence are rampant, and there’s a flourishing black-market for alcohol and drugs. A fifth of whiskey bought in Nome for $12, he says, can be sold here for $150. Physical isolation, access to firearms and the abuse of alcohol make for a lethal combination. Alaska’s Division of Behavioral Health reports suicide rates on the Seward Peninsula are much higher than the national average.
Children, elders and villagers, many from the village of Teller, have traveled eight miles by dog sled and snow mobile to fill the school gymnasium for a community health conference tonight. Jones Wongittilin, a 59-year-old recovering alcoholic and Native drug counselor, ends the formal program by talking about his recovery. Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, he tells us that a few years earlier he attended a ceremony at his home on St. Lawrence Island for the blessing of harpoons. During the ceremony a Yupik shaman whispered in his ear, “Every time I walk behind you I hear children crying.” Jones tells the gathering he knew then, at that moment, he needed to turn his life around. “The shaman,” he says, “sensed the pain I carried. He felt the neglect. The abuse of my children.”
Any journey into the spirit world of the Inupiat will never be a disembodied religious experience. In Nome, two days earlier, a social worker passed on to me a pamphlet that’s been circulated among health workers in Alaska for years. Harold Napoleon, a Yupik and a 30-year-old prison inmate, formerly director of Alaska’s Association of Village Council Presidents, wrote an essay in 1991 from a prison cell that’s continued to catch the attention of Alaska’s mental health workers. He struggled to make sense out of the peculiar puzzle that as physical conditions for Eskimo peoples have dramatically improved since the 1960s, depression, addictive behaviors and suicide have dramatically risen.
Napoleon believes memories of the epidemics of the early 20th century, called by many Natives “The Great Death,” lie buried in the unconscious minds of elders. Those epidemics, government sources confirm, killed more than 60 percent of the Native people in Alaska in less than 20 years. It coincided with Christian mission efforts, many of which discredited tribal shamans and their elemental connection to land and language.
Convinced that the impact of this trauma is being passed generation-to-generation, Napoleon wrote, “Education will not save the villages. There must be a spiritual solution.” He called for a recovering of talking circles, traditional connections to the earth, revitalization of indigenous languages, renewal of indigenous religious practices and appreciation for the ancient power of the dream. Napoleon believes that Christian mission efforts, when carried on with respect, can be creative partners in this recovery.
Seventeen years ago I traveled to Shishmaref, a village 80 miles northwest from Teller and Brevig, where I asked about drums. An Inupiat elder led me to a storage shed, lifted up a reindeer hide and showed me two round drums from the Diomede Islands. I asked if they were being used. He shook his head. “Because of Christian teachings,” he said, “drums haven’t been played in our village for as long as anyone can remember.”
The wellness conference, on my last night in Teller, held at the local school gymnasium, begins with the sounds of traditional drumming with the riveting cadence of Eskimo dancing. Dance steps are deliberate, mesmerizing. The staccato rhythm of the drum sinks into one’s bones and heart. In these traditional dances young and old people move in dramatic, coordinated design. Dance movements echo a wider family of the natural world: the whale, sea lion, walrus and bear.
Later that evening, I inquire again about drums in Shishmaref. For a new generation, drumming and traditional dancing, the Inupiat tell me, are becoming part of village life. The drums have returned. I recalled, a day earlier, overhearing Brevig’s pastor, former mayor, hunter and dog sled runner, comment casually to a colleague, “Sorry I missed the meeting the other night. I was over at the community center learning how to Eskimo dance.”
The search for balance and health, for recovery of ancient connections with the earth, continues as a life-death struggle for the Inupiat people. For the rest of us, global wars, environmental degradation and threats of economic collapse increasingly shape modern life. Napoleon’s vision from a prison cell outside Fairbanks holds a promise. Far off on the edge of the Seward Peninsula, in the midst of the broken, shattered communities of the Inupiat, a recovery of the drum, the dance, and the dream are part of a mysterious journey leading us all home.*
By Jon Magnuson
Kin 170: White Magnetic Dog
I unify in order to love
I seal the process of heart
With the magnetic tone of purpose
I am guided by my own power doubled.
Psi bank is to noosphere what brain is to mind.*
*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, February 21, 2017
A group of more than 120 investors have urged banks to pull out of DAPL..
Investors Urge DAPL Banks to Pull Out
Investors with a total of $653 billion in 17 banks helping finance the Dakota Access Pipeline urge pullout.
Investors representing $653 billion in assets are urging banks invested in the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to push for its rerouting away from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation or risk severing of ties.
In a statement addressed to 17 banks, a group including major pension funds such as California’s CalPERS noted the potential “long-term brand and reputation damage resulting from consumer boycotts and possible legal liability” engendered by the closure already of $53 million worth of bank accounts in objection to DAPL financing, as well as the $2.3 billion that could follow suit. Already, several entities have pulled funds from Wells Fargo, including the City of Seattle. Divestment is catching on elsewhere as banks financing DAPL are singled out.
“The undersigned investors, representing $653 billion in assets under management, encourage the banks listed above to address or support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for a reroute of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) that avoids their treaty territory,” the group said in a statement on February 16. “We believe this is warranted to protect the banks’ reputation and consumer base and to avoid legal liabilities. As investors we are very concerned by the reputational and potential financial risks due to these banks being associated with DAPL.”
The statement was addressed to the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (Mitsubishi UFJ), BayernLB (Bayerische Landesbank), BBVA (BancoBilbao Vizcaya Argentaria), BNP Paribas, Citibank (Citigroup), Crédit Agricole, DNB, ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China), ING, Intesa Sanpaolo, Mizuho Bank (Mizuho Financial Group), Natixis, Société Générale, SMBC (Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group), SunTrust Bank, TD Securities (Toronto-Dominion Bank), Wells Fargo.
Signatories include the Episcopal Church, various municipal and union retirement fund portfolios, environmental groups and others. They hail from both the U.S. and Canada.
“We are concerned that if DAPL’s projected route moves forward, the result will almost certainly be an escalation of conflict and unrest as well as possible contamination of the water supply,” the statement said. “North Dakota state and local governments have spent over $22 million on law enforcement costs since August 2016, and demonstrators have already been arrested and cleared from the area with considerable use of force.”*
Kin 169: Red Cosmic Moon
I endure in order to purify
I seal the process of universal water
With the cosmic tone of presence
I am guided by the power of space.
The non-local nature of the mind means that there are worlds or universes that are palpably not present, but which are actually absolutely immediate.*
*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 (Kali Plasma)
Monday, February 20, 2017
At Standing Rock, the day went from bad to worse. In a single day, campers, who call themselves water protectors, were targeted with eviction notices, stricter laws proposed against them, and a formal reminder that the physical fight against the Dakota Access pipeline was coming to an end.
At the center of the Cannon Ball Bridge, a bright morning sun shone down upon planned talks between the water protectors and members of a government coalition set to remove them from historic Treaty lands managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
The conversation on the bridge turned into negotiations. The Army Corps wanted to assess the sprawling network of camps that it said now posed an environmental risk to the Missouri River. Unseasonably warm temperatures had accelerated concerns about spring flooding across an estimated 200 acres where dozens of abandoned structures, cars and cast-off goods such as donated clothes and food remain.
“The Army Corps of Engineers said that it would not raid until after February 22,” said Chase Iron Eyes into a megaphone bullhorn, referring to a Corps-issued deadline to close the lands to water protectors.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribal member stood at the center of dozens of people circled around a pop up card table holding a stack of large, colorful maps. The aerial photographs were exactly the kind one would expect to see from the USACE—grid-like, numbered, and intended for some sort of technical operation.
Among the crowd were those who are still living at the network of encampments behind the nearly yearlong movement to try and stop the Dakota Access pipeline from being routed under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe. An estimated 300 people are believed to be the last resisters remaining from a high of as many as 14,000 people who had journeyed to the reservation’s edge to stand with Standing Rock at the height of the conflict.
Now, those resolved to stay and fight are being accused of threatening the integrity of the very river they had aimed to safeguard from a potential oil spill, judged by the piles of debris and abandoned cars and dwellings that clutter the camps.
“We are all concerned about getting out of the floodplain and onto high ground,” said Iron Eyes. He explained to Corps officials that some people had requested to remain atop a rising slope in the camp known as Media Hill, a nickname stemming from its strong cell phone reception.
But Corps officials told campers that anyone refusing to leave the site after February 22 would be issued citations. Meantime, a policy adviser for the governor’s office also warned campers that calling on law enforcement to assist in crowd control would be a possibility.
“The Army Corps of Engineers, after the 22nd, has the authority to request the assistance of Morton County to remove people for trespassing,” said Levi Bachmeier, referring to the sheriff’s deputies who have for months led the militarized response to the movement.
On Wednesday February 15, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum had stepped up a previously imposed February 22 deadline to clear the camps by issuing an emergency evacuation order, which include the main camp, Oceti Sakowin, plus its sister site, Rosebud, and portions of the Sacred Stone Camp. The order calls for police checkpoints into and out of the campsites, and an accelerated clearing of the land by up to 50 industrial-sized dumpsters a day.
“The current pace of cleanup is not on par for where we need to be,” said Burgum during his Wednesday evening press conference.
The day of his announcement, temperatures had reached into the mid-40s. The next day, when officials from the governor’s office, the Corps and the National Guard turned up to inspect the lands, the forecast called for highs in the mid-50s—almost 25 degrees warmer than the seasonal average.
Across the bridge to the east, the main Oceti Sakowin camp continued to thaw. In recent days, melting snow had steadily churned into vast, shallow pools of water flooding out campers’ tents and teepees. Thick, paste-like mud was forming, too. But instead of moving, many water protectors compensated by lining the earth with hay and wooden pallets to continue their resistance campaign, even though for weeks they had been warned that the area is a known floodplain.
The talks soon ended with private negotiations carried out between Iron Eyes; a second camp representative, Holy Elk Lafferty, and members of the Army Corps. The water protectors called for an extension of the deadline in exchange for allowing inspectors to assess the land. But by midday, the negotiations had failed, and the Corps entered the camps anyway.
Starkly absent from talks were tribal leaders from the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes who continue to battle the pipeline in the courts. Also absent were spiritual leaders and elders who had helped guide the movement at its peak. Even Iron Eyes noticed the independence the movement had taken on.
“The Standing Rock Sioux tribe is here to clean up, but they’re not here to assert any kind of our rights in Treaty territory,” said Iron Eyes, referring to the bulldozers contracted by the tribe to begin the cleanup effort. “They’re not here to evict DAPL. They’re not here to stand strong. They’re here to tell us that we need to leave.”
Across the reservation border, a different land dispute was playing out. Agents with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) handed out trespassing notices to people who had started setting up a new camp just south of the Missouri River, near the Sacred Stone Camp. The two-page document, signed by the BIA Superintendent of the Standing Rock Agency, Sheila White Mountain, alleged that people camped on the tribal trust lands lacked the proper leases to be there.
“Individuals unlawfully occupying the subject property have 10 days to show cause why BIA should not find them in trespass,” White Mountain said in the letter.
A similar notice was reportedly issued to LaDonna Tamakawastewin Allard, the originator of the Sacred Stone Camp. The site is where the first teepee was erected last April. While initially it was once believed that the camp was entirely situated on Allard’s private land, Tuesday’s trespassing notice suggests the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe owns 66 percent of the property and the Army Corps manages an estimated 20 percent. Allard did not immediately return a request for comment.
Meanwhile, at the North Dakota capitol, late Thursday on February 16 the state senate passed three bills directly targeting the protests at Standing Rock. Lawmakers approved measures, nicknamed DAPL bills, that would increase penalties for protest-related activities such as “rioting” and “trespassing.” All of the bills have emergency clauses, meaning they would take effect immediately if signed by Burgum.
As day turned into night, the sound of power tools could be heard on Media Hill. A woman nicknamed Chase said she was helping build a new structure—an art space—that might also be used as a tea room.
When asked about whether she was worried about the Army Corps’ intentions to clear the land by next Wednesday, the spindly, 27-year-old woman just smiled and laughed. “It doesn’t matter,” she said.
That night, news had surfaced that the U.S. Department of the Army would formally publish in the Federal Register its termination of the environmental impact statement to review the Dakota Access pipeline—the latest sign that the battle at Standing Rock was drawing near its close.
Yet those who remained seemed to have a difficult time accepting this hard truth—either that, or their reasons for staying behind remained unclear.*
By Jenni Monet
By Jenni Monet
Kin 168: Yellow Crystal Star
I dedicate in order to beautify
I seal the store of elegance
With the crystal tone of cooperation
I am guided by the power of universal fire
I am a galactic activation portal
The first step to remember your star origins is to bring to consciousness the fact that we are on a planet spinning on its axis and going around the Sun.*
*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, February 19, 2017
Crispus Attucks, Circa 1750.
Crispus Attucks: A Black and Native Shared Narrative That Changed the World
Crispus Attucks is about combined Native and black lineages that resisted, suffered and caused a revolution.
Since white colonization of this continent, Black and Native lives have always been valued less than other people. The story of Crispus Attucks was an early illustration of how there seems to always be a reason why black and Native people get killed that somehow exonerates the authorities of guilt when they harm us. “Self-defense.” But, perhaps most importantly, the story of Crispus Attucks is about combined Native and black lineages that resisted, suffered, but through that resistance caused a revolution.
The year was 1770 and the scene was the Massachusetts Colony. Boston was hot with anger and resentment toward England. 150 years after Pilgrims originally occupied the homelands of the Wampanoag people, the descendants of those Pilgrims felt like they were losing control of the land they called “home.” At that time slavery was legal in the Massachusetts Colony—white colonists enslaved Natives and blacks alike in Massachusetts. For example, in 1638 during the so-called “Pequot Wars,” white colonists enslaved a group of Pequot women and children. However, most of the men and boys, deemed too dangerous to keep in the colony. Therefore white colonists transported them to the West Indies on the ship Desire and exchanged them for African slaves.
The British Parliament was taxing the colonies something vicious. The Sugar Act set a tax on sugar and molasses imported into the colonies and also taxed additional foreign goods including wines, coffee, cambric and printed calico. Timber and iron were included in the products that could be traded only with England. Additionally, there was the Stamp Act, where Parliament taxed everything from newspapers to liquor licenses, to diplomas, contracts, legal documents, calendars, wills and bills of sale. Shortly thereafter, Parliament forced Quartering Act down the colonists throats. The Quartering Act required the colonies to provide housing, food and drink to an additional 40,000 British troops in the American colonies. “We gotta feed and house these people who are taking all our money?? Awwwww hell naw…!”
Life was hard for a colonizer. But it also made life hard for the Indigenous people and the black folks in the Massachusetts colony who were also subject to those taxes.
Crispus Attucks was both Indigenous and black and a product of the slave trade. He was brilliant in the survival skills that is common and necessary amongst both Indigenous people and black people since the brutal regime of white supremacy came to power on Turtle Island. His mother’s name was Nancy Attucks, a Wampanoag Native who came from the island of Nantucket. The word “attuck” in the Natick language means deer. His father was born in Africa. His name was Prince Yonger and he was brought to America as a slave.
Attucks was himself born a slave. But he was not afraid to actively seek his own (or others’) liberation. For example he escaped from his slave master and was the focus of an advertisement in a 1750 edition of the Boston Gazette in which a white landowner offered to pay 10 pounds for the return of a young runaway slave.
“Ran away from his Master, William Brown of Framingham, on the 30th of Sept. last, a Molatto Fellow, about 27 Year of age, named Crispas, 6 Feet two Inches high, short curl’d Hair…,”
Attucks was not going back though—he never did. He spent the next two decades on trading ships and whaling vessels.
The next time history speaks on Attucks, this Native and black escaped slave, he was in Boston in 1770. Tensions were peaking and the colonies thinking “revolution.” It was more than a little bit ironic that the person who sparked revolution for the colonies was a product of Indigenous and black lineages. On March 2, 1770, a fight erupted between some Boston rope makers and three British soldiers. Three nights later, a British soldier looking for work entered a Boston pub and was verbally chided by some Bostonians, including Attucks. In today’s terms we would say that Attucks was engaged in non-violent direct action. All of the Bostonians were unarmed.
The situation quickly escalated. A group of of British redcoats came to the defense of their fellow soldier; that caused more Bostonians to join the verbal altercation and they began throwing snowballs at the troops. The British troops returned snowballs with musket fire, (it was called a “brown bess.”)
Attucks endured and escaped from slavery. That was horrible and shameful enough. Yet it was when Attucks was killed that we truly see that much of white supremacy is almost unchanged from centuries ago. Like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, John T. Williams, Sandra Bland, the people of Flint Michigan, the people of Standing Rock, etc., etc., Attucks essentially became a martyr for white outrage and change. Brown-skinned people have historically been that—a spark for outrage that is co-opted by white causes. With Attucks, he was “the first to defy, and the first to die.” Attucks was not only unarmed, but he was also not fighting. History says that Attucks “was leaning upon a stick when he fell.” Yet, when the British opened fire he was the first of five men killed. Although Attucks was not a commissioned soldier, he died for freedom and his murder made him the first casualty of the American Revolution.
John Adams later defended the armed soldiers in almost exactly the same way that white prosecutors defend police officers when they shoot a brown-skinned or black-skinned person. Acknowledging that Attucks was unarmed, Adams nonetheless said that Attucks “very looks was enough to terrify any person” and that should be enough to acquit the soldiers. Six of the soldiers were acquitted of all charges and two of the soldiers were found guilty on manslaughter. Those guilty soldiers punishment was to be branded on their thumbs.
The story of Crispus Attucks is powerful. Native and black people have been facing the same tribulations and common enemies for a very long time. For most of the time since white people have been on this continent, black folk and Native folk have had no choice but to work together and have. If we look at statistics today—from expulsion/suspension from schools, to the blacks and Natives going to prison, to getting killed by law enforcement—not a lot has changed. We still share very common narratives and need each other.
We still need to work together.*
By Gyasi Ross
Kin 167: Blue Spectral Hand
I dissolve in order to know
I seal the store of accomplishment
With the spectral tone of liberation
I am guided by my own power doubled.
To forget how to read the Book of Nature is to create a civilization of books right down to the internet with its rapidly propagating web pages.*
*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017.
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Manipura Chakra (Limi Plasma)
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Victor Yang ’20 sets up to split some logs on the Clark homestead. Photo by Will Li ’19.
It’s the middle of winter break at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and eight Harvard students are hiking to a cabin through snow and sagebrush in Navajo, N.M., singing Kanye West songs to distract themselves from the unsettling dark.
And so the second year of the Phillips Brooks House Association’s alternative winter break public service trip began. The students traveled to the Navajo Nation reservation to live and work together for a week, forgoing electricity, the internet, and running water as participants in a public service and cultural exchange trip. Navajo undergraduate Damon Clark ’17 also made the trip, one of PBHA’s many immersive opportunities, last year.
“I think this experience not only builds a foundational knowledge of Native Americans and Navajo culture, but also lets Harvard students engage with a community that they’ve never worked with before,” said Clark, a social studies major. “I think getting to know each other’s lifestyles is what’s important when we’re struggling with issues of diversity and history. Harvard has a commitment to Native American students, and these experiences with the larger Harvard community are needed. That’s why I took it on — that’s why I do it.”
Clark shares his devotion to diversity and community-building with the PBHA. A student-run organization that strives for social justice through social service and social action, PBHA endeavors to support community needs and promote social awareness. Officially organized in 1904, today it has 1,500 student volunteers running more than 80 social service programs in tandem with local partners, in areas ranging from health to advocacy to mentoring.
After driving from Albuquerque to Navajo, participants in this year’s trip settled in on the Clark family homestead. It consists mainly of a large shed, a one-room cabin, and a “hogan,” or traditional Navajo house, heated by wood stoves. The students stayed in the hogan, which is regularly used for a variety of ceremonies. Throughout the week, they chopped wood for heat for the nearby families, spent a day at a local high school, hiked Canyon de Chelly, shelled corn with Clark’s parents, and visited the tribal government and Navajo Nation Museum.
“I liked going to sleep early and getting up before 6, and chopping wood,” Andrew Yang ’20 said of his experience, “I liked how good of a workout it was, and how we could help keep someone’s house warm in the process. There isn’t always a lot of time during the semester to volunteer, but the breaks are a perfect time to do it.”
Service was also a draw for Will Li ’19, who is a volunteer for Mission Hill, one of PBHA’s after-school programs: “Public service has given me a sense of purpose in finding small, concrete things I can do to hopefully better the people and communities around me.” Looking back, Li said, “The coolest thing was just getting to live in an authentic Navajo way for a week, doing manual labor, hiking into the homestead, sleeping in a hogan. It gave me a more personal perspective on the culture itself, which is something I don’t think many people get to experience.”
While the Navajo Nation program is PBHA’s only Winter session trip, there are many more run by students through the PBHA Alternative Spring Break program. This spring, students will travel to Mississippi to delve into Civil Rights Movement history, to Louisiana to explore food security and sustainability issues, and to other locations around the country. Programs give students an opportunity to partner with local organizations as they “learn about the social, economic, and political issues affecting the community, all while forging bonds with the people there and with fellow teammates,” the website says.
For Clark, this endeavor is as much about personal growth as it is about respectful cultural exchange and service to the community. “It challenges students to think in a different way. Rather than citing a source, they’re working with it, they’re listening to another person, they’re listening to themselves, they’re without an answer, and they have to figure it out. Putting students outside their comfort zone to truly learn adds to the transformative experience that Harvard aims for.”
Without phones or the internet to fall back on, the shared week left the group feeling good about how they served as well as the connections they made together. “There was a moment at Damon’s grandparents’ house, and we were all just chopping wood,” Li recalled, “and it was like we were all part of a fluid machine — people were chopping, moving, stacking wood — and it felt like we were all connected to each other, because everyone was working so harmoniously.”
Whether it was through working together, discussing Navajo history with the Clarks, or simply reflecting on the day over dinner, students found that the trip challenged them to engage in public service, expand their knowledge of native culture, and, in a broader sense, learn how to connect better as human beings.
“We can get so caught up in what we’re doing at Harvard. We need these kind of breaks,” Clark said simply. That, and the mutual exchange between cultures, he said, are central goals of the trip he hopes will continue in its future iterations.
“You bring Harvard to Navajo, but you also bring Navajo to Harvard.”*
By Amanda Beattie
Kin 166: White Planetary World-Bridger
I perfect in order to equalize
I seal the store of death
With the planetary tone of manifestation
I am guided by the power of timelessness.
Only people with clear perception of their role in the Divine Plan can truly cultivate calm indifference, for they know that they have nothing to lose.*
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Visshudha Chakra (Alpha Plasma)
Friday, February 17, 2017
A portrait of Pocahontas saving the life of John Smith with Father Wahunsenaca. Oral history from the descendants of Pocahontas dictate such a thing could never have happened.
The True Story of Pocahontas:
Historical Myths Versus Sad Reality
Pocahontas had a Native Husband and Native Child; Never Married John Smith
Despite what many people believe due to longstanding and inaccurate accounts in history books and movies such as Disney’s Pocahontas, the true story of Pocahontas is not one of a young Native Powhatan woman with a raccoon friend who dove off of mountain-like cliffs off the coasts of Virginia. (Note: there are no cliffs on the coast of Virginia.)
It is time to bust up the misconceptions perpetuated over 400 years regarding the young daughter of Powhatan chief Wahunsenaca. The truth—gathered from years of extensive research of the historical record, books, and oral histories from self-identified descendants of Pocahontas and tribal peoples of Virginia —is not for the faint of heart.
A Warning To Our Readers: Mature Subject Matter Not Suitable for Children
The story of Pocahontas is a tragic tale of a young Native girl who was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and allegedly murdered by those who were supposed to keep her safe.
Pocahontas’ Mother, Also Named Pocahontas, Died While Giving Birth to Her
This is in many historical accounts, though not always. It is important to note that Pocahontas was born to her mother, named Pocahontas and her father Wahunsenaca, (sometimes spelled Wahunsenakah), who later became the paramount chief.
Her name at birth was Matoaka, which means “flower between two streams,” and according to Mattaponi history was likely given to her because she was born between the two rivers of Mattaponi and Pamunkey (York).
Due to his wife’s death, Wahunsenaca was devastated and little Matoaka became his favorite because she looked like her mother. She was raised by her aunts and other women of the Mattaponi tribe at Werowocomoco.
As was custom at the time, as the Paramount Chief of the Powhatan Chiefdom, Wahunsenaca had other wives from the other villages and little Matoaka had many loving brothers and sisters.
Because of his lingering grief and due to the reminder she gave to him of her mother, Wahunsenaca often called his daughter the endearing name of Pocahontas.
John Smith Came to the Powhatan When Pocahontas Was about 9 or 10
According to Mattaponi oral history, little Matoaka was possibly about 10 years old when John Smith and English colonists arrived in Tsenacomoca in the spring of 1607. John Smith was about 27 years old. They were never married nor involved.
Pocahontas Never Saved the Life of John Smith
The children of the Powhatan were very closely watched and cared for by all members of the tribe. Since Pocahontas was living with her father, Chief Powhatan Wahunsenaca, at Werowocomoco, and because she was the daughter of a chief, she was likely held to even stricter standards and provided with more structure and cultural training.
When she was a child, John Smith and English colonists stayed near the Powhatan on the nearby Jamestown Island, but later began to explore outlying areas. Smith was feared by many Native people because he was known to enter villages and put guns to heads of chiefs demanding food and supplies.
In the winter of 1607, the colonists and Smith met with Powhatan warriors and Smith was captured by the chief’s younger brother.
Because the English and Powhatan feared the actions of the Spanish, they formed an alliance. Eventually and according to oral history and contemporary written accounts by the Mattaponi, Wahunsenaca grew to like Smith, eventually offering him the position of ‘werowance’ or leader of the colonists as recognized by the Powhatan as well as a much more livable area for his people with great access to game and seafood.
Years later, Smith alleged that Pocahontas saved his life in the four-day process of becoming a werowance. But according to Mattaponi oral and contemporary written accounts, there would be no reason to kill a man designated to receive an honor by the chief.
Additionally, children were not allowed to attend any sort of religious ritual similar to the werowance ceremony. She could not have thrown herself in front of John Smith to beg for his life for two reasons: Smith was being honored, and she would not have been allowed to be there.
Pocahontas Never Defied Her Father to Bring Food to John Smith or Jamestown
Some historical accounts claim Pocahontas defied her father to bring food to the colonists of Jamestown. According to the history of the Mattaponi tribe as well as simple facts, these claims could not be true.
Jamestown was 12 miles from Werowocomoco and the likelihood that a 10-year-old daughter would travel alone are inconsistent with Powhatan culture. She as well as other tribal members did travel to Jamestown, but as a gesture of peace.
Additionally, travel to Jamestown required crossing large bodies of water and the use of 400-pound dugout canoes. It took a team of strong people to lift them into the water.
It is likely Pocahontas served as a symbol of peace by simply being present as a child among her people to show no ill intentions when her people met with the Jamestown settlers.
Pocahontas Did Not Sneak Into Jamestown to Warn John Smith About a Death Plot
In 1608 and 1609, John Smith’s role as the werowance (chief) of the colonists had taken an ugly turn. The colonists made inadequate attempts to plant crops to harvest, and Smith violently demanded supplies from surrounding villages after once again holding a gun to the heads of village leaders.
Accounts from Mattaponi histories tell of one tribal woman proclaiming to Smith, “You call yourself a Christian, yet you leave us with no food for the winter.”
Pocahontas’ father, who had befriended Smith, once said to him, “I have not treated any of my werowances as well as you, yet you are the worst werowance I have!”
Smith claimed Wahunsenaca wanted to kill him, and asserted he knew of the plot because Pocahontas had come to warn him.
Due to the icy conditions at the time and because of the many watchful eyes attending to the daughter of a chief, as well as gestures of peace by the Powhatan to include additional provisions, Native historians rebuff the historical claims of Smith as completely fabricated.
To further prove Smith’s tale was a fabrication, a letter by Smith written in 1608 was published without Smith’s knowledge. The letter makes no claim of Pocahontas trying to save his life on two separate occasions. It wasn’t until Smith published his book General Historie of Virginia in 1624 that he claimed Pocahontas had twice saved his life. Any of the people who could have refuted Smith’s claims by that time were no longer alive.
As Colonists Terrorized Native People, Pocahontas Married and Became Pregnant
The early 1600’s were a horrible time for tribes near Werowocomoco. Native tribes once comfortable wearing clothing suitable for summer — including exposed breasts for Native women and little or nothing for children — found themselves being sexually targeted by English colonists.
Young children were targets of rape and Native women in the tribe would resort to offering themselves to men to keep their children safe. The Powhatan people were shocked by the behavior and were horrified that the English government offered them no protections.
In the midst of the horrible and atrocious acts committed by the colonists, Matoaka was coming of age. During a ceremony, Matoaka was to choose a new name, and she selected Pocahontas, after her mother. During a courtship dance, it is likely she danced with Kocoum, the younger brother of Potowomac Chief Japazaw.
She married the young warrior at about 14 and soon became pregnant.
It was at this time rumors began to surface that colonists planned to kidnap the beloved chief’s daughter Pocahontas.
Pocahontas Was Kidnapped, Her Husband Was Murdered and She Was Forced to Give Up Her First Child
When Pocahontas was about 15 or 16, the rumors of a possible kidnapping had become more of a threat and she was living with her husband Kocoum at his Potowomac village.
An English colonist by the name of Captain Samuel Argall sought to find her, thinking that a captured daughter of the chief would thwart attacks by Natives.
Hearing of her whereabouts, Argall came to the village and demanded Chief Japazaw, brother of Pocahontas’ husband, to give up Pocahontas or suffer violence against his village. Overcome with grief at a horrible choice, he relented with a hopeful promise that she would only be gone temporarily. That was a promise Argall quickly broke.
Before Argall left the village, he gave Chief Japazaw a copper pot. He later claimed to have traded it for her. This “trade” is still taught by historians. This is akin to the way that Smith ‘traded’ for corn by holding a gun to the heads of chiefs.
Before leaving the village, Pocahontas had to give her baby (referred to as little Kocoum) to the women of the village. Trapped on board an English ship, she was not aware that when her husband returned to their village, he was killed by the colonists.
The tribal chiefs of the Powhatan never retaliated for the kidnapping of Pocahontas, fearing they would be captured and that the beloved daughter of the chief and the “Peace Symbol of the Powhatan” might be harmed.
Pocahontas Was Raped While in Captivity and Became Pregnant With Her Second Child
According to Dr. Linwood Custalow, a historian of the Mattaponi Tribe and the custodian of the sacred oral history of Pocahontas, soon after being kidnapped, she was suffering from depression and was growing more fearful and withdrawn. Her extreme anxiety was so severe her English captors allowed Pocahontas’ eldest sister Mattachanna and her husband Uttamattamakin to come to her aid.
Dr. Custalow writes in his book, The True Story of Pocahontas, The Other Side of History, that when Mattachanna and her husband Uttamattamakin, a spiritual advisor to Chief Wahunsenaca, Pocahontas confided in her sister.
When Mattachanna and Uttamattamakin arrived at Jamestown, Pocahontas confided in that she had been raped. Mattaponi sacred oral history is very clear on this: Pocahontas was raped. It is possible that it had been done to her by more than one person and repeatedly. My grandfather and other teachers of Mattaponi oral history said that Pocahontas was raped.
The possibility of being taken captive was a danger to be aware of in Powhatan Society, but rape was not tolerated. Rape in Powhatan Society was virtually unheard of because the punishment for such actions was so severe. Powhatan society did not have prisons. Punishment for wrongful actions often consisted of banishment from the tribe.
Historians differ on where Pocahontas was held, but tribal historians believe she was likely held in Jamestown, but was relocated to Henrico to when she was pregnant. Pocahontas had a son, Thomas.
John Rolfe Married Pocahontas to Create a Native Alliance in Tobacco Production
Mattaponi history is clear that Pocahontas had a son out of wedlock, Thomas, prior to her marriage to John Rolfe. Prior to that marriage, the colonists pressed Pocahontas to become “civilized” and often told her that her father did not love her because he had not come to rescue her.
Pocahontas often tore off her English clothes, because they were uncomfortable. Eventually, Pocahontas was converted to Christianity and took the name Rebecca.
In the midst of her captivity, the English colony of Jamestown was failing. John Rolfe was under a 1616 deadline to become profitable or lose the support of England. Rolfe sought to learn tobacco curing techniques from the Powhatan, but curing tobacco was a sacred practice not to be shared with outsiders. Realizing the political strength of aligning himself with the tribe, he eventually married Pocahontas.
Though some historians claim Pocahontas and Rolfe married for love, it is not a certainty, as Pocahontas was never allowed to see her family, child or father after being kidnapped.
After the two were married, the Powhatan spiritual leaders and family to Pocahontas shared the curing practice with Rolfe. Soon after wards, Rolfe’s tobacco was a sensation in England, which saved the colony of Jamestown, as they finally found a profitable venture.
The Powhatan tribal lands were now highly sought after for the tobacco trade and the tribe suffered great losses of life and land at the hands of greedy tobacco farmers.
It is worth noting that though it was custom for a Powhatan father to give away his daughter at a marriage, Wahunsenaca did not attend the wedding of his daughter to Rolfe for fear of being captured or killed. He did send a strand of pearls as a gift.
As Dr. Custalow wrote in The True Story of Pocahontas, The Other Side of History:
Although Wahunsenaca did not attend the wedding, we know through sacred Mattaponi oral history that he gave Pocahontas a pearl necklace as a wedding gift. The pearls were obtained from the Chesapeake Bay oyster beds. The necklace was notable for the large size and fine quality of the pearls. Pearls of the size were rare, making them a suitable gift for a paramount chief’s daughter. No mention of this necklace has been found in the English writings, but a portrait of Pocahontas wearing a pearl necklace used to hang in the Gov.’s mansion in Richmond.
Pocahontas Was Brought to England To Raise Money and Was Then Likely Murdered
Rumors of the colonists desire to bring Pocahontas made its way to the Powhatan, who feared for her well-being and considered an attempt to rescue her. But Wahunsenaca feared his daughter might be harmed.
Rebecca “Pocahontas” Rolfe traveled to England with John Rolfe, her son Thomas Rolfe, Captain John Argall (who had kidnapped her) and several Native tribal members, including her sister Mattachanna.
Though many settlers were committing atrocities against the Powhatan, many elites in England did not approve of the mistreatment of natives. The bringing of Pocahontas to England to show friendship with Native nations was a key to continued financial support for the colonists.
According to the accounts of Mattachanna, she realized that she was being used and desperately desired to return home to her father and little Kocoum. During her travels in England, Pocahontas did meet John Smith and expressed outrage due to the mistreatment of his position as leader of the colonists and the betrayal to the Powhatan people.
After the journey and showing off of Pocahontas to the English elites, plans were made to return to Virginia in the spring of 1617. According to a recounting by Mattachanna, she was in good health while in England and on the ship preparing to go home.
Shortly after a dinner with Rolfe and Argall, she vomited and died. Those tribal members who were accompanying her, including her sister Mattachanna, said she was in previous good health and assessed she must have been poisoned due to her sudden death.
According to Mattaponi oral history, many of the Native people accompanying Pocahontas were sold as servants or carnival attractions or sent to Bermuda if they became pregnant after being raped and sold into slavery.
Pocahontas was just under 21 at the time of her death. Instead of being taken home and laid to rest with her father, Rolfe and Argall took her to Gravesend, England, where she was buried at Saint George’s Church, March 21, 1617. Though Virginia tribes have requested that her remains returned for repatriation, officials in England say the exact whereabouts of her remains are not known.
Wahunsenaca learned from Mattachanna that his beloved daughter had died but had never betrayed her people, as some historians claim. Heartbroken that he had not ever rescued his daughter, he died from grief less than a year after the death of Pocahontas.
The Descendants of Pocahontas
Oral histories of both the Mattaponi and Patawomeck and historical references say she mothered two children, Thomas Rolfe, who was left in England after the death of his mother, and ‘little Kocoum.’
According to Deyo, Little Kocoum was the name that Dr. Linwood Custalow used for the purpose of his book to reference a small child whose name was not yet known. In the sacred oral history of the Mattaponi, the child was raised by the Patawomeck Tribe. The name of that child was passed down in the Patawomeck oral history was discovered to be Ka-Okee, a daughter.
This lineage to Ka-Okee includes the world famous entertainer Wayne Newton, a member of the Virginia state-recognized Powhatan Patawomeck tribe.
Thomas Rolfe stayed in England and was educated there. He later returned to the Powhatan as an adult. He was married and had many descendants.*
By Vincent Schilling
Kin 165: Red Solar Serpent
I pulse in order to survive
I seal the store of life force
With the solar tone of intention
I am guided by the power of birth
I am a galactic activation portal
If the biosphere is the region of the Earth for the transformation of the cosmic energy, then the noosphere is the region of the Earth for the cultivation of cosmic medium-ship.*
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Svadhistanha Chakra (Kali Plasma)