Believe What You Like But Know What You Must

People are free to be consumed with contemplating their existence, their origins, the origins of the universe, supreme beings, controllers of destiny or anything else. But solving "the Great Mystery" is neither a requirement of being Ohnkwe Ohnwe nor does it provide a path to righteousness. I maintain that spirituality does not require faith or the leaps that faith requires but rather awareness. If it helps to believe that "God has a plan" and we just must have faith that "He" knows what "He" is doing, then walk that path. My interest is in taking the mystery out of life by pointing to the obvious that is ignored everyday in the midst of fanatical ideology and the sometimes not too subtle influences of promoting beliefs over knowledge. I have said it before: “beliefs are what you are told, knowledge is what you experience”. I support a culture that prepares us to receive knowledge and to live a life with purpose. I am certainly not suggesting there is only one way to do that.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I Am Ready This Year!

Previously published in the November 6, 2013 issue of the Two Row Times

Okay, I admit it. Last year when our special month of November rolled around, National Native American Heritage Month, I purposely kept quiet about it until December. I sat silently all month long and sure enough — nothing. So on December 2nd of last year I wrote, “November was what? Our month? Really? Who knew?” for my blog. I won’t use this column to restate my thoughts from last year but by all means, check it out.

But I am not sitting back this year. No sir! As soon as Mr. Obama offered his Presidential Proclamation  , I copied the press release from the White House website, pasted it to emails and sent it to everyone. I even posted it on Facebook. Now no one will be able to say, “I didn’t know.”

So let the “honoring” begin!

One of the big days for the Haudenosaunee in this special month is November 11. 

Wait! This can’t be. That’s Veterans Day.

How can a U.S. military holiday be scheduled on our Canandaigua Treaty Day? This is our big chance to march through the village of Canandaigua arm-in-arm with state and federal dignitaries to mark the most famous treaty of the Six Nations. What self-respecting U.S. politician will pass up Veterans Day to keep this charade going?

This is where we pretend it is an actual “Six Nations” treaty even though no Kanienkehaka (Mohawks) signed or participated in it. We pretend that it isn’t violated everyday by the very ones we are holding hands with. We also pretend that the basis of the treaty, which was the United States recognition of our lands and the promise by them to “never claim the same” somehow can be ignored as long as $4500 worth of “treaty cloth” shows up once a year. 

How can we fake the significance of this crappy document if all the white guys are going to be tied up war mongering?

OK, let’s just move on. Oh no, the American Thanksgiving is in our month. Well, at least we don’t have to see all those cutesy “pilgrim” and “Indian” cardboard cut outs all over any more. But  we certainly do still have to hear all the lies about the “First Thanksgiving” as though they invented the concept. And, of course, watch football. Couldn’t they at least have scheduled the Washington football team for a bye week in November so we could simply have had one less day of hearing about the “Redskins” in our month?

So, let me get this straight — we get a month proclaimed for us and they get two holidays out of it? Oh, wait, we do get a day. I just found it at the bottom of the White House press release. The President calls upon all Americans to celebrate November 29 as Native American Heritage Day.
Hold on a second. That’s Black Friday. How can our day be Black Friday? You call on all Americans to celebrate our day on Black Friday? How? By trampling each other at Walmart? Well, unless someone is picking me up a 65-inch flat screen TV at some unheard of low price, what is there to celebrate?

All right, so no real holiday, nothing really special about the month as far as we are concerned. Can we at least get a moratorium on attacking our people for the month? Can you stop harassing our hunters? Can you stop cutting our trees? Can you stop using your anti-mob laws and anti-terrorism laws against our businesses? Can you stop your tax agents from trying to force your laws and regs on us? Can you stop trying to steal or destroy our land? Can you stop trying us in your courts? And can you stop trying to claim us as your citizens? Just for the month?

Instead of “honoring” our heritage, what about respecting us? Just for the month.

Maybe I’m not ready for National Native American Heritage Month this year but I really would be honored to receive that 65-inch flat screen television.

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