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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Monday, November 22, 2010

Not Another Post About The "Real" Meaning Of Thanksgiving

This is the time of the year when a litany of opinions, lectures and down right scoldings will be offered up about "Thanksgiving". If the Western civilization had to appropriate one of our festivals and rewrite history to kick off their holiday shopping season so be it. I am more concerned about what we do. I am not talking about turkey or spending a quarter of our salary the day after gorging ourselves. I am thinking more about our direction and commitment to securing our cultural and political distinction.

The last time our people came together after a period of conflict between us was when five regions of our people brought their 49 families together committing their titles with that of Tadadaho to create the Kaianerehkowa. The great peace enjoyed by the Great Path of Goodness was to be recited every year to all of our people in all our territories and would be recited at a great convention for all of our people every five years. We need to once again come to a unified understanding of what bound us together before the clash of the European culture would disrupt our people so. Religion, disease, war and the growth of the capitalist empire have left many of our people struggling with their sense of identity. Even "Indian" religions have clouded the waters to such an extent that we only look back to what a handful of generations have offered up as a definition of what it means to be Ohnkwe Ohnwe or Haudenosaunee.

It is time to look at the path worn by the millions of feet that walked this land before us. The Kaianerehkowa has not been properly examined or certainly followed in over 200 years. Generations of egotistical men, many of them carrying some of those 50 titles, have moved so far off that path that the generations that followed lost their way back. I have no use for examining the paths followed by generations of oppressed people, a path of survival. I would rather return to the path that advanced our people rather than the one used to desperately hang on to shadows of who we were. We need to relearn the Kainerehkowa and let it be a priority.

If our people can brandish the Hiawentha Belt on everything from flags to body art, if we can treat our Longhouses like churches, if we can gather to celebrate "treaty commemorations", if we can wear our "Indianess" on our sleeves; then why can't we learn the one thing that separated us and distinguished us from all other men. The Kaianerehkowa is not a gift from the "Creator". It is the path that honors Creation. It is not "like" anything that man has created. It is not a supernatural phenomenon but rather a natural one. In a world where power, authority and wealth was wrestled from the weak or ignorant to be placed with the privileged few, the Kaianerehkowa was the only model that proved liberty was not chaos and that authority and dominion over others was not required for order and peace. If we can adopt all of these false "traditions" that we claim to be a part of our "culture" then how about reclaiming the lost tradition of a yearly recital. Perhaps then the festivals our people celebrated will begin to have real meaning and a genuine return to a higher quality of life can begin.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Governor Cuomo? It has a familiar ring to it.

For many of us that have been putting up the resistance to New York State as they encroach on Native lands and liberties of Native people, we always look at these new governors with more questions than expectations. Will Andrew take advice from his dad on Native issues? And will his advice come from the Mario that showed skill and integrity in the handling of the Ganienkeh stand off or from the State's Chief Executive that was responsible for "Gallant Piper"? The senior Cuomo was the first governor to tackle the "problem" of Native retailers marketing their regulatory advantages. He took a State licensed wholesaler all the way to the Supreme Court to prove he had authority over him and laid the groundwork as he and future administrations who would attempt to choke off our supply or tax our wholesale purchases.
It turns out that our resistance convinced the tough talking Republican that replaced him to do a complete about-face on the subject. As it would turn out, George Pataki would prove to be the most diplomatic State executive we have faced and properly addressed the issue politically rather than through force or courts. It is worth noting that Governor Pataki paid no political cost for respecting Native sovereignty.
So now a second generation Governor takes the helm. This one faces challenges the others couldn't have dreamed of; anemic revenue from Wall Street and a billion dollars a week going out to Medicaid. Even the conservative estimates have New York facing a $10 billion deficit next year. The question is: will Cuomo the younger do as others have and use us as a distraction from his real issues or will he ignore the racist clamor from morons like US Congressman, Peter King and his new found Republican majority which will now put him as a chairman of the Homeland Security Committee? How close will this one push us to the brink of an all out conflict before he becomes another humbled governor.
Wouldn't it be a pleasant surprise to start out with one of these guys as a human being instead of so much of our energy going into forcing him to be one?