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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Friday, April 27, 2012

It's Time to Stop Asking Everyone to "Honor Indian Treaties" and Start Demanding Legal Standing

Porter Asks UN To Honor Sovereign Rights

Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2012 9:50 am

The Seneca Nation of Indians took its case for honoring Native American rights to an international stage this week.
With a small delegation of officials from other tribes, Robert Odawi Porter, Seneca president, spoke to the United Nations Special Rapporteur Wednesday in Washington D.C. Specifically, the tribal leaders met with Rapporteur representative James Anaya on his first official visit the United States.
During the meeting, President Porter told of instances in the Seneca’s history when the tribe’s sovereignty was infringed upon and treaty rights were ignored by state and federal authorities.
“The treaty commitments that were made by the United States are still valid today — the treaty violations therefore must be addressed in meaningful and substantive ways,” President Porter said in a press release. “We can no longer abide the federal government’s track record of treaty abrogation and the path of destruction that has mangled Native lands, resources, and communities.

My Response
It is not a question of asking the international community to honor or recognize Native sovereignty. The question is where, when and how was there ever a legal or internationally recognizable transfer of our sovereignty to the US, Canada or anyone else. If we start with the premise that our sovereignty WAS recognized, the only way it could not STILL be is that if there was some legal act of subjugation. Let the US or Canada produce their treaty that establishes that transfer of authority. Our sovereignty is NOT a treaty right and it was not surrendered in one either.

This isn't about a broken promise. We aren't jilted lovers. We are not begging for the international community to respect us or feel sorry for us. Our sovereignty is an internationally recognized authority to "carry ourselves". We aren't asking a favor of the world. It is the legal and moral obligation of other nations to acknowledge that America's "Final Solution" has failed. We are still here and although it is argued that some of our distinction has faded (and how could it not have in light of US and Canadian policies?), our sovereign birthright has not.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Acquiescence and Complicity

The question is: when does the former become the latter? Should silence on an issue ever be interpreted as acceptance or, worse yet, approval? Well, whether it should be matters little; it is. By definition "to acquiesce" is to consent or concur quietly or passively. To acquiesce is to comply. If silence on an issue, especially issues of grave concern to a community, is not to be regarded as broad acceptance of societal ills in our territories, how do we change the message of silence or stop the passive approval?
In the video poem by the 1491's, "To The Indigenous Women", Ryan Red Corn prays for enough light to show what we truly are, regarding violence against our women; Complicit! When we make excuses for rape or blame the victim, when we coddle bad behavior in our men; young or old, or when we simply remain silent or fail to ever even acknowledge it, we don't just let those performing these criminal acts off the hook, we condone them.
Ryan's words raised the whole issue of silence for me, not just on the issue of violence against women but on drugs, alcohol, parenting, fidelity, respect. How complicit have we been in bad government, corruption, loss of our lands and the selling out of our birthright? Perhaps silence is our enemy. Perhaps, like all these other things, silence too can no longer be tolerated.
Let's not confuse speaking out and speaking up with bitching. Blogs and social networks are not the places to hold people accountable. It starts with holding ourselves accountable. Are we prepared to take an uncomfortable stand against our friends and relatives when we know they are hurting others with their actions? Are we prepared to no longer welcome the abuser, the dealer, the thief into our homes? Are we prepared to give ultimatums to to those around us who violate the rights of others and genuinely make those that lose our respect, earn it back? And earn it back from all of us.
How is it we let the man on his third family sit in a position of respect? How do we let drunks and deviants sit on councils; Handsome Lake was still a full fledged drunk when he signed the precious Treaty of Canandaigua, years before his "visions". And that "tradition" continues today. We elect, select, appoint and even condole those we know we should have spoken up about when they committed unacceptable acts.
We remain silent as the State and feds attempt to assimilate us; Thomas Indian School operated for over 100 years. The US Senate "Declared" us all US citizens in 1924 while we declared nothing, we said nothing and we still say nothing. How many will stand and say, "I reject the imposition of US citizenship"? Or do we quietly try to have it both ways?
There comes a time for all of us when silence is all we'll have. We will join generations of our ancestors in silence. Too many of them acquiesced to injustices as well. While we still have our fires and our voices, it is not just the right thing to do, it is our obligation to speak out and speak up. We don't need a code of conduct or some set of puritan standards to guide us. Our birthright grants us freedom and liberty; we only need to be vigilant to ensure that the right to good and safe lives for our children, our women, our families and our communities are not infringed upon from within or from anyone.
Speak up! Don't be complicit!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Enhanced Tribal Cards; The New Path to Citizenship

I warned about the US using their, post 9-11 developed, Department of Homeland Security to subjugate Native people. Well, here is part of the plan. To get a new "Enhanced Tribal Card"(ETC) from participating tribal governments, proof of US or Canadian citizenship are required and the resultant card becomes a declaration of that citizenship; emblazoned with flags and everything.

The Department of Homeland Security(DHS) developed requirements for new travel documents under their Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative(WHTI or as I prefer, WHITIE). The new "tribal" cards are WHITIE compliant and provide the US with all the necessary tools for tracking movement, building better files on individuals and provide the added benefit of coercing Native people into accepting the will of the genocidal societies around them.
The treachery in all this is that there is an attempt at selling these cards as some sort of expression of sovereignty; like the federal government respects us so much that they will honor "our" tribal ID's. Let's be clear here; these are US government ID's, DHS ID's, WHITIE Cards. Just because tribal logos are added, or the tribal clerk issues them, or the tribe is complicit in providing them or covering part of their costs does not change the fact that every feature is federally mandated.

The photos must be compatible with the facial recognition programs employed by the feds. There must be a scannable bar code for US government agency scanners to retrieve identification data. Each card will have an RFID chip embedded which can broadcast ID data up to 30 feet to automated receiving stations without ever needing to hand your card to anyone. And every time this card is seen, scanned or transmits its presence another data point gets added to the system.
If all this information technology seems like an invasion of privacy or a violation of Native sovereignty, relax. By getting one of these ETC's you already declared yourself to be one of them.

One question: where were all those tribal leaders fighting for our right to travel our homeland, our right to maintain our distinction? Perhaps if we stop with all this "tribe" bullshit we could get our heads straight. I am not a "tribesman". I am not a member of a "tribe". I have no "tribal leader", "tribal card", "tribal rights" or "tribal customs". I am Ohnkwe Ohnwe: a real human being; forever in my past and forever in my future, with both connected.