Here is a letter I have written to many
Friends in the Native community.
And some of the responses.
It is conversations I have recently had with people, e-mails and a letter that I have received, as well as meetings that I have attended that have prompted me to write this letter. I have many concerns. I am wonderng if you share my concerns.
More peoples of this land need to bring back the traditional spiritual ways of their ancestors - no matter what their religious beliefs are. They may believe in many different forms of a higher power. The basic point is that we, on this Great Expanse of a place which by many is called Turtle Island, also called America, consisting of many Nations and Nationalities, need to get back to the Spiritual Ways of many of our ancestors.
One only needs to look at the many massacres of the original settlers by the forces of the new ones to this land the natives called home. -- White Europeans who came here to escape religious and political strife and tyranny. And ----- Yet, they ended up persecuting the "Indians" or the now politically correct name Native Americans because they were considered to be "Savages". Believing in what was seen to the Europeans as a form of witchcraft, because they did not attempt to understand the Indians. The other forms of Spiritual Beliefs that the Indians practiced, with those spiritual Beings, Manitous, and Creators were called incorrect and many were denied even the right to hold true to tradition, and their ceremonies. To the Indian Community we were called heathan and savage, to those whom didn't understand those traditions or beliefs, and many (Too many) were killed because of those beliefs."
If you want to discuss religious freedoms, or having them taken away from you, them, or anyone else, talk to some of the "Indians" or Native Americans of the Red Race. Ask them about the Sun Dance, the Ghost Dance and many other forms of Native religious ceremonies which were outlawed. Many of them are still outlawed today, or disrespected by those whom do not understand and choose to shut out what is different and unknown as well as being unfamiliar.
Today we see infighting between different peoples, different cultures all within the NATIVE structure.. Until we all (TRIBES AND NATIONS) unite as one voice and RESPECT each others differenes, as well as each others ideas and ideals we will never prosper as a society. We will always be stepped on, persecuted, depressed, and in many ways opressed. So, why then, do we still continue to opress many of our own people and ourselves? I am not saying that I have the answers because I do not.
Many of us quote things from the battle of Wounded Knee, Chief Joseph and other famous notables, but do we really believe in what has been said? Do we really understand what that meaning was? Are we so hypocritical that we use those words but do not live by them? And are we so naieve to think that those words we quote would not some day come back to haunt us, when used improperly and in another sense than what they were intended for?
I for one, believe that many of us say one thing and DO another, too much. I always try to do what is in my Heart and if that is wrong then so be it. I will correct my mistakes, but only if I know them to be mistakes, as all of us can err, as we so often do. I am concerned about what appears to be grudges that I know about, as well as peoples feelings and ideas that have not come to the forefront. Holding a grudge is not any way to solve a problem if it arises. I feel that going to the source, and either working things out or shaking hands and going away with a better understanding of what EACH OTHERS feelings are, or ideas are is the best way to handle things.
I am of the opinion as well as many others I know, share the sentiment that in today's society we are breeding a bunch of whimps. As I have seen on many shows, heard about in many lectures, and experiences firsthand. And out of those whimps maybe one out of three will ever have the understanding that it takes, a lot of hard work to have a relationship with another person or group! Yes at times people, will not always agree, but we can walk out of an agreement or disagreement with an understanding that we both have different ideas, and we can still agree to disagree on some subjects.
In this next Pow Wow season there will be many people or even some groups that end up being unintentionally hurt, disregarded, opinions lost, or ignored, ideas dismissed, or ignored completely, but I am of the opinion that it all can be worked out one way or the other.
In many ways we have lost a lot, but in many ways we could gain so much more just by working together. I actually do not see in my lifetime that happening, (do not think that I am insulting anyone here ) but, there can always be surprises and I truly hope someday to see the differences put aside, and concentrate on the things that will keep us together. Truth, peace, traditions no matter what those differences are in those traditions they can be worked out! Love, respect for one another, respect for Mother Earth, Respect for those winged ones as well as the fleet of foot, and walking crawling and swimming ones we seldom think about.
We may be of all nations, all different colors and creeds but be rest assured we are all of one race of people, we are all of the HUMAN race. And being human we are bound to make mistakes, just as long AS WE, make better decisions to correct those mistakes, and the decisions we make that may hurt others need to be corrected as well. Hard feelings are just that HARD FEELINGS, and they can be gotten by with just an apology, or a smile sometimes works and even a handshake. There are too may hard feelings with too may people too many Nations and Tribes. If we can get beyond that pettiness we will be one step closer to the road we all seek.
Children are remarkably perceptive. Many Adults do not give children thier respect, as they are just smaller beings of us and their environment. Their eyes ever observe, their ears ever listen, and their minds never cease to process the messages that they absorb. If they "the children" see us patiently work with others, respect nature, respect each other and the differences that we ALL share, respect the different traditions we each believe in, honor even those we do not necessarily agree with, but can agree to disagree with, they will imitate that attitude for the rest of their lives building a stronger more peaceful generation as well as passing it on to their children. And Most likely be more tolerant, and understanding.
Let's all whom receive this letter be wise builders and role models. Let us respect the differences that we all share, but, learn more tolerance, love, respect, honor, dignity, and be more tolerant for the differences that we Do have, and more accepting of those ideas, perceptions, ideals and things we cannot change.
I am a teacher of young ones, I am a helper to elders, and I am a friend to all. And I am not perfect, as I also make mistakes.
"Life is about people connecting with people, and making a positive difference!"
My love and deepest respect to you! I HOPE ALL IS WELL.
Thank you for reading, and I will welcome all comments,
I am " Kim White Feather "
"I do not know why I walk the path that I do..I only know that I do..I have too..it is my path..my way.."
1/2 Mi'Kmaq by Birth. My name was given to me at my birth by a friend and Chief.
O'siyo and Aho Kim White Feather - all that you say is true and has been said time and again by so many. Unfortunately it is not something we may see in our lifetime - and that too, I find very sad.
Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred Lakota Pipe and one who has given up everything for his walk in life, is not only disrespected by many, but disrespected too often, by those he calls his own. If I can make a correlation here to Jesus, who I consider to be one of the Greatest Medicine Men of all, who walked this earth, even he was not welcomed in his own place of birth, or by the people who knew him from the time of his birth. He was as we all know, eventually, nailed to a cross simply because of the goodness he did for people and the wisdom he tried to impart to this world.
I think everyone with a sincere heart tries to walk a good path - but the biggest stumbling block of all - is EGO. Too many want to be "somebody." They want to have a title or they feel the need to have some "power". Too often, there are those in our own "neck of the woods" that have taken it upon themselves to go to pow wows sponsored by others and tell them they have no right to do this or that.
We have also seen a repeated disrespect by one everyone knows along the same pow wow trail we all travel conducts year after year, but no one ever approaches this individual. No one, it seems, has the courage to face him and those who have, are disrespected and, as happened last year, assaulted, as an elder had been. I wrote to many concerning this incident, and only one person ever responded. I'd like to think they said something about this to this individual, and I hope that's true - but like everything else, the reality is, there are cliques and there will always be cliques. This is human nature.
Like it or not, here in this part of the country, many native peoples are looked down upon as being "so assimliated" that we don't even know who we are.
I was quite disturbed at a recent pow wow, held in Portland, where a visitor from the west, stood up at the microphone and instead of playing the flute as was said he was going to do for the people present, he continued on a political and disrespectful diatribe about the people present at this pow wow - AN INTERTRIBAL POW WOW and despite there being "full bloods" and I detest using that term - I do not like that term, nor do I personally like to see anyone defined by how much Indian blood you have - it doesn't matter- you either are or you are not - it is not the amount of blood quatum you have - it is how you live your life and walk your path - but so many are giving into this way of thinking and this blood quatum thing is going to not only tear famlies apart, but it will tear nations apart - and the bottom line? It's not such an importance about "how much blood" you have, in many instances, it is simply a case, again of greed - because of money - ie casinos, lands, etc. There is great controversary over the Black Hills - Sacred Land - that some want to sell for its minerals and are demanding that blood quatum be established, only so they can lessen the demand or "rewards" (?) such a thing would be for some people. The Black Hills are Sacred. Those that know this will never participate in such a sale of its minerals or what is contained upon those lands. But once again, greed and ego rear its ugly head and it's a fight I know about through friends that I have.
At the Portland Pow wow - this visitor demanded to know of the people present, how many could speak their native tongue - he made comments about "white people" dressing up as Indians for a day at the pow wow - he made other comments that were not only derogatory but demeaning to the people here. I have heard this before - not just from him, but from others.
I too, have been on mailing lists, which I have removed myself from, because of the terrible infighting that has gone on- the disrespect, the out and out lying that takes place and some individuals choose simply to believe what they read, because it's been said.
I wonder how much these self-righteous "real Indians" do for the people - in reality and real life? They do alot of talking about who is, and who isn't, they do alot of talking about the theft of spirituality and culture. They do alot of talking.
There are many people who are doing many things at great sacrifice, and at times, great risk to themselves, personally , because of standing up for what they believe in. To the point, at times, where they have had to look over their shoulders, never knowing who will possibly stab them in the back, not only literally, but in reality.
It is a hope I have too - of unity - but where is the unity? It is not even here! Where is the unity of people to help put an end to racist terms used in this state - which were worked on and at least, some strides were made, the banning of the term squaw in public place names in Maine. Although the word squaw in the native tongue (some) is not such a bad thing, the Euros have made it have a very insulting and degrading meaning to native women, yet, during the fight to change this in Maine, few, if any took the time to come to show support - to travel to the State House, to attend the meetings of the legislature or to speak out in whatever forum possible to put an end to this. The same thing goes with team mascot names.
Those who have worked hard to make these changes are few in number. They have done so with great personal sacrifice, but at the same time, they have demonstrated the courage it takes to make positive change - and that speaks volumes. A petiton has been online for sometime now to boycott Squaw Mountain Ski Resort in Maine - how many of the people in "our neck of the woods" have signed it? Have taken a few moments of their time to do that in support of native women?
Each year, we enjoy wonderful pow wows that people work so very hard to put on and often they end up at the end of it, owning, rather than making any sort of profit - often having just enough to cover expenses.
Yet, rather than take advantage of the story tellers, and others in this neck of the woods (and I am excluding myself here -for when I do story telling, I do it for nothing at all, have never proclaimed myself to be a traditional story teller - I simply do it for the enjoyment I receive in seeing the children laugh and participate and take part) - but yet, people will spend thousands of dollars to get someone here from another state to do this - same goes with this Lunging Bear fiasco. I've heard it said, well, he has a good message for the children about drugs. Perhaps so. But what about the bigger picture?
What about the sterotype he continues to promote of the whooping, warpainted, dressed up Indian? Indian people do not look like this. He is leaving young impressionable minds with the idea that REAL Indians wear war paint, whoop and holler and dance around as he does - and then he charges people - and children to take pictures with him. And he charges a hefty fee for doing it too.
What about our Elders here? Why not take advantage of the wealth of wisdom we have here and have the Elders speak on these things if we really want to send a message of truth to the generations to come - to foster better understanding and to educate those who do not know?
Being disabled, I am not longer able to get around and about as I once could. So, I have chosen to use the Internet as a means to do what I can - (although I am able to get out and participate with some issues relative to the native peoples) - I run an online newspaper - which I do myself - without payment - and which I put in countless hours in updating and maintaining the site. I have been maligned, lied about and have had my personal information - name, address, telephone number, email address and even a map showing the way to our home, printed on the net by some of the "real" Indians.
It hasn't been easy and support from my brothers and sisters has not always been forthcoming, not that I have asked for it, but I find far too often, that people will choose silence, rather than stand up and say something because they themselves do not wish to be targeted or else they wish to "get along with everyone." We cannot get along with everyone, it is not human nature, but yes, we can try. And with that comes respect, but far too often, I have witnessed respect missing in too many places from too many people.
For years, my family had to hide their ancestry. Because my family chose not to follow along with the politics of the day, they were dropped from the Cherokee rolls. Does that make us less Indian? If your family name does not appear on the final rolls-no matter how much "proof" you may have on your family line, you cannot be enrolled in the Cherokee nation.
Personally? I don't feel I need a card to prove who I am. I know who I am. My family does not lie and that's all the proof I need.
There are many good words said by many about being "part" Indian. What part - the foot - the hand - what? You are either Indian or you are not Indian.
If you ever get the chance, take a few moments to read some wise words from people I have put on my own personal web site:
http://eveningraincrow.freeservers.com/ - read the words of a Mono Elder (see Content Page)
- http://eveningrain2.freeservers.com/PartCherokee.html - read from the Cherokee Observer.
- http://eveningrain2.freeservers.com/Indian.html - real about what does a real" Indian look like?
There ARE NO FULL BLOODS left - or if there are, they are almost gone. Tribes intermarried with tribes......Children in the same family - while one may be light-skinned - another may be dark, it is not the color of one's skin or "how Indian" they look - it's who you are.
I know many friends who grew up on the reservation who cannot speak their own language, have no knowledge of their own traditions or ceremonies, etc., so does that make them more Indian because they were born on the reservation? I don't think so.
There are people who claim they are the only "real" Indians who would tear your words apart and call you a twinkie - or would say - ummm "twink alert" because of the desire of unity of all people. I agree, as I said, in a need for unity - it is the only thing that will benefit all native peoples. But the worse enemy of the native peoples at times is ourselves. The infighting - the ego - the desire for money - greed - power - all of this play a big part in this.
The Speaker at the Portland pow wow comes from Pine Ridge. Not long ago, a public pow wow was held at Pine Ridge and a statement was issued. Although it is open and camping is available and so forth, please remember you will be met "with hostility" and therefore conduct yourselves accordingly. Hostility?
The people of Pine Ridge - have suffered and continue to suffer. The People of Pine Ridge do have one of the poorest nations in this country, but there are many other reservations and reserves that also struggle with poverty, drug addiction, inadequate housing, lack of educational opportunities and so much more.
I think here, we should first take a good hard look at "our own house" to speak.
There lies ahead of us, I believe, a long, hard and difficult struggle. There will be great suffering for many. Difficult times lie ahead for all peoples regardless of color - but the end result, hopefully, will be a true unity of all peoples.
The Creator, by whatever name we choose to say, made all things - and that includes all colors of man. It is only by unity of all, that we will have any hopes whatsoever of saving ourselves - this place upon which we walk and breath and live, our Mother, the Earth.
These are some of my thoughts and feelings.
I wish you well and I pray with all my might to live someday to see some true unity amongst all peoples. I pray most of all, that we all set a good example for our children and all the generations to come and we can do for our children without the need of ego to say what we have done in any cause - what is most important of all, is we simply do it.
With Respect, Evening Rain Tsalagi
I have read your words and given time to thought and prayer about them. I am in agreement with what you have spoken through the writing way. Your heart speaks that which many of us have quietly dedicated to fervent prayer. It is good to hear these words now come out in others. It is my sincere prayer that the spark which you have given life to becomes the flame that will weld us all together. Understand well, that every flame also brings the heat that will be needed to burn us into "That One Pure Spirit" that the Creator seeks to see in all of "the peoples" who recognize the need to become "THE PEOPLE".
I am Two Bears
Well, i don't know who's words these actually are although i have read them before. It is time for you and a lot of other people to stop the politics and all
the crying about how the White people did this and that to us. Whatever they
did or did not do is all in the past. It is time that you all wake up forgive
if you need to and move on. This is why the Nation is like it is today. No
one wants to walk their walk, all they want to do is blame our white brothers
and sisters for things they had nothing to do with. Wake up it is time to
mend the sacred hoop and to do that we ALL need to come together as one.
Dear White Feather,
You speak the truth. I have voted for you to become Chief. Good luck!
Onzaamidoon Wiijayaaw Awakaanag (Talks With Animals)
FW: To the Ojibway news
You might consider printing this in your paper. White Feather has been nominated to become the Chief of the NH Native American Intertribal Council. You may wish to contact her to discuss the possibility of printing the letter. She is a dear, and very close friend of mine. You can contact her with the address below.
E-Mail her here.
Onzaamidoon Wiijayaaw Awakaanag
(Talks With Animals)
Dear Kim White Feather,
I read you letter which was sent to us by our "sister-in-law".
my husband and I have been going to pow wows for quite a while and have made
some very dear friends. my husband is part MicMaq and has been trying to
retrace his roots. We have found that at the moment we meet other Native Americans
they seem very anxious to help but then when you contact them later we never
seem to get a response or they are extremely cautious to give any
information. We are not trying to jump on the wagon because it is cool but to
have a greater understanding on where we came from. I have been reading a lot
and ask many questions because i think it is very importnat that our daughter
understands that part of her heritage. We are very sincere in our commitment. As you indicated in your letter we all need to listen and to respect each other more.
Thank you for your words of wisdom. I agree with
all that you said.
I did read your Letter. I thought that you had put your thoughts to paper
and that most would not recognize that they are the problem. Most of
our people are egotistical and they seem to have the attitude that
everyone else is wrong.
It is also a hard thing when people come to the "way" and they feel they
have been led by devine intervention. They do not understand that it is
the ancestors awakening in them and they see things that are familiar to
them. They then become Holy. The problem with that is when the "stuff"
hits the fan they run.
They have no idea that recognition in not part of that deal and they do
not realize that things they never knew existed will come to them. Then
I do not know if we know you or not as I do not recognize your name, but your letter was forwarded to me and I thank you for writing it. We too have seen so much pettiness and intolerance and disrespect and also believe strongly that the children are very much aware of all of this. We are constantly striving to make it better, especially for them and it is good to know others do too.
- These pages weres last updated APRIL 11TH, 2001