Indigenous Peoples

Interrogative Imperative Institute

Indigenous Peoples

Gore Vidal once referred to America as the "United States of Amnesia". Ameicans suffer from amnesia with respect to quite a few things, not least of which is the terrible, pervasive injustice and inhumanity that has been perpetrated by many non-Indian Amercians against the indigenous peoples of North America ... and elsewhere in the world as well. Estimates vary, but there is considerable evidence to indicate that, at one point, there were 60 million indigenous people living in America, and, now there are only 800,000 of their descendants who have managed, against all odds, to have survived. The only term which properly describes the foregoing sort of depopulation is genocide, and, yet, despite the fact that it took place on a scale that is roughly ten times the magnitude of the Jewish Holocaust which occurred during World War II, one is introduced to a great deal of information about the latter set of events (and rightly so), yet one is taught almost nothing about the genocide of the indigenous peoples of America.

By Way of Full Disclosure

On one side of my family (father), I have Indian ancestry (Penobscot I believe), and there is some indication that I might have Indian ancestry on my mother's side as well (possibly Cheyenne), or, at the very least, my maternal grandmother spent time on an Indian reservation out West many years ago. Does this make me Indian? I'm not sure, and I have never been sufficently motivated to pursue the matter. In addition, there is genetic evidence to indicate that many Americans have slave blood ruunning in through their ancestral bloodlines, but this doesn't necessarily make me Black ... assuming, of course, that somewhere along the line, one of my ancestors hooked up with someone of African-American descent, and, once again, I have never been sufficiently motivated to explore the issue in order to discover the facts of the matter. Despite the ancestry craze that is prevalent in many parts of America, I have always seemed to be quite immune to such fascinations. I'm not interested all that much in the past, nor am I all that interested to know from which peoples/places I came. I am interested in the present. I am interested in trying to realize my present potential -- whatever that might be -- as a human being ... quite apart from race, ethnicity, or heritage. Whatever constructive potential is within me comes from God and not from ancestry ... by God's leave, ancestry contributes whatever it does to some of my characteristics, but if one takes away the ancestry, the naked soul remains, and this is what I seek to develop in a postive fashion.

Nonetheless, having said all of the foregoing, my childhood was spent in playing cowboys and Indians, as well as in going to the many western movies where one was induced (manipulated) to identify with the non-Indians ... unless, of course, Indians were presented in the guise of the faithful companion "Tonto" or some equally non-threatening "friendly" person of Indian ancestry. In many of today's movies, Indians (who, in movies of yesteryear, were referred to in terms comparable to the the way in which the word: 'terrorist' is used today) have been replaced by Arabs, Iranians, and Muslims. This didn't constitute progress for American Indians, but, rather, they had served their 'usefulness' as the 'enemy du jour' and could be even more deeply buried in the collective amnesia that shapes so much of what takes place in America concerning the alien 'other'.

Consequently, it took some time before I came to approach the issue of "indigenous Peoples' from a much different perspective than the one which was so effortlessly absorbed during my childhood thanks to many cultural and educational influences. The first time that I spent any extended time with Native Americans (if one can call three days an extended period of time and if one discounts the members of my family who may have Indian ancestry) was at a symposium which was held at the Fetzer Institute in Kalamazoo, Michigan in the late 1980s. The symposium focused on trying to establish a dialogue between western scientists and Native peoples concerning their respective approaches to the nature of reality.

I learned a great deal in those three days (I actually was invited as a Sufi by a person who was helping to organize the symposium rather than as either an Indian or a scientist). One of the things I learned during the symposium is that some indigenous people [certainly the individuals (both male and female) that I met from a variety of tribes/nations were this way] have a very deep, profound sense of spirituality which places great emphasis on issues of character, morality, truth, learning, discovery, sovereignty, justice, and ecological sensitivity. Due to those experiences, along with other learning which I have acquired over the years I wanted to offer something through my website which might give visitors an opportunity to learn more about some of the teachings of ingenous peoples. I found many similarities and parallels between, on the one hand, the Sufi mystical tradition/Islam, and, on the other hand, various aspects of the spirituality of indigenous peoples.

Every two to three weeks, I hope to post new videos, audios, and/or commentaries in the space below that will explore various teachings of Native Indian spirituality.



Floyd 'Red Crow' Westerman (1936 - 2007)

Red Crow says goodbyejquery player by VideoLightBox.com v3.1
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