Monday, October 12, 2015

Words of Wisdom on Indigenous Peoples Day

Indigenous Peoples' wisdom – still deeply rooted in their cultures despite over 500 years of colonization and genocide – should be a source of inspiration and guidance that brings our focus to deep structural and spiritual dimensions of change.

"The Earth gives us life – that is why for Indigenous People she is Mother Earth. Human beings are not the owners of the Earth – they are another element of it closely interconnected to all other living things from plants and animal to water and air, and we must live in synchronicity with them," explains Alberto Aguirre, a Qom Indigenous activist from Argentina. "When hunting or gathering we only ever take as much as we need, never more, and we rotate hunting territories to allow the land replenish itself and ensure the delicate balance of the eco-system is maintained. It is no coincidence that 80 per cent of the Earth's remaining biodiversity can be found on Indigenous territories."

"Living in harmony also means a society where resources and responsibilities are shared, where no one individual is disproportionately powerful or wealthy. People are valued for their contribution to the community and not for individual personal wealth and power from a rigged game. Resources are shared so that families, communities and the natural environment thrive and survive not just in the present but for generations to come," adds Antonia Zeron, a Guarani Indigenous leader from Boliva.

Felix Diaz, one of the leaders of the Indigenous protest camp in Buenos Aires likens this to a fire. "I like to think of a communal fire as a symbol of our humanity," said Diaz. "One person adds wood, another adds paper and each contribution brings light and warmth to the whole group."

– Fionuala Cregan
Excerpted from "Igniting the Communal Fire:
What the SDGs Could Learn from Indigenous Peoples
Common Dreams
September 25, 2015

Opening image: Nixiwaka (Joel) Yawanawa, a member of the Amazonian Yawanawa tribe, which was first contacted two generations ago, sought to raise awareness of indigenous peoples' plights in London before the 2014 World Cup (photo by Helen Saunders). Writes Justin Rohrlich:

The Yawanawa are extremely isolated; the nearest road is a full day away by motorboat. But they are also connected to the Internet, and supply annatto – a red pigment made from the seeds of the achiote tree – to Aveda for high-end cosmetics. Nixiwaka, who sometimes goes by "Joel," has lived in London for the past four years.

"I don't think much good came from Western contact," he told VICE News. "We almost lost our spirituality, our culture, our identity, because of the Western influence. And we are still battling the effects of materialism, disease, and separation."

Nixiwaka, who opposes controlled contact, says he enjoys life in Europe, and can better help raise awareness of the things affecting the Yawanawa people from there.

Related Off-site Links:
These 8 Cities Just Abolished Columbus Day – Dylan Sevett (U.S. Uncut, October 8, 2015).
More Cities Celebrating "Indigenous Peoples Day" as Effort to Abolish Columbus Day Grows – Peter Holley (The Washington Post, October 11, 2015).
Who Could Possibly Be in Favor of Columbus Day? – Bayard Johnson (Indian Country Today via Common Dreams, October 12, 2015).
Why Schools Should Rethink How They Teach About Columbus – Melinda D. Anderson (The Atlantic, October 12, 2015).
"Capitalism is Mother Earth's Cancer": World People's Summit Issues 12 Demands – Deirdre Fulton (Common Dreams, October 12, 2015).
From Million Man March to Columbus Day: Challenging White Supremacy and the "Doctrine of Discovery"Democracy Now! (October 12, 2015).
Pope Francis's Careful Side-Step – Steven Newcomb (Indian Country Today, September 26, 2015).
Pope Apologizes for Catholic Church's "Offenses" Against Indigenous Peoples – Nicole Winfield and Jacobo Garcia (Associated Press via HuffPost Religion, July 9, 2015).
Two-spirit Native Americans Bridge Genders on Columbus Day – Kittredge Cherry (Jesus in Love Blog, October 12, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Something Special for Indigenous Peoples Day
A Little Something for Columbus Day
Something to Think About – 4/22/14
"Something Sacred Dwells There"
Stop the ReRoute Documentary Premieres in Minneapolis
In the Garden of Spirituality – Paulo Coelho
Like Swiss Army Knives!
All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer
Buffy Sainte-Marie and That "Human-Being Magic"
North America: Perhaps Once the "Queerest Continent on the Planet"
Clyde Hall: "All Gay People, in One Form or Another, Have Something to Give to This World, Something Rich and Very Wonderful"
Crazy Horse: Strange Man of the Great Plains
Visions of Crazy Horse
The "Fool Soldiers" of the Lakota
A Visit to the National Museum of the American Indian
Michael Greyeyes on Temperance as a Philosophy for Surviving
Prayer of the Week – November 14, 2012
Recalling a Visit to the Missions of San Antonio and Remembering Bartolomé de Las Casas, a "Passionate and Prophetic Defender" of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas

Image (above left): Playwright Waawaate Fobister's character Jake celebrates Two-Spirited identity in his acclaimed play, AGOKWE: Gay Love on the Rez. (Source)

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