28.3.10

All's Fair in Love and War


Several conclusions I've come to- boys and girls are built fundamentally differently: Boys fall in love with the person they consistently have sex with (else they would not continue), while girls have consistent sex with the one they fall in love with (else they would not continue). This is because boys are predisposed to trying to find someone to put their "seed" in, while girls are looking for security and comfort (see the book "Time, Sex and Power.") This comes into effect when a "rite of passage" has taken place--moving in, getting married, having kids (and thus having no physiological reason to have more sex)--so that because the couple is now "Official" (meaning they are "together forever") there is thus no reason to partake in such a "pointless" routine such as sex. Girls realize that they have found security and thus their libido, perhaps that tool used to find the man who will join them in "holy union", has achieved its objective and all is well for them. Boys on the other hand find themselves "trapped" in a situation they did not anticipate and feel they must bear their plight for the good of the marriage.


Perhaps this is because girls are future-oriented (the cliche that every girl dreams of her wedding day) while boys live in the moment (their own orgasm). The experience of life is diverse--after educating and sustaining one's self, the goal becomes to entertain one's self until he or she is dead-- and sex, the stimulation of sexual organs, often becomes taken for granted after a while. Girls believe they can have it whenever they want (since boys are always willing), while boys are motivated to have it as much as possible (perhaps even at the expense of their partner). The routine thus becomes monotonous so that the effect, unless the individual in question is driven towards the purely selfish objective of personal climax (undoubtedly a beautiful thing!), is that girls no longer want sex while boys find themselves in an untenable situation.


The question then becomes, where to get sex? Obviously the wife is unwilling, but should the husband settle for her decision? As individuals, we are obligated to maximize our own enjoyment of experience, so that even monogamy may become an outdated mode of existence, and therefore at least 3 options arise:


1) Break up and look to initiate another sexual relationship with someone else until that too fizzles out


2) Stay together and be unhappy in one particular aspect of the relationship


3) Engage in extramarital affairs, with or without the consent of your partner.


Options 1) and 2) seem inadequate in sustaining one's happiness, while option 3) necessitates a total and complete re-evaluation of moral aptitude. Again, is monogamy natural? While some animals (penguins) mate for life, others simply do not. Human beings are blessed with the insight and ability to reconstruct their environment to make it more pleasurable for their own experience so that by engaging in an alternative intimate relationship, one may rediscover a passion absent in a present one.


While honesty is certainly foundational to any relationship, keep in mind that decisions bearing significant relevance to the present relationship (deciding to move in, getting married...) were all based on the preconception that this moment (the orgasm) would continue far into the future. As this premise has certainly been negated, so too the basis for the relationship in question has also so that all participants might be given another opportunity to reassess all motivating factors, e.g. the ability to orgasm through a human connection sans masturbation.


Personally, I pledged early on in my life that I would make it a point to have sex every single day of my life, simply because that activity exemplified the pinnacle of experience and existence for me, so that if I was denied access by any other, that essentially represented a "breach of contract" if you will, thus releasing me from all obligations to stay "faithful" to an asexual partner.


Love may be present, but a broken heart may manifest if one is cheated on. What to do if the love of sex is hindered by an unmatched libido, characterizing the predicament concerning notions of happiness. Who gets what they want? Who wins? Who loses? Should one risk ending a relationship by partaking in any sexual experience with another they are drawn to? Maybe, though whether or not this decision is communicated is a decision left entirely up to the individual. We are all left up to our own personal moral guides to decide how to act and react to each passing moment, which is the only freedom we are each guaranteed in life. To think there is any authority on what to do or how to act is the only fiction there is.


Superficially entering into brief sexual encounters alone, without the possibility of coming to intimately know the other, may satisfy a basic desire but falls short of establishing a lasting connection out of which one might mature or come to know better his or her self. Yet eliminating any animalistic urge and rendering the self sexless for the "greater good" of this bond surely is no better. We are thus left with the undeniably atrocious complication of how to "have our cake and eat it to." Trying to reconcile the two modes of being creates a state of Antinomy, where moral standards may be called into question (Tiger Woods anyone?), yet there can be no assuredly "right" answer as to how to proceed. People fall in love with those they are near and close to due to the empathetic nature of the human experience. There should be no shame in choosing someone else to be near to, as no one can be considered qualitatively "better" than any other, aside from subjective preference. There can be no rational dialogue as we are guided purely by emotional expression (what feels good), and so we are victims of passion.


It seems girls enjoy the act of sex (the female orgasm), yet do not enjoy the external process of having sex--submitting to someone else's desire. Perhaps this is because of insecurity, fear of rape, lack of comfort, whatever. Either way, it constitutes a problem that can be addressed or ignored. Boys are often reared on notions of chivalry, a good thing, yet for the ends of harmonious reciprocity. Don't stay in a situation you hate.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/03/23/brizendine.male.brain/index.html?iref=allsearch

love

I sometimes feel like a hurricane of emotion, passion, aggression, nervous energy and pent up rage, seeking outlets in various activities through which i might find contentment, one instance at a time. Thus the moment i strive for is one where i might connect my self, in all the forms it takes, to something "greater," to better understand, through authoritative guidance, how best to BE.

My relationship to all else is then determined by my awareness of self as such, describing Existence as the culminated sum of expressed individual uniqueness.

"As I look to you, I breathe in the Earth."

20.3.10

the political movement of sustainable revolution

The neo-liberal Logic of the oligarchic elites dominates and degrades the diverse webs of energy flows needed to sustain effective learning communities. Culture and politics are conceptualized as merely commercial interests to be controlled and profited from; and through the manipulation of cultural icons and symbols, a consolidation of power eliminates protections, co-opting democratic tools to exploit the public for selfish gains. Consequently, a rise to power through forged alliances compels the use of violence as a means to suppress and eliminate the competition of a threat-free environment.

Yet without a functioning sense of community value that stresses reciprocity between human beings and the natural world, any imagined response system will fail in its attempt to provide for alternative beliefs of how best to exist and be. Due to this tremendous pressure to change detrimental social norms, Integral logic has emerged to provide such an alternative, suggesting

"We would be better off designing our energy systems around a combination of: increasing efficiency in existing technologies; creating a system with more diverse sources and distributed suppliers; and emphasizing human- and environmentally-benign approaches." (Goerner, pg. 347)

In reconstituting the intentions of factions subject to otherwise inept management, mainstream society can realize its potential to alleviate a negative effect by fostering alternative action through adaptation to hostile conditions.

The result is the outlining of a program or procedure that demonstrates the steps necessary to change. Through this process, as well as its replications elsewhere, power can be mobilized so that localities are no longer deprived of desired social circumstances. This then provides for antecedents (like Cuba!), which allow us to comprehend their roles by understanding their relevance to the totality of any movement.

7.3.10

Perfect Consideration: Part Three (Future)



Native Sustainability Through Entheogenic Resistance


Introduction:

Unlike citizens of the United States government who enjoy the rights to Freedom their ancestors provided for them centuries ago, Native inhabitants of Turtle Island are consistently denied these same basic luxuries due to the policies of that government. Though these two social systems simultaneously occupy the exact same land area, they are diametrically opposed to one another so that the resulting confrontation resembles nothing less than the eradication of an entire cultural heritage, where “a nation presumably conceived in liberty systematically destroyed the rights, civil and otherwise, of a whole population…making the ‘freedom’ of those who survived a mockery of the word.” (Tebbel pg. 9, 1966)

America, founded on the Enlightenment ideals that challenged Absolute Monarchical power and Church rule, has come full circle in its evolution: its legislative process acts as the primary vehicle of systematic oppression and persecution now used by those who convey the oligarchic tendencies, false visions and corrupt maps and models that presently govern today’s social thought. And whereas the United States has continually propagated a doctrine of Civil Religion since its inception, the Church has been similarly adamant about stamping out all Native spiritualism that purports to worship nature; its views most clearly articulated in the Vatican’s response to a popular film touching upon such themes—

“In a recent World Day of Peace message, the pontiff warned against any notions that equate human person and other living things. He said such notions ‘open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man’s salvation in nature alone.’” (Rizzo 2010)

Yet the Pantheistic ideology Native cultures subscribe to is perhaps most in keeping with recent social movements advocating sustainable practices than any other religion to date. Paul Harrison, founder and President of the World Pantheist Movement writes, “The realization of unity, the achievement of union, is the basis for pantheistic meditation and mysticism…the only requirement is that we take care of it for ourselves and for our children and grandchildren, and for the sake of all the other species for which earth is also home.” (Harrison 1999, pg. 60, 67) In stark contrast to the materialistic mindset that views nature as merely a resource to be appropriated and consumed, Native American models of health emphasize the restoration of balance with the environment through revitalized relationships, since “reciprocity with Being underlies indigenous cures.” (Gray 2004) It should then become apparent why those with vested interests in the “rape of Mother Earth” feel obligated to repress with considerable force this fundamental belief which guides Native opposition to the destruction of the land.

In the face of extreme antinomy, Natives have survived policies of Extermination, Displacement, and Cultural Genocide while retaining their own core beliefs. This paper will attempt to establish Four (4) points of major concern: 1) that Natives have indeed adapted to their forced assimilation while retaining their culture in spite of overwhelming odds; 2) in doing so, their Worldview has informed and influenced the emerging “green” and “sustainable” revolutions, infusing their environment with lasting personal value that provides safe, tolerant and protective spaces to flourish within; 3) by concentrating on key issues of importance to Natives while empowering communities to overcome victimization, a global society can alleviate an array of social obstacles including assumed extinction through interdependent action; and 4) that in reasserting self-control by defining what is Sacred to us each on a personal level, we might reevaluate our own relationship with the world around us to construct new moral guidelines for existing in a world of increasing complexity. With this said, I must stress that these points in no way represent the situation of every Indian; instead they provide a depiction on the state of “Indianness,” as it is conceived of by law. That it is only a representation should not be disparaging as this is in itself of enormous consequence; so it shall be the task of this writing to explain how this positive affair in Indian relations might potentially catalyze the recovery of an entire population.

The structure of this essay will provide the reader with a comprehensive interpretation of the overarching Problem and Solution, while providing a detailed description of change through the examination of a hypothetical mechanism for Implementation. Finally, we will touch upon the Implications of such a reconciliatory process as espoused in the following pages so that a more perfect consideration of how to live and act will definitively expose the current social climate to be a gross perversion of spiritual malfeasance.

Problem:

It is not hard to understand why Natives are more likely to die before any other ethnicity on Turtle Island, or why infant mortality rates have skyrocketed in recent years. (Peterson 2009) Being that there is an inherent reciprocity between the earth and its inhabitants, the general dispossession of an entire continent should likely have devastating effects. Wars of attrition have wiped out food and energy sources (Buffalo, Salmon, Corn), while land and rivers are poisoned by toxic runoff left by irresponsible corporations. While these policies of destruction may have begun hundreds of years ago, their consequences have tremendous impact upon the people of today.

“The victims of the crime continue to struggle with laws not of their own making, economics derived from the theft of land and life, and the scars that remain with the victims of horrendous crimes…these issues remain, glaring and connecting each generation to the past in a way that makes it difficult to heal. (LaDuke pg. 92, 2005)

To truly contextualize the effects that link us to the violence and racism of yesteryear, this connection to the past must be confronted so as to better understand the current untenable circumstance we are in at present…

Indians supposedly lost the title to their lands when European colonizers arrived, ordered by Papal Bull termed “Doctrine of Discovery,” which divided all lands in the Western Hemisphere between Spain and Portugal so that “all lands in the Americas belonged to the European nations that discovered, claimed, or conquered them.” (Nies pg. 79, 1996) After the French-Indian War (when France ceded territory to Britain) and the American Revolution (when Britain ceded territory to the colonies), the United States assumed control over territories belonging to Indians by “Right of Conquest.” (Calloway 2007) After committing itself to more than 400 treaties with indigenous tribes, the American Congress declared an appropriations bill in 1871 stating that treaties would no longer be signed with Indian nations or tribes and that all agreements should be made thereafter by Executive Order or Congressional Act.
This shift in power realities manifested as the “Plenary Power Doctrine,” which enabled the United States to eliminate all rights and abrogate all previous treaties, diminishing any reservation land promised to Indian tribes. Traditional lands and resources were taken without due process or compensation; tribal governments were terminated at the whim of the Federal government; and religious and cultural traditions went virtually unprotected. The Supreme Court upheld Congress’ use of Plenary Power in United States v. Kagama (1886) and a year later the Dawes Act (1887) was passed, with later laws attempting to destroy the Native American culture and force the tribes to assimilate into one “superior” culture.

The United States does not recognize Native property rights to lands not specifically defined in treaties either, regarding aboriginal title as a possessory interest rather than one of ownership. Thus the government can take any land or resource for any reason disregarding law or any compensation, as evidenced in the case of Tee-Hit-Ton v. United States (1955); and even when the land has been Congressionally reserved to Natives, as in Karuk Tribe of California, et al. v. United States (2000) because title is not formally recognized by treaty. The Indian “Trust” agreement should be equally unsettling to proponents of Sovereignty as the Federal government assumes unlimited control in managing all lands and affairs of Native communities, a policy motivated by the underlying assumption that Indians are either incompetent in disposing of their natural wealth or pose some threat and therefore should not do so without governmental consent.

Despite assertions from the American government that it supports and respects tribal self-determination, lands and resources are continually taken freely from tribes. The little land that is left to them is fully controlled by the United States, often mismanaged or improperly accounted for by corrupt or inept authorities that provide Indians with little to no compensation. The result is nothing less than a systematized enslavement where Indians are relegated to positions of tenancy in an involuntary, permanent trusteeship. Natives, lagging tremendously in economic and social well being, cannot even look towards their Tribal Governments, relics of the Indian Reorganization Act (1934), for help because U.S. power relations often inhibit them from pursuing economic development. (ILRC 2006)

All in all, one can come to the fairly certain conclusion that the unilateral denial of Rights to Indian tribes has deprived them of any efficient social apparatus that might advance interest in self-sufficiency. As John Mohawk explains,

“The Native peoples of this land are under attack. That fact cannot be ignored, and it cannot be resolved in the courts, because the courts are one of the instruments of the attack.” (Mohawk pg. 180, 1982)

Tribal Governments are thus pressured into accepting corporate contracts developed in collusion with the U.S. Department of the Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs, many of which do little to better the circumstances of those affected by them, yet do much to further communal detriment, destroying the earth, air and water for generations thereafter and turning areas considered Sacred into “National Sacrifice Areas.” (Churchill pg. 239-270, 2005)
Even those places held most cherished and vital to Native spiritual and cultural heritage can be taken under pretense of “Eminent Domain,” the inherent power of the State to seize property with due monetary compensation, though without owner consent. This outright theft of the traditional means to practice one’s culture, added to the historical injustice and outright pathological hostility of Federal policy, has the effect of obliterating tribal identity while reducing many Indians to victims in a perpetual state of social trauma:

“Every society needs these kinds of sacred places because they help to instill a sense of social cohesion in the people and remind them of the passage of generations that have brought them to the present. A society that cannot remember and honor its past is in peril of losing its soul. (Deloria pg. 272, 1994)

At the same time, the Church not only has done practically nothing to prevent this abuse even decades after kidnapping Indian children to retrofit with Christian ideals in Missionary schools, but in fact is actively engaged in dismantling any claim Natives have to hold ceremonies at Sacred places. (Bird and Erdoes pg. 256, 1990) For instance, the Vatican has supported the University of Arizona in its lobbying to secure the first peacetime exemption from all U.S. protection laws so it might build a proposed International Observatory on Mt. Graham, a site central to Native generation myths and home to a diversity of wild life including endangered species. Responding to indigenous indignation, the director of the Vatican Observatory declared,

“It is precisely the failure to make the distinctions [between insignificant nature and spiritual human beings] that has created a kind of environmentalism and a religiosity to which I cannot subscribe and which must be suppressed with all the force we can muster.” (LaDuke pg. 31, 2005)

The spiritual devastation and cultural destruction perpetrated against Indians provides a telling representation of how power relations are conceptualized—mainly that American “prosperity” justified by Church doctrine has propelled the belief in Manifest Destiny to a stature of supreme Authority.

In asserting its control over the physical and metaphysical characteristics of Native culture (i.e. land, resources, spirituality), the Church and State have completely eliminated and undermined all potential for self-determination so that Indians are potentially, if not literally, deprived of every basic possession of substantive value. Furthermore, whatever minute portion retained is under constant threat from those who seek to appropriate tidbits of cultural tradition to reproduce out of context as “Whiteshamans,” further manipulating and infringing upon the reality of Native life for profit and reflecting the degree to which capitalism pervades the “marketplace of ideas.” (Aldred, 338-340)

“In our society as a whole we conceive of the land in terms of ownership and use. It is a lifeless medium of exchange…and our laws confirm us in this view, for we can buy and sell the land, we can exclude each other from it, and in the context of ownership we can use it as we will. Ownership implies use, and use implies consumption.” (Momaday pg. 28, 1999)

Spirituality is integral to society, providing collective cohesion and solidarity for a particular people; it is the fundamental understanding of the world that grounds all other social practice. Native philosophies in particular do not have separate words for “Religion” or “Nature,” but rather see these concepts as interrelating attitudes and beliefs harmonizing with the natural world and unseen reality. Thus, when human activity destroys environments and ecosystems, it can be assumed that the current zeitgeist in power is unappreciative of Native values; so that in each instance this separation between self and nature is evident we are merely observing a symptom of the greater problem rather than its source:

“Rephrased, this means it would be a fundamental violation of traditional native law to supplant or eradicate another species, whether animal or plant, in order to make way for some greater number of humans or to increase the level of material comfort available to those who already exist. Conversely, it is a fundamental requirement of traditional law that each human accept his or her primary responsibility of maintaining the balance and harmony of the natural order as it is encountered.” (Churchill pg. 391, 2002)

Because today’s policy—the root of social practice from which all action is derived—regarding how we treat the world around us has been found to be unsustainable (meaning the global civilization does not have the current capacity to evolve intelligently and appropriately in the world it presently destroys), a new logic is needed to repair systematic flaws through a communal learning response system so as to avoid collapse. In this way, one can recognize that it will be up to individuals to remake the world, as they would like it to become:

“For what people make of their places is closely connected to what they make of themselves as members of society and inhabitants of the earth, and while the two activities may be separable in principle, they are deeply joined in practice. If place-making is a way of constructing the place, a venerable means of doing human history, it is also a way of constructing social traditions and, in the process, personal and social identities. We are, in a sense, the place-worlds we imagine.” (Basso)

Solution:

In 1918, the Native American Church (NAC) was incorporated as the only organization recognized by the Federal government that articulated the indigenous culture of North and South American Natives, a privilege not even extended to Tribal Governments. Based on the worldview that all is one, it has officially been determined a religion, a structured worldview universally defined as “a system of belief and practice relative to sacred things that unite its devotees into a single moral community called a church.” (Lobo, Talbot pg. 286, 2001) Nature is worshipped as Sacred, so that every fractal piece of nature is Sacred as well, including every human being and plant that causes physiological and psychological effects. Recent studies have reported that these Entheogens (literally, “generating the divine within,”) induce spiritual experiences of mystical unity correlated with ecological mindedness. (Jagel 2007)

One of these Entheogens, peyote, the core Sacrament used in NAC ceremonies, brings about experiences of spiritual connection, enhanced self-esteem, emotional release, a sense of community support for recovery, insight and heightened awareness of a deeper spiritual reality, enhanced environmental sensitivity, sudden cures of diseases or physical ailments and the ability to overcome drug and alcohol addiction due to feelings of connection to Divinity. (Dombrowe 2005) These experiences reveal the Sacred dimensions of reality which act as the source for this religious movement, impressing upon ceremonial participants a state of mind observant of spiritual Oneness in which they can be trained to respect themselves and the world around them:

“Unlike an average Westerner, people in native cultures have regularly experienced holotropic states in their ritual and spiritual life. Their world view includes their insights from these experiences, which unambiguously reveal the existence of the spiritual dimension in the human psyche and in the universal scheme of things.” (Grof pg. 37, 2001)

These Sacraments/objects of worship provide people with cognitive and spiritual tools that aid them in their ability to see through a materially oriented culture using a more existential and cosmologically informed lens that stimulates experiences of the sublime. (Tupper 2002) A feeling of mutual connection and subsequent sense of responsibility to protect and nurture the environment can then be actualized through a system of human development organized towards the revitalization of the world the individual has become a concerned constituent of.
The psychotherapeutic change in consciousness requires a comprehensive model to enact foundations critical for systematic success, one that recreates the depreciated “outside” world into one more attuned to the idealized state “within” so as to more completely exemplify a harmonious state of being that accommodates the complexity of life. The science of Sustainability does just that, remaking a world founded on “otherness” into one that corresponds to nature’s most basic structural arrangements:

“Since all flow systems obey similar laws and exhibit similar patterns, we can use existing measures from natural ecosystems as well as a variety of new techniques from network analysis, nonlinear dynamics, and complexity theory to assess the health and development of any complex web with a surprising degree of precision.” (Goerner, Dyck, Lagerroos pg. 190, 2008)

Contemplative action thus inspires a resurgence of personal relevance concerning one’s place in the world. While an entire cultural understanding might seem destroyed, appalling or flat-out evil, the individual, from whom all else has been thoroughly ripped away, can retreat to the last Sacred state offering sanctuary, namely his or her own mind. This asset then remains as the final characteristic of an otherwise erased identity, acting as a vantage point to distinguish “self” from what is alien to it. In so doing, the impacted individual can reaffirm the obligation to worship a Divine nature by maintaining the place of mind as Sacred, equating freedom of expression with Unitive Consciousness while reconstituting the “horror perceived” as merely a challenge to be overcome:

“Practices incorporating the sacramental use of Entheogens have provided similar deeply engaged understandings of our connection with all of creation. Once we have such an experience, how can we not seek the liberation of all beings…this is the dangerous memory that challenges us and our culture into new ways of being.” (Cairns pg. 169, 2001)

So then, a vanguard with which to oppose a destructive force is retained by means of more socially and ecologically conscious logic, communicated to others through ceremonial practice so as to reaffirm the Sacred identity of nature and potentially undermine all antagonizing power.

Implementation:

Native Americans still exist despite systematic policies of both physical and cultural genocide. These peoples, searching for a way out of their despair after the failure of the Ghost Dance at the Wounded Knee Massacre, found in peyote use a method to accommodate the world of American oppression while instituting their own cultural emancipation: “For many, peyotism allowed the preservation of Native American culture, so followers were able to retain some sense of moral and religious cohesiveness.” (Long pg. 11, 2000) The movement developed into distinct ceremonies that integrated Christian elements, regarding the hallucinatory “button” as the deity who brings Natives into communion with the Great Spirit.

Federal efforts to restrict peyote use were mostly thwarted in courts so that by 1918, in response to Congress holding sessions to determine whether the practice was dangerous or not, peyotists introduced evidence supporting its religious significance. The NAC was finally recognized as a legitimate entity amidst overwhelming resistance (primarily from religious organizations) and developments in the legal system began to offer more precise conceptions of the legitimacy and power afforded to it.

Laws prohibiting the transportation and shipment of peyote soon came into effect through State legislatures, though because jurisdiction did not extend to the reservations in Indian Territory, most were rendered impotent. This understanding was affirmed in Native American Church v. Navajo Tribal Council (1959), where

“Law…is binding upon Indian nations only where it expressly binds them…no provision in the Constitution makes the First Amendment applicable to Indian nations nor is there any law of Congress doing so. It follows that neither, under the Constitution or the laws of Congress, do the Federal courts have jurisdiction of tribal laws or regulations, even though they may have an impact to some extent on forms of religious worship.” (Deloria pg. 77, 1971)

Though the NAC’s case was dismissed, it was done so “for its characterization of the status of an Indian tribe—higher than a state!” (Deloria pg. 75, 1971) Though the Navajo Tribal Council was able to pass a law specifically targeting and suppressing the NAC with the intention of limiting its activities on the reservation, because Tribal Governments predated the Constitution they were exempt from all instances of law in which they had not been specifically referred to. The right to worship was redressed in the Indian Civil Rights Act in 1968.

In 1964, People v. Woody found that the State could persecute an Indian if it could demonstrate compelling interest outweighing the defendant’s interest in religious freedom, which it could not. The case demonstrated that off-reservation American Indians were protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment but that unobstructed freedom was still under threat, leading to passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) in 1978, which granted access to sites; use and possession of sacred objects; and the right to worship through ceremonial rites. AIRFA lost most of its power when the courts realized that enforcing the Act would border on the establishment of religion and ruled that since the United States was founded on religious Freedom, prohibiting Americans from breaking tribal customs and desecrating Indian Sacred places, even in their ignorance, would be considered Unconstitutional based on its secular principles. This argument eventually led to the question of whether non-Indians, often adopted into tribal customs, could participate in Native ceremonies since the misnomer “Indian” had always referred to a political entity rather than a racial one:

“The question is whether they have been admitted to practice to the degree that their practice of a ceremony, absent Indians participating in and directing the ceremony, is protected by law. Can non-Indians, even with the most sincere motives and devotional attitudes, be protected by the American Indian Religious Freedom Resolution if they are discovered with a bag of peyote?” (Deloria, Lytle pg. 238, 1983)

After Employment Division, Oregon Department of Human Resources v. Smith (1990) established that States had the power to accommodate otherwise illegal acts done for religious reasons though they were not required to, Oregon’s state legislature provided religious exemption to State drug laws.

In 1991, United States vs. Robert Boyll held that permitting Indian nondrug use of peyote in “bona fide” religious ceremonies while prohibiting non-Indians would violate the Free Exercise and Equal Protection clause, much in the way that AIRFA had been considered: just as the establishment of religion at the expense of race was determined to be Unconstitutional (benefitting American citizens), so too was the persecution of a race that participated in religion (again, benefitting American citizens). The ruling statement elaborated,

“There is a genius to our Constitution. Its genius is that it speaks to the freedoms of the individual…this matter concerns a freedom that was a natural idea whose genesis was in the Plymouth Charter, and finds its present form in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution—the freedom of religion.” (Burciara 1991)

President Clinton amended AIRFA to exempt peyote from Federal drug laws and signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law in 1993, though the Supreme Court ruled two years later the Act violated the principle of Federalism and rescinded States’ rights to regulate their own drug laws. (Long 2000) US Attorney General vs. Centro Espiritual Beneficiente Uniao Do Vegetal (2005) and Church of the Holy Light of the Queen v. Mukasey (2009) have since then ruled in favor of the Brazilian-based Santo Daime Church members who may freely import, distribute and possess hallucinogenic tea called Ayahuasca, an Entheogenic brew containing the psychoactive dimethyltryptamine (DMT); and the president of the Navajo Nation signed the Peyote Bill into law (2005), making it legal for members to possess and transport peyote for ceremonial purposes.

After thousands of years of ceremonial practice, hundreds of which were documented by Spanish Conquistadors and missionaries who invaded in the 1500s, it took a little less than 100 years for the American court system to determine the place of the Native American Church’s use of peyote in its legal framework, though just like when it was first conceived, the NAC still allows anyone to worship in ceremonies regardless of race. Since its inception, the Church had challenged the Tribal Court system to establish itself as a legitimate religion; the State found no compelling evidence to prohibit the bona fide use of peyote, exempting the Sacrament from State drug laws; and the Federal government expressly stated that the religious use of peyote should similarly remain exempt from Federal drug policies through AIRFA and RFRA, while extending the law to other Entheogenic substances and permitting their use, distribution and importation. In this respect, it has clearly and consistently been affirmed that the Native American Church is indeed a legitimate religion with all of the Tribal, State, and Federal protections afforded to it in its right to pursue its mission.

While this could perhaps be passed off as an insignificant note in a short chapter on the American Empire, it should be pointed out that this is indeed a most enlightening insight into the evolution of America’s hegemonic character. No longer are the most cherished cultural traditions repressed in favor of assimilation into a predominantly Christianized society (at least in the eyes of the law), so that Indians have become accepted as actual human beings with inherent dignity, capable of holding deep spiritual beliefs typically reserved for a minority. From here, the intrinsic worldview characterized by the NAC has only to find a viable distribution mechanism so as to effectively convey its sense of Sacredness (and all that would entail) to a public in desperate need of an alternative to a world in peril.

Interview:

We should most likely consider the dominant social paradigm of our global community to be a systematic breakdown of the perpetual slavery and war that fuel a politicized economy. Through the institutionalization of plutocratic perspectives, wealth is transferred to coercive monopolies whose abusive power is legitimized by “Divine Right” to maintain an unsustainable status quo, usually ending in social collapse:

“Oligarchic hierarchies are inherently dysfunctional because they are fixated on domination, exploitation, militarism, and elite control. In essence, a small segment of the population uses hierarchy’s power to mobilize large groups and to concentrate wealth, information, and power for its own benefit and often at the expense of the larger whole.” (Goerner, Dyck, Lagerroos Pg. 102, 2008)

Because this powerful economic machine has at it’s core the basic motivating outlook that the world can be possessed, therefore providing a means of control over land, resources, time and energy through property, it exerts a powerful pull over broader social and environmental systems so that the welfare of each is drained to compensate. This is reflected on a fractal level, where living systems are individually affected by the pervasiveness of corruption essential to the mechanistic overthrow of organicity. For example, as American capitalism continues to foster the naturally devastating social tendencies of corporations asserting control over resources (or the equivalent—money), more instances of clashing worldviews will provide detailed spectacles to analyze and conciliate. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the case of State of Utah v. James W. Mooney and Oklevueha Native American Church. (2004)

After taking close to a hundred heroin addicts off the streets along with families who could not get assistance any other way, James Mooney (a Seminole medicine man who goes by the name Flaming Eagle)’s Church was raided by Federal agents, slammed with racketeering charges for distributing peyote, cut off from all funding and public support and later sent into bankruptcy. Being in a State predominantly controlled by the Mormon Church, Mooney and his wife were arrested for operating a “criminal enterprise,” and in a recent interview explained that it was primarily the Church that had motivated this illegal case brought against him.

“Can you imagine a State raiding a Catholic or Mormon Church, arresting the leaders of the Church with the intent to put them in prison for the rest of their lives? That is a totally illegal act in the United States of America. And the only reason the State of Utah got away with it was because the Mormon Church supported it. The State of Utah is the only State in the history of our Nation that tried to outlaw a Church. They lied to the State legislators, predominantly Mormons, then got their Attorney General, another Mormon, to lie to the U.S. government saying I was a fraud and left out exculpatory evidence [favorable evidence that would most likely clear the Defendant] to another Mormon Federal judge, underneath the Patriot Act for only hearsay—no facts, just someone has to say you did something—and got an indictment that would have put us in jail for the rest of our lives, all based on lies. And then the Attorney General lied to the legislators and the citizenship saying that the decision of the Utah Supreme Court exposed a loophole in Utah State law that enabled the misuse of Peyote, so they made a Bill of Attainder, which means to make a law specifically against an individual preventing them from receiving their civil rights, another big-time illegal act. After 3 or 4 months, my Attorneys showed the prosecuting U.S. Attorney that the State of Utah had lied, avoided exculpatory evidence, and conducted everything in an illegal fashion and then, for the first time in the history of our Nation, the Federal government dropped all charges before an evidential hearing, so that these illegal procedures would not become part of court documents.” (Mooney 2010)

Flaming Eagle’s Church is still considering taking legal action since many of the neighboring churches in the State are now worried about practicing their religion, especially with law being drawn up against them. (Shurtleff 2006)

Yet to an extent, there is something beautiful in the entire fiasco. Prior to 1918 when the NAC was incorporated, ceremonial practices were restricted to tribal grounds while Tribal Governments, often operated by Christian Churches, outlawed the use of Peyote over and over until the Federal Government stepped in to prevent it. 86 years later, the process seems identical: after both cases, “Freedom” has prevailed while the door again remains open for ALL peoples, not just Indians, to worship in this religion; this is because the fundamental principle of the Constitution is that no one can legislate spirituality by race or religion and the government does not have the authority to tell a Church how to conduct itself, let alone who can participate in a service or ceremony.

While the Bill of Attainder (Utah House Bill 60) still is technically in effect, if it serves any purpose, it proves, shows and reminds everyone of the long list of atrocities perpetrated by the State of Utah’s legislative corruption against Indians. Mormons, occupying the highest levels of State authority, have crusaded against Natives since first entering into the valley when they took over the water sources and enacted policy to kill Indians so as to possess the land. “Even today, Paiute, Shoshone and Ute Elders have pictures of wagons of decapitated heads in front of the Mormon Church, selling for two dollar gold pieces.” In these instances, the propaganda the Church maintains has set them up as guardians of the sole truth, justifying their horrendous actions from past up to present.

For example, Mormon doctrine holds ceremonies where participants give up 10% of their yearly income to even be allowed to go into the temple. Marriage is for life and all eternity, though one has to be in good standing and participate in ceremonies where property is turned over to the Church. If these rules are not followed, the Church has the ability to excommunicate the individual, keeping them from their family for all eternity. This fundamental religious belief seems relevant, as when a temple-going Federal Judge ruled in favor of the Mormon Church over a property dispute between the City and the Church, though the decision was overturned and the Judge was chastised for not excluding himself since he might have been excommunicated if he didn’t rule in favor of the Church.

Because every bona fide Mormon businessman has the exact same commitment, the Church can be characterized as quite a formidable entity. If businesses like Energy Solutions, which “handles more than 95 percent of all commercial low-level radioactive waste produced in the United States,” (Lee, O’Donoghue 2010) store chemicals and toxic waste in the ground and give 10% of their earnings to the Church, while Mormons controlling Utah’s State Legislature make sure the State has more nuclear waste than any other in the Union, then it makes sense why the Mormon Church has done everything in its power to prevent the Native American Church from understanding the extent of its Constitutional Rights (and why Utah is the only State in the Nation that ever tried to outlaw a Church):

The NAC is the only Federally recognized religion signed into law by the Senate, House of Representatives and President—not even the Catholic or Mormon Church is granted this distinction. In this Earth-based healing religion representing the spirituality of every indigenous tribe in the Americas, Nature is completely ingrained in the Sacred identity defined by Indians. Thus, the entire world can be construed as a temple for the Native American Church so that “all that is required to stop a harmful project is proving to the court that the practice is a desecration to their temple and it will stop”—the major motivating reason for the historic campaign against this central belief in which everyone is welcome to share this worldview. (Mooney 2010)

In the late 1940s, the Mormon attorney Ernest L. Wilkinson went to the Shoshones and asked to represent them to the U.S. government to address grievances for millions of acres of stolen land. He won the multi-million dollar lawsuit and took 80% of the winnings, using it to build Brigham Young University (the 20% was never recovered by the Indians, who only wanted the land) of which he then became President. By 1973, the major objective of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), operated by Mormon Indian Attorneys and (thus) owned by the Mormon Church, was to represent all the Native American Tribes. Historically, these Tribes have been the biggest obstacles to Native American Spirituality and have done everything in their power to outlaw the NAC, even pawning themselves off as the Native American Church of North America (NACNA) to propagate the concept that only Federally-recognized Indians should be allowed access to the NAC. Larry Echohawk, a Mormon Attorney-General who sponsored an “Unconstitutional Bill” in Idaho that suppressed Native religion, became Professor of Law at BYU before moving to the Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs under the Obama Administration. His brother is the President of NARF.

Because one of the largest industries in the American economy today is the War on Drugs, with drug use responsible for the majority of the workload in the prison and legal systems, if the Native American Church were to be fully honored, an enormous amount of “productivity” would effectively be ended. The Pharmaceutical industry, the Toxic Waste industry, the War on Drugs industry, the American Medical Association etc… therefore all have enormous interest in making sure this Earth-based healing religion does not understand the extent of its Constitutional Freedoms—since the entire economy of the United States has virtually blossomed by suppressing the Native American Church.

A report written by the U.S. Attorney’s office requested the advice about the NAC Rights to peyote, asking if it was actually possible to exempt only American Indian peyotists to the exclusion of other religious users of the Entheogen. (DEA Memo 1981) The answer was that it would Unconstitutional to do so.

“So the DEA knows it cannot set up a law or policy that legislates a religion on race or political affiliation. The Mormon Church just doesn’t want this to happen so they send NARF to the DEA and they make up an agreement saying ‘we’re representatives of Indians and if you will arrest and attempt to prosecute any person that isn’t a Federally recognized Native American, then we will support you in the Court system to keep a lid on getting this religion from blossoming.’ They made an agreement with the DEA that whenever NARF found out someone was using peyote not part of a Federally recognized Tribe, they would report them to the DEA and violate the Constitution to prosecute these people…there has been a cover-up since day one in these prosecutions…I used to be Vice-President of the North American Native American Church and they wanted me, because my Great-Grandfather was James Mooney, who argued on behalf of the Native American Church becoming a Church so it could be recognized as a legitimate religion with protection under the First and 14th Amendments—they wanted me as a political figure and sent me a letter saying I had to arrest every non-Native doing peyote, so I told them to cram it and opened up my own Church.” (Mooney 2010)

Implications:

The next step is simply to get the word out that there is a protected place to worship that has no set ideology, but that respects people’s differences while considering everyone and everything to be beautiful manifestations of God. Getting people to stand up and live by the principles of the Constitution is necessary. The court regards peyote only as peyote when it is the ground. Once it is picked it becomes a controlled substance. Once it is in the hand of a Native American Church member, it becomes a Sacrament, regardless of race.

The government cannot legislate anything regarding Church practice. Any kind of control, manipulation, or dominance therefore ends at the Native American Church because everything that is grown is a Sacrament. This is a nightmare for many, because to realize that everything is Sacred is to recognize that there is no entrenched restraint concerning the “right way” to take peyote, or Entheogens in general for that matter. This undeniable fact that everything belongs to an interconnected whole (made up of pieces no less Sacred than the larger system) then forces us to reevaluate the entirety of our living processes.

The teleological journey an interdependent species makes in evolving into something “better” must rigorously consider its constituent steps: the passage of time is measured by instances, each one unendingly important. If our communal “being” is found to be distressing, we should reconsider and redress it. In doing so, points of contention can be identified and treated, i.e. the personal prejudice underlying every monumental decision. So as to prevent and address the associated fears of a malevolent esoteric oligarchy, Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule suggest
“If government can dispel such theories, it should do so…by rebutting more rather than fewer theories, by enlisting independent groups to supply rebuttals, and by cognitive infiltration designed to break up the crippled epistemology of conspiracy-minded groups and informationally isolated social networks.” (Sunstein, Vermeule 2008)

Methods and models are certainly necessary to confront our greatest challenges, though perhaps even more basic should be the fundamental requirement of actually caring about the State we are in at present. Whether it will be Entheogens that catalyze the universal empathy needed to sustain us through our recovery process is beside the point. Despite the truth in such a statement, orienting the intentionality of a generational connect towards some shared benefit is even more crucial because the relationships to our selves, what is often mistaken as “other,” and our Self alone provide insight into how best to “be.”

Whereas corporations are considered “legal persons” in the eyes of the law, it should be found necessary to instill a unilateral commitment to the welfare of our human societies through illustrations that reconsider their actions in light of the natural world. If these most influential entities are allowed to destroy the psycho-spiritual life orientations we are provided with by a genuine commitment to embody the spirit of the Sacred cosmos, then the unusual creativity it will take to conform the destruction of our most precious resources to a place of utmost reverence will vanish, leaving us fragmented in our quest for a holistic value system. We must therefore sanction the revitalization of natural conditions through our own determinations of what is Sacred, prompting through unique engagement a cherishing of what each have been given by the power inherent in us all.

“The more mature the self, the wider the web of life in which we feel our membership. As our way of belonging to the world becomes more particular, our sense of community becomes less particular. We fall in love, outwardly and progressively, with the universe.” (Plotkin pg. 70, 2008)

If then, a single person (or corporation) were to embody this widespread social embrace, balancing nature and culture together in an imaginative demonstration of global redesign, a subsequent transformation in consciousness acting through her, him or it would secure a radically altered and self-reflexive construct of the perceived world. With this idealization for how appropriately to reconsider our intentions and obligations concerning personal intuitions, we can apply this ethic to any historical injustice through redeterminations of Sovereignty, effectively closing forever the defective loopholes that torment our civil relations.

“If such a phenomenon fails to emerge, those transmissions designed to maintain and reinforce existing inequitable social arrangements and attending precepts will continue to flourish.” (Meade 2010)

Conclusion:

The thesis of this essay has clearly portrayed Entheogens as providing the spiritual capacity to effectively combat the instigated destruction of “Self.” Through analyzing conceptual frameworks instituted by language (i.e. laws, decisions, impressions…) we have covered the United States of America’s precarious relationship to those it has consistently targeted as enemies, while identifying the potential catastrophe of social collapse to be based primarily along racially and spiritually biased assumptions. However, while a climate of intolerance has certainly permeated the social arena for centuries, a committed force geared towards pacifying its effect has evolved to virtually end a historical controversy. (Hummel 2004)

The surrounding cultural milieu does much to contextualize our relationship with nature—our connection to it over time. Whereas so often the government is blamed as the source for much of our distress, truly it is nothing more that an outcrop of our own social consciousness. As such, it should be utilized to its maximum effect to incorporate our own personal ambitions, though in light of incomplete insight into the oneness of the cosmos (and the healing powers accorded to it) we should be held accountable to a prevailing mechanism of distributable justice, conceived of through our own determinations of goodness. In this way, we will more aptly fulfill the potential of our souls in a verifiable way.

Despite accusations to the contrary, the taking of an Entheogenic Sacrament is itself the ritual, denoting Freedom of action and Freedom of mind for the individual. This Sacred procedure intends a state of purpose that is at peace with the larger world and, if empowered and communicated, can inform our sense of self in a way that demonstrates its own continuation through the development in close knit communities of feelings of spiritual apotheosis.

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Perfect Consideration: Part Two (Present)

Native Oppression and a Final Treaty-

If creation is an ongoing process, the consequences of which are inseparable from our own lives, then all experience must have inherent value in and of itself, since it is through this binding relationship with reality that a sense of the Sacred is maintained and offered for us. While this particular conceptualization of the natural world may contribute to the irrelevance of such terms as “Religion” and “Environment” in the Native worldview (as they are simply taken to be intrinsic to nature itself), the argument does come under scrutiny when applied to the question of Oppression, i.e. where is the goodness in being “conquered?” Yet if the Buddha is truthful in stating that the greatest sign of ignorance is to believe the perceived self is unconnected to the Oneness of the universe, then how are we to understand the broken treaties, political manipulation, and genocides of yesteryear as vital necessities in the passing of time?

Knowledge of self is based upon the sum of relationships cultivated, out of which spiritual wellness, psychological health, and communal integrity are derived. However, cultural bonds are disintegrated and destroyed in surrounding atmospheres of social amnesia and so, the contradictory nature of subsequent “unilateral definitions” will often categorize limited understandings based on incomplete half-truths:

“Whoever attempts to write Native American history must admit in advance to fallibility. There is not and never will be any proof, no possibility of ‘hard evidence’ to support a conjecture based on deduction” (Dorris, 104).

Something else then—an “Other” (determined as such to be an enemy)—forces upon us an undesirable state: namely, perpetual ignorance. The futility of regarding certain phenomena in ways ungoverned by personal prejudices then stunts our mental development, preventing the fusion of difference needed for comprehending any available “big picture.” In this respect, historical awareness is conceived through individual perception, its significance and value determined by one’s own mind. Cultural maps are constructed as social identities to graphically depict what is consciously named and included, demanding the constant reassessment of events and affairs on which those worlds are built to guide action through our reconceived notions of right and wrong, or good and bad:

“Building and sharing place-worlds is not only a means of reviving former times but also of revising them, a means of exploring not merely how things might have been but also how, just possibly, they might have been different from what others have supposed” (Basso, 3).

Surely then it takes some degree of Moral aptitude to attribute subjectivity to any statistic argued to be demonstrative of Oppression. Perhaps like the cherished Salmon, Bison, and Corn featured on the Pollen Path, Oppression itself is a fundamental tenant of the Native experience, without which there should be no purpose other than to enjoy The Experience itself.

Through the common assimilation into a shared motivating outlook, one is challenged to find strength in ways other than the murder and massacre of innocents. In reacting to undesirable circumstances, inherent problems and contradictions can be alleviated as fundamental differences are rectified. Natives and non-Natives might never have experienced each other’s tribal heritages if not for cultural trade; and in adapting their worldviews to counter the perceived threat of extermination, members of each group attach themselves to an endpoint (in the future) so as to introduce their own aspirations as systematic goals. This provides the means of progressing towards a unique understanding while simultaneously reproducing actions that would constitute the desired effect, reconciling Linear time with its Cyclical counterpart. The systematic absorption of Native culture can therefore provide a worthy example for other instances of assumed Oppression for Indigenous peoples around the globe, by which a “conquered people” might live Freely and, through their own work, destroy any undesirable force that should arise. Thus, in venturing out into the surrounding Four directions we can only hope to be adopted by something better than what is provided for us at the moment, with a collective dissidence transforming one Oppressive Empire into a more unifying arena destined for social harmony. In so doing, we must not fear losing the path, as it is we who in fact make it up as we go.

The Mightiest Weapon

Yet how to combat the destruction of culture, ancestral wisdom, and the spirit of a people? How to learn the language of Nature itself so as to better recognize Earth's untapped potential and guide us by the spiritual energy of all creation? And how to forgive those whose entire predilection of violence has spawned the forces of hatred and fear which threaten the very extinction of a common existence?

Those asking such questions have always found their answers hidden deep in the confines of knowledge. It should come as no surprise then that Education will always be considered a most prized and cherished resource available for the oppressed, detailing an investment in the future to further personal directives of survival. Whether through the erasure of traditional identity (or in its ultimate reclamation), the calculated indoctrination of the Other has forever maintained a place "intended as an alternative to the outright extermination seriously advocated" by the bloodthirsty Generals of battle (Bird, Erdoes 256). This goal recapitulates totally the importance of the School as a laboratory for fomenting Cultural Revolution.

A community's warring against imposed slavery is established through the reinforcement of self-identity. Perhaps taking the form of local activism to mandate a strong participatory element, this aim demonstrates the "tenacity and energy that can be directed toward assuring that survival," since retrieving a sense of self-sufficiency aids the dispossessed in the mainstream culture they are found subjected to (Lobo, 265).

If assimilation has failed, it is because it is considered undesirable, contradictory of personal values, and thus to be feared. The cultural trauma witnessed by so many lends staggering credit to the maintenance and strengthening of educational control by a local community, if for no other reason than the preservation of national heritage and peace of mind. Constructed organizations, complementary support structures, lobby groups, workshops, institutions, influential bills and legislation, reports, and confrontational tactics are all utilized to expand a common purpose: the enrollment and graduation of those students comprising an eventual impact upon the "Great Society" they share. Indeed, financial, academic, and cultural support does much to define communal progress, out of which a "return to the university ideal can develop into a great contribution not only to the survival of Native society, but also to the survival of the world through the community of learning" at large. (Wollock, 280)

This creation of a powerful vanguard—from which to rally against all else—provides the means by which one generation, relegated to a position of total domination, might find its way back to the Great Spirit it is borne out of. In learning of our deepest selves we can better understand our own intentions. Our actions evolve in this context to transform our desires into tangible experiences, solidifying theories through collective action. The wisdom shared with one another certainly guides this struggle for liberation, to reassert the sovereignty inherent in each of us. So too, by injecting a benevolent truth (that is, our own self-worth and cultural distinction) into an enveloping social apparatus, we may radically diminish the economic, political, and military power negatively affecting us, thereby repairing the "disjuncture between the past, present and future of Native North American peoples which has been imposed by nearly four centuries of unrelenting conquest, subjugation and dispossession on the part of Euroamerica's multitudinous invaders" (Churchill, 18).

The Myth of Purity

For many, the various religions of the world are nothing more than the stagnated interpretations of an individual’s constructed philosophy [Islam was founded by Muhammad; Taoism by Laozi; Buddhism by Siddhartha—even Christianity, “founded” by Jesus, split off into multiple denominations, all adhering to an individual’s personal considerations: Calvinism, Lutheranism, Mormonism, etc…]. In many of these cases, traditions are held and passed down to a privileged elite, holding authoritative positions so as to better minister to an uninformed public.

All have mass appeal, maintaining their influence by claiming the “correct” method by which to bring people into "The Way," the path identified as being most in-line with what a supreme deity would consider “Good,” that which is in harmony with "God’s plan." While the battle between who is “right" has surely shaped the course of history through battle, war, revolution, etc., one thing remains certain: those who are brought into a new mindset, in which humanity and the natural world are given reverential respect, are often thought to be more “in-touch” with the spiritual realm and more apt to make the world a “better” place. (Quotations denote subjective qualification, as conceived by the individual) Thus, the means to achieve "Enlightenment" are practically rendered irrelevant, considering these separate paths all lead to the same supposed Sacred state of mind. A belief system, being the product of one’s imagination as s/he recognizes the relationship between an individual soul and the collective spirit, comes to understand the commonality of existing in the one cosmos and Earth. In so doing, natural experience is organized and characterized, so as to better understand various patterns of Truth through specific models.

Yet in realizing the fundamental similarity of the human experience, how can any person claim a piece of the natural world for themselves alone, holding the knowledge in question (passed down through ancestry) over a “less-deserving” person because s/he simply doesn’t understand or isn’t considered worthy? If we accept that all are inherently equal, then don’t we all have a legitimate claim to the world and the (spiritual) resources residing within? If one person is more comfortable listening to one of similar descent talk about her experiences and how it brought her into a more harmonic relationship with herself, others, and the natural world, does it really matter who in fact presented the wisdom in question to the audience member in the first place?

We are OF COURSE presented with a dilemma as to how to legitimize any claim, sufficing to say we should all be helped to gain insight into the enormous responsibility that comes with the power to create and destroy preconceptions. The knowledge that our various human cultures have accumulated over generations thus requires a space not overshadowed by other attempts towards the same objective, enlightening or falsely indoctrinating their audiences. Generalizations are often offensive, but unless the one who generalizes is aware of the mistake, the maliciousness of “cultural imperialism” can always be justified by ignorance. The responsibility of the “colonized” to inform and educate those who have taken it upon themselves to seek understanding of something they wish to know then arises, so as to reproduce the particular culture in any constructed interpretation; moreover, to avoid furthering untrue caricatures and stereotypes necessitates volunteering the “true” identity, providing options for the seeker, or consumer in question.

"In modern consumer society, religion is placed squarely in the market place along with other meaning systems [alluding] to the supermarket of lifestyles where individuals are able to select from packaged bodies of meaning systems such as religions... Individuals [then] feel increasingly isolated and lonely as social relations in consumer culture continue to break down. People seek neo-tribes in a desperate search for community." (Aldred, 338-340)

The public arena is a malleable product of perspective. Likewise, commodities are exchanged along with the blending of cultures. While there are surely other motivations besides money (power, fame, desire, guilt, insecurity, fear…), if in fact the motivating force of educating the public to better understand the world they are a part of is considered the purest, then it should be obvious that we must stop protesting others’ interpretations of the Sacred and rather express what has come to be revealed for us individually. In elucidating on these particular points, competition can be restored to the marketplace so the superior “product,” derived from the one source of inspiration (Existence), may take its rightful place in our hearts and minds to aid us in our own spiritual quests for personal truth. Though people might always venture towards what appeals to them, society can alleviate the aggregate of fabrications and shoddy imitations that misguide them by indiscriminately providing for the masses the content needed to formulate substantial worldviews.

“Native people must come to understand that Whiteshamans did not just pop up out of the blue and decide to offend Indians. They are responding, at least to some extent, to a genuinely felt emotional need within the dominant society. The fact that they are concomitantly exploiting other people for profit according to the sanctions and procedures of their own culture does not alter this circumstance.” (Rose, 2001)

The Hypocritical Oath

While America was perhaps founded solely on the premise of individual profit, it is surely seeing signs of how that profit has come at the expense of society, along with the implications for a collective culture at large. The United States charges that “Indian occupancy is not a property right; it can be terminated without compensation at any time,” thereby dispossessing natives of political sovereignty, sacred cultural rites, and self-supporting economic practices through legislation based on the controversial European “Right to Discovery.” (Lobo, Talbot 346) The result is the propagation of “ecocide,” and thus the general “ethnocide” of those peoples who occupy the lands no longer in their legal jurisdictions.

As the environmental destruction of the natural world threatens eventual species extinction through persistent organic pollutants (POPs), the forging of power relations in courtrooms dismantles sovereignty and jeopardizes resources used for subsistence lifestyles. The result is an alienation of people from their own natural rights, as land is appropriated for corporate use, often through policies of “Eminent Domain.” Radioactive spills, uranium depletion, coal mining, oil exploitation, timber sales, emission discharges, hydroelectric exploration, toxic contamination, military occupation, and destructive dumping all affect localities detrimentally (through chronic disease, poisoning, forced relocation, suicide, adverse cultural effects, etc…), devastating populations for corporate profit, of which those same populations are not even allowed to partake in. (LaDuke 353-368)

Moreover, corrupt institutions are at the heart of shaping consciousness, so that many are not even aware of the very issues that affect them most. For instance, advertising companies partner with lobbying firms, splitting profits while at the same time ignoring or downplaying any damage done to the environment:

“It was an elegantly closed circle. The titans of packaging pushed throwaways into production. The Ad Council preached the creed of consumption, assuring Americans that the road to prosperity was paved with trash. The people bought; the people threw away. Then, the same industries and advertisers turned around and called them pigs. The people shamefacedly cleaned up the trash. And the packagers, pointing to the cleaned-up landscape, just went on making more of it.” (Strand, 2008)

Instead of becoming conscious of the actions and relationships unknowingly entered into, consumers are “educated” by those who have real stakes in their ignorance, so as to gain at their expense. Communities are then rocked with murders and violence as citizens fight amongst themselves for claims to exploit land, unaware of (or perhaps indifferent to) the potential disasters that are likely to affect them so long as they are able to capitalize short-term from their circumstances. (Paskus, 2009)

Rather than perpetuate the callous manipulation of people and the resources they share, it should be remembered that stewardship, or perhaps merely deference, as opposed to ownership, is necessary to cultivate important sustainable practices so as to ensure the continuation of the human species and the quality of life that is striven for. While the Senate Passage of the Native American Apology Resolution (2009) may suppose that American Policy is shifting towards a more humanitarian epoch, one can judge the effect of such an act by the qualms brought forth by Natives in the future. And considering it is these members of society who are so often declared the “canaries in the coal-mine” today, it is not too far of a stretch to imagine their outrageous predicaments will soon be ours.

Red Martyrs, Yellow Negligence

The evolution of warfare against the Native tribes of North America has spiraled so completely out of control as to seriously brutalize the planet’s life-support systems in part of an apparently accepted collateral damage. “Chronic unemployment” guides public policy at the expense of national sovereignty, with corporate profiteering indiscriminately deteriorating and contaminating ecosystems. The potentially life-extinguishing consequences of unenforced health and environmental regulations have far reaching implications, leading to the destruction of community livelihoods through the ubiquitous damage of water, land, and air.

By creating and sustaining authoritative institutions like the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Tribal Councils, the Federal Government uses its Plenary Power to maintain monopolies of financial control. It is then able to approve treaties with Natives, appropriating and depriving them of resources while simultaneously precluding any responsibility whatsoever that would prevent long-term damage to local inhabitants.

For instance, the BIA “neglected” to include cleanup clauses for Kerr-McGee, who abandoned their uranium-mining site on Dine land in 1970. Adding insult to injury, the federally-created-and-supported Navajo Tribal Council had originally contracted the corporation to pay a hundred Indian miners only 2/3 of the equivalent off-reservation pay scale, leaving the community to deal with

“Seventy acres of uranium tailings containing about 85% of the original radioactivity found in raw uranium ore, much of it continuously emitted in clouds of radon and thoron gas. The huge mounds of waste, which will remain virulently mutogenic and carcinogenic for thousands of years, begin less than sixty feet from the only significant surface water in the Shiprock area, the San Juan River.” (Churchill, pg. 242, 2002)

Similarly, when the government found uranium ore under the Oglalas tribe, it transferred the land to itself and claimed the mineral rights were thereafter considered U.S. property. (254) Earlier, in 1964, the BIA arranged a mining/milling operation on behalf of Dawn Mining Company on the Spokane reservation in Washington—issuing only a $15,000 environmental restoration bond to deal with the enormous responsibility it would have. (256)

Whether institutions acting in these (and other) instances do so for profit, in ignorance, with malice, by indifference, or without alternative seems almost irrelevant since their impact poses so great of a threat to the planet (i.e., at Yucca mountain where 70,000 tons of high level waste are stored in geologically unstable conditions). It should no longer be considered “radical” or “paranoid” to think the situation Natives find themselves in is unacceptable and potentially lethal; rather, real opposition is needed in which movements, alliances, and activists minimize the effects of harmful institutions, directing the course of human events for themselves. 

Drawing from these resources, malignant actors can be eliminated totally through the various harmonic convergences of cohesive resistance: “To accomplish this, those representing indigenous liberation struggles must be accorded a central role in setting the agenda for and defining the priorities of radical social change on this continent.” (Pg. 278)

Networked Resistance on Turtle Island

When natives and colonists first interacted, relations with the natural world were tested. Ownership rights to land were forged so beneficiaries could profit and provide sustenance for themselves. Warfare prepared for the signing of treaties (often unwillingly) and subsequent laws affirmed contracts, ultimately governing the fate of those dependent on the land. As available landmass became scarcer and scarcer, Native communities were swindled out of their resources through political and economic manipulation, depleting social safety nets entirely.
Here, systematic extermination can be evidenced through rapid “social and economic stature decline.” (LaDuke Pg. 56) Moreover, the active affronts on human rights through “economic blackmail” and “corporate oppression” provides specific reference points to oppose (dangerous experiments, unsustainable resource management, all-around failure to protect life on earth…), justifying defensive actions from those affected. Communities must change their positions to restore their natural rights and relationships through an active engagement with the society that engulfs them (for example, the Indian Conservative Energy (I.C.E.) School empowers locales to end cycles of victimization for themselves).

Tribes, once denied the means to defend their own cultures, can use various techniques to organize lobbying, propose sustainable land practices, and arrive in delegations appealing to harmful corporations. The effect decentralizes information to shape public consciousness in important ways. Groups like the Indigenous Environmental Network define common interests to produce amalgams of options and solutions—in one case rallying against the production, transportation, and storage of high-level nuclear waste, specifically at Yucca Mountain and Skull Valley. Ideally, the recommendations, insights, and skillful articulations of active members will do much to clarify the harmful practices in question, ending the expansion of controversial operations for alternatives that assure general wellbeing.

In pressuring agents of “war” to act in self-interested ways (both short and long-term) while maintaining their accountability to a general collective, characteristics of perceived battlegrounds can develop into mutually beneficial environments. Concerned individuals may then reframe important relations as the manifested interdependence of separate entities, ultimately promoting the holistic and ethical stewardship of a shared bioregion.

History Doesn’t Stop (Timelessness at Wounded Knee)

Natives of Turtle Island have undoubtedly been stripped of their land and rights through consistent breaches of written contracts, i.e. Treaties. American policy has broken up and sold sacred land claims to encroaching settlers while ignoring tribal sovereignty, even terminating official recognition of Indian existence. The consistent betrayal and abuse of power has led to the dispossession of entire cultures, specifically with the Rule of Tree-Hit-Ton which states the Federal Government may claim all Indian land not ceded to it in Treaties without due process of law. In this regard we can certify

“The Native peoples of this land are under attack. That fact cannot be ignored, and it cannot be resolved in courts, because the courts are one of the instruments of the attack.” (Mohawk, 180)

How then to confront one opposing set of powerful ideals? Without reconciling atrocities committed in generations past so as to truly understand the intimate details of absolute oppression, there can be little communication with a Force that denies even the foundation of its own existence. Knowledge of the past must be acquired to understand the nature of an origin, so as to recognize the extent of its impact for us in the present:

“The process of allowing those whose pain is not healed to begin a dialogue is critical to building a healthy nation. It is a process still foreign to the United States, but there is always hope for truth, for peace.” (LaDuke, 90)

If this conversation is routinely ignored, silenced, or labeled as a threat, repeatedly effecting and enforcing cultural suppression and elimination, it cannot be expected that those members negatively affected will choose to avoid extralegal expressions of defiance. And while the motives of these particular instances can easily be traced, their presence perhaps does more to provoke significant responses to their outbursts, revealing the base instinct of their opposition. For instance, when the American Indian Movement (AIM) illegally occupied the area of Wounded Knee, reports maintained, “this AIM activity was part of a multiracial venture in terrorism,” an assertion demonstrating that 

“The government’s anti-AIM propaganda effort can serve as something of a textbook illustration of a much wider technique of political repression.” (Churchill, 223)

While initial reactions to perceived oppression may often enact violent tendencies, the environment we exist in is only constructed by our past actions and assertions. Time emerges as the distance between unique instances and we should realize there is virtually no separation between our Wars of then and now, since the same Forces of power (oppressive ideologies, violent resistance) continue to maintain their influence today.

It is this relationship to our environment that defines “home” and until we are able to “get at the more subtle—but deeper and more pervasive—racism reflected in place names that tacitly celebrate the near-annihilation of a people and their culture,” peace may never be restored. (Stange, 2006) Yet in acknowledging the savagery and inhumanity inherited by our present, we might act in “other ways” that promote our interests, engaging with our selves to recreate the world as we wish it to be.

“Look with wonderment to the future
As it will create the wonder of your past.
Come then and talk to me.
Tell me if the young dreams I have
Are the ones you need.
As quickly as the morning dew dries from a leaf,
Your childhood is a part of your memory.” (Pray, 1994)

Being as a Sacred Place-

Native peoples are tasked with confronting the genocidal tendencies of the United States’ legal system, intending to establish clear representations of what is determined to be Sacred for them. Yet it is this very process that has historically been used to wipe out Native cultures and spiritualities since its inception—a fundamental contradiction to the understanding that the Divine is found in every living thing. Thus, worshippers of the natural world, realizing creation’s perfection in and of itself, invoke appreciation for all life so as to convey value to a social mechanism otherwise ill-equipped to grasp the fundamental tenets of an Earth-based religion. To this end, redefined models of spiritual health may engage once-repressive tools of domination, reorienting their more destructive modes of being through mediums of space and time:

“Sacred places are the foundation of all other beliefs and practices because they represent the presence of the sacred in our lives. They properly inform us that we are not larger than nature and that we have responsibilities to the rest of the natural world that transcend our own personal desires and wishes.” (Deloria 1994)

Relationships to occupied places are often strengthened by reverence of distinguishable characteristics, i.e. religious sites affiliated with oral traditions; trails and pilgrimage routes; traditional gathering areas; individual use sites; ceremonial sites; ancestral habitation sites; calendar sites; memorial sites; etc. (Gulliford 2005) Associating spiritual significance to our surroundings then gives us the opportunity to formulate our own convictions and attachments to experience of a shared world, often bringing us into direct communion with a dimension of the Sacred. In this way, perceptions of separation between self and environment dissolve to reveal a lasting interconnection:

“In the Native American worldview is the conviction that the earth is vital…a dimension in which man rightly exists. It follows logically that there are ethical imperatives in this matter…In the natural order man invests himself in the landscape and at the same time incorporates the landscape into his own most fundamental experience. This trust is sacred. (Momaday 1999)
Ownership is therefore reclaimed through an organic conceptualization of inherent dignity—a self-proclaimed right to the existence of “self,” as conceived of by the individual in question.
In the eyes of the courts, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act initiated this characterization of uniqueness by establishing rights to exercise sacred practices, access sites, use and possess sacred objects and worship through traditional ceremonies and rituals. If nothing else, it ended (to some degree) the cultural genocide and legal imprisonment Natives had battled against since policies of extermination and displacement had begun. However, without specific places protected, Native peoples have witnessed the desecration of their most Sacred areas; in effect, their spiritual devastation has taken a backseat to America’s contrasting doctrine of “civil religion”:

“We have a problem of two separate spiritual paradigms and one dominant culture…Land taken from Native peoples either by force or the colonists’ law was the basis for an industrial infrastructure and now a standard of living that consumes a third of the world’s resources.” (Laduke 2005)

Perhaps most interestingly, out of this binary opposition comes a similar dualism concerning Prohibition and Freedom: whereas Indians are free to exercise their own freedoms, these liberties must in no way inhibit government beneficiaries’ freedom to profit in ignorance. The result is the appropriation of sacred territory for the purpose of exploitation, usually with little regard for the ecological consequences of such theft. In this instance, a sense of the Sacred is relegated to definitions incognizant of Native standards so that their users might assert absolute control over a source of unparalleled power, namely that of creation.

Spirituality involves a special relationship between an individual and the cosmos and since Native American rituals frequently reaffirm this relationship of humans to the creator, it follows that our social impact can best be mediated by substantial outlooks guided and informed by interpretations of nature as being its own Sacred place. Direct experience of the immanent Divine is aided through Entheogenic (literally, “generating the divine within”) catalysts found in nature so that through the healing dynamics of natural sacraments like Peyote and Ayahuasca, land can potentially bring us back to a reverential state of mind in which we are able to regain insight into the sublime we preserve through demarcation of Sacred spaces.

Because consciousness infused with these values is contained within a particular mind, it is imperative not only to respect individuals espousing these beliefs, but also to aid and abet them in their quest for universal harmony regarding all things. In allowing and supporting these members of society to flourish more fully, greater reconsideration of our own motivating outlooks can set them up as examples of how to think, live, and be.

Spaces of Reconciliation-

Whereas Indians have faced lasting cultural trauma since European immigrants reduced their mighty confederacies and tribal heritages to the modern shadows of their former selves, it will take more than simply a concerted effort to overcome the systematic exploitation and cultural suppression that consistently affects these tribes. Due to the realities of American political manipulation (through false and invalid treaties, exclusive dealings with preferred native “leaders” and a general ambivalence towards the social welfare of entire populations), legitimate evidence of tangible change must be identified and reproduced so as to catalyze effective opposition.

Even so, localized effort sustained by shifts in individual value systems will not flourish without the harboring and cultivation of a universal logic that recognizes this collective dissatisfaction with the oppressive climate. Thus, not until something “else” entirely is conceived of—a substantially altered consideration of how to live and be—can the reorganization of something “better” replace the displeasure of existing in an undesirable circumstance. And since Natives are often considered the first victims in a majority of the unconscionable policies in question, it stands to reason that other global communities will benefit from the collective response to these potentially lethal forces too:

“Given this, it seems obvious that the literal dismemberment of the nation-state necessary for Indian land recovery correspondingly reduces the ability of the state to sustain the imposition of objectionable policies within itself. It follows that realization of indigenous land rights serves to undermine or destroy the ability of the status quo to continue imposing a racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, militaristic order upon non-Indians.” (Churchill, 2002)

New loci of power aid the implementation of alternative agendas so as to collaboratively define new statements of purpose and principles; positions of authority are also influenced through organized lobbying against harmful practices, for example when Sarah James and other tribal elders actively protested drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other offshore sites in Alaska. (Daly, 2009)

This reassertion of benevolent (non)control over our surroundings infuses Consciousness with empathetic understandings for how best to live within the land we are so intricately and inextricably dependent upon. Power must be wrested from an abusive social system by organically fashioning and integrating groups that maintain spaces of compassion and interrelation, while at the same time fostering a sense of utmost delight in and respect for the natural word. In this way can land be reclaimed and cleansed of its offending corruption, providing for us a more pristine state to revere:

“The need is to gradually replace the existing world order with one that is predicated in collaboration and cooperation between nations. The only way to ever really accomplish this is to physically disassemble the gigantic state structures…which are still evolving in this neo-imperialist era.” (Churchill 2002)

Life and Death-

Reorganizing failed relationships requires nothing less than a total audit of moral character. The culture we reproduce is founded on facts and traditions accumulated over time through education and experience, so it is vital we discern truth from fiction and construct the relevant arguments needed to address presented challenges. This process can be regarded as the institution of proper methodologies, evolving experimental social frameworks that guide us to more compassionate lifestyles.

After dealing with generations of harmful practices, budget cuts and rationed resources, Native Americans are dying at the highest rates of anyone: life-spans have declined rapidly, infant mortality has risen significantly, they have the highest death rates for motor vehicle crashes and pedestrian deaths, suicide rates are 8 times higher than the national average and disease is rampant. (Peterson 2009) Many are uninsured and impoverished, underfunded with little access to the often-scarce resources (like medicine) they need. Containment rules link coverage for care to residency on reservations, prompting individuals to move into areas without running water or telephones, hours away from the medical facilities whose staffing shortages defer would-be-patients if their status is not qualified as “life-or-limb.”

Whether because dependence on an alien system has been fostered in tribal groups while funding is cut, or Indians have just not assimilated into the surrounding social milieu and are living in third world conditions, the historic right of healthcare is being reconsidered as Congress creates the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, encouraging Indians to enroll in specific governmental programs. Sustained influxes of capital and increased attention, preventative care and research, subsidized private health insurance and expanded Medicaid all provide Indians with the potential for world-class treatment. Moreover, communities are empowered as members are appointed to positions of influence, with exercise and healthy eating being promoted through education.

Even so, “some proposals, like exempting Indians from penalties for not obtaining insurance, may meet resistance from lawmakers opposed to expanding benefits for Indians, many of whom receive free medical care.” (Belluck 2009) Expansions in public coverage and subsidies are causing people to rethink whether Indian Country should still be receiving direct payments to run clinics, bringing issues of Sovereignty under fire.

Despite environmental atrocities, denial of horrendous conditions and inter-generational hostilities with lasting repercussions, tribes would still rather have their homes and the lands they were stripped of returned to them more than any other consolation. They are legally owed health from the country that entered into treaties with them, yet since they have been deprived of sufficient care by systematic incompetence, these treaties should be considered as void since the terms and conditions have been nullified. Hence, oligarchic ineptitude has put such pressure onto native communities to self-organize, incentivizing Indians to 1) establish for themselves the new foundations for their cultural cultivation, and 2) determine their own life-path.

.9%-

Writing is hardly the optimal tool for expressing passion and emotion—instead, it functions best as a medium for conveying logic. Yet either are sufficient reasons to care about or respond to one basic point of Truth: life on earth is under attack. Whether or not we have come to be desensitized to this fact does not justify poisoning the web of life or contributing to the death of countless human beings. To confront this recently discovered reality of suicidal proportion, new democratic devices are needed for constructing the solutions that will prove commensurate with the problems faced today.

The recognition that all life is Sacred should prompt us to reconsider the lethal direction in which we are headed. It has indeed surpassed mere importance to educate ourselves fully on the complexities of the system we despise, to stage powwows and teach-ins that disperse and decentralize completely this knowledge we have accumulated. Rather, there has become a fundamental barrier in our Collective Psyche preventing us from taking full responsibility to the extent we should commit ourselves in our opposition to inadequate initiatives and impact statements. We can no longer afford to trust the outside control of those in sanctioned offices of authority to provide us with the lifestyle that dignifies civilization, for it will always be shortchanged without personalized determination.

Revitalization, the need for Self-rule and indisputable Sovereignty, is required to eliminate violations of accepted social norms, i.e. the Public Trust Doctrine. Unfortunately the public is still mostly ignorant to these issues despite living in an information age and therefore the reform of education and the rebuilding of justice systems will be critical components to alleviating the grievances prevalent in this system of bureaucratic insanity. A critical mass, a group of people coming together from different backgrounds with different theories must be orchestrated to produce a stable, responsive, capable, integrated resource management plan, legitimately concerned about our investment in the future. In describing how best to reconsider responses to issues bearing most significant for Native peoples, Charles Wilkinson offers, “The best outcomes will be inspired by Indian people themselves and carried out by their own institutions.” (Wilkinson 2005)

Will we seek to entomb our most callous mistakes of the past, repressing our historical traumas even as its toxicity seeps into our unconscious; or will we take the lesson of today, the urgency of “Now,” and apply it to the larger picture? We must teach each other by “doing” and “being” what is right, while including ourselves in a cross-generational commitment to the ideal of Ultimate good. But this radical assembly cannot merely be just for show—power must shift from institutions of hierarchy to the collaborative human effort oriented towards a common purpose, namely its own sustainability. We must let the children speak for themselves while aiding and enforcing their engagement with the natural world. If we can do but one single thing for those who have been and will continue to be most affected by these decisions of highest priority, it will be to believe that rage can in fact educate and motivate us to assess the risks and cure ourselves of the greatest war crimes perpetrated of all time. Only then can the potential power of our collective intellect save us from the destruction of unforeseen prejudice, constructing a vessel of cultural regeneration much like our ancestors who, together, fashioned the canoes that saved them from the rising waters of certain death:

“The canoe is a metaphor for community; in the canoe, as in any community, everyone must work together…all facets of the contemporary canoe experience—planning, building, fund-raising, traveling—combine to make our communities strong and vital in the old ways.” (Neel 1995)

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