Spirit In Action

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Thanksgiving Prayer, Native America, and gratitude.

I received this is email from NARF (Native American Rights Fund). The last part is one version of something I grew up hearing called the Thanksgiving Prayer, tho here it is an “address”.

They also mentioned that November is American Indian & Alaska Native Heritage Month. If you have an interest in Native Culture many nations and tribes have web sites with lots of info on culture and history, as well as locations and times for things like local museums, cultural fairs, pow wows etc.

I have lots of links to sites on language and culture, will create a page for reference here and hope everyone will post and share any interesting sites they find in the comments;-)

That is something I am personally very thankful for-the internet is a wonderful resource for sharing and learning about one’s own and others cultures, arts, music, food and best of all meeting one another across crazy distances.

I spend a lot of time in online organizing and political action and I appreciate the ability to do that-it is really helping to level the field for the people in relation to the 1% and corporations/governments etc but the real miracle of this technology is the ability to create friendships and community across oceans and continents-even for those of us who cannot afford a taxi to the next town over!;-)

Each November in America we celebrate the harvest festival of Thanksgiving. Over the years, much lore has evolved surrounding early Thanksgivings and feelings of brotherhood and good will between pilgrim settlers and the Native inhabitants of North America. Sadly, most of these stories are inaccurate at best, and serve to ignore or gloss over a broad history of atrocities. In our hearts, we cannot celebrate Thanksgiving Day in the way revisionist history teaches our school children. We still feel the pain and suffering of our ancestors as the Pilgrims celebrated their thanksgivings by theft of our lands and the genocide of our peoples.

Still, Native Americans are grateful for all that nature provides, and many of us celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in our own ways. Moreover, we give thanks every day as we greet the morning star in the eastern sky giving thanks to the Creator, our families, our ancestors and our survival.

We wish you and your families a happy holiday, and hope you are able to set images of pilgrims aside and join in gratitude for the bounty the living earth provides us. In that spirit, let us share with you the words of “Thankgiving” from our Mohawk relatives in belief that one day there will truly be a Thanksgiving for all.

Thanksgiving Address

Greetings to the Natural World

The People
Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.

Now our minds are one.

The Earth Mother
We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Waters
We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms-waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.

Now our minds are one.

The Fish
We turn our minds to the all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Plants
Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.

Now our minds are one.

The Food Plants
With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting of thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Medicine Herbs
Now we turn to all the Medicine herbs of the world. From the beginning they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.

Now our minds are one.

The Animals
We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give up their lives so we may use their bodies as food for our people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.
Now our minds are one.

The Trees
We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many people of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.

Now our minds are one.

The Birds
We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds-from the smallest to the largest-we send our joyful greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Four Winds
We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.

Now our minds are one.

The Thunderers
Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We are thankful that they keep those evil things made by Okwiseres underground. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.

Now our minds are one.

The Sun
We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.

Now our minds are one.

Grandmother Moon
We put our minds together to give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the night-time sky. She is the leader of woman all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.

Now our minds are one.

The Stars
We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to the Stars.

Now our minds are one.

The Enlightened Teachers
We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring teachers.

Now our minds are one.

The Creator
Now we turn our thoughts to the creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.

Now our minds are one.

Closing Words
We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.

Now our minds are one

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Demonizing the Enemy: Four Myths about Iran which need to be Debunked

For original article please click link below

Demonizing the Enemy: Four Myths about Iran which need to be Debunked
By Kourosh Ziabari
Global Research, November 10, 2012
Region: Middle East & North Africa
In-depth Report: IRAN: THE NEXT WAR?

It’s not my words, but I’ve learnt it from tens of foreign tourists, journalists and academicians who have traveled to Iran in the recent years, that Iran is the most misrepresented and misunderstood country in the world.

In a concerted and mischievous attempt, the world’s mainstream media have started to pull out all the stops in order to portray Iran a dangerous, abnormal, weird and horrible country which is seeking to develop nuclear weapons in order to annihilate Israel. Iranians are brazenly depicted as fanatics, terrorists and uncivilized people and the whole Iran is shown as an out-of-the-way desert in which no trace of civilization, urban life and modernity can be found.

Demonizing and isolating Iran can be seen as part of a comprehensive and multifaceted campaign of ostracizing and vilifying the Muslim world which has been intensified since the 9/11 attacks which were blamed on the Muslims and set in motion the Global War on Terror.

Before coming to Iran, every foreign tourist fears that he might be killed, or at least arrested as a spy. They perceive Iran in terms of the stereotypes and clichés which the mainstream media present to them, and many of them are even unaware of the fact that Iranians are the same Persians who lived in the Ancient Persia for more than 7,500 years.

There are some famous myths about Iran which many people across the world have come to believe, and I would like to rebuff them here as best as I can:

1- Iranians are terrorists

If we interpret and translate “terrorism” as an act of coercing, terrorizing or killing innocent people with the objective of spreading horror or showing off prowess and influence, Iran cannot be called a terrorist or even a state sponsor of terrorism as the ardent enemies of Iran maintain. The last time that Iran invaded and attacked a sovereign nation dates back to 1738, when the Afsharid king Nadir Shah invaded India. This means that for the past 274 years, Iran has been a pacifist country which has never harmed or harassed other countries, even its neighbors, despite the fact that many of its neighbors have been constantly provoking and intriguing it confrontationally.

Compare this fact with the ceaseless, bloody wars which the United States has been involved in. Since its independence in 1776, the United States has been engaged in more than 50 military expeditions. In his groundbreaking 2011 book “The Deaths of Others”, American public intellectual and Executive Director and a Principal Research Scientist at MIT’s Center for International Studies John Tirman discusses in details the casualties caused by the U.S. wars throughout the past three centuries. Unlike many of us who don’t dare to question the inattentiveness of the U.S. public and mainstream media to the civilian casualties of the wars Uncle Sam wages, Tirman documents in detail “the fate of civilians in the America’s wars.” Tirman admits in his book that between six and seven million people were killed in Korea, Vietnam and Iraq wars alone, the majority of whom were innocent civilians. We don’t need to be a history expert to figure out how many unarmed civilians, including women and children, died in the military expeditions of the U.S. around the world. In an inclusive study carried out by James A. Lucas, published on Counter Currents in 2007, the civilian casualties of the U.S. wars were documented elaborately.

“The American public probably is not aware of these numbers and knows even less about the proxy wars for which the United States is also responsible. In the latter wars there were between nine and 14 million deaths in Afghanistan, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, East Timor, Guatemala, Indonesia, Pakistan and Sudan,” he writes.

Just imagine for a moment that it were Iran that had destroyed and claimed the lives of several millions of innocent citizens in tens of wars and attacks on other countries. What would have happened? So, who does really deserve the title of “state sponsor of terrorism?” Is it that being killed at the hands of an American soldier is an honor? Is it that the U.S. has the right to wipe out thousands of lives at will, without being held responsible?

2- Iranians are uncivilized

Many of those who think of Iran as an uncivilized and uncultured country are simply unaware of the realities of Iran’s impressive and ancient culture, civilization. Iran is the oldest country in the world in terms of formation date. The first urban settlements in Ancient Persia date back to 4,000 BC, and it’s widely believed that the first Persian Empire was established in 3,200 BC. The earliest archaeological artifacts in Iran were found in the Kashafrud and Ganj Par sites in the Lower Paleolithic age, that is, around 300,000 years ago.

The Middle East’s largest museum of Paleolithic Age artifacts is located in the Iranian city of Kermanshah. The world’s oldest artificial water reservoirs are located in Iran. Iran is the world’s number one producer and exporter of hand-made carpets, which is an inseparable constituent of Persian culture. The world’s largest collection of imperial jewels belongs to Iran. Iranian architecture is one of the hallmarks of Islamic architecture and tens of magnificent ancient mosques, caravanserais, churches, bridges and palaces which can be found all around Iran testify to the fact that Iranian architecture is an unparalleled legacy which doesn’t have any competitor in the world.

Iranians have historically made invaluable and priceless contributions to world culture, science, economy and lifestyle. It might be interesting for you to know that the first bricks to be used in architectural designs were made by Iranians. The earliest ziggurat was constructed in Iran in the Sialk historical site. Around 5,000 BC, Iranians were the first people to invent Tar (lute) which subsequently lead to the development of guitar. The world’s first declaration of human rights was compiled in Iran by Cyrus the Great from 576 to 529 BC in what is today known as the Cyrus Cylinder which is being kept in the British Museum. The world’s first Yakhchal (ancient refrigerator) was designed in Iran in around 400 BC. According to archaeological findings, Iranians invented the first batteries which they supposedly used for electroplating. Iranian scientist Rhazes was the first scholar in the world who introduced the systematic use of alcohol in Medicine in around 846 AD. The Canon of Medicine which is seen as one of the most fundamental and foundational manuals in the history of modern medicine was written by Iranian scientist Avicenna almost one thousand years ago.

But let’s forget about all of the cultural and scientific breakthroughs and achievements of Iranians throughout the course of history. What makes Iranian people different from the other nations and gives them a unique and matchless identity is their sense of civility, courtesy and modesty. You can never find in Iranian movies and films that kind of violence and aggressiveness which is rampant in the American movies. The daily conversations of Iranians with each other are resplendent with proverbs, poetry and literary connotations. Compliment to the women, the elderly and children, is part of Iranian lifestyle and culture. Modesty and humility is a virtue among Iranians, while in many Western countries, the more assertive and forceful you are, the more acceptable you will be. These are things which many people don’t know about Iran.

3- The Iranian government represses the women

The dogma that Iran is not a safe place for women and that the Iranian government represses and suppresses the women is believed by many people around the world, and the reason is the malicious machinations of the mainstream media. There’s no shred of evidence to verify this claim, while there’s a plethora of evidence confirming the opposite.

While the women in Saudi Arabia, a stalwart ally of the United States, don’t have the right to vote in elections or drive cars, Iranian women run the universities, scientific institutes and even governmental positions. Iran’s health minister, Dr. Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, is a woman. Iran’s vice president in charge of science and research affairs is a woman. For many years, the head of Iran’s department of environment was a woman, namely Dr. Masoumeh Ebtekar. According to Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, 60% of the newly enrolled students of Iranian universities in 2012 were female. I don’t know what criteria do the opponents of Iranian government need to base their judgment of the state of Iranian women on. Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iranian Parliament (Majlis) has had several female MPs each term. If the number of female MPs has not equaled that of the male MPs, it is not because the government has imposed a certain restriction. It’s simply because the people have not voted for them! I think in some cases, the government has been even more lenient to the women than to the men. It’s an unwritten international custom that women, like the men, will be recruited to attend military service, but in Iran, the women are exempted from conscription, because the government thinks it might be harmful to them. So, can anybody tell me please, in what ways does the Iranian government repress the women?

4- Iran is developing nuclear weapons

Yes; there has been a huge controversy over Iran’s nuclear program, but I think those who have created such a hullabaloo have hardly forgotten the fact that Iran’s nuclear program was initiated by the U.S. government in 1950s in the framework of the Atoms for Peace program by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. At that time, Iran was still a U.S. ally, and thus entitled to develop nuclear energy. Now that Iran is not the staunch ally of the United States, it should not be granted the right to have nuclear energy, even for peaceful purposes. Just think about the depth of the hypocrisy!

Those who pretend that Iran intends to create nuclear weapons don’t have any evidence to validate their claim. It’s again the black propaganda of the mainstream media that induces the people to think this way. Despite the fact that Iran is under four rounds of sanctions by the United Nations Security Council and different types of sanctions by the United States and its allies, no report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) could provide credible evidence and document that Iran’s nuclear program has a military dimension. Even the 2010 National Intelligence Estimate report affirmed that Iran does not have an intention to build nuclear weapons. So, I can’t really understand why do the United States and its European allies are so much adamantly insisting that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and should be stopped.

The sanctions which the United States and EU have imposed on Iran are taking a heavy toll on the ordinary Iranian citizens. The citizens are denied access to medicine, foodstuff, humanitarian goods and other basic commodities as a result of the sanctions. The value of Iranian currency (rial) has depreciated incredibly and the businessmen are facing serious problems importing goods from other countries. Foreign travelling has become unbelievably difficult due to the skyrocketing hike in the air travel expenses and also since the foreign embassies in Iran have created serious obstacles in issuing visas for Iranian citizens.

This is an unspeakable collective punishment of Iranians for a crime they have never committed.

There are many other myths about Iran and daily life in Iran which need to be exposed to the people around the world; however, I discussed some of the most egregious ones here. Those who have realized the realities of Iran will laugh at and ridicule the falsehood and misinformation which the propaganda machinery of the West fabricates about Iran. Maybe the best example of the dedication and commitment of an American citizen to the “real” Iran is incarnated in Prof. Richard Nelson Frye, the American Iranologist of the Harvard University who asked the Iranian president a few years ago to be allowed to be buried near the ancient Iranian city of Isfahan after his death.

Let’s put out of your mind the propaganda and media hype about Iran. You can know this misunderstood country only when you throw away the preconceptions and dedicate a few weeks to travel to the world’s oldest civilization and see with your own eyes what you cannot ever see or find on Fox News, CNN, BBC, Washington Post and New York Times.

Copyright © Kourosh Ziabari, Global Research, 2012

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Resistance Resisters | Derrick Jensen | Orion Magazine

Resistance Resisters | Derrick Jensen | Orion Magazine.


ANOTHER 120 SPECIES went extinct today; they were my kin. I am not going to sit back and wait for every last piece of this living world to be dismembered. I’m going to fight like hell for those kin who remain—and I want everyone who cares to join me. Many are. But many are not. Some of those who are not are those who, for whatever reason, really don’t care. I worry about them. But I worry more about those who do care but have chosen not to fight. A fairly large subset of those who care but have chosen not to fight assert that lifestyle choice is the only possible response to the murder of the planet. They all carry the same essential message—and often use precisely the same words: Resistance isn’t possible. Resistance never works.

Meanwhile, another 120 species went extinct today. They were my kin.

There are understandable personal reasons for wanting to believe in the invincibility of an oppressive system. If you can convince yourself the system is invincible, there’s no reason to undertake the often arduous, sometimes dangerous, always necessary work of organizing, preparing to dismantle, and then actually dismantling this (or any) oppressive system. If you can convince yourself the system is invincible, you can, with fully salved conscience, make yourself and your own as comfortable as you can within the confines of the oppressive system while allowing this oppressive system to continue. There are certainly reasons that those in power want us to see them as invincible. Abusive systems, from the simplest to the most sophisticated, from the familial to the social and political and religious, work best when victims and bystanders police themselves. And one of the best ways to get victims and bystanders to police themselves is for them to internalize the notion that the abusers are invincible and then, even better, to get them to attempt to police anyone who threatens to break up the stable abuser/victim/bystander triad.

And meanwhile, another 120 species went extinct today.

(To read this article click the link to go to Orion Magazine)


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Beyond Hope by Derrick Jensen

Beyond Hope

by Derrick Jensen

Published in the May/June 2006 issue of Orion magazine

Photograph by Stephen Wilkes

THE MOST COMMON WORDS I hear spoken by any environmentalists anywhere are, We’re fucked. Most of these environmentalists are fighting desperately, using whatever tools they have—or rather whatever legal tools they have, which means whatever tools those in power grant them the right to use, which means whatever tools will be ultimately ineffective—to try to protect some piece of ground, to try to stop the manufacture or release of poisons, to try to stop civilized humans from tormenting some group of plants or animals. Sometimes they’re reduced to trying to protect just one tree.

Here’s how John Osborn, an extraordinary activist and friend, sums up his reasons for doing the work: “As things become increasingly chaotic, I want to make sure some doors remain open. If grizzly bears are still alive in twenty, thirty, and forty years, they may still be alive in fifty. If they’re gone in twenty, they’ll be gone forever.”

But no matter what environmentalists do, our best efforts are insufficient. We’re losing badly, on every front. Those in power are hell-bent on destroying the planet, and most people don’t care.

Frankly, I don’t have much hope. But I think that’s a good thing. Hope is what keeps us chained to the system, the conglomerate of people and ideas and ideals that is causing the destruction of the Earth.

To start, there is the false hope that suddenly somehow the system may inexplicably change. Or technology will save us. Or the Great Mother. Or beings from Alpha Centauri. Or Jesus Christ. Or Santa Claus. All of these false hopes lead to inaction, or at least to ineffectiveness. One reason my mother stayed with my abusive father was that there were no battered women’s shelters in the ‘50s and ‘60s, but another was her false hope that he would change. False hopes bind us to unlivable situations, and blind us to real possibilities.

Does anyone really believe that Weyerhaeuser is going to stop deforesting because we ask nicely? Does anyone really believe that Monsanto will stop Monsantoing because we ask nicely? If only we get a Democrat in the White House, things will be okay. If only we pass this or that piece of legislation, things will be okay. If only we defeat this or that piece of legislation, things will be okay. Nonsense. Things will not be okay. They are already not okay, and they’re getting worse. Rapidly.

But it isn’t only false hopes that keep those who go along enchained. It is hope itself. Hope, we are told, is our beacon in the dark. It is our light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. It is the beam of light that makes its way into our prison cells. It is our reason for persevering, our protection against despair (which must be avoided at all costs). How can we continue if we do not have hope?

We’ve all been taught that hope in some future condition—like hope in some future heaven—is and must be our refuge in current sorrow. I’m sure you remember the story of Pandora. She was given a tightly sealed box and was told never to open it. But, being curious, she did, and out flew plagues, sorrow, and mischief, probably not in that order. Too late she clamped down the lid. Only one thing remained in the box: hope. Hope, the story goes, was the only good the casket held among many evils, and it remains to this day mankind’s sole comfort in misfortune. No mention here of action being a comfort in misfortune, or of actually doing something to alleviate or eliminate one’s misfortune.

(to read the rest of the article click the link below to go to Orion Magazine)


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More Thought Blog interview with Derrick Jensen

About ‘More Thought’

The aim of this blog is to provide detailed audio/video/written interviews with authors of non-fiction social, poltical, philosophical and environmental books that I consider essential reading.

Its aim is also to promote these books and the ideas in them in order to increase rational awareness, critical thought, and compassion.

– Richard Capes
The intro above is to a  fascinating blog I just discovered thru the article below. What a wonderful way to expand our perspective and find new ideas!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Dreams: An Interview with Derrick Jensen

I’ve been saying for a long time that science is an even better method of social control than religion because if I don’t believe in Christianity, then I’m just going to be consigned to a hell I don’t believe in anyway. But if I don’t believe in science, then I must be either crazy or just plain stupid.” – Derrick Jensen

Here’s my interview with philosopher, teacher, and radical activist Derrick Jensen about his book Dreams (Seven Stories Press, 2011)

The interview was recorded on the 13th December 2011.

An MP3 of the interview can be downloaded from here.

A transcript of the interview can be downloaded from here.

The address of Derrick Jensen’s website is: http://www.derrickjensen.org/

A video interview with Derrick Jensen on ‘Democracy Now!’ can be viewed here.

“Derrick Jensen is a rare and original voice of sanity in a chaotic world. He has wisdom and wit, grace and style, and is a wonderful guide to a good life beautifully lived.” – Howard Zinn

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Pan-Indianism in American Culture

I found this article very interesting and thought provoking, and think it may interest some of you as well.
The original is found at http://oyate.weebly.com/meatless-pemican.html.

The main site is at http://oyate.weebly.com/index.html .

The main page has a listing for a 52 part Native music series, and there are links to individual musicians bios and mp3 samples you can listen to.

I get the impression after reading this article that the author is not particularly fond of Pan-Indianism, but seems to understand some of the benefits or good side despite the overall problems with it.

As mentioned in the article below, for many raised away from the reservations, Pan-Indianism is such a ubiquitous part of our experience of life in America that it was really interesting to me reading this, to try and separate this phenomena out and look at it.

I have always known, was taught while growing up, that preserving and respecting our ancestors cultures and using the cultural knowledge and perspective to create your own life and actions is important.

But being separated from the living culture by generations and physical distance we also know we do not have our ancestors culture, even in modern form, we have some hybrid of colonizer culture, our own ancestors cultures, and the cultures of those who influenced our parents and grandparents.

For those of us who are “mixed blood” we have the added dilution of having more than one Native culture, or a Native culture and European, or African or Asian culture or cultures-all diluted by long contact with the colonizers.

You cannot make a generic Native culture because obviously our cultures are as different as any in the world from one another and from the other world cultures.

The way I grew up with my Mom having friends from many different tribes/nations here and many nations and cultures from around the world what I saw was a lot of respect for others cultures, as well as a tendency to share, to use one anothers languages, to celebrate together with elements from everyone’s cultural perspective on holidays. Musicians making music together that shared elements from different traditions, people just being very open to one another while retaining their own history and culture.

Maybe it was the time period, or the kind of friends (I was a little kid in the early 70’s, and my Mom’s friends were activists in civil rights, AIM, environmental movement and artists, writers, musicians, creative people and law students-the kind of people who really wanted with all their hearts to create a better world and a better future)

I think to a certain degree EVERY generation recreates their culture, but for most of history that recreation was very very similar to the culture they inherited in cultures all over the world.

With colonization you get insane outside influence not only from the invader culture(s) but from trauma, so often there are big changes.

What we have now is somewhat unique at least in recorded history-you have not only the pressures of colonization, but also the pressures of globalization and cultural contact between cultures all over the world. You have a concerted media effort by the colonizer elites to program everyone to their way of thinking, whether thru domination, co-optation or anything else they can get away with.

But we also have a strong resistance to that homogenizing influence. We have a lot of people concerned with cultural preservation, and with cultural renewal and cultural sharing and learning between peoples across the whole planet.

We stand up together against the Belo Monte, the Tar sands, Keystone XL and the many similar genocidal resource extraction projects in indigenous areas around the globe.

The challenges we face, in preserving cultures, in preserving LIFE in the face of utterly insane assaults, and in joining together to co-create a new global post colonizer global culture are great, but not insurmountable.

In graduate school my specialization was Globalization, Indigenous Peoples and the Environment. What I found is that people are meeting these challenges very effectively worldwide. Indigenous people are resilient people because they do have much that the fully assimilated and colonized have lost.

This is not to say the problems are not horrifying and heartbreaking, or that the colonizers are not still making absurd amounts of headway in their destruction, murder and mayhem-but the people are not bowing before them! We may die, but we do not do it on our knees.

(Why yes, Blackfire IS my favourite band in the whole world;-) I promise a post on just them very soon!)

What I see happening, and what I believe will occur, is that people are going to preserve their ancestral cultures. Other than where the last who spoke the language or knew the history have passed away without being able to pass on their knowledge, people are working to record these things, and for the younger generations to learn and be involved culturally-and this is great not only for preserving culture but for preserving sanity and joy in the people alive now.

People like Tai Alfred are showing us clearly how our cultures are not dead, or outdated, they are in fact the way of the future. Using the knowledge and wisdom handed down, people are effectively addressing 21st century problems and coming up with solutions far better than any the colonized society can provide.

Indigenous cultures globally are still under incredible pressures from colonization, resource extraction and the internal problems caused by these things; by intergenerational trauma, and by the near ubiquitous poverty, as well as the illness caused by the environmental problems.

Those who admire Native American culture from the pan-indianism they have been exposed to may dig deeper and learn about real cultures, real people and the real issues they face, and those who are serious may even put their actions where their hearts are and work alongside the indigenous people to stop the destruction and heal our communities.

They may not too-but I have hope that most people when exposed to the truth will choose the path with heart instead of the path of greed and disrespect.

Again maybe it is the way I was raised but I feel like people all around the world are waking up and looking for the truth, they are coming together across old, false boundaries to forge friendships, and to solve the many problems we face together.

If Pan-Indianism was (as the colonizer surely intends) to replace or displace ancient cultures, then it would be a *very* bad thing, but as it stands it (imho) has many negative elements but it also has benefits.

I think the article below gives a much more detailed understanding of the issue, and is full of references you can look into to learn more about it. I learned from it, and have things I want to look up now and I’ve been studying these types of issues for decades!

Meatless Pemmican: Indian Tribes, Identity, and Pan-Indianism in 20th Century American Culture

by Joseph R. McGeshick
American culture harbors a continuing fascination with the idea of the Indian, a fascination so salient in character, that mainstream thought, politics, economics, and art often exploit their particular constructed image of the Indian in order to empower themselves and, in many instances without knowing it, victimize others. Pan-Indianism, the driving force behind that empowerment and victimization, is a physical, and arguably a spiritual, relationsh­ip that is quite often misunderstood in its intentions and effects. Twenty-first century Pan-Indianism draws its strength and stamina from over a half a millennium of evolu­tion and functions today with such certainty that it even seeps into the minds and wills of those who claim and recognize them­selves as “Indians.” From Cotton Mather to Robert Redford, the Euro-American ageless interest in Native America runs so deep in mainstream American culture that, for all groups, fantasy fre­quently overshadows reality.

Initially, during the first few hundred years of contact and accommodation, Pan-Indian movements and thought functioned as a vanguard against European and Euroamerican encroachment. At that time, Pan-Indian movements acted, not only out of desperation, but also out of a basic need to survive and accommodate change between themselves and foreign powers. Early Pan-Indian leaders, such as Pontiac and Tecumseh, were motivated by historic issues that were continually shaped by Europe and America’s imperial stretching. Those eighteenth century attempts drew heavily upon the dynamics of the cultural, material, and geo-political changes which occurred in the midst of European and Euroamerican economic and physical pressure.(White:269-314:510-523) Conversely, twenty-first century Pan-India­nism draws from the immense pool of American mainstream culture(i.e. science, history, literature, art, poli-tics, and the media, especially film); a rich, but often hegemonic in nature, montage of power and knowledge.(Said,


Pontiac’s rebellion, or as one historian put it, Pontiac’s conspiracy, was actually a response to the tide of English en-croachment into the Old Northwest and to the changes they insti­tuted as French economic and military influence waned.(Jac­obs:75-93;Josephy:95-174) About a generation later, Tecumseh, a Shawnee from the Ohio River Valley, preached unity among tribes, not only from the Ohio area, but also from other eastern culture areas. He, along with his brother, Tenskwatawa, or the Prophet, urged that all tribal groups restore their cultures and they even went so far as to “establish [a] headquarters of an intertribal con-federacy on the banks of the Tippecanoe [River] in Indiana.” (Drinnon:91-92) Much like Ponti­ac, Tecumse­h’s efforts failed to produce a surviv­ing Pan-Indian movement de­signed to halt white settlement.

Obviously, different forms of power compelled Pan-Indianism in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Although just as complicated as the twenty-first century fields, the surface of early Pan-Indianism is much easier to survey. Today­, Pan-Indianism exists and operates internally and externally throughout the whole of American culture. Its nature has changed, though still partially defensive in character, Pan-Indianism in the twenty-first century is much more powerful.

Pan-Indianism is not only sanctioned by the dominant cul­ture, it is mandated through multiple processes of cultural power.(Said,1993:1-55) Twenty-first century American culture demands and perpetuates Pan-Indian images. From the myth of the drunken Indian to Sotheby’s auctions, America wallows in the world of Pan-Indianism.

By the first forty years of the nineteenth century and as the US moved closer and closer to industrialization and incorpo­ration, Pan-Indianism established a beachhead in the American mainstream psyche. Writers, naturalists, artists, and even a few European aristocrats began the subversion of native identities. James Fenimore Cooper; one writer who had an unmeasurable affect on Pan-Indian constructions, created some of the basic binaries that exist today in the American mind. Indians for Cooper were mostly blood thirsty savages, who raped white women and killed children, or, a special few, were loyal companions, who willingly gave their lives for their white brethren in the face of certain death; usually at the hands of some deadly tribal war party. Using tribes like the Sioux, Pawnee, and Delaware, Cooper warped readers’ minds with images that persist well into the twenty-first century.(Drinnon:160-64) Despite Cooper’s utiliza­tion of multi­ple tribes and culture areas, his characters remained generic; easy to manipulate and imagine. Since his accuracy in describing dynamic cultures fell far from its mark, his static view comfortably supplanted itself in the American mind. The power of his and other writers’ words created illusions that became the foundations of Pan-Indianism.

Similarly, William Gilmore Simms, often called the Cooper of the South, painted his Indians with the same brush and stroke as his New England contemporary. In his The Wigwam and the Cabin (1845), Simms characterized his Catawba’s and other tribes as a wretched people constantly plagued by disease and alcohol. His references to “ugly squaws” sentenced all Indian women to the lowest condition of human existence; an existence which persists even today. In a sense, Simms was the Southern Cooper, his false and over-romanticized images differed little from the Indians in The Last of the Mohicans(1826).

In a much less romantic tone, Herman Melville’s The Confi­dence Man(1857) mapped out the firmly grounded racial hatred America projected toward tribal people. His work articulated, what Richard Drinnon called, the “cant of Pan-Indian thought;” a thought rooted deep in “doctrinal hate” and driven by a “collec­tive abhorrence” of Indians and their cultures.(Drinnon:12-14) Melville’s “Metaphysics of Indian-Hating” could simply not exist without Pan-Indian themes and false images.

Those writers and dozens of others like Irving, Bird, and Longfellow created the groundwork from which writers, as well as the rest of America, in the last half of the nine­teenth and early twentieth centu­ries drew much of their knowledge and imagery. Very little changed over the course of a hundred years. In fact, most American institutions, organizations, political movements and agencies, and artists defined and sus­tained the Pan-Indian images which emerged out of the pens of those early American literary canons.

In an attempt at a more objective view of Indians, or so he thought, historian Francis Parkman similarly created more false characterizations. His work, The Oregon Trail(1849), examined the lives of Indians and whites on the frontier, while his much later publica­tion, The Conspiracy of Pontiac(1896), gave the American mind nothing new nor dynamic. Parkman’s Indians rein­forced many of the Pan-Indian images created in the early nine­teenth century. A homogenous, monolithic, static identity easily eclipsed the vast diver­sity which existed and continued to evolve, accommo­date, and change, despite the dominant culture’s efforts at subversion and redefinition of identity. Parkman’s pen created an even more profound image; one which moved away from romanticism and toward a more scientific characterization; a characterization which bordered on the racist.(Berkhofer:96)

The last half of the nineteenth century was a time of extremes, not only concerning the mere survival of tribal groups, but also in terms of Pan-Indianism. One extreme, despite its immense literary shortcomings, found its way to the literate masses creating even more vivid images; all the while adding to the Pan-Indian reserve. Dime novelists like Ned Buntline, the “ten cent” millionaire who discovered Buffalo Bill and gave him his first break in show business, began a cultural movement that rooted itself deep in the American tradition of myth making. Those melodramas, both in print and on stage, became Ameri­can cultural productions design­ed for and marketed to a precondi­tioned public. Consequently, it seemed that those late nineteenth century audiences did experience the making of the American Wild West. American Studies scholar, Alan Trachtenberg, describes that experience:

“Through dime novels, themselves a modern artifact

of mass production, and traveling Wild West shows

such as Buffalo Bill’s, the image impressed itself:

the West was exotic romance. Especially through

the dime novels,… These popular fantasies appeal-

ed to a broad stratum of Eastern readers, for whom

the West [and the Indian] served as an image of con-

trast to Eastern society.”(23-24)

In fact, as tribal diversity waned the “‘Indian’ remained the utmost antithesis to [White America]… an America dedicated to productivity, profit, and private property.”(Trachtenberg:37)

Another extreme was the new sensitivity projected toward Indian groups in general. Eastern organizations, like the Friends of the Indian, criticized the continuity of violence and extermi­na­tion, as well as the graft ridden Indian Bureau, that charac­ter­ized the government’s relationship with Indian tribes. In 1881, Helen Hunt Jackson, tried to accomplish for Indians, what Harriet Beecher Stowe did for blacks. Jackson’s novel, Ramona

(1884), set in the California culture area, and her preceding work, A Century of Dishonor(1885), attempted to expose the physical and mental stress endured when culture and identity become subverted. Despite those shifts toward cultural aware­ness, Pan-Indianism persisted. Those groups and individuals, fueled by Judeo-Chris­tian morality, remained true to the Pan-Indian image.

Ramona reads more like a Southern Californian “Romeo and Juliet” romance than a novel with the intention of propagand­izing the dark and broken existence of the California tribes. Although the novel is based on a true story, the romantic encoun­ter “domi­nates… [the story] …so dramatically that the Indian cause espoused by Jackson is easily overlooked by readers.” (Stedman: 19­5)

In the wake of that late nineteenth century sentiment, individual Indians initiated their own literary experiences and by the first quarter of the twentieth century many writers from many different culture areas produced works which eventually evolved into the genre of Native American Literature. Those early texts fell mostly into the area of autobiography. In 1916, Dr. Charles Eastman, “Ohiyesa,” wrote From Deep Woods to Civili­za­tion: Chapters in the Autobiography of an Indian, which out­lined his assimilation into Euroamerican culture. Eastman’s agenda focused on the importance of Western education and he became the prototype of the Indian success story. His very title suggests a homogenized identity; yet surprisingly empowering for his time and place.

A little over ten years later, Mourning Dove, an Okanogan from the Plateau area, collaborated with L.V. McWhorter and published the “first novel written by an American Indian woman.” (Mourning Dove:v) The novel, titled Cogewea: The Half-Blood, written in much of the same style of Owen Wister’s The Virginian, is a western romance, which often confuses the reader as to which voice, Morning Dove’s or McWhorter’s, is being authentically articulated. Despite the debate over voice and authenticity, the novel itself is a contribution to Pan-Indianism and also forms the beginnings, along with Eastman and Luther Standing Bear’s My People the Sioux(1928) and others, of what is labeled early Nati­ve American Literature.

Once those tribal writers broke the ice, a whole new genera­tion of Indian writers emerged. One of the first was a Cree/

adopted Salish(Flathead), who worked for the BIA before his writing career took off. D’Arcy McNickle’s novel, The Sur­rounded, also dealt with identity and the compromising of tradi­tional beliefs and after much urging from his publisher, McNick­le wrote a second novel, Wind From an Enemy Sky; a story of two brothers who belong to the Little Elk tribe. Although published forty years later, the work has all the trap­pings of the post-modern Native American novel: white encroach­ment on sacred land, medicine men, medicine bundles, struggle for identi­ty, and cultural survival.(­Rawls:204)

The next generation of writers after McNickle; those who came of age after WWII and into the 1970s, initiated and contin­ued to sustain a renais­sance in Native American Literature. Literary canons such as Momaday, Welch, Silko, Ortiz, Vizenor and Erdri­ch; and of which Deloria, although more politically focused, can not be left out, support the genre and their combined cultur­al, political, economic and spiritual experi­ences make Native American Litera­ture what it is today as tribal communities move into the twenty-first century. Consequently, their audience, mostly non-Indi­ans, buy what is marketed as Indian. Once their produc­tions are market­ed and consumed, their mainstream identi­ties as “Indians” often over­shadows their diverse and separate identi­ties as Kiowa, Gros Ventre, Laguana, Acoma and Chippewa. Their field of cultural production is a restricted field, both cultu­rally and political­ly, in which the symbolic power of their productions are sus­tained by an encom­pass­ing social process and relationship; that of Pan-Indianism.(­­Bordeau:15) Their genre often ends up as an invention designed to serve a pre-conditioned consumer; as does their collected identity.

The model of Native American Literature is Western in nature; which will require canons, as well as new and fresh writers. However, one extremely interesting phenomenon in this cultural field are the “Great Pretenders,” of whom Carlos Castenada and Highmake Highwa­ter lead the parade.(R­ose:403-421) Castenada, an anthropologist who pulled the wool over the eyes of a major segment of academia with his claim of encounter and apprenticeship with the fictitious Don Juan, a Yaqui medicine man, gained immense popularity with the counterculture and New Age movements of the 1960s and early 1970s.(Rawls:23­7) Similarly, Highwater (aka: Jay Marks, an Italian-American) used his invented identity as a Blackfoot(Blackfeet)/C­herokee to peddle his Pan-Indian writ­ing.(Rose:405)

Literature is not alone in the world of Pan-Indianism, the field of science also contributes. History, anthropology, ethnography, archeology, ethnohistory and linguistics produce a plethora of data designed to interpret different people and their cultures. At the turn of the century, a flood of anthropologists ventured onto Indian reservations taking down information as if those tribes were really a “vanishing race.” Men and women like Alfred Kroebe­r, James Mooney, Franz Boas, Clark Wissler, Robert Lowie, Alice Fletcher, Ruth Benedict and countless others went from tribe to tribe and observed, measured, record­ed, and con­cluded to the point of nuisance their efforts at understanding, scientifically no doubt, the Indian. However, in that effort, they too created a Pan-Indian image; an image, despite its “basic presuppositions of cultural pluralism and relativism,” perpetu­ated a “timeless ethnograhic present” and neglected any major changes in tribal life­styles over time.(Berkhofer:65-67) Under the guise of many early anthropologists, whether they realized it or not, the idea of the “traditional Indian” emerged out their of their studies; an idea which created a static view of the Indian. In reality, their empirical data became the gauge, even for local reservation communities and tribal individuals. Each ceremony, each song, and each custom was carefully recorded and deposited in the permanent record. Those scientific minds unintentionally left little room for change and accommoda­tion.

In the same fashion, American historiography constructed the Pan-Indian images of Pocahontas and Squanto; not to mention the direct connections between the Iroquois Confederation’s political model for the Constitution.(Ceci:49-128) Despite the generational revisions, American history books and teachers continue to present and perpetuate those Pan-Indian images.

Another form of written invention developed alongside the serious and scientific literature of middle of the twentieth century. Much like the dime novels of the late nine­teenth cen­tury, a section of American writers; those who produced litera­ture for the American masses, generated throw-back Pan-Indian images. Louie Lamour, the best selling Western writer in American history, though credited with deviating “significantly from the stereotypical treatment of Indian-as-savage,” nonetheless used conventional Pan-Indian images in his work.(Rawls:234) Other Western writers, like Zane Grey, shaped millions of readers’ images and implanted the Pan-Indian image, especially the charac­terizations of Plains tribes and the Apaches of the Southwest. For writers like Lamour and Grey and their audiences those groups; the tribes who paraded eagle feather war bonnets and fought white soldiers and cowboys, were the real Indians.

In a more contemporary sense, the Indian as literary subject became a favorite for just about every writer. For example, Ruth Beebee Hill’s Hanta Yo(1979), supposedly based on years of research of a Lakota group in the early nineteenth century, fell victim to the disapproval of very people she described. The Lakota claimed she “falsified Lakota religion and sexuality.” (R­awls:241) Other writers like Tony Hillerman, although adopted into the Navajo tribe for his sensitive portrayals of the Dineh, paved the way for dozens of writers who felt the urge to write either about or for Indians. One interesting writer is Gerald Hausma­n, a Native American Studies enthusiast, who writes some of the most Pan-Indian texts in America today. Hausman, who lives and writes just outside Santa Fe, produced over a dozen books on Native Americans. Texts like, Turtle Island Alphabet: A Lexicon of Native American Symbols and Culture(1992) and Tunkashila: From the Birth of Turtle Island to the Blood of Wounded Knee (1993), contribute to the strength of post-modern Pan-Indianism. His Turtle Island Alphabet, ranks as one of the most condescend­ing texts produced on the subject of Indians. His lexicon is the epitome of Pan-Indian thought, while his Tunkas­hila, attempts, in one sweeping narrative, to corral the epic story of Indian mythology; as if one really existed. His efforts reduce diverse and dynamic mythologies to a fairy-tale form that lolls in Pan-Indianism.

Another writer is Ken Nerburn, author of Native American Wisdom, which is a collection of quotes and speeches by famous Indians such as Chief Seattle and Chief Joseph. Some of his chapter titles are: “The Ways of the Land”; “The Ways of the Heart;” “The Betrayal of the Land;” and “Heed These Words.” Nerburn’s motives, as sincere as they are, and the power of his literature are grounded firmly in the founda­tion of Pan-Indianism. Nerburn also edits The Soul of the Indian, a collec­tion of Charles Eastman’s writings and The Wisdom of the Great Chiefs. Those three titles are part of series of “classic” philosophical writings published as the Classic Wisdom Collection of the New World Library located at San Rafael, California. One extremely interesting work is his Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder(1994); of which his pub­lisher markets as “An unlikely cross between Jack Kerouac and Black Elk Speaks.” Although many enthusiastic and honest writers have no control over what publishers paste on their works, their writing and stories nevertheless often fall victim to the power of Pan-Indianism.

Euroameicans are not the only brokers of Pan-Indian imagery, many who claim tribal ancestry and as well as tribally recognized members from all culture areas use Pan-Indianism for empow­er­ment. Joseph Bruchac, a Cornell/Syracuse educated New Yorker, who claims Abenaki ancestry through his grandfather, writes, edits and publishes adult literature and co-author’s a series of children’s literature with titles such as: Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Activi­ties for Chil­dren; Keepers of the Animals: Native American Stories and Wildlife Activities for Children; Keepers of the Night: Native American Stories and Nocturnal Activities for Children and All Our Relatives: Native American Animal Stories and Activities for Children. Bruchac is also known for his Native anthologies which introduced a “new generation” of Indian writers, “almost all of whom have gone on to win major critical acclaim.”(Dictionary of Native American Literature:401-04) In his latest production, as managing editor, titled Smoke Rising: The Native North American Literary Compan­ion, Bruchac gathers the canons of the genre. Little doubt exists that when his audienc­es, both child and adult, read his produc­tions empowerment occurs. They entertain and teach, however, it is accomplished through and based on Pan-Indian thought and imagery.

The list of tribally recognized producers of Pan-Indian literature is endless. Why? Because in last ten years, as publi­cation dates, movies, the consumer market, and other areas of American society show, the popularity of being any way connect­ed to “Indianness,” through literature, art, academics, New Age spiritualism, whatever, is at its highest point within post-modern American culture and will no doubt retain; and even gain more of, its power well into the twenty-first century. Pan-Indian popularity even creates all encompassing illustrated histories and encyclopedias; texts designed to give the mainstream consumer everything in a five-hundred page volume. One text, The Native Americans: An Illustrated History, is marketed as, “Spanning a thousand generations and beautifully written by five well-known authorities …, … illustrated with photographs, maps, and work of both historic and contemporary artists.” Dozens of these “coffee-table” history and cultural texts are produced each year. Time/Life even published a whole American Indian series.

When or where will it end? Well in her article, “The Tribe Called Wannabee: Playing Indian in America and Europe,” Cherokee folklorist Rayna Green describes the images and the processes of Pan-Indianism as a “cultural epidemic which appears to get worse.”(Green:143-166) However, the idea of culturally better or worse is moot when dealing with Pan-Indianism; it functions equally powerful in any cultural binary.

Since the last half of the 1980s, the magnitude of printed material, with Indians as product or even as producers, is overwhelm­ing. Through journals and magazines the popularity and marketa­bility of Pan-Indian material seems almost endless. Journals such as: Spirit Talk: A Publication in Celebration of Indian Culture; Native Americans; Native Peoples Magazine and Winds of Change have a definite audience. Despite the cultural and artistic character they espouse and despite the creativity and cultural awareness they promote, by nature they are Pan-Indian and through that relationship they are empowered. The act of producing one’s own interpretation of culture, either through story, song, art, or some other cultural exercise, for a precon­ditioned consumer, is commonplace among the hundreds of tribal communities, both on reservations and in urban areas. Pan-Indianism operates as a cultural and social license that empow­ers tribal members in post-modern American culture.(Said:1978) As American culture moves into the twenty-first century and takes hundreds of tribal groups with them, it seems quite safe to say, “It is a good time to be and Indian.”

Or so it might appear. Under all the current interest and cultural fashion lies the reality. What is for sale in this country is the image and the illusion, in which Pan-Indianism suppresses reality by empowering and victimizing real people. Is it a good time to be an Indian? Quite definitely, yes. However, is it a good time to be a Chippewa on the Mole Lake Indian Reservation in northern Wisconsin? Or, is a good time to be a Mashantuckett Pequot from Connecticut? Those are the questions which operate on a level far from the romanticism, glamour and fantasy of Pan-Indianism.

Pan-Indianism is one of the many identifiable hegemonic forces which operate within and outside American culture. Countless American economic and social systems and institutions continually utilized Pan-Indian imagery as a means of empower­ment. That process subverts individual and tribal identity, while reinforcing and adding to the reserve of Pan-Indianism. (Said: 1978)

In the world of art, both high and low brow, from George Catlin’s 1840s portraits and landscapes and Santa Fe museums to Robert Redford’s Sundance catalogs and dreamcatchers;, Pan-Indianism is a dominant force in those cultural fields. It operates just as freely as consumers believe the little cards’ descriptions of the origins of the dreamcatcher; which either begin with, “Indians believed…” or “Native Americans thought…,” followed by an origin story of some sort. Everyone might not have an original George Catlin, however, many Americans now eagerly tie dreamcatchers on their rearview mirrors and no doubt many even put the object over their beds. The point is not that dreamcatchers will or will not work, but that dreamcatchers are part of the Pan-Indian consumerism that operates in American culture. When people read those cards, through the process of Pan-Indianism, their reality is that all Indians make and use dreamcatchers.

The Indian art which falls into the “fine art” or high brow category remains one of the most sophisticated areas of Pan-Indianism and certainly one of the most affluent. Auction houses, especially Sotheby’s, and museums broker individual tribal artifacts to the rich, who are usually anonymous or unspeci­fied buyers. The more antiquated, the more expensive. Sotheby’s recently auctioned off a Plains scalp shirt for the amazing amount of $230,000. Its price inflated due to its unsubstantiat­ed connection to Crazy Horse.

If consumers’ tastes fall into a much less expensive catego­ry, buyers can flip through Redford’s Sundance catalog and buy the ever popular dreamcather, SW jewelry in which Kokapelli appears as a favorite subject, birch bark baskets inlaid with SW turquoise, Katchina spirit candle holders, a roaming buffalo lamp or buffalo book ends, an Iron Eyes Cody throw rug, or the Spirit Caller; a stick scepter marketed as “used by a shaman to ensure the well being of the tribe.” And continues:”Passed along from one generation to the next, the spirit caller would gain in power as each shaman added his knowledge though symbolic beads, carv­ings, and fetishes.”(Summer 94:18) The products go on and on. Similarly, dozens of those gift catalogs market as much Indian merchandise as the public will buy, giving the consumer a super-ficial sense of connection.

It does not end there, by no means. The American film and television industry would be unthinkable without the Pan-Indian imagery which is so visible in that cultural field. Hollywood’s bread and butter is the Western, producing thousands of titles which perpetuate historic Pan-Indian constructions. Those con­structions include the myth of the drunken Indian, “Tarzan” English, and certainly the binary of the bloodthirsty savage and noble companion. Simultaneously, as for the Indian woman, Holly­wood, in line with early American writers, has sen­tenced her to the lowest condi­tion of human existence; the Indian “squaw” who expects and even desires physical abuse. From the early silent movies to Dances With Wolves, the film industry relies upon a vast pool of Pan-Indianism. That does not include the television industry; an industry in which consum­ers have made moguls like Ted Turner and Ken Burns; as far apart as they might be in mission and purpose, the brokers of Pan-Indianism and its cul­ture. Mainstream America consumes their productions just as they consumer American fast food; with instant gratifica­tion. And look what Disney has done with Pocahontas, again supplanting Pan-Indian fantasy on the most vulnerable American minds – chil­dren, all in name of profit.

Don’t change that channel! In the cultural field of religion and spirituality, the power of Pan-Indianism is frighten­ing. The New Age movements continually appropriate the diverse forms of symbolism from any culture area which appeals to their visions and melt them into one of the most profound elements of Pan-Indian culture. Some of the most duplicated ceremonies and activities which New Agers borrow are drumming, singing, the Sweat Lodge, naming ceremonies, and vision quests. During the last quarter of the twentieth century and even more so in the last ten years, in many areas of the country, those who found themselves in a spiritual void or felt unfulfilled with their present spiritual condition, turned toward tribal spitituality. Although their general sincerity is not in the most pressing concern; the problem surfaces when ceremonies and symbolism are misappropriated and staged for less than sincere means.

In her series of articles for Indian Country Today, Lakota journalist, Avis Little Eagle reveals the extend of White Shaman­ism or “Plastic Medicine Men.” Her series, titled, “Prophets for Profit,” exposes the sale of tribal rituals by non-Indians, as well as tribal members. Her reports outline how twentieth century confidence-men sold Pan-Indian ceremonies to the uniformed public. Some of her titles: “Medicine Men for Rent,” “After the Sweat: Caviar, Wine and Cheese” and “Sundances Take Place on Artificial Turf,” describe the absurd level at which Pan-Indian­ spirituality operated in late twentieth century American culture. She details how New Age charlatans incorporated marijuana and other drugs into their Pan-Indian ceremonies; how even sex became involved and how self-proclaimed holy men, many tribal members themselves, took advan­tage of the misinformed public. Two of those “real Indians” who Little Eagle names as the major contri­butors to this activity were Sun Bear (aka:Vincent LaDuke), a Chippewa from Minnesota and Wallace Black Elk, a Lakota. They sold their ceremonies, or rather their Pan-Indian versions, to non-Indian consumers at a disturbing rate.(Little Eagle:191-231)­

When the Environmental movement began to sprout in the early 1970s, the Keep America Beautiful campaign employed Iron Eyes Cody, a self-proclaimed Cherokee who was an extra in dozens of Hollywood Westerns, as “Indian” as natural environmentalist in Plains regalia.(Rawls:254) Who better than the Indian; the Plains Pan-Indian no less, to serve as a metaphor of the American environmental conscience. Since then, the idea of the Indian is used with great success as a tool for marketing environmental awareness. The Pan-Indian goddess of Mother Earth is one of the most effective models. It empowers non-Indians in their efforts to promote and raise social awareness and it also allows Indians to be more Indian.(Gill:??) Since the American public accepts the Pan-Indian Mother Earth myth, tribal individuals who seek empow­erment in that sphere willingly spout the Mother Earth rhetoric, many in contrast to their linguistic and cultural traditions. Mother Earth becomes a badge of cultural identity, rooted in Pan- Indianism and fashioned to fit any individual or tribal group.

In the political sphere a number of Pan-Indian forces dominate individual tribes and their members. The first is the reserva­tion system itself and then the boarding school system, which began in the late nineteenth century. Boarding schools forced tribal families to send their children to govern­ment and Christian schools in order to speed up nineteenth century assim-ilation. The whole system was a forced cultural process designed to homogenize the minds and bodies of diverse groups of people.

Another, the federal Relocation Program of 1950s, though purely voluntary, contributed to a Pan-Indian environment in urban settings. Since hundreds of tribes participated, those families sought social refuge in each other and as time went by, what became important and empowering were Pan-Indian constructions. Those constructions helped families in crisis deal with the change and accommodation which was taking place in their lives.(Parman:142-44,149)

The most profound area of political Pan-Indianism rests in the blood quantum phenomenon, a mandated mechanism based on the concept of pedigree. The phenomenon attempts to measure identity and culture through blood percentage. Although this is far from scientific, as a political tool, it works as well as any Pan-Indian cultural tool. This is one of the final stage in the homoge­nization of tribal identity. According to the federal govern­ment, if individuals do not measure up, then simply the govern­ment does not recognize them as Indians for political, and in most cases economic, purposes. Unfortunately, most tribes and government agencies who provide services to tribal people also use the blood quantum standard, leaving very little room to maneuver­, either as a member of a community or as an autonomous individual.

A rather new development in the Pan-Indian sphere of influ­ence is the “parenthesied” Indian, someone who signifies their specific tribal affiliation in parentheses following their Christian name. What is important is not the name of the tribe, but the act. The parentheses serve as a metaphor for claiming Indian heritage.

In a collective sense, and as an individual, the Indian is an Euroameri­can cultural produc­tion functioning as the nucleus of a much larger and refined cultural relationship and process which converts fantasy into reality. Pan-Indianism is an American hege-monic tool; empowering and victimizing in the same instant and that is why it is so effective and powerful. Beneath the cultural surface Pan-Indianism reveals little, however, its greatest utility rests as a tool for studying Ameri­can culture; a culture which uses Pan-Indianism in every corner of its society.


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