PROTECTING TRADITIONS: NCAI Statement
From Chief Arvol Looking Horse
To: National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) 11/12/2002
I, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe, request the NCAI to address the issue of the protection our sacred ceremonies and to recognize our Traditional Spiritual Leadership with these responsibilities.
As you are aware the US Government had outlawed our ceremonial ways till the Freedom of Religion Act in 1978. Since that time, we have struggled to regain our strength as a People with an identity. We have proven that we are the original caretakers of this sacred land that our ancestors had laid their lives down for our ways to survive. There have been countless losses, in lives, land, medicines, animal nations, good water, our Sacred Sites that our ancestors used, food, pride, many songs, languages and cultural/traditional knowledge in securing these important needs. To secure the survival of our future generations, at this time we have to truly make a last desperate stand to protect the sacred ceremonies that will assist us in regaining the many losses that identify us as Soverign Nations.
Since twelve years of age, when I became the next Keeper of the sacred bundle, I have since witnessed the many changes that have desecrated the values of these sacred ways. As the strength of our ceremonies returned to our people for health in mind, body and spirit, there also came along another type of strength in the name of money, power and greed. These negative influences have distorted and destroyed these ceremonies as well. This has brought us to a very dangerous moment in our history. We are now witnessing abuses diluting these sacred ways by unauthorized persons performing our sacred rites. There have been demands of payment for participation, along with recent accounts in molestation, indecent mockery in our ceremonial practices, ending in death that was never been heard of before in our ceremonial history. If we do not recognize the significant Traditional Spiritual Leaders of the existing ceremonies in question and their responsibility to have a voice protecting these sacred rites, we will surely only exist as People in the Melting Pot theory. This will leave our future generations with no connection to the identity of their ancestors or Indigenous knowledge to survive as Nations in their own right.
At this time, I would like to recognize the resolution that addresses protection and preservation of our way of life. Recently we have met in traditional government council discussions, to address these important issues. At this time we bring forth this important issue to be resolved with your support.
In a Sacred Hoop of Life, where there is no ending and no beginning!