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Offline educatedindian

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« on: April 29, 2008, 01:05:55 am »
This was sent to me. A really good resource that has many of the elders' statments on exploitation for almost the past 40 years gathered in one place, including some that I don't think we've ever seen before, from Onondaga and Haida elders for example. I'm going to repost the ones less familar to us. These are more statements we can point to when exploiters and their followers claim "It's just a few disgruntled radical NDNs."

First are Onondaga elders.

Onondaga Nation
August 9-14, 1981
via Nedrow, New York

Since Communique No. 1 was drafted, dealing with Indian medicine men and their activities here and in foreign lands, we have received complaints of abuses by individuals and organizations, such as:

Medicine bags being sold to non-Indians and Indians.
Sweat Lodges being run by Indians for non-Indians, particularly in Europe, but not exclusively.
Exorbitant prices, as much as $250 per individual per sweat.
Instructions on the use of the sacred pipe given to non-Indians for a price.
Sundances being run in West Germany by a Lakota.
Seminars on Indian medicine being run by Indians and non-Indians for high fees.
Exploitation and abuses of sacred medicines of great power, with damaging results mentally and physically for those participating.
Commercialization of Indian ceremonies through books, films, seminars, instructions, and sales of sacred symbols.
Exploitation of Indian and non-Indian people seeking spiritual security, through Indian ceremonies.
Non-Indian individuals professing to be Indian through dress and insinuation.
Foundations established in the name of Traditional Elders and tribes without accounting to Elders.
The sacred drum is being abused by singing groups who drink and use drugs while using the drum, by singing sacred songs in public, by using different NationsÆ songs with the wrong drum, and by performing at public occasions for large fees. The drum is sacred, and must be treated with respect.
This list of abuses and exploitations of the sacred ceremonies and symbols of the Native people of this Turtle Island has been documented, and further investigation is currently being carried on to verify these accusations.

The Elders Circle is gravely concerned since the welfare of all people, and their future, is threatened by these abuses for personal gain. We ask further response from people who feel that they have been victimized by these activities.

The power of Native Medicine is through the spiritual purity of the ceremony conducted by the Native person who has been chosen by the medicine to do this. One cannot buy this at any price, and anyone who offers this, especially to non-Indians for fees, defrauds not only the victim but also themselves.

Contact will be made with those concerned, and the results will be made known to the people.

Daw Nay Toh

The Elders Circle
Onondaga Nation
via Nedrow, New York

Offline educatedindian

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« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2008, 01:09:41 am »
Santa Clara Pueblo Elders. Much of their declaration is about war and the environment. Some parts are about exploiters in academia, and I've highlighted those parts.

Santa Clara Pueblo
New Mexico
June 2-5, 1983


The Elders Circle in session at Santa Clara Pueblo, Rio Grande Lifeline, is alarmed and dismayed at traditional peoplesÆ reports from the Four Corners of the Great Turtle Island.

The prophecies and visions of our grandfathers are upon us. The Chief of Trees, the Maple, is dying from the top down as we were told would happen; this is from industrial poisons that rain down in the northeast.

The rivers are running backward as was foretold. This is from the dams on our rivers, the lifelines for living things.

The children are leading the parents as we were told would someday come about. Children grow up on their own without proper instructions or guidance or love from their families, andthe families are scattered like ashes in the wind.

These are just a few of the devastations reported to the Elders Circle. Our poeple have reported that our grandfathers, the Winds, have continued to increase in force and destruction, and tornadoes have multiplied and visited the four directions now occupied by our white brothers.

Etenohah, the Earth we call Mother, has tears running down her face; great floods and rains are everywhere, and people are suffering.

Our people report that our grandfathers, the thundering voices, are speaking in all parts of the land with force. The sacred lightning strikes everywhere, and people are running about in fear and confusion.

The Earth has shaken herself, rumbling in the Four Corners of the Great Turtle Island, and mountains are stirring, smoking, sailing their powers over the lands and its inhabitants. These are warnings clear and direct. These are the powers the Great Spirit has put here to work in harmony with people through prayer, ceremony, and respect in how we live. We have failed, and we are being warned.

How did this happen, and who is responsible?

The forces of the American military industrial complex are once again raising their face to the powers of the creation, the natural world. Their judicial system is being used to suppress the spiritual indigenous people of the Four Directions.

The leader of this country has deputized runners of destruction and exploitation, with instructions to find all natural resources and remove them from their ancient habitats and deliver them to the industrial complexes that gird for war. This action is not in this country alone; leaders of industrial nations throughout the world confront one another on ideological dogmas that speak of peace but mean war. This is done without regard for the consequences that will be visited upon our children.

Our white brother, whose gift from the Creator was invention, has used this gift to unleash the ultimate power of fire -- the force of the atom. This was done here in these very sacred mountains that held these forces within their protection since we were planted here by the Creator. These sacred sites are being desecrated and destroyed in spite of the protests of our spiritual leaders and people by exposing these buried powers. He has unleashed poisons upon our lands and in the waters and springs that we need for survival. By destroying the sacred mountains and sites he has destroyed the prayer sticks and sacred places that hold the dust of our ancient ones who are there to work with the Creator for our welfare.

Our sacred objects are being held in universities, museums, and historical associations and societies. Medicine bundles, sacred pipes, medicine masks, wampum, prayer sticks, kachinas, prayer feathers and much more are being exposed to a curious society that does not understand the spiritual significance of such things. The holders of these objects now become the experts, and tell our own people what they mean, without respect, and exercising a cultural arrogance that they say was manifested by God to be their destiny. Our Nations have suffered death and destruction, forced removals, and desecration of our dead, and sad to say, it continues today under the guise of education, going so far as to train and use our own people against us. It is this blindness that is so dangerous. We have failed, and we are being warned.

We look upon a society of the contraries. Our Lakota brothers have a society that is called Athe contraries@ who do the opposite of what they say. Everything they do is contrary to what they mean. Now we see a whole government of contraries who are not in a spiritual way, and who seem not to understand even themselves, but who hold these powers and brandish them to all who oppose their directives and ways.

We must heed the warnings being visited upon the earth. We must make the connection between the warnings and the desecration of the earth. The drumbeat of our hearts will cease and we shall have destroyed what we are sworn to protect, and there will be no life or future for our children.

Our Elders who carry the ancient instructions and teachings stand in a Circle praying for land and life. The ceremonies are sacred; the instructions are sacred and must be treated with respect and conducted by the proper authorities in the Four Directions. As long as we hold fast to this, our life will continue, and there will be a future for all people. We look to other peoples in other lands to recognize and stand with this Circle of Life.

Wo Wa Tse Woegah Nah Keh Wiat
(Finished with respect for life)

The Traditional Elders Circle

Offline educatedindian

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« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2008, 01:17:19 am »
Haida elders. Again, I've highlighted those parts dealing with exploiters, including those in academia.

Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth


Haida Gwaii
Queen Charlotte Islands
Skidegate - Massett
June 14, 1989

The Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth issue this communique following their Council at Haida Gwaii, land of the Haida Nation. As an introduction to the concepts that were discussed, we would like to present a statement from Haida Chief Skidegate (Lewis Collinson), made in March, 1966:

"People are like trees, and groups of people are like forests. While the forests are composed of many different kinds of trees, these trees intertwine their roots so strongly that it is impossible for the strongest winds which blow on our Islands to uproot the forest, for each tree strengthens its neighbor, and their roots are inextricably entwined.

"In the same way, the people of our Islands, composed of members of nations and races from all over the world, are beginning to intertwine their roots so strongly that no troubles will affect them.

"Just as one tree standing alone would soon be destroyed by the first strong wind which came along, so is it impossible for any person, any family, or any community to stand alone against the troubles of this world."

Sharing Native Philosophy

All peoples are part of the Creation, and have common rights and responsibilities toward Mother Earth. There are some important aspects of our ways which can be shared with those interested in understanding traditional knowledge and philosophy.

It is important to respect the fact that some ceremonial knowledge is sacred and private, meant only for the medicine societies that are responsible for those particular functions. All people are beneficiaries of these ceremonies. It is a great offense to exploit sacred knowledge. Proper performance and participation is the duty of designated traditional religious leaders. Many of these ceremonies are site-specific in their respective indigenous nations.

Aspects of Native philosophy that can be shared include principles of life and relationships to the natural world. We are one with the continual process of Creation. People are equal partners with the plants and animals, not their masters who exploit them.

Today the four colors of the family of people - red, white, black, and yellow - need to better understand our relationship to Mother Earth in order to assure the survival of people, plants and animals. There are many commonalities inherent to our survival. By sharing our philosophy we can promote harmony and balance.

Family Lifestyle - A Shared Responsibility

Men and Women have an equal responsibility to restore the strength of the family, which is the foundation of all cultures. Parents become partners in nurturing the spiritual, cultural, and social health of the family. This partnership should be based upon mutual respect. Our cultures can teach parents how to work together in peaceful and constructive ways, how to deal with each other, and how to use good words to resolve problems. Through these ways our children will have a productive and caring life. This life will include cultural education, spiritual fulfillment, creative expression, and a positive self-image for all members of the family.

Parents must be role models for the children and for their nieces and nephews. Parents have to demonstrate the value of trust, respect, and honor. Parents also have to exhibit discipline, moderation, and fairness in their own actions. As time has proved, children will do as the parents do, not necessarily what parents tell them to do. These changes cannot happen without the individual's commitment to disciplining themselves in their daily lives. When personal comfort and immediate gratification become more important than our children, then we are headed for serious problems.

Each nation has Original Instructions on how to live. These traditions can give families strength and consistency to deal with the realities of modern life.

Grandparents and community Elders must have a significant role in the education of our youth. Their experience, concerns and perspectives are important. Children are part of a larger extended family clan which gives them a unique place in the world, and connects children to their culture.

Children need the security of a home, a connection to their community, and a relationship to their traditional environment. Children are the future of our nations, and must be taught their Native language, spirituality, and identity. In order for our children to survive in the world, they need a firm understanding and belief in the basic principles of sharing freedom and respect individually.


One important aspect that our families need to address urgently is a change to a more healthy diet. Diseases such as diabetes and cancer are epidemic among our people. Poisons in many modern foods, from preservatives to pesticides, can cause great harm to the body, mind, and soul. We need to return to more wholesome traditional foods that are nutritious and economical. Families need to raise more of their own food, which if properly grown according to time-tested cultural patterns, will help to restore the health, strength, and happiness of our families.

Significance of Women

The Natural Law gives women the responsibility of bringing new life into the world. Everyone must be born from the womb. Mothers must protect the lives they have helped to bring into this world.

The Traditional Circle of Elders and Youth wishes to affirm women in their sacred responsibilities, and to express its gratitude and encouragement to women everywhere who struggle to nurture and protect life in the face of many obstacles.

In our traditional ways, the woman is the foundation of the family. It is the mother who provides spiritual direction and inspiration to the husband and children. The opportunities for women to help their families rise to higher levels of spiritual consciousness are unlimited. A man can become a powerful force for good in the world when he is spiritually supported by a discreet and loving mate.

In order for women to carry out their responsibilities, a home atmosphere of respect, security, and harmony is essential. A mother who is secure in the center of the family circle will be a course of strength to all. Abuse and repression have no place in a traditional family.

An Environmental Ethic Based Upon Tradition

Today we are faced with a serious challenge to restore world environmental harmony. We realize that the Earth is our Spiritual Mother, a living entity that maintains life, and that any threat to the environment endangers us all. We face a crisis of life for this living planet we call Mother Earth.

In our traditional ways we treat the Earth with the respect due the source of our spiritual and cultural well-being. We were warned of a time when people would ignore the fundamental Natural Law, and that they would choke in their own waste.

In our traditional ways we do not view the lands as a collection of resources that require development. Instead, we view these resources as living entities to be honored with ceremonies of thanksgiving. We are at a point where we must act to save the Earth for all cultures. Our prophecies have come true.

The time of warning is past. We are now faced with a common issue of survival.

The consequences of defying the Natural Law will be borne by those who rely most upon these good laws. We have a responsibility to help the world understand how their political, economic, and recreational decisions impact the health and welfare of the environments in which indigenous nations live.

The Natural Law is absolute. It can be swift and cruel if not respected. People can make a difference. We must ensure that all cultures, all nations, all peoples begin immediately to protect the vanishing bounty of Mother Earth. We have to change greed into sharing; material wealth into spiritual well-being, and individual enterprise into collective will to assure that there will be a clean and safe home for future generations.

We need a coalition of indigenous nations and environmental groups to work more cooperatively to save our Mother Earth. Conciliation is the key to survival. Peace is the goal. Peace between humans and the environment. This peace will allow us to respect our different cultures as well as respect the spiritual powers of the Earth and all living things.

We cannot separate ourselves from the Earth. We cannot continue to abuse our Mother. The future welfare of Mother Earth rests squarely in our hands. We must all become caretakers of the Earth.

To begin with, we need to save those Elders who cannot speak for themselves - the trees. The redwoods are under attack. The rainforests are being destroyed at an unbelievable rate. The maple dies from the top down from the killing effect of acid rain.

The very air we breath can now hurt us. The oxygen we need is the breath of life from our Mother Earth. She produces this air from the trees and rainforests throughout the world. "Progress" now threatens those trees that help us live. A better understanding of our philosophy can create appreciation and a commitment for our responsibility to the life forces of Creation.

Our health is at risk. A safe supply of water - the essential blood of Mother Earth - must be protected. Good foods like the Three Sisters of Corn, Beans, and Squash must be grown free of toxic chemicals. Otherwise, we are committing a form of suicide. By eating food with the life taken out of it (commercially processed), we contaminate ourselves.

The Earth is alive and must be protected from further abuse by both individuals and multi-national corporations. They violate the Natural Law. It is a sacred trust that must be restored for the sake of future generations of all people. Selfishness and greed must be halted to end the plunder of the gifts of Creation. A unity of the principles of sharing and caring must exist in all people. The survival of all children of Mother Earth depends upon our united actions.

Together we can end the Holocaust against the environment. Mother Earth needs all of us to pay attention to the Natural Law. Indigenous people need help from all cultures, religions, and nations to restore the harmony of our home planet.

Indigenous Rights to the Land

Indigenous people around the world have a birthright and a responsibility to their ancestral lands. They have an identity that is based upon the land. They have a sovereign right to protect the natural world from exploitation. If the nations remain truthful to their traditional philosophy and values toward the land, their future is secure. People need to rediscover the Natural Law which in turn will allow them access to the land without destroying it.

Our cultures are based upon two important premises that involve land. First, we believe that the Earth is our Spiritual Mother, created to support us provided we live by the Original Instructions of our Creator. Second, our diverse cultures get their individual identities from the land. This creates an essential relationship to our ancestral lands that must be preserved.

Our cultural and spiritual identity is dependent upon a land base. The land provides us with sustenance, shelter, inspiration, and a responsibility to respect all elements of that land. The land is a sacred trust held in common for the benefit of the future of our nations.

Land is not an economic resource to be sold. We can no longer continue to base our economic future on the extraction and exportation of its natural resources. Access to resources is subject to the Natural Law. If we destroy the land we will have no sustenance, no home, and no future for the next generations. If we destroy the resources, we have broken our sacred trust. Our nations need to set parameters for land usage with spiritual laws guiding our decisions. We need a commonsense approach to help the people benefit from the resources of the land, while assuring the long-term health of those resources.

The people, the clans, and the Nations are entrusted with sovereignty over the land. It is a collective right that has spiritual consequences. Abuse of this responsibility will lead to the destruction of our nations, our cultures, and all of our resources. We have been led astray by the profit motives of the industrial age. We must remember why we were given the land in the first place. Each tribal culture has a land use ethic which must be restored.

The land has been inherited from a long line of our ancestors. They have passed on the trust to us. We hold the land, not for financial gain but the sake of future generations, so that they will have a home, a land base, a secure future. We have to instill in them a deep respect for all the gifts of Creation.

Religious Rights of Indigenous People

It appears that the canoe of the indigenous peoples' spirituality still sits in the shadows of the religious ships of the western world. We all rock gently on the sea of life, and share a common destiny in the protection of the well-being of Mother Earth.

Increasingly, the world is beginning to recognize the integrity of indigenous religions. Our spiritual visions are gaining equality and support in international affairs.

Yet, our religions suffer from exploiters that include scholars who attempt to refute our spiritual visions; individuals who appropriate our beliefs for their own gain; people who deal in the removal of human remains and sacred objects from our sacred places and medicine societies.

We must remind all people that the practice of our spiritual ways require certain elements. We need access to sacred sites, which must be protected. We need access to sacred animals, which must be kept from regulatory interference. We need the return of sacred objects, many of which are now in museums, historical societies, universities, and private collections.

Sacred objects are the national patrimony and the religious right of our nations. No one has the right to keep these objects from our people. To continue to do so is a violation of our human rights. Sacred items must be respected at international borders so that we can be allowed to practice our religion wherever we travel.

The remains of our ancestors must be returned to those nations that ask for their reburial. Associated grave goods should also be returned so that our dead can rest in peace. To continue to deny our nations the religious right to care properly for the dead is an uncivilized act.

The religious rights of indigenous people are being restricted by federal, state/provincial, and local governments. Policies of these agencies and cultural institutions must be changed to eliminate any discrimination toward our religions. Correctional institutions must recognize the religious right of Native inmates. The curative powers of our ceremonies and religious ways can be very important in human development. Native inmates must have access to our spiritual practices and sacred objects necessary to carry out the ceremonies. This is especially true for children in social service or youthful offender institutions.

It is time that the religious practices of the Native nations receive the same consideration and respect as the other established religions of the world, especially in our own lands.

In closing, the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth hopes that all people will make an effort to incorporate traditional values into their lives. We believe that there is an urgent need to change the destructive ways that are harmful to the peaceful and natural way of life. With this Communique the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth reaches out to the world for support and cooperation in restoring the balance and harmony of all life, and in protecting Mother Earth.

"Daalang gii giinahl sudaas naa gi dang gyust'aa sqawdaagii uu daalang gahl kil 'laa gaa. Howa. Gaa gang at t'aa ts'ii."

(Thank you for listening to the words that have been spoken. Howa. Step carefully as you go.)

Offline educatedindian

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« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2008, 01:24:01 am »
This last one is more familiar, but still important. Cheyenne elders' statement.

Northern Cheyenne Nation
Rosebud Creek
Two Moons Camp, Montana
October 5, 1980

It has been brought to the attention of the Elders and their representatives in council that various individuals are moving about this Great Turtle Island and across the great waters to foreign soil, purporting to be spiritual leaders. They carry pipes and other objects sacred to the Red Nations, the indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere.

These individuals are gathering non-Indian people as followers who believe that they are receiving sacred instructions of the original people. We, the Elders and our representatives sitting in council, give warning to these non-Indian followers that it is our understanding that this is not a proper process. The authority to carry these sacred objects is given by the people, and the purpose and procedure is specific to time and the needs of the people.

The medicine people are chosen by the medicine, and long instruction and discipline is necessary before ceremonies and healing can be done. These procedures are always in the Native tongue; there are not exceptions, and profit is not the motivation.

There are many Nations with many and varied procedures specifically for the welfare of the people. These processes and ceremonies are of the most Sacred Nature. The council finds the open display of these ceremonies to be contrary to these Sacred instructions.

Therefore, be warned that these individuals are moving about playing upon the spiritual needs and ignorance of our non-Indian brothers. The value of the instructions and ceremonies of these individuals is questionable, maybe meaningless, and hurtful to the individual carrying false messages. There are questions which should be asked of these individuals:

What nation does the person represent?
What is their Clan and Society?
Who instructed them, and where did they learn?
What is their home address?
If no information is forthcoming, you may inquire at the addresses listed below, and we will try to find out about them.

We concern ourselves only with those people who use spiritual ceremonies with non-Indian people for profit. There are many things to be shared with the Four Colors of man in our common destiny as one family upon our Mother the Earth. It is this sharing that must be considered with great care by the Elders and the medicine people who carry Sacred trusts, so that no harm may come to people through ignorance and misuse of these powerful forces.

E'h na hawn na
The Elders Circle
Northern Cheyenne Nation