(A response from Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha when challenged by others for teaching non-Natives, of her Native Grandmother’s ways.)
There is only love. Man is basically good. Hear that before? What does that mean to you? How is that in your reality? Today we can look around and see the hate breeding violence, prejudice and indifference for human life being addressed daily by groups and organizations that insist there is a better way. The past disregard for Mother Earth and her environment is prime news with lots of great options now.
The newspapers and media daily are quoting statistics on wars. People are starving while our garbage cans overflow. Our city streets are filled with the homeless. Does that mean anything to you? The little children are raped and beaten, even sacrificed by school budgets. Have you personalized any of that? Human dignity and animal rights are disregarded. Are you having a bit of resistance to that? Human potential is wasted. How much focus do you have on further education? Our forests are rendered into barren wounds of the earth without any consideration of the future. Trees give us the oxygen we breathe; do you know that?
Are we ignoring love as a possibility? Love is the only alternative. Love will work. We will need to change the antiquated minds that are too sophisticated and see love as romantic trash and idealistic nonsense that has no scientific base and is anti-intellectual. Let’s look beyond all that and accept love in our life, and allow the most powerful force of unity and good to be accessible to all who want it.
It is then and only then that all things become possible. Only then will we discover that love is the power that lays aside petty behavior that separates us and will reveal that our enemy is someone like ourselves with a face and a heart. What we can’t understand scares us and when we are fearful of anything, we kill it. Love seeks to understand: with understanding, all things are possible!
At this time, in the now, we need to really look at what we are doing and what we are saying. Why do we focus on race and differences? How will that help us all? My Grandmother and Elders taught me to be a bridge and, as we all are children of Mother Earth, we must extend and reach past cultural boundaries and heal our Great Earth Mother. We are of this time and this soil, and we must all make peace with the Spirit here on Turtle Island (North America). No one people owns Spirit or the Truth. It is for all who can hear and whose hearts speak for hope and the love of Great Spirit.
Because this is a fact, my Grandparents and all the generations before them, opened all they had to assist and share with the Europeans who came over here. It is the Way: To give-away and renew. They healed and taught them how to grow food. The sharing was how they believed. It was right and good.
Grandmother said that today bitterness has replaced the happiness of our people. The Earth Mother is being harmed, not loved and cared for. She told me that there are those who are blaming the white man for all of it. This, she said, is not true. Our people don’t honor Earth Mother anymore. We leave the land and go inside the houses and the cities. We forget to listen to the spirits and the voices of the land, the trees, and the stones. We forget they are energy and all energy is Spirit… We humans are the Earth Keepers. We must awaken and remember to teach others how to keep the harmony.
Today the magazines and papers are filled with opinions of who is real and who has the right to teach and so on. The hate and bitterness take strength in this. They feed it. Truth is for all who will hear it, respect it, and live by it.
When I am with my Native family on the reservation, most don’t know their clans or religion anymore. Many are registered and many are not. But all dwell on past injustices of the government who took our lands and herded us onto the reserves. My T’saligi (Eastern Cherokee) family took to the mountains long before the government did this. The Spirits told them to go. Grandmother said in that time you could not tell your own people where you were, because it was risking being rounded up and moved. So they cut themselves off from it all and watched. There was much pain, she said, for everyone. Many from both sides died with diseases of bitterness, hate, and greed. All forgot that everyone is a child of the Earth Mother and that we all need her to remain healthy and beautiful. She is of us and we are of her. Our body is hers and must return to her.
Grandmother said when I grow tall and strong I must go tell them the Truths, to assist peace and balance. She never hated anyone. There were those she knew not to trust because they did not live in truth. But all who came to her for assistance and healing got it. She taught me that our only difference was how we think and that people can change how they think. Truth is strong and brings wisdom. Teach them to think in truth and all will balance; wisdom frees the mind. No one can make another an Indian. You are or you are something else. All this is decided before we pick up physical matter. It is important to be the best of whatever you are. No matter who you are, you are already fulfilling your purpose in life, because you are alive.
It is time to stop destroying each other. In all colors and races of people there are the few who know and hear. It is to that group of people I speak, and I speak of that which is mine to give. No one owns Great Spirit. A teacher of the old ways picks and knows who to give their wisdom to and who will keep it alive. When I see native people circulating a list with names on it as to who is and who is not qualified to teach native teachings and which questions another’s experience, I know that list is a lie, a direct and misleading act and statement. This is
Natives judging Natives. These Native people know that they cannot go to another clan or Medicine Person to check the teaching out. Their list is completely unjustifiable with no real power to decide who should and should not teach. One Native group cannot rule and does not speak for all of us. The prejudice grows and keeps destroying the balance. This is the disease of the Mass.
When the Native People suffered the overtaking of the homelands by the mass of Europeans, it was not strong enough to destroy all of our roots. Some, very few, but some, still have a pure lineage of truth. Anyone who lives on this land must learn it again, be they red or white or black or yellow or brown. If you are truly in the Way of Medicine, you know this. And you also know you do not denounce another’s right to Great Spirit or the Way. You may protect and you can care for it. You wait for the time that the land will return to its fresh good state again, and she will. As Earth Keepers, we have to help her by coming forward. The war is over; our warriors could not stop the masses. But as Grandmother said, “The past is too far back and too long ago to dwell there.” Now – what are we doing now? Whose politics separate us now? Yes, it is true that many are now drawn to the Native Way – our beliefs and religion. No, they will not become Indians, but if they have ancestors buried here in our good Earth, they are Native to her, and she will teach them all as her children.
Our rituals and ceremonies belong to Creator, and our cultures are still here. The eagle lives. Love does not die. We are loved. And beloved Native family, I betray nothing and I will not withhold wisdom that was given to be given. I stand responsible for all I teach and share with others. And I do not need, nor seek, any man’s permission to serve and speak the wisdom of my ancestors. I question all who question my blood; this is not the way of Wisdom Keepers. Anyone who does this is not of pure anything except ignorance, nor do they know of any wisdom of our Indigenous way. We hold sacred all people and life.
© 1990 Pa’Ris’Ha