Utilizing Indigenous Thought To Cope In The Age Of Trump


Published:

November 9, 2016, was a typical North Dakota wintry day and the cold wind bit into me. Unlike the group of fellow Veterans for Peace I was with, who had come from northern or eastern locations, I was fresh in from a fishing village in central Mexico. We huddled around a red camper van, listening to a radio station in anticipation of hearing the results of the election. The crowded camp below our hilly perch was strewn with makeshift buildings, campers and tipis, and we were surrounded by rolling hills, grass plains and buttes that bordered the sacred Missouri River we were trying to protect. Hearing the radio transmission clearly was difficult, owing to static and occasional interruptions from TigerSwan, a private military contractor hired by Energy Transfer Partners to disrupt our communications with the outside world. Nonetheless, when we heard that Trump was the new president of the United States, the words resonated all too clearly.

No one spoke at first. Then, showing tearful emotion, one of our younger vets, who had regretfully participated in two tours in Iraq, angrily spoke out: “How stupid are people in this country?” Immediately, one of our female Lakota vets walked up to him and gave him a sincere hug. She was a round-faced woman in her 40s or 50s who wore a derby-type leather brimmed hat, long beaded earrings, a brightly colored vintage Navajo-styled Pendleton blanket coat and a pair of eyeglasses that illuminated eyes that radiated gentle wisdom. “Welcome to our world,” she said.

As an Indigenous professor, researcher and author, I knew immediately what she was saying: Trump was only a more blatant manifestation of the kinds of inequity, hierarchy and violence against all of the natural world that American Indigenous have suffered throughout US history. We all knew this related to a small percentage of individuals controlling everyone and everything else. I also understood that such an affair had faced humanity globally for only the past 1 percent of human history. For 99 percent of our time on this planet, prior to our “point-of-departure” around 9,000 years ago, most humans lived as Indigenous peoples who managed to thrive in relative harmony without destroying the planet's life-systems. What the Lakota veteran was conveying was not so much that white people were now getting a taste of their own medicine, but rather that implications of the dominant culture’s worldview are currently catching up to everyone.

Sitting Bull, the Hunkpapa Lakota leader who lived and was assassinated on the Standing Rock Reservation, also understood that the settlers’ worldview was not compatible with how life had been lived for most of human history. Not long after he signed the 1868 Treaty that established the Lakota reservation lands that included the Black Hills of South Dakota, he shared his philosophy in a speech to a council of his people. He spoke to the anthropocentrism, hierarchy and greed that continue to lead us into an untimely sixth mass extinction.

The speech, recorded by Charles Eastman (Ohiye S’a), described the Lakota worldview:

Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the Earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love! Every seed is awakened, and all animal life. It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being, and we therefore yield to our neighbors, even to our animal neighbors, the same right as ourselves to inhabit this vast land.

Sitting Bull contrasted this paradigm with the damaging worldview of the European settlers, which persists in the United States government today:

Yet hear me, friends! We have now to deal with another people, small and feeble when our forefathers first met with them, but now great and overbearing. Strangely enough, they have a mind to till the soil, and the love of possessions is a disease in them. These people have made many rules that the rich may break, but the poor may not! They have a religion in which the poor worship, but the rich will not! They even take tithes of the poor and weak to support the rich and those who rule.

They claim this mother of ours, the Earth, for their own use, and fence their neighbors away from her, and deface her with their buildings and their refuse. They compel her to produce out of season, and when sterile she is made to take medicine in order to produce again. All this is sacrilege.

Such sentiments are common to many of the great variety of Indigenous cultures around the world, including those eradicated and those surviving. They can be contrasted sharply with the cultures that converge around the dominant worldview. So, how can we draw upon Indigenous worldviews to make sense of the era of Trump, and to move beyond it? Here are some Indigenous worldview precepts one can use to evaluate -- and begin to transform -- one’s thinking and beliefs:

1) Love of Life and acceptance of its mysteries is essential for wellness.

2) Every life form is interconnected, equal in significance and deserves respect.

3) Ceremony and alternative consciousness are vital for internalizing Nature’s wisdom.

4) Place and its inhabitants are sacred teachers.

5) Complementarity describes Nature and is essential for a balanced life.

6) Generosity and courage are preeminent virtues observable in Nature.

7) The highest authority comes from honest reflection on lived experience.

8) Language (words) and music have vibrational frequencies that prompt diligent attention.

How can we use these precepts to challenge the problems wrought by the dominant worldview? In order to move into authentic ways of being in the world, we can start by considering these five Indigenous ways of thinking and doing, which contrast with dominant worldview-based practices:

Alternative Consciousness. It’s required for deep transformation. There are many ways to achieve it, but believing in new and appropriate images deeply while in light trance states can override previous unintentional beliefs that continue to cause us to live against our own logic. Traditional societies knew that harmful behaviors often stemmed from unconscious beliefs and actions that could be reversed via trance-based learning. When you are out of balance; when anger lasts for more than a few minutes; when you behave or react in a way that seems to bring on stress; when you feel you are avoiding movements on behalf of your highest potential; when a relationship is not working, there are often unconscious belief systems operating. Trance-based learning can help us overcome harmful unconscious beliefs, making us more capable of addressing the inequities and ecological damage in our world today.

Questioning Fear. Ask what possible fear relates to problematic events, actions, attitudes or behaviors. The dominant worldview perspective is to avoid, dismiss or deny it. Move to the Indigenous perspective that sees fear as a catalyst for practicing a virtue, such as courage, generosity, honesty, patience, fortitude or humility. Then, imagine yourself practicing that virtue until, by taking appropriate action, you become fearless by fully trusting the universe.

Questioning Authority. Closely related to fear is the idea of authority. Dominant culture is hierarchy-driven and external authority guides too much of our behavior. Get in touch with the position, beliefs and feelings you have about the issue at hand. Ask yourself: From whose authority did this position originate? Then, use a strategy such as self-hypnosis to erase all forms of external authority from the picture, dismissing previous ones entirely and basing your new thoughts on only an honest reflection on your lived experience and complementary attitude.

Words. Get in touch with all the words you use, especially self-talk, to describe the situation. Analyze them for how accurate and truthful they really are. Our Indigenous ancestors lived at a time when words were considered sacred. Find the best ways to honestly phrase the situation so you can better process it. Carefully listen to the words of others without being “hypnotized” by them. Use life experience, intuition, critical thinking and diverse research to come to truthfulness.

Nature. In our original ways of thinking, other-than-human (or greater-than-human) entities were our teachers. Anthropocentrism did not exist. We were intricately part of the Natural world. We can still learn from other-than-humans. In practice, these can be pets, insects, plants, parks, rivers, mountains. When an issue arises, consider it in relation to these other-than-humans. Allow yourself to continue to watch for other aspects of Nature as keys to a new realization as relates to the issue. Use ceremony with plants like pine, cedar, sage or sweet grass to evoke images of other-than- or greater-than-human life forms. Such ceremonies can truly continue to help you embrace the unknown. Balance these ceremonies with discourse, knowing that discourse tends to remove the mysterious. All answers reside somewhere in what remains of the natural landscape in which you dwell.

As we move forward in the era of Trump, facing vast structural problems, let us remember that Nature is and always will be the ultimate teacher if we heed it accordingly.

Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission.

Wahinkpe Topa (Four Arrows), AKA Don Trent Jacobs, is currently a professor in the College of Leadership Studies at Fielding Graduate University. Of Irish/Cherokee descent and a made-relative of the Oglala, he previously lived and worked on the Pine Ridge reservation where he served as director of education at Oglala Lakota College on Pine Ridge and fulfilled his four sun dance vows with the Rick Two Dogs Medicine Horse band. He was named one of 27 "visionaries in education" by the Alternative Education Resource Organization, and is recipient of the Martin Springer Institute's "Moral Courage Award" for his activism. He is the author of 20 books.

See also:
Indigenous People Invented The So-Called ‘American Dream’
How To Resist From A Place Of Love: Self-Care For The Long Haul

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

March 21, 2019

Good relationships are a lifeblood while Lady Luna visits Libra. However, the Cosmos has tricks up its sleeve. Venus, the Goddess of Love is in a testing square with Mars and also a soothing sextile with Jupiter. The prior aspect, exact before sunrise…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

March 2019

Sunday afternoon: 3–4:30pm at Hillside Herbals Spring Tonics II: the spring tonic herbs—it's about circulation, assimilation and elimination—tincturing. Rachel has...

Cost: Drop in Fee $10 includes all materials and handouts.

Where:
Hillside Herbals
Jefferson, MA


Sponsor: Hillside Herbals
Telephone: 508-847-8615
Contact Name: Rachel Ross
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

Show More...
Show Less...

March 20–23 9am-3pm each day Experience transformation guided by Mother Mary. Through Divine vibration, you will be aligned for quicker healing and evolving with mind body spirit and...

Cost: $500

Where:
, MA


Sponsor: The LoveLight Center
Telephone: (207) 216-9584
Contact Name: Cheryl Banfield

More information

The American Center for Bioregulatory Medicine and Dentistry (The BioMed Center) is the most comprehensive center in North America for bioregulatory medicine and dentistry. Come see what...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
111 Chestnut Street
Providence, RI
View map »


Website »

More information

Discover how you can release tight muscles and improve range of motion in locked joints in a weekly ESSENTRICS stretch classes led by Raindrop Fisher, certified Essentrics instructor. Raindrop is a...

Cost: $10 drop-in / $100 for 12 classes

Where:
Village at Waterman Lake
Function Room - Chalet Bldg
715 Putnam Pike
Greenville, RI  02828
View map »


Sponsor: Healthier Fit Lifestyle
Telephone: 401-678-0950
Contact Name: Raindrop Fisher
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This 8 week series in Tai Chi will provide you with everything you need to get started in a personal Tai Chi practice. Just for Beginners—there is no expectation, and no pressure in...

Cost: $137 for 8 weeks

Where:
Spiral Path Connections
218 Boston Street
Unit 104
Topsfield, MA  01983
View map »


Sponsor: The Spiral Path
Telephone: 978-314-4264
Contact Name: Johanna Hattendorf
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

“All we need is love” the Beatles claimed in 1960’s. In fact, we have been looking for love from the beginning of time. We are conditioned that it is love which brings us...

Cost: $35

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street, Suite 1-A
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

“Master your breath, let the self be in bliss, contemplate on the sublime within you.” —Krishnamacharya Join us for an evening of deep exploration and transformation using the...

Cost: $30 (some hardship rates available)

Where:
Spontaneous Celebrations
45 Danforth Street
Jamaica Plain, MA  02130
View map »


Telephone: 617-233-6410
Contact Name: Allen Howell, M.Ed.LMHC
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Only $225 if you register for both days! Save $25! Please click here to register for both workshops. This is a 2 day course being held Saturday and Sunday, March 23...

Cost: $125

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street, Suite 1-A
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Former Buddhist monk and world renowned healer, Seth Monk, will be giving a Siddha Healing to our community. Seth will be accompanied by Shannon Fitzgerald, an AromaReiki Master for a beautiful...

Cost: $35

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough Shopping Center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

Former Buddhist monk and world renowned healer, Seth Monk, will be giving a Siddha healing to our community. Seth will be accompanied by Shannon Fitzgerald, an AromaReiki master for a beautiful...

Cost: $35 early-bird ($40 after 3/19)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough Shopping Center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

In her art and spirit workshops, Melissa combines her gift as an intuitive with her extensive background in painting to help you to work through creative blocks and learn or refine technique. Come...

Cost: $150

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Journey back into the experience of peace, harmony and inner power through this unique meditation practice. Explore the power of your thoughts and how they can bring you inner harmony and help you...

Cost: Free

Where:
Inner Space Meditation Center & Gallery
1110 Massachussetts Ave
Cambridge, MA
View map »


Telephone: 617-547-1110
Website »

More information

Psychics, mediums, angel readers, spirit art. Reiki, chair massage, IET, Gaiadon Heart, crystal healings, etc. Sign yourself up for a few appointments and bring your friends! Appointments...

Where:
Women Of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Telephone: (508) 230-3680
Website »

More information

6 Saturdays 10am–11:30am February 23–March 30, 2019 Taijiquan (Tai Chi ) is a healing martial art, using breath and movement together to strengthen the body and quiet...

Cost: $120

Where:
Metta Wellness
679 Pleasant Street
Paxton, MA  01612
View map »


Sponsor: Metta Wellness
Telephone: 774-245-5487
Contact Name: Rick Rocha
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags