- The Hopi Way
- Traditional Values and Visions of A Hopi
"Tribe follows tribe and nation follows nation like the waves of the sea. It is the very order of nature, and regret is therefore useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surly come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend with friend cannot be exempt from the common destiny. In this respect we may be brothers after all. We will see."
Chief Seattle - 1855
The Committee for Traditional Indian Land and Life came into existence in response to the concerns and problems expressed by traditional chiefs, spokesmen and medicine men representing Indian groups and nations from many areas of this continent. It began in the spring of 1967, in Los Angeles, with a Colloquium on the history, religion and way of life of traditional American Indians. It was perhaps the first time so large a group of non-Indians had gathered together, not to watch an Indian ceremony or show, not to sell their own ideas to Indians, but simply to listen to what the first inhabitants and caretakers of this land had to say.
One after another, the Indian spokesmen told how they were holding fast to their covenant with the Great Spirit, standing as guardians over the land and life assigned to them in the Beginning. And though they spoke in different idioms and described a wide variety of problems, they communicated a single overriding concern.
That concern was and is SURVIVAL.
It was clear, however, that they did not mean the mere physical survival of individuals who happen to be called Indians. To these traditionalize, survival is inseparable from the way of life, as it existed in the past and still exists, expressed through their relationships to one another, to the land, to all the forces of nature and to the Great Spirit.
As these leaders spoke and the seriousness and depth of their concern became apparent to us, we realized they were not speaking only for themselves but were addressing themselves to a crisis which threatens our survival as well as theirs. We live in a nation founded in the name of religious freedoms, yet it has crushed the religion of its first inhabitants, usually in the name of religion.
We live in a nation founded by frugal men, yet it has squandered its best resources, its land and water, its forest and minerals, its peoples and their talents.
No nation has ever talked so much of religious liberty and of freedom of thought: no nation has ever had so strong a movement for conservation of natural resources: no nation has declared itself so strongly for the rights of individuals. But today, in this time of war and confusion, to millions of Americans it seems that many of our goals have been abandoned and all our boasts of declaration have a hollow ring.
It was not surprising then that at the COLLOQUIUM many of us were receptive to what our Indian guests had to say, for no people in America has had so close and bitter an acquaintance with America's failures as have the American Indians. And no group knows the full range of the damage done to Indians and to all of America better than does the traditional Indian.
The founders of our nation wrote down the laws and principles which were to govern our society, and the black and white proclaimed a promise to the American People and to all mankind. Traditional Indians, on the contrary, wrote nothing down, but instead, for centuries, lived with a constant vision of the life plan laid out for them by the Great Spirit, relating that life plan laid out for them by the Great Spirit, relating that plan to everything in their daily lives, passing it on by word of mouth, and by sacred ritual . Yet the great underlying proposes of Indian life have not been distorted or forgotten, while we who wrote everything down find that many of our principles, and the promise we made, are now only empty rhetoric.
The traditional Indians are a quiet people: they have set an example. They are at home on the land and under the skies, beside the rivers and within the forests. And, if they must, they are at home on the desert.
Their message is wordless and therefore a frail one in an aggressive urban society built everywhere upon words. It is timeless and tranquil, and therefore out of tune with the impatience we call progress. As outsiders it seems we can never truly know the full range of this message. We can, however, see the humbling young children and alert old men in the traditional communities and envy such societies where the individual finds himself reassured. And we can see the degradation and despair of those Indian groups who have abandoned their original way of life.
We can also see our own emptiness and recognize all around us the evidence that we too have lost sight of something timeless and eternally new.
There is inspiration in the way the traditional Indian speaks to us. His / Her basic sincerity inspires our respect for him and for all he holds sacred. And while working on this committee our experience has taught us that it is only though equal sincerity on the part that Indians will come to respect our efforts to understand and to help.
Often, people who believe they are trying to help Indians are baffled and even angered by the apparent stubbornness and lack of response on the part of those who are traditional. On occasion, when such attempts to help meet with resistance, these people reveal the hostility and destructiveness underlying their announced intentions.
WE believe that with real communication this attitude of false benevolence can be avoided. The foundation for such communication is respect for the integrity of the traditional Indians together with the uncompromising eye toward one's own integrity. When met in this way, we have found that our Indian friends, far from being stubborn and unrealistic, have a clear understanding of their own needs and in concrete terms are asking us to help them free themselves from the oppression of greed and blind paternalism which today threaten them with final obliteration.
We are not trying to prevent the inevitable decay of some outmoded customs, but to encourage the renewal of that which is the basis for a whole pattern of life, founded upon a living awareness rather that upon ironclad, manmade laws.
No one can hope to bring back the past: as Chief Seattle said. " Regret Is Useless." but we still halt the present destruction that is continuing in our name.
Similarly, we cannot stop the gunfire of a generation ago that was used to frighten Indian children into schoolrooms where their hearts told them they did not belong. But we can work to bring to light the more subtle and formidable efforts now being made to force Indians finally to abandon their way of life and the custodianship of the land upon which that life depends.
Since this committee was established in answer to the call of traditional Indians, we attempt to meet their needs as they see them. The ideas upon which we act must be theirs, as they develop them in consensus.
It is essential, however, that they be of one mind, if we are to be effective in our efforts to help them. Therefore, it is our primary concern that communications between traditions, be fostered, so that their vital movement to achieve unity can continue to grow.
For those Indians who still hold their original land, the most pressing issue is sovereignty, which is the basis of their social and economic welfare. Sovereignty is the right to use what is theirs, in any manner they see fit, free form encroachment by vested interests who have no understanding of the religious significance of the land in the lives of those to whom it has been entrusted.
All Indians, including those now without land, must be assured that right to determine for themselves if they wish to live as a group, governing themselves according to their basic religious and ethical principles.
So it is that we do not seek to define the identity of the traditional Indian, but instead, seek to establish and atmosphere in which this identity can continue and grow stronger.
To accomplish this, we aim:
To become aware of, understand, document and publicize injustices suffered by traditional Indians today, as well as in the past.
To stop current injustices, such as legislation not originating with Indians, and to bring about restitution for past injustices, such as the more than broken treaties.
To provide a common ground where interested individuals can gain information and find ways to effectively express their concern.
To help keep traditional Indians informed of current issues affecting their livelihood and their rights to sovereignty and self-determination.
To help traditional Indians in their movement toward unity.
To work to correct the distorted public image of the American Indian.
To stop specific acts of desecration of the Indian's culture, such as destruction and exploitation of graves and shrines.
To expand the ability of the majority community to hear the voice of the traditional Native American Indian.
To acquaint people with those traditional Indian values which can help us solve our own problems and enrich our lives.
This is a reproduction of "origin and aims" of the committee for Traditional Indian Land and Life. Provided by one of the original founders of "The Committee for Traditional Indian and Life, Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, Calif. 1970's
WE are grateful for the permission to share these words which are every bit as meaning full today as they were in the mid 1970's. WE will also be, in the near future, the CO creating "Techqua Ikachi" with the assist of the original editors and publishers who are very pleased the work is in continuum.
Touch the Earth Foundation is most grateful to the Great Spirit which united the founding fathers with our current activities.
We are asking for articles to be submitted, throughout the American Indian Nations and the Original Peoples of World over to tell their stories we hope to have the first issue out by June 21, 1997.
Contact us at our web page: http://www.timesoft.com/hopi/ or 619-481-9824 is forward to where ever we are. Wishing you the Peace of the Holy Ancestors in our world today.
Dep see mana
aka, katherine cheshire
touch the earth foundation