Saturday, December 27, 2008

Solstice of Winter 2008




Solstice
Sunday 21 Dec 2008 || 1:04 pm (Pantelleria Island)
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Day Before The Day Before the Big Sale

Santa Claus is a dick....read the full story here.

Best regards

Thursday, November 27, 2008

ThanksGiving....?

Thanksgiving is a dick. Read the full story here....

bon appetite....

Fritz Scholder Painting Used to Wrap Old Dead Fish (Breaking News)





Here we are at another cycle of the new American Mythology, "Native American Awareness Month".

The most notable event which has been referred in this empty gesture has been worldwide reviews and pontificating over Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian, an exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian in the USA.

While Scholder made some sort of an impression on the rich white people's art market, he made none at all on American Indian culture. He was not any kind of tribal person. He did have some "Indian Blood", whatever that may mean. Millions of Americans have some little drop of American Indian blood. What makes an American Indian an American Indian is participation in the culture, in the life, in the struggle, in the reality. Scholder did none of that, ever.

When one considers the many incredibly talented tribal artists working in both the past and the present who are actual participants in their tribal cultures, this national press worship of a dead artist who painted large smudgy paintings of American Indians he never met is perverse. His paintings are very good, which is not the point. He has, as many people do, American Indian ancestors, or "blood" as it is sometimes called. Not the point. Sometimes it seems harsh when people are challenged about their heroes. The artist is gone from caring what we think. Arguably it is not his fault. It is not right to say Scholder is an American Indian artist. That is the point. He was a very god artist, I like much of his work.

The media is clearly dominated by people who are white, think white, sleep white, drink and eat white and have white fantasies about who and where the Indians are. Sometimes it is rather cute, amusing, watching this behavior. Where in the world is one actual American Indian that the white press can applaud, salute or exhibit?

My vote for a really great, and really real American Indian Artist is one T.C. Canon. This guy was one real American Indian. His art was real, often profound, sometimes encompassing the great mysteries of real life in a tribal person's real world. I think my favorite painting of his was one he did where he showed his mom walking about in Santa Fe while pregnant with him. How many artists have that kind of eye? TC Canon dies at an early age. He died to young. I look at the content of his work and sometimes weep for many reasons, not the least of which was his astonishing clarity.

Looking at Scholder's paintings is like looking at mud pies made by children. And dollar signs. His work is very valuable. But who the fuck is he? In my view he is nobody. A ghost painting pictures of the ghosts in his own mind. Shame on the so-called Museum of the American Indian. What a bunch of stiffs, white stiffs.

Scholder had ZERO influence on American Indian artists. None. I rarely meet an American Indian who has even heard of him. Yet he is the darkling icon of white liberal writers, the same ones who made lifelong Catholic officer and shuffling tourist dancer Black Elk into a "holy man". White society prefers to manufacture its heroes rather than discover them.

Native American Awareness month means something, somewhere, to somebody. Like Thanksgiving. To real American Indians, not so much. It is puzzling. Latin Americans have produced real heroes to be trotted out by the white press, as have African Americans. What is it about real and actual American Indians that the white press cannot look around and find one actual human being from that culture to celebrate, pontificate over, and drag out for the annual holiday propaganda they put in between their advertisements?

As for Scholder's painting of an American Indian with a flag draped around him, I am waiting for the painting of a Republican Presidential Candidate, with one of Scholder's big muddy paintings wrapped around him as he raises his middle finger to everybody who is not white.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Song in Sardinia

video


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01 August 2008.
An honoring ceremony for late Andrea Parodi, an enormously gifted singer and cultural teacher of the Sardinian, Italia people and culture. This video was made by Silvia, my wife, at one point in the long ceremony we did that day. The beautiful woman in the video is Valentina, wife of Andrea Parodi and a beautiful spirit who shared all the ceremonies on this lovely day...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

19 November 2008 ||



Strong dreams
Come in from the mystery life dances
We shared together. Strong dreams and feelings
About all this light
And all that noise waiting in the dark.
Can I return from where I have been
Breaking old stones to free the wind
That breathes within
To carry me where I have never been.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Correction Way || New World Ceremony




If you have lost something, you can retrace your steps and find it again.

In tribal life this is called “correction way”.

If you have lost your soul, it may be to late to apply a correction, John McCain.

If you have only lost your way, it is possible to make a correction from within yourself. The first step is to take responsibility for yourself and recognize how the choices you have made have either helped you or hurt you.

A good problem can be a tremendous blessing. Understanding that you may have a problem is a revelation. Accepting responsibility for the problem, you become immediately empowered with the possibility to solve it.

The United States has an opportunity to enter into a grand state of correction way blessings. This is in fact the best opportunity we have had in a generation. The dark face of corporate domination has shown us the dangers of ignoring the opportunity to make corrections.

The blog here is a process in the correction way adventure. It is a chance for a man like me to speak to you from american indian space on my own terms. The number of places on this earth where you can hear from an american indian on his own terms is very small.

Sometimes it is to late to fix what is wrong. The best you can hope for is recovery of what is broken and a new direction made from the ruins. It is never to late to keep going.

Many people base their life’s work on using the past as a kind of weapon to punish and harass those who are trying to go forward. This is a type of moral cowardice. It is exemplified by such useless dogs as Rush Limbaugh, a drug addicted narcissist leading a legion of sleep-walkers deeper and deeper into…nothing. Imagine that somewhere is a mother who gave birth to this piece of human garbage.

From somewhere, Americans in rather large numbers, a clear majority, actually stood up straight and looked change, and a new generation, in the face and opted for correction. It is the first time in many years, a lifetime, that so many have stood up for the unknown and the untested because it had the right feeling. They did this in the face of a mean name-calling machine that has pushed the limits of good taste and honest opinion to a breaking point.

Obama is not an American Indian. He has some tribal ancestors. Both in Africa and North America. I think a person is attached to the race and culture which has dominated their life. For Obama that is the African American culture, but also the new culture of the Multi-Racial Human Being. I am like that. I am part White, part Ojibway, part Catabwa, part Celtic. I love all those parts. Where I have lived and worked and grown and fallen in my life has been from inside American Indian culture. That is where I find my identity and my work. Obama was adopted formally by the elders of the great Crow Nation. Rather than expecting Obama to step up, I think it is time at last for tribal leaders to step up. American Indians have justified complaints against modern society. However, these leaders in tribal america must do their part. Time for them to step up.

Our sacred teachers tell us that the sacred truth can only take you halfway there. You have to come the other half yourself…on your own steam, standing up and eyes wide open.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Emotions of Hope

I am here on the tiny island of Pantelleria. There are just 2 Americans here. Curiously, the people of the island pay little attention to the outside world. Even so, they all were pulling for Obama. It is hard to find the words to explain how much they hate george fucking bush....or how charming it is that they have embraced Obama. I am feeling a lot of emotion. I am proud of the country, of the people. We have grown up a little. We have become more open, more accepting of new possibilities.

While this new president has inherited a disaster, a group of tragedies made entirely by the ignorance and arrogance of george fucking bush, we cannot how such a positive wave of energy can affect everything that happens from now on. Positive energy is a magical force. it enters the body bone-deep and changes everything. yes, the whole world has changed in ways we can feel and ways we cannot yet imagine. underestimate

I stayed up all night using my old analog modem to get updates. Finally, about 5 in the morning my time the election was called for Obama. I went to sleep feeling different. Today moving around the little Italian island the emotions are more deep. they are a combination of relief and hope. A fullness of the heart that I know and respect and cannot contain or hold in reserve.

The many vulgar and insane things the opposition attached Obama with never stuck. It has been a long time since I have seen so many people resist and turn away from the poisonous bullshit of the dominant political forces that have disgraced the United States for so many years.

I watched a 105 year old black woman make her vote. Obama mentioned her in his speech of victory. Seeing the faces of the black Americans made me happy. I also look at Obama and see somewhere the old Indians. Maybe now, at this time, the American Indian might have a new opening, a healing and a sense of sharing and belonging which they have never had, not for one fucking day in this country....until now. The emotions I feel for people of color, for blacks, for Indians, for the kenyan people who see their tribal ancestor in this shining place at this shining moment. I am proud of the white people who never shouted out the poison of race....except for sick dogs like Rush Limbaugh or the Drudge Report. Rush Limbaugh I don't care if I spell his name right or not), a disgrace of human pig-ness and pathologic drug addiction. george bush seemed impressed, possibly even humbled a little at the revelations facing his own life at this moment.

Yes, a complete and complicated and far-ranging set of emotions have filled me up. The BBC had an automatically refreshing text messaging page online that worked with my dial up modem very well. So I read the incoming messages all night, finally hearing at my time of 5 am, after California was called for Obama that real change had won the day.

I am happy and hopeful and ready.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Vote || Get Up Off Your Ass and VOTE



Vote !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Get out and Vote. Wake up and Vote. Stand in line and Vote|

Welcome to Native American heritage Month. Elect the first ever (part) American Indian US President !!

Vote. Sing and Dance and Vote.

Voting is a great way to not feel like an asshole if someone asked if you voted.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Christopher Columbus || Homicidal Hustler and Pimp for the Pope




Chris Columbus was a Dick. Read the full story here.

Another “columbus” day. Here and there in the distant background you will hear Native Americans weeping and screaming while you are on the way to the columbus day sale at walmart.

Having made slaves, murdered, stolen, lied, he becomes a manufactured hero. Another plastic hero for the age of plastic. If you really knew the true story of this man you would be sick to your stomach.

I hope it rains on your parade.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

DreamTime in the Flat of the Po




Julius Caesar, when he returned to Rome gave rich farmland to his soldiers. They complained it was to far from Rome but accepted the gift of land. The descendants of this land worked in floods and drought to build the agricultural center of the Italian table. Mussolini spent a fortune draining and establishing an intricate canal system to tame this region. Today it is a farming paradise in the middle of Italy. It was to this place that I gathered with 12 other Italian people for 4 days of ceremony at the time of the Fall Equinox.

Ferarra is a historic old Italian village. Its castle is one of the few which still has a water-filled moat. Of course, being the drainage field for the Po River, water is everywhere. The water is clear and clean in most places. A few miles from the village our host operates a small inn. It is here where we made our ceremonial work.

We started with a small morning tobacco fire. Gathering here we all introduced ourselves to the mystery life and so started our ceremonial work together.

We had everything we could have wanted in one place. Food, private rooms, a big meditation and group work space. We laso had a small group of Polish immigrant workers in a “workers” house next to the main house we used for the ceremonial work. They were just to the right of the ceremonies. I can’t imagine what they thought of what we were doing. They behaved very well and sometimes I would see one of the younger workers peeking through a crack in the door at us.

The morning fire is such a great teaching. We always begin with this small fire and end there as well. The fire burned five days using wood from pear trees, like knots the size of a football. By far the most unusual wood I have burned so far. The water of the PO was in drainage canals all around us, together with an impressive collection of trees.

As our work went into the inside space, we put out all that everyone had brought with them. There were drums, rattles, all sorts of medicine bags, a few feathers and even a few dignified little pipes. Here is a little slide show of the scene around Farrara in these days.

The nicest feature was created by the group when I asked them to bring out whatever little stones they brought with them. Turns out every person present had brought some stones, shown in the photo above. We could have made a ceremony of a few days based on the circle we made with those stones. As it was the stones of the people became the center around which we worked for three days. The first night there was the dream singing while the people slept, the next day we all went inside the sweat lodge we made with local willow trees. We concluded with an equinox ceremony inside the restaurant and heart of the property of our host. We drank blue corn and later everyone went to their homes.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Burning Feet || Correction Ceremony ..... (Moving with the Moon)


Copyright ©2008. Photo by __©2008. The Old Man in Charge of Dreams at a ceremony to honor a fallen artist. font

Preamble |- Money for Sacred People (more stories)

An older American Indian friend of mine once told me a story about a ceremony he and a friend of his did for someone. They had been approached by this person who was very unhappy. It was a woman, a white woman. She asked this man for a ceremony to help her with her life. The old Indian man really could feel her and agreed. Later, with his helper, he showed at the luxurious home of a woman who was obviously very rich.

The old Indian worked his heart out and made a strong and beautiful ceremony for this woman. When it was finished she sure felt better. She was filled with satisfaction and relief at last, or so it seemed. I know this man, so I know how beautiful and strong his work is. In a different society, people like this would be treasured and nurtured.

She asked the old Indian what the cost for the ceremony was. He had not thought about it really, he said. He was not expecting anything in particular ahead of time. He told her to make a donation which reflected her appreciation. She gave the Indian man an envelope. Later, going away from her home, he was excited at last. Being a very poor man, as far as cash goes, he was curious to know what she gave them. Even before he opened that envelope, he said, He was thinking a new used pickup to replace the dying old truck he had been nursing along for some years now….Opening the envelope he found a single folded twenty dollar bill. That twenty bucks did not even cover the cost of the gas to drive to her house and come back.

To many American Indians show up in the modern world with no money. When was the last time you loved someone who had no money?

I have traveled the world with the sacred dreams of my tribal ancestors. In a few months I will be 60 years old. I have no home, no money, no retirement. Somehow, when I am hungry someone feeds me. Somehow, when someone wants a ceremony I get to where they are and do my best to help them, to honor my tribal teachers.

Because human beings are crazy, they think American Indians do sacred things for free. It reminds me of the song Hotel California….it costs nothing to get in but is very expensive to get out.

The people who shout out in print all over the world that American Indians work for free are liars and thieves who understand nothing. American Indian people need to take far more responsibility than they have in educating these monkey-hearted people about what is real in this world. First, they have to believe it themselves.

I once calculated that with two million us dollars I could use these ceremonies to change the whole world in about two years. That’s how good these ceremonies are and that’s about what it will cost. I believe someone will give me that money in an envelope one day. I will go back to the grave of my old tribal teacher who healed the rich white woman for twenty dollars, and weep. I will fly there, first class, in his memory.

When I was a younger man, living in New York City, I used to make pretty good money selling my sculptures and paintings. I made enough money to travel and visit with my teachers for several months each year. I always showed up with food and would hide carefully folded 100 dollar bills around in the food packaging….so they would find it when they opened the food.I loved doing this. I would never visit my old tribal teachers without gifts, practical gifts that work in the real world.

Burning feet || A Container for what is True

Restless eternity, my heart was dreaming
Of a day when the indian wars would end at last.

Sometimes something is to broken to be fixed
It took a long time to accept that. It was painful.

Do something useful with the pieces? Yes, I believed a long time ago that this was possible. That good idea became my work. Inside the broken time and soul of the tribal sacred some fires have hot coals. Some of the wounded people are nearby, their eyes still bright and open. Help me gather up the broken pieces I said. We called this way of life “the correction way” ceremony. That’s the one we are taking around the world right now. If we can make this correction way ceremony in a circle of sacred fires around the world, then the world will change. Change broken pieces into something useful, something we never even imagined before we found it. Have you ever felt this way before? How did it make you feel?

Go and grow corn from these seeds he said. You are the sacred stranger they said. The traveler, the lonely Nan-ne Boozhoo, the Little Otter Boy carrying his sacred stones on his belly. I cry all night sometimes. I heard what they said. They always told me the truth. These old Indians always told me the truth. I have never seen that anywhere else. It changed my life. It turns thunder into rain and broken pieces into keys to a new dimension, another place.

Restless. My feet were burning. Pressed down close to the earth by time. Feeling it go by, rushing by. Waiting world. Waiting child. Waiting With the Wind. Building sacred stones on which to stand and sing and remember everything.

(Tomorrow we go up to the Italian Mainland and three weeks of ceremonies for the dreamers, corrections for the ancient future. Good people. They have really strong hearts and love being all together doing something. It is a treasure to have some support and work with these brave and sweet people. Sometimes something quite remarkable happens. During tis time I will limit my posts. We are trying to make opportunities for video and other visual records of some portions of the ceremonies. In future postings we hope to have announcements of the availability of new resources.)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sacred Bowl of water || Part Two




©2008. Photo and text by Turtle Heart.
I woke up this morning. My old legs were really hurting. It is something that comes and goes. When it comes I remember how much of every human life is spent in pain and suffering. When we are suffering we remember such things. When we are happy who has time to think of compassion?

I eat the fine “white” grapes of the island. As most of the grapes of Italian wine do not come to ripen until late September or even October, I enjoy a small breakfast feast of the last of the grapes of August here on Pantelleria.

I carried my old legs to the pool shown in the photo above. It is the perfect temperature for an aching Otter Boy. Hot. Very hot. Volcanic. Right next to the sea. There seems no one around so I take off my clothes and go in the water naked. It feels really good.

These ancient waters are all free on Pantelleria. If this pool was in AmeriKa it would cost a lot of money to spend time with it. I would probably have to wear clothes. I love Pantelleria.

Peace. Gentle and sweet people. Mediterranean Food, fresh every day. The Sun. The ancient stones and my computer which struggles with a dial-up modem connection. Am I the last guy on earth to get dsl? They have it now in most places on the island but not my little house on the side of an ancient volcano.

Meanwhile the four generations of my little bird families come to my big stone bowl of water every morning to dance and play in the water. I am going away from the island for about three weeks. The water will all go away. I have tried to find someone to stop by and keep the water going for the birds. Our people are lazy and I can’t find anyone to do it, even if I pay them.

The island has done more to bring healing and peace to my body then any other place or time I have known. I did not realize until I got here and was introduced to this sacred peace how beat up I was from the endless Indian Wars that go in in the United States. Yes, I am a bruised and aging old Indian finding his way in a new land, healing from the endless bullshit which marks American life.

My heart is the sacred water. It is there I have found my peace, make my magic, and contemplate the service of one ancient Pipe Carrier out into the arms of the waiting world. I move inside a separate time and space than the harried relations of this modern society, of the cities and the reservations. I have become a friend to sacred silence and have passed well beyond the need for argument or even small talk.

I am the water that feeds
My dreaming river, ocean, sea, even the rain
Soaks me from the inside out. I am never dry.
Flying above the clouds I travel to the land of the dreamers
Waiting for the songs, the hot stones and the drum
Which will test them and deliver them
Closer to their dreams.
I was the one who went and found himself.
I took up my life with my own two hands
And turned it around
Like a stone in the shadows
To face the light
And rest in the sacred water…

©2008 Turtle Heart.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

What Place the Savage ?




The internet is filled with strange people. Some of the most strange of all time are self-appointed protectors and self-appointed guardians against, excuse me, I mean for American Indians.

In a polite society if someone decides to be your guardian, and you have not asked them for help, this is a crime called stalking. Criminal stalking is a felony crime in North America. Because of that little privilege called freedom of speech, stalkers can use words on the internet, making them up as they go along.

This is what is happening in many places. I recently read a story about myself on an Italian blog. They were wondering why I was so far from the reservation. They seemed personally offended that some American Indian that they don’t know was doing something they know nothing about. Even so, they bill themselves as the protectors of American Indians in Italy. No one asked them to do this.

So let’s get this straight. A group of people I don’t know and never heard of writes about a man they know nothing about in way that sounds like they have some sort of official status in the tribal world. Sound strange?

Groups like this are relentless and quite numerous. They have zero official status among American Indian people. If one of the subjects of their admonishment articles contacts them they have nothing to say and run and hide their computers. This is like crying wolf or yelling fire before you know what is going on. It may not be criminal press, but it is certainly psychopathic press.

Why does American Indian culture have these plastic police looking for plastic indians? What sickness has befallen modern society that American Indian people are allowed to have no work, no travel, no peace, no culture, no support but only judgement, finger-pointing and the occasional fantasy about the sacred noble savage????

In my tribal culture we measure people by the quality of their actions and know how to decide for ourselves what and who is right for us. Isn’t that how you do it in your family?

Not all American Indians are collecting casino cash on some reservation with their star-studded enrollment papers clinched in their red little fists waiting for some white man to tell them they are ok, they are approved indians.

Strangers offering approval and disapproval ratings of other strangers is just to odd to take seriously. Charles Bronson once said about film critics, “The actors and directors and film-makers are the center of the wheel of the movies, the fans and audience are the spokes of this wheel, the critic is the slimy stuff that sticks to the wheel as it goes around". Sticky trash sticking to the wheels as it goes around. People who need to pick through the trash to find their daily news may not be the most reliable reporters.

There is an old saying that he who looks in the mirror and sees only shit is because he is looking at shit. People who make their life looking for trouble will always find it. Even if they have to make it up. Plastic people see only other plastic people....

Of all the strange problems these days! Tribal people have to work through so much bad information in order to communicate at all with the people of the modern world. I have always accepted that part of the work of the Four Directions Unity Bundle is to offer opportunities for people to speak clearly, openly and honestly with each other. Call it a resource of good information. Good information is hard to come by on many subjects. Naturally it is a little harder when the good information is attacked by people who have never heard it, investigated it, participated in it or had a conversation with anyone who did experience it.

If I were a drinking man I think I would get drunk tonight.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sacred Water || Sardinian Ceremony of the Keeping Spirit




©2008. Turtle Heart

part 2

A bowl of water
Our moment together lives inside of me
A bowl of sacred water
Drawn up from a deeper well
Our song together began in the sky
The sacred open sky
Flowed under the sleeping stones
And up from the roots of an old tree
Sacred old roots
To become a fire
That lights up my d
ream
My sacred dream

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Who Pays for the Sacred?






©2008, Turtle Heart



Who Pays for the Sacred? ||
  
Part 1: Don’t Pay To Pray

Reasonable people understand there is a relationship between money and the infrastructure of sacred space.

There is a vocal and unrelenting, judgmental minority that pesters society on this subject. This divisive issue distracts and affects the dialogue about tribal ceremonial matters like no other issue. It has lead to accusations and a mythology that American Indian ceremonies are “free”.
I have done hundreds of ceremonies for “free”, meaning I paid with my own money whatever the costs came out to be. In doing so I have spent a modest fortune over these years. At other times, I require that participants make donations or pay fixed fees to cover the various expenses involved. These expenses include housing the sacred objects (rent), travel, food, telephones, computers and gasoline, to name a few.

While you can function with great freedom, you cannot function in a worthwhile manner for free. This has always been true. There should be no question that you are going to pay. If no one asks you for money, it is up to you to seek out the host and demand to know how you can help. Every other argument on this subject is fear, a lie.

Who pays for Dalai Lama to travel in the world and give teachings to all cultures? And how much is he paid? The answers are simple; it costs millions of dollars to get Dalai Lama around. He personally makes nothing. I, and a handful of others like me, are in this exact situation.

Reservation communities have never had much experience in understanding or talking about money. From the beginning until the present day, money is not well understood by reservation members. Most reservation members do not grow up in the same capitalist system as modern people. It is a different there. Tribal people do not really understand money. Even today, with some tribes having profitable casino operations, they require outside consultants to actually understand how to make a paying system work on the reservation.

When tribal speakers talk about “do not pay to pray”, or say things like “there is no money in the right to ceremonies”, they are speaking tragically incorrect English. What they are trying to say is how much American Indians really dislike the theft of tribal teachings by modern people. This is always the problem. Money is not the problem….

Do the people who say strange like these believe that the ceremonial leader must pay for his airline ticket, car rental, feed everyone and then go home, paying for everything himself?

So, in this argument about “money” put forth from loud-talking American Indians, they are not speaking correctly. This is too bad. It has created a lot of confusion. Learning to express clearly what you really mean is a very important part in communicating with others. Clarity in communication is in fact the foundation of the sacred teachings in question.

More tribal authorities need to take responsibility for standards. Every great tool of spiritual faith in the history of the world is sustained by an infrastructure, payments by those whose best interests it serves.
I travel throughout Europe and have made a number of sweat lodge ceremonies here. I have asked that the expenses for wood, food, travel and other required spending are covered. The fees I have charged reflect what these costs are. In this way I am able to make this effort to share in a responsible way. Usually I collect just at or under what the journey and supplies cost. It is that simple. Only models like this can enable the possibility to share these American Indian practices with a waiting world.

Another model might involve endowments. Some tribes have the power to do this, but so far have not. There are no endowments for the sacred bundles and ceremonial keepers of tribal American Indian society. With proper endowments sweat lodge camps could be set up and open at no cost, like the church. They could be dispatched to troubled places around the world to offer assistance, for example. But there are no endowments for this work from anyone, including American Indian tribes, including those tribes who have spent millions of lobbying dollars on gambling interests and political activities while their sacred objects and languages vanish in front of them….or perhaps I should say behind them.

Historically, tribes never developed a habit for cash. To this day, reservation tribal members rarely have a good understanding or a good feeling about money. This is symptomatic of poverty. Guilt and confusion over what money is and where it should arrive is a source of great confusion in American Indian life, and in the expectations and mythology of tribal ceremonies. This great confusion has become a mythology which is spoken of as a do not pay to pray policy. It is only confusion. Understanding how to use money to protect and move the ceremonial original instructions around is a challenge for even the best American Indian community. There is a lot of healing that needs to be addressed on this issue.

I have always believed that it was a good idea to enlist the help of modern people and their money to support the infrastructure of the tribal sacred. With some sense of money management the tribes can move their dialogue out into the great waiting world. By insisting everything is free, they stay home while the mountain of bullshit which surrounds them grows higher and higher. Having the money to send runners, bundle holders, sweat lodge leaders, out into and around the world where they are needed can only happen with a supported infrastructure. This is not paying to pray, it is praying and building and growing, when it is done right.

Tribal ceremonies contain more sacred real world information than “prayers”. We Ojibway Wabeeno people do not believe mouthing your desires and hopes to the creator (praying) are very real. The ceremonies and the sacred bundles are something much more important than prayers. A sacred space is like a mystery life machine. You can enter it and go on a great journey. If you know how.

Society in general expects religious and spiritual groups to build an infrastructure, a financial system that takes care of the work and the objects. That is why there are so many tax and political reliefs for such groups. Only in American Indian tribal society, in loud voices dominated entirely by the impoverished Lakota Nation, do the people talk about “don’t pay to pray”. They talk about it loud and they talk about it often. What they are trying to say is they don’t want people to steal their ceremonies and make money from the theft. I agree with that. When the wrong people do the wrong thing and make money, it is ugly. It happens everywhere, not just to American Indians. We all have to work our way through the same pit of snakes to find a true path for our lives. Stealing and selling is not the same argument as the act of providing support and expenses to the great sacred work. Confusion between these two ideas has come out as a loud and vulgar argument called “don’t pay to pray”.

I have made many ceremonies with tribal people. I always paid for this. I considered it my obligation and part of my education. I was happy to pay. I paid as often as I could. I would just leave as much money behind as I possibly could when I stayed with and shared ceremony with my tribal relations. I used to bring cash. And just left it behind when I left. I made no noise about it. I am a good example. It is one reason why my tribal elders love me.

Tribal leaders and keepers of ceremonies need to brace up and embrace a more balanced and thoughtful view of these matters. Under the current entrenched attitudes, the ceremonial teachers, sacred bundles and ceremonies are vanishing. This attitude contributes to the continual shrinking of opportunities and qualified people to carry on the tribal sacred.

I imagine a great university filled with teachers of the sacred teaching day and night. The great school of the sacred American Indian teachings has yet to be built. The current attitude may sound noble, but it is not correct. When tribes scream and yell about the money they are missing the point entirely. They are trying to object to the theft and acting out of tribal sacred, but using this language it comes out as something else..

Arvol LookingHorse, a keeper of an important sacred bundle of the Lakota went on record in 2010 to answer some of the hysteria directed his way by tribal members who are angry that he "raises" money or "accepts" fees for his work. His answer is similar to mine, as you may read above. It is great that at least one other keeper of a tribal bundle has spoken with some clarity about the need for tribal keepers of bundles to raise funds to meet their escalating expenses: "This whole conflict is happening because of money that these individuals think should go to them personally and to others they convinced of their hardship that is due, any money raised is for what efforts Wolakota was created for and the people involved in those efforts. There are other state and non-profit organizations that help the concerns they have and have helped them. They can also spend their energy on their concerns and creating their own program, instead their energy to attack people."--Arvol Looking Horse, statement June 2007.

Part 2 || Who Pays for the Sacred?

One American Indian teacher told me that a person must try in this life to be honest and respect time, sex and money. Behaving responsibly, she said, in these areas is important in leading a balanced life.

The Four Directions Unity Bundle and the World Journey is an official enterprise or project created by well-qualified and realistic American Indian people. To make this project work it has been necessary to secure housing, materials, transportation, communication and a sustaining force so we can continue to work now and well into the future.

Most of the funding to date has been from my own sales of sculpture and paintings. This has been true for many years. During my long studies and relationships with my tribal teachers I continuously gave them gifts, paid their bills, brought food to their homes and gave them gifts of cash when I could. I never stayed with any of the old Indians without doing what I could to take care of them and ensure that I was giving back and showing support and respect for their time and friendship. They never had to ever ask for my help, or ask for money or food. I always came with these things. No one had to ask me. I wish more people followed my example.

Many modern people hound and pester and get up in tribal lives and leave nothing except the occasional empty McDonalds hamburger bag or an empty pack of cigarettes. Yes, it is worse than that. I am trying to be nice. Every good tribal American Indian knows that if you visit the house of the sacred you have to give back, help out. Good tribal relations do not have to be told this fact.

This sacred silence about what is really obvious has been translated into a belief that tribal people, if they are real, must work for free, without any kind of payment or assistance. I really wonder what kind of person would visit the home of sacred American Indian teachings and not leave something behind, not try to help in some way.

In my travels I am often put in the position to rely upon the people who are hosting and who have invited the ceremonies into their community. When we are invited in the proper way to bring the Great Bundle to a community of people, we must rely upon their resources and their fairness to travel there and come home, as well as to do good and productive work for them.

Good work needs what it needs. Sometimes it needs money. Sometimes it needs an airplane or a long automobile drive. Good tribal relations really struggle with this issue and try to find a point of balance. To get something real done in the world tribal people, like all people, need financial resources. These come so slowly to tribal sacred teachings. Most of the tribal members who do this work do it on his or her own, because it needs to be done...money or no money.

I have never known a single American Indian who grew rich from doing ceremonial work. Some American Indians have grown rich by exploiting this system and by telling lies to everybody. These people are rarely in possession of Sacred Bundles, though they may talk about them. If there is money available, there are always people who will lie and cheat to get it, even if it is only one dollar. This is a big struggle for those brave and beautiful tribal people who really hear the waiting world, the need modern people have to hear from the sacred of the American Indian. This is yet more in a long history of bad information which is so damaging to tribal culture and tribal people of North America.

In Buddhist society, the monks are there for the people and there is usually little talk about money or what things cost. The monks are taken care of by the monastery. The monastery is built by the faith and donations of the people whom it serves. In many cases, in tribal society, this system of balance has failed. There is a lot of cynical and unreal talk about how ceremonies are free and no money should be involved.

Historically, tribal communities were so immersed in the normal ceremonial lives day to day that it is hard to point to a direct system of payments. However, there has been and never will be a free ceremony. Somebody pays, even if no one asks you or your friends for money. In every society on this earth the work of specialized ceremonial, religious and cultural work must be paid. They must be fed, housed. Supplies wear out and have to be replaced. The persons who receive the work of the sacred are responsible for its survival and its good health. A good ceremonial leader needs clean clothes and new shoes for example. On the other hand tribal people do not like to see spiritual and ceremonial leaders behaving in an indulgent way.

Modern society for some reason feels the normal attitude in these matters is to press Native Americans to do strong ceremonial work for free. Not only is this an insult to common sense, it has disoriented tribal society so they feel guilty and outraged over the issue of money completely. The damage has been severe.

The services of ceremonial rituals and their people have never been free in any society at any time anywhere. The method of payment and maintaining form may be subtle and hard to detect but it exists in every case.

The thinking that would allow people to believe an American Indian can travel to their homes and make long ceremonial teachings for free is an insult to the very idea of what is honest. It is an idea that has come from the shadows and lives like a bee, stinging the spirits of every poor tribal person. It has created a bony and ugly pointing finger of accusation to those American Indians who have tried to get out in the world and get some work done.

The Catholic Church is most likely the largest single private land and property owner in the world, in the history of the world. The people of Catholic society gave this great wealth to the church. Because of this system you can go and talk to a local parish priest for “free”. The priest receives a healthy salary, a home and most of their expenses, including health care.

The Sacred School |

The families and other relations who sought out special ceremonies made traditionally and historically serious payments. The same was true for those who wished to advance their knowledge by studying to achieve higher ranks in the sacred societies. In Ahnishinabe Society, many favors, payments, gifts and services to the community were required in order to advance in the great Mide-Wian Society.

Sacred Pipe prays with and for all people. There is no way to put a price on such things. There is no payment for prayers because only you can pray, only you can reach and understand this place in your own soul. An education can help you. In our work we do not charge people money to pray. We do need to pay for the firewood, the food, very often the transportation and other expenses of life in this modern world. It is in balance that the students help pay these expenses. That is all we have ever approached as far as fees go. Anyone who needs this experience can come without payment, but they must work or make some other trade. This is what is in balance. Everyone works together to make these moments possible.

Here in Italy you cannot go out and cut firewood. You have to buy it. The people in the cities have no food growing in their small yards. We have to buy the food and prepare it. I cannot ride my horse to a city across the sea. I must buy an airline or a boat or a train ticket. The sacred objects live in one house on Pantelleria. This house costs us $9,000.00 dollars a year. Electricity, telephone, gasoline, and all the other expenses must be paid in cash. These same facts are true on tribal reservations as well. Someone must pay the expenses, every time. All to often there are no resources to keep a good gathering of people making ceremonies going for very long. These days it is more like a guerilla operation than a polished organization of ceremonial professionals.

This house where the Sacred Four Directions Unity Bundle lives is safe and protected and strong. It is a good place for several people to come together and study the sacred ways of the mystery life. Sacred Pipe is happy to have this house, needs this house. We are happy to pay. If we travel in Italy a long distance to one ceremony it usually costs about $1,500 to go and come back for three or four days.

There is a lot of phony talk from self-appointed new age people about how all the American Indian ceremonies are free. Every tribal person has heard this talk for years. This kind of talk is nonsense. It implies something that is nonsense. It is manufactured hysteria masking the troubled spirit of angry people who are not very well informed about the real world. Perhaps these people were disappointed in their lives and believe pointing a finger at other people is a good way to get attention and love from American Indians who otherwise would ignore them?

American Indians need to be more responsible about these money issues. They need to take more control, build more infrastructures for the sacred and otherwise learn how money can be used in a sacred way to preserve, protect and share the sacred in a responsible way. This is what is real.

Here at the home of the Sacred Morning Fire of the Four Directions Unity Bundle we have a sacred fire that any person on this earth can visit and use for prayers and sacred silence without any cost. We also conduct many ceremonies for people here for which there is no payment asked. In other situations, we offer special programs that involve travel and real world expenses, so we charge a modest fee for these moments. Wherever we travel, we are available to talk and work with people and no money is involved in this work. It is also my policy to make no charge of any kind for any tribal people, anywhere. I am quite satisfied to absorb all the costs myself for work with tribal people, and have done so for more than 30 years.

Talk by new age barking dogs about the "shame" of tribal people trying to manage the practical money and other issues required to do actual work out in the real world is one of the strange new problems which pound on the hearts of any tribal person who dares to think such work is important.

It seems like any tribal person who tries to get out into the world has to run through a long line of snakes and barking dogs. It can be intimidating. Well-informed people understand the value in supporting the expenses of worthwhile work in this world. The old Ahnishinabe Elders know all about this kind of problem. These snakes and barking dogs are prominent realities around any sacred place, around any sacred work in this troubled world. Every person knows that it is dangerous to try new things, try to change old bad things. That is why many people don't even try. This work we are doing is clear in our minds, clear in the continuing consultations we have with tribal elders and clear that money is not the point or purpose of our work. I believe this is true for many other American Indian people trying to work with modern society.

In this work we try to help people in the best way we can. There are many people who visit and share ceremonies that never offer a penny and are never asked for one. We believe the World Journey of the Four Directions Unity Bundle is a group of teachings, a school in the movement of the Sacred. Nothing we have done or will ever do involves charging people money to pray, like the Christian Churches do every Sunday. In the Christian King James Holy Bible there are numerous references to "tithing", which is giving ten per cent of your income to the Church. This is one way the churches build their great power and influence in society. Who says American Indians must stand at the door in rags, homeless and begging people to let them pray with humanity for free?

For many decades tribal people were forbidden to even practice their spiritual and sacred ceremonies. They were forbidden to pray in their language or even speak their languages in many places. Today those repressive practices are no longer "legal". American Indian people have the right and privilege to create their own sacred schools and make their own plans for how these works are to be managed. There is a difference in being in a situation to "pray" with someone, and offering some days of teachings and formal experience in tribal ceremonial life. Schools and sacred teaching are specialized services, learning opportunities and an effort to build something lasting, organized and regular. The world may seem like a complicated place....but it IS possible to build something and get other people to help you build something. I hope every day that more American Indian people and communities will take responsibility for understanding what is real about these serious issues....and that others back off on the phony "the sacred is free" codeword’s about something they fail completely to understand.

It may be true that there are people who think the sacred is free..... People who really think it is ok that you have to give nothing, give up nothing; contribute nothing in order to stand with the sacred. I don’t want to know such people.


Friday, August 08, 2008

The Big Eagle || 1916 - 2008




©2008 Turtle Heart, Photo and Text

Grandfather
I carried your red body into the open sky
Grandmother has opened her arms and become the moon
Changing woman, changing lives, changing dreams
You have passed through the sky
Carried like the smoke, today we sing, we remember
We enter the great wind, the eastern gate
The bloody past and the ancient future
As we pass with you and through you
All around you where we find ourselves, find ourselves
And empty the sacred bowl
Sacred and empty



At 92 years, the Tribal Chief of the tiniest and oldest American Indian Reservation has passed away
. Chief Aurelius Piper was a great character. He was strong, tough, brave as 10 other men and gigantic in stature. He was named perfectly among tribal people as Big Eagle and he was the Hereditary Chief of the Golden Hill Paugussett of Trumball, Connecticut.

While more famous American Indians have made their progress and notice in this world, Big Eagle was a force unique among tribes. His tiny tribe on his tiny land was the nest of a great Eagle. From there he touched the entire world, several times.

Though not federally recognized, the Paugussett Tribe was recognized for over 300 years by the state government. His reservation was the VERY FIRST reservation for American Indians and was imposed in the early 1600’s. Most Federal tribal reservations were established in the mid to late 1800s.

He was tough as ten sailors. Behind his fierce nature was a strong, intelligent mind with formidable instincts. I am sure very few of the people close to him understood him very well.

We have lost a Gate Keeper and most likely the Gate he was keeping.

Big Eagle gifted me my first ceremonial clothing. As a young man I was called upon to work Sacred Ceremonies for Big Eagle but had no real tribal ceremonial clothes at that time. He gave me some of his own ceremonial clothes from when he was much younger. I still wear the leggings he gifted me so many years ago. They are shown in the photo above.


Big Eagle played upon the Mother Earth like it was a mighty drum. His determination and personal resolve was formidable and a lesson and example in life for every American Indian on this earth. I was proud and amazed to know him, to love him, and for a while to serve him.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Red People and Wild Goats







A powerful ceremony and ritual in Sardinia, Italy

©2008, Turtle Heart photos and text

Sardinia. 01 August 2008

I was invited to bring the ceremonies to Sardinia in a festival to honor the life and music of Andrea Parodi. He was a gifted artist representing the culture and spirit of sardinia. He has passed away, passing into the couds. Two years ago now. When I arrive I see his two daughrers, so young and sweet and bright. His wife looks into my eyes when we are introduced. I saw and felt only her kindness my heart received a strong burst of light from her right away. When I arrived after 12 hours of travel to a diner of some ten or so persons. These were his family and close friends and we stood up together in once sacred circle and were touched on our hearts by one eagle feather and we looked at each other. I used an old song to look around each of them and feel them. They were really there, every one of them. No one was bored. No one was out of their bodies, or at least not far away.

Maybe we were all a little nervous.

Also, I think, when people think of an American Indian or anyone really, they build a picture of what they look like. I remember one woman who makes the most amazing potteries, ceramics. Looking at those I build the most detailed picture of what she must look like. Years later when I finally had the pleasure to meet her, I was not even close in anyway, in any way. I think this most likely happens when people think of one american indian coming to their home. He must look like “this” or “this”. Then I arrive with my big head, my pale skin and the look on my face (which is more or less impossible to forget), because it is the face of Sacred Pipe. When I travel this way I hope I let go of the dead world and present only what might be possible with the help of sacred pipe.

Immersion is on my face. Sacred Pipe is a Spirit and so understands very well how to travel and keep the Spirit of one of the Fallen Dreamers of another culture. Their hearts might believe it is possible if I blieve it is possible because Grandfather said it could happen just like that. That is my “performance method.

I had arrived in a real place, with real people. They put their sacred right down in front of me.They put us into a good bed after feeding us good food and bringing us safely across the wide land into their lives for less than 24 hours.

They had their own medicine to make, they were living in the middle of their own ceremony. They had their own sacred rites right in their hands and on their minds. We were invited guests. I arrived in the middle of a life that had been lost. I carried with me two stones which I gave to them after the evening meal, the late evening meal. After one glass on the wine of sardi, of our host. Hand made. After a meal of grilled vegetables and arabic grains and sweet Sardi cookies.

I gave them one stone, a message from the Old Indians,I carved and gave them another stone, red sacred pipestone, a message for his wife, Valentina. More later in the week about this.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Turtle Heart || Public Record





I am by traditional birth into the family of the Ahnishinabeg. This happened through the bloodline of my father. Through my mother I have bloodlines that are Welsh and Catawba.

I am highly and determinedly independent. First and formost I believe I work for the ancient future, for this Mother Earth who gave all tribal people their original instructions. My work is with and for the human spirit, of and for all people.

By accepting responsibility for understanding who my ancestors were, I placed myself under the direction of my tribal relations. Not all of them loved me for making this choice. However, wherever I have lived or walked I have received love, support and guidance.

I have received teachings from more than forty tribal elders over a period of 30 years. When I was a young man I was given Sacred Pipe. As I traveled with Sacred Pipe I was given the education which I now treasure and hope to share with others. My teachers and I agreed that I might in my own way share what we learned together.

My ceremonial work does not come from a political, governmental or ethnic agenda or authority. This bundle of sacred ideas and objects, which are the instruments of my work, was created by the male ancestors of their male children according to the rights of freedom and their own responsibility to do what they hope is right.

Following the historic and spiritual tradition of my own cultural relations, the Ahnishinabe of the Northern Woodlands, I have started a long vision quest to carry Sacred Ppipe around the circle of Mother Earth. Many of our most ancient sacred teachers made this choice and returned after great time and experience, to enrich the lives of all Ahnishinabe people. I am a child of that ancient family.

I am not a part of any other alliance with any tribal organization or tribal government. My work is spiritual, traditional and the birth rights bestowed upon me by my tribal elders. There are no tribal authorities other than the living tribal elders that can say or should say who may be a child of the Ahnishinabe. I accept no money or services from any tribe or any government.

It has been my view that the combined stress and problems of nearly all tribal religions, culture, language and ritual has created confusion, pain and rage. There is also a lot of confusion and bad information coming in and going out from modern society. Sometimes I feel like tribal people are either drowning in an ocean of bad information, hunted by the sharks of intellectual good intentions….or starving in the windless desert of societal indifference.

I believe that Sacred Pipe and many of the original instructions are floating in a sea of mud, in cloudy water and gray skies. From the long life I have made with my teachers we came to believe that a strong ceremony made by one man could bring new information and open new and needed possibilities to everybody. Everybody.

As Keeper and Protector of Sacred Pipe Four Directions Unity Bundle I have a responsibility to use the ceremonial instructions it contains to respond to the world and journey within myself for all my relations. I have that right absolutely and without question.

I am a volunteer who accepted this responsibility 25 years ago from my tribal relations face to face, breath to breath, eyes wide open. We believe this is a ceremony created and supported by the original instructions and by the rights of personal vision, which is the right of all people who hold tribal sacred objects and who place themselves before the living faces of their tribal elders.

Because I had taken it on myself to travel all over the United States on long journeys to seek out tribal elders and tribal teachers, I seemed like a good candidate for this work. My education took me to many tribal communities. I also have a well-founded education in modern society. Under the guidance of my teachers I studied many of the world’s religions, as well as world history, medicine, art and much of the world’s fine literature. I created this educational journey myself and went out and found the teachers who gave it to me.

The world journey of Sacred Pipe inside the Four Directions Unity Bundle is an extension of those ideas, those rights, and those hopes of those tribal elders and teachers whom I believed spoke only the truth to me. Truth which I accepted as my life's work.

My work takes place many times in solitude as I move around this Mother Earth. When I meet and work with other people it is always in small groups over several days. In this way the work has time to produce the rich details which come from taking real time, a few days, to sit and understand what this world ceremony is about, and what it can accomplish.

I receive no personal payments for my work. Sometimes the people I work with help with the expenses of travel and support for things like our computer system. Sometimes they give me nothing at all.

We have never needed or required the permission of anyone except ourselves. I am satisfied that I have lived before and under the direction of my Native American Elders, who are the final and only proper authority for Sacred Pipe and the Ceremonies of Four Directions Unity Bundle.

Turtle Heart
Ahnishinabe || River Otter Clan
Wabeno Jessakid Nan-ni-Boozho
Summer 2008 || Pantelleria Sicily

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Gold

©2008 Turtle Heart

________________________________________

Gold, in time one day
Mountains, nearby golden in time
Where i was passing by
Golden flowers in my dreams


________________________________________

Friday, July 11, 2008

Let the Truth Be Known Though the Heavens May Fall




©2008 Turtle Heart

Part of the work of a Sacred Bundle and its Keeper is the pursuit and understanding of the truth. Of course, the first issue has to be where and what is the truth? The answer to that is that it is within you. That is the place where the truth begins.

To help us know and understand what is true the mystery life gave us the original sacred teachings of the tribal ceremonial life. Different tribal cultures received their ceremonial life from their relationship to the earth around them. People in the forest received forest ceremonies. People in the desert received desert ceremonies. Different tribal communities used the power of their truth to receive what is sacred to them. They say it is sacred to them because with it and through it they can understand what and where is the truth. To some tribes it is the sacred kiva that is the instrument, to another it is sacred pipe or a sun dance.

The purpose these objects serve is that their ceremonial language, when properly understood, will teach you what is true, an in particular, what is in balance. It does this by giving you the personal power and clarity to understand what is true. The truth must be understood from within. It is not a truth based upon rules and regulations. There is no formula. When the ceremonies work correctly they give birth to your knowledge of yourself.

Some people believe the way to understand all ceremonies is to freeze one ceremony in time and then copy it word for word and gesture for gesture. Ceremonies are copy protected. You cannot learn anything by copying down someone’s recipe and “authority” for doing a ceremony.

The teachers hope that those who seek to be inside the ceremonies will receive the gift of a vision. This dream of the life, as we call it, is the one you have the power to realize. In the oldest of the tribal languages (tewa), going to a ceremony is translated as “seeking life”.

If you know your vision, your song, your name, your dream, your silence, your body from within the sacred space of ceremony then you will know what is true in the world.

Ceremonial life of the tribal ancestors is a sacred resource for this work of first finding the truth within yourself and then helping your relations and the creation. There is a fine line of balance between the guidance of the teachings and the responsibility of the person who may be seeking life. It is an art of great softness, an art of life itself.

We call the ceremonies and their keepers sacred because when they do their work right, they are keepers of a doorway into clarity and truth and the liberation of the unique vision that is a seed in every human being.

And that’s just the first step. After you actually wake up and remember, the ceremonial life will lead you out into the waiting world where your clarity and faith in what is true from within will merge with the seven generations as they flow through time. Where, now, we find ourselves in a very different world. A world where truth is not a ceremony but a word, an idea that can be manipulated, reinterpreted and tricked, murdered. Now we find ourselves in the troubled, and dangerous world. Here, for example. As you stand here now, the truth is entirely in your hands.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman (Universal Blues)




©2008 Turtle Heart. Art and Text.

Apparently the most famous story about tribal sacred teachings is the story of White Buffalo Calf Woman. In their stories about Sacred Pipe, the Lakota say a sacred woman appeared to two men. One of them was a fool who was killed, by the sacred woman, straight away, as seems just. The other was given a sacred pipe and told how and when to use it. The sacred woman then went away, turning into a white buffalo as she vanished.

In modern Lakota histry the sacred woman seems all but forgotten as the keepers of canupa talk over and over about a white buffalo. Canupa is an old word that means “wooden stick” more or less. It is now the preferred word when activists plains tribal members talk about sacred pipe.

Many modern people have transfered this story to bizzaro land. Here they view every sign that a white buffalo has been born somewhere as the second coming of…something vague. It is a statistical certainty that white buffalos will be born from time to time. Nevertheless, whole hordes of one can hope otherwise composed people declare these births quite sacred and prophecies of a great future which is described in glowing terms as….vague.

The story of White Buffalo Calf Woman is so well documented that one wonders where these interpretations come from and why. What is it about people that even as they seek to be educated they behave as if they know nothing at all.

This sacred pipe came to the Lakota about 450 years ago, by their own reckoning. In other tribes sacred pipe came thousands of years ago. The great woodland tribes of the central and eastern United States have known sacred pipe throughout their long history. Like the people who forget that the pipe was brought oto the Lakota by a sacred woman, most people forget and have failed to notice the long history of sacred pipes elsewhere in North America. They are to busy looking for white buffalos.

More people, particularly the Lakota Nation, need to be reminded of the role of sacred woman in the gift of sacred pipe. Indeed, before one Arvol Looking Horse somehow became Keeper of this sacred pipe, it was held by an old Lakota woman. No tribe disrespects women more than the Lakota tribal nation. None. Instead of looking for white buffalos, those people who believe in this sacred pipe should be looking for sacred Lakota women who have not been raped, beaten or abandoned and try and protect them from the grand council of old wooden sticks that dominate Lakota public politics.

A tribe can well be judged on the position and treatment of the women in its membership. Far to many tribes have dealt women out of the picture, out of the ceremonies and out of the official responsibilities of the tribe’s daily life. It is so common that we can really appreciate that handful of tribes who continue to honor and protect, and listen to their women.

Writers like to find some dramatic story and put this out as history. More often than not, something is lost in translation. Like American Indian people, Sacred Pipe suffers and is diminished by an ocean of bad information put out by self-appointed prophets and self-serving journalism, such as the celebrated work Black Elk Speaks. This book is the perfect example of a well-meaning but dangerously uninformed, famous writer finding, almost by chance, a great “prophet” on which he could build his certainly to be celebrated opus on the noble savage of his times. The author of Black Elk Speaks was an opportunist who knew almost nothing about American Indians. Black Elk himself was one Lakota man among many. He was not the first or last to have a vision. He was not the first or last to have knowledge of the ceremonial life. When he was alive, there were many tribal elders alive who knew more, and had more experience than Black Elk. Black Elk spent most of his adult life as an officer in the Catholic Church, to whom he swore an oath to never follow his own traditional religious ways. Later in life he performed “healing ceremonies” for the throngs of tourists who came to visit Mount Rushmore, then under construction. By a traditional measure, Black Elk was not the best choice one could have found in the tribes in those days. By a traditional measure, Black Elk was in fact not even remotely considered a holy man. By the hype and projections deduced from this book, one would think Black Elk was a great teacher and ceremonial leader and a lot like Jesus. The hype around the book transcends all of these issues, and as usual, makes what is really true more or less irrelevant. It has created multiple generations of white buffalo watchers who would not know a sacred woman if she blew smoke on them.

No matter how carefully the truth is spoken, it is the projections of the ego, of the need for miracles, that somehow flavor and dominate all of our public information on sacred matters, and in particular tribal sacred matters.

The Four Directions Unity Bundle, of which I am the Keeper, contains a group of very Sacred Pipes. These sacred objects, all of them, have been understood and addressed by sacred women of the four directions. Tribal sacred women have blessed them and agreed to them. Wherever this bundle travels in its World Journey, it encounters, embraces and celebrates the sacred women of all cultures and nations. Every ceremony of sacred pipe contains the wisdom and direction of those sacred women who have embraced this work, embraced my life’s journey.

In our historical Ahnishinabeg culture, it was the women who choose the men who would carry and keep the sacred of the people. It was the women who owned the land, the women who owned the water.

Sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman did not give virgin birth to a Savior. What she did do was speak to simple men in desperate times and show them a way forward and give them the means to light their way. Sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman was a Distant Dreamer, a Manitou, a Chindi following herself, not following some man. She has given birth to generation after generation of dreams and dreamers.In her memory, the blind look for white buffalos while those who are honest and who remember her best, look within…and remember.

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