Review of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s “Braiding Sweetgrass”

Robin Wall Kemmerer is uniquely qualified to pen this tome. Not only is she a member of the Potawatomi tribe, she also earned a PhD in botany. Her insights from both perspectives are priceless. These pages are filled with thoughts and wisdom entirely different from the white man’s view of life. Rather than being the superior being, Indigenous people see themselves as part of a greater whole.

Everything is alive in some way, whether vegetable, animal, or mineral. When Indigenous people speak of “all my relations” they are not just referring to other humans. The concept of land ownership was incomprehensible to them, making it easy to fall prey to it being virtually stolen. The Creator had given it to the people millennia before. It belonged to everyone.

She recounted the tragic story often told of Indigenous peoples being driven from their land to desolate places no one else wanted. Of children being taken from their parents and sent to government schools where their hair was cut off and mouths washed out with soap if caught speaking their native language. There are two ways to commit genocide–killing the people or eliminating their culture.

Fortunately, in spite of all the damage done and lives lost, their roots were so strong they endured, like a plant seemingly destroyed by a winter freeze.  Native American cultures nationwide are becoming revitalized. The contrast between their teachings and the ways of the white man speaks for itself. Their way is to honor the Earth; the white man’s way is to exploit it.

Like the senseless killing of six million bison strictly for their hides and horns, meat left to rot on the prairie.

Their legendary figure, the Windigo, represents this. Per the author, “The more a Windigo eats, the more ravenous it becomes. It shrieks with its craving, its mind a torture of unmet want. Consumed by consumption, it lays waste to humankind.”

When Indigenous people found a natural resource, whether plant, animal, or mineral, they took no more than half, allowing the remainder to multiply and bless them again. Everything was considered a gift from the Earth, whether food or means to build a shelter.

 Giving thanks for a gift is part of a civilized life and what they define as the Honorable Harvest.  

Have you ever considered that the food you eat gave up its life for you? Plastic-wrapped meat in the supermarket was once a living being. Vegetables as well. What about the trees that gave their lives for the paper products you use so thoughtlessly?

This book had a profound effect on me and how I see the world. It was both inspiring and heartbreaking. So much damage has been done to the Earth through greed and the Windigo mentality there are no easy answers.

Those who promote restoring the environment are often not honorable in their intent. Technologies that harness wind and solar power exploit the Earth in other ways, through the materials required to construct them. The “Great Reset” proposes tenets that may sound good, i.e. “you’ll own nothing but you’ll be happy,” but depriving people of their freedom and in some cases their lives, is likewise deeply flawed. Again it’s about putting power into the hands of a few. UN Agenda 21 explains how this massive societal change is to be accomplished and it’s horrifying to anyone who understands the implications.

Hard times are coming, as both Christian and Native American prophets have foretold for centuries. This book contains much of what must be (re)learned if we are to survive. I find it interesting that this book was first published in 2013, yet now is a best seller.

Clearly its time has come.

You can pick up a copy on Amazon, where it’s also available as an audiobook.

World Indigenous Peoples Day

The wisdom of indigenous people is something the world is in sorry need of today. There is nothing I can say that would have greater meaning on this day set aside to honor indigenous peoples throughout the world than what is said in the following video. Note that the speaker, Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman (Kangi Duta) crossed over to the next life in 2007. His words are truer now than ever before.

What we have done to our planet is shameful. The consequences will not be pretty.

THE STORY OF BRIGHT EYES IS COMING TO THE BIG SCREEN

Many indigenous people from various tribes have fought for their rights, whether on horseback or in the halls of Congress. Among them was a young woman named Bright Eyes, about whom plans are in work to make a feature-length movie.

To quote the producer’s website:

It’s the true story of a shy, young woman of the Omaha Tribe whose love for her people and other Native Americans helped her overcome her fear. So, she spoke out against injustice and helped bring about the landmark court case of Chief Standing Bear vs. General George Crook where a Native American was first regarded as a “person” with legal rights!

Can you believe that it took until 1880 for Native Americans to be considered a “person?”

What’s wrong with this picture? Let’s take a look at the founding documents of the United States penned in 1776. How many times have you heard the following words from The Declaration of Independence ?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

“All men?” Really? Obviously that didn’t apply to First Nation peoples.

Did you know that in the early 19th Century slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person for census purposes while indigenous people were not counted at all?

Then there’s the Fourteenth Amendment, ratified July 9, 1868, following the Civil War:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; or shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Did this apply to indigenous people? Obviously not.

Instead they were considered savages for fighting for their rights to land on which they were the original occupants. A country that shoved them out of the way, yet states in the Second Amendment to its Constitution, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

And why the Second Amendment? To defend our country from a tyrannical government or foreign invaders!

Sound familiar?

Seems to me that’s what Native Americans were trying to do when all other negotiations with the U.S. Government failed.

If more people understood the true history of how indigenous people were treated it could make a huge difference. As I’ve discovered the truth through research I’ve done writing The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits and working with my Northern Cheyenne co-author, Pete Risingsun, I’ve been outraged by the hypocrisy and double standard.

The United States would be a wonderful country if only it followed its own declarations rather than the whims of greedy, powerful individuals who either warp or by-pass the law to their own benefit. And if you think things are improving currently, clearly you don’t understand what’s going on. Why are illegal aliens treated better than our nation’s first people? Everyone who belongs here is losing their rights at an unprecedented rate.

Perhaps it’s a case of “What goes around, comes around.”

I didn’t intend for this blog to turn into a rant, but it’s something I’ve come to feel very strongly about.

Back to Bright Eyes, this wonderful true story about an heroic Native American woman is being made into a feature film. I encourage you to watch the trailer here.

The producers are looking for crowd funding to make it happen. You can help bring this inspiring story to the big screen! Find out more on their website.