Native American appreciation thread

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Luke
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Native American appreciation thread

Post by Luke » Sun Apr 06, 2014 11:25 pm

I have admired Native Americans for a long time and I think that many other western Buddhists have similar feelings, so I have created this thread for posting anything you find inspiring about Native Americans.

Here is an excerpt from a speech by Chief Oren Lyons of the Onondaga Tribe:
phpBB [video]


Here is his full speech, if anyone is interested:
phpBB [video]


As an American expat who is very disillusioned with the way America currently is, the Native Americans remain one part of America which I am still proud of. However, they are often the first group to be forgotten. I admire their genuine concern for the environment and their sensible wisdom which lacks pretentiousness.

An internet thread is a small thing, but it still is one way to show Native Americans that we care about them and that we haven't forgotten them!

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http://www.iroquoismuseum.org/PEACEMAKER.htm

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Re: Native American appreciation thread

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:14 am

I grew up in particular around a fair number of Navajo people, as well as some other SW tribes.

One of the things I always liked about spending time around those that I knew (as opposed to..nearly everyone else I know) is that you don't have to talk all the time when you hang out with them, talking seems to be optional..instead of the usual mode where people think there is something awkward going on when no one talks. Probably sounds terribly cliche.

When you look around the res'es I grew up around though (New Mexico), it's pretty sad..between the intense poverty and casino culture, it seems worrying that their traditions will survive intact. But I dunno, that's just an outsiders perspective on both counts, obviously. I find many tribes music, dancing, art amazing.

I really took a lot of it for granted growing up in the Southwest, now that I have moved away I miss the opportunity to do things like go watch dancers, go see art and petroglyphs etc. I even felt kind of "blah" about growing up in a house full of Kachina Dolls: http://www.hopikachina.com/Frames.htm

Now i'm amazed that I was so blase about it, amazing stuff.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

Adi
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Re: Native American appreciation thread

Post by Adi » Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:49 am

Luke wrote:I have admired Native Americans for a long time and I think that many other western Buddhists have similar feelings, so I have created this thread for posting anything you find inspiring about Native Americans.
As a kid I often noticed what I thought was a kind of deep calm about many aspects of pre-European North America culture and civilization. I thought it was very interesting that in everything I read about these people it seemed that no one was in a rush to do anything. This stood in stark contrast to the best-part-of-waking-up-is-Folgers-in-your-cup frenetic world I was entering. So later on when I found Buddhism in this life, I always remembered that non-rushed way of living. I also remembered how much the entire world was taken into consideration, much like is talked about in the YouTube videos. That all made a big impression on me. And yes, as JD says, you don't have to talk and babble all the time! :tongue: I found that strange at first then I found it natural and wonderful and ultimately respectful of all people in any gathering.

Then I got to know some people of different tribes and had many good experiences with them, noticing they were a lot like everyone else but had some wonderful differences. I also visited many reservations and was totally appalled at the conditions on so many of them.

Then in grad school I discovered two treasures. First, I discovered my Great-grandfather was a doctor on several reservations in the late 1890's through the 1910's. While much of his records were lost in a car fire one year, he left enough behind for me to develop a sense of what it was like then. I was very moved by how the people managed to live under such conditions, often surround by such contempt from the european settlers (now the self-styled "real Americans"), and totally amazed at how so many preserved so much culture in the face of its attempted eradication through forced schooling, language restrictions, and forced relocations. Such strength to live through all that! And the inspiration continues.

Second treasure was in doing genealogical research I found a birth certificate with blank spaces for the mother. After a lot of inquiry, I found out why this sometimes happened and put together a very strong circumstantial case that a great-great grandmother of mine was most likely of the Nez Perce tribe. This suddenly made things sort of personal and reminded me how interconnected all life and people really are.

Now as a practitioner, I find myself able to better envision all sentient beings as just that, all sentient beings--no exceptions, and often recall that we all really have been each other's mother, father, sister, brother, enemy, friend, tribal enemy, tribal brother, et ceterae ad infinitum. And when I think about Bodhicitta, I am reminded that even though in all those lifetimes we've done horrible things to each other, right now there are Four Noble Truths that can help everyone in the vast three-thousand fold universe.

Adi

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Lindama
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Re: Native American appreciation thread

Post by Lindama » Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:59 am

Mitakuye Oyasin

:heart:
Not last night,
not this morning,
melon flowers bloomed.
~ Bassho

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Re: Native American appreciation thread

Post by Adi » Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:11 am

Lindama wrote:Mitakuye Oyasin

:heart:
Exactly so. :heart: And also much easier on the tongue than interdependent origination. :D

Adi

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Lindama
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Re: Native American appreciation thread

Post by Lindama » Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:32 am

:D Aho!
Not last night,
not this morning,
melon flowers bloomed.
~ Bassho

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dzogchungpa
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Re: Native American appreciation thread

Post by dzogchungpa » Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:41 am

There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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Re: Native American appreciation thread

Post by DNS » Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:53 am

I like the sweat lodge ritual; it is very meditative. I don't have the opportunity to go to real sweat lodges much, but the modern equivalent with the steam room is pretty similar and enjoy regularly using steam rooms when the weather is not too hot.

They were around at the time of the Buddha and the Buddha allowed their use.
http://buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=482

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Lindama
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Re: Native American appreciation thread

Post by Lindama » Mon Apr 07, 2014 6:47 am

Sweat Lodges... wonderful. I was lucky to do many in the mid 90's in Utah before I got involved in Buddhism... a lucky time in my life. oh yes, they were meditative.... and the sweat sangha community was palpable. I loved them... I drove 4 hours to get there by 8am, hike up the mountain for an hour in the snow, gather fire wood and set up the lodge... a community of ppl to help. They preferred red sand for the floor of the lodge, it never came out of your clothes no matter how you washed them, but it felt good and we could dig a little hole to breath in the cool sand when it got too hot... if necessary, we would lay on the ground to stay cool and breath near the sand ... this is a rough equivalent to not moving in zen. :smile: We had the presence to appreciate it, it was a sacred ceremony, there were prayers, ppl shared. It was a purification ceremony. Each time a hot rock was brought in, it got hotter, there were rocks for the ancestors, rocks for healing, etc. After 4 rounds, I emerged reborn. Then we walked barefoot in the snow to the stream, jumped in to clean off, had warm food and drink... a wonderful reentry to life. It takes about a week to get the sand out of the body, who knew.

Once, the medicine man asked me to be the fire keeper. My job was to tend the fire while the others did the lodge inside. A profound service for the others. The logs were placed crosswise to form a hollow column on the inside to about 4 feet high with large rocks inside. The fire was started by rubbing sticks together, no matches. It lit easily. The fire tender's job was to bring the rocks in with a long pitch fork when the medicine man called for them. When the rocks came out of the fire, they were red hot. I was pretty naive, I had no idea how much of a commitment this was... the medicine man told me later that that's why he gave it to me. It was so hot you could hardly get near the fire even at the length of the pitch fork. I took the rocks out of the fire one at a time and passed them thru the door of the lodge using the pitch fork. There was a shallow pit in the center where the rocks were placed. People sat around in a circle, sometimes two deep, but close to the pit. The lodge was no taller than 3-4 feet. As each rock was passed in, prayers and invocations were made as part of the purification. I instantly recognized what a service this was. I never considered that I couldn't do it.... it was hot. I was barefoot, it was hot and the hot embers fell in the sand. It took a while standing on one before I could feel the heat, by then my foot was burned. (not horribly) no matter, it just had a life of it's own and I kept taking the rocks out of the fire and passing them into the lodge, one by one. There was no stopping, I didn't even think of it. By the end, everything on me was singed and dry.

Interesting correlation.... there was a connection between the fire outside and the pit inside where the rocks were placed... nobody ever crossed that line ... you walked in and out in a circle so as not to cross the line. Years later, I found this in a Soto temple where when in walking meditation, when you cross the line in front of the alter, you bow and walk on. And, in a Tibetan Sakya temple where there was a string like thing from the altar to the structure in the back where all the sacred objects are placed/stored. It seems to be the equivalent of crossing the line and acknowledging the connection... a sense of reverence and acknowledgement. at least that's my take on it.

so much learned, so much embodied, no need for much talk. Once I sat near the Ogden River and drummed for 5 hours the heart beat of the mother for a healing ceremony ... without missing a beat. meditation... yes!
:namaste:
Not last night,
not this morning,
melon flowers bloomed.
~ Bassho

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Re: Native American appreciation thread

Post by untxi » Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:38 am

I've always been deeply impressed and moved by the Paiute shaman Wovoka. On 1 January 1889 he had a vision which became the basis of the ghost dance tradition. His prophecy as told by a Cheyene who met Wovoka:

When you get home you must make a dance to continue five days. Dance four successive nights, and the last night keep us the dance until the morning of the fifth day, when all must bathe in the river and then disperse to their homes. You must all do in the same way.

I, Jack Wilson, love you all, and my heart is full of gladness for the gifts you have brought me. When you get home I shall give you a good cloud [rain?] which will make you feel good. I give you a good spirit and give you all good paint. I want you to come again in three months, some from each tribe there [the Indian Territory].

There will be a good deal of snow this year and some rain. In the fall there will be such a rain as I have never given you before.

Grandfather [a universal title of reverence among Indians and here meaning the messiah] says, when your friends die you must not cry. You must not hurt anybody or do harm to anyone. You must not fight. Do right always. It will give you satisfaction in life. This young man has a good father and mother. [Possibly this refers to Casper Edson, the young Arapaho who wrote down this message of Wovoka for the delegation].

Do not tell the white people about this. Jesus is now upon the earth. He appears like a cloud. The dead are still alive again. I do not know when they will be here; maybe this fall or in the spring. When the time comes there will be no more sickness and everyone will be young again.

Do not refuse to work for the whites and do not make any trouble with them until you leave them. When the earth shakes [at the coming of the new world] do not be afraid. It will not hurt you.

I want you to dance every six weeks. Make a feast at the dance and have food that everybody may eat. Then bathe in the water. That is all. You will receive good words again from me some time. Do not tell lies.


I have some Native American blood, though I have no idea from what lineage. That information was lost in my mother's father's line because of the self-hatred they were taught by the white Americans.


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Luke
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Re: Native American appreciation thread

Post by Luke » Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:02 am

Two years ago, the American heavy metal band Testament filmed a video on the Pomo Tribe's reservation in Hopland, CA. Their singer is a member of this tribe.

Here's the music video:
phpBB [video]


Here's a little video about making the music video with the Pomo Tribe:
phpBB [video]

odysseus
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Re: Native American appreciation thread

Post by odysseus » Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:22 am

I read in a book that white people took pride in having Native blood in their family, but I don´t know if this is only sentimentality. :stirthepot:

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Luke
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Re: Native American appreciation thread

Post by Luke » Sat Apr 19, 2014 3:05 pm

odysseus wrote:I read in a book that white people took pride in having Native blood in their family, but I don´t know if this is only sentimentality. :stirthepot:
It is impossible to know for sure what is in another person's mind. There are sincere people, fake people, and all shades in between in any race.

I think that what's more important than whatever race we may each be is saving indigenous cultures from total destruction.

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