CHIEF OREN LYONS
An Onondoga Chief of the Six Nations Iroquois and a respected leader in the Native American movement, Chief Lyons speaks and writes on a wide range of contemporary Native American issues.
THE FUTURE OF INDIAN NATIONS, (74:00 min.s) recorded in a public forum Feb. 3, 1989 at Boulder, Colorado. In this speech Chief Lyons relates the survival and future of Native people to our responsibility in the greater common cause of the survival of humankind.
"Listening to our chiefs council talk and sitting with the elders, in the traditional circle of elders that we meet once a year around this country.
Talking, they figure that it's this generation. The one coming, and the one that's just past, that is going to decide whether there is going to be life very long on this Earth. In other words, us. We're the ones who are going to decide, whether there is going to be life.
"THE FUTURE OF INDIAN NATIONS" Speech
Nowe Haskan Sigui, it's a greeting from Onondaga. I'm one of the Faith Keepers from the Onondaga Nation. The Onondaga Nation, is the Fire Keepers of the Haudenosaunee, and the Haudenosaunee is known to the English as Six Nations and to the French as Iroquois.
And the Onondaga Nation is the central fire of the Haudenosaunee. So, I'm a Faith Keeper, or a Chief, traditional Chief of the Onondaga Nation, Turtle clan. I sit for the Turtle clan, but I'm borrowed, I'm actually a Wolf.
So, we left New York and it was pretty warm and we got over here and it's pretty cold. We just got in, it was late, I sorry to be late but the planes were late. And a lot of people trying to get out of Washington tonight.
I see that you've got a lot of activities here this weekend. Very powerful activities. I think you're fortunate to have all of these things that are going on right now, because they are some very strong people, I've worked with some of them. And the issues are of course, Survival, survival of life on this Earth as we know it.
Six Nations is a old confederacy, It's an old confederation. It was old when Columbus landed, just as many and all of the nations here were old. So, we want to talk a little bit about who we are. Who are the Onkwehonwe
here, or the so called Indian people. But as you know, if you talk to any Indian person, he'll tell you that he's either a Lakota, or a Navajo, or a Cheyenne. He's not a Indian.
He's somebody with a nation and an identity, a very ancient one. So, the Native people of this hemisphere are really ancient. They've been here a long time. And some of the knowledge that we still retain, may be very important knowledge for the coming decades.
It's important for you people, as young people, as students, as interested people to understand the importance of Indigenous nations and peoples. The importance of all peoples, no matter where they are from.
This is a big Earth, this is a very large place with a lot of different nations, and languages and animals, and different landscapes.
It's an amazing place, this Earth, but it's common. It's what we call our mother. It's what keeps us alive, It's what sustains life, this Earth.
I notice almost all the Indian nations refer to the Earth in that way. And it's an old custom amongst our people, to refer to different parts. We call the winds our Grandfathers, we call the Sun Uncle. You know, all, everything has got a name, the Moon we call our Grandmother, because it's close to us. It's involved, it's inter-related.
And I think that's going to be, principally what the theme is going to be tonight of talking is just, how are we inter-related with all of this? And the importance to understand that.
The Indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere have long histories prior to Columbus. Columbus landed here, five days ago. Five days since our white brothers have come, and in those five days we've seen a lot of changes.
And the many days and the many years before that, that our people sat here and lived here. Acquired the knowledge, the understanding to live with the rhythms of the Earth and the times.
This knowledge, this understanding is important.
Long time ago, when I was a small boy, hunting with my father, and we stopped at a stream for water. In those days, you could drink water in almost any stream. Water in almost any stream was clean. And when you're hunting and you're tired, water is life.
And so I kind of rushed to the water. And we always carried a cup. I went to the water with the cup and I, and I heard he said, "wait, wait, stop. Slow down." And he said, "when you dip water out of a stream", he says, "go down stream with it", he said, "it's easier, it won't spill." He say, "Go down, pick the water up, nice", he says, "don't go this way."
And I thought about it and of course, and I did, and I drank the water.
But what he was telling me then, was a philosophy. A philosophy of finding which way the stream is moving and to go that way. He said, "don't go against it."
So, first then you have to find out which way it's moving and then you move with it. And so what occurs then, is you have a easier time, because you're not going against the powers that prevail.
It was a whole philosophy, a whole idea, and the longer I grow older and the more I think about it, the more it becomes powerful. That simple statement. The more I understand about what you're supposed to do, but the more I realize how little I know about the things that I should know about.
Those simple philosophies, those simple observations, really are life giving, they're survival. They're how our people survived.
You know, there were a lot of Onkwehonwe here when Columbus made his landfall. You know, there were millions, millions of people. All over, in the mountains, in the plains, in the deserts, around the lakes, along the seashores. Fully populated, this continent we called the Turtle Island. Millions of people.
89 years ago, the year 1900, they counted us. How many Indians are there, they said. And they counted two hundred and fifty thousand, left in the continent 89 years ago.
Two hundred and fifty thousand. What happened to those millions? The knowledge that they had, their culture, their villages, where are they?
A rhetorical question would be, what have we lost? What knowledge, what wisdom have we lost by those millions of people being gone?
I noticed today, as we came through your student union, that you've been having meetings all week, and that you're having big meetings now and you're talking about our mother. You're talking about the Earth.
And the questions are there, what shall we do? What shall be the course?
There were millions of people here who knew the answers to that question. And there may be some left now who maybe could help, I don't know. I don't know how much we've lost.
In this Earth, as we understand it, the Law, is that life is equal. All life is equal on this Earth. Whether it be human beings, whether it's the elephants in Africa, or the seals in Alaska, the kangaroos in Australia, the Sami people in Norway, or us right here, we're equal.
Indian people, nations, I've noticed over a period of time, have a common understanding, common belief. We believe in a higher power. We believe in a spiritual strength.
We believe that there are great forces in this world, this natural world, that hold the powers of life and death, and that there are spiritual beings and leaders that look after all of this.
This is what we believe. We believe in the creator SunGwaidisaie, we say, the giver of life! That's what we believe.
The reason we believe that, from what I can understand, is because we've been here for a long time. We've seen the spring, the summer, the fall and the winter. We've seen the cycles come and go year after year, thousand years after thousand years.
So, understanding that, and listening to our instructions that we were given, which were very simple, which was to give thanks. "Be thankful", they said.
So, we did that the best way we knew how, which was to make ceremonies. Make ceremonies to all of these life giving forces, to be thankful. One at a time, around the cycle of what we call a year.
So, across this country, both in North and South America, there are ancient songs, ancient ceremonies, and ancient structures, and it goes on today, in pockets that are left. Here and there it still goes on with the ones who are left.
In those instructions, in those ceremonies are the teachings of the continuity of life. We don't have a classroom, we don't bring the children and say, "you people got to behave, this is how you behave...". We don't do that.
We hold a Green Corn Dance. We hold a Bean Dance. We hold a Thanksgiving Dance. We hold a Deer Dance. We hold a Buffalo Dance...Thanksgiving! The Grandfathers, the thundering voices, the ones that bring the fresh waters for life, Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for all of that.
In the process of those thanksgivings, those ceremonies, where the elders take the lead, and where the youngsters will do, as quickly as they can, the ceremonies, together. They learn, how to continue life, and that is they learn respect.
Respect. If my Grandfather and my Grandmother, if my Father and my Mother, if my uncles and my sisters, and my brothers,... If they all do this, and they respect, then it must be right! This must be what I have to do. So, we learn.
We learn not to break things, not to kill things, not to hurt things, but to respect things. To understand things. To go downstream with the life, and by going downstream with the life it flourishes. It's a great celebration!
Everything sings, everything. If you're really quiet, when the rain is falling, you can hear the grass sing, because it's life. That's life, water, first law, first law, water. If you don't understand the first law, you're going to suffer.
Some of the things that we've learned from being here for a long time is, the natural world, the world we live in, the powers that be, what we're protected from right now, I mean you step outside you're in the real world. And you can stay here for so long, but not forever. It'll get you.
Unless you learn, what's downstream out there. That's the real world. No mercy. It doesn't care if your nose is freezing. It doesn't care if your ears are freezing. If you haven't learned to respect that cold, then you're going to suffer. You're going to suffer right away.
And people say later, after they found you in a snow bank somewhere, three days later, I thought they were smarter then that. It's true.
These are small common sense things. You dress warm when you go out there, don't stay out there too long. When it's hot in the desert, go to the people who lived in the desert, they'll tell you how to live.
They'll say, "No, don't do that...don't go out there without any water." Or, do you know where the water is out there? If you don't, you better not go.
You have to go to the guides who know, who live there, these are the Indigenous people. These are the guides today. These are your guides for survival around this Earth. That's how you're going to survive.
And it's not a good idea to take the language away from them. Because there's knowledge in that language that may save you.
And it's not a good idea to take those songs away, because without those songs, the ceremonies stop, and when the ceremonies stops everything stops.
And it's not a good idea to take their land, because that's where they live. And that's where the knowledge is. And it's not a good idea to take them away from the land that they live in. No, it's not a good idea for them and it's not a good idea for you.
We have a common cause these days. The common cause is survival.
The old Chief, you know he said one time, "well, going to come a day", he says, "when people going to stop living begin surviving." What did he mean by that?
What did he mean? We're going to stop living and just begin to survive.
Well, the knowledge, the International knowledge, the knowledge of people around the Earth is important. It's important to have these conferences. I don't know who among you, work hard enough to bring people around here together, but it is important to have these discussions.
You're very fortunate to have the group of people that you have here at this particular time. Because the issues that they're talking about are things that affect you directly.
And it's people that make the difference.
We know that life is equal. But we also know that the human being has been given what some people would call gifts, but what we call responsibilities.
The human beings have been given responsibilities; they've been given intellect, they've been given the knowledge, the foreknowledge of death, and they've been given direction and understanding. They've bee given laws and rules. They've been given already, on a finding downstream.
Some human beings have many gifts. But each of us, no matter who we are, have our own, a special gift. Whatever it may be, and we're the only ones that know what it is, but it's ours.
And your job, as we understand it people, is to find out what is that and to develop it to its' best, cause it's yours', and then to share it with the rest.
And so when everybody is sharing their different gifts, then everybody benefits. And you don't take a gift and sell it. That's not nice. It's not a good idea. Cause then, some people can't afford it. And they loose it.
And then it gets to be, individuals selling their gifts amongst each other, and then what happens to the people who don't have it?
Old Chief Farmer, from my home, he told me long time ago he says, ''I'll tell you now", he says, "It's tough to be an Indian. Its hard, hard to be Indian." He says, "cause every day you're going to have to help somebody. Every day, when somebody needs something, you've got to help them." He says, "That's what a good person does. That's what a good Indian does. "
Goes out and always, no matter what it is, you give of yourself. That way everybody benefits. That's where your leaders are. The ones who give the most, that's your leader. They're pretty hard to find these days, that kind of leader.
When we had all our instructions, and things were going so good here before you guys got here. It was really nice, really. Hard to imagine, once in awhile if you're lucky, for you around here, you can get back there some place, and you can see the Earth like it used to be. You know, where the water is clean, where the trees are big. Where the animals are not afraid. But you got to be pretty lucky to see that now. But that's the way it used to be all the time everywhere. Everywhere here.
Salmon coming upstream so thick you could walk across their backs. Get to the other side on their backs, that's how thick they were in the water. Oysters the size of dinner plates on Manhattan. You know, Manhattan was one of the biggest fishing and hunting centers in America, it was like Chesapeake Bay. All the Indians went there.
The Geese would come in, the Ducks would come in, in the fall and in the spring by the millions. Elk were there, Bear, Deer. Unbelievable! Lobsters, twenty pounds, thirty pounds. Just go in there and pick them up.
What's a Lobster cost you today? Don't eat one that comes from Manhattan.
Yeah, Trees. Grandfathers you couldn't imagine. Maple trees, hundred feet high, hundred and twenty feet high, maples! Hardwoods. Nobody cut the trees. Squirrel could run from the Atlantic to the Pacific and never touch the ground. Had to swim across, of course Mississippi. Trees all over the place.
Buffaloes, how many millions of Buffalo? They said, in their records. I'II put us together and I'II put them over there. In their records, they said fifty million they killed. But if it's any kind of record that they keep on us, double that.
Maybe a hundred million they killed. Who's going to know, who is ever going to know? How many Buffaloes were killed? Down to a handful. Down to 29, in the Bronx Zoo, Manhattan. Not long ago.
And the passenger pigeons, which sometimes took two days to fly by. You couldn't even see the sun when they flew by, they were so thick. When they landed and they ate, they cleaned everything off the ground. When they left it was like a vacuum cleaner had come down, and was gone. Everything was clean. and everything, everything lived off the passenger pigeons. The wolves, the foxes and the Indians.
Not one left, not too long ago.
Two days ago, or a day and a half ago
You have to get a context. You have to think about how it was. Or somebody has to tell us now, because we don't know.
I used to sit there when I was small and with big eyes listening to the old people talk. That's how I learned. Listening. sit there and listen, you'll learn a lot. They talk about how it was. Now today's' old people don't know that much either, to talk about,
You're losing knowledge. In one sense you're losing very vital knowledge, in the other sense you're gaining knowledge so fast you can't keep up with it. You talk about technology, you talk about the human brain, you talk about the abilities of the human mind. It's astounding, and of course we know, that its' powers are tremendous. and that you're just now beginning to tap the power, in one sense, of the human mind. That's why technology is moving so fast, and that's why children can pick it up. Because they've got the ability, they got, it's there.
An acceleration. You're experiencing acceleration of everything. Serious times are upon us.
Listening to our chiefs council talk and sitting with the elders, in the traditional circle of elders that we meet once a year around this country.
Talking, they figure that it's this generation. The one coming, and the one that's just past, that is going to decide whether there is going to be life very long on this Earth. In other words, us. We're the ones who are going to decide, whether there is going to be life.
The way things are and the way things happen, as you know, you don't have a choice about it. There have been generations who just went along just wonderful, one generation after the other just a beautiful life. Not this one, not us. We live in turmoil. We live in fear. We live in want. We live in ignorance, and we live in peril. Dangerous times.
When they put us up for chiefs, they kind of give us instructions after, after they put you up. They don't tell you these things before you know. They tell you after, which I thought was kind of unfair, you know, I. I said, how come you didn't tell me that before, well, oh, we thought you'd find out.
There is no preparation for chief, where I come from. Clan Mother will make a choice in their clan, and come up to you and say would you want to fill this spot, would you want to take this position?
Don't, don't say no. Think about it. Your usual reaction is to say no. Now think about it she says, think about what you can do for the people. That's how it was put to me. I don't know anything about this. That's alright, there's other Chiefs, you'll learn. You'll learn.
and we have a long process about how we raise a Chief. Very democratic process, goes all the way back to two thousand years ago, I don't know. But anyway, it's through ratification, I don't think I have to go through the whole process. But everybody gets a shot at you, and at the end of it all the people have the final say. But when they put you up, you're up, for life, and then they tell you what your duties are, and then they tell you.
When they talk to the people, they say to the people, and they grab you right by the head, there, like this. and they say look at this face, it's going to be speaking for you, this person. Go back and tell your people who it is and what you saw today. What position he holds. Take the news out, it's good news they said. They filled the position.
and they said, don't try to influence his decisions, if you're part of his family, don't do that. If you're any body don't try to influence him in a bad way. They said the job is hard enough. and it's very unlikely that these chiefs, you know there were three of us put up that time, it's very unlikely that a chief will see the face of the creator.
That's when they looked and we said what, what did he say? They said because, it's so easy to violate the laws that they are going to uphold, or try.
As human beings, as average people, they have a big job, and most likely they're going to fail, and if they fail it's serious. because, they're in a very special position of responsibility, where everyone is depending on them. and if they fail, as we said, then it's very unlikely that they will see the face of the creator. We said, hey, nobody said that to us before. And he said, but on the other hand, and then he turned to us, all you have to do is what is right. On the other hand.
and everybody knows how hard that is. How hard that is to do what is right. How many times in one day, you don't do what is right. In one day, how many times?
Little things, help the little kids. Answer him. You know, talk to your wife, say hello, take a glass of water to somebody. These things, it's important.
It's life everyday, that's what they were talking about, everyday life. That's life. Life isn't saving all your money and going to Hawaii, once every twenty years. That's not life. Life is everyday. What do you do everyday. Simple things but what makes the quality? Got to have a perspective about this.
And If you got a community that thinks this way. Boy that's a good community. Then you have a community. people help one another.
Take care of the old people, the law. That's another law. Take care of the old people you forget when they were young, taking care of you. and anybody's in there, I heard a couple of them here see couple of them. Big job taking care of one, two, three, four. Tough work, but that's alright because later on, they're going to turn around and they're going to take care of you. That's the law. Supposed to do that. Not supposed to put them off someplace by themselves. That's not right.
What are we talking about here, are we talking saving the Earth? the Dalai Lama said, I remember very well. He said that if people can't even be nice to one another, how in the world are we going to save the Earth? It begins, every day when you get up.
And again we're told that, when you get up in the morning, there's no guarantee you 're going to go to bed at night. There's no guarantee whatsoever.
And they told us, sitting right here, on your left shoulder is death. It sits there every day, every night. It never leaves. So, you better be ready. It's a good idea, a good idea is to be ready, cause you never know.
When that little baby is born, in their little hand are a number of days in there. There's a number of days in those hands, that only the creator knows. And all of us were born like that, with a number we don't know. But you'd better be ready, it's a good idea.
And what is being ready? Be at peace. Everybody talks about Peace. Well Peace starts here, that's where it starts. In your heart and it goes out from there.
I was, Thanksgiving, this Thanksgiving, they had asked the Indians to come down to St. John the Divine in New York City. How many have been there? That's a big place isn't it? They told me, "It's the biggest Cathedral in America." And I said to them, I said, "There was a bigger Cathedral here before you cut them down."
I said, "You could stand right here, four hundred years ago and those trees would've been higher than your spire. But you cut them down, that was a Cathedral." It took time.
You see, human beings proud of these things see, proud of these things. Look what I did. Look! You look and you see these things, it's amazing. I'm always astounded at the human beings capability. It's amazing to me.
And then on the other hand, I'm astounded at his stupidity. That's amazing to me too. How can all these things be done and no common sense to it?
I was taught, again, when we made a little camp. Whenever we cooked a fish, or wherever we stopped to eat or whatever. We made a little camp by the stream, by the creek or up in the woods, where ever.
"Put everything away", he said, "put everything away so nobody knew you were here." And so it used to be a game. How good could we put it back. We said, "boy, that was pretty good, they couldn't, nobody could tell I was here." There was a lesson there, again there is another lesson.
I fact there's quite a few in that little thing.
But where some people come along and they say, "There's a mountain, I'm going to name it after me." That's what they said, and so we've got mountains all over here named after somebody who said," I'm naming it after me, this mountain." Well, everybody who lives there, the people who have been there for a long time, there's another name for that mountain, and it isn't that.
But what are you dealing with when you deal with somebody like that, or with that? You're dealing with very strange, powerful people, very unusual, and you'd better be careful.
And some times, most of the time, we found out too late, always too late. We said, "No, they couldn't do that", but they always did. And we'd say, "No, that's just too beyond, no" and they did.
The history of the Spaniards when they landed, bringing Religion to the Indians. Boy, I'll tell you, it's a tough way to learn Religion, how they brought it. And brought it they did. And when they got over here, interesting thing is that.
They were carrying these ideas, this Religion, and they came across huge masses of land and all these people, and there was nothing in the Bible about it. Not a word. So, they said, "Well who are these people then?" If it's not in the Bible, and of course, we know that the Bible has everything in it. It says so right here, Paul said so, "Everything, now it is complete."
So then, if it's complete then who are these people? "Well, it's got to be here somewhere", they said, "start reading", and so, that's where we got these strange names of being the Lost Tribe of Israel. They're trying to figure where we came from. How do we fit?
They had big debates over there in Spain and Portugal. "Well, maybe they're not people?" Good idea.
You know I was in Geneva, Switzerland, January 17th, the week of the 17th.. I was at a seminar at the United Nations and the seminar was on Race Discrimination of Indigenous Populations, Indigenous Populations they said. They didn't say people.
In 1550 in Villolidad, Portugal, when they were having these big debates, they said the same thing. In 1989, Geneva, Switzerland, at the UN, they're still saying the same thing. They're populations, they're not people.
And we finally accomplished, after twelve years of going back and forth from 77 to 89, we finally got them to agree that we are people. They said, "OK, Alright, alright, alright, alright, OK, we'll strike out populations and we'll put Indigenous Peoples." Victory!
It just happened a few weeks ago. We gained one step. Now why would it be so difficult for them to recognize us as people? And what makes it more advantageous to recognize us as populations?
Well, obviously, if you're a population, you know that's, it could be anything. You can count a population of the Elk herd, you can count a population of Ducks, and so forth. But when you count populations of people, then there's other things that goes on at the United Nations that refers to people, like human rights.
Not necessary to put human rights with populations. But it is necessary to put human rights with people. Victory, hard work! How many of you know how many hours and years that we've been going over there fighting for that, in that arena? And come back over here and fight for other things here, in this arena? Hard work.
I saw the same Aymara Indian from Bolivia in '77; I saw him this year, he grabbed me, he was so glad to see me. I said "You're getting old." He said, "You're getting old too." I said, "That's true." We're telling each other we're getting old. But I could see it, I could see it in him and I guess he could see it in me. Time going on.
Who is it that's going to take up this kind of a fight. is it important at all? Why is it important?
Now, they've got a lot of knowledge in South America. They've got a lot of knowledge in Central America. The Mayans are still there, you know. The Aztecas are still there in Mexico. The Incas are still there. They have knowledge. Knowledge that we need today.
We were having a discussion somewhere, and I don't remember now, there have been so many discussions, so many places. I think we were up near Yellowknife near the Arctic Circle, that way. But we had people from Central American there. Mayans.
And we were looking at the sky, because there's one thing you know when you go north, you live with the sky up there. And you could see the stars. And the stars were in different places because you were so far north. The North Star was almost straight up. You know, when I'm home, I'm looking at it like this, you know. And here, it was here, strange for me.
And just offhand, one of the Aymara priests, I mean the Mayan priest said "Oh, we know quite a bit about that you know. " He said, "We know in the pyramids that are found in Central America, those are events, major events that have happened and some that are going to happen. "
And I remember a Hopi man said, "You know, we have a cave; and in the cave, on the ceiling, are stars and they're put this way and that way and we don't know." And the Mayan man said, "We probably could tell you."
When the Sandinistas moved in on the Indians, they said. "You're going to learn Spanish, cause that's going to be the first language, because your language", and they were talking to some Mayans now, mind you, "because your language is a primitive language, and it doesn't have any capability for the technologies of today.", they said.
And they were talking to people who had knowledge beyond knowledge.
Today they're killing those people down there. They're killing those priests, they're killing those leaders and they're killing that knowledge.
That's why it's important for you to know what's going on and to look around and get a little bit beyond from where you usually live. See out beyond the horizon. That's what this university is for. So you can look out beyond the horizon. It's a great opportunity. You know how much it costs to come here. Know how hard it is; how lucky you are to be here. Then do something.
People are depending on you. You're leaders you're going to be leaders. Don't be worried about how much salary you're going to make, what's the best job in Denver or LA Things are a little beyond that now.
I think very seriously if you've got your ear to the ground, if you're listening and you're feeling, that you will see the changes that our grandfathers said would happen. If you're listening and you understand. You'll be aware, you'll know what's going on.
They said, "watch the winds, they'll tell you, the Grandfathers will tell you." They said, "They're going to get stronger and stronger and stronger." And so, over these past years, we've been watching the winds and what have we been seeing? They're getting stronger and stronger and stronger.
Now, we are often called Primitive, and as the Sandinistas said, uneducated, "and not in the real world," they said.
Not in the real world, we have to wonder who is in the real world here, what world is real?
All of those guideposts we were told to watch has occurred, is occurring. I mean when you get a drop in temperature a hundred degrees, you can say, "Gee, now that's unusual isn't it?" Yeah, we just add another mark there. Well, we'll see next year, we'll see what else happens.
You see, our calendar goes like that, well ten years ago it went like this. Let's see forty years ago it went like that. Not next week, not next month, our calendar is longer.
So, while you're in this atmosphere of University, Then think Universal, cause that's what it means, Universal. Think Universal, just like our grandfather's do, they always did. When we sit with the elder's circle, they think universal. They think about everybody. You think that way
Expand your mind, learn, refine your sensibilities, refine your sensitivities. Instead of everything going in your head, pay a little attention to what's going out.
How many hunters we got here? Don't be afraid, I'm a hunter.
You know, when you're out there and you're hunting, you intensify everything. You strain your eyes, you strain your ears, you even smell the wind. You listen and you look and you sense and you feel, everything is projected out, because you're hunting. Because you're hunting, you're really intense. You're observing everything, you look and you look. Serious business.
We grew up, when I go hunting with one shell, you'd better come back with something with six kids hungry, you'd better come back...serious business. One rabbit, don't miss. So, everything is out.
And these are the things you have to refine.
You go into New York City, how many from New York? Big cities, people walking down the street like this, right? Bump into each other, everything's in here. They've internalized everything, they don't see outside, they don't, they're not, nothings coming in.
They're losing that sensitivity to observation. To looking, to seeing, to feeling. You need to do that to keep a balance, in your life. And when you're doing that and you're doing that with people, then you know when people are hurting. You know when people need something.
When you hear an animal cry, the cry is the same, I can tell in a room, how many mothers are there, when I hear a baby cry, the mothers always look. Everytime, I can tell, and the Fathers as well. Why? They're tuned in.
Well, that's what you have to do, use your sense of spirit, give you a sense of what's outside, because that's the real world. That's what we're talking about when we talk about survival, we're talking about the Earth, we're talking about the water, we're talking about the air, we're talking about life. That's what it's all about. That's what this discussion is all about.
Common cause, we are one people.
As they said in the UN, they told us, "There's no Race, there's no such thing as Race, we're human beings, one family." We've said that, we've always said that. But they said, "there is a lot of Racism." So, those things you have to take care of, those are the things you have to deal with.
In this perilous time, when you're looking at these little babies here, and these little children here, even yourself can say, "What is going to happen to them in 20 years, in 40 years, in 60 years?"
And as they tell us as chiefs, the seventh generation. They say make your decisions for seventh Generation to come. And I think that's very wise now, hard to do.
But if your leaders here in America, if the leaders over there in Europe, if the leaders in Asia were to think like that, we'd be talking about different things here right now; because things would be taken care of, and properly, by your leaders. But they're not thinking that way.
It's up to the people. The people are strong; the people are powerful. You as individuals are powerful. You make the difference, because after all it is you.
And so you have to take heart. You've got to have courage. You've got to have strength. That's when you look to your leaders, your grandmothers and your grandfathers, your elders, to get the strength they have, the experience they've got, learn from them, patience, careful, observe, love one another.
And not the word love that gets kicked around all the time, but the word love what it really means, what it really means. To worry about somebody you don't know. To worry about somebody in the future, that's what it means.
Not as the world turns, that's not it. That's not it at all. Entertaining, but it certainly is not it.
So, think about then, the Indigenous people. Think about them where ever they are. And think about how important they are. The Yanomamo in Brazil, who are right now, dying because the Brazilian government will not allow doctors to go in to their communities. They've taken the last two doctors out. And they're dying because the people that are in there seeking
Gold, have brought disease to them. Like in the old days for us.
And if you were to take the hard way to look at it, you could almost say, they intend for them to die. You can almost say that. But again, the Indians would say, "Couldn't be, or could it?"
Well, if you write to the Brazilian government and you say what is happening to those people? What's happening to the forest? How does this all work?
We've still got a chance, we've still got a chance.
I'm an optimist, you know. After all of this, I'm an optimist. I believe that human beings are very capable. A lot of work, right amongst our own families, isn't it? Right amongst our own families to work. Work starts right at home. But that's where you've got to start. It's important. Grandchildren, their grandchildren, seventh generation.
So these people here they've got great ideas and they've got good direction. And maybe you've got a good idea, and maybe you've got a good...you know, it could be, could be sitting here, could be the idea. Could be, very well.
Cause, we're all capable, we're all pretty equal in brains, you know. It's a matter of where you were born. Pretty much the same.
So, the future of Indian nations, that was the discussion, wasn't it? Where is the future of Indian nations, then?
Obviously, not very much in the hands of the Indians. And that's the point that I'm trying to make here. Not much in our hands. We'll do what we can do but we sure need a different perspective as it relates to us.
We need help if we're going to survive; you need help if you're going to survive. And it's common cause to all of us, and that little baby; it's important to have babies at a meeting and it's important to have children at a meeting. It keeps you in perspective. And I'll just tell you one more thing. We were told that the Creator loves children the best. So, you'd better look out for them.
So, with that, I guess we'll close...
Somebody said I should give an announcement, but I don't know where
Now, I guess I can answer some questions, or try to if you want to do that, or if it's enough it's enough. It's up to you.
I don't do that very well. I've got a lot of my grandfathers, I do a lot of the talking but I don't do that very well, no. But don't worry, though, I'll tell you cause it's being done, it is being done. That on this, this nation, we're doing those prayers for you. And just because you're not there, and you're not holding hands doesn't mean you're not included, because we do include everything. So, that's very important news to you, that's what we call good news.
So, I guess with that, we'll call it a night.
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Recording & Transcript Ó 1989 Richard Two Elk
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