By L. Patsouris
Indigeny is afoot. Around the globe as indigenous peoples fight to preserve their traditions and ways, many are beginning to turn their heads and look at how these groups, with their original instructions intact, are able to live respectfully and sustainably on the Earth. Many are beginning to realize that modernity as it is being expressed currently is not sustainable and they are looking to indigenous traditions to see how their worldview leads to partnership with the ecosystem instead of destruction. Moreover many whose indigenous traditions were sundered are taking steps to actively reclaim and restore those traditions.
If you go back far enough, we all come from tribal peoples. We all had indigenous traditions and knew at one time how to live in balance on the Earth without destroying Her. Indigeny is the birthright of humanity and the hope of people who wish to restore the balance and live in harmony with the planet. While each culture is unique, there are 3 main themes that seem to be universal and can be found in all indigenous cultures.
1. Ancestor veneration. All indigenous cultures have a sense of intimacy and continuity with their ancestors. They all have rituals around honoring their ancestors and understand that they are part of a line with obligations to those who came before as well as to those who come after.
2. The Land. All indigenous cultures have a sense of belonging to the land and being caretakers of their land. There is a conscious sense of the holiness of the Earth and living as part of rather than as separate from nature and a sense of communication and interaction with the spirits of the land.
3. The Gods/Holy Powers. Indigenous cultures have a sense of connection to their Deities or Sacred Powers and a sense of place and purpose within their own unique cosmologies.
By looking at the commonalities we can see that while each culture was unique, there are certain unifying principles behind the indigenous worldview.
Recently I was fortunate to be a presenter at a conference where there were several speakers and attendees who are all working actively to restore, reclaim and to preserve their indigenous spiritual traditions and lifeways. Although we all came from different cultures, we had a strong sense of all working towards the same goal. There was a palpable sense of solidarity among us as we all wove this theme of restoration and indigeny into our classes. We all knew and understood the need to break free of the modern, predatory power-over consumerist paradigm to reclaim our essential humanity. We all saw our indigenous paths as roads back to something vital and essential that had been attacked and ruptured and required healing to regain our own wholeness of spirit. In this light we were able to encourage and support one another and celebrate the steps each of our groups are taking to reclaim and carry out our original instructions. We came from different backgrounds but had a common language and desire: indigeny. Reclamation. Renewal.
Thinking of how Native Americans of all tribes and nations worked together in the American Indian Movement and how Pan-African consciousness spurred the fight against colonialism in Africa and the Civil Rights struggle, I hope to see the emergence of a Pan-Indigenous consciousness. Colonialism visited us all and the beast was successful because it picked us off individually as tribes. It happened to the Gauls, Celts, Saxons, Yoruba, Igbo, Mende, Lakota, Navajo and Cherokee. I do not have space enough and time to list all the tribes and nations who were visited by conquest and whose traditions and lifeways were viciously targeted for eradication by the machine of conformity and obedience to Church. This machine rolls on today, bent on consuming and destroying the resources that could sustain us all if we would dare to walk in balance and take only what we need.
Indigeny calls for us to realize that we as humanity are all in this together, this fight for redemption, reunion and sustainability. It reminds us that we are our brother’s keeper and we have an obligation to each other, the four footeds, the winged ones, the trees, the waters and this Earth that we all call home. We are all related. What impacts one of us impacts us all. It allows us to celebrate the diversity and beauty of our cultures while acknowledging our shared humanity so we can work together to bring healing to our world. Our ancestors, the spirits of the land and the waters and our Holy Ones are calling out. This is the eleventh hour and humanity has hard choices to make. Do we continue our descent into alienation, greed and destruction? Or do we rise up to meet our challenges in the spirit of reconnection and community? Which side are you on?