Silent voices speak to honor the life and passing of a revered Elder Spiritual Leader of the Anishinabek Nation: Peacemaker, William Commanda, the founder of “Circle of All Nations,” which promotes “indigenous wisdom and peace to foster respect and reconciliation amongst nations.” He passed back into the Spirit World on August 2, 2011 at age 97. He offered a prophecy of peace: “… that the time would come when the voice of Indigenous Peoples would rise again after 500 years of silence and oppression, to light a path to an eternal fire of peace, love, brotherhood and sisterhood amongst all nations.”
We are regaining our voices, breaking the silence violence has imposed upon us. Recently, the word “courage” came to mind from a note Jim Thorpe wrote to my grandfather Charles Mitchell—friends and teammates at Carlisle Indian School. His word of “en-couragement”—to be courageous— describes the bold, open discussion and the healing forum on IndianCountryTodayMediaNetwork.com’s Circle of Violence Series, “Reflections of Communal Pain and Dysfunction.”
There cannot be found a clearer, more intimate and honest journalistic examination of the devastation of violence—from every perspective—anywhere else in the so-called free world. Only from the strength of traditional values and respect for Creation, derived from thousands of years of our ancestors living in harmony with nature, could we have survived the gauntlet of western civilization. Indigenous Peoples are unique in that our cultural memory, founded upon the heart, history and tradition of our people, builds an enduring memory. There are many tribes and nations, creating and weaving their own culture and ways of expressing the life experience. However, the universal commonality— the values of Honor, Family and Respect for Creation— has enabled our survival over the last 500 years.
The western construct of The Doctrine of Discovery permeated lawmaking in the New World and justified the dehumanization of non-Christian people. It served as the Europeans rationale for the violation of indigenous people’s human rights for hundreds of years. What they did not realize is the higher guiding spiritual principles of Creation have developed throughout our environmental evolutionary biology for thousands of years—and these understandings have yet to be re-interpreted into western concepts.
Christopher Peters reminded us of our spiritual purpose at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) last year, “…It is through ceremonies that the earth is healed and renewed. It is our responsibility. We were put on earth for no other reason than to heal the earth and make it new. That life of world renewal, those ideas and concepts were impacted in such a brutal way that we are still recovering.”
In the classic study League of the Iroquois by Henry Morgan, the final words are: “Without the highest justice a republic cannot be governed.” Speaking of the governing body of the New America, “the wardship of the whole Indian family is, in a great measure, committed: thus placing it in a position of high responsibility. Great is the trust reposed, for it involves the character of the white race, and the existence of the red.”
Today, his words have proven even more inclusive, for the red peoples have been given the sacred responsibility as keepers of the earth. Chief Seattle knew as he addressed the self-imposed new “land owners” of “the love we have for our earth as the newborn loves its mothers heartbeat. Love our land as we have loved it. Care for it as we’ve cared for it with all your strength, with all your mind, with all your heart, preserve it for your children and love it as God loves us all. This earth is precious to Him. Even the white man cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We shall see. “
It has become today’s challenge to help heal the earth from domination and its inherent disrespect. Steven Newcomb addressed the way to “recovery from discovery” as spiritual (see “UNPFII Panel Discusses Doctrine of Discovery”): “Spirituality, the ceremonies are so important, that grounding that we need each and every day, the offerings. By renewing the world, by doing that in a prayerful way, this can go forward.” This entails a return to sacred balance, by honoring both male and female genders, each being the embodiment of male and female principles throughout Creation.
It is time for our First Nation’s Peacemakers to join together with peacemakers of other nations to address the violence and suffering we have endured, by leading us in ceremonial peacemaking for our healing and the healing of all life forms on Mother Earth. END (800 words)
Tandie Mitchell, Ph.D., is a Community Social Scientist whose multidisciplinary research integrates Science and Technology & Tribal Healing Traditions for the purpose of designing programs for maximum function. Her main body of work interprets “Chaos Theory” and its effects upon the full human developmental process. Author, artist, activist and scientist, her interests revolve around family, health, education and creative projects. Dr. Mitchell is recognized in Marquis 17th edition of Who’s Who of American Women as a national business innovator, and is the co-founder and Director of “The AMICUS Project” of Partnership Mentoring focusing on Family Healing and Restorative Justice.