The traditional Hopi spiritual elders say that we have not learned our lessons in the past from our use of technology. Technology is now having a world of its own. We are using technology to accumulate wealth and power. We are now using technology for the wrong reasons. Technology is now out of control.
Hopi elders say that developers only see money, profit and gain from Mother Earth. For One Thousand years the Hopi have grown corn in the desert and offered eagle feathers to the spirits giving thanks. The Hopi say that we come from Mother Earth and we go back to Mother Earth when we die.
Native Americans have great respect for Hopi spiritual leaders, because the word Hopi means peaceful people and Hopi are praying for harmony and balance on Mother Earth. Hopi spiritual elders believe they are caretakers of Mother Earth as do most Native Americans who follow their traditions.
Since the late 1800s the Hopi have been pressured, manipulated, threatened and coerced by church, military and government into giving up their land, freedom, culture and in many ways their health. All across the United States Native Americans have suffered loss of identity and witnessed the destruction of Mother Earth from rape of their forest, rivers, lakes, streams and mountains. There are plenty of films, books and documentation from people of the Sioux, Seminal, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Apache, Choctaw, Cherokee Ojibwa, Penobscot, Iroquois tribes and many others who will testify to the atrocities and cuitural/environmental genocide in North America.
The people have suffered so badly from past humiliation, lies of broken treaties, poverty and massacres that it has taken Indians a lifetime to understand culture shock and tyranny. Our faith keepers, clan mothers, chiefs and medicine people are struggling to voice their concern for the health of our people, animals, fish, birds, rivers, lakes and sacred Mother Earth.
The Iroquois people have been giving messages to the world, same as the Hopi and traditional Native Americans, that our Mother Earth is in great danger. The elders are saying that the natural powers demand respect and understanding if there is to be a future. One of the most consistent sources of that understanding is Indigenous people. The elders say that policies, agendas and laws are protecting corporations, developers and world banks; to contaminate, rape and destroy Mother Earth. It seems that although some of the dominant society, government and military have begun to learn from their unjustifiable mistake in the assimilation of Native People; there is still a strong contingent of society who cannot understand their responsibilities to Mother Earth and Creation.
Our spiritual leaders and medicine people have taught our youth to give thanks for all that we have, they do not teach us to demand more from our Creator. Native People across the Americas have the same thinking when it comes to respecting Mother Earth and all the gifts that we receive from her. Only lately since the arrival of non Natives are we forgetting our original instructions as ceremonies and our role as caretakers of Mother Earth.
I write these words today because there are Native people who think it is acceptable to dam rivers, divert rivers, kill rivers and flood the land with reservoirs. There are Indians who think it is important to turn natural beauty into concrete, lights, wires, noise and pollution. There are some Native people in Quebec who think they have the right to sell the earth for profit and turn a beauty, so natural, original and awesome into a puzzle for engineers and architects, buyers, sellers and fools; to waste and destroy. The military nightmare and terrorists who have lost their spiritual path have become the extension of misguided opportunists. Unfortunately some Native people are forgetting their instructions and duties to natural law, to the forces and powers that govern human beings. The elders are still giving thanks, still burning their medicines and still singing their songs for peace and harmony.
Our children need guidance, protection and wisdom, we need to show creativity, harmony, love and respect to the natural world so that all of Creation will be happy. For thousands of years the Cree Nation maintained harmony and respect for Mother Earth like the Hopi, Iroquois and other traditional Native Americans. The northern Cree are being threatened by the same invasion and colonization as the rest of the Americas. The Cree have lived rather isolated lives because of harsh climate and inaccessibility. The lack of interest over the last hundred years from Quebecers exploiting Cree territory was largely due to the fact that the land was thought to be worthless.
Lately, the Quebec government has put their minds to the idea of controlling northern Rivers for profit, to separate from Canada and sell energy power to United States. In reality, today, what the Cree Nation would face is assimilation and loss of culture and human rights if the handful of Cree leadership were to give up their territory for development.
As Matthew Mukash, who is the deputy grand chief of the Grand Council of the Crees of Eeyou Istchee, puts it; “What we are dealing with today is what our ancestors have been dealing with since day one of the contact with foreigners – the spirit of colonization and the effect of oppression that comes with it. There is a plan by governments to eventually take full control and occupy Eeyou Istchee. This is a fact. Unfortunately, the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) spills out the road map for this eventual takeover. We have to take a very serious look at this matter as a nation. I feel that we are binding ourselves to a process that aims to restrict our freedom to exercise our sovereign authority as people over Eeyou Istchee.’’ Annie Mouse, a Cree woman from James Bay, put it this way; “ Our concept of property has always been different from the European view which is that land represents wealth, and exploitation of that land means more money, power and prestige. To us the land represents life, and the respect of that which will ensures life for generations of Crees to inhabit the land. We are not concerned with the maximization of wealth by desecrating the land so that our children are left out without a land to hunt or fish upon and cannot drink the water. The actions of this process go beyond a mere deal, they seek to redefine our identity and to diminish our relationship to the land and everything associated with it.” Ever since Europeans came to this continent, nothing is ever enough for them, having cities, having freedom, having families, and having jobs. Native people have shared their territories in Canada, there were no major wars fought in Canada for land. There were sacred treaties made over the years to give each people, red and white, the needs required for each culture to be happy. Non-natives have not stopped their minds from racing or their hands from grabbing everything that can be used to make money, no matter if things get damaged or if life suffers.
Today, because of the mentality of exploitation of natural resources on a grand scale and the disregard to native people who are living near the resources, contamination from mining, pollution of lakes, rivers and steams have caused sickness, culture shock and hopelessness. Indian people have suffered all over the Americas from the destruction of their homelands by non-natives neglecting environmental concerns. Toxic chemicals are polluting our continent, genetic/bioengineering threatens to destroy every aspect of our earth. Non-native scientists are lying for industry and government. The assault to nature has reached unimaginable proportions with no respect for natural law or natives. The assault on nature for profit has created sickness and contamination to our water, air and earth. We are experiencing an epidemic of cancer. Native people are suffering from a way of life that is still foreign, superficial and unhealthy.
The world around us is in chaos from western thinking and western priorities. The lies initiated by Europeans destroy life and threaten the natural world. For thousands of years natives lived in respect with and in awe of the surroundings of forests and waters so beautiful, with animals, fish and life that they themselves were overcome with thanks. Natives created songs and prayers of thanksgiving to be one with nature.
If the mentality and values of non-natives continue to hurt the natural world as it is, and continue to influence the native people in a negative way, all hope will be lost in protecting what should be natural and clean. Our children need wisdom, guidance and protection so that they can think well and do good things, they need to be spiritual as our ancestors were to withstand annihilation. Our children need spiritual medicine, spiritual wisdom from the protectors, peacekeepers and leaders of life.
(Danny Beaton, Turtle Clan, Mohawk Nation)