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descriptions, predictions, visions, & prescriptions
concerning tribal existence and tribal religions
among contemporary indigenous Native American peoples
throughout the Lands of the Peoples of the Eagle and Condor
Robert Allen Warrior's "The Sweetgrass Meaning of Solidarity: 500 Years of Resistance" in SOJOURNERS (Vol. 20, No. 1, January 1991)
by Theodore Walker, Jr.
Robert Allen Warrior
of the Osage Nation,
a nation from among the people of the Eagle whose homeland is recently called North America, attended "the first ever intercontinental encuentro of American Indians"
(SWEETGRASS, p. 23).
[See "The Sweetgrass Meaning of Solidarity: 500 Years of Resistance" in SOJOURNERS (Vol. 20, No. 1, January 1991)
by Robert Allen Warrior.]
The intercontinental encuentro was held in that part of the land of the people of the Condor called "Quito, Ecuador" during the summer of 1990. Warrior writes:
" This summer, I was one of approximately 350 Indian people--including Yanomanis, Mapuches, Kunas, Quechuas, Caribs, Navajos, Hopis, Lummis, Lumbees, Osages, Inuits, Crees, and Seminoles--from North, South, and Central America and the Caribbean who met in Ecuador for the first ever intercontinental encuentro of American Indians. The theme was "500 Years of Indigenous Resistance." (SWEETGRASS, p. 23)"
Warrior reports the theme for this gathering was
"500 Years of Indigenous Resistance."
"500 Years of Indigenous Resistance"
is a Native American description of indigenous tribal peoples' relations to modernity.
In the lands of the peoples of the Eagle and Condor,
modernity starts in 1492.
It starts with the so-called "discovery" by Christopher Columbus of land that was not India, and the immediate capture and kidnap of natives not indigenous to India or islands just west of India.
[Contrary to the thinking of the so-called "discoverers,"
the land they came to was not India, nor was it from among islands just west of India (hence the inappropriateness of the modern name--"West Indies"),
nor were the native peoples indigenous to India (hence the inappropriateness of the modern name--"Indian").]
Since then, for approximately 500 years, indigenous tribal peoples have been resisting slavery, "attempted genocide," "cultural imperialism," (SWEEETGRASS, p. 22) and various other oppressions and exploitations perpetuated against them by modern non-tribal-wrongly-tribal-even-anti-tribal-hybrid and hyphenated-American peoples.
Adopting this description was intended as explicit protest and witness against celebrations of 1492 in 1992.
predictions & visions:
Rather than simply predicting a probable future by projecting a continuation of past and present modern trends,
Native American religions prescribe
that Native Americans envision and expect a more favorable alternative future,
that Native Americans contribute to creating this more favorable alternative future.
given Native American convictions that their being-doing differently will make significant differences, they are better able to envision and predict alternatives to continuing with present modern trends.
prophetic visions of a more favorable alternative future:
Warrior accounts for the predictive significance of the intercontinental encuentro by reference to the prophecies of the Runa people.
The Runa people are a Native American people home to that part of the land of the Eagle presently called "Mexico."
According to Runa people,
many many generations ago Native American peoples where one people.
And this one people was divided into two groups:
"people of the Eagle (those from the North) and
people of the Condor (those from the South)" (SWEETGRASS, p. 23).
The northern group, the people of the Eagle, are now many peoples, tribes, and nations, and they continue to belong to a land which is recently called North America.
The southern group, the people of the Condor, are now many peoples, tribes, and nations, and they continue to belong to a land which is recently called South America.
Warrior reports that according to ancient Runa prophecy, "When the Eagle and the Condor rejoin their tears, ... a new era of life and spirit will begin for American Indiain people" (SWEETGRASS, p. 23).
According to Warrior, the 1990 intercontinental encuentro was the rejoining of Eagle and Condor peoples foretold in Runa prophecy.
According to Runa prophecy,
this is the start of a new and more favorable future for indigenous Native American peoples, including the peoples, tribes, and nations comprising the northern people of the Eagle and the southern people of the Condor.
ceremonially given prescriptions:
Warrior describes the prescriptive significance of this event in terms of the traditional ceremonial burning of sage and sweetgrass.
Sage burns brightly and quickly,
Warrior understood the quick-bright-burn-of-sage to represent an immediate social ethical prescription:
that the peoples of the Eagle and Condor should join in solidarity to protest the then quickly approaching 1992 celebrations of the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's 1492 deeds.
Sweetgrass burns slowly,
Warrior understands the slow burning sweetgrass to represent long-term social ethical prescriptions:
that the peoples of the Eagle and Condor should join in solidarity to plan and mobilize
for "long-range, constructive political action"
focused mainly on land recovery and national sovereignty,
and also on "religious freedom, protection of sacred sites, and economent development."
(SWEETGRASS, p. 23, 24).
:o: land recovery
:o: national sovereignty
:o: religious freedom
:o: protection of sacred sites
:o: economic development
According to Warrior, the "sweetgrass meaning of solidarity" also includes a prescription for Native American efforts to enter into solidarity with other peoples,
including African-American peoples. Warrior writes:
"The year 1992 can be a time for all of us to begin learning how to be in solidarity with each other, mutually empowering our struggles for justice and peace. If we can stand together in defiance of the self-congratulatory celebrations, perhaps we will see the way toward standing together in constructive praxis, respect, and hope for all humanity.
... Many of us are also committed to finding ways to be inclusive of others--especially African Americans, whose middle-passage story of slavery and resistance began not long after ours. As one person at the Minneapolis meeting said, "No one owns 1992."
At the closing session of the Quito encuentro, Rose Auger spoke for the North American delegation, saying, "I am glad that we came together, North and South. It is in our prophecies. We are a strong people. We are going to continue coming together in a strong way. People need to learn how to live again and help each other so we won't die at the hands of what hs been oppressing us for 500 years. I plead with you that all of us learn to live in a harmonious way. I bless all of you who are here in a sacred manner. All my relations!"
(SWEETGRASS, p. 24)
Instead of continuing with present and past modern habits of thought and deed,
all peoples are called
to come together in solidarity
for the purpose of contributing to a more favorable alternative future.
the future (1992) was changed:
As a result of the 1990 rejoining of the peoples of the Eagle and Condor, and
as a result of Native American social ethical resolve to contribute to the sage-like meanings of solidarity,
the world has already witnessed the quick-bright-sage-like
protests of 1992.
And Native American social ethical resolve to contribute to the sweetgrass meanings of solidarity provides additional reason to expect new long-term-cross-generational efforts at Native American solidarity.
[See "The Sweetgrass Meaning of Solidarity: 500 Years of Resistance" in SOJOURNERS (Vol. 20, No. 1, January 1991) by Robert Allen Warrior.]
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most recent update: 24 March 1997
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