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Indigenous Peoples' Literature
403 Forbidden #11

Rediscovering What Has Always Been There


by Glenn H. Welker
'REMEMBER'

"Treat this earth well:
it is not a present from your parents,
it is on loan to your children.

The people who enrich their minds are those who keep their history on the leaves of memory."


INDIANS:
NATIVE AMERICANS:
ABORIGINALS:
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES.


Any or all of these terms have been and are being used to identify those persons who continue to be the caretakers of our planet. Some of them, like the Aborigines of Australia have lived as a society, uninterrupted for over 40,000 years. They are the lucky ones. It is estimated that each week at least one language will be lost, and with it vanishes a part of each of us. In 100 years from now these original languages will have gone the way of the Dodo bird. Think of how much knowledge we could have gained from all of these so-called unimportant cultures. The Americas, as well as the rest of the world, need to rediscover those secrets of life that have been ignored for centuries. Perhaps there is still a chance, before we entirely obliterate every nation which has been around since time immemorial!


"When will we ever begin to understand the meaning of the soil underneath our feet? From a tiny grain of sand to the largest mountain, everything is sacred.

Our living saints are the evergreen trees. We have no buildings or steeples. The landscape and lakes are our churches and cathedrals. These are our sacred buildings.

Yesterday and tomorrow exist forever upon our mother, the earth."


Perhaps the greatest gift that indigenous peoples on this planet have is their knowledge of herbs, the environment, and most of all how to live in harmony. This is something 20th-century humans have yet to obtain. With all this technology and power at our disposal, why is it that we can destroy the earth ten times over. Yet, we do not have enough common sense to apply one-zillionth of that energy to preserving that which can sustain for all future generations.


"Not to be aware of the past is to be eternally a child,
but for those of us who forget the past will be condemned to repeat it.

We are more than the sum of all our knowledge, we are the products of our imagination.

Mankind 'IS' the product of his ancestors."


I have heard people tell me that indigenous people do not have ambition or care to be a part of 20th-century society. If I and my ancestors had been living in peace and harmony in this world for as long as time has existed, why should I care to change over to a modern lifestyle that has no value or purpose to me! The whole problem of the old world meeting the new world can be summed up by two things:

human energy vs. inanimate energy.

This can be seen in the values that modern-day people have:

emphasis on materials and money;

while

people of the earth

have no need for these things. All their needs can be found in the world in which they live. Unfortunately, every minute their worlds are disappearing as rapidly as an April snow. Hundreds of acres of virgin rain forests vanish by the second. Not us, but our children and their children will be the ones who will pay dearly. We worry much about endangered species, but what about the Endangered Peoples of this world.

"When the last red man shall have become a myth among the white men, when your children's children think themselves alone in the field, upon the highway or in the silence of pathless woods, we and our ancestors will be there standing among them.

We have lived upon this land from days beyond history's records, far past any living memory, deep into the time of legends."


Even though the 1990's have been declared "The Decade of the Indigenous Peoples", few of them are reaping many benefits from it. Even today, as I write this article, the delegations representing native peoples from around the world have walked out of a UN-held meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. They did so to protest the fact that they are not being including in the approval process of the very document that affects their right to exist:

The Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The lives of the majority of people in Latin America are improving very little, even though the first indigenous person, Rigoberta Menchu, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. It takes more than her valiant efforts and that year being devoted to indigenous peoples to gain the recognition they deserve.

Briefly, at the beginning of 1994 there was a spark of hope when the entire world saw the old and new worlds collide once more in Chiapas, Mexico. From this small awakening deep in the Lacandon jungle, the power of the Internet was unleashed in a way never before seen. How many wars have been broadcast from the back of a donkey, using a laptop computer plugged into a jeep's cigarette lighter, sending communiqués to a satellite, and in turn were being posted on the Internet as events were actually happening? Part of this "Internet War" as it is called, is being reported by a group of individuals who call themselves "The Mex News Group". I am proud to say that I have been an integral part of these "News" rebels, as they are called. They try to inform people on the Internet about what really is happening in Mexico, not what Wall Street and certain governments want us all to hear.

Sub-Commandante Marcos, the leader of the Chiapas rebellion sums it up nicely in this quote:

"In the world of the powerful there is no space for anyone but themselves and their servants. In our world everyone has a place.

Only those who give up their history are consigned to oblivion.

On the vacant ground of today, there will grow a flower of tomorrow."


When the industrialized world runs out of it's natural resources, then and only then will they realize what they have lost; and then it will be too late. It doesn't take too much effort to reverse this trend, but as long as native peoples reside on the lands that can be harvested to the maximum, then cultural genocide is inevitable.


Is it too much to ask, for indigenous people to obtain just four things:

DIGNITY:
HONOR:
SELF-RESPECT
AND JUSTICE.


The fight for these few rights are taken for granted by most of us. For instance, how often do we have to worry about:

HUNGER:
A ROOF OVER OUR HEADS:
ACCESS TO KNOWLEDGE:
OUR OWN LAND TO LIVE ON:

MEANINGFUL JOBS:
JUST LAWS:
RIGHT TO SPEAK OUR OWN LANGUAGES:
LIBERTY TO MOVE WHERE WE CHOOSE.


What I have found to be true is that the Internet is and continues to be a great equalizer for the peoples of this earth who are undoubtedly at the bottom of society's pecking order. This is the motivating reason why I have created a special web site devoted to them. When the world thinks of literature, it doesn't think of so-called "savages" having the ability to create such works. I guarantee that after viewing what I have done, it will change many minds. I know this to be true from the hundreds of e-mail messages that I have received.

Success for me does not come in dollar amounts. If it did, then I would have less money than those for whom I am writing. The true value comes from hearing from someone like Geronimo's great-great grandson who writes thanking me for giving his grandfather the honor he deserves. This is something that no amount of money can buy.


Everything I have tried to say in this brief article can be summed up in this simple phrase:

"I prefer my journeys into the natural gardens where the voice of the Great Spirit is heard in the twittering of birds, the rippling of mighty brooks, and the sweet fragrance of flowers.

If this be Paganism, then I am honored to be called a Pagan."




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The Indigenous Peoples' Literature pages were researched and organized by Glenn Welker.


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