In my world, there is a lot of controversy over what is the right way to do intuitive and spiritual work. It is amazing that there are so many people who say that spiritual practices should not have rules, but when you get down to the nitty gritty, they frown on on some practices. To some extent I think it is true of everyone. As much as I try to stay open and non-judgemental, it is also true of me.
It is also very common for people who work in a spiritual practice to seek out an explore the indigenous cultures to try and better understand themselves without the modern religions of the world. I too went through this process. A fair warning, as with many of my posts- there are some blunt statements that follow.
Here are the conclusions I came to:
1. Native Americans Are Just People
I say just, but I don't really mean it because I believe all humans have the capacity to be extrordinary; anything but "just people". This is also true of the native communities. What I am trying to say is that the western culture tends to romaniticize Native Americans and their beliefs. A better way would be to consider their beliefs equal. It seems like a simple enough thing, but the truth is that much of humanity struggles with this very simple concept. Other people believe different things and that is ok. Respecting the entire belief system and embracing it whole heartedly or leaving it alone is also a better way to approach it. Taking bits and peices is considered disrespectful. The actions that come from romaticising native culture are dividing factors. What I learned is while there are some basics in the many varying cultures, individual Native American people have just as many varying versions of their beliefs as others do. Also, they make mistakes just like the rest of us and some can pretty dogmatic and judgemental spiritually like everyone else. They can make terrible choices and do great things for the world just like everyone else.
2. All Indigenous People Have Suffered
While suffering is a part of the human experience, indigenous people have suffered to an extreme. Their rights have been trampled on all over the world. If they express anger, let them. It is justified. However, if that anger begins to overrun your fundamental beliefs, you have the right to take a step back. All people can occasionally go overboard, establishing clear boundaries is a positive thing for relationships of all kinds including friendships, work and political. Just keep in mind that western culture has trampled those boundaries over the past couple of hundred years, so don't be surprised if boundaries is a reoccuring subject that comes up in a conversation with an indigenous person. Everyone has a right to their own boundaries including you.
3. No One Knows If They Are Indigenous Enough (Except those rare few who are 100%)
Yes, this is true among all native cultures I have encountered. Nowadays there are more and more people claiming native ancestry (including myself) that may or may not be proven through documentation and genetic testing. While some people have a small minority they claim as indigenous and others have a large amount that can be proven. I have noticed that no one knows whether they are "native enough". I met a gentleman who was 75% from two tribes but grew up in New York so he considers himself not native enough. I am not saying that everyone who has a small percentage should run out and buy a turquoise necklace. I am saying that this is incredibly ingrained in many of the Native American tribes. It is part of being Indian. In my opinion, this type of humility is in itself an indicator of someone who truly respects indigenous cultures. Idealy, everyone is considered of equal importance unless it is earned, but sometimes the implications of having more indigenous blood (the way a person looks, speaks or is raised) forces these lessons to be learned in society to greater degree.
4. We Are All Related And Only Spirit Has The Answer
Quite literally, we are all related. When you get right down to it, we are all part of one big race. Anyone who tells you that you are less than they are based on race, religion, gender or creed is just wrong. We are all pieces of star dust. I don't mean to sound like a raging hippie right now, but let it be known that all people are your teachers. Seeking one wise person to teach you your way is like looking in the mirror to see your own backbone. You keep searching, but can't see it so you assume you are not using it every single day. The only thing a teacher can give you is to find your own voice, your own way, and your own backbone -regardless of what genetics you are made of.
THANK YOU for observing Indigenous People's Day 2018