We are concerned about the present and future of our Native People
as well as the welfare of all people, including the mother earth and
life. As traditional Indian people, we are a people of peace. Peace
means to live in harmony with each other and nature. Peace also means
to follow one's own spiritual understanding.
We are concerned at this time because our Indian People are not able
to practice the ceremonies for protection of land, water, animals, birds,
fish, and all other life. Traditional Indian People are not able to
continue these ceremonies because the foreign Non-Indian people do not
understand our way of life. They impose their way of life on us through
their schools, institutions, education, government and language. The
Indian culture is not respected or recognized by the foreign people
dominating our continent.
Everything on earth needs to be put into natural balance to restore
order. Non-Indian people do not understand this natural order and balance
of life. Nature is in certain patterns which is why we have certain
ceremonies using herbs, feathers, sacred objects and medicines to keep
the land and life in balance. This has to be done so there is no drastic
change in seasons or any other natural catastrophes such as earthquakes
The main difference between the Indian culture and Non-Indian way of
life is that we have these songs, prayers and ceremonies for our plants,
animals, water, land and life. We have respect for our Mother Earth.
The Non-Indian disturbs nature by misusing the natural elements and
life to increase wealth or make money for personal gain and power.
This difference creates problems. The Non-Indian problem is forced
upon us through the "system". This way of life controls more
and more of our people. It takes eight hours a day every day, five days
a week for menial wages with no share in the profits in order to make
money to pay bills. There is no time left except on weekends which is
usually spent unwisely.
We would urge all of our people and other people who value life to
work with the land and become independent of this alien way of life.
Some of what the Non-Indian has can be used in a proper way. Take only
what we need asking through prayer or ceremony and giving thanks in
the same way.
As traditional elders, we would like to come in the open, to feel free
in our own country, carry out our traditional ceremonies and live in
our traditional governments. Instead we live under constant oppression,
degradation and discrimination. We do not like having a false image
of ourselves projected and depicted in the movies, history books and
media. We want to be free to speak the truth and have that truth acknowledged
without fear of retaliation and punishment to ourselves, our families
and our people.
We would caution you that every Indian who calls himself a traditional
Indian, medicine man or whatever may not be genuine. Some of our people
and some who are not our people use our religion to fundraise money
for themselves. There have been times when we have been misrepresented
here at home and in foreign countries. We all know who each other are.
Many of our people are involved in struggles and legal battles over
land, water and sacred sites. We urge everyone's support in these efforts.
The President's Office has stepped up their tactics to bring large corporations
to our "reserved" homelands. This will speed up the misuse
and taking of more of our lands, water, resources and people. They call
this "economic development to assist self-sufficiency of Indian
Tribes". We want this to stop.
We are living in a different time from the ancient past till now. We
must all learn to live and respect each other. For us, this means to
stop imposing and forcing an alien way of life upon us. The Indian world
is a real world and we would like to keep on living. We don't need pollution,
greed, false power, atomic bombs, nuclear plants, missiles, and a ruling
system of "blind leading the blind".
The Native People of this country are looking for good Non-Indian people
to understand so that we can work together for the future for all our
children, to prevent wars, famine and aid in peaceful solutions to world
From Vivian Olds (Northern Paiute) and the Elders of the Indian Tribes