On these topics I will endeavor to be objective and be of a good mind. One of the teachings I have received states that we need to focus on whatever is true, pure, admirable, lovely, anything excellent or praiseworthy; these are the things we need to meditate on. So accordingly, how we approach the matters of life really does matter. A new revelation on an issue can change perspectives and be more powerful than bullets.
[Before I go any further I would like to make a disclaimer: My name is Barry Maracle and am a member of the Mohawk Nation of Tyendinaga. I am not speaking on the behalf of anyone but myself, and am certainly not an authority on any of these issues. I am just disseminating information that I have received from my Grandfather (Andrew C. Maracle Sr.), other Elders and through my own research. My hope is that my words would be a catalyst for healing.]
This grassroots movement called “Idle No More”, whether right or wrong, just or unjust, the title of the movement itself has tapped into what the Creator is endeavoring to speak to us regarding this season we are in. This title, “Idle No More” itself, is prophetically speaking to what this season is all about.
We are in a season of action and the words Carpe Diem, “Seize The Moment!”, are ringing loud and clear. It’s not just for the First Peoples of North America, but it is a worldwide feeling that we have an opportunity and a sense of duty to do something right here and right now!
With all the tragedy, wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, tsunamis, recessions, terrorism and a vacuum of authentic leadership, it seems that people are taking measures into their own hands. It’s like they are saying, “I’m not going to let someone else decide my destiny, I will rise up, take my place and not just let life pass me by!” I’ve been saying similar things for months now, speaking from the phrase, “My deliverance is in my… GO!” It’s not time to sit idly and watch things happen to me! It’s time to arise and shine! It seems that a number of people are getting the same thing, “It’s Go Time!”
So we, Natives and non-Natives, are being presented with an opportunity clothed in what seems to be opposition. There is so much energy flowing around and it must be harnessed. We can’t afford to waste this moment or allow our nation to spiral into anarchy. The winds of change are blowing, we can either turn our backs and hope it will eventually subside or we can put up our sails and harness this force and steer towards our true purpose. The choice is ours.
In the attempt to bring forth context and perspective on current affairs, please indulge me as I set a backdrop from history.
At the zenith of my people, The Iroquoian/Haudenosaunee (The People of The Longhouse), ruled from Nova Scotia right through to the mouth of the Mississippi. We consisted of originally 5 nations (Mohawk, Cayuga, Onadaga, Onieda and Senaca) and were brought together by the Great Peace Maker and Ahia:watha (Hiawatha). Several other nations like the Tuscarora (who were later adopted by the confederacy) and the Delaware, paid tribute to the Iroquoian Confederacy. We had many allies and some adversaries. We had our own issues before the settlers came. We were a political and military powerhouse easily equal, if not far superior to the settlers at the time when the first covenantal treaty was set in place.
On a side note, two interesting facts of the Iroquois People is that 80% of the world’s known vegetables were developed by them. Corn, beans, squash, etc. Also in 1984, the Government of the U.S. finally acknowledged the fact that a large percentage of the constitution of the United States of America was founded on The Constitution of The Iroquois Confederacy. Just a bit more history. When the new settlers started coming to these shores just over 400 years ago, they were, for the most part, welcomed with open arms. We made treaties (binding agreements) with our wampum belts.
The Two Row Wampum:
The Two Row Wampum Treaty, Guswhenta, is the 1613 agreement made between the Five Nations of the Haudenosaunee (People of the Long House) and the representatives of the Dutch government in what is now New York State. The Haudenosaunee consider this treaty to be the grandfather of all treaties and the basis of all subsequent agreements with European, Canadian and American governments.
The belt consists of two rows of purple wampum beads set on a background of white wampum beads. The purple beads signify the course of two vessels – a Haudenosaunee canoe and a non-Native ship that are traveling down the river of life together, side-by-side but never touching, with each people in their own boat with their own laws, religion, customs, and sovereignty. Though the customs followed are different, each people are equal. The three white stripes symbolize friendship, peace, and respect between the two nations. The three rows of white beads is what separates and at the same time it’s what binds us together.
Haudenosaunee tradition records the following as the Haudenosaunee reply to the initial Dutch treaty proposal: “You say that you are our Father and I am your son. We say, We will not be like Father and Son, but like Brothers. This wampum belt confirms our words. These two rows will symbolize two paths or two vessels, traveling down the same river together. One, a birch bark canoe, will be for the Indian People, their laws, their customs and their ways. The other, a ship, will be for the white people and their laws, their customs and their ways. We shall each travel the river together, side by side, but in our boat. Neither of us will make compulsory laws or interfere in the internal affairs of the other. Neither of us will try to steer the other’s vessel. The agreement has been kept by the Iroquois to this date.”
Further Haudenosaunee tradition states the duration of the Two Row Wampum agreement to be:
“As long as the Sun shines upon this Earth, that is how long OUR Agreement will stand; Second, as long as the Water still flows; and Third, as long as the Grass Grows Green at a certain time of the year. Now we have Symbolized this agreement and it shall be binding forever as long as Mother Earth is still in motion.” So here we are in 2013 and it’s the 400th anniversary of the Two Row wampum belt treaty and the question is what are we going to do now?
Our treaties were made together out of mutual respect and actually, brotherhood. We did not make agreements out of weakness, quite the contrary, it was out of alignment of people wanting to co-exist as friends and extended family.
Many things have come to challenge the resolve of The Two Row Wampum Agreement and many have said that it has been broken and some say even that it cannot be repaired.
The question is… are we of the same mind as our ancestors that made these agreements?
Has the sun stopped shining? Have the rivers stopped flowing or the grass stopped growing at certain times of the year?
Maybe the sun has not stopped shining and the waters are still flowing, but it seems that the grass has stopped growing. For many of our people, it seems like for the last 200 years, and in some ways longer, it has been at a winter season and they can’t see the grass growing. The circumstances and situations that they see themselves in, causes the eyes to loose the sight of Hope. The broken promises, unilateral governmental decisions, residential schools and what seems to be a mandate of assimilation, have all contributed to this winter season that has settled in over the last 400 years. I’ve heard it said that some people came to this land with a pistol that became a pencil and rifle that has become a referendum and with what seemed by some to be a course set on annihilation has actually come by way of assimilation. Whether true or not, or how much truth there is to these claims, I’m not sure, but these perceptions still remain.
That all said, I believe what “Idle No More” is picking up on, is the Spirit of Freedom and Liberation that the First Peoples of North America have the potential of, right Now!
I believe that a thaw is coming and I have a sense that the winter season may be ending and perhaps the unsettling feelings of the First Peoples is really a sense of Hope. Am I crazy for even saying this? Am I delusional and full of false hope? Am I naive for even suggesting this? It’s been four hundred years since our first covenant was made. Do we have the audacity to dream of a better tomorrow? I would like to present 3 examples of hope and change of another people who lost hope and didn’t know where to turn. (Hopefully the lack of complete context of the following 3 stories is overshadowed by the cohesive revelation they present.)
Let me begin the first with… After 400 years the children of Israel were delivered from slavery and oppression. The first years of living in Egypt were not bad, but the last 50 to100 years were when things got really difficult. Originally, when the descendants of Israel went to Egypt, it was for their provision. Another example, after 400 years the Moabites and the Ammonites were set free and the Great Matriarch Ruth, the great grandmother of King David came on the scene. The third example is the 400 years of silence between the Last words spoken by the Prophets in the Old Testament and the First words spoken in the New Testament. God stopped speaking to the nation of Israel for 400 years until the Prophet John introduced the Savior. So what am I trying to say? I’m saying, these situations, people and places may not be the same as our struggles but there is a certain interesting correlation and precedents shown in them. There seems to be something of significance happening after the 10th generation or 400 years.
It’s been 400 years and I believe the Creator and Source of all is wanting to stir us and instill in us, as inhabitants of this land, a fresh Hope, a fresh resolve and an awareness of our relational authority that we have. I believe He is wanting us to realize who we are as caretakers and peacemakers. As stewards and fathers and mothers of this land we need to stand up and take our rightful place in the grand scheme of the Father’s Dream for this Continent. I believe that Canada and the United States of America (Turtle Island), have been pre-destined by our Creator with an end of time calling to be nations of refuge. The reason why the foreigners have come to this land is for a purpose, that they would find refuge and healing. Turtle Island has a continental mandate to protect the weak and to be a healing to the oppressed. Many things have gone wrong to try to thwart this Dream of our Creator.
I am feeling this year 2013, is a year of new beginnings and if we can begin to work together towards the bigger picture of why foreigners have taken refuge here and what was our original intent for us coming together in this land… Is there a DNA of God’s design that needed to come together, in this land, to be an answer to this very troubled world? Maybe we will be able to see something bigger than all our current needs and maybe there is this One New Man arising out of the ashes of hopelessness and maybe we can be a healing agent and maybe we can continue to be the bigger people and maybe it’s time that we begin to BE what the Creator always planned for us to BE. “The Healers!” Healers to not just this land but as healing arrows of peace propelled into the Nations around the world with the Message of peace, friendship and respect, producing HONOUR and manifesting, The Healing.
Do we have things to work on in regards to broken promises hurts and wounds? Yes, we sure do. Do we have a lack of respect and honour when it comes to seeing each other as partners and not liabilities? Yes we do. Should the Governments be honourable about agreements? Yes, of course they should. The question is, with what mind do we approach our deficits with? Will we be solution oriented? Another question is, how can we work together to make this great nation, that much better? How do we go about our negotiations? Who is leading us that has the good mind that is not fighting for the rights of a certain group of people? Who is leading us that has the Dream of our Creator and the mind of our ancestors at the core of their decision making process?
As much as rights and privileges are important, there is something much grander at stake, and that is our powerful purpose that God wants to reveal to us, in this season.
The final question I pose is, after 400 years, can we be open to receive The Creator’s Fresh Word’s of Hope and direction that He longs to release to us? The sun is still shining, waters are still flowing and I believe that the grass-growing season has come upon us, again.
In closing, I am cognitive that within this letter I have not offered solutions to our current situations, directly. That was never my intent. My hope and intent is that these words breathe life into our minds and begin to blow the distractions away so we can see clearly, a way out, up and onto the path of reconciliation and into the brighter more prosperous tomorrow. As my grandfather used to tell me, “everything we do today must be preparing for the next 7 generations.”
Nia:wen (thank you) and God Bless our Year, our potential and this Great Land,
Barry C. Maracle