Artful Land Care

Posts Tagged ‘Anti-Racism’

American Progress

In Doctrine of Discovery, Peace & Justice on November 28, 2019 at 10:18 am

I like the idea of Thanksgiving as much as the next white guy, I imagine.  I like it as much as most of my Indian, Native American, and Indigenous friends.  Only a fool thinks there is no need for thankfulness for having this shot to live out our particular existence within and of creation; having the chance to wonder—in our particular human way—what it means to think and ponder our connection—from earth dust to star dust—and imagine what has been, what is, what will be.

Thankfulness should matter.  We should remember this life is nothing without relationship: with humans, with water, with animals, with plants, with wind, with microorganisms, with stars, with dirt.  We should remember we are little without the fullness of creation.

In thankfulness though, we should take note of what intrudes upon the wellbeing of creation.  In our comfort we need to voice that which shatters relationship, kills, damages generationally, and hinders creations wellbeing, wonderment, imagination, and spirit. Read the rest of this entry »

Standing Rock 2018

In YCM on June 17, 2018 at 11:37 am

A twenty-hour drive and I am back home on a sunny and clear Sunday morning.  Such a drive allows much time for reflection.  The last few weeks of visiting reservations of this ancient land, having many conversations, and living with young adults on the Standing Rock reservation gives one much to ponder.  Just the same, I spent as much of that driving time listening to TED Talk’s and music than I did pondering the past.  So, on this sunny Sunday morning, as I write this last piece on the Standing Rock trip, I settle upon one image of these last weeks.

Four mares stand in a temporary corral. They each descend from a particular time in the life of the Hunkpapa Lakota people.  Specifically under the leadership of Sitting Bull.  The story told is about Sitting Bull and a number of folk going to Canada after the Battle of Little Bighorn for safety.  They live there for a number of years.  During that time US representatives visited five times to negotiate their return to the US.  After the fifth time Sitting Bull and the people agree to return—under specific conditions and agreements.  When they returned their horses were taken from them and they confined to place—not the conditions and place agreed to.  The four mares standing in the corral before me are decedents of the Sitting Bull horses taken on that day. Read the rest of this entry »

Standing Rock 2018

In YCM on June 13, 2018 at 12:00 pm

I’ve known about the Mandan people for more time than most westerners west of the Rockies.  Mostly because I married into a North Dakota family.  As one might suspect my knowledge was rather lacking as a white non-Native marrying into a white non-Native family. Of course my schooling was lacking in the Nativeness of the landscape as well.  My education was better than many, I figure, because my junior and high school years were the years of the Red Power movement.  Not only did I have access to nightly news events: Occupation of Alcatraz Island 1969-71, Wounded Knee incident 1973, but I went to a fairly progressive High school for the era that allowed for an edgy curriculum that include Native American studies.  Once I get to the bottom of it though, I knew nothing of indigenous history by the time I graduated High School.

Since last Saturday I have been hanging with a number of High School students in North Dakota, on the Standing Rock Reservation where Dakota and Lakota (mostly) people live.  The reservation itself is a small piece of what was once the Great Sioux Reservation, which went through a great reduction after gold was found in the Black Hills in the early 1870’s—enough of that though, typical history can be looked up.  I find myself on the reservation because of two people, Laurie Pound-Feille and Bill Spangler-Dunning.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Tyranny of Hateful Language

In Doctrine of Discovery, Theology on January 14, 2018 at 7:41 am

The first three days of this week I lived and conversed with family, friends and neighbors about our human need to become family with the fullness of Creation.  I was at Winter Talk and this was a time of imagining with a hint of visioning of whom we might become if we could set our heart and spirit to hearing the voice of soil and water, plant and animal, and wind.  There is great hope in having a group of people wander the outskirts rationality, look beyond the logical ridges that have bounded us for generations, and wonder a grace which includes that Creation which we could not dream as kin.  Yet a truth still lies at the feet of such inspiration.  We can never know such wonderment until we first get it right with that Creation which most looks like us, smells like us, and feels like us.

I’d hardly returned home when the comment came over the radio.  “Goddamn reservation.”  The phrase was not word for word “goddamn reservation,” but word exactness was not the point of the comment I’ve heard many times.  The incendiary comment has one purpose, to instill anger, fear, and agreement. Read the rest of this entry »

Daybreak

In Doctrine of Discovery, Theology on November 30, 2017 at 8:57 am

Dawn.  Sage and I finish feeding cattle.  We turn our attention to loading hay for tomorrows morning feeding—she keeps guard from atop the trucks toolbox while I load bales.  The cold morning holds little of what will come in the winter months ahead, just the same the cold is doing well holding forth a frosty morning—Sage chooses to stand more than sit on the trucks cold toolbox.

Predawn.  When life goes well in the short daylight hours of late fall I begin catching up on the suggested reading friends have recommended since early spring.  Seasonal reading has me reading multiple books at a time.  Doing so is not a preference.  However, going with what strikes me best in the moment allows for reasonable listening.  This morning I chose Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book Between The World And Me and Sherman Alexie’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.  Neither, at least at the point where I am currently at, can hardly be called “uplifting.”  Both speak of children to young men who lived in landscapes and conditions different than mine.

Dawn.  Cattle follow me as I drive through the field.  Because pickup, hay, and food are one in their eyes, I left the gate open as I drove through.  They can’t help themselves but to follow the truck.  Every once in a while a steer will look at the open gate, but the pickups draw is too great. With a jump and a cow-kick they turn and follow. Read the rest of this entry »

Setting the Plow Toward Justice

In Doctrine of Discovery, Reservation on October 9, 2017 at 8:48 am


A settling comes with Autumn.  As if restlessness is married to frosty mornings and the folding and browning of leaves in the garden.  This moment is one of settling up.  One cannot let too many frosts go by without picking the last of summers produce.  Both the over-ripe and the green recipes come out.  Salsas and relishes are the order of the day.

Initially a pause, of sorts, inhabits the landscape in this season.  Summers constant movement of irrigation, cutting, raking, baling, and repeat ends with the last haying.  The criticalness of irrigation slows with cooling weather.  Winter is a breath away though.  So if fall planting is to occur, life is all about soil preparation, planting of seed, and irrigating until plants are tall and roots are deep enough to take on winters freeze.

Restlessness often moves us toward change.  Plowing ground is one.  Yet another has been called for for years.  In the federal US, this day of October has long been named Columbus Day.  For some time, and surely a few will jump on the bandwagon today, municipalities have been renaming this day as Indigenous Day or Indigenous Peoples Day or something along that order.  Over the years I have wondered if such change is appropriate. Read the rest of this entry »

White and the Need to Advance Beyond White Culture Mythology

In Peace & Justice on September 3, 2017 at 10:00 am

Mythology

Willian Kittredge wrote, “Mythology can be understood as a story that contains a set of implicit instructions from a society to its members, telling them what is valuable and how to conduct themselves if they are to preserve the things they value.”  In the US, a settling people clung so deeply to a mythology it became sanctified.

If one has been educated in the US school system, as I was—it matters little if it was public or private, they were taught to accept the sanctified mythology of…

There were a people who believed in freedom, not for one but for all, and who had a penchant for justice.  They came to this land on the eastern seaboard and after a few mishaps with local people and turning away from the controlling empires of the old land, they began moving west.  They were a rural people who worked hard.  Full of awe as they crossed a continent of beauty and wonder.  They were not without fear, but they were a people who bore down and created a land of peace and riches for their children, regardless of danger.  Yes, they displace the people who were already living in the land, but they also filled an unbroken land with the splendor of agriculture and Christianity.  The plow turned native soil and the land answered with an abundance of wheat, corn, and apples.  And where the plow could not turn soil, native plants allowed cattle to prosper.  These were a people of vision, faith, and wonderment.

Though mythical in nature, the story was sanctified in churches across the land as preachers spoke of them opening the US landscape as if they were the Israelites moving into Canaan.  There were some folk who spoke to the vile nature of the myth (and many fought and died to change it—writers, preachers, Freedom Riders, sages, marchers and protestors,) but a sanctified myth is hard to erase. Read the rest of this entry »

Loosing Wildness

In Doctrine of Discovery, Theology on October 28, 2016 at 8:00 am

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If you were to go back two hundred and eleven years ago last Saturday (October 22) and stand on the bank of the Columbia River at Celilo Falls, you would watch hundreds of fishing families hoop-netting the salmon fall run.  Mid-day arrives and with your kin, you sit and eat in as unending mist rises from the falls turning waters.  The sound and constant mist is a wonder, but that wonder deepens as a group of folk portage the falls—the only place needing portage on this river of Canadian birth.  Word came weeks ago about these people headed by Lewis and Clark traveling west on the river.  However, you have lived long enough now to know what you hear, what you see, and what you experience seldom are a match.

Some two hundred miles upstream from the river’s mouth, these fishers are folk of subsistence. The falls are a natural barrier to returning salmon.  As more and more arrive on their journey to mate, lay eggs, and die in their spawning streams and creeks of birth, the pools below the falls fill.  As they leap and hurdle themselves ever forward over the falls toward embodied spawning grounds men with large hoop nets stand firmly on long-ago constructed family platforms pulling salmon from the river.  Youth gather fish and carry them to women who work carving meat away from bones and hanging it to dry.  Children help where they can, but most run about and play games as children do.  The value of those fishing, gathering, fileting, or drying is the same.  The work is natural work.  Honorable work.  The righteous work of community.

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Until the 1930’s, the Columbia did not know a dam. A century and a quarter after Lewis and Clark portaged around Celilo Falls, that all changed.  Read the rest of this entry »

Peace Through Allies

In Peace & Justice on January 31, 2016 at 8:35 am

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January 31, 2015

Friends often make you think. Not a bad thing, but often a hard thing. Thought, while good, is not always good or risky enough without verbalization. Shayne and Sandhya, I figure, know that, which, maybe, is why last October they asked what I thought about the blog Please Stop Being a Good White Person (TM). Thinking about it wasn’t enough. I would have to risk voice. Something I seldom enjoy on edgy issues. Well, five months is enough time to stew over it.

The blogger uses a quote from Dr. Kings Letter from a Birmingham Jail,

“Over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.”

We all like Dr. King quotes, don’t we? Yet, we seldom see ourselves on the challenged end of the quote. The problem Dr. King addresses here is that of ally. He speaks about justice orientated folk who are about change, but fear what might happen to their reputation if their heart is voiced (hmm, like me for the last five months?); and the perceived communal stability that exists with the no comment negative peace.

Some sixty years later I find I line up closer with Johan Galtung’s understanding of negative peace than I do with Dr. King’s. I figure there is plenty of tension lying just below the communal surface now (listen to the tone of the blog) and in King’s era. The peace known in society, now and then, is not the absence of tension, but the absence of violence. Which for my money means, no one should be surprised if the boiling tension below the surface ends up blowing the lid off the teakettle. Read the rest of this entry »

Family—99 %’s & Malheur

In Peace & Justice, YCM on January 10, 2016 at 9:24 am

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January 10, 2016

Never gave the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge much thought before? Neither had I. I traveled nearby, once, a few years ago. Heading south to the Steens Mountain Wilderness, I skirted by to the west on the two-lane highway. I probably passed a sign telling me to turn east to the Refuge, but I missed it the high desert of sky and sage. Though traveling at 55 mph doesn’t allow for much, you can still catch your breath in this beautifully rural and open landscape

I find it sad that the first time most US folk become aware of this landscape it is not for its beauty.

Enough has been said about the gun toting, cowboy hat wearing folk who are living at the Refuge these days. However, as one who wears a cowboy hat, hunts, and whom neighbors think of as the local liberal, here are two more cents.

It figure it was about the time I first heard about #YallQaeda and #VanillaISIS tweeting and folk wondering about calling this occupy movement domestic terrorism, that I began thinking about the Refugee occupiers and the now, mostly, defunct Occupy Movement/99 percent movement in the same light. Sure there is a difference between those who carry guns and those who don’t, but then again, who is feeling their lives are threatened by the few folk in the 10-30 degree weather of the east Oregon high desert, locals notwithstanding.

I find I agree about as much with the Refugee occupiers as I did with the Occupy Movement. In both cases, it seems most folk are/were about maintaining a middle (or higher) class existence for themselves. I want more land (the Refugee folk). I want a better job (the Occupy Movement). My friends who support one group or the other would say that is simplistic and it is more complicated than that. I’ll give you that. My question though, then as now, is when this is all over will you give of your time and resources to better the lives of those who have less? Read the rest of this entry »