Becoming a competent human being

“If you think about it, you will see that it is true.” Vine Deloria, Jr

These words stick with me. They have proven to be a good path to follow whenever I’m confused, or worried, or feebly attempting to untangle wicked problems. This is what I know about the power of these wise words from an esteemed elder.

  • One must be committed to the process of ‘thinking’.
  • One must be willing to release prejudice, dogma, rhetoric and bombast. Separating out the noise of the world is critical to this process.
  • One must be committed to seeing Truth.
  • One must be willing and able to put the time in for the thinking part.

Like many, I am concerned about the divisions in this world. Along those lines, I find myself looking for truths that help me build a foundation against fear and worry. I have been contemplating this statement – “All our opponents have is money” – and would like to take a few minutes of time to defend the premise.

“If you think about it, you will see that it is true.”

All our opponents have is money.

The movement of people who fight against social equity and environmental harmony base their arguments and actions on works that have been undertaken for centuries. The work of attempting to erase Indigneity from the landscape, both figuratively and literally.

Indigenous signatures on the landscape are responsible for healthy and vibrant systems of land, water, air.

  • Land that can be walked on without fear of disease.
  • Water that can be ingested safely.
  • More-than-human relatives that contribute to and complete a healthy ecosystem.
  • Air that inspirits life, in a good way.

The good news is that those Indigenous signatures can’t be erased. They are eternal, ageless, borne of the compact struck millennia ago between human beings and more-than-human beings. The Indigenous mind and spirit lives on, eternally, in the places where songs have been sung and ceremony has been undertaken; where children have been born and brought new gifts to the world; where elders have made their journey to the spirit world and left their vessels behind as part of the cycle of returning to the mother the gift that was given at birth; where warriors have shed blood in protection of the compact and the people.

All our opponents have is money.

“If you think about it, you will see that it is true.”

Those who stand up for the protection and preservation of the Indigenous signature on sacred places – who lend their hearts, hands and minds to the work of rekindling the reciprocal relationship and who honor the sacredness of life do so as part of the journey of becoming what Dr. Henrietta Mann refers to “a competent human being.” A competent human being, if you think about it, requires more than having knowledge. I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Marco Hatch speak at symposium the last couple of years. From the notes I have taken, he promotes the idea that ecological and environmental studies undertaken without applying the context of culture is an immature and incomplete approach to knowing a complex system, a system that has a way of knowing outside the way humans ‘know’. A competent human being makes space for the cultural contexts that are found in the ways that trees, mushrooms and humans exist together. A competent human being contemplates the relationship between sweetgrass stands and human beings, the way Dr. Robin Wall-Kimmerer shows us. A competent human being develops a relationship whereby the gifts of water, sweetgrass and mushrooms can edify and feed humans without disrespecting or destroying the very basis of life which promotes the availability of those gifts. So, becoming a competent human being means that you are thinking, developing wisdom and compassion.

All our opponents have is money.

The opposite of truth is a lie. There are those among us who work day and night to perpetuate a lie. The foundation of this lie has been promoted and forced on us for centuries. The lie that human beings are separate and above our more-than-human relatives. That our water, land, air, animal relatives are nothing more than resources to be consumed. This lie allows them to poison the water and tell us that our only alternative is to buy the water they package in oil-based packaging. The lie has separated us from the life and death rituals of hunting. The lie allows them to poison the air, with false promises that they aren’t poisoning it too much. They poison the night sky with high-lumen LED lights so that we can’t see the stars and the magic of the night sky, causing us to perhaps forget, or at least question, how much we belong to this inter-connected world. They confine us to cubicle walls so that we can’t feel or hear the sun, or the songs of birds, frogs, geese as they go about living the sacred sovereignty Creator gifted them. They rewrite history so that we are led to believe that the world doesn’t operate this way and to hide what they have undertaken to perpetuate and try to strengthen the lies.

Those who perpetuate these lies have money. I clearly see the force that money has had over the centuries. I’m not naive. I also clearly see the imprints that Indigeneity has left, and continues to create, in spite of the force of money. There is a difference between power and force. “If you think about it, you will see that it is true.” (Or you can read up more on it by researching Dr. David Hawkins and his book “Power vs. Force”.)

Money can never destroy truth. Not in any substantive way, and definitely not over the course of time.

Truth is. Shakespeare knew. Truth will out.

Those who stand up for the protection and preservation of the Indigenous signature on sacred places have a desire for truth, fueled by their hearts, souls and minds. It is a calling to live here as competent human beings. We are many.

Just as I was finishing up this post, I was shown a creation done by Ojibwe artist Christi Belcourt. Her post included these words. “Let’s not fight each other. Let’s fight for the oceans. #mniwiconi

cbelcourt lets not fight each other

We don’t all yet live in communion with one another, but we are moving toward that. We no longer are able to see our relatives – aki, nbi, miitigoog, aandegaag – as resources or accessories to life. We see the truth of their sovereignty and are coming to recognize our sovereignty.

Building community, having discussions, setting aside our dogmas and prejudices are critical to the work and the movement to tip our consciousness so that our actions are aligned to that consciousness. But we must figure out how to stop fighting …. and I need to spend some more time on this before I write more. I must put in the thinking time in pursuit of the truth behind that instinct.


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Twylia (the 'i' is silent)

~ I am Anishinaabe-kwe with Scottish heritage and Sami DNA. I speak on the behalf of no one but myself. My ancestors inform and guide me. My voice is but one of many who are calling for change. We have much work to do to create a good space for the real human beings who are waiting to be born.

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