Utilizing Indigenous Thought to Cope in the Age of Trump

November 26, 2017
Posted in Blog
November 26, 2017 Editor

Utilizing Indigenous Thought to Cope in the Age of Trump

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

By Four Arrows, Truthout | Op-Ed

photo above: Indigenous people from the Tohono O’odham ethnic group dance and sing to protest against US President Donald Trump’s intention to build a new wall in the border between Mexico and United States, on March 25, 2017, in the Altar desert, in Sonora, in the border with Arizona, northern Mexico. (Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP / Getty Images)

WN: Below is a wise, challenging, hopeful piece. As I read it, I reflected on how similar it is to The Great Tradition within the Judaeo-Christian Story, and beyond. Today’s reading on this is copied below:

An excerpt from Laurence Freeman OSB, “Reverence,” LIGHT WITHIN: Meditation as Pure Prayer (New York: Crossroad, 1989), pp. 92, 94-95.

Photo by Li Jen Jian on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Religious people tend to be more self-conscious than others. And if we are honest about our self-consciousness we should see its connection with a certain lack of reverence in our religious life. We may indeed be surprised that at the most sacred moments in our religious life our spirit of reverence is shamefully hollow. A busy, noisy irreverence in our churches is certainly something that non-Christians often remark upon. They remark for example on the lack of silence or of physical stillness. They often remark too about the amount of time spent in asking God for things we want.

This does not mean that we should never move in our seats, or that words are not an enriching part of religious worship.     But . . .  meditation changes our attitude to worship because it teaches from within our own experience that the God we worship is present and that it is his presence that we are worshipping. Meditation makes our religious life more reverential because it teaches us, through experience of his indwelling Presence, that it is in his Presence that we worship his Presence. We are no less in him than he is in us. In the interpenetration of his consciousness with ours we know because we are known. The most natural response to any experience in which we know and are known is reverential silence. Silence leads deeper into mutual knowledge. [. . .]

We use so many words. We hear the same words, the same ideas, so many times a day that they become blunted for us. But many people will remember how they could hear the words of St Paul read by Father John [Main] as if they were hearing them for the first time. That was wonder. Without wonder we forget that the reality we are talking of and worshipping is real, is present. Reverence and wonder can grow only out of a direct contact with real Presence. Otherwise, we remain locked at the level of indirect contact, talking about, thinking about. We then inevitably become self-consciously concerned with the way we talk, the way we express it, the way we come across; and so develop religious self-importance. The next step is to become argumentative or condemnatory. This is the great curse and tendency of religious people, the consequence of losing reverence.

Yet the way from self-importance to reverence is so simple. We don’t have to try to engineer direct contact with God because it has already been made. That is the incarnation, the Word made flesh. We don’t have to try to argue our way into that greater Consciousness because it has already taken up its dwelling within us, not by argument but by love. Meditation is simply knowing that (emphasis added).

After Meditation: “Two Kinds of Intelligence” The Essential Rumi, tr. Coleman Barks (Edison, NJ: Castle Books, 1997) p. 178.

There are two kinds of intelligence: one acquired,

as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts

from books and from what the teacher says,

collecting information from the traditional sciences

as well as from the new sciences.

With such intelligence you rise in the world.

You get ranked ahead or behind others

in regard to your competence in retaining

information. You stroll with this intelligence

in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more

marks on your preserving tablets.

There is another kind of tablet, one

already completed and preserved inside you,

a spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness

in the center of the chest. This other intelligence

does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid,

and it doesn’t move from outside to inside

through the conduits of plumbing-learning.

This second knowing is a fountainhead

from within you, moving out.

Carla Cooper

Finally, please take note of this very wise piece about calling a spade a spade:

Facebook post by Sakej Ward.  Tues. Nov. 28. 2017

I see a lot of posts calling the Europeans the first illegal immigrants. While I do really appreciate the work to expose the hypocrisy of Euro-American and Euro-Canadian anti-immigration mindset, I would like to go a step further and add another perspective.
I think it would be more accurate to recognize early Europeans as invaders and not just merely illegal immigrants. An immigrant seeks to become part of the society they are coming to not to destroy it and take it over. This is a very important distinction from an invader.

Europeans had no intent of becoming “citizens” of any Indigenous nation. They deliberately denied any recognition of Indigenous nationhood right from the very beginning. Do you really think the Pilgrims were European refugees coming over to enthusiastically become “citizens” of the Wampanoag nation?

Immigrants have no intention of stealing the nation or continent, their first acts aren’t declaring sovereignty (absolute political and legal power of a nation). “Illegal” immigrants don’t show up with arms, military force, gun boats and immediately build military bases (forts) on a foreign land. “Illegal” immigrants don’t pursue an imperial strategy of colonialism as the prime reason to emigrate to our lands. “Illegal” immigrants don’t conduct wars of genocide, ethnic-cleansing, coups (usurpation of traditional governments) and assimilation. They are the acts of a very different kind of foreigner: the acts of an invader.

I suspect that the Euro-American and Euro-Canadian anti-immigration fears of “terrorists”, with intent of waging a dirty war, hidden in the crowds of foreign refugees or “illegal” immigrants is a subconscious mirror reflection of their own history and imperial intent.

I realize there is a lot more to this issue than just the correct label but terminology shapes our perspective of things. If we merely call early Europeans “illegal” immigrants, and they were that but they were also far more than that, then we reduce the scope of their historical atrocities and genocidal intent. We let them off the hook for history’s worst crimes against humanity.

So for those Indigenous people putting out posts on Europeans being the first illegal immigrants, keep up the good work of building awareness. I really mean this, it’s not sarcasm but also purposefully take the discussions a little bit further to capture the horrific truths of our reality.


As an Indigenous professor, researcher and author, I knew immediately what she was saying: Trump was only a more blatant manifestation of the kinds of inequity, hierarchy and violence against all of the natural world that American Indigenous have suffered throughout US history. We all knew this related to a small percentage of individuals controlling everyone and everything else. I also understood that such an affair had faced humanity globally for only the past 1 percent of human history. For 99 percent of our time on this planet, prior to our “point-of-departure” around 9,000 years ago, most humans lived as Indigenous peoples who managed to thrive in relative harmony without destroying the planet’s life-systems. What the Lakota veteran was conveying was not so much that white people were now getting a taste of their own medicine, but rather that implications of the dominant culture’s worldview are currently catching up to everyone.


Such sentiments are common to many of the great variety of Indigenous cultures around the world, including those eradicated and those surviving. They can be contrasted sharply with the cultures that converge around the dominant worldview. So, how can we draw upon Indigenous worldviews to make sense of the era of Trump, and to move beyond it? Here are some Indigenous worldview precepts one can use to evaluate — and begin to transform — one’s thinking and beliefs:

1) Love of Life and acceptance of its mysteries is essential for wellness.

2) Every life form is interconnected, equal in significance and deserves respect.

3) Ceremony and alternative consciousness are vital for internalizing Nature’s wisdom.

4) Place and its inhabitants are sacred teachers.

5) Complementarity describes Nature and is essential for a balanced life.

6) Generosity and courage are preeminent virtues observable in Nature.

7) The highest authority comes from honest reflection on lived experience.

8) Language (words) and music have vibrational frequencies that prompt diligent attention.

How can we use these precepts to challenge the problems wrought by the dominant worldview? In order to move into authentic ways of being in the world, we can start by considering these [following] five Indigenous ways of thinking and doing, which contrast with dominant worldview-based practices:…

Please click on: Indigenous Thought

  1. [1]Please look at several articles as well on American/Western will to world domination by clicking on "Selected Articles: Western Aggression Backed by Western Media”. The series of articles is introduced thus:
    The Western allies never run dry of resources to support their global war of terror and aggression, ostensibly an integral part of their foreign policy. They dynamically legislate laws lest the people awaken. They have the unbending support of the corporate media, which skilfully distorts reality. When will they ever back down from their destructive quest for colonies? Read our selection below.
  2. [2]It continued:
    ‘For seven months, Tiger Force soldiers moved across the Central Highlands, killing scores of unarmed civilians – in some cases torturing and mutilating them - in a spate of violence never revealed to the American public,’ the newspaper said, at other points describing the killing of hundreds of unarmed civilians. ‘Women and children were intentionally blown up in underground bunkers,’ The Blade said. ‘Elderly farmers were shot as they toiled in the fields. Prisoners were tortured and executed - their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings.”   The New York Times confirmed the claimed accuracy of the stories by contacting several of those interviewed.  It reported: “But they wanted to make another point: that Tiger Force had not been a ‘rogue’ unit. Its members had done only what they were told, and their superiors knew what they were doing. “Burning huts and villages, shooting civilians and throwing grenades into protective shelters were common tactics for American ground forces throughout Vietnam, they said. That contention is backed up by accounts of journalists, historians and disillusioned troops… ‘Vietnam was an atrocity from the get-go,’ [one veteran] said in a recent telephone interview. ‘It was that kind of war, a frontless war of great frustration. There were hundreds of My Lais. You got your card punched by the numbers of bodies you counted.’ Current likely Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry was also quoted giving evidence before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971.  He reported that American soldiers in Vietnam had “raped, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. Nicholas Turse [later author of: Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam], a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, has been studying government archives and said they were filled with accounts of similar atrocities. ''I stumbled across the incidents The Blade reported,'' Mr. Turse said by telephone. ''I read through that case a year, year and a half ago, and it really didn't stand out. There was nothing that made it stand out from anything else. That's the scary thing. It was just one of hundreds.'' Yet there were few prosecutions.
  3. [3]Historian John Coatsworth in The Cambridge History of the Cold War noted:
    Between 1960, by which time the Soviets had dismantled Stalin's gulags, and the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of nonviolent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those of the Soviet Union and its East European satellites. In other words, from 1960 to 1990, the Soviet bloc as a whole was less repressive, measured in terms of human victims, than many individual Latin American countries [under direct sway of US Empire] ("The Cold War in Central America", pp. 216 - 221).
    What was true for Latin America was true for around the world: massive human rights abuses, assassinations, regime changes of democratically elected governments, etc., etc., etc. orchestrated by US Empire. Yet Americans invariably have wanted it both ways: to be seen as the exemplary "City on A Hill" that upholds universal human rights and democracy, while operating a brutal Empire directly contrary to all such elevated values, and a concomitant rapacious Empire market economy that takes no prisoners. This began of course even before the founding of the United States of America and continued apace, in its mass slaughter and dispossession of indigenous peoples, in its brutal system of slavery on which its obscene wealth in the textile industry in the first place was built. "The Land of the Free" conceit was a sustained con job on the part of America's leaders. It was also apotheosis of hypocrisy. American exceptionalism was/is true in one respect only: it was brutal like no other Empire in its eventual global reach.
  4. [5]
  5. [4] The highlighted article about renowned whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg points to again what is utterly chilling, horror-filled, exponentially beyond immoral, American (hence the world's) reality: "Daniel Ellsberg: U.S. Military Planned First Strike On Every City In Russia and China … and Gave Many Low-Level Field Commanders the Power to Push the Button". [5]He has since written The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Of it we read:
    Shortlisted for the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist for the California Book Award in Nonfiction The San Francisco Chronicle's Best of 2017 List In These Times “Best Books of 2017” Huffington Post's Ten Excellent December Books List LitHub's “Five Books Making News This Week” From the legendary whistle-blower who revealed the Pentagon Papers, an eyewitness exposé of the dangers of America's Top Secret, seventy-year-long nuclear policy that continues to this day. Here, for the first time, former high-level defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg reveals his shocking firsthand account of America's nuclear program in the 1960s. From the remotest air bases in the Pacific Command, where he discovered that the authority to initiate use of nuclear weapons was widely delegated, to the secret plans for general nuclear war under Eisenhower, which, if executed, would cause the near-extinction of humanity, Ellsberg shows that the legacy of this most dangerous arms buildup in the history of civilization--and its proposed renewal under the Trump administration--threatens our very survival. No other insider with high-level access has written so candidly of the nuclear strategy of the late Eisenhower and early Kennedy years, and nothing has fundamentally changed since that era.
  6. [6]A classic instance of this aligning with "just war" is the United States' "war on drugs" as subset of "war on crime", while at the same time the CIA was a major worldwide drug dealer in league with other drug cartels -- all done to enhance American Empire during the Cold War -- and continues to the present. The four-part series mentioned below connects American Empire drug dealing to the current War on Terror, in particular in Afghanistan. This of course is colossal hypocrisy as well. Worse: the series posits American federal government administrations over many decades as the Ultimate Drug Cartel, with Blacks, Latinos, and generally the poor directly being knowingly poisoned en masse. Then they have been primary targets of the Drug Enforcement Agency, and thereby become victims of America's too often savage prison system that oppresses and brutalizes them all over again... See: "The War on Drugs Is a Failure, So [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions Is All for It". A citation from the article reads:
    In June [2017], the History Channel aired a four-part documentary series called America’s War on Drugs.” The series asserts that the war on drugs was actually a war of drugs—and that the CIA was essentially a partner in spreading drugs and drug use. The series follows how the U.S. intelligence agency, in an obsession with fighting communism, allied itself with U.S. organized crime and foreign drug traffickers and includes firsthand accounts from many involved. In an interview with Truthdig columnist Sonali Kolhatkar on her radio program “Rising Up With Sonali,” the series’ executive producer, Anthony Lappé, explains why the CIA got involved:
    It’s actually a pretty mind-blowing story when you look at the extent to which the CIA was involved with drug traffickers and drug trafficking throughout the Cold War. … If you look at Cold War policy against the Soviet Union, we were locked in a global battle for supremacy, where we have lots of proxy wars going on. … We needed to team up with local allies, and often the local allies we were teaming up with were people who had access to guns, who had access to underground networks, to help us fight the perceived threat of communism. There are actually a lot of similarities between what drug traffickers do and what the CIA does.
    Lappé elaborates by saying the hypocrisy of the war on drugs has been evident from the start: Secret CIA experiments with LSD helped fuel the counterculture movement, leading to President Richard Nixon’s crackdown and declaration of the war on drugs. The series also explores the CIA’s role in the rise of crack cocaine in poor black communities and a secret island “cocaine base.” In addition the documentary makes the connection between the war on drugs, the war on terror and the transformation of Afghanistan into a narco state and contends that American intervention in Mexico helped give clout to Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and the super cartels, making it easier to send drugs across American borders. Watch Kolhatkar’s full interview with Lappé by clicking here. Please also see the now classic: The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, by noted American historian Alfred McCoy. Of it we read:
    The first book to prove CIA and U.S. government complicity in global drug trafficking, The Politics of Heroin includes meticulous documentation of dishonesty and dirty dealings at the highest levels from the Cold War until today. Maintaining a global perspective, this groundbreaking study details the mechanics of drug trafficking in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South and Central America. New chapters detail U.S. involvement in the narcotics trade in Afghanistan and Pakistan before and after the fall of the Taliban, and how U.S. drug policy in Central America and Colombia has increased the global supply of illicit drugs.
    To be noted as well is Johann Hari's Chasing The Scream, which tells the tragic tale of America's long-standing offensive against drugs, and the way to end such a war worldwide -- that several nations are successfully embracing.
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Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

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