I have written from the lofty places of victory and I have written from the lowest point one can experience without ending the life because of the misery they feel. I know what agony and ecstasy is, but even in those moments of great joy, grief and sorrow were nearby in the shadows.
Some have said to me, “Why now after all of these years?”
I would like those who think this to consider being a Jew. Jewish people suffered the holocausts ordered by Hitler and Stalin. Many lived in fear and apprehension for simply looking Jewish, let alone talking like one.
So it was for American Indians on this continent. We were murdered, forced to starve to death, experimented upon with new medicines, exposed to certain diseases, sterilized, our children taken away by force and castigated as being less than human. We were the ones assigned as “dirty, heathen, godless, bloodthirsty savages,” who still hear these titles in the old westerns some like to watch with John Wayne and Gary Cooper portrayed as heroes.
We are the ones the religious zealots came to save our souls while the forced their beliefs on us in the boarding schools while they were raping us and beating us to death.
Before I could even begin my effort (there were others) to broadcast and educate regarding the residual effects of the holocaust we were subjected to I had to get control of my sense of rage and anger. There had been a concerted attempt to deceive me and convert me to a religious, political, social, economic system that wanted to colonize me and gain my loyalty.
They even asked me to salute the flag that flew over the dead bodies of Big Foot and the people at Wounded Knee and a thousand other places where our people had been massacred.
I had to find a peace and reconciliation within my spirit concerned that I would compromise my relationship with Jesus Christ and lose my own soul. Ultimately, I was reminded that it is the truth that will set us free. Many do not want to be reminded, but what many do not realize is that the same lies that would have intruded and compromised my life are the same lies that will compromise your life if they are ignored. I understand it is easier to capitulate than it is to fight. It is easier to swim with the tide than it is to swim against it. It is easier to be orthodox than it is to be unorthodox.
I tried to rise to the calling. I feel the Creator has placed on my life and lived up to the name given me by my Great Auntie. Many do not understand why so many of us are motivated to do what we do and speak in the manner we do. You can’t know because you may not be American Indian. Neither are you conscious of the life that once was ours. The history you have learned and the history we have experienced and observed are almost the opposite of each other.
I am old enough and wise enough to know that I cannot restore the world we knew before the strangers came, but I know who is going to restore that life. I say strangers because there were no strangers among us before the invaders came. We lived in a utopia that became a wilderness under the onslaught and influence of a people who had no connection to the Creator or Mother Earth. We lived to honor the life that came to us as a gift and in doing so, to honor all life giving things.
The essence of our existence was anchored in our relationship with the Creator and the honor we lived in consciousness of all His creation. The greatest damage we experienced that continues to haunt our existence is the lost of our spiritual consciousness. We know how to feed the physical man, but we have forgotten the spiritual man. We, human beings, are more spirit than we are flesh and blood.
There is a hunger inside of me to know peace and love; to know purity and holiness; to walk in all the light there is and no darkness. I long to be with a people at the fire such a communion encourages. I know that communion is predicated on each person’s willingness to embrace the truth; not just the truth in the world around them, but the truth that needs to be the primary basis for their own existence.
I don’t apologize for the passion and determination I represent. Is there not a cause the Bible asserts? Is it just easier to sit in ivory towers and ignore the dying masses? Is there no war unless it is one of your loved ones who becomes a casualty? Is it easier to be ignorant and unlearned that it is to become enlightened by education? A great teacher said that with all of our getting (and there is a mad passion for getting and accruing) get wisdom, get understanding…none of these shall fail.
I don’t understand why everyone who claims they serve Jesus Christ are not activists? We live in the midst of chaos and delusion. Decadence is the order of the day! Human beings are dying all around us!
The Cherokee have a saying that there is a black dog and white dog fighting in each one of us and the one who wins the battle is the one we feed the most. A teacher once said that the greatest battle in our lives defining our existence and survival took place between our ears.
We, as human beings, are in the midst of a great battle between good and evil. The boundaries between what our ancestors defined as good and evil have been moved. Our ancestors did not learn good and evil on their own. The knowledge came from their relationship with the Creator and their respect for life. These boundaries have not changed since the beginning of things. The manual for life is still with us. Some of us still have the memory of what a good life is.
The Creator reaffirms His instructions by His Spirit. Life or death; blessing or cursing; choose you this day whom you will serve.
Warren Petoskey is a tribal citizen of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, based in Harbor Springs, Michigan. He authored “Dancing My Dream,” an autobiographic book that depicts overcoming challenges he faced in modern society. He and his wife, Barb, reside in Gaylord, Michigan.