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Welcome to Summer
Guest Opinion

Published June 21, 2020

All major Native American organizations have called for the Washington pro football franchise to end its team's despicable name. Why? Because it's a racial slur and – no matter how many millions it spends trying to sanitize it and silence native peoples – the epithet is not, was not, and will not be an honorific

On June 21, Indigenous nations and communities across Turtle Island (North America) will celebrate the summer solstice, a sacred day that brings the longest moment of sunlight in the year. From the eastern coast lands of the Wamponoag, to the sunset waters of the Haida in the west, we will gather and share in ceremony, traditions that have been carried out for thousands of years. It is a time to take note of the phases of creation and changing seasons. It is a time to give thanks and nurture our relationship to the sacredness of Mother Earth and Father Sky, to remind ourselves of their creative principles and natural laws. And it is a time to renew our commitments of living a good life - a life of peace and harmony.

But as we prepare for the solstice we realize that something is different this year.

Our lives are being guided and transformed by a series of global events that cannot go unrecognized. From increased climate chaos, to the coronavirus pandemic, to the Black Lives Matter movement, our world is abound with change and we are marked by it, being made stronger by it.

As Indigenous peoples, many understand what it takes to confront colonial systems. Many understand the struggle against state-sanctioned violence, genocide, militarism, racism and governmental and legal systems rooted in the concepts of dominion. As we approach the solstice, we must send love and power to our relatives to their ongoing struggle for Black liberation. On Friday, within the United States, Black communities celebrated Juneteenth, an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. For many Black relatives, this is not just a secular holiday, but rather, a sacred day to memorialize past heroes and lost loved ones on the path to emancipation.

We give prayers and energy to those fighting the pillars of anti-Blackness and oppression within our society, to those marching in the streets giving voice to their rage, passion and love. We give prayers and energy to the communities who are struggling to balance the needs of mitigating virus infection and maintaining their teachings and original instructions of ceremony. We give prayers and energy to the fight itself, the movement to which we all belong.

As I said before, our world is abound with change. But that doesn’t mean we have to be afraid of transition and transformation. Many spiritual authorities I have met on my journeys have said that there would be a time of great awakening, when the signs of life on Mother Earth, even the smallest of signs, will tell the people to wake up. It would be a time when people will start to find their place in the sacred hoop of our Mother Earth, to start a path of great understanding and healing - to live in peace, love and in a beautyway.

This is perhaps that time.

So on this summer solstice let us take bold action, relatives, guided by our prayers and build a world with the righteousness of our ancestors' love. For change is coming and we are its agents.

Mitakuye Owasin.

Tom BK Goldtooth is the executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network

 

 

 

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