Jack D. Forbes
The cosmic visions of indigenous peoples are significantly diverse. Each nation
and community has its own unique traditions. Still, several characteristics stand
out. First, it is common to envision the creative process of the universe as a form
of thought or mental process. Second, it is common to have a source of creation
that is plural, either because several entities participate in creation or because
the process as it unfolds includes many sacred actors stemming from a First Principle
(Father/Mother or Grandfather/Grandmother). Third, the agents of creation are seldom
pictured as human, but are depicted instead as “wakan” (holy), or animal-like (coyote,
raven, great white hare, etc.), or as forces of nature (such as wind/breath). The
Lakota medicine man Lame Deer says that the Great Spirit “is not like a human being.
. . . He is a power. That power could be in a cup of coffee. The Great Spirit is
no old man with a beard.”1
The concept perhaps resembles the elohim of the Jewish Genesis, the plural
form of eloi, usually mistranslated as “God,” as though it were singular.
Perhaps the most important aspect of indigenous cosmic visions is the conception
of creation as a living process, resulting in a living universe in which a kinship
exists between all things. Thus the Creators are our family, our Grandparents or
Parents, and all of their creations are children who, of necessity, are also our
An ancient Ashiwi (Zuñi) prayer-song states:
That our earth mother may wrap herself
In a four-fold robe of white meal [snow]; . . .
When our earth mother is replete with living waters,
When spring comes,
The source of our flesh,
All the different kinds of corn
We shall lay to rest in the ground with the earth mother’s
They will be made into new beings,
Coming out standing into the daylight of their Sun father, to
They will stretch out their hands. . . .2
Thus the Mother Earth is a living being, as are the waters and the Sun.
Juan Matus told Carlos Castaneda that Genaro, a Mazateco, “was just now embracing
this enormous earth . . . but the earth knows that Genaro loves it and it bestows
on him its care. . . . This earth, this world. For a warrior there can be no greater
love. . . . This lovely being, which is alive to its last recesses and understands
every feeling. . . .”3
Or, as Lame Deer puts it:
We must try to use the pipe for mankind, which is on the road to self-destruction.
. . . This can be done only if all of us, Indians and non-Indians alike, can again
see ourselves as part of the earth, not as an enemy from the outside
who tries to impose its will on it. Because we . . . also know that, being
a living part of the earth, we cannot harm any part of her without hurting ourselves.4
European writers long ago referred to indigenous Americans’ ways as “animism,” a
term that means “life-ism.” And it is true that most or perhaps all Native Americans
see the entire universe as being alive—that is, as having movement and an ability
to act. But more than that, indigenous Americans tend to see this living world as
a fantastic and beautiful creation engendering extremely powerful feelings of gratitude
and indebtedness, obliging us to behave as if we are related to one another. An
overriding characteristic of Native North American religion is that of gratitude,
a feeling of overwhelming love and thankfulness for the gifts of the Creator and
the earth/universe. As a Cahuilla elder, Ruby Modesto, has stated: “Thank you mother
earth, for holding me on your breast. You always love me no matter how old I get.”5Or as Joshua
Wetsit, an Assiniboine elder born in 1886, put it: “But our Indian religion is all
one religion, the Great Spirit. We’re thankful that we’re on this Mother Earth.
That’s the first thing when we wake up in the morning, is to be thankful to the
Great Sprit for the Mother Earth: how we live, what it produces, what keeps everything
Many years ago, the Great Spirit gave the Shawnee, Sauk, Fox, and other peoples
maize or corn. This gift arrived when a beautiful woman appeared from the sky. She
was fed by two hunters, and in return she gave them, after one year, maize, beans,
and tobacco. “We thank the Great Spirit for all the benefits he has conferred upon
us. For myself, I never take a drink of water from a spring, without being mindful
of his goodness.”7
Although it is certainly true that Native Americans ask for help from spiritual
beings, it is my personal observation that giving thanks, or, in some cases, giving
payment for gifts received, is a salient characteristic of most public ceremonies.
Perhaps this is related to the overwhelmingly positive attitude Native Americans
have had toward the Creator and the world of “nature,” or what I call the “Wemi
Tali,” the “All Where” in the Delaware-Lenápe language. Slow Buffalo, a teacher,
is remembered to have said about a thousand years ago:
Remember . . . the ones you are going to depend upon. Up in the heavens, the Mysterious
One, that is your grandfather. In between the earth and the heavens, that is your
father. This earth is your grandmother. The dirt is your grandmother. Whatever grows
in the earth is your mother. It is just like a sucking baby on a mother. . . .
Always remember, your grandmother is underneath your feet always. You are always
on her, and your father is above.8
Winona LaDuke, a contemporary leader from White Earth Anishinabe land, tells us
Native American teachings describe the relations all around—animals, fish, trees,
and rocks—as our brothers, sisters, uncles, and grandpas. . . .
These relations are honored in ceremony, song, story, and life that keep relations
close—to buffalo, sturgeon, salmon, turtles, bears, wolves, and panthers. These
are our older relatives—the ones who came before and taught us how to live.9
In 1931 Standing Bear, a Lakota, said when reciting an ancient prayer:
To mother earth, it is said . . . you are the only mother that has shown mercy to
your children. . . . Behold me, the four quarters of the earth, relative I am. .
. . All over the earth faces of all living things are alike. Mother earth has turned
these faces out of the earth with tenderness. Oh Great Spirit behold them, all these
faces with children in their hands.10
Again in 1931, Black Elk, the well-known Lakota medicine man, told us that “The
four-leggeds and the wings of the air and the mother earth were supposed to be relative-like.
. . . The first thing an Indian learns is to love each other and that they should
be relative-like to the four-leggeds.”11
And thus we see this very strong kinship relation to the Wemi Tali, the “All Where”:
“The Great Spirit made the flowers, the streams, the pines, the cedars—takes care
of them. . . . He takes care of me, waters me, feeds me, makes me live with plants
and animals as one of them. . . . All of nature is in us, all of us is in nature.”12
At the center of all of the creation is the Great Mystery. As Black Elk said:
When we use the water in the sweat lodge we should think of Wakan-Tanka, who is
always flowing, giving His power and life to everything. . . . The round fire place
at the center of the sweat lodge is the center of the universe, in which dwells
Wakan-Tanka, with His power which is the fire. All these things are Wakan [holy
and mystery] and must be understood deeply if we really wish to purify ourselves,
for the power of a thing or an act is in the meaning and the understanding.13
Luther Standing Bear, writing in the 1930s, noted:
The old people came literally to love the soil and they sat or reclined on the ground
with a feeling of being close to a mothering power. It was good for the skin to
touch the earth and the old people liked to remove their moccasins and walk with
bare feet on the sacred earth. . . . The soil was soothing, strengthening, cleansing,
and healing. . . . Wherever the Lakota went, he was with Mother Earth. No matter
where he roamed by day or slept by night he was safe with her.14
Native people, according to Standing Bear, were often baffled by the European tendency
to refer to nature as crude, primitive, wild, rude, untamed, and savage. “For the
Lakota, mountains, lakes, rivers, springs, valleys, and woods were all finished
beauty. . . .”15
Of course, the indigenous tendency to view the earth and other nonorganic entities
as being part of bios (life, living) is seen by many post-1500 Europeans
as simply romantic or nonsensical. When Native students enroll in many biology or
chemistry classes today they are often confronted by professors who are absolutely
certain that rocks are not alive. But in reality these professors are themselves
products of an idea system of materialism and mechanism that is both relatively
modern and indefensible. I have challenged this materialist perspective in a poem,
“Kinship is the Basic Principle of Philosophy,” which I will partially reproduce
here as indicative of some common indigenous perspectives:
. . .For hundreds of years
certainly for thousands
Our Native elders
have taught us
“All My Relations”
means all living things
and the entire Universe
“All Our Relations”
they have said
time and time again. . . .
Do you doubt still?
a rock alive? You say
it is hard!
it doesn’t move of its own accord!
it has no eyes!
it doesn’t think!
but rocks do move
put one in a fire
it will get hot won’t it?
won’t you agree?
that its insides are moving
ever more rapidly?. . .
So don’t kid me my friend,
rocks are powerful friends
I have many
big and small
their processes, at our temperatures,
are very slow
but very deep!
I understand because, you see,
I am part rock!
I eat rocks
rocks are part of me
I couldn’t exist without
the rock in me
We are all related!
No, it’s alive I tell you,
just like the old ones say
they’ve been there
they’ve crossed the boundaries
not with computers
but with their
very own beings!16
About a thousand years ago, White Buffalo Calf Woman came to the ancestors of the
Lakota, giving them a sacred pipe and a round rock. The rock, Black Elk said,
. . . is the Earth, your Grandmother and Mother, and it is where you will live and
increase. . . . All of this is sacred and so do not forget! Every dawn as it comes
is a holy event, and every day is holy, for the light comes from your father Wakan-Tanka;
and also you must always remember that the two-leggeds and all the other peoples
who stand upon this earth are sacred and should be treated as such.17
Here we see not only the expression of relatedness on a living earth, but also the
sacredness or holiness of events that some persons take for granted: the dawn, the
day, and, in effect, time and the flow of life in its totality. In relation to all
of these gifts, human beings are expected to be humble, not arrogant, and to respect
other creatures. An ancient Nahua (Mexican) poem tells us that
Those of the white head of hair, those of the wrinkled face,
our ancestors. . .
They did not come to be arrogant,
They did not come to go about looking greedily,
They did not come to be voracious.
They were such that they were esteemed on the earth:
They reached the stature of eagles and jaguars.18
Lame Deer says: “You can tell a good medicine man by his actions and his way of
life. Is he lean? Does he live in a poor cabin? Does money leave him cold?”19 Thus, humility and a
lack of arrogance are accompanied by a tendency toward simple living, which reinforces
the ideal of nonexploitation of other living creatures. A consciousness of death
also adds to the awareness of the importance of concentrating on the ethical quality
of one’s life as opposed to considerations of quantity of possessions or size of
religious edifices. “A man’s life is short. Make yours a worthy one,” says Lame
Juan Matus, in Carlos Castaneda’s Journey to Ixtlan, captures very well the
attitude of many Native people: “. . .You don’t eat five quail; you eat one. You
don’t damage the plants just to make a barbecue. . . . You don’t use and squeeze
people until they have shriveled to nothing, especially the people you love. . .
kind of attitude is found over and over again in the traditions of Native people,
from the basketry and food-gathering techniques of Native Californians to the characters
in the stories of Anna Lee Walters (as in her novel Ghostsinger, the stories
in The Sun is Not Merciful, or in Talking Indian).
Respect and humility are the building blocks of indigenous life-ways, since they
not only lead to minimal exploitation of other living creatures but also preclude
the arrogance of aggressive missionary activity and secular imperialism, as well
as the arrogance of patriarchy.
But Anglo-American “ecologists” often have a very narrow conception of what constitutes
“ecology” and the “environment.” Does this contrast with the Native American attitude?
Let us examine some definitions first. The root of the concept of environment has
to do with “rounding” or “that which arounds [surrounds] us.” It is similar to Latin
vicinitat (Spanish vecinidad or English vicinity), referring
to that which neighbors something, and also to Greek oikos (ecos), a house
and, by extension, a habitation (Latin dwelling) or area of inhabiting (as in oikoumene,
the inhabited or dwelled-in world). Ecology is the logie or study of ecos,
the study of inhabiting/dwelling, or, as defined in one dictionary, the study of
“organisms and their environment.”
Ecos (oikos) is “the house we live in, our place of habitation.” But where
do we live and who are we? Certainly we can define ecos in a narrow sense, as our
immediate vicinity, or we can broaden it to include the Sun (which is, of course,
the driving power or energy source in everything that we do), the Moon, and the
entire known universe (including the Great Creative Power, or Ketanitowit
in Lenápe). Our ecos, from the indigenous point of view, extends out to the
very boundaries of the great totality of existence, the Wemi Tali.
Similarly, our environment must include the sacred source of creation as well as
such things as the light of the Sun, on which all life processes depend. Thus our
surroundings include the space of the universe and the solar/stellar bodies that
have inspired so much of our human yearnings and dreams.
Ecology, then, in my interpretation, must be the holistic (and interdisciplinary)
study of the entire universe, the dynamic relationship of its various parts. And
since, from the indigenous perspective, the universe is alive, it follows that we
could speak of geo-ecology as well as human ecology, the ecology of oxygen as well
as the ecology of water.
Many indigenous thinkers have considered humans part of the Wemi Tali, not separate
from it. As I have written:
For us, truly, there are no “surroundings.”
I can lose my hands and still live. I can lose my legs and still live. I can lose
my eyes and still live. . . . But if I lose the air I die. If I lose the sun I die.
If I lose the earth I die. If I lose the water I die. If I lose the plants and animals
I die. All of these things are more a part of me, more essential to my every breath,
than is my so-called body. What is my real body?
We are not autonomous, self-sufficient beings as European mythology teaches. . .
. We are rooted just like the trees. But our roots come out of our nose and mouth,
like an umbilical cord, forever connected with the rest of the world. . . .
Nothing that we do, do we do by ourselves. We do not see by ourselves. We do not
hear by ourselves. . . . We do not think, dream, invent, or procreate by ourselves.
We do not die by ourselves. . . .
I am a point of awareness, a circle of consciousness, in the midst of a series of
circles. One circle is that which we call “the body.” It is a universe itself, full
of millions of little living creatures living their own “separate” but dependent
lives. . . . But all of these “circles” are not really separate—they are all mutually
dependent upon each other. . . .21
We, in fact, have no single edge or boundary, but are rather part of a continuum
that extends outward from our center of consciousness, both in a perceptual (epistemological-existential)
and in a biophysical sense—our brain centers must have oxygen, water, blood with
all of its elements, minerals, etc., in order to exist, but also, of course, must
connect to the cosmos as a whole. Thus our own personal bodies form part of the
universe directly, while these same bodies are miniature universes in which,
as noted, millions of living creatures subsist, operate, fight, reproduce, and die.
Anna Lee Walters, the Otoe-Pawnee teacher and writer, in speaking of prayers, notes:
“Waconda,” it says in the Otoe language, Great Mystery, meaning that vital thing
or phenomenon in life that cannot ever be entirely comprehensible to us. What is
understood though, through the spoken word, is that silence is also Waconda, as
is the universe and everything that exists, tangible and intangible, because
none of these things are separate from that life force. It is all Waconda. . . .22
Thus ecos for us must include that which our consciousness inhabits, the house of
our soul, our ntchítchank or lenapeyókan, and must not
be limited to a dualistic or mechanistic-materialistic view of bios. Ecology must
be shorn of its Eurocentric (or, better, reductionist and materialist) perspective
and broadened to include the realistic study of how living centers of awareness
interact with all of their surroundings.
At a practical level this is very important, because one cannot bring about significant
changes in the way in which the Wemi Tali is being abused without considering the
values, economic systems, ethics, aspirations, and spiritual beliefs of human groups.
For example, the sense of entitlement felt by certain social groups or classes,
the idea of being entitled to exploit resources found in the lands of other
groups or entitled to exploit “space” without any process of review or permission
or approval from all concerned—this sense of superiority and restless acquisitiveness
must be confronted by ecology.
The beauty of our night sky, for example, now threatened by hundreds or thousands
of potential future satellites and space platforms, by proposed nuclear-powered
expeditions to Mars and space-based nuclear weapons, cannot be protected merely
by studying the physical relations of organisms with the sky. The cultures of all
concerned have to be part of the equation, and within these cultures questions of
beauty, ethics, and sacredness must play a role. Sadly, the U.S. government is the
greatest offender in the threat to space.
When a mountain is to be pulled down to produce cement, or coal, or cinderstone,
or to provide housing for expanding suburbanites, the questions that must be asked
are not only those relating to stream-flow, future mudslides, fire danger, loss
of animal habitat, air pollution, or damage to stream water quality. Of paramount
importance are also questions of beauty, ownership, and the unequal allocation of
wealth and power that allows rich investors to make decisions affecting large numbers
of creatures based only upon narrow self-interest. Still more difficult are questions
relating to the sacredness of Mother Earth and of the rights of mountains to exist
without being mutilated. When do humans have the right to mutilate a mountain? Are
there procedures that might mitigate such an aggression? Are there processes that
might require that the mountain’s right to exist in beauty be weighed against the
money-making desires of a human or human group?
We hear a great deal about “impacts” and how “impacts” must be weighed and/or mitigated.
But all too often, these considerations do not include aesthetics (unless the destruction
is proposed for an area where rich and powerful people live), and very seldom do
we hear about sacredness or the rights of the earth. Indeed, we have made
progress in the United States with the concept of protecting endangered species,
but it is interesting that, for many people, the point of such protection is essentially
pragmatic: we are willing to preserve genetic diversity (especially as regards plant
life) in order to meet potential human needs. The intrinsic right of different forms
of life each to have space and freedom is seldom evoked. (Even homeless humans have
no recognized right to “space” in the United States).23
All over the Americas, from Chile to the arctic, Native Americans are engaged in
battles with aggressive corporations and governments that claim the right to set
aside small areas (reserves) for Native people and then to seize the rest of the
Native territory and throw it open to Occidental Petroleum, Texaco, or other profit-seeking
organizations. Often, as in the case of the U’wa people, the concept of the sacredness
of the living earth directly conflicts with the interests of big corporations and
the revenue-hungry neocolonial governments that support them.
It has to be said that some indigenous governments and groups have also allowed
devastating projects to be developed on their territories. Sometimes there has been
grassroots resistance to the extraction of coal, uranium, and other minerals, but
very often the non-Native government has encouraged (or strong-armed) the indigenous
peoples into agreeing to a contract providing for little or no protection to the
In her recent book, All Our Relations, Winona LaDuke focuses on a
number of specific struggles involving Native people in the United States and Canada.
She points out that “Grassroots and land-based struggles characterize most of Native
environmentalism. We are nations of people with distinct land areas, and our leadership
and direction emerge from the land up.”24
LaDuke shows in each of her chapters how different groups of First Nations people
are facing up to serious problems and are seeking to address them at the local,
community level. They are also forming national and international organizations
that seek to help individual nations, in great part through the sharing of information
and technical assistance. In the final analysis, however, each nation, reserve,
or community has to confront its own issues and develop its own responsible leadership.
This must be stressed again and again: each sovereign Native nation will deal with
its own environmental issues in its own way. There is no single Native American
government that can develop a common indigenous response to the crisis we all face.
Mention should be made here of the work of Debra Harry, a Northern Paiute activist
from the Pyramid Lake Reservation who is spearheading an information campaign relative
to biopiracy and the dangers of the Human Genome Diversity Project. The collection
of Native American tissue samples and DNA/mtDNA information represents a very serious
environmental threat, since the discovery of unique genetic material could be used
not only for patenting and sale but also for future campaigns of germ or biological
warfare. The latter may seem extreme, but Native peoples have reason to be cautious
about sharing potentially dangerous information with agencies, governments, and
organizations not under their own control. The entire field of biopiracy, the theft
of indigenous knowledge about plants and drugs, represents another area of great
concern, since Native peoples could find themselves having to pay for the use of
their own cultural heritage or for treatment using genetic material of indigenous
Many activists are concerned primarily with the environmental responses of Native
Americans belonging to specific land-based communities recognized as sovereign by
the U.S. or Canadian governments. But in addition, there are millions of Native
people who do not have “tribal” governments that are recognized as legitimate by
a state. In California and Mexico, numerous Mixtec communities must deal with the
hazards of agricultural pesticide, crop-dusting on top of workers, poor housing,
inadequate sanitation, poor or polluted water sources, and a host of other issues.
The Mixtec have responded by organizing around farm-labor issues, as well as developing
their own ways of coping. For example, in Baja California they are often forced
to build their own houses on steep hillsides where they must use old cast-off truck
and auto tires as retaining walls to provide a level area for living.
Many Native groups, including Kickapoos, Navajos, Papagos, Zapotecs, and Chinantecs,
produce a number of migrant agricultural laborers. These workers often remain rooted
in home villages to which they may return seasonally. Such persons have a primary
responsibility to their families; they cannot be expected to devote much energy
to environmentalism, apart from attempting to obtain clean water, healthy food,
and sanitary living conditions.
On a positive note, the environmental awareness of many indigenous American groups
translates into a high respect for women in their communities. It would be hypocritical
to seek to control women or restrict their opportunities for full self-realization
while pretending to respect living creatures. This is a significant issue, because
a great deal of evidence has shown that when women have high status, education,
and choices, they tend to enrich a community greatly and to stabilize population
growth. Many traditional American societies have been able to remain in balance
with their environments because of the high status of women, a long nursing period
for children, and/or the control of reproductive decisions by women.26 Many of the leaders in
the Native struggle today are women.
Many Native homelands are much reduced in size from former years and are often located
on land of poor quality. These conditions can create overuse of resources. Human
population growth is, of course, one of the fundamental issues of environmental
science. Along with the unequal distribution of resources and the taking away of
resources (such as the removal of oil from indigenous lands, leaving polluted streams
and poisoned soil) from militarily weaker peoples, human population growth is one
of the major causes of species loss and damage to ecos. These are major issues in
ecology but also must be overriding concerns for economists, political scientists,
and political economists. In fact, the tendency in North America to ignore the impact
of money-seeking activities upon nonmarket relations is a major source of environmental
degradation. The recent effort to “charge” the industrial nations for the damage
they have caused to world environments (as a new form of “debt” from the capitalist
world to the rest of the world) is an example of how we must proceed.27
To many of the more materialistic peoples of the world, indigenous people have often
seemed “backward” or “simple.” They have seemed ripe for conquest or conversion,
or both. The fact is, however, that the kind of ethical living characteristic of
so many indigenous groups, with its respect for other life forms and its desire
for wholeness of intellect, may be the best answer to the problems faced by all
Yet there are some who challenge the environmental record of Native Americans, seeking
to prove that in spite of the ideals expressed in indigenous spirituality, Native
peoples were actually large-scale predators responsible some ten thousand years
ago for widespread slaughter and even species annihilation. This viewpoint, shared
primarily by a few anthropologists, overlooks the fact that during the Pleistocene
era and later extinctions occurred in Eurasia and elsewhere, and that Native Americans
cannot be blamed for a global phenomenon. In any case, indigenous Americans have
always belonged to numerous independent political and familial units, each with
its own set of values and behavioral strategies. One can hardly assign blame to
modern Native people as a whole group when the “culprits” (if there were any) cannot
even be identified.
In dealing with the sacred traditions of original Americans and their relationship
to the environment, we must keep in mind a common-sense fact: not only do different
Native groups have different traditions, stories, ceremonies, living conditions,
challenges, and values, but each family or group has its own unique approach to
“together-living” or “culture.” We must also factor in time, since different days,
years, and epochs have presented different circumstances. In short, humans do not
live by abstract rule alone. They live as well through a unique set of decisions
informed by inspiration, personality, situation, and opportunity.
Native Americans, like any other group, are capable of acts that might well conflict
with the major thrust of their sacred traditions. We must, therefore, differentiate
between the concrete behavior of a people and their ideals. But in the case of indigenous
Americans, such a distinction is perhaps less important than in other traditions.
Why? Because Native Americans often lack a single, authoritative book or set of
dogmas that tells them what their “ideals” should be. On the contrary, Native American
sacred traditions are more the result of choices made over and over again within
the parameters of a basic philosophy of life. Thus, we must look at the ideals expressed
in sacred texts (including those conveyed orally), but also at the choices that
people actually make.
Nonetheless, I believe that we can make the kinds of generalizations that I have,
at least as regards those Native North Americans still following traditional values.
. . .The Old Ones say
outward is inward to the heart
and inward is outward to the center
there are no absolute boundaries
no single body
We don’t stop at our eyes
We don’t begin at our skin
We don’t end at our smell
We don’t start at our sounds. . . .
Some scientists think
they can study a world of
matter separate from themselves
but there is no
(knowable to us at least)
nothing can be known
without being channeled
through some creature’s senses,
the unobserved Universe
cannot be discussed
for we, the observers,
being its very description
are its eyes and ears
its very making
is our seeing of it
our sensing of it. . . .
Perhaps we are Ideas in the mind
of our Grandfather-Grandmother
for, as many nations declare,
by mental action
So be it well proclaimed!
our boundary is the edge of the Universe
to wherever the Creator’s thoughts
go surging. . . .28
Native people are not only trying to clean up uranium tailings, purify polluted
water, and mount opposition to genetically engineered organisms; they are also continuing
their spiritual ways of seeking to purify and support all life by means of ceremonies
and prayers. As LaDuke tells us: “In our communities, Native environmentalists sing
centuries-old songs to renew life, to give thanks for the strawberries, to call
home fish, and to thank Mother Earth for her blessings.”29
1 John Fire, Lame Deer, and Richard
Erdoes, Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions (New York: Simon and Schuster,
2 Ruth Bunzel, “Introduction
to Zuni Ceremonialism,” Forty-Seventh Annual Report, Bureau of American Ethnology
(Washington: Government Printing Office, 1932), 483–486.
3 Some writers have attacked
Carlos Castaneda; however, I find that many of the insights in his first four books
are quite valuable. Since he was most assuredly a man of Indigenous American ancestry,
I am willing to quote him without arguing over whether his works are fiction or
nonfiction. Carlos Castaneda, Tales of Power (New York: Simon and Schuster,
4 Fire, Lame Deer, and Erdoes,
Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions, 265–266; emphasis added.
5 Ruby Modesto and Guy Mount,
Not For Innocent Ears: Spiritual Traditions of a Desert Cahuilla Medicine
Woman (Angelus Oaks, Calif.: Sweetlight Books, 1980), 72.
6 Sylvester M. Morey, ed., Can
The Red Man Help The White Man? (New York: G. Church, 1970), 47.
7 Black Hawk, Black Hawk; An
Autobiography (Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1955), 106.
8 John Gneisenau Neihardt, The
Sixth Grandfather: Black Elk’s Teachings Given to John G. Neihardt,
ed. Raymond J. DeMallie (Lincoln, Nebr.: University of Nebraska Press, 1984), 312.
9 Winona LaDuke, All Our Relations:
Native Struggles for Land and Life (Cambridge, Mass.: South End Press, 1999),
10 Neihardt, The Sixth Grandfather,
11 Ibid., 288–289.
12 Pete Catches, Lakota elder,
quoted in Fire, Lame Deer, and Erdoes, Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions, 137–139.
13 Black Elk, The Sacred Pipe:
Black Elk’s Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux, rec. and
ed. Joseph Epes Brown (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1971), 31–32.
14 Luther Standing Bear, Land
of the Spotted Eagle (Lincoln, Nebr.: University of Nebraska Press,
15 Ibid., 196.
16 Jack D. Forbes, “Kinship
is the Basic Principle of Philosophy,” Gatherings: The En’owkin Journal of
First North American Peoples VI (Penticton, B.C.: Theytus Books, 1995),
17 Black Elk, The Sacred Pipe,
18 Miguel Leon-Portilla, La
Filosofia Nahuatl: Estudiada en sus Fuentes (Mexico: Universidad
Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Instituto de Investigaciones Historicas, 1966), 237–238.
19 Fire, Lame Deer, and Erdoes,
Lame Deer, 155–158.
20 Carlos Castaneda, Journey
to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972),
69–70; Fire, Lame Deer, and Erdoes, Lame Deer, 16.
21 Jack D. Forbes, A World Ruled
by Cannibals: The Wetiko Disease of Aggression, Violence, and Imperialism
(Davis, Calif.: D-Q University Press, 1979), 85–86. See also Jack D. Forbes, Columbus
and Other Cannibals (Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 1992), 145–147.
22 Anna Lee Walters, Talking
Indian: Reflections on Survival and Writing (Ithaca, N.Y.: Firebrand
Books, 1992), 19–20.
23 See Jack D. Forbes, “A Right
to Life and Shelter,” San Francisco Chronicle, 28 May 2000, zone 7, 9.
24 LaDuke, All Our Relations,
25 Debra Harry is executive
director of Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolo-nialism, 850 Numana Dam Road,
P.O. Box 818, Wadsworth, NV 89442, USA.
26 Forbes, Columbus and Other
27 This is a proposal made
by Third World nations that seeks to “capitalize” the costs of environmental damage.
28 Jack D. Forbes, “The Universe
Is Our Holy Book,” unpublished poem, 1992.
29 LaDuke, All Our Relations,