Thursday, February 23, 2012

In Support of Our Ancestors (Applicable to all Peoples) !

 In Support of Our Ancestors 

    by Joe Schranz and Clare Farrell, AIM of IL Repatriation Committee 

"To us the ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their resting place is 
   hallowed ground.  You wander far from the graves of your ancestors and 
   seemingly without regret...

...At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and 
   you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts 
   that once filled and still love this beautiful land: The White Man 

   will never be alone.

    (In light of the ongoing excavation of our ancestors burial sites, with 
the subsequent removal. study and storage of their remains and burial 
goods, we choose to provide a foundation essay on our beliefs in this 
regard. We seek to set forth a basis for our rights and demands to both 
educate the public we are working with, and to protect our relatives of the 
past, with special reference to the current burial site at New Lennox, 

    It is with pain that we must continue to explain ourselves and our 
ways--and those two cannot be separated--as we struggle to save the burial; 
grounds of our people. The recent newspaper article in The New Lennox 
Community Reporter speaks out in support of developing the New Lennox site, 
listing the recreational opportunities that will upbuild the local 
community, and the revenue that will be lost if the project is abandoned. 
On the surface, if the site did not have the rich history of an 11,000 year 
span of occupation, this a legacy deep within the earth's many layers of a 
culture utterly distinct from the present one, these are modest goals. But 
whenever the apparent good of one group interferes with the good of 
another, the end is debilitating to both. 

    This must be examined carefully. In our age of many cultures sharing 
the same land, invited or not, we find it necessary to consider the many 
differences that exist among us in order to identify, thus preserve, our 
own essential Native ways. Inherent in the struggle to protect our 
ancestors' burial ground is our world view which traditionally differs from 
the Western concept of life that developed in Euro-Asian cultures over the 
past centuries. We continue to experience the complete divergence in 
understanding that manifests itself in an intrusion and disrespect of our 
ways, material and spiritual. It is our intense hope that a serious 
endeavor to delineate these distinctions, coupled with a consistent demand 
for respect, will touch the compassionate sensibilities integral to every 
educated human being. We strive to ignite that sleeping awareness that 
welcomes and celebrates the unique spiritual truth of every people and 

    A critical starting point is the basic fact that there are different 
ways to view reality and all are valid. This foundation of successful 
interaction between cultures--the recognition of common credibility--was 
decidedly lacking in Western thought at the time of the invasion of this 
land 500 years ago, Its absence marked the genocidal policies that fueled 
the movement to populate the Western hemisphere with Easter hemisphere 
peoples. A growing awareness that this Western mindset is not only 
exclusive, but has serious limitations, has barely begun to alter governing 
policies and attitudes that affect Native people. 

    We define some of the differences with the explicit goal of clarifying 
our rights: 

--The Idea of Progress 

The vast difference is best expressed in opposing values of adaptation 
versus control. The hundreds of nations spread across this hemisphere had 
originally, as pre-industrial people, adapted to each natural location, 
cultivating the land, hunting, gathering and developing unique identities 
through interaction with the world, seen and unseen. During the 
communication that continually occurred among nations, some of them 1,000 
miles distant from another, the focus was on an exchange of goods, methods 
and ideas, without a hierarchy of value. One thing was not better or best, 
with others being poor or worthless. There was difference and preference, 
and these attitudes allowed the co-existence of multiple choices, with 
special recognition and reverence given to what is old. The item or value 
that had withstood the test of time, proving it was valuable for the good 
of the whole, held an honored place. 

The Western concept of progress considers the new to be superior to the 
old. The English language 'er' adjectives--bigger, faster, higher--express 
the belief that life is a constant process of making the world better. 
Taken to its logical conclusion, all is replaceable with something that 
will surpass it, and old must make way for its successor. 

--The Concept of Time 

The traditional Native view of time is that life is cyclical. All is in a 
continuous flow, a circle that links past, present and future. This brings 
all reality together, interconnected and interacting. Relationships between 
people are ongoing, with birth and death as points on the endless wheel of 
life, which naturally dictates a moral code that embraces both ancestors 
and the unborn. 

Western society, on the other hand, is built on a linear time line, with a 
view that looks away from a past towards a future. The present is a 
separate unit which, disconnected from past and future, is open to varying 
conduct that affects immediate persons and events alone. 

--The Individual and the Community 

For traditional Native people, the common good is the major concern and 
goal of all activity, The individual is a link in a continuous chain of 
united families across the ages. The aspirations of any one person was not 
allowed to interfere with the well-being of the nation as a whole, and 
those who sought power without service, excess property without sharing, or 
honors without humility were shamed and corrected, or shunned. 
In direct counter position is the Western society practice of 
individualism, with its built-in permission to advance without regard to 
others, to accumulate a disproportionate quantity of goods without guilt, 
and the ability for leaders to exercise authority without upbuilding the 
common good. 

--The Idea of Space 

The Native viewpoint does not separate material and spiritual, all being 
one reality. Spiritual facets, though intangible, are present in every 
aspect of life in complete partnership with the realities present in the 
five bodily senses.

Western thought, in contrast, draws sharp distinctions between the visible 
and the invisible, The things available to the five senses are accorded 
certain reality, while all that cannot be physically observed is relegated 
to a range of possible to non-existent. 

    To avoid the clear danger that these categories be taken literally, we 
state here that this is a general outline of bodies of thought that direct 
the actions of each respective group. There are variations and differences 
in individual cases, while intentional manipulation has tampered with 
traditional Native values. Programs to enculturate and assimilate have 
deliberately attempted to replace these values--this very mindset--with 
Western thinking,  and has in many cases succeeded. 

    It is therefore clear why the New Lennox site, which will include more 
burial places by virtue of its longevity of occupation, can be slated for 
development in today's society, governed by Western ideas. It can be bought 
and sold, altered and rearranged. The land is seen as a material entity 
that can be used in the present time for the benefit of part of the people 
in the name of progress. It will be new, therefore an improvement on the 
old. Its past is not part of present time, and the spiritual reality of the 
people buried there cannot be detected, and can therefore be discounted. 

    What is true for us is that the spirits of countless numbers of our 
relatives abide in this sacred land, which is itself alive, that three 
major villages occupied over an 11,000 year time span--triple the time 
since the building of the pyramids of Egypt. We respect and revere these 
ancestors who continue to stand with us today. We feel their presence and 
know the power of our unity. And because they are old and embody the 
traditional values that made our society strong, we honor them and must 
protect the ground in which they lay. 

    A recent flyer distributed in the New Lennox area calls for support of 
the recreation project, and the need for the revenue that will result from 
the golf course for improvement to existing parks. It justifies the use of 
the ancient village site in this way as a funding source for a swimming 
pool (scheduled to be built where the remains of three children were 
already found and removed), and to expand programs for the children, asking 
the question: "What might they be doing without these programs?" 

    First, it is clear we are talking about finances above and beyond any 
other consideration--money to be made if the project is completed, and 
money to be lost if it is not. In our traditional way, which did not 
include land ownership or a money-based economy, and which focused on 
sharing all available resources, we cannot accept the desecration of this 
site to this end. Even if there was not an acre left anywhere which could 
be used for recreational development in that area--which is not true--we 
say, enjoy what you have already, You have taken the whole country for your 
use--leave intact the little, which includes our ancestors' remains, we 
have left. 

    Secondly, what might your children do? Again, even if there was no 
other site for a local swimming pool--which is not true--and the land 
around New Lennox was left as untouched fields, then your children can do 
the only thing left that will preserve an earth rapidly being consumed by 
development: they can learn respect--for our way of life that can teach 
them how to live in harmony with all living things of yesteryear and today, 
so that they will have a tomorrow. What did our children do when they were 
deprived, not of a recreation site, but of the land that sustained them? 
They starved and they died. We want more for your children, for we know 
that all of us are in this struggle to survive together. For the cry of our 
hearts has never been exclusive, but recognizes a balance in the universe 
that includes the four colors of humankind--black, red, yellow and white. 
It is for all people that we strive to keep our burial sites untouched, 
that this circle of life may be kept whole for the ongoing life of us all. 

    Ultimately, we do not need to explain ourselves. Without making a 
judgment on any other world view, the fact is simple: this is our land, our 
sacred land. But it is part of the Native prophecies that we must be the 
ones who bring the sacred hoop of all nations back together, and thus we 
offer this instruction as a gift. As adaptive people, we use this English 
language, this printed text, and these modern methods of media dispersal to 
send out this message. 

    Indeed, the ideas that originally set the ships to sail to our peoples' 
shores still blow across the face of our land, determining our future, and 
digging up our past. To those who can hear the truth, Chief Seattle's words 
for 1854 ring out a cry and warning: 

  "To us the ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their resting place is 
   hallowed ground.  You wander far from the graves of your ancestors and 
   seemingly without regret..." 

   Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people, Every 
   hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by 
   somesad or happy event in days long vanished.  The very dust upon which 
   you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than to yours, 
   because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors and our bare feet are 
   conscious of the sympathetic touch. Even the little children who lived 
   here and rejoiced here for a brief season will love these somber 
   solitudes and at eventide they greet shadowy returning spirits. 

   ...At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and 
   you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts 
   that once filled and still love this beautiful land, The White Man 
   will never be alone." 

To input and support, contact: 

Joe Schranz 
AIM of IL Repatriation Committee 
Suite 144 
6348 W. 95th St., 
Oak Lawn, IL, 60453 
(708) 598-1061 

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