A major feat has been won by Native communities all over the United States of America. Now, the recognition of Indigenous communities will get their annual acknowledgment in place of a once popular holiday. Celebrations are coming out and in selected cities where the Native presence is evident, the traditional dances, attire, and performances have come into fruition. Afterall dance, music, and rhythm is a natural healer. It provides us with the nourishment of being able to cleanse our energies. Purging toxic energy fields. Allowing ourselves to align with natural, healing elements. It is a monumental attribute, and a step forward, into viewing the resilience of Native people and their communities.
When we examine the mental health movement, as it relates to Native communities, too often, they are portrayed as the “forgotten” group. A cultural group of the past her/history of the United States of the America. What do you say to a people of the land, who were removed from their own land? How do you address issues of mental health with Indigenous people, who maintained their mental stability through the land? Will the world of psychiatry or psychology suffice? Does “Western medicine” create a sufficient gateway, which respects traditional philosophies and healings of Native people in the United States of America? Is it too contrived, or too far removed, from humanity’s connection with the Earth in order to understand that healing is more than stethascopes, simple diagnostics, and prominent people wearing white jackets, with titles revealing their leadership. On the contrary, for the Native community, is there another feature for the path to healing? Does the feature consists of a Spiritual feeling? A higher way of Being and sensitivity to our Spiritual sector? Perhaps this is what is missing in mainstream healing institutions in the United States, in the Americas.
Native communities have had their own struggles to rejuvenation and mental wellness. From issues of alcoholism, drug abuse, the disappearance, abuse, and the murder of Native women on and off reservation terrain, serves as living proof in the afteraffects of genocide for the Native community. Yet, in the midst of such, they are still here. Whether it be the 2018 historical wins of two Native women winning Congressional seats (Deb Haaland of the Laguna Pueblo of New Mexico, and Sharice Davids of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Kansas) or the presence of Native people in medicinal, sports, or judiciary positions, the Native community has definitely placed itself for re-birth.
The phenomenon and rectification of Indigenous People’s Day is that it replaces what should not have been, to begin with. Furthermore, it highlights the re-vitalization of Native people and how they are re-building their communities; despite history’s ugly and genocidal past. Those Native ways of North American soiling are being presented and performed for US citizens to see.
On a recent taping of Democracy Now, an interview (October 14, 2019) with Iakowi: he’ne Oakes-Executive Director of American Indian Community House in New York City, took place. Oakes who is a member of the Snipe Clan of the Mohawk, Haudenosaunee Confederacy highlights the role for Native communities to “reclaim space and culture.” There is a purpose for Indigenous people in the US to “find their presence in society today.” Oakes continues in addressing the fight against the “Doctrine of Discovery,” which is a historical document denying Native people a right to own and access land. As listeners are attentive to the words of Oates, it becomes more and more evident that land is synonymous to the wellness and well-being of Indigenous nations.
One of the powers of Native/Indigenous culture is that it teaches how alcoholism, chronic depression, drug abuse, hypertension, and other factors relating to stress and emotional dysfunction, are “manmade.” They truly are, in the realest sense. Stress, being devalued based on one’s socio-economic platform, overworking, and removed from the natural auras of Earth’s balance are created. In fact, they are unnatural. Every single one of these circumstances are artificial. We are removed from the naturalness of our true selves. How much money one makes, how many cars we own, and so forth “devalues” our humanity, in a society which places more value on things, than people. Yet, when you are truly connected to the land, your humanity is celebrated. Your Spiritual sector becomes elevated. Its just another facet and way of being. It is a more liberated way of Being. It feels good, and it makes one experience the essence of Love.
When we observe and listen to the Indigenous people of the United States and other nations of the Americas, if we are listening well, we can understand why governmental services do not work well for many of them. How can healing take place if one does not feel the sun on one’s skin? How does healing occur if one cannot enjoy the stars and Moon at night, due to the pollution of the Earth? How is there true healing, if one cannot drink natural water from the Earth, because of humanity’s violation and toxicity of her chambers? The people who best know the significance of mental stability and wellness, are somehow connected to the Earth. In fact, chronic depression, alcoholism, and others seem to only hit them when there is destruction in their very way of life or cultural existence.
What is the real illness?
Indigenous People’s Day is not only a celebration in highlighting Native people. On the contrary, it is a national revival in addressing the state and health of Native People across the United States. How will vigilance, acknowledgement, and ongoing cultural practices of Native people assist in transforming and decreasing the state of alcoholism, drug abuse, and depression epidemics impacting Native communities? This day is more than various cities in the United States having the honor to see Indigenous nations in their authenticity. Performing traditional dances, ceremonies, songs, and rituals of their spiritual traditions. It is more than “a show.” These public celebrations send out the energy of hope. A message that Native people are still here. They are not “extinct.” These nations are not invisible, pastime stories, for people to go to observe at the latest, modern American museum. Native people are a living, breathing community. They are still thriving and celebration such as “Indigenous People’s Day” gives the spiritual nurture, that is needed. Acknowledgement of one’s existence. For any culture to get through, and overcome atrocities, recognition is needed. Mentally, it means that one is still in reality. And, no matter how harsh the realities, one can still overcome the challenges affecting one’s emotional and mental psyche. The culture of Indigenous people and their connection to the land, is the source of their mental wellness movements. They are foundations for the long healing and re-building journey that Native people will have to journey on. Nevertheless, they are the pillars for possibilities.
Our celebration of this special day is also a reminder to the world. For those not of the Native/Indigenous communities, we too, still live on planet Earth. We are connected to her waters, sunlight, and other natural treasures. Are we caring for them enough, so that we are healthy on all levels? This is a significant question. Perhaps, the reason why we (the industrialized world) are facing a burnout and mental health crisis is due to operating in an unnatural state. That can only happen when we have removed ourselves from Earth’s wellness. Perhaps, just perhaps, this is the deeper lesson for humanity, in the celebration of Indigenous People’s Day. Perhaps this is the goal of organizations such as the American Indian Community House. So, for a better wellness, let the connection, and re-connection, to Earth’s healing power, begin!
For more information on the American Indian Community House, you may click on the following link: https://aich.org