I recently decided to take horseback riding lessons because I'm 39 and because I wanted to. As I drove across the smoky Grande Ronde Valley to the stables for my second or third lesson, I put on an album by Snotty Nose Rez Kids. Lightning struck--a glitch in the matrix--and I saw with my spirit's eyes these hills covered in corpses: mothers, infants, little boys. My own little boys were at home playing video games. I started sobbing so hard my body convulsed.
When those who are beneficiaries of the status quo tell the victims of the status quo to "get over it, that was 500 years ago," this is a fundamental refusal to acknowledge truth. The truth is that today's reality was not invented today; we are swimming in a soup where ingredients have been added for generation upon generation. And we need only look a few generations back to see that the ROUX of America's soup is betrayal and thievery. These are STOLEN LANDS, my friends, taken by genocidal force from sovereign nation upon sovereign nation. While the present might of the U.S. military may lull it into thinking it safe from the consequences of its own treachery--that is, no one seems afraid the Indians are going to rise up and take back their lands--that's not how treachery WORKS. That's not how TRUTH works. Give truth some time, and it can't help but find a way to bloom.
And the hard, jagged truth is that we, the land-"owning" beneficiaries of the original theft of these lands, are guilty. We bought a stolen bike. Five hundred years doesn't make it any less stolen.
Does this make us bad people? Should we be thrown in jail? In my opinion: no and no. We play the rules of the world as they have been taught to us: we go to school, maybe college, get a job, start a family, go to church, buy a house, retire comfortably, etc. If our lived experience doesn't tell us otherwise, and if our ancestors haven't passed down the torch of truth directly, there are precious few bits of input in such a rule-following world that might contradict this narrated structure of what it's "supposed to" look like. The system doesn't want to break itself apart, after all! So as we perpetuate that cycle of belief, we--I believe, for the most part unconsciously--perpetuate MANY LIES, one of which is the lie that earth is ownable if you call it real estate.
Here's what I'm NOT saying: I'm NOT saying we should remove all our front doors and invite the entire human population inside. I'm saying "owning" land is a figment of our imagination that was part of a story we had to tell ourselves in order to commit such voracious atrocities against our fellow man and steal their land, and maybe it's time we stop playing by the rules we've been taught AND START BEING HONEST.
Until we can ACKNOWLEDGE the TRUE birth of OUR nation, until we can teach it open-eyed to our children, until we can show willingness to look at our own reflection-- EVEN WHEN WE DON'T LIKE WHAT WE SEE--well, THAT my friends, is how we begin to turn this ship around.
In peace AND SOLIDARITY,