In Remembrance of The People

In remembrance of The People as they were
of Customs, of Pride, of Rituals

In remembrance of the Animals as they were
of Substance shared, of Teachings offered

In remembrance of the Birds as they were
of Grace, of Majesty, of Mystery

In remembrance of the Insects as they were
of Living Wisdom, of Necessary order

In remembrance of the Plants as they were
of Flowers, of Grasses, of Trees

In remembrance of the Reptiles as they were
of Eerie Beauty, of Natural Purpose

In remembrance of the Heavens as they were
of Clarity, of Seasons, of Spirit World

In remembrance of the Waters as they were
Of Abundant Life, of Sacred Purity

In remembrance of the Lands as they were
of Freedom, of Harmony, of Oneness

Shirley Loatman Pharis 1995

Whites came here and claimed this land by right of discovery. They immediately began to settle a land that was already settled. From the beginning, they used lies and trickery to solicit our help. All done in the name of god, white man's god. Millions of our people died at the hands of white men or by his diseases. Their deaths were in the name of the same god. Then as now, we find it hard to imagine a god who would sanction what was done to us.

[Note: "In spite of the overtures made in recent years by Christina denominations toward traditional Indian religions and practices - such as bishops wearing warbonnets at services, pipes and other traditional objects used to bless congregations, and occassional prayers for the earth - ond fundamental facet of Christianity must always detour any effort to come to grips with reality. Christianity was not designed to explain anything about this planet or the meaning of human life.

"Every single ceremonial act of the Christian tradition is based on the belief that history was coming to an end, that the believers would be taken up to heaven, a place radically different from this Earth - and about human society and societies - was evil. Since the expectations of a dramatic judgement day have not been fulfilled, and since Western technology has done a pretty decent job of creating heaven here on Earth, Christina preachers can no longer instill fear into people, and the traditional ceremonies have become empty forms, creating the need for most churches to borrow from American entertainment media in order to fill their pews.

"Christianity has been the curse of all cultures into which it has intruded. It has offered eternal life somewhere else and produced sicial and individual disintegration. Even today its chief personalities fall one after another into disrepute. Catholic priests prey on their parishoners; televangelists engage in fraudulent financial practices or are seen in the seedy parts of town on sexual escapades. Clergy extol the virtues of 'the church' but rarely speak of God, and today we have large numbers of them desperately trying to get into Indian ceremonies to experience 'spirituality.'" Red Earth, White Lies, Vine Deloria, Jr.]

We were a proud and honorable people, deserving of the truth. We found out too late the white man's plans for us. Had the truth been known from the start, we would have fought with our last breath and history would read a little differently today. Better for a race such as ours to have died fighting the white take-over than to suffer the indignities forced upon us.

From pre-exposure to 1889 the count of The People went from five million (conservative) to two hundred-fifty thousand. In the same time frame to the white count went from zero to eighty-five million. Today the Native American count is about one percent of the total population of this country.

[Note: As a result of the atomic bomb being dropped on Hirsoshima it has been estimated that 130,000 people died. Within 5 years the death toll reached 200,000 persons. Within 21 years of the landing of Columbus 8,000,000 of The People were dead from violence, disease, and despair. The ratio of Native survivorship in the Americas following European contact was less than half of what the human survivorship ratio would be in the United States today if every single white person and every single black person died. Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian Hating and Empire Building, William Drinnon]

The conditions that brought about the near extinction of The People were largely due to the colonizers government with a few more factors added:

There is not a way to make up for what we lost and suffered, there just is not. I guess what puzzles and angers me the most is that no one will admit to it. No one is responsible. Today, as when white men first appeared here, all we get is words. No one was held accountable then and no one is held accountable now. To point out our plight to the average citizen, you are basically told they were unaware or you are asked where you heard this in a tone that implies you must be uninformed. To point out our plight to the government (who damn well knows our plight), we're given promises or accused of making problems. The press is useless as they only seem to print things that are not controversial or that have a negative connotation for The People. The courts say there is no injustice in their system regardless of evidence to the contrary. The ones looking and listening are the people and the governments outside of America. The United Nations is trying to obtain sovereignty for Indigenous People. The United States Government and the Canadian Government against it as sovereignty would diminish their control over us.

Our numbers are steadily increasing regardless of our oppression. We are trying to take back our ways and our beliefs. Our eyes are now open to the truth. We are progressing in our way and in our time. This is fine as our priorities are not the same as the white mans. We are The People and we do not aspire to be anything but ourselves.

My blood line is one half Tsalagi and one half white. Thanks to the American Governments sanctioned conditioning of my father, he left his people as a boy and never looked back. He was made to be ashamed of his people and he did not want that for us. Although his looks were Native American, he had no problem becoming a white man on paper. This creates a dilemma for me as I am not white nor do I want to be white. My heart belongs to The People. I have been trying for years to find my people and can not. My family is but one case of assimilation onto white society that may have worked for the government but does not work for us. Of the four children born to my parents only one has bought into the benevolence of the white government. We are misplaced in this society.

I say this, for now.

Shirley Loatman Pharis

First Nations