Once upon a time we all lived in tribal societies. We all knew the value of acknowledging our interconnectedness with the ancestors, land spirits and our ancestral Gods. We understood that life on Earth is a delicate balance between all these forces and that, while humanity plays a significant role, we are not at the top of the spiritual food chain. We understood that we are more than our egos, more than mere personalities: our power comes from understanding that we are representatives of our ancestral lines inhabiting the planet with responsibilities and ties to all generations, past and future. In short, we knew what it was to be indigenous people living on the land in a respectful way.
Then came the conquest and we were conquered violently. The European tribes fought but fell one by one; Gauls, Celts, Saxons, Angles, Scots and Norse. With the Christianization of Europe these cultures and their indigenous religions were ravaged. The Inquisition created thought crimes for which individuals could be burned: many were martyred for trying to hold on to the memory of who they were. The memory was so completely eradicated that a few centuries after their collective indoctrination Europeans were ready to become colonizers and decimate other indigenous peoples. A genocidal war was begun on the American continents as new tribes were added to the list of the fallen: Taino, MicMac, Cree, Apache, Lakota, Aztec, Maya, Inca. In Africa colonial powers pillaged and more tribes fell, with millions sold into slavery: Yoruba, Ewe, Limba, Fon and Igbo. At one time or another we all met the imperial machine and were trampled. Our inability to recognize our brethren damaged the bonds of our shared humanity.
How were we vanquished? Any colonial power will tell you “divide and conquer”. Had the tribes stood together and overcome their divisions, the conquest would not have been possible. It would stand to reason then that the first step in removing the shackles of our collective indoctrination would be to recognize ourselves as the heirs to diverse tribal cultures rooted in millenia of indigenous traditions and to unite in shared purpose to restore what was taken from us. This involves nothing less than a paradigm shift and the removal of the post modern filter of consumerist malaise. This can be difficult work after centuries of Stockholm Syndrome where we have learned to identify with the frameworks of oppression and to worship the God of our conquerors. This work will not happen by isolating ourselves in our own little subgoups and communities: it will require a unified effort and the creation of a greater pan-indigenous consciousness. While each of our groups is unique, we need to recognize that there are commonalities that all of us share as heirs to indigeny. We honor our ancestors who guide the way back to the full remembrance of who we are, we live in balance and right relationship with the land spirits and elemental powers and we embrace our ancient contracts with our ancestral Gods. It sounds rather simple, but where to begin? With the first tie sundered; our memory, our ancestors. Even when we are lost and have no idea how to find our way home, they have the map and know the road.
In this time of crisis where we do not remember our obligations to the coming generations and live unsustainably, where we turn away from our fellow humans and tolerate atrocities as a matter of course, our dead cry out for the restoration of our shared humanity. They and the land spirits and the Gods cry out to restore the balance that was once broken, the balance that allowed us to live on the Earth without destroying it. Indigeny is our birthright as is the reclamation of our pre-conquest mind. We can choose not to perpetuate the divisions that disempower us.