Monday, 14 March 2011

s There Tribal Wisdom on How to Clean Up the Oil Spill?

By Sandra Noble
When we discovered America, we discovered that there were already Americans here. American Indians to be exact. The term came about because Christopher Columbus stumbled upon what later became the United States while looking for a route to India. The initial settlers treated the Indians with respect. But as we expanded westward, things got ugly. Lots of massacres by both sides. Of course Hollywood capitalized on and glamorized the conflicts. The cowboys were the good guys and the Indians, also known as savages, were the bad guys.
What is politically correct?
Now that we have subdued the Indians and confined them to reservations, there was a debate about what to call them. I seem to remember Indians, then American Indians and then Native Americans. Also there was some controversy about sports teams using Native American icons as team names and mascots.
It seems that either Native American or American Indian are now acceptable terms. Better yet, references to the particular Indian Nation or tribes. Let's leave the cowboys & Indians to Hollywood. In fact, one friend felt that the modern movie Avatar, was just an expansion on the cowboys and Indians theme, but with a twist. It was quite clear that these "cowboys" were the bad guys. I greatly enjoyed Avatar and the TV show westerns of old. But I've learned to respect and value people from various cultures.
Can Native Americans help with the Oil Spill?
I reflect on my trip to West Africa. The most impactful tour was of the botanical gardens in the Ivory Coast. It wasn't just about flowers. The guide talked about how the plants and vegetation was used for everything from building homes to curing diseases. How did they figure all that out? It struck me how spiritual the Africans were and how in tune they were to nature. How could anyone call them heathens? The missionaries, armed with the religious beliefs and convictions of the more developed and civilized nations, strove to enlighten the Africans. And many Africans have embraced Christianity and other religions. But most, if not all Africans still embrace their tribal traditions, cultures and religions which are nature based. I think we would have been well served to tap into the enlightenment and wisdom from the continent of Africa. George Washington Carver, who was of black African descent, invented many things. And what was his secret? He believed that God speaks to us through nature. Anything in nature would talk to us if we loved it enough. Ask any pet owner what they learn from their pets.
The American Indians are another group that embraced and honored the earth. I think of them as wise and spiritual. So when we consider the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, perhaps the Native Americans can lend some valuable insight. The president of the Sioux Tribe is organizing a meeting of the National Congress of American Indians. They plan to discuss how the BP oil spill has affected Native Americans in the area. This is good news. We are all one. What they discover may be helpful to all Americans.
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