Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Acculturated Native Americans Losing Understanding

Modern Indians Influenced by Militarized and Corporate America are Deeper into Loss of Identity
By Bahe Y. Katenay, Sheep Dog Nation Media

Dineh bi Keyah, Northern Arizona, June 16th 2010 - Navajo Country, the largest Indian reservation in the U.S., can be my model to use as an example of how most modern "Native Americans" or indigenous peoples of Turtle Island have turned into White Americans. I had an interesting discussion with my sons who have been on a cultural learning trip that was actually a river trip down the San Juan River. Prior to that, I went with them to the ancient holy lands of Dinetah (northewestern New Mexico) where we all made prayer pilgrimages to the birthplace of Dineh rituals and cultural ingredients.

My son told me that certain Dineh (Navajo) “cultural advisors” that are on state salary and are working in the urban areas are confused about the creation stories and especially ‘which rivers are actually Female and Male?’ Their confusion begins with the San Juan River which cuts through the Four Corners region. These elder “cultural advisors” question why the San Juan is referred to as the Female River when the Little Colorado River is Female, already. The (once) mighty Colorado River is normally referred to as the Male River and the San Juan empties into the Colorado as well as the Little Colorado does similarly later on downstream on the Colorado. To confuse things more, eastern Dineh refer to the Rio Grande in New Mexico as the Female, too.

Modern and educated Dineh are, today, so out of touch with their histories. For example, they probably do not realize that the Holy Lands exist or that there is such a thing. Modern Indians like the Dineh are way more aware of who the President of the United States is, or who is the U.S. Speaker of the House or the U.S. Secretary of State. Basically all the popular news outlets in Indian country are nothing but convey mentalities that are: “hurray, U-S-A! Support ‘our’ soldiers, fly the ‘stars bangle banner.’” They are forgetting their ancient creation stories of how the earth was formed and how the waters of its surface receded. They have completely lost the traditional concepts of understanding and how to preserve the rich qualities of those traditions. American egos, trends and greed have become more meaningful across the Reservations.

Going way back into that ancient time of creation when the world was what we are not able to imagine, it was a very long-distanced time ago. The culturally confused, modern Dineh are thinking in terms of a Dineh-beginning which was designated by the great wise White archaeologist and these westernized thoughts have published only theories that the Dineh arrived into the Four Corners region around 1400 or 1500 AD. Let’s give this a taste of Indian humor: ‘at least we beat Cortez and Coronado by a few decades even though we walked across the Bering Strait, and they spend hundreds of years trying to invent the best ship that can cross the Atlantic.’

The traditional telling of the Dineh creation has always made clarification that the time that it refers to was a time before human beings were around, and it was a time of magnificent forces and beings. But then the poor Indian or the Dineh cannot seem to comprehend this and instead they will comprehend what is ‘illegal’ according to the white man, or that ‘voting is a guaranteed right,’ and they will think it is okay to wear baseball cap with a snake figure or t-shirts with human skull designs. Perhaps, the wise geologist can explain to them if I cannot convince my own confused Dineh.

Rivers are ancient and they have changed form and shape throughout millions of years. The ancestor of the San Juan was once mighty, powerful like the Female Spirit, and geologist have found river stones along the Arizona-Utah border and these rocks originated in the San Juan Mountains. The ancestors of the Colorado and the Green River might have once flowed south and southeast and they created a huge sea, Bidahochi, that spanned from Tuba City, AZ to Gallup, NM. The Rio Grande today flows south in the Gulf of Mexico but it also has been that Female Spirit. Not only was she been pampered by earth’s surface separating which became a trough that influenced her present path and as she built up lands with over two mile deep sediments.

Today, the Little Colorado River, as unimportant as it may seem and so dry as it is, is still the Female River Deity to the Dineh ritual beliefs. The San Juan with its short path but maintains its year-round flow may not be as mighty as the Mississippi but geologist are starting to perhaps understand its great ancient history. Recent evidences found begin to uncovered the possibility that around 6-plus million years ago the ancestral San Juan might have took a course through present day eastern Chaco Canyon area, Gallup, New Mexico and onto to the Little Colorado. She could have been so mighty that she deposited San Juan Mountain rocks far north of present day Grand Canyon. This also answers my own curiosity about why in the Dineh prayer chants they call the Little Colorado River, the Very Long-Endless Bodied Water. Before the rifting of the Rio Grande valley, it is possible for the ancestral Rio Grande to have associated with the Male in the west via the Little Colorado and the ancestral San Juan.

Dineh creation tells about a great deity came to free the land from the waters and with its great stone blade, he gouged out a range of land which eventually created the Grand Canyon. Geology with all its expertise cannot, to this day, define how and when the Grand Canyon formed. Ancestral Grand Canyon supposedly opened completely as an official river gorge just after 5 million years ago. The Colorado perhaps became Male because the ladies, the Green, San Juan and the Little Colorado nurtured for his evolution. The mysteries will always continue but there should never be any confusion and this only happens when the human minds are influenced by artificial interpretations. The Indians that have the guts must begin to accept the creation stories and almost like books of western science, more and clearer information exist within the healing and prayer chants of the endangered traditional medicine peoples.

© SheepDogNation Media, 2010