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Re-Connecting, Bringing Indigenous Wisdom into Life and Education Conference

October 27, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful circles, amazing
timeless moments, deepest
gratitude for life and our natural
world was shared in many
hearts as sixty five participants
gathered at beautiful White
Feather Ranch in the Sierra
foothills for this conference.
There were representatives from
twelve Waldorf schools and
teachers from as far away as
Arizona, Oregon and Georgia.
Our gifted native presenters,
who are all well known artists,
teachers, and Waldorf parents,
shared the views and thinking of
wise indigenous people today
who carry the legacy of living in harmony with earth and life. James
Marquez, Stan Padilla, Aiona Anderson, and Aaron Sumexheltza
represented three native bio regions, the Great Plains, (Lakota),
Mexico (Yaqui) and Canada,(Lower Nicola).
The focus was also to bring correction to truths of America’s history
as taught in our schools. Their statements were firm. “Columbus did
not ‘discover ‘ America. He came with papal bulls, the ‘doctrines of
discovery’ originally designed for wars of conquest in Europe and
then extended to new territories. Dum Diversas 1452.— an edict to
claim title in the name of the church at God’s command, to all lands
not inhabited by Christians, described as ‘pagans and other enemies
of Christ’ and consign them to ‘perpetual slavery’, including by
military force, convert them for ‘use and profit’. The devastating
legacies of that doctrine are all too apparent. Surely the prominent
enshrining of the statue of Queen Isabella sending Columbus forth in
the California state capital is no longer appropriate in 2018.
Aiona’s story is representative of all the presenters ancestral
experience. She told of her people living peacefully and sustainably
in Canada, in a region accessible only by horseback, and how they
were ‘discovered’ by a white man who promptly named them after
himself. When Aiona was young, the authorities came and gave her
parents two choices: have their children removed and placed in
different foster homes, or sent to residential school where it turned
out they were also separated. They chose the church run boarding
school hoping for educational opportunities. Instead, Aiona and the
others experienced decidedly ‘un-Christian’ punishing abuse,
degradation,and the destruction of language and identity. The motto
was “Kill the Indian to save the man.”
Aiona’s strong spirited mother, who did not read or write, told the
many graduate students who later sought her out, that she knew so
much because she didn’t have their kind of education and told them
that if a disaster occurred they would not survive but she certainly
would as she knew how to live with the land!
In recent native generations, hopes have lain in gaining power
through education to effectively find justice in the face of these
ongoing violations of human rights. Aiona’s son, Aaron, a Waldorf
educated tribal chief and attorney, has been able to do just that.
At one point during the healing medicine wheel ceremony, Aiona
movingly sang for us and immediately a sudden wind came up in the
center of the Peace circle that is surrounded by over arching oak
trees. In impressive response, the leaves came raining down upon us
like a blessing and affirmation from the ancestors and the natural
world.

 

The sunrise ceremony, and that of acknowledging those who
had walked
this land long
before us at
the native
grinding rocks
nearby were
both healing
and inspiring.

 


If our teachers
cannot feel a reverent
connection to the natural world
as such native people can, they
cannot share with the children
they teach a deep love of the world and appreciation of all the gifts
that plant, animal and human relationships bring us. Thus we all
become ever further disconnected from reality, trading real life for a
technological cyber world, and increasingly entrapped by and
dependent upon our electronic machines and gadgets. This gratitude
and knowing is a primal soul condition for the educator if we are to

 

 

 

 


keep our humanity and foster it in our
children. ‘Heart thinking’ was so
beautifully expressed by all our presenters;
an understanding of the laws of reciprocity with the natural world
such as never taking more than you need and honoring and using all
you take. Stan and James led us in these vital celebrations of life
with moving rituals of deepening respect for everyone present, and
shared their lives and views permeated with grateful and respectful
inclusion of all life. James guided the group in native methods of
beautiful jewelry creation with soapstone and pine nuts. Popular
native story teller, Rick Adams, entertained all at the evening
campfire, with animal ‘teaching stories,’ lively tales from our local
Miwok/Maidu tribes.
Our materialistic, exploitive culture that promotes the greed of
endless acquisition is not only destroying the earth but preventing us
from the kind of thinking that will allow progress toward the
economic brotherhood we desperately need. Rudolf Steiner outlines
this in the laws of the threefold social order. We must first change
our thinking to that of the ‘New Mind’, as the Great Iroquois
Peacemaker brought nearly 1000 years ago when their spiritually
inspired democracy began.
We closed with the Iroquois Thanksgiving address giving thanks for
all life given to us by the Creator of the Universe.
All school curriculum needs enriching and ‘truing’ for our time This
was a powerful beginning and we hope for further deepening work
together in a “ReCONNECTING gathering in the coming year.

 


Nancy Jewel Poer, October, 2018
White Feather Ranch, Placerville, California
Co-Sponsor with Jack Petrash, Nova Institute

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