elaine flattery <email@example.com>
Subject: A Short History of Pan-Indianism
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 1997 22:51:08 -0400
Pan-Indianism is a non-violent liberation philosophy with roots in Native American Peace cosmologies. The Pan-Indian movement serves to stabilize Indian youth, who previously were committing suicide at the rate of 34%, and to provide a way of practicing a Native American spirituality which young Indian couples and single parents, can base their family spirituality on, assuring an extended family, and stimulating the next generation to remain Indian. Their Indian identity may be the only thing keeping these young people alive in a dominant culture which gives them the message that no one needs them. Just as Christianity has been a vehicle for genocide, Pan-Indianism is a vechile for Repatriation. The attempt to absorb Traditional Native American symbols and ethics into Christianity, thereby destroying the original meaning of them, is spiritual colonialism rather than Pan-Indianism. Inter-tribalism is usually associated with political inter-cultural [Christian] relationships between Indian Nations, monitored by the government under the BIA, and primarily of an economic nature (Jorgensen 1972).
Pan-Indianism involves the process of synthesizing the collective spiritual reality and Traditional wisdom of more than one Native American Nation, but not necessarily all of them. Sun Dance itself is Pan Indian since more than one Indian Nation has traditionally practiced it. Pan-Indianism tends to be Traditional and non-Christian. Pan-Indianism is open to all peoples.
The post-industrial, Pan-Indian Movement emerged in 1977 when the
Haudenosaunee, and Indians from North and South America, presented
Great Law of Peace to the United Nations, with a warning
that Western civilization, through the process of colonialism, was
destroying the earth's ability to renew herself. They recommended the
development of liberation technologies which would be anti-colonial,
or self-sustaining, and the development of liberation theologies.
A liberation theology will develop in people a consciousness that
all life on the earth is sacred and that the sacredness of life is the
key to human freedom and survival (Akwesasne Notes 1978: basic
call to consciousness). The Peacemaker argued not for the
establishment of law and order, but for the full establishment of
peace, and universal justice.
In 1978, Indians walked from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., this
trek was called
The Longest Walk. The outcome of this walk was
the Native American Freedom of Religion Act. During this walk, we
were taught spiritual wisdom. The spiritual leaders got together and
worked out ceremonies which did not conflict with any one Indian
Nation's spiritual beliefs. This commonality, is the foundation for
Many Indian Nations are forbidden, by prophecy, to share their
specific religious beliefs, even with other Indians, and with members
of their own tribe who are less than full-bloods. The Lakota had no
such restrictions. There is a Lakota prophecy that says,
Lakota share their spiritual ways, Indians will get their Treaties
honored, so, at the time of the Longest Walk, Lakota were eager to
share their Sweat Lodge, in order to create unity among Indians and
their extended families, to heal and to stabilize individuals and
family relationships. A Lakota spiritual leader had a vision that the
colors black, red, yellow and white, our sacred colors, stood for the
four races. This became the belief of choice of Pan-Indianism. The
Lakota offered their Sweat Lodge ceremony and the Sweat Lodge has
become the most widely spread ceremony in Pan- Indianism. It was in
the Sweat Lodge that we first learned to pray
all my relations.
After the Longest Walk the Sun Dance extended to California at D-Q University. Many of the Indians who had been on the Longest Walk, participated in that Sun Dance. This was a continuation of the Sun Dance being extended to Pan-Indianism. Now there has been another vision of Buffalo Calf Woman turning into buffalo of the four sacred colors. This has served to bolster the idea that the Red Road is for everyone.
The Pan-Indian movement is made up of all four races, but the largest
contingency are non-federally recognized Indians, primarily urban, who
are desperately clinging to their Indian identity. These people are
not white, although some white people do also Sun Dance, they are very
much in the minority, and are usually related to or have married into
Indian families. Many Mixed Bloods (with less than 1/4 from a single
tribe), because the federal government no longer recognizes them as
Indians, even though they may have 100% Indian blood, do not come
under the jurisdiction of the BIA or Tribal councils, so their rights
to the Bill of Rights have not been abrogated. Jaimes (Jaimes 1992:
136-137) accuses the Federal government of psychic disempowerment in
their blood quantum policy.
...federal policymakers have
increasingly imposed 'Indian identification standards' of their own
design...--this aspect of U.S. policy has increasingly wrought havoc
with the American Indian sense of nationhood (and often the individual
sense of self) over the past century. (Jamies 1982: 124)
Nationhood implies conformity with international human rights ethics.
Ethnic cleansing is a violation of human rights.
ceded their land to the government by Treaty. A Treaty
is an international contract. Contracts are the crux of Western
civilization. It is unconscionable in today's world to deny a whole
group of people the fulfillment of their contracts solely on the basis
of race. Pan-Indianism can teach that the return of the Black Hills
is central and indispensable to the Sun Dance Way.
On the Longest Walk were some Buddist priests. Dennis established a
close friendship with the leader of these monks, and it was this old
man who first sounded a call for a
New Age. This was in a
conversation between this Buddhist elder and Dennis which was
published in a book called
Buddhism and World Peace. In the
beginning the New Age people were respectful and participated in many
Pan-Indian ceremonies. Many leaders in the New Age movement are
Indian people. As they gained more autonomy, some became arrogant and
refused to give jurisdiction to Lakota for their ceremonies and began
to abuse the ceremonies by corrupting them. This corruption may be
due more to innocent ignorance than to deliberate disrespect. The
primary abusers are not the unenrolled, they are those who have
meanings. Our enemy is not New Agers. Our enemy
is willful ignorance.