June 2020 Newsletter

I'm sitting here watching the news of Black Lives Matter protests and “Take It Down” chants accompanying the removal of historical statues, and in this moment I am humbled by both the tremendous honor and the burden that each of us living in this time must bear.

In 1493 the flag of the Spanish government was thrust into the earth, and the Doctrine of Discovery was declared upon the land establishing “spiritual, political, and legal justification for colonization and seizure of land not inhabited by Christians” [1] effectively justifying the use of violence and seizure of people and property needed to protect and cultivate the land and serve the colonizer's agenda.

The doctrine of discovery, a concept of public international law expounded by the United States Supreme Court in a series of decisions, originated from various church documents in Christian Europe in the mid-1400s to justify the pattern of domination and oppression by European monarchies as they invasively arrived in the Western hemisphere. It theologically asserted the right to claim the indigenous lands, territories, and resources on behalf of Christendom, and to subjugate native peoples around the world. [2]

In essence the Doctrine of Discovery justified racism, genocide, slavery, bigotry, use of disease as strategic warfare, and the seizure of land from Native and indigenous peoples. It was and is a “power over” that seeks to intimidate, confuse, seize, control, manipulate and dominate people and all of Creation.

It is where it all started and it's memory remains unhealed and unresolved in the air, the land, and in the values and attitudes of our government and institutions that seek control and a “power over” rather than a “power with” that creates understanding, healing and humility.

Power isn't in our status, money or control. Power is in the natural and sacred things that we are supposed to honor and acknowledge on a daily basis.

When a “power with” seems such an easy alternative, it makes you wonder why people have such an urgent need for control and power? Where does that the greed for power come from? I wonder whether it is born out of a fear of insignificance or perhaps in the a belief that one can be superior to the another.

Power as we understand it as Native and indigenous peoples is in the thunder as it roars through the air, it is in the rain as it cleanses the Earth, and it is in the lightning as it lights up the sky. Power is the sunset as it gives way to the night. Power is in cycles and seasons of the Earth and within each of us. Power is in our connection with the Sacred. Power is the ability to change and be transformed, essentially and powerfully changed.

I learned from an old and very wise old man who said that we have to start loving ourselves, that we have to love ourselves first so we can love others. Loving ourselves is not easy, it is also not all warm and fuzzy. To me love requires courage, the courage to look at ourselves honestly and compassionately. Real self love requires us to acknowledge the truth about the wrongs we have committed ourselves – to ourselves. Where we have lied to ourselves, where we have tried to “control” ourselves or others, where we valued our own comfort over truth, growth and compassion. The healing must start within our own hearts.

It’s easy to say to say that love heals. But I think we misunderstand the truth in those words The love that we are talking about here is a deep truth telling, compassionate kind of love that sees the power of love to transform unresolved pain and heal it with truth and compassion. This is not love in a syrupy, immature way that bypasses pain. This is love that like lightening shakes us to the core, it transforms us. We need that kind of love. Love that is not easily given. Love that comes up from our most fragile and wounded places. Love that is uncomfortable and messy but is also kind, compassionate and truthful. This kind of love transforms us. It can and it will transform the world.

I will share with you a few things that I was taught by my elders that I try to live by every day;

Respect all living things.
Live in happiness and in good health.
Walk with the power of God as you know Him.

Thank you for giving me a chance to express myself. Please understand that this is not a “All Lives Matter” message because it is my absolute belief that we must all rally around the fact that Black lives do matter because they absolutely do and because it is the very point in which fear erupts in violence. As we continue the conversation and look deeper it’s also important to explore the history of where the practice of devaluing human life became acceptable and institutionalized. It is my hope and prayer that through the turmoil, we find new understanding, understanding that heals and creates new life and possibility just as our mother the Earth has always done for us.

Oyondusuk nia nanawenuk
All My Relations,

Ted Bear Jackson Native
American Spiritual Leader

1 https://upstanderproject.org/firstlight/doctrine
2 https://www.ucc.org/justice_getting-to-the-root-of-it_the-doctrine-of-discovery