Joy Harjo's Web Log
Joy Harjo posts reports here on her trips and other happenings.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
More rewrites, edits, redbirds and junkfood
Yet another rewrite of "my subterranean back" poem. Not sure how the blogger subscription works as I reedited the previous post. Do the edits get sent out? Will still edit and tinker with it. This poem marks a statement, a turn. "We Must Call A Meeting" in The Woman Who Fell From the Sky, or was it In Mad Love and War, was such a poem. So was the "Fear Poem", also known as "I Give You Back". It signifies a regathering of spirit from the muck.
That's part of the process of creativity. It's rare that any creative work comes as is--even humans are constantly evolving, or some of us are--We know the ones who've given up, or given over to tv, movies and eating and sleeping. They've appear to have stopped in time and effort, though, you never know. It's so easy to judge and dismiss. Maybe they're redreaming the next move, working up the heart or courage to move forward, to forgive, to not feel defeated before even trying. I've noticed a direct relationship between sugar/carbo/grease and junkfood consumption with the need to zone out. Then there's the step before the need to eat too much of all that--and the step before that, and before that--and then we're back to the beginning of creation.
Some days I have given up. Making a human is the most difficult job of all. The animals, stones, plants, stars and planets know what to do. We fight, strive, strut proudly...deny and point to others failings. What always sets me back on track is the family of redbirds who've made a nest in the mango tree, the winds who live up in the Ko'olaus, or some other place in the real world that my spirit takes me for renewal, like a poem, a song, someone's bright eyes, or a great joke.
So keep it up.
Friday, May 26, 2006
I Will Get My Subterranean Back (draft)
I WILL GET MY SUBTERRANEAN BACK
I will get my subterranean back, my alligator flap jacks.
I will get my cat back. Ruffle back. Flat back.
No more set back. Nothing cheap.
We reap what we speak.
This is a morning in paradise. This is a night in hell.
I’m in tears after wheeling in stars.
There’s terror on my tongue, a breakout in my gut.
If this is what it takes to snap the trap
Then I’m in. And I’ll begin the story again.
I will get my stomp dance back, my cougar black
I will get in my last lap. Don’t hang back
Forget set back. Nothing’s cheap
We reap what we speak.
I need all the help I can get, said the spirit on the street
He was my father rambling without sleep.
He was a house burned black and a war for the crown
He was the belly of the beast, he was the heart thrown down,
Who was missing at the feast?
I will get my eyes back, my eagle singing tracks back.
I will get my stop gap, what I lack I can take back
So I can give back. No more set back.
We reap what we speak.
We reap what we repeat--
We reap what we dream, what we scheme and what we take.
I take my subterranean back.
c Joy Harjo May 26, 2006
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Two Surprising Quotes
About a week prior to the slaughter at Wounded Knee, L.Frank Baum,
editor of South Dakota's Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer newspaper and author of the celebrated children's books including his most famous, The Wizard of Oz, advocated the extermination of all America's Indians: "The nobility of the Redskin is
extinquished and what few are left are a pack of whining curs who lick the hand that smites them. The whites by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians.(WHY NOT ANNIHILATION?)Their glory has fled, their spirit broken, their manhood effaced, better they should die than live the miserable wretches that they are."
And from Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who kept his mind and spirit open though he lived in a world of pograms, starvation and was plagued by epilepsy, poverty and other health and mental problems:
"Love all of God's creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of God's light! Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. And once you have perceived it, you will begin to comprehend it ceaselessly, more and more every day. And you will at last come to love the whole world with an abiding universal love."
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Anglos once were the immigrants, by David House
My cousin George Coser, Jr. forwarded me this article. David House coherently and eloquently voices the thoughts of many of us over the racist and hate policies of this administration. Here's his recent column from the Star-Telegram. This is reprinted by permission of David House. Mvto.
Anglos once were the immigrants
By DAVID HOUSE
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
Associated Press Archives
Whether illegal immigration issues stir brilliant debates or cries of fear and intolerance, one historical fact is always overlooked: America's own holocaust, carried out by (guess who?) illegal immigrants from (guess where?) Europe -- uninvited foreigners who came to these shores and took everything they could.
That's not getting much mainstream attention. I'm taking off my reader advocate hat to offer some personal thoughts about this matter out of love for my mixed Cherokee/Scots-Irish heritage.
Somehow the deaths of a guesstimated 11 million Native Americans at the hands of attacking, manipulative immigrants during a 400-year span seems worth bearing in mind as Americans respond to alarms about porous borders, jeopardized healthcare and threats to justice and quality of life posed by "illegals."
Americans can say, surely not with pride, that our country knows from centuries of personal experience how unchecked immigration devastates life and why it's an issue that deserves the best of our thinking and empathy.
Our history brims over with examples -- brutal, bloody instances of inhuman immigrant actions that are far removed from the basic aspirations so often associated these days with "illegals."
Most "illegals" might dream of a better life, but it's doubtful that, like the earlier immigrants and the perpetual forces they set into motion, they're plotting to seize others' property, kill babies and earn bounties based on body parts brought back from raids.
Consider that, in the late 1630s, the British wiped out every man, woman and child of the powerful Pequot tribe of southern New England in retaliation related to conflicts arising out of fur-trade struggles. A few years later, Dutch authorities in charge of the settlement of "New Netherland" on the island of Manhattan carried out unspeakable actions against a local tribe they feared.
Russell Shorto's national bestseller, The Island at the Center of the World, examines Dutch Manhattan and includes a pamphlet account of one nighttime raid by Dutch soldiers against that local tribe: "[I]nfants were torn from their mothers' breasts, and hacked to pieces in the presence of their parents."
More graphic detail is included, and as Shorto noted, the account probably involved some exaggeration, but there's no reason to doubt that the bloody raid occurred and that soldiers were as lavishly praised as documentation says.
Immigrant authorities were just beginning in their efforts to obliterate "the savages," as American history chronicles. One tiny detail includes legislation approved in Massachusetts and elsewhere in New England in the 1700s that authorized bounty payment for scalps or heads of Indians, young and old.
This is not to detract from the good -- friendships, sympathies, exchanges of knowledge and philosophies -- that flowed between Indians and foreigners, but the relationship's bottom line is what we have today: a shameful record of attempted extermination, abuse and destruction that accompanied virtually every aspect of the immigrants' taking of North America.
Some of the best-known names in American history are soiled with prejudice and arrogance aimed at Native Americans.
As lovely a patriot as Thomas Jefferson, who spent months with the Iroquois learning about their Great Law of Peace and later writing their philosophy into his draft of the Constitution, was convinced that the best solution in dealing with Native Americans was to drive all of them west of the Mississippi.
That earthy war hero-president, Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson, is one of the most despicable Indian-haters on record -- and not just because he made no bones about his racism and championed the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Even today, some Native Americans hate the sight of a $20 bill because it bears Jackson's image.
The 19th century in particular was dark with accounts of foreign intruders' invasions of Indian country, especially in the Southeast and West, and the carnage that resulted.
Among the overwhelming number of accounts of that horrible period are the killings of legendary Oglala warrior Crazy Horse and famed Hunkpapa Lakota chief and spiritual leader Sitting Bull.
To make long stories short:
In 1877, Crazy Horse was fatally bayoneted from behind while struggling in custody at Fort Robinson, Neb.
In 1890, Sitting Bull was dragged from his cabin on the Standing Rock reservation in South Dakota by Lakota policemen appointed by white authorities. One of the officers killed the defenseless chief with a shot to the head.
A few weeks later, the St. Louis Republic in Missouri editorialized:
"So when Sitting Bull was surprised and overpowered by the agents of the Great Father, he set his greasy, stolid face into the expression it always took when he was most overcome by the delusion that he was born a native American from native American ancestry. Disarmed and defenceless [sic] he sat in the saddle in which he had been put as a preliminary to taking him to prison, and without a change of countenance urged his handful of greasy followers to die free. This idiotic proceeding he kept up until he was shot out of the saddle.
"So died Sitting Bull. So was removed one of the last obstacles in the path of progress. He will now make excellent manure for the crops, which will grow over him when his reservation is civilized."
Sitting Bull might have been one of the last obstacles to Anglo settlement of the West, but his killing wasn't the last abuse of Native Americans by any means.
Abuses of property and rights continue to this day, and they spring from the same destructive immigrant practices such as greed and elitism that were brought here by foreigners long ago, which help to explain why illegal immigration is of special, if grim, interest among some Indians.
JoKay Dowell, a media consultant and Quapaw-Peoria-Cherokee activist based in Park Hill, Okla., has been closely following developments related to illegal immigration. She views the matter from a Native American perspective.
"The immigrant nation that is the U.S. has a short memory," she said, "and is in denial of their own historical facts: they are descendants of immigrants who came here and took, either by force, coercion or dishonesty, lands and resources and banned the religions, languages and cultures of the original indigenous peoples of this continent.
"Now those descendants of Uncle Sam's immigrant children fear the karma of their ancestor's actions. But those they fear do not come to take, destroy and claim. They have always been here and always will be."
These are thoughts that cross some of our minds when we hear rhetoric about the so-called invasion of illegal immigrants (many of whom are -- gasp -- Indians) and calls to protect "our" land. If we smile in response, it's not so much out of agreement. We see a payback coming home to roost.
David House is senior editor/reader advocate for the Star-Telegram. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.
Che Guevara, LIghtning, and a Border Fence
May 24, 2006 Wednesday Honolulu
Watched the film based on Che Guevara’s diaries: The Motorcycle Diaries, and was inspired all over again to write, to fight for justice and compassion, and to go back into the classroom with renewed insight, inspiration. Coupled with the movie was a long conversation with an old friend, one of the country’s finest novelists. We often communicate in dreamtime. This is not unusual. I would say most of us do and aren’t aware of it. I’d dreamed of her this last year feeding lightning with cornmeal. And towards the end of the over forty day rainstorms that drenched and flooded O’ahu this winter I watched and felt a thunderstorm in the late afternoon. I have always been in awe and amazed by their expression of poetry, of power. I fed the lightning and realized how we feed everything by our thoughts and actions. Everything. The storms had come to clean the islands, and to challenge our patterns of thinking and being. I was grateful though it was difficult, especially for those who lost their homes, their lives.
The storm appeared to be moving away and then a tremendous crack and light. The power was coherent and my spirit went down on its knees. We were shaking: my spirit, the house, the earth, and my small-self. My friend told of a similar experience with lightning. She found the word I was searching for: visceral. That’s it. It’s how we learn, how we know. I did not learn how to write by first learning rules. I did it viscerally. I practiced, read, listened, fought, gave up, wallowed, danced. That’s how I want to teach, how to be—I am not a literary academic, though I respect those who are and do it well. I don’t read to analyze. I read to be inspired, to open up other pathways of insight, even technique. I read to be amazed, to be knocked down with awe. I read to comprehend the depth of the soul of another traveler, to make connection, to be connected, for coherence. And as I write this journey and craft it into a performance memoir I have to remember how to feed the spirit, how to keep going through the challenges of doubt, fear, failure, through a government that has been taken over by destroyers, those who have forgotten their own ancestors’ stories of immigration.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
P.S. to Sunday Evening
1. I don't think you can buy beer in Oklahoma on Sundays. Or you couldn't when I lived there. Or you couldn't buy it legally. We used to live next door to the bootlegger. They were my parents' friends. Lots of parties.
2. I heard today for the second time that people think it's me who started the "Frybread Kills" campaign. Not me. It's not frybread that kills. It's too much frybread, too much grease, too much sugar, too much sadness, too much grief, too much feeling sorry, too much anger, too much racism, too much tv, too much pop (or soda), too much violence, too many pills, too many cigarettes, too much war, not enough kindness, not enough money, not enough music, not enough laughter, not enough vegetables, not enough herbs, not enough compassion, not enough respect, not enough reverence, not enough thoughtfulness, not enough breath, not enough clean water, not enough prayers, not enough love, not enough dancing and singing together, not enough--
Sunday night on a windy Honolulu evening
On Sunday at nearly 1PM. I'm in the back row of a Pacific New Media class in web design. Just came from the hospital from seeing a friend there (Mvskoke, from Broken Arrow). Good news, he'll be released to a rehab center next week. So he's up. For fun decided to bring in a can of beer and rig it up to the IV pole. Try standing in line with a can of Bud on Sunday morning to see what looks you get. No one knows me here--couldn't do this in Albuquerque or Tulsa or Okmulgee. Well, I could buy beer on a Sunday morning there and everyone would know it immediately. Guess they will now--
Later: from the hospital to a web design class where I learned to write html code and set up a web page--then to the gym to work chest and triceps, then a fundraiser for a wonderful local program called Kids Talk Story headed by Margaret South, wonderful and visionary screenwriter, teacher and community activist. The Kids Talk Story is her baby. Students write their own stories, illustrate them (or find illustrators) and then they make a book. The program has been very successful at Farrington High School on the Waianae Coast. Would like to do this for Mvskoke kids.
During the driving, and there was quite a bit for an island, listened to a relative pitch course. The lesson: on fifths, as in intervals. Not bottles. (See what happens by writing " a can of beer"? Words are powerful. They tend to engender more words like themselves. They are the building stuff of thoughts,and before thoughts: dreams. And they go exactly where they are intended, though some of us are better shots. Intent makes for aim.) A fifth comes after a square to the ground fourth. Soars a little. Is like an arc of wings on the horizon.
This weekend a respite from the horrible hammering of work crews on two sides of my place. The fighting neighbors' addition is probably half done. The workmen are loud but personable. The back lot is painful to watch. One house was torn down to make two. This is common these days because two will bring in twice as much money though will crowd the lot and squeeze thinking space and resources. And the houses usually block views of the ocean. The crew here is standoffish. I sense a rigid overseer. The workmanship so far is questionable from my point of view. I'm not a builder. The process there is far from over, especially if they have to redo some of what they've done. I've moved my computer and printer to the other side of the house for refuge though the sounds carry throughout the house and all over the neighborhood.
Now, why am I writing about it and recreating it again when I have a respite until tomorrow morning?
I keep thinking of the inmate practicing hula in her regulation garb during a change of classes while it rained in Kailua last week. Poignant to be dancing to a song of flowers and mist on the mountains which translates to longing for a lover.
When I came back from visiting a writing class, headed by 'Ilima Stern who volunteer teaches a once-a-week creative writing class there with Pat Clough, my sax and I sang and sang the heartbreak blues. We took the heart apart, and put it back together again.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Nukak Tribe Reminds me of us, and an offering of a song
Date: Fri, 19 May 2006 06:34:49 +0000
From: andre cramblit
Subject: Survival (community)
18 May 2006
COLOMBIA: NUKAK TRIBE - 'WE ARE BEING WIPED OUT'
The reclusive Nukak tribe, who hit headlines worldwide this month after
fleeing their forest home, are caught up in a violent civil war between
guerrillas and the Colombian army. The Nukak are one of the Amazon's few
nomadic tribes. Since they first came into close contact with
non-Indians in 1988, over half their number have died, mainly from flu
and malaria transmitted by outsiders.
'We are few now; hardly any Nukak remain. The outsiders are many, and
have big houses. They don't care that the Nukak are being wiped out,'
says Nukak man Chorebe.
Of the remaining 400 Nukak, half are now displaced with no means of
returning to their forest homes as the fighting continues to rage. Those
who remain in the forest run a huge risk of being killed in the
The army is spraying coca plantations, grown by colonists on the Nukak's
land, with herbicide from the air. In addition, Colombia's main
left-wing guerilla army, the FARC, and the right-wing paramilitary army,
the AUC, both have large numbers of forces in Nukak territory. Both
groups seek to control the lucrative coca crop.
The Nukak, part of a group of nomads known as the Makú, live in small
family groups deep in the rainforests of Colombia and Brazil. They move
from camp to camp every few days depending on the available hunting and
gathering of fruits and vegetables. Fish are also an important food.
Survival and Colombia's national Indian organisation ONIC are urging all
sides to call a ceasefire and withdraw from Nukak territory, and to send
urgently needed medical teams in to treat the Indians.
Survival's director Stephen Corry said today, 'If the authorities do not
act swiftly to protect the Nukak and their land, Colombia's last nomads
To write a letter in support of the Nukak visit
To read this press release online, visit
Photos and footage available. For more information call Miriam Ross on
(+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
'We are not primitive. We live differently to you, but we do not live
exactly like our grandparents did, nor do you.' Roy Sesana, Gana
Bushman. Help stamp out racist language against tribal people. Visit
We help tribal peoples defend their lives, protect their lands and
determine their own futures.
I read the quote: "We are not primitive. We live differently to you, but we do not live exactly like our grandparents did, nor do you" by Roy Sesana, and this poem/prayer/song (draft) followed:
Oh beloved Sun and maker of Sun, may false beliefs wither in your gaze
Though the slaves of these beliefs make banks that touch the sky
And give themselves seats of honor in the churches, governments, and
Marketplaces. They fight for dominion over the sweet minds of our children.
We stand with open hands in the arbor made of plants and prayers,
Where we gather beneath your blessing light.
All night we journeyed with you, from dusk through twilight to dawn,
Through loss and fear to celebration, accompanied by the songs of insects
And urges of other flying, singing ones.
We were joined, by the swaying of plants and winds as we circled back
To the beginning of the origin of fire, and out again for energy, for renewal.
Make the path clear for the children who have witnessed thousands
Of deaths, a sea of brutality, and troubling shame between humans who love each other.
We all belong in that circle around the fire of your spirit.
We will dress ourselves in starlight, in sunlight, and pull on our cowboy boots and shells, dresses
And suits, as we dance past the keepers of false beliefs.
We will raise our bent heads and accept the gifts
You have given us here on this earth though many appear broken, or sad
From loneliness or misuse.
How tender are the small winds moving about the surface of the earth before sunrise.
c Joy Harjo May 19, 2006 Honolulu
Now, if there's any Mvkoke people out there who are good at translations I need your help. I can work word by word. Want to translate this and sing it in our language.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Ocean and Earth Beings
A run/walk along Ala Moana Beach and you can see the roots of meaning, of culture. There's the gift and mana/energy/life force of the water, and the beings (physical and spirit) who live there. Though the bacteria levels have been pronounced lowered, they're still higher than they were and the white sand beach is nearly empty of tourists. Just the locals who have been here and will be here to see it all through--One old Hawaiian man brought his boom box of Hawaiian music which he props up across from his bench to listen, and be, as the walkers and runners go by. Many homeless scattered along the beach. Some are washing up in the bathroom. They have the neatest packed shopping carts parked outside. I pass one woman who looks like she got lost after coming here from the Mainland. She came here for marriage, got divorced, had no skills, friends or family and wound up on the street. Now she's depressed. Her spirit is far far away from her body, a speck. Her toothbrush is in the same position as I pass coming and going on my route. I am reminded of India and how the streets were packed with people who lived on the street. All of their intimate rituals were conducted in full view of passing residents and tourists. Same here. Not so many people, yet. As I moved along being fed by the light of the sun, by the energy of the water and the land I remembered how we are all in this together. I remembered the Mvskoke word/concept: vnvketckv--compassion, which is something like this: all of us moving respectfully together as we remember the place in which each of us compassionately belongs. And we treat each other accordingly. Similar to the Hawaiian concept: aloha.
So, moments of breakdown. And moments of inspiration, and remembering vnvketckv.
I am no longer in my twenties. Just left a few tatters to sort out. It's always that way. We all go through the waves, the weather. We keep moving. Keep singing.
Though I always say if I'd been on the trail of tears I would have reached New Orleans and said,
"Leave me here. I'm not going anywhere."
(Especially if there were saxophones and blues and jazz.)
I resolve not to post anymore poem drafts. They reveal the raw and chaotic inside of the creative process. It isn't pretty though the inspiration is able to keep me moving through the muck and flaws of physicality, of humanness, of flacid, first attempts at language. This is why I haven't posted though I write every day. I'd rather work something through until it shines. So I suppose I could loop back and post the cleanest rewrites. Mostly I haven't been very satisfied with the poetry or much of my writing. I am in that state between states in the creative imagination. How do I get from stomp dance to this island, through strands of jazz, blues and heartbreak ballad? How do I negotiate sacred thinking with the rhetoric and guns of a president who has announced he's going to build a fence along the border? How do I find "the" story from all of those who are vying for attention?
I'm in the middle of a break down that carries similar elements as the first, when I was a painting student at the University of New Mexico in my early twenties. It was dusk at the height of going-home-from work traffic and I was crossing the street as I had crossed the street for thousands of times. I couldn't. I hung onto the narrow island of dirt, weeds and a little grass as if I were going to die. I couldn't go backwards or forwards. Eventually I had to think myself across the street. And had to will each step the nearly-mile home. I couldn't swallow. Those muscles wired to panic. And panic was attached by live wires to chaos.
I did not have the luxury of a breakdown. I had small children, a job and classes. So I thought myself through each small increment of movement, otherwise I would topple. When I took the wheel of a car I had to fight for control so I would not drive off the road.
This time was marked by being banned from my mother's house because I named my stepfather a terrorist. My daughter's father was alternately binge drinking, writing beautiful and necessary poetry and political treatises and collecting hippie-girl lovers. It was also marked by extreme creativity. I began the path of poetry. I began the end of painting.
Chaos. This is a different layer of the spiral. The elements are here. Some aspects have diminished, like the panic.
Each morning I ask for a blessing by the sun. I am keep my eyes and heart open. I see the journey for what it is--the complicated layers of time and memory pulse. I go out and ask the workers to turn the radio to the level below "blasting", which they do. I resolve to add another vignette, even a page, to the growing story and resolve to finish a song for my cousin Tiger who's in the hospital here for diabetic complications, complications that I believe have been complicated by handfuls of pills and drugs. And no sunlight, and hospital food with no live elements.
This is it. No sex, violence or hip hop, a few drugs (see above).
Monday, May 08, 2006
Friday Night Paddling (rewrite)
Friday Night Paddling
It was a long paddle from the shore to Top Island
and then back out through the marina
under the bridge to the blinker buoy, without stopping
And then back to Marshall’s beach for some lessons in technique.
The sun was headed toward Aetearoa.
My spirit brought me here to this seat
In the canoe with five other spirits.
There are six paths of arrival and departure for this
Canoe, for this night. Though for a few hours we move
Together, through Maunalua Bay
Through the ending of another day.
Each practice is a test of will, of form, of finding
And keeping to the center, no matter the tide,
Winds, the shifting spirits or collective mood in the canoe.
The water is always different, as is the moon in relationship
To the water, and the cast of day as it heads toward night is
Another one of those transition points that mark change.
We reach and dig in with each stroke
Seeking perfection. And perfection must come even with
Exhaustion and the shiver of muscle in coherence with the flow
Of the ocean and the rhythm of the canoe as we paddle together.
And here’s the question of thinking about it rather than being,
Writing about it rather than knowing without words
Or beyond words, beyond the canoe, beyond the water,
Beyond the smallness of my essential chaos.
The sun keeps traveling and does not stop in the journey
To doubt or to question.
And what a magnificent journey from the edge of eternity
To Hawaii, to Aetearoa.
This is true about practicing saxophone, or the practice of poetry.
Or the practice of being a human in these times
Of those in rule who have forgotten what it means to be human.
And when we were done,
I headed back through Friday night traffic of good times
I saw the sliver of moon, which is a silver of memory.
It was the crack of bright in the middle of an ocean of cars, dark and traffic lights.
Each thought is blossoming and sending out shoots.
And thoughts are the dreams of all the beings here.
So I break it down.
To waves, to the stroke of a paddle, to a breath, to a note
Held out for depth, quality and resonance
Which is actually a cry
A hunch toward knowing
c Joy Harjo April 29, 2006 Honolulu
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Prophecy from Up North
Saturday morning--We can't deny we are in the midst of drastic and necessary change. Here's a set of prophecies from the beloved ones up north:
Date: Fri, 5 May 2006 22:54:54 +0000
From: andre cramblit
Subject: Gifts of 4 Directions (musings)
The Gifts From the Four Directions
by Ilarion (Larry) Merculieff
Ancient stories tell of a time when the peoples of the world are
reunited and their gifts bring a new world into being. Might this
healing process already be underway?
Four years ago, the Bering Sea Council of Elders was formed to focus
on the health of the Bering Sea ecosystem and the viability of the
coastal and river cultures dependent on it. The Council is often
referred to as the WisdomKeepers of the North. The Council is
composed of some of the most revered elders in seven culturally
distinct regions of Alaska. As the coordinator for the Council, I
have the privilege of implementing the Council's instructions and
making connections with Wisdomkeepers from many indigenous
traditions in the Western Hemisphere.
During the course of my work, I have been given many messages,
stories, and prophecies, and have found that many are related or
similar. One of the prophecies involves what I call The Gifts from
the Four Directions. There are many iterations of this prophecy as
it is interpreted through cultural lenses. The Hopi Wisdomkeepers
talk about the World of the Fifth Hoop where the four sacred colors
will reconnect. The Navajo call this time the Fifth World. This
version is one I synthesized from the stories of several cultures,
taking care to ensure that the integrity of the messages is
Many stories talk about how there has been a pendulum effect in
which the world shifts back and forth between masculine and feminine
imbalance over many millennia. The current cycle, which began
thousands of years ago, is a time of masculine imbalance. Spiritual
leaders throughout the world knew that this time was coming-a time
when all things feminine would be exploited, smashed, and destroyed,
including all Mother Earth-based cultures, feminine-based
spirituality, and women. The spiritual leaders around the world
communicated with one another through the original language created
from an intimate connection with Creation. They decided to hide the
sacred and secret teachings because they knew that the two-leggeds
(people)would abuse and misuse the teachings. There were many
ingenious ways the teachings were hidden-in common words of
different cultures, in story, in song, in art, and geometric
patterns woven in cloth and garments. In many cases, specific parts
of the teachings were intentionally forgotten. The spiritual leaders
knew that the sacred and secret teachings would only be made whole
again when the two-leggeds heal enough to open their hearts and thus
reconnect with their brothers and sisters from the different
directions and colors around the world. In doing so, they would
share their sacred ways with others until the sacred and secret
teachings are fully restored.
It is said that there will be a time when the gifts of the four
sacred colors, red, white, black, and yellow, will come together
from the Four Directions and combine to create something new that
has not been seen since the beginning of time.
It is said that only when humans are open enough in the heart will
there be the deep reconnection that allows a true sharing of the
sacred and secret teachings. These teachings from the Four
Directions come in the form of the four sacred elements-earth, air,
fire, and water.
The sacred yellow color brings the gift of air from the East. The
Eastern traditions understand and are masters of the use of air
through breath and how breath combines with chants and sounds to
create powerful healing and connection to Divine Silence.
The sacred black color brings the gift of water from the South. The
African traditions understand and are masters of the use of motion
and rhythm that is in complete harmony with the movement and rhythm
of the Universe, through dances and complex drumming to help human
beings harmonize with Creation.
The sacred red color brings the gift of earth from the West.
Indigenous traditions throughout the world understand and are
masters in the use of knowledge in communications with, and the
nurturing and healing of, Mother Earth.
The sacred white color brings the gift of fire from the North. The
people of the sacred white color understand and are masters in the
use and application of energy in technology, like the spark plug,
rocket engine, and the like.
The combining of these gifts will occur only when the humans have
learned the true wisdom that comes from open-heartedness born of
love, compassion, silence, and truth. Indeed, real sharing- cannot
occur without these four qualities. With these four qualities, and
with conscious intent and action to combine the gifts of the four
sacred colors, one can only speculate as to what immense beauty will
It is also said that women will be restored to their place as the
original healers, and when this occurs they shall lead the way. The
role of the men as the spiritual warriors in this new time is to
protect the sacred space of women so they can do their work. When
these things are done, the pendulum of imbalance will stop for the
first time since the beginning of time.
This journey has already begun as Eastern meditation traditions and
breath mastery are shared throughout the world, as technology of the
West spreads, as African dance and drumming is shared in every
corner of the world and melded with other musical traditions, and as
people throughout the world seek indigenous wisdom to learn how to
live on and with Mother Earth.
World religions are beginning to find common ground as spiritual
leaders engage in dialogue. Science, in such areas as quantum
physics, quantum mechanics, biology, and astrophysics, is beginning
to converge with spirituality and metaphysics as they seek answers
to how the Universe works. Indigenous teachings are found on the
Internet and in large numbers of published works, and indigenous
spiritual leaders and elders are gathering around the world to share
their ways with greater and greater frequency. Conventional
medicine is slowly beginning to explore the healing ways of
other traditions. Women are actively seeking their own healing and
creating the new ways of leadership that heal separation in its
myriad of forms throughout the world.
Much of the world has yet to see the incredible new possibilities
that can come from spiritual intent to share consciously and combine
knowledge and wisdom from the four sacred colors, but it is
beginning to happen. The Elders say, "nothing is created outside
until it is created inside first."
If we stay the course in healing separation within and without, it
is only a question of time until the sacred Gifts from the Four
Directions--the four sacred colors--come together for the purpose of
creating a new world.
Ilarion Larry Merculieff is an Aleut, born and raised in the Pribilof
Islands in the Bering Sea. He serves as the coordinator of the
Bering Sea Council of Elders and is currently raising funds for a
gathering of elders and youth in Alaska. You can contact him at
email@example.com or 1610 Woo Boulevard, Anchorage, Alaska
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