Leksi Roy Stone Sr., a gift to us all

Leksi RoyThe Celebration of the Life and Gifts of Leksi Roy Stone Sr., senior medicine man and spiritual leader on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.

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What do we need to give up?

Bio photo Kernit'sSermon on Mark 10:17-31, The Rich Young Man

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On this Columbus Day, I will not celebrate a lie

“In fourteen hundred ninety two, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue …”

I learned that little ditty when I was 4 years old, and for many more years, I believed it. I believed that Columbus “discovered” America.

It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I learned that story was a lie.

I know: “Lie” is a strong word.

But the whole concept of Columbus “discovering” America? Trust me: It is a lie.

Statue of Christopher Columbus.

Statue of Christopher Columbus.

Columbus was looking for a shorter route to India. But he never got there. He landed first in what is now the Bahamas, and then went on to what is now Hispaniola, the island of the nations of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Which is how I know he didn’t “discover” America.

A meme that circulates on Facebook every year at this time corrects that little ditty so many of us memorized:

“In 1492, Natives discovered … a lost Columbus.”

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned the real truth about Columbus: That his so-called discovery led to the Doctrine of Discovery, issued by Pope Alexander VI in 1493, which stated that any land not inhabited by Christians was available to be “discovered,” claimed and exploited by Christian rulers …” (Source: The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History).

I learned about how, even before that horrible edict was issued, Columbus and most of the explorers who followed him across the ocean began massacring the natives they “discovered” — all in the search for riches.

And when I moved to Haiti as a missionary, I learned even more of the truth that is not told in our history books: Columbus was so intent on finding gold that when the original inhabitants — the indigenous Taino, an Arawak-speaking people who began arriving from the Yucatan peninsula as early as 4000 BCE — couldn’t produce any because the island didn’t have gold, he began enslaving and executing them.

What Columbus and his men and those who followed him did in Haiti, they did everywhere: Give us gold and riches or die.

When I moved to the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, the home of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate, the Burnt Thigh Lakota Peoples, I learned even more about the history of Europeans and what they did — and continue to do — to Natives.

How the people who have been here for thousands of years were attacked, wiped out, rounded up, put on reservations as their land was stolen over and over and over again.

How their children were kidnapped and sent to boarding schools in order to “assimilate” to the white man’s ways (even though it is immigrants who are called to assimilate to the native culture).

How many of those children never returned, how they died, and how their remains are still missing, or have been buried far away from their homelands.

How Natives, the original inhabitants of this land, were not allowed to vote in this country until 1924.

How in a country founded in part on religious freedom, Natives did not have the right to celebrate their own traditional religion until the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978.

So, no, I don’t celebrate “Columbus Day.”

How could I? How could I continue to participate in the domination and denigration of the peoples who were here thousands of years before my own people came to this land?

How could I continue to participate in a lie?

I am not saying the Columbus was not a brave man for sailing across the ocean blue. I am saying that I refuse to celebrate the lies about him, that I refuse to ignore the truth about him.

Instead, on the second Monday of October each year, I celebrate Native American Day, as we call it in South Dakota. I celebrate Indigenous People’s Day, as it is called in more and more places in the United States.

Statue entitled "Dignity," Chamberlain, S.D.

Statue entitled “Dignity,” Chamberlain, S.D.

I celebrate the people who were here in the Americas for thousands of years before any European showed up, the ones who have taught me so much truth, who have helped me to understand on a much deeper level my place in God’s sacred creation, and who have assured me, in every way possible, that you can’t “discover” a land that already is inhabited by millions of people.

Christopher Columbus did not “discover” America. He got lost, and landed in the Caribbean islands.

And we need to stop celebrating that.

 

 

 

 

(This column appeared in the Herald and News of Klamath Falls, Ore., on 7 October 2018. https://www.heraldandnews.com/members/forum/wire_commentary/columbus-day-why-i-m-not-celebrating-a-lie/article_c1939abe-2a7e-5a3f-b436-508cf7528e71.html)

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Of Law & Order, Power & Authority, And The Jesus Movement

Bio photo Kernit'sThis is the sermon I preached today, 7 October 2018, on the Rosebud Episcopal Mission (West), challenging the power games of today.

 

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In such a time as this …

 

Bio photo Kernit'sOn Sunday, 30 September 2018, I used the Book of Esther to talk about what we are called to do in such a time as this. Times are tense right now in the United States, and we need to be the ones – indeed, we are called to be the ones, who stand up, who speak up, who seek justice for all.
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We are losing our soul – and our humanity

Right now, I very much fear for our country.F8C5BB25-ABCA-4459-ABDD-2C1F4F46BDEC

I fear that we are losing our soul.

That we are losing our humanity.

That we are losing any sense of community, of commonality, of the ability to even think about working together.

I am not talking about the current leadership of this country, which lies and denies and denigrates, which seems so focused on partisanship that even the hint of cooperation is dismissed as cowardly.

I am talking about the regular folks like you and me, people who get up in the morning and care for their families and go to work or school, who run errands and generally focus on simply getting through whatever the day throws at them.

I see regular folks like you and me who are federal agents working for ICE and Border Patrol and HHS no longer acting with humanity, and wonder: What did it take to make you act this way? What did it take to turn you into the kind of person who separates families and celebrates doing so?

I see regular folks like you and me who work at the detention centers for immigrants, adult and child alike, who ignore and mistreat and abuse people desperately seeking a better life, and wonder: When did you lose your compassion?

I see videos of seemingly normal people attacking complete strangers for having the audacity to speak a language other than English in this country, and wonder: When your ancestors came here – and unless you are Native, trust me, your ancestors were strangers in a strange land once – do you think they should have been attacked because they didn’t know the right language?

I see videos of white people abusing people of color simply because of their color, and wonder: Have you always been a racist?

Where, I wonder, every single day, has our humanity gone? 

Where, I wonder, every single day, are our souls?

I know we have always had among us those who harbor hate, those who despise others simply for being different, those who think they are superior for (insert any reason you want). 

And I know that those people have always acted out, that they are capable of incredibly vicious acts, including killing those who are different.

And I am aware that in this time of instant communication, of course we hear about this hatred and these vicious acts much more frequently.

But I cannot lay the blame on the Internet.

I lay the blame squarely on us.

Because we are losing our souls.

We are losing our humanity.

Not our leaders.

Us.

We are the ones who are terribly divided. Who judge instantly and nastily. Who name call. Who denigrate. Who lie. Who attack. 

We are the ones who tell women, people of color, people with disabilities, people from other countries, people who have not, that they don’t matter. That we can treat them any way we want, that we can say anything we want, that we Do. Not. Care. One. Whit. About. Them.

Where is the grace? 

Where is the understanding?

Where is the compassion?

Think about it: 

Perfectly normal people doing perfectly normal jobs suddenly have become, or at least seem to be on their way to becoming, some kind of monster doing their perfectly normal jobs. 

Separating children from parents – and gloating about it. 

Denying benefits to people – and boasting about it. 

Declaring that sexual abuse victims’ stories don’t matter – and bragging about it.

Denying food to the hungry by cutting back on food stamps, and limiting what foods poor people can buy – No steaks for you!– and ignoring cries of hunger.

Denying clean water to the thirsty (how long has Flint, Michigan, been without clean water?), and shrugging it off. 

Haughtily telling people who are poor to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, even though they don’t own boots. 

Lying about who receives federal assistance and claiming, I did it all by myself.

Changing the name of earned benefits to “entitlements,” as though we who work don’t pay into our own Social Security every single paycheck. 

Who are these people who act like this? Where did they come from? 

You know who they are?

They are us.

Walt Kelly was right: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

We have become enemies to each other.

We have lost our ability to be empathetic. 

We would rather shout than listen, attack than understand, denigrate than lift up. 

We don’t agree with someone on something? Sneer at that person. Call that person a nasty name. Insult her intelligence. Denigrate his manhood. Claim to be superior

All of this is why, at this time, I very much fear for our country.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

We could be better

We could show grace and mercy to each other.

We could listen.

We could try to understand.

We could help.

We could remember that we could all be wrong.

We could remember that we are all on the same planet, and that none of us – not one of us – is getting out alive.

I don’t want to fear for our country.3D42A1A0-4AC1-45DE-BAB5-A8D745455559

I want to be the person … one of many and many m
ore … who can change the direction in which we are heading.

Who will join me?

 

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