Listening to the Indigenous voice...

With the spark of protest at Standing Rock, the cries of the Indigenous American peoples are being heard.  Perhaps we are finally ready to deal with the injustices and genocide of an entire race of people.  Perhaps the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement is a call for all darkness to be shed a light on.  I can feel the awakening happening within many people's hearts, even those people close to me who have been resisting the call for justice.  It seems that now, nothing can be unseen.. we cannot go back.  We must move forward TOGETHER.  

In my own spiritual journey through these dark times, and the shame I have sometimes felt being a young white woman living in Oakland, California, I have turned to art, poetry and the creative works of our Native American brothers and sisters.  Now, more than ever, I need to see their work and listen to their stories.  Theirs are the voices that I so deeply need hear.  One voice in particular has struck a chord in my heart, and that is the voice of Joy Harjo.  Joy is an incredible poet, with books upon books of published work.  Her work is bringing me back to my body in a new way; her words pull me back to the wisdom of our Earth Mother with richness and clarity.  Her story is not one that I could tell, so instead I will share one poem that has inspired me most recently...

Talking With The Sun

I believe in the sun.

In the tangle of human failures of fear, greed, and forgetfulness, the sun gives me clarity. 

When explorers first encountered my people, they called us heathens, sun worshippers. 

They didn't understand that the sun is a relative, and illuminates our path on this earth. 


After dancing all night in a circle we realize that we are a part of a larger sense of stars and planets dancing with us overhead. 

When the sun rises at the apex of the ceremony, we are renewed.

There is no mistaking this connection, though Walmart might be just down the road. 

Humans are vulnerable and rely on the kindnesses of the earth and sun; we exist together in a sacred field of meaning. 


Our earth is shifting. We can all see it. 

I hear from my Inuit and Yupik relatives up north that everything has changed. It's so hot; there is not enough winter. 

Animals are confused. Ice is melting. 

The quantum physicists have it right; they are beginning to think like Indians: everything is connected dynamically at an intimate level. 

When you remember this, then the current wobble of the earth makes sense.  How much more oil can be drained, without replacement; without reciprocity?


I walked out of a hotel room just off Times Square at dawn to find the sun. 

It was the fourth morning since the birth of my fourth granddaughter. 

This was the morning I was to present her to the sun, as a relative, as one of us.  It was still dark, overcast as I walked through Times Square. 

I stood beneath a twenty-first century totem pole of symbols of multinational corporations, made of flash and neon. 


The sun rose up over the city but I couldn't see it amidst the rain. 

Though I was not at home, bundling up the baby to carry her outside,

I carried this newborn girl within the cradleboard of my heart. 

I held her up and presented her to the sun, so she would be recognized as a relative, 

So that she won't forget this connection, this promise, 

So that we all remember, the sacredness of life. 


-Joy Harjo