Carbon Footprints

A recent article in AXOS by Amy Harder titled “The carbon footprints of the rich and activist”, discusses some attitudes about individual’s views of their own carbon footprint.

Not all carbon footprints are created equally.

Driving the news: Famous, rich and activist people face acute scrutiny given their ability to influence the masses. With that in mind, I explored the travel and consumption habits of four notable people supporting action on climate change: Greta Thunberg, Bill Gates, Bill McKibben and Al Gore.

Why it matters: Individual behavior tackling climate change is getting greater attention as inaction on the matter persists among governments. A recent peer-reviewed study found that people are more likely to listen to others calling for action on climate change if they personally have lower carbon footprints.

“The carbon footprints of the rich and activist” by Amy Harder, AXIOS, Dec 9, 2019.

This has been a lifelong challenge for me. In my mid 20’s I gave up having a personal automobile. I know there are many other sources of my own greenhouse gas emissions, but not having a car was something I felt I had the most control over, with the most direct impact on my carbon footprint. There were additional beneficial effects, such as opportunities to take photos as I walked, and greatly improving my running, since this became one of my primary forms of transportation.

I know a great many people who live in areas with good public transit systems also don’t have personal automobiles. Indianapolis has a city bus system and has just opened a rapid transit bus line. But Indianapolis sprawls over a large area, resulting in less than optimal coverage of the city by the buses. The schedules are also a challenge. Most buses don’t run after 11 or 12 pm, and there may be as much as two hours between buses on certain routes. Some don’t even run on Sundays.

But between learning how to be careful of the bulk and weight of what I would walk home with from the grocery store and how to dress for all kinds of weather, including rain and snow storms, living without a car worked out.

I have been disappointed that I haven’t convinced anyone else to give up their car. There have been multiple occasions when the subject comes up, when someone at the hospital would ask if I had ridden my bike to work that day. Or when planning for travel everyone seems to know I try not to drive.

After a number of discussions about driving at my home Quaker meeting, Bear Creek, we wrote a Minute that was then approved by Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) we called “Ethical Transportation”.

Ethical Transportation
Radically reducing fossil fuel use has long been a concern of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative).  A previously approved Minute urged us to reduce our use of personal automobiles.  We have continued to be challenged by the design of our communities that makes this difficult.  This is even more challenging in rural areas.  But our environmental crisis means we must find ways to address this issue quickly.
Friends are encouraged to challenge themselves and to simplify their lives in ways that can enhance their spiritual environmental integrity. One of our meetings uses the term “ethical transportation,” which is a helpful way to be mindful of this.
Long term, we need to encourage ways to make our communities “walkable”, and to expand public
transportation systems.  These will require major changes in infrastructure and urban planning.
Carpooling and community shared vehicles would help.  We can develop ways to coordinate neighbors needing to travel to shop for food, attend meetings, visit doctors, etc.  We could explore using existing school buses or shared vehicles to provide intercity transportation.  
One immediately available step would be to promote the use of bicycles as a visible witness for non-fossil fuel transportation.  Friends may forget how easy and fun it can be to travel miles on bicycles.  Neighbors seeing families riding their bicycles to Quaker meetings would have an impact on community awareness.  This is a way for our children to be involved in this shared witness.  We should encourage the expansion of bicycle lanes and paths.  We can repair and recycle unused bicycles, and make them available to those who have the need.

Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) 2017

I am well aware that despite efforts to reduce my carbon footprint by reducing driving, not flying and reducing meat in my diet, my carbon foot print is many times greater than those living in many other countries.

We can no longer wait for government action. We can stop driving, stop flying and reduce consumption of beef, etc, now.

By Mgcontr – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
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A Place to Call Home

For some time now I’ve been studying about the Indian boarding schools. This began as several of us prepared for Paula Palmer to be with us this past summer.

Following is a letter to faith communities that explains the purpose of these workshops.

A call to faith communities has been issued by two very different organizations: the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and the World Council of Churches. Indigenous and religious leaders are urging all people Of faith to take a deep look at the Doctrine of Discovery, the 15th century papal edict that authorized European Christian nations to “invade, capture, vanquish, and subdue all.. .pagans and other enemies of Christ.. .to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery …and.. .to take away all their possessions and property”  (Pope Nicholas V) 

Why do we need to dredge up the Doctrine of Discovery now, more than 500 years later? Because over the centuries, the Doctrine has been embedded in a world view of European superiority and domination and in the legal codes of the lands the Europeans colonized. It continues to be cited by courts in our country and others as justification for denying Indigenous Peoples their rights. The notion of European superiority and domination has been perpetuated by our schools and other institutions. The consequences can be seen in the disproportionate poverty and ill health of Native American people today. How much has it influenced our own thoughts and actions? 

She presented several workshops related to Toward Right Relationships with Native Peoples. One of her presentations was “Quaker Indian Boarding Schools: Facing Our History and Ourselves”, held at Scattergood Friends School July 7, 2019. There is a complicated history related to Quakers’ involvement with Indian Boarding Schools. Although I’m sure they had the best of intentions, the attempts to force assimilation of Native children into White culture had many disastrous results. Paula wrote about this in Friends Journal.

More than 100,000 Native children suffered the direct consequences of the federal government’s policy of forced assimilation by means of Indian boarding schools during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Their bereft parents, grandparents, siblings, and entire communities also suffered. As adults, when the former boarding school students had children, their children suffered, too. Now, through painful testimony and scientific research, we know how trauma can be passed from generation to generation. The multigenerational trauma of the boarding school experience is an open wound in Native communities today.

Quaker Indian Boarding Schools: Facing Our History and Ourselves,
by Paula Palmer on October 1, 2016

I’ve written about my friend Matthew Lone Bear and I sharing stories about the Quaker Indian boarding schools as we walked together during the First Nation Farmer Climate Unity March in September, 2018. That made it clear to me that trauma such as that is multigenerational. As the blog post about those conversations says, the past isn’t.

A Place to Call Home

I’m glad today I can share a better story about Native Children.

Great news for the children of Standing Rock! The Lakota People’s Law Project will soon open a foster home with Native caretakers for kids in need on the reservation, a resource that’s been missing for a long, long time.

I know you may have been introduced to us through our shared pipeline resistance and defense of water protectors — and this critical work will remain front and center in 2020 with the coming of Keystone XL to my homelands on Cheyenne River.

Understanding that, I’m excited to share with you today how we got started and more about our important work on behalf of children and families. Back in 2004, I was among a group of Lakota grandmothers who helped found the Lakota People’s Law Project. We needed to stop the taking of our children by the State of South Dakota.

That was true then, and it remains true today.

We grandmothers found our people in the midst of an epidemic, an extension of the boarding school era that I and many of my generation barely survived. Back then, the saying was “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” These days, there’s no catchy slogan. Instead, quietly — but every day — the State comes in, removes our kids, and almost always puts them in non-Native foster care, where they’re excluded from their culture and prone to high rates of suicide.

The state relocates more than 700 children from tribal homes every year, 90 percent of whom end up in non-Native foster care settings. This pattern persists, even though the Indian Child Welfare Act requires that states do everything in their power to secure Native foster care.

That’s why, in 2005, we confronted South Dakota by bringing in NPR to do a Peabody Award-winning series on the crisis. We also hosted a summit in Rapid City attended by three executive branch agencies from D.C. and all nine tribes from around the state.

Despite our best efforts, the struggle to keep tribal children in Native homes and in touch with their culture continues. Now, we’ve achieved a meaningful milestone in this struggle: working with a group associated with The Nation Magazine and with Standing Rock’s Child Protective Services, we’ve secured a lovely house on the reservation where up to eight foster children will be safe, secure, and loved.

I am also working with another nonprofit based on my home reservation of Cheyenne River to create a “children’s village” in the same spirit as our house at Standing Rock. As we both go forward, we will share knowledge and create opportunities for foster children to connect with one another across tribal nation boundaries. All these kids deserve to know they are not alone, that we are all part of a larger circle.

There is much still to accomplish and we will have more to share with you in the coming weeks. For now, I wish you a very happy holiday season! The support and attention you give the Lakota People’s Law Project makes a huge difference, not just for fossil fuel resistance but for children and families, too.

Wopila — Thank you for standing with our children.

Madonna Thunder Hawk
Tribal Liaison and Grandmother
The Lakota People’s Law Project
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Slow Down

I’ve written about one of my favorite performers and activists, Nahko Bear. The first time I’d heard of him was when we held a water protector rally outside the theater he was performing at in Indianapolis. His band members gave us fist bumps as they passed us.

Nahko often talks between songs. I love stories and Nahko is a good storyteller.

Where my warriors at?

And so I feel like what has been said many times tonight and I appreciate the sentiment that we can say this now in this time and this generation is that prayer is the most G thing you can do homey. And I can say that for my life, in the things that have happened in my life, the anger, for the pain, for the hate, that I’ve carried, that forgiveness, and therefore remembering to pray for those that oppressed us, is the most powerful testament to mankind.

Nahko and Medicine for the People

He is working on some new or revised music. Following is his message in an email title NEW MEDICINE.

On this new moon // full moon also comes our second single

Some of you may know it as Horsetail. Oh, the changes songs go through and how they will live long after us! I’m loving that the first two singles are both songs I wrote nearly ten years ago. They withstood the test of time and got better with age. Truth be told, I hadn’t ever ‘finished’ this song until this past winter when I brought it back out again and gave the second verse some loving consideration. Inspiration derived from a reoccurring injury my partner at the time was working on healing. She began using the plant medicine to help her joints and bones. Everything for us at that time was about moving slow and going with the moment’s flow. We were living in our van with our dogs and were driving around the country exploring. Taking life in moment to moment. While the song is definitely a lullaby and ode to our plant teachers, it also speaks to being afraid of losing your way and reminding oneself to slow it down in order to get the real work done.

After touring for nearly 8 months this year, I’m very ready to slow things down and go into hibernation. My intention this new and full moon is simple: take the items I shelved all year ( i.e. grief, sorrow, and mourning loss // gratitude, self love, forgiveness of self // to name a few ) and care for them. This was likely the hardest year to date for me and it’s a mixed bag because not only was it intensely traumatizing it was also incredibly brilliant and beautiful. After spending a better part of the year caring for everyone else, my intention is to care for myself in a deep way now AND to not feel obligated to anyone else’s needs except my own.

So, may the Archer’s arrow spark a fire for you. May it liberate those stuck places and emotions so that tangible healing can occur. May slowness and stillness provide that broadening horizon for the ultimate manifestation of our prayers and dreams, individually and collectively.
This is about taking your power back, and figuring out how we do it together.


“Slow Down”

Slow down, slow down, slooooooow down
It’s been a long time
Comin’ around and smoothing out the edges and slowing down
And listening
What is important, what is your focus? Don’t you go and stumble now
Are you listening?

Horsetail, horsetail we can heal it all
With plant medicine
Body, mind, and spirit crying
Slow down, slow down, slooooooow down
Making a broth for a feverish head, no I’m no stranger to loneliness
Are you struggling?
Sweeter than lavender, years in the making drink it up, it’s your nature

But I’m struggling
Coping with all of it, to hell with enlightenment, clearly, I am no good at this
Who’s even listening?
Take it all on, like you know what you’re doing, try not to lose yourself out there
Are you listening?

Horsetail, horsetail we can heal it all
With plant medicine
Body, mind, and spirit crying
Slow down, slow down, slooooooow down

Slow Down, Nahko and Medicine for the People

One Sunday recently Bear Creek Friends meeting gathered at my Uncle Ellis Standing’s farm to see and learn about medicinal plants. Their daughter, Cheri Standing, is a pediatrician and learning about plants and their properties.

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This Moment

I hope we might be at an inflection point today. The beauty and grandeur of natural landscapes have been desecrated time and again. Those who will go to any extreme to plunder the earth of coal, oil, minerals and even water have used laws and military force for their extractive purposes. Without care for our children and our children’s children.

At Standing Rock many nations and peoples came together and showed the world how to pray and protect the water.

This time it is the sacred ancestral lands of the Apache at Oak Flat in Arizona, with rich deposits of copper, that are threatened. Legislation hidden in the National Defense Authorization Act in 2015 allows Resolution Copper to begin mining that copper in 2020.

Former Chairman Wendsler Nosie Sr. eloquently describes this situation, this spiritual struggle. Calling on people of faith to support efforts to prevent the theft of the land and mining.

The Poor Peoples Campaign is answering the call for people of faith to come to Oak Flat, and will be there this Friday December 13th-14th in solidarity and support of the Apache. The ceremonies will begin at 6:30 pm on Friday in Oak Flat and end on Saturday at 11:00 am.

If you cannot attend in Arizona, then please contact your governmental representatives.

Let this be the moment our faith and our prayers protect Mother Earth and all our relations.

What I have found in my time praying in the indigenous earth based ways, is that it’s not about putting your hands together and talking to god…. It’s about quieting and connecting with the baseline of creation, of nature. Tuning into the frequency and vibration of the natural world, the nature spirits. The beings and entities that have been in existence, for all of existence, the examples and realities of sustainability and harmony.

It’s about becoming receptive to these things. Being open and flowing with them. The spirit guides us, but we have to make ourselves receptive to feel, sense, and respond to this guidance.

Joshua Taflinger

A possible template for a letter or a call to you representative.

Dear _________

Please help protect the sacred ancestral lands of the Apache at Flat Oak, Arizona. If Resolution Copper is not prevented from mining the copper deposits there, it would devastate the area by leaving a 2 mile crater where Oak Flat is now and contaminate the water and air.

Help us preserve these sacred lands to preserve their beauty, and that they might provide spiritual guidance and strength for your children and ours, to all our relations, for many generations to come.

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Apache Stronghold

The sacred ancestral lands of Oak Flat in Arizona have rich deposits of copper. Legislation buried in the National Defense Authorization Act in 2015 allows Resolution Copper to begin mining that copper in 2020. In the video below Former Chairman Wendsler Nosie Sr. eloquently describes this situation, this spiritual struggle. Calling on people of faith to support efforts to prevent the theft of the land and mining.

The Poor Peoples Campaign is supporting the efforts of the San Carlos Apache Tribe to retain their sacred land. “Join us in Oak Flat next week on Friday December 13th-14th in solidarity and support of the Apache. We will begin at 6:30 pm on Friday in Oak Flat and end on Saturday at 11:00 am.”

This is a modern day example of the disenfranchisement of indigenous people when their land is found to have something of value that White people want.

The greatest sin of the World has been enacted by Arizona Senator McCain, Senator Flake, and Representatives Kirkpatrick and Gosar of Arizona by including the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange in the National Defense Authorization Act (2015). We are calling on all religious faiths, & military veterans, for this country was founded on freedom of speech, religion and worship, which has been given away to a foreign mining company.

Elder/Councilman Wendsler Nosie Sr. was born on July 10th 1959, on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, in Gila County, in San Carlos, Arizona and was raised in a traditional Apache way of life.

The San Carlos Apache Tribe, is comprised of nearly 15,000 tribal members on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, in San Carlos, Arizona, ranging within the Gila, Graham and Pinal Counties, totaling 1.8 million acres, situated in the southeastern portion of the State of Arizona.

From the Poor Peoples Campaign

Former Chairman Wendsler Nosie Sr. and the Apache Stronghold are in a significant struggle for their sacred ancestral lands of Oak Flat. Located 1 1/2 hours outside of Phoenix, Arizona, Oak Flat is the site where ancestors are buried, where young girls have their sunrise service, and where the acorns are gathered for core rituals in the Apache religion. In Apache teaching, Oak Flat is the birthplace of all life.

Oak Flat is under threat of destruction by Resolution Copper, a joint venture owned in part by Rio Tinto, one of the largest metal and mining companies in the world. Because of a congressional act under the leadership of Senator John McCain, Rio Tinto is set to begin mining in 2020. Their plans would devastate the area by leaving a 2 mile crater where Oak Flat is now and contaminating the water and air.

Wendsler, with the blessings of the Apache Stronghold, has decided that he will not leave the sacred site until it is protected, and his tribe’s Constitutional and moral rights to religious freedom are respected, even if it means losing his life.

Join us in Oak Flat next week on Friday December 13th-14th in solidarity and support of the Apache. We will begin at 6:30 pm on Friday in Oak Flat and end on Saturday at 11:00 am.

In the Spirit of Love and Justice,
Rev. Dr. William Barber II, Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Rev. Dr. John Mendez, and Rev. Dr. Robin Tanner

The following is from the transcript of parts of the video above. The transcript was auto generated so the punctuation and spelling is sometimes not quite right.

First of all I wanna say thank you to everyone that’s out there and able to hear this message you know my name is Winston Rosie and the San Carlos Apache Tribe Called Apache and so today we’re here at Oak Flats, a very special holy place to not only the Apache people but people who have come here and have visit and most importantly to learn and to feel inside that there’s something happening in the world that we have to pay attention.

Coming here today as you can see the water in the canyon now this is where the people before us we knew the Creator as the way we should know the Creator had come daily and did their spiritual rituals so that they can be in balance of life.

Well here is our water this is the giver of life which I know everyone understand the value of life to this this is what gives us tomorrow and if this is all gone then there is no
tomorrow and so the Indian people the native the indigenous in a which is when
we are the creator gave us that responsibility.

But he gave it to us in a way that we have to handle this in a spiritual way because spirituality and if it’s done in that format we’ll achieve the most precious blessing
and that’s our children all those yet to come and that’s what brings me here.
That’s what gives me this life, that’s what gives me the hope for what tomorrow
is gonna be because it’s really important that we come together, we share
that information with our children, we help give direction to our children.
Because those children’s who have bear children that we say today that’s yet to
come. And this is a place of special healing. This is a place of where you
listen to the Creator and all the things that it brings here, brings here for us.
It’s a time to retouch the mother and the mother will speak to you give you
that vision, that mission for you in that direction and most importantly to give
of that give us the strength of all what tomorrow’s gonna be.

Tell me how important the UN declaration is for your tribe.

Well it’s very important only because like I was saying, was trying to say there was that you know we’ve been through the system and the system has failed us. And the United States had a lot of opportunities to really help correct those things but right now we’re fighting mining, mining except in in Arizona plus fighting for the aquifers that involve land swap between the United States and Resolution Copper and so going through the steps from the very bottom up. It’s really annoying because it seems like nobody listens to us when we have trust responsibilities, when we have supposedly consultation and not only that from the first intrusion they have all information but also patches of how sacred and holy these places are, and then the promises that they made all the way up to 1872 and even beyond that, and so you know where do we go with this fight? You know we’ve been to the White House number of times. You know we’ve been to the Hill number of times you know over and over and over but the same thing who’s cutting a deal with who who’s helping who and so there’s got to be a third alternative and that’s where I’m hoping with this decoration that is that the third one is that the one that’s been really going to help Indian tribes because as I mentioned in there you know the United States victimized all the tribes and they probably needs to be a third party to say who was wrong and who was right and how what should be the remedy from them and so I’m hoping that this would be important that if the United States does take a look at it and do sign you know but again is to be political so we’ll see what the out come is gonna be like I was saying in there many tribes have been good I’m gonna have that follow the law they’ve followed everything so you know right now it’s gonna be embarrassing if they don’t let me get to that point in supporting the tribes so we’ll see.

First just give thanks to my creator for allow me to speak here on the first
peoples land you know when we come to the bottom talks is to assure that we
give the blessings to speak here of this man to the first people because we’re
we’re the creator gave me life was in the mountains and so that’s almost the
respect that we give I guess with those of us you know we still see that like
first before we see the American state we see what we see first and so that’s
important and then the second part of that is given thanks to all of you
you’re all God’s children you’re all under the Creator like we don’t and just
the fact that we come together tonight I’m oh I’m really stunned tonight I’m
really emotional I guess you could say it’s what scaring me right now because
years ago we talked about Nene we talked about the greatest sin the greatest
devastation that took place here in America and to add with that we’re like
great victims that the victims have never been cured and causes social

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How it came to be

I’ve been writing about Joy Harjo’s book, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems, lately, most recently about the steps for conflict resolution. The book begins with this quotation:

How it came to be

Only the Indian people are the original people of America. Our roots are buried deep in the soils of America. We are the only people who have continued with the oldest beliefs of this country. We are the people who still yet speak the languages given to us by the Creator.

This is our homeland. We came from no other country.

We have always looked at ourselves as human beings …

Every tribe has a trail of tears. We wonder when it is going to end.

PHILLIP DEERE (1929–1985)

Many have pointed out the irony of the current Republican administration’s callous and often inhumane policies regarding immigration and asylum coming from those who are themselves immigrants, or from families of immigrants. The writing above reminds that “Indian people are the original people of America.”

It also expresses why I have been led for the past several years to make connections with Native Americans. Others (White people) have warned me not to idealize Native Americans and their cultures. Have pointed out that some native nations are engaged with fossil fuels, when I say we should look to the leadership of native peoples regarding our environment.

But as I have been blessed to make friends with some Native people, I have found their relationship with the land, their commitment to Mother Earth and to each other have much to teach us White people. “We are the people who still yet speak the languages given to us by the Creator.”

John Woolman (Quaker) wrote (in the late 1700’s): “having many Years felt Love in my Heart towards the Natives of this Land, who dwell far back in the Wilderness, whose Ancestors were the Owners and Possessors of the Land where we dwell”. A land acknowledgement statement from more than 200 years ago.

Also from the quote above, “Every tribe has a trail of tears. We wonder when it is going to end.” One way to begin to work to end the trail of tears is for White people to acknowledge and respect what Indigenous peoples can teach us. And to help other White people do so, too. This is increasingly urgent as we look for ways to decrease the rate of environmental chaos and collapse.

We can also work to stop the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). Quakers can work with the Friends Committee on National Legislation to support bills related to Native affairs.

As we engage to do this work, we should keep the following conflict resolution ground rules in mind:

Set conflict resolution ground rules:

  • Recognize whose lands these are on which we stand.
  • Ask the deer, turtle, and the crane.
  • Make sure the spirits of these lands are respected and treated with goodwill.
  • The land is a being who remembers everything.
  • You will have to answer to your children, and their children, and theirs—
  • The red shimmer of remembering will compel you up the night to walk the perimeter of truth for understanding.
  • As I brushed my hair over the hotel sink to get ready I heard:
  • By listening we will understand who we are in this holy realm of words.
  • Do not parade, pleased with yourself.
  • You must speak in the language of justice

Harjo, Joy. Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems. W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

As I’ve been studying and writing about “Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems”, I’ve been wondering just what conflict(s) Joy Harjo is talking about. Now that I’ve finished reading the six parts about conflict resolution, I’m still wondering what conflicts she has written about. The sixth (final) part is “use what you learn to resolve your own conflicts and to mediate others’ conflicts”.

So the conflict resolution steps she writes about can be used to resolve our own conflicts. But it seems to me she is also speaking about conflicts between Mother Earth and human beings, and conflicts of the cultures of Native peoples and non-native people.

I’m reminded of my friend Donnielle Wanatee’s prayers during our First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, in which she often said “we are all just pitiful people”. She also said “we are all Indigenous, we all came from somewhere.” And she said, “we are a tribe.”

Having many Years felt Love in my Heart towards the Natives of this Land, who dwell far back in the Wilderness, whose Ancestors were the Owners and Possessors of the Land where we dwell; and who, for a very small Consideration, assigned their Inheritance to us; and, being at Philadelphia, in the eighth Month, 1761, in a Visit to some Friends who had Slaves, I fell in Company with some of those Natives who lived on the East Branch of the River Susquehanna, at an Indian Town called Wehaloosjng, two hundred Miles from Philadelphia, and, in Conversation with them by an Interpreter, as also by Observation their Countenances and Conduct, I believed some of them were measurably acquainted with that divine Power which subjects the rough and forward Will of the Creature.

Woolman, John. The Journal, with Other Writings of John Woolman . Good Press. Kindle Edition.
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Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings 6

This is the final part about conflict resolution outlined in Joy Harjo’s book, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems


When we made it back home, back over those curved roads that wind through the city of peace, we stopped at the doorway of dusk as it opened to our homelands.

We gave thanks for the story, for all parts of the story because it was by the light of those challenges we knew ourselves— We asked for forgiveness.

We laid down our burdens next to each other.

Harjo, Joy. Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems. W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition

As with the other parts of this series, I relate these writings to my experiences on the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March. That is probably in part because Joy Harjo is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation and often draws on Native American stories, languages and myths. The friends I made and what we did together, the hardships we went through and the joy we shared, had profound effects on me. My spiritual life has broadened and deepened. I love the sign below, “Earth is my Church”, that Alton and Foxy Onefeather carried during the March.

Alton and Foxy Onefeather

When we made it back home, back over those curved roads that wind through the city of peace” might not be meant to be taken literally, but I think of this as coming home at the end of the March, although they were very straight roads we traveled upon.

we stopped at the doorway of dusk as it opened to our homelands.” It was great to experience dusk in natural surroundings as we ate together and prepared our tents for the night.

We gave thanks for the story, for all parts of the story because it was by the light of those challenges we knew ourselves— We asked for forgiveness.” Whenever I think, or talk about the March, it is always about stories. The stories of our experiences during the March are fundamental to what the March was intended to, and did, accomplish. To help us get to know and trust each other. Following is one of my favorite quotations that beautifully expresses this.


From the moment we are born to the time we continue on our spirit journey, we are involved in the creation of the story of our time here. It is what we arrive with. It is all we leave behind. We are not the things we accumulate. We are not the things we deem important. We are story. All of us. What comes to matter then is the creation of the best possible story we can while we’re here; you, me, us, together. When we can do that and we take the time to share those stories with each other, we get bigger inside, we see each other, we recognize our kinship — we change the world one story at a time.

Richard Wagamese (October 14, 1955-March 10, 2017)
Ojibwe from Wabeseemoong Independent Nations, Canada

We asked for forgiveness.” I don’t know whether Joy Harjo was prescient, i.e. knowing things or events before they exist or happen, or whether part of “we knew ourselves” always reveals things we need to ask forgiveness for. But one of the most consequential events of the March for me was asking a friend for forgiveness for my ancestors’ involvement with the Indian boarding schools. Even though I’m sure most of them had the best of intentions. This is especially problematic for me because of what I have learned from my experiences with my friends, people of color, at the Kheprw Institute in Indianapolis. That it is fundamental to learn from oppressed communities, what they know their needs are. Not to try to come up with what I think are solutions.

We laid down our burdens next to each other.” After I sought forgiveness about the Indian boarding schools from my friend, he later told his family’s story related to forced assimilation. Months later there was another opportunity to thank him for sharing his story, and he said “thank you for listening.” I like to think of this as laying down our burdens next to each other.

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Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings 5

This is a continuation of a series of steps for conflict resolution outlined in Joy Harjo’s book, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems


  • A panther poised in the cypress tree about to jump is a panther poised in a cypress tree about to jump.
  • The panther is a poem of fire green eyes and a heart charged by four winds of four directions.
  • The panther hears everything in the dark: the unspoken tears of a few hundred human years, storms that will break what has broken his world, a bluebird swaying on a branch a few miles away.
  • He hears the death song of his approaching prey:
    I will always love you, sunrise.
    I belong to the black cat with fire green eyes.
    There, in the cypress tree near the morning star.

    Harjo, Joy. Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems. W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

To eliminate negative attitudes makes me think of what little I know about burning sage.

The practice of burning sage may be employed to rid a person, place, or thing of negative or harmful energies. Sage burns very hot, so most people use a ceramic container or abalone shell to contain it. In fact, most practitioners have a sacred container that is used specifically and solely for burning sage.  A bundle may last through several burnings and is commonly stored in the container. A large feather is usually used in the ceremony as well.

What is the purpose of burning sage?

One of the things that helped bring us together during the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March was sharing the burning of sage with everyone on the March. These photos also show the burning of sage (smudging) during the ceremony of planting two trees at Bear Creek Friends Meeting to honor the memory of Roy and Wanda Knight. There are also a couple of photos of smudging taken at the Prairie Awakening/Prairie Awoke celebration at the Kuehn Conservation Area near Bear Creek Friends Meeting. The Meeting has been involved with Prairie Awakening for many years.

The morning of the third day of the March I awoke to find my feet sore. I was also tired, as I had slept on the floor of the church that allowed us to spend the night there, since the site we had planned to use was under water from the large amounts of rainfall in previous days. I didn’t have a watch or cell phone with me, so I wasn’t sure what time it was when I awoke. It continued to rain as we gathered to begin that day’s march.

I had some negative energies. But I felt better after Trisha CaxSep GuWign Etringer smudged me before we began walking.

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Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings 3 and 4

The past couple of blog posts have been about the first two parts of conflict resolution outlined in Joy Harjo’s book, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems.  The third part is “give constructive feedback”. I’m having trouble understanding this section. One reason is feedback is a response to a statement or event, and I don’t see what the feedback is in response to. Maybe the point is the feedback below is not constructive. Please leave any comments that would help me understand.


  • We speak together with this trade language of English. This trade language enables us to speak across many language boundaries. These languages have given us the poets:
  • Ortiz, Silko, Momaday, Alexie, Diaz, Bird, Woody, Kane, Bitsui, Long Soldier, White, Erdrich, Tapahonso, Howe, Louis, Brings Plenty, okpik, Hill, Wood, Maracle, Cisneros, Trask, Hogan, Dunn, Welch, Gould
  • The 1957 Chevy is unbeatable in style. My broken-down one-eyed Ford will have to do. It holds everyone: Grandma and grandpa, aunties and uncles, the children and the babies, and all my boyfriends. That’s what she said, anyway, as she drove off for the Forty-Nine with all of us in that shimmying wreck.
  • This would be no place to be without blues, jazz—Thank you/mvto to the Africans, the Europeans sitting in, especially Adolphe Sax with his saxophones … Don’t forget that at the center is the Mvskoke ceremonial circles. We know how to swing. We keep the heartbeat of the earth in our stomp dance feet.
  • You might try dancing theory with a bustle, or a jingle dress, or with turtles strapped around your legs. You might try wearing colonization like a heavy gold chain around a pimp’s neck.

Harjo, Joy. Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems. W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

The fourth part, “reduce defensiveness and break the defensiveness chain”, does make sense to me. Has some beautiful ideas and expressions.


  • I could hear the light beings as they entered every cell. Every cell is a house of the god of light, they said. I could hear the spirits who love us stomp dancing. They were dancing as if they were here, and then another level of here, and then another, until the whole earth and sky was dancing.
  • We are here dancing, they said. There was no there.
  • There was no “I” or “you.”
  • There was us; there was “we.”
  • There we were as if we were the music.
  • You cannot legislate music to lockstep nor can you legislate the spirit of the music to stop at political boundaries—
  • —Or poetry, or art, or anything that is of value or matters in this world, and the next worlds.
  • This is about getting to know each other.
  • We will wind up back at the blues standing on the edge of the flatted fifth about to jump into a fierce understanding together.

Harjo, Joy. Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems. W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

“Every cell is a house of the god of light” is a new way to think about the Inner Light. “I could hear the spirits who love us stomp dancing.” The spirits who love us. “Until the whole earth and sky was dancing”.

One of the first lessons I learned about justice work is that it is not about you. You have to learn to step out of yourself to get a better view of what is going on. There is no “I” or “you”. There was us; there was “we”. That is how to break the defensiveness chain.

I was talking with my friend Matthew Lone Bear several months after the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March and the subject turned to walking some distance. He said, “man, we can walk anywhere”. We.

“There we were as if we were the music”.

“You cannot legislate the spirit of the music”.

“This is about getting to know each other”. Getting to know each other was the point of walking 94 miles over 8 days along empty country roads. That gift of time, place and space allowed us to share our stories, story after story, getting deeper and deeper.

“Jump into a fierce understanding together”.

What a beautiful concept. And the defensiveness chain is broken.

Posted in #NDAPL, climate change, decolonize, First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March, Indigenous, Native Americans, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Going Beyond Local Boundaries

My family, and many others in Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) have close ties with Monteverde Friends.  Lucky (Standing) Guindon, my mother’s cousin and constant companion during their childhood, was one of the original group of Quakers who moved to Monteverde, Costa Rica, and live there today.  Prior to going there, on October 14, 1950, she and Wolf Guindon had a double wedding with my mother and father at Bear Creek Meeting.

Last year students at Monteverde Friends School began to draw pictures on the envelops that contained the financial appeal letters.

Bear Creek Friends Meeting returned the favor, and sent drawings from the meeting to the Monteverde students.

This year, besides the financial appeal letter and drawing on the envelopes again, students, staff and Monteverde community members wrote a letter on the back of each letter. I was really glad to receive this letter from Lucky Guindon, who was in the double wedding with my parents at Bear Creek Meeting in 1950.

Then yesterday I received the most recent Monteverde Friends School newsletter. Part of the newsletter included a paragraph about the exchanges with Bear Creek Meeting, as well as a link to my blog post:

Donations to Monteverde Friends School can be sent to Eliza Beardslee, MFUS, P.O. Box 1308, Greenfield, MA 01302

My grandparents, mother, brothers and sister, and I remained in the United States, and attended Scattergood Friends School and Farm, near West Branch Iowa. Donations to Scattergood can be made at:

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