Nexus of the Kheprw Institute, Indigenous Peoples and Quakers

The realization that we have to move away from capitalism for environmental and social justice reasons, indeed for our very survival has given me new perspectives on the significance of several different communities I’ve been blessed to work with over the past seven years or so.

Readers of this blog know how deeply grateful I am to have been involved in the Kheprw Institute (KI) in inner city Indianapolis, not far from North Meadow Friends meeting. That proximity made it possible for some of us to ride our bicycles from the meeting to KI, since the book discussions there were on Sunday afternoons. I initially learned about KI because of their environmental work, with a huge aquaponics system, community gardens, and making and selling rain barrels.

I was immediately drawn in by the loving community of the kids and adults. I’ve written about the spiritual experience of my initial meeting with this community. That continued to be an important part of our relationship, and the relationship between KI and North Meadow Friends. And needs to be for communities of the future.

KI IMG_20160422_1919521

If you look closely you’ll find me in the audience at KI (below the yellow sheet on the whiteboard)

I also soon became aware of the significance of how KI was building a vibrant community despite having almost no financial resources.  They depended upon their self reliance, continuous study and social experimentation, and community partnerships to become as self-sufficient as they could be. KI is a model of how we need to be creating similar communities everywhere as we move beyond capitalism.

Numerous times I’ve tried to express the spiritual connection I felt during many opportunities I was able to spend with Native Americans in Indianapolis as we worked together to raise awareness about the dangers of the Dakota Access Pipeline in particular, and more broadly about how capitalism and extractive  practices are killing Mother Earth. Prayers were always part of these gatherings.  One gathering, on the grounds of the state Capitol was just for those who had worked together over the year to gather to celebrate that work.  We stood in a large circle and people spoke out of the silence.

Similarly I was able to join Bear Creek Friends in their efforts to support Native Americans in Iowa, including the Prairie Awakening ceremony.

Dear Dallas County Conservation Staff and Board,
Bear Creek Friends Meeting (Quakers) are writing you to express our support for continuing the annual Prairie Awakening celebration. A number of members of Bear Creek Friends Meeting have been involved in the Prairie Awakening celebration for many years, at times helping to prepare meals and volunteering in other ways. At least eight of us attended this year’s celebration and were so impressed with the ceremony and variety of things that occurred—the release of the butterflies, and the raptor, and the honoring of several individuals of the Native American community for their years of wonderful contributions. We were touched by the opportunities to greet each other and participate ourselves, and the several occasions when stories were told to the children.
The hoop dance of Dallas Chief Eagle and his daughter was amazing to behold. Perhaps the most meaningful to many of us was hearing him speak to us around the campfire about how important it was to take time to set aside busy activities, be still, and listen to the Spirit. We feel a kinship with Native Americans for this and other reasons.
We also believe we should honor the Earth, and live simple lives. We are very concerned about the environmental damage that has been done. We appreciate the leadership of indigenous people in protecting Mother Earth.
We see the Prairie Awakening ceremony as an important way to celebrate these things, and we applaud the involvement of the Dallas County Conservation Staff and Board in providing this cultural opportunity to educate the greater Dallas County community and beyond about ways to live to honor Mother Earth and move along the path together. We deeply appreciate your work in making this happen, and would be glad to do what we can to help this important celebration continue.
Sincerely,
Bear Creek Friends Meeting
Earlham, Iowa

As with the KI community, indigenous peoples live lives not built on capitalism. I believe communities such as these are the model we need to strive for. A spiritual approach to a lifestyle not built on capitalism. One that celebrates people and relationships and love of Mother Earth.

Quakers have worked to build similar communities. But we need to work harder to dissociate ourselves from a capitalistic, extractive society. We need to unlearn capitalism.

 

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