"Mother Earth is alive! We live on her body," said Adrean, a Quechuan man who'd walked the Incan Trail more than a hundred times. As my friend and I walked with him, he taught us to view all plants and animals as spirits of our ancestors: Apus, in each blade of grass, in every mountain, in the butterflies and soaring eagles. I prayed to the Apus asking for guidance and protection, and the more I prayed, the more it became communion, as if the plants and animals had information, strength, and medicine to share with me. We walked for days like this – honoring, listening, in reverence. When we arrived at our destination, Machu Picchu, we snapped a Polaroid. As the image developed in Adrean's hands, excitement radiated from his being. His smile widened. The picture showed the three of us bathed in golden light. The Spirits, he said. "The Apus!"
In my backyard, I am voting for Earth who has no voice. I'm doing it at the request of animals and their habitats. I'm doing it for the slowing down of progress. In my town, this is "Yes On Measure Y" to save open space and agricultural resources.
Today, I ask a computer to play The Beatles without touching a button and it does. I can order Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa from China. And I can have all these words typed out automatically on an illuminated typewriter wirelessly connected to a cloud. Today's toys and comforts are great. Modern progress gives us freedom and wings to fly – but what is the true cost to others and to Mother Earth?
When the Last Tree Is Cut Down, the Last Fish Eaten, and the Last Stream Poisoned, You Will Realize That You Cannot Eat Money –Native American Proverb
Because money is a means to survival, America rewards doing, like the progress of job creation and development. This kind of progress isn't inclusive – it's competitive, and it leaves many hungry and homeless. I prefer the progress of planting a tree and being a steward of the Earth; the progress of slow-food and plant medicine.
America looks the way it does, divided, in debt, and engaged in many wars, because it's had a lot of practice paving over paradise. From above, progress looks like urban sprawl – lava fields of concrete – a cancer on Mother Earth's body, slowly suffocating the organism.
I live in a river valley once inhabited by the Luiseño Indians. They thrived in the region for thousands of years until colonists arrived, named them, appointed a new God, and declared ownership, which has changed hands many times now. Many different cultures have been run out of the region. Now we are simply running out of land. Cities are expanding onto fringe farmers' lots. Open spaces are being consumed by progress. The Native American proverb is real.
Native Americans are not one-people. They are members of many tribes, each with different history and culture. But due to a 500-years-long resistance to colonization, they have been marginalized and forced to act as one.
To this day, progress continues to regard indigenous people as second-class. Last week, the Supreme Court delivered a major defeat for Native American voting rights in North Dakota when it allowed the implementation of a Republican-backed voter ID law. In order to vote, the law requires documentation of a residential address. Native Americans living on reservations often don't have residential addresses because the postal service doesn't deliver mail to them. Instead, they use P.O. boxes. But now, IDs with a P.O. box aren't valid for voting.
You can help serve and uplift humanity by recognizing the struggle Native People's have endured for 500 years. Action and assistance can be provided via NARF.org. Since 1971, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) has provided legal assistance to Indian tribes, organizations, and individuals nationwide who might otherwise have gone without adequate representation.
We're more connected and mobilized now more than ever. We're an entirely new generation of woke beings. We can't rewrite history, but we can create a fair and forgiving future.
Colonialism disrupted man's relationship with Earth.
Compassion could reconnect us.