Friday, August 10, 2007

Michelle Cook: 'I refuse to be your canary'


Thursday, August 9, 2007

Michelle Cook: 'I refuse to be your canary'

Living in the days of prophecies, Navajo Michelle Cook remembers the words of a Hopi spiritual leader on the United Nations Indigenous Peoples DayI Refuse to be your CanaryInternational Indigenous Day

By Michelle Cook, Navajo student at the University of Arizona

Good Morning, distinguished panelists, representatives of Indigenous Peoples and organizations, Ladies and Gentlemen blessings to you, your families, and peoples forever. I would like to begin by acknowledging and thanking the peoples of this territory for enabling and supporting this press conference. In addition I would like to acknowledge and thank the ancestors and spirits of this land and ask for their blessing in the name of all of us. Thanks to the Indigenous Alliance without Borders for organizing and giving me the opportunity to share my story. Yatehey, my name is Michelle Cook. I come before you today on behalf of my family and my Dine ancestors who have perpetuated the struggle for our life ways, cultures and land. I stand filled with the spirit of my peoples will to survive and our will to live as were we meant to be as Navajo as Dine. The Anishinabe have prophesies that they call the teachings of the seven prophets, and the seven fires. The prophesies all came true but the seventh prophecy remains unfulfilled, I want to share with you what these prophets said, “the seventh prophet that came to the people long ago was said to be different from the other prophets. He was young and had a strange light in his eyes. He said, “In the time of the Seventh Fire, New people will emerge. They will retrace their steps to find what was left by the trail. Their steps will take them to the elders, whom they will ask to guide them on their journey. But many of the Elders, whom they will ask to, guide them on their journey. But many of the Elders will have fallen asleep. They will awaken to this new time with nothing to offer. Some of the Elders will be silent because no one will ask anything of them. The New People will have to be careful in how they approach the Elders. The task of the New People will not be easy. “If the New People will remain strong in their quest, the sacred fire will be lit again, it is at this time the light skinned race will be given a choice between two roads. If they choose the right road, the eight and final fire will be lit of peace, love, and brotherhood and sisterhood. If they make the wrong choice then the destruction that they brought with them in coming to this place will come back to them and cause much suffering and death to all the Earth’s people. Are we the New People the Seventh Fire”? I believe that we are. Today, as we meet here, the Mohawks meet with Hugh Chavez in Venezuela, meeting on a Nation to Nation basis for the first time. The work that indigenous people are doing today is historic, because we are suggesting a new good way of doing things a way that will eventually bring equilibrium between the peoples of the earth and all living things. It is my honor and pleasure to speak with you on this important day. In 1923, a great Haudenosaunee Chief Deskaheh traveled to Geneva to speak to the League of Nations. He was the first indigenous person to appeal to an authority outside of the US government concerning the human rights of indigenous peoples. He came to defend the right of his people to live under their own laws, on their own land, and under their own faith. His simple message of justice went unheard as he was not allowed to speak, or represent the concerns of his people in anyway. Imagine Deskaheh, following the yellow brick road only to find the doors of the emerald castle barred by racism. Following on his foundational journey later indigenous leaders, activists, and representatives have subsequently demanded standing within international bodies in order to make their voices heard. Many were turned away even the fraternal and peace making body: the United Nations, has in the past turned our chosen representatives away. How would we ever move this unyielding monolith? What tools would we employ to become the change that we demanded from the world? Persistence, diligence, tenacity, and in the end plain stubbornness paved our way. We broke through those doors finally and creating a distinct space of resistance and dialogue for ourselves within the United Nations. Today, International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, stands as a marker of when, only a short twenty-five years ago, the concerns of our people were finally given priority within the United Nations human rights system. In 1993 when our peoples addressed the UN for the first time Oren Lyons said, “It seems that today we are living in the time of prophesies, a time of definitions and decisions…Even though you and I are in different boats – you in your boat and we in our canoe- we share the same river of life. What befalls me befalls you”. This was the day when one of the great Hopi elders Thomas Banyacya said, “Nature, the first people, and the spirit of our ancestors are giving you loud warnings. You see increasing floods, more damaging hurricanes, hailstorms, climate changes, and the earthquakes- as our prophesies said would come…If we human do not wake up to the warnings, the Great Purification will come and destroy this world as the previous worlds were destroyed…It is up to all of us, as children of Mother Earth, to clean up this mess before it is too late”. I think today we should remember the importance of our voice and remember the messages that indigenous peoples have given the United Nations and world. We must recall and celebrate the hard work of those who have gone into international arenas to defend and testify; driven by the love for their people and home. I was recently given the opportunity to attend the UNPFII’s sixth session of Lands, Territories, and Natural Resources, I was asked to share with you what I learned from this experience. First, I learned that although the United Nations is an important tool for the world’s indigenous people. It will neither bring justice nor true freedom by itself. True freedom will come from the people. The UN is places to address grievances not fix them in entirety. It is one strategy among many that indigenous peoples have and will continue to use to our land and people. I am aware of the fact that there are limitations within the UNPFII and UN; nonetheless I believe it to be a necessary and crucial institution to our struggle. While there is much going on within the formal operations of the Forum I discovered that the informal interactions are equally if not more important it is here that we share of our stories. Communication and dialog creates connectedness, spiritual and physical linkages forming transnational solidarity between our peoples. This communication increases the international visibility of our communities, our concerns, and strengthens the movement. It also ensures that our voices are heard and included within the United Nations and the international discourse on human rights. My experience of the UNPFII’s was profound and powerful one. The Forum is a gathering of the world’s indigenous peoples. From the four cardinal directions we gathered to give thanks, deliver testimony, to share our concerns for the wellbeing and survival of our people. In the end we spoke from our hearts to express our fears sprung in tandem from deepest concern for the condition of our precious mother; earth. From the north the Artic peoples spoke of their concerns with reference to climate change and natural resources development. It is important to note that they neither consented to nor benefit in anyway from this development. The Indigenous women of Six Nations and Turtle Island documented the staggering numbers of Native women who experience domestic, sexual assault, and rape. Our eyes became open to the fact that Native women do not receive judicial recourse from this act of terrorism. As a further insult these injured women are often not given adequate medical treatment. They demanded urgent action and intervention for this crisis. Henrietta Mann Cheyenne Arapaho spoke about the importance of being kind to ones self, to all things, and mother earth. She spoke of ceremony and humility, of stewardship and renewal. She said, “We are earth”. She spoke of the prophet whose name is so good that when uttered brings blessing to all who hear it his name was, sweet medicine. He spoke of how the Cheyenne would be great travelers and he foresaw the horses that the Cheyenne’s are now famous for. He spoke of the disease and sickness, he spoke of the climate change, and he said that the earth will burn. We came speaking of our prophesies and how we see them coming to pass. We all gave thanks, shared stories of our love for the land, for the pain caused to our communities experience in our holocaust and colonization, and the ways these continue to plague our people and homelands. Most importantly we came with solutions, ideas, and methods for how to bring about the peace we require. We have come a long way however we still have a long way to go before we see the real emancipation of the world’s indigenous peoples. Today we gather here to celebrate our achievements as indigenous people and continue our work towards the liberation of our indigenous communitiesAlthough I am aware that there are several humanitarian crisis occurring as I speak I would like to use this opportunity to draw our attention to one that requires immediate and urgent action on behalf of civil society and the international community; the situation I am referring to is that of the Hmoung Hill Tribes of Laos in Southeast Asia. During my time at the UN, I was made aware of their situation through oral testimony and the documentary called, “Hunted like Animals” by Rebecca Sommers. This film documents the gross human rights abuses that our dear brothers and sisters are forced to endure at the hands of the military. The films depict the tribes literally running for their lives forced to constantly be on the move to avoid military rape, torture, and death. It shows the people’s fear and how they are forced to hide in holes in the ground. It shows the irreversible effects of chemical warfare, blindness, physical and mental retardation, failure of internal organs, and damaged nervous systems. The film documents unarmed civilians being shot in the back and children being brutally murdered mercilessly by military and paramilitary forces, it depicts the horrid reality of war and genocide. This reality is close to home it is one that our ancestors once endured. We must all be made aware of this and demand direct action for the people, that the atrocities committed against our dear brothers and sisters be condemned and that immediate peace and conflict resolution take place to give peace and stability to the Hmoung people. These are the things I learned at the UNPFII’s and I hope that my story touches your heart and gives your perspective on the achievements we have made and the work that remains to be done. In conclusion, this experience validates that the voice of the international indigenous community has been and continues to be one of reason in a time of political, social, environmental, and spiritual crisis. It resonates with truth, integrity, heart and dignity. A voice that if heeded has the will and capacity to stem the tide of racism, industrialization, ecological destruction, and move humanity back to a place of harmony and peace with each other and our earth. This experience reaffirmed my commitment to my family, culture, and people to continue the fight that I have inherited as an indigenous person and be proud that I have something true and real to fight for. I am proud to be part of what I believe historic and righteous movement that is changing the how people think, offering sustainable solutions to problems we face. I am very more confident that the times we are living in demand that diligent organizing within our local contexts and that we must fight harder and more aggressively for we still have a long way to travel before are truly free to live as indigenous peoples. It testifies to the fact that despite centuries of colonization, removal, violence, and state sanctioned genocide, that we the world indigenous peoples remain; stronger and braver than ever. Above all else it gives me hope that we as the worlds indigenous peoples will continue fight and move humanity forward all of us with one voice and one heart together. Aheehe Thank you.

1 comment:

allen heart said...

There is a deep danger hidden in the trust placed in such organizations as the United Nations or its predecessor, the League of Nations. As First Nations we must guard against falling into the trap of the New World Order as it has been expressed for centuries. We must understand the roots of Western Civilization do not permit grafting our branches. Such branches will wither when such a brotherhood seduces. We were warned by the Fourth Prophet that what looks to be peace can be an illusion. Nothing has changed. The United Nations has not responded to our brethren in their big reservation in Gaza. The United Nations has been found to be almost as corrupt as the United States and the British Commonwealth.

Read carefully the Prophecy of the Seventh Fire here, and then study the History of Western Civilization as seen between the cracks and under the curtain at Recognizing a Native American Holocaust and other related pages. Then deeper understanding of the New World Order can be found atPawns in the Game and Final Warning: A History of the New World Order and related articles.

Finally, notice what is happening today in Norman Finkelstein-Israel Is a Satanic State and GlobalistSavage Doodles Tyranny on the Walls of His Cave and related articles.

Without an awareness of the way the Western world really works, we can be trapped into a repeat of the Holocaust the Native American people have experienced before. The apple has not fallen far from the tree. All systems of evil are still on the go.

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