Sanctimony and hypocrisy go hand-in-handBy Ivan Star Comes Out
Native Sun News Today Columnist
nativesunnews.today This may cause a lot of people, including my acquaintances, to alter their perceptions of me. The fact is most people assume other people are like them because they attended the same school or grew up in the same area. Most pick and choose who they want to associate with. Some even opt for skin color or a similar background. Actually, I do not have very many friends and that particular trait is a survival mechanism that war taught me. Realistically, I have not changed at all in any dramatic manner in recent times. Rather my life experiences had gradually molded me into whoever I may be to people around me. I am that same person people met and either befriended or distanced themselves from many years ago. Like most residents of my home reservation (Pine Ridge), I have been steadily programmed since childhood, from innocence into a confused young man. Thanks to my inquisitiveness, rather than sink into a spiral of self-hate and destruction, I managed to turn my confused and disarrayed outlook as a young person into a more culturally conversant older man. I must attempt to explain to anyone who may be perplexed by what I have written so far. First, if a decade is 120 months, I spent 80 months or so in a school environment intended to “Kill the Indian” in me. Consequently, all traces of my Oceti Sakowin (Seven Fires) culture, spirituality, history, and ancestral identity, were obliterated. Although I speak my language today, a good portion of that has been obliterated too. I was practically raised in a Catholic mission boarding school on my home land from age 5 through 16. I attended steadily through the eighth grade. Then I skipped a year and returned to do my freshman and sophomore years. Basically, I left the school believing exclusively in the Roman Catholic faith and a new history that portrayed my ancestors as repugnant people.
These new cultural teachings were firmly embedded in my mind and soul. Accordingly, my “savage” ancestors had no qualms about killing, raping, and pillaging holier-than-thou God-fearing settlers. They had no religion, money, and since they did not speak English, were not human. Under this dominant precept, the general idea was to forget about being “Indian” ever again. This could have worked if the new mainstream Euro-American society accepted me as I was and allowed me into their world. Instead, this society made fun of my language, name, my culture, and knew absolutely nothing of my ancestors. I, on the other hand, was painfully aware that I was an “Indian” but did not know what that meant. All I had to go on was a plethora of erroneous and demeaning stereotypes. Basically, I was never a part of society as it existed. I had no role or function there. So, I decided to seek out my true identity and spent the bulk of my adult life doing just that. I am now an older person but I am still relearning my culture and history and re-instilling them back into my consciousness. I still have many, many questions. Being raised in a mission boarding school, I once believed God was white. Then I began to rethink that concept. Is God really white? Did this white God truly favor the white people who put me and my kind through so much pain? Does he truly favor slavery and the killing of African-Americans?
Does this God actually allow his followers to brutally beat, kidnap, murder, and rape indigenous peoples? Does he favor stripping them of their language, culture, traditions, and ancestral lands? Is that really this God’s will? Even more mystifying is the fact that the white perpetrators of such deeds go unpunished. This God even had an earthly son. Did he weep when his Christians gave natives small pox infested blankets? Was it really this God who systematically exterminated natives because they were “savages?” I personally know the answer to these and many other questions that plagued my young mind and throughout my life. As an older Lakota man, I now know that this particular God is simply the white man’s creation. With it, ancient cultures have been destroyed. Oglala Lakota College’s 2017 calendar depicts more than what the eye sees. The painting is titled “The Grandmothers,” by Donald D. Ruleaux, 2008 (Lakota) and depicts four elderly women with a beautiful young girl, perhaps 8 years old, standing between them. Most likely, the time period portrayed is during the early 1800s. Going beyond the beauty of the painting, one must try to imagine the pristine cultural knowledge contained in the minds of the four elders. I say it is mind-boggling by today’s standards. Now, these grandmothers were not idle as far as transmitting cultural knowledge to their youth. I have been relearning this same cultural knowledge but, in all honesty, I do not compare to her cultural awareness. That little child’s knowledge far surpasses what I have managed to retrieve in my lifetime, and I am now 70 years old. This is the gravity of the destruction wrought by the manmade Christian belief system.
Despite my unforgiving boarding school experience, I now know enough of my culture, spirituality, and history to still respect Christianity. In other words, the “Word” is good as it was given to the early European. The problem is that they lost their original teachings and recreated their own to fit their human needs. Many still do not know enough to respect indigenous culture and spirituality. Ancient prophesies of the Hopi, Navajo, and other indigenous nations point to a time of chaos and destruction in all the kingdoms of nature followed by a time of purification. We are seeing this with the extinction of many species of animals and in the general destruction of the earth’s environment by the Christian-based oil and coal industries. Many also point to the collapse of religious barriers and of nationalities. Does this mean people will be able to see their basic oneness? Although this prophecy is slowly developing, it is nonetheless happening. I believe it is time to stop being sanctimonious and evil and learn to be open and honest. Lastly, I do not support using fear to get people to behave in a certain manner. In other words, because I do not believe the Christian God is white, I will not burn in hell. Also, I no longer believe there is a hell or that place people will go if we do not abide by the “word of God.” I believe there is a higher power but it is not just this particular white God. Ivan F. Star Comes Out can be reached at P.O. Box 147, Oglala, South Dakota, 57764; via phone at 605-867-2448 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright permission Native Sun News Today