Thanks-Giving to the Lakotah Nation and All Our Relations

Jim Casy

"We must once again honor one another, as human beings, as friends, by the will of All Things."

Nearly 400 years ago, some of the first white pilgrims arrived on the Eastern coast of what they considered to be the "New World" - a place of hope and opportunity, void of tyrannical governments, class hierarchy and religious elitism that they and their families longed to escape from.

Yet this land was not new - it was old as the whole Earth itself is old, and had long been the home of millions upon millions of human beings who had learned not only to survive and prosper with what their Creator had provided for them, but to celebrate their place in the great mystery and song of life. These were the Americans.

Driven solely by the desire to escape the darkness of European oppression, the white Pilgrims were ill-equipped to survive in the new land they'd journeyed so far to find. Their crops failed, supplies ran short, and disease plagued their settlements and families. Despair reigned over them.

The Americans who had been cautiously watching these strange white settlers did not see a threat to their land - they saw bizarre, confused neighbors stricken by hardship. Setting their concerns aside, they decided to act, and reached out to assist the Pilgrims.

Though suspicious of one another at first, some of their first meetings were filled with humor - the Americans, veterans of this wilderness, strong in their way, treated the Pilgrims as inexperienced younger brothers, held back by their lack of confidence and knowledge. They began to trade with one another, not only goods and materials, but in thoughts and laughter, in games and drink and life. Friendships were formed, as never had been seen before on Earth.

We all know the story that came after. As the Pilgrim communities became healthier, and more whites arrived from Europe, many with hearts corrupted by a dark age, the colonies became more and more bold, taking advantage of their friendships for the sake of material gain. Disease from the Pilgrims' animals began to lay waste to American tribes throughout the land.

Ultimately, the same oppression from which the pilgrims had tried to escape made its way to America, and was reflected onto the Americans. The future promised war and bloodshed, loss and tragedy - not only for those who would lose their lives, for the great American tribes and cultures which would be subjugated and displaced, but for that friendship that once was.

We live in a new dark age, when that tyranny has spread all over the world, hidden beneath a veneer of electric lights and TV shows that keeps a majority of human beings from realizing their own enslavement. Yet I cannot help but give thanks.

I give thanks in the knowledge that my ancestors were once part of a friendship the likes of which the world had never seen before. I give thanks that the story of America and its people is not lost, that myself and others have felt the tragedy and loss and are made better by it. I give thanks for the ever-present wisdom of the First Nations people, that has changed my life and given me more hope than I thought was possible.

To share my thoughts here is a great honor. It is that honor and friendship that can only grow now and become fulfilled once more. Few barriers remain for us to regain what was lost hundreds of years ago, though the way may be painful and steep. I ask nothing of the descendants of those who saved my family, as so much evil has been perpetrated since that time.

Yet, I must share this hope - for the sake of the spirits around us yearning to see it happen, the living and the dead - not only today and tomorrow do we give thanks... That we must once again honor one another, as human beings, as friends, by the will of All Things.

"Thanks-Taking" A Russell Means November 22 UP-date


Video: Thanks-Taking
Article published here: Republic of Lakotah Forums


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