Last week, I promised to share more thoughts on inner radiance. I invited you to remember that you are a bridge between spirit and matter, and reminded you that as you radiate outwardly, you remain strong and stable, able to navigate whatever life offers you.
Since that invitation and reminder, while on my holiday to the Black Hills of South Dakota, I have been blessed with my own reminders of what true radiance is all about.
The Black Hills have a special meaning for me. I was actually born in South Dakota, in the very far southeast corner of the state. My parents moved to upstate New York when I was one year old. Still, we would travel as a family, driving across the country to Yankton, SD every few years to visit my grandparents who lived there.
During one visit, we travelled west with my grandparents across the state of South Dakota, and toured the beauty of the Black Hills region. Nearly thirty years later, my recent camping holiday with my boys in the Black Hills National Forest provoked so many memories, and offered many gifts.
As my boys and I visited the various sites, such as Mount Rushmore, Hot Springs, Needles Highway and others, none stood out more than Crazy Horse Mountain, which stands as a potent reminder of indigenous culture and history here in America.
I have always felt extremely connected with indigenous cultures. Even growing up in central New York State, in the midst of the Iroquois Indian lands, I felt an insatiable curiosity for and interest in tribal culture, indigenous wisdom, and the connection to Nature.
I also always felt a deep pain in my heart around the injustice that has generated so much suffering among native peoples, so much of which I only barely begin to understand to this day.
During our travels, I noticed a constant awareness that the lands, promised in a treaty to the Indians, were taken back when gold was discovered, and that while various entities make significant tourist income from the land and its riches, so many Native Americans live in third-world conditions on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in western South Dakota. They remain removed from free access to the richness and bounty of the lands they inherited from our Creator.
Too few people are aware of the many injustices and inequities in connection with indigenous culture, yet the indigenous peoples, in my humble, and admittedly ignorant on many levels, opinion, are some of the most truly radiant people I can think of.
If inner radiance allows for us to remain strong in the face of struggle, the American Indians prove regularly that they have this strength.
Even as I write, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been joined by over 200 tribes from across the U.S. to protest and halt the oil pipeline planned for crossing the Missouri River in North Dakota, which would put all lands and waters at great risk.* Last year in Canada, the Lax Kw’alaams Band of indigenous peoples rejected an offer that would have given each member of the tribe nearly $267,000 for approval to put a liquefied gas shipping terminal on their lands.**
These are people who have next to nothing, who have been nearly eliminated as a culture due to disease, oppression and attempted assimilation efforts brought by the Europeans. Yet the Native Americans prove again and again that they care more about our Great Mother Earth and the lives of future generations than they do about money. They have so little, and yet continue to give so much in the face of challenge.
They are willing to take a stand for what they believe in, focus on their values, and radiate their love for all of life in all directions so that it may ripple into the world and make an impact. They stand in their radiance as bridge builders between Heaven and Earth, in honor of all Creation.
The Crazy Horse Memorial, while controversial for many reasons,*** is being created as a reminder of the great leaders of the indigenous peoples of this country. Progress is slow, as it is privately funded through visits to the Memorial and donations. The plans include not only a magnificent monument, but also a complete educational and historical center. I could not help but to consider how important this center will be as we continue to need to learn from indigenous teachings in order to correct the incredibly degenerative and destructive course we as an humanity have put ourselves on.
Every time my family would begin the long drive to leave South Dakota and return to New York, I would find myself overcome with tears. In my childhood, I was always confused by this. I loved my grandparents, but I didn’t know them that well, or miss them terribly. I was usually ready to go home after our visits. I didn’t understand why I would always be overcome with such intense emotion upon leaving.
Last weekend, as I got in the car with my boys to drive away from our campsite in the Black Hills, again, for the first time in so many years, I was completely overcome with tears. This time, I had at least some understanding as to why.
I could feel the pain in those tears…tears that fell for the generations of injustice, irresponsibility, and ignorance; tears that fell in the deep longing to live in harmony with all relations and all of creation; tears that fell for the Great Mother and the pain She endures daily at our hands.
It is time for us to pay attention to indigenous teachings, connect more deeply with the Great Mother, and take a stand for a future we know in our hearts is waiting to be birthed. It is time for us to remember that we are all “native peoples” of this great planet, and that when one is affected, all are affected.
It is time for us to stop accepting the status quo, believing that we cannot change what is, or make a difference. We CAN take a stand, and it WILL make a difference.
It is time for us to glow beyond imagination with inner radiance that is grounded, connected, and filled with the fullness of who we are. Each and every one of you holds a key to unlock the more beautiful future we know is possible for our children, and generations to come.
What do you need to believe in yourself enough to take that stand? I promise today to stand with you. Will you stand with me and share your great vision?