Children of Earth, Children of Profit by Matt RemleTweet
“There is a way to live with the earth and a way not to live with the earth. We choose the way of earth.” ~John Trudell
In the beginning was Inyan and Inyan was surrounded in total darkness. Inyan began creation by draining its blood creating a massive disk around itself. Inyan called this disk Maka, the earth, which was half of the disk. The other half was Mni, water. The color of Inyan’s blood was blue. Inyan, Maka and Mni separated the color blue and it became Mahpiya To, the blue sky.
Maka said that “it was dark and cold” so Inyan drained its blood and created Anpetu Wi, the day sun. Maka then said that “it was too bright and hot” so Inyan created Hanhepi Wi, the moon, to create balance. Inyan then created Tate, the wind, to give breathe to creation.
Maka then said “I am bare and need covering” so Inyan gathered with all of creation and they decided to give her covering so long as she agreed to give it life and nourishment. She agreed and life began in the form of the grasses, plants and trees.
And so it went on that as a new need arose all of creation would gather to best decide how to fill that need.
The last of Inyan’s creation was Winyan and Wicasa, woman and man. Winyan, woman, was created first and created to be like Maka, the earth, to give and nourish life. Wicasa, man, was created to be like the universe to protect and provide nourishment. As with all other creation, Winyan and Wicasa were given original instructions, roles and responsibilities, to fulfill to ensure the continuation of all life.
After creating woman and man, Inyan became dry and brittle from draining its blood and broke apart scattering across the world.
Our Lakota origin story has much insight to offer. One of them being the importance, and necessity, for all of creation to come together to help one another to address the needs impacting all of creation. Simply put, all of creation was given instructions on how to live in order that all may live. Maka, earth, was instructed to provide life and nourishment and she agreed. Each and every single day Maka, without question, without hesitation, continues to fulfill that role and responsibility.
Years ago, I was having difficulty on a sweltering hot August day while outdoors. I found shade and laid down in the grass. Between the cool shade and breeze and the comfort of the tall grass, I found relief. Laying there, I thought of our Lakota origin story and of Maka’s promise to always give, nourish and nurture life. Here I was, receiving her nurturing embrace. I thought of my children and how they would run directly to their Mother for comfort and care whenever they would scrape their knees, fall off their bikes, or got scared from an unknown sound. Like Maka, who without question or hesitation provided nurturing for me on that hot day, their Mother provided the same unquestioning love and nurturing for them.
This is but one example of fulfillment of roles and responsibilities.
Over the centuries, it is only the human creation that has strayed from fulfillment of our original roles and responsibilities. We now live in a time where we have become mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally removed from our original instructions so much so that we are perhaps the only known creation that actively works to destroy the very things that give us life. From mass pollution of lands and waters, to over-harvesting of forest, paving wetlands, mining and other reckless behaviors we are literally driving our other relatives into extinction, and perhaps ourselves as well.
We live in the time of the children of earth and the children of profit.
Despite colonialism’s, religious indoctrinations, and assimilation’s best efforts there remains indigenous peoples’ throughout Ina Maka who remember their original instructions and continue to fulfill their responsibilities so that all creation may live. The children of earth. Those who remember who we are, what we are and why we are.
These peoples continue to conduct ceremonies in the geographies they were instructed to. The children of profit though see little use our value in the natural world other than to exploit it in order to maximize profit and have desecrated or destroyed many of these sacred sites. A major myth is that the goals of colonialism ended in the 1800’s with westward expansionism. The colonizer, the settler, the children of profit continue to blaze a path of land theft, resource extraction and displacement of indigenous peoples. Congresses recent bill to give sacred Apache lands to a foreign mining company is but one example.
A recent report out of Washington State stated that a full half of returning sockeye salmon were dying due to the increased warm waters. The salmon plays a phenomenally important role to the inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest. When the salmon is at sea it accumulates marine nutrients and stores them in its body. When the salmon returns to its stream of origin it spawns, dies and decays and all those stored nutrients fertilize an entire ecosystem and their bodies provide food for a vast variety of other creation from bears, eagles, wolves, otters, gulls and more. The tribes of the Pacific Northwest have understood the sacredness of the salmon and continue to hold ceremonies in honor of the salmon to this day.
The salmon’s life cycle is fulfillment of its role and responsibility towards all of creation. Human behavior has greatly impeded the salmon’s ability to fulfill that responsibility and all that depend on the salmon will suffer greatly.
When bringing the cannunpa to the Oceti Sakowin (The Seven Council Fires – the Lakota, Dakota, & Nakota) Pte San Win, White Buffalo Calf Woman, spoke to us of these times. The time of confusion, great disruption to the natural world, and of people choosing to follow the material path. We were warned that people would need to make a choice between continuing to live on the material path, the one laid by the children of profit, or return to the place of understanding and living as a relative with all of creation.
It is upon us to not only stand up against the continued violations and desecration against our first mother, but to also live our lives so that others may live, so that our great grandchildren will know clean air and clean water. Each of us possess the ability, each of us carries the responsibility, to impact the change that is needed for the health and well-being of all creation and for the generations to come. This is our choice to make to live with earth and all of creation, or not. To live as children of earth, or as children of materialism and profit.