Crazy Horse said we live in the shadow this technological perception of reality, this of the real world and we really do. The coherency of our future depends upon us knowing who we are—and truly understanding who we are—because our relationship to reality and our relationship to power is based upon that understanding. Today we live in an industrial society and this technological perception of reality, this shadow world, presents a serious crisis: it is a reality where we don’t remember who we are, so therefore we don’t know who we are, we speak a language we don’t understand and because of this, we don’t know where we are. We are part of an evolutionary reality but part of the purpose of this technological civilization is to erase our memories and erase our identities.
Growing Up, I Lived Between two worlds, the Native and the non-Native, and in this day and age I think they are both part illusion and part reality. When I moved between the reservation and off the reservation, some things were more real to me in my Native world than they were in the non-Native world; things of the human essence; and this relates to our overall perception and how our perceptional reality is altered. We now live in a time when it’s harder to know who we are and so it’s harder to understand our purpose, meaning that the real problem is the erasure of our identities. Genocide erases identities; all technological reality does. If we truly recognized who we are, this society we exist in and the way we live would be different. We all live on a reservation now, an industrial reservation that stretches across the world, and the alienation you can find in extreme forms on an Indian reservation—the loneliness, alcoholism, drug abuse and violence—is being replicated more and more throughout industrial society.
Severing our relationship to power continues to be the objective; to cloud our coherency and shroud our intelligence in the perceptional reality of this shadow world. But our relation- ship to power and reality is remembering and understanding who we are—we are the Human Beings. We know how to say the terms because they programed them to us, just as we’ve been programed to seek answers and not understanding, like we’re programed to believe rather than to know. So this goes back to our identity: it’s crucial that we know who we are—we’re the Human Beings, we are shapes of the earth—and our relationship to reality is in that definition.
Our physical reality, our form—the bone, flesh and blood—is made up of the metals, minerals and liquids of the earth. The DNA of the human is literally made up of the metals, minerals and liquids of the earth. All of the things of the earth have the same DNA as the human does; everything is made up of the same metals, minerals and liquids of the earth but the shape is different and the purpose is dif- ferent. We have ‘being’, which is our essence, our spirit, and all of the things of the earth have the same DNA, so all of the things of the earth have ‘being’ and spirit. Nothing will ever change that reality, but what has changed is our perceptional relationship to reality.
We are this form of the earth and we have ‘being’ and we have to understand that because that’s our relationship to the reality of power. As human beings we are part of an ancestral lineage—our DNA comes through the millennia—so our relationship to power is in the earth because that’s where we physically come from, and our relationship to power is in that DNA ancestral lineage because that’s where the ‘being’ part of us has been all this time. Our relationship to reality is in that; that’s who we are; and all of the programing that has taken place has been to erase that identity.
We All Share A Common Collective experience: we are all the descendants of tribes. Back in the time of the original dreams we were all members of tribes and we were all the earth’s children and we all knew that the earth was our mother. We were part of a spiritual reality. We were physical in a spiritual reality. Whoever we are today, we carry the genetic experience of our lineage from the very beginning, encoded within our DNA. It’s like our genetic memory and somewhere hidden in there we all come from a people that understood that we lived in a spiritual reality and because of that realization everyone of our beginning ancestral peoples understood that life was about responsibility; so we were responsible for the past and the future as well as the present. So we knew who we were, we understood what we were saying, we knew where we were and we knew our purpose, and this reality lives in our genetic memories. The purpose of technology is to erase our realities and make us powerless but ancestral power is real.
This technological perception of reality is like a disease and as it spreads it infects the spirit of the people and it affects our perception of reality. Separating everybody from any ancestral understanding and teachings, and erasing our identities, severed us from our spiritual power and I think that is one of the principal reasons why people feel powerless, because that power is being diverted over into something else. We live in a reality where we understand that uranium can be taken out of the earth and put through a mining process that converts the ‘being’ part of uranium, that DNA, into a mutation of power that is called energy; electrical energy that can be controlled by man; and we recognize that a consequence of that mining process is toxic waste. We know they do it with fossil fuels; they take that dinosaur DNA out of the ground, put it through a mining process and convert it into gasoline, which is then converted into another electrical energy system that leaves behind its pollution. And what I’m saying is that they are doing this to us. They are mining the ‘being’ part of the human through our intelligence.
This technological civilization is predatory upon our lives. Today, how many people feel that something is missing from their lives, like purpose or understanding or self-worth? The ‘being’ speaks to the human through feelings and the way most people feel is powerless because the ‘being’ part of human is being mined and converted into a form of mutated power called energy that is used to run the authoritarian, material, technological systems of this industrial society. We’re the gasoline that runs it just like the dinosaur runs the internal combustion engine. And the pollution that is left from mining the ‘being’ part of human is every doubt, fear and insecurity that we have and that pollution keeps us from seeing clearly and so every thought becomes reactive, a reaction to this haze.
Everybody Is Indigenous To the planet. We’re indigenous to different land bases and our DNA physically comes from those land bases and somewhere in each and everyone of us there is a collective genetic memory that goes back to the beginning of the original dream—to the origin of our stories—and our relationship to power and reality is connected to us understanding that, but we are in a technological perception of reality that does not want us to understand that. If we understand that we’re the human beings we’ll know that we’re physical entities in a spiritual reality and our purpose is to perpetuate and maintain that spiritual reality. And the spiritual reality of life is about responsibility. The gift we’ve been given to protect ourselves as humans is our intelligence. Our intelligence is our medicine. We were not put here, defenseless, to be eaten up by this mining process. This mining process takes place through our intelligence, so if we understand the value and power of our intelligence we can influence our evolution.
To me, the mining process is the colonizer’s civilizing process. This predatory behavior pattern never really changes, it just outlasts the generations so after five generations have passed the behavior pattern can be as predatory as it ever was because after that long, who is going to remember what was there before? This is why it is important for them to separate us from our ancestral power, and in order for this to continue they have to neutralize our intelligence by creating this confusion in our perceptional reality. Going way back, at some point in the evolution of the human beings, this other perception of reality appeared that took the spirit away from the animals; from nature and the elements; and started changing spirit into human form, the gods and goddesses. With the coming of industrialization, the way many people prayed changed and religion emerged and became a mining tool for the technological reality that was manifesting itself through industrialization.
All human beings want to know where they come from, where they’re going, and what their purpose is, so you have to go there, to the very beginnings and the heart of the spiritual realities, to possess them. So the ‘God idea’ emerged—a god removed from the earth who owned everything because he made it—and at that point in our common collective ancestral memory, every one of our relations rejected this concept because the earth was the mother and the sky was the father and balance was maintained; the Great Spirit. As long as the human beings considered themselves to be children of the earth and a part of the earth they would not plunder the earth, so their perception of reality had to be changed; they had to be turned against the earth. They had to be turned against their mother to promote the ‘male God’ theory in which all spiritual value is removed from the earth; so the earth isn’t your mother anymore, the earth is the dominion and property of this new god and you are to subdue it. That’s a completely different perception of reality, going from caring to dominance—that the earth is no longer your mother—the land is something you claim, subdue and possess.
John Trudell is an acclaimed poet, national recording artist, actor and activist, and has served as the chairman of the American Indian Movement.
From Of Earth and Elders: Visions and Voices from Native America. Copyright © 1998, 2002 by Serle Chapman. Bear Print Publications. Reprinted by permission of Serle Chapman.