Center for World Indigenous Studies
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Pilgrims and Indians

Published: February 1, 2011, Author: JayTaber

Examining the conservative media backlash against Native American spirituality, Indian Country Today looks at the language of savagery and its roots in US history. Using the controversy over the Yaqui blessing offered at a ceremony in Tuscon, organized by the White House in response to the murder of a federal judge, the ICT article allows readers to discuss mainstream religious prejudice in America.

Leaving aside the political aspects of who was chosen to give the blessing and why, the fact remains that Christian demonization of native spirituality is still an unresolved grievance of America’s indigenous peoples.

As I note in my comment on ICT, conservatism has devolved since Nixon’s era to reflect the undue influence of Christian Identity ideology. To its adherents, Native American spirituality is evil.

As for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, disingenuously paid belated lip service by the Obama administration, it does confer human rights to indigenous peoples previously ignored, slaughtered, or defrauded by the government of the United States. Those rights include control of indigenous lands and resources coveted by states and markets, as well as continuity of culture, which is dependent on language and cosmology.

When neoconservatives on FOX News or neoliberals in the White House demean tribal peoples, it is partly a display of their ignorance of traditional governance and collective economies in the Fourth World, and partly a demonstration of arrogance thought necessary in confronting authentic societies they don’t understand. By dismissing tribal cosmology and epistemology, they secure their own stature within existing dominant society institutions.

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