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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

GUEST POST: Levi EagleFeather Sr. "You Belong to Me"

By Levi EagleFeather Sr. (Sicangu Lakota)

Life in general is pretty good most of the time. The rest of the time... well let's say there are situations we find ourselves in and experiences we find ourselves having to endure which color our sky grey and sometimes even black, with fear, doubt, insecurity, and aloneness.
         Adoption or being adopted can be such a situation.

         Back in the day, oh say, about forty years ago, I woke up and started finding my way free of its grip. My life was ripe with fear, doubt and insecurity and yes, I was alone. In looking back on that time and the four decades since, it is clear to me now just what a mind fuck western society really is and how precious and important not only the philosophy, but the worldview and culture of my people are. Not only to me, but to succeeding generations of young who share in Lakota heritage and maybe even to others in the world who have lost connection to their ancestral past.

         Having said that, I also realize how far behind the eight ball we, us Lakota's in general, are as a people, in our ability to see beyond the destruction of our past in order to appreciate our present so we might look to the future. Such is the nature of death and dying. Grief takes time. Its own time! Not only to happen, but to happen appropriately so that when coming out on the other side our eyes are dry and clear seeing again. So that our hearts are right and strong!

         Now this is not something that is waiting to happen. The grieving process, I mean. For my people the Lakota and for other nations of indigenous people, it is something that is happening and has been happening for quite some time. It is something that still is below the radar and understanding of the general public, maybe. I'm sure there is a reason for it if this is so. Anyway, this overcoming is happening for individuals, as well, and has been happening for quite some time. American Indian folk who have experienced the adoption process are now gaining experience of overcoming the disconnections, the death and the dying of the old. Overcoming the grief and aloneness of being separated from the herd, so to speak. It is a good thing to see and a good time to be alive!

         In the more modern traditions of my people, part of the process of overcoming is referred to as the "Wiping of Tears."  There are other parts to it also because grieving is a process. I am grateful for many and to many men and women of my Nation and other Nations of indigenous people. To those who have persevered through all that has happened and continue to persevere through that which is still happening to destroy us today. Not only for persevering through that which is set out to destroy our people as a whole, but also for understanding and seeing that which happens and is set out to destroy each of us as individuals. Yes, there are those who help wherever and whenever they can as much as they can with all they have been given. Endlessly and tirelessly and sometimes at the expense of their own health and comfort. It is called sacrificing for others. The most notable of these folk in my life have a history of this kind of service to our people. They are Richard Moves Camp, Rick Two Dogs, Elmer Running, Roy Stone, and Ray Owens, all descended of Lakota and Dakota healers and spiritual leaders and healers and leaders themselves.

         This same process (a microcosm of the larger) has been happening within the world of those who have undergone and survived adoption. Overcoming and "Wiping of Tears" has been and is happening. My journey began some four decades ago and continues today. While the overcoming is about finding belonging and becoming connected again, it is also about understanding how you belong and interacting positively with those to whom you belong. This takes a lifetime because it is what living is about! For American Indian adoptees at its core, at least for now, it starts with searching out and finding our roots. Sadly, and I say this with tenderness and gentleness and caring in my heart and mind. Some may not be able to find that part of the knowing and understanding of reconnection that they seek.  Be discouraged, but not too discouraged. Feel helpless because you do need help, lots of it! Don't feel totally helpless though, because you belong. You belong to me and in many ways to every person who has ever had the misfortune to have undergone adoption and has experienced being disconnected from the source of their beginning and survived.

         Within this world, within this reality, our reality, there are many good, solid and strong folk too, though! Who are giving of themselves and of their lives in service to us. In pushing back against the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual pain and suffering that all too often comes with our situation and experiences. They have been put there of their own volition, yes, but also have spiritually answered a call for the sake of all. The most notable of folks whom I know in this situation, our situation, are Trace A. DeMeyer, owner of this Blog and other assorted groundbreaking actions of leadership; Sandy White Hawk, a fellow Sicangu Lakota and a leader in Adoptee issues and actions from the St Paul MN area; Susan Devan Harness, a university teacher, writer, involved with a Gazillion Voices Magazine along with other assorted efforts of overcoming; and to Robert DesJarlait, writer, artist, spokesperson on Indian issues and as always involved and knowledgeable on ICWA and most things related to caring and raising children as an Annishnabe Ogicheedag. These folk are out there, active and leading in their own way. To us, you belong.

         So, this much is true for me! I've seen this and experienced this on my journey according to the cultural understanding and perspective of my reality as my life unfolds. Of course it is a spiritual journey now and has been for some time now. No longer cruising along according to the hegemony and discourse of western thought. While it is still our world, my world, it is now my interpretation of what is. In that vein of thought, I must confess western man is wacked out, has been all this time and we are the ones who remain sane. Staying within this world of sanity is my niche for now. I call it living through the reversing of the mind fuck!

         With that in mind, let's take a break for now. Next time we'll take a look at who we are and what we are juxtaposed against what they (western interpreters) would have us believe we are. We'll start within the realm of the most severe symptom of adopteeism: the status or label of Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Till then, stay strong my relatives and remember “yes” you belong.  Mitakuye Oyasin!
Levi lives in Germany and will be contributing to this blog.

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