John K. La Pointe, character witness for Bill Bichsel
Words of solidarity at sentencing
March 28, 2011
Peter Blue Cloud, a Mohawk poet, once wrote,
“Will you ever understand the meaning of the very soil beneath your feet?
From a grain of sand to a great mountain, all is sacred.
Yesterday and tomorrow exist eternally upon this continent.
We Natives are guardians of this sacred place.”
So much has changed in our world since Peter Blue Cloud’s words challenged the collective conscious of America as it struggled through its own adolescence. From a worldwide viewpoint, America is yet a very young nation which continues to demonstrate its short-sightedness and illusions of invincibility.
Blue Cloud’s words resonate still today, like a desperate parent pleading with their adolescent child to open their eyes before their own self-grandeur destroys them and any hope for the transference of wisdom, wisdom that can only be achieved through the collective conscious of our elders through countless generations.
As a Native American, I can say, there is at least one universal teaching that still exists among the First People of this youthful nation. We are still taught and continue to teach our youth to not only respect our elders, but most importantly to listen to them.
There was a time, now long past, when Blue Cloud’s words reigned true as he wrote, “We Natives are guardians of this sacred place.” Sadly today we can only plead for the support and advocacy of others. Progress and the American dream have left the guardians of old decimated, reduced to a perpetual state of mourning and recovery. We continue to mourn the relentless tyranny of domination that ravages our mother earth.
Today our elders stand tried and convicted by a system that fails to hear their plea, just as we failed to hear Peter Blue Cloud decades ago.
Today we stand in solidarity with our elders and guardians, Susan Crane, Anne Montgomery, Lynne Greenwald, Steve Kelly, and Bill Bichsel, as they challenge the collective conscious of today, asking, “Will we ever understand the meaning of the very soil beneath our feet? Will we ever fully fathom the threat and breadth of destruction our nation’s nuclear arsenal is capable of inflicting on humankind, our mother earth and all of creation?”
Our elders are pleading with us. They are pleading for us to open our eyes and our hearts, they are telling us to grow up and start caring for one another in a global manner. Please listen to them with compassion for they are our wisdom teachers, they are the guardians of this sacred place.
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