By Neenah Payne
10 Cultural Heritage Questions You Should Ask Your Relatives points out: “Many people don’t really think of themselves or their family as having a particular culture. For most people, it’s “just how things were done”. People rarely question their culture and therefore usually don’t consider its dangers or any options. However, as we face the Sixth Mass Extinction, our survival now depends on our ability to see where our culture took a wrong turn and to figure out how to change course rapidly.
Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie pointed out in her 2009 TED Talk the danger of a single story in understanding a culture. The video now has 11 million views.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story | TED
Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
Three Modern Stories
Why Your Definition of “Land” Matters So Much! discusses the work of Joanna Macy who is the author of 13 books. It explains that Macy sees three dimensions of what she calls “The Great Turning” and provides four guidelines. In the video below, Macy explains that we guide ourselves by the stories we tell ourselves.
Macy says there are three main stories now:
- Business as usual: believed by people in economic/political power in the industrial growth society to provide comfort, convenience, and security. The society asks us to consume and to shut up and obey. This story is in the process of self-destruction. The secret of its power and downfall. It is in the process of self-destruction because It measures its success by how fast it grows corporate profits/market share– not in wisdom or health. This system is out of control.In the 1987 film Wall Street, Gordon Gecko, played by Michael Douglas, told us “Greed is good”.
- The Great Unraveling of living systems: The industrial growth society is sliding into the second story now leading to the Sixth Mass Extinction and threatening our own survival. May warns that when a culture, language, or species is lost, it’s gone. So, we live in this time of radical uncertainty which brings us the five gifts Macy discusses.
- The Great Turning: This is a shift from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining society. Macy says this shift is as big as the Agricultural Revolution which took centuries and as the Industrial Revolution which took decades. Macy says more people are listening now to the wisdom of indigenous cultures and to the indigenous voice inside each of us. It is a recognition that the Earth is alive. However, since this revolution is not televised, people who get all their news from TV, newspapers, or social media may not be aware of this shift.
Joanna Macy — The Hidden Promise of Our Dark Age | Bioneers
This Blessed Unrest
In Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World, Paul Hawken shows that organizations dedicated to restoring the environment and fostering social justice comprise the largest movement on Earth. This movement has no name, center, or a leader and is ignored by the corporate media. It is organic, self-organized, with millions of people committed to making the world a better place.
Hawken compares this gathering of forces to the human immune system. Just as antibodies rally when the body is under threat, people are joining to defend life on Earth. Hawken assesses the role indigenous cultures are playing in the quest for ecological responsibility and economic fairness. He also presents an unprecedented map to this new “social landscape”.
Blessed Unrest: Paul Hawken
Our Gifts and Responsibilities
Robin Wall Kimmerer is a professor at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She is a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation “People of the Place of the Fire” and speaks a little of the Potawatomi language which is a member of the Algonquin family. The Citizen Potawatomi Nation is the federally-recognized government and represents over 37,000 members. It acts under a Constitution that includes executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The Potawatomi are located in the western Great Lakes region, upper Mississippi River, and Great Plains.
Professor Kimmerer is the author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants and Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses.
Wikipedia says: “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants received the 2014 Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award. By 2021, over 500,000 copies had been sold worldwide…. In 2022 Dr. Kimmerer was awarded the Macarthur ‘genius’ award.” The beautifully-written book has been a word-of-mouth sensation and hit the New York Times Best Seller List.
Why Your Definition of “Land” Matters So Much! shows that Professor Kimmerer lists 7 ways to define “land”. In the video below, she discusses the life-and-death challenge we face now.
Keynote: Towards the Great Transition: a value-driven approach
The Stories That Misled The West
The Strange Garden of Eden Story contrasts the story of the Garden of Eden which left the West feeling alienated from the land and the Native American foundational story of Skywoman Falling. Dr. Kimmerer’s book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants begins with the story of Skywoman Falling because it is the orientation for the Native American worldview. It shows humanity welcomed by and rescued by the animals and plants of the Earth.
The book contrasts that story with the Garden of Eden story and says:
On one side of the world were people whose relationship with the living world was shaped by Skywoman, who created a garden for the well-being of all. On the other side was another woman with a garden and a tree. But for tasting its fruit, she was banished from the garden and the gates clanged shut behind her. That mother of women was made to wander in the wilderness and earn her bread by the sweat of her brow, not by filling her mouth with the sweet juicy fruits that bend the branches low. In order to eat, she was instructed to subdue the wilderness into which she was cast.
Same species, same earth, different stories. Like Creation stories everywhere, cosmologies are a source of identity and orientation to the world. They tell us who we are. We are inevitably shaped by them no matter how distant they may be from our consciousness. One story leads to the generous embrace of the living world, the other to banishment. One woman is our ancestral gardener, a cocreator of the good green world that would be the home of her descendants. The other was an exile, just passing through an alien world on a rough road to her real home in heaven.
The book adds:
“And then they met — the offspring of Skywoman and the children of Eve — and the land around us bears the scars of that meeting, the echoes of our stories. They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and I can only imagine the conversation between Eve and Skywoman: ‘Sister, you got the short end of the stick.’….
Look at the legacy of poor Eve’s exile from Eden: the land shows the bruises of an abusive relationship. It’s not just the land that is broken, but more importantly, our relationship to land. As Gary Nabhan has written, we can’t meaningfully proceed with healing, with restoration, without ‘re-story-ation’. In other worlds our relationship with land cannot heal until we hear its stories. But who will tell them? In the Western tradition, there is a recognized hierarchy of being with, of course, the human being on top — the pinnacle of evolution, the darling of Creation — and the plants at the bottom. But in Native ways of knowing, human people are often referred to as ‘the younger brothers of Creation.’
The Garden of Eden story left Westerners with no sense of responsibility for the Earth. We are told that the Garden of Eden story describes the origin of humanity. However, Adam and Eve are usually depicted as White although the first people were from in Africa. It is a Biblical story that originated in Europe and is not even the Foundation Story of indigenous Europeans like the Sami who live in Scandinavia. Why We Celebrate Christmas The Indigenous Way shows that the Sami live much like Native Americans.
The Garden of Eden story is certainly not the Foundational Story of the original peoples of the Western Hemisphere. Native Americans believe they were born into the Garden of Eden and were given The Original Instructions that spelled out their responsibilities for maintaining it for the next seven generations. See Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future.
A White Male God and White Adam
John Trudell, Sioux head of the American Indian Movement, explained that Native Americans do not conceive of the Creator as a human being. However, because Christianity portrays God as human, that makes Westerners believe human beings are superior to the rest of creation. Therefore, Westerners have been raised to believe that other animals, plants, rivers, mountains, etc. have no rights — that the world exists for humanity to exploit and humanity has no responsibility for the Earth or its creatures.
Because Christianity portrays God as a man, Christianity became a patriarchal religion while indigenous cultures are matriarchal. Women were deprived of rights and the Catholic Church reportedly tortured and killed 6-9 million women during the 600 years of the Inquisition. Because Christianity depicts God as a White man, it made Westerners believe Whites are superior to other peoples — that other peoples are not really human and therefore have no rights — even the right to their land, freedom, and life.
Oscar Is Based on Egyptian God Ptah shows that false credit is given to the ancient Greeks. When Moors Rescued Europe From The Dark Ages explains that the Moors were erased from history. That led Whites to believe Westerners had the “Manifest Destiny” to enslave Africans, steal the Westerner hemisphere and Australia, and commit genocide in all three continents. That’s despite the fact that The Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
In the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo painted God and Adam as White. This is despite the fact that Adam represents the first man and humanity was born in Africa. This depiction of God and Adam as White were the foundations of The Myth of White Supremacy. Since the merger of Christianity with the Roman Empire in the fourth century, these concepts have been played out in the Inquisition and around the world in the most brutal system of slavery ever devised, a genocide of three continents, and an 500-year assault on the Earth in the irrational expectation of unlimited growth on a finite planet.
These stories bred Western arrogance and contempt for the world. They gave Whites a false sense of superiority and the belief that the world exists to serve them. Which Path Will You Choose in 2023? explains that the Western worldview created an existential loneliness that fueled the Mass Formation (psychosis) and totalitarianism during the COVID era. See Mass Formation Psychosis – 5 Things You Need to Know!
This worldview is now driving the arrogance of The Great Reset in which the World Economic Forum warns “You will own nothing by 2030” and the Fourth Industrial Revolution which threatens to enslave all of humanity with a forced merger with Artificial Intelligence. WEF Declares ‘Humans Are a Plague’ and ‘AI Is the Cure’. It is only in recognizing now the mistaken stories of the West that it will be possible to get back to the healing concepts that can help us avoid the Sixth Mass Extinction. Time is short now.
The Brutal Inquisition
The Catholic Church first waged war on the indigenous peoples of Europe. The West’s alienation from the indigenous cultures was accelerated during the 600 years of the brutal Inquisition during which reportedly 6-9 million women healers were tortured and murdered.
Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English details the horrors of the Inquisition from which we have still not recovered. The Inquisition was not only an assault on people (especially women), but on knowledge, the intuitive right brain, freedom, the rule of law, and common humanity.
The Inquisition is rarely mentioned, but it continues to have a very profound effect on the West today. John Trudell, former head of the American Indian Movement, poet, and activist explained that Columbus and the “conquistadores” who followed him were so brutal because many Europeans had lost their humanity during the hundreds of years of the Inquisition. They had forgotten what it means to be human.
The Inquisition was designed to block the European Renaissance which was sparked by the discovery of The Hermetica, the ancient wisdom of the Egyptian god Thoth. We need a new Renaissance today to fully recover that powerful knowledge! It is the knowledge of Enlightenment. Western culture is the only major civilization for which Enlightenment is not the goal! Author Peter Gandy discusses the lost wisdom of the pharoahs which was crushed by the Inquisition.
Inquisition Against the Cathars of the Languedoc says:
The activities of the Medieval Inquisition were so terrible that the memory of them has survived throughout Europe to the present day. Some Christians acknowledge that this body was one of the most sinister that the world has ever known, and now attribute its work to satanic forces.
Witches, Midwives, and Nurses, first published in 1973, is an essential book about the corruption of the medical establishment and its historic roots in witch hunters. In this new edition, Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English build on their classic exposé on the demonization of women healers and the political and economic monopolization of medicine.
All peoples began as tribal peoples with the same worldview as today’s indigenous peoples.
In the video below, Lyla June Johnston explains that her father is of European descent. She calls on Europeans and European Americans to discover their own indigenous roots. She explains that in supporting indigenous cultures in the Americas, they are rediscovering themselves.
Lyla June Johnston Interview
This short episode is with Lyla June Johnston. Lyla June is poet, musician, educator, anthropologist, activist and community servant of Diné (Navajo), Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) and European lineages. She holds a degree in Environmental Anthropology with honors from Stanford University and a degree in American Indian Education with distinction from the University of New Mexico. Her internationally acclaimed performances and speeches are conveyed through the medium of prayer, hip-hop, poetry, acoustic music and speech. Lyla’s personal goal is to grow closer to Creator by learning how to love deeper. Music in this episode is “Final Transmission Home” by Amaranth Cove.
Lyla June – Mamwlad Official Video
This Beltane, we are forgiving the persecution of an estimated 6-9 million women as “witches” in Europe with the release of our new music video, “Mamwlad.”
Doctrine of Discovery
Few Americans have heard of “The Doctrine of Discovery”. Yet, it is the basis for America’s claims to this land. Growing Calls To Repudiate “Doctrine of Discovery” explains that “The Doctrine of Discovery” is a key part of the European story. On that basis, we are told Columbus “discovered” the Western hemisphere — a continent where civilizations (some more advanced than those in Europe) had been living for tens of thousands of years. Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples’ Day? shows that over a dozen states replaced “Columbus Day” with “Indigenous Peoples Day”. Biden becomes first president to commemorate Indigenous Peoples’ Day
However, this false concept is still codified in law by “The Doctrine of Discovery” which is based on the 1452 Papal Bull which called on Christians to “invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue Saracens and pagan whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed…and to reduce their person to perpetual slavery and to apply and appropriate to himself and his successors the kingdoms, dukedoms, countries, principalities, dominions, possessions, and goods, and to convert them to his and their use and profit”.
So, the Catholic Church gave license for genocide and theft of the Americas, Africa, and Australia. When Columbus arrived, there were 100 million people in the Americas. By the mid-20th century, there were just 1 million — a holocaust more than ten times the size of the one we hear so much about — yet we hear nothing about it although it is still ongoing. Today there are 4.5 Native Americans.
Doctrine of Discovery:
Doctrine of Discovery—in the name of Christ. European descendants benefit from a violent history of land grabbing and genocide that was justified by patriotism and religion. This same theology formed an international legal structure that continues to dispossess Indigenous Peoples of their land. What does it mean to be a peacemaker today in a world where the present is defined by the violence of the past?
The Doctrine of Discovery is still part of US law. “In the US Supreme Court in the 1823 case Johnson v. McIntosh, Chief Justice John Marshall’s opinion in the unanimous decision held “that the principle of discovery gave European nations an absolute right to New World lands.” In essence, American Indians had only a right of occupancy, which could be abolished. The Bull Inter Caetera made headlines again throughout the 1990s and in 2000, when many Catholics petitioned Pope John Paul II to formally revoke it and recognize the human rights of indigenous “non-Christian peoples.””
“Steven T. Newcomb (Shawnee, Lenape) is the co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute, along with Birgil Kills Straight who is an Oglala Lakota headman and ceremonial person. Steve Newcomb is author of Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery and co-producer of the documentary film, The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code, directed by Sheldon Wolfchild (Dakota). He is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Doctrine of Discovery based on the 40 years he has spent investigating and writing about these issues. He has been a tireless advocate for Indigenous nations and peoples for decades and his work has now become a global movement.”
Face To Face With Pope Francis To Get The Inter Caetera Papal Bull Revoked
On May 4, 1493, Pope Alexander VI issued the Inter Caetera papal bull which called for non-Christian nations to be reduced and subjugated (“barbare nationes deprimantur”). On May 4, 2013, 200 years after our great Shawnee leader Tecumseh fell in battle on October 5, 1813, Dr. Debra Harry (Paiute Nation), Sharon Venne (Cree Nation, Treaty Six) and I saw two velum parchment originals of the papal bull at the General Archives of the Indies in Seville, Spain.
On May 4, 2016, I had the rare opportunity in St. Peter’s Square to call on Pope Francis to formally revoke that document. Our 20-plus years of effort to have that papal decree revoked as a document representative of a series of such documents is not a move toward what is being erroneously called “reconciliation.” It is a move toward decolonization and rectification. It is a move to end the domination language system that Pope Alexander VI directed at our non-Christian ancestors, our Original Free Nations, a language and legacy of devastation and oppression that is ongoing.
Given Pope Francis’s use of the concept of “Mother Earth” in his statement Ladauto Si, his statement of contrition in Bolivia for the terrible treatment of Original Nations by the Catholic Church and other colonizing forces, and his various calls for reform, Pope Francis is the perfect candidate for a revocation of the series of papal bulls of domination.
Film: The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code
The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code from Original Nations Advocates on Vimeo.
Vatican documents issued by various popes during the fifteenth century created global patterns of domination, leading ultimately to the current ecological crisis. The wisdom teachings of original nations and peoples provide a way forward for the well-being of the planet and our future generations.
Based on the book Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery by Steven T. Newcomb.
While the Catholic Church has not yet denounced The Doctrine of Discovery, many churches have.
Religious Communities who have Repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery
Neenah Payne writes for Activist Post and Natural Blaze
Top image: Hidden Gem Books