Month: October 2006

Abortion Debate Editorial. Religion: The Source of the Conflict (published Oct. 2006)

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Op-Ed and photos by Lise King

The anti-abortion cause is about a very well-funded and well-organized group of people who believe that their religious values are the correct ones, that anyone who does not agree with them are misguided and lost souls, and that it is their God-sworn duty to protect us from ourselves (sounding familiar?). I went to the rally in Rapid City in opposition to HB 1215, which is where I asked the Pro-lifers about their views on HB 1215, and their personal values.

I went as a journalist, and I made a supreme effort to hear both sides of the debate objectively. What I found was a debate divided clearly between the “pro-rights of the individual” versus the individual’s interpretation of the “word of God.” Religion, and the ages-old argument over whose interpretation is the correct one, is at the center of this very contentious debate. As I approached the rally on foot (parking close was impossible), I found myself becoming very emotional. I was surprised at the numbers of people who crowded the sidewalks, the noise, and the energy being expressed by those people who turned out in opposition to the Bill. Strong expression that is not of an evangelical nature is rarely seen in this Republican cow town. I was so proud of those men and women who came out to exercise their freedom of speech and expression in an environment that tends to punish those who would dare to contradict the our right-wing Christian majority in Western South Dakota.

After taking the prerequisite photos and notes, I turned my attention to the other side of the street where a group had gathered to oppose the opposition. They were dominated by Catholic church signs and children in strollers, and a gaggle of teenagers shouting at passing cars about Jesus and babies. They cheered and jumped, smiling wide, like they were at a football game as people honked at them. They waved American flags, they held cute pictures and had small children holding signs for the passing traffic to read. I was surprised by my own adrenaline rush in response to this scene.

As a journalist, I have found that I am human and will emotionally react to situations, but it is my job to acknowledge my reactions and still objectively represent both sides of an issue. So, I went bravely into the crowd across the street and began to ask questions. I approached one woman who was quieter than the rest, standing behind the shouting line at the edge of the curb. She held a sign that said, “Re: Abortion After Rape: Don’t Follow One Act of Violence With Another Act of Violence.” I asked her to explain. She said, “I don’t think the bill went far enough. If a baby is conceived, that is God’s will, no matter what….If a woman is raped or incested, or is going to die because of carrying a baby, then that is God’s will, too.” She made it clear that her Christian faith guided her to know that this is God’s Truth. I pointed out that there were plenty of Christians on the other side of the street, to which she responded, “Those aren’t real Christians. They are lost. They are wrong. They don’t know the Lord like I know the Lord.”

Then I went to the screaming bunch at the front of the pack. One young man held a sign that said, “We Vote Pro-Life.” I asked him if he was old enough to vote. He said, “No, but I will be some day.” He was fifteen. It turned out that the young group, many of them in uniform, were from the local St. Thomas More Catholic High School. Several of them expressed that it was cool that they got to skip classes to be out there on the street. They all were very interested in telling me their opinions about abortion. Many of the boys were quick to point out that the sin was sex and that they were virgins. The girls, as a group, were less vocal about their personal affairs. Twice, our conversation was interrupted by adult men who wanted to engage me in debate. I was simply asking questions, I explained, not debating any issues. I told one man that I was “not interested in arguing with him. “But I am interested in arguing with you,” he responded aggressively. At that point I looked around to make sure that my husband was close by.

When I got back to The Native Voice office, I called the Principal at St. Thomas More High School. He said that the school was not affiliated with the event, but that more than thirty kids had been checked out of school that day by their parents to be at the rally. I asked him if he believed it appropriate for fourteen, fifteen and sixteen year old students to be participating in an event that was, at the core, about sexual issues. He responded by saying, “In the Catholic Church, we teach them young, and we teach them often.” And therein lies the core of the matter.

The “Pro-Life” protesters were expressing a religious belief. I asked many of them how they explained the large numbers of Christians who were protesting HB 1215, and pointed out that President Bush himself expressed his concern about an anti-abortion bill that would not allow for his “three exceptions” of rape, incest and the life of the mother being threatened. The answer was clear and consistent: those are not “true” Christians who “know the Lord.” Two people said that the difference is one of being Protestant versus being Catholic. One person countered them, saying, “Oh, don’t go there.”

If that is, in fact, the core value split (this is not to leave out the non-Christians, but the majority of Americans identify themselves as Christian, and in even ihgher numbers in South Dakota), there may be no reconciling the two sides. After all, Protestants are so-named because they were “protesting” the Catholic Church. As the French say, “Plus ce qui change, plus c’est la meme chose.” The more that changes, the more that remains the same. As a publisher, it is very interesting to me that it was the advent of the printing press that historically went hand-in-hand with the rise of Protestantism. Before that time, for the most part the only Christian Europeans who could read were the wealthy aristocracy and members of the Catholic Church. Books, including the Bible, were made and written by hand. They were extremely expensive. Thus, the clergy “interpreted” God’s word for the masses, since only they could read and interpret and therefore teach the word of God. This proved useful in many ways.

Once the printing press made books affordable and more available to the people, people learned to read. And once they began reading scripture for themselves, they began asserting their own interpretations. This did not go over well with the Catholic Church, which at the time was selling indulgences to European royalty (these were pieces of paper that “indulged” the sins of the aristocracy, and forgave their sins, for a hefty price). Having the power to use one’s own mind to seek out the meaning of God and scripture rather than simply being told what to believe and being a servant to the decree of the church is a principle difference between Protestant and Catholic. Much blood has been shed over this debate. Let’s not carry that tradition forward into darkened rooms where women will resort to extreme measures to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

When John F. Kennedy was running for President of the United States, there was concern over his being the first Catholic President. There was speculation that he would always be beholden to the word of the Pope first, not the will of the People. Kennedy was progressive in terms of the Catholic Church, and a Pope-centered presidency was not the legacy that he left.

One must wonder where the Catholic South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds’ views on abortion are formed. One must hope that he will remember that our Founding Fathers were wise in their musings on the necessary separation of Church and State. It is not to say that we are not to expect our leaders to have their lives guided by their spiritual or religious beliefs, but that they must be thoughtful, balanced and measured in their application of leadership – and that they must respect and defend the spiritual and religious diversity of the people they are supposed to represent. Catholic or not, Christian or not, “believers”…or not.

In the end, the issue isn’t even about whether or not you believe in abortion. It is about whether or not you believe in the right of government to legislate and regulate such personal matters based upon specific religious beliefs.

[Sidebar] Girls from St. Thomas More Catholic High School in Rapid City take a break from classes to rally against the HB 1215 protesters. [Sidebar] This protester’s belief: “If a baby is conceived, that is God’s will….If a woman is raped or incested, or is going to die because of carrying a baby, then that is God’s will, too.”

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Joe Garcia, President of National Congress of American Indians, and Governor of Ohkay Owingeh (Pueblo of San Juan), addresses current leading issues in Indian country

Special to The Native Voice

Read more on http://www.nativevoicemedia.com

Q: What are the most pressing issues that need to be addressed, both at the NCAI Annual Conference and in the coming months?

First and foremost are the social issues, I am most concerned with the number of lives that we are loosing, especially with the younger crowds, and it has to do with suicide and the use of methamphetamine and things of this nature. A lot of us are forming partnerships in Indian country to address this together. The only way we are going to win battles, like this one, is by reinforcing our own partnerships and building a firmer foundation in order to work together. This is so we can take care of our people, and this issue is at the top.

Related to this is the Healthcare Improvement Act. which has not been approved at this point in time, and we need to continue to push that effort.

Also in terms of our youth, in terms of education, we continue to struggle. The No Child Left Behind Act has certainly been the driving force for changes in education, but it is underfunded. Monumental changes in education are expected to be accomplished with measly funds. That’s not how systems work and that’s not reality.

Compare it to business: if you are going to make major changes in business, you’re going to apply money to those changes. And it’s the same thing in Indian country. The truth is that if you are going to incorporate changes you have to have other dollars that will implement the changes, versus using the same programmatic dollars to continue running programs when we are underfunded to begin with. It does not make any sense.

Q: This is an important election year. We are looking potentially major changes in the balance of power on the Hill. What is the most important message regarding getting out the Native Vote?

The first and foremost is the message that Indian people have got to get out and vote. We need to be apprised about what voting means, and not just to the local issues, but more drastically, at the national level. There is a relationship between what happens locally and what happens nationally. But the ultimate is not just leaving it to chance that people are going to get out and vote. The important statistic, and it is wise for every tribe to know this, is that out of your eligible voters, how many are actually registered to vote? If we are sitting there at forty or fifty percent, we’re not doing our job. We’ve got to elevate the number of registered voters. And, we need those voters to get out to the polls and be knowledgeable about who are the appropriate people to support in these elections. If we can get those two things under our belt, then we will have a lot more say so and we will help Indian country by virtue of having that political strength.

I know we’re low in numbers, but there are ways that the smaller numbers can have effect and impact on key elections and elected officials, like senators, congressman, state legislators, governors.

Q: What are the other major national issues that you would like everyone to pay attention to now?

As far as legislation and other political things, the Cobell litigation has kind of gone haywire. I thought we were really close to getting something settled. Unfortunately, in this case, it is not so much that the tribes are not together, it’s more the (Bush) administration that we’re battling at this point. Even Congress is working on our behalf, it is the administration that is hindering a settlement.

The Cobell litigation is tied to trust reform. We’ve really got to be clear on things that we don’t want to compromise – in trust reform. Yes, we want to settle Cobell, but those things should not be compromised. The tribes should have a say so, not individual Indians or in this case, the plaintiffs. I think the important part is that we are working together with the plaintiffs and the attorneys and others to resolve the issue. This is a big positive sign.

As far as the issue on “rights of way” (regarding the Energy Policy Act of 2005) that has been pondered by Indian country, we have concluded that there need to be no changes. The tribes have the final say so on whether they want leasing agreements to go forth or not. No one else should have that responsibility, or in this case, the authority to do that. The tribes, as sovereign nations, should determine that.

Q: On the subject of energy in Indian country, what about alternative energy development for the tribes?

This is a key issue, in fact, because of the energy situation in this country. As you know, a lot of the potential energy development-exists in Indian country, it is important that we be involved in the development of energy and alternatives, and if its green energy, so much the better. But we have to be versed in technology and we ought to be driving whatever we think is appropriate to happen in Indian country.

We ought to be moving forward those initiatives that can be beneficial to us, but, the ultimate idea here is that the tribes then can say, “We are looking out for the best interests of the United States of America, not just my land and my people, but all of the United States.” And I think the tribes can really, really do that and demonstrate to this country what we are all about, and what we can do. And, with the energy bill and the energy titles for Indian country, I think we will be beneficial in that arena. We need to promote this a lot more.

Q: So you are referring to the legislative incentives, the financial incentives, that have been put in place for doing business in Indian country in alternative energy development?

Yes.

Q: Are you aware of the meeting that Senator Tom Daschle hosted with tribes interested in wind energy development?

This is one of those rare opportunities for Indian country to take the lead on something that’s actually going to benefit everyone, the larger population.

I think what we are doing is providing the knowledge building, if you will. Not only of our tribes and tribal leaders, but relaying the information and having a systematic approach to building that knowledge in the general public. For example, we’ve incorporated the media section in NCAI. If we can put out greater efforts and collaborations to get the message out, then we’ll be a lot better off. So I appreciate the opportunity that you are giving here, so keep up the good work.

Q: Thank you. We think it is an important part of the solution, so we are just doing our small part.

Every little bit of potential solution adds to the greater picture. All of the pieces all lead to the comprehensive solution in Indian country.

Q: This is NCAI’s annual meeting. It is by far a most important annual event in Indian country. That being said, would you like to paint the bigger picture of the trend of how the tribes are working together? Do you feel that there is a good amount of consensus, do you feel the need to call everybody together, are you feeling a good momentum growing?

I think we have a great momentum right now. All of the leg work that we’ve done in collaborations is a good indicator of that positive momentum, it doesn’t mean that all issues have been resolved to this point by any means, that is not the case. This is only because of the large quantity of issues that face Indian country.

And part of the underlying reason why we haven’t been as progressive as we might have been is that a lot of times the knowledge that is required is not yet developed. For example, the federal budgeting process is pretty complicated. Unless you get your feet wet and get into the system and learn that and understand the mechanics behind what drives the federal budgeting process, a lot of the solutions that we propose are blind solutions. Until we got involved in this national budget advisory council where a number of very good tribal leaders are members of this council, until we got our feet really wet and got our hands dirty, about the budgeting, did we clearly understand how much of a dilemma we faced. And we’ve been partly complaining to the wrong people, and bringing the issues to the wrong level, if you will. The target ought to be the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) and the President.

All of these other times, we’ve been battling at the lower levels, and by virtue of that fact, we haven’t been as successful. And working together now with the tribes throughout the country has been a big plus.

Q: This sounds like a positive trend in political development.

Yes. One thing I need to tell you about, though, is that there may be too many national meetings. Where the same tribal leaders that need to be in one meeting are tied down because they attending another meeting that was scheduled at the same time. There is not a whole lot of concerted effort to get the schedules together so that they follow one another. Meetings are scheduled at the same time during the same week in completely different parts of the country.

We still need to do a lot of work on our time management system. With technology readily available, I think we can do that. We all need to be involved finding the right solution for that.

How much do we know about the systems that are available? And its not just in Indian country. This is what the world uses, so why shouldn’t it work for us? We just tweak the systems to fit our needs.

The tests still remain, but I feel very, very positive about Indian country working together. And it’s going to continue. We’ve not reached the ultimate solution, but we’re working towards that end. I trust that within this next year, we’ll get even farther down the road.

Q: Going back to what you said about working directly with this administration, can you fill in what is going on behind the scenes in the negotiations or communications with the offices at the White House and the OMB?

The important piece about OMB is that Indian country has never met directly met with OMB until last December. It was the first time we as a national budget advisory council met with OMB. That began a collaboration. OMB listens a lot, I found out, to the departments (Interior, etc.). They indicated that there is not a lot of down-to-earth advocacy (on our behalf) from the other departments. And it is their place to be doing that. But for whatever reason, it never comes across as such.

So the OMB meetings are really key, and we’ve had at least five meetings with the OMB staff, the main people who make decisions. We’ve also got to be sending our message, the same message, to each of the departments, such as the DOI. We have to be aligned with our messages – what we are proposing and what they are advocating on behalf of Indian country need to be the same message. So that when OMB meets with us, they hear the same story and the same truth, they hear the same needs and they see the same solutions that we all are talking about. We’re all on the same page. In the past, we haven’t been able to do that. I think that’s changed somewhat. Progress has been made.

The other thing to remember is that the budgeting cycles are like three overlapping cycles at any one time. There’s the implementation of last year’s budget, there’s the planning and implementation of this year’s budget, and then there’s the planning for next year and the year after that. Being able to juggle three phases going on at one time is an important piece, and that may not have been very clear to Indian country in the past.

Q: And how have you felt about the response from, for example. Reuben Barrales’ office at the White House, or the Department of OMB? How has the response been from that level of government?

In a sense, they are asking why didn’t we do this before? We can ask ourselves why, but part of the answer is the fact that we didn’t know the system. It’s just like not knowing what to do when a car breaks down. If you knew how that car operated you might be able to do something about it. So that analogy falls into play here, but the response has been really, really extraordinary from OMB, from the Budget Council, from Congress, and a lot of staff at the White House. I have to commend them for being out front and meeting with us.

The one thing that I still want to see happen is for us to meet with President Bush, and we have not had that opportunity as the embassy of tribes, we have not been able to do that. That is going to be one of the initiatives that we push forward at NCAI – the officers, myself, the tribal leaders and the tribes that make up NCAI. We really need to push for this.

Q: There have been some tough issues on Capitol Hill lately. What is the mood, the tone of the meetings with members of Congress lately?

We need to get away from the attitude that we are fighting Congress. Everywhere I’ve been and I’ve talked about Congress, I’ve never said that we’re “fighting” with Congress. What I said is that we’re “working” with Congress to find the solutions. Just from a human philosophical approach, that sends the more positive note to the parties involved. And I think that means a whole lot to all of us so we want to continue to push those efforts.

Besides Congress, we’ve initiated meetings with a number of other federal agencies that haven’t worked with Indian country, per se. One prime example, just the latest one of consultation – and you know how I feel about consultation – is the DOJ (Department of Justice). As long as its been involved in working with Indian country, which is years and years, the very first consultation was held just last week. This was the one in Minneapolis regarding the Violence Against Women Act. This in itself is a prime indicator that our efforts are having some impact. But, we must continue to be vigilant in working with the issues that face us.

As we speak, there is a lot of legislation coming on-line that we knew nothing or little about. One of them is HR 4, having to do with the benefits for employees of tribes. The other is HR 16, that is clarifying labor union issues in Indian country. Under the National Labor Relations Act, we are protected from labor unions setting up shop in Indian country. The latest interpretation was that tribes were exempt from that protection, and so HR 16 moved to clarify that tribes share the same protection as other government agencies.

We still see legislation being introduced that disadvantages Indian country. The latest one that I heard about has to do with the 8A status, that would give tribes no special attention or opportunities when it comes to business or business development. That in itself could be detrimental. What we’ve been pushing for all along is for tribes to do economic development and sustain their own economies by doing economic development, business enterprises and what not.

Q: What is the proposal on the table regarding 8A status for tribes?

What it says is that the tribes with 8A status should not receive any special consideration for governmental jobs or for projects. If it gets by, it wipes out our efforts having to do with economic development and the SBA 8A status that a lot of tribes have been moving toward. It would wipe away a lot of opportunity, a lot of momentum.

Q: There are a lot of tribes that have economic development and industry in place that are dependent on that 8A status.

That’s right. It’s being talked about, and chances are it could be introduced. The best effort would be to cut it off at the knees before it makes it to any other level.

Economic development, in my eyes, goes hand in hand with tribal sovereignty. If we’re talking about self determination and self reliance as tribes, then we have to have the revenue stream and the resource base by which we can say, “I’m no longer dependent upon the federal government.” If you relate that to reality, though, you see that the tribes are at different levels of economic development. Those tribes that have been very successful in their efforts, and there are those tribes that are still in need of help and development, a lot of it by no fault of their own: because of the systems, the funding, the locations, the regions why they have not reached that level.

Q: What is your vision for the future of tribes, of Indian country as a whole?

My vision is that the day will come that we will no longer be dependent on the federal government. We will stand on our own means. That is true sovereignty, that is true self governance, self reliability, self sustainability, and that’s what we all ought to be pushing toward…and this includes every tribe in this country, even those that are not recognized, because the lack of recognition was through no fault of their own. We can help our brothers and sister tribes, and I think that is happening more so than it was before. That is our own solution, if you will, absent of any other help from the feds or from the state. If we can accomplish that, then more power to us.

Q: We went to see the Dalai lama with Arvol Looking Horse last week, and Arvol mentioned that individual sovereignty is important to tribal sovereignty. That if you have the ability to be individually sovereign, then you can lead, have the full understanding of what sovereignty is. You can see this with Indian leaders from around the country, like yourself and Tex Hall. Some of the best tribal leaders are those that understand the meaning of personal self-sufficiency.

That is right.

[Sidebar]

If we’re talking about self determination and self reliance as tribes, then we have to have the revenue stream and the resource base by which we can say, “I’m no longer dependent upon the federal government.”

Arvol Looking Horse honored with presentation for the Dalai Lama

King: Arvol, you just drove all night to get here, you made a great effort to get here and arrived just in time. Why did you think it was important to be a part of this presentation?

Looking Horse: I wanted to take a message to the world… that there is so much problems, and that this place is the Dalai Lama, and this place, the temple that we came to, was made for peace. People traveled from all over the world, all over, to be here today. They want to see something, to hear something to help them pray for peace, or to help them understand what is going on in the world. And, as spiritual leaders, we need to be heard and that’s why I traveled all night over a long distance to be here.

We have our prophecy with our sacred bundle. Yet, a lot of people, our own people, do not understand why we do the work that we do, promoting peace, global healing.

How I feel as a spiritual leader of the Bigfoot Ride is that we’ve come a long ways. I myself bring prayers. One of my great, great grandfathers was Bigfoot. I never knew that until I came on the Bigfoot Ride. He died for the white flag of truce at Wounded Knee in 1890, when Bigfoot was massacred. He died for peace.

I know that I have to carry on his work. Riding in the deep snow and cold weather is the sacrifice that we’ve made.

Also, being the Keeper of the sacred chanunpa, the sacred pipe.

The story that was told among our people is that a spirit woman brought this spirit bundle, she brought this chanunpa when the people were having a hard time, and she said that “I shall return again when the people are having a hard time.”

In 1994, the first white buffalo calf was born in Janesville, Wisconsin.

King: The buffalo calf that was born white and changed colors?

Looking Horse: “Miracle” was supposed to change color. When the spirit woman brought the sacred chanunpa… when she left the chanunpa, and then she went back towards the West, she stopped four times. She changed colors…black, red, yellow, and white. And we use these sacred colors to the grandfathers to the four directions in our ceremonies from that time to today. And when Miracle was born, she was supposed to change four colors. She was born white, and she became black and then red. She died when she was in the third stage, yellow. Since then, every year a white buffalo calf was born. This year, at the same farm in Janesville, Wisconsin, another white buffalo calf was born August 25.

These white animals, the white buffalo calves, the story of the sacred chanunpa, and all these white animals being born, showing their sacred colors – they are all connected. We’re supposed to be the voice for them, our relatives. And that’s why we came here to be the voice for the relatives. And, this is what people are looking for with the Dalai Lama, to come to pray and speak with him. Leaders like that, they have the heart for the people, for peace, and for understanding throughout the world. So, there are many reasons why we came here.

King: Can you explain what is the connection for Native person on the rez care to the Dalai Lama? What is it about this man that makes him worthy to you to travel all this way to stand there to support him?

Looking Horse: He was exiled from him country of Tibet. He can’t go home. (The Tibetan traditional culture, including practice of the spiritual ways of the Buddhist people there, have been outlawed by the Chinese government). He has in his country the land, the sacred sites, the places that his ancestors they came from. He can’t go home to his spiritual homeland. We have a hard time here on our homeland, we were being imprisoned, and now we’re still having a hard time as a nation. So, he understands about the ways of our First Nations people, how we were, how we lived. And I, too, understand people like him that are spiritual and having a hard time because of what has happened. It has been difficult in the last years, but I also know that we have the keys to the new millennium. That’s why were are trying to gather, to bring our people together to unite spiritually, and globally.

King: What was it like to meet him, what was it like when you were talking to him?

Looking Horse: It was a great honor. If I didn’t have that coming here as a spiritual leader, I would be star struck, too. But I know where his heart is, and I met him twice before, so I knew that we had a very strong connection, where we come from and where we’re going.

King: You are always out there telling people, “Pray for peace,” and the Dalai lama is telling people to pray for peace. He also said today that “Praying for peace is important, but the action is important, the karma is in the action.” I really appreciated what he said, it was so simple and so powerful, “Positive action leads to positive consequence, and negative action leads to negative consequence.”

If you were to tell people one thing that they can do to embody the prayer for peace that you are both promoting, what would you tell them? What would you like people to do in their own lives to actively be about peace in their families, in their communities?

Looking Horse: Right now, our families and brothers and sisters are fighting and it seems like we can’t unite. And I would say that out of respect for our future generations I would tell people to work for peace. People need to see for themselves from their homeland what is happening throughout the world because all of our spiritual ways have brought us through hard times. We’ve survived, and that’s the only way we will survive now because of the stage that we are in. We are at war and there are a lot of sicknesses. So, we just have no choice but to work for this. I know it is a very hard journey, we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but we will make it.

King: You sound really hopeful even though you are saying it is hard and there are a lot of people fighting and you need to pray for peace. It is good to know that people are getting together and praying together and working on this together because it sounds like there is hope.

Looking Horse: I am the 19th Keeper of our sacred bundle, and when I was born, our ways were outlawed. When we talk about freedom and human rights, I feel like we’ve come a long way to be recognized in the world today. So, I’m very thankful, I wish our grandparents would see this day.

King: I think a lot of people need to hear this, especially the young people, because times can seem pretty tough.

Looking Horse: It seems like it’s pretty tough when we’re burying our young people from suicide. But it’s part of our traditions in our songs and prayers to take care and to honor, to have a heart for the people. That’s basically part of our ways, to take this to our heart and stand up and promote peace and harmony.

King: And that brings us back to this day and the experience of being with the Dalai Lama and the other leaders there who were promoting peace. I can see why the Dalai Lama is in brotherhood with you, because the message that he was giving today was very similar to yours, and in many ways, it is the same message.

Looking Horse: The message that he gave and the message from our prophecies is the same. And, it is the reason that I came here today. It feels good, we feel good to be connected with a lot of people, all with a heart for the people, praying in the same way. And it was an honor to be with all of the important people who were here, who brought their own message of peace, like Queen Noor of Jordan (a Muslim), and all of the important leaders who traveled to be here on this day.

King: Thank you. It was an amazing day.

[Sidebar]

Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle, was honored recently by being asked to make a presentation for the Dalai Lama during his visit to Colorado. On the bright and cold Sunday morning of September 17, Looking Horse made a presentation to a crowd of 2500 people at the newly completed buddhist shrine, the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, near Red Feather Lakes. Looking Horse’s presence at this event was due to his on going work to promote peace, both at home in Indian country and across the globe. While known for leading the annual Bigfoot Ride to commemorate the massacre at Wounded Knee, and his creation of World Peace and Prayer Day, Looking Horse also carries his message “to pray for peace” to countless gatherings, large and small, during the year.

We were invited to join Arvol on his trek to participate in this historic meeting, and sat down after the speeches and songs to visit about the day and the spiritual connections to the Dalai Lama.

[Sidebar]

Dramatically transforming the landscape of Shambhala Mountain Center, The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya is an expression of the aspiration for peace, harmony and equanimity for all beings. Rising 108 feet from its foundation, construction of The Great Stupa was initiated in 1988 and the monument was consecrated in August 2001.

[Sidebar]

“it’s part of our traditions in our songs and prayers to take care and to honor, to have a heart for the people”