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Indigenous Peoples' Literature

O' Great Spirit,
Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And whose breath gives life to all the world,
hear me! I am small and weak, I need your
strength and wisdom.

Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes
ever behold the red and purple sunset.

Make my hands respect the things you have
made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.

Make me wise so that I may understand the
things you have taught my people.

Let me learn the lessons you have hidden
in every leaf and rock.

I seek strength, not to be greater than my
brother, but to fight my greatest ememy,

Make me always ready to come to you with
clean hands and straight eyes.

So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my spirit may come to you without shame.

Burial Poem

Indigenous Peoples' Rights
to Protect Their Burial Grounds

by Bobby C. Billie, Seminole Elder, August 30, 1994

This meeting that we found out about by accident through some people in Tallahassee is an important one to the Indigenous People. I am angry that we were not invited. These are matters of importance and it is my deep feeling that it is the Indigenous people that most certainly should have a voice in this meeting.

The American people have continually done things illegally especially where Indigenous People are concerned. When are you people going to stop these illegal actions. When are you going to be honest and do the right thing?

The burial grounds are resting places of our Ancestors and should be respected and left untouched. The rights of these people must be honored and respected. The burial grounds which have been disturbed should be put back as they originally were and those items which have no safe place to be returned should be put back in the earth not in museums or sold as collector's items. These items and remains must be respected and returned to the earth in the right and respectful way.

These crimes against the Indigenous peoples' resting grounds must stop. I am sure that our Ancestors are with us today asking you to do the right thing.

It is only you people that continue to do this. Most people are shocked that our Burial Grounds are still being dug up and do not support what you are doing.

We cannot understand why you people cannot respect our resting grounds. Is it because they do not have stone markers? Would this make a difference? You put up markers on empty graves of military people who aren't even buried there and you respect an empty grave. Why can't you respect ours?

American people and the Tribe are trying to stop me from my rights, and a lot of history has been spoken, but a lot of that history is not true. We have our own history and we know what happened between American people, Spanish people, French people, British people, and other different Nations.

War between American people and Red people - We know what happened. The American reporters can never get near where the Indian people are. How can they get near to the kind of information they write about? They couldn't. During that time they were killing each other. They were enemies to each other. Whoever wrote that history - sometimes it is not true because they sit down and they wrote this is how they think it happened, how they move and all that.

Because of this, they just wrote their history out of their minds. Our history is passed on from generation to generation, it is the history of not just between white people and other people, our history comes from the beginning of the Earth.

They talk about Recognized Tribes, but these people who have passed on what we are talking about, a lot of them, I know were unrecognized tribes. Independent. It is these people's law I am speaking for. These people believed in the Creator's Law. They believed in the Water, they believed in the Air, they believed in the Trees, the food, the animals, the fish, the grass. I can continue all the things they have died for, but the Creator's Law, no matter how much your enemy has done to you, you can forgive him, and you can always love them, and lend a hand as the Creator.

When the first Americans came onto my Land they came with nothing. We trusted them, and we cared and loved them, and we gave them food, we gave them the way to survive, how to grow food, but a lot of things can be twisted, the stories get twisted, and that is what happened.

This is just part of my history, just a little of it, but that is what the Independent Traditional People stand for THE RIGHTS OF ALL LIFE ON EARTH. For that I think each of you needs to look back into your backgrounds, trace down your history and you can find out and see who you are.

And I know some of you American people have a heart, eyes, and ears, and a brain, and use it to do good things for your future, for your kid's future, for your kid's kid's future, and beyond the future. That is what the Red People's future stands for. I ask you to do that.

When I walked into the Historical Museum yesterday -- it made me sad.

When I looked at the boxes and plastic bags, and they held up some of the plastic bags and they told us they are deer bones, and turtles and other animal bones, I'm thinking they have a right to their freedom too. To be back into the Earth. Not just the artifacts. I'm speaking for those animals. They need to be back into the Earth. That is the reason I am giving this message because that is what they want.

And then we walked into another room with belongings of people who have passed on. And they spoke of this room like it was a library, certain numbers on the plastic bags and boxes, and I was thinking about it - If I go into their graves, their grandma or grandpa or their ancestor's graves and take their shoes, take their watches, their eye glasses and take their bones, what would the American people do to me? That answer, I know. They would hang me - no question. They will do that if they follow their law, but what we believe is the Creator's law which is Protection of All Rights on Earth.

And then in another room they talked about computers. They weren't using this computer before. Now they are using it. Sounds like great things are happening. But when I hear that, I'm thinking, they are going to keep on digging up our graves because they have this computer now.

I don't know how you take care of your grandpa, your grandma, your aunts, your sisters and brothers, and your children, but I think it is wrong what you are doing to my people.

But sometimes I've heard you burn the bodies, or sometimes you put the bodies into the water. I don't know what else you do to your people, but we don't do it that way.

We treat them in a respectful way. We put them nicely into the Earth. Spiritually. Their items, their belongings, all special things to him, to her. That is how we do our people who have passed on. We don't just dump them.

In the war time, they were fighting for their rights. Sometimes they died in the woods, but that is where they found their resting place, and that is their right. Even the non-Indian people, Black, or White, any color, it doesn't matter -- that is where they found their resting place.

We call ourselves human beings. We should act like human beings and care for our families and ancestors in a respectful way.

Whatever we have said, we never have changed. It's our Law. Many times you have said a lot of things, but you never respect your own laws. For once respect your Law.

I told you in my statement yesterday what I think should be done with the collections you have stored in boxes and plastic bags. I hope you understand that you need to return these things back to Mother Earth.

I know who took these items out of the Earth -- American People, and I am telling you to take them back. And when you do that, we want to be there to see that it is done right when you put them into the Earth.

And I hope when you do that you apologize to these People.

And for that, if you do that, I thank you.

Bobby C. Billy is publicly opposing grave desecration and has asked for letters of support. The Cherokee reference is regarding a highway construction project last year, in which earth containing human bones was removed from a Cherokee burial ground at Moccasin Bend and used to grade the highway which was built to pass thru the burial ground.



Thank you for saying what you say about grave desecration. Grave desecration is a very bad thing for all peoples of the earth! I have never made a treaty, either. Not in the same great way as your people, who have never given in as a people, but in my own small way. In that I am one who has never agreed to give in, who resists all the horrible things that the governments of the world do to the peoples of the earth, all the peoples of the earth of all colors!

I am not enrolled with any tribe. My ancestry is White, Black, Indian, Spanish, French, African, Cheyenne, Choctaw, Iroquois, and so on. I am a man-woman of the earth of all colors! My ancestors of these many nations are also enraged over how the governments and scientists of this nation desecrate graves and disturb the resting spirits. They mess up the cycle of birth and death, life and regeneration! The spirits talk to each other just like we talk to each other. When a spirit sees another spirits' bones desecrated he feels it too! Just like when you or I see an innocent person or animal or plant or stone suffer, we feel it too! This is why I say, all of the spirits who have any goodness in them are enraged over all this grave desecration, whether their own graves are desecrated or not!

Those so called scientists say they do this all in the name of knowledge! What a filthy lie! If they really wanted to understand how people lived they should ask the living peoples of the earth how their grandparents lived! They should ask respectfully and believe what they hear and not just discount it as stories and legends and talk. But they have too much false pride to talk to the peoples of the earth whom they call "savages". So instead they dig up bones!

I too am enraged over all desecration of graves! Even when I heard about bodies of Caucasian people that they found in CHINA. They were wondering how Caucasian people got to CHINA many thousands of years ago. They put them in a MUSEUM and took them out of the ground. I wrote to those scientist and said, this is very bad! Put those bones back! The hippies, the young white children, are trying very hard to put things right. They protest and resist the governments of the world. They sit down and talk with the Indians and blacks and try to understand, try to do what they can to help make things right. But they will have a much harder time putting things right because these Chinese white people should have stayed in the ground in order for things to be put right.

When they make peoples bones into museum pieces this is a very bad thing. When they don't let bones rest in the earth this is a very bad thing! I can hear the spirits of the ancestors raging and crying when their bones are made into curiosities.

And this thing in Chattanooga -- highway landfill! How can they say that one must prove a right to get back the bones of one's ancestors, as if those museum jerks have more a right to it than their descendants do! As if those so called men of knowledge have more a right to decide where bones are to rest than the people where they come from!

A Cherokee friend of mine had to go to the university and PROVE that he had a right to take home his GRANDFATHER'S BONES! They had those bones in a CARDBOARD BOX in the basement! With lots of other boxes with lots more bones! Boxes and boxes on shelves in a dusty old basement, boxes full of peoples bones! Bones belong in the ground! So many spirits screaming and crying and fighting in that room full of cardboard boxes filled with bones. How can those scientists be so hard-hearted and dead inside not to hear?

And like you said, not just human bones, but the bones of all animals and all living things should go back to the ground. Back to the mother of all things where they came from, so that life can continue! Good God! Don't these so called scientists realize that they are mucking WITH THE CYCLE OF LIFE when they take bones out of the ground?! Maybe they do realize this. Maybe they are even worse than we thought. To do wrong not knowing any better is one thing. But to do wrong knowing better is very bad. This is the POWER of EVIL!

Sorry this is so long and hard to read. I usually write better than this. But this grave desecration makes me feel very angry and very hurt. I am screaming words faster than I can put them together nicely. I hope you will not have a hard time listening to this.

I admire your people very much for NEVER GIVING IN TO THE GOVERNMENT! I have said that all the hurricanes in Florida are because Florida is STOLEN LAND! And if the white man would GIVE IT BACK then the hurricanes would not be so bad or maybe even not go thru at all. They don't think about the deeper forces that they disturb when they make their plans, drain swamps, kill people and other living things. Then they build their fine white stone buildings with mirrored glass walls. And sometimes they look back and say, well, maybe we did a bad thing but we'll pay the people some money and make it better. I don't want money!


And the education of life goes on....

Since the settlement of this country, most of our burials have become prehistoric, just for the purpose of scientific evaluation and this activity, is endorsed and authorized by many.

80 to 100 million people, from 1492 to the early 1900's, all gone. Vanished, disappeared, although some have been discovered in various museums, only to have been labled as prehistoric. Remains, that were excavated by archaeologist in the early 1900's, many that were in fact burials of people whose relatives today protest this activity, because some areas have been designated as traditional lands that were still being used right up until the 1930's-1950's, burial areas that are of a people who were still using their traditional areas.

Archaeological education, theology edcuation, evolution education, history education, government education, is good, but it was written for one people, like the constitution, the declaration of independence all written and promoted for one people, and during America's darkess hour, when the Indian was being removed from his traditional land, forced into submission of social change.

Today, we look at this form of education, and we know it is good for building a stronger social and economical structure for our people, we know it is good for employment, but can we tell our side of the story? Can we formulate an educational avenue that will provide some facts about a history without having it be declared as bias and un-necessary? Can we formulate a history for our future generations, as told to us by what elder's we have left, who still remember, so that in time to come, a history, culture and religion will survive?

Long ago, viewpoints, expressions, opinions, statements, regarding Native American Indians were gathered up and formulated into writings and published, a past recklessly introduced as facts, established with words that cannot define the old language, promoted as authentic, advocated as truth, delivered today with enthusiasm and the Ancient Customs and Belief's of yesterday slowly fade into the darkness, leaving in it's wake a culture and religion of mixed confusion and slowly a people begin to phase their selves out, leaving behind a history and the final chapter of a long story ends bringing about total victory for the Non-Indian whose quest has always been to prove his justice for the murder and death of a people and their way of life.

Larry Kibby

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The Indigenous Peoples' Literature pages were researched and organized by Glenn Welker.