Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Geronimo's Bones

As I lay here in my hospital bed, trawling the Internet, trying to keep my mind off what is happening to me, yet trying to decide how much further I am willing to go, I ran across this article about the descendants of Geronimo seeking the remains and funerary pieces of the great Apache warrior to give them an honest burial so his spirit will go on to the land of the dead.

Being Cherokee and Iroquois, I have a profound empathy for the Native people of America. I know that aboriginal ways are not always Christian ways but their belief structures are just as legitimate as Christian ways of dealing with the living and the dead. I would hate to think that here would be someone in the future that would dig up my ancestor's graves or even my grave, to study and keep in a cardboard box in the dark bowels of the Smithsonian or some college. I would rather think that my remains would remain in the earth to become a part of the Great Mother, who allowed us to spring up and walk on her great body and then cradles us in the arms of the soil to nurse us in our death sleep as we wait for the time of rebirth and reunion with the Creator.

To honor the dead, whether they share your world or religious view is a human responsibility. To treat with respect the most basic thing left of us, our earthly remains is the last request any of us could make of our brothers and sisters.

As one chief wrote: Deal kindly with my people for the dead have a power, too.

And for the sake of the great spirit, go to Mount Rushmore and blow those President's faces off the side of that mountain. The Black Hills Mountain range, of which Rushmore is a part is the home of Wakontanka, the Creator God of the Lakota Sioux. Those carvings are the equivalent of drawing a moustache on the Virgin Mary. It is a sign of dishonor and respect. Those mountains are the Sioux' cathedral. Give it back to them.