See­ing too much of some things, not enough of oth­ers

Pasatiempo - - Dear Pasa -

In re­gard to your Nov. 5 ar­ti­cle “Lakota-eye view” [about pho­tog­ra­pher John Wil­lis’ book Views From

the Reser­va­tion], we were ap­palled at the pic­tures of the sa­cred places of Lakota spir­i­tu­al­ity. If there was an aerial photo of one of our pueb­los or a close-up of a kiva, you would have a ma­jor war party at your door, let alone law­suits. I know some pueb­los al­low pho­tos with per­mis­sion, but the ma­jor­ity don’t. There are a lot of peo­ple who are naive about Na­tive spir­i­tu­al­ity, both lo­cal and out of the area, but ig­no­rance is not an ex­cuse.

We are sure there are many Na­tive peo­ple, in­clud­ing the Sioux and other tribes, who live in our area and feel as we do. Af­ter read­ing your ar­ti­cle out loud to my fam­ily, their first re­ac­tion was, Why does it take a non-Na­tive to call at­ten­tion to the gen­eral pub­lic as to what has been hap­pen­ing in reser­va­tions across the coun­try? There is plenty of in­for­ma­tion from na­tive writ­ers who have the in­side scoop from per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence and can share it with­out ex­ploit­ing their spir­i­tu­al­ity.

An­other re­ac­tion was, here we go again. An­other non-Na­tive comes to the rez, be­friends a fam­ily, gets taken in, and is given all the help they can think of, in­clud­ing prayers, cer­e­monies, food, bed, and love, and then it’s like ... book! We’ve seen it over and over again. Wil­lis says he’s help­ing the Lakota peo­ple by do­nat­ing all pro­ceeds of the book to the KILI ra­dio sta­tion, but to us he’s help­ing his ca­reer and con­science. Go to any book­store and you’ll find that the ma­jor­ity of the books writ­ten about Na­tive spir­i­tu­al­ity and rit­u­als are writ­ten by non-Na­tives! Why not do­nate the pro­ceeds from an­other book to help the peo­ple?

Please, if you re­ally want to help Na­tive peo­ple, think twice! What you might feel is some­thing good and ben­e­fi­cial may cause harm and heartache. And if you don’t un­der­stand the mean­ing of “sa­cred” from dif­fer­ent cul­tures, don’t think you can learn its mean­ing by vis­it­ing a place a cou­ple times a year. Do­minic Ar­quero (Co­chiti Pue­blo) and Imo­gene Goodshot Ar­quero (Oglala, Lakota Sioux)

Santa Fe

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