Lakota Chief Arvol Lookinghorse has a very important teaching that has been passed down through 19 generations in his tradition. The powerful prophecy of White Buffalo Calf Woman blossomed in 1994 when a white buffalo was born in Janesville Wisconsin (see video below). Seeing this young buffalo as a blessing and a warning of great changes to come, Chief Lookinghorse began coming forward with the teachings and wisdom that his people have preserved for many generations.
“We have reached a crossroads. On an international level we have adopted materialism over conservation of the Earth’s limited resources forgetting that ‘the Earth is not a resource to be used but, rather, the source of life itself”
– Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of Sacred White Buffalo Bundle
Arvol is part of an indigenous task force recognized within the Parliament of World Religions. This is an international call to protect and restore sacred sites under the guidance of the cultural, spiritual and legal heritage keepers of the land. Just as a tree can not stand without its’ roots deep in the soil, humanity can not survive if it does not listen to those who have kept the wisdom and connection to our sacred land. History has severed this connection but today we are witnessing a great healing.
“Many grave sins were committed against the Native people of America in the name of God. I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offense of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America.”
– Pope Francis
Our connection to the land is essential for our sense of place, our relationship to the larger web of life that surrounds us. Our connection with history helps us understand the journey of our ancestors and teaches us a sense of respect and honor for our own lives. Sacred sites give us both a connection to the land and to our past which empowers us with the responsibility of creating a healthy future. Whether it is the Black Hills, or the destruction of ancient sites by ISIS in Palmyra, sacred and world heritage sites have value to all of us regardless of our cultural heritage.
Current threats to sacred sites include:
- Lack of Access: Due to seizure of lands for political, strategic, or resources many indigenous people do not have legal access to their sacred and ancestral sites
- Extractive Industries: Deforestation, fracking, mining and other destructive industrial practices have damaged sacred sites making them toxic or uninhabitable
- Urbanization: Cities have been built on burial grounds and sacred sites. This is not a call to tear down cities, but to open a dialogue and a process to heal the wounds incurred by these land grabs.
- Armed Conflicts: Many parts of the world are embrued in war that destroys sacred sites and makes it dangerous for people to access.
While spiritual, religious, indigenous leaders are calling for healing and a change of course from the destructive practices of conquest and colonialism, corporate leaders are meeting behind closed doors attempting to write the rules of trade for the 21st century. Leaked documents show that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a nightmare for human rights, the environment, labor and more. They are hoping to finalize their secret deal without any consultation from spiritual, religious, or indigenous leaders.
The colonial practice of taking without asking must come to an end. Together we must end the conquest of nature or nature will end humanity. Each of us have an important choice to make as we stand at the crossroads, we can be part of the healing, the solution, or part of the destruction of everything sacred. This choice is made every day in the way you live, the things you choose to buy, the food you put in your body, the way you treat people around you, the news you share on social networks, your participation (or lack of) in your local community, the way you vote. The choice is ours to make, this life is a blessing but it comes with great responsibility.