Copyright ©1999, Christine
Christianity's influence on the American Indian through avenues of the Spanish conquistadors and missionaries promised salvation but took away innocence instead. Through the additions of shame and guilt not only did these doctrines undermine the traditions of the indigenous people but misrepresented the intended liberation for which their Christian God died.
Ghost-like indigenous people guard the area bordering paradise where the land and philosophies that once were theirs still live. They watch costumed in frieze form as their people's minds follow like sheep an adopted unhappy travail, a pathway to a sure soul slaughter. Mid step in ritual dances the ghost-dancers await the return of the people to their abandoned but not forgotten ways, deep inside the cultural and historical memory that draws them homeward.
The vultures, the warrior-priest, the lions guarding the church, the church itself is a mutation, an unsuccessful effort to reroute the worldly desire for conquest and power under the guise, excuse and misuse of spirituality. The priest warrior decorated with skulls around his neck reverses in meaning from trophy to tightening noose. Skulls like puppets hang from his hands. They resemble incense burners swinging pendulum-like spreading a stench of error as he travels upon his horse across the desert bringing with him a holocaust of incredible proportion. The warrior priest's lascivious smile suggests he's selling something unhealthy and that he's caught up in something he hates but also likes at the same time. The dilemma keeps him unable to extricate himself without recognition of the cost of the process.
You can switch oppressor and oppressed from times before Jerusalem until present day global politics who use religion, race and gender as a dividing rod between the valued and undervalued. The actions of the world are pin pricks, reminders of the wrongs of our own ethnic cleansing. Our continuation on this land called America requires a submerged knowledge of a wrong not yet fully righted which hides deep underground in our national consciousness so unimpeded growth can continue. The vultures can become handy symbols of regeneration in the process. They eat the refuse, old corrupted ideas that finally die after centuries of circling. So they are fearful reminders of death but sometimes certain ideas need to die.
The spirit of the deer dancer witnesses in shadow form what could never die-the incorruptible wholeness of the people. This suggests that the meaning of the spirit these men came to represent and misrepresent can't die at the hands of brutality either. This was the same meaning of their God's death and promise of their God's resurrection and too often repeated without comprehension of the irony. .