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Native American

Herbs  & Plants

Of The Southwest

Message From A Nevada Elder

We are concerned about the present and future of our Native People as well as the welfare of all people, including the mother earth and life. As traditional Indian people, we are a people of peace. Peace means to live in harmony with each other and nature. Peace also means to follow one's own spiritual understanding.

We are concerned at this time because our Indian People are not able to practice the ceremonies for protection of land, water, animals, birds, fish, and all other life. Traditional Indian People are not able to continue these ceremonies because the foreign Non-Indian people do not understand our way of life. They impose their way of life on us through their schools, institutions, education, government and language. The Indian culture is not respected or recognized by the foreign people dominating our continent.

Everything on earth needs to be put into natural balance to restore order. Non-Indian people do not understand this natural order and balance of life. Nature is in certain patterns which is why we have certain ceremonies using herbs, feathers, sacred objects and medicines to keep the land and life in balance. This has to be done so there is no drastic change in seasons or any other natural catastrophes such as earthquakes or floods.

The main difference between the Indian culture and Non-Indian way of life is that we have these songs, prayers and ceremonies for our plants, animals, water, land and life. We have respect for our Mother Earth. The Non-Indian disturbs nature by misusing the natural elements and life to increase wealth or make money for personal gain and power.

This difference creates problems. The Non-Indian problem is forced upon us through the "system". This way of life controls more and more of our people. It takes eight hours a day every day, five days a week for menial wages with no share in the profits in order to make money to pay bills. There is no time left except on weekends which is usually spent unwisely.

We would urge all of our people and other people who value life to work with the land and become independent of this alien way of life. Some of what the Non-Indian has can be used in a proper way. Take only what we need asking through prayer or ceremony and giving thanks in the same way.

As traditional elders, we would like to come in the open, to feel free in our own country, carry out our traditional ceremonies and live in our traditional governments. Instead we live under constant oppression, degradation and discrimination. We do not like having a false image of ourselves projected and depicted in the movies, history books and media. We want to be free to speak the truth and have that truth acknowledged without fear of retaliation and punishment to ourselves, our families and our people.

We would caution you that every Indian who calls himself a traditional Indian, medicine man or whatever may not be genuine. Some of our people and some who are not our people use our religion to fundraise money for themselves. There have been times when we have been misrepresented here at home and in foreign countries. We all know who each other are. Many of our people are involved in struggles and legal battles over land, water and sacred sites. We urge everyone's support in these efforts. The President's Office has stepped up their tactics to bring large corporations  to our "reserved" homelands. This will speed up the misuse and taking of more of our lands, water, resources and people. They call this "economic development to assist self-sufficiency of Indian Tribes". We want this to stop.

We are living in a different time from the ancient past till now. We must all learn to live and respect each other. For us, this means to stop imposing and forcing an alien way of life upon us. The Indian world is a real world and we would like to keep on living. We don't need pollution, greed, false power, atomic bombs, nuclear plants, missiles, and a ruling system of "blind leading the blind".

he Native People of this country are looking for good Non-Indian people to understand so that we can work together for the future for all our children, to prevent wars, famine and aid in peaceful solutions to world problems.

From Vivian Olds (Northern Paiute) and the Elders of the Indian Tribes of Nevada