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"All Our Relations."

Thy Kindom (sic) come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Mind.

Revisiting the Historical Record

December 1st, 1999 marks the 300th anniversary of the Amerindian liberation of the Arena forest. Eleven years after Cacique 'Bustamante' and his people had been lured out of their tribal homeland in Mount Tamanaques to help found the Capuchin mission of San Francisco de los Arenales (Arena), an irreconciable clash of cultures brought the experiment to a bloody end. The great diversity of species that presently flourish in this unique ecosystem is testament to the honour and respect due to the Autochthonic (People of the Land) Ancestors of this island (Kairi), Trinidad.

Earlier this year Caribbean Contemporary Arts hosted, in conjunction with the Triangle Arts Trust, a two week international artist's workshop in Grande Riviere called, "big River". One of the most significant events of the workshop was the universe directing New York based video artist, Noritoshi Hirakawa, and his recording devices into an Orisha Palais in Arima. In the video short, "Belief of Appearance", that he produced for the workshop the first words one can make out by the interpreter are: "...They never left...the Indians are still here... the Amerindians were never defeated...they did not get the respect due, so they disappeared..."

As we move into the Post Industrial/Post Scarcity Age it becomes clear to more and more people that any talk about 'sustainable development' is dishonest in a society dependent on fossil fuels, radioactive isotopes and other peoples watersheds for their energy needs. A return to community based, human scale technologies grounded in renewable plant based resources is inevitable.

Approaching these limits imposed on us by our dependency on finite materials we must call into question the world view by which our culture operates. This 'vision' that is impelling us to the brink of disaster has been summed up as: "The world was made for man and man was made to conquer and rule it." Related Topics-- The Ishmael Community

The genus homo had been around for over 2 million years when we started drifting out of Africa about 100 thousand years ago. By 20 thousand years ago, before the end of the Great Ice Age, we homo sapiens (wise man) were the only hominid species left standing and we had practically covered the globe. It was a time of great conformity, living everywhere in small groups of only a hundred or so, we acquired our sustenance by hunting and gathering mostly but practiced agriculture as well. Matrifocal, earth centered and egalitarian we were socialized around the concept of mutual support (sharing,). Through times of plenty and times of want every member of the group received life's necessities. The disciplining of children was unknown, education happened as adults modeled appropriate behavior and life skills. We practiced the only catholic (universal) religion that has ever existed on the planet. Animist: we experienced the omnipresence of spirit; our complete connection with all living, breathing souls past and present and held no one time or place as sacred (set aside). Instead we recognized the 'sacredness' of all the intelligent, creative universe.

The two commandments we lived by where, "give thanks and enjoy life." This was also a time of maximum diversity, with a new tribe, a new language and new customs in every watershed. Using the contemporary word, we all lived bioregionally. A bioregion (life place) being the basic geographic unit that integrates human governance within ecological principles. It is characterized by similar flora and fauna (plants and animals), climate and geology and is drained by a cohesive system of watersheds.

Then about 10,000 years ago our culture was born when a strange tribe arrived in the fertile plains between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. Having survived a terrible gestation period trapped in the Caucasus Mountains, an island of relative green created by natural heat vents, volcanoes and hot springs from deep below the earth's surface surrounded by a sea of ice, for generations.During this time the 'Providential Mother' failed her children. The ritual sacrifices did not bring relief.This was a land of real scarcity, there was not enough to go around and making love just produced another mouth to feed. A different way of being had to arise if our DNA was going to survive. Hungry, cold and in fear we trembled as lightning and thunder stormed about us and out of the elements we heard a new voice. This was El and the rest is His-story.

As the glaciers retreated our surviving ancestors migrated south into a land of abundance carrying with them a new attitude and a new posture. Aggression being anything that makes the other feel inferior we were nothing if not aggressive: with a mandate for "dominion" (speciesist), we were hierarchal (classist), patriarchal (sexist), oligarchal (the old boy network) and misogynist (woman hating) . At the root of these irrational distress recordings were the undischarged frozen needs of a deprived child.

This is the moment that historians have named, 'the agricultural revolution' which we now know would be more appropriately called the beginning of totalitarian agriculture. From this time till the present our culture would no longer just kill to eat.We would wage war on any species that competed with us for our food. The consequence of this was that we produced enormous food surpluses and as a result of that our population quickly grew beyond the carrying capacity of the watershed. With the clearest thinking available to us at that time our response to this situation was to conquer and enslave our neighbors since this new life style we had adopted was the most arduous ever developed by man. (Hunter, gatherer societies spend an average of 4 hours a day generating all they need for life, the rest of the time they are occupied with recreation.)

Cities, wars of conquest, slavery, famine and this seemingly unshakable feeling, no matter how rich or how powerful we might become individually, that there is just not enough to go around (greed), none of these were natural to the human condition before and within a few thousand years we had over run the so called middle east and crossed the Himalayas into the Indus valley. By this time there arose in us a need to explain what had gone wrong. This marks the arrival of what can be described as salvationist religions. Whether we call ourselves Hindu, Buddhist, Jew, Christian or Moslem we all believe that man is flawed, that there is just one right way to live, that we are in need of salvation and that salvation entails transcending the material plane.

So here we are, our culture now controls the minds of the majority of human beings and whether we see ourselves as being at the end of Kali Yug or facing imminent Armageddon we carry with us an expectation that our transition into the Golden Age (Sat Yug; 1000 years of peace) will be horrendously traumatic. It is not true.

These mythologies that we live by are just two among ten thousand others that have held out in the equatorial rain forests of Amazonia, the Congo and Indonesia, in the Kalahari and the deserts of Australia and in the Tundra of the north. The autochthonic peoples of the planet continue to count their 'wealth' in terms of their relationships and despite the fact that they have been driven into the most inhospitable regions of the earth they have continued to nurture, to sustain and to celebrate their deep connections to the Land, Plants and Animals, Air, Springs, Rivers, Lakes, Oceans, Ground water, Clouds and Glaciers, Fire and Human Community: "All Our Relations." In short, the Animist world view can be summed up as:"The world is a sacred place and we are part of it."

It is very likely that the decendents of the Arawaka, the Karinya and the Warao tribal societies that have retained their knowlege base and philosophy have more to teach us than western civilization has to teach them about the right way to live in this place, Trinidad (Kairi). There are a handfull of elders still with us who can remember and who deserve to receive the honour and respect due.

My vision is that we need to carry out a series of Ecumenical (One Home) events that would offer the nations of Trinidad an opportunity to begin to discharge the grief, fear, rage and powerlessness that we carry as a result of the hurts of colonialism, indenturship, slavery and genocide. Then we will have some hope of going into the 21st century with enough clarity to recognize that we have, all of us, done the very best that we could given the mis-informatin we receive from the rigid, exploitive society we inherited from our recent history. We can forgive ourselves and each other, give up the patterns of class, gender and race that separate us and model for the world a vision of sustainability.

John Stollmeyer