by Dr. Denise R. Ames
This post is dedicated to celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 8, 2018
This looked interesting! A local interfaith group in Albuquerque, New Mexico was hosting the Teyuna mamos and zagas, spiritual leaders of the Arhuaco, Kankuamo, Kogi and Wiwi people of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region of Colombia. They were known as the Guardians of the World, and were featured in several documentaries, including Aluna.
The packed parking lot of the host church indicated that I was not the only one who felt that listening to a message delivered by indigenous people who lived so far away would be an enlightening experience. They were touring particular places in the United States, speaking and praying about water issues, while also offering healing sessions and begging us to act to save the Earth.
As I entered the commons area, I caught a glimpse of three men, along with their interpreter, sitting stoically at the front of the room. Interestingly they didn’t sit on stage, elevated above their audience, but they sat at the same level as everyone else, helping to foster an egalitarian atmosphere. Their off-white colored, wool hats contrasted sharply with their dark, black, straight hair. As I learned later, the tall hats were as a way to connect them to cosmic energy and give them clear thoughts of the universe.
In this space, I would like to share with you a summary of their presentation and what I took away from the hour-long talk by the three indigenous men and their interpreter. Others might have learned something different, as we all filter information through our own worldview and mental processes. The guests were speaking from an indigenous worldview and most of us, I assume, who are reading this are Westerners influenced by a modern worldview.
The first speaker in a heart-felt fashion greeted us as brothers and sisters of this Earth. After all, he stated, we are all family on this Earth. His message was one of promoting respect, tolerance, and understanding, and for us to connect with the spirituality coming from the Earth. He wanted his message to connect with our feelings and not our minds. He “read” the audience and said we had compassion, courage in our faces, and resolution to go forward with our mission.
The speaker implored us to love each other and walk the path to love Mother Earth. He suggested different ways to express this love, but the basis of this love is respect. Of all the attitudes that we hold as humans, to him, gratitude was very important. The Teyuna people are grateful that they are on the same path as their ancestors in the region and they have a blessed relationship with the sacred mountain. They tap into spirituality connected to the mountain, since the creator has directed them to walk together.
They cannot forget this message from the creator, since it is part of them. The essence or rule of the message is “don’t disrupt the divine order.” This was the mission of the tour, humans cannot jeopardize the order. A balance of all forces is necessary.
The speaker concluded by reaffirming that his group was grateful to be in Albuquerque and to share their thoughts about their animistic religion with the audience. They feel they can “read” nature and the message is within the rocks and mountains; they, in turn, are guardians of rocks, streams, and mountains. The rocks and streams are telling them there is time to save Mother Earth, and that is why they came.
The next installment of this post will be on Friday, October 5, 2018
Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA develops books and materials with a holistic, global focus for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a seven “path” approach.