December 13, 2012
For immediate release
Jiivik Siiki: O’othham March Against Pi Vehsig (Imbalance)
Gila River Indian Community member Jiivik Siiki speaks on the recent Sacrificing Against the Freeway spiritual run and march on December 8th and 9th, 2012
The primary reason why this action was called was to show everyone that our Himthag, our culture, has a major place in the decision as to whether or not this freeway should be placed on tribal land. It has also been reported that the supporters of the freeway are making statements that “our culture is dead” and we felt the need to show them how strong our teachings are. Many of us continue to practice our teachings, which center on respect and being caretakers of our lands, all O’othham lands, and not just the lands of the Gila River Indian Community’s current boundaries.
In our teachings, and I can only speak about the male side of our culture, we O’othham men are born with the obligation that we must place ourselves in between anything negative or threatening in order to ensure respect and protection of our children, our companions, our families and relatives, our villages, our Hemajkam ( tribal nation), and also our lands. With this, we men must increase our numbers and the numbers of O’othham willing to retake their obligation to be protectors and caretakers of what is ours. When someone inside or outside the community threatens us, we must place ourselves in a position to protect And this is where we are now, that our people are tired of being disrespected by having to vote “no freeway” over and over again, which implies we are incapable of making our own choices; this is the mindset of those that embrace what we call Pi Vehsig chukthathag, or imbalance mind and thoughts. This affects both non-tribal as well as tribal minds.
In our teachings, we know that we have inherited this land from our ancestors, our Sho’oshon, those who are our beginning. They have sacrificed much to give us this opportunity to show respect to our lands. This is another obligation we are born with; to think about everyone rather than ourselves. Sadly, our traditional ideals and teachings are being shunned and ridiculed when incitements and bribes are waved in our faces. Currently that bribe is the money in exchange for our land to build the freeway. This is the reality of our O’othham world that we believe we are having a harder time finding balance, or Vehsig. This is untrue, it is very easy to create balance, we just choose not to.
In this particular circumstance, which simply is the taking of more of our land for the benefit of others, the supporters of the freeway are not unique in their mindset or the position they feel they hold. In our tribal history (and the history of all native peoples all over the world), we see examples of Pi Vehsig thinking – in english it is called colonization. We have an oppressor – in this case Pangea, and we have the oppressed – in this case the landowners.In the description of Pi Vehsig and how it has impacted Akimel O’othham lands, the Fifth Mashad, or moon, is called “Bishak Mashad: the ‘Surrounds, Embraces, and Takes Over’ phase. In this moon, the colonizer (Pangea) will use fellow O’othham (landowners) and our teachings (that Moahdahk is sacred) to claim what is ours (our land). More to this point is that the oppressed are manipulated to think that they must embrace non-tribal thinking, while also being told that this non-tribal philosophy is for the benefit of the tribe. It’s a contradiction that is very difficult for the oppressed to not only see, but for them admit. At this point in our colonization, the oppressed, which is fellow O’othham (i.e. Joey Perez and the landowners) become addicted to the imbalanced way of thinking, which is so far from our traditional teachings, that they display what we call Vechij Pi Vehsig, the New Imbalanced Thinking; the closest term in O’othham was can describe as sub-oppression. This is the point in our tribal history where we no longer need an outside oppressor to threaten the community’s future; we begin to do it on our own. It becomes our own relatives who try to destroy the balance.
The supporters of the freeway cannot see this because they are living it. They will turn their rage on you and threaten you because you can see it; sadly we are watching them being manipulated, oppressed, ridiculed, and leashed from a distance, and many times there’s nothing we can do about it. There are times when you just have to give up on a person, because there are others that really want and embrace your help. The supporters of the freeway can claim they are protecting Moahdahk, but they are not willing to give up what they think is their “family land,” which is not an O’othham philosophy; that one person can own land that belongs to all of us. The land belongs to all of the O’othham regardless of whose name the federal government placed on it. In the way of our Himthag, it is all of our responsibility to protect this land. Not disrespects it.
The landowners justify their existence through a law that was established to steal tribal lands. The Dawes Act (also known as the Allotment Act) was created in order for the Americans to take tribal lands away from tribal peoples, thus the reason why there are no reservations on the eastern part of this country. Under this law, the federal government through the Department of Interior legally owns all land, including allotted lands. Therefore, the term “land owner” is a fallacy. More importantly, under traditional O’othham Himthag laws and teachings, all of us own and take care of our lands. The so-called landowners only have to relinquish their allotments to the tribe should they truly have the best interests of the whole community in mind; instead, they want to believe the pieces of land are theirs, and they will get some money for it, and somehow this benefits all of us. This is what greed does, this is what pi vehsig thinking does.
We always have to consider our actions and the responses others will have towards our actions. This sacrifice and stand to show our opposition to the freeway was open to everyone because it will affect everyone. In understanding that all peoples have been oppressed at one time or another, and have faced ridicule and others telling them they are incapable of making their own decisions, this activity allowed them to help a group of people change that negative way of thinking. We had many groups of people invited and participate, all ages, all philosophies, because this taking of our land is something they did not like to see happen to them and they would not like to see it happen to us. Go’ol Hemajkam (The Other People) were invited, cared for, fed, provided warmth of the fire and handshakes, because they care for us so much to come and help us stop this disrespect. They were invited because we wanted them to see what we can do, and perhaps they will be strengthened to protect their own. It was made very clear that this run and march was specifically for us to show how our Himthag is important in protecting and keeping our lands; there was no hidden agenda. This activity was all volunteer and relied upon individuals and families to support it; we did not need to charter vehicles or ask anyone to sign papers; they just showed up and carried prayers across our lands willingly. People need to know the true reasons why this land must remain in our possession as a community, and our new friends will help spread that to the rest of the world.
For more information about the Loop 202 opposition, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org