Monday, January 28, 2008

Who am I?

I recently joined an online network called Native Spirits and one of my Multiply friends, Walking Path, found me there; she is a member, too. She inquired about my interest and to answer her, I wrote the following little essay. Her question caused me to explain myself -- one of my better, deeper, truer selves -- to myself. Here I share this self with you.

A very long time ago, I told my daughter that for our country to get on a healthy. life-supporting, earth-friendly track, that we would have to depend on Native Americans because they have knowledge of this place, this land, which we (I am not Native American as far as i know) hybrid invaders from Europe do not have access to.

I also told her that African Americans would have essential contributions to make to a more equitable and compassionate socio-economic system or structure or way of life because they too possess knowledge and understanding that white people cannot access directly.

I have cast my lot with these two peoples although they are probably more than two. I am deeply attracted to their stories. I know much more first hand about African Americans than i do about Native Americans. I know none personally. Perhaps, that is why i wanted to be a part of Native Spirits.

I am a seeker of wisdom, always have been. And I have learned to follow my child heart. At 65 I am still learning about myself and others. I am just a human being who has a thirst for life, a love of life and of the Earth that gives us life.

I truly believe that our Earth is in danger, that the beautiful blue jewel of our solar system, a delicately balanced ecosystem that cradles all the living beings who call it home, is threatened as never before.

The Earth is my Mother, our Mother, really, but when I say my Mother, I mean to emphasize how I feel about our current predicament. A child loves her mother and is protective of her Mother because she knows that her Mother gives her life, protects and sustains her. That is my heart.

I also love others,. I grieve for the pain of those who have had their worlds swept away...It is impossible to dwell on the cruelty that some human beings have imposed upon other human beings without heartbreaking pain.

I am old and honored to be old. To be old is to have the wisdom of many years, a great treasure, not to be neglected. Yes, I truly believe that i am an elder of sorts. I seek the wisdom of others who are old. I draw courage and strength from the young and seek their wisdom, too. I take a long view and believe it is time to seek the wisdom of the elders. But I want to teach younger people to believe in their own child hearts which is what becomes the wisdom of the elders. Learning patience is a way to truth. But so is action. Cooperation. Work.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Homeland security to seize Apache Lands

In violation of United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People the U.S. government plans to forcibly take land from the Lipan Apache people to construct a fence and levee to keep illegal immigrants from crossing the U.S. border. The following is a letter from Margo Tamez, the daughter of a family being threatened by agents of the U.S. government.

Dear Relatives,

I wish I was writing under better circumstances, but I must be fast and direct. My mother and elders of El Calaboz, since July have been the targets of numerous threats and harassments by the Border Patrol, Army Corps of Engineers, National Security Agency (NSA), and other U.S. government
agents who want to put a fence on their levee on Apache land.

Since July, they have been the targets of numerous telephone calls, unexpected and uninvited visits. The agents informed the Apache that they will have to relinquish parts of their land grant holdings to the border fence buildup. The NSA demands that elders give up their lands to build the levee, and further, that they travel a distance of 3 miles, to go through checkpoints, to walk, farm, and herd goats and cattle, on their own lands!

This threat against indigenous people, life ways and lands has been very very serious and stress inducing to local leaders, such as Dr. Eloisa Garcia Tamez, who has been in isolation from the larger indigenous rights community due to the invisibility of indigenous people of South Texas and Northern Tamaulipas to the larger social justice conversation regarding the border issues.

However recent events, of the last 5 days cause us to feel that we are in urgent need of immediate human rights observers in the area, deployed by all who can help as soon as possible--immediate relief.

My mother informed me, as I got back into cell range out of Redford, TX, on Monday, November 13, that Army Corps of Engineers, Border Patrol and National Security Agency teams have been going house to house, and calling on her personal office phone, her cell phone and in other venues, tracking down and enclosing upon the people and telling them that they have no other choice in this matter. They are telling elders and other vulnerable people that "the wall is going on these lands
whether you like it or not, and you have to sell your land to the U.S."

My mother, Eloisa Garcia Tamez, Lipan Apache is resisting the forced occupation with firm resistance. She has already had two major confrontations with NSA since July--one in her office at the University of Texas at Brownsville, where she is the Director of a Nursing Program and where she conducts research on diabetes among indigenous people of the MX-US binational region of South Texas and Tamaulipas.

She reports that some land owners in the Rancheria area of El Calaboz, La Paloma and El Ranchito, under pressure to sell to the U.S. without prior and informed consent, have already signed over their lands, due to their ongoing state of impoverishment and exploitation in the area under colonization, corporatism, NAFTA and militarization.

This is an outrage, but more, this is a significant violation of United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People, recently ratified and accepted by all UN nations, except the U.S., Canada, and Australia.

Furthermore, it is a violation of the United Nations CERD, Committee on Elimination of Racism and Racial Discrimination.

My mother is under great stress and crisis, unknowing if the Army soldiers and the NSA agents will be forcibly demanding that she sign documents. She reports that they are calling her at all hours, seven days a week. She has firmly told them not to call her anymore, nor to call her at all hours of the night and day, nor to call on the weekends any further. She asked them to meet with her in a public space and to tell their supervisors to come. They refuse to do so. Instead, they continue to harass and intimidate.

At this time, due to the great stress the elders are currently under, communicated to me, because they are being demanded under covert tactics, to relinquish indigenous lands, I feel that I MUST call upon my relatives, friends, colleagues, especially associates in Texas within driving distance to the Rio Grande valley region, and involved in indigenous rights issues, to come forth and aid us.

Please! Please help indigenous women land title holders resisting forced occupation in their own lands! Please do not hesitate to forward this to people in your own networks in media, journalism, social and environmental justice, human rights, indigenous rights advocacy and public health watch groups!

Margo Tamez

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Truckers and the cost of gas

Here's another note from a Yahoo group, Peak Oil Nashville. It's an up close look at one of the signs of our time.

Posted by: "Bill Campbell" composter243

Fri Jan 4, 2008 10:12 am (PST)
Spoke with my trucker nephew today. He's paying an average of $3.40 a
gallon for diesel and the fuel cost back billing to shippers is not
covering the spread. He's hearing via CB radio many tales of woe from
independent owner/drivers which comprise 57% of the total trucks on
the road.

He said the fuel station parking lots are unusually full of drivers
trying to telephonically score loads from brokers that will provide
even the smallest margin of profit. There are many sitting idle for
longer periods of time, turning down offers of loads because they
can't make any money on them due to fuel costs.

He said there was a general call for a strike to begin at noon on the
3rd but no participation because everyone is so strapped and can't
absorb any more loss of income that a strike would cause. He didn't
know the % of drivers that were teamsters union but said it's way
less than it once was.

Much worry going on out there on America's highways.

No-till gardening/farming conversation in Kansas

This announcement was posted by a member of I share it here just to pass it on. The event will take place January Friday at 5:15 p.m. local time.

Patrice Gros* wishes to have a conversation with interested people on
organic, no-till gardening/farming. He will say a few words to get us
started and then we will open for questions and comments. Please come
to Kansas City Community Gardens at 6701 Kensington, off Gregory
Blvd. in Swope Park in Kansas City on Friday, January 11, at 5:15 PM.
If you need transportation or are willing to offer a ride I will try
to matchmake. Come even if you are brand new to gardening. Patrice is
a wonderful communicator. Patrice is looking for interns to work with
him this season. Please let people know about this opportunity. No


Marty Kraft

*Patrice Gros left the big city 12 years ago and fell in love with
gardening. He has been a full time organic farmer for 10 years,
following a 2 year apprenticeship. He is the co-founder of two local
farmers markets (Berryville & Eureka Springs, AR) and sit on the
board of the Eureka Market. He is married and has two children.
Patrice makes a nice living by devoting about 1/2 time to gardening.
He runs Foundation Farm and associated Farm School for people to
learn gardening.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Bianca Paige: "Smoking!" but without the smoke

Bianca Paige is a Nashville celebrity. She is also my husband's nephew. I adore him. The first time I saw him perform I was transported. I have never been up close to an artist with so much "star power." I met him first at a family gathering. He was not in drag, a small figure of a man in his early forties with a deep, absolutely gravelly voice and huge expressive hazel eyes, he was self-possessed, modest, but a presence nonetheless.

Bianca is bald and likes to wear hats when he's offstage or without a wig. Actually, he insists on wearing a hat. Once I tried to convince him to take a little derby hat off during his break. He complained of being hot. But he wouldn't shed the cover despite my nagging.

The first time I saw him perform I went with my daughter, 21 at the time, and my sister who is a few years younger than me. I guess she was 59 at the time. We let him know in advance -- through the management since he's impossible to reach in person--and when we arrived we were ushered in like celebrities. Everyone seemed to know we were Bianca's kin and treated us grandly. Apparently, acceptance by family members is not common within the openly gay ("out and about") community. A young man approached me as I was returning from the ladies room to say how much it meant for all of them that Bianca's family had come to see him.

Bianca is no exception. He comes from an extremely religious family. My husband's father was a manager for Kroger's before his death. But on weekends he was a "hell fire and damnation" preacher here in Middle Tennessee. While the kids were growing up my mother-in-law, Maybelline, refused to cut her hair and never wore make-up. Television was considered "not a good thing" so they never purchased one. My husband spent the1950s in the livingrooms of neighbors watching the tube. He also entered the Navy at 17 to escape the his parents' way of life.

That's the thing about Bianca. How did he manage to overcome the family ethic? He was a small kid, but extremely spirited. His older brother is a preacher but shares Bianca's attraction to performance. He's a gifted Gospel singer. Their father, my husband's brother, was once in radio and still gets calls for bit parts in movies made for television.

Well, part of the story is that Maybelline, the family matriarch, was the epitome of kindness.
If she judged Bianca for his erring ways, it was a judgment buried deep in her heart and tamed completely by her faithfulness to Christ's commandent to love.

I haven't seen Bianca for a while. She's moved to a new venue. But that's not why I've not seen her. My problem is that I'm old and don't like staying up that late--first performances are at 11 p.m. Smoke used to be another problem. From what I've seen a high percentage of people attending drag performances smoke. I guess that's true of all night clubs. But all that's changed since Tennessee's new "no smoking in restaurants" law. I think I'll go to Lucky's with my daughter before she leaves later this week. We'd even brave the smoke.

We love Bianca and we miss him.