The Eclectic Array of Paths
Today my name holds no relevance because I am just a man, but I will tell you that I am a Siletz Indian and that the Siletz Indians are a confederated tribe made up of twenty-seven different bands of tribes. I myself am part Kalapuya, Chetko, Tillamook and Talowa, to name a few. However, in the native community, there are more than five hundred different nations and more than five hundred different ways to do the same thing, such as praying.
It is with this in mind in the eclectic array of paths to choose, I find myself more respecting and using the words empathy, unity, and humble in my dealings with the children. If you have spent many days searching for the words which I could use that would not be in an offensive way as knowledge be greeted with open arms. In the days of my searching and years of my life, I have witnessed many discerning events that in the end left me sad and desperate for a better way. In my heart, however, I don’t know what to do. I do not wish to disrespect anyone or their religion, for history has proven that to be a learning experience.
It has been in my time that we, as a people, need to learn to introspect and learn to respect ourselves, so that we may in turn learn to respect others and the land, as well. Many people say, “I am respectful.” And perhaps you are. But as a whole, however, it is sad to see. It seems to me that too many times we find ourselves or others, searching for the fastest way to exploit one another’s weaknesses or the ways in which we are different. Too many times we show our own weaknesses. We search for this weakness in others. For me, it is sad to see, for we, as a people may then never fully witness the potential the Creator instilled within our heart and soul.
Many people say that we were created in our Creator’s image. To me that says that we are as a where each of us a grain of sand work together. We make up the most beautiful beaches, whereas alone we are next to nothing. Maybe we are the redwoods so mighty strong and wise, yet even they started from just a little seed. Or perhaps we’re each a drop of water until unity makes us a river or stream. And as we flow together we begin to grow strong and move mountains, and ultimately we become an ocean—an ocean connected to the world.
You see, it is this ocean of knowledge in which many have thirsted, yet too many times we’ve chosen a teaspoon to drink from. With teaspoon in hand, we’ve become deprived and dehydrated as desperation sets in. From household to household fear becomes apparent and the father of ignorance as knowledge is power.
In closing, I do believe it to be this kind of thought and these unanswered prayers that signify to you all that I’m a dreamer—a dreamer that dreams of a time when diversity can be embraced, and we as a native people could begin to share the many beauties of our culture and heritage. If ever this day should come and empathy is shared, perhaps we can look beyond ourselves and look to Mother Earth.