Two-eyed seeing “recognizes the benefits of seeing from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous ways of knowing, from the other eye the strengths of the Western ways of knowing, and using both of these eyes together to create new forms of understanding and insight.” Elder Albert Marshall (Mi’kmaq, Eskasoni First Nation) from Urban Tribes, edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale
I have written about my relatively new connections with Native Americans. My first experiences related to working together in Indianapolis to try to protect water, in particular to try to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. I was very impressed with how they expressed their connections to Mother Earth, each other, and those of us who joined them, initially as strangers.
As a Quaker who has studied, taught and practiced nonviolence, I was particularly impressed with the commitment to nonviolence of water protectors at Standing Rock. How strong they were in the face of police violence. I was able to see how the water protectors there were supported by Indigenous people all over the world. It became clear to me this is the way forward for those who want to protect the water and Mother Earth.
As we enter the twenty – first century , Western civilization is confronting the inevitable results of this European – American philosophy of dominance . We have gotten out of balance with our earth , and the very future of our planet depends on our capacity to restore the balance . We are crying out for help , for a grounding in the truth of nature , for words of wisdom . That wisdom is here , contained in the words of the native peoples of the Americas . But these people speak quietly . Their words are simple and their voices soft . We have not heard them because we have not taken the time to listen . Perhaps now the time is right for us to open our ears and hearts to the words they have to say . Unlike many traditions , the spiritual wisdom of the Native Americans is not found in a set of “ scriptural ” materials . It is , and always has been , a part of the fabric of daily life and experience. The Wisdom of the Native Americans: Including The Soul of an Indian and Other Writings of Ohiyesa and the Great Speeches of Red Jacket, Chief Joseph, and Chief Seattle . New World Library. Kindle Edition.
I am grateful for the presentation at last summer’s gathering of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) titled “Building Bridges with Native Americans” , and know a number of Quaker/Native connections have occurred over this past year. My father and I attended the Meskwaki Powwow. Many Bear Creek Friends have participated in the Prairie Awakening/Prairie Awoke celebrations. I am grateful for the day I spent with water protectors when we traveled to Minneapolis to rally at the headquarters of US Bank related to their financing pipelines.
I would encourage us to use two-eyed seeing as we continue the work of protecting and healing Mother Earth together. One opportunity to do that will be September 1-8, the First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March from Des Moines to Fort Dodge. I plan to be part of that.