|Summer/Fall 2006 Issue|
Newsletter & Some Other Frank Talk
There are a number of reasons this newsletter is a combined issue. Tight finances at the Center and lack of time on my part are both a part of it. However, lack of desire, has also been a piece of the puzzle. I continue to fill too many roles within the corporate structure. This was fine when the Center was a sole-proprietorship, as by its very nature, an S-P is often a one person operation. Some suggested becoming a non-profit corporation because it would increase support if contributions were tax deductible. It has not. I said, I could go the corporation route if it was God’s will, but it had to be more than just a facade for me as a sole-proprietor. Otherwise, there was no point to it. Being a public charity adds significantly to the workload in government and corporate paperwork alone, and is more cumbersome to function within. As the legal Resident Agent, and treasurer, for the T&SC, I am responsible for most of the filings, along with all the work I already had running the Center and website as an individual. I have been slowly trying to wean people from the notion that william will take care of it all. As of this newsletter, I will relinquish two more roles – that of the newsletter coordinator, and the web pages coordinator. We need a person to fill each of those roles, or they cease to happen. What does that mean – and what is involved?
Well, without the newsletter, it means there is virtually no general communication taking place with members or our general mailing list (the poet’s circle). For instance, when the board decided to continue our Fall Color Cruise participation, the need for a new coordinator was also discussed. But, without a regular newsletter, who knew besides those who were there. We are now close to a month away from the event, and still have no one filling the role.
A similar dilemma is arising due to our lack of a board secretary. The annual meeting is noted on the website, so perhaps that would meet the legal requirement of a notice. But notices for mailing, ballots, proxies, etc. have not been prepared nor sent, which should be done 30 days prior to the meeting (getting close).
One is a practical matter. One could be a legal matter. Both need taken care of. If you have a paid director (a role I would not fill even if it were available), they are often responsible for doing such work under the guidance of the board. However, financially, the T&SC is a long ways off from being able to fund such a position. We are still trying to afford the basic utilities, and have yet to pay a penny of rent. I was willing to get the corporation through its first year, doing almost everything, but these are among the reasons I did not incorporate in the first place, twelve years ago. So, it comes back to needing volunteers – many hands to keep things going.
OK – what would it mean to be the coordinator of the newsletter? You would be responsible for bringing together the information in newsletter format, printing, packaging and mailing the newsletter. You would not need to do this alone if others would come forward to help in the process. The newsletter is produced on a computer, but you do not need your own. The Center’s computer can be used to do this. Articles, such as william’s perspective, Mona’s health notes, or Kim’s membership memos, can be emailed to you if you are using your own computer, or provided on diskette, if you are using the Center’s computer. The newsletter can go out more often, but should at the very least be quarterly, to keep people informed.
The volunteer position of web pages coordinator involves keeping the information up to date on the various corporate web pages. This does not involve needing to know anything about loading things onto or composing a website. As long as the T&SC pages are contained within the wsharing.com (also .org and .net) website, I will continue to function as the webmaster and load the items onto the site. You would only be responsible for the content.
These are but two of many roles needed for the Center to fulfill its role of benefit to the community, and humanity. Others, mentioned in past newsletters, beyond board secretary, include coordinators for the library, grants, alternative energy options, pow wows and other special events, the wholesale buyers co-op, public relations, plus however God might be leading or calling you into service.
I was ready, before the incorporation, to close the Center if necessary. I had created and operated it for 10 years because I felt it was my call from God to do so. I was willing to handle the incorporation, and corporate set-up because I felt I was uniquely positioned to do that. I have handled most of the additional work these past two years as a public charity, because I understood a transition period would be needed. But, and Donna can attest to this, I am a person who can be in the same room as a ringing telephone, and let it ring, if I am otherwise engaged at the moment. The remaining personal ministries of a touch of william and Cherokee Bill’s Trade Center are more than enough work to keep my hands full. If others are not willing to participate in the corporate life of the Center, it simply will not happen. It is time. You decide.
Science tells us that if we break things down far enough we discover everything is vibrational energy. Remember when people used to talk about picking up "good vibrations" or "bad vibes" from someone, or some situation? I think that positive and negative energies are more of a reality, and have more of an affect on our lives, than most people even begin to suspect. That is part of the reason intangibles like forgiveness and love have such tangible impacts. And, of course, anger and hatred can show up as downward spirals relationally as well as in our own health and well being (or lack thereof).
I also believe that these energies (positive or negative) are transmitted through the food chain in what we eat. From the living conditions and treatment of animals to plants and the general conditions of the planet, these are more than just moral issues. They become very practical considerations, even for the most self-centered of us, when we discover how much they impart their energies into our own experience of a good life, or a descent into struggle for basic survival.
In John Two-Hawks Circle of Nations newsletter he recently talked about being "Indian." I have reprinted that article (with his permission) right after "william’s perspective." But, I wanted talk about being a "Native American (not necessarily Indian)" for a brief moment.
If you were born in this country, you are a "Native American." There are not people in some other part of the world waiting for you to return home. This land is a piece of your identity. It was a large piece of who the indigenous peoples (Indians) were as well. Whether you trace any of your ancestry back to a First Nations tribe, or not, we are born of common ground. I think it is time to honor that.
Even if you do not embrace our First Nations ancestral customs and philosophies, it is appropriate we all start showing respect for that which has impacted every dynamic of our American lives. Do you enjoy our basic freedoms and electing leaders from among the general population? How about food? Do you like corn? Tomatoes? Potatoes? Do you think it is good that "common folk" have a method of exchange, in the form of a few coins in their pockets, to transact business with? These, and hundreds more of our daily blessings can be attributed to our Native American heritage, which has influenced everything from those basic freedoms to the foods we eat.
We walk the same footpaths as our indigenous Native American predecessors. Indeed, many of our roads and highways literally follow old Indian trails. Today, on this continent, in this hemisphere, we call ourselves Americans. The names have changed over time. But our common ground has not. Our heritage remains.
We are such an action/activity oriented society that we do not seem to grasp our selves as human "beings" (not human "doings" as Rick Warren says). The following is from an email I sent on June 20th this year.
It has been 3 months and 1 week since my surgery. According to the charts, things should seem somewhat "normal" at this point. Last Tuesday at golf (exactly three months) I hit a 51 (9 holes). It was the first time (in four times golfing) that I was above fifty, so I joked that "yep, looks like things are back to normal." Actually, I am progressing very well physically, based on what the cardiac rehab people are saying. In fact, on Monday, they said it was up to me whether to continue through the remaining sessions. I have been told the aches, pains, and numbness will be around for a year or more. They are really more annoying than painful though, so it is just a matter of trying to ignore them.
The tricky part is still the mental. While my work and activities lists are no shorter than before, there is an absence of a sense of purpose in anything. My scripture reading this morning was Luke 17:20-37. The opening study question was, "What are you looking forward to or waiting for right now?" It caught me off guard, because I had nothing to respond to it with. Finally, I said "God," but then had to laugh as I envisioned God and I in one of those "after you" jokes. I am waiting for God, and He is waiting for me (after You --- no --- after you). I am sure the medical people would identify this as the standard depression which is well documented with open heart surgery patients. I described it recently as "melancholy contentment." I am learning to "be." You might think that strange for a mystical Christian, who is a photographer and poet. But, that is just it. If I was not taking a picture or writing a poem about something (no camera or pen and paper with me), I was usually thinking about what a great picture it would make, or that I should be writing about it. A sunset, or any beauty in nature, was at very least a time to pray or contemplate life, but rarely to just appreciate the (life) moment. I cannot begin to tell you how many historical sites I have chided myself at, for not just "being" there, taking it in, rather than trying to preserve and package it "for future use." My learning process continues.
Just one more step in the journey.
The ‘Indian Experience’. . . .
There are those who have only one idea and one image of who and what an American Indian is. Nothing could be further from reality. In truth, there are as many versions and perspectives on the Indian experience as there are stars in the sky. The illusion that Indians only look, act, dress or speak one particular way is tied directly to the concept that our cultures are simple, trite, trivial and even insignificant. It is a stereotype, plain and simple, and a tiring one at that. So what is the real ‘Indian experience’ then? Allow me to offer just a few thoughts . . . First, let me say that, although we all do refer to each other and ourselves as such, the term ‘Indian’ itself is a misnomer. It appears to have come from the Italian words ‘in dio’, which means to be ‘in with God.’ This term was first pinned on us by none other than [Christopher] Columbus, whom the Taino people discovered back in 1492. Regardless of the origin of the term ‘Indian’, it stuck, and has been with us ever since. It should be said here as well, that, if given the choice, most of us prefer the term ‘Indian’ to ‘Native American.’ More accurate perhaps, are the terms ‘First Nations’ or ‘Indigenous People.’ Of course, knowing the specific indigenous nation is always best (Lakota, Potawatomi, Seneca, Ojibway, etc.). Lastly on this point, we really prefer to be identified as people like anyone else. Getting back to my thoughts . . . .
Some Indian people were raised on the reservation with Grandparents and elders around who knew the ways and spoke the language. These Indians can be well versed in the ways of their culture, and are less likely to have non-Indian blood in their background. Some of these Indian people will learn the ways of Spirit. Some will go to college and become writers. Some will become involved in politics. Some will become great artists. Some will become actors. Some will simply work to raise a family. Some will unfortunately fall prey to substance abuse. Some will move from the reservation to far away places. Some will stay. Some will marry non-Indians. Some will not. Some will live in nice houses and make good money. Some will not. All are real Indians . . . .
Some Indian people were not raised on the reservation, yet still had relatives around who knew the ways or spoke the language. These Indians can still be well versed in the ways of their culture, yet are more exposed to non-Indian culture and are more likely to have non-Indian blood in their background. Some of these Indian people will learn the ways of Spirit. Some will go to college and become writers. Some will become involved in politics. Some will become great artists. Some will become actors. Some will simply work to raise a family. Some will unfortunately fall prey to substance abuse. Some will move back to the reservation or off to far away places. Some will stay where they were raised. Some will marry non-Indians. Some will not. Some will live in nice houses and make good money. Some will not. All are real Indians . . . .
Some Indian people were neither raised on the reservation, nor had many relatives around who knew the ways or spoke the language. These Indians will have a much more difficult time learning the ways of their culture, as they and their families have been exposed to non-Indian culture for several generations and are very likely to have significant non-Indian blood in their background. Some of these Indian people will learn the ways of Spirit. Some will go to college and become writers. Some will become involved in politics. Some will become great artists. Some will become actors. Some will simply work to raise a family. Some will unfortunately fall prey to substance abuse. A few may move back to the reservation. Some may move to far away places. Some will stay where they were raised. Many will marry non-Indians. Some will live in nice houses and make good money. Some will not. Many of these Indians may find it difficult to reconnect with the Indian people and culture they come from. Others may succeed. All are real Indians . . . .
These are just a few thoughts on the ‘Indian experience.’ There are many, many more. Our collective story is far from simple. It is rich, diverse, tragic yet triumphant, incredibly complex and beautifully human. To contend that there is only one correct idea of who and what it means to be Indian is to grossly underestimate the power of Indian blood and the ability of our Indian ancestors to impart and pass on their strong Indian identity to their descendants. May we, Indian people, someday be accepted by others for who we really are, and may we ourselves never forget to value and appreciate the struggle of our ancestors which resulted in the many facets, stories and faces of the ‘Indian experience’ we see today . . . .
John Two-Hawks (April 2006)