When I was a young man, I decided to grow my hair long as a sign to the elders that I was thirsty for their wisdom and knowlege. Our family was heavily influenced by christianity as both my parents were sent to christian boarding schools. Yet, I desired and made a commitment late one wintry evening with my older brother Art to pursue and recapture all that we could of our Native Traditions.
I am so grateful to the many, many teachers from so many tribes who shared their time, prayers, ceremonies with me across the continent. I endeavor to maintain integrity in everything I do so that the coming generations will have a working knowledge of our beautiful ways.
Today, I walk in many worlds, I endeavor to be an example to our Native Youth of how to live in balance with the Sacred Teachings and the Tools and Methods of today's Industrial World. I am known to my colleagues as the consummate professional and to my Native Relatives as a cultural and ceremonial leader. Some of my friends call me "chameleon", we must be wise to flourish and find trustworthy allies to build healthier communities for our children.
My resume details my professional achievements and yet, I always carry with me the medicine roots I gather high at timberline upon our sacred Northern Mountain of my Dine' homelands. Balance in all things, decisiveness and courage I take from the great Creation Stories of our People. I hope to remain open to new learnings as my singing mentor's grandfather, Beh Ak'idii, taught him...
"If you think you know everything, that is all you will ever be..."
I love the great philosophies of our land, the immense diversity of language, spirituality, education, and diplomacy. Our teachings lay the foundation of True Respect as we understand each Nation has the right to their own Destiny and Culture.
As a child on the Dine' reservation, I resented having to cross my heart and pledge "allegiance" to this strange symbol in the classroom. So, one day I created my own pledge that I would enthsiastically cross my heart and say. I share it with you to share with others if you wish.
NATIVE PLEDGE OF RESPECT
I pledge Respect, to the Flags,
of the Nations of this Land.
And to the Governments,
for which They stand.
Many Nations, with many Holy People. Sovereign,
with Freedom and Dignity for all.
I am grateful to my ancestors to have retained our knowledge, especially of the Female Holy People who still to this day bring blessing upon our women in our puberty ceremonies. I will never again be part of any spirituality that tries to strip or deny these sacred teachings and ceremonies from our precious women. We must be in balance in all things, HOZHO we say, balance with all, earth and sky, east and west, north and south, winter and summer, youth and old age, Life and Death... Male and Female...