I am extremely lucky to have been born while wisdom and knowledge were yet active and walking in my homeland. They were not yet destroyed by the European invasion that began at the moment Erik the Red, a criminal in the first degree, penetrated the waters protecting this continent, now known as "International Water." Ancient knowledge and wisdom were polluted, and they have not yet stopped deteriorating. The first confusion to our identity as hemispheric people occurred almost immediately with the subsequent penetration of Columbus. Columbus reasoned that he had reached India (thus the term "Indios" which matured into "Indian"). I am, on my mother's side, Itam Is meaning "First People," and on my father's side, Aw'te meaning, "The people created to live here (the homeland)." Also, through my mother's mother's breeding with a French man, I have French blood in my veins. In my youth I watched the continual assault upon our cultures, our languages, our world-views. The God concept entered with Columbus and his unclean mercenaries, then destruction by the strangers came in floods and has not abated. Columbus' penetration is the most visible, still unwelcome and unwanted by many indigenous. The "either or" plot attempted to make the God concept welcome. It was either God or the gun, either God or starvation. Gold and greed, the driving force behind many ships that were sent out from Europe at that time, escorted Democracy into our homelands. The impact of that foreign thought is yet baffling and far from being accepted at some indigenous camp fires.
Many indigenous generations were very astute, being born into a balanced world-view and functioning as they were designed while evading the European thought patterns intending to change the indigenous function forever. Those precious ancestors fulfilled the duty assigned them and became the teachers of the present generation. They knew by studying the effects of Democracy on their generation that the "American Dream," if we allowed it, would escort us into their classrooms and cut our culture and language from us, then encourage us to accept their "way" and abandon ours as the only "Smart way." They also knew that the deception of Democracy would, if we allowed it, encourage us to ignore the lessons of our Elders and cling to "progress" ,which in the end would encourage us to exchange our homelands for shiny trinkets, because that is one intention of that foreign rule ever since our culture of gift-giving and their culture of taking and deception armed them with "proof" in their claim to have purchased an island from us for trinkets.
My Aunt Gladys was a scholar of the white man "way." Her Grandmother was recognized as a tijtawa Johonori (genuine medicine woman) who lived the original way influenced only by the Great Universal Powers.
The Europeans did not arrive in my mountain homeland until the 1800's and Auntie's Grandmother lived before that time, guiding younger generations and leading the people to the God path, the real path. Through her Grandmother Auntie possessed a very solid foundation in our"way" and in our languages Grandmother, a Pekumuka (wonderful people of our past) instilled in Auntie the knowledge and wisdom to help her generation and ours.