Lessons from the Dead

By Mitakuye Oyasin

Two news items, seemingly unrelated, appeared in the Sunday edition of the Peoria Journal-Star this week. The first had to do with an update on the woman holding off the police in Roby, Ill. Her offense? She is apparently a misanthrope. She doesn't seem to like people in general and her relatives in particular. While she had no history of harming anyone, not even herself, somebody in a position of authority decided that she should not be free to decide for herself how she wants to live.

Law enforcement officials are spending many man-hours and taxpayers' dollars to harass, threaten, pester and coerce this woman into a straightjacket. Did I miss something or could they leave her alone and spend their time and tax dollars on something else, like fighting road rage or tracking down drug czars?

The second item showed pictures of a large crowd of people protesting the presence of the abortion clinic on N. University St. in Peoria. Abortion is legal, giving to each woman the right to do with her body as she chooses, a right not being granted to the woman of Roby who isn't even having an abortion! She just wants to be left alone.

And you wonder why I keep saying it's crazy out there.

Of course a lot of people want to see abortion outlawed once again. No matter how you feel about abortion, it was not invented by Roe v. Wade. It was so prevalent in Puritan Colonial days that harsh laws were written to deal with the punishment of any woman who so disposed of her unborn child.

Frankly, when I read about the several cases in Henry County where mothers and their boyfriends have brutally beaten and murdered young children and babies, I find myself wishing they would have had abortions. And you know that this is not just happening in Henry County.

Nor do the Christian Coalition and the Republican Party have anything to brag about. They are against abortion but they have just re-written welfare programs guaranteed to shove another million children into poverty in this rich land. Some children go to bed hungry every night, malnourished, unloved by society, and wondering why they were born. Perhaps it would have been better for them not to have been born.

Is it any wonder that I long for the life of my ancestors?

Life was not perfect then, nor were the people perfect. The "noble savage" never existed. But before the coming of the white man with his civilization and progress, there were some good things that have been lost.

Individuals were free to be themselves. The woman from Roby would have been allowed to live by herself, as she should be allowed to do today. People were not ostracized because they were different. There was no racial, religious or sexual bigotry. There was a harmony among the people which was a reflection of the everyday spirituality shared by all living things.

Children were treasured and protected. They were never harshly punished or beaten. If food was in short supply, it went to the children first because they were the future of the tribe. Abortion was not "illegal." It was non-existent. And if a woman lacked the desire or skills to be a good mother, then the extended family of the tribe took over for her. The child was never without love.

Not bad for a bunch of "heathen savages," was it? When things get bad enough and when America's leaders quit playing with the lint in their navels, then maybe we can learn from our ancestors.

This article posted to Zephyr online October 9, 1997
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