I have often said that Chief Caleen Sisk Franco stands out from other modern day leaders. She states what should be the obvious, but is not for her time. These are times when layers of artificial "needs and wants," and manufactured news pile one on top the other and truth is literally buried. The USA represents a particular kind of human mindset which has topped out, creating the false world, the false reality which so many seem to have bought into. The facade is crumbling. A worldwide hysteria over numbers and percentages manipulated by stock market saboteurs exposes the downslide. Fighting over a health plan which has more to do with insurance companies and business executives guarding profit margins than taking care of the people exposes what are the bankrupt priorities running this country. It is exposed. Just a few countries in the world have crowned themselves the god Baal, their leaders' eyes filled with a world made of paper and oil. Five hundred years ago this same continent was conquered for the disappearing gold craved by bankrupt European nation states who had created environmental disaster in their own countries and bankrolled voyages to other lands to seek a way out of poverty to claim lands through war, to enslave, cut off the hands and massacre the great civilizations they met -- civilizations under whose care the Earth retained balance for tens of thousands of years. And now, within 200 years, these lands face environmental disaster again, the gold almost gone, the oil, the water next.
So when Chief Caleen Sisk Franco states the simple truth -- what Waitaha Mamoe Fisher tribal member Alister Wilke calls "common sense" -- that truth being that the key to solving the global crisis is to make things inhabitable for the two endangered species who live in both ocean and river streams (the Nur and the Tu Nah) -- the clear simplicity of the message carries a revolutionary wallop! Here's another truth. The indigenous leaders of this globe, under whose care the earth sustained itself for tens and thousands of years have the smarts necessary to build a true policy for world wide sustainability. The world's leaders should be bringing the indigenous leaders of the world together to plan our response to global crisis. Instead, the nonsense they call Indian Policy in this country wastes valuable time and resources of indigenous leaders who must instead assert their existence and the right to continue to even get into the door. When our Chief, Caleen Sisk Franco answered President Obama’s call for tribal leaders to assemble for a summit in Washington DC, she received a snub: You are not invited. You are not a recognized tribe. That doesn't make sense! Very few tribes in California are recognized. A whopping 90 percent are unrecognized since the 1980’s. Doesn’t that signal discrimination to the President? Important words regarding the health of waterways, the Sacramento delta, the salmon, critical information about the impending Katrina-sized disaster the further raising of Shasta Lake Dam may cause -- things the President should know -- does not reach his ears because he upholds bad policy regarding Native peoples by surrounding himself with BIA bureaucrats keeping an eye on the little bit of money set aside for federally reognized tribes.
Our Chief is a sovereign leader, so it is not a surprise she did not just give up. Protecting the McCloud from a water power plant from being built which would forever shut the door on reintroducing the salmon to the river, advocating for saving the Sacramento Delta, impeding the further raising of Shasta Lake Dam, these and other important issues are important to her. That’s why she inspired her tribal members as best she could to finance themselves or raise donations to travel halfway around the world to New Zealand to speak with the Maori people and do ceremony for the Nur, Salmon. We traveled around the world to say to our fish relatives, “We are still here.” Shasta Lake Dam may have caused the breaking of a promise made a long time ago when the eggs were sent around the world, a promise that they would come back someday. But the Chief intended to mend the break.
The sad truth is some of our brightest, most insightful, experienced leaders are becoming just as endangered as the Nur and other endangered life of this beautiful planet Earth. It is the attention of others to this dire situation which will prevent invisibility and loss of these leaders. These leaders are the ones who carry on the Lifeways of their ancestors, and the long ancient relationship they have kept with the Earth. It is they, in fact, who continue the ceremonial ways which let the Earth spirits know “We’re still here” and we will continue the human being’s part in building a strong relationship and keeping the earth's cycle going of birth and death, and sustaining life.
Chief Caleen Sisk Franco pointed out that now someone can go to school for five to ten years and be called an expert on the environment; another twenty years and some people are called Energy Czars making policies which have worldwide impact. But what about the people who have the knowledge from the beginning of time, who have known the living things of a region personally and have acted as Guardians over eons. Half in jest she said, “Do we have to come up with letters and degrees at the end of our names?”
Over these two weeks in New Zealand indigenous leaders of the Maori and Winnemem, Guardians of the earth, came together. We must double our commitment to the John Wilkies and Caleen Sisk Francos of the world -- as well as their people, relatives, allies -- and continue to honor the Great Nur and Great Tu-nah who still continue despite all which stands in their way in their noble endeavor to continue Life (not destroy it). We cannot afford to rely upon experts paid to watch the bottom line for corporations and who shore up crumbling mega-armed nations. We can't waste anymore time on those unable to say “The Empire has no clothes.” It’s not working anymore.
I am listening to the “Magic Fish,” who live in both fresh water and the ocean. My attention goes to the tribal leaders who pay particular attention to what their life cycles show us and who have never forsaken Guardianship for the earth. The times call for that kind of leadership, leaders who know and follow the Earth, who still remember what their job as human beings are, what they were put on Earth to do.
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