This week as I was flying back from New Mexico, I had the great honor to be seated next to a tribal leader, a man who has represented 100 Native American tribes in the fight for their land and their rights.
It was a powerful ride. He told me the history of his own tribe, and stories of what it meant to be a chief, then outlined some of the struggles of the native people throughout history. One story he spoke in native tongue, and then translated. The sound and the words were powerful and the scene played vividly in my imagination, over and over again as I drove home from the airport.
A couple days later, I was taking some visitors to the Portland Art Museum and when we got there, one of them wanted to see the photography exhibit. I had no idea what it was about, but found these were photographs of Native Americans; Edward Curtis’s early work and also some modern artists – Zig Jackson, Will Wilson and Wendy Red Star. Wilson’s work was so beautiful and jarring, these gorgeous mesa landscape, and standing in that landscape is Will himself, wearing a gas mask.
Why had I found myself so deeply moved by Native American culture? What about the Native American experience did I need to revisit and once again appreciate?
What I realized is that, for me, they represent what it means to stand up for your beliefs, whether you are in a meeting with a pushy boss, or in an election year filled with antics, or you are standing up for your land – something rightly yours. History shows us that freedom comes at a price and you have to defend your right to it or often, someone will take it away – whether it’s spiritual freedom, or freedom to love who you choose.
This week, remember to stand up for yourself. Stand up for your love, your goodness, your kindness, your heart. Stand up for your beliefs, your planet, your freedom. You don’t have to make someone else wrong to be true to you and you are worth it.