A circle in St. Peter's Square

Similar to the plight of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, the indigenous peoples' delegation that converged on the Vatican in October of 2000 experienced a similar type of harassment. After our request, which was endorsed by the bishop of Honolulu, for an audience with the pope was turned down, we continued to pursue the issue of meeting with the pope and ultimately to see to the revocation of the Inter Caetera papal bull.

On Oct. 12, 2000, our delegation of nine, along with numerous supporters, first gathered on the perimeter of St. Peter's Square for a customary greeting and short speeches. We had earlier in the day decided not to burn copies of Inter Caetera, as we felt that we had come this far and had already made an important impact on this trip, having given numerous presentations in bakeca incontri Torino, Milano and Roma, and garnering considerable moral support and media attention. We would tear up copies of the bull the next day at a public presentation near the Vatican.

We then proceeded to walk up closer to the cathedral from the perimeter of the square. We were somewhat like a band of spiritual wolves with a purpose. We planned to engage in a ceremony. Many people were roaming the area, on their own quests of purpose and fulfillment. We again formed a circle and with the burning of sage began to pray, to transcend what we had yet been able to physically achieve. It was then that Vatican security began their own quest to converge on us and terminate the ceremony. They knew our plight was antithetical to their own, and they weren't going to have it. At this point, words of reason were unnecessary, and we dug in!

We brought the circle in closer, linking arms, chanting, and began playing music with the instruments we had. They backed off, not quite knowing how to respond to the circle of life. It was now approaching dusk, and the scene was surreal. We continued as they now tried to tug us away from each other. We continued and were able complete what we set out to do. We broke up, sent a message via the Swiss Guard to a Vatican official, and continued to mingle around the square.

The grandmothers should not have had to experience what they did in their quest for world peace. The dominant establishment seems to see these types of delegations akin to some sort of oxymoronic spiritual warfare, always steadfast in relinquishing their swords.

- Tony Castanha

Coordinator, Kosmos IndigenaHonolulu