Pope Francis on Wednesday canonized 18th century Spanish friar and missionary Junipero Serra. I believe a more suitable title than Saint would be the Administrative Butcher of California. Sometimes he’s credited with authoring a “Bill of Rights” for Indians, though no such rights exist or ever existed.
The Pope can bless Serra for as long as the sun shines and the grass grows. It has no impact on my traditional people of the Mohawk Nation. Save for those who have embraced Roman Catholicism.
Within the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council or within the few Catholic-affiliated organized religious clubs, perhaps, or among Methodists, Mormons, Presbyterians—the Canonization is a big deal. I can only imagine.
This event has nothing to do with my people and allies. Serra represented a god we did not understand. A god that demanded the subjugation of Peoples. Is that a god? Or a warlord looking for glory in the form of land and gold? Jesus, from what I understand, represented the opposite of the accumulation of wealth and practice of moneylenders, particularly at the expense of the abused.
I have no concern about what the Pope decides. He is a fabrication for the implementation of control. It is not relevant to the lives of my people who still practice a way of living that leaves out no one.
Spirituality is freedom, organized religion is crowd control.
I am bewildered at the near-blind acceptance of organized religion among members of my community and Nation. While some Natives have worked hard for the canonization of the Lily of the Mohawks, they never concerned themselves with the Church’s historical political record and its impact on the reality we all now must live with. While Jesus was a great visionary and medicine man, not one Church elder has ever discussed with clarity the Papal Bulls and the Doctrine of Discovery that the Church created to subjugate our people. That distresses me. The Church had and continues to demand blind loyalty, much like many cults demand.
I was raised to not concern myself with how the Yankees chose their leaders. After all, they are not my people’s wise men and women. We only concern ourselves with how we deal with the newcomer’s leaders and their diplomatic representations. We do not concern ourselves with their electoral process and they do not concern themselves with ours.
I am not concerned with how or why the Catholic Church creates their saints. In my longhouse, there is no one leader. In our ceremonies, there is no one authority.
Therefore I ask, why do we care what the Christians think? Just as I question why we would care whom or how the American’s chose their representative to the world (President).
My nation has our own representatives. We have our own spiritual people and our own understanding of the Creator’s will. We are quite comfortable with it.
We are a people of hope, gratitude and action. We are a people that believe the earth is our Mother. We are a people of prophecy, ceremony and careful deliberation. We, like people of all nations, seek to better our reality.
This week in my view is a waste of valuable time. We do what we do; they will do what they must to promote their control in the name of the Doctrine of Discovery. Imposition of will. Let them find their saints. I would rather spend my time convincing the Pope of the error of predecessors that has impacted principles, laws and attitudes toward my people who still remain, by definition, heathens, godless animals to be warded over.
In the end, like the winds, the sun and the moon, I rest easy in knowing that my god/great spirit and my ancestors as well are with me and mine.
Damned are those who attempt to impose a belief on my traditional people and me. This publication is dedicated to the expansion of the traditional system, to the original treaty nations and their councils, to those who have fought in the spirit of our ancestors. If this publication is not about that, I would not be here.
The diplomatic discussion we should be having with the state of Vatican City, the Holy See, is the rescinding of the 15th century Papal Bulls that affect our reality to this day through the creation of the Doctrine of Discovery.
Fighting over Serra becoming a saint is a diversion that takes us nowhere close to where we need to be.
Ray Cook is ICTMN's op-ed editor.