Respect is a word that is constantly used but rarely honored among
human beings. Growing up native was not easy for a lot of us. It was not cool to be native when I was a kid or a teenager, we were not "in style," as I recall it.
People were very racist and would call me "dumb Indian" or stupid. In their eyes I was neither intelligent, spiritual, nor did I deserved any respect, because I spoke differently and dressed differently.
Thirty something years later, the media decides to use native symbols to profit from our people again, but why now? There is a spiritual awareness taking place all over the world and the media has always romanticized native people for their spirituality. We are a novelty now, so anywhere you look these days people are wearing native jewelry. Our sacred symbols have become the latest print for fabrics used in the fashion industry. In our modern society we have become mascots, sidekicks for cowboys, cartoon characters and statues for tobacco shops. Our images also have been used in tattoos, rebellious hair cuts, earplugs, piercings, and you name it.
People want to belong or be a part of something and that's perfectly fine but not without knowing or taking the time to learn more about the cultural meaning of things. I call that respect as well and we can not go around stealing the sacredness of native traditions around the world to make a business out of it. It's morally wrong. Our grandfathers gave their lives defending our spirituality. The land you stand on today is sacred to us, because their blood was spilled without cause, they were killed for the rights to practice our way of life.
We have always shared our wisdom to others for the betterment of humanity, because we were the last ones to be connected with Mother Earth. "Our ways include everybody, but theirs selfishly don't care about ours" that's what my grandfather said. We need to respect one another with the same compassion you do with your people. We have to honor our own ways and practice them everyday. No matter where you came from, you have traditions or a religion that speaks about peace and love. I speak from the heart of my people and all we want is your respect. You already claimed the land we called our home.