Recently, I saw the film, The Revenant, with Leonardo Decaprio (who shared an award with the First Nation’s people who acted in the film) and it reminded me a bit of one of my favorite films, The New World. Before I watched The New World I had no idea it was the story of Pocahontas (I will watch any movie by Terrence Malick). And just like in the film, The Revenant, I had no idea there would be profound messages by First Nation’s people in the narrative (it’s certainly not mentioned in the marketing campaign). There’s a beautiful documentary about the making of the film (which is based on a book that is a true story) and the destruction of Native American land, their environment and way of life in Canada where the film takes place.
Hollywood does have the capacity once in a blue moon to surprise you, even in the midst of the #OscarsSoWhite movement (not a single person of color was nominated for a 2016 Oscar). In 1951 Sacheen Littlefeather refused to accept the Best Actor Oscar Award on behalf of Marlon Brando because of the treatment of Native American people in Hollywood and the media. It must have been an incredible moment in time. In the spirit of Brando, Dicaprio recently donated money to the First Nation’s many causes. Brando was doing his part – which even today would have ruffled feathers.
As an artist who is well aware of how little love Native Americans get, I feel no shame in sharing my love of the Great Spirit and Mother Earth. My personal spiritual path is all over the place, from chanting Hindu prayers like the Gayatri Mantra, meditation, yoga, to Ayahuasca ceremonies (Peruvian and Brazilian, both very different). However, Lakota sweat lodge ceremonies with my local Taino community is by far my favorite way to connect to nature and Great Spirit. The time has come for more of these teachings to reach the masses. The Hopi Elder prophecies are incredibly profound and this statement inspired me to write a song I perform with my band Dream Circle. Also one of our next documentary projects, “The Grandmothers Speak” (which is turning out to be almost like a ‘Time is Art’ sequel in a sense) is inspired by these teachings.
If you ever have the chance try a sweat lodge ceremony, take my word for it, you will be transformed!
A Message from the Elders, Oraibi, Arizona Hopi Nation:
“You have been telling people that this is the eleventh hour.
Now you must go back and tell people that this is the hour!
And there are things to be considered:
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your Garden.
It is time to speak your truth.
Create your community.
Be good to yourself.
And not look outside of yourself for a leader.
This could be a good time!
There is a river flowing very fast.
It is so great and fast that there are those who will be afraid.
They will hold on to the shore.
They will feel that they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly.
Know that the river has its destination.
The elders say that we must let go of the shore,
push off into the middle of the river,
keep our eyes open,
and our heads above the water.
See who is in there with you and celebrate.
At this time we are to take nothing personally,
least of all, ourselves.
For the moment that we do,
our spiritual growth comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over.
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones that we have been waiting for.”