I Am Beyond!
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a month to celebrate and pay tribute to the contributions generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders have made to American history, society and culture.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month originated in 1978 when Congress passed Pub. L. 95-419 (PDF, 63KB). This law directed the President to issue a proclamation designating the week beginning on May 4, 1979 as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. On March 28, 1979, President Carter (photo credit: Associated Press), issued Presidential Proclamation 4650. In this proclamation, President Carter spoke of the significant role Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have played in the creation of a dynamic and pluralistic American society with their contributions to the sciences, arts, industry, government and commerce.
Over the next ten years, Presidents Carter, Reagan and George H.W. Bush continued to annually issue proclamations designating a week in May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.
In 1990, Congress passed Pub. L. 101-283 (PDF, 91KB) which amended Pub. L. 95-419. Pub. L. 101-283 requested the President to issue a proclamation which expanded the observance of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week to a month in May 1990. This law called on the people of the United States to observe Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month with “appropriate ceremonies, programs and activities.” President George H.W. Bush issued Presidential Proclamation 6130 on May 7, 1990 designating May 1990 as the first “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.”
The following year, Pub. L. 102-42 (PDF, 125KB) was passed unanimously by Congress and signed by President George H.W. Bush on May 14, 1991. This law requested that the President proclaim May 1991 and May 1992 as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Months.” This law also recognized the significance of May 7th and May 10th in the history of Asian/Pacific Americans. May 7, 1843 is the date on which the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States while on May 10, 1869 the first transcontinental railroad in the United States was completed with significant contributions from Chinese pioneers. In 1992, Congress passed Pub. L. 102-450 (PDF, 204KB) which permanently designated May of each year as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.”
Pursuant to Pub. L. 102-450 Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama have annually issued proclamations designating May as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Heritage Month” and on May 1, 2009 President Obama issued Presidential Proclamation 8369 (PDF) which recalls the challenges faced by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and celebrates their great and significant contributions to our society.
Konrad Ng Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
Since 1977, the month of May recognizes the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians to the American story. The legislation honoring the significance of our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) heritage was introduced by some of the finest Asian Americans in U.S. history: Congressman Norman Mineta, Senator Spark Matsunaga, and Senator Daniel Inouye.
This May, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center theme for AAPI Heritage Month is “I Am Beyond.” The phrase captures the aspirations of the American spirit, how Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent have always sought to excel beyond the challenges that have limited equal opportunity in America. “I Am Beyond” recognizes Dalip Singh Saund’s election as the first Asian American Congressman in 1957 after campaigning for the rights of all Asian immigrants to become naturalized U.S. citizens. “I Am Beyond” recognizes the civil rights work of Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz in championing for the rights of American workers across communities. “I Am Beyond” recognizes the achievements of Patsy Mink, the first woman of color and first Asian American woman elected to Congress, a woman whose legacy includes the promotion of equal opportunity in education. “I Am Beyond” recognizes the legacy of Chinese American Grace Lee Boggs, a major figure in the civil rights movement who continues to work on empowering communities in Detroit, MI at nearly 100 years old. “I Am Beyond” recognizes the passionate service of Daniel K. Inouye, decorated World War II veteran and long-time Senator, whom President Barack Obama has called “a true American hero” and “my earliest political inspiration.” “I Am Beyond” is the theme of the new Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center exhibition Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation, a look at the history, art and culture of Indian immigrants and Indian Americans in the U.S. beyond stereotypes.
The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center invites agencies, cities, communities, individuals, organizations, and states across the country to join the commemoration of AAPI Heritage Month. Please join us in recognizing the rich and complex past, present, and future of AAPI communities, our organizations, our leaders and innovators, our artists and musicians, our organizers and activists, our teachers and students, our youth and elders—AAPIs from all walks of life. Create and share your interpretation of the theme through art, music, performance and literature or through an event, video, film or documentary. More details coming soon:www.apa.si.edu. For those on social media, please use the #IAMBEYOND hashtag.
One made a splash riding waves in Hawaii. Another made his mark walking the halls of Congress. Still another made history designing an American landmark.
King of the Waves
To find out more about Duke Kahanamoku, go here.
A True Lifesaver
Read Dr. Feng Shan’s biography, go here.
A Political Pioneer
To find our more about Dalip Singh Saund, go here
A Monumental Architect
To learn more about Maya Lin, go here
A Writing Pro
To learn more about Amy Tan, go here
Emerging Asian-Pacific American LGBTQ Leaders
Strategist, politico and coalition builder Gregory Cendana (Photo Courtesy of APALA) is the first openly gay and youngest-ever Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and Institute for Asian Pacific American Leadership & Advancement. He also serves as the Chair of National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, as Treasurer for the Labor Coalition for Community Action and is the youngest General Board member of the AFL-CIO. Gregory has been named one of Washington DC’s most influential 40-and-under young leaders, one of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30 & the “Future of DC Politics”. Previously, he served as President of the United States Student Association (USSA), where he played an integral role in the passage of the Student Aid & Fiscal Responsibility Act and Healthcare & Education Reconciliation Act. In his spare time, Gregory enjoys singing karaoke, choreographing dances and trying to cook. Be a part of his journey by following him on twitter at @GregoryCendana.
To learn more about Gregory Cendana go here
Tom Hayashi (Photo Courtesy of OCA) currently serves as the Executive Director of OCA National Center in Washington, DC. Founded as “Organization of Chinese Americans” in 1973, OCA today is a premiere pan-Asian membership driven civil rights organization with a national network of over 80 chapters and affiliates. (He is the first openly gay OCA Executive Director of multi-cultural ethnicity.) Before joining OCA, Tom lead an organizational development firm by the name of Capacity Empowerment as its Principal providing services and counsel to over 80 nonprofit, government, and private sectors. He brings over 19 years of combined professional experience as a former health care provider/administrator, fundraising executive, educator, and community activist.
To learn more about Tom Hayashi, go here
Miriam W. Yeung (Photo Courtesy of NAPAWF), Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) guides the country’s only national, multi-issue, progressive organization dedicated to social justice and human rights for Asian and Pacific Islander women and girls in the US. With offices in NYC and DC, and chapters in 12 cities, NAPAWF’s current priorities include winning rights for immigrant women, advocating for nail salon workers rights and safety, leading community-based participatory research with young API women, conducting national API opinion polling and winning reproductive justice.
To learn more about Miriam W, Yeung, go here
(photo credit: http://www.factmonster.com/)
May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month
The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and are instrumental in its future success.
I Am Asian American
On a Monday morning in September, ESL teacher Susan Azzu found she had a new student. Poh was entering the third grade. He was born in Thailand after his mother and sister escaped war and ethnic persecution in Myanmar. Through a refugee program, Poh had just arrived in Chapel Hill, N.C. He spoke no English. Read more http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-44-summer-2013/feature/i-am-asian-american?elq=7be0bfc520de4a8a8127921433a942a2&elqCampaignId=150
Explore Asian Immigration
Immigration Stories: Yesterday and Today
Discover the plights and accomplishments of one of the largest immigrant groups in the United States.
(Feature) Nobel Prize winners, chemists, researchers
(Feature) Asian American athletes and sports anchors
(Feature) Entrepreneurs, executives, journalists
(Feature) Governors, Senators, Representatives, Cabinet Members
(Feature) Origins of APA Heritage Month A national celebration established in 1977 by Ricco Villanueva …
(Feature) Asian American poets, playwrights, critics, and novelists
(Feature) Asian American musicians, dancers, painters, sculptors, designers
(Feature) Asian American actors, directors, screenwriters
(Feature) Alphabetized links to biographies of notable Asian American
A list of Asian and Pacific Island Countries.
26 December 2013 – 01 January 2014
Heri za Kwanzaa
Umoja, Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba and Imani
Habari gani (What’s the good news)?
Dr. Maulana Karenga
Photo by Aristide Economopoulos/The Star-Ledger
Kwanzaa was founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, who was a leading theorist of The Black Movement in the 1960s. His writing credits are quite extensive and have appeared in many journals and anthologies. Kwanzaa’s birth stems from a cultural idea and an expression of the U.S. organization which Dr. Karenga headed. This new way of exploring self has blossomed into the only internationally celebrated, native, non-religious, non-heroic, non-political African-American holiday.
The name Kwanzaa is a Kiswahili word for “the first fruits of the harvest”. Kiswahili was chosen because it is a non-tribal African language which encompasses a large portion of the African continent. As an added benefit, its pronunciation is rather easy. Vowels are pronounced as they would be in Spanish, and consonants, with few exceptions, as they are in English. For example: A=ah as in father; E=a as in day; I=ee as in free;O=oo as in too. One last note, the accent or stress is almost always on the next to last syllable.
This holiday is observed from 26 December through 1 January. Its focus is to pay tribute to the rich cultural roots of People of the African Diaspora. Though first inspired by African- Americans, many of African descent celebrate this occasion today. Its reach has grown to include all whose roots are in the Motherland. Its concept is neither religious nor political but is rooted strongly in a cultural awareness. This is not a substitute for Christmas; however, gifts may be exchanged with the principles of Nguzo Saba always in mind. Gifts are given to reinforce personal growth and achievement, which benefits the collective community.
The principles, Nguzo Saba, are:
Umoja (unity) U-MO-JA
Kujicahgulia (self determination) KU-JI-CHA-GU-LIA
Ujima (collective work and responsibility) U-JI-MA
Ujamaa (cooperative economics) U-JA-MA
Nia (purpose) NIA
Kuumba (creativity) KU-UM-BA
Imani (faith) I-MANI
We hope that you will pass someone this year and wish them a Harambee Kwanzaa. May the principles guide you year round.
The Symbols of Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa has seven basic symbols and two supplemental ones. Each represents values and concepts reflective of African culture and contributive to community building and reinforcement.
These are symbolic of African harvest celebrations and of the rewards of productive and collective labor.
This is symbolic of our tradition and history and therefore, the foundation on which we build.
(The Candle Holder)
This is symbolic of our roots, our parent people – continental Africans.
This is symbolic of our children and our future which they embody.
(The Seven Candles)
These are symbolic of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles, the matrix and minimum set of values which African people are urged to live by in order to rescue and reconstruct their lives in their own image and according to their own needs.
Kikombe cha Umoja
(The Unity Cup)
This is symbolic of the foundational principle and practice of unity which makes all else possible..
These are symbolic of the labor and love of parents and the commitments made and kept by the children. The two supplemental symbols are:
The colors of the Kwanzaa flag are the colors of the Organization Us, black, red and green; black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future and hope that comes from their struggle. It is based on the colors given by the Hon. Marcus Garvey as national colors for African people throughout the world.
Some Sample Orders of Ceremony
Umoja – Unity
The principle of Umoja (unity) speaks to our need to develop and sustain a sense of oneness, righteous and rightful togetherness in the small and large circles and significant relations of our lives, from family and friendship, to community and the cosmos. It urges us to practice a principled and peaceful togetherness rooted in mutual respect, justice, care and concern, security of person, and equitably shared goods. And it calls on us to stand in solidarity with the oppressed, suffering and struggling peoples of the world in the cooperative achievement of these goods.
Kujichagulia – Self-Determination
The principle of Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) instructs us to assert ourselves in self-defining and dignity-affirming ways in the world, as well as to create the miracles, monuments and meaningful relationships and achievements we want in our lives. And it reaffirms our right and responsibility to live liberating and liberated lives, to value and dialog constantly with our own culture, to retrieve and bring forth the best of what it means to be African and human, and to speak this unique and equally valid and valuable truth to the world. And it upholds the right of all peoples in the world to demand and do likewise.
Ujima – Collective Work & Responsibility
The principle of Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) teaches us that we must build the good and sustainable communities, societies and world we all want, and that we deserve to live in and leave to those after us. As Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune taught us, that “We must remake the world. The task is nothing less than that.” This means engaging and solving the major problems of the world, including poverty, famine and food insecurity, housing, environmental degradation, economic security, HIV/AIDS and other health issues, education, racism, sexism, corporate plunder, war, occupation, crime and the criminal injustice system.
Ujamaa – Cooperative Economics
Ujamaa reaffirms the ethics of the harvest, shared work and shared wealth. Thus, it is opposed to inequitable distribution of wealth, as well as resource monopoly and plunder by the rich and powerful. And it teaches us to privilege the poor and vulnerable and to uphold the right of all peoples to live lives of freedom, dignity, well-being and ongoing development. Ujamaa also urges us to give rightful recognition and support to the small farmers and farm workers of the world for the vital role they play in feeding and sustaining people and the planet, especially in the context of the globalization of agriculture and its destructive effects on the lives and lands of the people.
Nia – Purpose
The principle of Nia (Purpose) teaches us to embrace and respond creatively to the collective vocation of restoring to our people the position and possibilities of great achievements through doing good in the world. For the sacred teaching of our ancestors in the Husia say that “the wise are known by their wisdom, and the great are k nown by their good deeds.” And in the Odu Ifa, they tell us that we “humans are divinely chosen to bring good in the world,” and this is the fundamental mission and meaning in human life.
Kuumba – Creativity
The principle of Kuumba (Creativity) teaches us the moral obligation “to do always as much as we can in the way we can in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.” Thus, we must practice serudj ta, constantly repair and remake the world, a Maatian concept with ethical and aesthetic, as well as natural and social implications, and which expansively means to repair the damaged, raise up the ruined, replenish the depleted, rejoin the severed, strengthen the weakened, set right the wrong, and make flourish the fragile and undeveloped.
Imani – Faith
Finally, the principle of Imani (Faith) teaches and urges us to hold fast to the faith of our ancestors. It reassures us that through cooperative work and struggle, the famine and food insecurity in Somalia, the Horn of Africa, and the rest of the world, can be ended; that the human-caused catastrophe of Katrina will not occur again; that the fields and forests of Haiti will blossom, grow abundant grain and fruit again; and that every other plundered, polluted and depleted place will do likewise. And it is a faith that assures us we can truly transform ourselves and the world, and ensure clean air, pure water, safe and nutritious food for everyone, and a free, just, secure, dignity affirming and flourishing life and future for all the world.
The Day of Meditation
The last day of Kwanzaa is the first day of the new year, 1 January. Historically, this has been for African people a time of sober assessment of things done and things to do, of self-reflection and reflection on the life and future of the people, and of recommitment to their highest cultural values in a special way. Following in this tradition, it is for us, then, a time to ask and answer soberly and humbly the three Kawaida questions:
Who am I?
Am I really who I say I am?
Am I all I ought to be?
And it is, of necessity, a time to recommit ourselves to our highest ideals, in a word, to the best of what it means to be both African and human in the fullest sense. Read more here http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/meditation.shtml
The Odu Ifa Meditation Let us not engage the world hurriedly.
Let us not grasp at the rope of wealth impatiently.
That which should be treated with mature judgment,
let us not deal with in a state of anger.
When we arrive at a cool place,
let us rest fully;
Let us give continuous attention to the future;
and let us give deep consideration to the consequences of things.
And this because of our (eventual) passing.
K’a má fi kánjú j’aiyé.
K’a má fi wàrà-wàrà n’okùn orò
Ohun à bâ if s’àgbà,
K’a má if se’binu.
Bi a bá de’bi t’o tútù,
K’a wò’wajú ojo lo titi;
K’a tun bò wá r’èhìn oràn wo;
Nitori àti sùn ara eni ni.
TAMSHI LA TAMBIKO
(The Libation Statement)
Our fathers and mothers came here, lived, loved, struggled and built here.
For our people everywhere then:
For Garvey, Muhammad, Malcolm, and King; Harriet, Fannie Lou, Sojourner, Bethune, and Nat Turner and all the others who dared to define, defend, and develop our interests as a people;
For our children and the fuller and freer lives they will live because we struggled;
For Kawaida and the Nguzo Saba, the new system of views and values which gives identity, purpose, and direction to our lives;
For the new world we struggle to build;
And for the continuing struggle through which we will inevitably rescue and reconstruct our history and humanity in our own image and according to our own needs.
- Dr. Maulana Karenga
Sample KWANZAA CEREMONY OVERVIEW
WELCOME REMARKS/ KWANZAA
NGUZO SABA PRESENTATION AND LIGHTING OF THE KINARA
UJIMA (Collective Work and Responsibility)
UJAMAA (Cooperative Economics)
(A Celebration With Food Usually Follows)
Remembering the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa
First fruits is what the name Kwanzaa means
It’s celebrated everywhere by kings and queens
Based on seven principles that still exist
If you check out this rhyme, you’ll get the gist
Umoja, a Swahili name for unity
Is the goal we strive for across this country
Kujichagulia means self-determination
We define ourselves, a strong creation.
Ujima or collective work and responsibility
Is how we build and maintain our own community
For if my people have a problem, then so do I
So let’s work through it together with our heads held high.
Ujamaa meaning cooperative economics is nothing new
We support and run our own stores and other businesses, too.
Nia is purpose, us developing our potential
As we build our community strong to the nth exponential;
Kuumba is the creative force which lies within our call
As we leave our community much better for all;
As a people, let’s move forward by extending our hand
For Imani is the faith to believe that we can;
These seven principles help to make our nation strong
If you live to these ideals, you can’t go wrong
But you must first determine your own mentality
And believe in yourself as you want you to be
And no matter how far, work hard to reach your goal
As we stand, as a people, heads up, fearless and bold.
World AIDS Day, Sunday 1 December 2013
GETTING TO ZERO
World AIDS Day on 1 December brings together people from around the world to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic. The day is an opportunity for public and private partners to spread awareness about the status of the pandemic and encourage progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care in high prevalence countries and around the world.
Between 2011 – 2015, World AIDS Days will have the theme of “Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths”. The World AIDS Campaign focus on “Zero AIDS related deaths” signifies a push towards greater access to treatment for all; a call for governments to act now. It is a call to honor promises like the Abuja declaration and for African governments to at least hit targets for domestic spending on health and HIV.
December 1 is a Sunday this year and we, the HIV/AIDS Advisory Council thought that we would encourage our churches to engage their members, etc. to wear something red that day, (even if it is just the AIDS ribbon) to take pictures and post to Facebook, Instagram, etc. in solidarity of our theme. On Twitter we are asking our members and friends to post using #MCCGetting2Zero
We recognize that 1 December is also the first Sunday in Advent, so we offer the following prayer for MCC to use in the lighting of the Advent wreath or during prayer time.
Here is the suggested Liturgy:
One: Listen, learn and live! Keep open to life’s changes. Be ready to be transformed by the power of love.
Many: We are open to life’s changes. We are ready to be transformed by the power of love.
One: Listen, learn and live! Take strength from each other, so that you may always be hopeful and have comfort, even in great loss.
Many: We take strength from each other, so that we may always be hopeful and have comfort, even in great loss.
One: Listen, learn and live! May the One who creates and sustains you be with you and bless you this day, and always, whoever you are and wherever you go.
Many: The One who creates and sustains us is with us and blesses us this day, and always, whoever we are and wherever we go.
All: Listen, learn and live! Amen!
One: O God, we come before you this day with longing, with hungering, with tremendous need of your healing presence. We pray on behalf of ourselves, our loved ones, our community, and our world on this World AIDS Day and commit to “Getting to Zero” together.
Many: Loving God, we receive your gentle, powerful, healing touch.
One: For people who have tested HIV positive and endure tension-filled waiting; sometimes hopeful and optimistic, sometimes frozen with fear and despair …(silent prayer); loving God,
Many: We receive your gentle, powerful, healing touch.
One: For groups of people who are viciously scapegoated as the cause of the spread of AIDS, and too often pronounced “non-innocent” sufferers of AIDS diseases because they are poor, or black, or Puerto Rican, or gay, or African, or a prostitute… (silent prayer); loving God,
Many: We receive your gentle, powerful, healing touch.
One: For the families of someone dying of AIDS that are torn apart and divided because of ignorance and prejudice, or that are rendered entirely invisible, not recognized as a “real family”… (silent prayer); loving God
Many: We receive your gentle, powerful, healing touch.
One: For people stricken by grief at the death of a loved one from AIDS…(silent prayer); loving God,
Many: We receive your gentle, powerful, healing touch.
One: For the sickness and indifference that infuses the fabric of our wealthy nation, tolerating policies that would cut funding or which supports price gauging of the necessary elixirs of health…(silent prayer); loving God,
Many: We receive your gentle, powerful, healing touch.
One: For the nations that are being decimated by the disease of AIDS and apathy…(silent prayer); loving God,
Many: We receive your gentle, powerful, healing touch.
One: For the people who continue to yell, “Enough,” give us strength for the struggle, and bring your justice now…(silent prayer); loving God,
Many: We receive your gentle, powerful, healing touch.
World AIDS Day is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.
World AIDS Day is an opportunity for you to learn the facts about HIV and put your knowledge into action. Find out how much you know by taking our online quiz: Are you HIV aware? Test your knowledge and awareness by taking the quiz and act aware by passing the quiz on and sharing it with your friends on Twitter and Facebook.
If you understand how HIV is transmitted, how it can be prevented, and the reality of living with HIV today – you can use this knowledge to take care of your own health and the health of others, and ensure you treat everyone living with HIV fairly, and with respect and understanding. Click here to find out the facts.
You can also show your support for people living with HIV on World AIDS Day by wearing a red ribbon, the international symbol of HIV awareness and support.
International Organizations working towards Getting To Zero.
The global theme for World AIDS Day from 2011-2015, as selected by the World AIDS Campaign, is “Getting to Zero.” Backed by the United Nations, the “Getting to Zero” campaign focuses on the goals of zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths.
How exactly is the world affected by AIDS?
Here are some of the devastating effects of this disease.
The most affected families are often those that do not have a lot of options for their means of living. With the death of males in the family due to AIDS, women and children are forced to provide their households the basic needs. This is a problem in countries that have many male-dominated industries – when the heads of the families get sick, women are forced to leave homes and work in industries such as carpentry or farming. In a lot of countries affected by AIDS, women are still viewed to be in charge of housework. Read more.
International AIDS Society 2013 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The IAS 2013 programme is available online through the Programme-at-a-Glance (PAG). Links to abstracts, slide sets with audio, rapporteur reports and e-posters will be added as they become available. The PAG allows delegates to build and print personalized itineraries. It also features topic-focused roadmaps to help delegates navigate each day of the conference.
Act Aware by supporting our campaigns!
NAT (National AIDS Trust)(UK) doesn’t just campaign on World AIDS Day – throughout the year we work on a range of issues affecting people living with HIV, including benefits, employment and human rights. We are committed to ensuring that the laws and policies affecting people living with HIV are fair, and we work to raise awareness of HIV and the importance of HIV education in the UK today.
The convening of the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) in Melbourne, Australia, in July 2014 represents a tremendous opportunity to highlight the diverse nature of the Asia Pacific region’s HIV epidemic and the unique responses to it. Gathering in Melbourne, we will work together to strengthen our efforts across all regions and around the world, building on the momentum of recent scientific advances and the momentum from AIDS 2012.
The biennial International AIDS Conference is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policymakers, people living with HIV and others committed to ending the epidemic. It will be a tremendous opportunity for researchers from around the world to share the latest scientific advances in the field, learn from one another’s expertise, and develop strategies for advancing all facets of our collective efforts to treat and prevent HIV.
|The Office of Emerging Ministries is charged with edifying our congregations, spiritual communities and new works into inclusive communities. Towards that effort, one of my responsibilities is to provide our ministries with resources and information regarding diverse non-dominant populations who are threads in the fabric of MCC. It is my belief that the more we know about other peoples and cultures, the less we fear them. November is Native North American Heritage month. I contacted three members of our movement and asked them if they would be willing to share of themselves so that we all might develop a deeper understanding of siblings who call MCC home. Graciously all accepted my request to share from their deepest places. As you read their stories and prayerfully consider incorporating these worship practices into your worship services, I ask only that you have an open heart.It is my pleasure to introduce to you Rev. Vicki Anderson, Mark Brown and Rev. Norma Gann.The questions posed to each were:
Rev. Vicki Anderson
Late in life, I started receiving my gifts. Medicine bag, talking stick, peace pipe. I didn’t feel very comfortable with them at all. In 2000, I found the Shaman’s Path and I haven’t veered from it at all. The two things I want to give the world are healing and peace, this is what I have been looking for ever since I became clergy. I searched for the place to bring healing to the human’s need for balance between mind-body-spirit. I always knew I walked in two worlds, but I didn’t have a name for it. The only way I could go into the spirit world and come out safely was as a shaman.
In 1987, I first attended an MCC. It was Resurrection MCC in Houston, Texas USA. It was there I received my call and accepted responsibility for my walk with God in 1989. In 1992, I started the search for my ministry because I was almost finished with formation.
I think first of all, I started with a celebration on Earth Day at MCC of Amarillo (Amarillo, Texas USA). I wanted to start slowly by showing the congregation that all things are connected. Working with small groups like the Sisters group in Amarillo gave me the opportunity to reach out to the women and bring them closer on their spirit walk. We then began organizing annual sister’s retreats in nature, in New Mexico. Then I got a room full of healers together and we built a Sunday school building. I then brought in a Cherokee Medicine Woman to educate the women of Amarillo on how they could incorporate in small ways how to live in this outside world and remaining true to their essence of spirit.
A resource I recommend is Earth Prayers by the United Nations, see below:
Earth Day Eucharist
The original poem I want to share is Harvest
The Indian Summer brings an abundant harvest to all
The blue Corn Festival
Roasted hatch chili
The smell of fry bread in the air
We wear our very best
And the flutes lighten our step
We sing and dance to the Elder’s drums
Praise and Thanksgiving to the Great Creator
The shaman sages and builds the sacred fire
Praying to the Great Spirit
For a safe and peaceful winter
We circle the medicine wheel
And chant our prayers and needs to the Great Spirit
We give thanks and praise
As the smoke spirals up
Carrying them to Heaven
The great Spirit brings a message in the spring
The wind tells us we are one
-Reverend Tumbleweed 2013
Mark C Brown
I am a registered Chippewa-Cree Indian from Rocky Boy reservation in Box Elder, Montana. I was adopted at the age of two by a military family. I was a suddenly thrusted into the military culture. What this meant to me was constant movement, as we were stationed at 7 different military bases within a 10 year period. My new family was a multi-racial Christian family. All of my siblings were either with the foster care system or adopted.
My father did the best he knew how to keep each of us connected to our birth cultural heritage. His attempt with me was giving me a Mohawk in 1972 and a children’s book about the North American Indians, although my tribe was not recognized in this particular book. I was able to see and learn about many of the different tribes and found some overlapping commonality as well as their unique differences.
My own first encounter with my Native American Heritage was in my early 20’s as I lived in the lush green and beautiful Pacific Northwest for 22 years. There I was exposed to a concentrated population of diverse Tribes of Native Americans and their various traditions. I began to take on some of these worship practices. The first tradition that I embraced was a prayer from the Lakota tradition, the Prayer In The Four Directions, included in this resource.
I remember the exact moment in time when this prayer finally challenged my most sacred beliefs about God and me. I was serving as the Director of Music at MCC Los Angeles, currently Founders MCC. Rev. Dr. Neil Thomas, Rev. Pat Langlois, Rev. Alex Escoto and I were in the process of organizing an inter-faith service. I was asked to offer a practice or spiritual tradition from a Native American perspective. I knew I would offer the Prayer in the Four Directions, as it was taught to me by a Woman Lakota Priest.
I stood in that sacred space on Santa Monica Boulevard and led the congregation in this spiritual practice. It was the closest feeling for me to “a rushing mighty wind.” I was overcome with the realization of God and how God sincerely interacts lovingly with all of creation. In that single moment, I was released to worship God freely as my ancestors did as well as fully embracing the God of my Christian faith. In that instant, they were no longer mutually exclusive. In that God given moment of clarity and in-spirited-ness I knew I had been given a glimpse of what heaven on earth could be!
As Director of Worship Arts it is my prayer for all to experience the divine, in all the ways the Creator discloses, the many faces of its being. So I strive to have an openness to a deeper understanding of other’s life journey that bring humanity together to coexist in peace.
I continue to explore what it means to be two spirit.
Mark C. Brown, Director of Worship Arts at Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church in Houston, TX.
This Lakota tradition has specific colors and definitions of each direction. This differs from other Native American’s who also use a prayer in four directions.
Lakota Prayer In The Four Directions
Creator, It is I.
As the day begins with the rising sun,
Fly high as you carry my prayers to the Creator.
Spirit keeper of the South, Wolf,
Help me to remember to love
Show me it is right for me to make decisions
Spirit Keeper of the West, Brown Bear,
Bring healing to the people I love and to myself.
Heal my body, heal my mind and
Spirit Keeper of the North, White Buffalo,
As each day passes, help me to surrender,
And for all you have given me.
Rev. Norma Gann
MCC Greater Dallas
Dallas, Texas USA
I am sorry to say that I knew little of my heritage when I was growing up. My family was not proud of being Native American, and frankly, it was not good to be Native! One of my aunts went to her grave hating her Native heritage, even though it was rather obvious. However, I knew I was so very different from others, and I was even different from my brothers. I seemed to have a connection with animals, and I had “feelings” and dreams that seemed to have a spiritual or mystical basis. I had a love for nature that was so very strong. I connected with the Creator on a very high plane when I was able to be in the midst of nature. I had a very strong spiritual connection with the Great Spirit that I did not even understand. I was raised in the Southern Baptist Church, and being spiritual in my way did not fit into their dogma. I found no peace there.
I was both male and female, and I was not completely one or the other. I truly did not know where I belonged. I was a wandering soul. In my twenties, I connected with my Cherokee heritage, and only then did I begin to understand who I was and am. Most tribes have turned from the old ways, and they have tried to assimilate to the European culture, especially to Christianity. However, at one point, many tribes recognized three or four gender identities in order to allow those outside the male/female binary to have a place. When I began to search for my place, I connected with the Two Spirit identity. I am a biological female, and yet, I am very masculine. I am not either/or; I am both/and. I have a strong spiritual belief in the power of nature and the Creator. That is, God is present in all things, not just humans. As I began to understand the Two Spirit identity, I began to realize that I did have a place. It is not just about being gay or lesbian; it is about being the human creation I was meant to be instead of trying to fall into a societal and dogmatic image. I am free to be the spiritual and sexual being that I was created to be. While many tribes have been slow to return to acceptance of folks beyond the male/female binary, I found a place where I seemed to fit, and some folks have returned and are returning to the old ways. My prayer is that we will all learn to see the beauty and worth of all of Creation.
As I have said, I was raised in the Southern Baptist tradition, and I did not fit their idea of a Christian because I am Two Spirit. I did not dress, act, or look as they deemed appropriate. For more than thirty years, I did not step into a church. When I was told by my home church that I must be healed or leave, I did just that. I left, and I wanted no part of organized religion. I found the presence of the Creator all around me, and I worshipped in my way, whether it was in the barn with the horses or the lake with the trees and animals. In 2003, I was told of a church that would welcome me just as I was. At first, I was truly skeptical. No one else had wanted me so why would I believe this church would. Nevertheless, I went to a MCC church for the first time, and I truly was welcomed just as I was. I sat on the back row for several months waiting for them to tell me I had to be healed, but that never happened. I was invited to participate in the reading of scripture, to be an usher, and several other functions within the church. At first, I could not even imagine walking to the front to read the passage of scripture much less actually reading it! Over the years, I have learned much from my MCC family. I have gained confidence that the Creator has a place in MCC for me, just the way I am. I can be my authentic self! I am free to be me at last. I am now an ordained MCC pastor. I am the Pastor of Congregational Care at MCC of Greater Dallas, and I cherish serving God by serving with and for these folks.
I have been able to weave several of my rituals into my life as a MCC pastor/member. The use of incense has long been a practice in the churches of various denominations. Instead of incense, I use sages, sweet grasses, herbs and tobacco to do smudging rituals for blessings and cleansings. I have been asked to smudge homes, the church, people, animals, and anything else that was given to the Creator. Additionally, I included the Cherokee binding ceremony in a Holy Union, and I read a Cherokee prayer of blessing for the couple. I use Native American flute music in meditation, and I have shared that practice with many who find it difficult to free their minds from the everyday strife of life. Additionally and most recently, smudging and Native flute music were incorporated into two peace/prayer vigils at the church on International Peace Day. I continue to find ways in which my Native heritage and my Christian faith can be woven into a beautiful mosaic of truth and freedom!
There are innumerable quotes and proverbs from Native Americans that resonate in my life. One of my favorite prayers is a short and simple prayer to the Great Spirit. I do not know who originally wrote it but it is seen on many things from t-shirts to coffee cups. It conveys some of the thoughts that begin my day each day.
Oh Great Spirit,
Whose voice I hear in the wind,
Whose breath gives life to the world,
I come to you as one of your many children.
I am small and weak.
I need your strength and wisdom.
May I walk in beauty.
One of my favorite quotes is as follows:
“The Circle has healing power. In the Circle, we are all equal. When in the Circle, no one is in front of you. No one is behind you. No one is above you. No one is below you. The Sacred Circle is designed to create unity. The Hoop of Life is also a circle. On this hoop there is a place for every species, every race, every tree and every plant. It is this completeness of Life that must be respected in order to bring about health on this planet.” ~Dave Chief, Oglala Lakota~
TwoSpiritsis a documentary of the struggles of a young Two Spirit Navajo. “Fred Martinez was a Navajo boy who was also a girl. In an earlier era, he would have been revered. Instead he was murdered.” This documentary shows a hour of the life of an amazing Two Spirit human whose life was cut too short by hate and bigotry in modern times. In past times, this young changing one would have been cherished by the tribe. This is both educational and heartbreaking!
Will Roscoe has written several books about Native American gender identities. These books can give insight into the traditions of old. Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in Native North America by Will Roscoe(Jun 17, 2000) is one that I have used to help when I was asked to meet with folks to explain what is meant by Two Spirit, and it was used as required reading in a seminary class.
Many cities now have groups of Two Spirit folks who are coming together to reclaim our holy identities and to bring about acceptance within and outside of our tribes. There are Two Spirit Societies forming across the country. Information can be accessed by googling Two Spirit, and Facebook has a site Two Spirit National Cultural Exchange, Inc.
About Native American, Alaskan and First Nations Heritage Month
Information courtesy of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior
What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose. Read more.
Fred Martinez was one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history when he was brutally murdered at 16. Two Spirits explores the life and death of a boy who was also a girl, and the essentially spiritual nature of gender.
November is Native American Heritage Month, and what better way to celebrate it than to learn something about the history and cultures of some of the first Americans? This month EDSITEment also celebrates the recent five-part PBS series We Shall Remain, which was partially funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Native American Heritage Month: Check Out These Animated Stories on YouTube
Animated Stories on Youtube.com
One may not think of YouTube as being a place to find information about Native American history, but a number of individuals and tribes have taken to using animation to tell their stories. So, for Native American Heritage Month, here are a few examples of how animation has been used to tell Native stories:
The first American Indian Day was celebrated in May 1916 in New York. Red Fox James, a Blackfeet Indian, rode on horseback from state to state, getting endorsements from 24 state governments, to have a day to honor American Indians. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush declared November National American Indian Heritage Month. Today, American Indians comprise 1.3 percent of the U.S. population. Their buying power, which this year is 156 percent greater than in 2000, is expected to grow to $148 billion by 2017.
Department of Indian Affairs
National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month takes place each November and is a great way to celebrate the traditions and cultures of the first Americans. ColorinColorado.org salutes the rich history and culture of the American Indian tribes with games, books, activities, and fun!
by Tom Kunseh
“These days people seek knowledge, not wisdom. Knowledge is of the past; wisdom is of the future,” say Vernon Cooper, spiritual elder of the Lumbee or Croatoan tribe of North Carolina. The following activity is designed to help you measure your awareness of Native American influences in U.S. history and culture and, in so doing, expand your vision of a people whose wisdom marks generations of Americans from age to age. Be sure to share this information with others.
Building Your Knowledge
Learn more about Native Americans. First, encourage students to take a short quiz to see what they already know (or don’t know) about Native American Influences in U.S. History and Culture.
Library of Congress
National Endowment for the Humanities
National Gallery of Art
National Park Service
November is National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month – the perfect time to explore Education World’s resources on the history and culture of America’s original inhabitants.
Formal American Indian heritage recognition began in 1915, when Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to recognize the “First Americans” with their own day. American Indian Day was later recognized by the annual Congress of the American Indian Association on the second Saturday of each May
Native American Studies Primer
NATIVE AMERICANS IN FILM AND LITERATURE
NATIVE AMERICANS STEREOTYPING
NATIVE AMERICANS PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS AND JOURNALS
BOARDING SCHOOL ERA
AMERICAN INDIAN MOVEMENT
RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY