Twenty Commandments for Ethical Living

High Desert Canyon, Photo by Romain Guy

High Desert Canyon, Photo by Romain Guy

1. Rise with the sun to pray. Pray alone. Pray often. The Great Spirit will listen, if you only speak.

2. Be tolerant of those who are lost on their path. Ignorance, conceit, anger, jealousy and greed stem from a lost soul. Pray that they will find guidance.

3. Search for yourself, by yourself. Do not allow others to make your path for you. It is your road and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.

4. Treat the guests in your home with much consideration. Serve them the best food, give them the best bed and treat them with respect and honor.

5. Do not take what is not yours whether from a person, a community, the wilderness or from a culture. If it was not earned or given, it is not yours.

6. Respect all things that are placed upon this earth - whether it is people or plant.

7. Honor other people's thoughts, wishes and words. Never interrupt another or mock or rudely mimic them. Allow each person the right to personal expression.

8. Never speak of others in a bad way. The negative energy that you put out into the universe will multiply when it returns to you.

9. All people make mistakes, and all mistakes can be forgiven.

10. Bad thoughts cause illness of the mind, body and spirit. Practice optimism.

11. Nature is not FOR us, it is a PART of us. They are part of your worldly family.

12. Children are the seeds of our future. Plant love in their hearts and water them with wisdom and life's lessons. When they are grown, give them space to grow.

13. Avoid hurting the hearts of others. The poison of your pain will return to you.

14. Be truthful at all times. Honesty is the test of ones will within this universe.

15. Keep yourself balanced. Your Mental self, Spiritual self, Emotional self, and Physical self - all need to be strong, pure and healthy. Work out the body to strengthen the mind. Grow rich in spirit to cure emotional ails.

16. Make conscious decisions as to who you will be and how you will react. Be responsible for your own actions.

17. Respect the privacy and personal space of others. Do not touch the personal property of others - especially sacred and religious objects. This is forbidden.

18. Be true to yourself first. You cannot nurture and help others if you cannot nurture and help yourself first.

19. Respect others religious beliefs. Do not force your belief on others.

20. Share your good fortune with others. Participate in charity.

Editor-in-Chief: @ayannanahmias
LinkedIn: Ayanna Nahmias

Redskins' Trademark Cancelled by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office


Michael Ransom, Contributing EditorLast Modified: 05:37 p.m. DST, 18 June 2014

"Washington Redskins helmet"  Photo by: Keith AllisonALEXANDRIA, Virginia -- The US Patent and Trademark Office came down hard on the Washington Redskins organization today, 18 June 2014, canceling the National Football League franchise's exclusive rights to the logo and name. Now, the Redskins trademarks will not belong solely to the team, and may be used by a host of marketing and equipment businesses, pending future bargaining.

Several Native American tribes and advocacy groups are hoping that this could be the incentive that owner Dan Snyder needs in order to change the name of the organization. This decision is part of a larger movement in US professional sports to encourage players, owners and coaches to act with common decency.

The decision follows the high-profile controversy surrounding Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, the racist statements he made about black people, and the NBA executive decision to pressure Sterling to sell the Clippers franchise. Another recent media blitz centered around Twitter postings made by Miami Dolphins player Don Jones, who made derogatory comments about NFL newcomer Michael Sam, after Sam and his partner were shown kissing during the 2014 NFL Draft.

Washington owner Dan Snyder has made inflammatory comments about the Redskins name being a "badge of honor" for Native Americans. Hold on, Snyder. How can the title "Redskin" be an honorary title, when it is simply an antiquated way of describing an ethnic group by their complexion? While you, Mr. Snyder, see the name as such a privileged distinction, several American Indian tribes and organizations do not. And 26 of these groups are demonstrating today on behalf of the name change.

Snyder has stated his allegiance to the name many times, once saying: "we owe it to our fans and coaches and players, past and present, to preserve that heritage." The words Snyder uses to describe his so-called obligation to the franchise leave me with an uncomfortable feeling, as they do many people. Why he would bring up the "heritage" of a group of sports fans, obviously indicating that this imaginary heritage trumps actual tribal heritage? Why he would choose the word "heritage" in  the first place is beyond me.

To Mr. Snyder, and other people who believe that their interpretation of the Redskins insignia is more important than the Native American people who are a living representation of the Redskins organization: why does the "heritage" of corporatized sports team eclipse the heritage of hundreds of various tribal communities living throughout the United States?

For Snyder, the Redskins logo may be a "badge of honor", but to me that term is far from a compliment or a term of respect, since that title has been denounced by countless American Indians as a badge of hatred and racism.

The comments by Snyder are just one aspect in which Native Americans are treated as if they are not living, breathing people, as important and valuable as any human living today. Snyder continues to paint native cultures as a caricature, a simple icon, something bound to the past. All the while, he acts as if the Natives Americans living in the shadow of this logo benefit in any way by their representation. From the merchandise worth millions of dollars, plastered all over various pieces of apparel and jerseys, to the face of the iconic Redskin on the drink koozies of intoxicated ticket holders, I see no way in which this so-called "badge of honor" actually honors the American Indians.

Snyder's obligations to the "heritage" of the Redskins organization are insensitive and wrong. Everybody knows that Snyder's main concern is his revenue and the bottom line. His "heritage" comments seem to me to be a misplaced acknowledgment of his failed responsibility to protect the wishes of the people behind the logo.

Here's hoping that the Patent and Trademark Office's decision today will provide Snyder with enough of an economic incentive to make the proper, principled decision, even if the impetus for the name change comes only in consideration of dollars and cents.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

The Wolf of the Matter


Two Wolves | A Cherokee Legend

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego."

He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute, then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

1/3 Native Women Are Raped, Non-Indian Attackers Still Immune to Prosecution


Michael Ransom, Contributing EditorLast Modified: 15:25 p.m. DST, 19 May 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. - On American Indian reservations, Native women's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are seriously threatened. Study after study confirm the appalling frequency at which Indigenous women are raped, sexually assaulted and battered. Throughout Indian country, more than one-third of women will be raped during their lifetime.

Today, it is no secret that these women stand a greater chance of being assaulted than living unscathed. The US Department of Justice found that 61% of American Indian women have been subjected to some form of physical assault. Because of the historic and ongoing inaction of the federal government, these women experience a crapshoot application of security and justice.

More disturbing is the role that American citizens and officials play--and don't play--in the violence. Over 70% of assailants are not tribal members, but rather American nationals who entered reservations for a variety of reasons. Some come to hunt. Other perpetrators live with woman who they abuse. And many simply cross the street into neighboring Indian country. [When tribal lands were downsized by the federal government, the borderlines of reservations were manipulated.]

This territorial patchwork could be acceptable, if tribal law applied to non-Natives who travel into reservation grounds. But, reservations are considered dependent nations according to US policy, and therefore cannot arrest, try or incarcerate non-Natives. Heinous crimes like rape are therefore defacto permissible, and a violent or deranged man can assault a women in Indian country with legal immunity.

According to the Supreme Court decision in Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe, Federal prosecutors have jurisdiction in reservation regions. This 1978 ruling set a dangerous precedent of nonexistent federal law enforcement, and fundamentally compromised tribal attempts to self-govern and protect members. In 2011, the Justice Department put a plan in motion to place Assistant Attorneys in prosecution capacities within reservations, and a task force to prioritize the safety of women and children.

Many see these measures as too little, and certainly decades late. Indian country largely remains a lawless area, and not because American Indians want it that way. Before 2010, councils were unable to sentence Indian convicts to less than one year of jail time. Recently enacted, the Tribal Law and Order Act now allows tribal courts to incarcerate members for up to three years. Unfortunately, that is the limit, even for the most deplorable crimes.

The roadblocks to prosecution are embedded in the established legislation, but progressive action is beginning to take shape. President Barack Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act in early 2013. This legislation will help protect domestic violence committed by non-Indian husbands, but fails to address non-Indian attackers that are outsiders in the community. When seven of every ten attackers are protected from prosecution, the law is far from impressive. Plus, it is only in a trial phase now in three reservations.

Conservative members of Congress decreased provisions that would punish non-Indian criminals, concerned that non-Native suspects would not receive far trial, and may be crucified for the historic crimes against the First People of the continent. Perhaps the fears of these lawmakers are just projection; statistics clearly show that women are victimized by the current legal system, not men. Republicans would be hard-pressed to find instances where White men have been wronged by the intersection of American and Native law codes.

The United States continually plays Big Brother to tribal officials. By butting into supposed tribal authority, Washington limits the power of the Native justice system as to render it ineffective. Plainly, reservations do not want a weak police force and court system, but many in the federal government would rather risk women's well-being than see bolstered Indigenous agency of any kind.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

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