The two-minute video above was taken in 1894. There are three separate clips that show up. It is unique — rare and old footage of Native Americans drumming and dancing. It is also a testament to the lingering intricacy and total culture and traditions of a people who, by then, had faced near-genocide by white settlers.
Each individual wears clothing symbolic of their way of life and for the purpose of the dance. Each one has preserved traditions that had existed for centuries, millennia even. This culture in all its forms, now almost obliterated, is still treated with bigotry and persecution, four hundred years after the Pilgrims landed and stepped into the American wilderness, a landscape that did not belong to them.
It was not a shining hour for the European invaders — it was a travesty against life. One has to ask why. And no answer comes.
But one of my greatest heroes, Dr. Jane Goodall, was asked how she could feel hope in the midst of what was described as the planet’s race to annihilate itself, much of which she has witnessed firsthand. Dr. Goodall said she finds the good, and focuses on that. It is what gives her strength, and energy, and trust in the universal truth — that whether we know it or not, we are meant to discover how to live in harmony and with compassion.
There are powerful forces in Native American culture. These forces come out of immense reverence for the earth, for all of Nature, and for the Great Spirit. Native American traditional drumming, some of which is sounded in the video, has always been a way to express this deep connection.
Our world has let go of this reverence, not only for the planet’s ecology, but for its inhabitants. What is to become of us if we let things continue this way?
We are each responsible for the answer to that question. What drives us to care, or not to care? And if we do not care, do we understand why not? It is vital that we come to understand our state of heart, for then we can change our perceptions, and see how to offer hope instead of fear and destruction to our children and their children, onward into the future.
Not everyone wants or needs to be an activist on a wide platform. But everyone has the freedom to act in their own corner of the universe according to their values. It is a choice we always are free to make. So that is where our responsibility lies. Every thought we have, every word we speak, every action we carry out help shape this world into what it is now and what becomes of it.
Our heart — our actual, physical heartbeat — is in direct synchronization with the pulsing — the drumbeat — of the earth. This has been scientifically measured. It is no accident. We sense this for ourselves when we walk barefoot in the grass or on sand. We feel it when we enter the natural world in silence. We know this when we listen to the sound of a thunderstorm. And a thousand other times, we know.
It is a knowing that comes when we are willing, for even just a single moment, to live in harmony with the earth and with ourselves. For the Native Americans who were here before the European invasion, this was the way of life. For the invaders, such harmony of body and spirit was an unknown, and has stayed an unknown for many of their descendants for a very long time.
Be still in this moment and listen to the beating of your own heart and feel the rhythm of it matched below your feet by a force you have perhaps taken for granted until now. The drumbeat of Mother Earth runs constantly in a column of energy up and through you and matches your heart’s sound. It rises into the soaring core of your own spirit. What you feel is the vibration of God.
We are all meant to live in awareness of its presence.