The Pope: The Mockery of First Nations Spiritual Beliefs

“When you fear criticizing certain individuals or groups, you know who your masters are,” so said an Armenian man I met years ago at a conference. His words flooded my mind last week when Chief Wilton Littlechild presented, as a gift to the Pope, an eagle feather headdress. The photo I saw of the Pope, the headdress adorning his head, was spiritually sickening to me. What an offence! The eagle feather is sacred to First Nations people who hold it close during trying times. We embrace it as a symbol of Indigenous spiritual beliefs! I was taught after my sobriety began 34 years ago that a human being could do a lifetime of good deeds and not receive even one eagle feather. Yet somehow, the Pope was gifted with a headdress filled with many of the sacred feathers. For what? Because he apologized? How does that make him worthy of being within even 50 ft. of an eagle feather? Other activists and I sometimes wonder if some men recognized as Indigenous leaders suffer onto themselves the weight of an inferiority complex. It is something they can shed from their shoulders anytime they wish but cling to it instead.

What else are we to conclude when powerful First Nations leaders defend Chief Wilton Littlechild for gifting the Pope with an artifact (feather headdress) of such profound spiritual embodiment to us, who regard the eagle feather as something allowing the Creator’s messenger to soar. Have these leaders forgotten that the First Nations people are struggling to revive a spirituality Canada outlawed until into the 1950’s? Have they forgotten that the Pope is the head of a church responsible for bringing cruelty to their people and miserable deaths to thousands of our children? The giving of eagle feathers to the Pope was to me, a vile mockery of First Nations spiritual beliefs. These leaders have lost, not only my respect by defending what Littlechild did but also that of probably tens of thousands of other First Nations individuals who honour the eagle feather as something of great spiritual significance and purpose. Do they care? Only time will tell. Keep in mind that if a Pope had ever come to our lands and gifted one of our Grand Chiefs a solid gold chalice filled with wafers (the eucharist) the Pope had personally blessed, it would be clear to all that the Catholic Church had collapsed! Lost its way! And was no longer an entity worthy of millions of followers.

The Pope revealed in an interview on his return to Rome that it had not “come to mind” that he should mention “genocide” in his apologies. Didn’t come to mind? I wonder why it is that Indigenous leadership didn’t bring it to mind, bluntly and forcibly to the Pope. Why did they neglect to do so? Perhaps they feared that the reaction of the “master” would be too difficult for them to endure.

During the week the Pope was in Canada I heard or read comments made by Indigenous people signalling their inferiority to the masters. “He (the Pope) is God’s representative on this planet,” said one. Sorry, but he is not! All of us, you, me and every other human being on this planet is God’s/Creator’s representative while living out our lives on this earth. You either fail in surrounding yourself with Creator’s teachings or you embrace them with all the strength of your spirit. Another statement: “I felt his pain, I felt his sorrow, I felt his heart.” Strange, because I did not! All I saw was an old man reading from a prepared script and I felt nothing because of it. No emotion whatsoever came forth!

I remember a white man saying back in the 1970’s: “Why are those Indians always whining? We brought them the word of the Lord! And for that alone, they should be forever thankful for European presence on these lands.” If bringing “the word of the Lord” here to Turtle Island is what brought the Indian Act and severe oppression of this county’s original inhabitants, then I would rather the word of the Lord had stayed in Europe.

Keep the Circle Strong,

South Wind (Albert Dumont)

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4 Responses to The Pope: The Mockery of First Nations Spiritual Beliefs

  1. Cecile Dumont says:

    I watched in disbelief as Chief Littlechild gifted a headdress to the Pope. This unexpected gesture was undeserving and angered me. Gifting a headdress is one of the highest honours not befitting the head of the Catholic Church. The Pope wore the headdress briefly before having it removed by his staff. I don’t expect he will ever wear it again.

  2. Eileen McRae says:

    They still do not understand the culture of the indigenous peoples.

  3. Chris Silvermoon Cutler says:

    I am a Supporter of MMIWG2S and their Families and Support Residential School Surviours. I walk The Red Road I Am Anglican & a Non Indigenous Women who is awoken I have been gifted A Eagle Feather and
    Am Honoured To Carry My Eagle Feather With The Deepest Respect Honour and Humility.I Was Very Shocked By The Presentation of HeadDress and Knew it would be Deeply Painful For Many Survivors. I have taken responsibility for The Genocide My Ancestors were a part of. My Ancestors have been guests in The Home Land of The Bethouk/ Miqmac People and We Are Included In The Encyclopedia on Genocide.
    I again offer my Deepest Sorrow.
    In Peace and Friendship Chris

  4. Lynn Gehl says:

    Miigwetch Albert. We much also remember the genocide continues through the Algonquin land claims process in Ontario. Take care old man. Lynn

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