Education

MAGA hat standoff with Indigenous American Vet turns into teachable moment

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Illustration by Nikkolas


By Marcus “Quese Imc” Frejo (Pawnee, Seminole, and Mexican)

It’s always beautiful when you see your vision become reality.

It was an honor to be with the people this weekend at the Indigenous Peoples Movement, to watch, support, walk, vibe, spiritually align and use my hand-drum to sing.

When I left Oklahoma city to DC in my car “White Wolf”, LOL yes White Wolf, my ‘war pony’ is still running — believe it or not, I left with a prayer in my heart, an offering on the altar, peace in my spirit and excitement throughout my whole body.

My mind was set upon a journey of love, openness and renewal for myself and all those I might cross paths with on my journey.

After Standing Rock, I took a step back to listen, watch, pray and rebuild my spirit for a time so that I could really understand what the Creator was trying to show me.

The sickness that people carry of division and hate is rooted in that ancient destructive nature and that ancient enemy is mimicking spirituality through technology everyday teaching new generations what is wrong to be right.

What is the solution and what is love without the agenda of indoctrinated religions using the word of God as a weapon of mass destruction?

Where is love?

Can love prevail?

Do you even love yourself?

Do you even know what it means to love yourself?

If you don’t love yourself how could you ever tear down walls internally that keep us divided?

How would you even understand how to love us when you can’t even see the sun rise over your own internal walls of fear?

I stand against any wall that divides us out of fear and hate.

I’m Pawnee and Seminole, from warrior women and men Kaki Kuritu.

On our Pawnee flag, we have a ratwiskaru (sacred pipe) and a tomahawk that crosses each other, and it symbolizes how we will accommodate you:

If you come in peace, we will bring the pipe and smoke together, but if you come as war, we will bring the tomahawk.

There is a time for everything, and this past Friday, I chose to stand in peace with the elder Nathan [Phillips].

But, I am a warrior!

But to you, who are listening, I say:

Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you.

Bless those who curse you.

Pray for those who mistreat you.

Here’s my account of what happened, for me; it was deeper in so many ways.

After the march had ended and we did this super large round-dance, the spirit was still moving.

I noticed everybody leaving so I started walking around soaking in all the good medicine because I knew I was gonna need this for my long drive back to Oklahoma City.

I was about to walk up to the Lincoln statue, but something told me to turn around. I turned around and went back down to the rally area and just breathed so deep.

My heart felt fulfilled, and I turned around 360 degrees so I could feel the four directions: the wind, the cold, the sacred Mother Moon and the spiritual residue of unity.

All of the sudden this White dude from Colorado comes up to me and says “Hey, I know you”. I’m like “really, from where”? He says, “I was at a sweat lodge ceremony with you at Oakflat four years ago”. I looked at him and said, “Oh snap! I remember that; that’s a trip”.

We immediately connected and talked about the march and the energy when all the sudden a queen comes up and starts visiting with us about how she came all the way from Vegas to stand in solidarity and how her heart was touched in so many ways. It was hella beautiful.

Then all of the sudden this mob of youth from the Covington Catholic high school make their way onto the steps overlooking the African-American brothers and start heckling them with loud “Make America Great Again” chants, and then I quickly realized what was going on when the White-bro next to me says “They’re wearing Make America Great Again hats and shirts.

At that moment I’m looking for my brother Nym because I know he has his drum, and I thought: I wanna go over there and stand in solidarity with the brothers and just sing.

I then see Nym and he happened to be right by Nathan. Nym hands Nathan his drum so he could sing. I walk over to Nathan, and he already knows I’m ready to sing.

As I pan the crowd in shock of what is going on because it was happening so fast I grabbed my camera and started recording.

As I was recording, I watched this youth walk to the front of the mob crowd, take his shirt off, get the crowd riled up, then appeared to do what seemed like an appropriated version of the ancient Maori Haka and apparently it was, and they call it the “sumo chant”.

I shook my head in disappointment.

What else can’t these guys appropriate and disrespect?

Shortly after I filmed a bit, I went back over to Nathan, grabbed my drum and walked with him over in between the two feuding sides.

I figured, if we could sing these prayer songs, these warriors songs that are tied to so many hopes and tears and pull energy from our ancestors, Creator God and the spiritual residue from the Indigenous Peoples Movement rally — prior to this, then we can’t go wrong.

That spirit was moving, and you could feel it.

It was moving through us.

It was in the air, the wind.

It was surreal and very powerful.

As we made our way with our drums, I heard from my left, one of the African American brothers say, “Yes, bring those drums, bring that spirit, bring that spirit”.

I knew then something beautiful was happening.

During those first few leads of the song, the youth surrounded us and one of the African-American brothers said, “Don’t you touch them; don’t you touch them”.

The spiritual solidarity that was taking place at that moment was Waruksti (sacred), and I felt it was a time of need.

This country is in a state of emergency: mentally, emotionally, politically, spiritually and so on and so forth.

At that moment it was drum, song, spirit and solidarity that was needed to show the world that what we’ve carried, for so long as a people, will carry us in time of need.

And when that happens, the spirit will scare away that sickness.

But it takes time.

When we were singing, you could hear the learned bigotry.

You could hear the mocking, the laughs, the hate, the racism.

As I looked around, I thought who taught these kids to hate?

Who taught them to be this way?

Who taught them to disrespect an elder in this way?

At any moment it could have got really bad, and I knew that.

But I figured that I’ll be right here next to this elder if anything does happen.

It’s how you teach a child. Every day, instilling in their young minds either love or hate.

And with so much hate in the media, within technology, within the people: How could these kids even know any better?

It’s passed-down racism, and we’re told that during these times people will show you how they are.

In such a crucial time, how does a youth learn?: Through repetitive action of repeating something over and over and over and over until finally, it becomes their, own, thoughts — learned behaviors.

So, if they are taught to carry on a new generation of racism from home or school, how could they be taught different without experience or journeys outside their, own, walls?

Journeys to meet people from different places, visit, make friends, experience different cultures and beliefs.

The world is seriously in need of spiritual healing and solidarity.

And for that moment, I wanted to stand for what was right.

So we sang.

We sang the same song over and over and over and over until something interesting happened and didn’t expect.

When it happened, I realized what it was because I recognized it.

In all these years, working with youth programs, doing suicide, alcohol and drug prevention, one of the things that we did in our program was a hand-drum making workshops.

That consisted of inviting youth to participate in making their first hand-drum.

We then would gift them with a native song to go with their hand-drum and tell them that “Wherever you go with this hand-drum, you will also carry this song and be able to utilize the song for prayer, healing, strength and even events, rallies, protests and marches.

To teach the song, I would sing it over and over and over and over until finally, they would catch it.

When they would catch the song, you could see the spirit in them change.

They would light up.

Just like our African-American brothers recognized that drum, they knew that spirit was with it, with all of us.

At that moment, you couldn’t deny the power of what the ancestors were doing in the midst of that ignorance and hate.

All Nathan had to do was sing that same song over and over and over and over until at some point some of those MAGA youth started to sing the actual song with us not realizing what they were doing.

Somewhere in that circle, that spirit was moving.

I was told that when that happens, it slowly moves out the sickness.

We were in the center of that circle, pushing the good medicine outward.

Everything happens for a reason at a certain time, and people are chosen to do great things.

It’s just whether or not they can step into their true self and live.

It was an honor to stand next to elder Nathan.

Now, I know why I was meant to hang out after everyone left.

I been living it all weekend, and it’s been extremely beautiful and healing.

When we saw that song and those two drums bring peace to that circle, I knew we did a good thing when all the sudden the youth said “come on let’s go” and just walked away.

As I was walking out of there, I heard one of the African-American brothers say “that’s that drum, that spirit, they just walked away”.

It takes time and patience.

I was at peace, and I knew anger would get me nowhere in there.

I just wanted to help; nothing more.

After we headed out, we all walked together. We laughed. We reminisced about Standing Rock, and then we got in White Wolf and rolled to the Songbyrd with our new friends, who got to see us perform our hip-hop show.

What an awesome night.

Ahooooo!

It was an honor to be a part of that on the same space that Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his sacred vision.

I hope this country can wake up because we are all connected.

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Categories: Education, op/ed