When Mashu White Feather, of Columbia, attended the Robert Woolery Sr. Memorial Pow Wow this weekend, he didn’t dance; he was mourning. White Feather will mourn for a year the recent passing of his father, Gray Eagle, age 92.
White Feather, an Eastern Cherokee, is true to his heritage, one like many others that seems to be disappearing all over the world. Just as he mourns his father, a World War II veteran, who served with the U.S. Marines and Carlson’s Raiders, White Feather works toward establishing an organization that will hold onto the heritages of all indigenous people.
Appearing before the United Nations in New York City recently and traveling internationally he has become the voice for many.
White Feather has organized Two Feathers International Consultancy, along with Doreen Bennett, of New Zealand, and of Maori decent. Together they plan to make a difference.
“It started about five years ago as a cultural exchange between the Maori people and our Cherokee people,” he said. “It’s gown to where we have our own NGO [Non-Government Organization], working on the preservation of the sustainability of culture, tradition, language, and environment. We’ve been going to the UN for two years now. Our NGO is officially recognized by the United Nations.”
He added that they plan to travel to Geneva, Switzerland in approximately a month for a UN meeting.
“What we do, is we work with indigenous peoples all around the world to preserve and sustain their different cultures,” White Feather said. ” … Showing our people that we can maintain our traditions and still survive in the future, but to look at the world from an indigenous perspective. We call it indigenizing.”
He tries to focus on the unity of his people also.
“We refuse to lose anymore of our culture,” he added.
After more than a decade progress is being made.
“One of the things that we have through the UN, and it’s taken 14 years, is our Indigenous Bill of Rights,” White Feather added. “All countries have accepted (it). The United States was the last country to accept it. So now, all the countries are implementing that; now all indigenous people have rights that have to be upheld by law.
“I was there for the ratifying from the General Assembly … it was awesome,” he noted. “The really good thing about the United Nation is, the last time, there was indigenous people from 193 different countries. I forgot all about the politics and I turned real native and we started comparing cultures.”
White Feather, on the road for much of the time, arrived home from Siberia July 7; he traveled to England and France last March and was in New Zealand November of 2014.
He said he and Bennett are always well received in their travels, especially in other countries.
“… In other countries we’re treated exceptionally well,” he said. “It’s only when we come back home that we run into problems, in our own country.”
He said he believes the problems native people face in America is due to “racism.”
“… In some areas, especially where you have really dense indigenous populations,” White Feather noted. “… The thing is, mainstream media doesn’t carry anything newsworthy about indigenous people. We are the forgotten people. We’re the hidden people. Because the government doesn’t want us to be seen.”
He said native people are still trying to protect the land they have through action organizations such as Idle No More, that calls for a “peaceful revolution, to honour Indigenous sovereignty, and to protect the land and water.”
“We are trying to protect our treaty lands, and to stop the taking of natural resources, because that’s destroying the earth,” he said. “It’s just a non-stop battle.”
White Feather has hope that the current mind-sit about native peoples will change.
“I hope so, I’d like to think people in this day-and-age have gotten more educated,” he said. “It’s because of this (mindset) that people don’t even know we exist a lot of times.”
Two Feathers International Consultancy has its own international radio show also.
“We broadcast once a week, it’s called ‘Indigenous People’s Voice,’ on the Internet,” White Feather said. “We have over 4 million listeners around the world. It’s at AwakeRadio.us and it’s on every Monday night.
“We interview people from different tribal areas around the world,” he added. “We talk traditions and cultures and what particular sets of issues that people are dealing with; it’s uniting the world and educating. It’s not necessarily a put-down of anybody, but it just tells you how things are going and what’s going on in Indian Country.”
He added the radio program is a way to let people know that they are “still here.”
“We’re not dead yet,” he said.
For more information visit www.TwoFeathersInternationalConsultancy.com.
Reach Faith Bemiss at 826-1000 ext. 1481 or @flbemiss.