The Earth Ethic Way

by John Thunder Malloy (Nov 20, 2014)

JohnThunderMalloyWhat are some of the things you got from your involvement with Native Americans that have helped you? 

Well, number one, the Earth ethic. Indigenous people believe that all life is sacred. That’s what we –500 mile spirit runners– run for. It sounds like a simple statement. All life is sacred. Well when you start realizing that the sky is sacred, the Earth is sacred, the water is sacred—all these things are sacred—you don’t get pushed around. […]

I use the Earth ethic all the time with kids who feel suicidal or homicidal. It’s like when you commit an act of violence, you are basically disconnecting yourself. You are putting yourself outside the circle. You are connected to the circle. The circle includes the plants, the trees, and all life forms. You need to know the names of these trees. You need to be able to talk to that animal that’s hurt, that’s never going to fly again because it was shot out of the sky by someone who doesn’t know any better. We can’t fix it like you fix your leg, because the bones are hollow.

The kids start learning. Pretty soon they start realizing that the bear is our relative. Well, if he’s a relative, respect and fear are two different things. Do you have to fear that bear? You have to know that bear’s way. We tell you about these animals and you fall in love with them. Why is that?

The Native Americans have taught me that everything is connected. Those sage bushes out in the desert, why are their leaves smaller? Why do their roots go down so far? Why is that? Because they’ve got to communicate to the next plant. They might say I’ve got more than I need. You can have this. You start seeing how sophisticated and universal these truths are. […]

It totally went along with what Native people had showed me. And that’s what I wanted, because I saw urban, wounded people coming and the psychiatry didn’t work. The medical model didn’t work. Science didn’t work. Behavioral practices didn’t work. What worked was the indigenous way where you see the god in everything. You revere everything. You learn the wind is sending you a message. You start honoring the invisible world. You start having a wow! in your life. The Native way is so freeing.

People say what are you talking about? They’ve got unemployment. They’ve got drugs. They’ve got domestic violence and stuff. But they don’t pause and look at, hey, that was intentional. You know? That was government strategy. I’ll give you alcohol. I’ll give you a blanket with TB. Few know about the California trail of tears. People go to Sacramento to see Sutter’s Fort and “Oh, what an interesting fort.” They don’t see how he started on the Oregon border and his mission was to kill every living Indian there was. […]

The point is we imprison ourselves. I know people in prison more free than people walking around here. So we disable ourselves. If you’re comparing yourself like, “I can’t read like him,” or “I can’t run like him,” or “I can’t paint like that,” you’re basically putting coats over your power—which is a native way of saying missing your medicine. You have a responsibility to discover your medicine. And once you discover it, now your responsibility is to share it. That’s what this school did.

So you become a servant for the rest of your life. You don’t have a choice. I don’t have a choice. My own direction is north. That’s what I was given. You go north. There are going to be obstacles, but I was never daunted by the obstacles, which were plenty. Obstacles were never from those who had nothing. It was never from students or parents. It was always administrators who wanted to block your vision. A kid can run six miles who is just a street kid who has been slamming dope. So what else can they do? These kids also had to talk in front of a couple hundred people within weeks.

–John Malloy. Excerpt from interview in Works & Conversations: We Are All In This Together. [Illustration offered as an anonymous gift :-)]


About pancho

To live in radical joyous shared servanthood to unify the Earth family.
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1 Response to The Earth Ethic Way

  1. Sara king says:

    I read the comment above about the earth ethic. I was compelled to leave a comment. I completely understand what was written. I understand being connected to all living things . Being in tuned with our earth and having respect for all creatures.
    On such a deep level I feel I understand the past to the present of the native American history. I understand how people of these lands became so broken by this government. I understand because I am a people living under this government too. I am broken too. My children are lost and broken now as well.
    I was born in California in 1984 to a teen mother living in poverty. From the moment I was born. I was jaded. I knew quite young I did not fit in. I was always alone. I was not excepted. I was quite and meek. I struggled from the very beginning in school. I was not interested in the teacher or students. I would spend my time at school looking out the window watching the birds and squirrels. I felt like I was in jail. I felt like I was being punished. At recess I sat in tree’s alone of course. I was happy there. I was intimidated by the playground. The tree was safe. After school I would run home and spend the rest of my day playing in whatever peace of nature was around where I lived at the time. It could be a creek, inside a bush or even in a ditch overgrown with weeds. Wherever I could hide in nature to daydream of being free and running through the forest . wherever I could get away from the man made world around me. That is where I would be.
    From the day I was born I did not fit in. Everyone thought there was something wrong with me and I was punished by society for it. I was punished for poor academics, for daydreaming, I was punished for being over sensitive and shy, for being anti-social and for never staying clean.
    I heard stories of indigenous cultures and the way they lived. I saw pictures and they where full of beauty and color. I would daydream of living amongst these people. How fascinating. How enriching.Then when I was 8yrs old I found out my ancestry on two sides is Native American part Blackfoot part Arapahoe from Fort Beltnapp. I was so excited. I couldn’t believe it. How amazing was that. Why didn’t anyone tell me before. That summer we set out on a road trip from California to Montana. We spent a month in Montana touring the countryside,mountains and meeting relatives I never new about. I did not know my great grandfather was half Arapahoe. I did not know my grandmother spent every summer as a child on the reservation. Why was I so deprived of such a good thing. Twards the end of our trip we visited Ft . Beltnapp during a powwow. I was so excited and a little nervous. When we arrived I was all smiles. The colors, the drums drumming, the dancing the people. I felt like I was home for the first time. These people obviously didn’t have money. The children simply dressed with long flowing hair running around in the dirt playing with sticks. My eyes lit up. For the first time in my life I eagerly run over to the children playing and introduce my self. Some spoke English and some did not. They spoke back. I stood there for a minute trying to understand what they where saying. They looked angry. Finally I put the gestures with the words. They where telling me to go away. They told me they didn’t want to play with me. They said they wouldn’t play with me because I was white. Because my people hurt their people. I did not understand. I did not know what they where talking about. My people??? What people are they talking about. They said it’s because I am white. I had never thought about skin color before. I grew up in southern California. Most of the children at my schools I went to where ether Black or Hispanic and skin color was never a topic. Ok so they are brown with dark eyes and black hair. I am white with green eyes and light brown hair. The first time I ever thought about that. I stood silent not knowing what to say. Actually I don’t think I could have spoke. I had a lump in my throat. The children ran off leaving me standing there. I stood still for a moment trying to proses what had just happened. Then it sunk in. I ran off crying and hid in the corner of the canvas covering the ceremony and dancers. I felt completely alone in the world. I held on to the corner of the canvas trying to cover myself like a blanket trying to find comfort in it. I was so ashamed to be me and didn’t even know why. I didn’t want to be white. I was angry for being born white. The white people didn’t like me cuz I was different and the natives didn’t like me because I was white. No one liked me. I should have never been born. Then an elder women across the way who saw what happened looked me in the eyes and patted the ground next to her. I walked over sniffling. She wrapped her arm around me and told me I was beautiful. Told me it is not my fault. She told me I am perfect just the way I am. That was the first time anyone had ever told me that. I smiled at her with tears still trickling down my face. She explained the history of her people and how the white mans government slaughtered so many natives. She explained how her people are still being pushed down and explained how her people are broken and they’re children have learned from there parents to hate white people. I understood. I couldn’t help but feel sympathetic and feel a deep sorrow in my heart. Such beautiful people so broken now. I felt even more so shameful to be white. I wondered for years after that with understanding if that’s how black people and Hispanic people felt. I was uncomfortable being around other people of different skin color because I felt ashamed for what my white ancestors had done. As if it where me. While still dealing with my own rejection in society. I truly was alone. I understood. But was still alone. Finally my home life unraveled and by 11yrs old I was on my own. I found my self wandering the city streets alone. No family, no friends, no people. It didn’t take long before I found people or people found me. They where a bunch of displaced young people who where in the same boat. They never fit in to society. They too had been punished for being different. One of them said he spotted me a mile away. I was one of them. They too at some point found themselves wondering alone as well. I asked if there where more people like us. They said there many people across the world like us especially in America because of our suppressive government. They said we are a broken people but we can stand up and choose to heal. We can choose to be free. That was one of the best moments of my life. A heavy weight lifted. I was not alone. I found my place. I can choose to live the way I want. They where young and old people that made their own clothes, very colorful and unique. They played music on the streets. Different than any other music. They danced in a way you could tell they where truly free. Through years I traveled in school busses, hitchhiked and road fright. We migrate south in the winter and north in the summer. We are Manny colors all choosing to heal. To not be broken. To live outside this broken society. We created a culture of people growing fast. We are called gypsies, vagabonds,hobos, ramblers, hippies and bumbs. We are every culture combined into one. The United states government does not like us. They are scared of us because they cannot control us. I became a very happy enlightened person I was truly free. Traveling from forest to dessert to ocean. Riding on freight trains braking the laws of society with the wind in my hair. I have been beaten, raped, in prisoned left to die in the middle of nowhere. I have been stripped of my identity so I could be broken. All by this system called order. They can’t break me. They only created a stronger worrier. As I’ve gotten older I have given birth 5 times. Raising my children to understand complete freedom. To love and respect nature. To live by true morality. They where happy thriving unique creatures. But the corrupt government and blind citizens of this country know they can’t get to us individually but they can by taking our children. So that’s what they have done. Taken my children from me. As long as I live under there rules and have a number to track me. I get to keep my children. So here we are surviving alone in a man made square box. Abiding by there nonsense laws. So my children have there mother. Everyday my children beg me to take them away from here. They beg me to take them “home”. They to are like me. They to where born understand they where different. But is it better to be born in captivity then set free Or be born free and taken captive. While the indigenous people around the world are dieing out. A new people living free off this land of all cultures is being born. But these corrupt governments are trying to suppress us to extinction like our fellow indigenous Natives.

    Please respond back with your comments.

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