Native American Bearing Witness Retreat



What is a Bearing Witness Retreat?

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From 10 to 15 of August 2015, Zen Peacemakers will be holding the Bearing Witness Retreat in South Dakota.

This retreat will focus on the American Indian genocide and oppression that began with the sixteenth century and continues to this day. While a defining event of this era is the massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota on December 29, 1890, this is just the tip of the iceberg. What we are most blind to is the continuous institutional violence practiced on the First Nations, comprising treaty violations, Congressional acts that permit thievery of their land and resources, the building of dams and flooding of burial grounds hundreds of years old, and the constant encroachment of corporate interests looking to “develop” these lands commercially and mine sacred sites for various metals, including uranium.

Although hundreds of Native American tribes have been either eliminated, drastically reduced in number, exiled, and traumatized in many ways, the Lakota / Dakota people of the Western Plains have gained a prominent position in the world psyche as a major archetype of what has befallen America’s native people.

The retreat will be multi-faith and multinational in character, based on the Zen Peacemaker Order’s Three Tenets:

  1. Not-Knowing, giving up fixed ideas about ourselves and the universe.
  2. Bearing Witness to the joy and suffering of the world.
  3. Taking Action that arises from the first two Tenets.

and the Seven Laws of the Lakota:

  • · Wacante Oganake: Be generous
  • · Wowaunsila: Have Compassion
  • · Wowauonihan: Give Respect and Honor
  • · Wowacintanka: Have Patience and Tolerance
  • · Wowahwala: Be Humble
  • · Woohitike: Be Guided By Your Principles, Disciplined, Brave and Courageous
  • · Woksape: Cultivate Understanding and Wisdom.
Photo by Aaron Huey

Photo by Aaron Huey