Native Protests and Repatriation of the Land

Protests such as these will not directly stop the installation of destructive infrastructure such as the Dakota Access pipeline, though the courageous and honorable actions of these protesting tribes is the most valuable statement I could imagine. Our destructive practices have hundreds of years of inertia spawning from a culture of unrestrained consumption and unapologetic destruction of any group in its way. The fangs and claws of this culture, through the will and guns of US founders, reached bloodily from it’s body in Great Britain, across an ocean, and into the flesh of this land and it’s native people.

This first injustice was a grand one, and in the unconscious of the nation will continue to live on as a blind hubris in our actions. This hubris displays itself as a haughty declaration of our right to ownership of anything within our reach.
The protest of the natives of this land is characterized by long suffering, deep loss an unbelievable strength of heart, and dedication to the land. They have continued, through broken treaty after broken treaty, fighting to preserve their multi-thousand year old cultures through lost battles, endless fights for redemptive policy, and protest.

The hundreds of tribes which existed on this land, before their slaughter, had highly developed and nuanced governing processes, conflict resolution abilities, land management practices, and developed crops. Some of this culture, despite US efforts, is still preserved within the existing members of native communities.

In November of 1969 an alliance known as Indians of All Tribes seized and occupied what is now known as Alcatraz Island for a period of 18 months. This alliance was initialized by Native American students and community members living on the West Coast. They built a thriving village on the island that drew Native American pilgrimages from around the nation.

With humor, but also sincerity, the alliance proclaimed that, “We, the Native Americans, reclaim the land known as Alcatraz island in the name of all American Indians by right of discovery. We wish to be fair and honorable in our dealings with the Caucasian inhabitants of this land and hereby offer the following treaty, ‘We will purchase said Alcatraz island for $24 in glass beads and red cloth, a precedent set by the white man’s purchase of a similar island about 300 years ago. We will give to the inhabitants of this island a portion of the land for their own, to be held in trust by the American Indian’s government and the Bureau of Caucasian Affairs to hold in perpetuity for as long as the sun shall rise and the rivers go down to the sea. We will further guide the inhabitants in the proper way of living. We will offer them our religion, our education, and our life ways in order to help them achieve our level of civilization to raise them and all their white brothers up from their savage and unhappy state. Further, it would be fitting and symbolic that ships from all over the world, entering the golden gate, would first see Indian land and be reminded of the true history of this nation. This tiny Island would be a symbol of the great lands once ruled by the nobel Indians.”

Despite the undertone of satire, this group made actual demands for the use of this island. They called for five institutions to be established on the land: a center for Native American studies, an American Indian Spiritual Center, an Indian Center of Ecology (to do scientific research on the reversal of pollution of water and air), a great Indian training school, and a memorial as a reminder that the prison had been established initially to incarcerate and execute California Indian resisters to US assault on their nations.
All indigenous residents, by the Nixon administration, were forced to evacuate the island in June of 1971.
Their request was declined, but their vision was not.

Beginning in 1971, the Sioux Indians began occupying the Black Hills, the current location of Mount Rushmore. Their demand was the return of the Black Hills to the natives. After 10 years of protest and occupation , in 1980, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Black Hills had been taken illegally and that remuneration equal to the original offering price plus interest, nearly 106 six million dollars, be paid. The Sioux refused the reward and demanded the return of the Black Hills. The money remained in an interest bearing account, and by 2010 totalled over 750 million dollars.
The Sioux Nation is noted to be one of the most difficult places to live in the United States. Males, on average, live to just 48 years old, females to 52. Despite their suffering they will not be bought.

Thought has been put into what the de-colonization and repatriatization of the land to the Natives would look like. It would come as the natural progression of a genuine apology. It would start out by admitting that we were deeply wrong and be followed up by the heartfelt question of what we can do to make it right. We would then make ourselves of service to their requests to the best of our ability. To this end I would consider myself a patriot, until then I will likely be a critic of US culture, patriotism, and it’s persistent self-destruction.

The day before the boulder

There’s one tired house in an old ghost town just North of Expiry Utah. Nobody bothered boarding up the windows of the old post office or taking down the “open” sign on the Hodgkins diner. They all just decided to up and leave the day the boulder broke loose from Mount’s Peak. It now sits on the edge of it’s millennial throne awaiting the day to plunge, and at half the size of the mountainside there’s no question where it goes.

In a place like this, with a danger like that the crows should own the sound, but every night, at a half past six, the banjo sings out loud. An old woman dances and the old man plays till the fire burns to the ground, and the sound of freedom spills out thick from every crack in the clouds.

You’d think the fear of tomorrow gone would overcast the Spring, but the sound of the birds and the smell of the rain do not seem to agree, and the clumsy thoughts of the big grey rock always seems the same, that the feel of the ground and the seed put down are the matters of today.

Black Medic – Nitrogen Fixer, Pollinator Attractor, Herbal Tea

I want to highlight a plant that I don’t hear a lot of people talking about – Black Medic (aka Medicago lupulina). Black Medic is a Florida native that is a nitrogen fixer, pollinator attractor, and medicinal plant. All of these pictures were taken in my front yard this morning (in Central Florida), and demonstrate just how dominant, beautiful, and beneficial this plant can be. As you can see from this first picture, Black Medic seeds prolifically and will grow into thick stands in the spring.


It’s also a pollinator attractor, not to mention beautiful.

The third and fourth pictures are from a plant I pulled out of the ground. You can see the nodules on these roots, which are the homes of bacteria living symbiotically within the plant’s flesh. These bacteria, in exchange for plant sugars, provide the plant with ammonia based nitrates they convert from atmospheric nitrogen, which plants are unable to use. Black Medic is one of a select number of plants referred to as “nitrogen fixers” which, with the help of these bacteria, are able to convert and use their own nitrogen, one of the most essential of plant nutrients. This ability allows them to live in nutrient deficient soils and provide for nearly all of their needs literally out of thin air. Carbon, also taken in from the atmosphere, along with this converted nitrogen, largely make up the biomass of the plant. Once the plant dies its accumulated biomass is then returned to the soil for other organisms and plants to use. This is one of the major sources through which soil is built over time.


Black Medic is also used by herbalists as a tea or infusion for it’s calming effect. Shoot, it relaxes me just knowing that it exists. And it’s flowering right now! so go see where it is growing around your yard and collect some seeds!

Beneficial insects – aphids, parasitic wasps, and fungus

I was lucky enough to go out in my garden this morning and capture this amazing picture. The untrained eye may not realize it, but there is a LOT going on here, and it is an excellent demonstration of beneficial/predatory pest relationships. IMGA0901 If you look closely you will see aphids in three different forms here. The first aphid (small translucent green) is a living and thriving aphid who is being farmed by an ant. Aphids eat plant sugars by penetrating the protective surface of the plant and releasing the food. The ant, that you see, has a mutually beneficial relationship with the aphid. The ants corral the aphids, try to protect them from predators, and even bring their eggs down into their mounts to protect them during the cold season, bringing them back up when the weather is again suitable. In return for their labor, the ants get the pleasure of “milking” the aphids. They jostle the little creatures while they are sucking the plant sugars and cause them to spill their spoils. The ants then harvest the plant sugars for themselves and their friends.

The next aphid you will see in the picture is a parasitized aphid. This aphid has a large, brown body, and is actually dead. A parasitic wasp has laid an egg inside of him, allowing his body to be used as food for the developing pupae. In this next picture you will see that some of the brown bodies have holes in the rear and some do not. The holes are where the wasps have hatched. IMGA0906 The third aphid you see, in the first picture, is covered in a blueish green fuzz. This is a beneficial (to us), parasitic fungus which infects and feeds on living aphids As you can see, from this broader picture, the plant (Okinawa spinach) was covered in aphids, but upon closer examination it can be seen that over 90% of them are parasitized or killed by beneficial fungus. IMGA0907 Sometimes, when I have harmful insect infestations, I use organic sprays or manual labor to remove the pest, but it is important to only do this when it is necessary for the life of the plant. The reason for this is because predatory/beneficial insects need these pests to maintain their populations in your ecosystem. This is just one small example of how allowing natural ecosystems to evolve and develop in our food producing ecosystems can solve many of our problems.

January OPM Newsletter!

February Orlando Permaculture Meeting

Date: Tues, Feb 3
Time: 5-7PM (yard tour and design), 7-9PM (Meeting)
Topic: Permaculture plants of Central Florida
Address: 345 Woodlawn Cemetery Road, Gotha, FL 34734

Thank you to everyone that came and joined us for both the January permaculture meeting and action day. Nelson, our January meeting host, did an excellent job of providing us a comfortable, fire lit, meeting place and an open kitchen for all the hummus Devi blessed us with and the bounty of vegan cupcakes provided by Hae-Yuan, Sam, and the rest of the Peanut Butter Palace crew.

We talked about companion planting, traded some plants, and enjoyed great company.



We also had a great turnout and very productive day at the Peanut Butter Palace as we prepped and planted some new garden beds,


cleared and composted some brush,


Enjoyed the company of new friends and old,


took pictures of cool people taking pictures of cool people,


and drank some fresh squeezed OJ!


We hope you can join us on February 3rd at our next permaculture meeting. Please don’t be intimidated if you have very little permaculture knowledge, because this is a place for both sharing and learning.

See you all soon!

Dr. Martin Luther King

My theme for this week is inherent bias – that voice within, that if left unchallenged, will serve only to defend our current belief system, and given that its Martin Luther King Day, there’s no better time than now to listen to an audio reading of a letter he wrote while being held in Birmingham jail. Many of the points raised in this letter are timeless and can help all of us to challenge our inherent bias.

The voice within, which will bring you into linearity with the progressing connection culture, is the voice of understanding.

This understanding arises when opinion is held off, for just a little while longer.

If holding off on judgement is not something you are interested in doing for moral advancement, then do it for professionalism.

A professional does not engage. I professional collects data and takes action that is most effective in accomplishing the means desired. The professional sees no advantage in venting the byproducts of emotional response, unless it’s seen fit.

Speaking while female

While reading a New York Times article on why women often stay more quite at work, I was reminded about a construct which exists in all of us.

Inherent bias: It’s the reason more black officers are shot by other officers while undercover than white officers. It’s the reason women’s opinions and observation are often less heard and valued than men.

Oppression of others does not have to be overt.

One of the solutions is mindfulness. Without meditation and mindfulness we have a high risk of falling into reaction and of never fully turning the gaze of our awareness onto our own reality.

It takes a calm mind, which has the ability to sit through emotional fluctuations, to see truth in a situation.

In life, those who observe longest without falling into opinion acquire the most understanding.

The second we attain an opinion our judgement is immediately biased. Especially if we are sure that we have come to the correct conclusion.

Hold off just a little bit longer – just as a matter of professionalism. See what you might hear.

Inherent bias is the enemy. It clouds our vision. It takes our edge. Our emotions can become strings, which allow us to be played like an instrument by those who know the chords.

Seek truth or allow yourself to be the defender of someone else’s story.

That’s the true rebellion .