Although I have written many times before about my inability to rewild or live without civilization, I wanted to write further about my time spent at the Native American pow-wows, and my Native American friends that I work with in the field of autism, which I have dedicated my life to as a person with autism.
The city of Milwaukee, in the state of Wisconsin, has a large Native American community, which is represented by many Native American churches and a health clinic for Native Americans within the city. These individuals live within the heart of civilization, and although they often live "unsustainable" lives and have incorporated many aspects of modern and civilized living, they all remain there because their own community lives there. And they work hard to maintain elements of their culture, and social ties to people in their ethnic groups in the reservations up in rural parts of Wisconsin (Wisconsin has the highest number of reservations east of the Mississippi River due to its history as the first "dumping ground" for Native Americans in its past). I am writing about them since they represent people who, like many people I see here, are attempting to preserve many aspects of culture independent of civilization, and would prefer to live a more wild existence, but do not have the ability to, and thus work hard to preserve their cultures within the heart of civilization. Their stories can have much value for rewilders, as we work hard to repsect Native cultures without engaging in "cultural appropriation," which I, like many other people on this website, completely abhor.
I admire their efforts to preserve their heritage in the heart of the city, and have been invited multiple times to attend their church gatherings and the events of one of their cultural awareness organizations based in Milwaukee, The Flowering Tree. However, due to my busy schedule, I have yet to be able to attend any of their events, even though the invitations are still open, and I hope to attend them in the future.
When I attend the two Milwaukee Native American pow-wows in Wisconsin, in the belly of the beast of Civilization, my Native American friends and I rarely talk about sustainability. Instead, we talk more about preserving their culture in the face of the genocide that affected their people, and see the ecological side of things more in the lens of preserving their culture, language, and homeland, in an era that is acknowledging their validity as people but still has to face the reality that the descendants of white colonizers just can't pack up and go back to Europe. And it's hard for us to accept the fact that during the time that the Native Americans did endure the genocide and massacre, many European colonizers didn't consider them to be actual people--something we discuss at the pow-wows each year.
I am lucky that my autism has enabled me to spend the time I spend with them--since the state of Wisconsin does a lot of autism awareness work and that Native Americans in Wisconsin have a high respect for people with autism within their culture, and many of them work in the autism field up there.
I'm going to another convention, but I have more thoughts I hope to share next week. Thanks for this important subject.