Tidewater Indians Support Fundie Persecution of Pagans

As some of you may have noticed John "Grey Medicine Wolf" Wilde has been removed from our Gathering website. We did this at his request and we think it is VERY important that the entire Pagan Community know why. 

For a few Gatherings now John has been holding sweat lodges at the Gathering.  He gives these sweat lodges for free, and they have been VERY well received by Gathering attendees. A couple of young men have described them as being "life changing".  One returning Gathering member told me he "has not touched drugs or alcohol since he did a sweat at a prior Gathering".   John is at our Gatherings because he helps people, pure and simple.  He takes absolutely nothing for the work he does, in fact he would not even allow us to reimburse him for blankets, special rocks, and other materials used in the sweats.  He considers those his "contribution" to the Community.

John has informed us that, due to the publicity surrounding the Fundamentalist Christian's efforts to drive us from Isle of Wight County, he has been "sanctioned" by Tidewater Native American Support Group for his appearance at the Gathering. 

Larry "GrayLocks" Cears, President of the Tidewater Native American Support Group has demanded that John write letters of retraction to the newspaper and to us, essentially stating that "Native American's do not associate with Pagans" and the "John is not qualified to run a sweat lodge".  At the Tidewater Native American Support Groups meeting, held at the Azalea Baptist Church in Norfolk Virginia, John was informed that area Indians are "Good Christians" .... apparently just like the "Good Christians" who have been harassing us since last Fall.   They informed John that "he is an embarrassment" and that "he endangered the group's use of the Church for meetings" John has been effectively "shunned" by these Christian Indians and his SON is even being penalized at local pow wows.

John was warned that he should "watch his back, change his phone number, etc. because the Indian group know for their terrorist tactics, AIM was "out to get him".  Why is it that we only hear AIM  mentioned when someone is being threatened? EVERY time (including this case) someone brings up AIM to us it is because they want protection of some form or another from them.  Usually it is some poor festival organizer who has a speaker that an AIM member does not consider to be "Indian" enough to teach whatever they are teaching.  They want the event organizer to judge someone else's religion and get right nasty when refused.  AIM may be different elsewhere, but this is the only face they have ever presented to us.  If there are not AIM members "looking for John" here in Tidewater then John was lied to. Perhaps the Virginia AIM chapter needs to address this issue with Cears and the Tidewater Native American Support Group? 

It is the Tidewater Native American Support Group's contention that John should not represent himself as "a Navy Veteran, of Miami Indian and Scot's-Irish descent" because he is not a "recognized member of the Miami Tribe".  It didn't seem to matter that John never claimed to be a Tribal member, he just said one of his ancestors made whoopee with a Miami Indian, which is the truth according to his Mother and Grandmother.  This is evidently enough for these "Good Christians" to rake John over the coals and try to make his life miserable.

We find this all the more bizarre because the Indian leading the charge, Support Group President Larry "GrayLocks" Cears claims to be a "Elder of the Abenaki Tribe", which isn't even a federally recognized Tribe!!!  So, John can't say one of his ancestors slept with an Indian but Cears can claim membership in a Tribe that doesn't legally exist in the US? This is evidently how these Christian Indians think.  While it's true that many Indians have adopted the religion of their conquerors, this is getting way out there folks.  This is a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black, nothing more and nothing less.   If the definition of who is an Indian is decided by federal recognition, then neither man is an Indian.  If the definition of who is an Indian is decided by ancestry and the individual's personal relationship with Spirit, then both men are Indians.  It is the double standard that is being applied in this case that is objectionable.

It is our SINCERE hope that the Pagan Community will remember that "Tidewater Indians are Good Christians" the next time our Community is asked to assist Virginia Indians in some project important to their Community.  For our part we are writing a detailed letter to the Chief of the Mattaponi informing them of the situation.  If the leadership of the Mattaponi agrees with Cears' stance,  we will make it clear that we will no longer financially or politically support their efforts to prevent a reservoir from being built 21/2 miles from their land.  We will send the same letter to every Politician we have contacted regarding the issue. 

From a purely Pagan perspective, a water reservoir is actually an excellent use to put city land to, supporting not only area citizen's future need for water, but creating a protected wildlife habitat in the process. I really can't think of a more environmentally sound use for land within the boundaries of a major metropolitan area. If the reservoir is not built a portion of the land in question will most likely be developed for housing.

 The only reason we opposed such a reservoir in the first place is because it might affect the Mattaponi Indian's COMMERCIAL shad fishery.  Our decision to commit resources to the Mattaponi Indian's opposition to the plan was purely a political choice to support allies in the area.  We want to make it very clear that if those allies do not exist, then neither does our support for their pet projects.  Some folks might find such politics distasteful, but that is how our system works. 

Politicians make decisions based upon what the people who put them into office and keep them there want.  Out of the Dark, Inc. is incorporated as a "for profit" organization specifically so we can bribe politicians legally.  We spend money to get them in office so they will listen to us and pay attention to the needs and desires of the Pagan Community.  We know this practice sucks, but it is the world we have been born into this time. Ya gotta admit it beats wailing on someone with a sword to get what you need :-/ 

The reservoir issue is not the only political matter where we have provided support to area Indians, it is just the most recent situation affecting local Indians that we have been involved in.  There have been similar issues in the past where we have been asked for assistance, and there will be other such cases in the future.  We are simply not going to waste our resources on issues that financially affect other groups unless we know we can count on the support of that group when a matter of importance to the Pagan Community is at hand. 

Why should we as Pagans politically and financially support a sub culture that has made it VERY clear that they despise Pagans and are not even willing to accord us our basic civil rights?  According to John, Larry Cears, a Abenaki Elder, John can not be both a Pagan and an Indian.  His mixed blood and Pagan beliefs are a shameful thing which he should hide? Sure sounds like Fundie Christian rhetoric to us. 

We are also contacting the Chiefs of the Abenaki and asking them for their opinion on the matter. Other Pagans might wish to do so as well.  If they agree with Cears we will question why there is legislation on the table in Massachusetts to "protect and preserve Abenaki cultural and spiritual heritage" If Abenaki Tribal members are actually Christian Fundamentalists with a clear agenda against any mixed blood incorporating any aspect of Indian Spiritual practices into their own religion and calling it "Pagan" why do they feel entitled to legal protection for their traditional path?  We would really like to know how they justify this one.  Such a group does not deserve "Federal Recognition" and we will do our level best to insure that legislators are aware of just what kind of people are looking for the legal right to open another casino up north!
If You would like to contact the Abenaki yourself, their Chiefs can be reached at:

Chief Diane Bernard
Conseil de bande des Abenakis de Wôlinak
10,120 rue Kolipaïo
Wôlinak Qc
G0X 1B0
Tél. : (819) 294-6696 

Chief Gilles O'Bomsawin 
Conseil de bande d'Odanak
102, rue Sibosis
Odanak (Quebec)
J0G 1H0
Telephone : (514) 568-2810 and 2819

This is EXACTLY what a lot of Fundie Christian Indians have done, and are still doing all over the Country with the special privileges they get for being members of a protected class.  In Virginia, the only legal Casino is owned by Christian Cherokee Indians. They are exempt from federal and state laws on the Reservation.  They are using this legal exemption to open businesses that are forbidden by law elsewhere due to the exploitative and often criminal nature of the gambling industry.  "In Jesus all things are possible" is written on the wall of this Cherokee Indian Casino!

 At the Seminole Reservation in Florida, the slot machines have the words "Seminole Indian Tribe....In God We Trust", written on them.  If the Elders and leadership of the Abenaki are in fact active, political Christians supportive of anti Pagan rhetoric, then they do not deserve a special legal status reserved for a people attempting to preserve their Indian cultural heritage.  Christianity is not part of Indian cultural heritage. Christianity the cultural heritage of those who conquered the various Indian Nations. If some Indians want to accept Christ as their personal savior, that is certainly their right, but why should they be entitled to special Federal recognition designed to preserve their cultural heritage if they are not practicing the tolerant,  polytheistic ways of their ancestors?  What are Christian Indians going to do with the legal exemptions federally recognized Indian Tribes get?  So far, the answer to this question has been "open Casinos".  Don't believe me?  Walk into one and look around. 

We sent a copy of this article to Cears and other officers of the Tidewater Native American Support Group and offered them the opportunity to present their side of the matter before publishing.  We got back a short paragraph which included the usual  "you better not slander us" type phrases someone uses when they are not willing to address the actual issue at hand.  We asked Cears directly if he made these anti Pagan statements at the meeting in question and he declined to answer.  If he had denied his anti Pagan stance our response would have been quite different, but as there were multiple witnesses to this meeting it would be difficult for him to take back his hateful words at this point.

We want to make it VERY clear that WE ARE RESPONSIBLE for any and all fall out that results from our publication of this issue.  John Wilde fears for his family and just "wants all this to go away"  Well, John Wilde has absolutely no control over our actions.  If Virginia Indians want to act like Fundies, we are going to treat them like Fundies and we are going to tell our Community about what they have done.  If the Terrorist Group AIM wants to make trouble for us or the Wildes, they can COME AHEAD, we have a land shark with their name on it.  We will not be cowed into silence.  When a Christian Indian Elder starts punishing Indians for taking part in our Pagan Gatherings it is time to squeal loud and long!

In American society we use political pressure not violence or force to bring about social change (at least this is how it is supposed to work).  Our efforts to expose Cears's actions are taken specifically to bring political pressure to bear regarding the Tidewater Native American Support Group's anti Pagan remarks and actions.  When an Indian organization has a cause they are fighting for, the first folks they go to outside their own culture for support is to the Pagans.  This is a logical choice since we are their natural allies in the battle against the Fundie Christian belief that there is only one God and that white, male God gave white male humans dominion over the Earth and all her inhabitants.

Well now the shoe is on the other foot.  Pagans in Tidewater have been attacked by Fundie Christians with the publicly stated intent to "drive us out of Isle of Wight County" .  So far the only Indian leaders who have spoken up in the area have been those who support the Christian Fundie attitude.  Christian Indians are punishing a Pagan part Indian who chose to participate in our Gathering.  Please keep in mind that John has been speaking at the Gathering for awhile now and Cears and his group knew it.  It was not until our Gathering was in the headlines and the Fundies were at our throat that John Wilde was sanctioned for presenting at the Gathering so there is no doubt where all this is coming from.

Cears is not just talking about his own personal opinion here, he is speaking as the President of one of the larger Indian groups in our area and as an Elder of the Abenaki Indian Nation.  Because of him and his group, John and his son are being punished i.e. "shamed" at area Pow Wows and other Indian events and Gatherings.  If there are Indians who disagree with Cears's assessment of Paganism, then we suggest that those Indians contact the Tidewater Native American Support Group.  They have the following contact information listed for officers on their website.

Tidewater Native American Support Group
700 Baker Road, Suite 103 
Virginia Beach, VA 23462 
 (757) 456-2279 
 Fax (757) 456-0390 

When Christian Indians begin persecuting Pagan Indians, then it is other Indians who need to speak up.  This is why we have been raising cane with all the Indians we know and encouraging other Pagans to do the same.  We Pagans can scream 'till we turn blue and it is not going to make a great deal of difference to other Indians (although doing so will affect Pagan support of Indian projects).  If there are non Christian Indians who object to Cears's actions then they need to act. 

We realize that this is a hot issue and we fully expect flamage of major proportions, however this is a situation that needs to be addressed.  There is already a wall being built between Pagans and Indians over the inclusion of Indian practices in some modern Pagan traditions. While most Indians (and Pagans) only object when someone charges for teachings that have their roots in Indian culture, some Indians resent it when a Pagan who may be part Indian (like John) incorporates any Indian practices into their belief system at all.  This desire to judge the validity of someone else's religious belief system is a decidedly Christian trait, NOT Indian.  Indians following their traditional path tend to leave judging the value of someone's religion to that person's Creator. 

The cultural exploitation vs. cultural evolution argument has already caused a great deal of bad blood between our respective communities.  We don't need Christian Indians making things worse.  Both Indians and Pagans have enough problems trying to survive in a Christian white male dominated country.  If there are Indians who desire Pagan support when Indian culture is threatened, those same Indians should be prepared to speak up when the Pagan Community is threatened. This is especially true since most threats to both groups spring from the same source, Fundie Christians with a political agenda.

Case Update:

Remember those "letters of retraction"  Abenaki Elder Larry "GrayLocks" Cears demanded that John write?  Well, John did what his "Elder" told him to do and said what his "Elder" told him to say.  Evidently Indians have to obey their "Elders", whether they believe the "Elder" is right or not. 

The Virginia Pilot printed excepts of John's and Cear's letters to the editor and thoroughly rubbed John's nose in The Tidewater Native American Support Group's Christian values.

According to the letter The Tidewater Native Support Group sent to the Virginian Pilot "neither the group nor its members," they said, "conduct sweat lodges."  They are "conducted by experienced, qualified medicine men or women, and certainly not at public gatherings attended by those who do not believe in The Creator, as most Native Americans are Christians.'' 

The full text of the Virginia Pilot opinion piece can be found here about half way down the page, under "Pagans":

After much thought and deliberation John Wilde has decided to post a personal statement regarding this mess.


To sum up the current situation, Abenaki Elder Larry "GrayLocks" Cears and the Tidewater Native American Support Group have announced to the regional newspaper that "most Indians are Christians" and the Native American Sweatlodge is like a "Catholic Confessional".  The Nansmond, Mattaponi and other Virginia Indian Leaders as well as the Abenaki Chiefs have remained completely silent on the matter.  A mixed blood Pagan Indian is being persecuted by Christian Indians for his Pagan beliefs.  If John and his family weren't being put though hell, you'd have to laugh at the irony of the whole thing.