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HomeNative People

Native People - Wannabees

The following article appeared as a flyer produced in 1995 by the Asatru Folk Assembly, aimed at European-Americans who are attracted to Native American spirituality. It has received praise from several Native American writers and thinkers, including Vine Deloria, author of GOD IS RED and many other books dealing with American Indians. The term "wannabees" is used by some Native Americans to refer to outsiders who "want to be" Indians.

So you're a European-American

who's attracted

to Native American spirituality...

The way of the American Indian offers much to those who want to live in harmony with the Earth, and with the own beings. The simplicity of a life close to nature, and the powerful techniques of the shaman, call out to all of us who want to walk lightly on this planet and to know the journeys of the soul that make one wise. Many people, including those of European ancestry, feel the pull of this spiritual path.

However, there is something to consider. Many Native Americans feel that you should seek out the ways of your people, rather than intruding upon their ways. They understand your interest in their traditions, but they think you should look for something that is yours.

Well, just what IS yours?

Long ago, Europeans too were tribal peoples. From the British Isles all the way across the Continent, the Celts and the Germans and others lived in great forests and along rugged seacoasts. Our way of living was much like that of the American Indians whom you admire. The Earth was our mother, Thor rattled in the thunder, Odin led the Wild Hunt, Freya showed us that women could be both beautiful and strong. The tree Yggdrasil held the Nine Worlds in its embrace, and the web of Wyrd connected all things. Our ancestors lived in us, and spoke in our dreams, and in the eyes of our children.

The way of the indigenous Europeans had much that you will recognize. The vision quest? The Norsemen called it utiseta, or "sitting out." Sweatlodges? The sauna was sacred to the Birch Goddess. Great warriors? Our history abound in them. Honoring the Earth? Brooks, rocks, trees - all had spirits to be befriended. Shamans? Odin, father of the Gods, was a master shaman!

Then, things changed. A new faith came to our forested lands from a far country where our tribes had never dwelled. It came with sword and fire, and killed or exiled those who would not accept the alien way. Many thousands of us died rather than submit, but eventually the church bells drove the land spirits into hiding, and even the Mighty Powers could not be seen for the pall which hung over our spirits. And so it stayed, for many centuries, and we brought this alien way with us when we came to the land we named America. It was not tribal Angles or Saxons or Iceni who treated the Native Americans wrongly; it was a people cut off from their soul, and from the wisdom of the generations. 

But time passes, and now something new is happening. The way of old Europe, so long crushed and repressed, is once again accessible to its far-flung sons and daughters! And that's where you come in. 

It is good to respect the Native American, for reasons you understand well. One way of honoring him is to leave his religion, his spirituality, his ancestors, to him! But there's another obligation, too. Don't you owe it to your own ancestors - whose blood and bone and soul you are - to seek them first? The thousands of generations of forefathers and foremothers, warriors, hunters, and explorers, heroes and rogues alike, call to you. They are your
kin. They beckon you - to heal our people, to heal our world, and to walk again the way of the warrior and the wise one. They call you home. Will you answer?