Native American advocate teaches ‘values of peace’
on March 27, 2010
The beret and the feather are his trademarks around town, along with his persona as a passionate public activist.
Mike “Raccoon Eyes” Kinney is never at a loss for words – or cause.
“I’ve been a Native advocate and activist for about 20 years,” Kinney said while brewing coffee for guests at the Native American Health Center. “We have an expression that we are the holy people, and therefore we must have good self-esteem, good self-worth, and we should not pound or punish ourselves for crimes we have never committed.”
Kinney would echo those themes during a roughly one-hour talk to about 20 listeners at the health center Wednesday. Alternately fiery, plaintive and inspiring, Kinney’s speech was titled “We Must be the Spiritual Change We Wish to See in the Creator’s World.”
Kinney, who has been a local figure for more than five years, said he was experimenting with new themes and tones during his lecture Wednesday night. The thrust was more nurturing encouragement than pièce de résistance.
He said he sought to emphasize the power of “story,” a human art as common to indigenous peoples of the Americas as it was to ancient Greece or Rome.
“Story is the way Native people have communicated values, education and other life lessons, since the beginning of their beautiful civilizations and on into the future,” Kinney said. “Life emerges as being cyclical, in a circle, with victory and defeat and birth and death.”
Kinney’s audience ranged from young to old. Most professed their Native blood.
“I like to hear (Kinney) speak about history and about information, and do it with that important spiritual connection, that’s very important to give it all a deeper meaning,” said Beverly Dove, one of those in attendance.
Kinney paced restlessly during much of his talk, shuffling and crumpling his yellow cue papers. His voice pitched high and fell to whispers. At times, he would momentarily slump in a sofa.
Another reverberating theme was health and nutrition. Kinney spoke of his own past dependence on alcohol and junk food. Sugars and processed flours have been major contributing factors to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other maladies that have taken a heavy toll on Native Americans drawn into Western culture.
“The pastries, the sugars, the alcohol – it is all killer of our bodies,” Kinney said.
Kinney summed up his talk by stressing a return to the values and cultures of Native people, which he said act as a rejuvenating force amid a world with so many hostile influences.
“We must be able to spiritually feel our Indian communities, not intellectualize the needs of the people,” Kinney said.
- The Native American Health Center will host Census assistance workshops from March 23 to April 19. Hours for the free workshops are: Mondays 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Wednesdays and Fridays 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Mike Kinney’s blog can be found by clicking here
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