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Casey Camp-Horinek Addresses the Conscience Plenary

Casey Camp-Horinek addressed the Conscience Plenary at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, USA.

Judy is my true name. Casey Camp is my colonized name. I want to acknowledge first that we are here on Stolen Land of the Odawa, of the Ojibwe, of the Potawatomi, and I’d like to ask you all to recognize that first and foremost, and if my sister, Mary Lyons, and her daughter are in this hall, can you please stand for us? If she’s not here, she snuck off for some lunch and I’m real jealous. 

Next, I want to acknowledge all of the Indigenous people of Turtle Island, would you stand please? This is also to remind you how few of us are participating. You should wonder why. Want to ask those Indigenous Peoples of the South Americas who are the caretakers of the rainforest to stand please and to the sacred water herself, the actual host of all humanity and all living things. I thank you and I love you. 

It’s an interesting thing as a Ponca woman, P -O -N -C -A for those of you who want to look it up. We are originally from Nibelaska, called Nebraska now, the land of the flat waters in our name, forcibly removed to the occupied territory of Oklahoma when my grandfather was six. And we live there now thanks to the Wichita people, the Caddo people, and other tribes that were there before us. We want to say thank you and acknowledge that Wakanda, the Great Spirit, the one who has given life to all in the way of the Ponca people, is our way of acknowledging spirituality, not religion, not organized religion. 

I respect your belief. I also ask for your respect for our belief because the doctrine of discovery allowed you to steal this land, to defile the sacred water, to genetically modify the sacred corn, to massacre the buffalo, to imprison the salmon. The very breath of the four winds has been killed by your pollution.

But Wakanda, the great spirit, which is the spirit of all living things, not just humans. You talk about human rights. What about the rights of those without the same voice as you and I? What about the rights of the deer? To have healthy offspring, to have clean water, to have air to breathe, to have generations to come. What about the rights of the buffalo? What about the rights of the butterfly, what about the rights of the fins, what about the rights of the water, what about the rights of the air, what about the rights of the father’s son, what about the rights of the Mother Earth. 

We are interdependent. We who are born with these huge stupid egos that blind our eyes, that believe that money is the answer to the next thing. Your religion, my spirituality, your way of accepting money by using banks that are invested in fossil fuels, by using insurance companies that back them, by believing that those who are elected to office are the leaders will kill our species.

Because none of it matters if our mother earth continues her purification in the manner that she is right now with the bigger tornadoes, with these huge hurricanes, with these floods, with the fires, those are her ways of sustaining life. So with your religion, with your human rights, with your freedom, what will it mean if Earth herself isn’t honored? The mother of all, the one mother we all share, the father, the sky, those that walk on four legs, those that swim, those trees that breathe as we breathe are a shared way of being. When we are visitors, we’re temporary. One day the Ponca understand that we will be in the hooligan, that great circle of stars in the sky. And when we arrive there because we’ve got no heaven, we’ve got no hell, we have now. And then we have then. And then we go to this camp circle where all our relatives are waiting, those in the spirit world. 

And I would remind you that the spirit world is a polite world. And unless we humans humble ourselves and ask for help, they’re not going to intercede because they are in that higher conscience that we are seeking.

Because they have the understanding and until our oneness includes truly all things, all living things, there is no future for humankind. But I believe in you. I believe that you’re going to expand yourselves to include folks like me, to rescind the doctrine of discovery that has allowed you to kill me, that has erased the value of women who have looked at the seven generations to come and say, oh no, I’m just taking care of me right now, who have looked at the sources of life as resources.

Take that RE off there every time you hear that. that. It’s not natural resources. Those are nature, following natural law, and they are sources of life. That we must all respect. We must all show gratitude for it. I embrace you for what you believe. I do not embrace how you believe. When it comes to the life of the seven generations to come, I ask you to take responsibility to move away from those oligarchs of the fossil fuel industry, to empower the guardians of the Amazon, to look to the Indigenous wisdom that kept this portion of Mother Earth in harmony until 500 years ago. We do have answers.

I’m counting on you to just accept that simple philosophy of praying for, providing for, and clean food to eat, clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, be on the right side of history. Let your future ancestors look back and say, my folks were there at that time, they called climate change, that the Indigenous people called purification, and they did everything possible for us to live as one with the Mother Earth and the Great Spirit.

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