Friday, 4 January 2013

Being a Hippie

On Being a Hippie

By Jimgreenlee

First let me clear up a few misconceptions about what a hippie is. Long hair does not make a hippie. There are plenty of long haired rednecks now. Clothes don't make a hippie and the use of drugs definitely doesn't make you a hippie. Being a hippie had nothing to do with being rebellious. Native Americans would say it's tafunka (a way of life). It's a matter of respect. Respect for others and their rights to be who they are. Respect for the Earth and all that dwell on it. It's even a respect for yourself. Allowing yourself to be who you are.
I'm not real sure when you might say I became a hippie. It kind of snuck up on me. There is a strong possibility I was a hippie years before I knew it. When I was a kid in Cub Scouts I was a member of something called Indian guide. We actually sat around in a circle wearing head bands with feathers and our fathers taught us the Indian ways. Later in the Boy Scouts I joined The Order of the Arrow which was another group dedicated to Indian ways. We learned conservation and respect for nature. When we camped, we always left the place cleaner than it was when we came. It was probably during this time period that I first heard the term Mother Earth. I was never a hunter. I could never bring myself to kill another living thing for sport. I've always had this thing about the mistreatment of animals and a strong fascination for nature.
I remember the first time someone called me a hippie. I was a freshman in college (1966) and after four years of dress codes in high school suddenly I was free. I let my hair grow and wore cutoffs and sandals to class. Not for any sense of protest but just because I could. At the time there still weren't too many of us at this school and we did stand out some. A fellow student (female) approached me one day and said "you're a hippie aren't you". I had never thought about it before but at that moment something in the way she said it made me say "yeah I'm a hippie". Well let me tell you, I had watched the bad boy biker types in high school always with women around them and wondered what the attraction was. All of a sudden I was a bad boy. The guy her father warned her about. I was a hippie.
It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I made the full circle. I met someone at a Halloween party and we for some reason began a discussion about my fascination with Indians. Turns out he was half Cherokee and participated in sweat lodge ceremonies. He invited me out and my life changed. I met a medicine man named Silverwolf. I sat for hours talking to him and I have to say he is one of the wisest people I've ever known. Things came back to me that I hadn't remembered since childhood. I learned new things and he explained events in my life. The one thing he said to me that meant the most was when I told him that I never found any Indian blood in my family but I always thought I should have been Indian. He said to me it didn't matter because I have a Native American soul. It was during this time spent with him that I realized the hippie movement didn't start in the sixties. I believe the Native Americans were the first hippies.
Just the fact that there are still American Indians is proof of their strength. In the movies I've heard it said "the only good Indian is a dead Indian". Our ancestors tried their best to make sure there were none left. Since we never honored any of the treaties we made with them I would think that technically they should still own all the land we took away from them. For those of you who don't know, the Indians didn't believe the land could be owned. Chief Seattle wrote the American Government, in the 1800's, explaining why you could not own the Earth. It's worth the read. I believe the Indians were the first hippies. Think about it. They wore feathers in their hair . Wore what the white man thought were funny clothes. The Indians were the first conservationist. They had great respect for every living thing. They smoked funny tobacco in their pipes and used mind altering plants in their ceremonies. In the beginning they shared with the first colonist. Many of our settlers would have died if not for the Indians. And what was the reward for those that weren't killed? We shipped them off to reservations and even today many still live on reservations.
What has always fascinated me is the spirituality of the Indians. I have participated in sweat lodge ceremonies and you would be amazed at how much it puts you in touch with your inner self. For many years the ceremonies were banned by the government because the Indians would not claim it as a religion. There the government of the United States of America (the home of the free) classified it as a pagan ceremony and would not allow it to be practiced. Fortunately there were medicine men that carried on the tradition in secret. I'm now also fortunate to live about forty miles from a reservation. The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians have pow wows and other events that I attend. If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of these you shouldn't miss it. They're held all over the country and you can learn a lot about about the culture. Learn all you can about the beliefs and traditions of the Indians. You won't regret it.