'We are here and we do not plan to disappear.
bua ar do chuid oibre.
Go mbeannai/ Dia duit."
good work prosper.
Good health to you.
May God bless.
go mbeidh leagan Gaeilge anseo go luath.
Cýit a bheil mi agus cÛ sgrÏobh seo?"
Earliest recorded testimony of the indigenous peoples of Britain.
As quoted by the Roman historian "Tacitus".
We, the Gaelic speaking people of Europe welcome you. Ours is a land of dramatic contrasts, and serene tranquility, home of the eagle, the wild deer and courteous, hospitable people.
Our mountains, moors, lochs and islands have been celebrated for a thousand years in Gaelic song. We are a people of ancient lineage, and we are custodians of Europe's rich Celtic heritage. This is our story. It is a story of loyalty and treachery, of high culture, dispossession and tragedy, and above all, of a new hope. It is as old as our hills and as young as tomorrow.
Celtic cuture is transmitted orally; history and facts are not written down but memorised in the form of verse. Celtic education includes subjects as diverse as religion and geography, philosophy and astronomy. Celtic orators are famed throughout Europe. In the old days Romans employed them as tutors for their sons.
Gaelic is an English word for any of three languages which form one-half of the Celtic language family group.
These three Gaelic languages are:
1. Irish Gaelic Gaeilge
2. Manx Gaelic Gailck
3. Scottish Gaelic Gýidhlig
These three languages are spoken in Ireland, the Isle of Man and Scotland. The Gaels are the peoples who speak these languages. Gaelic was/is in danger of being exterminated in many of the traditional Gaelic-speaking areas, but now a Gaelic renaissance has slowed this trend if not yet reversed it.
n-athair, at· ar neamh:
go naofar d'ainm.
Go dtaga do riocht.
Go ndÈantar do thoil ar an talamh,
mar dhÈantar ar neamh.
n-ar·n laethi™l tabhair d™inn inniu,
agus maith d™inn ·r bhfiacha, mar mhaithimid
d·r bhfÈichi™naithe fÈin.
Agus n· lig sinn i gcath™,
ach saor sinn Û olc.
Oir is leatsa an RÌocht agus an
Chumhacht agus an Ghl/oir,
trÈ shaol na saol.
n-athair a tha air nËamh:
gu naomhaichear d'ainm.
Thigeadh do rÏoghachd.
DËantar do thoil air an talamh,
mar a nithear air nËamh.
Tabhair dhuinn an ar fiachan,
amhuil mar a mhaitheas sinne d'ar luchd-fiach.
Agus na leig am buaireadh sinn,
ach saor sinn o olc.
Oir is leatsa an rioghachd
agus an cumhachd agus
a'ghÚir gu siorruidh.
Keridwen S. McKenzie (Dalriada/Cruithne)
"I stand as one of many voices; along side those who have come before me and with equal strength among those who will follow."
I am a woman of my People.
My People are of the Dalriada and the Cruithne, whose flesh and bones have made up the soil that now lies within the nation-states of Ireland and Scotland.
As a woman of my People, I am not "Scottish", "Irish", "Welsh", etc. Scotland, Ireland, and Wales grew up and surrounded my people. We participated very little in the formation of these countries as they exist today. Such matters were decided by force, and by a handful of people in positions of power. As clans and families and individuals, we made the best decisions we could make, and we held out as long as we could, but the end result for all of us came down to three possibilities:
Cultural assimilation, Geographic displacement, or Death (Genocide)!
The primary gift of my heritage is not that I hold any occult knowledge about old ceremonies or prayers, or artifacts. Although the taking back of these things is a part of a greater healing process for our People, it must never be seen as end unto itself.
As a child of my People, my identity was formed around this view, which was my strength against many evils and troubles. As a Woman of my People, I came up into my adulthood coming to understand my role as a displaced Gael -- as a granddaughter of the People.
As a young adult, I abandoned this view and forgot who I was. I suffered much as a result of this loss. My personal healing journey began with my renewal of this view of myself and my world.
Although I may someday stand on "Irish" or "Scottish" soil, I can never go home again, and so my duty is this:
To preserve and protect all that I can of the Old Ways.
To maintain a life of prayer, cermony and meditation conducive to obtaining continuing guidance and following a proper path of conduct.
To seek any others who have been called by our Ancestors, and to place myself in service to my People wherever I may find them.
To ever be mindful that --- no matter what "civil law" may say -- I do not own land, nor have the right to use it, save by the permission of its rightful occupants.
It is with courage and strength that I must stand upright and walk the path of my Ancestors.
It is with humility and dignity that I must present myself to the indigenous people of the land where my people were driven and tell the story of my family and my people, so that I may become a part of things being made right again.
For me, progress toward the gathering of the Clans flows from this consciousness. My task is to begin the mending of things on a personal level, not on a political one. All "politics" of regathering comes down from the light of our ancient ways and up from the roots of our personal relationships.
I have seen many people rush to embrace the calling of our Ancestors only long enough to find a faint glimpse of this, and then to use this small glimmer of knowledge to set themselves up as false teachers and leaders who prey upon the spiritual hunger of others. The world is full of those who would sell the sacred.
As the Four Colors of Human Beings from the Four Corners of the Earth work together to the mend the sacred circle, the scared hoop, the sacred wheel, it is my prayer for myself and for all my People that we do not ever let our hunger for a greater sense of "legitimate" identity cause us to do what so many before us have done -- find the trappings and abandon the Tribes.
Unfortunately much of the written Gaelic Literature is only two-hundred years old, plus it has been altered to make it reflect "Christian" and colonialist values and viewpoints.
The "clan tartan" is a form to psuedo-heraldry granted to or adopted by compliant and cooperative clans during the process of assimilation. The modern dress kilt was a garment invented to imitate the older "great kilt", which was not so much a garment as a specific way of wearing, carrying, and utilizing a length of fabric, which was presented at manhood. This traditional "garment" served as blanket, cloak and small tent (as need demanded). At a man's death, it was often used as his burial shroud.
Modern Gaelic-speaking peoples *may or may not* have indigenous consciousness, depending upon many factors. Thus, the whole concept of indigenous Gaelic literature is a subjective matter.
All of us who come from traditional families face the same problem:
"How do we communicate or 'prove' that, within the modern nation-states, we still exist?
I have found no succinct answer, but there is a fascinating article called:
"States, Indigenous Nations, and the Great Lie"
by Rudolph C. Ryser.
"As a means to gain greater concessions and aid from indigenous nations, the new European states began the selective process of convincing indigenous peoples that it is the destiny of European states to govern, control, and exploit the indigenous peoples, lands, and resources. The European states, so they argued, had the right to govern the world because they were superior beings. Indigenous peoples, on the other hand, were primitive, savage, and incompetent. Indigenous peoples should be treated as non-humans. The theory was that if enough indigenous people could be convinced of their own incompetence and that their own political, economic, and cultural systems were evil, then they would reject their own indigenous nations. Once indigenous people rejected their own values and systems, they could then be drawn into the European states and be effectively controlled.
The new European states have worked diligently to wipe out indigenous history and intellectual thought and replace these with European history and intellectual thought. The great lie is simply this: IF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES WILL ONLY REJECT THEIR OWN HISTORY, INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT, LANGUAGE, AND CULTURE AND REPLACE THESE THINGS WITH EUROPEAN VALUES AND IDEALS, THEN INDIGENOUS PEOPLE WILL SURVIVE. It is from this twisted thinking that European states have convinced millions of indigenous people all over the world to surrender their freedom and accept subjugation as a way of life.
The proclaimed superiority of the state has, in each of our examples, been used to justify the dislocation and exploitation of indigenous nations. The 'laws of nations' have been subverted by domestic rationalizations to deny whole peoples their basic rights as human beings. The myth of superiority has been used to enrich colonial populations and impoverish indigenous peoples. The patterns of oppression are essentially the same. Indigenous nations in all of our examples have been surrounded by invading peoples leaving only tiny enclaves for indigenous homelands. Each indigenous nation seeks to secure its homeland against further invasion. Each indigenous nation is denied its right to exercise its distinct political powers. The objective of each state is the same: elimination of the indigenous population as a distinct nation and the exploitation of indigenous people, lands, and resources for the benefit of the state.
What can be done? The answer is simple, and perhaps that is why it is so difficult. As our elders have said over and over again, through the centuries:
'Hold on to the nation of people. Defend the nation of people against all enemies. Assert your own government; you don't have to ask for a government. You have a government. If you have no government, you have no people; then there is nothing even to argue about.'
All over the world today there are indigenous populations that carry out governmental activities as separate and distinct peoples, but too many feel they must ask the state to give them the power to govern themselves. The only power that exists for any people, whether it is the United States or Canada, Shuswap or Blackfoot, Miskito or Mapuche, any nation, lies in the decision of the people to take the initiative, to conjure up the strength, to assert their nationhood to the rest of the world and say,
'With those two things, the indigenous nation can survive. It cannot survive by asking someone else to allow it to exist.'
The great lie must be rejected and replaced by a renewed dynamic among indigenous peoples. The indigenous nations are ancient in their origins - they are the seed of humankind. They must resume their role among the family of nations to reassert the balanced values that have ensured human survival on this planet."
for World Indigenous Studies
P.O. Box 2574
Olympia, WA 98507-2574
This article is the closest I have found to getting to the heart of what happened to my people, and unraveling this complex issue. In any case, we *do* exist. Most of our literature is what is called "pre-Christian", "pagan" or "ancient" IrishWelsh/Scots/Breton.
A special thanks to:
Keridwen S. McKenzie
for her inspiring declaration.
Return to Indigenous Peoples' Literature
Compiled by: Glenn Welker
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