August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Monday, April 7, 2008

Navajo peace diplomat selected for Iran

Navajo selected as peace diplomat for
delegation to Iran

Michelle Cook is a community worker, spiritual activist, and a recent graduate from the University of Arizona with a B.A. in Women's Studies and American Indian Studies. She has advocated for the rights and well being of indigenous peoples and communities both domestically and internationally including the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Michelle is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation born of the Walk Around Clan and Close to the Water's Edge Clan. She currently resides with her grandmother in Oak Springs Arizona.

Michelle has recently been selected by the Fellowship of Reconciliation (F.O.R) to participate as a civilian diplomat on a Peace and Friendship Delegation to Iran. This fact-finding mission hopes to shed light on and prevent a potential war between the United States and Iran. This is her story and journey.

By Michelle Cook
Part I
The war in Iraq and the Middle East in general was an abstraction, something far from me both physically and intellectually, that was until my sister Gabriella Notah was deployed to Iraq in March 2008. When she was deployed my life changed, no longer would I have the privilege to ignore the war, or its costs, because regardless of whether or not I wanted it, the war, came to me, to my door step, impacting my life, my home, and my family. I see the toll it takes on my family, how deeply we miss her and love her.When I was asked to go to Iran to advocate for peace and dialogue in hopes of preventing Washington's next war, I could not refuse. I believe that it is my responsibility to my sister, to all our people serving in the military and armed forces, to our veterans who have survived war, to know what the facts are, before our people are sent to fight at Washington's behest. I wish I could trust what the U.S. is government officials are saying about Iran that we are to be threatened and in fear of them, but as an indigenous person, I have been taught by history's cruelest lessons to be suspicious of Washington's words and promises. Therefore, it is our responsibility as individuals and as a Nation, to ask these tough questions, to think critically about how another war would effect our people in particular and to do everything in our power to prevent a war that would result in the loss of Navajo lives and human suffering. If our people are asked to go to war then let us make sure we know why, we have a right to know, and a right to decide. I am going to find out for myself, to meet face to face with these people I am suppose to fear and call my enemy. I am going to tell them that our people aspire to be in hozho, to walk in beauty, that we are a peaceful people living by the law of beehaz'√°annii. We as a people do not aspire to harm other living creatures or to walk a path of chaos and destruction. Our people and our ways are peaceful and beautiful. I intend to go to these lands to offer pollen to pray for the protection for our people who are there and peace for the peoples of those lands. I will do my best to share with the people of Iran the beauty and wisdom of our culture and life ways. To pray that beauty will be restored to them and their lands so they can rest and have peace and safety.I will do what I can to find the facts and to communicate these facts to our people and to the Navajo Nation Government. I hope that by doing so we as citizens and as a people can make an informed decision on the matter. I only ask that we quiet our minds, open our hearts, that we stop, and critically think about what is happening with Iran and how we could be effected if there is another war. There is still time for the Navajo people to enter into the debate and let our voices be heard. We are a powerful people; we are known throughout the world, and our voice, our words, and our prayers matter. They bring beauty, positive changes, and harmony to all things. As Navajo people I believe we have much to offer the debate on a potential war with Iran especially in our position and experiences with the United States nuclear industry specifically their practices of mining uranium from our lands for nuclear weapons, how they used our people and lands for nuclear testing and experimentation, and the disposal of their toxic radioactive waste on our people, sacred sites, lands, resources, and territories all of which have caused irreparable harm to our people and the generations to come. We also have much to offer the debate in terms of our methods and views of peace making, mediation, and non-violent conflict resolution. In the words of Sun-Tzu, "war is a grave affair of state; it is a place of life and death, a road to survival and extinction, a matter to be pondered carefully", I invite Navajo people and all indigenous nations both young and old, to do just this, to begin to ponder carefully, to have the courage to ask the tough questions, "Is a war with Iran necessary? Does the United States have the legal or moral authority to invade Iran? Is it legal? Most importantly, what role can Navajo people and indigenous nations play in preventing the war and advocating for harmony and non-violence between our peoples and those of the Middle East?

Photo 1: Courtesy photo Michelle Cook. Photo 2: Michelle Cook at the Indigenous Border Summit of the Americas 2007. Photo Brenda Norrell

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Grandma Edna Gordon, Hawk Clan, Seneca Wisdomkeeper, would like to speak with Michelle Cook.

Please give Michelle Cook, Grandma Edna's phone number 716 934-9569 and give her this email (Grandma Gordon's son who gives here the emails).

Grandmother of Indian Country is still working hard daily on these issues and more daily.

Grandma Gordon has been involved in World Peace for years and would like to share information with you.

Grandma Gordon lives on the Seneca Reservation in New York State and she invites Michelle Cook to come visit her any time.


Grandma Edna Gordon, Seneca Wisdomkeeper, on the Rez in New York wants people to join the BROOMSTICK REVOLUTION to sweep out injustice and corruption, to support the Longest Walk 2, get back to a more natural way of living, and to Protect and Clean up Mother Earth, and sees the Longest Walk 2 as an opportunity for Indian Country to pull together. She has a book, Voice of the Hawk Elder, that can help open our eyes to getting away from the American devotion to materialism, and return to living a more natural way in line with nature’s laws. This is an award winning book, but Grandma Gordon is not writing it for the money, she is trying to get messages out to the world. Speaking with Grandma Gordon, is like being embraced by nature itself. Although she is 87 she is like a whirlwind working to spread the word about the Longest Walk 2 and the many issues she is fighting from her home at 87 years old.

She has spoken to people from all over the world, and corresponded to people around the world.

She would like to hear from you so please call her at 716 934-9569 or send emails to her via her son Richard Gordon at . Or write to her a line at her home to Grandma Edna Gordon, Gordon Garrow Road, Irving, New York 14081 That’s right there is no Street number. Everyone on the Rez knows where she live.
Who is Grandma Edna Gordon, Seneca?

About Grandma Gordon and Harvey Arden

Message posted by twodogkd, for Grandma Gordon while speaking to Grandma Gordon via the phone