Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): Please share a little bit about your background; your family and the Nation of Islam.
YoNasDa Lonewolf-Muhammad (YLM): I’m a proud Ogalala Lakota, Native American and Black woman. My mother was Wauneta Lonewolf and my father was Theadius McCall. My mother was an activist, and she was in the American Indian Movement. She worked with Muhammad Ali, and was the first Native American to ever work for Muhammad Ali. She worked closely with the Nation of Islam as well as with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan on bridging the Black and the Native American population together. I am just continuing on with her work in that light.
EM: What is the background between the Native Americans and religion that you mentioned when we spoke previously? Why do they shy away from religion?
YLM: If you look at the history with Native Americans and religion, it hasn’t been a great one. Those from the Christian/Catholic church forced a lot of Native Americans into religion. They did this in a brutal way by killing and slaying our people suggesting that the Native Americans must obey the Christian and Catholic gods. The Native Americans were thought to have multiple gods, which wasn’t true. You have to understand the history and spirituality of Native Americans. We never worshipped Father Sky and Mother Earth. In my language, Lakota, we say, “Tunkisila” and “Wankatonka”, which means the Great Spirit or the Grandfather which is the Great One. So there has always been a misconception that the Native American people worship many gods. That is not true.
Look at the history with the story of the buffalo calf maiden, which was a woman who was like a Jesus figure who would put together Native American ceremonies. Even before we had the Bible and the Holy Quran, a lot of the ancient stories are similar and coincide with the stories that are biblical or quranic. They’re just stories that were passed down. We didn’t need a book to tell us to worship only one God and these are the ceremonies that we need to have in order for us to be more in touch with ourselves. It was natural. So with that being natural and with the Native Americans who know the spirituality role, they didn’t need for somebody to come and tell them, “You need to read this book…”, because it already coincides. So if we have a better understanding of that spiritual role then we won’t have to force someone or our indigenous people to read a Bible or Quran, we can already mix that in. That’s why the Native Americans say, “No, don’t come to me with the Bible telling me that I should be a Christian, because I’m already doing in the way of a man or woman of God”. They may say, “I’m already a person of this Earth”.
EM: As the Native American representative in the Nation of Islam, what message would you like to give to other Native American brothers and sisters who may not know much about the Nation of Islam? How would you like to express how critical their role is in the Universal Law and Universal Government that we are building?
YLM: That’s a wonderful question. When I went out to Pine Ridge, South Dekota the Medicine Man told me, “We have the land, but our Black brothers and sisters have the resources”. The Nation of Islam, Believers, have already been trained of being properly civilized as well as self-sufficient in so many different areas; science, math, economics… to be able to build a nation. With that being said, the bridging of the gap is so important. We have been trained in handling people of all walks of life. In our Lessons our relationship with the Native Americans was mentioned and given to us. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said to me one day, “I want you to understand the word ‘with’ when our Lessons say the 17 million with the 2 million Indians…Understand the word ‘with’”. We were at the Phoenix Palace outside by the pool, and he brought out his digital dictionary and the definition for ‘with’ is stated as “belonging” and “belonging together”.
It’s in our Teachings in the Nation of Islam, but the Native Americans have been waiting for a group of people to come and assist them in the level of where they are right now. The only people who have come to them have been cowboys. So when you go to a reservation you’ll come across former cowboys or settlers that are teaching them how to live out on the land. A lot of the reservations are suffering from poverty as well. In South Dakota, they are the poorest community in the United States, not Compton or Watts. 98 percent of the people there are unemployed. The age range of people there is 35 and younger. They are young people. Quite a few of them have a lot of kids. The only thing that is keeping them sufficient is the college regarding education, but a lot of them use drugs and are in gangs. It’s horrible. A lot of them live in make-shift homes, and there are no jobs being provided there.
They’re losing their land, because they have to pay the tax of $100 a year or something close to that. I’m talking about acres and acres of land, and they can’t afford that. A lot of big businesses are coming there selling their land, which was already given to them. This is reservation land, but if they don’t pay the taxes on it annually they lose land. This is happening all across the country right now in all of the reservations. They are losing their land. My aunt told me that a trailer out there is $1000. That’s a lot of money for a lot of people. That’s why after the earthquake in Haiti we were happy to hear that it was getting worldwide news, but no one is talking about what’s going on in South Dakota with the winters.
EM: And I can imagine the snow there.
YLM: Oh my god, you can’t imagine the snow. They don’t have any propane or anything. That’s why they need us who have learned a lot from Western society. We’ve learned a lot, but we can’t say that we own anything…period. The only way we are going to own anything is by collaborating and merging our relationships again as we were during Black Wall Street and when we merged our relationship in the Seminal Tribe. The Seminal Tribe is the wealthiest tribe in the United States, and they are an example of merging two nations.
EM: What would be the first step in merging together?
YLM: We have to get out of the thinking of what has been embedded in us from the Willie Lynch syndrome, and we have to get out of our fears of leaving our hoods. The world is bigger than our hoods. I’ve traveled across the country a few times, and a lot of people wait on me to come to their city to take them to a reservation that’s only two hours away from them. Why should I have to fly all the way to you if you already live close to a reservation? The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan have already taught us on how to speak to our brothers and sisters. It gets frustrating sometimes, but I know that it’s Allah that drives the Minister, myself, and yourself in getting to our people. It takes us getting out of our fear. Go out to the reservations. Go out and establish relationships. If the cowboys and the settlers did it, we can too. The Wasicu (white man) goes out and conquers the land, and we act like it’s not ours.
EM: And we’re the rightful owners.
YLM: Right. God said that we inherited the Earth. We know and the Wasicu knows that we are Original. I would like to say to all of the people who are reading your magazine that you can’t wait on me or anyone like me to take your hand and take you out to a reservation. Just go out there and build relationships. To all of those people with businesses and those who want to invest in businesses, they need to go to these reservations and invest in our people who are losing their land.
EM: $100, that’s it?
YLM: That’s it. They have acres and acres of land and they are losing their land to big businesses that wanted it from the beginning. It’s really sad. We, as a people, can come up with $100. We spend that much in the clubs (laughing).
EM: If/when we do this, come out of that fear and come out of that box, and we help our brothers and sisters where do you see the Nation of Islam in 20 years?
YLM: That is our Eden. That’s our Eden here in North America.
EM: How many reservations are there in total?
YLM: There are about 211 or 311, coast to coast.
EM: We have mosques from coast to coast, and I’m thinking that we ought to, for a lack of a better word, adopt reservations nearby.
YLM: My job is to make people aware so that they can do that.
EM: I thank you so much for your time and for what you do for our Nation!
YLM: Thank you!
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