President of Ukraine and the chief of Sioux Nation
Native Americans In Ukraine
At the invitation of The Kiev Times and the American Spiritual Diplomacy Foundation, a small delegation of Native Americans from the Sioux Nation, more specifically the Lakota people, and Native Americans living in Hawaii, recently arrived in Kiev. The Sioux Nation was represented by their chief, Joseph Brings Plenty; his son Cole Brings Plenty; and Evelyne Serais, a native of France now living in the United States, who has devoted her life in service to Native Americans. Kaiulani Kahalekai, a princess and spiritual leader of native Hawaiians flew directly from Hawaii to Kiev. The princess also partakes in Hawaii's musical festivals, at which native folk melodies are performed. Such events contribute to preserving and passing along national traditions. It is there that she extends her greetings to the next generation of native Hawaiians. Those representing Native Americans were joined in Kiev by the leadership of the Spiritual Diplomacy Foundation: Messrs. Mikhail Morgulis, Frank Abernathy, and Mark Bazalev.
We were told that this visit to Ukraine by Native Americans was the first of its kind.
The idea behind the trip was to allow Ukrainians and Native Americans to take part in discussions about freedom, keeping in mind the significance that the distinctive English word "FREEDOM" has embedded within it, i.e., total freedom. Native Americans, whose historical path is covered in blood, pain and tears, had to share their concepts of freedom and the price that they had to pay to pursue and realize that freedom. From their respective historical experiences, Native Americans and Ukrainians know that freedom is often paid for in lives. In Ukraine's history, the Cossack movement was key to the struggle for freedom, and freedom-loving representatives of the Zaporizhian Sich participated in that struggle.
The guests met with Kiev's journalists, appeared on radio and television, and recounted their own life events at press conferences. They visited the "Cheburashka" childcare facility, spent some time at the Mamaeva Sloboda Park, where the Pentecost holiday was being celebrated, attended services at Kiev's churches and met with representatives of Ukrainian cultural and economic activities.
At the childcare site the authentic Native Americans and genuine Hawaiian princess were greeted with delight. Children gave their guests drawings that they made showing good-natured Native Americans galloping with spears and tomahawks.
Spiritual Diplomacy's President Mikhail Morgulis observed: "We would like Americans to meet Ukraine and her people. It is the people, not just their ambassadors, who represent these two nations. Ukraine is much more than dumplings, pastries and folk dances. Ukraine is a wonderful nation, with a superb culture, a spectacular yet tragic history, and a unique spiritual content. Our Spiritual Diplomacy Foundation, in conjunction with the publishers of The Kiev Times, are designing projects intended to draw our two nations closer together on the basis of shared personal and spiritual values."
Appearing on television and radio, Chief Joseph Brings Plenty and Princess Kaiulani Kahalekai spoke about the moving impression which Ukraine had made on them. In one of their presentations, the young chief, responding to a question, replied: "The most essential aspect of freedom, from the perspective of native Americans, is the freedom of the individual's spirit. Inherent in the concept of freedom is not simply a political coloration but also the spiritual freedom of the human soul." At the conclusion of the visit the delegation was received by Ukraine's President Viktor Yanokovich. The two-hour-long session was held at the president's residence. The head of state was interested in the way of life unique to America's aboriginal inhabitants, their interactions with the governmental structure in Washington and the Native Americans' economic and political accomplishments within the context of America's overall political and economic life.
Perhaps because they were attired in their native garb, which they traditionally wear at rituals and festive events, a certain aura of romanticism took hold at the meeting. The president remarked that our generation is familiar with the life of Native Americans primarily because of the novels of James Fennimore Cooper and Thomas Mayne Reid. But there are very few who know about their actual way of life. He noted that the American federal statute exempting Native Americans from any tax obligation is a remarkable piece of legislation, one based on fairness.
At the end of the meeting the chief of the Native Americans presented the president with a sacred eagle's feather, which, according to his comments, confers upon its holder strength and keen vision. It would not be unreasonable to suggest that many of the world's political figures lack these qualities.
It suddenly became clear that such a glorious and positive event did not meet with everyone's approval. A certain commentator on a minor site, called the chief a "Great Russian Chauvinist and a Jew." All at once throwing out two good words! That's exactly what is needed, to hate everyone! Even after lengthy explanations, the chief failed to understand what those two words meant. But, thank God, this small piece of dirt did not spoil the large barrel of honey filled with Native Americans' admiration for Ukraine and the shared feeling of joy that was present at these meetings.