Tibetan Monks, Maidu Native Americans Celebrate Similar Cultural Experiences

July 8, 2009

Author: Don Baumgart

Source: Indian Country Today


For the second year, visiting Tibetan monks and members of the Tsi-Akim Maidu Tribe shared an evening of culture.

The monks are members of the Gaden Shartse Monastery, currently exiled to India to escape Chinese government repression in their homeland.

Six monks in red and saffron robes were joined on stage by Maidu drummers and singers. Performing separately, the monks chanted to the accompaniment of Tibetan drum and horn music.

White silk scarves were given to each tribal member on stage by the monks, promising long life and prosperity.

“We see a great similarity between what’s happened to the Native people here in America the last 150 years and what’s happened to the Tibetan people in the last 50 years,” Joseph Guida, executive director of Saint Joseph’s Cultural Center, where the gathering took place, told the packed house. “Killing wildlife in Tibet, destroying the environment, destroying the culture and committing genocide on the Native people are all familiar to Native Americans.”

While in northern California’s Grass Valley the monks created a sand mandala, working steadily and carefully for most of the week-long visit. The mandala was meticulously crafted by scooping colored sand into small hollow pencil-like cones and rubbing them together, carefully depositing the sand. Celestial beings are invited to inhabit the mandala to help purify negativities.