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  • Memorial For Tucson Shooting Victims

    Youth Radio -- Youth Media International: Why the Pascua Yaqui Prayer Matters for Tucson

    Why the Pascua Yaqui Prayer Matters for Tucson

    Originally published on, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

    By: Patty Talahongva

    It is fitting and proper that Dr. Carlos Gonzales offers a prayer at tonight's memorial for the victims, survivors and their families of the shooting that left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition. Dr. Gonzales is an associate professor at the University of Arizona, College of Medicine. He is a medical doctor. He is also a Pascua Yaqui Indian who embraces his culture and is learning the ways of traditional healing.

    Dr. Gonzales will aid in the healing of this community, this state and indeed this nation in the wake of such violence.

    The reservation of the Pascua Yaqui Nation is located just outside of Tucson. They are in District Seven, the neighboring district of Representative Giffords.

    In a state that passed the English Only law and the more recent Senate Bill 1070, Dr. Gonzales represents the diversity Rep. Giffords embraces. He comes from a tribe that, because of an international border which now crosses their aboriginal homelands, has citizens living in villages in Mexico. His people are also tri-lingual speaking English, Spanish and some still speak Yoeme, the traditional language of the Pascua Yaqui.

    So tonight it comes down to words from an aboriginal man, from a race of people who have consistently helped this nation in times of strife. Arizona is home to the Navajo and Hopi Code Talkers who are credited with creating codes in their traditional languages which were never broken by the enemy during World War II. They helped save countless American lives.

    Quite often the words and voice of the American Indian/Alaska Native is lost in America, their indigenous homeland, but tonight the country will hear from a man who clearly represents America and her rich diversity...

    Words matter. Words can sometimes save lives. And when words are spoken in prayer, in a positive way, they can surely do more good than harm.

    Dr. Gonzales spends his time teaching students and working with those who are in their residencies. As he told me he's training, "the next generation of family doctors," healers who will spend their lives helping their fellow human beings, and comforting them with words.

    Patty Talahongva is a freelance journalist based in Arizona and former president of the Native American Journalists Association. She is also Hopi Indian from First Mesa, AZ. The Hopi have always known the world is round and thus all their prayers include prayers for people around the world.

    Youth Radio/Youth Media International (YMI) is youth-driven converged media production company that delivers the best youth news, culture and undiscovered talent to a cross section of audiences. To read more youth news from around the globe and explore high quality audio and video features, visit

  • #2
    Right Wings Views on Dr. Carlos Gonzales Prayer

    Here are some comments from the Right Wing conservatives on the Native American blessing at the Tucson Shooting Victims Memorial.

    Conservative Media Attack Native American Blessing At AZ Memorial Service | Media Matters for America

    Conservative Media Attack Native American Blessing At AZ Memorial Service
    Following the memorial service for the victims of the tragic shooting in Tucson, several in the right-wing media attacked and mocked the inclusion of a Native American blessing as part of the invocation.

    Right-Wing Media Attack "Rambling" Prayer As "Most Peculiar"

    Hume: "While I'm Sure [Native American Ritual] Has An Honorable Tradition With [Gonzales'] People, It Was Most Peculiar." After Fox News aired the Tucson memorial live on January 12, several Fox News anchors commented on the service. Brit Hume said he thought the "sobriety you might have expected was not to be found" at the service and attributed this "tone and atmosphere," in part, to the "opening blessing" by Gonzales, which he called "most peculiar." From the Fox coverage following the service:

    HUME: It was a similar hall. It was just -- the whole tone and atmosphere was different. And I kept thinking this week, you know, that he was going out on Wednesday -- Wednesday, it's just a few, just a couple of days and yet it seems somehow longer to me. It almost seems as if this event is a little late. Certainly the mood in that auditorium suggested that the sense of mournfulness that you might have expected and sobriety you might have expected was not to be found tonight. And of course, I think, the whole thing is attributable in part to the remarkable opening blessing that was delivered by, what was his name, Carlos Gonzales, who by the time it was over with, he had blessed the reptiles of the sea, and he had prayed to the four doors of the building, and while I'm sure that all has an honorable tradition with his people, with it was most peculiar. [Fox News' Coverage of the Tucson Memorial, 1/12/11]

    Malkin: "Native American Gives Rambling Speech While Holding A Feather...Mercy."

    On a January 12 blog post covering the rally, Michelle Malkin wrote:

    Update 8:03pm Eastern Obama enters stadium to wild applause. Opening music: Copeland's Fanfare for the Common Man.

    Native American gives rambling speech while holding a feather. His remarks are frequently interrupted by whoops and cheers. He gives a shout-out to his son serving in Afghanistan. Brags about his ethnic Mexican background. Babbles about two-legged and four-legged creatures and the feminine energy that comes from Mother Earth.

    Mercy. [Michelle Malkin, 1/12/11]

    Power Line: "Opening 'Prayer' By Native American" Was "Ugly," Invocation "Could Have Used More God, Less Mexico."

    In a January 12 post after the service, the conservative blog Power Line attacked the Native American prayer as well as Gonzales' comments on his Native American and Mexican ancestry. The post concluded that the invocation "could have used more God, less Mexico, and less Carlos Gonzales." From the post, titled, "An Evening In Tucson -- The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly":

    I praised President Obama's speech in Tucson this evening in honor of the victims of that horrific shooting spree. That speech was part of a larger ceremony which, on the whole, was rather a mixed bag.


    As for the "ugly," I'm afraid I must cite the opening "prayer" by Native American Carlos Gonzales. It was apparently was some sort of Yaqui Indian tribal thing, with lots of references to "the creator" but no mention of God. Several of the victims were, as I understand it, quite religious in that quaint Christian kind of way (none, to my knowledge, was a Yaqui). They (and their families) likely would have appreciated a prayer more closely aligned with their religious beliefs.

    But it wasn't just Gonzales's prayer that was "ugly" under the circumstances. Before he ever got to the prayer, Gonzales provided us with a mini-biography of himself and his family and made several references to Mexico, the country from which (he informed us) his family came to Arizona in the mid-19th century. I'm not sure why Gonzales felt that Mexico needed to intrude into this service, but I have an idea.

    In any event, the invocation could have used more God, less Mexico, and less Carlos Gonzales. [Power Line, 1/12/11]

    Examiner: "Rambling 'Native American Blessing'...Provided A Stark Statement Of Pantheistic Paganism."

    A January 13 Washington Examiner column said that while Gonzales has the "right to practice whatever faith he chooses," his invocation was "a rambling 'Native American Blessing'" that was a "statement of pantheistic paganism."

    From the Washington Examiner's "Beltway Confidential" column:

    ...[N]o Catholic priest, Baptist minister or Jewish rabbi was included in the program. What was included was a rambling "Native American Blessing" at the outset of the program. This blessing provided a stark statement of pantheistic paganism, including forthright declarations concerning "Father Sky," "Mother Earth" and the "Creator."

    Regardless of one's view of Pantheism, its prominent inclusion at the opening of a memorial service on a state-run university campus featuring a lengthy list of public officials would seem, by the familiar expressions of liberal multicultural conventional wisdom, a blatant violation of separation of church and state.


    No one, of course, should question Carlos Gonzalez' [sic] right to practice whatever faith he chooses and to display it in public as he thinks best, or deny that his invocations of his love for America were entirely appropriate and inspiring. We should all be thankful for the service of his son in Afghanistan as well.

    That said, it ought to be recognized that his religious beliefs and practices were used by the few to send a message of exclusion to the many, thus illustrating the utter hypocrisy of at the heart of multicultural political correctness. [Washington Examiner, 1/13/11]

    This type of Right Wing conservative ranting shows America is going backward, not forward - AmigoK
    Last edited by AmigoKumeyaay; 01-13-2011, 02:22 PM. Reason: font corrections


    • #3
      My heart hurts.


      • #4
        To some it might have made more sense if one of the victims was Native(?)

        Just wondering...

        I'm not defending Hume or any of the others who criticized Dr. Gonzalez's prayer - but I will say that the animosity to religious beliefs comes from all sides.

        I've received plenty of flak in my day for my Christian faith...


        • #5
          message put out by powerline

          Share10 Share Post Print
          January 13, 2011 Posted by Paul at 5:00 PM

          In a post last night, I criticized the use of a Yaqui prayer as the invocation to the memorial service in Tucson. In doing so, I failed to give the prayer the respect it deserves. Although I did not intend this as a slight to the religion or to the Yaqui tribe, it can clearly be interpreted as one. For this, I sincerely apologize to my readers, to the Yaqui tribe, to all tribal leaders and Indian people, and, specifically, to Carlos Gonzales who delivered the prayer. I regret my poor choice of words, and I have removed the post.

          At least there was this.


          • #6
            We must learn from history...

            First They came for the Jews - Pastor Martin Niemoller

            First they came for the Jews,
            and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

            Then they came for the Communists,
            and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Communist.

            Then they came for the trade unionists,
            and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

            Then they came for me
            and there was no one was left to speak out for me.


            • #7
              Someone must have spoken out.Tribal representatives or their attorneys. Who knows. But the turn in attitude and apology came quick. I would hope sincerely that it was conscious alone.
              I like Pastor Niemoeller's writing.At least the piece you posted.


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