Q&A with Chiricahua medicine man, Iron Eagle

Songs and chants echoed in the air during Global Peace Week at Valencia’s east campus Wednesday, as Iron Eagle played his music on life and peace.

Iron Eagle is one of Valencia’s special guests this week. A Chiricahua Apache medicine man and sun dancer, he imparted east campus with a glimpse of Native American culture. Armed with a hand drum, a drumstick, and a strong, low voice, Iron Eagle spoke his views on harmony through song.

In this interview, Iron Eagle shares about himself and his ideas on peace.

Valencia Voice: Can you tell me a little about yourself? What drew you to write and sing the songs that you sung?

Iron Eagle: Okay, my name is Iron Eagle. My background is Chiricahua, Apache, and Chichimeca. Some of the songs are traditional medicine songs. I didn’t write them, they’re passed down to us in ceremonies. They have the power to heal us, to touch our minds, to create happiness inside ourselves, and develop love and compassion for ourselves. Then we are able to share with the outer world.

Q: I noticed in the songs that there are a few different languages. What languages are those?

A: [They are] in the Apache language, the Lakota language, the Meshika language, and the Spanish language.

Q: Could you give me a little background on your Native American tribe and who you all are today?

A: The Chiricahua people and the Apache people, we love family. Family is the center; everything comes from the family and we gather around family. We gather as small tribes or groups, like a clan. That’s how they used to gather, and today we still gather in that way. My tribe is from different places around the USA; some are from Mexico, Northern Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas. Before we had the line [US and Mexico’s current borderline] northern Mexico and the Southwest were one piece of land. We called it Indian land because so many tribes gathered together: Navajos, Apaches, Zunis, Comanches, all these tribes gathered around the same location.

Q: As it is Global Peace Week here at Valencia, what is your view on peace? Do you believe world peace is attainable?

A: This is my personal opinion, it is apart of my spiritual beliefs- For us to talk about peace, first we need to have an experience about peace, and that starts with myself. Anything I do can increase or decrease my internal peace, so the way we think, the words we share, and the way we behave is going to damage or increase our internal peace. We need to be content. When we accomplish that then we can share to others, we can empower ourselves, and we can empower others to practice peace. Peace is a universal law; it is here because we see nature and nature behaves in a very peaceful way. Everything has a place; we see the trees, bushes, insects, animals, birds all together and they create balance and harmony. As human beings, we are the only ones who break this law every time we have an opportunity. We need to go back to ourselves. We need to go back to the center, back to our Mother.

Q: So do you believe world peace is attainable?

A: I believe so, I believe so. I believe that the road we walk, called the Red Road, is the road of the heart. So everyone has a heart and what the heart does is it teaches us to unite everything, to keep everything together. My heart, your heart, they all have the same beat. Since there are so many religions in this world and the teachings of these religions are so different, how do you think we can obtain peace? The difference lies in the minds of the people. The basis of every people’s belief is the basis of love, compassion, tolerance, and respect. Every spiritual belief teaches about that, they are the common rules and common grounds for everybody. Jesus never created Christianity, Buddha never created Buddhism, they talk about love as a way of life. Love is the medicine that unites all together.

Q: What are your tribe’s teachings on peace?

A: It is the purpose of every day. As soon as you wake up you create a relation, it is a relation with everything around you. It is a practice we do from when we start to grow up. It’s passed down from our elders, our grandparents, and our parents. Women and mothers always talk about love. Love is a medicine. it is a way of life, a way to be. So it is something to practice.

Q: Why do you think there have been more violent outbursts in the past few decades, such as 9/11, Sandy Hook, Pulse, and even the recent bombing in New York/New Jersey?

A: It is because of ignorance. Ignorance about ourselves. Every human being and part of creation is a drop from the great spirit we call The Creator, and everyone has this essence in themselves. Many times we try to explain that to the rational mind and we can’t get good answers, you know? As soon as we get an answer we try to get another answer. The mind tries to find the best answer for everybody, but there is no answer because our hearts carry vibrations. We must view our hearts and open ourselves to feel that vibration.

Q: How do you think that we, as students, can fight against this kind of violence?

A: By not being apart of that. As soon as we engage in violence, [violence] can be negative words or words that destroy ourselves. We no longer can say that we are practicing peace. As soon as we pull our weapon and we try to put that weapon in somebody else, there is no way we can tell ourselves that we [are] practice peace. You cannot stand around. You have the choice to say yes or no. Peace is a choice with us, either you want to do it or you don’t want to do it. Who you are going to support and who do you stand for?

Q: Out of all the things you’ve taught and shown today what is the one thing you want Valencia students to remember?

A: I want them to remember that first they need to love themselves. [And second], they need to have an experience with love and gratitude. These two things are going to carry them very, very far.