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The Civilizing (Dominating) Process

A little-noticed definition of “civilization” is this: “the forcing of a particular cultural pattern on a population to whom it is foreign.” The key word is “forcing,” which implies some agency that engages in the process of forcing a particular cultural pattern on a population or nation.

The forcible imposition is called “the civilizing process.” The process of forcible imposition stems from a system of domination that is disguised as something called “civilization,” which is a euphemism (a nice sounding word for something negative) for “domination.”

The mission of forcible imposition is also called “the mission,” as in “the Spanish Catholic Mission system.” The entire system by which the forcible imposition is inflicted on free nations has been typically called “the mission system.” It operates by means of specific techniques, and in specific phases.

First, invade a place where free nations are living. Second, capture the people living in that place. Third, vanquish the people living in that place by breaking their spirit of resistance so that you can subdue them. To subdue them means to force them to submit to and become interwoven into a system in which they are conditioned to pay, pray, and obey, without question.

Force them into “a habit of obedience” to those working to impose that system of domination. Next, call that habit of obedience to domination “the law,” “the civil order,” and “civil society.” Use the sound of the bell and vicious punishments to create a patterned conditioned response in the nervous systems and neural patterning of the brains of those being subjected to the system of domination.

Let’s assume the viewpoint of people who are working to impose a system of domination on others who are still living free of domination. Those who are living free from the cultural system that is being imposed are the ones who pose a threat to “the mission” of forcible imposition. They are deemed to be “enemies” of the system of domination and must be brought into “submission,” meaning they must be brought “under and inside the physical mission” as a way of building a reality of “sub-mission.”

The domination system labels the free peoples as “wild” and “barbarous” because they have not yet been “domesticated” by being forced under the cultural pattern of domination that the dominators are working to impose on them. In the first stages of the imposed domination, the mandate is to either domesticate or exterminate the people of the free nation. The initial death toll can be quite high but it’s all for the best of the system of domination. Also, domination over “free” land + slave or forced labor = capital.

The spiritual understandings and practices of the free people provide them with a deep spirit of resistance, and a deep desire to say “no” to the domination being imposed on them. For this reason, their spiritual understandings and ceremonies must be destroyed so as to destroy their spirit of resistance. Those must be replaced with ceremonies that worship and pay homage to the symbols and institutions of domination.

The language of the free people provides them with an ability to think thoughts and to speak in ways that deny the validity of the system of domination, while providing them with the ability to think independently of the ideas of the dominators. For this reason, their free language must be destroyed and the dominators language imposed on them. Ideally, they must be made to forget the original free existence as nations.

Their own names in their own language give them an identity free from the system of domination, and so each free person must be given a domination-system name such as Thomas, Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, etc. The free people must be conditioned to look up to sign of the cross, in the spirit of the supposed vision of the Roman Emperor Constantine: “By This Sign Dominate.”

The goal is to “get them” coming and going, so they have nowhere else to turn. In other words, the free people have to be conditioned to believe there is no alternative to the domination system being imposed on them. And if and when they begin to question and challenge the domination system, they must be told they need to take the path of “reconciliation,” which means “to bring back into submission” and “to bring back into the Church,” or “to keep them under Domination.”

The Doctrine of Discovery has never been about “discovery.” The doctrine has always been about Domination and Dehumanization. There are people who say that “reconciliation” is the needed solution, meaning that we ought to “reconcile” ourselves with an imposed system of domination. Such people have not even begun to understand what the domination system is and what we ought to do about it. Indeed, the term “reconciliation” is a merely a Catholic synonym for “submission,” the flip side of which is “domination.”

The adage, “Let Freedom Ring,” refers to the Freedom of the Empire, or what Thomas Jefferson called “the Empire of Liberty.” This is a guise. What is proclaimed to be free and independent is the empire, not the nations and peoples forced under the “sovereignty” and domination of the empire. “Empires have colonies,” said James Madison in an exceedingly straightforward manner, and the Founders of the American Empire understood that it was a system of domination that they were founding in relation to our original free nations.

Our Native nations have been subjected to “the civilizing (dominating) process” of the American Empire, and the system of ideas designed for that dominating process is called U.S. federal Indian law and policy. On that basis, Congressman Lloyd Meeds made the following argument in his Minority Report for the Indian Policy Review Commission back in 1976: “The doctrine of inherent tribal sovereignty, adopted by the Majority Report, ignores the historical reality that American Indian tribes lost their sovereignty through discovery, conquest, cession, treaties, statutes and history.”

He continued: “An international tribunal, Cayuga Indian Claims (Great Britain v. United States) … and the United States Supreme Court, Johnson v. M’Intosh, 21 U.S. (8 Wheat.) 543 (1823), and Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, 30 U.S. (5 Pet.) 1, 17 (1831), have applied these well-settled international law doctrines to extinguish American Indian tribal sovereignty. Hence, to the extent American Indian tribes are permitted to exist as political units at all, it is by virtue of the laws of the United States and not any inherent right to government, either of themselves or others.”

It is up to us to challenge this kind of thinking which results from the domination mentality being imposed on our original free nations.

Steven Newcomb (Shawnee, Lenape) is co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute and author of Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery (Fulcrum, 2008). He has been studying federal Indian law and international law since the early 1980s.