Skip to main content

The Darkside of the Dome: ‘The American Dominate’

During my decades of research into the origins of federal Indian law and international law, I discovered that domination is the Latin language for "government." I keep returning to this connection between "government" and "domination" as I reflect upon the U.S. Congress’s recent passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2012 on Bill of Rights Day, December 15, 2011.

A provision of the NDAA authorizes Barack Obama or any future U.S. president to have the U.S. military grab U.S. citizens and legal residents, without charge or trial, inside the United States, and to do so without evidence having been brought before a judge or grand jury. Such a person can be detained, and, evidently, even subjected to “enhanced interrogation” until “the end of hostilities,” during a time that has been called a period of war without end.

Senator Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) unequivocally stated during the limited discussion of the NDAA that “the battlefield” now extends to “the homeland” of the U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has said that anyone deemed to pose a threat to the national security of the United States, including an American citizen, may be held by the U.S. military and even carted off to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The “law of war” has been invoked in the NDAA, and thus the “law of war” is now evidently deemed by a majority of the members of Congress to apply to persons “covered” in the NDAA, inclusive of U.S. citizens.

As the basis for their work on the U.S. Constitution, the Founders of the United States looked to the model of ancient Rome. In The Rising American Empire (1962), historian Richard Van Alstyne points out that Benjamin Franklin regarded “first the British Empire, and then the American [Empire], as Roman in conception.” Franklin used the words ‘imperial’ and ‘national’ interchangeably. George Washington referred to the United States as a ‘rising empire.’

A dark period of the Roman Empire model is known in history as ‘The Dominate,’ which translates to, “everything under domination.” ‘The Dominate’ was a period of despotism. According to Wikipedia, it the “latter phase of the government in the ancient Roman Empire from the conclusion of the Third Century Crisis of 235-284 until the formal date of the collapse of the Western Empire in AD 476.” It was during the era of ‘The Dominate’ that the Roman Emperors formally took on the title, “Dominus,” which translates to ‘He who has subdued,’ or, ‘He who has dominated.’ (See “Roman Empire, Late,” in Dictionary of the Middle Ages, Vol. 10, ed. Joseph R. Strayer)

History and the NDAA suggest that, in the wrong hands, the Capitol Dome in Washington, D.C. can become the symbol of ‘The ‘American Dominate.’ This interpretation is consistent with the root of the word domination, which is domo: ‘to subjugate,’ ‘to subdue,’ ‘to force into subservience,’ ‘to tame.’
When taken together, those concepts form a systematic and holistic framework that has been used to dominate originally free Indigenous nations and peoples. Indeed, the international working definition of “indigenous peoples” means “dominated peoples,” or “peoples under domination.”

Based on the NDAA, it appears that the American Empire’s version of The Dominate is about to be unleashed against the American people as a whole. Indeed, some $2 billion dollars have been scheduled during fiscal year 2012 to further militarize U.S. domestic police forces, in a time of deep fiscal crisis.

In 1776, William Henry Drayton, who was chief justice of South Carolina—the same state that Senator Lindsay Graham is from—declared: “Empires have their zenith—and their descension into dissolution. . . .The Almighty. . .has made choice of the present generation to erect the American Empire.”

Given this imperial orientation by the Founders, historian Richard Van Alstyne said: “In reality, …the United States possesses the attributes of monarchy; and it is through the president, the elective king, that it asserts its sovereign will among the family of nations.” Van Alstyne quoted William H. Seward, President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State, as giving “cryptic and brilliant expression” to this idea when he said: “We elect a king for four years, and give him absolute power within certain limits, which after all he can interpret for himself.”

For decades, powerful political players have been advocating for a Unitary Executive for the U.S. presidency, by altogether removing the “certain limits” from the Executive Branch. They may have finally succeeded with the NDAA. Now we will see what those who have been maneuvering on ‘the darkside’ of the Capitol Dome have in store for the American people as we move toward a period of great transition on the Mayan Calendar in 2012.

Steven Newcomb is co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute, author of “Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery,” and a columnist for Indian Country Today Media Network.