The American presidential run is really heating up with clashes breaking out and road blocks at Trump events. Not surprising, given his propensity for making outrageous, inflammatory and racist remarks. At some point the “targets” of his foul mouth are going to say “enough is enough” and begin to take action.
It’s interesting watching him trying to deflect any criticism or accusation that he is responsible for what’s unfolding. It’s everybody else’s fault except his. We all have people like this in our lives. People who refuse to take personal responsibility for their words and actions.
Permission is given in wide array of ways. Of course the most overt being someone clearly stating that they give permission for whatever. And then there is the covert permission given through silence or ignoring. When someone or no one clearly says that is not right then the silence says that it is alright. When someone takes the position that’s none of my business then they’ve given their permission that whatever it is, as permissible.
Trump is clearly saying that violence against those he targets is alright. He’s even offered to pay the legal costs for anyone caring out violence if they’re arrested. What other message does one received when he says that protestors or dissidents should be “taken out on a stretcher”.
It was the Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke that stated: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” And that has certainly held true throughout so many of history’s worst atrocities.
But he is also known for another equally salient point in this election season: “It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the publick to be the most anxious for its welfare.”
Let’s now turn 180 degrees away from this nonsense and look at the traditional leadership selection process in Indigenous civilizations. All of those running in the American election would be disqualified from consideration as leaders. Within an Indigenous political process leadership is conferred on the ones who demonstrated a completely opposite set of values, principles and actions. In fact, you would be disqualified for even suggesting that you should be considered for chief or clan mother.
Bruce Johansen, author of “Forgotten Founders” captures the essence of the Haudenosaunee political system: “The Iroquoian system, expressed through its constitution, ‘The Great Law of Peace,’ rested on assumptions foreign to the monarchies of Europe: it regarded leaders as servants of the people, rather than their masters, and made provisions for the leaders’ impeachment for errant behavior. The Iroquois’ law and custom upheld freedom of expression in political and religious matters…It provided for political participation by women and the relatively equitable distribution of wealth.”
In this system freedom of expression begins when one can speak. Even the youngest person’s view would be given consideration and especially if the issue at hand directly affected them.
Bruce almost captures an equally important element in his last sentence. Haudenosaunee women do not just have participation in our political processes they actually possess the power of veto over several important realms of decision making. First, is in regards to anything that impacts our E’tinoha (Mother Earth). Secondly, anything that impacts our future and life such as war. Women authorize whether or not there will be a war. Thirdly, the distribution of wealth was the women’s domain. Fourthly, the selection, installation, and if necessary, removal of male leadership of their clan. There are more realms but these provide you with an interesting contrasting between the two systems.
The Haudenosaunee system is modeled in the Circle Wampum of the Confederacy. There are two intertwined strings of wampum that form the circle. One represents the political and the other represents the spiritual. This is reminder that there are more than the laws of humans that govern the universe and the dynamics of life. First there are the Laws of Creation. Then there are the Laws of the Land. Lastly, there are the Laws of Humans but these must always be rooted in the first two.
In my last column, "Sky Woman and Eve," I quoted the following from “Braiding Sweetgrass – Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of the Plants” by Robin Wall Kimmerer – “And then they met – the offspring of Skywoman and the children of Eve – and the land around us bears the scars of that meeting, the echoes of our stories.”
Two vastly different political legacies, one that originates from an unbroken lineage of matriarchy, and the other arising from a patriarchy that overthrew a matriarchy several thousand years ago.
A comment posted by Chad Hazzard underlines the chasm that exists between the two world views: “…in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground....”
For more than 500 years this has been, and continues to be, a clash of civilizations. The role of the Doctrine of Discovery has been eloquently described by many authors. So too the impact of historical trauma on both individuals and our collective existence.
We also need to affirm the incredible resiliency of our peoples. It has not been an easy effort to preserve and keep alive our languages, teachings, values and philosophies. It has required imagination, daring, innovation and constant effort on the part of so many unsung heroes. Even at this very moment there are those who are working tirelessly to insure that the next generation receives the gifts given to us at the beginning of our creation.
Trump is the personification of his civilization’s legacies. Don’t be surprised at what you see because this is an accurate rendering of the type of person required to advance the destructive agenda of the West. This does not mean that we don’t resist it and fight against it gaining any kind of victory. This is the personification my ancestors saw when they named George Washington “Hunodeguyas," Village Destroyer. Based on his rhetoric, Trump would destroy a great many villages all over the world.
This is nothing new.
Mike Myers is the founder and CEO of Network for Native Futures, a Native non-profit that works with Indigenous nations, communities and organizations internationally. The network's mission is to support sustainable development and nation re-building through providing of technical assistance, training and consulting.