"All the world's a stage we pass through." - R. Ayana

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Bird Tribes: Native American Wisdom & Democracy

The Bird Tribes

Native American Wisdom & Democracy

Grandfather - Grandmother - Creation - Great Mystery
eagle feather



We give thanks to the Native Americans who have kept the knowledge  of the Bird Tribes, and the Beauty Way, alive through the centuries of oppression!

To you it must be clear as day that the tragic events in America over the centuries are a legacy that stretches back through the many generations
since you first observed the white peoples disconnection from the goodness of the Earth, and their leaders insane greed to control the world.
It has been said that your elders have foreseen that this time would come
when everything hangs in the balance, and a new world is struggling to be born. It is said that you foresaw that a tribe would rise up of people from all nations and that they would serve the Great Spirit and live by the Great Law of Peace.

They would be called the Rainbow Warriors, and they would fight a great spiritual battle, and ultimately if they prevail, rekindle a fire of light and hope in the world.  We ask for your blessing upon this work we do - may all people learn to live in harmony and in reverance for the profound Mystery of Creation. 


We who use these technologies of the computer and internet are modern people. Shaman
We have been born and grown within a world  very different from the sublime natural landscapes where you are at home.


We are a people who use magic machines who's mechanism we do not understand.
Our ancestors have harnessed the power of fire, the power of lightning, the power of the stars - for both weapons of destruction and tools of creation.


They have collected together a vast web of information. Now we shall see whether we can use these tools to communicate the most important message ever woven in the human heart - the Call to Awaken on a global level into Consciousness of the Divine Reality of the Earth - the Challenge to discover what it means to be fully Human.


"The imagery of terrorism has replaced that of savagery and then communism as the main explanatory catchall to describe the real, illusory, or manufactured enemies of the American way of life." - Anthony J Hall: 'The American Empire and the Fourth World'


"The priceless wisdom of Native America is no longer an option to be ignored of accepted at will. If we are to survive, we must adopt it as part of our souls and our blood,  and make the ancient way of reverance for the Earth our way."

- Whitley Strieber in the cover notes for Return of the Bird Tribes

 


eagle feather

"Think not of yourselves, O Chiefs. Think of continuing generations of our families,  think of our grandchildren, and of those yet unborn, whose faces are coming  from beneath the ground." 

—The Peacemaker in The Great Law of Peace

campsite


"Now the fifth grandfather spoke, the oldest of them all, the spirit of the sky. "My boy," he said, "I have sent for you and you have come. My power you shall see!" He stretched out his arms and turned into a spotted eagle hovering. "Behold," he said, "all the wings of the air shall come to you, and they and the winds and the stars shall be like relatives. You shall go across the earth with my power." Then the Eagles soared above my head and fluttered there - and suddenly the sky was full of friendly wings all coming down toward me." - from 'Black Elk Speaks'

From an Interview with Oren Lyons
~ the Faithkeeper of the Haudenosaunee ~
3 July 1991 Public Affairs Television:

"...our essential message to the world is a basic call to consciousness. Destruction of Native cultures and people is the same process which has destroyed and is destroying life on this planet. Technologies and social systems which have destroyed animal and plant life are also destroying Native people. And that process is Western Civilization.

We know that there are many people in the world who can quickly grasp the intent of our message. But experience has taught us that there are few who are willing to seek out a method for moving toward any real change. But if there is to be a future for all beings on this planet, we must begin to seek the avenues of change.

"We can't afford, now, to have these national borders. We can't afford to have racism. We can't afford apartheid. We cannot -- it's one of those luxuries that we can't have anymore as human beings. We've got to think now, in real terms, for that seventh generation. And we've got to move in concert. We've got to sing the same song. We've got to have the same ceremony. We've got to get back to spiritual law if we are to survive. "

The Peacemaker was a spiritual being. He was a messenger, we would say, the best we could say. He brought a message, the Great Peace. And it was a long process of how he changed the minds of all of these men who at that time were leaders by strength and by force. Then he stepped in there and changed that whole process to deliberation and thought. And he convinced these warriors at that time (who were the leaders) to join with him. And he changed their minds. "


eagle feather


The Roots of Democracy – The Great Tree of Peace


There follows an extensive quote from IN THE ABSENCE OF THE SACRED: The Failure of Technology And the Survival of the Indian Nations - by Jerry Mander - Sierra Club Books 1991.
The whole book is worth reading, but in the context of the Bird Tribes we felt it was the essential that we include the full story of this little-known and even less acknowledged history. This is a story that if it were widely known would change the self-image of the Western world.



Founding Fathers – The Iroquois

One of the greatest irritations for American Indians today is how American society refuses to acknowledge that the flow of influence between our societies over the centuries has not been entirely one-directional. That we had a major impact on Indians-mostly destructive - cannot be denied. But virtually no credit is given the Indian contribution to Westerners. 

Occasionally, begrudging recognition is given the fact that the Indians taught the early arrivals to these shores what to eat, how to farm, and how to survive in the harsh, cold woods. And nowadays, because of the recent work of groups attempting to protect the rainforests of the world, we are hearing about forest Indians' knowledge of medicinal plants. We are beginning to grasp that modern pharmacology is rooted in the ancient knowledge of forest plants, and that we have barely begun to tap the Indians' full knowledge in these matters. And yet that knowledge is on the verge of being totally lost as the forests are destroyed and the Indians are killed or removed from their lands.

In his book Indian Giver, anthropologist Jack Weatherford lists numerous areas where Indian contributions have not been acknowledged, particularly in agriculture, food, architecture, and urban planning. But to me, the most important area where the Indian role has been ignored, or hidden, is their influence on democratic government. It is surely one of the most closely guarded secrets of American history that the Iroquois Confederacy had a major role in helping such people as Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson as they attempted to confederate a new government under democratic principles.

Recent scholarship has shown that in the mid-1700s Indians were not only invited to participate in the deliberations of our "founding fathers," but that the Great Binding Law of the Iroquois Confederacy arguably became the single most important model for the 1754 Albany Plan of union, and later the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. That this would be absent from our school texts, and from history, and from media is not surprising given the devotion Americans feel to our founding myth: Great men gathered to express a new vision that has withstood the test of time. If it were revealed that Indians had a role in it, imagine the blow to the American psyche.


Iroquoi


Please try to imagine what it was like in the mid 1700s, when the colonists were desperate to free themselves from oppressive English control. The major urban settlements of the time Albany, Philadelphia, Boston, New York-were nothing like they are today. Albany, the capital of New York, and site of the most important meetings about confederation, had only some 200 houses in 1754. Its population was under 3,000. Philadelphia, which was to become the U.S. capital, was the largest city in the colonies, with a population of 13,000.

These places were really tiny towns, with mud roads, separated from one another by hundreds of miles of forest and several days' travel. Within those forests were Indians! In fact, the Indians were still, at that time, the stronger society, having yielded only a small part of their coastal territories. The Iroquois Confederacy (of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee, and Ontario) had yielded practically nothing.

The colonists were still quite vulnerable. It was exceedingly important to them to get along with the Indians, who were all around. They often met to discuss mutually important issues: safe passage, commercial trade, land agreements (treaties), and military alliances. The Iroquois were especially important to the English colonies militarily, since alliance with the Iroquois against the French was critical to survival.

If the Iroquois had not finally fought on the side of the English colonies, we would all now be speaking French, and would probably be part of Quebec. Dealings with Indians took place on an everyday basis, and, according to many scholars, most negotiations were "in the Indian manner," that is, they were held as part of Indian councils, and followed Indian rules of discussion, procedure, and contact.


So the colonists who negotiated with the Indians had significant knowledge of Indian decision-making and governance and went to considerable pain to accommodate the Indian processes. Even the selection of Albany as the site of many meetings was at the behest of the Indians. It is fair to say that good relations with the Indians of that period were as important to the colonists as, say, present-day U.S. relations with Canada or the Soviet Union.

In the 1700s, "foreign policy" was largely about relating to the Indians.
In addition to having day-to-day contact with the Indians of the mid 1700s, and carrying on negotiations in the Indian mode, the men who were striving to achieve independence, confederation, and democracy were struggling under another great burden: Nowhere in their own experience was there a working model of a democratic confederation of states. All of Europe at that time was under the rule of monarchs who claimed their authority by Divine Right.


There were stirrings of democratic ferment in Europe, in the writings of Montesquieu, Locke, and Hume, who were being studied and discussed. And the Greeks provided a model, although it was 2,000 years old, only a partial democracy, not a confederation, and existed in an utterly different geopolitical context.

Meanwhile, living side by side with these aspiring federalists, in constant negotiation with them, was an Indian nation that, beyond theory or historical abstraction, was an actual living example of a successful democratic confederation, united under a single law that had already survived for many centuries: the Great Binding Law of the Iroquois Confederacy.

Bison Skulls
Bison Skulls

Although some Western scholars assert that the Great Law was created in the early 1400s, the Iroquois themselves argue that the Great Law existed for hundreds of years before Columbus's arrival. There is little doubt, however, that the Great Law arose from circumstances very similar to those faced by the separate colonies. The law was designed to form a peaceful federation among five previously separate, disputatious Indian nations- Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, Seneca, and Cayuga (joined later by Tuscarora)-who resided for millennia in adjoining areas that extended from what is now Tennessee to most of Ontario. The Great Law articulated the manner in which the confederated nations would thenceforth relate to one another as a single body. It also articulated the rights that would be reserved for the individual nations (states' rights).

The Law described a system for democratically electing representatives to a Grand Council, divided into separate deliberative bodies (multi-cameral legislature). And it included, in great detail, descriptions of the legislatures of individual nations, as well as rights of universal suffrage, popular selection and removal of chiefs, and the manner in which all the members of the population should participate.

That the model was successful was apparent by the mere fact that it was already many centuries old, during which time the separate nations had cooperated peacefully on federal matters, yet remained separate. In fact the Iroquois Confederacy is still functional today among the six member nations, and the Great Law remains as the system of governance.

declaration

Given all of the above, it is preposterous to assume that the colonists were not influenced by the Iroquois And yet it has been an uphill struggle for historians who have argued this point against the founding myths of American society. Foremost among the maverick historians is professor Donald Grinde, Jr., Of the University of California at Riverside.

In his book The Iroquois and the Founding of the American Nation, Grinde argues that the Iroquois were a significant influence on colonial leaders, who had nowhere else to turn. He quotes George CIinton, then governor of New York, as observing in 1747 that most American democratic leaders were "people of republican principles who have no knowledge of democratic governments."


Grinde continues, "The tribesmen of America seemed to many Europeans to be free of such abuses as were generated by the European monarchs ... The colonists saw freedom widely exercised by American Indians. Even the cultural arrogance and racism of English colonists could not fully disguise their astonishment at finding Native Americans in such a free and peaceful state."

Grinde points out that James Madison made frequent forays to study and speak with Iroquois leaders. William Livingston was fluent in Mohawk, and visited and stayed with Indians over extended periods. John Adams and his family socialized with Cayuga chiefs on numerous occasions. Thomas Jefferson's personal papers show specific references to the forms of Iroquois governance, and, says Grinde, "Benjamin Franklin's work is resplendent with stories about Indians and Indian ideas of personal freedom and structures of government."

University of Nebraska professor Bruce Johansen has added that Franklin, who was in the printing business, was especially intimate with Indian thinking since he "had been printing Indian treaties since 1736 and not only was he acquainted with them, he set the type." Franklin was also present at an important meeting among Iroquois chiefs and several colonial governors in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1744, at which the chiefs recommended that the colonists stop fighting among themselves and form a union.

By 1754, when most of these men and others gathered to create the Albany Plan of Union, the first try at confederation, they invited forty-two members of the Iroquois Grand Council to serve as advisors on rate structures. Benjamin Franklin freely acknowledged his interest in the Iroquois achievement in a famous speech at the Albany Congress: "It would be a strange thing . .. if six nations of ignorant savages {sic} should he capable of forming such a union and be able to execute it in such a manner that it has subsisted for ages and appears indissoluble, and yet that a like union should be impractical for ten or a dozen English colonies."

According to Grinde, Franklin convened meetings of Iroquois chiefs and congressional delegates in order to "hammer out a plan that he acknowledged to be similar to the Iroquois Confederacy”.

In a 1989 interview with Catherine Sifter of National Public Radio, Grinde referred to the considerable resistance in the academic community to the idea of the Iroquois role in the formative stages of American history. According to Grinde, as recently as fifteen years ago people considered the idea a"fantasy”, but there has since been considerable progress:

People have now accepted the fact the Iroquois were at the Continental Congress on the eve of the Declaration of Independence and they're having to deal with the fact that John Adams was advocating the study of Indian governments, and that Adams observed that others among the founding fathers were advancing Indian ideas on the eve of the Constitutional Convention. But people have been led kicking and screaming into these realizations. ...

eagle feather

The promise and the vision that Indian societies provided to Europeans was that democracy did not die 2,000 years before in ancient Greece, to be followed by Divine Right monarchy as the evolution of government. In North America and in other places in the world there were people that were living without kings or landed nobility and who had systems of government that were clearly less coercive than those in Europe. ... Some people still deny this. I believe for some people this is a problem. . . . It's difficult to entertain the idea that the founding fathers were relating to, talking about, and evaluating the ideas of non-white peoples… it goes against the conventional wisdom of our society.

If Indian influence upon American constitutional democracy is a tough pill for Americans to swallow, there is yet another minor aspect to the story that can only create still greater anxiety. There's a case to be made that the Iroquois model was also influential in Europe, particularly upon Frederick Engels and Karl Marx.

At the time when Marx and Engels were struggling to create models for an egalitarian, classless society, which later evolved into communism, Engels was strongly influenced by the eighteenth-century work of anthropologist Lewis Morgan, particularly his reports on the Iroquois. Engels was so impressed that in his work Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, the Iroquois were used as the prime example of a successful classless, egalitarian, noncoercive society.


And so we have the bizarre situation that while Westerners continue to assume that the flow of influence was simply from the more "advanced" Western societies to the Indians of the Americas, it is arguably the case that the two dominant political systems of the past century were both at least partly rooted in the wisdom of the Great Binding Law of the Iroquois Confederacy. If so, both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. would do well to acknowledge the connection, study the original document, see where each went wrong, and try to get it right the next time.

Iroquoi
~ the ghosts of long forgotten promises ~

According to Iroquois history, the creation of the Great Law is attributed primarily to the work of two men: Hiawatha (Mohawk) and Deganawida (Onondaga), who spent several decades wandering together across what is now the eastern U.S. and Canada hundreds of years before Columbus landed, with a plan to unite the Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga, and Seneca. (The Tuscarora 'joined much later, in 1715)

The Great Law was transmitted orally from generation to generation, with its tenets recorded only on wampum belts and strings. Many of these wampums have since been lost, and those that remain were the subject of bitter lawsuits (luring the 1980s between the Iroquois and the State University of New York, which housed them. The university finally returned them to the Indians in 1989.

One of the early translations of the Iroquois constitution was by the turn-of-the-century anthropologist Arthur H. Parker, and is contained in Parker on the Iroquois, edited by William Fenton. In addition to Parker's commentaries on Iroquois life, the book contains Parker's English translation of the entire constitution: 115 pages of text.

Parker comments that "The Great Law as a governmental system was an almost ideal one for the stage of culture [sic] with which it was designed to cope… By adhering to it the Five Nations became the dominant native power east of the Mississippi and during colonial times exercised an immense influence in determining the fate of English civilization on the continent." Iroquois members today credit the Great Law as the main reason for their continued coherence as a viable nation, more successful than other American Indians in resisting domination by white society.

Certain features of the Great Law, as reported in Parker's book, are instantly recognizable for their similarity with the U.S. Constitution: the establishment of a federation with separate powers for federal and state governments; provisions for the common defense; representative democracy at the federal and local levels; separate legislative branches that debate issues and reconcile disagreements; checks and balances against excessive powers; rights of popular nomination and recall; and universal suffrage (although this last provision took Americans another 150 years to achieve).


But the features the colonists declined to introduce are just as interesting as the features that resemble our Constitution. For example, the Iroquois had no executive branch, no rulers or presidents; the colonists couldn't bear to get too far away from their monarch. Many of the powers to appoint and remove chiefs for the Iroquois were held by the women, another dimension of checks and balances that the United States did not include, along with the principle of consensual decision making at each level of government and in each legislative branch.

According to Parker, the Great Council of the Iroquois Confederacy, the federation's legislature, consisted of fifty rodiyaner (civil chiefs, as opposed to war chiefs) divided into three distinct "houses" according to tribal membership. Each of the "houses" debated issues separately, eventually reporting their decisions to the Onondaga, who were not part of the other legislatures, but served as firekeepers." The Onondaga determined if a consensus had been reached among the houses. If not, they would return the question to the houses and demand that they reach the unanimity required for the passage of any policy.

The only executive person was a temporary “speaker," appointed by acclamation, who served for one day only.
The right to nominate chiefs was hereditary, held only by clan mothers of certain clans from each tribe. After nomination, the candidate was then ratified in stages by the whole clan, the national council, the Grand Council of the Confederacy, and then finally by all the people. The women also had the power to remove the chiefs from office if they proved not to have "in mind the welfare of the people," as the Law says. They Could also remove a chief "who should seek to establish any authority independent of the jurisdiction of the Great Law." If the women removed a chief', they also nominated the replacement.


The procedure for removing chiefs was spelled out in exquisite detail, as were all rules of the Great Law, including the exact words the women used to deliver a warning to the offending chief, then follow-up warnings and removal.


In addition to the chiefs nominated by the women, the Law permitted the recognition of '"Pine Tree Chiefs" who spontaneously sprang from the community. According to the Great Law these are people "with special ability [who] show great interest in the affairs of the nation, and [who] prove themselves wise, honest and worthy of confidence." Such chiefs participated in all council deliberations.

The duties of the chiefs were spelled out in great detail:

[They] shall be mentors of the people for all time. The thickness of their skin shall be seven spans, which is to say that they shall be proof against anger, offensive actions and criticism. Their hearts shall be full of peace and good will and their minds filled with a yearning for the welfare of the people of the confederacy. With endless patience they shall carry out their duty and their firmness shall be tempered with a tenderness for their people. Neither anger nor fury shall find lodgment in their minds and all their words and actions shall be marked by calm deliberation. . . . They must be honest in all things . . . self-interest must be cast into oblivion ... They shall look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground, the unborn of the future Nation.



Iroquoi


The Great Law contains one rule that I found particularly extraordinary for its democratic import and the degree of trust it reveals for the people of the member nations. The Law says that when an "especially important matter or a great emergency is presented before the council, and the nature of the matter affects the entire body of the Five Nations," then the council is not permitted to act without first going back to all of the people in the confederacy. The chiefs "of the confederacy must submit the matter to the decision of their people and the decision of the people shall affect the decision of the confederate council. This decision shall be a confirmation of the voice of the people."

What is remarkable is that this rule describes a way of doing things that is exactly the opposite of our own. In the United States the most apocalyptic decisions, especially military ones, are always made by government, quickly-often secretly-without consulting the people. This speed and secrecy is justified precisely because of the importance of the matter and by the need for rapid action. Often this reflects how technology has accelerated the pace of events, creating situations such as "launch on warning."
In the United States, the president makes all war decisions.


The constitutional principle that only Congress can declare war is a farce, as was most recently obvious in the U.S.-Iraq situation. For although Congress finally gave its (divided) approval for war, it came only after President Bush had maneuvered 450,000 troops to the front lines without approval, and issued a level of verbal invective against Iraq that made war impossible to avoid. And in preceding years, we saw U.S. presidents bomb countries (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos), invade countries (Grenada, Lebanon, Panama), and undertake indirect military actions (Nicaragua), all without congressional approval, let alone the approval of the people.

I don't know of any native society in which any war chief could undertake military action without long meetings of the entire tribe, which could take days or even weeks. Even when a military response was approved, warrior recruitment was voluntary. If an insufficient number of warriors showed up, there was simply no war, or else the war chief would have to go out there alone, as occasionally happened. The Iroquois Confederacy institutionalized this rule, making the war decision slower and much more difficult.

States' Rights

Several rules in the Great Law were created to ensure the continued sovereignty of each member nation of the confederacy. For example, one section stated, "…The five Council Fires shall continue to burn as before and they are not quenched. The [chiefs] of each nation in the future shall settle their nation's affairs at this council fire [though] governed always by the laws and rules of the council of the Confederacy and by the Great Peace."

Sound familiar, It is very close to the model adopted by Franklin and Jefferson for the United States Constitution.


eagle feather

According to Arthur Parker, in addition to ensuring sovereignty for each member nation, there were also rules ensuring sexual equality, as well as the rights of local communities to determine their own affairs:

The men of every clan of the Five Nations shall have a Council Fire ever burning in readiness for a council of the clan. When it seems necessary for a council to be held to discuss the welfare of the clans, then the men may gather about the fire. This council shall have the same rights as the council of the women.

The women of every clan of the Five Nations shall have a Council Fire ever burning in readiness for a council of the clan. When in their opinion it seems necessary for the interest of the people they shall hold a council and decisions and recommendations shall be introduced before the Council…


All of the Clan Council Fires of a nation or of the Five Nations may unite into one general Council Fire, or delegates from all the Council Fires may be appointed to unite in a general council for discussing the interests o4 the people. The people shall have the right to make appointments and to delegate their power to others of their number. When their council shall have come to a conclusion on any matter, their decision shall be reported to the Council of the Nation or to the Confederate Council, as the case may require.


The Great Law also contained specific articles concerning the rights and duties of war chiefs, the rules of consanguinity, the official symbolism of the tribes, laws of adoption, and laws of emigration and immigration (including political asylum). The rights of foreign nationals were spelled out, as well as many passages containing the exact words and procedures to be used for "raising chiefs," funeral addresses, installation songs, and all ceremonies.
For example, at the opening ceremonies before each council meeting, the Onondaga were required to "offer thanks to the Earth where men dwell, to the streams of water, the pools, the springs and the lakes, to the maize and the fruits, to the medicinal herbs and trees, to the forest trees for their usefulness, to the animals that serve as food and give their pelts for clothing, the great winds and the lesser winds, to the Thunderers, to the Sun, the mighty warrior, to the moon, to the messengers of the Creator, and to the Great Creator who dwells in the heavens above, who gives all the things useful to men, and who is the source and the ruler of health and life."

from IN THE ABSENCE OF THE SACRED by Jerry Mander Sierra Club Books 1991


From the Bird Tribes @  http://birdtribes.net/nativewisdom.htm



 
Help Keep This Unique Site Online
Donate any amount and receive at least one New Illuminati eBook!




 


For further enlightenment enter a word or phrase into the search box @  New Illuminati:



And see

The Her(m)etic Hermit - http://hermetic.blog.com

 New Illuminati on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Illuminati/320674219559  


New Illuminati Youtube Channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/newilluminati/feed


This material is published under Creative Commons Copyright (unless an individual item is declared otherwise by copyright holder) – reproduction for non-profit use is permitted & encouraged, if you give attribution to the work & author - and please include a (preferably active) link to the original along with this notice. Feel free to make non-commercial hard (printed) or software copies or mirror sites - you never know how long something will stay glued to the web – but remember attribution! If you like what you see, please send a tiny donation or leave a comment – and thanks for reading this far…

From the New Illuminati – http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com

No comments:

Post a Comment

Add your perspective to the conscious collective