My family lived in the Haudenosaunee “Chosen Place” in the summer. It is called Canandaigua. In that place many tales from the past continued. The tale of the Great White Snake, the Tales of Handsome Lake, the spiritual leader who preached a way for Natives and Europeans to get along, and some of the rules that were sacred to the Native Americans the French labeled Iroquois.
One rule was that all major decisions were “tossed across the fire” until everyone agreed that the right decision was made. It meant that a 12-year-old, lacrosse-playing novice could be the lone hold out about a major decision, and until his mind was swayed, the decision was on hold. This type of consensus may be impossible in today’s “democracy” but what’s going on in democracy in the USA is a long way from the Federalist Papers idea of democracy.
The US System of government, was, in fact modeled after the Iroquois version, in which tribes, clans and individuals could petition the decisions.
It’s been a long time since citizen Ralph Nader or anyone else, like Mr. Brady (see failed anti-gun legislation) was taken seriously by government, if their proposals meant even the slightest less profit, and even the slightest more sharing of wealth, or preserving the environment, or bringing back mass transportation in the 70 cities in which GM, Firestone and Standard Oil conspired to buy up the local trains and replace them with busses during the depression of the 1930s when they could also find cheap labor to tear up the tracks(eventually of course, cars became the nearly exclusive transportation vehicles).
Nader’s Environmental Protection Agency has become a politicized laboratory doing testing on animals. Ooops.
1) FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS : there was only one crime I know of that was punished by banishment from a tribe (a de facto death penalty) back in the day. And that was against those who failed to follow their dreams. Compare this to today’s corporate culture in which following your dreams (except in the most enlightened places) is pretty much disallowed. Why was this so important? Because those who do NOT follow their dreams become a drain on society. They are bitter, angry and maybe even become insane when their dreams are denied. And why would one deny their dreams in a culture that hardly had money at all? Who knows, maybe for love. Maybe they fell in love with someone who INSISTS that they follow not their own dream, but their lover’s dream. Well both could get kicked out then I guess.
We live in a time when from the first day of elementary school, students are taught to pass a test. A test developed by corporations who need people to think the way they do. And that means, be greedy, work for the profit on ONLY their company, do little to help others outside the company, etc. Which university you get into depends on how well you follow the edicts of THE CORPORATIONS’ tests, and then which university you graduate from has a lot to do with where you will work. and in the USA not even 30% of the people have a bachelor’s degree. And their job prospects have dimmed considerably since so many skilled and non skilled labor jobs have been shipped to low-paying countries, like China.
2) Making love is the highest homage to God. This is because to make a baby completes the Creators dream of seeing how well human beings will do with the earth he has given us. Oh? Then at least we are not doing very well. Unlike the Christians, who profited immensely by killing Islamists in the Crusades, and then quite a bit more so by creating genocide in North and South America (3000 cultures were wiped out, and many of the languages are gone now too) who felt that love making was not a holy experience (unless I guess you want to count the Catholic Priests who must believe homosexual rape of choir boys is holy, but since no baby-making is likely, then NO THIS IS NOT HOLY).
3) Make everyone in the tribe feel that their contribution is the MOST important thing for the tribe. The chief used to visit the lacrosse-stick makers every day. These were people who, though maybe not as smart, were gifted with their hands. Maybe not warrior material, but so so so important to the tribe. Without those sticks, how could men train for war? Without being ready for war, who knows when the next Mohawk attack could come. (Of Course the Peacemaker, a Huron, once came into Haudenosaunee lands and convince the five tribes, Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onandaga and Seneca, to create a peace, which they did, and it lasted 3500 years apparently).
So, when everyone feels like their contribution is equal and very important, they are happy.
4) Grow beans, corn and squash.
5) Never hide anything from children. Let them play and find out about nature on their own. They will learn what they need to learn by asking elders and by observing. Do not force one way of thinking on anyone.
6) Always learn from those who live life a different way. This is how the Natives were predisposed to helping the White Folks who showed up and would have certainly perished in the early winters.– hence Thanksgiving. Some thanks the tribes got later on.
Delight in the idiosyncrasies of others. Instead of being judgmental (we’ll leave that to the Creator) learn form the different ways people live their lives. Their is no reason to belittle someone just because they go through life a different way. In fact, delighting in, finding humor in, and learning from other people’s ways only increases your ability to follow your dreams. Having met an unusual person, you may realize that parts of their ways would improve your own way of doing things.
So, when you have a friend or meet someone who goes through life acting like a fool, take the time to find out WHY they are acting like a fool. You may soon realize they have a good reason for acting like a fool, and it may cause you to be more foolish yourself. Well, nothing like a fool to brighten up a meeting.
7) Always gives thanks to the creator when eating another animal or even dandelion leaves. THANKSGIVING for what we have. Without this, some will take advantage of this earth for their own profit.
8) People over profit.
9) Everything is its own God. The Creator gave each living thing, from a blade of grass to a human being, innate abilities to thrive, not thrive, or perish. If one Oak tree grows higher than another, it is a sign that the tree wanted to get more out of life, thus no two things are the same. This principle is vital to understanding Haudenosaunee culture, and that of many Native American tribes. If each thing has been given certain powers, some limited, others vast, then it is up to the individual to make the most of what the Creator gave them, and this leads to more principles.
10) Do not rely on others to solve your problems. Doing so is an afront to the Creator, and creates problems for the tribe. In certain situations of course, there must be a team effort to make the best of a bad problem.
11) There is no Hell. Since the Creator created everything, everything goes back to meet the Creator when they die. Some with heads held up, other in shame. This concept opens the way for genuine rehabilitation of those acting in bad ways. Even those who have committed the worst crimes, like murder, will end up slaves to the wronged family, and may, through their own hard work, be freed any time the family deems he or she is ready to have their own place in society. In moderns terms, this boils down to “no jail.” Yes it puts a burden on tribe members to deal with the problems a person has created, but those same tribe members should have been supporting each human so that they would not turn to crime. Thus, if the clans or tribes are small enough, supportive enough, following other rules of inclusion, crimes are rare. Anyone thinking about a crime could always “through it over the fire’ and be told exactly why the abhorrent idea should not be carried out.
Copyright, Doug Stuber, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.