Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Little Known Anniversary of the Roots of Our Freedom and Democracy

One afternoon in 1988 I jumped into the St. Lawrence Seaway and was totally unprepared for the shock that went through my body caused by the cold of the water. The panic on my face must have been evident because of few of my Mohawk friends, notably Lorraine Canoe, grabbed me to make sure I did not drown. I remember trying to force the words from my mouth that I was okay but I don’t think those words were intelligible.

That happened at Akwesasne, the Mohawk Reservation in upstate New York, where I was for a function for the Akwesasne Freedom School headed back then by Mohawk Chief Jake Swamp who I interviewed for the WBAI-Pacifica radio show mentioned in the “About Me” paragraph to the right.

What may send a similar shock through America’s body is discovering the little-known, non-white history of the origins of our democratic freedoms. While we have always been taught that our democracy was founded by our white land owning and slave holding Founding Fathers, the historic fact is that American democracy as we know it would not have happened without borrowing it from American Indians.

That’s right, 867 years ago yesterday one of the giant cornerstones of America’s democracy, our “More Perfect Union” federalism and many facets of the structure of our government, many of our freedoms and various European democracies owe its creation to the Five Nations Haudenosaunee (pronounced Haudeno-shonee), which is the confederation of the Onondaga, the Seneca, the Cayuga, the Oneida, the Mohawk and with the addition of the Tuscarora later, becoming the sixth nation in the Haudenosaunee.

On August 31st, 1142, three hundred fifty years before the conquest of Columbus, the Haudenosaunee, otherwise known as the Iroquois Confederacy, was founded through the Great Law of Peace—the
Iroquois Constitution.

What the Iroquois Constitution inspired in our own Constitution are many and fundamental. The two Houses of our legislature, our Congress, are taken from the Haudenosaunee not the Greeks; the three branches of our government are taken from the Haudenosaunee not the Romans; veto power, impeachment and the procedure for when a leader becomes sick were taken from the Haudenosaunee not the British.

All of this and more was borrowed and used by America—the same America which attempted to kill off or assimilate, the bulk of its entire indigenous population, even though it owed a major part of its “democratic experiment” to people who many American military, political, religious and business leaders thought were not even human, or were devils, or were simply beneath whites in all aspects. The term “ignorant savages” as used back then was not nearly as derogatory as it is today.

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin told colonial delegates in 1754, “It would be a strange thing if six nations of ignorant savages should be capable of forming such a union and be able to execute it in such a manner that it has subsisted ages and appears indissoluble, and yet, that a like union should be impractical of ten or a dozen English colonies, to whom it is more necessary and must be more advantageous, and who cannot be supposed to want an equal understanding of their interest.”

Moreover, Europe was inspired to throw off the suffocating shackles of monarchies by the Haudenosaunee through the Myth of the Noble Savage. The French took inspiration to end the reign of Louis the XVI because they saw how the Haudenosaunee lived in harmony with one another and with their surroundings and wanted the same for themselves.

One major difference of the freedoms or the Haudenosaunee and America lies in the intrinsic rights of women—existent among the Haudenosaunee but absent at the founding of America.

According to the book
“Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World” by Jack Weatherford, Karl Marx was also inspired by the Myth of the Noble Savage to invent communism to reflect the liberty enjoyed by the Iroquois and how their community took care of all of its members without class distinction or structure with equality for all.

So, the founders of the two Cold War enemies inspired by American Indians to want greater control over their own freedoms and personal liberties.

The Great Peacemaker, whose name was Deganawida, and Hiawatha, his spokesman, would perhaps be bewildered at how badly the superior white race comprehended peace, given that the descendents of Marxism and American democracy could not forge a peace between themselves so many centuries after the Haudenosaunee did and that they nearly brought the world to nuclear war—a worse fate of war than the Great Peacemaker would ever have known or imagined in 1142.
On October 21, 1988 the US Senate passed a
Concurrent Resolution to acknowledge the contribution of the Iroquois Confederacy in the development of the U.S. Constitution. So, if America says its true, you cannot doubt it.

However, there have been Christian attempts to diminish or deny the influence of the Haudenosaunee on the US Constitution and our freedoms. This is an
example of one attempt which, in this link, is roundly refuted. Some Christians can barely get Christian history straight, let alone American history.

What I find fascinating about this is the Birthers, Deathers, Gun Nutters and typical Repubs and Dems are having trouble enough with America being lead by a black president, how much would they hate finding out that their freedoms, the ones that we still fight the “war on terror” to preserve, were created by Indians.

I promised to use this blog to educate about Indians. If you think the Birthers, Deathers, and others mentioned above are bad now, just read a little American Indian history.

And if you believe we can’t get health reform care from our government so easily, just remember, it was once very easy for them to give out small pox.

Just kidding.