I attended a workshop this past weekend put on by an organization known as Maine-Wananaki REACH. This group focuses on decolonization and restoration of Maine for Wabanaki people who are the Indiginous tribes with original ties to the state we know as Maine.
The workshop began with introductions as we sat in a circle. The two moderators have been working with this program for several years, going to many churches, civic groups and private places of learning. I believe one moderator said that she was part Native American. As we went around the circle we spoke about the place where we were born and whether we knew the name of the tribe associated with our birth place. Most folks had some idea of the tribe name, others were curious to know now that they had been asked and a couple folks shared that they had some Native American blood in their geniology. I shared that growing up in Dorchester, Massachusetts I knew that there were many tribes that shared the land there, but was curious to know why tribes aligned themselves as a Confederacy. The term confederacy describes a loose coalition of tribes having a shared government of power which is not highly organized as is the U.S. Constitution. A Native American Confederacy is made up of many tribes in a region, many of which acquired their names from the “colonizers” based upon the location of their habitat.
Colonizer is the term given to those people who came to tribal lands and controlled the lands on behalf of a European King or Queen. Curiously, in Ecology this term also refers to a plant or animal that establishes itself in an area. As we know, ecology is the branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings…The word “colonizer” does not hold a negative connotation for me because I tend to understand the term as a processional step toward new cultural systems theory. More about that in a moment…
The workshop had all participants stand as representatives of the native Americans on a beautifully painted cloth map of the state of Maine. Depictions of plants, animals and symbols Indiginous to the state were on various puzzle pieces lying connected together. As the moderators narrated the story of colonization, pieces were removed and people were told to leave based upon conditions of disease, war, dis-honored treaties and child abduction with the native Americans until only less than 1% of the land and even less percent of the native Americans were left to see. By the end of the exercise several of the participants were moved to tears.
After we gathered back in our circle, we related how the exercise effected us individually. Many were astonished that they did not know any of the history that was related through the story telling. Others thought that it was important to keep the information centered in the context of the times. Many wanted to know how our state was making reparations if at all. One of the moderators told us that the U.S. Government had done too much in the wrong way to “help” the Native Americans and that the Native Americans really wanted the Government to simply stop imposing on them. I think this makes so much sense!
Discovery of the “New World” was bound to happen at some point in history. The fact that Europeans were industrious, curious and greedy was the product of centuries of colonization in that region and gave mankind endless possibilities of renewal within monstrous periods of distruction. This doesn’t make the power grabbers right, it actually points out that it is natural to our human condition. We are at a period now that allows us to put into perspective the wrongs of the past and endeavor to live in right relationship, but do we force that relationship to happen or do we understand the system and theory that brought us to this place in time so that we unite in a slow progression of wellness with each other? I believe that latter to be true! And which form of government allows the latter to happen? It is definitely a constitutional republic which honors the individual as the actuator of self determination under civil liberties and common law.
Watch out for the power grabbers. They will claim to have the moral upper hand when in actuality we know that morality is not rooted in power, morality is rooted and guided by principles which acknowledge the faults and aspirations of human nature. Watch how this is currently playing out in our political parties and much of our media…Are their actions forcing compliance or open to compromise? Are the foundational principles of our country honored or being ignored? Are you willing to go along to get along simply because it benefits your own situation? Or do you have the perspective and knowledge necessary to understand your role to ensure Liberty? You be the judge…