|“PICK YOUR PATH CAREFULLY”MNN. June 17, 2007. The following question came to MNN from an Indigenous law grad, “…do you feel comfortable passing yourself off as a legal authority?” Yeah! On our law!
Obviously this law graduate has been totally indoctrinated. He assumes that law is the exclusive preserve of “experts”. Law is based on prior and informed consent of the people concerned, not on the power to conquer, oppress and control. In a real democracy law is made and known by all. It’s not based on authority. There is a presumption that ignorance of the law is no excuse. So ignorance of our original law and inherent jurisdiction by the colonists is no excuse for their criminality.
It’s a risky business sending our kids to law [brainwashing] school to learn about the colonizer’s customs and bad habits of thoughts. We hope they do not become colonized or colonizers themselves through the intense brainwashing process they are put through. We do have to know what they’re about. We’ve found out their law is the art of trickery, wording and using deceit to win “through manipulation of timing and rules”, as Indian Affairs Minister Jim “Jonestown” Prentice proposes to settle their claims to our land.
We have the Kaianereh’ko:wa, the Great Law of Peace. It outlines our relationship to the natural world on the land we were created known as “Onowarekeh”/Turtle Island. We Kanionkehaka/Mohawk must uphold our responsibilities as the trustees for the generations to come. Other indigenous nations take a similar approach to law. Our law is what the Americans tried to copy when they rejected “subject status” to become independent from Britain and tried to establish a democracy. Unfortunately, they did not understand democracy or human equality. They were blinded by greed for our resources.
For those who want to understand the legal history of Onowarekeh, Robert A. Williams did a study called the “American Indian in Western Legal Thought: the discourses of conquest”. This book “identifies and explains intellectual foundations …to justify keeping the Indian on the outside looking in”. It shows how their medieval background forms their behavior on Turtle Island.
Another book is Theodore W. Allen, “The Invention of the White Race”. The Euro-American legal system is all about oppression and social control. It sets up the elite to enslave the majority of the people, regardless of color. We Indigenous could not be enslaved because of our highly developed knowledge of the egalitarian relationships with the natural world.
Racism is a critical part of colonization. The elite need other people to slave for them to run their system. Their policy for us became extermination. They carried out a “holocaust” that killed 115 million or more of our people. Then they brought people from their own countries and captured Africans and worked them to death.
The colonizers created a sick and twisted racial divide. They focused their psychotic attention on enslaving Africans by conditioning people to think that people of color should naturally be slaves. This is because they’re a bunch of greedy lazy blood sucking parasites who live off others.
In our constitutional jurisdiction case in 2005, we found the web of deceit compounded one on top of the other. Justice Clarence Thomas of the US Supreme Court upheld the natural law principle when he said in Lara v. USA that he could find no evidence that any Indigenous nation had ever surrendered our sovereignty or any of our land. We got it to the U.S. Supreme Court where they refused to answer our question about how they illegally exercise jurisdiction we never gave them. [See links to Mohawk Manifesto, Constitutional Jurisdiction Case and Ipperwash].
Other schemes were used to enslave their own people. It’s not just prisons and police. It’s the way children are indoctrinated in schools. It’s fear mongering creating defeatism. It’s mortgages, taxes, fines, parking tickets, municipal ordnances, phony borders and stringent identity cards. Anyone who tries to escape the puppet masters’ control will be punished and economically excluded. To join the “American dream”, one must “obey” and let them kill your spirit. Or we have to hide it under a rock. The only right their citizens have is to change their oppressors every now and then.
A third book is William Cronon’s “Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England”. It shows how Onowarekeh was originally cared for by our ancestors to make it fertile and flourishing where people lived long lives in good health. European land management practices attacked nature as an enemy. This changed the climate and began the process of environmental destruction that continues to this day making the land practically unlivable for all.
Before 1066 common law was based on the local customs and ways of England. When William the Conqueror of Normandy France invaded, “feudalism” was imposed on the British in which a king made all decisions and all law was centralized on himself and his court. This resulted in the hierarchical system in England. They want everyone to be sucked into their obsession that anarchy is chaos. They don’t accept a society where everyone is equal, where no one is in command.
The colonial “command and obey” model comes from “feudalism gone wild”. It’s like a two-year old who objects to the discovery that there are other people in the world.
Some lawyers never get beyond this stage. They look for jobs with the biggest powerful law firm. They become the “henchmen” of mega corps[e], looking for ways to use “law” to funnel money and power into their master’s pockets. They become junkies for the perks they get on the side. They forget about us and our laws. They get tempted by the chance to dip into corporate money bags and turn against our people.
Law graduates have to decide what kind of law they’re defending. Colonial laws do not promote human equality and are meant to exterminate us. You also need lots of money to defend yourself from this corporate system. We are living in a time of corruption, oppression and a delusion of prosperity that comes before a collapse, like the Roman patricians who ate until they vomited.
“Legally speaking the colonizers can’t dictate anything to us, but they keep on trying” means we are using laws defined in the founding charter of the UN that all member states have agreed to. All humans are equal. Law can only be made with the prior informed consent of the majority of those it is applied to.
Europeans can’t handle this. Our ancestors negotiated the “Two Row Wampum Agreement” with our “visitors” as the basis of our relationship in the early post-contact period. This is the only principle on which all people in the world will agree to as a basis for legality. Our two different societies can travel together as long as they stay in their boat and don’t try to come into ours. We have the inherent right to our land and resources. They have to make arrangements with us to live here.
They refuse to treat us as equals at the talks about their claim to our land and resources. It’s normal for these foreign colonial states to let corporations like DeBeers Diamonds destroy the land of Northern Ontario forever during the next 17 years in return for the “quick profit” of a few. They don’t care about making the environment completely unlivable. Now we hear that another cockroach [Paul Martin] is taking run at our pantry. He’s ready to load all our resources on his ships and send them out for his own enrichment.
Colonial law boils down to obedience to authority backed by the gun.
After law school we need to reconnect with our own and with the natural laws of whichever part of Onowarekeh we come from. In northern Quebec the Crees and Inuit close down their schools, construction projects and whatever they are involved in that is connected to colonial society. They go into the bush to stay connected to the land and our environment. We have a need to let nature dictate how to behave.
The elite of colonial society give jobs to those who are fresh out of school and easy to manipulate. They are trained not to listen to their elders, particularly women. The young inexperienced women lawyers are willing to adopt male roles in a hierarchical society.
Recent graduates, think carefully about which path you are taking. If our lawyers build their legal careers on law that is based on egalitarian principles, they will do good things for our people, for the future generations and for humankind in general. If they practice colonial law as a power game, without questioning authority, they are the puppets of the colonizers.
We Indigenous have survived because our women and elders have always been involved in the development of our policies.
Kahentinetha Horn, MNN Mohawk Nation News
See Constitutional Jurisdiction Case and Ipperwash categories