CONFUSION BETWEEN KAIANEREH’KO:WA & HANDSOME LAKE CODE
MNN. Oct. 16, 2009. PART I. Kaianereh’ko:wa, our way, isn’t a law. It’s meant to help us regulate our lives and resolve issues peacefully to everybody’s benefit. There are no police, jails or judges. It’s not a religion. Everything is scientific and based on natural law, which is provable. Handsome Lake followers are lead to believe they are traditional. They are unaware their ideas come from a foreign ideology on how a people behave that is not based on natural but on the unproveable supernatural.
The Kaianereh’ko:wa provides that everyone is equal and has a voice. The opening thanksgiving outlines the relations between all elements of nature. People and our relationship with the natural world is the power base. Issues are resolved through a complex system of consensual decision making.
The longhouse is a symbol of the Kaianereh’ko:wa and the world around us, which covers all of Great Turtle Island. The Rotinoshonni’on:we are the people who make the longhouse. The ceiling is the sky, the four directions are our walls and our mother the earth is our floor. The people and nature are sacred. Literally longhouses are shelters to live in, places to meet or where we put away our stuff. It is not a church to worship a god up in heaven that supposedly created us!
Our creation stories connect us to the natural world. We will not know the face or place that the power of creation dwells [kasastensera kowa saoiera], only the evidence of that power which we acknowledge. Everything was based on what we could see, not blind faith and control of information by a few.
Has anybody listened closely to the thanksgiving rituals being carried out in many longhouses? Predominance is given to one creator, a god, who made us, before thanking the rest of creation. Has anybody noticed some of our speakers now talk about going to heaven instead of returning to our mother the earth?
Our people have a lot of mental and physical energy. We care about each other. Our energies are being redirected against each other instead of strengthening our family ties.
What happened to the excitement of a few years ago when the longhouses were full of people, activities, socials and fun? Why aren’t people attending?
Is there a disagreement between those who stick to the Kaianereh’ko:wa and those who follow or are influenced by the Handsome Lake Code? Does anybody wonder why young people aren’t going to the longhouse for answers to political, social or economic questions? They go there to have their babies named.
What is stopping us from standing up for our true way? Young and old need the Kaianereh’ko:wa to keep us on the right path. Handsome Lake Code seems like the easy way out through pacification and avoidance. When the Kaianereh’ko:wa is defended, questioners are called trouble makers by self-appointed leaders.
In the early 1800s Skaniatario, or the Handsome Lake Code, was created using our symbols combined with Christian undertones. Skaniatario is a Seneca family title in the Confederacy. He was an alcoholic who committed wrongs against his people. He used witch hunts and other superstitions to scare the people. He forfeited and alienated himself and was banished. When he left he had no name, no clan and no birthright.
The Handsome Lake Code is a hierarchical order of spirits. They even arrange nature according to some idea of power reflecting the colonial system where a few are on top while the rest are left in the dark.
The conflict is between the inner directed people who are guided by the Kaianereh’ko:wa and the knowledge we have to figure things out. The Handsome Lake followers base their decisions on faith and prayers like a religion. The beauty of listening to a speaker is to hear their words coming from their mind, not just to hear a recital. Discussions are avoided about the violations of the Kaianereh’ko:wa.
Religion weakens, confuses and controls people. After every so-called native resistance the colonists push religion to pacify us. After the War of 1812 it was the Handsome Lake Code. After the American Revolution it was the Quakers. At Lakota it was the medicine power of Wovoka and the Ghost Dance. White people became afraid and murdered the people during the ceremonies. Since the 1990s the religion has been the healing circles.
The Kaianereh’ko:wa advocates co-existence as a separate nation. The Handsome Lake Code advocates integration and compromise.
The main issues are always sovereignty, respect for our nation, land claims and Indigenous jurisdiction. US and Canada know that any legitimate agreement has to be made with us. The colonial band and tribal councils are working with longhouses that will validate the band council’s authority.
Elder Karonhiaktajeh always said that we’re always trying to stop them from putting a steeple on our longhouse, which, he said, makes it comfortable for Christians to come in and take it over.
Maybe we should all refresh our memory of the Kaianereh’ko:wa. Weren’t we taught to question everything and ask for proof? Remember that the Handsome Lake Code is highly influenced by foreign dogmas. The Two Row Wampum is very clear that we can’t have one foot in the canoe and one in the ship.
Kahentinetha MNN Mohawk Nation News, firstname.lastname@example.org For more news, books, to donate and to sign up for MNN newsletters, go to www.mohawknationnews.com See Category “Kaianerehkowa/Great Law/Democracy”.
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