The Onkwehonwe Democratic Agenda
by Kahentinetha Horn; Socialist Voice
; April 05, 2007
Kahentinetha Horn is a longtime indigenous rights activist from the Mohawk Nation. She was involved in the 1962 Conference on Indian Poverty in Washington D.C., the blocking of the International Bridge at Akwesasne in 1968, and other indigenous rights campaigns.
In the summer of 1990, she was behind the Canadian Army razor wires that surrounded the Mohawk compound in Kanehsatake. This was the historic Mohawk land rights struggle that became known as the "Oka Crisis." After almost 20 years of service, Kahentinetha was fired by the Department of Indian Affairs for her involvement there.
More recently Kahentinetha has been involved with the Kahnawake Elders Council, and was active at the Six Nations Land reclamation near Caledonia, Ontario, publishing and distributing almost daily accounts of the developments there.
Kahentinetha Horn is an editor for Mohawk Nation News, a daily news service that she founded during the Oka crisis. Recently, Mohawk Nation News came online. It features articles on Mohawk struggles and other issues affecting indigenous people across turtle island and beyond. Check out the site at www.mohawknationnews.com
We’ve been complaining about the top-down bureaucratic agenda of the colonizers. Do we have something to replace it? Yes we do. It’s called the "Kaianerehkowa/Great Law of Peace" [the constitution of the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy].
Our philosophy can be used to build a society based on peace, power and righteousness. These words have meanings that are deeply rooted in our culture and completely different from the kinds of expectations they raise among the colonized. Our understanding of these concepts has nothing in common with the command and obedience model of predatory capitalism or the exploitation of ordinary people for the power and profit of a few. The new (colonial) world order is opposite to our way of life based on the principles of fully informed consent and consensus in all our relationships.
Stephen Lendman, in CounterCurrent.org, describes how Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has "constructed socialism from below", built "from the base" in the communities." He has found a way to rebuild Venezuelan society. He wants a coalition of smaller parties whose power comes from the communities.
Chavez thinks this is the way democracy should work. A lot of ordinary people agree.
There are presently 16,000 regional federations of Communal Councils organized across the country that deal with local issues. Each represent 200 to 400 families. That number is expected to grow to 21,000 councils by the end of 2007. This new state is driven by the same basic philosophy of egalitarian human respect that underlies the Kaianerehkowa.
A decentralized government will distribute billions of dollars to these Councils. If the people so chose, billions can be put into a "National Development Fund." Yellow journalism has been attacking this thinking. They put fear into people’s minds, calling it "nationalization", which is a dirty word to capitalists and colonialists. Capitalism is a one way road for the privileged few. Development of democratic programs look threatening to those who are at the top of the old hierarchal heap.
As we assert our sovereignty, we have lots to think about. What can we Onkwehonwe do with all our land and resources and all the squatters who are here? The land belongs to us and our future generations. It always will. All our resource revenues can be used to compensate the colonists fairly. The rest can be put towards rebuilding a safe and healthy environment.
U.S., Canada and Mexico will, of course, become irrelevant. These cancerous organizations don’t belong. They are trying to kill the hosts. That’s us. Then they’ll kill everybody else! Where will that leave them?
The old hierarchies will cling to their delusional powers. They will keep their guns pointed at us and try to invent more lethal weapons. We’ll have to bring out the feathers and start tickling them so they can let down their defenses and so they can grab a shovel and take part. If they don’t, we might have to ask them to leave. Their hysterical megalomania is getting them involved in serious violations of international accords. If they’re not careful, they could be declared persona non grata worldwide.
With all the money from our land and resources, we could buy out the big corporations so that we have the major shares, say 40%, as Chavez is doing. The rest can be joint ventures with us. In other words, we want all these companies under the control of the people. The colonists can have shares after we take everything out of private control.
The people must control the energy sector, including oil production. Private investors can still play a role. But it will be based on joint ventures that include the people as decision makers, not just consumers.
The money should be put back into our hands, out of the hands of private for-profit bankers. We would invest it into worthwhile projects that restore and protect the land so that the coming generations can be healthy, happy and prosperous. The days of genocide and exploitation are over. We must benefit from our resource revenues and other businesses that provide essential services like public utilities. Clean drinking water and fresh air to breathe would be top priorities.
It goes without saying that Indian Affairs terrorism has to go. There is no excuse for that organization to exist. Its very existence is founded on a misinterpretation of the BNA Act, the constitution of Canada. Britain could only give Canada the authority to negotiate with us. There is no authority under the BNA Act, under international law, or under any treaty to make laws for us.
We have to dismantle the "Tower of Terror" in Hull. Communal power at the grass roots will be the order of the day. Kaianerehkowa can make this happen and can be the start of a real egalitarian and humanistic society.
All social structures will have to be reorganized. Selections of local officials, the economy, finance, banking, transportation, security, public safety and policies related to energy are part of this. There is no need for a top heavy governmental structure when everyone takes responsibility at all levels.
The current colonial bureaucracy will have to be dismantled. Corruption and greed are major problems. They are products of hierarchy. They will naturally disappear when egalitarian democratic structures are put in place.
The changes needed aren’t such a big deal. As long as existing representatives are carrying out the will of the people, they may remain in their positions.
All procedures and decision-making must be public and the work of all administrative officials will be subject to constant review. They have to look out for the people and their directions, instead of looking up to the artificial bosses. They can be removed from office if they do not follow the people’s directions or heed our warnings. All must be given the experience of being a representative so that we can all learn how to help the people. It is important for everyone to learn how difficult it is to serve.
Social justice and economic independence must be based on equitable distribution of national wealth. Education is most important. The habit of censorship has to end. Racism must be eliminated from all school curricula. All students need to learn our points of view on history. They have to know what really happened to us. They have to know that this land belongs to us and our future generations. Science and technology has to benefit all of the people. So must health, the environment, biodiversity, industry, quality of life and security. We have to take up our responsibility and take charge of our own lives.
Social issues can and must be resolved through consensus. We will have to rethink the need for a judiciary. We cannot give anyone power to harm civil or human rights of our people or even of our opponents. Resources must be taken care of, not exploited. The products of the land must be distributed fairly. No one will become desperate enough to want to sell their soul to the devil.
Our young people have a job to do. They can be part of the first wave of reeducation. Every person has a responsibility throughout their lives to educate the people they meet and the coming generations.
Our way is to manage our own relations with all other countries. The colonial states are squatting on our land. They do not represent us.
The people they brought here do not need to fear us. We will not expropriate private property. Right of occupancy can be given to people. The land will always belong as it always has to the future generations of the Onkwehonwe.
We are hoping that the last days of the colonial system are at hand. Democracy and colonialism cannot coexist. Colonialism is a military or civilian "dictatorship" derived from a combination of isolation, overarching greed and an attempt to pull local and global forces together to control all the people and the resources of the world.
Savage capitalism is in its death throes. It is fighting to stay alive. Because of this, it’s becoming more and more vicious. It is important for everyone to stay grounded at this time. We are all working for each other and for the future generations.
The colonial nations are on the tipping edge of fascism. They combine elements of corporatism, patriotism, nationalism and the delusion of an Almighty-directed mission. It requires an iron-fisted militarist agenda with thugs like "Homeland Security" illegally spying on everyone. In this system everything is for sale to the few who can pay.
Colonialism is out of date, illegal and so yesterday. No longer will the armies oppress and kill for the key resources, markets and cheap labor where "might makes right" and any difference of opinion will not be tolerated.
Our youth are precious to us. The Los Angeles Times did a story about "A wildly successful Venezuelan program that makes musical instruments and training available, free of charge, to all children." This gives children something constructive to do. Unlike the U.S. model that Canada copies, the kids are exercising their minds instead of exercising their thumbs playing video games.
Instead of a make-work program for police and social workers who try to slot kids into a system of jail and imprisonment, Chavez created a musical education program called "El Sistema." 500,000 children from all strata of society get training at more than 120 centers around the country. More than 200 youth orchestras have been created. Training in music is known to develop math skills in the young to prepare them later for professional training. There’s no problem keeping guns out of the kids’ hands. They’re too busy making music. That Chavez knows what he is doing.
Instead of punishing youth, we inspire them. As the author, Paul Cummins, put it, "We reap what we sow, and we don’t harvest what we don’t plant."
The Chavez approach is actually much less expensive than the multi-billion dollar state-sponsored iron-fisted prison system and militarist Homeland Security "thuggery."
Another savage effect of the capitalist hierarchy is homelessness. One-way wealth distribution siphons everything upwards except for a few crumbs that are handed to the middle class while nothing goes to the millions on the bottom who are the most in need. They all hope we will just go away. We won’t. Neither will our needs. We come from a participatory tradition which can eliminate the greedy fantasies of colonialism.
Many who come from repressive societies are unable to see a bottom-up model of relationships. We have shown that we always resisted enslavement.
Free expression is part of an open democratic society. No more secrecy or lies. No more corporate media support for capitalists and colonial states. No more thought-control police to mock our efforts at free expression which is vital to a healthy transition from tyranny to democracy. The "thought police" don’t want us to say what is on our minds. They don’t want us to think. We can and will do it because the Kaianerehkowa mandates it. People in the far south of the border are trying to get back on the natural path that has always been there, for us and for everyone. This can be done without a war and without global interference.
An earlier version of this article was published on Mohawk Nation News on February 26th 2007.--Socialist Voice