The impact of this sort of language is MOST important and a PREREQUISITE to Indian culture, autonomy, and self-determination existing—concepts like sovereignty are western poison that upholds mental colonization and continues genocide by another name. This evidence is comparative—even if they help Indians superficially, mental colonization is a prerequisite.
Alfred, 1999 [Taiaike, A leading Kanien’kehaka scholar versed in both indigenous and western traditions, PhD at Cornell, direct of the Canadian Indigenous Governance Program, “Peace, Power, Righteousness: an indigenous Manifesto, p. XI-XIV ]
If we are to emerge from this crisis with our nations intact, we must turn away from the values of the mainstream of North American societyand begin to act as self-determining peoples. We cannot preserve our nations unless we take action to restore pride in our traditions, achieve economic self-sufficiency, develop independence of mind, and display courage in defence of our lands and rights. Only by committing ourselves to these goals can we hope to look into the future and see ourselves reemerging as peoples ready to take our rightful places in the world. The path to self-determination is uphill and strewn with obstacles, but we must take it; the threat to our existence as indigenous people is so immediate that we cannot afford not to. The only way we can survive is to recover our strength, our wisdom, and our solidarity by honouring and revitalizing the core of our traditional teachings. Only by heeding the voices of our ancestors can we restore our nations and put peace, power, and righteousness back into the hearts and minds of our people. The Condolence ritual pacifies the minds and emboldens the hearts of mourners by transforming loss into strength. In Rotinohshonni culture, it is the essential means of recovering the wisdom seemingly lost with the passing of a respected leader. Condolence is the mourning of a family's loss by those who remain strong and clear-minded. It is a gift promising comfort, recovery of balance, and revival of spirit to those who are suffering. By strengthening family ties, sharing knowledge, and celebrating the power of traditional teachings, the Condolence ritual heals. It fends off destruction of the soul and restores hearts and minds. It revives the spirit of the people and brings forward new leaders embodying ancient wisdom and new hope. This book embodies the same hope. • • • In the past two generations, indigenous people around the world have broken the rusty cage of colonial oppression and exposed the injustices imposed on them. Brave and powerful leaders have challenged the European's self-proclaimed right to rule and ruin our nations. Our people have achieved a victory of the mind: the attitudes that sustained our subjugation can no longer be defended. Confronted with the moral and intellectual defeat of its empire in Indian Country, the former oppressor has presented a more compassionate face.Newcomer governments claim to be forging historic new relationships with indigenous nations, relationships based on mutual respect, sharing, sovereignty, and our inherent rights. Economic development, modern treaties, self-government, compacts, revenue-sharing, and comanagement have become the watchwords of the 'post-colonial' age. But beyond the words, is the promise holding? There have been some improvements. But our reserves are still poor, our governments are still divided and powerless, and our people still suffer. The post-colonial promises cannot ease this pain. The state has shown great skill in shedding the most onerous responsibilities of its rulewhile holding fast to the lands and authorities that are the foundations of its power. Redefining without reforming, it is letting go of the costly and cumbersome minor features of the colonial relationship and further entrenching in law and practice the real bases of its control. It is ensuring continued access to indigenous lands and resources by insidiously promoting a form of neo-colonial self-government in our communities and forcing our integration into the legal mainstream. Real control remains in the hands of white society because it is still that society's rules that define our life-not through obviously racist laws, but through endless references to the 'market', 'fiscal reality', 'Aboriginal rights', and 'public will'. And it is still the white society's needs that are met. In this supposedly post-colonial world, what does it matter if the reserve is run by Indians, so long as they behave like bureaucrats and carry out the same old policies? Redefined and reworded, the 'new' relationship still abuses indigenous people, albeit more subtly. In this 'new' relationship, indigenous people are still bound to another power's order. The rusty cage may be broken, but a new chain has been strung around the indigenous neck; it offers more room to move, but it still ties our people to white men pulling on the strong end. This book is about recovering what will make self-determination real. It is concerned not with the process through which self-government is negotiated, but with the end goals and the nature of indigenous governments, once decolonization has been achieved. The machinery of indigenous governments may simply replicate European systems. But even if such governments resemble traditional Native American systems on the surface, without strong and healthy leaders committed to traditional values and the preservation of our nationhood they are going to fail. Our children will judge them to have failed because a government that is not based on the traditional principlesof respect and harmonious coexistence will inevitably tend to reflect the cold, calculating, and coercive ways of the modern state. The whole of the decolonization process will have been for nothing if indigenous government has no meaningful indigenous character. Worse, if the new governments do not embody a notion of power that is appropriate to indigenous cultures, the goals of the struggle will have been betrayed. Leaders who promote non-indigenous goals and embody non-indigenous values are simply tools used by the state to maintain its control. The spiritual connections and fundamental respect for each other and for the earth that were our ancestors' way and the foundations of our traditional systems must be restored. Resistance to foreign notions of power and control must become a primary commitment-not only as a posture in our relations with the state, but also in the way Native community governments treat our own people. The state's power, including such Europeanconcepts as 'taxation', 'citizenship', 'executive authority', and 'sovereignty', must be eradicated from politics in Native communities. In a very real sense, to remain Native-to reflect the essence of indigenous North Americans--our politics mustshift to give primacy to concepts grounded in our own cultures. In fact, traditional philosophy is crucially relevant to the contemporary indigenous situation. In the Rotinohshonni tradition, the natural order accepts and celebrates the coexistence of opposites; human purpose consists in the perpetual quest for balance and harmony; and peace is achieved by extending the respect, rights, and responsibilities of family relations to other peoples. Even stripped down to a skeleton, these teachings speak with power to the fundamental questions that a philosophy of governance must address. Among the original peoples of North America, the cultural ideal of respectful coexistence as a tolerant and harmonyseeking first principle of government is widespread. Diametrically opposed to the possessive individualism that is central to the systems imposed on our communities, this single principle expresses the hope that tradition offers for a future beyond division and conflict. With this heritage, why do we indigenous people so often look away from our own wisdom and let other people answer the basic questions for us? At the core of the crisis facing our nations is the fact that we are being led away from our traditional ideals by the people with the authority to control our lives. Some of these people-lawyers, advisers, consultants, managers, government agents-are not Native and therefore cannot be expected to share our ideals. Others, however, are the very people we count on to provide leadership and embody the values at the heart of our societies-to love and sacrifice for their people. Instead, these greedy, corrupt politicians are seduced by the mainstream. To be clear: not all Native leaders are bad, and not all those who do bad things are aware they are on the wrong path. More and more, however, we find our leaders looking, sounding, and behaving just like mainstream politicians. There is unquestionable pathos in the material and social reality of most reserves. Yet above all the crisis we face is a crisis of the mind: a lack of conscience and consciousness. Material poverty and social dysfunction are merely the visible surface of a deep pool of internal suffering. The underlying cause of that suffering is alienation-separation from our heritage and from ourselves. Indigenous nations are slowly dissolving with the continuing loss of language, land, and young people. Although the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island-the land now called Canada and the United States-have survived the most severe and extended genocide in human history, the war is not over yet. Our bodies may live without our languages, lands, or freedom, but they will be hollow shells//// . Even if we survive as individuals, we will no longer bewhat we Rotinohshonni call Onkwehonwe-the real and original people-because the communities that make us true indigenous people will have been lost. We will be nothing but echoes of proud nations floating across a landscape possessed by others. From the outside, the intensity of the crisis is obscured by the smokescreen of efforts to reduce the most obvious signs of social deprivation and increase the material wealth within Native communities. It is commonly thought that allowing indigenous people a reasonable standard of living will solve all their problems. But there is more to justice than equity. Of course indigenous people have a right to a standard of living equal to that of others. But to stop there and continue to deny their nationhood is to accept the European genocide of 500 years. Attempting to right historical wrongs by equalizing our material conditions is not enough: to accept the simple equality offered lately would mean forgetting what indigenous nations were before those wrongs began.Indigenous people cannot forget.