The Native American Way
Normal humans (i.e. Native Americans) spend their weekends hiking, camping, bow-shooting, visiting archaeological sites, gardening, fishing, hunting, reading, skiing, searching for artifacts, knitting, quilting, playing field sports, painting, carving, sculpting or at least, cooking barbecue with friends or family. They do NOT spend endless hours shooting assault rifles at a target, whose center is a cartoon image of the president or practicing setting off bombs. Both of those latter activities are occurring in my neighborhood even as I write. In fact, they are occurring in many communities across the United States.
Let’s call a spade a spade. An obsession with hating and killing strangers is the ultimate extreme of insanity. Setting off bombs at sporting events or massacring patrons at a movie theater is the ultimate expression of evil. Joining secret paramilitary groups with the dream of killing “libruls” and destroying our representative democracy is not patriotic. It is treason. Being a member of a church that twists the scriptures into words of hatred and preaches self-centered living is not the spiritual path. If you pollute Mother Earth, you are a criminal, not a clever person. If you deceive and manipulate others, you are a liar, not smarter than others.
One of the principal reasons that the original 18 founders of the People of One Fire started our alliance of friendship and shared knowledge was that we believed that the indigenous peoples of the Southeastern United States offer a superior way of life to the insanity that pervades American society today. In our tradition a citizen of a community was an individual with both civil rights and community obligations. It was all about balance and harmony. The male aspects of society were balanced by the female.
Traditionally, Native Americans did not spend all their waking hours with an obsession of having more power, more money or more things. The shelters, health and nutrition of the community were considered to be the community’s responsibility. Families in the community built the house and barns of a newly married couple. If a crop failed, centrally stored food reserves would be sent to the hungry. The community as a whole supported aleks (medical doctors.) Friends and relatives took care of the sick. Parents did not beat or abuse their children.
Men were expected to sacrifice their lives to protect the women, children and elderly. The first priority of women was to raise healthy, loved, children, who were educated with the skills necessary for life. Children, both male and female, were raised to be physically strong and quite capable of defending themselves. Both genders possessed and knew how to use weapons. That is why even today, many Southeastern Native women carry knives in their purses. There was no need for policemen in a Choctaw, Alabama, Creek, Chickasaw, Shawnee, Yuchi or Koasati town.
Knowledge was a gift from the Master of Life, which was to be shared with all. It was not a commodity to be hoarded or withheld from the uninitiated. It was not a possession that made one person superior to another. Today, the academic elite often attempt to make knowledge an exclusive asset of their nobility.
Have you noticed that especially in the realm of Indigenous American Cultures, Gringo academicians tend to treat their body of knowledge as a religion with irrefutable beliefs that cannot be challenged? Because they had created a series of English names and Gregorian dates for stone artifacts and pottery styles, they assume that they know everything there was to know about the people who made those artifacts.
Unfortunately, those who promote non-orthodox interpretations of the past often fall into the same trap. They become obsessed with proving that they are right and everybody else is wrong. They are merely creating a new religion with a set of beliefs. One is either on “our side” or “their side.” Until a time machine is invented, much of what we say about the history of North America before 1700 AD will remain in the realm of partial facts, theories and speculations. There are relatively few cases of absolute black and white.
I ran into this problem when the premier of “America Unearthed” was filmed at my cabin. The crew was here for over eight hours, but only about 10 minutes made it into the program that you saw. What I tried to get across to the interviewers was that the Southeastern indigenous cultures were the product of thousands of years of intermittent localization and assimilation. Many ethnic groups came here from many places to escape what they didn’t like about where they came from. They created societies that had traits of the old societies, but also had new traits. The process was no different than when Europeans and Africans came to the Americas.
What you saw on the evening of December 21, 2012 was a distilled version of history that proved that “the Mayas came to Georgia.” Hurrah! Our side won!
Yes, it is now proven that “the Mayas came to Georgia,” but that is not the whole story. The Yuchi, the Siouans, the Algonquians, the Muskogeans, the Moche, the Totonacs, the Colima, the Tupi-Guarani, the Arawaks and lord knows who else, also came to Georgia. They assimilated and became something else.
How We Got to Here
When leaving office, President (and General) Eisenhower warned us of the growing power of the “military industrial complex.” As one of our greatest military leaders, he recognized that the bravery and lives of America’s men and women in uniform were being co-opted by those who wanted to make a profit from their sacrifices.
What happened afterward was that in the mid-70s the faction that Eisenhower fingered came to the same conclusion that some Germans did in the 1920s. The “military and industrial complex” thought it lost the Viet Nam War because of an empowered middle class, military composed of draftees, democratic institutions, free press and vocative academia. It was probably a war that it could have never been won . . . just dragged out.
Put the elite of television news in the millionaire category. Get rid of the democratic traditions and dominant middle class then replace that society with an oligarchy. Lower and middle class citizens, who were constantly struggling to survive, would be easier to control . . . and it was all about control. Smother economic opportunities for young people so they would be forced to volunteer for combat duty in order to survive economically.
Immediately, college tuition began to skyrocket so that young people from less affluent families had a choice of either foregoing their dreams of an advanced education or being saddled with smothering debt. Politicians might have said that they were “keeping down taxes” but they were intentionally creating a future society in which economic advancement was only possible through either inherited wealth, the lottery of sports, entertainment, or perhaps being some oligarch’s puppet. Like in the movie, “The Hunger Games” a narrow glimpse of “hope” is offered us so the peasants won’t revolt.
During the 1990s, the North American Free Trade Agreement sent millions of industrial jobs outside our borders. The politicians of both political parties told Americans that high tech and service jobs would replace them. They knew they were lying when they said it. What they really wanted was millions of white boys in Appalachia, millions of black & Latino boys in the inner cities and hundreds of thousands of Native American boys on reservations not to have any prospects for employment. Oh, there were some service jobs . . . serving hamburgers at minimum wage for franchise restaurants. Ever since then, Appalachia has been devastated financially by the loss of literally thousands of manufacturing plants.
What we see happening now is the result of a 30 year program to manipulate under-employed “blue collar” American whites into hating the educated middle class, who are now demonized as being “libruls.” All the Appalachian white neo-nazi’s I have encountered during the past 4 years blame the “libruls” for their financial woes and “librul” politicians for the instability of our society . . . not the cocaine-fueled madmen on Wall Street, who actually sent the jobs overseas and the economy into a tail spin.
In their rise to power, Lenin, Mussolini and Hitler did the same thing, while they were actually being funded by wealthy backers. In the 19th century, Robert Owen, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels could dabble in economic hallucinations because of inherited wealth from textile mills. Lenin, Hitler and Mussolini blamed the democratically-oriented middle classes and governments in their countries until they, themselves became the governments. They manipulated economically desperate working class people into committing terrorism against the middle and professional classes. The people of Russia, Italy and Germany initially welcomed totalitarian government because it promised the end to terrorism and economic privation.
In the United States, an insane social environment has been created by media talking heads in which an obsession with Rambo-type activities, ignorance and total disdain for the welfare of others is considered the norm, “Christian” and the AMERICAN WAY. In this psychotic environment the crazies come forward to blow up and shoot innocent civilians with no direct help from their puppeteers. The wannabe Lenin’s and Hitler’s in the United States are hoping that you will throw away our American traditions in order to be protected from the crazies they have let loose.
What You Can Do
Many of our readers are academicians with little or no Native American heritage. We are delighted to have you on board. You need to have as your first priority, teaching a love of learning among your students. That is what I miss most about my pre-9/11 years. I was constantly asked to give lectures to college students and advise student research projects. If your students are excited about their class, the enthusiasm will soon transfuse to you.
Then, think back how you were in college. Remember how you were curious about everything around you and couldn’t learn enough new information? The “system” crushed your dreams, but you can get back to them. You don’t know everything there is to know. Start out each day with the desire to learn something new that day.
Native Americans, be proud of your Native American heritage! Just because you have less wealth or less education than someone else, does not mean that their way of life is superior to yours. Heck, you might be more educated these days and still be poorer! The way things have been done in North America since you became a minority has certainly been less than ideal. Native Americans are imperfect like everybody else, but our traditional concern for the welfare of everybody in the community, spiritual growth and for the health of Mother Earth certainly puts us in an elite when one looks at the current situation.
Social pressure is a favorite tactic for political extremists. Mentally healthy, intelligent people are manipulated into situations in which they are surrounded by evil. That has certainly been the favorite tactic used on me since 2000. Because the “People of the Lie” have weak characters, they assume everybody does too. A room full of crazy people does not make them right and you wrong . . . it is just a room full of crazy people.
Remember your Native American spirituality. We have a special gift. Call them angels if you like, but our grandfather and grandmother spirits will guide you through difficult or dangerous situations, if ask them for guidance. Many spiritual Native Americans are telepathic with other spiritual Native Americans. Keep your antennas “up” for when others need support. The Reverend (and Major General) Dewey Painter certainly did that when I had run out of food in spring of 2011. He drove all the way from Jacksonville, FL to the mountains to drop off food to keep me going.
Finally, don’t be a sheep. My good friend, the late Lillie Lerner, gave me this advice, the last time I saw her before she died of leukemia. She was a survivor of Auschwitz. She told me to kick butt like goat, not hide in a corner with the crowd like sheep. Sheep become dinner for coyotes. Goats charge into the fray and survive.
The times are a-changing, but the direction is still unknown
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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history.Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.
Latest posts by Richard Thornton (see all)
- Atlanta’s leaders are right . . . Don’t erase the Old South’s history! - August 15, 2017
- Update: Bronze Age research appears to be headed toward an astonishing discovery - August 15, 2017
- Very pertinent film from the Atlanta Board of Education in 1947 - August 14, 2017
- Who built the stone cairns in the Southern Highlands? - August 13, 2017
- News: Science Magazine now supports belief that most Native Americans came by boat - August 11, 2017