A MESSAGE FROM GANIENKEH
INDEPENDENT NORTH AMERICAN INDIAN STATE
NO. 30 JANUARY, 1980
THE ACQUIESCENT INDIAN
Columbus comes from Europe (profound statement). Calls the Indians "Indians". What's the objection? An Indian is a native of India. Columbus thought he was in India. Never was a sailor so far off his reckoning. It's more to the point to say he was lost and the "Injuns" discovered him. If "Indians" is not the true name for Indians, then what is? In the "Iroquois" language, it is Onkwehonweh (pronounced as spelled). No doubt the "Indians" who speak other languages have a word for it which is different than Onkwehonwe but meaning the same thing. Because the Europes (new word being used in self-defense and in retaliation) called then Indians, so the Onkwehonwe called themselves "Indians." Bumper stickers say "I'm Indian and proud of it." Why not "I'm Onkwehonwe and highly pleased (word proud is already used) by it." The Ganienkehaga, people of Ganienkeh, Land of the Flint, were called "Mohawks" by the Europes and so, now and maybe forever, the Ganienkehaga shall call themselves Mohawk.
The said foreigners from Europe called the Onkwehonwe "bands and tribes" (lowest claim on the human scale). So, the "Injuns" call themselves "bands and tribes". Lately, the Europes have taken to calling the native Onkwehonwe "Amerindians" and so the said Onkwehonwe are now calling themselves Amerindians. Luckily, the white man didn't think of "Tabbyindians" (applicable in certain instances). Give him time, he'll think of something and the "Injuns" are ready and willing.
Some Onkwehonwe call themselves New York Indians. Wrong on both counts. They're not Indians and they have no right to call their territory by a foreign name. There are "Indian" organizations calling themselves "Indians of Alberta, B.C., Quebec, Ontario, California, etc. These are foreign names and the Onkwehonwe seem unable to work up the pride to give their organizations or their areas their original and natural names.
One of the latest native acquiescence to the Europes involves the Six Nations Confederacy. Three hundred years ago, they were asked what they called their union of nations. They said Kanonsonnionwe meaning "A House Built for True People" in the Iroquois language. The name Iroquois was applied to the Kanonsonnionwe by the French. Then a white man, Lewis H. Morgan, writer of books, paid the Senecas (Tionondowanehaga) at Tonawanda a year long visit while he wrote his book called League of the Iroquois. He used words from the Seneca dialect which is a broken version of the "Iroquois" language. In his book he called the Six Nations Confederacy by its Seneca name Hodenosaunee meaning "They Built a House."
At the last Grand Council, it was decided to drop the title "Six Nations Confederacy" in favor of Hodenosaunee. Foreign influence? Since the original title "Kanonsonnionwe" is available, why wasn't it selected as the rightful title? Perhaps, it's not acquiescent. Did they choose the title because a renowned white scholar, Lewis H. Morgan used it as the title of the Six Nations Confederacy? Or is the original title too assertive? It might even be termed aggressive and militant by the dominant society (it means bossy). It is recalled that the "Iroquois" Confederacy was called Kanonsonnionwe when it was at its peak as a military power and a mighty nation. Now reduced in many ways, are the people content with a lesser title, more agreeable to the acquiescent and to those they have no wishes to displease?
Calling the Iroquois Confederacy by a title derived from a dialect just because Lewis Henry Morgan used it as the title for the Six Nations is not doing any service to the people of the Six Nations. There are other broken Iroquois languages, known as dialects in the Six Nations and no doubt, they have their own titles but that's not what Morgan wrote in his book.
To be acquiescent is to be timid. The timid are easily intimidated. Those who make decisions in Onkwehonwe governments and councils should be guided by what's good for the people in the long run. They should search around for opinions and ideas. In the case of the Grand Council of the Six Nations Confederacy, the big requirement in making decisions is having a guideline such as the Great Law right at hand for reference, copies of the relevant treaties should be handy and likewise, the words of the Two Row Wampum. The Onkwehonwe, if they wish to survive as a race and nations, have to aim high and hustle. Struggle and work at it This no laughing matter, brother! Only when you can laugh all the way to your stronghold. That's how the world is. You have to be strong. Real strength.
The Onkwehonwe have the right to the good life. They have the right to peace and happiness. To achieve that end they must be in control of their own destiny. This means that they must be in control of their own area of land, be in charge of their own government, exercise their sovereignty in their own territory, create their own economy, produce the materials to fill their needs. They must not live on the bounty of any other government or nation. In brief, they must be on their own. To gain any of the above, the Onkwehonwe cannot afford to be timid and acquiescent. They have to be bold and assertive. Being meek and humble is the road to assimilation and extinction. The "Injuns" are trained to be meed and humble by their dispossessors so that in time they shall become extinct.
The road to extinction of a captive nation is easy. Government funding, welfare and temporary advantage programs which kills the initiative and the fighting spirit of the recipients. When the funding runs out the Injuns are back where they started from. The road to survival is hard work, struggling, controversies and confrontations. It is a project for strong, hard, fighting people. Only people who struggle arrive at the desired estate. The Onkwehonwe have the right to continue to exist, not just to be memories as the bygone civilizations of Greece and the Romans. Are there any classic Greeks and Romans around? Not one they say. They are extinct. Though there are people called Greeks today, they do not have an ounce of the ancient classic Greek blood. Likewise, the Romans. There are people called Greeks nowadays who cannot speak the true Greek language. No one speaks the language of the Romans today. The language was written down and preserved but not spoken. That's why they say there are no more Greeks and Romans today because no one speaks their language.
Is that the fate of the great Iroquois nation? If a different language is to be used then they are no longer Iroquois, if the above is a criteria. The Ganienkehaga (Mohawks) have some kind of inner strength to have resisted the language breakdown. According to linguists, the Mohawks are the only ones of the Six Nations who still speak the ancient Iroquois language. Are they the only ones to continue as Iroquois? The Onenyotehaga (Oneidas) have broken the Iroquois language only slightly. They have the best chance of recovery. The others can, too, if they relearn the language. They're half way there anyway.
There are other danger points marking the downfall of ancient civilizations. Having reached greatness, great civilizations slowly grew to ignore the rules and regulations they devised which made them great. They ignored the spies and traitors in their midst. These conditions among others put them on a greased skid and sent them down to extinction. Like the "Injuns", they did not think they were in any such danger. They failed to see the danger signals. The people shall have to learn from the examples of the past. The Onkwehonwe should recognize the danger signals. Language breakdown, disregard of traditional law and customs, ignoring the spies and traitors hacking at the very foundations of their existence, each a fatal proposition if not stopped. Like Tom Paine said: "These are times that try a man's soul. "
If the Onkwehonwe is to avoid the fate of the Romans and classic Greece, they must relearn the ancient "Iroquois" language. If the Mohawks can do it, so can the others. The Onkwehonwe shall have to honor and obey the Great Law - Gayanerekowa, which a certain taboo forbids certain Onkwehonwe to read. The Onkwehonwe shall have to implement the said Great Law regarding spies and traitors.
To indulge in taboos is to indulge in superstition. Take the taboo on saying Deganawida's name and on reading his device, the Great Law - Gayanerekowa. Nothing in the Great Law says not to mention the name of Deganawida. There is no prohibition in the Great Law about reading it. What's the sense of devising the law if people shall be forbidden to know it? The people who have the greatest interest are not allowed to read their own law. People who have little or no interest, only curiosity know all about the Great Law? How did this gross tomfoolishment come to prevail? When the Great Law was made, the words were put in Wampum. Custodians were appointed to keep the Wampums and to read from it every five years, for the people to hear. They did not use paper to record it on. They did not develop a written language to write with and so record the Great Law that way. It was recorded in the only way available. The whole business had to be stored in the memory of the Wampum Keeper and whoever else can remember all the words whenever it's time to read for a reading of the Great Law. In the old days, people didn't read or write, not because they were dumb clucks, but because there was no academic education in those days.
It has been noticed that people who did not ever get a chance to learn to read or write developed a tremendous memory. They had to. There are stories of men in high steel work who never had any education. They remember all the numbers on columns and plates automatically. One look and it's committed to memory. They just naturally remember it. The art of reading from the Wampums of the Great Law was suspended for quite a while. It was only lately resumed. The people who depend on learning the Great Law this way are at the mercy of the memory of the reciter who had L4 read and memorize from the written version. They may or may not hear all of it. Then they have to commit it to their memory. Can they remember all 117 articles? Or even just 65 as some versions have it or others with 80 and 85 Wampums. It would seem that the people are short changed when they hear the Great Law in this manner. When all versions are put together, that is, the missing Wampums from the other versions are found among the others, they total up to 117 Wampums in the compiled written version. This means that the reciters who memorized from the written record cannot remember all the Wampums. Since he =Ad it from the written record, it means that he can read and write therefore he doesn't have the illiterate's advantage of forced great memory. If he is illiterate, he cannot recite from the Wampum strings since no one knows how to read from the Wampum strings to teach him so he can store it all away in his memory. It stands to reason that if the people want to know the Great Law they have to read the written version, taboo notwithstanding.
It is obvious that the people would be at a disadvantage today to do it in the old way. The knowledge is badly needed. It makes sense to read the Great Law and be totally knowledgeable as such knowledge is so extremely needed in these dangerous times. We believe that it is a non-Injun conspiracy to put a taboo on reading the Great Law and on saying the name of Deganawida. It is easy to see that the purpose of the taboo is to forget the greatest of the Onkwehonwe and his works. They don't want the Injuns to think of politics and nationalism. They want Injuns to think only of religion and unprovable dogmas and doctrines which have to be nonexistent since they are unprovable. I say we should shout the name of our greatest American from the housetops and study and learn all about his works.
Some of us Mohawk heretics will read anything, including our own laws and so steal a march on our friends who fool around with taboos. We also refuse to be acquiescent. So, boys and girls, these are times that require courage, guts and gumption to fight for our rights. Let's be like our ancestors, great warriors. Let's all shout:
LONG LIVE DEGANAWIDA AND HIS GREAT LAW!
LONG LIVE KANONSONNIONWE!
NOT ALL CANNIBALS ARE CANNIBALS: Many Injuns may have wondered why Injuns were called "savages and brutish men, little better than wild beasts - subhuman nomads - while beasts in the path of civilization". John Smith, who was saved by Pocahontas, urged that the "viperous brood" (Indians) be enslaved, though he admits they saved Jamestown from starvation (some gratitude!). Finally when all white men were convinced by the propaganda that Injuns were like animals and that they should be hunted down like animals, bounties were offered for their scalps just as if they were wolves. So much so that in the far western frontier in the nineteenth century, Indian flesh was eaten like game by white people! who are the first to condemn cannibalism. As my good friend Onkwetase reports: DeGraffenried, one of the leaders of the North Carolina settlers, in speaking of an encounter in the Tuscarora War, said that he "marched against a great Tuscarora Indian Village called Core, about 30 miles distant from Newbern, drove out the king (Chief) and his forces, and carried the day with such fury that, after they had killed a great many, in order to stimulate themselves still more, they cooked the flesh of an Indian in good condition and ate it."
MEMO TO DISILLUSIONED NATIVE ONKWEHONWE: Not all white people are ogres. Many good white people walk the earth. We have seen them and shook hands with them. They help the Indian struggles for justice and human rights. They ere of vital assistance in our negotiations with New York State. Such support groups as RIGHTS FOR AMERICAN INDIANS NOW, VOCATION FOR SOCIAL CHANGES, N.A.S.C., and others are deeply involved in Indian causes. This augurs well for the future, not only for native Americans but also for white society as well.
MESSAGE FROM GANIENKEH