from the Ahnishinahbæótjibway (We, the People)
[unpublished & incomplete]
There has been a great amount of discussion and debate about “family values” and “community” in the political arena, with each political party claiming that they know more about how to create a viable society than the other party.
From the perspective of one who was raised in my formative years in the Bear Dodem of the Ahnishinahbæótjibway, in an aboriginal indigenous tradition, the current “family values” debate seems a shallow farce: the policy-molders are talking only about the nuclear family, which is only a fragment of what “family” means in my tradition of egalitarian extended family and Dodem.
The Indian boarding schools and other U.S. Indian policies were created explicitly to take away the identities of the aboriginal indigenous people of this continent, and destroy our language, culture, and—most importantly—our egalitarian extended families and Dodems. At the time that I was a child, in the 1930’s, patrilineally and culturally white people who the U.S. government categorized as “Indians” were being supported by the government as agents of acculturation and social change in the remnants of the Ahnishinahbæótjibway community—which included promoting fragmented nuclear families. These dark-skinned, black-haired “Indians” had Western European hierarchical values and predominantly European/Moorish ancestry, but they were (and continue to be) presented to the American public, and to the world, as the “real” indigenous people.
The egalitarian Dodems of the Ahnishinahbæótjibway are perceived by policy-makers as a threat to the hierarchical social structure of the Western European society, who projected onto us such erroneous labels as “primitive communism,” as well as doing blatant name-calling, calling us “savages” and “pagans” to our faces, in our own land—to have some foreigner invade one’s land and then call us names is disgusting and without good manners.
The nuclear family of Western European society, and the cultural conventions such as linear time which support the nuclear family context, are, from my Ahnishinahbæótjibway perspective, a human rights violation and a blatant denial of the humanity of those who are caught up in this mutant and crippling social structure. In my understanding, all human beings have an innate, biological drive to associate in egalitarian extended-family groupings, which meet human needs for nurturing, cuddling, social recognition and identity, security and interaction, and generates the template for living in harmony with each other and the natural world. Western European structure thwarts these natural human needs with the nuclear family, and then maintains its fundamental hierarchical institutions (including corporations, the Church, and Western European ideologies) through sublimated redirection. Such Western European institutions and conceptual structures could not—and cannot—coexist with intact and viable Dodems and egalitarian extended families.
The human needs which are not met in the context of the nuclear family, are—although unacknowledged in the languages of Western Culture—nevertheless felt by its members as an “emptiness” or a “void,” which cries out for love and fulfillment. The formation of ghetto gangs follows the same mechanisms as the formation of corporations or the cohesion of armies: the crippled members of nuclear families adhere to the pseudo-family group and will do almost anything to retain acceptance within the group and whatever semblance of “love” that they can get. Family violence, which reflects the pathological nuclear-family structure, is carried over into the pseudo-families of the Western hierarchy in such ways as gang initiations and gang fights, as is the fundamentally misogynistic orientation of Western hierarchical tradition.
The “here today and gone tomorrow” nuclear family, which has neither continuity nor roots, replaces the functionally eternal continuity of the Dodem with a highly mobile “fly by night” mentality.