The Ahnishinahbæótjibway Midé is the religion, the philosophy, the government, the legal system ... etc. ... of the Ahnishinahbæótjibway. The birchbark scrolls of the Midé trace our history back through four ice ages[i]--about a million years. Fundamentalist Christians express the beginning of their Judeo-Christian tradition as the "creation of the world" slightly less than 6,000 years ago.[ii] Although they give an account of their African "evolutionary roots," Western European scientists describe the first "man" as having lived (in Asia) three ice ages ago, and trace their own roots into the last ice age.[iii] The Aboriginal Indigenous peoples of this Continent are not included in their charts of "Evolution of Man."
The Midé, our Aboriginal Indigenous religion, teaches us to live in harmony, in reality, with responsibility; that we are all part of the Circle of Life.
Midé cannot be translated from the Ahnishinahbæótjibway language into English, nor Chippewa. The Chippewa Indians and the Christians tried to translate Midé as "Grand Medicine Lodge," and said that we were "Devil-worshippers," who practiced "bad medicine." What the Indians call the "Great Spirit," and what the Christians call "God," do not exist in our religion, and neither does the Devil. These concepts come from the good-and-evil dichotomy of their believers' European, Catholic roots. The fragmentation of peoples' world-view into pairs of opposites with emotionally-laden connotations is a part of Lislakh hierarchical society.
How can Aboriginal Indigenous people be "Devil worshippers" when the land, the water, everything about the ecosystem was kept in such a beautiful condition? Now, under the Euro-American and Indian religion and economic system, everything is destroyed. All the lakes and streams are polluted, and the water is undrinkable.
The Euro-Americans always say "Church and State are separate." After the 1863 Indian Treaty was signed with the Chippewa, the U.S. Government gave Ahnishinahbæótjibway land to the Christian Churches. The Indians sold the land, and the Euro-Americans divided up our religion and our church, so that the immigrants could build their churches and practice their own religion. It is claimed that the United States of America was founded on "freedom of religion."
The Ahnishinahbæótjibway religious and philosophical tradition, the Midé, is holistic--there is no compartmentalization between religion, economics, science, philosophy, and politics. From an Aboriginal Indigenous perspective, the traditions of the Lislakhs also comprise a holistic totality, although for those studying that system from within, it is usually broken into disconnected categories. If one looks at the history of the various schools of thought through which these people of Western Civilization understand their own system, it may be easier to see the whole pattern. The abstract within which social and religious reality is defined comes to the Western Europeans through the Ancient Greeks: into modern science through Aristotle and into modern religion through Judeo-Christianity, which also has roots in Ancient Greek ways of thinking. Greek philosophers, including Diogenes and Plato, realized that truth was unattainable within their idealized structure, and demonstrated this in various and sometimes humorous ways. One contemporary scholar who has made connections between religion, economics and politics is MIT economist Paul Samuelson.[iv]
The Ahnishinahbæótjibway cannot sell our Midé religion, which is a part of our land. In English we were being asked to sell "land," but Grandmother Earth and our relationship to her is part of our religion. The Indians have never understood this, since they have approximately the same values as their Lislakh fathers. Selling Aboriginal Indigenous land does not pose existential prohibitions of identity, sacrilege, and fundamental morality for these immigrant Judeo-Christian peoples. Political scientist Murray Edelman wrote,[v] "Religion, as Langer points out ... work[s] together with economic organizations ..."
The Indians whom the Euro-Americans created on this Continent are just as important as Christianity in maintaining the economic system and other parts of the inter-related imported European infrastructure. The social structure of Western European Civilization depends on establishing metaphysical justification for its economic system, which functions so that the people at the top of the hierarchy retain most of the wealth created, and the workers are kept in their place. The economic system, in turn, is a means of controlling access to resources, and distributing both the bare necessities and the incentive goods in a way which will maintain the hierarchy. The symbolic value attributed by Western European civilization to gold, silver, and paper or other promissory money is a smokescreen. What their money is really about is power, and control over the resources with which that power is maintained. The Indians are as necessary as institutionalized Christianity for the functioning of the imported Euro-American economic system. Indians are critical in maintaining the fiction that the Euro-Americans have a legal and honorable right to the Aboriginal Indigenous peoples' land of this Continent, through the Indian treaties. The institutions and dogma of Judeo-Christianity provide the foundation upon which Western European civilization occupies this Continent--and provided the rationalization for the genocide, dispossession and enslavement of the so-called "pagan" Aboriginal Indigenous peoples.
Part of the purpose of the Euro-Americans' Indian boarding schools was to destroy Aboriginal Indigenous religions. All I knew when I went into the Boarding School was the Ahnishinahbæótjibway Midé. I did not know about the Christian God, the Indians' "Great Spirit"--or the Devil, which is also part of Christianity. During the first few years that I was at the Boarding School, there was a German prefect named Leo Schwartz, who was obsessed with the Devil. During the night, we could hear him praying in his room, and then he would start chasing the Devil. "Out, out," he would say, in German. He had a toilet in his room, and he would flush the Devil down the toilet, and then he would chase his Devil from his room into the sickroom, down the stairs into the playroom, and out the front door. I don't know why he never chased him out the back door. Sometimes we would meet Schwartz on the stairwell, chasing the Devil. He would be hollering "Out, Out, Out!" When he saw us he would stop chasing the Devil, and look at us sheepishly as he snapped out of his abstract hallucinations. Then, he would go back upstairs to his room. We wondered where the Devil went when Schwartz stopped chasing him--we figured the Devil went back into Schwartz' room.
Leo Schwartz looked like a crazy man: he had strange blue eyes with red rims. Once when I was sick, alone in the sickroom during the day, Schwartz chased the Devil out of there twice. I was so sick I didn't pay any attention the first time. When he came through again my curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to see what the Devil looked like. I sat up in bed and looked, because I'd heard so much about him in school. I didn't see anything. I recuperated right then, put on my clothes, and as sick as I was, I got out of the sickroom.
Both the Chippewas and the Catholic priests have superstitions arising from their Lislakh roots; illusory ideas generated by the artificial cultural mechanisms which sustain their social hierarchy. The centralized power and artificial ranking of their society is reflected in Judeo-Christian metaphysics. The Ahnishinahbæótjibway children did not find the Christians' description of Heaven very attractive. We figured that if we went to Heaven, we would be at the very bottom of the Heavenly hierarchy, spending eternity among strangers, polishing all that gold.
By intentionally blurring the distinctions between the Ahnishinahbæótjibway and the Chippewas, the United States Government purposefully confused the Ahnishinahbæótjibway Midé with the very different Chippewa Indian religion, and used the Indian religion which they had created to try to obliterate the Ahnishinahbæótjibway Midé.
The Chippewa Indians have a Lislakh patriline.[vi] The replacement of Aboriginal Indigenous people with people of this patriline is prescribed in the Judeo-Christian Bible:[vii]
... Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where
thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:
For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.
And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.
Arise, walk through the land in the length of it, and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee ...
The land that the Lord was giving away to his chosen people, already belonged to somebody else. The seed (patrilineal heirs) to which the Bible refers repeatedly, is a directive for world conquest through genetic engineering.[viii]
The Ahnishinahbæótjibway do not want to take over the world; cherishing diversity is an inherent part of our traditional values. We have lived harmoniously and non-violently on our own land for more than one hundred millennia. We, the Ahnishinahbæótjibway have a right to exist on our own land as a Sovereign people.
There are two very different religious philosophies on this Continent. One is the aggregate of the centralized, hierarchical world religions and other rigid schools of thought, including Indian religion. The other is the philosophy and world-view of the Ahnishinahbæótjibway and other Aboriginal Indigenous people. The Ahnishinahbæótjibway Midé is a way of living in harmony and community; a facilitation of each person's Sovereign relationship with Grandmother Earth, with Grandfather Midé, with the circle of life which encompasses us, and with the Great Mysteries of the Universe. The Midé is experienced, it is directly connected to Grandmother Earth; they are married. This is where we come from.
The Midé is an egalitarian religion/philosophy, and relates not only to what happens after death, but also relates directly to life. We have said in English, "all life is sacred," although a more accurate translation would be "all life transcends Western Civilization's dichotomy between sacred and profane." The Ahnishinahbæótjibway Midé is a philosophy, but it is also and simultaneously a non-abstract experience in physical reality. Proselytizing is not a part of our religion. Ahnishinahbæótjibway are born into the patrilineal Dodems of the Midé.
The hierarchical world-view of Western Civilization has survived, been refined, sophisticated and expanded over the past six thousand years. The imaginary and symbolic worlds of its purported reality are remarkably consistent in internal structure. Nearly every possible loophole through which a person might catch a glimpse of what the Ahnishinahbæótjibway and other non-hierarchical peoples understand as reality has been blocked by diversionary tactics, re-interpretation, automatic mind-blocking processes of denial, and emotionally-laden stereotypes. Because of this culturally-imposed blocking of information which is threatening to the hierarchy, I would be greatly surprised if even one percent of the people who read this understand what I am writing. I am not questioning that the people who are reading this are intelligent people. I am simply observing that the boxes of compartmentalized thinking into which the heirs of Western Civilization are forced by their culture, are extremely difficult to escape. Regimentation is an important part of any hierarchical culture, and even brilliant trained observers have a mental block, buttressed by several millennia of hierarchical cultural and linguistic evolution. Standing outside the system, this structure is obvious. The reality of the Lislakh cultural, linguistic, and religious tradition is almost invisible from inside that system, but it's there.
Margaret Mead, who re-wrote and popularized the discipline of anthropology, tried to meticulously avoid value judgments about other peoples' cultures. But, she was trapped by the arrogance of the system into which she was born. Even though she was trying to be fair, her own culture's values led her to subtly discredit the perceptions of the people she was studying. Her self-definition and training as an anthropologist constrained her, and she could not discard the Western European analytical categories she brought with her. If she had remained with one group of egalitarian people, had learned their language fluently, and if she had been able to see herself as human in their context, then she might have been able to go beyond what other anthropologists have called the "glass wall," into an Aboriginal Indigenous understanding of the world, and see something truly beautiful. Lislakh reality is structured in such a way that venturing outside of its constructs can seem terrible and frightening,[ix] but there have been a few Euro-Americans who have seen at least part way into an Aboriginal Indigenous reality.
Aboriginal Indigenous people are, because of our egalitarian, non-violent and holistic understanding of reality--and because of our inalienable connection to the land and resources upon which expansionistic societies depend--seen by the Euro-Americans and their cohorts as intrinsically threatening. Christianization was seen by U.S. policy-makers as a means of transforming us into a sub-group within their hierarchy, an ethnic group or a minority, and thereby no longer dangerous to their social order. This agenda was expressed at the Lake Mohonk Conference as a mandate for missionaries to "act as one body representing one great constituency, and combining their various energies to one great end, the Americanizing, civilizing and Christianizing of the aborigines of the soil."[x]
At St. Mary's Catholic Mission at Red Lake, the staff wanted to bring us into their imaginary world, and simultaneously protect themselves from experiencing our world. Some of the defense mechanisms of the Lislakh hierarchy became obvious. When I asked questions which the Nuns felt were threatening, they slapped me, and said "Have blind faith!" They were not educating me in the sense that Ahnishinahbæótjibway would expect a person to be taught--they were programming me. The beautiful, loving reality of my Grandfather was too much a part of my reality for the programming to stick, although the brutality of the Mission School experience was enough to cause me and every other Ahnishinahbæótjibway child who experienced it, years and years of anguish. Midé religious elders said, "don't believe them, they're lying," but I had to understand what it was that would make people act like the missionaries and other European people here had acted. There is more to know than simply rejecting the Euro-Americans as "liars." I had to find out why they did what they did, and how they think.
The nature of Lislakh reality directly relates to the Aboriginal Indigenous peoples' problems with Indians. It doesn't matter if Europeans or Métis dress up in feathers, say they're Indians, and act foolish. That's not our problem. The problems arise when immigrant peoples try to appropriate and re-define Aboriginal Indigenous peoples' identity, claiming that they are "American Indians," and thereby facilitate the alienation and theft of our land, and the destruction of our environment, our culture, and our people.
The invention and maintenance of Indians is done in European languages. There is no word for Indian in the Ahnishinahbæótjibway language--the Métis use the word Shi-nabbe but that's a word they stole and broke into a shorter word.[xi] Indians are a crucial theme of the Euro-American mythology about their relationship to this land and their identity as "Americans." Many get very nervous when they perceive themselves in danger of "losing their Indians." Metaphysical Indians are indispensable to the American Dream. With surgical precision, the molders of public opinion script their Indians to portray whichever extreme of the good-evil dichotomy meets the exigencies of the moment. Indians were polarized as the Noble Savage, they were also concocted from the Euro-Americans' worst fears and bogey-men, and there are a disproportionate number of Indians in prison because of the dichotomies of this projected stereotype. From the Wicked Witch who went after Hansel and Gretel, to the Big Bad Wolf who ate Little Red Riding Hood, the Indians are the polar opposite of what civilized and Christian Euro-Americans are presumed to be or fear they might be. As such, they balance the social equations of artificial dichotomy. Without Indians as a buffer between themselves and the reality of their history, the Euro-Americans are in the position of having to confront some very painful truths.
Professor-philosopher Harvey Sarles (whom we thank for returning long-distance phone calls to discuss some of these issues), and linguist-philosopher Noam Chomsky, whom we thank for answering our letters with thought, have both helped me come to a clearer understanding of the way that the Lislakh people think. With regard to religion, I thank Dr. Sarles for his advice, "read Genesis, John, and Revelations of the Bible, to help understand how they think. If you want to know, read it without getting angry."
Lislakh reality is a mind-game fraught with artificial paradoxes. Good and bad, Jekyll and Hyde, God and Satan are all part of the abstract entity, forced into extremes and then kept apart by artificial categories of compartmentalized thinking. Responsibility is an inherent part of Ahnishinahbæótjibway reality, but is avoidable in the compartments of linear European reality. As long as certain rules are followed, a Lislakh can evade accepting the responsibility for the consequences of his actions, at least within the figments of his mind.
I can go from the Ahnishinahbæótjibway culture into the Euro-American culture, and I am still the same person. I am comfortable with my identity and I know who I am. My peoples' ancient roots grow deep here in this land. I am not a stranger here. I am not European, and in Germany I felt the disconnection from one's aboriginal indigenous place that Euro-Americans must have to live with on this Continent.
Most Europeans, including the Chippewa Indians, cannot go into the Ahnishinahbæótjibway culture. They can look right at something, and not see it, because they don't know how to get outside of their prescribed definitions of reality, and look at the real world. The extent of their detachment from reality is readily apparent in reading European philosophy and religious texts. Any philosophical school where the practitioners seriously wonder whether or not they exist, is caught up in masochistic mind games. From the Ahnishinahbæótjibway perspective, there are mysteries but no paradoxes. Our continual contact with Grandfather the Midé, with our inherent nature as living beings, and with Grandmother Earth where we come from and where we will go, does not make us primitive or ignorant.
I do not have anything against the Judeo-Christian or Islamic traditions (or any of the others they call World Religions), as the personal spirituality of those who sincerely live these philosophies. However, the Holy Roman Empire and other Judeo-Christian Churches are also political institutions--and the individuals of whom the institutions are composed bear a responsibility for the actions of those institutions. Judeo-Christians, in particular the Catholics and Protestant Episcopals, are on my land. For a century and a half, they have used unimaginable violence against my people. They have been telling my people that they "know how to live," and have discredited the culture, traditions and religion of the Ahnishinahbæótjibway.[xii] It is with this background that I write what I do about Judeo-Christians. All peoples of the world have a right to live on their own land, harmoniously in accordance with their own traditions.
The abundant, harmonious, and lush paradise which encompassed both of these Continents was an expression of Aboriginal Indigenous peoples' religion and philosophy. The Europeans could not believe that such a place ever existed, and the miracle of it was such, that they readily believed myths of Golden Cities and Fountains of Youth. These are the same people who believed that the world was flat, and whose languages retain vestiges of flat-world thinking to this day.[xiii]
The Europeans who came to these Continents came from a plundered wasteland. The wars which raged back and forth across Europe had destroyed the European ecosystem and polluted the water. The social disharmony and ecological destruction that are a consequence of the Lislakh practice of war were a breeding-ground for countless plagues. War creates masses of starving people, and fosters the rape of both the women and the land. Ahnishinahbæótjibway see this kind of behavior as unacceptable and insane.
The Lislakh paradigm of world conquest comes directly from their religions. They absolve themselves from responsibility by retreating into the abstract, and recently by saying "church and state are separate," but the very first chapter in the Judeo-Christian Bible includes the political admonition:[xiv]
...and God said unto them, Be [sic] fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
We do not see the Ahnishinahbæótjibway Midé as extending beyond our Aboriginal Indigenous lands--although there are other Aboriginal Indigenous Traditions which belong in each place of Grandmother Earth. The Ahnishinahbæótjibway believe in valuing what we have, and taking care of it respectfully, rather than strip-mining our own ecological infrastructure, and then looking for somebody else to rob. For nearly a million years, we have lived in harmony. We never took all of anything, and we made sure there was enough left for future generations. If a young person heedlessly takes more than they need, or kills any living being without good reason, they are certain to get a kind but effective lecture from one of the Clan Mothers.
I had a well-meaning White friend question how we could have survived without being expansionistic. He did not understand that we lived in harmony, not only with our environment, but also with our neighbors, and that being ourselves on our own land was enough for the Ahnishinahbæótjibway to survive harmoniously as a Nation, throughout the sixty centuries of brutal peace and strife encompassing the rise and fall of every Lislakh empire.
The Lislakhs' expansionistic world-view precludes their dealing with those peoples who are their neighbors under conditions which are harmonious. Peace and harmony are two different things.
Social hierarchy means parasitic social relationships. Judeo-Christianity uses the concept of sin to bring people into their web of centralized control. The metaphor which the Judeo-Christian Bible uses to describe this intrinsic parasitism is a cannibalistic one: "eat of my flesh, drink of my blood," with the explanation that the human sacrifice of Jesus Christ will "take away sin."
People will spend all day in the Church, doing penance for their sins, seeking ritual purity.[xv] Indian religion is the same as Christianity in this way. Guilt is one of the hooks used to catch people's psyche. It's a necessary part of the economic system and often motivates people to donate all their worldly goods to the church (or to other charities which buttress the overall structure), because they are sinners. There have been, and can be again, harmonious, balanced communities without such psychological distortion.
I remember my first experience of Christian cannibalism at St. Mary's Catholic Boarding School at Red Lake. It was traumatic and profound, and to someone from the Ahnishinahbæótjibway tradition, gruesome beyond belief. The Nuns gave us little children what they said was our "first communion," with instructions about how to "receive the Host." They told us that the Communion wafers were the "body of Jesus Christ," and told us not to chew on them, because we would be biting into Jesus Christ. They told us to let the wafer "melt in your mouth."
During the first years I was at the Mission School, there was a Catholic community event in which St. Nick brought candy and apples to children assembled right outside the Boys' building at the School, around Halloween. St. Nick was dressed up as a Pope, with a crooked staff, and big high pointed hat which now reminds me of the hats worn by the Ku Klux Klan. The White Indians sang a song about "Ho, Ho, Ho, the Good St. Nick." The Ahnishinahbæótjibway were in the back of the assembled group. The older children whispered to us younger ones, "that's Johnny Windigo." The Métis have changed Windigo to mean a giant spirit who can bring diseases, and consume people and everything else. The harmonious Ahnishinahbæótjibway understanding of Windigo has been transformed by the Chippewa Métis to conform to the Lislakh linguistic dualism of good and evil.
The French were the first Europeans to maintain an organized presence in the Ahnishinahbæótjibway Nation. The economic pretext was the fur trade, but what the Europeans really wanted was everything we had. Father Louis Hennepin was among the early French explorers, and his description is one of inconceivable, unimaginable wealth. Father Hennepin, who was supposed to be the embodiment of Christian values, writes of his 1679 expedition:[xvi]
We found very good ripe grapes as large as damson plums; to get them we had to cut down the trees on which the vines climbed. We made wine which lasted us nearly three months and a half.
Hennepin also writes about stealing Aboriginal Indigenous peoples' seed corn, killing animals and taking only a small portion of the meat, and cutting down trees for what he termed "security."
The Europeans had been impoverished for so long, that they had no way of coping with the immense wealth which, because of Ahnishinahbæótjibway non-violent and egalitarian way of keeping everything in balance, was simply there. In the Ahnishinahbæótjibway way of thinking, there was no need to lock anything up. If somebody needed something, they took what they needed. Our ecosystem was intact and abundant, and there was enough for everyone.
The "black robes" were part of the first wave of European migrants. One of the words for Frenchman in the Ahnishinahbæótjibway language is We-me-tig-o-ji, which describes the "wooden sticks" (crucifixes) which the French Catholic Priests waved around when they met my ancestors.
When the "Black Robe" Christian missionaries got here, they told the Ahnishinahbæótjibway, "you have original sin, we have to baptize you to wash away your sin." The concept of original sin is not in our culture. Baptism is used to bring people into the Christian hierarchical structure, take away their self-esteem, and control them like sheep in the fold.
The Christian pioneers used both sides of their dichotomy to bring people into their system, also using the label of "AntiChrist." When an Aboriginal Indigenous person says, "I don't believe in what you are saying, I have my own Tradition," the Christian Missionaries have responded with the accusation "you are the works of the Devil." They called our Midé longhouses "Grand Medicine Lodges," with very strong negative connotations. The early Missionaries tried to re-define the Ahnishinahbæótjibway, translating such names as Ma-ji-que-wis, which means "life energy,"[xvii] as "Evil Spirit."[xviii]
The United States Government's efforts to discredit and destroy the Midé were a deliberate part of their broader agenda of destroying the Ahnishinahbæótjibway and other Aboriginal Indigenous Nations. As Bishop Whipple said during the 1890 Lake Mohonk Conference:[xix]
Now, remember, no nation has ever survived the loss of its religion. It might have been a very poor religion, and full of superstition, but the moment that it lost that sense of accountability to an unseen power, and had no standard of right outside of itself, it perished like the fabric of a dream.
The United States Government specifically subsidized Christian churches at Red Lake.[xx]
Senator Albert Beveridge explained the relationship between Judeo-Christianity and the United States in terms of Manifest Destiny in a speech before the U.S. Senate in the year 1900:
We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race, trustee, under God, of the civilization of the world. And we will move forward to our work ... with gratitude for a task worthy of our strength, and thanksgiving to Almighty God that He has marked us His chosen people, henceforth to lead in the regeneration of the world... Mr. President, this question is deeper than any question of party politics; deeper than any question of isolated policy of our country even; deeper even than any question of constitutional power. It is elemental. It is racial. God has not been preparing the English-speaking and Teutonic peoples for a thousand years for nothing but vain and idle self-contemplation and self-admiration. No! He has made us the master organizers of the world to establish system where chaos reigns. He has given us the spirit of progress to overwhelm the forces of reaction throughout the earth. He has made us adept in government that we may administer government among savage and senile peoples. Were it not for such a force as this the world would relapse into barbarism and night. And of all our race He has marked the American people to finally lead in the regeneration of the world. This is the divine mission of America, and it holds for us all the profit, all the glory, all the happiness possible for man.
I have also heard the policy of Manifest Destiny expressed in terms of "my brother's keeper."
Despite the evidence in their own history, most Euro-Americans seem to have almost insurmountable difficulty in seeing the extent to which they have lost their personal Sovereignty to Judeo-Christian religious institutions. God is acknowledged as their ultimate sovereign on every piece of their money, in their Pledge of Allegiance, and throughout their governmental and judicial ceremonies. However, the majority of Euro-Americans go into denial when the nature of their relationship to Judeo-Christian institutions is discussed. Having no point of reference outside of the Christian world-view, they are cut off from awareness of their life, their relationship to the Earth, their bodies, and much of their minds.
The people of Western Civilization say, "you are free." Free is an abused word. From what I have experienced in Euro-American society, and in studying their languages, I haven't found anything that was free, yet. There was always a price, and it was usually a very high one. Ahnishinahbæótjibway do not need to say, "you are free." There is no word-for-word translation of the English word free in our language. Freedom was just a natural part of life, without anything un-free as a comparison.
The Indian religion which has come into popular view is not Aboriginal Indigenous religion, and it is not indigenous to this land. The Chippewa Indian religion is a Creole religion, combining elements of French feudal folk Catholicism and Islam.[xxi] This Indian religion also has plagiarized some Ahnishinahbæótjibway material, reinterpreted into a hierarchical Judeo-Christian structure, and includes some superstitions arising out of the Métis experience on this Continent. Under the ministrations of Bishop Baraga and other missionaries in the 18th and 19th Centuries, Chippewa Indian religion was further modified to conform to Catholic duality.
There is also an even newer Indian religion, which is a group of cults created in response to Euro-American demand for "Indian Spirituality." This Indian religion has incorporated some of the Métis Chippewa religion. The Euro-American people who are drawn to Indian religion are frequently people who feel that something is missing in mainstream religious traditions. They are looking to Indian religion to fill the void in their lives, hoping to find themselves and their spirituality. They are not going to find Aboriginal Indigenous spirituality in Indian religion--patrilineally, Indians are Lislakh immigrants just like the Whites. Indian culture has been re-invented to fit the mold of Judeo-Christianity since explicitly colonial times:[xxii]
At a conference held by Conbury in 1702 with five of the Indian Sachems, at Albany, the Indians expressed the hope that the Queen would be a good mother and send them someone to teach them religion. Translations were made to assist the Mohawks in their reading of the scriptures in their language.
Although there are a few sincere Métis playing the role of Indian Medicine Men, Indian religion has all of the problems of popular cults, including certain Christian personality cults of the electronic media. The people who become Indian Medicine Man get caught up in an impossible role. Indian religion is, like Judeo-Christianity, centralized, and the Medicine Man's followers have unattainable expectations of him. Some of these Indian Medicine Men are caught by their own egos, and get trapped by the structure of Indian religion into situations which are destructive both to themselves and their followers.
Prior to the Civil Rights Movement, the Aboriginal Indigenous religion had gone underground. When the American Indian Movement and other Civil Rights Movements brought Aboriginal Indigenous religion out, the real spiritual men, the ones who are indigenous to this land, came out for a brief moment. Particularly among the Lakota, there were some who welcomed anybody who came seeking with a sincere heart. The U.S. Government saw this, and understood the threat that egalitarian Aboriginal Indigenous spirituality posed to the centralized hierarchical institutions of Judeo-Christianity. So the U.S. Government passed the Indian Freedom of Religion Act in 1978. After that, the Aboriginal Indigenous religions went back underground, and there has been a bumper crop of wanna-be Instant Indian Medicine Men.
One of the problems is that the Indians have lost their identity, even though they might have had an Aboriginal Indigenous mother or grandmother. Through their White fathers and grandfathers, they have become a part of the European culture. Their connections with Aboriginal Indigenous religion--if they ever had any on this Continent--are history. Some became Instant Indian Medicine Men from self-interest, rather than from a commitment to serve their community, and a lot of them have been trapped in their own mystique. Nobody knew what was going on, and they still don't, because they are not connected and they are not in harmony. They are stuck in hierarchical thought. One Indian Medicine Man would say something, and another would contradict him. There were, and still are, a lot of inflated and hocus-pocus claims: being healed of cancer, and everything else. There is no such thing as an Indian Medicine Man in Ahnishinahbæótjibway culture, and never was. There are no words in English to describe the religion, philosophy and medicine of Ahnishinahbæótjibway men and women.
I had a long talk with a Lakota man who had adhered to his traditional religion. He told me, "You are born into the Midé through your Dodems. For us, it is different." I cannot speak for the Lakota.
There are many false prophets in Christendom. The Indian religion which was legislated by Congress also has false prophets. The Indians who have been created by the Euro-Americans talk about "my Indian traditions," but they are plagiarizing the Aboriginal Indigenous peoples' traditions and redefining them in hierarchical terms. They have stolen everything except our values. If they had stolen our values, they wouldn't be lying about their identity, promoting stereotypes and vicious labels, claiming our property and masking the genocide.
The Ahnishinahbæótjibway have lost our pow-wows, which used to be Aboriginal Indigenous events open to everybody. I haven't gone to a pow-wow since the early 1980's, because they don't have anything to do with the Ahnishinahbæótjibway any longer. The pow-wows run by the Chippewa Indians are commercialized, with admission fees and big-money dance contests. The music at the Chippewa pow-wows is not the music I remember from the Ahnishinahbæótjibway pow-wows of my childhood. The vibes of the Chippewa pow-wows are no longer Aboriginal Indigenous ones. The Métis mock the culture of the very people they're trying to imitate; some of the men dance in women's jingle dresses. I have also seen pow-wows put on by Boy Scouts and other White Indian Dance Groups. In the 1970's, there was one such group which traveled around Europe, and what they presented was not Aboriginal Indigenous culture.
The sweat lodge is one of the Aboriginal Indigenous medicines which has been mutated into a principal ceremony of Indian religion. It has been taken out of context, and reinterpreted with hierarchical mystique. The sweat lodge is good for you. Like a sauna, it cleans a person out, which is necessary. But, the way it's done in the Indian religion, there is a lot of hocus-pocus which is nothing more than exploitive showmanship. It has become a symbol, both for the Indians and for the Catholics (who are incorporating it into their religion), changed from the real into the abstract. Over the past few years, the Catholics have made a concerted effort to incorporate Indian symbolism into their Mass (beaded buckskin altar cloths, star quilts over sweat lodges, etc.), in order to hang onto their Indians. This is not the first time Christian Missionaries have tried to assimilate Aboriginal Indigenous intellectual property into their hierarchical structure. Christian Missionaries took many Ahnishinahbæótjibway words and transformed them into their own value structure. For example the word ja-wén-da-go-si-win, the meaning of which Baraga defined as including happiness, good fortune, and prosperity, was transmuted into "Holy Communion."[xxiii] Judeo-Christians have a long tradition of appropriating and assimilating the religious symbols of other people. Christmas trees are another example.[xxiv] I see no need for a religious celebration marked by ritual deforestation.
The Indians say "we are a Sovereign Nation," but what they are using is Euro-American Sovereignty, which is used against their own people, and also used to oppress the Ahnishinahbæótjibway, over whom they have no jurisdiction. The United States Government is retrenching their control over Indians through legislation such as the Indian Freedom of Religion Act and its amendments, including the 1994 Senate Bill S. 1021. This unilateral bill violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and regulates Indian religion. For example, a Federally Recognized Indian must get a U.S. Government license to possess an eagle feather.
The United States is also using the Indian religion, and their unilateral Indian Freedom of Religion legislation, to try to claim unjustifiable jurisdiction over the Ahnishinahbæótjibway and the Midé. There is no way in which these immigrant peoples can presume jurisdiction over the Aboriginal Indigenous peoples of this Continent, nor over ancient religions and philosophies which are far older than all of their so-called world religions put together. We are concerned about the way in which the Indian Freedom of Religion Act is being used to plunder and desecrate the graves of our Ahnishinahbæótjibway ancestors. These graves are not "Indian mounds."
I am not a medicine man, and I am not a prophet. I am a human being. I was born Ahnishinahbæótjibway, and I have a different way of looking at the world than the Euro-Americans. What I am writing about our religion is commonly known by Ahnishinahbæótjibway. When people come asking me for the truth, I tell them that Sovereignty is within each person. If a person goes into the forest, and becomes a part of it, rather than looking at it from outside, one can start to understand what the Midé and other Aboriginal Indigenous religions are about.There isn't any shortcut, and neither officially sanctioned nor self-proclaimed intermediaries can give answers to that which human beings must experience for themselves. The Midé happens to be the religious philosophy of the Ahnishinahbæótjibway, and this is who I am. I have nothing to do with the Indian religion. Appropriating another people's religious philosophy is unnecessary. Every human being can come into non-violent harmony with Grandmother Earth, with Grandfather, with life and death, with the Great Mystery. The institutions of mainstream Lislakh society are saturated with violence, and living the totality of one's life non-violently within their context is not always easy.
[i].One Midé scroll which may independently document this is in a museum, the Glenbrow-Alberta Institute, Alberta, Canada; cited as GAI-2 in The Sacred Scrolls of the Southern Ojibway [sic], Selwyn Dewdney, University of Toronto Press, 1975, page 24. With this citation, however, a caveat is in order: the published interpretations of Midé scrolls are almost invariably done by Whites, using Christianized Métis informants who do not understand the Ahnishinahbæótjibway language or the Midé. For example, some of what ethnologists have called "migration scrolls" may be Ahnishinahbæótjibway scrolls, but these scrolls were re-interpreted by people who are documentably Métis, to fit their own reality. It is true of the Métis that, as quoted in Dewdney, page 57, "Our forefathers, many string of lives ago, lived on the shores of the Great Salt Water in the east. Here it is, while congregated in a great town [Montreal]..." Neither this, nor most of the other things alleged to be a part of our Midé tradition in published accounts, is accurate of the Ahnishinahbæótjibway.
[ii].According to humanist scholar and sage Robert L. Satterlee, the year of Creation for Fundamentalist Christians is 4004 B.C. He said this was originally "calculated by a British Bishop using the genealogies in the Bible--and once something is in print, it takes on a life of its own." Mr. Satterlee said that the month and day in which God is presumed to have finished his week-long Creation is "indeterminate, because of the calendar changes since the Roman Empire." Creation was supposed to have been completed at ten o'clock in the morning, "but this is also imprecise, because the rotation of the Earth is slowing down 1.5 seconds per year."
[iii].The Rise and Development of Western European Civilization, Table II, page 3, Op. cit.
[iv].For example, in the Family Tree of Economics, from Economics, an Introductory Analysis, by Paul A. Samuelson, Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1967 Edition (end piece).
[v].The Symbolic Uses of Politics, University of Illinois Press, 1967, pages 178-9.
[vi].The Bureau of Indian Affairs was quite aware of their Indians' Lislakh patriline, and in the 1890 Report of the Commissioner, wrote that, "the question depends ... not on the quantum of Indian blood, but upon the condition of his father, under the rule of civil law 'partus sequiter patrem,' which governs in this class of cases. ... Vattel, in his Law of Nations, page 102, [wrote] as follows: 'By the law of nature alone children follow the condition of their fathers and enter into all their rights;' and adds that this law of nature, so far as it has become a part of the common law ... must be the rule in the case before it. ... "
Despite such laws that the people they were making into Indians were actually Whites, the B.I.A. Commissioner stated U.S. Indian policy in 1890 as, "the admixture of blood, however, must be considered in connection with all the circumstances of each case; consequently a fixed rule applicable to all cases can not well be adopted." Ten years earlier, the B.I.A. Commissioner had advocated turning White men into Indians "on the books" for the issuance of halfbreed scrip. The Bureau has not historically operated on the basis of meticulous attention to legal or ethical niceties, because their philosophy has been, as the B.I.A. Commissioner explained in 1890, "Since, under existing conditions, tribal organizations are now rapidly passing away, almost every question of importance depending on the tribal system will be solved."
[vii].The Holy Bible (of the Judeo-Christians), licensed "in terms of the Letters of Patent granted by Her late Majesty Queen Victoria ... dedicated to the most high and mighty Prince, James, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Etc. ...," Genesis 13:14-17.
[viii].Specifically, the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition telegraphs their intention by re-defining their prescriptive reality (which exists only as images in their minds, rather than as a physically experienced, living reality) to include only Adam of Eden as the male progenitor of humankind. World conquest in their terms includes that all men should have the same Y chromosome, which came from Adam--that all should be of Judeo-Christian "seed." In their metaphorical and metaphysical world they have defined their objectives as already being real. This political agenda for world conquest is reflected in the pseudo-history of their European Indians whom the Europeans created and whom the Europeans falsely claim came over the Bering Strait (although their patrilineal ancestry is Indo-European and very few of these Indians are even matrilineally indigenous to this Continent). It is also reflected in the experimental design and focus which yielded scientific evidence of mitochondrial DNA alleged to prove that all women are descended from a purported Eve in Africa. There were other problems with the design and execution of this particular research, but the point is--why didn't they look at the DNA of the Y chromosome instead?
[ix].If you put a "wild" animal in a cage, it will struggle to get out. Even a domesticated one will want out--that's why the cities of Western Civilization are filled with fences and jails and prisons. But, if you raise an animal inside of a cage, even if you torment it inside of the cage, when you open the door of the cage, it won't leave. If you take it out of the cage, it will run back in. This is part of what the recidivism rates in prisons are about--the inmates have been caged too long, and have been conditioned to live in prison.
The same thing is true of the prisons of the mind created by the Lislakh hierarchy--from Fundamentalist Judeo-Christianity to Communism, from Capitalism to Islam, from Hinduism to North American Democracy, the underlying structure is the same. People including Timothy Leary, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Frederick Nietzsche have tried to escape, but their language and culture did not give them the understanding with which to live outside of the Lislakh's box. They retreated back inside the prisons of their mind, and contented themselves making fun of it.
The Lislakhs use dichotomies to keep people inside of their culturally and linguistically constructed box. Within the structure of illusions which comprise the "shadows on the walls of the cave" of Plato's truth, harmonious reality has been distorted and stretched, spun out into insubstantial polar opposites. In Lislakh philosophy, not only is the totality of a living human being fragmented into hypothetical shards of "mind" and "body" and "soul," but even the reality of life itself is denied, focusing instead on their fraudulent mythology of "death." Lislakh reality-of-the-mind is characterized by denial, loss of awareness into the black hole of artificial subconsciousness, and an overriding, transcendent fear. Among the imaginary walls which imprison those of Western Civilization, including the Euro-Americans, are the flames and brimstone of Hell, the fear of losing oneself completely in the black abyss of insanity, and the screaming pain of losing the love of relatives, community, and their construct of God. The symbolic cannibalism within the Christian church is a metaphor for their manufactured reality of psychic cannibalism and real social parasitism. Once a person knows the reality of his or her self, and one's relationship to Grandmother Earth, the illusory Lislakh conceptual boxes are no longer a prison, and one can find the serenity and harmony outside of them.
[x].Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Lake Mohonk Conference, 1887, Final Report of the Business Committee.
[xi].A lot of Ahnishinahbæótjibway words were broken when we were forced to work in the logging camps in the early 1900's. The logging companies said that our names were "too long to write on a check," and they could neither spell nor pronounce them, anyway. So, they shortened the names up into meaningless syllables--they could have just as well used acronyms. The name I use in public, Wub-e-ke-niew, is a shortened version of my real name, and they further shortened it to "Wub."
[xii].E.g. Father Allouez, S.J. (1665) called the Midé "a false and abominable religion ... these people are dull ..."
[xiii].Vestigial and outdated thinking was a part of their lexicon as European explorers went over the horizon to discover new worlds, and as their empires despoiled the far corners of the earth. It is still a part of American English as astronauts blast away from the face of the earth to new horizons in space.
[xiv].The Holy Bible, Genesis 1:28., Op. cit.
[xv]."Ritual purity" is an old Lislakh strategy for justification and maintenance of their social hierarchies. The "ritual purification" of the Hindus and other non-Judeo-Christian Lislakhs is reasonably apparent to Anglo social scientists, although their own culture's dependence on this same artificial construct is apparently invisible to them. "Go and Sin No More" is no different from Hindu Caste rituals, and neither is real. What amazes me is that although Greed is written as one of their "seven deadly sins," it's not only acceptable social behavior, but also a necessary cornerstone of their social engineering. Although there are a few people waking up, most of the Euro-Americans seem lulled into uncritical acceptance of the paradoxes of their values. Whether or not they admit to reality, it's there--and because of the ecological destruction, reality is going to come up and kick them. Denial is a part of their culture, but the resources are gone, and no amount of re-definition of reality will bring them back. Denial only works when there is a frontier beyond which other people have abundant resources. The public relations about the moon or outer space as the next frontier are hocus-pocus. Reality is when you have your two feet on Grandmother Earth, and know who you are, and where you are from. The Euro-Americans' culture has been so disconnected, so caught up in denial of where they came from and who they are, that many of their people might as well be in outer space, looking for gold.
[xvi].Father Louis Hennepin, Description of Louisiana, Newly Discovered to the Southwest of New France by Order of the King, translated by Marion E. Cross, University of Minnesota Press, 1938, page 46.
[xvii].A more precise translation would be "the spiritual energy which gives the motive force to life;" this word also has been used to describe a car battery.
[xviii].Minnesota Chippewa Commission Census, National Archives, Op. cit.
[xix].Transcripts of the Proceedings of the Lake Mohonk Conference, 1890, Op. cit.
[xx].This included at least 320 acres of fee patent grants of Ahnishinahbæótjibway land to the Red Lake "diminished Reservation," Catholic and Protestant Episcopal Churches, enumerated on page CLXXIV of the Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1890, Op. cit.
[xxi].For example, some kinds of beadwork have religious overtones in the Chippewa religion. Many of their ritual objects are beaded, and the word for bead in Chippewa roughly translates to "little spirit seed." The Chippewa claim a tradition, in doing beadwork, of using one bead which is not part of the design, with the explanation that to aspire to complete perfection is an affront to the perfection of the "Great Creator." This is an Islamic tradition.
[xxii].William Stevens Perry, D.D., L.L.D., The History of the American Episcopal Church, 1587-1883, Boston, James Osgood & Co., 1885.
[xxiii].Baraga, A Dictionary of the Otchipwe Language, Minnesota Historical Society Reprint, 1992, page 167.
[xxiv]."Have Yourself a Pagan Little Christmas," in American Airlines Flight Magazine, November, 1993.