Tag Archives: alcoholism
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Remembrance: An Intercultural Mental Health Process (PDF)
Remembrance, An Intercultural Mental Health Process
by Pam Colorado
Mental Health is a European, western derived construct which, in the context of colonialism, has been imposed upon Native peoples. thus one could question the health of “mental Helth”. I propose that it is possible and timely to create processes and models of mental health which are intercultural and have, as their first order of business, the healing of mental health practitioners…myself included!
Issues of mental health and culture are central to my life. I am a traditional Oneida woman, married to a Hawaiian, Kuhuna Kalai Wa’a and Kii, that is, a man who has the Huna or secret knowledge of how to carve traditional ocean going canoes and images. We live on the island of Maui where I commute to California to teach in the Traditional Knowledge Program—a doctoral program for tribal people worldwide. I am also of French ancestry and travelled to France during my early twenties to make peace with the conflict I felt as a mixed blood person.
In twenty years of activism my model of mental health practice evolved from a largely clinical social work/community organizing focus (with a few cultural touches) to an almost completely cultural, spiritual practice that drew on western psychology when necessary. Although reluctant to draw on extra cultural approaches,I found psychology and its terminology to be helpful in dealing with deadly colonial wounds, notably alcoholism. Counselling methods also became a bridge to the western and professional world and to assimilated parts of my personality. In fact, western counselling helped me to decolonize and to embrace my true cultural identity.
But joining Native and western approaches to mental health has always made me uncomfortable. First of all, there are no guidelines or mutually established ethics to govern the linking. Second, the concept of mental health is inextricably bound up in relationships of domination and power. Prior to the invasion of North America there wasn’t even a concept of mental health! Native cultures sought and were an expression of grounded lives lived in balance and intimate communication with all living beings. third, western practitioners’ denial of the power dynamics between Natives and westerners emotionally charge the counselling process. Fourth, whether we like it or not, there is no part of Native life that has not been violated or desecrated. As a result, we carry enormous and undifferentiated anxieties and pain; often we swing back and forth between western and Native behavior without conscious choice. Finally, as my genetics suggest, there is no escaping the obvious fact that American Indians and Euramericans (with their mental health practices) share a land and a reality. We must address the intercultural mental health conundrum and transform it into something good.
Recently, I worked with a French American person whose wife had suffered with terminal cancer for ore than two years. I began the work in my usual way, as a cultural person who used western concepts to communicate and engage. Four months later, when the work was complete, I had been taught a way of doing Native mental health in the western world; moreover, a westerner had entered my Native paradigm and healed aspects of my life. I refer to the process as remembrance and share some of it with you now.
A stormy twilight sky holds the ocean in an indigo embrace. Moving smoothly through the cold spring ocean, I hesitate for a moment, questioning the wisdom of a swim so late in the day. Hawaiian elders warn against this. As I realise I am alone in the water, a sense of vulnerability rises; I do not recall how I got here. I want to return to shore but am powerless to move. The growing density of the night time sky is matched by a sense of growing danger in the water. Suddenly, I am aware of an enormous and awesome presence—Mano! The shark1
My reaction is instantaneous. Rolling over on my back I lie suspended in the water and I wait. Mano is one of the most powerful animal spirits in Hawaiian cosmology. The shark empowers priests, healers and intellectuals; it is an Aumakua, the head of a major clan system and it is Mano that accompanied and protected the first Polynesian voyagers to settle the Hawaiian islands. Lying motionless is the only act of reverence available to me. I can feel him approaching from my right; swift and smooth. He transverses the length of my body, as if appraising me. Death may be imminent. I am afraid. I am hopeful. The shark turns and heads directly towards me. Bright blue lines of electricity stream from either side of his head. Reaching my still body, he races beneath me, around me, wrapping me in blue lines of vivifying intelligence and power. Then he is gone.
I awake, shaking and weeping with joy. Gathering up my medicine bag, I pull on some clothes and head to Launiopoko Beach to make an offering of thanks. Pulling Indian tobacco from its pouch, I call to Mano. Laying a gift of tobacco in the water, I wait. Was it a true dream? A few moments pass, doubt begins to enter my mind. Just then a movement about fifty feet off to the left catches my eye. It is a shark fin, standing nearly one foot out of the water. This must be a great animal. As quickly as it moves towards me, it turns and disappears from sight.
As I drive home, I wonder at the beauty and power of Native ways. The feelings that went through me when I saw the shark acknowledge the offering! I wonder what the meaning of this experience is and what is expected of me. A few days later, a stranger stops by our house to look at Hawaiian art work. It is Mr. Robert Requin (Mr. R), an elderly gentleman of enormous wealth and great political repute.
It is not usual to greet someone of Mr. R’s standing, so I paid attention to what happened. As he entered our house, he went almost directly to the scale model canoe, “Lele O Ke Kolea”, the canoe that brought the first Hawaiians here. As I approached Mr. R to welcome him a spiritual presence, nearly palpable, filled the room. My traditional training enabled me to see it my western mind interpreted it as a crucial bonding. I was shocked because I had never had such a moment with a non Native person.
Any traditional Native person will tell you that ordinary reality is not real at all. This world is spiritual and beings of great power, like Mano, move through the veil of our conscious minds. Like Creator, Mano touches us. It is only an instant but in that moment we experience something timeless and real—our own truth. Truth, according to Native thought is meant to be lived. When a dream comes, work of transformative nature is sure to follow. Because the work is spiritual and difficult, it is important to interpret the direction of the dream accurately.
In the weeks that followed, I struggled for understanding and direction. I spoke to another traditional person who responded, “A strange thought just came to me—your visitor is Mano!” The truth of the message was so strong, it took my breath.
Identifying the Mano as the spiritual protector and power of my visitor, gave me a beginning point for determining how we were related. For a few days, I struggled trying to remember anything I heard or knew of the relationship between Mano and the Thunderers—my clan. The answer came in the middle of the night when I awoke thinking of a petroglyph from the Northwest Coast (where I learned the process of deciphering the ancient language).
On a large rock, located in the tideline, is a carving of the Shark and Thunderbird, held together by a huge lizard—the protector of water and change of consciousness. This 15,000-year-old carving is predictive of transformative learning—of movement into a higher integration of knowledge which will be sensory or predictive. The Lizard also implies genealogy or ancestral communication. In a western sense we might say I had determined an archetypal relationship. I understood that this was a powerful connection but I lacked a course, or even a next step of action.
One day, during a phone conversation with Mr. R, we discussed our French family histories. Realising that our ancestors had arrived in the New World about the same time, I decided to check my family tree, a lengthy document. Turning to a random page, I glanced down and discovered that a man from my family and a woman from his had married in 1560; furthermore, this couple moved to the New World and became the progenitors of both his family line and mine! This confused me. If I had found a mutual Indian ancestor, I would know what to do or who to contact. I was in for a surprise.
Mr. R had purchased a number of traditional Hawaiian art pieces of my husband’s and had asked me to bless them. I readily agreed, until I turned to do it and discovered the purchases included Lei o Mano—weapons of war constructed of sharks teeth and a wood that women do not touch! How do I, as a woman, pray over weapons of death? Is this proper? Do I have the authority? These questions took several days and the pieces were to be delivered the next day. Finally, I understood the next step.
Moving the weapons into the sunshine, I made my prayer but something didn’t feel complete. So, I meditated some more and realized that I needed to do a night ceremony as well.
That night on the lanai, the spirits spoke in unmistakable messages. Mr. R’s wife had survived because two, vainglorious physicians, eager to win the respect and approval of her wealthy husband, had used extraordinary means to keep the woman alive. She had been tortured. I knew it because for a brief moment the spirits made me feel what she had suffered; it was agony. I was told that her end would come soon and I was given several other pieces of information for Mr. R.
When I came in from my prayers, I was shaking with fear. I knew I had to tell Mr. R but I doubted myself. What if I was wrong? What if I had misinterpreted something? And I questioned my right to even tell someone such news. Nevertheless, the following morning while burning sage, I called Mr. R and shared, as gently as I could, all of what had transpired. To my amazement, he nearly wept with relief. In the next few weeks, everything happened just as I had been told. I was stunned at my self doubts and with the power of these old ways.
I was also pleased that ancient Native ways could help Mr. R—in fact, even seeming to complement his devout Catholicism. But two weeks after his wife’s death I learned that my sister was alcoholic and suicidal. Thee generations of family addiction came crashing down on me. All my work in healing did not seem to stop the destruction and death in my own family. I was terrified.
Another dream came to me. This dream revealed the origins of the family addiction problem. It rested in an event that happened in France nearly 700 years ago—an event that Mr. R’s family shared. I awoke from the dream, it was near midnight. Heading directly for the closet, I rummaged around until I found my baptism candle (although raised traditionally, I had also been baptised Catholic, perhaps to cover all the bases!) I took the candle out to my rock altar and then stopped. I didn’t know where to put it. How could I respect these two ways and still bring them together? Desperate for my sisters life, I finally placed it on the lower right hand corner. Then I began my prayer, in my Indian way, explaining what I was trying to do and why. I asked permission to proceed. It seemed okay, so I picked up the candle, stuck it in the damp tropical earth, and lit it. I wasn’t sure how to pray. I tried all the Latin prayers I could remember but nothing felt genuine. Then I tried it the Indian way, by calling to the ancestors. Suddenly, the sultry, leeward night was hit with a cold wind from the North. It came down on me so hard and fast, I had to cup the flame to keep it from going out. I was scared. I knew I had pinpointed the cause and I knew I needed help.
The next morning, I called Mr. R and asked him to help in the tradition of his French Catholic religion. He agreed and for the next three days he prayed for us.
About a week later, Mr. R and I spoke. I thanked him and told him the astonishing news. My huge French-Indian family had finally acknowledged the problem of addiction in our family and was preparing for a family intervention for my sister. He was not surprised because he had felt a peace come over him the first night of his prayers. We both wept and laughed on the phone. Who would ever have guessed the combined power of a Pagan and a Catholic!
I used to think that darkness was evil but an Elder once told me, that darkness is safety, security, like the womb. In the darkness we are all one; separations cannot be seen. Perhaps this is the Huna, or inner secret Hawaiians know. For Mr. R and I to heal required great risks and trust. We both stepped into our shadow many times but we were not alone. At night, in a dream, the shark spirit came to give me the power to do the healing work. Although I doubted myself, I still went to the beach and made a thanksgiving offer. A real shark came proving the truth of the dream as well as the value of facing self doubt.
Mr. R knew of the terrible things his culture has done and continues to do to Native people, but he stepped through that history when he asked for my help.
I entered the shadow again when I turned to my French genealogy; used my candle and asked Mr. R for his help. It was difficult to do. Yet, the evil visited on my family—the multigenerational alcoholism derived from and depended upon the continuing hatred and divisiveness of Catholic and tribal people.
Most likely I will never see Mr. R again, but in the dark moment we shared, a beautiful healing emanated. Two people—from vastly different political, socioeconomic backgrounds, one traditional Indian, the other Catholic—joined using western psychological language and simple loving prayers particular to our own cultures. We healed. Nothing happened, yet everything changed.
First Reading, Vol. 13, No. 3, Sept 95 ESPC
Fire & Ice: Natives, Alcohol and Spirituality, a Northern Health Paradigm (PDF)
Fire & Ice: Natives, Alcohol and Spirituality, a Northern Health Paradigm
Pamela Colorado, Ph.D.
Faculty of Social Welfare
University of Calgary
4401 University Drive
CANADA T1K 5A8
The Language Between the Cultures
Native and non-native interaction is powerfully and intricately interwoven with western science. Native alcoholism and the way it has been addressed provides insight to this complex phenomena and illuminates the possibility of global sobriety. From initial contact to contemporary times, the scientific view of the Indian has evolved through stages. Each stage has dramatically impacted the lives of both peoples.
Stage One, Scientific Racism
Scientific inquiry and literature on American Indians was born in the scientific racism of the nineteenth century. This doctrine replaced the word, “nation” with the word, “race” and assumed that moral qualities of people were positively correlated with physical characteristics; further, that all humanity could be divided into superior and inferior stocks (Berkhofer, 1978).
Typical of his time, Leslie Scott (1891) wrote an article entitled, “Indian” Diseases as Aids to Pacific Northwest Settlement” in which he States:
…Wherever went the white man’s appetites and wares went also his afflications which multiplied manifold in the savage habitat. Indians in the white man’s clothing, in his houses, in his liquor drinking, were like the cultures of malignant germs which the scientist multiplies in his laboratory…. throughout the entire West the Indians were victims, but perhaps nowhere else so badly as in the Pacific Northwest; and nowhere else were the results so good for the whites….
Thus, scientific arguments provided a rationale and a justification for the genocide and ruthless appropriation of Indian lands. Political rhetoric of the early 1800’s which was filled with optimism for the human race and the improvability of humankind gave way in 1850 to a strident “pessimism for inferior races and a belief in ineradicable racial weakness” (Horsman, 1975). In a popular work of the mid 1800’s phrenologist Combe argued that comparison of the heads of American Indians and Blacks demonstrated that Indian intellect was weaker but pride stronger therefore Blacks…
…were able to appreciate the superior moral and intellectual powers of the European race, and are content in some measure to live under their guidance.
The Indian on the contrary has refused to profit, to any great extent by the arts of literature of the Europeans and has always preferred death to servitude.
Bailey, who wrote as late as 1922, codified the scientific racist paradigm when he stated:
“From the statistics which relate to the two so-called primitive races, the African and the American Indian, it appears that the primitive could not under any present circumstances attain the average intelligence of cultured races. This appears to be so, not because there is any detailed information as to the potentiality of the primitive mind but because mental deficiency is so profuse that their average intelligence must be inferior to that of average European intelligence.”
Because Native alcoholism was understood to be a function of inferior biological stock, the treatment was death or near death. This view, turned on Native medicine and healers was examplified in a letter written in 1892 by Mrs. Willard, Christian Missionary who wrote:
It is here….I would speak of the Kling-get (Tlingit) fiend, the medicine man, and beg of those in authority to cause his extermination. His incantations should be held a crime and his uncut hair, his touch of power, should be shaved clean to his head; the whipping post and work under guard on public improvements would be better than a prison….(Dauenhauer, 1980)
These scientific “proofs” continued to assert innate Indian inferiority and establish complete confidence in ultimate Indian disappearance. In fact, scientific racism marched hand in hand with expansionists who at the close of the 19th century had exterminated more than twenty-five million Indian people!
Survivors of this “paradigm” became subject to the emerging cultural anthropological paradigm – at its worse a covert form of scientific racism and at its best, a harbinger of the golden age in Indian policy.
Cultural Anthropology, the Second View
In the birth of ethnography and cultural anthropology (beginning in the last part of the 19th century) the raciology and the evolutionism of scientific racism was repudiated. Boasian scholars such as Swanton, and later, Kroeber, espoused the idea of culture to explain the diversity of lifestyles of humankind. The cultural anthropological school separated biological heredity from the social transmission of culture, challenging previous work in the field.
Using empirical methodology, Boasian scholars stressed the import of replacing evolutionary history of Natives with actual history. They were convinced that tribal change, including alcoholism, happened more as a result of diffusion among tribes from a unilinear sequence of modifications in cultural perceptions and practices presumed by evolutionists.
This shift in thought produced dramatically different research. Radin (1972) wrote:
“the relationship of conquered to conqueror is important to both. Up to the present, all attempts that have been made to understand them, or to come to any reasonable adjustments with them have met with signal failure, and this failure is in most instances due to the scientific accredited theories of the innate inferiority of primitive man…”
Drawing on this earlier thinking, Lemert (1954) studied Haida and other Northwest tribes. His research indicated that alcoholism was not a function of race; that greatest drunkeness occurred when tribes were intensely involved in fur trade. Lemert argued that anomie, interclan rivalry and cultural conservatism were the most appropriate way to view Northwest Native alcoholism.
Lemert’s findings were typical of those in the flowering of cultural anthropology in the 1950’s. From this time forward, any discussion of Native alcoholism would include “culture”. The word “primitive” was no longer used to refer to Alaska Natives; empiricism became the method and major theories of deviance and social control became the philosophical underpinnings of future research.
The Sociocultural Model – A Third View of Native Alcoholism
The activism of American Indians, the Civil Rights Movement and the growth of the human sciences brought national attention and funds to the problem of alcoholism among Native people. The field exploded, producing more studies in a single decade than in the preceding fifty years. (Bates, 1980) More than half the literature continued to be anthropological (Leland, 1970) but the sociocultural model was emerging. This model,
derives from the view…that human behavior is the complex resultant of any interplay of biological and historical factors including interactions among systems that can be distinguished as those of the culture, the society and the individual…” (Berkhofer, 1970)
The contribution of the sociocultural model include: freeing Natives from the “ethnographic present” of anthropological research. No longer were Native people frozen in time. The model led to awareness that the effects of ethanol include social, economic, historical and cultural factors as well as chemical, physical and biological factors. Using history as a methodological tool, socio-cultural theorists have shown how attitudes, values and ways of drinking have changed in various ways and at different rates in many cultures. (Heath, 1980) Finally, this multi-disciplinary approach of the sociocultural model showed a propensity to get within the society being studied, to see history and life from the view of the people being studied.
The application of this science looked different from previous models. Psychiatrists and physicians including Bergman (1971) and Pascarosa (1976) participated in traditional Indian ceremonies and reported that Native science or way of coming to knowledge was efficacious, rigorous and humane. Native alcoholism and health sciences united. Alcoholism was viewed as a medical problem properly treated with technology. Publicly funded community programs struggled to integrate Western and Native healing techniques.
A second significant event that occurred was the emergence of the first generation of college educated Native scientists. This small group used the sociocultural model to talk with non-Native people about Native issues. Their work looked to external forces – historical, economic and political, as causative agents of Indian problems. The work was concerned with continuity, tended to be highly descriptive and combined realistic and spiritual themes.
The New Empiricism, a Fourth Model
Early sociocultural research produced a wealth of descriptive and explanatory studies but few claims were made for scientific rigor (Heath, 1980) and the need for definitive studies pushed empiricism to the fore (Nobel, 1976). The nascent cross-cultural scientific exchange was effectively halted as the study of “Native People” moved toward the harder sciences.
As a result of the new more rigorous and robust scientific empiricism, fundamental issues were raised regarding previous work. First scientists recognized that Native social problems are a complex phenomenon about which little is known; second, data collection and interpretation problems presented manifold problems and finally, the appropriateness of theoretical models was called into question.
“…it is not clear that the disease we call alcoholism is the same in both white and Indian societies or even that there is one unified pathology we call alcoholism. Those indicators, both behavioral and physiological, which have been used to diagnose alcoholism in the White society have been found to be determined in part by sociocultural factors. The behavioral indicators have been most frequently used to diagnose the presence of alcoholism in Indian populations. Since the association between these behaviors and either a physiological predispositions to drink has not been demonstrated, there must be an effort on the part of clinically oriented researchers to observe and measure the causative agents of alcoholism more directly if, in fact, this is possible…” (Nobel, 1976)
Lacking a precise definition or clear understanding of the variety of Native cultures meant that the new empiricism was confounded in its earliest efforts. And the increasing reliance on sophisticated analysis produced a new set of problems:
“There is a growing concern about where quantitative techniques are carrying us…our data manipulation techniques are carrying us…our data manipulation techniques have become increasingly complete mathematically sophisticated and governed by strict assumption, but, paradoxically, our interpretive frameworks which make such data meaningful have grown looser, more open ended, fluid and contingent…there seems to be rather widespread skepticism surrounding the ability of conventional data collection techniques to produce data that do not distort, do violence to, otherwise falsely portray the phenomena such methods seek to reveal…” (Van Mannen, 1979).
Thus, in the early 1980’s alcohol research and the science that guided the research were again in search of a paradigm that would work. Van Mannen observed:
“…there is something of a quiet reconstruction going on in the social sciences…There has come of age that significant realization that the people we study (and often seek to assist) have a form of life, a culture that is their own and if we wish to understand…we must first be able to both appreciate and describe their culture…”
Toward a New Paradigm
The sterility that characterized the findings of much of the “New Empiricism”, triggered a movement back towards holistic and qualitative research in Native alcoholism. Theories of Paulo Freire, South American educator, and research by UNESCO prompted researchers to look at culture in a very different way. Freire observed:
Research is a cultural action, if it has a humanist character, it is eminently dialogical and dialectical. In culture based research, “MEN DO NOT ACT ON OTHER MEN AS OBJECTS”.
Freire concluded that research should not be
“our research on you, but rather a research project in which, together, in dialogue, we will come to know each other better and the reality in which we find ourselves so that we can more effectively transform that reality”.
For the first time scientists began to recognize that Native people have a voice, and by extension, a way of knowing or science. Methodologies and approaches have evolved from this recognition. Popular writer, Milam, typifies the movement towards synthesis. While arguing for medical dominance of the filed he nevertheless recognizes that the “ism” in alcoholism necessarily involves a human or family system not merely the alcoholic. Participatory research, systems theory and family therapy all focus on relationships, development and the strengths of an existing system.
In Canada application of Native science has sparked a fire in Indian alcohol treatment. Tache a small reserve in British Columbia has used its mobile treatment model to move from 100% alcoholism to 95% sobriety. According to Maggie Hogson, Director of Nechi Training Institute, the spark has now jumped over to Alberta and other parts of Canada. The key to this phenomenal success lies in a careful integration of western treatment methodology and Native traditional ways.
These methods complement, native science and offer the possibility of intercultural scientific exchange. Native Alcohol work, usually the unwelcome relative to “harder” science, may draw on its theoretical underpinnings of wholism to assume leadership in the new pardigmatic shift. The firs step is to ask Native People, what is Indian science?
“…This is what Raven did for us…The shelter is the tree…”
Indian science, often understood through the tree, is holistic. Through spiritual processes it synthesizes or gathers information from the mental, physical, social and cultural/historical realms. Like a tree the roots of Native science go deep into the history, body and blood of the land. The tree collects, stores and exchanges energy. It breathes with the winds, which tumble and churn through greenery exquisitely fashioned to purify, codify and imprint life in successive concentric rings – the generations. Why and how the tree does this is a mystery but the Indian observes the tree to emulate, complement and understand his/her relationship to this beautiful, life-enhancing process.
The Meaning of Science
To the Indian, the tree is the first spirit or person on Earth. Indeed, the tree which oxygenated Earth’s atmosphere, is the precursor to our human existence. Because of its antiquity it is a respected Elder but the greatest power of Native Science lies in the reasons behind the trees existence.
When discussing the origins of the tree Chief Donawaak, Tlinget Elder says:
“This is where stories begin, there is no story before this…When Raven spirit and Black Raven are working on this land, they put coves in it where you can come in when it’s blowing – a place where you can come ashore.
My Great Grandfather who told this story to me said – the cove is where you’re going to be safe. If you pass that harbour you’re not going to go very far…you will tip over or drown. But if you come to the cove you will be safe. This is what Raven did for us. The shelter is the tree. You could get under the tree and stay there overnight. All this is what the Raven did…(Colorado, 1985)
From these words we see that Native science has a sacral basis and that its teachings are grounded in the natural world. The Navajo and the Natural World are one; he expresses that unity this way:
The foundation, you have to know your roots, where you are coming from. It is understood that we all come from God, God created us. But you have to understand in your own Indian way, where your roots are. You see a tree that is weak, about to give up. Sometimes you find people like that. Why is that tree just barely making it. Because the roots are not strong. If the roots are solid and strong, then you see the tree is strong and pretty. It can withstand cold, hot weather and winds. The human, has to have those roots because we are growing too. The Great Spirit put us here with nature. We have to understand the nature. That is why we understand how an animal behaves. That is why we have to talk to them. We don’t pray to them, we talk to them because they breathe the same air we do. We are put here with them. We are also a part of the plant life. We are always growing, we have to have strong roots. (Colorado, 1985)
Indeed all of life can be understood from the tree.
…just after the earths crust was formed Raven (the Creator) made the tree. Why did he make this tree? He made it to shelter us. Even before Raven broke light on the World, people took shelter from the tree. And after he broke light, look what your sitting on, what’s above you, it comes from the tree.
And that’s where the Tlingit gets his canoe, his house, his clothes – everything. The Raven put it there for him (the people).
And look, what’s growing under that tree? The grass. In the spring the Bear comes down to eat that grass and the wolf, the moose and the mountain goat. All these things, they come. And the berries, growing there – salal, salmonberry, huckleberry and beneath them, the plants, the medicine. All that, it comes from the tree… (Colorado, 1985)
So the roots and their functions form the basis of Native scientific methodology. Seeking truth and coming to knowledge necessitates studying the cycles, relationships and connections between things. Indeed a law of Native science requires that we look ahead seven generations when making decisions!
Principles of Native Science
Laws and standards govern Native science just as they do western science. In an Indian way, Bear who is the North, represents knowledge, healing and comfort. The Bear is also fierce, his claims are non-negotiable. Western Science understands Bear in terms of rigor, reliability, and validity.
In the spring Bear marks his territory on the tree. Stretching as far as possible, Bear uses his claws to score the tree. Other bears, passing by are challenged to meet this standard. If they cannot reach the mark they leave the territory. For the Native scientist the tree is not merely science but science interwoven inseparably with life. We meet the mark or die. Like the Bear passing through, no one watches us; the science relies on utmost integrity.
Native science assumes its character through power and peace. Vine Deloria (1986) noted Lakota scholar discusses its principles:
Here power and place are dominant concepts–power being the living energy that inhabits and/or composes the universe, and place being the relationship of things to each other…put into a simple equation: Power and place produce personality. This equation simply means that the universe is alive, but it also contains within it the very important suggestion that the universe is personal and, therefore, must be approached in a personal manner…The personal nature of the universe demands that each and every entity in it seek and sustain personal relationships. Here, the Indian theory of relativity is much more comprehensive than the corresponding theory articulated by Einstein and his fellow scientists. The broader Indian idea of relationship, in a universe very personal and particular, suggests that all relationships have a moral content. For that reason, Indian knowledge of the universe was never separated from other sacred knowledge about ultimate spiritual realities. The spiritual aspect of knowledge about the world taught the people that relationships must not be left incomplete. There are many stories about how the world came to be, and the common themes running through them are the completion of relationships and the determination of how this world should function.
Deloria notes that there is no single Native science, each tribe or Nation follows ways specific to a locale. However, the tree and the Bear are nearly universal. From South America to the Arctic, the tree and all that it implies has been guiding and shaping the thought of Native people since the dawn of humanity. Those who follow this natural science do so in search of balance, harmony or peace with all living relations. Iroquois call this SKANAGOAH.
The Goal of Indian Science
Skanagoah, literally interpreted as “great peace”, is the term used to describe the still, electrifying awareness one experiences in the deep woods. This feeling or state of balance is at the heart of the universe and is the spirit of Native science. For the western educated audience, the notion of a tree with spirit is a difficult concept to grasp. The English language classifies reality into animate and inanimate objects, with most things falling into the inanimate classification. Native languages do not make the same distinction. As Deloria says, the universe is alive. Therefore, to see a Native speaking with a tree does not carry the message of mental instability, on the contrary, this is a scientist engaged in research!
Put another way, western thought may accede that all natural things are imbued with energy. Much like the electromotive force in a capacitor, the force of the energy is transmitted without there being a direct flow of energy. If you had a piece of wire, electricity would travel from one end to the other uninterrupted. But if you put a capacitor in the line, the force is transmitted from one side to the other without there being a direct flow of electricity form one side to the other. This is how energy is transferred from tree to tree to tree to person without there being a direct flow of energy. The spiritual energy of a tree isn’t transmitted directly but rather its life force is felt. Like a capacitor, the thickness of the dielectric, the physical distance between the person and the tree, is not important; the exchange still occurs.
This exchange suggest that human beings play a vital part in Skanagoah. Western thought teaches the value of the specialist, especially to the masses who are mostly generalists. In an Indian way, we may think of the Bear as a specialist, indeed, if I compete with the Bear in his own environment and on his terms, there is no way I can match his proficiency. But the generalist, in this case, human beings determine the continuance of Bear’s habitat. We are related, we are all one, life and death, good and bad, we are all one. The Indian acknowledges this and so discovers the most liberating aspect of Native science; LIFE RENEWS and all things which support life are renewable.
The struggle through Native alcoholism has repeatedly brought two peoples together. Let us hope that the fire of sobriety sparked in northern communities, spreads south and our sciences lead the way.
The Bear Has Made His Mark…
Can you Reach It?
4 April 1988 Personal Correspondence on Anger (PDF)
This is the second part of the letter to you on Violence/Anger. I presume you, as a Bear, are testing my Peace Research. I can assure you that by doing Peace Research I have come to know “nothing”. Peace is a kind of gem that you cannot “Possess” nor can you “Manufacture” by Science. It is not a question of Knowledge, but more to do with “Grace” in Christian term, or “Cosmic Love” in Buddhist term. You might call it “Gii Li” in your favorite term. I tell you about this later.
Last weekend, I went to Calgary and saw the “Spirit Sings”. It was a poor show. It was said to cover from 1600 to 1800. But the choice of the period was Political, as if from unconscious Cultural Bias. It neatly avoided the violent history of Invasion, Oppression, and Genocide. It evaded pre-colonial Native Culture. The main body of the show was Bead Work. The cheap glass beads were European imports. Indians sold two continents for these damned glass beads made in places like Firenze, Italy or Amsterdam, Holland!!! There was no display of native Copper Work etc. It implied that Natives had no culture before Europeans “taught” and supplied materials.
A few artifacts were genuine Native American. Several canoes, wood crafts, stone carvings, and one earthen pot, etc., were there. But they were the ones Europeans liked and collected. And the famous Sacred Mask was not placed properly, but crowded with other displays around. The arrangement of the surroundings was like a supermarket commercial display. The Mask deserves a room to itself, and it has to be placed appropriately in a “sacred” context. The Glenbow bookstore ought to sell books like the Vanishing White Man (Stan Steiner) to educate about what is happening to the World. The “Civilized” people who celebrate the Olympics only in Narcissism make me sick.
The only one that caught my attention was a “Wampum” made of natural seashell beads, purple and white, depicting people joining hands. It is a documentation of a Treaty. Perhaps it was from Iroquois, or from East Coast. The Museum does say it is a Treaty Document, but does not tell what the Treaty was. Nobody wants to remember the Treaty. White Culture is indifferent, or rather does not wish to know. The Natives would think it too painful to remember. So it sits in a Museum as a dead artifact whose meaning is lost forever. I wonder if anyone now can read the Wampum. (Purple is a sad color, but it is my favorite color. It appears just before the Red of Dawn. I can feel the kind of people who made the Wampum.)
Looking through Glenbow show, my niece commented that the Japanese would not have traded nothing for the cheap beads. She could not understand why Native Americans were “crazy” about the damned beads. I do not understand that either, and could not explain to her. I thought of explaining it in terms of “Pride” which blinded Natives. But I stopped short of saying that. I have to check that with you. [*1.]
Old Japanese did not have a taste for “bright colored” stuff. Europeans who came to Japan apparently found that out soon enough and did not even try. Japanese art designs had to be “simple” and unobtrusive. They did not like the “Complexity” of Chinese Art much either, when they came in contact with it before the Europeans came. Their sense of beauty demanded “subtle authentic elegance”, half-hidden in “ordinary practicality”. Until recently, they despised “show offs” as superficial. they did use ornaments, but valued “gems” in purple more. Stones and metals may be valuable enough, but they praised “Artists”, not “Artifacts”.
Tea ceremony, Flower arrangement, Poetry, and even Cooking, are typical of Japanese arts which are performance-centered, non-objective and ephemeral. They are “done”, just like Love-making, and that’s it. Or they are like the punch-line of jokes, there is no “justification”, no “explanation”, and nothing more can be added.
They are “Gems of the moment” created and gone, just like the momentary smile of a beautiful girl. There is nothing more to be asked. Nobody can “keep” the Gems as such, let alone “possess” it. And because they are ephemeral, they are most precious.
The above story has to do with your question. It is not Japanese art that I wanted to tell you about. If I could, I might have tried House Made Of Dawn to bring you here. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about the House Made Of Dawn to do the same. I guess there must be Anger behind House Made Of Dawn. You know it and that is why you can read it. But I cannot find Anger in the story. There are many references to “drinking” in Momaday’s story. You know what it is. But I do not know what “drinking” means. Perhaps, to understand contemporary Indians, one has to understand Alcohol. I fail in that.
So I talked about Glenbow Show to Japanese Arts to say the following.
Peace is like the passing of a Gem of the moment. When Pam looked at the Oklahoma Moon, that was a moment of Peace in this sense. She might say “Aha”, or Weep, but she cannot keep it. She cannot display the “gems of the moment” as such in Museums either. The only thing she can do is to try to create moments. It may take a great anger to bring out such a moment. Then, one is obliged to act out the anger.
I heard Woody saying “It Hurts. It Hurts”, on CBC broadcasting from the picket line against the Glenbow show. It was a “primordial scream”. For that moment, CBC crews must have sensed a meaning in Woody’s “scream”, for otherwise it would have been “edited out”. but then, how many people heard it as a scream? I mean Natives. It is offensive to say this, but I wonder if Natives are “sensitive” enough. To be sure, if a lot of Natives scream loud, I would be frightened. After all, I am a parasite on the dominant power structure that oppresses the Natives. Yet, I cannot understand why Natives are not angry.
At the beginning of knowing You, someone referenced you as “She is one angry woman”. I thought it very interesting. But, so far, you disappointed me. I have not seen you angry in any big way. Why aren’t you angry? Are you getting too old? I say this to you, because not angry means that you don’t love enough.
I am not a great guy to talk about Anger. I am too “intellectual” to be angry. But you should not use my failure for your exercise. By writing to you, I am guilty of making an “intellectual” out of you. I know that. But I count on your Spirituality to resist that. And what happened to your “Aquarius Conspiracy”? You are supposedly a “Believer”, “Revolutionary Doer”, and “Passionate Lover”. I am a “doubter”, “technician” and “critical analyzer”; a typical “Virgo” which is the dead opposite to Aquarius. We have to make the best out of our bad match. And I think it would be best that you be in anger.
It is strange for a Peace Researcher to say such a thing. But, I don’t see a point in being just another nice guy who would dare not go beyond his reasonable defensive safety. Peace is not the keeping of Defense. It calls for the creation of a Defenseless World. For that, the world needs extraordinary, crazy guys. Any fool can be “reasonable”. Don’t be one. In anger, You can have all the fun and excitement that alcohol can give and extras such as creating something and giving it to the World.
[*1.) As to “Pride”, I have a suspicion that it also has something to do with Alcoholism. Sometime ago you said that Alcohol makes the drinker feel “Powerful”. That was a clue.
The “Power” in the sentence is not the “power” in the sense of “Facilitator”, but rather the “Power” of those who seek domination. It is the same Power that The British Empire sought. It is a denial of vulnerability. British called it “Invincible”. But Alcoholics seem to take it in a defensive sense. They “forget” defense, but there is nothing to give out. the Pride in Power there is empty of authentic content and does not facilitate creation of Love-Eros. They seem to not be aware that all human beings as bodily existences are just passing things, and no better off than alcoholics. Non-Alcoholics are just as miserable beings to whom alcoholics need no alcohol to feel superior. I would think of “En-noblement”, beyond “Empowerment” for Natives. And to avoid the romanticism of the “Noble Savage”, I recommend Fallible Man. By understanding Vulnerability, one gets into a state of mind called “Caring” which is needed to substantiate being “Noble” in daily life beyond ritualistic moments. The Power sense from Alcohol is superficial ritual, romanticism without authentic content, and worse, alcoholics know it, and hence are defensive. Life in anger and love is unconsciously full and overflows its limitations, and hence is “unreasonable”.
Alcoholics may be very sensually sensitive people, more so than others. And they are vulnerable because of the sensitivity. But they may also have more “Pride” than others. And because of it, they get hurt more. As a result, they are Defensive all the time. If Alcohol gets them to feel “invincible”, that is a welcome relief, however momentary it may be. An alternative would be the acceptance of vulnerability. But that is apparently not an Option to Alcoholics. Somehow, they feel being vulnerable is incompatible with their Pride.
I hesitated to ask you about this. I sense that you are an Aquarius to whom “Pride” is very important and at the same time it is the stumbling block. It is called “Pigheaded” — Pigs have big pride, if you know them —.
Now that I made you somewhat angry, I would like to introduce you to a book; Fallible Man by Paul Ricoeur. It is not a book on Science, but rather about Metaphysics of “Subjective Mind”, I shall send you the introduction and the table of contents. If you are interested, I shall copy the rest for you. It looks very “snobbishly intellectual – it represents the best of “European Academic Intellect” at the moment. I do worry it might “brainwash” you into an intellectual Snobbism. the combination of snobbism and your stubbornness (pig-headedness) would be deadly. You might become not only incomprehensible to People, but also “arrogant”. But being “arrogant” is not the same as being “angry”. I hope you know the difference, and do not forget that you are a poet.
Please not the term “Affective Fragility” appears in the table of contents as a “mistranslation” of “Vulnerability in being Sensual”. “Pride” is the dialectical opposite to Sensual vulnerability.
4 January 1988 Personal Correspondence on Alcoholism and Social Welfare (PDF)
Jan. 4, 88.
I am glad to hear that you wish to attend CPREA this year too. People will be delighted to see you again. Peace people are such — “lost souls” looking for companies in misery? —. It is much like A.A. (so I imagine.)
Because the Program Director, Don Bryan fell by a minor heart attack, the notice of meeting and call for papers are delayed. In a phone call to Pat Alcock, I found that out. She suggested me to write up a proposal and send it to him any way. The “proposal” is a way of letting CPREA know of my coming to the conference. It ought to be less than 200 words, announcing Topic and the theme of a paper. they call it “Abstract”, but they know we do not have a paper by this time to “abstract” from. Later, they would ask us if we wish to change Topic and the content.
At any rate, papers are for tickets. Because others put effort in writing in order to come there, I am also obliged to put some effort to it. As you had discovered, we do not read papers in the meeting, except the “new faces” to the meeting. Presumably, papers are sent to participants before the meeting, so that we can spend time on discussions. This is, however, easier said than done.
I would like you very much to come.
You are thinking of a talk on Violence in Alcoholism. That is a splendid topic. In my memory, nobody in the meeting has presented a paper about it. I would beg and appeal to the goodness of your heart for your presence in the conference. And please consider the enormous spiritual righteousness that you aroused in the hearts of those Social Welfare Scientists who had the chance to attack you personally. Please do not deprive of their pleasure and opportunity to uplift their souls in an illusion of knowing what you were talking about enough to attack you. Basically, I am doing the same in criticizing you, though I am careful enough not to talk as if I know Native Science.
Here, I give you my immediate reactions and questions, anticipating your talk.
Why men turn to violence? I imagine the conventional theory explains the phenomenon by saying “When Men lose Intellectual Control of themselves, their Intrinsic Aggression takes over”. The assumes the “Axiom” of “Man is a violent animal in its natural state”.
I do not believe that. I might grant that Fear Reaction is “Intrinsic” (instinctive, innate). But “Fear” is essentially “freezing into inaction” and “inhibitive”. It is not “upper”, but “downer”. Fear makes the “outside” control one’s actions, and behavior. In that , it is quite different from Violence, Aggression, Anger, Intellect, Love, etc. In fact, the very same conventional theory, also insists that Fear is the only effective means of controlling Violence. I might say that Fear is almost “Intellectual”, and henceforth contradict the conventional categorization between “Thinking” and “Feeling”, or “Higher Intellect” and “Animal instinct”. I think Violence is a function of the Higher Intellect, whether Man is conscious of it or not.
Violence require highly coordinate body motions, not mentioning all the calculations needed to do things which aimed at hurting the opponents and victims. At the level of National Scale, Nuclear War is a very “intelligent war” which cannot possibly fought without Science, High Technology, and huge well Managed Organizations. There are differences between Individual Violence and Collective Violence. But the “Intellectuality” is common.
Even during “Black Out”, Man does not cease to be intelligent. It may have to do with long range “Memory”, but that does not say Man is “stupid” during Black Out. I suspect, some people are more intelligent in Dreaming than in working on their jobs. Only occasion I can think of “less intelligent” state is during Sex. And Sex is not “Violent”, unless by the intervention of Intellect it is perverted. (I heard a research result that Intellectual Professionals are more apt to perverted sex than uneducated men.)
I am insinuating that intellect is Violence. Or, if you like to defend Intellect (“Reason”, “Thinking”), then I might concede to a possibility that “tender part” of Intellect is a “Perversion of Intellect” by what is so contemptuously called “Emotion”. This is the opposite of the Sex perverted by Intellect. Perversions go both ways.
Looking at from this point of view, Alcoholic violence is puzzling. I have heard from a few friends of mine who worked with Alcoholics that Alcoholics are the most Sensitive and Tender People.
Why then Violence?
According to my “theory”, (i) Violence had to be learned/taught, and (ii) Violence had to have Social Approval [Milband condition]. The first condition is easy to meet. We have all kinds of “Education” to be Violent. The T.V., Video, Films teach us “How to do Violence” by examples. Judeo-Christianity, Moslem, religions are violent religions. Their God is known to be Violent in Rage. School teachers show us how. Parents train children in Violence, even if their subjective intent may be just opposite.
But the second condition for Social Approval (legitimization) appears to be lacking for Alcoholics. Society does not approve their violent behaviors. It seems that not much “encouragements” and “admirations” are given to the violent acts of Alcoholics. (Our society does give encouragements and admiration for other kinds of Violence. Man in Violence has the Hero Image.) In fact, Alcoholics are “looked down”.
Of course, I do not know percentage of “Violent Alcoholics” among “non-violent Alcoholics” plus “Closet Alcoholics”. I imagine not all of them are Violent. Or is it?
And there is a possibility of a “chemical-Physiological Reaction” for people with certain types of Metabolic Structures. Chemicals could “up” or “down” certain kinds of behavior patterns. You point out that Alcohol makes those people feel (“Think”) more “powerful” and “capable” than what they actually are. But I do not know, if the phenomenon is bio-chemical.
May not it be possible that those who had been under deprivation of the feeling of their own “power” and “capability” for long time tend to get the feeling as a “compensation”? [In Peace research context, Germans under Nazi exhibited this tendency. It is known that “White Supremacists” are from the “Low Prestige Class”. Poor White had been more Racists than the rich ones. While the Well-To-Do Europeans were romanticizing the Noble Savages, the Poor Wretched were shooting at Indians were not much different from them. They hated themselves, and punished Indians, Blacks and Yellow “Gooks” for it.] Alcohol may be helping them to ignore the humiliating “Reality” around them, which they do not like to be reminded of.
If so, the phenomenon is a kind of Impersonation. They may have this “Somebody Superior” in their intellect, who despise them all the time, so much so that Alcoholics learn to impersonate the Intellectual Being. I imagine this “Intellectual Being” is what psychiatrists call “Super Ego” or something similar. This Being is a very vindictive moralist and goes around punishing people. The sense of “Intoxication” beyond disability is not a simple “personality change”, but rather an “Impersonation” which is an acting out of a certain image of personality in their mind, What they imitate (emulate) depends on their “Education”.
The other possibility is the opposite one to the above. Namely the violent person is inflicting Pains to others as an “appeal” for “Sharing Pain with me”. Since other people around them are “uncaring”, “insensitive”, the only way to communicate the Pain is to let them have the Pain.
Parents may hit their children, perhaps unconsciously, in order to let children know how much they are hurting. Of course their folly of pride prohibit them to say directly that they are hurting. They cannot admit that they are vulnerable beings, let alone admitting that their children have the “Power” to hurt them.
Those “odd” behaviors are, however, not limited to Alcoholics. The “salesman” in The Death of A Salesman was not an Alcoholic. But what I read about Alcoholics somehow reminded me of him. And, at any rate, anybody in this Culture is violent. Not only that, I think many university Profs are “Sadists”.
And, Judeo-Christians appear to associate the degree of “Sacredness” with the degree of “Atrociousness”. They are saying, in effect; “The more cruel it is, the more sacred.” [of Apocalyptic Vision for the Chosen Few.]
Perhaps, only Alcoholics are “honest” and “sensitive” enough to admit their own violence.
From my point of view, that is where Peace Learning starts. For Learning (science) start with recognition, acknowledgement of problems. I try to point out Violence of Science, because one who does not know one’s own violence cannot learn anything about Peace. Peace Education is a Therapy for Violent people who beats up wives and children and fight wars etc.; namely it is for “us”. The Angels of Peace and Love need no Peace Education.
18 April 1987 Personal Correspondence on Academia, Socialism, and Colonization (PDF)
I write you a “book review” — a sort of — on William Hodge The First American, Then and Now. Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1981.
Walter Block, Geoffrey Bernnan, Kenneth Elzinga (ed) Morality of the Market, Religion and Economic Perspective. The Fraser Institute 1982.
with some references to Gil and Gil Toward Social and Economic Justice, Berman The Reenchantment of the World, and Remi De Roo Cries of Victims, Voice of God which I have commented before.
Hodge’s book is apparently written as a text for “introduction to Anthropology”. The author lives in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and naturally talks of Oneidas and Menominees, but as a text he try to cover Micmac, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Navajos, Hopi, Papago, Pomo, Klamath, Kwakiutl, Hare, Eskimos, in a descriptive fashion — for each with a brief cultural history and description of the present situation —. At the end of the text the author briefly states his theory of “X, Y, Z, Indians”. X, Y, Z, are “ideal types” or patterns, representing types, or patterns, of reactions of the Natives — resistance, isolation, adaptation, / or right, left, middle, / etc. — in relations to the White domination. His descriptions of various Indian Nations are descriptions of those types in conflicting notions in each nation.
As an academic text, it is “reasonable”. That is, if one just wish to know a lot of things about Indians from a “neutral” stand. The tone of the text is “sympathetic” and mild. But, the academic knowledge as such is not for doing anything about the problems. Scholarly stance is understandable, in the prevalent notion-ritual of “knowledge claim” in academia. But this begs questions as to “what knowledge is for?”, and also as to the role of scholars in the dominant econo-political system. I shall have to discuss what “knowing” means. (*1 below) The separation of “Value and Fact” is a shameless fraud.
The text doe mention, for example, “rampant alcoholism”, “moral decay” etc. along with “poverty — with a typical “neutral adjective softness”, saying like “living standard is inadequate” etc. —. But what the text suggests to do about the “inadequacy”, “unsatisfactory”, “insufficiency”etc.? There is no hint.
[There is a mention of Deloria, with a qualification that “The extent to which Deloria’s opinions coincide with those of other Indians is open question”. p. 526. By this statement, perhaps, the author is declaring that his statement is the Knowledge and Deloria’s is more opinion.]
(*1) Talking of the difference in “status” of Knowledge and Opinion, I happened to be struck by an incidence. In CBC radio program, there was a report about a “Theory” by a distinguished Social Psychologist at University of Manitoba: Dr. Altemeyer. His “Theory” is reasonable enough. I think he is right. But that is not what impressed me.
Dr. Altemeyer narrated that he had noticed, some 15 years ago that authoritarian persons are submissive and at the same time agressive (apt to do violence) — citing Nazi etc. — particularly when the superior authority approve of them. He attributes violence to Fear. According him, the authoritarian characters are fed “more than average” inputs of Fear by parents, teachers, et al. They are convinced that the world is fearful and bad Place, and they see themselves “Righteous” among evils all around them. No wonder they are ready to strike back. I agree as to that.
I think a lot of people noticed the same. But that would be “Mere Opinions”. Dr. Altemeyer, apparently spent some 15 years of hard academic researches to convert the “Opinion” (or hunch) to a “Knowledge” acceptable to an Academic Institution> It is not his “Idea” that distinguishes him, but his work to gain the Recognition is the object of academic admiration. And even CBC recognizes him having gained the recognition.
That is similar to recognition given to the actors and actresses who are recognized by some awards. That they gained a recognition is the source of the recognition. By this criterion of “recognition begets recognition”, the Natives have to get a recognition to be recognized. And how one gets a recognition? Our society does it by ritual ceremony. Publishing in a “reputable Journal” is one of such rituals and one accumulates brownie points by that. To get your “opinion” Published — register a knowledge claim —, you have to follow the rituals, such as showing “statistics” (despite statistics proves nothing). When that is done, one has to do “public relation” work by creating “media events”, saying that you Published — what you said in the publication are too much of details that nobody cares to bother with —. It is not whether one knows anything, but it is that the Public knows that one knows, that is the aim of the game.
Natives had known that living organisms cooperate. That is the Principle of Living. But it had to be professional biologists, properly educated and accredited, to claim a “knowledge” — inventing a jargon “Symbiosis” —. In this case, it was a “linguistic game” of Naming, that claimed the knowledge.
To be able to live with the “sense” of ecological cooperation, as the Natives did, doers not count as “Knowing”. It is because “the proper linguistic ritual” is not performed to the satisfaction of the institution which is empowered to declare academic recognition. Universities give out diplomas and people come and pay for it. That is possible, because the universities are institutions which give “recognitions”. Natives are handicapped not having institutions to edify their recognitions.
Pam has a Ph.D. in Social Welfare, so she knows. The poor people in reserves, who managed to survive centuries, do not know anything about how to live, because they have no degree. What Pam learned from her grandfather is not “knowledge”, because her grandfather was an Indian. What Pam’s mother taught her is not knowledge, because she taught her by her “living” not by academic rituals and the Academia does not know how to recognize it. (Compare woman who actually give birth to medical doctors who “know” what birth is.)
Whitemen’s “Science”, “scholarship” are Institutions of Rituals. Whitemen’s society is more “ritualistic” than Native community. Natives appear to be ignorant of the importance of Rituals, perhaps because Whitemen downgraded Native Rituals and the Native themselves accepted Whitemen’s concept on native rituals.
Incidentally, political struggles are struggles as to which ritual system shall be recognized and which ritual system shall be regarded “irrational”, “superstitious”, or “heretical” The struggles for “knowledge claim”, “academic recognition” are minor parts of the political struggles. It is not that the Natives did not have “Silence”, but that it was denied of recognition.
You tell a story of your “experience”, “feeling” in looking at the Moon. I wonder what the academic think of it. It is not even and “opinion”, let alone being a knowledge claim. Yet some academics are impressed, according to Elise Boulding. They must have felt something stronger than one in academic rituals. Is that a sign that there is still hope for Humanity?]
The above sense of “Neutral Knowledge” also pervades the second book; Morality of the Market. There is nothing in the book as to what to do about the problems.
The book is apparently a reaction of the “Right Wing Reactionaries” to “Left Wing” Christian Liberation Theology, (Christian Socialism?) such as Reinhold Niebuhr. [see also De Roo.] Sure enough, Fraser Institute, which is reputed to be Canadian branch of Rand Corporation in the U.S., knew enough of Public Relation Work to include some “Liberals”, such as James M. Wall; ex-editor of The Christian Century, a Journal published by The World Council of Churches, which has been labeled by the Right to be a “Communist Front”, and Kenneth Boulding, a liberal economist. But the arguments in the book is mainly about “ills and incompetence of the Socialism”. Mr. Trudeau, hearing Canadian Bishops’ moral stand on Economy, said “Bishops do not know Economy. They ought to stick to Religion”. The same message is in this book. The authors in the book tell readers how much they “know” about, economy. But what to do with the problems is not their concern. They talk about how “moralists” are wrong and how socialists failed.
Of course, knocking down strawman is a favorite game among academics. By proving others being wrong or insufficient, they claim their superiority. That is cheap. Since they are not proposing anything, they cannot be “wrong”, except that they help perpetuating the status quo by discouraging people to do anything about it. In turn, those “superior intellectuals” say “Given an apathetic mass of people, nothing much can be changed.” They would say There is no demand in the market for revolution”. In this case they do not believe in the Supply-side Economy. So the whole exercise go on a vicious circle. Obviously any change will be difficult and comes with all sorts of problems. By saying there are problems, nothing is changed, except perhaps for catastrophes — even the Great Depressions did not change the economic system much, but rather made people more scared of changes —. Liberal economists do not acknowledge their failure in changing the economic system and keep talking about the “faults” of those who had bravely tried. If they have tried, they would have failed worse. Easy armchair criticisms are not only cheap and useless but also poisonous.
Those “scholars” get prestigious attacking “socialism”, precisely because the system (what they call “Liberal Capitalism”) needs their defense. They are the “ideologues” for the status quo. But then, they pretend that they are neutral. Kenneth Boulding referred back to Schumpeter. But Schumpeter did not make phony distinctions like “Liberal Capitalism/Democratic Socialism”. He simply said “Socialism” as the inevitable end of the Capitalism.
To be sure, I am not saying “Socialism” is the answer. In my view, “socialism” is already here, in terms of Social Welfare, Medical Insurance, Corporate Subsidy, etc. The growth of Bureaucracy is, to me an aspect of “Socialism”, and it is here. It is an inevitable course that the “Socialization” started by the Industrial Revolution. The Capitalism and the Socialism are – isms emerged in Industrialization. The question is not whether or not Socialism, but what we are going to do with problems. Here, we need to look at the Industrialization itself, without assuming it to be unquestionable good. We used to call the industrialization “Progress” and never thought that there can be alternatives (Marx included).
In this book, Ezra J. Misham (“Religion, Culture and Technology.” p. 279) is the only one who addressed to the problem of “Industrial Economy” (Technological Society). He does see “Science-Technology” is a replacement of Religion. But, somehow, in this article, he lacked clearness. The main point does not come through.
Kenneth Boulding talked of “Cost of Agreement”, which is an important item in “political economy”. But it seems the scholars gathered there was not impressed. Religion was a mans of scouring an “Agreement”, effective in a social scale. “Ideology” was once thought as an effective means to get revolutionary agreement in the last century. “Science-technology” replaced them. Mishan was saying that in the conference. But as usual in academic conferences, Boulding perhaps did not hear what Mishan was saying. Nor Mishan appears to have heard Boulding.
And Boulding’s consideration of the “Cost of Agreement” refers only to production side, so appears. There is another kind of cost in “maintaining an agreement”. “Authoritarianism”, “Dogmatism”, “Theocracy” are examples. The inflexible attitude of Bureaucracy is no less “tyrannical” in insisting a “Iron Rule” of established mechanical routines. And in Bureaucracy, even a slightest change in agreed procedure indeed “costs” enormous amount of efforts, time and of course money. That is, the “system” designed to keep a stability of an “agreed way” do so by making any changes to be prohibitively costly. The “Cost of Agreement” is also a defense mechanism. Boulding appears not be aware of this aspect.
I have a nightmarish metaphor about our economic system. That is an image of Nuclear Power Plant in crisis. Those “experts” are arguing among themselves as to “who is best expert”, while the Reactor is running toward the melt-down point.
At any rate, Fraser Institute is not interested in dealing with the problems of our political economy. It wants, so appears, to be known as a “Think Tank” institution — a snob institution for pretended “super intellectuals” —, on which their income depends.
There was, however, some references to economists like Myrdal. [See for example, Myrdal’s articles in Economic Development And Social Change — The modernization of Village Communitites — ad. by G. Dalton Natural History Press 1971.] The Materialist sense od Economy is in decay, either the Capitalist or Socialist. We are now able to talk, without too much inhibition, about the “Rituals” or market, “Worship” of Money, etc., — i.e. Economy as an “Anthropological phenomenon”. Religion and Political Economy are not that different. [Neither is Religion and Science.] Some people are already sensing this.
And that is where what you do arc very important. Social Welfare is not just for providing foods and shelters for those unfortunate “drop out!” Nor is it just taking care of alcoholism (so as to keep alcoholics invisible to the society). Berman, in the Reenchantment of the World mentions of Alcoholism, Alcoholic Anonymous (p. 21, 171, 239, 244, 273, 288, 302, 334) Why so many references? It is significant!
It was not because Berman was a student of Bateson and Bateson happened to chose Alcoholism as the subject medium to elaborate on his theory of Cybernetics of Self” (Berman p. 239). But because the problem of Alcoholism gives clues to other “addiction problems” — addictions to Money, Power, Fame, Material objects, Authority, etc. —. It tells us about how we get into problems and how we could get out of them.
Hodge, in the First Americans, narrates cases of “Trade” with Europeans. Case after case, the history demonstrates disastrous consequences of Trades.
I would imagine the Liberal Economists, the Socialist Economists, the Capitalist Economists, all would say Trade is good. Even Myrdal would say the same, except his objection to “unequal trade”. So far as I know, F. Fanon is the only one who said that the Third World would be better off without Trades with the Europeans (I guess now includes Japanese).
But, let us think about “Why Trade?” Europeans wanted Beaver pelts, because its fur was needed as a material for Top Hat. Imagine who needed Top Hat!!!
Likewise, what in a hell (or in heaven), the Natives needed beads? Trinkets? They had furs, so why they needed blankets?
The Economic Theory that says Trade is for “necessities” is pure BS. Nobody needed Trade, except for “……”.
That “…..”. is psychological, just as some people want a drink for “….”. It becomes “physiological necessity” after addiction, after development of dependency (=called “culture”) on the things that are traded.
Europeans introduced Alcohol to the Natives. But Natives had far potent stuffs. If the Natives wanted to get drunk, they could do it by their own ways. Natives could get “drunk” even by dream. Alcohol was not needed. But precisely because it was not needed, that why alcohol was Traded.
Iroquois was “addicted” by the British Trade through New York — after the Dutch were defeated —. In order to get beavers for the Trade, Iroquois had to fight wars with other Native Nations. But what Iroquois gained, in term of their living substances? A few “ornaments”? Guns? According Hodge, in the case of Oneida, their male population was so depleted that Oneidas had to capture males from their “enemy” to satisfy women. And what amazes me is that there seems nothing that shows the benefits of the Trade, which costed them so dear. Why they Traded?
The question is, perhaps, the same as asking Alcoholics “Why do you drink?”.
Was it because of fun? Was it because Oneida needed European things for their pride? For ceremonial purposes? Was it because curiosity?
The natives did have trade between Native Nations before Europeans came. In the traditional trades there seems to have been no problem. The traditional trades were like “exchanges of gifts”, more or less. Natives might have thought European Trades in the same sense. But even then, it is puzzling why so much disasters in European Trade. Even Fanon does not tell me why European Trade were so poisonous to the Natives — as if the Natives did not have “immunity” against European Trade —. And how come the Ntives did not stop after seeing the consequences? Was it a case of addiction?
[Because of the time element, Japanese and Koreans had time to learn what happened to China through trade with British — Opium War, etc. —. So they refused trade. They did not allow Christian missionaries to come onto their lands either. It took threat of Gun Boats to open ports for European ships. But then, Japanese knew what formidable “devils” they allowed to come in. Japanese decided to “beat the devils in their game”, which culminated in the WWII and was a disaster any way. The bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were “symbolic” of the Trade-War.
Ironically, Japan is still in Trade-WAr with the U.S. And it will get worse. For Japan, the only effective strategy is to Trade with the Communist China and USSR. The U.S. is pushing Japan to do that.
The US share of Japanese exports accounts for some 30%. But the exports account for only some 10% of Japanese internal market. One wonders [ought to wonder] why trade at all with all those troubles. Can’t peoples in the US and Japan be happy within each internal market? Why in a hell Japanese have to work so hard, for what good?]
The question goes back o that of “Why drink?” We are addicted to “civilization”, “progress”, “trade”, “more and more things”, and “for me”. The weakness of American Natives against European invasion was, perhaps, their “individualism” — misidentified with European Individualism, which was a defense mechanism/adaptation to alienation —. Bateson does point out “Egoism” in alcoholics. They are “lonely people” cut off from community. Because of that, AA tries to provide a “community of supports” for alcoholics. In the case of American Natives, they had beautifully working “Community” and still failed. It can only be explained, to me at least, as “Loss of Spirit”. Native warriors who wanted to fight, despite advices of “Peace Chiefs”, did not see the Spirit of the Community. They lost the battle, right then and there.
The Wisdom of Oneida woman failed to stop the warriors to go off to fight wars. Did not they love their children enough? I cannot tell from descriptions in books. But it appears that women were drunk just as well. One might also wonder the difference between the “intoxication by European Alcohol” (things) and the “heightened consciousness by the Native Rituals”. The difference is in sprituality?
Being in a psychological state and being in a “spiritual state” are entirely different. Yet, from outward manifestations, distinctions are difficult. The Native warriors might have “cheated”, by saying like “my dream told me to go to war”. In the Native etiquette, women could not question the validity of the claim. But, if one cheats “Spirit” by pretending, the consequences is grave.
I almost saying that Iroquois was destroyed because Iroquois did not follow the Spirit of the Great Peace in the addiction to trade. This is a serious accusation. I expect you to correct me.
Now, back to the Economy. I was talking of a question: if people need so many things to be happy. Why people go through so much humiliation and risk of alienation to earn money so as to buy and be proud of a 824,00 car? Why the bankrupting Dome Petro. Co has a president who gets paid like million dollars in salary? Why that is necessary?
We know the natural resources on the Earth are not enough to keep “growth” of industries. Why do we push more and more? Sure enough, there are people who feel happy with the economic situation as it is, in terms of his or her personal satisfaction or pride. But the vast majority is not. Then why this goes on?