Some people may, in their self serving cynicism, criticize US President Obama for not doing enough for them.
They decry his policies as insufficient to meet their demands and condemn him for his lack of action on what they qualify as native issues. They ignore the the pledges by the Republicans to do everything in their power to stop Obama from completing his agenda with that party's leadership taking the extreme position to make, as their central policy, above and beyond anything else, the defeat of Obama for reelection.
There are others who have summarized his significant accomplishments in partnership with Native nations with the list considerable and historic. It is a clear argument for his reelection and stands in bold contrast to the Republicans.
This is particularly true with regards to his opponent who espouses a religious belief which teaches that Native people are remnants of a lost tribe of Israel and because their ancestors killed a group called the Nephites they were "cursed" by God with dark skin and condemned by this same divine entity to live in a state of savagery until they converted to the Mormon faith when they would, in heaven, became white.
There is no proof that any Native people came from the Mideast nor is there any evidence of a Lamanite people, genetically, linguistically or physically. Of course, Mr. Romney is a man of "faith" not reason so when hard facts undermines one of his most cherished tenets he refuses to concede to the truth. Whatever happens, from global warming to earthquakes, is god's will and never a reflection on human misbehavior.
Unlike the Mormons or Christians our Iroquois were never a people of "faith" in the spiritual sense. We did not have a singular god but we realized there was, and is, a creative energy, a lifeforce, which flows throughout the universe and has, as one of its most startling elements,produced human consciousness.
This self awareness is one expressed in deliberate, planned action and anticipated consequence, thought and vision, creativity and morality. Within a collective setting it means responsibility, compassion and tolerance. In leadership it means experience, intelligence, sensitivity and humility.
For us, in accordance with our ancestral teachings, it means all those who aspire to become chiefs or clanmothers are held to standards based upon our understanding of natural law. Those standards are these: love of family, care for the elders, respect for women, clarity of mind,affection for the people, unselfishness and a lack of greed for the material.
We see all of these qualities in President Obama and more. He cares not only for human beings but for the health of other species. He has taken firm steps to punish those who would harm the earth and opposed the gutting of ecological guardians such as the Environmental Protection Agency. He has refused to cave into the demands of oil and coal companies to have unrestricted access to lands now held in the public trust. He also also endorsed new policies at generating alternative energy systems while reducing the demand for oil and placing higher standards on gasoline consumption by automobiles.
By doing right for the environment he is doing right by Native people. He could do more if he had members of Congress who did not hate him with such ferocious passion to the point where rationality itself is eclipsed.
But he does an additional term to complete his work. The alternative is to put in power those who will sacrifice the earth for their own immediate profit without regards to the rights of other species and certainly with no respect for Native people, those tainted ones who caused god himself to swear profanities before driving them into the sea.
As Native know from experience those most fanatic about their religion (missionaries, boarding school principals, the Dawes Act legislators, the Doctrine of Discovery popes etc.) can bring about massive changes though government policies based upon their spiritual beliefs. Now is not the time to give the reigns of power to an extremist determined to repeat the destructive economic and environmental actions of the last administration
Doug George-Kanentiio, Akwesasne Mohawk, is a co-founder of the Native
American Journalists Association, a former member of the Board of Trustees for
the National Museum of the American Indian and the author of many books and
articles about Native history and current issues. His latest book is "Iroquois
on Fire". He may be reached via e-mail: Kanentiioaol.com. Kanentiio resides on
Oneida Iroquois Territory in central New York State.
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