Steven Newcomb: Indian law just another form of domination

"In his book Metaphysics of Modern Existence (1979), Vine Deloria, Jr. wrote: “The fundamental factor that keeps Indians and non-Indians from communicating is that they are speaking about two entirely different perceptions of the world.” This also is because Indians and non-Indians find their origins in completely different worlds.

Deloria wrote of the challenge of “tracing the origin and scope of the peculiar beliefs of the non-Indian,” instead of “finding a way to express the reality of the Indian experience in Western European scientific and religious terms.” Such an inquiry, he said, “was what Western peoples formerly called metaphysics—a search for the structure and meaning of reality.” This search is an effort to overcome the fact that the underlying premises of Western European reality ordinarily go unnoticed.

In Language and Art in the Navajo Universe (1977) Gary Witherspoon points out that most “professional intellectuals, let alone lay people, are not fully aware of or able to articulate the axiomatic [self-evident] premises on which their own thinking is based.” He provides “a major test of validity” which is “whether and to what extent the account of a people’s world adequately explains and makes intelligible the events of that world.”"

Get the Story:
Steven Newcomb: Living in a World of Domination (Indian Country Today 10/8)

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