James Giago Davies: Polygamy and shunning in Lakota culture

The following opinion by James Giago Davies appeared in the Native Sun News. All content © Native Sun News.

James Giago Davies

Polygamy and shunning Tolerance and flexibility as social order
Iyeska Journal by James Giago Davies

Shunning works for all cultures — not just Lakota tiospaye. Better than beating on the kid until he winds up in the emergency room, while Mom lies to the nurse and says he crashed on his skate board, lies to the doctor while the tattooed child abuser cools his antsy jets, meth-jonesing in the waiting room.

Besides, beating a child doesn’t work. Star NFL running back Adrian Peterson left a scar on his four-year-old son’s head, and all he taught the boy was to someday leave a scar on his four-year-old son’s head.

Shunning works like a charm when it is comprehensive; a large, impersonal modern society, where interaction with strangers is the norm, cannot apply shunning effectively. In the Lakota tiospaye sister-wives maintained shunning. Stripped of their traditional matriarchal role by the destruction of the tiospaye, and the imposition of monogamy, shunning as an essential behavior corrector was not recognized by Wasicu, was subverted if practiced, and not practiced at all on children placed in boarding schools away from their Lakota parents.

Mormon polygamy was patriarchal and oppressive, imposed on the unwilling and under aged. It was a great deal for the bald, fat-bellied forty-year old who got to bed a nubile fifteen-year-old, and while there was no doubt Mormon sister-wives could pool their efforts and resources for the benefit of the whole, they were subservient and secondary to men by Biblical edict.

They were not free to pick and choose as Lakota women were. They were not free to live their life as their individual nature dictated. They were the God-given underlings of their dictatorial husband.

The Supreme Court ruling deeming polygamy a threat to social order is really just authoritarian assertion. What could have been justifiably asserted had monogamy also been on the chopping block? Monogamy is a control mechanism. In modern, impersonal societies of strangers, like the USA, monogamy ensures that most working stiffs have a wife and family, a critically distracting commitment that generally locks them into the system as compliant worker bee.

Women would tend to gravitate to males with money and power were polygamy the norm, and large, disaffected bands of galvanized, angry, revolution-advocating young men could very well storm the Bastille.

De facto polygamy for men of power and wealth could still exist, like Adrian Peterson, who has a handful of children by more than one woman, none of whom were ever his wife. Young girls are weaned on the concept of monogamous romantic love. Their sense of identity and self-worth are locked into monogamy by conditioning. They expect men to perceive romance and relationships the same way, and if men do not, society backs the conclusion such men have desires and motives dark, selfish and destructive.

A logical science-based argument can be made the reproductive strategies of men and women are fundamentally diametric. A female has a huge investment in a child; she can only get pregnant 1.333 times a year. A male could conceivably impregnate hundreds of females during that same year.

The female needs a mate willing to invest in her child. The male increases the chances his genes will get into another generation by mating with as many females as possible. The decision to concentrate his investment on one female, a monogamous family unit, is only morally superior because society arbitrarily declares it such, just like Mormons arbitrarily imposed polygamy.

When a modern society imposes a practice which runs diametric to ancestral environment programming, they do so at their own peril, given the phenotype is still principally motivated by that evolved programming. Pavlovian altered people assume monogamy is progress; a step up from polygamy, like a train is a step up from stage coach, but that is akin to assuming the reservation is a step up from the tiospaye. A healthy, modern society should be far more flexible and tolerant of individual mating strategies; people could custom fit associations to individual circumstances and preferences — that is true freedom.

Many men, me included, have their hands full with one wife, and have no interest in a second or third, but personal tendency or preference should not restrict alternative social practice. Clearly, a stable family unit contributes more than any other factor in raising emotionally well-adjusted children. The tiospaye indicates the strength of the unit is what matters, not the monogamy, not the polygamy.

When people say freedom is not free, they generally restrict perception to the notion that we must militarily and legislatively fight those who would take our freedom. For them freedom means living in a restrictive society which abides exclusively by behaviors they deem appropriate, and they are willing to honor the heroes who die bloody defending that fake kind of freedom, even while a disturbing number of them are unwilling to face deadly fire defending the fakery themselves.

The true price we pay for freedom is tolerance of differences, tolerance of threatening minorities who practice behaviors and advocate beliefs our intractable arbitrary belief systems find abhorrent. This is not just a humanist concept. Matthew 25:40: “And the King shall answer and say unto them, truly I say unto you, inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto me.”

Imagine how different things would have been for the historical Lakota had Wasicu not imposed their restrictive social order on aboriginal peoples.

(James Giago Davies can be reached at skindiesel@msn.com)

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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