Opinion

Mike Myers: Indigenous civilizations can focus on good not greed






Dancers at the Celilo Wy-Am Salmon Feast. Photo: Alyssa Macy / Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs

Where does jealousy and greed in Native communities come from? Mike Myers, a citizen of the Seneca Nation, doesn't think it can be traced to human nature but to the effects of colonization and domination:
Ownership and access are the two most insidious forms of colonization we have experienced. Our first taste of this was having to deal with the new trade economy that came to our lands. As the settlers gained control over our lands and lives they passed laws and policies to enforce this loss as well as to break up the communal nature of our economies. In the U.S. this takes the form of the Dawes Act and the creation of individual land ownership. It also takes form through their efforts to force many of our civilizations to become Western style agriculturalists.

The infestation of this ideology is near complete. So many of us don’t think twice about “owning” or controlling access. As we’ve been told by the settlers, “that’s just human nature”. No it’s not. It is learned behavior.

So too are greed and jealousy. The external political, economic and social systems that have been imposed on us teach this every day. A child sits in their yard and watches the children across the street play with toys they can only wish they had because their household doesn’t have the means of access or the ability to achieve ownership.

The Western mythology teaches that if you work hard enough you can have access and ownership. All the while ignoring the fundamental reality that all of this is occurring within a hierarchal system of increasing wealth flowing to less and less people who have the most access and ownership.

Read More on the Story:
Mike Myers: A Question Of Abundance: the Western Way of Greed and Life (Indian Country Media Network 4/13)