The Hau de no sau nee, or the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, has
existed on this land since the beginning of human memory. Our culture
is among the most ancient continuously existing cultures in the world.
We still remember the earliest doings of human beings. We remember the
original instructions of the Creators of Life on this place we call
Etenoha -- Mother Earth. We are the spiritual guardians of this place.
We are the Ongwhehonwhe -- the Real People.
In the beginning, we were told that the human beings who walk about
the Earth have been provided with all the things necessary for life. We
were instructed to carry a love for one another, and to show a great
respect for all the beings of this Earth. We are shown that our life
exists with the tree life, that our well-being depends on the well-being
of the Vegetable Life, that we are close relatives of the four-legged
beings. In our ways, spiritual consciousness is the highest form of
Ours is a Way of Life. We believe that all living things are
spiritual beings. Spirits can be expressed as energy forms manifested
in matter. A blade of grass is an energy form manifested in matter --
grass matter. The spirit of the grass is that unseen force which
produces the species of grass, and it is manifest to us in the form of
All things of the world are real, material things. The Creation is a
true, material phenomenon, and the Creation manifests itself to us
through reality. The spiritual universe, then, is manifest to Man as
the Creation, the Creation which supports life. We believe that man is
real, a part of the Creation, and that his duty is to support Life in
conjunction with the other beings. That is why we call ourselves
Ongwhehonwhe -- Real People.
The original instructions direct that we who walk about on the Earth
are to express a great respect, an affection, and a gratitude toward all
the spirits which create and support Life. We give a greeting and
thanksgiving to the many supporters of our own lives -- the corn, beans,
squash, the winds, the sun. When people cease to respect and express
gratitude for these many things, then all life will be destroyed, and
human life on this planet will come to an end.
Our roots are deep in the lands where we live. We have great love
for our country, for our birthplace is there. The soil is rich from the
bones of thousands of our generations. Each of us were created in those
lands, and it is our duty to take great care of them, because from these
lands will spring the future generations of the Ongwhehonwhe. We walk
about with a great respect, for the Earth is a very sacred place.
We are not a people who demand, or ask anything of the Creators of
Life, but instead, we give greetings and thanksgiving that all the
forces of Life are still at work. We deeply understand our relationship
to all living things. To this day, the territories we still hold are
filled with trees, animals, and the other gifts of the Creation. In
these places we still receive our nourishment from our Mother Earth.
We have seen that not all people of the Earth show the same kind of
respect for this world and its beings. The Indo-European people who
have colonized our lands have shown very little respect for the things
that create and support Life. We believe that these people ceased their
respect for the world a long time ago. Many thousands of years ago, all
the people of the world believed in the same Way of Life, that of
harmony with the universe. All lived according to the Natural Ways.
Around ten thousand years ago, peoples who spoke Indo-European
languages lived in the area which today we know as the Steppes of
Russia. At that time, they were a Natural World people who lived off
the land. They had developed agriculture, and it is said that they had
begun the practice of animal domestication. It is not known that they
were the first people in the world to practice animal domestication.
The hunters and gatherers who roamed the area probably acquired animals
from the agricultural people, and adopted an economy, based on the
herding and breeding of animals.
Herding and breeding of animals signaled a basic alteration in the
relationship of humans to other life forms. It set into motion one of
the true revolutions in human history. Until herding, humans depended
on nature for the reproductive powers of the animal world. With the
advent of herding, humans assumed the functions which had for all time
been the functions of the spirits of the animals. Sometime after this
happened, history records the first appearance of the social
organization known as "patriarchy."
The area between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers was the homeland, in
ancient times, of various peoples, many of whom spoke Semitic languages.
The Semitic people were among the first in the world to develop
irrigation technology. This development led to the early development of
towns, and eventually cities. The manipulation of the waters, another
form of spirit life, represented another way in which humans developed a
technology which reproduced a function of Nature.
Within these cultures, stratified hierarchical social organization
crystallized. The ancient civilizations developed imperialism, partly
because of the very nature of cities. Cities are obviously population
concentrations. Most importantly though, they are places which must
import the material needs of this concentration from the countryside.
This means that the Natural World must be subjugated, extracted from,
and exploited in the interest of the city. To give order to this
process, the Semitic world developed early codes of law. They also
developed the idea of monotheism to serve as a spiritual model for their
material and political organization.
Much of the history of the ancient world recounts the struggles
between the Indo-Europeans and the Semitic peoples. Over a period of
several millenia, the two cultures clashed and blended. By the second
millenia B.C., some Indo-Europeans, most specifically the Greeks, had
adopted the practice of building cities, thus becoming involved in the
process which they named "Civilization."
Both cultures developed technologies peculiar to civilizations. The
Semitic peoples invented kilns which enabled the creation of pottery for
trade, and storage of surpluses. These early kilns eventually evolved
into ovens which could generate enough heat to smelt metals, notably
copper, tin and bronze. The Indo-Europeans developed a way of smelting
Rome fell heir to these two cultures, and became the place where the
final meshing occurs. Rome is also the true birthplace of Christianity.
The process that has become the culture of the West is historically and
linguistically a Semitic/Indo-European culture, but has been commonly
termed the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Christianity was an absolutely essential element in the early
development of this kind of technology. Christianity advocated only one
God. It was a religion which imposed itself exclusively of all other
beliefs. The local people of the European forests were a people who
believed in the spirits of the forests, waters, hills and the land;
Christianity attacked those beliefs, and effectively de-spiritualized
the European world. The Christian peoples, who possessed superior
weaponry and a need for expansion, were able to militarily subjugate the
tribal peoples of Europe.
The availability of iron led to the development of tools which could
cut down the forest, the source of charcoal to make more tools. The
newly cleared land was then turned by the newly developed iron plow,
which was, for the first time, pulled by horses. With that technology
many fewer people would work much more land, and many other people were
effectively displaced to become soldiers and landless peasants. The
rise of that technology ushered in the Feudal Age and made possible,
eventually, the rise of new cities and growing trade. It also spelled
the beginning of the end of the European forest, although that process
took a long time to complete.
The eventual rise of cities and the concurrent rise of the European
state created the thrust of expansion and search for markets which led
men, such as Columbus, to set sail across the Atlantic. The development
of sailing vessels and navigation technologies made the European
"discovery" of the Americas inevitable.
The Americas provided Europeans a vast new area for expansion and
material exploitation. Initially, the Americas provided new materials
and even finished materials for the developing world economy which was
based on the Indo-European technologies. European civilization has a
history of rising and falling as its technologies reach their material
and cultural limits. The finite Natural world has always provided a
kind of built-in contradiction to Western expansion.
The Indo-Europeans attacked every aspect of North America with
unparalleled zeal. The Native people were ruthlessly destroyed because
they were an unassimilable element to the civilizations of the West.
The forests provided materials for larger ships, and some areas provided
sources of slave labor for the conquering invaders. By the time of the
Industrial Revolution in the mid-Nineteenth Century, North America was
already a leader in the area of the development of extractive
The hardwood forests of the Northeast were not cleared for the
purpose of providing farmlands. Those forests were destroyed to create
charcoal for the forges of the iron smelters and blacksmiths. By the
1890's, the West had turned to coal, a fossil fuel, to provide the
energy necessary for the many new forms of machinery which had been
developed. During the first half of the Twentieth Century, oil had
replaced coal as a source of energy.
The Western culture has been horribly exploitative and destructive of
the Natural World. Over 140 species of birds and animals were utterly
destroyed since the European arrival in the Americas, largely because
they were unusable in the eyes of the invaders. The forests were
leveled, the waters polluted, the Native people subjected to genocide.
The vast herds of herbivores were reduced to mere handfuls, the buffalo
nearly became extinct. Western technology and the people who have
employed it have been the most amazingly destructive forces in all of
human history. No natural disaster has ever destroyed as much. Not
even the Ice Ages counted as many victims.
But like the hardwood forests, the fossil fuels are also finite
resources. As the second half of the Twentieth Century has progressed,
the people of the West have begun looking to other forms of energy to
motivate their technology. Their eyes have settled on atomic energy, a
form of energy production which has by-products which are the most
poisonous substances ever known to Man.
Today the species of Man is facing a question of the very survival of
the species. The way of life known as Western Civilization is on a
death path on which their own culture has no viable answers. When faced
with the reality of their own destructiveness, they can only go forward
into areas of more efficient destruction. The appearance of Plutonium
on this planet is the clearest of signals that our species is in
trouble. It is a signal which most Westerners have chosen to ignore.
The air is foul, the waters poisoned, the trees dying, the animals
are disappearing. We think even the systems of weather are changing.
Our ancient teaching warned us that if Man interfered with the Natural
Laws, these things would come to be. When the last of the Natural Way
of Life is gone, all hope for human survival will be gone with it. And
our Way of Life is fast disappearing, a victim of the destructive
The other position papers of the Hau de no sau nee have outlined our
analysis of economic and legal oppression. But our essential message to
the world is a basic call to consciousness. The destruction of the
Native cultures and people is the same process which has destroyed and
is destroying life on this planet. The technologies and social systems
which have destroyed the animal and plant life are also destroying the
Native people. And that process is Western Civilization.
We know that there are many people in the world who can quickly grasp
the intent of our message. But experience has taught us that there are
few who are willing to seek out a method for moving toward any real
change. But, if there is to be a future for all beings on this planet,
we must begin to seek the avenues of change.
The processes of colonialism and imperialism which have affected the
Hau de no sau nee are but a microcosm of the processes affecting the
world. The system of reservations employed against our people is a
microcosm of the system of exploitation used against the whole world.
Since the time of Marco Polo, the West has been refining a process that
mystified the peoples of the Earth.
The majority of the world does not find its roots in Western culture
or traditions. The majority of the world finds its roots in the Natural
World, and it is the Natural World, and the traditions of the Natural
World, which must prevail if we are to develop truly free and
It is necessary, at this time, that we begin a process of critical
analysis of the West's historical processes, to seek out the actual
nature of the roots of the exploitative and oppressive conditions which
are forced upon humanity. At the same time, as we gain understanding of
those processes, we must reinterpret that history to the people of the
world. It is the people of the West, ultimately, who are the most
oppressed and exploited. They are burdened by the weight of centuries
of racism, sexism, and ignorance which has rendered their people
insensitive to the true nature of their lives.
We must all consciously and continuously challenge every model, every
program, and every process that the West tries to force upon us. Paulo
Friere wrote, in his book, the "Pedagogy of the Oppressed," that it is
the nature of the oppressed to imitate the oppressor, and by such
actions try to gain relief from the oppressive condition. We must learn
to resist that response to oppression.
The people who are living on this planet need to break with the
narrow concept of human liberation, and begin to see liberation as
something which needs to be extended to the whole of the Natural World.
What is needed is the liberation of all the things that support Life --
the air, the waters, the trees -- all the things which support the
sacred web of Life.
We feel that the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere can
continue to contribute to the survival potential of the human species.
The majority of our peoples still live in accordance with the traditions
which find their roots in the Mother Earth. But the Native peoples have
need of a forum in which our voice can be heard. And we need alliances
with the other peoples of the world to assist in our struggle to regain
and maintain our ancestral lands and to protect the Way of Life we
We know that this is a very difficult task. Many nation states may
feel threatened by the position that the protection and liberation of
Natural World peoples and cultures represents, a progressive direction
which must be integrated into the political strategies of people who
seek to uphold the dignity of Man. But that position is growing in
strength, and it represents a necessary strategy in the evolution of
The traditional Native peoples hold the key to the reversal of the
processes in Western Civilization which hold the promise of unimaginable
future suffering and destruction. Spiritualism is the highest form of
political consciousness. And we, the native peoples of the Western
Hemisphere, are among the world's surviving proprietors of that kind of
consciousness. We are here to impart that message.