How Can One Own His Mother?
Healing Colonialism and the Indigenous Perspective
Manitonquat, 80, from the Wampanoag Nation, USA, has been a storyteller and activist for community spirit for many decades. With his teachings in books ("The Circle Way" and "Our Original Instructions"), and with his camps, he and his wife Elika have inspired thousands of people to build communities and ecovillages. As a Native American - or Indian, as he prefers to say - he can say a lot on the topic of colonialism and how it can be healed. And he has big news.
The good thing about the word colonialism is that it has now negative connotations in the general consciousness. When I was a boy in the 1930's it was still acceptable for the English to take pride in the fact that “the sun never sets on the British Empire.”
People in general thought that was okay. Not thinking people, of course, but people did not think about it. It was a fact that Britain still held India and much of Africa, and Germany, France, The USA, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands still had colonies around the world. Now colonialism has a different form, the perpetrators being not so much governments and their armies as international corporations. Instead of colonialism it is now called globalization, or corporatization.
It is the indigenous people in every land who have been and still are the victims of colonization and globalization. As I learned from my own native elders, this rose with the concept of private property. The concept of land ownership was unknown to all people at one time. When the colonizers invaded us four hundred years ago we did not understand that. They wanted to buy land, but the idea of owning land was absurd to my ancestors. The Earth is our mother, they said, how can one own his mother? “The Earth does not belong to us,” said Chief Seattle, “we belong to the Earth.”
And so what my ancestors thought they were selling was the right to build homes, to hunt and fish and plant corn, rights that would terminate when the buyers moved away or died. No one could own, inherit, or pass on land. Land was to be used and cared for in a good way. In our cultures we were caretakers and the bounty of the Earth was to be shared by all people equally.
This concept is no longer held by any of the cultures of today’s world. The ownership of land is forced on all people by violence and the laws established by the conquerors. It is this ownership of the Earth and all her resources that is behind all oppression and violence, behind our fear and hatred of others.
Is there a way out of the grip of the concept of ownership and the greed, competition and isolation that it engenders? Absolutely. But the institutions of the cultures that foster them cannot be changed, they were created out of false concepts and can only be abandoned and replaced. That replacement cannot take place at once, only gradually, piece by piece, in smaller communities, consciously integrated and becoming more and more independent, more and more self-sufficient and sustainable, living lightly on the Earth.
This, as I say, is already happening in thousands of small communities around the world right now. The people in those communities have found they can live better by sharing necessary work and resources, cooperating and helping each other, with community gardens, orchards and permaculture supplying their food, solar and wind and other alternative sources supplying their energy, doing their own construction together, caring for and educating all their children together, taking care of their health and all their needs together, creating their own culture rather than buying into the cultures of mass media, making their own stories, creating music and art and theater, making their tools, their clothing and crafts together.
The many communities of today are only just beginning to reach out to each other, sharing and working together in the same spirit of cooperation, fellowship and service as the individuals in the communities do. The Global Ecovillage Network, for instance, is on every continent, and whose representatives communicate and meet to learn from each other.
The fact is that we human beings are not born greedy or acquisitive, and the desire for power over others is also not part of our inheritance at birth. Every baby reaches out for connection, to be close, to be held and fondled, to play and to explore. They are interested not in acquisition or ownership, but only in play and fun. And the desire for closeness and connection, the need to belong, to be acknowledged, understood and accepted is great in every child. In a community that understands and keeps the caring of their children in such a way as its priority, the glow of love and joy will spread far to warm and transform the world.
It has begun. The people now living together, listening to each other, thinking and learning together in these communities are the new pioneers, exploring and building tomorrow’s more human world. That is the future that beckons us all.
The question is, how long will our fear make us hold on to this society of greed, cruelty and violence? When will we decide to abandon our old jobs and connections to the past and come together in circles of equals and communities of human scale? Our brothers and sisters have begun to create the world of the future. Without waiting, they dare to bring their dreams together, waiting and hoping for all to join them, showing us that we can build together the world we dream in our minds, our hearts and in our souls
Big News: A Circle Way Village in New Hampshire
We have been given the opportunity to buy the property next to us in New Hampshire, 30 acres that were sold away from us to pay old debts of this place before we began our community here 30 years ago. We want to protect this land, and not have it developed. It has a big ecological 3 story house with room for circles and gatherings and several living quarters, a sauna, a large pond, a sculptured flower garden, a vegetable garden large enough to feed a village community, fruit trees, forest, fields, brooks, and streams, a place to live and grow in Nature, a 2 car garage with a gym above, and a pottery studio with a wheel and a kiln.
The only thing is we must move quickly. I have put money down to hold it but we must get the purchase money together until the beginning of 2014 - not easy, because of course we don't know any financially wealthy people. We have a goal that is larger, but if we could raise $350 000 in 60 days we would secure the property and begin to attract others to the center and the community and have a basis for future fund-raising to operate it.
So if anyone knows of people who have money to invest as a shareholder, secured by real property, we would be able to begin immediately, bringing people here for a healing center, seminars on sustainable living, spiritual retreats, and building a Circle Way community as a model for how we can live in a more human way, closer to each other and to the earth, and strongly centered on the joy of caring for children in the Circle Way.
It would be a joyous celebration for us to be able to host all of you who want to join us here at our own Circle Way Village teaching the children Our Original Instructions of caring for the Earth and each other, the plants, the animals, and our beloved family - all the peoples of the Earth.