‘Ello gov’na

When you receive a threatening letter from a lawyer it will usually read, “govern yourself accordingly” at the end as a tidbit of sobering advice. In the end that’s who we govern — ourselves and only ourselves.

At some point in human history we evolved past the point of tyranny. Or supposedly did.

Many on Six Nations believe we have the “world’s oldest democracy”. Others use meaningful words for our ancient government like egalitarianism, or socialism. There’s a fringe belief that Six Nations people are actually Marxists and always have been.

Democracy, Marxism, Fascism, these words and concepts are foreign to these lands — they have European roots. But what these words are unable convey is that our nations recognized each other as extended family. What kind of government is family?

Let’s break down the word a bit and look at the definition of govern: to conduct the policy, actions, and affairs of (a state, organization, or people) or to exercise continuous sovereign authority over.

So when someone says that the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) is our traditional government we really need to all step back and think about what that means. Are we saying that Chiefs and Clan-mothers conduct the affairs of the families? Or did the families conduct the affairs of the Chiefs and Clan-mothers? It depends who you ask.

I may not have all the fancy words like academics do, but I know one thing for sure: no individual had the authority or power to rule over anyone else way back then and even still today!

The ideas of hierarchy and governance seem barbaric compared to the complex political/familial system that is best described with the word GAYANESHAKGOWA.

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