There are several groups that claim full ownership over land rights and traditional titles of the Haudenosaunee. We spoke with Loran Thompson, Paul Delaronde and Jagwadeth Sandy to hear another teaching about the confederation of the Haudenosaunee people, the Great Law, and the people’s responsibilities within it. Here is Part Three of that ongoing series.
TRT: How has the loss of our languages shaped the political sphere of being indigenous?
Thompson: We have to be careful what we’re speaking. Because the white man taught us word for word. When you’re speaking in his language, he is taking that word and he has his own definition. He calls it layman’s definition.
And then you go into court and you use that same word and the judge is looking at you, innocently using that word, and he defines it in his legal definition under Black’s Law dictionary, which is different, and we don’t know that.
So it’s a big game that he is playing with us and we need to be aware of that. There are many interests amongst us.
We don’t use the word spies anymore. We don’t use the word infiltrators anymore. We don’t use the word double agent anymore but they’re all still there — every one of those and more. They’re there.
They want to get rid of the Indian and put in place some other thing that is not connected to the land because they want the land. They want to be able to tell the world this is now our land. Right now they can’t do that because we’re still here.
It’s all in the Teiotiohkwenhastha. The Two Row is within Teiotiohkwenhastha. We stand on that because we made that with the citizens of a foreign world that came to our shores.
And it is respected as long as you use the term they understand and recorded us as, which is Indian. They have called us every name in the book: red man, savage, indigenous, aboriginal. All kinds of words they use for us in history.
Inside the circle were all so American and Canadianized. It’s difficult. There’s a thick, thick fog in all of our minds where it comes to that. Every now and then the fog clears up and you can hear voices talking about that. But it’s still there.
TRT: Can you explain more about the Circle Wampum?
Thompson: The circle wampum is English. You can understand what it’s talking about but it’s not as clear as when you say Teiotiohkwenhastha – that what encircles our people.
The white man calls it a constitution. The constitution — everybody has rights within the constitution.
Well in our land the circle wampum encircles that constitution that is ours and that constitution lays out what our rights and responsibilities are.
What’s interesting there is our constitution within that circle is beyond just our rights. It also encompasses the land itself and what is given to us, the waters and what it gives to us. Everything living within the world is our responsibility to make sure that their constitutional right is also in play.
Watch for part four of this series in next week’s TRT.