Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights December 2019

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Saturday, October 31, 2009

MNN: Consensual Decision Making Process


Mohawk Nation News

MNN. Oct. 31, 2009. The meetings in Kahnawake to set up a justice system are supposedly based on the decision making process of the Rotino’shonni:onwe. [Wampums 5 to 11, Kaianereh’ko:wa]. Our ancestors brought rational thinking to a principle. To keep our identity, we have to be free in body, mind and energy. We have to make up our own mind based on all the facts. There are many similarities in the nature based philosophies of all Ongwehonwe on Onowaregeh [Great Turtle Island] and beyond. These are the basic principles of our decision making process.

GOAL. The decision must be in the best interests of all the people. Consensus does not mean that all agree but that all understand the decision.

NOTE. Whatever ideas are put into the process, the needs and attitudes of each is considered and complements the decision. The individual has a duty to be directly involved, and to bring their ideas into the discussion within their clan. The final decision will be fully satisfactory to some, satisfactory to others and relatively satisfactory to the remainder, and will reflect elements from each group. This is a slow careful process requiring the reaching of a full understanding by each individual and not a decision made by a leader.

WAR CHIEF. Presides over the meeting to make sure that collective rational thought and behavior are followed.

CLANS. The people are divided into three clans: Bear, Wolf and Turtle. Each have 3 chiefs for a total of 9.

ASSISTANT WAR CHIEF. Each clan selects a temporary spokesperson called an Assistant War Chief.

WELL-KEEPER announces the subject for discussion and passes the issue over the Council Fire.

The three clans deliberate.

Then the Assistant War Chief either reports or asks questions or reports a final decision. If the Clans disagree or there is an error or the proceedings are irregular, the Assistant War Chief calls attention to it on behalf of his clan. They once again deliberate.

The issue is then passed by all three clans.


When an issue is discussed, the clans consider the short term and long term pros and cons of the issue. Three criteria must be met:

1.PEACE. Does it preserve the peace that is already established?

2.RIGHTEOUSNESS. Is it morally correct? And

3.POWER. Does it preserve the integrity of the nation? What does it do for the present and how does it affect the future seven generations from now?

Each must follow the criteria of peace, righteousness and power at all times. Persons are asked throughout the process if they fully understand. If not, the process stops until this is accomplished. One cannot simply be stubborn and refuse to understand as they will be questioned.

Every Person has a responsibility to expand and exercise their minds. The forces of life have given the human being the potential to use the mind to create a better life through peace, power and righteousness.

In the decision-making process:

-all opinions have to be considered;

-all must be completely reasonable;

-all should come with an open mind;

-all must fully understand the other’s viewpoint;

-each participant cannot repeat a position once it has been fully explained and understood;

-if a person does not agree with the views that have been stated, they must fully explain their dissenting views;

-no one can impose their will nor make decisions for another;

-all must understand the viewpoint and agree of their own free will; and

-if there is no consensus, the consensus is to retain the status quo.

The Chiefs and the War Chief who preside over the meeting make sure that the Kaianereh’ko:wa and collective rational thought and behavior are followed.

All human beings are capable of rational thought, which leads to solving even the most difficult problem. The underlying philosophy is that human beings are loving, caring and wish to interact in a positive way. People cannot think clearly when they are in psychological plain, or have feelings of rage or lose hope. The process must bring us from despair to hope. We have to resist being manipulated or having decisions made for us or pacifying us. We all have a responsibility to develop our minds. To think is to create a sane world for the present and future generations, a world safe from the emotional, irrational behavior controlled by fear, hatred, greed, jealousy, suspicion and conflict. The main obstacle to our survival is fear.

We are a distinct nation with our own law, government, people and territory. We have to always assert this.

Kahentinetha MNN Mohawk Nation News, Note: Your financial help is needed and appreciated. Please send your donations by check or money order to “MNN Mohawk Nation News”, Box 991, Kahnawake [Quebec, Canada] J0L 1B0. Or go to PayPal on MNN website. Nia:wen thank you very much. Go to MNN BORDER category for more stories; New MNN Books Available now!

For more details: Horn, Kahentinetha. The Confusion Between the Great Law and the Handsome Lake Code. Mohawk Issues for Dummies Series. #2. The Longhouse Conflict in Iroquois Communities. MNN Mohawk Nation News. 2007. $20.
Hall, Karonhiaktajeh. Gayanerekowa. The Great Law of Peace As Brought to the Confederacy of the Iroquois By Dekanawida the Peacemaker. Ohontsa. 1993. $20. 6 hour video available. Book & video. $80.

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