MNN. June 24, 2013. Why did Kanienkehaka/Mohawk power break down? Our men were weakened by the deliberate social and political breakdown, alcoholism, war, poor physical and mental health, teachings of pacifism, movement restrictions, loss of lands and economic rights. Traditionally Haudenosaunee women speak out and question everything. We are the inherent holders of the land for the coming generations. We create peace by regulating war. None can be called until the women try three times to achieve a peaceful solution. We appoint the warriors, define the conflict and negotiate peace. When the newcomers realized that Haudenosaunee chiefs acted on the recommendations of the women based on the consensus of the people, they set out to break these power bonds. A policy was developed to deal with men only on land, political and trade issues.
The tie to the earth is through the women. The men protect these connections. The strong female role as the foundation of Haudenosaunee society was uprooted. The male dominated hierarchical system took its toll on all the people. The invaders are educated to not hear or see us. Women as the progenitors of the soil were forced by policy to be subservient to the men.
European men felt uneasy about dealing with women, especially in relation to land and resource holdings. Indigenous female power bonds were a major obstacle. The matrilocal communal land holding system was targeted for destruction. A new regime of land held by a few foreign bankers and corporate entities was set in place to conform to the European hierarchical world view.
To oppress our women is to oppress all of us. The “She No Speak” colonial system is rigid, punitive, demeaning and self-deprecating towards women. We are not supposed to question male authority.
Europeans broke the women’ power through non-native religious influence and the Indian Act and Federal Indian Law passed by the colonists. These violations of the rule of law forced us in a subservient position to our men in our relations with the colonists. The major underpinnings of Kanienkehaka sovereignty were undermined.
We survived a holocaust. Our views, duties and responsibilities do not need to be validated by their foreign tribal and band council Injun accomplices. The balance between men and women is the ultimate reason we are still here and an important people today. As Aretha Franklin points out: “I get tired [just a little bit], keep on trying [just a little bit]” even though everybody knows who we are! “Respect”
Indian Country Today article.
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