Detail from "1914 Iroquois Native American Group in Winter" panorama via summertownstock.com
The following is an excerpt from "A Basic Call to Consciousness, the Hau de no sau nee [Iroquois] Address to the Western World," delivered at the 1977 UN Conference on Indigenous Peoples, published by Akwesasne Notes. Source: In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations, by Jerry Mander. [American Revolutionary history buffs don’t miss the section titled, “Our Founding Fathers, The Iroquois”, p. 230.]
In the beginning we were told that the human beings who walk about on the Earth have been provided with all the things necessary for life. We were instructed to carry a love for one another, and to show a great respect for all the beings of this Earth. We were shown that our life exists with the tree life, that our well-being depends on the well-being of the Vegetable Life, that we are close relatives of the four-legged beings.
The original instructions direct that we who walk about on Earth are to express a great respect, an affection and a gratitude toward all the spirits which create and support Life. . . . When people cease to respect and express gratitude for these many things, then all life will be destroyed, and human life on this planet will come to an end.
. . . To this day the territories we still hold are filled with trees, animals, and the other gifts from the Creation. In these places we still receive our nourishment from our Mother Earth. . . .
The Indo-European people who have colonized our lands have shown very little respect for the things that create and support Life. We believe that these people ceased their respect for the world a long time ago. Many thousands of years ago, all the people of the world believed in the same Way of Life, that of harmony with the Universe. All lived according to the Natural Ways.
Today the [human] species of Man is facing a question of [its] very survival. . . . The way of life known as Western Civilization is on a death path on which their own culture has no viable answers. When faced with the reality of their own destructiveness, they can only go forward into areas of more efficient destruction.
The air is foul, the waters poisoned, the trees dying, the animals are disappearing. We think even the systems of weather are changing. Our ancient teaching warned us that if Man interfered with the Natural laws, these things would come to be. When the last of the Natural Way of Life is gone, all hope for human survival will be gone with it. And our Way of Life is fast disappearing, a victim of the destructive process.
The technologies and social systems which destroyed the animal and the plant life are destroying the Native people. . . . We know there are many people in the world who can quickly grasp the intent of our message. But our experience has taught us that there are few who are willing to seek out a method for moving toward any real change.
The majority of the world does not find its roots in Western culture or tradition. The majority of the world finds its roots in the Natural World, and it is the Natural World, and the traditions of the Natural World, which must prevail.
We must all consciously and continuously challenge every model, every program, and every process that the West tries to force upon us. . . . The people who are living on this planet need to break with the narrow concept of human liberation, and begin to see liberation as something that needs to be extended to the whole of the Natural World. What is needed is the liberation of all things that support Life – the air, the waters, the trees – all the things which support the sacred web of Life.
The Native people of the Western Hemisphere can contribute to the survival potential of the human species. The majority of our peoples still live in accordance with the traditions which find their roots in the Mother Earth. But the Native people have need of a forum in which our voice can be heard. And we need alliances with the other people of the world to assist in our struggle to regain and maintain our ancestral lands and to protect the Way of Life we follow.
The traditional Native people hold the key to the reversal of the process in Western Civilization, which holds the promise of unimaginable future suffering and destruction. Spiritualism is the highest form of political consciousness. And we, the Native people of the Western Hemisphere, are among the world’s surviving proprietors of that kind of consciousness. . . . Our culture is among the most ancient continuously existing cultures in the world. We are the spiritual guardians of this place. We are here to impart that message.