I’ve given a LOT of thought, over time, to try and bring across some semblance of intelligent description to Western terminology; of how a concept of deity is grasped within the environment – recalling the Native hierarchy:
1) The great community or cosmos (interpreted as territory)
2) The environment (within the cosmos)
3) The nation (within the environment)
4) The clan/band (within the nation)
5) The family (within the band)
6) The self (within the family)
Our existence is Macro-Gaia (in the big picture) or all is [inter] related, from sub-atomic particle to planetary structures, with an element of Vitalism (the ‘great mystery’), taken together presenting as quasi or mimic intelligent design. The intelligent design would be ‘quasi’ because the native take on this aspect would be better described as intelligent expression, ‘design’ implies an egoic projection or attribution, whereas ‘expression’ should not. This thought goes to the native persona of humility: There are some things one simply cannot know.
Within the environment, which is perceived as social rather than physical, all surrounding natural phenomena is perceived as intelligent expression. ALL. There is no western concept of ‘God’ within this expression, and what might translate as ‘gods’ and ‘heroes’ from the cosmology, are the lessons drawn from historical markers integrated to natural events, whether celestial, earthly or in some combination.
When the environment is seen as social, permission is required to pursue not only specific activities within this community, but even to exist. Because the environment is seen as not only aware, but socially aware, there is an greater understanding of impacts directly relevant to undertaking responsibility; this is an environment with the ability to identify specific actions and react accordingly. From this aspect is drawn the native value of self-restraint; not only does any nation hosted within an environment possess no right whatsoever to aggressively exploit, the environment has the power to expel any nation inimical to its health.
Noting the horns sprouting on my forehead, it occurs to myself to mention in relation to the immediate preceding; if any indigenous person who perchance did not speak their language but in the English of the Europeans having read here and thought to themselves “But I knew that!” .. this would only go to demonstrate any Whiteman could know the same.
It should be noted this aware social environment required a different development of intelligence; where there is a necessary system of practical communication. Herein lies the difference between the isolated and remote from reality ‘dreams’ of the Western culture and the larger sense of ‘dreaming’ of the ancient Native American. Where everything in one’s surrounding is awake and aware puts focus on developing intelligence external to the narrow confines of any individual self; in the words of Karl Schlesier:
“to be open to the mysteries of the natural world and it’s manifestations, to be sensitive, aware of the manifold possibilities of seeing the world, to be free and unhampered in one’s thinking, to be generous and kind in regard to others, to let everything have it’s own voice”
To ‘let everything have its own voice’ is inclusive of all of those things the Platonic-Cartesian of the Western world has denied as a matter of static perception in the pursuit of knowledge focusing on the human species presumably the sole species capable of conscious awareness; but this lens had been a trap. As the Western culture has made its ‘advances’ within a framework of quite literal subjective damage while dismantling its surroundings in a thirst to ‘know’ (individual ego & related greed, actually), it had been inevitable the blind futility of this approach should manifest; as when theoretical physicist Bernard d’Espagnat can state:
“The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment”
In which case the Native American dream awareness has been quite consistent; as we see creatures going away due to our denying them the right to exist, we see our own right to exist vanishing as well. One only must consider the amount of damage to reality (our surroundings) required to develop Western Civilization to a point of building laboratory models leading to atom smashers necessary to arrive at what had already been known. As things stand today, our cosmos are well underway in the process of expelling our nations .. in that we’re surrendering our right to exist, a subject to explore in the following essay.
Cosmos & Cosmology Cross-cultural encroachment (1)
Cosmos & Environment Cross-Cultural encroachment (2)
Cosmos & The Nation Cross-cultural encroachment (3)
Cosmos & The Clan Cross-cultural encroachment (4)
Cosmos & The Family Cross-cultural encroachment (5)
Cosmos & The Self Cross-cultural encroachment (6)
Cosmos & Consciousness Cross-cultural encroachment (7)
Cosmos & Consciousness (notes)
Life in Indian Country Essay collection