^ a Pikuni woman chief (L) & husband
Within the circumstance of the nation’s beginning disintegration (dismemberment) there were the several aspects of a web that could be described as a tapestry. This aspect of reality were a weave of tensile strength made up of several societies, clans and bands determining all of a greater Blackfoot society of nations, of which there were ultimately five, Siksika, Kainah, Amskapi Pikuni, Skinee Pikuni (derogatory) or Aputosi Pikuni, and the Sarci (who are a Dené amalgamated or half sibling nation.) The Atsina were associated but not related in a siblings sense. Taken together, these were the so-called ‘Blackfoot Confederacy’ which is a Whiteman’s label that is inaccurate. Excepting the Atsina, this was not a political association, rather instead were a larger alignment of closely related peoples or nations with a common concept of citizenship called Niitsitapi. Recalling…
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)
…this citizenship was interwoven throughout the nations but more specifically per nation in several ways. In some respect the several Blackfoot nations were consider to be clans of the Niitsitapi or overall recognition of a relationship between what are more properly nations in their own right. In this respect we could define the several Blackfoot divisions as ‘nation-clans.’ Within any single nation, for instance the Amskapi Pikuni where I am related most closely, we have (speaking only of the males) patrilineal descent within what had been a system of matriarchy. Of my Pikuni ‘parents’ (by native kinship law), my father was a Black Door and my mother belonged to the ‘Worm Clan.’ This determines I am a Black Door. Now, had I been of the ancient times, in simplified terms it would have gone something like this:
As a male I would have been a lifetime member of the ‘all friends’ which makes a brother of every Blackfoot male throughout the several nations in a warrior tradition. As a Black Door, I would be the relative (brother) of every male or daughter of that clan, no matter which nation and affiliated band, as well as, a member of my nation and band. All of these interwoven relationships are pointed to integrated social fabric where we had consensus (elected) band chiefs, hereditary chiefs, society chiefs and chiefs as determined by the Motokis who had a large say (in former times, close to absolute authority) in affairs of the nation. None of these chiefs were an authority in their own right within the community with the exception of those drawing their authority from the Motokis (and this authority was specific to certain matters) and very term ‘chief’ should not be looked at in terms of the western culture’s hierarchy. In almost all cases, each were a spokesperson for the several societies, families, clans and or bands. A spokesperson. Nothing more.
The point of this devolved and interwoven leadership had been to gain as clear a view possible of the cosmos; pertaining to any direction taken within the nation. The needs of the cosmos, the maintenance of the cosmos health, and the conforming of the nation to demands of the cosmos, was primary, all else came after. With many eyes and ears attuned to the environment within the cosmos, what was looked for in the nation, in a foundation of government established at the band level, was consistency of perception. Prior to the ‘split’ of Native American consciousness, these many eyes & ears gave intelligently informed, consistent and wide view of all elements necessary to receive direction as determined by the cosmos .. stemming from interpretation of Nature with sight unknown in the modern world. Essentially there was a well founded, unmitigated trust in this greater collective view of reality. This system had allowed for sensible living for millennia; that is until the Europeans had arrived.
The infection of (an eventually enforced) Christian mentality and thinking upended all of it. This alien concept of a primal male ego, that is ‘God’, and the fact any self-centered act, no matter how damaging to the cosmos and all life therein, could be ‘forgiven’, became the great destroyer of the Native nations with the destruction of intelligent sight. It is an European death cult had destroyed Pikuni life within the cosmos.
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