April 30, 2008

Chiefs or Kings

Everyone fights to be chief, but no one wants to be the leader.  Do they not know what it means?  Organizers of the family, conductor of spiritual ceremonies, feaster of ones wealth to be distributed.

For my people, the hereditary chieftainship system is anachronistic. "The representation of someone as existing or something as happening in other than chronological, proper, or historical order. One that is out of its proper or chronological order, especially a person or practice that belongs to an earlier time."  Dare I shout "Tear down this band council.  Dismantle this adversarial colonial way of our people deciding."  But then what do we turn to?  The "hereditary" some say.  But is the hereditary traditional?


But whose tradition.

Long ago, not too long though, they came through to convert.  Easier said then done.  Easier made by divide and domination.  Selected individuals out of the small crowds, then they are now placed on the mantle of chiefdom.  Later the Indian Agents ratify, legitimize, and okay this brilliant system of control.  This, becomes the hereditary chieftainship system, the band council system, the present day.  16 chiefs, from 16 church selected, for 16 Indian Agent designed reserves.

So ANACHRONISTIC I say.  These chiefs don't live in the same neighborhood as their constituencies.  They don't even live in the same house.  Nor even the same villages.  For some, their villages are long gone.  Either to water, to colonization, or to obscurity.  So if they have no connection in a meaningful way to represent, to guide, to leader, what legitimacy do they have to real, awesome, dangerous power.

Chief, they tell us to call them.  Even those that word is Irish in origin.  Chief, like President, or Lord, or King.  But all those are boss-man, commandeering the strength of the people through command. But not the leaders of old.  Wise-men, gentlemen, generous men.  If group decides to go on canoe journey, who best to lead the family.  Who best to see all gifts of family.  Who best in knowledge of ancestral ways.  Who displays the values of our civil society.

Then we must ask ourselves, blind, deaf, and complicit in the terrible power they command and wield over themselves, our resources, our future, why do we still follow something so wrong, so old, so illegitimate of our respect and trust.  Something so foreign, in it's commanding breath of individualistic egotism.  Something so foreign in it's control of the peoples finances, culture, governance, and life.

We call them chiefs, or shall we call them kings.  Kings of their own wretched legitimacy.  Will we still follow them?  Or is it even about following.  Maybe, perhaps, it might be....

about always being their for your constituency, your family, your friends, your tribe, your nation, your way of life.


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