-by Bill Watkins (he, she, it, Christian, liberal democrat, unregistered ex-patriot conservative white liberal)
Congratulations. I assume if you are reading this piece, you are:
c. humor-curious, at least
E., you might be confused about your nationality, and I aim to help you with that. Your sexuality and identity politics are yours, so there, and stop putting it in my face please. I’m not angry, just enraged as a displaced European land thief, thousands of miles from my roots and hundreds of years since the great theft that gave us the United States of America.
Pause. Consider the glory in creating a perfect people-rule democracy after removing the first people of this land! Brilliant sleights of hand gave us white Euros a sound footing to tell our old world monarchs to buzz off, while with the other side of our mouths we taught the bible to the heathen, earth-loving naturals. We scared them next with our guns, then threw money around until we claimed ownership of this land, carving our likeness into the natives’ spiritual mountains and worshipping our concrete, asphalt and steel creations.
Pause. Consider us some more! People-rule!! Never mind the earthquake, hurricane, wildfire or tornado, we are certainly in charge! We bow to nothing because we are white and use gun powder to explode things and kill people better than any living organisms in the history of this world! Never mind those guns are now turning on ourselves, civilization itself proving that the “homeless” dude living in a tent may have the right idea.
There were many nations here before guns created the United States of America. Without those guns, we might be a collection of native and migrant nations peaceably trading and honoring mother earth, what a bore! There might be no roads, cars, mass burning of earth blood, litter and pollution. There’d be less noise and no mass shootings, but what would happen to the wonderful, perfect people-rule democracy those brilliant ex-patriot British established on land formerly inhabited by earth-adoring savages?
Geocracy? Earth-rule? Insane! Mutual respect of different nations, races, cultures and creeds? Ridiculous! Consensus between all people instead of alienating elections filled with winners, losers, majorities and minorities? It couldn’t be! Nothing could be better than democracy except the truth itself, which knows of a Power, is humble to it—enough so to refrain from the self-worship of Eurocentric auto-erotic secular religio-politics.
The native bow and arrow, quiet
and flowing with nature not good
enough to the conquering European
with our war sickness, our gun
powder blowing up targets loudly
and cowardly from distance.
Like splitting the atom, some think
it’s good while others see a diabolical
power unleashed, the Asian invention
and European application satisfied
the war addict, put humans above
nature and God.
Bombs, guns, fireworks—do they please
the Creator? The birds? The beasts of
the wilderness? In battle, do guns
show someone’s courage and honor?
Or… do guns show cowardice, a warrior’s
unwillingness to face his enemy?
From the fields of the native Great Spirit
let us dive into the bible, the other
weapon England and Spain used to
conquer America. What would Jesus
say to guns? What does the bible say
It’s so easy to hate your enemy, try to
kill them or scare them with something
like guns. Anyone can hate someone
they do not like, but what strong heart
and soul can love their enemy as a brother,
see them walk on and come from the same
Earth? From the same great Mother, all
humans human with the same needs,
hopes, fears, doubts… Faith? Where is
yours, in a loud weapon that creates
fear and noise? Mine is in love and Peace,
In the rainbow after the rain, in
the great but worthwhile struggle to
love those who persecute you, to see
them as fellow children in this merry-go-
round called Life
There was a name for a place.
It was named how it was named
for a reason, thousands of years
of tradition, story, repetition and
heritage made that place special,
its people living, dying, circling
the earth in spirit and land—
Gratitude for the water, the food,
the abundance and song.
Then came the British white man,
who was vain and violent enough
to change the name of the place
at a glance because its inhabitants
were not Christian, bible-toting or
“advanced” enough in war (cowards)
to carry and use loud, destructive
the kind that still kill in malls,
churches, streets and schools today.
The British white man called this
land “Virginia,” after their virgin
Vanity. Violence. Usurpation…
To first usurp the Bible and Christ
for violent land acquisition.
Then to usurp the land itself…
Wingandacoa lives and breathes;
is the place I cherish and maintain
in my heart one of abundance,
native beauty and tradition.
No Roman-influenced conquest by
a people bedeviled by war and
violent competition with other
European nations can change
the essence of a place, unless
one yields to untruth.
I do not and call the land
where John Smith landed:
Men will not think that robbers and pirates have a right of empire over whomsoever they have force enough to master, or that men are bound by promises which unlawful force extorts from them. —John Locke
Land theft is no basis for a valid government. Someone could appeal to violence and war, rationalize the European conquest of the Americas, but underneath the movement and close to the soil of this land is the truth that crimes against humanity established the thirteen colonies, who rebelled against England to assert themselves as the United States of America, while America’s original inhabitants were to be killed off, subdued, moved and forgotten. A criminal for-profit enterprise, leaving us with usurped land, its native inhabitants pushed into small reservations—a miniscule percentage of their natural inheritance—people who never gave consent to be governed by Europeans, and never should.
When Queen Elizabeth chartered Sir Walter Raleigh’s exploration of the American eastern coast in 1584, she granted him license “to discover, search, finde out, and view such remote, heathen and barbarous lands, countries and territories, not actually possessed of any Christian Prince.” The first “Virginia Charter” backed up that thought, as King James urged English adventurers to “bring the infidels and salvages living in those parts to humane civilitie and to a setled and quiet govermente.” Professed Christianity would help the English usurp the land called Wingandacoa by the natives, James ordering his sailors to propagate the “Christian religion to suche people as yet live in darkeness and miserable ignorance of the true knoweledge and worshippe of God.”
Having studied native American culture diligently for a few years, sober for twenty years, sensitive and aware, hungry for truth, it is clearer to me every day that it was the alcohol-consuming, cursing, armor and gun-loving Europeans—not the natives—who lived in darkness and miserable ignorance of the truth that the Earth was to be honored, respected and preserved. That guns, explosions, killing and noise were not strength but weakness. And strength? Witness a piece of it in the eloquence of a great native chief:
From Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit, there came a great unifying life force that flowed in and through all things—the flowers of the plains, blowing winds, rocks, trees, birds, animals—and was the same force that had been breathed into the first man. Thus all things were kindred, and were brought together by the same Great Mystery.
Chief Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Lakota Sioux
Like the English, the Spanish were guilty of land theft, starting with Columbus’ 1492 raid, leading to a threatening letter from King Ferdinand to the Taino-Arawak people of the West Indies. In the letter, King Ferdinand informs the native people that the Pope is the ruler of the world, the bible’s God is the ruler of the universe, and that Spain shall be the ruler of all non-Christian lands they discover. Should any of the native tribes resist, the Spanish would declare “war upon you from all sides and with all possible means, and we shall bind you to the yoke of the Church and of Their Highnesses.” Further that “we shall enslave your persons, wives and sons, sell you or dispose of you as the King sees fit; we shall seize your possessions and harm you as much as we can as disobedient and resisting vassals.”
And so these supposed Christian people stole land, people who touted a bible that forbade stealing. We erected laws and a Constitution that also forbade stealing, even though the privilege to write laws and hold land here was obtained through armed theft. Usurpation and theft can never be a valid basis for government, something John Locke proposed and I hereby second today.
…the aggressor, who puts himself into the state of war with another, and unjustly invades another man’s right, can, by such an unjust war, never come to have a right over the conquered…
Yes, Sir John, you speak the truth. So should all of us, so should all of us!
It starts with a hard truth and look back at our sad history of terrorizing and abusing Native America with our guns. We stole land, put down some concrete, asphalt and buildings, now patrol it with the same guns that helped us to steal it. Add to that other tools of war, like low-flying and noise polluting helicopters, and you put the finishing touches on completing the manifest destiny of planting loud and violent civilization on America, blessed by a biblical god.
You cannot abandon the helicopter program at LAPD or other police agencies across this country, without telling those hard truths first. Without examining European practices like alcohol consumption, corruption, cursing and disease. We were high on our bibles and guns, came in like plundering Vikings, and today keep plundering the silence with hunks of metal manned by men and women who think it okay to burn earth and go fast high above it to seek out bad people and lock them in jail.
Had we listened to Native American people, their chiefs, wise men and women, had we learned from their respectful ways, their love of mother earth—we would have taken in true Christian principles without the fancy book and professions of piety. Had we listened… Something we could still do! “No matter how far down the wrong path you are on, turn around!” informs the Turkish proverb, and may we heed it now.
Come down from the air, police officers, and help our communities. If you do not want to help in a peaceful manner, please leave. Maybe research your family history, and return to your country of origin. I know I plan to do so. We should have never stolen this land! Visit and set up trade in it… Fine. But build forts and towns without permission of the natural inhabitants? No. It is wrong. It is even un-Christian and antithetical to a biblical way of life that forbids stealing in the Jewish command given to Moses.
We keep stealing, keep killing, brandish and fire our weapons, the LAPD and other cops training to kill—as we have done since first dropping our sick feet down on Native America and this land. Shhhhhh! Quiet. Stop. Learn from the wise chiefs, read Kent Nerburn’s beautiful book, The Wisdom of the Native Americans, and note our part in stealing land. No matter how far down this wrong path we are on, let’s ground our horrible choppers, melt down our sinful guns, and turn back toward a real heaven Native Americans will surely help us reach.
As to an alternative for loud and lethal policing, let us walk away and invite Native Americans back into their land to be governed by the Great Spirit, as before we came here. When we respect these people fully, we will begin a true path to peace and public safety.
TITLE 11. OF CRIMES AGAINST THE PUBLIC PEACE [CPC 403 – 420.1]
( Title 11 enacted 1872. )
415. (2) Any person who maliciously and willfully disturbs another person by loud and unreasonable noise.
Written American law code is sort of a joke, when you think that the United States government was founded on land theft. But while here, I’ll play with it to point out how unlawful LAPD and other police agency helicopters are, operating loudly and by code illegally over our communities.
I never see the criminals or suspects around here, just hear and see the horrible sounds and sights of LAPD’s warlike choppers—fine for the Hell of CIA’s war in Vietnam, but no good for a peaceful, loving society. I smirk, for how can we ever be, if we do not invite native America back to their land, retreat to our own lanes and spaces—from our countries of origin to smaller tracts with permission and coordination with the natives?
A horrible sound and people we have let ourselves be, from the get-go rationalized by our bibles and guns. “We must be better than the native peoples,” we belched, “because we can kill better, curse better, drink alcohol better and steal land better.” Shameful.
The moment we turn back, we can rethink the asphalt in that road, the polluting machines we use to travel on them, and above everything else the horrible war machines police abuse to abuse the peace of our neighborhoods, called helicopters. A horrible invention by a lost people, a people who have abandoned their fathers’ graves and past—
to steal the land of native Peoples in Martin Waldseemüller’s “America.” We have lost our way, and the abuse of helicopters is representative of this loss, along with mass shootings and gun obsession. If we ever should want peace of mind, we must turn this ship around;
We are victims of our own fundamental sins in “Los Angeles” and other modern cities across this land mapmaker Martin Waldseemüller called America in 1507. The real name for where I live is the native Otsungna, or “place of the Roses,” and mustn’t that have been nice? There was a river running through it, instead of graffiti on concrete surrounding a weak stream. There was a lake in the area we now call San Marino, but white farmers came in and sucked out its water so much that it is now a nice grass-lined park… but no more lake.
There were no sirens, no airplanes, and no helicopters robbing the earth of peace simultaneous to burning her blood to go faster and higher.
Speaking of robbery, there was a people, mostly naked and brown-skinned, who lived on and with the land. They had no books, modern weapons or guns—so fell easy prey to aggressive, land-grabbing white people, who threatened and committed violence under a painted cross. We stole land and butted out peaceful inhabitants here so that we could erect our New Europe.
We brought guns, alcohol, cursing and disease—but oh man did we have a book! “This book will save you from all your sins!” we bragged to the native tribes living at peace with the real God in nature. We did not want to hear their myths and stories, took some tips on planting and living in this land, then kicked them out in the name of the god of words on pages, revved up our industrial revolution and “progress”—progressing and advancing our weaponry, noise, cursing and alcohol consumption, while the native people were pushed out of sight and mind.
Today LAPD helicopters claim to patrol this land, claim to “safeguard the lives and property” of us citizens of a city, county, state and government based in land theft. Crimes are committed everyday, the most evident to me while I still live on this stolen land by police helicopters killing peace with their war tools. The LAPD mission statement, quoted above, also says that its officers work “with the diverse communities to improve their quality of life.” Are we defining terms the same way?
What a sad people we are, roaring up in metal vessels, polluting the air and life below, deeming it good for our quality of life. A roar we unfortunately hear, since 1957’s first introduction of the noise polluter above our city, to me the point of the sword that killed and forced out native America, peace, rivers and lakes from this land. We could have set up trade, respected native peoples, allowed them to live side by side with us, but no. We were too sick, too infected with the self-righteousness of might equaling right, with some words in a book we were sure could not ever be beaten by any people’s unwritten traditions.
We have failed to improve this land, and yes I plan to leave it soon, to give my spot back to a native American. While I am still here, I will continue to point out obvious crimes—most commonly committed by our supposed crime-stoppers, the LAPD. Police officers across this land represent our collective shame, our thievery, our pollution. It’s time we admitted our sins—
In setting out to write a large scale law book for high school aged kids, called Law for the American People, I came across such obvious and blatant proof of land theft that I stopped the project. To use a term popular in law practice, the discussion of “American law” became moot, as proof added up to the very clear idea that the United States government is invalid, based on land theft, crimes against humanity and covering up those crimes.
Its sins and invalidity derive from sins of the British crown, the Spanish crown and other European edicts that posed the invalid argument that native people’s ignorance of the Bible and the Christian religion made them unworthy to hold land.
The following reports of the critical period of world history sometimes referred to as the “Discovery and Colonization of the Americas.” It is an indictment that should allow the reader to see the usurpation of land leading to invalid claims of “country.” By the first official Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1676, an early conquest of the land had transpired, its original inhabitants pushed out after initial periods of trade and occasional friendship.
Norse explorer Leif Erikson is thought to be the first European to set foot in land most now call America, around A.D. 1000. His stay in Newfoundland was a short one, and no significant roots took hold, but being of Viking blood myself I’m proud to throw in that “law” is a word derived from the Norse “lag”—referring to “laying down.” Their courts were an important thing, called in fact things.
Hundreds of years after the Leif Erikson discovery, Europe gazed west across the vast ocean, in the hopes of conquering, discovering and subduing an unknown land. Italian born Cristoforo Colombo was called Cristóbal Colón in Spain, where he shoved off in the Spring of 1492 to “discover and subdue some islands and Continent in the ocean”—promised by the Spanish crown admiralty, a Vice-Roy-ship and to be Governor of said islands and Continent.
In his journal, Colón spoke of native people as “naked,” “poor,” appearing to “have no religion.” From his October 11, 1492 entry, Colón painted a picture of a people not to the level of Spanish or European people, with no weapons, no irons, easily-converted to the Christian faith, and that they “would be good servants.” That the people were not religious is contradicted in Colón’s October 14 entry, where he describes the natives approaching with gifts,
giving thanks to God, prostrating themselves on the earth, and lifting up their hands to heaven.
The people Colón found were, according to the Admiral, “simple in war-like matters.” There is no question of Colón and the Spanish crown’s attitude toward the native people who lived on the islands he discovered. Colón writes, “I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men, and govern them as I pleased.” They conquered, possessed and named lands that did not belong to them, and at the same time called themselves “Christian,” a religion centered in loving one’s neighbor as oneself, peace, and the ten commandments forbidding murder, lying and stealing.
The term “America” is a Latinized, feminine version of Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci’s first name. He was said to first propose that Cristoforo Colombo’s 1492 land discovery was part of a New World and a larger continent, memorialized in Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 map of the region.
Of course, this “America” and “New World” was a discovery to Europeans, not to the people already inhabiting this land, known to different native tribes by different names. Researching a unifying native name for this land was fruitless, as the consciousness of national borders, oceans and other lands were not of great concern to a people engaged with day to day living here.
The arrival of explorers, conquerors and settlers from Europe and elsewhere into this land naturally brought more native consciousness of other lands, and for the purpose of this piece, “America” shall be the accepted name for this general land at times in this essay. “America” is also a euphemism for the “United States” quite often, to the occasional dismay and protest of other North, South and Central American countries.
The Tudor Dynasty in England (1485-1603) brought in the Age of European Exploration, something continued with the Stuarts of the 17th century. Battles were fought in repeated cycles between Parliament and the Crown, as to what or who had the power to govern, the Magna Carta of 1215 standing tall as a Constitution and firewall against royal bullying. In the English Charter to Sir Walter Raleigh of March 25, 1584, Queen Elizabeth spelled out the Crown’s exploration and “colonization” goals, a couple more euphemisms for finding and stealing land from non-Christian people:
[W]e give and graunt to our trustie and welbeloved servant Walter Raleigh, Esquire, and to his heires assignes for ever, free libertie and licence from time to time, and at all times for ever hereafter, to discover, search, finde out, and view such remote, heathen and barbarous lands, countries and territories, not actually possessed of any Christian Prince.
Non-Christians were not considered valid people to Spanish and English explorers, at least where land rights were concerned. Further, Queen Elizabeth charged Raleigh to “inhabite or remaine, there to build and fortify” at his discretion—a goal of the English empire in America and elsewhere for the next few hundred years.
After Raleigh’s failed attempt at colonizing Roanoke Island off modern-day North Carolina, the British succeeded in planting “Jamestown” in the midst of Powhatan tribal land in 1607. The English soldiers, including Watkins relations to myself, were led by Captain John Smith, whose interactions with the tribes—including “Pocahontas”—are well chronicled. Actually, her name is sacred, like the Jewish YHWH. “Matoax” was her real name, one protected by the tribes because they knew the white invaders might misuse it at some point. She was a goddess-princess, and according to sources, saved these English colonists, including John Smith and my Watkins relations, by providing goods to help them survive a brutal winter, and by teaching planting techniques. I wrote a poem to honor her, included in the Appendix of this piece.
Captain John Smith calls the land Wingandacoa in his Generall Historie before it “was called Virginia by Queen Elizabeth.” Attanaughkomouck was another name associated with the land the British called Virginia, seen in the caption below of Matoax, nicknamed “Pocahontas.” The image is a painted copy of an engraving by Simon de Passe (1616), when the Powhatan princess was twenty-one years old visiting England. The caption reads: “Matoaks als Rebecka daughter to the mighty Prince Powhatan Emperour of Attanaughkomouck als virginia converted and baptized in the Christian faith and wife to the wor M. Joh Rolff.” Another name for the area was Tsenacommacoh, or Tsenahcommacah, penned by English historian William Strachey while he visited America in around 1613.
As mentioned, the false name “Pocahontas” was given by the tribes to the white colonists, in order to protect her honor and legacy. To this day, ignorant white users of the goddess-princess’ false name dishonor all Native Americans by using it as a slur to denigrate people. The land itself had native names associated with it, but the English colonists evidently did not cross the Atlantic Ocean to learn about native culture, and co-exist with non-Christians.
On April 10, 1606, King James of England signed the Virginia Charter, which was a business proposition, offering certain “Knights, Gentlemen, merchants and other Adventurers” permission to “make habitation, plantation and to deduce a Colony of sundry of our people into that part of America commonly called Virginia.” Queen Elizabeth of England, the “Virgin Queen,” gave her name to this land in 1584, while Sir Walter Raleigh explored its coastline. One must delve into the psychology of conquest and imperialism to truly understand naming a land already named, inhabiting a land already inhabited.
In relatively small, highly populated European lands, boundaries, divisions and land deeds were normal components of life and law—a grave contrast to bands of Native Americans, living off the land in relatively larger territories, sparser populations. When the British came, the native paradise of shared living on the Great Spirit’s land ended. Queen Elizabeth from across an ocean named the land “Virginia,” then this group of men colonized “Jamestown” there, after their King James.
One could argue that the financial goals of usurpation were closely related to the religious “lip service,” ascribed by Benjamin Woolley in his book, Savage Kingdom. The British leaders were on a high horse, it seems, dismissing the native people as mere “people living in darkness.” (full quote below) Such a description justified conquest beautifully, the power of words and euphemism evident to reduce a people in every meaningful way, paving the way for European pavement, civilization and supposed “progress,” discussed later.
Wee, greately commending and graciously accepting theire desires to the furtherance of soe noble a worke which may, by the providence of Almightie God, hereafter tende to the glorie of His Divine Majestie in propagating of Christian religion to suche people as yet live in darkeness and miserable ignorance of the true knoweledge and worshippe of God and may in tyme bring the infidels and salvages living in those parts to humane civilitie and to a setled and quiet govermente, doe by theise our lettres patents grciously accepte of and agree to their humble and well intended desires…
The above passage reminds of a similar occurrence in Spain, when seeking to conquer America with religion and guns. In his letter to the Taino-Arawak Indians, who Admiral Colón had first encountered on Hispaniola, King Ferdinand notified of certain “facts” of creation and Bible myth:
In the name of King Ferdinand and Juana, his daughter, Queen of Castile and Leon, etc., conquerors of barbarian nations, we notify you as best we can that our Lord God Eternal created Heaven and earth and a man and woman from whom we all descend for all times and all over the world.
Please allow the remainder of the letter below inserted to serve as a Spanish imperial “case” for usurpation and land ownership:
In the 5000 years since creation the multitude of these generations caused men to divide and establish kingdoms in various parts of the world, among whom God chose St. Peter as leader of mankind, regardless of their law, sect or belief. He seated St. Peter in Rome as the best place from which to rule the world and rule all people, whether Christians, Moors, Jews, Gentiles or any other sect. He was named Pope, which means admirable and greatest father, governor of all men. Those who lived at that time obeyed St. Peter as Lord and superior King of the universe, and so did their descendants obey his successors and so on to the end of time.
The late Pope gave these lands and mainland of the ocean and the contents hereof to the above-mentioned King and Queen, as is certified in writing and you may see the documents if you should so desire. Therefore, Their Highnesses are lords and masters of this land; they were acknowledged as such when this notice was posted, and were and are being served willingly and without resistance; then, their religious envoys were acknowledged and obeyed without delay, and all subjects unconditionally and of their own free will became Christians and thus they remain. Their Highnesses received their allegiance with joy and benignity and decreed that they be treated in this spirit like good and loyal vassals and you are under the obligation to do the same.
Therefore, we request that you understand this text, deliberate on its contents within a reasonable time, and recognize the Church and its highest priest, the Pope, as rulers of the universe, and in their name the King and Queen of Spain as rulers of this land, allowing the religious fathers to preach our holy Faith to you. You own compliance as a duty to the King and we in his name will receive you with love and charity, respecting your freedom and that of your wives and sons and your rights of possession and we shall not compel you to baptism unless you, informed of the Truth, wish to convert to our holy Catholic Faith as almost all your neighbors have done in other islands, in exchange for which Their Highnesses bestow many privileges and exemptions upon you.
One might begin to analyze the merits or inferiority of this “case.” The final push of King Ferdinand’s letter to this band of native people, a carrot having already been offered, now the stick shown:
Should you fail to comply, or delay maliciously in so doing, we assure you that with the help of God we shall use force against you, declaring war upon you from all sides and with all possible means, and we shall bind you to the yoke of the Church and of Their Highnesses; we shall enslave your persons, wives and sons, sell you or dispose of you as the King sees fit; we shall seize your possessions and harm you as much as we can as disobedient and resisting vassals. And we declare you guilty of resulting deaths and injuries, exempting Their Highnesses of such guilt as well as ourselves and the gentlemen who accompany us. We hereby request that legal signatures be affixed to this text and pray those present to bear witness for us, etc.
Thus the parallel between the Spanish and British approach to grabbing land and intimidating its natural inhabitants. While Spain threatened and appealed to fear, British explorers were asked to propagate the British way of life to…
“suche people as yet live in darkeness and miserable ignorance of the true knoweledge and worshippe of God and may in tyme bring the infidels and salvages living in those parts to humane civilitie and to a setled and quiet govermente…”
There is no evidence that any native people of the land we now call America was living in “darkness and misery.” To the contrary, if one takes time to study the native way of life and the wisdom of native chiefs, one might conclude the reverse was true—that European conquerors were living in darkness and misery, and that the natural life of the native tribes was in fact closer to paradisiacal than savage. Perusing Kent Nerburn’s The Wisdom of the Native Americans, you come across passages like this, from Chief Luther Standing Bear’s writings:
From Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit, there came a great unifying life force that flowed in and through all things—the flowers of the plains, blowing winds, rocks, trees, birds, animals—and was the same force that had been breathed into the first man. Thus all things were kindred, and were brought together by the same Great Mystery.
Kinship with animals, a oneness with nature, living in harmony, never wasting or polluting, even refraining from bad words. Zitkala-Sa of the Yankton Sioux once remarked:
There is no swear word in the Indian languages, and I haven’t yet learned to swear.
Telling, I’d say, and evidence that “humane civilitie” may have been more on the side of the naked brown people, than the gun-toting, cursing, grog-drinking white Europeans.
European explorers and adventurers aimed to take possession of land for themselves and their kings, queens and country. The land they found in America was occupied by people who enjoyed living there, so when armed European ships with armed crews showed up with a mandate to take land inhabited by native tribes, I think it’s fair to surmise that war began between Europeans and Native Americans in 1492.
“Armed conflict” could include a threat of violence, as shown in the letter from King Ferdinand to the Taino-Arawak, but usually war refers to violence by two or more parties. Explicit warfare between the British and the native tribes began in 1607, at the latest. What was the first “shot?”
By natural or any modern law, to sail a ship over an ocean to visit a piece of land is perfectly fine and admirable, and not in itself an act of war. To land in a country inhabited by other people, okay. To visit and trade, attempt to communicate and establish trading and relationships—outstanding.
How about building a fort without a word or permission from local inhabitants? Some might call such a project a hostile act, maybe “usurping” or even theft. Ownership is a controversial idea and requires its own discussion; Europeans came from a tradition of owning and fencing off land, but often nomadic native American people saw land and “property” differently.
“Some of our chiefs make the claim that the land belongs to us. It is not what the Great Spirit told me. He told me that the lands belong to Him, that no people owns the land; that I was not to forget to tell this to the white people when I met them in council.”
—Kanekuk, Kickapoo Prophet
At what point is there a case for land theft? Even if Kanekuk is right, that ownership of land is a matter not for people but higher powers, did English, Spanish or other European adventurers have a legitimate right to claim and own land inhabited by native people?
Perhaps it’s helpful to examine again how religion and the Bible were used to justify the acquisition of land in America. Conquest and usurpation justified by religion are still what they are: conquest and usurpation. Can a government based on those events ever be just or justly obeyed?
The British philosopher and political thinker John Locke wrote about the nature of government, religious tolerance, and of matters above mentioned, Conquest and Usurpation. To Locke, no government was valid without the “consent of the governed,” which put in question the validity of any government set up on top of conquest or usurpation. Ironically, Locke used the word “usurp” not just regarding land and property, but to describe the use of godliness as a threatening club to further other kinds of usurpation:
“It is vain for any man to usurp the name of Christian, without holiness of life, purity of manners, benignity and meekness of spirit.”
Locke noted the futility of Conquest and Usurpation as a means to govern, because…
“…the aggressor, who puts himself into the state of war with another, and unjustly invades another man’s right, can, by such an unjust war, never come to have a right over the conquered…”
Locke goes on to argue the absurdity of injustice leading to good government, posing that reasonable
men will not think that robbers and pirates have a right of empire over whomsoever they have force enough to master, or that men are bound by promises which unlawful force extorts from them.
That’s Locke, but is it law? And could someone argue that “All’s fair in love and war,” or that “To the victor belong the spoils,” or even draw on Charles Darwin’s “survival of the fittest?” Some equate might with right, and equate physical strength, weapons of war, and force with entitlement.
War between Europeans and native Americans did not end in a major way until the 1890’s, and struggles continue today with oil pipelines jetting under native burial grounds, protests, arrests. You cannot expect a people with spirit and love for the land to walk away from it lightly.
A man who would not love his father’s grave is worse than a wild animal.
—Chief Joseph, Nez Perce
“We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of the land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his enemy—and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his fathers’ graves, and his children’s birthright is forgotten.”
Suqwamish and Duwamish
The war path is an unavoidable one, I’m afraid, in the study of American Law. The bibles and guns brought from Europe to this country, concepts of law from the Magna Carta to Parliament checking the king—Clashed with the unwritten honor and spirit of natural living found in 1492 and still fighting for life today.
Instructions from the Crown to explorers were explicit, and a call for expansion went out, European nations competing to conquer and own a land natives and some wise people say cannot be owned. But in Europe a different history, land and set of conditions gave rise to “land ownership” and distinct borders, laying law down—including those in the Bible—and to advanced weapons of war.
Two ways to de-populate America were underway from the first explorers, first by denying natives were people, second by warring with and expelling them from land so craved by Europe to increase profit and the size of empires.
In 1607, “The Salvages assault the Fort,” reported Captain John Smith in the introductory table to his General Historie, page one. An assault brought on by fears and failures in communication, the English charter to conquer and convert a people obviously offended by that mandate. Captain Smith’s account reports that a distant relative of mine, James Watkins, “slew” a native man while holding him hostage during trading along the Rappahannock River in 1608.
In the New England Charter of 1620, English settlers in America demonstrated their hostility to native people by celebrating their diseased state, decline and demise:
“… there hath by God’s Visitation reigned a wonderful Plague, together with many horrible Slaughters, and Murthers, committed amongst the Savages and brutish People there, heertofore inhabiting, in a Manner to the utter Destruction, Devastation, and Depopulation of that whole Territorye…”
Europeans had a way of life that included land ownership and a bible, and had come to this new land to live in their old way. The natives were a thorn in their plans, but as more and more Whites came, and more calamity befell the native people, white Europeans felt their conquest was coming, and that their Judeo-Christian concept of “God” would grant them a great victory:
“Almighty God in his great Goodness and Bountie towards Us and our People, hath thought fitt and determined, that those large and goodly Territoryes, deserted as it were by their naturall Inhabitants, should be possessed and enjoyed by such of our Subjects and People as heertofore and hereafter by his Mercie and Favour, and by his Powerful Arme, be directed and conducted thither.”
Appealing to religion and the god of their understanding, perhaps the “pious fraud” fallacy could describe an un-Christian land grab by supposed Christians, hurting non-Christians. Hurting all humanity? The Earth? The Great Spirit?
“…We may with boldness goe on to the settling of soe hopeful a Work, which tendeth to the reducing and Conversion of such Savages as remain wandering in Desolacion and Distress, to Civile Societie and Christian Religion, to the Inlargement of our own Dominions, and the Advancement of the Fortunes of such of our good Subjects…”
“Good subjects?” Don’t people read the bible they tout as omnipotent? “Only God is good,” said its great teacher, Jesus. And there is a great problem nut-shelled: proclaiming oneself a Christian does not make one a Christian. The men and women who came across the Atlantic Ocean, looked down on native people as less than people were not Christian. They could not have been, for how can one live by the gun, judge other people, kill and steal—then say fairly that they are religious followers of the Ten Commandments and God, through his son, Jesus Christ, who taught to “judge not, lest ye be judged.” Who taught the blessings of meekness, humility and loving others…
Land was desired. Men and women from Europe took it by force, after much warfare and fighting. Reducing the native people as less than people because they did not have a book to tout was part of an important pious fraud, justifying murder and land theft as part of a religious cleansing.
Actus Reus (Guilty Act)
Mens Rea (Guilty Mind)
Or… “consciousness of guilt.”
Petition of Right, Confederation and the First Thanksgiving
While the war against Native Americans raged, English people continued their fight for rights, pushing back on power-hungry kings. Parliament issued a reminder about the Magna Carta and its promise to King Charles I, lest he forget and tax without the people’s consent. The petition asked “that no tallage or aid shall be laid or levied by the king or his heirs in this realm without the good will and assent of” Parliament and the people. And “that no freeman may be taken or imprisoned…” without due process of law, material right out of the Magna Carta, revisited and as a reminder. One could call the petition, “Magna Carta 2.0,” and it had teeth and kept the king in check.
But whatever England did, its citizens abroad struggled to plant themselves successfully on land inhabited by well-organized, seasoned native peoples. The English in America were frustrated that those “savages” would not go away easily, were a thorn in their side, and more and more felt it important to unify as a way to be safe and spread their presence. Articles of Confederation were drawn “between Plantations under the Government of Massachusetts, the Plantations under the Government of New Plymouth, the Plantations under the Government of Connecticut, and the Government of New Haven.” This is a quote from the New England Articles of Confederation of 1643, useful as insight into English motives:
“Whereas we all came into these parts of America with one and the same end and aim, namely, to advance the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ and to enjoy the liberties of the Gospel in purity with peace; and whereas in our settling (by a wise providence of God) we are further dispersed upon the sea coasts and rivers than was at first intended, so that we can not according to our desire with convenience communicate in one government and jurisdiction; and whereas we live encompassed with people of several nations and strange languages which hereafter may prove injurious to us or our posterity.”
Leading to a call to unite under the name of the “United Colonies of New England,” the British settlers have painted quite a picture. First, in all my studies of the gospels and words of Jesus, I never quite saw a calling to “advance” a physical kingdom in Jesus Christ’s name. Spreading the love of the gospels, the good news of faith healing and self-sacrifice yielding the peace of heaven—yes. Land grabbing and forced conversions, or wholescale judging of other cultures—no.
It may be that the pious fraud is still the thing to eyeball; that these were a desperate people who had left the graves of their fathers, crossed a perilous ocean to start a new life, and when they saw a native people in the way of that new start, the lie was perpetrated that the extermination and removal of those people was pious and in accordance with their god’s will. Desperate acts and words by desperate people looking for a safe home, or perhaps to satisfy greed, wanderlust, discontent and other sinful behavior all men and women are vulnerable to commit.
The colonists demonstrated their gratitude to God in the First Thanksgiving Proclamation of June 20, 1676. A lot of us in this land grew up thinking that Thanksgiving originated from a positive interaction between Native Americans and Pilgrims—friendship, love and food to honor God.
A great website, http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/, yields this shocker to upend the Thanksgiving myth of Natives and white colonists living together in grateful harmony:
On June 20, 1676, the governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts, held a meeting to determine how best to express thanks for the good fortune that had seen their community securely established. By unanimous vote they instructed Edward Rawson, the clerk, to proclaim June 29 as a day of thanksgiving, our first.
The document proves that Victory in War over Native Americans, not harmony with them, was the cause for gratitude of European colonists in America in the seventeenth century:
“The Holy God having by a long and Continual Series of his Afflictive dispensations in and by the present Warr with the Heathen Natives of this land, written and brought to pass bitter things against his own Covenant people in this wilderness, yet so that we evidently discern that in the midst of his judgements he hath remembered mercy, having remembered his Footstool in the day of his sore displeasure against us for our sins, with many singular Intimations of his Fatherly Compassion, and regard; reserving many of our Towns from Desolation Threatened, and attempted by the Enemy, and giving us especially of late with many of our Confederates many signal Advantages against them, without such Disadvantage to ourselves as formerly we have been sensible of, if it be the Lord’s mercy that we are not consumed, It certainly bespeaks our positive Thankfulness, when our Enemies are in any measure disappointed or destroyed; and fearing the Lord should take notice under so many Intimations of his returning mercy, we should be found an Insensible people, as not standing before Him with Thanksgiving, as well as lading him with our Complaints in the time of pressing Afflictions:
The Council has thought meet to appoint and set apart the 29th day of this instant June, as a day of Solemn Thanksgiving and praise to God for such his Goodness and Favour, many Particulars of which mercy might be Instanced, but we doubt not those who are sensible of God’s Afflictions, have been as diligent to espy him returning to us; and that the Lord may behold us as a People offering Praise and thereby glorifying Him; the Council doth commend it to the Respective Ministers, Elders and people of this Jurisdiction; Solemnly and seriously to keep the same Beseeching that being perswaded by the mercies of God we may all, even this whole people offer up our bodies and soulds as a living and acceptable Service unto God by Jesus Christ.”
“It certainly bespeaks our positive Thankfulness, when our Enemies are in any measure disappointed or destroyed…” That contrasts quite a lot what I was taught in school: that the Indians and Pilgrims got together for a big gratitude party, started a national holiday.
This was war from the start: White versus Native, from 1492 to 1890, with remnants of that war continuing with every new oil pipeline dropping under Native burial grounds, and every protest over that, and every arrest. These states were never really united, our government made by white people for white people. Europeans may have been abused by religious intolerance and greedy monarchs at home, but it is clear when looking at the history of colonization in America, that those same Europeans were okay abusing Native Americans to achieve their freedom through a proclaimed religious war.
Independence from the British? Do We Care?
While fighting against Native Americans continued to the west, there were pockets of pure British life thriving in thirteen colonies along the east coast by the time Georgia was founded in 1732. Thriving as much as the British Parliament and king would allow… Eventually, as the reader may already know from common lower and middle school studies, the dam burst, and the colonies would war for independence. Britain’s problems had become America’s problems, Britain’s laws America’s laws, on a land usurped for Crown and Christ. What could go wrong?
Earth-rule of Native America had through armed conflict yielded to the bible, man-made laws and “civilization.”
In front of what? Advanced in weaponry? Killing people? In front of earth reverence and gratitude for the land? Who or what decides who or what is “advanced?” Could there be spiritual value to living close to the ground and nature? Could European “advancement” lead to spiritual erosion? Whose life yields more peace?
Perhaps it is a more fair and equitable way to characterize the change in the region we called “America” as not becoming “civilized,” but rather becoming “Europeanized.” Nothing empirical, no evidence can prove one group of people’s way of life superior or “advanced” of another. The Europeans could kill with stronger weapons, but toward where would that make them “advanced?” Toward success or ruin? Europeans were advanced in alcohol consumption, disease, cursing, reading, writing, and had a need for written law codes.
This land, loved and revered by native inhabitants—had fallen into the hands of white people, who had left their own land in search of freedom and a new start. War was the price of that start, and a long sea voyage of course. Respecting native people, setting up trade was not the attitude. Land acquisition was the goal, and a fight continues today over this, over land use and whether we put nature or profit first.
The wisdom of Native America preaches that land belongs to the Creator, to the Great Spirit—not to men. But wisdom is only available to open-minded souls seeking enlightenment and riches beyond the material. The real Native American and the soul of this land is still hopeful despite the harm of displacement and loss. It can be switched on even in the descendants of the white invader, when he or she believes in nature and its principles over the noise and pollution of industrial “progress.” We stole land, a descendant of Columbus and John Smith must admit—not necessarily from native people, but from nature and the Great Spirit itself.
So what is there to say about the “victors” of this war for American land? They successfully exterminated Native American presence, celebrated as we saw above in the First Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1676. What could Europeans do with this land worked and enjoyed by native peoples for thousands of years? And is the post-1676 history more European or American?
Finally, folks: is it a legitimate history worth telling? Is a government founded on land theft valid? Is that government’s court system valid? As the Native Americans were driven out of their homes to make way for British people in the east, Spanish in the west—what law could possibly be called “for” the American People, as America’s first were discarded? What and who would ever make the “United States of America” a legitimate, legal concept when theft of land is core to its founding? If laws follow a natural, reasonable moral code, everyone living here should pause and reflect on possible crimes in the past. If those crimes are not accounted for, let us do so now. If there is a way to make amends and restitution for them, let us do so soon. It all begins with telling the truth.
Which law or set of laws do you acknowledge? Natural ones? Moral? Written? On what basis do you live or want to live? From nature? Earth basis? Money? Society? Cars driving on asphalt? When you decide what law works for you, perhaps we can decide what “America” and “American” means. If the term, from the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, is meant to refer to this land sometimes called the United States of America, who could be more American than its first inhabitants?
The title of this work used to be Law for the American People, which makes it a complete failure—for written law code, brought from Europe fails to do one single, solitary thing for Native Americans, whose land we stole. How can our law work, when we broke it in administering it? I therefore offer that our current, written American law, administered by modern American courts is a ruse and is invalid—
if law is a moral venture. To think a society can steal land, then later prosecute theft and other crimes but ignore the original grand larceny is irrational and illogical.
Until we recognize the hypocritical nature of our U.S. government, founded on violence and land theft, call it out and tear it down, the American flag raised by white colonists resisting British rule can never symbolize this country. This country is a glorious land, meant to be honored, used in moderation—respected.
Usurpation will never equal right, and if true government depends on the consent of the governed, as Sir John Locke proposed, we in this land do not currently have a true government, for many inhabitants of it have been willfully displaced off their regions by force. If one thinks that might equals right, then you have your military state—and you may be content in it. As this author soon moves out of country to renounce a citizenship I find false and meaningless, I pledge my pen to the cause of one day truly having once and for all Law for the people here. Protection and rights to Native people here.
Call the land America, call it whatever you want—a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, as Shakespeare observed. Until all life on earth is respected and valued, the fight is before us. Lao Tzu of China doubted one could change the world, and I think he was correct…
But surely we can try. The worst fears lead to judgment, and murder by character is almost as bad as the physical kind. Did you know that when the first official U.S. Government census was issued, Native Americans were not counted? Some try so hard to call this “the greatest democracy in the world.” Some need to be associated with something great, label this government “great,” despite its founding on murder, displacement and land theft.
We are all first peoples from somewhere, come from first peoples, who had pagan, earth and nature worshipping rituals, rites of passage. It seemed wise at some point to lay down law, and to write down good principles—some laid down in what we call the bible. A practice like human sacrifice might need questioning, certainly something like cannibalism or something strikingly odd… But was the bible so great that all first people worship, practice and ways of life be destroyed?
Can the two worlds of books and bible mix with nature and living off the land? Can might ever equal right? Decide your principals, and if they be led by love and harmony, you’ll know that any government founded on fear, violence and lies can never be legitimate. Who is the real Judge? Ask that and answer for yourself; do so wisely and have peace of mind.
Challenge, define, and question all norms, even food and drink. What is alcohol? Have you looked it up in books, studied it before putting it in your mouth? It might be wise, and with that I will shut mine…
May Law someday work for all people, not just the victors in violent conflict. May we rise above our pages and books, respect and revere with Native America the rocks, trees and waterfalls spraying mist in breeze, its rainbow and more a form of art we can never duplicate, replicate or improve.
We Europeans were in love with a figurative god in pages in a book, and it worked for us to a point. We were proud of it, our weapons of war, and thought it good to conquer native American peoples, not seeing the bigger picture. The mens rea of the land theft issue is clouded by the ignorance with which all humans are plagued when encountering new things, places and people.
We revert to self-preservation when pressed, defend our best stance—even if it hurts us in the long term.
Never in vain.
God keep me whole and pure
as I try to explain.
Words fail to describe the oneness
with falls, rocks, streams, and nature—
a people at one, praising in song,
movement and dance.
The hug with your land complete
on a shore invaded by armor.
British with Bible were a different
thing; in 1607, written on a Roman
guide, people came and Oneness died.
But not before a native princess kept
my people alive.
She came, first to save a captain,
then she visited us when in the Winter
of our wanderings we had run out
of warmth, food and all other
provisions needed to live.
Dead and left in the wind, until
Matoax and with her God came.
Native Great Spirit—the river of life,
warmth and skins, food and love.
We were dead in the Winter, beheaded
in a tent, our armor and fortress failed,
weapons of war useless.
She came to us, brought by God.
At the princess’ feet we prayed thanks;
she, at one with God.
Us, white and ignorant of the land,
the lowest of her ranks.
At first they looked only for gold. We knew the latter was our property, but as we did not use it much nor need it to live by we did not object to their searching for it. They told us, “your country is rich and you will be made wealthy by our coming. We wish just to pass over your land in quest of gold.” Soon they saw the country was good, and some of them made up their minds, to settle it. They commenced to take up pieces of land here and there. They told us they wanted only the use of these pieces of land for a few years, and then would hand them back to us in an improved condition; meanwhile they would give us some of the products they raised for the loan of our land. Thus they commenced to enter our “houses,” or live on our “ranches.” With us when a person enters our house he becomes our guest, and we must treat him hospitably as long as he shows no hostile intentions. At the same time we expect him to return to us equal treatment for what he receives. . . .
Presently chiefs (government officials, etc.) commenced to visit us, and had talks with some of our chiefs. They told us to have no fear, the queen’s laws would prevail in this country, and everything would be well for the Indians here. They said a very large reservation would be staked off for us (southern interior tribes) and the tribal lands outside of this reservation the government would buy from us for white settlement. They let us think this would be done soon, and meanwhile until this reserve was set apart, and our lands settled for, they assured us we would have perfect freedom of travelling and camping and the same liberties as from time immemorial to hunt, fish, graze and gather our food supplies where we desired; also that all trails, land, water, timber, etc., would be as free of access to us as formerly.
What have we received for our good faith, friendliness and patience? Gradually as the whites of this country became more and more powerful, and we less and less powerful, they little by little changed their policy towards us, and commenced to put restrictions on us. Their government or chiefs have taken every advantage of our friendliness . . . in every way. They treat us as subjects without any agreement to that effect, and force their laws on us without our consent and irrespective of whether they are good for us or not. They say they have authority over us. They have broken down our old laws and customs (no matter how good) by which we regulated ourselves. They laugh at our chiefs and brush them aside. Minor affairs amongst ourselves, which do not affect them in the least, and which we can easily settle better than they can, they drag into their courts. They enforce their own laws one way for the rich white man, one way for the poor white, and yet another for the Indian. They have knocked down . . . the posts of all the Indian tribes. They say there are no lines, except what they make. They have taken possession of all the Indian country and claim it as their own. . . . They have never consulted us in any of these matters, nor made any agreement. . . . They have stolen our lands and everything on them and continue to use ‘same’ for their ‘own’ purposes. They treat us as less than children and allow us ‘no say’ in anything. They say the Indians know nothing, and own nothing, yet their power and wealth has come from our belongings. The queen’s law which we believe guaranteed us our rights, the B.C. government has trampled underfoot. This is how our guests have treated us—the brothers we received hospitably in our house.
“It is high time for non-Native Americans to come to terms with the fact that the United States is built on someone else’s land.” —Claudio Saunt