December 02, 2006

Native book exposes Western deceptions

Newcomb:  Review of 'Unlearning the Language of Conquest'Bruce E. Johansen, in a chapter titled “Adventures in Denial: Ideological Resistance to the Idea that the Iroquois Helped Shape American Democracy,” explores how the orthodox gatekeepers of the academy in the United States have, over the past 30 years, refused to acknowledge that the Haudenosaunee Confederacy “helped shape the political beliefs and institutions of the United States (and through it democracy worldwide).” Johansen documents the extent to which historians and mainstream commentators on “the Right” have ridiculed and summarily dismissed this idea without having had the courtesy to take the time to read the historical evidence.

In brilliant fashion, Gregory Cajete, Tewa Pueblo, provides a summary of thousands of years of indigenous science grounded in indigenous worldviews. In Chapter 16, “Western Science and the Loss of Natural Creativity,” he writes in a profoundly poetic manner: “Native science is a reflection of the metaphoric mind and is embedded in creative participation with nature. It reflects the sensual capacities of humans. It is tied to the spirit, and is both ecological and integrative.” In my view, Cajete does an amazing job of articulating the existence of an indigenous science paradigm that provides the cognitive and behavioral basis for a way of life that suggests an ecologically meaningful alternative to the death-dealing, empire-domination model that can be traced back to Western Christendom, which continues to afflict the planet today.

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