Native American Cybernetics

ᏙᏳ ᎤᎵᎶᎲᏍᎩ ᎠᏓᏅᏖᏗ ᎠᏲᎱᎯᏍᏗ! ᎡᏍᎦᎢᏳᎾᎵᏍᏓᏁᎸ, ᎥᏝ ᏚᏳᎪᏛᎢ.

Doyu ulilohvsg adantehdi ayohuhisdi! Esga’iyunalisdanelv, vhla duyug’tv’i.

How fascinating the idea of death can be! Too bad that it just isn't true.


"The Politeness of the Savages in Conversation is indeed carried to Excess, since it does not permit them to contradict or deny the Truth of what is asserted in their Presence; By this means they indeed avoid Disputes, but then it becomes difficult to know their Minds, or what Impression you make upon them. The Missionaries who have attempted to convert them to Christianity, all complain of this as one of the great difficulties of their Mission: The Indians hear with Patience the Truths of the Gospel explain’d to them, and give their usual Tokens of Assent & Approbation: You would think they were convinc’d. No such Matter. It is mere Civility."

This statement of "our" "Founding Father" Benjamin Franklin, that the Excessive Politeness of the "Savages" in conversation avoids disputes, and also permits them to govern their societies without police, without private property or structures of monopoly upon violent authority (to use the phrase of Weber) comes at a cost: Europeans, because they cannot cause the Indians to react to what they say in a negative way nor to summon a lengthy critique of it, find themselves at a loss to understand the Minds of the Indians, or the impression that the Europeans make upon them.

This is an archaic prefiguration of the idea of Deep Learning, as the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs call it: the Black Box of infinite dimensionality that we cannot fully penetrate or dissect, that contains all space-time possibilities and therefore a "supernatural" aura that inspires jealousy, fear and reverence; the Indians became prime targets for adoption and genetic engineering, DNA analysis, scientific experimentation, etc. precisely because of this limitation of Cartesian understanding.

The Indian is the Black Box, blackened in a way that parallels and overlaps with black studies in that the DNA patterns are not known, but perhaps more crucially in that no non-Indian can seem to understand why it is that the "dying race" of the North American Indian has not yet died, evidenced by the continuing presence of the languages and spiritual practices.

This is because of the process, which is similar to Taoism, which Franklin noticed: the Indian will bend to the will of the occupier, the surrounders, will accept the role of the canary in the mine, and in bending, will not break. This goes against the Newtonian maxim about the "equal and opposite reaction": there are no Indian terrorists, because Indians can see clearly that reacting with violence will only destroy sovereignty by betraying a fatal flaw. The fatal flaw of the occupiers, the settlers, is that despite massive military "victory" and the apparent command of enormous physical resources and wealth they still have not overcome the tendencies which drove them from home in the first place: to bicker, to neglect hygienic standards, to avoid self-reflection and the undoing of the binary distinction in the elimination of greed.

By the service of giving an account of oneself, fighting for one's people and caring for the children of the earth, the Indian is to understand the common link between the strategic enemy, the settler, and the spiritual Self, Aniyvwi(ya)...made in the image of Unehlanvhi.

ᎤᏂᎵᏓᏍᏗᎭ ᎬᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎨᎦᏙᎣᎢ. ᏚᎦᏙᎠ ᏥᏈ ᏓᏆᎴᎳ ᏣᎳᎩ. ᏍᏆᏙᎣᎢ ᎠᏂᎩᏚᏩᎩ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ, ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᎦᏚ.

Unilidasdiha gvhdi tsalagi gegado’o’i. Dugado’a tsigwi dagwalela tsalagi. Sgwado’o’i anigiduwagi aniyvwiya, aniyvwiya gadu.

The fanciful name “Cherokee,” mostly known these days thanks to Jeep and various entertainers, is a misnomer, based on a Chahta exonym, and the proper name of the people and their language is ᎩᏚᏩ, Giduwa, roughly translated as “those who overcome,” or “those who rise above.” To be more precise, the people are ᎠᏂᎩᏚᏩᎩ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ.

ᎡᏓᏓᏅᏖᏍᎪᎢ ᎠᏕᎶᎰᏍᎩ ᎤᏗᏗᏢ ᎤᏬᏒᏗ, ᎤᏲᏨᎯ, ᎠᎴ ᎠᏍᏆᏂᎪᏙᏗ.

Edadan’tesgo’i adelohosg udidihlv uwosvhdi, uyotsvhi, ale asgwanigodohdi.

To achieve victory within and over-against politics, we must absorb our concentration on the knowledge of pure awareness that is prior to and independent of the three qualities of nature: creation, destruction and preservation.

ᎬᏗ ᎭᏛᎦᎦ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎭᏕᎶᎣᎯ ᏁᏙᎲᎾ ᎤᏂᏁᏨ.

Gvhdi hadvgaga gawonihisd hadelo’ohi nedohvna uninetsv.

When you hear the language note the occluded space left by the absence of certain thought-formations from the ᎩᏚᏩ worldview which are critical to the English-speaking one.

ᎠᏂᎩᏚᏩᎩ ᎡᏓᏓᏅᏖᎭ ᎡᎶᎯ ᎢᎩᎾᎵᎪᎭ.

Anigiduwag edadan’teha elohi iginaligoha.

We claim that speakers share an ontological boundary regardless of age, color, geography, or standard of living. This is supported by the discipline of linguistics.

ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎦᎷᎶᎦ “time,” “goodbye,” “please,” “sorry,” “good morning,” expletives, ᎤᏂᏁᏨ ᎤᏲ, “excuse me,” ᎠᎴ “respect.”

Gawonihisd galuloga “time,” “goodbye,” “please,” “sorry,” “good morning,” expletives, uninetsv uyo, “excuse me,” ale “respect.”

At the outset we ask the reader to contemplate the possibility of a life without easy reference to the following words, which are seemingly ubiquitous within the English-speaking world and yet absent from ᎦᏚᏩ discourse and that of many first languages:

  1. Time
  2. Goodbye
  3. Please
  4. Sorry
  5. Good morning
  6. (Expletives)
  7. Excuse me
  8. Respect

ᎩᎵᏏ “I love you” ᎠᎴ “friend” ᎦᎷᎶᎦ. ᏩᏕ ᎨᎵᏍᎨᏫ ᎦᏬᏂᏍᎪᎢ, ᎦᏚᎩ ᎦᏳᎳ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎭᏫᏂᏗᏢ.

“I love you” and “friend,” while commonly translated, are forced and unusual for speakers. ᏩᏕ ᎨᎵᏍᎨᏫ has described at length the way in which these customary absences show an important aspect of community values: friendliness and love should be self-evident within the relationship.

Sequoyah Guess


‘The warfare between the settlers and the Cherokees continued. In October 1776, Colonel William Christian led 1,800 troops against the Cherokees, destroying most of their villages. Out of respect for Ward, he left her village alone.
Ward continued to try to bring peace to the fighting factions, realizing that the only good solution was co-existence. In 1781, Ward again warned the settlers again of an impending attack by the Cherokees and asked for peace, this time by personally meeting with the leaders. Her warning did not end the bloodshed but did keep her and her family from becoming prisoners when her whole village was captured. In July of 1781, the settlers ordered the Cherokee to conduct a peace treaty and selected Ward to lead the negotiations. Ward said in part of her speech, “you know that women are always looked upon as nothing; but we are your mothers; you are our sons. Our cry is all for peace; let it continue. This peace must last forever. Let your women’s sons be ours. Let our sons be yours. Let your women hear our words.” After hearing her speech, the commissioners rewrote their demands, allowing the Cherokees to retain some of their lands. The two factions continued negotiations but the murder of a Cherokee chief in 1788 ended the chances of fair peace negotiations.
The Cherokees tried to assimilate into what was becoming mainstream society, yet they continued to lose more and more of their lands to the Euro-Americans. In 1817, at age seventy-nine years, Ward was too weak to attend a Council meeting but sent a message to her people that said, “Your mothers and sisters ask and beg of you not to part with any more of our land. I have great many grand children [sic] which I wish them to do well on our land.” However, by then, the Cherokees had become much more patriarchal and a Beloved Woman’s words did not hold as much weight. Ward was the last Beloved Woman of the Cherokees.
As an elderly woman, Ward earned the nickname “Granny Ward” for taking in and caring for orphans. By 1819, the lands she grew up on were sold and she was forced to relocate. She ran an inn for travelers the remaining three years of her life.’

Nancy Ward, ᎾᏅᏰᎯ, our forebear, has a large number of descendants, many of whom are storytellers, like Becky Hobbs, for instance. The practice of storytelling makes it perfectly evident that the essence of the physical organism is not material, but chanted and narrated, transmitted by a sequence of codes filtered through a hermeneutic.

Even the idea of blood quantum, widely misunderstood as a purely genetic index, relies on a spiritual, communal, and metaphorical commitment. Our language teacher joked, “I’m gonna make you into full-bloods.”

Revolutionary war general Joseph Martin is the son-in-law of ᎾᏅᏰᎯ. He married her daughter as a means of diplomatic strategy. In those days there was no controversy in such a decision. Very few people subscribed to the belief that marriage should begin with love. At best, marriage could lead to love. Obligation to one’s elders and ancestors was primary. In 2017, one is increasingly obligated to one’s moods, one’s endless chain of technological haptic commands, one’s relationship to virtual reality conglomerates, the data mining trusts. One dies in a car accident because the GPS screen blocks the road, or in a crosswalk checking one’s Instagram feed. Nobody notices that the warning is contained in the word itself: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feature “feeds” like those forced upon livestock ready for the slaughtering house. The feed works upon the autonomic nervous system, ratcheting up the anger, greed, fear and guilt, to increase the profits of the architects.

Once, only a few generations ago, ratcheting and self-giving would have been honors, given by one’s society in the service of a purpose. ᎾᏅᏰᎯ had the role of mixing the seven sacred herbs of the black drink to drive the warriors into battle. The Indians had struggled, according to the storytellers, with the mound builders whose monuments can be found all over, because the mound builders, even as they mixed their blood with the Indians, preyed on human flesh. Hastings Shade recounts these stories in the work of Christopher Teuton, in which he also claims that Africans visited the ancient ᎦᏚᏩ island in warfare, and intermarried, meaning the contemporary Indians have African blood, which becomes manifest from time to time. It feels too soon to ignore or reject these stories, although they contradict the common point of view. They make a case for a paradoxical outlook, in which imagination is a real thing, and reality is a medium of imagination and memory. Our great-grandfather used to say “the truth is the best lie.”

Memory is a contest. One of the most respected writers, Ursula LeGuin, whose father made his name studying California Indians, says that writing is lying because the memory is inconsistent. Inconsistent, incomplete, subject to revision. And yet the overwriting of memory with a patina of affect can complete the unfinished and repair the wound.

Many first peoples and Indians wish that they were not owed such an incredibly high balance by their neighbors.

Truly, there may be no emotion more difficult to handle than the knowledge that one is owed an impossibly high sum. And yet the possibility of numeric compensation is another kind of internal battle, the battle of restraining oneself from business as usual through the ancient practice of forbearance.

The original insight of the original peoples is the knowledge that past and future generations do not owe us anything. This is an empowering release, when practiced.

According to visiontimes.com,

“The ancient Chinese Words of Admonition Concerning Forbearance (無名氏忍箴) (anonymous) states:

“If the wealthy can forbear, they will preserve their family and ancestry. If the poor can forbear, they will be free from humiliation and disgrace.”
“If father and son can forbear, they will treat one another with filial piety and parental kindness.”
“If brothers can forbear, they will treat each other with righteousness and sincerity.”
“If friends can forbear, their friendship will be long-lasting.”
“If husband and wife can forbear, their relationship will be harmonious.”
“In the middle of a tribulation, one who forbears may be ridiculed and laughed at by others. However, once the tribulation has been overcome, those who ridiculed and laughed will be ashamed and humbled.”

In traditional Chinese culture, numerous inspiring words and stories concerning forbearance have been recorded in history books and chronicles over thousands of years.

The ancient virtuous sages took great pains to teach people to be tolerant, patient, and forgiving (忍讓寬恕, rěn ràng kuān shù) and to be able to endure humiliation and forbear great responsibilities (忍辱負重, rěn rǔ fù zhòng), thus creating a rich and precious “culture of forbearance” (忍文化, rěn wén huà).”

The further back in time you travel, the more similar all of human culture appears, and yet such insights have been confined to the margins of academia, of literature, and of subjective recognition. Amnesia, rather than the Platonic stumbling-block to the building of the Republic, becomes a social conceit, a kind of pose one affects in order to create the appearance of valiance in a time of conflict. Humiliation is the price of memory in many cases, and it is a relatively small one.

‘In the midst of conflict, the one who forbears may be ridiculed and laughed at by others.’ With increasing conflict and increasing national debt, the ridicule becomes more acute, as the wealth accumulates and the many become the few.

The only thing we have forgotten is the hidden nature of things, led by the insight of the infinite possibility of our own ignorance, and the nature of humor, music, phatic performance and storytelling, as a kind of guide through ignorance and into memory. One of the paradoxes of memory as a correlate of physical reality is that it will retain and nurture an ethical or heuristic lesson even as it deletes empirical data of the past. This is how LeGuin can say that all storytelling is lying, and how the Turtle Island Liar’s Club can say that every story is literally true.

There is a fragile boundary between 1491 and the present moment, teetering on the possibility of genealogy against the rhetoric of safety, absolution, solution. In this sense DeLillo is correct to say that art creates isolation in its pure form, and the plot, or narrative, is the inevitable unwinding of a conspiracy against life. The Republic both relies upon and fails before a real efflorescence of autochthonous harmony. It needs the languages for cryptographic and military purposes, yet knows the risk hidden within their music, and seeks to control it. But the process of anamnesis, even if it were pure hallucination, plays a major role within the Platonic ideal of the Republic and its foundational educational mission. To draw the truth from a student, educare, is not to put knowledge forcibly into the student’s head, as Ataturk would have had it. Rather, education is unlearning, pulling back the veils of stimulus-conditioning which are the source of amnesia, and allowing the original extramaterial omniscience to emerge. Genealogy is the final element of the process, for if the youth know the process of education and the impossible goal of the ethics of the parallax, but are unaware of their genealogies, they will never find the motivation to engage in the project of extramaterial memory.

In learning a language from genealogy, it helps to consider the availability fallacy of Amos Tversky, which we roughly summarize as the notion that a set of available data represent present and future possibilities. In learning a language, which more importantly unlearns a current non-parallaxic reference schemata, the subject is confronted by the absolute ignorance of relying on previously gathered data. The old data was gathered without the psychological split between languages, and therefore fails to express the color, tone, and musicality of the data gathered in the light of the unlearning which comes from hearing the language. This is the object and goal of certain uses of Markov models in AI: to predict a future state without reference to the past.

Regardless of belief, Native ontological and especially tonal and rhythmic figures and beings populate the speech of all technological speed. The textbook examples are cryptographic, wherein military contractors drew on the hidden weapons of American language to preserve military orders in the World Wars of the 20th century.

The novelist Robert J. Conley, a formidable source of information on American History, gives no certain date of birth for the most famous native, Sequoyah. According to an interview in Chris Teuton’s book, Sequoyah inherited the syllabary from sages who traveled to and from the Rockies on a rainbow. The conceit is that unexplainable events like these are an indispensable part of the culture, and a definite horizon of contemporary technological development.

The Latin language, which includes Hebrew, Sanskrit, and other ancient influences, turns on a non-phonic definition of language based on the sacred form of the letter. Sequoyah is the figure who removes the letter from its sacred position, and puts it to work in the service of a spoken set of tropes, tones, pauses, rhythms, and patterns. Conley adds in his fictional depiction of Sequoyah the idea that the ancient priests were able to command the power of writing, but they misused the power for attracting women, and hence were killed.

Our property ownership appears to pay for our improprieties. How can we make peace now?

And yet when I walked down Figueroa in Northeast L.A. for the federal government’s census bureau, showing the 2010 “subjects” their “menu” of racio-ethnic “hats” to wear, most of them rejected our menu in favor of a write-in answer.

“I’m La Raza. Put that, si se puede.”

“I’m Aztec. My kids and wife too.”

These answers are not even “counter-narratives.” In Conley’s A Cherokee Encyclopedia, he states that there is a state-recognized Cherokee tribe in Mexico. This statement is not verified, like Sequoyah’s entire life. Like Hafiz, Rumi, Kafka, and perhaps even Steve Jobs, Sequoyah’s biography is swallowed by the functional, heuristic system he inaugurated, having drawn it from an unknown source.

There is a real value in hand-to-hand contest with rules and standards, and the true virtue of war is that it exists within goals, like the lacrosse game. The injustice NDNs see is the possibility of a total “elimination of war” through disinformation.

The contemporary right-wing political rhetorics of the United States bear a peculiar relationship to numerics, as explored in the work of British cybernetics. In the pseudoscience of numerology, the number two stands for opinion, or the volatile division between two poles, similar to human genetic diagrams. Nonetheless opinion is the irreducible supplement to mathematics, explored in the work of popular mathematicians.

While they should not be necessary, “original” and “visitor” (or Michel Serres’ “parasite” and “host,” in which the parasite is associated with Claude Shannon’s entropy, or the noise which disturbs a signal) seem like better 2-terms than “predator” and “prey” or “occupier” and “native,” or any other Manichean distinction. While Manicheanism is present in the original/visitor distinction, this Manicheanism is further complicated by the presence of Indians who have visitor ancestors, and vice versa. In this case, the question of “ethnic cleansing” or even “racial discrimination” is heavily superimposed by the psychiatric need to interpret, and the social need to perform.

On this topic, it seems fair to re-evaluate the thought of such figures as Karlfried Graf Durckheim, the Nazi count who found out (a little too late) that he was a Jew. Then he did some time in a Japanese prison after the war and wrote several books on Zen. He is remembered neither as Jew nor Nazi, but as Zen master and “perfect gentleman.” This kind of overwriting or “identity hacking,” usually due to extreme physical or political circumstances, is a cybernetics that will become more important as we learn how the earth refuses our claims to ownership.

Our property ownership appears to pay for our improprieties. How can we make peace now?

As the Myaamia speaker Daryl Baldwin has related, his language lacks terms for “race,” “nature,” and “democracy,” because such terms were meaningless to the ancestors. Rather than inventing new terms to accommodate these abstractions, Baldwin asks if we might meditate on the value of a language without such terms.

Part of the essence of language is that it stands for an absence. Spoken language represents absence in a different way, through the use of gesture, tonality, rhythm, accent, volume, and other environmental factors. Written language is pure absence, and hence it offers itself to the most extravagant speculative forms. Original peoples of America use wampum to communicate the spiritual messages of writing. Therefore, with or without the letter, the practice of writing is preserved from ancient times in America. You could also say that the wampum contains the letter, given that the etymology of “letter” is a thing that stands for speech.

Perhaps a miscommunication emerged in the reading of wampum as money, or in the gap between the meaning of original and visitor money. Tolowa leader Loren Bommelyn told a UCLA class in 1979 that his society was based on money and exchange. With elder women, he performed a song encouraging young women not to fall in love, because their young love interest would not be able to afford to buy them. Shocking is the similarity of such music to that of 2017 pop music.

The original songs recorded and performed by doctors and musicians are knowledge systems, coextensive with the entire process of popular music, as well as myth, allegory, and prophecy. In keeping with the modern understanding of systematics, they are not arborescent but algorithmic, as they reproduce a spiritual process of kinship and phatics, the pure command emerging from the geological.


ᏥᏍᏚ (Rabbit) and the Tribal Council

In the ancient times, the animals held councils, just like the humans do today. They made decisions by democratic consensus, and they shared a common language. As you can imagine, these meetings often took a long time, as all the animals took the time they needed to explain the problem before the council.

The most far-sighted of the animals is Eagle, who can see the furthest and project the future by reading the signs of the past. Eagle therefore acted as the leader of the tribal council.

Eagle would usually let Rabbit speak first, because Rabbit was nearly always long-winded and detailed in his testimony.

Rabbit began to address the council, and although his speech was eloquent, well-researched, clever, and witty, the animals soon noticed that all of his points were intended to create a positive impression of himself: why Rabbit is so brave, why Rabbit can run the fastest, why Rabbit is the most attractive.

After about 45 minutes, Eagle put up her wing and said, “Thank you, Rabbit…” but Rabbit was in the midst of a reverie and did not hear, or chose not to hear, Eagle. The animals stood and gradually led Rabbit, still talking, out of the council house, and hung a heavy rug over the door to keep him out.

“Now we can continue our meeting,” said Eagle.

Squirrel was next to speak, but before she could even begin, the animals heard Rabbit continuing to preach right outside the door. They could not hear Squirrel over the noise.

In those days, the meanest animal was Bullfrog, so Eagle chose Bullfrog to go outside and silence Rabbit. Bullfrog hopped outside and locked eyes with Rabbit. “Keep it down, keep it down, keep it down,” Bullfrog croaked. Rabbit looked away and hopped around nervously.

As soon as Bullfrog returned to the Council, the animals heard Rabbit again, at the same volume. Eagle said, “Wolf, please apply some pressure to Rabbit so he quiets down.”

Wolf went outside and crept up behind Rabbit. Rabbit turned around sheepishly. “Give me your paw,” said Wolf. Rabbit held out his paw, and Wolf pulled it off with a “pop!” taking the entire arm with it. “That’ll keep you quiet,” growled Wolf.

Yet within minutes, the Council again heard a noise from Rabbit, this time sounding like a drum. Eagle looked at Bear. “Please go deal with Rabbit.”

Bear went outside, crept up to Rabbit, and saw that Rabbit was hopping in a circle, smacking his bottom with his remaining arm, and singing a song, an ode to himself. Without a word, Bear grabbed Rabbit’s remaining arm and two legs in one paw, and pulled them clean off. All that remained was Rabbit’s torso.

In the council house, Eagle was proud of Bear, but shocked to hear Rabbit still singing outside.

“That’s enough,” Eagle said, and she waddled outside to see Rabbit singing at the top of his lungs. She took flight, swooped down and pulled off his head with a “pop!”

When she got inside, and the meeting continued, a sound came from outside once more. All of the animals left the door and saw just a ball of fur, with Rabbit’s heart inside it, jumping and bouncing, singing a song.

The animals were touched and amazed by this uncanny sight. Bear, Wolf and Eagle put the body parts back together and invited Rabbit back inside to finish his testimony. “Rabbit is singing from his heart,” Eagle said, “and we must learn from him.”

Robert Lewis says that the message of this story is that each person has something important to contribute, what they call dharma or purpose, and nothing can prevent the fulfillment of each person’s unique contribution.


We don’t frame things in terms of generic cultural language. We talk about knowledge systems. — Daryl Baldwin

Daryl Baldwin is a citizen of Kiiloona Myaamiaki, a nation of people who never ceded their lands to occupiers, and were forcibly removed more than once. He works with a linguist, David Costa, to give life to a “dead language,” as there has never been such a thing. Or, the living languages may be more dead than those with no speakers at present.

After thirteen treaties, which decreased in meaningfulness to the people, the Myaamia lived in Indian Territory, until that territory and its constitution became employed as a state, now called Oklahoma.

In some ways, the carrier of American Indian cybernetics is a figure who has done what Baldwin has done, having taken a language put to sleep by two phases of “relocation,” removal, or forcible eviction from ancestral lands, including all of the attendant issues, and brought it back from its dormancy. Working neither with nor against the system, but entering into its language and improving it. This is what Indians have always done. When one is surrounded, one improvises with dialects.

Our property ownership appears to pay for our improprieties. How can we make peace now?


In Native American DNA, Kim TallBear (Dakota) writes,

“In summary, the story of tribal citizenship in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is one in which dominant cultural notions of race — federal “Indian blood” — have pushed and been pushed against by tribal peoples’ own ideas of belonging and citizenship. The “tribal blood” fractions can be seen to represent a counting of tribal relatives in the conferral of membership. That is not to say that many of us, native and nonnative alike, might not believe vaguely that the concepts of Indian blood or tribal blood represent underlying biological properties — that we are not sometimes being biologically deterministic in our use of these concepts. But the counting of relatives and establishing a genealogical connection to them is also clearly at play in our blood talk. We use the language of blood and blood fractions while keeping in mind a specific world of policy and while bearing in mind that that language is shorthand for what we know is a far more complicated story of our lineages. When I cite these fractions, I think of my grandparents and great-grandparents. I remember their names and their parents’ and grandparents’ names. I remember how, through both dispossession and restricted choices, they came to be on the particular reservations now denoted in my blood-quantum fractions. These are relatives whose stories have been passed down to me, sometimes from their own mouths. I am not alone in Indian Country in this practice of accounting.

Nature-culture binaries and social-science refutations of them are so influential that not only is it intellectually confusing but also it feels academically countercultural to work one’s way through to a more nuanced understanding of how nature and culture actually relate rather than mutually exclude each other. I don’t suggest…that cultural knowledge inheres in the physiological properties of blood, a notion that blood-rule critics would rightly characterize as biologically essentialist. The relationship that these scholars see between blood and a people, and which they see tribes as seeing, is more complicated than that. [The twentieth-century Anishinaabeg, as analyzed by Doerfler] meant blood as not-biology, or something more than biology. Although contemporary tribal peoples may be more influenced by mainstream blood and gene talk than those Anishinaabeg would be, there is more going on with tribal understandings of blood than simply essentialism. Both lineal-descent and blood-quantum concepts invoke blood semiotically to organize Native American identity differently but…in potentially complementary ways. Blood rules can and do have roots in the Euro-American racial thinking of earlier centuries. But ‘blood’ may also retain symbolic meanings rooted in indigenous thought, and blood rules require the counting of one’s tribal relations and ancestors. Indeed, as Gover shows, the move by tribes away from total Indian blood to tribe-specific blood, or the coupling of blood quantum with lineal descent in a specific tribe, is a move away from that earlier race thinking and toward a new ‘genealogic tribalism.’ (63–65).”

ᏝᏱᎪᎯᎩ, ᎡᎶᎯ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᎤᎪᏗ ᏂᎦᎾᏰᎬᎾ ᏏᏅ ᎡᎶᎯ ᎠᏂᏲᏁᎦ. ᎡᎶᎯ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᎤᏗᏫᏒᎢ ᎬᏗ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᏗᎧᏃᎩᏍᏗ ᎠᎦᏙᎥᎯᏍᏗ. ᎯᎠ ᎤᎾᏓᏥᎨᏛᎢ. ᏓᏂᎳᏫᎥ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏗ. ᎠᏂᏲᏁᎦ ᏃᏊ ᎥᏝ ᎠᏃᎵᎪᎢ ᎠᎹ, ᎡᎶᎯ, ᎤᏃᎴ, ᎠᏂᏴᏫ, ᎡᎿᎢ, ᏗᏓᏅᏙ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎦᎪᏗ ᎠᎹᏰᏟ. ᎠᏍᎦᏅᏨ ᎤᏲᏍᏔᏃᎲᏍᏗ ᎠᎦᏙᎥᎯᏍᏗ. ᎤᏃᎴ ᎦᏓᏁᏟᏴᏍᎪᎢ. ᎡᏙᏢᏍᎦ ᏅᏩᏙᎯᏯᏓ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏠᏯᏍᏙᏗ. ᎤᏲᎢᏳᏛᎿᏕᎩ ᎤᏪᏅᎪᎢ ᎬᏗ ᎠᏛᏅᎢᏍᏙᏔᏅ ᎠᏅᏓᏗᏍᏙ. ᎯᎠ, ᎡᎶᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ.

Less than seven generations ago, Indian country was safer than the “settled” land, the land with settlement claims upon it, because it was part of an interanimate assemblage of language, culture, and community. This assemblage is not lost. After taking everything they could, the visitors, the settlers, the homeless refugees of political and religious persecution back in Europe, are still unable to understand the most basic aspects of caring for land, air, water, and beings. This is both sad and the necessary outcome of crime: a payment in consciousness. It signals that the wind will change and the situation will revert to its origin, as things do travel in cycles, and the sovereignty of the peoples restored in the possibility of adoption and peacemaking. The poor ones are enriched by their attachment to memory, and the rich impoverished by their radicalism. The world is filled with centers.