Big Lie


James Catron

In the early 1400's, the Portuguese began the Age of Exploration by venturing out into the Atlantic Ocean and down the West Coast of Africa. On the Antilles, the Azores, and on the African mainland, they encountered native peoples who were quickly dispossessed of their lands and soon exterminated or enslaved. The immorality of those events was justified by denying the humanity of the natives, and, even if they were human, they did not own the lands that had been taken.

The pattern was well established before Columbus drifted into world history. The Spanish monarchs for whom he was sailing immediately used the same arguments to lay claim to the New World, that is, the natives are beasts, and live communistically without property. With the help of Bartolome de las Casas and the Papacy, the Spanish Royalty finally agreed that Indians are human, but never admitted aboriginal title to these lands.

All American Indian societies recognized and fought over property; individual, family, clan, and tribal property. An individual's right to use a particular place as his hunting ground, a certain stretch of stream as his fishing hole was fiercely defended. The infamous warrior cultures of the Natives were evolved from the constant necessity to protect property and property rights.

In a Cherokee divorce, all the family's property went to the wife. In the Northwest, the Russians had to buy their lands from the Tlingits, Aleuts, and Eskimos, or take them by force. Those tribes' potlatches were giveaways of property to demonstrate wealth and power. Kentucky is an English corruption of Ganda-Gi-Ga (Bloody Place), the name given to the Cherokees' hunting preserve from which they kept out all other tribes. These are but a few examples of Native American property.

In Europe, when the absolute monarchs ruled by divine right, only the royalty, the aristocracy were propertied. The king divided the land among his vassals, who kept the property only if they obeyed their oaths of fealty. Any nobleman who used the king's lands in violation of royal demands lost the land and his life. All property belonged to the king, even the wild game in the woods. Poaching meant hunting, and poaching was a capital offense.

It was contact with Hiawatha's Great Law of Peace that caused the unraveling of Europe's feudal totalitarians. When all power and all property are held by elites, peace is impossible. Political equality and economic freedom are the White Path, the road to peace.

The great thinkers of the Enlightenment and our nation's Founders learned these lessons from the Native Americans over 200 years ago. Why haven't the American Left and the Federal bureaucracy learned them yet?