* Medicine as Metaphor: Indigenous Philosophies of Power* Franke Wilmer Montana State University Even the postmodern Foucault who demanded that we attend to the contextualization of knowledge systems within the power relations constructed through historical and cultural interpretation never questioned whether power itself might also be a socially constructed and culturally embedded concept.^(1) <#N_1_> Yet the authors and editors of this volume have invited precisely this consideration. The (western, masculine, mostly white) idea of power as "control over" is challenged by some feminist thinkers who suggest an alternative conception of power as "control with." Still, both these masculinist and feminist conceptualizations, which have been constructed within a discourse on political philosophy grounded in the experience and cognitive perspective of western cultures, share a focus on power as "control."^(2) <#N_2_> Cultures, however, as the milieu within which ideas about power are socially constructed, vary tremendously. What if there are other perspectives on the definition of power? What are the consequences for the (social) structuring of relations in which power determines relationships among social actors and institutions? More importantly, when whole fields of social science -- like political science and sociology -- make certain assumptions about power, and the praxis resulting from work in those fields appears increasingly incapable of effectively addressing the most pressing social problems of our time ( terrorism, nuclear proliferation, environmental degradation, genocide, ethnocide and a host of individual and collective human rights abuses, anomie and the loss of community) it is certainly not out of place to question underlying assumptions and seek out alternative ways of understanding our understanding of those assumptions. This is not simply an argument for cultural relativism, such as takes place in debates about human rights, for example (Panikkar 1984, Mohawk 1984). It is an acknowledgement that as an epistemological basis for understanding and solving social problems, western culture represents a very narrow range of human experience and philosophical orientation. It is preposterous as well as stupid to try to tackle the range and depth of social problems apparent in the last decade of the twentieth century without consulting the philosophical and theoretical resources of other, non-western knowledge systems. This argument is not new, but rather is the central theme of an emerging postcolonial social theory (Nandy 1983, Nandy 1995, Ashcroft 1995). What is relatively new is the inclusion of indigenous perspectives in discourses about social theory and political philosophy. The inclusion of indigenous perspectives has three potential benefits even if it does not directly point the way to better thinking about and more effective social problem-solving. First, while I do not see indigenous and western perspectives as dichotomous, any endeavor to shift the focus or relocate the source of knowledge somewhere other than in western, masculinist knowledge systems will critically enlighten the privileged discourse. For too long western philosophy has occupied center stage, and has maintained itself there, in part, by proposing a dichotomous relationship of the privileged western "progressive" self to the "backward" (Other) perspective of non-western, indigenous knowledge systems. By shifting our orientation toward indigenous knowledge systems as a source of enlightenment and knowledge the shadows of western thinking become more apparent. Second, the inclusion of "other" perspectives can only enrich the ongoing discourse. The contributions of feminist, critical, postmodern and postcolonial social theory have already done so. Finally, an inquiry into socially constructed conceptions of power leads us inevitably to questions about how and why such differences in constructions of influential concepts like "power" came into existence in the first place. In my thinking, for instance, indigenous philosophies of power belie differences in the social construction of gender and gender relations as well as self-other relations in general. One of the most interesting questions raised by feminist and postmodern critiques of western masculinist political philosophy is how difference might be differently understood. I would like to suggest that indigenous philosophies offer some worthwhile alternatives. Before proceeding to the discussion of power, however, I will contextualize my own use of terms pertaining to indigenous philosophies, and attempt to place the contemporary experiences and perspectives of indigenous peoples into social and historical perspective. _Contemporary Issues in Defining "Indigenous"_ The notion of "indigenous" peoples is itself a product of western colonization. As used in the United Nations, it refers to the original or ab-original occupants of an area now politically controlled by descendants of a (European) settler population. A further distinction is often made that indigenous peoples wish to live in conformity with their own evolving and adapting traditions, even if the direction of adaptation involves incorporating western values and practices (Wilmer 1993). On this last point it is important to note that this does not mean that indigenous peoples must live "frozen in time" or some sort of cultural zoo in order to maintain their status and rights as "indigenous" peoples. It is an acknowledgement of the continuity of indigenous identities and the association of cultural and political self-determination with the social boundaries delineated by indigenous identity. In other words, while indigenous peoples have constituted socially cohesive and culturally distinct groups "since time immemorial," they have and continue, like other groups, to adapt, evolve and change. Adaptation does not destroy the integrity of socio-cultural boundaries. Some postcolonial theorists use the term "indigenous" simply to refer to a native population and culture living with national boundaries determined largely through colonization, even when the population has undergone political decolonization (Nandy 1983). My use of the term is more restrictive. One Native American lawyer who has worked extensively in the United Nations and other international forums to develop support for principles to protect the rights of indigenous peoples put the concept in less formal, more common sense terms: "Indigenous means American Indians and people ^(3) <#N_3_> like that." This is close to my use of the term, and relies less on legalistic "objective" thinking and more on common sense. With a little reflection, most everyone has a sense of how American Indian communities are situated in the late twentieth century: Until a few centuries ago, and in some cases very close to within just the last century, they lived as socially and culturally cohesive communities with their own evolving knowledge systems about how the world works. These knowledge systems were primarily concerned with the things which most immediately affected their lives, and the lives of unborn generations.^(4) <#N_4_> Like other peoples, however, indigenous peoples wondered and theorized about astronomy, geology and human evolution (Deloria 1996). Upon the arrival of Europeans into areas now constituted as states constructed by European settlers, indigenous peoples were subjected to unrelenting and often brutal policies aimed at their "assimilation" which also means their cultural destruction. These pressures continue today, and are often perpetrated by indigenous individuals within indigenous communities. Many people, however, continue in the effort to carry on a process of cultural /adaptation/ as contrasted with assimilation. Adaptation involves both cultural exchange and survival as distinct cultural communities. _Precolonial, Colonial and Postcolonial Indigenous Perspectives_ All cultures, indigenous and otherwise, continually adapt and evolve. "Precolonial," "colonial" and "postcolonial" are locations of historic experience describing the relationship between indigenous peoples and European peoples who carried out an imperialist mission of "settlement" rationalized by an ideology of conquest. These are historic, but not necessarily linear descriptions. Indigenous peoples' cultures adapted and evolved in relation to one another prior to their contact with European imperialism. We can refer to this as a precolonial position. The colonial experience is distinguished by the efforts of settler populations, engaged in a process of nation-state building on foreign soil, to assimilate and thus eliminate indigenous cultures. Many indigenous cultures did not survive colonization. Surviving cultures were altered in ways unparalleled by the kinds of intercultural adaptation of the Precolonial period. The experience of colonization involves the loss of control by indigenous peoples over their own cultural processes. Commonly, their religious practices, use of their own languages, and control over the education of their children characterize the colonial experience for non-western, indigenous peoples. One feature of nearly all colonized indigenous cultures is a struggle between individuals who maintain a belief in the integrity of their own cultural orientations and knowledge systems and individuals who, mostly under the pressure of policies best characterized as "forced assimilation," or "psychological colonization," (Duran and Duran 1995) reject indigenous knowledge systems and relocated themselves culturally and ideologically within the value system and cultures of the colonizing society. Writers on indigenous peoples often refer to the former as "traditional" and the latter as "progressive." I reject these terms for a number of reasons. First, all cultures are characterized by conservative forces favoring slow change and greater continuity with the past, and liberal forces favoring a more rapid pace of change. Indigenous cultures are no different. The pejorative nature of the term "traditional" when viewed as the alternative to "progressive" is obvious. But more importantly, using these terms to refer to non-western indigenous peoples assumes two things which are problematic: western culture occupies the privileged position of "progress" toward which "progressive" elements are moving; and the use of these terms exclusively in reference to indigenous peoples (are Republicans "traditionals" and Democrats "progressive") suggests that the social struggles within indigenous societies are somehow unique and different from all other peoples (Meyer 1995). All cultures are unique, to be sure. But indigenous peoples are not alone in struggling with issues of change and stability. Finally, postcolonial represents adaptations in the aftermath of surviving colonialism. This term is not reserved for peoples who are politically decolonized in the "Third" world, for clearly the lives of indigenous North Americans are still largely controlled by the politics and policies of the settler societies. But even in the Third World, where political decolonization is understood as an accomplished fact, psychological decolonization is far from complete (Nandy 1983). Rather, I use the term "postcolonial" to refer to the recovery of control over processes that direct cultural adaptation. Indigenous North Americans have, legally any way, begun to recover control over their own cultural processes -- in areas of religious practice, language revival, control over educational institutions, political assertiveness in advance of their cultural rights in national and international forums. Yet control over these processes is by no means wholly recovered, nor is it evenly distributed across indigenous communities. Finally, the struggle between forces favoring greater incorporation into the dominant society and those favoring greater adherence to values and knowledge systems originating within the indigenous experience has produced a constellation of political relationships within indigenous communities in terms of the balance and conflict between these forces. Some communities are controlled by indigenous individuals who themselves wish to wholly displace their own traditions and values with those of the dominant society, while others are influenced primarily by those who wholly reject incorporation and favor of more conservative adherence to precolonial cultural perspectives. Most are a mix of these two, and the politics of many indigenous communities are paralyzed by tensions alternating between two poles. When referring to indigenous social philosophies, I mean those originating within and adapting in relation to knowledge systems of the precolonial indigenous experience, or of efforts to revive those systems as a part of postcolonial renewal. I do not want to minimize the importance of differences among indigenous cultures. To contrast indigenous perspectives with those of western cultures does not, in my opinion, suggest a dichotomy. Indigenous is not the "opposite" of western. Nor is "indigenous" a homogeneous perspective. One of the most important and controversial developments affecting indigenous cultures is what is often referred to as "pan-Indianism." There is probably a greater degree of variation among indigenous cultures than among European cultures. For instance, virtually all European cultures have been patriarchal for more than a thousand years. Indigenous North American cultures, in contrast, include mostly matrilineal, some patrilineal, some patriarchal and some complementarian (gender-balanced) cultures. The degree of diversity among indigenous cultures is obscured by most pan-Indian discussions (McGeeshick 1995). Still, particularly in comparison with western cultures, there are some important epistemological commonalities, and because the purpose of our essay is to explore understandings of power, community and gender recurring in indigenous social philosophies, we will necessarily emphasize commonality over diversity. _Power as Control, Power as Medicine_ Western social scientists agree that power is concerned with control. In political science, many have come to rest on a definition of power as "control over values used to allocate resources," or "control over institutions that allocate values used to distribute resources." Shifting our orientation to "control /with/" is an important change, but not necessarily a fundamentally different understand of power. One alternative to a control-oriented conception of power is the metaphor of power as "medicine." The association between "medicine" and "power" may have originated with whites who noted that within indigenous societies, individuals who were recognized as having a special gift for and perhaps knowledge of healing arts were also regarded as the most powerful and influential people in the community (Lame Deer and Erdoes 1972:154). Notwithstanding the myriad of native languages used in North America prior to contact with Europeans, a great many native peoples over time have adopted the English word "medicine" to describe what they refer to as "power^(5) <#N_5_> ." While not claiming to be an authority on how and why this translation came into use, I believe it is worthwhile exploring the implications of this metaphor. It presumes that Native linguists also understood the English word "medicine" as a substance the settlers administered to ailing individuals in order to bring about their healing. But the use of the term medicine in colloquial Native English extends beyond the notion of bringing about a healing, although it certainly includes this. I wish to note at the outset of this part of the discussion that in no way do I claim to be an authority on how indigenous peoples understand the terms "power" or "medicine," rather simply that the usage appears repeatedly in the discourses /of/ indigenous peoples, particularly when describing what they believe to be central to the identity and way of life that distinguished Native from western cultural systems. Native peoples use the term "medicine" to refer to power with a certain meaning, and I take seriously what they say in this regard. "You have to be careful," says Hoh Mary Leitka, "Spiritual power is not to be played with. To accept the power, you have to cleanse yourself and make sure you don't use it to harm, just to help" (Wall 1993:202) It is my intent to be respectful of (the sacredness of) the concept, but also to take seriously that its use indicates a philosophical perspective on power that it quite different from any meaning associated with power in the western use of the term. Sometimes when people argue with each other, or are mad at head other, they just throw power. Knock each other down. Just knock them down! Mom said she had seen that power, same as using your power stick...Some medicine men are very strong. They can sing their Help songs, their medicine songs, and take red-hot charcoal and put it in their mouths. No harm comes to their bodies (Wall 1993:200). Medicine is"a term used for the personal force through which one possesses power (Allen 1986:72). While not claiming to be an authority in any way on indigenous meanings associated with the use of these terms, I do think it is useful to reflect on the implications these uses have for how western thinkers, within a global discourse, might think differently about such things. Power-as-medicine is frequently described as /sacred /because it refers to power originating within /spiritual/ forces, spiritual force being that which enlivens the material world. The material world is not viewed as having existence apart from the force which enlivens it, including the earth itself. As Vine Deloria, Jr. has said about an account of Sioux cosmology written in 1919 Substitute "energy" for "spirit" in some of these passages and we have a modern theory of energy/matter (Deloria 1993:64) "Medicine" can be strong or weak, good or bad. Both individuals and groups can have medicine. Of course, "power" as used in the western sense can be strong or weak, good or bad, and individuals and groups can have it. But we tend to think of power as the result of relationships or alliances or structures formed by groups of individuals for the purpose controlling resources and people. Still, we do not need a meaning beyond something related to "control" to understand an English speaker's use of the term power, whether strong or weak, good or bad, individual or collective. But why would Native speakers not just use the word "power?" how is "medicine different from "power?" Mohawk Cecelia Mitchell describes her understanding of good and bad medicine: Just like everything, you have a negative and a positive. Lots of times fire is very good for you, but fire can destroy you, too. Water's good for you, but too much is bad. It can kill you. That's the way things are...You have good people, you have bad. Medicine's no different. It's a positive and a negative. There's medicine that's good; there's medicine that's bad. Just depends on the person practicing that. It's the person that has the knowledge. It's up to how it is used...I studied the good medicine. I could go for the bad, too, but I don't want to get into that because that is really bad (Wall 1993: 244-5). Medicine is indeed intended to bring about healing, whereas the western concept of power is generally not. We can talk about the power to heal, but this is the /ability/ to heal, not the action of healing. But in the view of some indigenous people, it is also about being able to make someone ill. "If such a conjurer is bad," says Lame Deer, "he himself will put a sickness into you which only he can cure -- for a price (Lame Deer and Erdoes 1972:155). One way of understanding the difference between western and indigenous conceptions of power is to think about bringing about a change in the relationship between the life force and the enlivened being. Medicine acts on the life force itself, and the life force, in turn, when strengthened, brings about healing in the enlivened being. This interpretation offers the possibility of "good" medicine, which strengthens the life force, and "bad" medicine, which diminishes it. It also allows for the notion of "strong" medicine -- an easy connection between the life force and the enlivened being; and "weak" medicine -- an obstructed or fragile connection between the life force and the enlivened being. This more complex system of understanding the relationship between the life force and the enlivened being also allows us to think in terms of "strong good" and "strong bad" medicine, as well as "weak good" and "weak bad" medicine. Lame Deer believes that the only true medicine person is the one whose life is entirely devoted to seeking spiritual consciousness, a "holy man" (Lame Deer and Erdoes 1972:155). Such a man likes to be in a place where there is no sound but the humming of insects. He sits facing the west, asking for help. He talks to the plants and they answer him. He listens to the voices of the /wama kaskan/--all those who move upon the earth, the animals. He is as one with them. From all living beings something flows into him all the time, and something flows from him...This kind of medicine is neither good nor bad (Lame Deer and Erdoes 1972:156). It is a rather large leap to suggest that in order to understand the indigenous use of the word "medicine" as the best representation of "power" we need to conceive of the existence of both a life force and an enlivened being. Now while (precolonial and postcolonial) indigenous metaphysics do make this distinction, it is not without a basis in western science as well. Not only theoretical physics, but recent studies of intraspecies communication includes such ideas as a life force field surrounding life forms, sometimes forming a medium for intraspecies communication (Tompkins and Bird 1992). I mention this not because such a connection is necessary to give validity to indigenous knowledge systems, but because it illustrates that western science may be discovering through its own methodologies some of the knowledge acquired long ago by indigenous peoples using their own theories and methodologies. Such intersections between indigenous western knowledge systems may suggest openings for inter-cultural understanding. _Medicine, Power and Community_ What are the implications of "medicine-as-power" for conceptions of community and civil society? Well, for one thing, the conception of power as the ability to manipulate the life force makes power into an attribute that is simultaneously inherent and uncontrollable through external mechanisms. It is a demonstrable attribute. One either has it, or not. One can gain it, increase it, diminish it or lose it. But how this happens remains mysterious.^(6) <#N_6_> No calculated action can produce it, and once demonstrated no one can refute it. It resembles the western concept of power as physical force, except that physical force can be acquired through calculated means, whereas medicine cannot. As an inherent attribute, it cannot be regulated through coercion. It must be self-regulated, as well as through socialization or social control, the latter being aimed at encouraging "good," helpful, healing and caring uses of power. The result is that there is no point in designing political institutions to control people's possession and use of "medicine." Much more emphasis is therefore placed on personal responsibility, and on social controls as restraints. This may explain the fact that many indigenous political systems did not, in the precolonial experience, develop extensive coercive institutions. A social system constructed on the assumption that the ability to manipulate the life force resides within individuals and cannot be controlled through external mechanisms has an overriding interest in socializing individuals to use power in ways that are supportive of the community, in ways which enhance an other-directed caring rather than a harming, self-interested ethic. Since this conception of power is decentralized, and since power does not flow from political authority or uses of physical force, it is also implicitly democratic and relies on self-regulation. individuals would be strongly rewarded for pro-communal behaviors and attitudes and severely ostracized for uses of power that are destructive of the community. The greatest emphasis would be on the development of personal responsibility. Socialization would emphasize the responsibility that attends the possession of power. The benefits of community would be stressed, not taken for granted. Continued participation in the benefits of community life would be conditioned on the responsible, and constructive, rather than destructive, uses of personal power. Finally, since medicine power is, as Cecelia Mitchell pointed out, capable of producing good or harm, community or "national" security will depend not on having an elaborate criminal justice or national defense system, but on /our learning to live with our capability to destroy and achieving a moral or ethical level of maturity in which we choose not to use it/. _Gender and the Social Construction of Power_ Feminist theorists ask:: Does the way in which a culture constructs gender and gender relations have anything to do with the way it constructs power? I believe it does. Although the question of the universality of male dominance remains a debated topic,^(7) <#N_7_> there is no question that virtually all European societies, (and the societies created by European settlers), have been overwhelmingly patriarchal and patrilineal for over a thousand years. Exactly why this is so continues to fascinate feminist writers. But scant attention has been paid to the existence of non-patriarchal societies. Some precolonial indigenous North American cultures were also patriarchal. Most were not. This does not mean they were matriarchal. Indeed, anthropologists are hard-pressed to locate any clear cut cases of matriarchal society, when the terms patriarchal and matriarchal are used to indicate the dominance of male over female and female over male influence in social and political affairs (Bamberger 1986). Many precolonial indigenous societies, however, were what I would call complimentarian or egalitarian, meaning that gender was constructed in terms of complimentary and interdependent attributes. Furthermore, many indigenous cultures clearly believe that masculine and feminine potentialities existed in both sexes (Roscoe 1991, Williams 1986). In many indigenous creation stories, female figures play central or original roles in the creation of the physical world, or the maintenance of balance between physical and spiritual realities (Allen 1986). Here the richness and variety of indigenous cosmologies should not be overlooked. Some indigenous cultures -- perhaps the majority -- but evidence is difficult to evaluate due to both the tremendous loss of cultural knowledge under the influence of colonization and the control exerted by non-indigenous researchers over the interpretation of indigenous knowledge -- clearly held more diverse and varied views of gender than the dichotomous construction of male and female that now characterizes Eurocentric cultures (Roscoe 1991). We do not need irrefutable evidence that indigenous cosmologies are universally based on a more gender-balanced view of male and female in order to assert a relationship between the concept of power as the ability to manipulate the life force through psychic or intuitive powers and a more complex orientation toward power. Whatever their physiological basis, it is the /social/ construction of gender -- the significance interpretively associated with physiological difference -- that is important here. Gender as a category of difference is culturally universal, although it is not always constructed in hierarchical or even dichotomous terms. In western culture we also do not make any distinction about power as a gendered concept, whereas many indigenous societies do. Among indigenous cultures, "feminine" often appears as a /metaphor/ for life-giving as well as usually a host of ascribed characteristics, while "masculine" is associated metaphorically with life-taking. It is not, I would argue the ascription or metaphoric association of characteristics as "feminine" or "masculine" that is problematic as much as the notion that in western cultures these sets of characteristics are socially constructed within a /dichotomous hierarchy./ There are important epistemological consequences for thinking of life-giving and life-taking as separate as in western culture, in contrast with thinking of them as interdependent and many indigenous cultures do. The concept of power as medicine maintains the relationship, the interdependence between the dual capacities. The concept of power as control over, on the other hand, clearly favors masculine, physical power as an externally located force. Again, note the contrast. Medicine is an unseen power located within the individual, much like feminine, life-giving power. One consequence of separating, then privileging the masculine power to take life is that it makes possible the construction of modern polities in the form of coercive and militarized states. Systems of social order based on kinship, or connection through relationship are both feminized and de-privileged as inferior to the impersonal juridical relations of legal and hierarchical bureaucracies. _Lessons for Contemporary World and Civic Order_ The indigenous model of power as inherently decentralized and ultimately uncontrollable through external and institutional mechanisms may have profound relevance for a world in which a multitude of nation-states have possession of weapons of indiscriminate destruction -- nuclear, chemical, biological. Virtually all research, policy making, and thinking in general on the problem of nuclear weapons has emphasized controlling the/weapons./ One approach is arms control and disarmament. Reduce the weapons and we reduce the likelihood they will be used. Proliferation makes this a problematic approach. It is no longer the largest, most destructive nuclear weapons possessed by two superpowers and their allies that pose the greatest threat to nuclear security. The breakup of the Soviet Union, increased testing and acquisition by China, and greater access to nuclear technology throughout the Third World now constitutes the greater probability of nuclear use. Furthermore, it is not only the largest, most destructive weapons which ar perceived to be a threat, but the possibility that less sophisticated, smaller "home-grown" weapons can be constructed and used in conjunction with terrorist strategies which constitute a more likely and equally disturbing threat. Could the Oklahoma City bombing just as easily have involved a small homemade nuclear device? And if arms control is insufficient to reduce or eliminate the probability of these scenarios, disarmament is also an equally unsatisfactory solution. The genie is out of the box. Of course, the genie is not only nuclear, but biological and chemical. The technology of indiscriminate and mass destruction cannot be uninvented. But as Cecelia Mitchell says, everything is both good and bad, everything has a negative and a positive. /Everything, and everyone/ has the capability of good and bad, of harm and help. We must learn to live with out own capability for destructiveness, and now total self-destructiveness. It cannot be "regulated" or "controlled." The bad (and maybe also good) news is that this is likely to permanently decentralize "power" defined in terms of the ability to coerce through the threat of inflicting harm on others. The bad news is also that either strategic or material ("Star Wars") solutions are incapable of providing security against these kinds of threats. The bad news is that we need fundamentally different ways of /thinking/ about "control" in order to control what is uncontrollable within our current ways of thinking about power as control. The good news is that a search is underway for new ways of thinking -- a search by feminist, by postcolonial, indigenous, postmodern, ecological and other critical thinkers. Our ability to control the use of these kinds of weapons may indeed rely on our ability to socialize members of the international community to appreciate the benefits of participation in the community, responding to those who misuse such power with strong sanctions and ostracism. Terrorism -- the willingness to use force against innocents -- is also a decentralized form of power uncontrollable through external mechanisms. Ultimately, the regulation of terrorism as well as nuclear capability may have to rely more on socialization that emphasizes responsibility and the value of pro-community behavior than on some kind of coercive threat in response to anti-social, anti-community behavior. We need to seek out ways of thinking differently about why people refrain from and engage in harm-doing in the first place, and about the limits of using coercive institutions to prevent harm-doing. The necessitates a different way of thinking about power and power relations. It may, in fact, mean that the most powerful "actors" (political leaders of the most powerful states and states in general) must listen to and take seriously the claims and criticisms of the smallest, "weakest" actors (ethnic and indigenous groups, groups allied for common normative purposes). It may also mean, since people may be mobilized by a few charismatic leaders to adopt terrorist strategies (like the Freemen or other American domestic anti-government groups) that we need to rethink how people are educated -- whether they are educated to be able to reason with a degree of moral independence, or whether they ar taught to rely on those in positions of authority to know what is "right." Not only weapons technology, but communication technology is a powerful force of decentralization. If principles like free speech, press, association and flow of information are to remain the cornerstones of democratic civil society, then we must tolerate, indeed, allow spaces for the communication of "bad" ideas, like racism, anti-government rhetoric, violent or exclusivist nationalism, terrorism and so on. And we must rely on the ability of people to accurately judge bad ideas as such for themselves, which similarly turns on being educated not necessarily for obedience to authority (a masculinist model) but to reason independently. Although little research has yet been done, among traditional indigenous North American natives, the education of children relies much more on reasoning than obedience. This is the purpose of story-telling. Instead of telling a child what to do, children are told stories about people or animals in metaphoric situations where they must make a choice and live with the consequences. Children are then presumed to have the knowledge base on which to make their own judgements. Of course, when a child who has been told many stories about the fox who got too close to the fire ignores the knowledge of the stories and gets burned and wails in pain, no one is very sympathetic. Or when children hear a story about Coyote, who, appealing to emotional impulses lures a young boy down a strange and new path -- a "shortcut" -- and the boy ends up hopelessly lost, they may learn not to follow others who appeal purely to our emotions and impulses too quickly.^(8) <#N_8_> But education for an industrial society has emphasized obedience and rote learning. In the new technological "age," we have begun to make only marginal changes, and are presently emphasizing vocational and technical skills ("math and science") and just beginning to introduce the concept of creative thinking (for the purpose of getting a "technological edge" on "other countries" in the global economy). There are no new initiatives in the area of civic education, although discourses about the role of values in education suggest movement in that direction. We are not educating children for citizenship in a democracy in which they will have to tolerate the free expression of bad ideas, and to live with the emotional appeals of charismatic leaders offering "short-cuts" to the achievement of short-term material interests or to solving social problems deeply rooted in historical and structurally interdependent social forces. We are not educating ourselves to make morally independent judgements. There are many insights to be gained by abandoning the myth that indigenous peoples are simply a representation of some earlier stage of social development experienced by European peoples. If we assume, instead, that the variety of cultural systems among the world's peoples represent different ways of knowing different (and some of the same) things, then these become a resource for global learning. Indigenous peoples' thinking about power suggests one way in which intercultural learning can enrich our understanding of some of the most pressing issues of global and civic order. 1. John Gledhill (1994) has recently taken up this issue from an anthropological perspective in /Power and its Disguises/ . 2..By "masculinist" we are referring to the discourse about political philosophy in western cultures that originates with and has been largely controlled by masculine thinkers. Feminist philosophers enter into a discursive project in which the rules and parameters have already been established by male thinkers, and not the reverse. If there is something unique to the cognitive perspectives of "masculine" and "feminine," whether derived from social or psychological experiences, then these differences will shape a discourse conducted primarily from one perspective or the other. Thus the fact that "power" occupies a central position in western political discourse may itself be a result of the dominant role of male thinkers. 3. Robert T. Coulter, Executive Director, Indian Law Resource Center, address during Native American Awareness Week, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, April 1992. 4. The metaphor of making decisions and considering the consequences of actions with a mind to their effect on seven generations to come can not, to my knowledge, be traced to a single indigenous culture, but is rather a metaphor recurring in numerous indigenous cultures. Furthermore, many oral histories as well as among indigenous communities today, suggest that though uncommon, it was possible for six generations to live contemporaneously, while seven would have been out of the question. The metaphor, therefore, refers fairly literally to making decisions and considering the consequences on unborn generations. 5. I would also point out that this does not mean that indigenous peoples do not also have other conceptions of power, some coercive, or materialistic, closer the western conceptions of power. I wish here only to explore the implications of the recurring metaphor of power as "medicine." 6. It is said that one can be born with it, can acquire it through spiritual knowledge, or it can be passed from one person to another (Lame Deer and Erdoes 1972). 7. See Duley and Edwards (1986) for an overview of the literature on this debate. 8. From a traditional story as told by musician Bill Miller called "Many Trails" on his album /Red Road/ (1994).