In this episode of A Correction I speak to Prof. Donald Grinde Jr., who testified before the US congress about why and how Native American principles of democracy directly informed the American democratic system, including the American constitution, federalism, setting up a system of separate judicial, legislative branches that have distinct powers, and the concept of sovereignty as invested in the people. The US Congress has officially recognised this influence. Also see (Iroquois Confederacy of Nations: Hearing before the Select Committee on Indian Affairs United States Senate). Monarchy rule in Europe at the time was not found suited for the new American context and Native American principles such as those of the Iroquois Confederacy was the form of democracy the founding fathers were most familiar with in their local interactions. While influential it was not copied, as views differed, for example, with Native American principles on slavery, women and environmental rights. He also talks about how this system influenced the change from monarchy rule to democracy in France. This influence has been outlined extensively in various documents by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington as well as by European philosophers like John Locke and Montesquieu among others. He also talks about women rights and environmental rights in Native American culture, and the influence of Native American food and ecology globally.
Professor Donald Grinde Jr
Professor Grinde is a member of the Yamassee Nation, whose research and teaching have focused on Haudenosaunee/Iroquois history, U.S. Indian policy since 1871, Native American thought, and environmental history. He has written extensively on these topics, including authoring or co-authoring books such as “the Encyclopedia of Native American Biography,” “Apocalypse of Chiokoyhikoy, Chief of the Iroquois”, “The Iroquois and the Founding of the American Nation,” “Exemplar of Liberty: Native America and the Evolution of Democracy,” “Ecocide of Native America: Environmental Destruction of Indian Lands and Peoples.” His work on environmental issues has also included studying the 16th and 17th century ecological history of a portion of the Susquehanna River, and serving as co-principal investigator on a National Science Foundation-funded graduate student training program focused on solving environmental problems in Western New York. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Africana and American Studies at the University of Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences.