Native American Political Systems and the Evolution of Democracy: An Annotated Bibliography

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996 - History - 158 pages
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For more than a decade scholars have debated the question of whether American Indian confederacies, primarily the Iroquois, helped influence the formation of U.S. basic law. The idea has sparked lively debate in the public arena as well, with Canadian diplomat Durling Voyce-Jones contending it shows a paradigm shift in our thinking, Patrick Buchanan calling it idiocy, and George Will saying it's fiction. For the first time, this bibliography brings together some 450 citations on the debate. The work describes the debate in the words of one of its major participants, Bruce E. Johansen, author of three other books on the subject.

The bibliography also takes the reader back to suggestions of the idea long before the contemporary debate. Lakota author Charles Eastman brought up the subject in 1919, Mohawk teacher Ray Fadden developed it in the 1940s, and John F. Kennedy touched on it in 1960. Bringing the debate to its full flower in the present day, the bibliography illustrates both fervent support and equally emphatic denial in the academy and the public press. The book is both a scholarly tool and a lively exploration of issues bearing on the study of history and multiculturalism.


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Page ix - The British government cannot be our model. We have no materials for a similar one. Our manners, our laws, the abolition of entails and of primogeniture, the whole genius of the people are opposed to it.
Page xi - Whatever the particular crimes of Europe, that continent is also the source — the unique source — of those liberating ideas of individual liberty, political democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and cultural freedom that constitute our most precious legacy and to which most of the world today aspires. These are European ideas, not Asian, nor African, nor Middle Eastern ideas, except by adoption.
Page x - The women know as much as the men do, and their advice is often asked. We have a republic as well as you. The council-tent is our Congress, and anybody can speak who has anything to say, women and all.

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About the author (1996)

BRUCE E. JOHANSEN is Professor of Communication and Native American Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He has been a participant in the debate over Native American precendents for democracy for 20 years, completing his Ph.D. dissertation on the topic in 1979. He is the author of Forgotten Founders: Benjamin Franklin, the Iroquois and the Rationale for the American Revolution (1982), coauthor of Exemplar of Liberty: Native America and the Evolution of Democracy (1991), and author of Debating Democracy: The Native American Role (forthcoming, 1996).

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