“False Doctrine” and the Stifling Of Indigenous Political Will

  • Four Arrows Fielding Graduate University
Keywords: Indigenous Peoples, Religious Influences, Christianity, Thomas Paine, Political Will, Civilization


I hypothesis that there is a correlation between the failure of Indigenous politics to achieve its goals and the sway of what Thomas Paine refers to as the false doctrine of Christian dogma. Unremitting evangelism and Christian hegemony has led to silencing or compromising authentic grassroots voices of too many Indigenous people. High conversion rates have weakened opportunities for resistance to colonialism and the loss of vital traditional values. (I suggest that a similar problem may relate to the failure of contemporary black politics.) It is important at this critical time for human civilization to reflect carefully on the influence of dominant worldview assumptions as relates both to the tragic problems facing Indigenous Peoples as well as to the broader consequences globally of having dismissed Indigenous understandings about the world. Overcoming the problems of religious hegemony does not require wholesale rejection. It includes possibilities for a complementary relationship between Indigenous spiritual understanding and alternative interpretations of Biblical Gospel that have existed for centuries. Moving to a different location is a simple process, though it often takes courage. One merely decides what to take and what to leave behind. What man makes, whether computers or religions, requires consumers to critically and intuitively consider both positive and negative potential outcomes. We must engage dialectically about likely universal truths and those that we invent about how best to live in flowing balance. All of us, Indigenous as well as those far removed from their Indigenous ancestors, however, can learn to again trust in the laws of Nature on which Indigenous worldviews are based.

Author Biography

Four Arrows, Fielding Graduate University
Former Dean of Education at Oglala Lakota College and tenured professor at Northern Arizona University, Four Arrows is the author of 17 books, including Unlearning the Language of Conquest (University of Texas Press) and Critical Neurophilosophy and Indigenous Wisdom (Sense). He is currently a faculty at Fielding Graduate University. Four Arrows is of Cherokee/Creek and Scots/Irish ancestry, and Sun Dances with the Oglala.