XIII Goodbye Columbus

by the American Indian Movement

When the Taino Indians saved Christopher Columbus from certain death on the fateful morning of October 12, 1492, a glorious opportunity presented itself for the cultures of both Europe and the Americas to flourish.14

What occurred was neither glorious nor heroic. Just as Columbus could not, and did not, “discover” a hemisphere already inhabited by nearly 100 million people, his arrival cannot, and will not, be recognized by indigenous peoples as a heroic and festive event.

From a Native perspective, Columbus’ arrival was a disaster from the beginning. Although his own diaries reveal that he was greeted by the Tainos with the most generous hospitality he had ever known, he immediately began the enslavement and slaughter of the Indian peoples of the Caribbean.

Defenders of Columbus and his holiday argue that critics unfairly judge Columbus, a 15th Century product, by the moral and legal standards of the late 20th century. Such a defense implies that there were no legal or moral constraints on actions such as Columbus’ in 1492. In reality, European legal and moral principles acknowledged the natural rights of Indians and prohibited their slaughter or unjust wars against them.

The issue of Columbus and Columbus Day is not easily resolvable by dismissing Columbus, the man. Columbus Day is a perpetuation of racist assumptions that the Americas were a wasteland cluttered with dark skin savages awaiting the blessings of European “civilization.” Throughout this hemisphere, educational systems and the popular media perpetuate the myth that indigenous peoples have contributed nothing to the world, and, consequently, we should be grateful for our colonization, our dispossession, and our microwave ovens.

The racist Columbus legacy enables every country in this hemisphere, including the United States, to continue its destruction of Indian peoples, from the jungles of Brazil to the highlands of Guatemala, from the Chaco of Paraguay to the Western Shoshone Nation in Nevada. Indian people remain in a perpetual state of danger from the system begun by Columbus in 1492. The Columbus legacy throughout the Americas keeps Indian people at the bottom of every socio-economic indicator. We are under continuing physical, legal and political attack, and are afforded the least access to political and legal remedies. Nevertheless we continue to resist and we refuse to surrender our spirituality, to assimilate, or to disappear into Hollywood’s romantic sunset.

To dignify Columbus and his legacy with parades, holidays and other celebrations is repugnant. As the original peoples of this land, we cannot, and we will not, tolerate social and political festivities that celebrate our genocide. We are committed to the active, open, and public rejection of disrespect and racism in its various forms — including Columbus Day and Columbus Day parades.

The American Indian Movement of Colorado and our allies have been compelled to confront and resist the continuing Columbus legacy in the streets of Denver. For every hour spent organizing non-violent opposition to the Columbus parade, we have lost an hour that we were not able to use in assisting indigenous treaty rights struggles, land recovery strategies, and the advancement of indigenous self-determination.

However, one positive benefit of our efforts was the public debate over Columbus Day that has spread into the public schools as an educational tool for students and their teachers. Overall, we view the demise of the Columbus Day Parade in Denver as a welcome opportunity to move beyond the divisive symbolism of the past.

We therefore suggest the replacement of Columbus Day with a celebration that is more inclusive and that more accurately reflects the cultural and racial richness of the Americas. We also suggest that the community support a more honest portrayal of social evolution in this hemisphere and a greater respect for all people on the margins of the dominating society. There is no more appropriate place for this transformation to occur than in Colorado, the birthplace of the Columbus Day holiday.

14 American Indian Movement of Colorado, Rocky Mountain News, 8 October 1994 .



XIV Indian Sovereignty

by Pauline Girvin-Montoya

[Pauline Girvin-Montoya, a federal Indian law attorney and tree sitter is Director of the Mendocino County Inter-Tribal Repatriation Project.]

California Sovereignty

Sovereignty is the source of power from which all other powers derive. In the context of Indian nations, it is the power to regulate one’s territory and people.15

Sovereign power comes from a different source for different nations. For the Hopi it derived from the Kiva societies and the religious elders. The Hopi have a religious sense of sovereign governance. Supreme Court law has defined Indian tribes to be nations within a nation, affording them a status higher than states. A nation signs a treaty. A nation enters into government-to-government relations with the federal government.

Tribal status is based on treaties, executive agreements and the federal Constitution. However, in the early years the Supreme Court also held that Congress has a plenary power over Indian nations — absolute power. This way the government could abrogate the terms of numerous treaties. The Supreme Court could also duck an issue by asserting the political question doctrine. This, in essence, provided a way to defer to the Congress as the federal entity most appropriately suited to handle policy issues. The combination of the plenary power doctrine and the political question dodge has allowed for the implementation of many anti-Indian laws.

Indian sovereignty has developed against a backdrop of federal and state hostility. The original treaties were signed to stop wars and to gain millions of acres of land from the Indians. Since then, the federal government has made several efforts to assimilate Indians into the mainstream. During the “allotment” period — late 1800s to the early 1900s — reservations were carved up into private property holdings per individual family. This opened all the “surplus land” in the reservations for white settlers. Through the privatization of the tribal land base, vast numbers of acres went out of Indian ownership. Starting in the 1950s, there was an attempt to terminate Indian nations in California. Federal trust responsibilities and Indian tribal status were eliminated through Congressional law and reservation-based Indians were forced to relocate to urban settings.

The current period of Indian self-determination was initiated in the Richard Nixon era with the passage of the Indian Self Determination Act. Indian tribal sovereignty is deferred to by Federal authorities as Indian nations wean themselves from dependency on the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Tribes are enacting governing laws and learning what it is to be a nation. Their heart knowledge of how to care for their own people is becoming more effective than dependence on the Bureau of Indian Affairs or agents of a distant Federal government.

For Indian nations, sovereignty is a dynamic struggle. Tribes must maintain programs, services and community safety against ongoing efforts by the Federal and State governments to undermine tribal jurisdiction. Through the plenary power doctrine Congress was able to create Public Law 280, which puts Indian tribes in California under state criminal law. In most other states this is not the case. Congress also reacted with backlash legislation by passing the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act a year after Indian gaming rights in California were upheld by the Supreme Court. This legislation mandates that Indian nations compact with state governors regarding their gaming operations.

Strong lobbies from state and local governments want to take away the perceived “special status” of the Indian people. This anti-Indian lobby is illustrated in the tribal fishing rights struggle. Fishing rights were hard-fought-for in California, in Washington, in Alaska, and elsewhere. Citizen groups, who came out en masse with vigilante tactics, tried to destroy the treaty-based rights of Indians to fish in a broader ratio than is afforded to non-Indians. Fishermen on the Mendocino Coast are still aghast and upset that the Klamath River-area tribes have executive order/treaty based rights to fishing. People forget that the white invaders’ occupation of this land was gained by treaty. They need to honor the contracts made by their forebears. Honest and decent business people should respect the contracts on which their nation is based and on which their occupancy of this territory is premised.

In California, the history with the Indians is so bleak and barbaric that the true story wasn’t included in school curriculums. The articulated Indian policy of California was extermination. Bounties were paid by the state legislature for Indian scalps. Indian slavery was allowed by state act. Indians were deemed trespassers on the public domain. And the eighteen treaties with the California Indian nations were never honored by the U.S. Congress because of a formidable California lobby based on Gold Rush fever. California citizens and legislators assumed that treatied lands might contain gold so they successfully lobbied the U.S. Senate not to ratify these treaties. The years of early California statehood introduced a period of brutal racism and massacre of Indians. The Advisory Council on California Indians Policies has submitted a report to Congress detailing these “inequities” which still persist today. This report is now avaliable for public review.

International Sovereignty

In the New World Order, the struggle for Indian sovereignty becomes the litmus test for all people’s rights. When the Zapatistas took a stand on the first day NAFTA was to be implemented, a large message was sent to the world. The Indians there realized that in a dirty side deal to NAFTA, the Mexican constitution — crafted by Zapata and the Mexican Revolution — had been fundamentally altered. The constitution afforded a communal land base for Indian nations and impoverished campesinos called the ejido system.

To get to the NAFTA bargaining table, the Mexican Congress amended the Constitution to allow for privatization of the Indian communal land. Hearing of the sweatshops on the border of Mexico and the United States, the Indians knew that they were next in line. Soon there would be vast agra-cooperatives financed by North American dollars and large financial enterprises to which they would become the slave class.

Knowing that sovereignty requires a land base and that privatization of land would lead to further impoverishment, the Maya Indians of Mexico took a stand against NAFTA. The shot against NAFTA that ricocheted out of Chiapas was similar to Tianamen Square. International attention focused on a small Indian army giving a voice to the struggles of many working people who are worried about the New World Order, which includes Fast Track, NAFTA and GATT.

In this new order the citizens become the pawns of a large brokered deal made by multi-national corporations. We were honored that the Maya Indians took the first stand. They were willing to shed blood for their people and territory. After the stand at Coyote Valley — which in a microcosm was a training ground in the struggle for sovereignty — Priscilla, her mother Delma, and I and a handful of others went to Chiapas to stand with the Indians against the International New World Order, the international field of corporate powers. In this plan the rich get richer. Minority people stay at the level of fast food servers and store clerks. The Indians become the slaves once again and all the power is vested in the hands of relatively few people.

On our trip, we learned that the rebirth of Indian nationhood would develop when the eagle meets the condor, when the north joins the south, when the Indians of the entire continent stand for their sovereignty together. A new dawn will be coming. The Indian nations are the teachers of all those who believe in democracy. Remember, the United States modeled its representative democracy on the Iroquois confederacy and their Long House assembly.

Ancestor spirits hover over this land. We are not alone. We are here in the territory of native peoples whose ancestors are right near by. The European invader has much to learn from both the political and spiritual power of the Indian nations that still survive. If they hearken back to their forebears who fought the British and resisted unjust laws, those who understand democracy at its core should stand by the Indian nations in this struggle today.

Spiritual Sovereignty

Ancestor spirits are disturbed and crying out. Very important ceremonial material is being improperly treated in dusty drawers of universities and museums. This is a mental health issue for Indian nations. By bringing sacred materials back to the Round Houses and reburying Indian remains, we mend the broken circle. Repatriation means “to bring home” — bringing home materials that were stolen at the time of conquest. This is a healing. The spirits will be at peace. The ceremonies will be properly honored.

Under the terms of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, Round House traditional practitioners will work hand in hand with tribal leaders. The strength of tribal nations is being honored by this law. If the tribe has no Round House, we can bring back sacred materials to restore a native religion. There are no conditions for the return of sacred and ceremonial items. The Indian nation states its claim that a sacred or ceremonial object should never have been alienated. There was no power to sell it. Under traditional laws and customs, nothing could be sold or removed from the Round Houses. There could only be conveyances of ceremonial regalia within a family or within the cultural context of the nation but not outside it.

We need to keep a close ear to the Indian nation’s struggle to survive and to be respectful in their territory. If the prophecy is correct, reuniting the eagle and the condor will bring renewed vibrancy to our entire continent.

15 Pauline Girvin-Montoya, “Tribal Sovereignty,” Sojourn Magazine, Volume 2: Issue 1, Winter 1998 .


XV Warriors of the Rainbow

by Lelanie Anderson

[Lelanie Anderson is a professional nurse, herbalist, artist, columnist, teacher and author. An “NGED” Cherokee-American, she has written and published seven books relating to her Native American Heritage. Lelanie, known by most people as the “Cherokee Lady,” began publishing her works in 1991. Her interest in Indian Herbal Medicine started at an early age when her grandmother took her for many walks explaining the herbs and their uses. Her knowledge of these remedies coupled with her knowledge of western medicine proved to be very useful. Before long, she was known by many of the Oklahoma locals as “La Curandera or the Medicine Woman”]

There was an old lady, from the “Cree” tribe, named “Eyes of Fire,” who prophesied that one day, because of the white man’s or Yo-ne-gis’ greed, there would come a time when the fish would die in the streams, the birds would fall from the air, the waters would be blackened, and the trees would no longer be. Mankind as we would know it would all but cease to exist.16

There would come a time when the “keepers of the legend, stories, culture rituals, and myths, and all the Ancient Tribal Customs” would be needed to restore us to health. They would be mankind’s key to survival, they were the “Warriors of the Rainbow.” There would come a day of awakening when all the peoples of all the tribes would form a New World of Justice, Peace, Freedom and recognition of the Great Spirit.

The “Warriors of the Rainbow” would spread these messages and teach all peoples of the Earth or “Elohi.” They would teach them how to live the “Way of the Great Spirit.” They would tell them of how the world today has turned away from the Great Spirit and that is why our Earth is “Sick.”

The “Warriors of the Rainbow” would show the peoples that this “Ancient Being” (the Great Spirit), is full of love and understanding, and teach them how to make the “Earth or Elohi” beautiful again. These Warriors would give the people principles or rules to follow to make their path right with the world. These principles would be those of the Ancient Tribes. The Warriors of the Rainbow would teach the people of the ancient practices of Unity, Love and Understanding. They would teach of Harmony among people in all four comers of the Earth.

Like the Ancient Tribes, they would teach the peoples how to pray to the Great Spirit with love that flows like the beautiful mountain stream, and flows along the path to the ocean of life. Once again, they would be able to feel joy in solitude and in councils. They would be free of petty jealousies and love all mankind as their brothers, regardless of color, race or religion. They would feel happiness enter their hearts, and become as one with the entire human race. Their hearts would be pure and radiate warmth, understanding and respect for all mankind, Nature, and the Great Spirit. They would once again fill their minds, hearts, souls, and deeds with the purest of thoughts. They would seek the beauty of the Master of Life — the Great Spirit! They would find strength and beauty in prayer and the solitudes of life.

Their children would once again be able to run free and enjoy the treasures of Nature and Mother Earth. Free from the fears of toxins and destruction, wrought by the Yo-ne-gi and his practices of greed. The rivers would again run clear, the forests be abundant and beautiful, the animals and birds would be replenished. The powers of the plants and animals would again be respected and conservation of all that is beautiful would become a way of life.

The poor, sick and needy would be cared for by their brothers and sisters of the Earth. These practices would again become a part of their daily lives.

The leaders of the people would be chosen in the old way — not by their political party, or who could speak the loudest, boast the most, or by name calling or mud slinging, but by those whose actions spoke the loudest. Those who demonstrated their love, wisdom, and courage and those who showed that they could and did work for the good of all, would be chosen as the leaders or Chiefs. They would be chosen by their “quality” and not the amount of money they had obtained. Like the thoughtful and devoted “Ancient Chiefs,” they would understand the people with love, and see that their young were educated with the love and wisdom of their surroundings. They would show them that miracles can be accomplished to heal this world of its ills, and restore it to health and beauty.

The tasks of these “Warriors of the Rainbow” are many and great. There will be terrifying mountains of ignorance to conquer and they shall find prejudice and hatred. They must be dedicated, unwavering in their strength, and strong of heart. They will find willing hearts and minds that will follow them on this road of returning “Mother Earth” to beauty and plenty — once more.

The day will come, it is not far away. The day that we shall see how we owe our very existence to the people of all tribes that have maintained their culture and heritage. Those that have kept the rituals, stories, legends, and myths alive. It will be with this knowledge, the knowledge that they have preserved, that we shall once again return to “harmony” with Nature, Mother Earth, and mankind. It will be with this knowledge that we shall find our “Key to our Survival.”

This is the story of the “Warriors of the Rainbow” and this is my reason for protecting the culture, heritage, and knowledge of my ancestors. I know that the day “Eyes of Fire” spoke of — will come! I want my children and grandchildren to be prepared to accept this task. The task of being one of the……..”Warriors of the Rainbow.”

16 Lelanie Anderson, “Warriors of the Rainbow,” Powersource .


XVI The Rainbow Family of Living Light

by Carla

[Carla, a true Rainbow warrior, prefers not to provide her last name. Carla wrote this interpretation of the Rainbow gatherings to try to help people understand them.]

What is the Rainbow Family of Living Light? First of all, be prepared for a different answer from each person who responds. Rainbow is different things to different people.17

Most of us, though not all, who consider ourselves part of the Rainbow Family, have attended the Rainbow Gathering of the Tribes, which takes place from July 1 – 7 every year. The first gathering was in 1972.

For many years, there was only the one national gathering. Native American tradition and the spiritual focus was foremost in the minds of everyone who attended. Most folks were identified with the “hippie” movement of the times, engaged in establishing alternative social, economic, spiritual, political, and/or environmental consciousness. Many were involved either in the Peace movement in the cities or the communal, back-to-the-land movement in the country. In either case, exploration of alternative spiritual systems and states of consciousness was often a common theme.

Sometime around the mid-1980s, folks who felt it was too far or too long to the annual gathering started coming together for smaller, regional gatherings. People all over the country developed local and regional bonds.

In the past few years, the spiritual focus has been less obvious, due to the huge influx of people who may not realize the central purpose of the gatherings. These folks may come to party, to hang out, to find like-minded people, to gain support for their political causes, or whatever. Who knows? (I sure don’t, since I haven’t spoken with all of them.)

The interesting thing is that we all consider ourselves to be part of a huge, extended family, no matter what our reason for gathering, no matter what our spiritual or religious or political or economic or social views may be. And many people who have not yet had an opportunity to attend a gathering also feel they are part of this family.

Another interesting thing is that there is no formal organizational structure. There are no membership qualifications, no fees or dues, no leaders, and virtually no rules other than the one of “peaceful respect.” Each year, individuals take personal responsibility and work together with others on whatever they are inspired to do, from office work, to scouting, to building the kitchens at the gatherings, to hauling in food and first-aid supplies, to peacekeeping, etc. Every project undertaken operates essentially on a consensus basis. Participation, communication, and cooperation are how things get done.

It is nothing short of miraculous.

The gatherings are free and non-commercial, and everyone is welcome. Each person is asked to bring their own camping equipment (this all takes place in remote areas of the National Forest), their own cup, bowl, and spoon, and whatever they might want to share to help the gathering happen (tarps, shovels, musical instruments, bulk food, etc.). No one will be turned away because of lacks in these areas, however. The Magic Hat is passed at mealtimes and around camp. Donations are used to buy food in bulk for the kitchens and whatever else may be necessary for the communal well-being (plywood covers and lime for the latrines, first aid supplies, etc.).

Besides the work that goes on to help the gathering happen, there’s also lots of accoustical music, drumming, dancing, workshops, herb-walks, council circles, sister circles, brother circles, brother-sister circles, people hanging out, people bartering, people enjoying nature, people meditating, chanting, and praying, people talking politics, people talking spiritual and personal growth, people visioning the future, people doing bodywork and other healing work, …

The list could go on forever.

For me personally, the Rainbow Family is where I have found my greatest opportunities to learn, to grow, to celebrate, to be one with my fellow beings and my mother Earth, to serve, to pray, to play. The gatherings for me are living theater, evolution in process, creativity manifest. I am passionately in love.

Picture twenty thousand people in a sunlit meadow, standing silent in prayer, holding hands in one huge, unbroken circle. Picture a parade of children approaching, singing songs, their countenances bright with enthusiasm and face paint, baloons and banners waving in the breeze. Picture the breaking of the silence with a cheer from the circle, then the silence returning once again, to grow slowly into a thrum of voices united in a single OM reverberating through the valley and on to the hills beyond. Hold the OM in your mind. Let it spread through and around and in you. Feel it pass from hand to hand and heart to heart.

The magic, the connection you feel is the essence of the Rainbow Family of Living Light.

Peace, love, and light.

17 Carla, Rainbow Family of Living Light Unofficial Home Page .


XVII Communal Living: Early social reactions to Christian Orthodoxy

by Michael Hines

[Michael Hines has been Senior Minister of Christian Churches in Anita, Iowa; Mankato and Great Bend, Kansas; Grand Junction, Colorado; Boise, Idaho, and Sun City, Arizona. He holds the M.Div. in Church History from The Cincinnati Bible Seminary. In this article from his Christian history web site, he writes about early experimentation with communal living in the United States.]

The new nation and its frontier offered fertile soil for social experimentation. Separation of church and state meant one religious body could not exercise control. The frontier was so large and unsettled that social experiments could exist without intervention. Freedom exists in America, freedom to try new things.18

Revival and Christianity’s growth promoted reform. Needed reform did not occur rapidly enough for some. As a result, a few began to think American society was naturally twisted. Only dramatic changes could produce the utopian results idealists envisioned. The frontier provided the natural place where possible alternatives could be tried out on the frontier where no one could touch them.

This material looks at two very different forms of radical change tried during the early 1800s.

Communitarian Experiments

A few social visionaries experimented with religious socialism, others with secular socialism. Robert Owen, a Welshman, provides one of the more interesting examples by blaming religion for all of society’s ills. Owen came from a Christian home and he believed his early heritage contributed much good to his character’s development. In adulthood, however, Owen rejected Christianity as patently false. In his 1829 debate with Alexander Campbell, Owen tried to prove:

* that all religions of the world have originated in error;
* that they are directly opposed to the divine, unchanging laws of human nature;
* that they are necessarily the source of vice, disunion, and misery;
* that they are now the only obstacle to the formation of a society, over the earth, of intelligence, of charity in its most extended sense, and of sincerity and affection.

Owen also knew from firsthand experience English industrialism with all its social ills. He inherited a textile manufacturing firm from his father. By observation he concluded the industrial revolution dehumanized men. Determined to improve conditions through social experimentation, Owen envisioned a communal society which improved the human condition rather than degrading it. Since the United States offered a more promising field for such experimentation, he came here and purchased the entire village and surrounding countryside at New Harmony, Indiana.

After his purchase, he began gathering a community numbering several thousand. Owens’s initial success caused him to predict he would soon empty Cincinnati. Europeans, hearing about New Harmony, came to Indiana searching for intellectual and moral freedom. Antagonisms soon arose between New Harmony’s residents and the “native” Americans. Community morals degenerated so bad that New Harmony soon went into a tailspin leading to its demise. New Harmony still exists, a small town witnessing to one experiment’s failure.

Charles Fourier (1772-1837) led a second communitarian experiment. A French socialist, Fourier began several socialist societies here in the United States. Fourier wanted to remove all of society’s constraints and “start over.” He tried to organize jobs in series determined by economics. These series then organized in alliances formed a Phalanx. When taken together, these structures would meet an entire community’s economic needs. The agreeability of the job determined its pay. If the job “honored the community” the worker received honor but this did not necessarily imply financial reward. Fourier tried to eliminate all conflict thus harmonizing the universe. He expected his experiment to bring about societal and individual perfection. Fourier’s communities numbered about 1,600 in communes of 5,000 acres. He began, but did not complete, an experiment at Brooke Farm. Fourier also promoted women’s emancipation, marriage’s abolition and complex sexual freedom.

John Humphrey Noyes (1811-1886) offers the last communitarian example. Noyes is a product of western revival. He studied theology at one time, a study which led him to conclude the millennium had arrived. His version of the millennium expressed itself in man’s spiritual change, a spiritual change which allowed perfection. Noyes set out to establish a community “set on a hill.” He hoped to create a sinless community. He felt the only way to end individual exploitation was to totally change society.

Noyes established Oneida, New York, as a communal society where everyone utilized their skills for everyone’s benefit. All shared equally in its fruits as well. Oneida’s fame came from silverware they produced for sale.

Noyes also established a system to free individuals from other types of exploitation. He tried a kind of sexual communism called “complex marriage.” In Noyes’ “complex marriage” everyone married everyone else. The community shared sexual partners freely although Noyes, himself, approved all coitus and who would bear children. He based his decisions on the candidate’s spirituality and societal commitment. Perhaps this grew out of the fact that Noyes’ wife suffered two miscarriages damaging her health. Noyes’ guilt led him to try to meet sexual needs but also control those who bore children. The practical result, however, led to a society where sexuality ran out of control. The only birth control practiced was “coitus interruptus,” a most ineffective method.

Social pressure caused Oneida to abandon their “complex marriage” in 1877. The community then fell apart in 1879 and reorganized as a joint stock company. As such it survived another 50 years.

Romanticism at Brooke Farm

Romanticism provides a second type of social experimentation. Romanticism also came out of the period’s revivalism and blended revivalism’s excitement with European intellectualism. Romanticism is an emotional attachment to the past. It presents itself through the idealizing of a previous “golden age.” Those involved in the 1800s preferred a dignified worship and stately church buildings. Let me illustrate three different romantic groups.

The transcendentalists grow out of the Unitarian movement. Most transcendentalists attended Harvard and were highly intelligent and articulate men. Among them you’ll find Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau and Theodore Parker.

George Ripley began the first transcendentalist experiment at Brooke Farm. Ripley believed individuals held the key to solving all social ills. He envisioned a community where all labor had equal dignity and a provided each inhabitant with a creative environment where all may interact. He wanted the laborers to teach artists to respect physical labor and artists to teach art appreciation to the laborer. He organized Brooke Farm as a joint stock company. He attracted about 80 people, mostly writers who were transcendentalists, to the farm. Few laborers showed much interest. This forced the intellectuals to work hard physically. The writers and artists soon objected to such labor because the it stifled their creativity. At that point, the experiment degenerated leading Ripley to admit his failure. The experiment lives on in Thoreau’s work Walden Pond.

Transcendentalism’s religious principles included an insistence of divine imminence, dependence on intuitive perception of truth, and the rejection of all external authority. Transcendentalists believed the Unitarians were sterile and devoid of emotional sentiments. Emerson left the Unitarians because the Lord’s Supper became meaningless to him. He then developed a highly pantheistic concept which he called the “Oversoul”. In other words, Emerson saw God in everything.

Romanticism also infected the German Reformed Churches in America. Called the Mercersburg Theology, Philip Schaff (1819-1893) and John Nevin (1803-1886) represent this group. Schaff and Nevin taught at Mercersburg Theological Seminary, a school operated by the German Reformed Church. Schaff and Nevin felt the church needed a deeper sense of its historic development. They believed Christians must feel that the church possesses an “ongoing thread” which can be seen in both its past and its present. Sidney Ahlstrom says Roman Catholicism influenced American Protestantism at this point. Those who accepted the “Mercersburg Theology” wanted a feeling of tradition and continuity which they believed could only be experienced in “high church” liturgy and tradition.

Nevin, a Presbyterian, broke with Princeton Theology at three points: its unawareness of historical development, its individualistic view of the church, and its Zwinglian sacramental view. Schaff left Mercersburg in 1870 to join Union Theological Seminary’s faculty. His influence remained strong in the field of church history.

Romanticism also permeated Episcopalianism. After the American Revolution, revivalism and evangelicalism made a major impact upon the Episcopalian church. American bishops wanted outreach and evangelism. The bishops in New England, Ohio, and Illinois, in particular, led in evangelistic efforts. Alongside this evangelical interest John Henry Hobart (1775-1830), the bishop of New York, promoted romanticism. Hobart insisted on a high church liturgy and a return to Catholic tradition. In England, the Oxford Movement promoted the same ends. Many English Anglicans ultimately converted to Catholicism. J.H. Newman, a leading Anglican clergyman, led the way. Today Catholics organize Newman Clubs on college and university campuses to reach Protestants. Significantly, the same thing happened in America.

Religious romanticism reacted against Protestant orthodoxy. Communal experiments also reacted to Protestant orthodoxy, but they also reacted to social ills. (There are still other alternatives open to early Americans and one of the more important reactions seen in the early 1800s is that of Mormonism. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, with more than five million members, may be the fastest growing religious body in America today. Mormonism demonstrates the American emphasis on the common man because it demonstrated that any individual could amass wealth and power. Mormonism illustrates the day’s experimental climate because it too tried to establish a communal society and build unique social structures.)

18 Michael Hines, “Reactions to Christianity,” Church History for the Masses 12 April 2004 .


XVIII Humanist Aspirations

by the American Humanist Association

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.19

The lifestance of Humanism-guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience-encourages us to live life well and fully. It evolved through the ages and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals, however carefully wrought, are subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance.

This document is part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe. It is in this sense that we affirm the following:

Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience-each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.

Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing. We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.

Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.

Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.

Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.

Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.

Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.

Thus engaged in the flow of life, we aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals. The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.

19 American Humanist Association, ” Humanism and its Aspirations,” 2003 .