Jake Swamp, Mohawk teacher, Tree Planting Ceremony

Natural Way: Indigenous Voices is Honored to Present

The Iroquois Great Law of Peace:

A Millennium of Continuous Democracy

What are the indigenous roots of our democracy? Are there other traditions

that point the way to a satisfying and sustainable future of peace and consensus?

Jake Swamp, ‘Tekaronianeken’, will appear at the Natural Way-Indigenous Voices on Friday evening, October 12, to discuss the traditions of peace and democracy originating amongst his people, the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy. As the role models for the Founding Fathers in the writing of the US Constitution, the Haudenosaunee have much experience to share with younger, struggling democracies.

Jake Swamp has been a Mohawk Sub-Chief and representative on the Grand Council of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and is an internationally renowned speaker on indigenous, environmental and social issues. He was directly involved in the creation of the Akwesasne Freedom School – a Mohawk language immersion school of critical acclaim that has been an inspiration to many First Nation peoples in the United States and Canada.

He is the author of the children’s book Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message, which has been translated into five languages and was featured on the PBS television show Reading Rainbow. Other projects include The Peacemaker’s Journey audiocassette produced by Parabola Magazine (1996), The U.S. Constitution & The Great Law of Peace: A Comparison (2004) and the film Dreamkeeper by Hallmark Entertainment (2003), for which he was a consultant.

Workshop: Saturday, October 13, 2007, 12:00 to 2:00 p.m.

Jake Swamp will preside over a ‘Tree of Peace’ Planting Ceremony. Over a thousand years ago, the Peacemaker and Aiionwatha (Hiawatha) brought the Great Law of Peace (Kaianerekowa) to the warring Indian nations of what is now New York State. The message of Peace, Power, and the Good Mind resulted in the forming of the Haudenosaunee Iroquois Confederacy. These nations were instructed to bury their weapons of war under the Great Tree of Peace. The Tree Planting Ceremony that Chief Swamp shares is an effort to bring awareness to environmental and social concerns. A potluck feast will follow the ceremony.

Location: Fawnwood at Deer Island (near St. Helens).

Directions: Take Highway 30 West towards St. Helens,
Apx. 45 minutes or less from downtown Portland you will come to the
town of Deer Island. Deer Island is about five miles past St. Helens.
As you pass the Deer Island Store on your left, reset mileage gage.
Continue on hwy 30 west 1.6 miles
Take left up Butterfield Road towards rust colored house.
Continue up gravel road past rust colored house, GO SLOW PLEASE
In 100 yards or so you will come to a modular home on left.
At modular home, turn left and pass through their driveway to gate.
(If you miss this turn you will come to a gate and have to turn
around. You will note the Yurt in the distance on your left. That is
where we are.)
Go through gate and continue up driveway.
Travel time is approximately one 45 minutes or less from Portland.

What to Bring: Dress for outdoors and weather, folding chair, non-alcoholic beverages/water, picnic plate and eating utensils, and a potluck dish with serving utensil for the feast.

Cost: $5-$20 donation requested for speaker’s honorarium. Registration is on-site.
Co-sponsors: Earth & Spirit Council at www.earthandspirit.org, The College of Mythic Cartography at www.mythic-cartography.org and Deerdance at www.deerdance.org. Contact: contactus@earthandspirit.org

Standing at SHIFT

Some photos of folks doing Standing practice.


What does it mean to receive mentoring from Trees, in Standing?


To keep focus.


To endure great discomfort in the search for personal discovery? How do we transform ‘suffering’ into the decision to stay totally present?


Choose it. Don’t waste a moment of real feeling, of pain or discomfort, for while you sit with them they open whole worlds for you. Save your edge experiences for when you feel fully prepared to suck the marrow out of them. Otherwise, why bother? People suffer all the time. You don’t get a medal for it. But when you feel ready to do something else than simply suffer, then we’ve got something to work with.

Let’s practice together.

Holding Space, Standing Like A Tree

Much like a Tree creates a bounded and sheltered space at its feet, where perhaps formerly one only found an open meadow and the pulsing weather, so do I see the emerging variety of social technologies used by some in the rewilding community.

One of my main daily physical practices nowadays often goes by the name, “Standing Like A Tree”, or Zhan Zhuang.

In this practice I’ve found a powerful way to work many skills simultaneously; the stillness of stalking, the power of center, and the fusion of body and intent.

The metaphorical crossroads of this physical practice, with the social innovation of space-holding activities, such as Open Space gatherings, has not missed my notice.


I make Standing Like A Tree a regular part of SHIFT gatherings. Consider finding someone in you area who can teach this powerful practice, with one caveat: though many teach this, few seem to understand it. I wish you good luck.

What Went Wrong

Critical thinking and a willingness to examine one’s blind spots, goes hand in hand with creativity and a willingness to explore fresh new perspectives. In fact, how do fresh new perspectives differ from our uncovered blindspots? Perhaps only in our willingness to retread what we deem “old territory” – for in the most familiar places, the places with which we have the most daily and habitual contact, we will find our most profound and crippling ruts.

The vast realms of unexplored territories don’t exist on the distant periphery of our cultural worlds, but right in our own backyard.

Right in our own living rooms.

Right in our own minds.

Time for a short intermission:

What happened? What went wrong?

When we surround ourselves with people unwilling to inform the emperor of his nakedness, people who censor themselves when confronted with our fallibility, we venture into the place at which the venture of civilization has arrived: collapse. And everything looks great, doesn’t it? Except for the innumerable cracks and fissures erupting willy-nilly all over our culture and planetary ecology, of course. But the shiny new gadgets keep rolling out for us to buy, so why should we worry?

I would propose that by its very nature hierarchy invites collapse because of its resistance to the free flow of communication. Much of what I do now concerns opening up lines of communication: Open Space gatherings, Rewild Camps, the Rewild.info wiki and forums, Agile Team development, efficient and energizing meetings, clarity work and compassionate dialogue.

If you’ve read my series on Breaking the Spell, you’ve read the connection between the rise of science culture and the emergence of printed journals and scientific societies. The first could not occur without the second – peer dialogue and co-exploration of ‘what we can know’ about the world drives science, not a mythological scientific method invented by a nonscientific philosophers rather than actual scientists doing the work (indigenous trackers and knowledge workers have exquisitely developed systems of honest inquiry into observable phenomena for countless millenia, systems that often continue to make us look ignorant and stubborn by comparison). Look into the history.

Examine your blindspots. Forgive yourself your humanity. And, like the Kiai Master in the video, have the balls to put your insights and experience to the test: what you find out may just change your life.