society for Italian philosophy


What would a new old system look like?

As we regularly check ourselves about the nature of governance, political economies, participation in the polis, oppression, exclusion, and power… perhaps one of our next readings ought to look to an older source of wisdom. We have touched on indigeneity, and have read some feminist scholars. But we haven’t really looked at anything that combined the two, and the book below apparently does that. This from a food systems list I’m on, from poster Debbie Hillman, a consultant in Evanston, Illinois:

New System?  If anyone wants to read about a model for the new system, I would recommend diving into the details of the Iroquois Constitution and the Iroquois League.  I think the answers have been right under our noses, in plain sight.

The most detailed book by far (that I have been able to find) is:
Iroquoian Women: The Gantowisas
by Barbara Alice Mann
2000, Peter Lang Publishing
“Gantowisas” is variously defined in the book as:
— clan mothers
— government women
— indispensable women
The chapter titles will give you an idea of the structure of the book and of the League itself.  To me, it reads like a poem:
1.  No-Face Husk Doll:  Women Wiped Clean from the Record
2.  The Direction of the Sky:  Gendered for Balance
3.  “They are the Soul of the Councils”:  Women’s Role in Political Life
4.  “Good Rule:  They Assist One Another”: Women’s Control of Economics
5.  “No Whips, No Punishments, No Threats”: Women’s Control of Social Life
6.  “Come, Let me Untangle your Hair”:  Women as Faithkeepers
Epilogue:  Now our Minds are One
Dr. Mann is a humanities scholar at University of Toledo.  She is also a member of the Seneca Bear Clan nation, which is part of the Iroquois League.  The book is both scholarly and fun.  Dr. Mann does not hold back, in truth-telling or in humor.