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  • Yoli Maya Yeh

The Creator’s Law: A Call To Repair Democracy

By Yoli Maya Yeh 

Yoli Maya Yeh is a Healer and Educator in Comparative Religions and Global Studies.  She works at the intersection of Indigenous Preservation, Healing Arts and Social Justice. @yoliyogini

Turning inwards, longer sleeps in extended dark nights, thoughts stir.  Wind howls and temperatures drop while restlessness is evident.  Something doesn’t add up when reconciling the ledgers of accomplishments for the year.  Paradoxes and inconsistencies abound.  Local kindness doesn't match global brutality.   The social healthcare system cannot meet the demands of its citizens in the world’s wealthiest country.  Public education settings quibble over extreme views while the minds of our youth atrophy and inspire paralysis towards the rigors of adulthood. 

Our representative democracy, under duress too, atrophies into a reductionist version of its original vision because in its essence, its ethical rooting has always been flawed.  Here in the quiet firmament, the ancestors of land and family are speaking: we must remember. We must go back and restore the pieces left out of the American democratic design. This system continues to fail to accomplish its social contract with its citizens, the agreement at the heart of the government by the people. 

American representative democracy is inspired by multiple sources including Greek and Roman principles, Judeo-Christian beliefs and the comprehensive institution of the 5 Nations Peace Confederacy or Haudenosaunee. Authors such as Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson studied the Haudenosaunee complex and procedure and celebrated its effectiveness in combining elected and selected roles, cyclical hierarchies, decentralized leadership and effective decision-making.  Due to the biases and limited imaginations of the authors of American democracy, a key feature was left out - the ethical code at the center of it all: The Creator's Law.  

A couple of weeks ago, a local mystery was solved.  A concrete pad had been laid in the park across the street and a chain-link fence placed around it.  The day arrived where a flatbed truck with a large iron sculpture appeared.  Placed with care, a five-fingered hand rests comfortably skyward, with detailed glass inlay at the tips of each of its fingers.  With a backdrop of yellowing fall colors, this piece commissioned by the Yakama Nation, on whose sovereign lands we occupy, is not simply a piece of public art.  It is an act of rematriation. It is a return of the presence of the original caretakers of this land in a highly visible way. The title of the piece is The Creator’s Law.  

The Creator’s Law is no mere piece of art.  It is a non-linear act of reconciliation and repair. It is a re-weaving of history to reinstate the existence of Native Peoples through an act of public art-making.  The message from the Ancestors speaks to the ‘healing of the sacred hoop’.  We must remember the message of the Creator’s Law - the ethical centering at the heart of our representative governance system and heal the rift caused by an incomplete system.  

I learned the Creator’s Law as the five basic laws that govern our existence from my Elders. Held in the symbol of a hand, it provides us a basis for understanding how the universe works, how interconnected systems on Earth function, and speaks to our purpose for being and describes the mechanics of cyclic existence.  They are: 

  • Law of the Void

  • Law of Cause and Effect

  • Law of Impermanence 

  • Law of Interconnectedness of All Life

  • Earth Law 

Within this system is the commitment to the welfare of all beings in the community and this cosmology includes:  the living, the ancestors past, the future generations, all living beings of the animal world, the plant allies, the mycelium network, the stone beings, the crystal beings, the cloud people, the living consciousness-being of the water, the soil, the land, the mountains, the valleys, the stars, the planets and the distant universe.  These were not lofty goals or aspirations, these are living embodied principles expressed through The Creator’s Law and lived through the actions of the living ancestors.  All have an equal seat at the Council Fire. 

Scripted onto a plaque in front of the reconciliatory-declaration of the Creator’s Law is an explanation of the 5-pronged cosmology of the Yakama, as detailed in the glass inlays.  They are as follows: 

  • Earth - Honoring the sacred connection to our Earth Mother, her abundant resources and the responsibility to be developed in relation to these resources

  • Water -  Honoring water as the giver of life and the energetic vitality of the body.  

  • Air - Honoring the sacred breath that carries us through life and the stories/history of the people that rides the winds.  

  • Natural Resources - Honoring harmony and nourishment throughout the seasonal rounds and what we learn by observing the cycles of nature

  • Cultural Resources: Honoring the commitment and respect of caretaking the knowledge and resources that have been handed down to us. 

For the Yakama, the Five Sacred Gifts are both tangible practices and ethical beliefs at the center of the commitment each citizen of a Nation makes.  

Just as the Yakama are re-presenced on their sovereign land, what would it be to renew our democratic system with a healing act of including ethical values at the heart of the system of governance?  Originally left out due to biases towards the native people of the land, despite the movement towards reason and scientific method in the historical Age of Enlightenment, Christian perspectives dominated.  Dismissed as beneath and lesser-than, labeled as ‘savage’, the elegant and holistic system of the Haudenosaunee would be broken up into parts and repurposed for founding fathers' capitalist gains.  This approach, a familiar imperialist tactic, is replicated throughout colonization in the form of cultural appropriation/cultural theft.  At its heart, the superiority-complex of the European settler-colonialist imagination remains a deep rot at the heart of our democracy.  Until this story is told and voice returned to the Peoples who were silenced in the genocides of humans, animals, land-kin and plant allies, all beings of Earth will continue to suffer from wrong views and subsequent wrong actions.  

The Ancestors are calling us home to rest so that we can remember. Like soft whispers in the ears they coax us towards embodied restorative experiences so that we can reconnect and heal.  Our overtaxed analytical minds need a rest so the wise minds of heart and body-wisdom can come forward and guide us.  The current state of global affairs will tempt you towards ignorance, forgetting, apathy and paralysis.  The message of the winds blowing is Time of Change.  We need dreaming, we need play, we need art, we need dance, we need ritual, we need healing, we need nourishment, we need myth, we need storytelling, we need futurism, we need fire, we need water, we need earth, we need air, we need connection, we need silence.  

We need rematriation - a returning to the land and a growing of land-consciousness.  We need to see ourselves from varied perspectives - the perspective of the waterways, the perspective of the salmon, the perspective of the elk, the perspective of the chanterelles, the perspective of the crows, the perspective of the mountains, the perspective of the snow, the perspective of the clouds, the perspective of the chokecherries, the perspective of the the entire global consciousness.  

We need to reimagine our democracy.  Many are naming this present moment as a new era emerging.  Not quite yet, I’m afraid.  There is a LOT of reconciliation work to be done first.   What we are witnessing is the end of the Age of Enlightenment.  For most of us oppressed by the capitalist-imperialist system, the imaginations of historical figures such as Adam Smith, Thomas Hobbs, George Washington and Queen Victoria never included our ancestors sovereignty and we can say with clarity and gusto that living in the imaginations of thought leaders of the Enlightenment era is wildly outdated.  

The systems of globalization have evolved without any thought for the sustainability of future resources.  Democracy is challenged not by the arrangement of anarchy but by the true apparatus of global domination - capitalism.  We don’t live in democracies, we live in capitalismocracies.  If you follow the timeline of the growth of American democracy you will hear a distinct story of the imbedding of big business at the heart of governance and tiny moments when the people pushed back on its influence.  Since the deregulation of corporations in the 1980’s neoliberalism regime, big business has been allowed to run amok throughout the globe with zero regard for the long term impact of its unaccountable actions.  

The Earth has its own laws and one of them is inevitability.  Well beyond the scope of humans, the earth has renewed itself many times even to the point of complete extinction events, through the destruction of fire and subsequent regeneration by the magic of the mycelial network ancestors.  There are lengthier stories beyond the narrative of two-leggeds.  It is in the rest spaces where we will hear their whisper.  We must rest to remember for the sake of our future generations.  


Haudenosaunee Impact Recognized by Congress (not a complete recognition but a starting place.  Overall most treaties have not been honored): 

How the Great Law of Peace Helped Shape New York and American Democracy:

Reference for The Great Binding Law: 


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