Within the United States, there are few successful systems in place to cultivate peace before social disagreements escalate to violence, loss of freedom or extreme military action. Many indigenous people to the United States traditionally used practices that allowed their leaders to sustain consensus and harmony within the communities where they lived. The traditional practices were successful for most social interactions and business processes, but there were some harsher punishment necessary in extreme cases, such as banishment from the community.
However, Native cultures in the United States have been severely impacted by colonization efforts, with government boarding school practices implemented to destroy the culture, and relocation used to break up the communal nature of the people. It is not difficult to understand that Native leaders and the broader Native community often suffer from identity issues, such as tensions between urban and reservation Indians; lack of clarity about inclusion or exclusion as defined by government designated blood quantum; and distrust between traditionalist and modern Native lifestyles. All of these tensions contribute to the lack of peace among and between Native people.
The ultimate impact of the deliberate attempt to destroy the Native cultural practices has been an obvious disconnection from Native teachings that emphasized simplicity practices, a spirit of generosity, respect of all life forms, humility and the honor of one's spoken word. These practices were cultural norms for the close communal nature of Native people, but assimilation into the dominant United States practices such as rugged individualism, rampant consumerism and hectic lifestyles, which were difficult for anyone to avoid, included Native people.
Some of the concepts addressed in this thesis include: Integration of personal reflective practices and small group dialogue with Native peacemaking practices. The goal is to design a model that will assist Native people in revitalizing a spirit of peacefulness within tribal government processes, individual life practices and Native communities.
I examine some of the traditional and current Native teachings and practices in the area of peacemaking, which the Diné (Navajo) and Chickasaw Nations use within their judicial processes. Also included within my research, are specific initiatives used by the Haudenosaunee and Comanche Nations in an attempt to create unity for the entire community, to build peace from within the people.
I propose to use Talking Circles and Circles of Trust retreats as potential models for revitalizing traditional peacemaking among Native people, with an outcome of renewed emphasis on traditional values. In addition, identification of ways for practical application of traditional Native values within 21 st Century lifestyles, professional work ethics and community interactions.