What Constitutes ‘Poverty?’ – Part III

This is Part III on the topic of What Constitutes ‘Poverty’? Let’s review the two previous posts…

In  Part I we looked at the definition of poverty from several U.S. perspectives, and we challenged the perspective with: purposeful orderly lower living does NOT necessarily constitute poverty . The second article on this subject addressed what components make up true poverty.  They are: deprivation/privation of basic necessities of life (food, clothing, warmth), and examples of our people when they were forced into a place of privation.

Now this time in Around the Fire we want to look at the second aspect of America’s perspective of poverty and that is: lacking the usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions. To understand this perspective we will need to go back to some British history.

In 1066 was the invasion of William the Conqueror and his knighted men of Normandy and France. After William was crowned King of England what happened? He awarded his men with wealth through the means of dwellings and land. Now let’s run ahead to the Separatist Movement. The movement was a genuine one as people began to rise up against the corruption in the British catholic churches. The majority of these Separatists were of nobility status who’s lineage arrived in England with William the Conqueror. When the persecution became intense in England, the Separatists had a choice: 1. Recant. 2. Take the prisons and tortures of England. Or, 3. Flee. The majority chose to flee to Holland.

Making a living in Holland, if you know Pilgrim history, was not easy. Having had manors and castles in England and now having to establish themselves in a new culture, they had to start at the bottom of the social ladder. Bradford’s writings stated that the English Separatists in Holland (by the time they were ready to move to Turtle Island) had hardly one owned their own house. Now, I don’t want to bust anyone’s perspective on Bradford, but unfortunately, that statement wasn’t true! Historical documentation proves that all but a handful had established themselves financially. What really motivated the moving to American can only be guessed at (for there was a good amount English Separatists in Holland that did not go to America), but the point I’m moving towards is this: of the Separatists that chose to go to America, the majority were of nobility status. George Willson in his book Saints and Strangers establishes that Bradford and Brewster and the Captain of the Mayflower were the only ones to know that they had no intention of sailing to Jamestown, Virginia to establish their colony. They intended to go to Cape Cod Bay where their was no one else. Another factor that has a play in this is that the major of the men on that Mayflower ship were only in their 30s. That included Bradford. Now, this is my opinion, but I truly think Bradford had in the back of his mind to establish his new kingdom (albeit ‘christian’) with him as the ‘king.’ His decisions made in those first seven years of establishment of the colony seems to point this way. And…what does an invading people do when they have European culture? Wealth = land, possessions, and monetary gain. I.E. They wanted our land.

So the point? Wealth — the usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions — is the criteria that the United States people measure poverty vs. social establishment, is based on European culture! Understanding this, we can become untangled from this perspective. The latest Quotes gives us OUR perspective as native people:

“We do not want riches. We want peace and love.” Chief Red Cloud

Lacking the usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions isn’t the goal. And, NOT having these in abundance does NOT make us poverty! Rather, our native perspective is to provide for our family’s basic needs of food, clothing and protection from the elements. It is NOT necessarily living up to the standards that the United States people imposes as ‘real living’. We need to reestablish this in our minds so we remember where we are going.

1. Use God’s resources gently. (Hunt deer, etc. during hunting season, gather wild berries, nuts/acorns, etc.)

2. If we can not provide for all we needs from the land the Lord has currently provided for us (ie: hunting, gathering, some agriculture) then some honorable means of getting wampum is neededUse the wampum WISELY to provide for the basics. A small parcel of land (backyard) can provide an amazing amount of food. Buy a live animal and have a butcher slaughter and hang it, and then you process it. There are ways to provide even in this day. THEN SAVE THE REST for time of lean.

3. Put in provision for the snow months. (Or in the west, rain months.) ‘Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise…provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.’ (Old Testament, Proverbs 6:6 & 8)

4. Realize that we are NOT DEFICIENT because we don’t keep up with the Bradfords or Brewsters. We are native. We are happiest living within a simpler lifestyle and enjoying more of God’s creation, and, friends and family. Keep the priorities right. It’s not about money and material possessions.

What keeps us from going back to the ways the Creator taught us and sustained us with? Drugs? Irresponsibly? Laziness? Not using our resources properly? Need to be guided and taught? Need some support? Or moved out a situation that is setting us up for failure? You answer it. 

Purposefully living in a primitive state was our native lifestyle. We’re going to be happiest there. Our Great Creator Jesus also reinforced this teaching to us in the New Testament through the apostle Paul: And, food and raiment let us be therewith content. ( I Timothy 6:8)

This site is purposely seeking to try to help our people who are in need of a place to sell their goods when most companies only want large suppliers. Let’s help one another. We’re a family. We’re a village. To quote the Klamath nation (in the Featured Nation this week) ‘We help each other; we will live good.’ Good doesn’t mean like the culture around us, but like the way our Great God taught us and sustained us from 1000s of years.

Let it be said in the future of our people, there is no deprivation among them. And it appears they have found a way of life again even without our wealth. And remember, purposeful low living is NOT poverty.

Ba ma mi ne (Potawatomi) See you later,


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