Force and Disorder

Luther Standing Bear

I’ve been reading The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America by James Wilson. It is making an enormous impact on me. (I plan on putting some of what I’ve gleaned into a sermon entitled “Don’t Drink The Water” — slated for Friday night, August 31.)

Here I would like to share a Native American insight that strikes me as quite profound.

The Lakota word for custom and habit, wouncage, had its traditional meaning of simply following tribal usage without enforcement of any sort; so with the coming of the white man and his treaties* and written declarations of various sorts, the word woope was coined to meet the situation. Woope conveyed the meaning of armed soldiery, guns, cannon, policeman, ball and chain, jails and guards, and all the equipment of the night of life. The apparent thing to the Lakota was that the written word was in itself ineffective and without power, and woope, or what the white man called law, designated not order, but force and disorder. Force, no matter how concealed, begets resistance.

—Luther Standing Bear (1868-1939)

(* Between 1776 and 1866 the United States made 370 treaties with Native American tribes…and broke every single one of them! This is a matter of historical record.)

Here’s my question:

Is the kingdom of God more like the Lakota wouncage or the Euro-American woope?