A ritual set of practices. How the Iroquois 7 First Principles Shows
a shared Pattern
Monday December 26. First Day of Kwanza
7 Principles of Kwanza
I was watching a movie, told through the eyes of a Kwanza celebrations by a black family on Christmas Eve. I was struck by the 7 Principles of Kwanza and how closely they matched not the words but the domains of the Iroquois Nation’s First principles, that I learned from my Mohawk grandfather. I share them as the 7 First Principles of Regeneration since my grandfather taught them to me as foundational to regeneration of a Nation. He talked about the story in conjunction with my own ancestors rekindling the Mohawk when they reached the end of the trail of tears after being marched across the Southern US and being interned in Eastern Oklahoma reservation. They had been captured and enslaved in the NE Iroquois country by Scottish colonist and other native tribes. They were subsequently sold and intermarried to Southern native Choctaw tribes and thus became part of the Trail of Tears that killed half the marched people to an end that scattered and splintered families and tribes. The tribes and their leadership drew on the 7 First Principles of Life to rebirth their nation.
Black families and leader use a similar pattern to rebirth spirit at the end of each year by creating rituals. They are each a system of ideas, not the same ideas, but shared domains seeking a reimagining of Life. Both peoples work on non-fragmented ideas that serve to establish connections beyond their individual selves.
Black Americas experienced similar forced labor and ownership and they lived according to a similar path through shared principles within each community. It is easy to find this pattern of 7 ways of living in many nations with similar stories and celebration rituals, (e. g. Jewish, Māori) most with annual events, each is a system to that is represented as a whole, unfragmentable, if it is to be understood. I will not speak to the Kwanza meaning but invite anyone experienced in the tribal rituals to add meaning from their lived experience as I do from my Mohawk grandfathers’ engagement with me.
The Iroquois principles I learned as a child are listed second so their similarity to Kwanza spirt which is listed first in honor of the season. Each of the seven days of Kwanza, listed in bold, is dedicated to one of the seven principles, as follows: