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Misconceptions About Ownership and Original Blockchain Technology


Thank you, in this article, I will explore my thoughts on how American colonization views indigenous societies. We will dispel common American myths and views about indigenous ownership and property. We will review modern bookkeeping techniques and how they were used in ancient America. We will begin with what is a blockchain and how it is used today, and then we will transfer to the traditions of the Pacific Northwest. We will lay the foundation for understanding indigenous people beyond hunter-gathers and nomadic savages often depicted in history lessons and perpetuated in American society. We will understand that the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest were sedentary, had practiced sustainable land, and resource management, had robust trade routes, and were language-specific just for trading. Having laid the foundation for a robust and stable society with an equally impressive trade economy, we will begin to look at the importance of zero and not having anything, or rather the importance of sharing and how sharing worked within Potlatch societies. European culture calls this redistribution of wealth. Within the Potlatch ceremony, we examine how Community Blockchain was used to transfer property and rights. I hope that by sharing this information, we gain a greater appreciation of all peoples of the Salish Sea, Potlatch Societies, Coast Salish, and Big House people. I pray we can bring back potlatching, gift-giving, and gratitude for what we have. What are you grateful for today?

What is blockchain technology?

When I first heard about Blockchain for the first time. I said to myself. "This is not new." There is a narrative that gets told in this country that indigenous people did not have a conception of ownership or land ownership, and this is one of the methods used against indigenous people to steal the land. I do not know enough about other tribes to speak about them, but first, what is a blockchain? Furthermore, why is it important?

Blockchain technology as described in "Blockchain is a shared, immutable ledger that facilitates recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network. An asset can be tangible (a house, car, cash, land) or intangible (intellectual property, patents, copyrights, branding). Virtually anything of value can be tracked and traded on a blockchain network, reducing risk and cutting costs for all involved. "

IBM states that "Blockchain is ideal for delivering that information because it provides immediate, shared and completely transparent information stored on an immutable ledger that can be accessed only by permissioned network members. A blockchain network can track orders, payments, accounts, production, etc. Furthermore, because members share a single view of the truth, you can see all details of a transaction end to end, giving you greater confidence, as well as new efficiencies and opportunities."

Importance of Blockchain

What does this all mean? For me, I understand it as Blockchain is like a shared unchangeable document or memory that everyone from the group can see or recall, and holds the transaction history of publicly acquired goods, items, songs, stories, and symbols or any exchange or transfer of right or belongings. Then why is it necessary? It is because it has been seen in real-time by everyone involved and thus cannot be changed as there is one shared truth or vision of what happened.

Blockchain Today reports in its article Popular Blockchain Use Cases Across Industries that blockchain technology can be used in many different aspects. However, it also gives an excellent example of how Blockchain is used today. "Take a look at Maersk, a New Jersey company in the logistics and supply chain industry. Maersk might not be a household name, but they help track the products you do know. Implementing a private blockchain networkensures that their goods are tracked across international borders with end-to-end visibility en route and that their clients are receiving real-time data on their shipments."

In the same article, Stanford Professor Dan Bohen is credited with saying, "Blockchains today will likely exist for decades or even centuries to come." when talking about intellectual properties.

The most prominent supporter of blockchain technology is the financial sector, as it is used to track transactions. Standford states that "Blockchain technology does not just excel at transaction transparency; it is masterful in the art of data preservation and protection. These blockchain use cases in banking and finance allow for other innovations, turning each financial institution away from cost- and labor-intensive recordkeeping and toward an automated workflow system that can track user transactions and protect their private information and assets.

Blockchain offers many sectors a processing manager that handles the difficulties of transactions without extra human labor. Banking and finance, while viewed as hierarchical, are no exception. What is more, financial institutions can harness the power of Blockchain, and related cryptocurrencies, to oversee digital investments." More specifically, cryptocurrencies pose numerous benefits to traditional currency and systems, and this is only if the traditional, now antiquated currency system does not adopt more modern systems. Furthermore, some companies have started to adopt these new blockchain technologies. "Some altcoins have gained financial support from banking institutions, and many banks are now supporting cryptocurrencies in some capacity. Cryptocurrencies being considered a financial asset for banks and institutions through blockchain technology is a growing concept."

American Myth.

For as long as I can remember, there has been this idea told to me about my people that we did not understand what it meant to "own" land or "property." I found this contradictory to what I know about my family, community, and people.

Reddit posts summarizers this American myth. This is a post taken from under r/AskHistorians, by TheBlankestBoi. Post Title:So, is the whole "Native Americans didn't believe in property" thing a myth?"There seems to be this idea, especially within, like, high school education, that Native Americans had no conception of owning land. This has always seemed odd because there was at least one Native American civilization in the Mississippi Valley region that built a city that, at the time, was roughly the size of London and is thought to have had an economy based partially on hoe manufacturing/exports, which seems like it would have been hard to do without some form of personal or familial system of land ownership…" I like this post as it states the common myth and gives a source to trace it back to, then offers a counterpoint to a purported stereotype. What I especially like about this post is the specific detail to look up. While it is not an academic post, it gives excellent details for us to follow up on.

An article posted on Mises Institute hosts an online magazine Power & Market titled Did the Indians Understand the Concept of Private Property? Where the author Ryan McMaken asks/states, "One of Ayn Rand's most notorious claims is that Europeans and their descendants were justified in driving Indian tribes off their lands because aboriginal Americans "did not have the concept of property or property rights" and because they "wish[ed] to continue a primitive existence." Rand also claims the Indian tribes had no right to the land they lived on because "they did not have a settled society," and "had predominantly nomadic tribal 'cultures.'" Rand even uses scare quotes around "cultures" to perhaps imply that Indian culture was not any type of culture at all." Here we have a modern online magazine asking about land and property and quoting a wildly popular author Ayn Rand. The rest of the article goes in a different direction. This first paragraph has a great intro to our topic and gives a great twist on the topic. This author also brings up other great topics to explore, settled societies and Indian tribes of the Americas were nomadic. Maybe you have been told or read something similar about Indians of the Americas.

Logical Reasoning

In the Pacific Northwest, indigenous people have been "reclassified" in colonial ideology as complex hunters and gathers. Historians and educators finally came to terms with the fact that my people did not move around and were not nomadic. Perpetrators of colonization could no longer deny that we built large long-term housing that provided space for many families and that we built many of these Big Houses to make up a village. We also cultivated produce and raw material on a large scale to supply our village. It was common for us to create oyster beds and other beds for shellfish—precise cutting and control burning valleys where other routine practices for hunting, gathering, and promoting new life.

Permaculture as a Form of Spirituality

My people did all this with great respect for the land and saw our relationship with the land as a more reciprocal one, and we also did this in a grand spiritual manner. Some of our cultural ways have been described as permaculture-like. Kathryn A. Thompson writes in Exploring Indigenous Permaculture for Land Management Strategies, "Self-sufficiency stems from observing the landscape and recognizing ecological relationships and patterns. Traditional ecological knowledge is the textbook of sustainable land management and Indigenous science. With this knowledge, Indigenous people tapped into the ecosystem's energy and cultivated their landscape." Permaculture, much like Blockchain, is missing the spiritual component of our culture.

People of the Pacific Northwest referred to other flora and fauna as people. We thought of them as people and treated them like people. Overharvesting and stinginess are not acceptable behavior on the northwest coast, and violators would be publicly shamed until they changed their ways.

Chinook Jargon

What was trading like in PNW prior to contact? The area known as the Pacific Northwest was a significant hub of trading. Indigenous people had foot and traveling trails from here to South America, up into Canada, Alaska, and other places like Montana and beyond.

For a better understanding, states that Chinook Wawa (also known as Chinuk Wawa or Chinook Jargon, and sometimes Chinook Lelang) is a nearly extinct pidgin trade language that bordered on being a creole language that served as a genuine lingua franca of the Cascadia bioregion for several hundred years.

Partly related to, but not the same as, the aboriginal language of the Chinook people, Chinook Wawa has its roots in earlier regional trade languages, like Haida Jargon or Nookta Jargon, which itself was a simplified version of Nuu-chah-nulth combined with words and elements of the different Wakashan, Salishan, Athapaskan, and Penutian languages. With a relatively small lexicon of only a few hundred words, it is not only easy to learn but possible to say almost anything with a bit of patience and poetic imagination." the site credits Alex DeVeiteo with this work. For myself and what I was told about the trade language was that it was a prominent language of the area and that despite Englishman trying to change the language of the area, the language persisted well into times of colonization. It was the outsider that had to adapt to our languages to do business.

Potlatch Way of Life

What is a Potlatch? Potlatch is not a potluck. Potlatch can be many things, but most importantly, it is a celebration of food, song, dance, story, and gift-giving. Potlatch would frequently happen for birthdays, weddings, memorials, or any reason to get together. These large community gatherings were villages near and far were invited and expected to attend. Potlatch could be an elaborate ceremony that could go on for days. The idea was for the leaders of the tribe or village would host the potlatch, and they were excepted to give out their wealth in terms of goods, food, crafts, and things of value. The idea is that the leader is so wealthy that they can give everything away and be fine. If the host of the potlatch did not live up to expectations, or if the village was displeased with leadership, a shaming pole would be erected. Red River College cites Dougle Cole on their website when searching for Potlatch “A Potlatch is an opulent ceremonial feast to celebrate an important event held by tribes of Northwest Indians of North America including the Tlingit, Tsimishian, Haida, Coast Salish and the Chinook and Dene people. A Potlatch is characterized by a ceremony in which possessions are given away, or destroyed, to display wealth, generosity and enhance prestige.” A lot can be said about Potlatch Societies of the Northwest.

Shaming Pole

A Shaming pole is a totem pole that is made to depict the offender in a displeasing manner and erected in front of their house, facing their house. The pole was only allowed to be taken down by the community that put it up. The offender was not allowed to remove the pole in front of either house. The community may remove the pole if the leadership becomes more gracious. Sharing resources was significant to societies of the Pacific Northwest. If you did not share your resources, everyone would know. Emily Moore writes on, "In April 2017, a small crowd gathered in the totem park at Saxman, Alaska to dedicate a new version of a Tlingit totem pole known as the 'Seward Pole.' The new pole, carved by Tlingit artist Stephen Jackson, replaced an older, deteriorated version, a replica of a nineteenth-century pole from Tongass Village. The original pole at Tongass was a shame pole, erected in the 1880s to ridicule Secretary of State William H. Seward for failing to repay the gifts he had received from Chief Ebbits, clan leader of the Taant'a kwáan Teikweidí and one of the most high-ranking men at Tongass Village. According to oral histories among the Taant'a kwáan Tlingit, Seward stopped at Tongass Village on a trip to Alaska in 1869 and was welcomed by Chief Ebbits with all the gravitas and gifts befitting a fellow high-ranking leader. But after several years went by and Seward 'did not repay either the courtesy or the generosity of his hosts, the Seward shame pole [was erected] to remind the Tongass people of this fact.'" Keep your promise and give back to the community to avoid the shaming pole. This is a necessary part of the spiritual, social contract of the people. Because all flora and fauna is considered a person over harvest and selfishness is not tolerated.

Songs, Land, Stories, and Original Blockchain Connection

While I am not as educated in how European clans work, I can say that for indigenous tribes of the pacific northwest certain families belong to certain clans. Individuals are not allowed to wear or adorn crests and symbols or sing songs that do not belong to their clan. Clans often gathered during warmer seasons at built sites away from other clans. Clans and families would have assigned and designated tracts of land. All land was open and free to use as long stewards, families, or clans were absent for myself and my family. I come from the Satiacum family. When I fish on the river, I get to fish in the mouth of the river. I come from the Raven clan, thus allows me to wear raven-related regalia, sing raven songs, and tell raven stories. The inherent spiritual nature of clan expression and how it is closed is related to the ceremony. If an individual was thought to be misrepresenting themselves with rights to songs, stories, titles, access to tracts of land, other states, or privileges, they could be challenged on the spot, no matter the ceremony or venue. The accused would have to recite the lineage of ceremonies, give give, potlatch, weddings, etc., that lead to them having rights or access to the thing in question. This was common back then, and its common now. At the ceremony would be individuals tasked with being a witness to the ceremony and responsible to go out to the community and recite what happened. Witnesses and community members would be consultants when resolving issues concerning access or rights to things in question. If everyone in the community is part of the Blockchain and "Blockchain is a shared, immutable ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network." an indigenous person when read Stanford Professor Dan Bohen said, "Blockchains today will likely exist for decades or even centuries to come." I find that to be true. From what my people tell me, this is how we have done things for many years.

Modern Bookkeeping with Ancient Twist

Coming to terms with the idea that indigenous people can be sedentary and with robust trade systems and complex recordkeeping philosophies is contradictory to what's widely accepted in this county. I believe if we apply some basic logical reasoning, then we push aside colonial ideology about primary indigenous culture and begin to understand each other on a more human level. Then we can begin to understand that the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest lived a life rich in culture and with many systems for trade and inheritance. We had to build up a lot to get here. I wish I could have done this project on music or photography. I skipped over a lot in writing this article. I did not mention slavery, or how it was used. What happens to slaves at potlatch, or social hierarchy. Peoples of the Northwest lived some of the most social complex lives recorded, please research indigenous tribes in your area.

References, Citations and Sources

Boersma, J. (n.d.). RRCLibrary: Indigenous Culinary Arts: Potlatch Ceremony.

DeVeiteo, A. (2021, October 18). Chinook Wawa. Cascadia Department of Bioregion.

IBM. (2023). What is Blockchain Technology - IBM Blockchain | IBM.

Indigenous American Culture Zones: The Pacific Northwest Coast. (2022, December 26).

McMaken, R. (2017, October 9). Did the Indians Understand the Concept of Private Property? | Ryan McMaken. Mises Institute.

Moore, E. (2010). The Seward Shame Pole: Countering Alaska’s Sesquicentennial | Alaska Historical Society.

Standford. (2023). Popular blockchain use cases across industries.

TheBlankestBoi. (2022, September 12). So, is the whole “Native Americans didn’t believe in property” thing a myth?

Thompson, K., Fulé, P., Allen, J., Ali-Joseph, A., & Logan, R. (2019). Exploring Indigenous Permaculture for Land Management Strategies: Combining People, Food and Sustainable

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