Originally posted on Warrior Publications: WarriorPublications.wordpress.com
What is a Warrior Society?
A warrior society is a group organized to defend their people, territory & way of life.
Traditionally, most warrior society’s carried out 3 main functions: military, police & social. Their military function involved armed defense of people & territory. Their police function involved punishing anti-social crimes, & overall security of the village. Their social function involved feasts, camaraderie, and ceremonies. Many warrior society’s were also secret and/or ceremonial society’s.
As colonization does not rely solely on military action, but involves political, economic, psychological, & cultural aspects, we must apply this same thinking to decolonization.
Decolonization is not a legal struggle, nor is it purely military, or economic, etc. It involves all of these. It should be noted, however, that colonialism was imposed through military force. Ultimately, it is the system’s monopoly on the use of violence that enables it to impose its will.
Considering this, it can be seen that the activities of modern warrior society’s must involve much more than military training in order for their defensive roles to be realized. That is why it is said that modern warriors must be communicators, organizers, and leaders, able to inform & inspire others, and mobilize them into the resistance movement.
Military training, however, is an essential part of a warrior society. This is because the defensive role of the warrior will always include the potential for armed conflict against an enemy force (one of the greatest dangers to any nation).
At the same time, under present conditions, these aspects of the warrior society are not used often, and even then are mostly defensive actions. As defense is for times of insufficiency, the primary military function of a warrior society at this time is for self-defense.
Military training helps instill values such as confidence, self-discipline, teamwork, etc. Warrior training also involves traditional culture, including ceremonies and field-craft. Ceremonies help instill similar values as military training (including patience & endurance), while reconnecting one to the spiritual world and their culture. Field-craft (i.e., hunting, gathering wild foods, making tools & shelter, etc.) also reinforces traditional culture and will become vital to the survival of future generations.
The Positive Aspects of Warrior Society’s
When Native military resistance was defeated (by 1890 in N. America), along with colonization came the disbanding of warrior society’s. Confined to reservations, warriors were condemned to a life without purpose. Many turned to alcohol out of despair & hopelessness.
Along with trauma experienced in Residential Schools & loss of identity, today’s generations continue to live lives with little apparent meaning or purpose. The result is widespread drug & alcohol abuse, high suicide rates, imprisonment, etc. This is compounded by feelings of insecurity, low self-esteem, poverty, etc.
A warrior society can help stop these negative trends by instilling in youth traditional values, a sense of purpose, and meaningful, challenging activities that also serve the common good. This is in part what made warrior society’s such an important part of traditional Indigenous society.
Casualties & Attrition
Many fear the potential consequences of organizing warrior society’s, which can include state violence & repression. We must remember, however, that colonization is by its nature violent. It is a society sustained through violence, here & abroad.
While many fear potential casualties from combat, real casualties are occurring now in the streets & reservations, through suicides, drugs & alcohol, prison, disease, interpersonal violence, etc. Many Native youth are now being recruited into gangs, who engage in anti-social criminal activity among their own people. Through drugs, prostitution, theft & assaults, gangs lead to division & demoralization among our people.
As well, every summer, hundreds of Native youth from across Canada undergo military training—as either cadets or in Canadian Forces Aboriginal-specific training courses (i.e., Bold Eagle & Raven)– where platoons of Natives are given training in firearms, field-craft, drill, military law, map & compass, etc.
In addition, we must remember that in Asia, Africa and South America, people are routinely killed, tortured & massacred to maintain the global system.
We can see, therefore, that violence & casualties are occurring now as a result of colonial oppression. It is this oppression the warrior society is meant to defend against. In fact, the very formation of a warrior society can help give purpose & direction to misguided youth, for whom institutional means have thus far failed (including schools, jails, jobs, etc.).
Fear and Propaganda
Perhaps the greatest obstacle to organizing warrior society’s among our people is fear. This fear is maintained through the corporate media & entertainment industries, which reinforces people’s belief that the government is their protector, & which portrays the system as all-powerful.
This fear is compounded by enemy propaganda (primarily through corporate media), which portrays warriors as criminals, thugs or terrorists.
In order to counter this, warrior culture & fighting spirit must be strengthened among our people. Most importantly, warriors must conduct themselves in such a way that they inspire hope & confidence among our people.
LONG LIVE THE WARRIOR!!!
Originally published in Warrior No. 1, Spring-Summer 2006