From Win-Lose Thinking to Being Good Relatives

Bdote confluence of Minnesota and Mississippi rivers, Dakota sacred site

By Denise C. Breton

Chapters from Harm-Dependent No More: Who Are We - Winners and Losers or Relatives?

Introduction: Four Indigenous Protocols for Dialogue

Addressing harms and our role in them across generations elicits deep and often painful feelings. It involves questioning who we are, personally and as a people. The conversation can be difficult on all sides. To set a good tone, I appeal to four Indigenous protocols for dialogue. In doing so, I am not trying to “go Native.” I call on these protocols as load-bearing beams for the work ahead of us.  > Full Introduction

Chapter 1: Harms Matter

Asleep to Harms

Win-lose thinking pervades our world, but it has upended our psyches to do so. First, the model tells us it is okay to commit harms routinely if winning calls for it; we talk about winning big, for example, as “making a killing.” But this goes against a deep human desire: we want to be in a good way with each other, and treating each other well and fairly is how we do it.  > Full Chapter

Chapter 2: Philosophies Matter Too

“We Think the World into Reality”

Harms matter, and philosophy matters too. If a philosophy has convinced us to commit harms all the way to holocausts and then blind ourselves to the harms, then a different philosophy can inspire us to remove the blinders: we can think and act with awareness and responsibility for what our actions have done. Philosophies open spaces for us to self-change.  > Full Chapter

Chapter 3: The Win-Lose Story

“Rigged and Ruthless”

In October 2010, Amnesty International reported that Papua New Guinea citizens living near the Porgera gold mine have been coming home to burned homes and suffering violence. The mine is 95 percent owned and operated by subsidiaries of the largest gold mining company in the world, the Canadian-based Barrick Gold Corporation, as part of the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV). And so, for nearly a decade, women have been raped, men and boys beaten, people have been killed, and their livestock have been slaughtered. The message is clear: “Leave your home—or else.”  > Full Chapter

Image Attributions

Introduction: The Thanksgiving Address, the “Words That Come Before All Else. “This is “a poster of the Thanksgiving Address, the basis of the spiritual beliefs of the Six Nation people, written in Cayuga in the Six Nations Reserve 31 January 2008.” Picture taken 31 January 2008. CANADA-CAYUGA/ REUTERS/Julie Gordon.
Chapter 1: “Do Not Fear Black Men. Fear For Black Men.” Thousands marched from the White House to the Capitol in response to ongoing police shootings of Black men in the USA. Washington D.C., 7 July 2016. Photo by Susan Melkisethian, Black Lives Matter. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Chapter 2: “Sunset and the Thinker.” Photo by Esparta Palma, 13 October 2007. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Chapter 3:  Resident of Wuangima with the charred remains of her house. Papua New Guinea: Police set hundreds of homes ablaze near Porgera gold mine.” © Amnesty International. 2010. Licensed under CC.