I'm bumping this post back up to the top because new material has been added. References will be included when the article is finally complete. Part 1 can be found here.
The French Revolution, next in the line of major historical events impacted by occult fraternities, is marked by the abolishment of feudalism and a transition away from absolutist monarchies towards constitutionalist states and republics, which have since become the dominant forms of government in the modern world. All of these political accomplishments originated in grass roots peasant uprisings that were then later attributed almost entirely to middle class intellectuals whose ranks were composed of many members of esoteric organizations such as the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons. As with the Rosicrucians before them, many Freemasons exhibited genuine revolutionary sentiment, however, many members who came from the aristocracy primarily continued to view peasants as a source of expendable, cheap labor. During the time of the revolution, Edinburgh philosophy professor John Robison attended meetings of the sect only to later report that the true aim of Freemasonry was to subvert revolutionary uprisings in order to establish international hegemony on behalf of the ruling classes. In successive centuries, the elite families tied to Freemasonry would play a crucial role in the expansion of the British Empire, a series of military conquests that left Native populations devastated by mass famine and poverty due to war, slavery and ruthless taxation by the British. In Treason in America, Anton Chaitkin meticulously documents how the British East India company established Masonic lodges in China to enable the unimpeded importation of opium, an act that ended in addiction for tens of millions of Chinese peasants.
The social stratification represented by the degree system of Freemasonry is a logical extension of natural law, the Catholic ideology by which rigidly maintained social hierarchy was deemed a necessary component of any holy society. The Eye of Providence, colloquially known as the all-seeing eye, was first a Catholic symbol intended to symbolize the divine providence of God watching over humanity and superseding in human affairs through ecclesiastical authorities. The earliest depiction of the Eye of Providence in Europe was within the Palatine Chapel, whose construction was begun by Charlemagne in 786. Charlemagne was the first Holy Roman Emperor, and his accession inaugurated a return to the divine right of kings in Christian Europe. In the New Testament, the concept of the divine right of kings had been justified by the statement of St. Peter that all Christians should honor the pagan Roman Emperor. Throughout Medieval Europe, the same idea applied to feudal properties, which were believed to be owned by God and managed by Kings, who were in turn answerable only to the authority of Popes. This arrangement of power formed the basis of the figurative pyramid whose base was composed of serfs living in conditions akin to slavery in all of its most essential aspects. Feudal plantation owners were legally allowed to beat, murder and rape their serfs, while the serfs were forbidden from owning or selling property. The etymology of the term “serf” can be traced to the Latin word “servus”, which literally translates to slave.
In 1865 slavery was permanently abolished within the United States by way of the Thirteenth Amendment. Less than a year later, the Holy Office responded via an instruction signed by Pope Pius IX, which states: “Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law, and there can be several just titles of slavery, and these are referred to by approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons … It is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given”. This policy was not officially changed within Canon law until 1918. Medieval texts used the words “peasant”, “serf” and “slave” as synonymous representations of the overwhelming majority of the population who did not own property. The Domesday Book of 1086 recorded a census of Britain's million and a half inhabitants, noting that less than three percent were free landholders. The feudal pyramid explicated a regimented division of value whereby corporeal hierarchies of serfs, lords, abbots, knights and bishops were arranged below heavenly hierarchies of saints, angels and, ultimately, God. As a material extension of these values, religious institutions such as abbeys and monasteries maintained a significant portion of European feudal properties while simultaneously amassing vast fortunes as a result.
The social stratification of greater Medieval society was also applied to individual families, which were typically formed according to strict laws and customs as opposed to individual choice. For example, the lord of an estate could prevent serfs from marrying women from another estate, while also exercising the power to choose husbands for their tenants' daughters. Medieval laws also required parental consent for marriage up to the age of 30 for men and the age of 25 for women. The doctrine of mutual consent also allowed for spouses to abandon their families based on “confession” of prior marriage to a different spouse. As merchant classes arose in later centuries, the doctrine of mutual consent ostensibly allowed for freedom of choice in marriage, however, in practice, parents controlled the choices of their children by denying inheritance rights to those who married against their wishes. The free bench was an English manorial custom that defined a widow's inheritance rights as dependent on her chastity, and remarriage, as well as any ostensible evidence of sexual activity, required the widow to forfeit her lands. Similarly, the Legrewite was a fine designed to punish single sexually active women, a fee often compounded by the childwite, yet another fine for the birth of illegitimate children. As stated previously, the doctrine of mutual consent allowed for previously married women to have their children classified as illegitimate regardless of the wife's commitment to her marriage. In France, unmarried pregnant women were systematically interrogated at local government offices.
The “virtue” of blind obedience to religious and political authorities was promoted by the Jesuits, a Catholic fraternity that predated both the Freemasons and the Bavarian Illuminati. In his Letter on Obedience, Jesuit (Society of Jesus) founder Ignatius of Loyola wrote “And so, I should wish that all of you would train yourselves to recognize Christ our Lord in any Superior whomsoever, and with all devotion, reverence and obey in him His Divine Majesty. And this will appear less strange to you, if you keep in mind that St. Paul, writing to the Ephesians, bids us obey even temporal and pagan Superiors as Christ from Whom all well ordered authority descends: Slaves, obey your masters according to the flesh with fear and trembling in the sincerity of your hearts as you would Christ: not serving to the eye as pleasers of men, but as slaves of Christ.”
Loyola's apparently tolerant attitude toward polytheistic cultures did not, however, prevent the Jesuits from playing a central role in the Goa Inquisition. The office of the Inquisition on the Portugese state of Goa was responsible for sanctioning the death by torture of dozens of Hindus and Muslims for the crime of practicing their native religion. The Goa Inquisition was originally installed after Francis Xavier, a student of Loyola's, one of seven original Jesuits and co-founder of the same group, wrote a letter to King John III of Portugal, requesting Catholic expedition to India as a route to ensuring Christian purity. As Xavier departed to lead the mission, the pope appointed him apostolic nuncio to the East, an ecclesiastical diplomatic title equivalent to that of ambassador. The Inquisition's first act was to establish the death penalty for open practice of the Hindu faith. Hundreds of prison cells were set up to accommodate the accused. Hindu temples were destroyed and ransacked, their contents confiscated by army action. The local Konkani language was suppressed, Hindu holy books were destroyed and Portugese became the compulsory national language.
The Jesuits organized an annual mass baptism on January 25, the Feast of Saint Paul, whereby their African slaves were ordered to grab Hindus and smear their lips with beef, an act that resulted in many Hindus being labeled as untouchable by their own people. In his book, the Goa Inquisition, Indo-Portugese historian T.R. De Souza writes “...the government transferred to the Church and religious orders the properties and other sources of revenue that had belonged to the Hindu temples that had been demolished or to the temple servants who had been converted or banished. Entire villages were taken over at times for being considered rebellious and handed over with all their revenues to the Jesuits.” The Goa Inquisition also exhaustively details the methods of torture through which Catholic missionaries enforced religious conversions, including flogging, dismemberment and amputations carried out so slowly that the victims remained alive throughout the process. The auto-de-fa was the Catholic ritual of public penance whereby condemned heretics and apostates were burned at the stake. According to De Souza, Francis Xavier was present at the first Inquisition, where two of the accused, including a French cleric, were burned alive. For his efforts, Xavier was canonized as a saint by Pope Gregory XV, at the same time as Ignatius Loyola, and proclaimed the “Patron of Catholic Missions” by Pope Pius XI.
Aside from their work in suppressing cultural and religious expression abroad, the Jesuits also endeavored to suppress European institutions that threatened the power of the Catholic church, particularly in the areas of politics and scientific discourse. In 1616 the Inquisition declared the scientific proposition that the Earth rotates around the Sun to be heresy, shortly after the Index of Prohibited Books banned any writings that advanced Copernican heliocentric astronomy. Jesuit astronomers argued that geocentrism, the theory that the earth is the center of the universe around which all heavenly bodies revolve, was in accordance with a literal interpretation of Scripture, particularly Psalms 96:10, Chronicles 16:30, Psalms 93:1, Ecclesiastes 1:5 and Psalms 104:5. The chief theologian of the Inquisition, Robert Bellarmine, was a Jesuit who read the astronomer Galileo Galilei the decree of the Index and ordered him to abandon his research into the Copernican system. When this decree was ignored, Galilei was confined to house arrest for the rest of his life. Galilei's discoveries were so ground-breaking that he has since been dubbed the “father of observational astronomy”.
The Society of Jesus was also able to gain political influence by hearing the confessions of kings, princes and other political authorities. According the New Catholic Encyclopedia, “they acted as royal confessors to all French kings for 2 centuries, from Henry III to Louis XV; to all German emperors after the early 17th century; to all Dukes of Bavaria after 1579; to most rulers of Poland and Portugal; to the Spanish kings in the 18th century; to James II of England; and to many ruling or princely families throughout Europe.” Confessions in this context functioned much as the Bacchanalia had in previous centuries: organizations in a position to elicit incriminating secrets were much more likely to gain the advantage of political blackmail. Royal confessors were thus able to promote the interests of the Papacy, such as when LeTellier, Jesuit confessor to King Louis XIV, convinced the monarch to revoke the Edict of Nantes which granted substantial rights to Calvinist Protestants. Because of this history of political maneuvering, the Society was expelled from most states across Europe, as well as a number of European colonies. In Portugal the Jesuit royal confessor Gabriel Malagrida was declared guilty of high treason on account of his role in plotting the attempted assassination of King Jose I. Malagrida was not executed because the Papacy expressed opposition to the execution of a Jesuit by secular authorities. Instead, he was confined to a dungeon beneath the tower of Belem along with other Jesuits, who were also arrested for their role in the plan.
Aside from political intrigue, another charge commonly leveled at the Society was economic exploitation, especially regarding trade revenues derived from colonial mission plantations. As a religious order the Jesuits were technically forbidden from buying and selling for profit, however, as had been the case with the Knights Templar before them, this rule was largely disregarded. Referring to the Society's financial management of mission plantations, the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1908 states “...this was allowed, partly to provide for the current expenses of the mission, partly in order to protect the simple, childlike natives from the common plague of dishonest intermediaries.” In the Americas, Jesuit acquisitions were so extensive that suppression of the order resulted in widespread economic changes. The Society had owned the largest number of black slaves in Chile, so when Jesuits were expelled from the country there was a sharp decrease in the number of imported slaves. After Jesuit vineyards in Peru were auctioned, wine production also declined because the new owners did not have the expertise necessary to manage the fields.
The combined political, economic and academic influence of the Society contributed to numerous anti-Jesuit conspiracy theories alleging the order to be involved in plotting to overthrow nation-states on behalf of the Papacy. Many of these theories were a product of French anti-clericalism and claimed a rivalry between Freemasons and the Society of Jesus. Ironically, historians documenting the origins of speculative Freemasonry have unearthed evidence indicating that Freemasonry is in large part derived from Catholicism, with the Jesuits in particular playing an important role in their expansion throughout France. According to Chevalier Ramsay, a Fellow of the Royal Society as well as a tutor to King James' two sons, Freemasonry was founded in antiquity and renewed at the time of the Crusades. Crusaders utilized a symbolic language derived from the ancient Mystery cults, which was intended to differentiate Crusader from Saracen. The close relationship between these early Masons and the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem eventually resulted in the Blue Degrees which are named St. John's Masonry. Masonic participation in the Crusades may also be the reason why, according to Freemasonic legend, the original Lodge is “symbolically” located in Jerusalem. It may also be worth noting that Ramsay was a Baronet in the Jacobite Peerage (a hereditary honor granted by the deposed Stuart dynasty), so he may have been in a strategic position for absorbing the guarded secrets of high-ranking initiates.
One of the oldest surviving Masonic documents, from December 1658, suggests that the commonly held belief of the ideals of Freemasonry being opposed to royalism may, in truth, be erroneous. The document states, “That as formerly we and predecessors have and had from the temple of temples building on this earth one uniform community and union throughout the whole world from which temple proceeded one in Kilwinning in this our nation of Scotland and from that of Kilwinning many more within this kingdom of which there proceeded the Abbey and Lodge of Scone, built by men of art and architecture where they placed that lodge as the second lodge within this nation, which is now past memory of many generations, and was upheld by the Kings of Scotland...this Lodge is the most famous Lodge (if well ordered) within this kingdom-of which name of Mylne there had continued several generations of Master Masons to his Majesties the Kings of Scotland ." Art and Magic in the Court of the Stuarts is a book by architectural historian Vaughan Hart which further verifies this assertion, primarily through documenting the Hermetic-Cabalistic themes inherent in the masques of the Stuart court, which were typically planned and conceived by Masons.
Aside from the influence of Catholicism, one of the Enlightenment era philosophies associated with speculative Freemasonry was libertinism, a belief system that came to be defined as a complete absence of religious constraints. The ideology was named after the Roman god Liber, whose festival, the Liberalia, was celebrated by a procession in which a large phallus was paraded through the countryside to bring the promise of fertility to the land. Libertinism, in its most idealistic potential, attempted to expose the moral inadequacies of organized religion while providing a framework for community absent the constraints of social norms. Yet, without being grounded in political self-determination and mutual aid, the far more likely result of it propagation in a highly stratified society would have been abandonment of troublesome or inconvenient family members, since family life was considered a cornerstone of Christian ethics.
Perhaps the most recognized libertine of the era is the Marquis de Sade, an aristocrat, author, politician and alleged Freemason who is famous for inciting the storming of the Bastille, an event that inaugurated the French Revolution. Sade was imprisoned in the Bastille on account of his sexual torture of servants and prostitutes, acts that included rape, poisoning and cutting the women with knives. Although he is classified by many political theorists as a revolutionary, Sade was in fact opposed to the revolutionary goal of releasing feudal servants from debt bondage. During the September Massacres, a mass wave of violence directed against the Roman Catholic Church and the aristocracy, peasants ransacked the homes of nobility and burned records of feudal dues. De Sade immediately wrote to his deputy, Ripert, to order him to transport his family's estate books to a protected location in order to secure his inheritance. On September 2nd, several hundred priests were murdered by a mob who feared counterrevolutionary activity. Some of those who the rioters chose to execute were children that obviously could not have comprehended anything of the social injustice that motivated revolutionary impulse. De Sade later wrote of the massacres in a letter to his lawyer, saying "All of the refractory priests had their throats cut in the churches where they were being held, among them the archbishop of Arles, the most virtuous and respectable of men...There is nothing equal to the horror of the massacres, but they were just."
Given this predilection for status-seeking and exploitation of the lower classes, it should come as no surprise that De Sade was widely rumored to be a Freemason. Ex-Freemason and occult researcher Bill Schnoebelen contends to having seen internal masonic documents listing the Marquis as one of five founding members of the Illuminati. In one of his two major works, Juliette, or Vice Amply Rewarded, De Sade describes a secret society of libertines whose lodge is founded by members of the Knights Templar. The organization contains members of the royal family who routinely engage in incest and sexual torture of commoners. De Sade claimed that much of the novel was factually accurate and based on real life experience.
Historical precedent for Juliette can be found in the life of Gilles de Rais, a member of the French court and commander in the Royal Army who was convicted of murdering dozens of children as part of of a highly sexualized occult ritual sacrifice. Rais was thought to have murdered up to several hundred missing children and many have speculated that he was part of a larger network of aristocrats that saw the common people as expendable resources for their own sexual appetites. Far from being a collective voice for the downtrodden masses, many prominent Freemasons agitated for the revolutionary uprising of peasants while simultaneously colluding with royalists who would likely have had the working classes exterminated if that course of action became advantageous to their own survival. The overriding imperialistic instinct intrinsic to the elite inner core of Freemasonry is observable in the fact that nearly every family member, military officer and council member in Napoleon's inner circle was an established member of the cult. Napoleon himself was depicted flashing masonic hand signs, even though his name was never listed in official records of the fraternity.
Masonic intrigue was ultimately the common denominator between the bloodshed of the latter stages of the French Revolution and the subsequent consolidation of empire under the direction of Napoleon. This political centralization would eventually lead to the present era of nascent global governance through a direct line of international organizations oriented towards political integration, which many critics of globalist policy would see as an embodiment of the world hegemony that so many detractors of Freemasonry had warned of. As a direct result of the Napoleonic Wars, the Congress of Vienna was called to redraw the political boundaries of the continent, which had been called into dispute after the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. Ostensibly a peaceful balance of European powers, the Congress set a prototype for The League of Nations and, later, The United Nations, globalist organizations that would come to be overwhelmingly staffed by members of occult fraternities, including the Freemasons.
According to Schnoebelen, another of the five founding members of the Illuminati was Francis Dashwood, 15th Baron le Spencer, Chancellor of the Exchequer and founder of the British branch of the Hellfire Club. The Hellfire Clubs, formally known as the Orders of St Francis of Wycombe, were a series of exclusive clubs throughout Europe which provided an environment where politicians and other "men of quality" engaged in mock religious rituals allegedly involving prostitutes dressed as nuns. Rumors surrounding the club said its members routinely engaged in black masses, orgies and ritual human sacrifice. One of the buildings in which meetings were held, Medmenham Abbey, had been officially recognized by royal charter before being privately sold several centuries later. Dashwood had Medmenham Abbey redecorated in the style of Gothic revival, with the grounds of the former monastery ornamented with statues of mythological figures, phallic symbols and other relics of pagan cultures.
While the club's members played at blasphemy, they also worked hand-in-hand with Christian policymakers to limit the freedoms of the rest of the population. One member, Robert Vansittart, was a governor of Bengal under the direction of the British East India Company. His older brother Henry, also said to be a member of the club, was director of the company. Governor Vansittart presided over Bengal during the time of the catastrophic Bengal Famine of 1770, for which the British East India Company is generally regarded as having been responsible for. As a result of company policy, Bengal farmers were forced to pay five times the amount of land tax and most of this revenue left the country entirely, placing an undue burden on the local economy. At the same time, the company actively destroyed food crops which were then replaced by opium poppies, further reducing food supplies while funneling profits to foreign markets. Company officials passed laws forbidding the "hoarding" of rice, so when a relatively mild drought occurred in the spring of 1770, farmers were left with no surplus to feed their families. By the year's end, ten million people, or one third of Bengal's population, had died of starvation. Meanwhile, the British East India company had established a monopoly in grain trading, even managing to increase their already substantial profits during the lean years of the drought.
Other influential members of the Hellfire Clubs included Edward Thompson, member of British Parliament, and Philip Wharton, first Duke of Wharton and member of the occult fraternity Order of the Garter. Both would go on to be Grand Masters of Freemasonry, Thompson for the Grand Lodge of York and Wharton for all of England. Thompson, in particular, became a target of Jonathan Swift on account of his introducing a bill in favor of inland taxes that, as had been the story in Bengal, siphoned away the meager resources of the lower classes, a group which collectively produced the foods, clothing and luxury items the aristocracy had come to depend on. Swift's polemic stated unequivocally that every member of Parliament was driven exclusively by greed and loyalty to the Crown, a claim that obviously contradicts the revolutionary Hellfire aesthetic, rendered mere window dressing when compared to the political uprising of the productive classes which was motivated sheerly by economic necessity. Essentially, the clubs functioned as an incentive for politicians and other men of influence to adopt the customs of the dominant world order, fleecing the laboring classes of their resources while looking out for the interests of industry and the old money families that governed its development. The Hellfire Clubs also heralded the next phase in the inception of the modern intelligence agency, whose dominion over world affairs is reinforced through the induction of shame and secrecy in otherwise "respectable" individuals.
During the 19th century, libertine philosophy found expression through the first wave of the free love movement which was originally not oriented towards promiscuity but instead a separation of personal relationships from the domain of state regulation. Proponents of free love, which was closely tied to the first wave of feminism, valued marriage for its role in promoting personal happiness instead of an exclusive purpose in biological reproduction and maintenance of social order. A particular focus of some early libertine feminists was the repeal of divorce laws that prevented women from leaving abusive marriages. Another tenet of the free love movement was opposition to Comstock laws, which sought to restrict discussion of sexuality to doctors and moral reformers. The Comstock laws functioned as a medicalized continuation of Roman Catholic suppression of midwifery and herbal birth control, tools that could have alleviated the unnecessarily high rate of maternal death, a problem that had reached epic proportions by the 19th century. Central demands of the free love movement included choice in marriage and resistance against state censorship, however the ethical aspirations of the masses which composed that movement proved to be more comprehensive than that of its founder, whose public scandals revealed a personality driven by self interest.
The phrase "free love" was coined by John Humphrey Noyes, the son of a Vermont congressman who formed a religious community called Oneida in upstate New York. Oneida was centered around the idea of complex marriage, a form of polygamy where monogamy and emotional attachment to individuals were explicitly forbidden. As it turns out, free love wasn't quite so free at all since Noyes presided over the decision-making process regarding the selection of appropriate sexual partners for each community member. Oneida was heavily invested in the practice of stirpiculture, a form of selective breeding in which only the most virtuous members were allowed to breed, and only after applying for the privilege and being approved by a committee headed by Noyes. This process was intended to achieve moral and spiritual enhancement in successive generations. Not surprisingly, a disproportionate number of the children born on the commune were fathered by Noyes himself. The community was eventually disbanded after Noyes was accused of statutory rape, after which a son of Noyes formed a joint stock company, Oneida ltd., which went on to become the world's largest manufacturer of cutlery. The stirpiculture developed at Oneida is believed to have been the first selective breeding experiment involving human beings, a field of research that would eventually result in forced sterilizations and labor camps for those members of society deemed to be physically or morally unfit.
The commune had originally been named after the Oneida people, who were one of five tribes comprising the Iroquois Confederacy. The Iroquois people, far from having a centrally planned, hierarchical community structure like that created by Noyes, were perhaps one of the only functional examples of a participatory democracy during that time period since every adult member exerted influence over political decisions. Iroquois clan mothers, for example, appointed chiefs who would represent the interests of their clan at the Grand Council, and only women were granted the ability to remove those chiefs from power if the policies they advocated did not fall in line with the wishes of their community. Iroquois society was also matrilineal, meaning that clan lineage was passed down through the mother's family. Like most First Nation peoples, the Iroquois held property collectively and the entire extended family resided within a single dwelling, cultural traits that European settlers saw as indecent violations of Christian propriety.
First and foremost, contemporary historians have explained European conquest of the Americas as being impelled by colonists' desire for land. This aspect of colonization should not be ignored or minimized because forcing First Nation peoples from their ancestral homelands almost totally destroyed their culture, spiritual traditions and ability to survive, since, unlike European society, literally every element of Native American daily life, including religion, was tied directly to the land. President Andrew Jackson, Grand Master of the Freemasons of Tennessee, was responsible for the Indian Removal Act, the federal policy which allowed for the forcible removal of Southeastern tribes to barren lands in Oklahoma, leading to the deaths of many thousands during the Trail of Tears. Holocaust expert David Cesarani has argued that "In terms of the sheer number killed, the Native American genocide exceeds that of the holocaust".
While land-grabbing inarguably played a defining role in colonization, another aspect of European conquest that has been somewhat neglected by modern historians is the way that First Nation peoples' conception of gender norms provided rationale for some of the furthest extremes of cultural imperialism, even going so far as to justify outright eradication of Native culture as a whole, which differed from the patriarchal social order that had characterized Europe for millennia. Christian missionaries were alarmed by Native women's influential role in their communities, an attitude which is not surprising considering that they had been infused with the belief system of Church fathers such as Thomas Aquinas, who wrote "There is another kind of subjection which is called economic or civil, whereby the superior makes use of his subjects for their own benefit and good; and this kind of subjection existed even before sin. For good order would have been wanting in the human family if some were not governed by others wiser than themselves. So by such a kind of subjection woman is naturally subject to man, because in man the discretion of reason predominates."
In 1887 the General Allotment Act authorized the U.S. government to survey tribal land which was then divided into individual land parcels designated for nuclear families. Also known as the Dawes Act, it was established for the explicit purpose of destroying the political power of tribal kinship networks, which for centuries had been viewed by moral reformers as a threat to Christian virtue and, by extension, Manifest Destiny, the idea that the westward expansion of the United States was an expression of God's will. In many areas, this compulsory assimilation resulted in Native women's status being lowered in their kin networks, since land that had traditionally been held by women was now owned by the male head of the household. Previously, divorce had been an easy procedure in most tribes, but after the Dawes Act took effect women were disinclined to divorce because land titles were preferentially given to men, a change that restricted womens' freedoms considerably.
Of particular focus for the cultural imperialism of Christian missionaries were two-spirit Native Americans, not only because their gender presentation deviated from Victorian moral standards but because they so often played a central role in polytheistic tribal practices, which were viewed as heathenism by monotheistic European settlers. Amongst the Pueblo tribes, two-spirits frequently led ceremonial dances and acted as intermediaries between the clan and deities representing powers of nature, which were invoked in order to ensure success in hunting, warfare and agriculture. Spanish settlers viewed the animism of ceremonial dances as blasphemous idolatry, using what they interpreted as "sexual perversity" as a justification for massacring entire tribes en masse. Many First Nation peoples of the Plains region practiced solitary vision quests where two-spirits acted as shamanistic guides between normative reality and the spirit world. In addition to their participation in religious ceremonies, two-spirits played an important role in tribal kinship networks through assisting in child care, adopting orphans and caring for widows and the elderly. When U.S. marriage laws were imposed on tribal cultures, same-sex marriages were outlawed, destroying many centuries of Native American cultural heritage while denying legal recognition to the relationships of two-spirits and their spouses.
By the late 1800s the U.S. government had entirely failed to honor its treaty promises to protect Native reservations from encroachment by settlers and gold miners. Without arable land or the large bison herds which had formerly been a staple food for the Plains tribes, the overwhelming majority of First Nation peoples of that region sunk deep into crippling poverty. During the solar eclipse of 1889 a medicine man of the Paiute peoples, Wovoka, experienced a vision in which he saw the Christian messiah, Jesus Christ, resurrected as a Native American. In his vision the civilization built by European descendants was obliterated, and the former lands of First Nation peoples were rejuvenated and rich with game, while the ancestors of tribal communities were brought back to life. Wovoka's vision became the basis of the Ghost Dance religion, an effort to resist the subjugation of Native peoples through cross-cultural cooperation between tribes. U.S. Indian agents were disturbed by the site of Great Basin and Plains tribes performing the Ghost Dance and quickly moved to outlaw the practice, in the process arresting many tribal leaders who refused to obey government orders. The conflict over the right of Native peoples to perform ceremonial dances was what initially triggered the Wounded Knee Massacre, during which hundreds of tribal members, including women and children, were murdered by the U.S. military.
In an effort to dissolve social unrest on reservations, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries Christian missionaries established compulsory, off-reservation boarding schools as a way to extinguish the cultural legacies of tribal nations. In many cases officials from the Bureau of Indian Affairs forcibly kidnapped children from their homes, at times threatening their families with reduced rations if they refused to comply. Since reservations were located on lands that, due to a lack of arable soil, could not possibly provide economic sustenance, tribal communities were forced to participate in their own culture's annihilation sheerly for survival purposes. The boarding schools placed strict regulations on every aspect of students' lives, forbidding any expression of Native culture, including language, religion and clothing. Students who broke these rules were punished by whipping, starvation and public humiliation. School administrators were especially concerned with assimilating Native children into adopting the gender norms of Victorian morality, including cutting the long hair of boys and forcing women to learn housekeeping skills, while prohibiting their work in the fields even though agriculture had traditionally been women's domain. Conditions in many schools were austere, with Native children undergoing perpetual undernourishment and disease. In Canada the federal government funded the establishment of a parallel residential school system which was run by Christian churches. Due to overcrowding, inadequate sanitation and medical care, as well as incredibly high rates of physical and sexual abuse, the death rate in Canadian residential schools was up to 69 percent for First Nation students, a history that has resulted in the quite reasonable allegation that the Canadian federal government, as well as the churches who oversaw the residential school system, are guilty of cultural genocide.
Many Christian theologians have argued that Native peoples benefited from European colonization, especially as regards the status of women in polygynous tribes, since, up until the recent past, most anthropologists assumed these women lived in a condition of unbearable hardship and drudgery compared to male tribal members. To provide a complete picture of colonists' impact on indigenous society, it is necessary to avoid glamorization of Native cultures because, despite the fact that most indigenous tribes placed women in a higher social status than that of European-American women of the Victorian era, there were a minority who practiced dismemberment of adulterous women. The Blackfoot Confederacy, in particular, passed on a tradition of chopping off the noses of adulterous women and little can be gained by minimizing this cultural atrocity. Yet, when the effects of colonization are considered thoroughly, does the historical record confirm that European settlers were truly the defenders of women's empowerment that theologians have penned them to be? First, an analysis of the immediate consequences of colonial marriage laws is required.
In The Importance of Being Monogamous, Sarah Carter outlines the myriad ways in which marriage laws served to lower the status of both Canadian aboriginal and European-American women while justifying the encroachment of settlers onto Native territories. The imposition of bigamy laws meant that deserted wives and husbands were unable to remarry, and those with children were left with little means to care for their family. Catholic women who remarried were met with public humiliation by excommunication while women who "lost their virtue" before marriage were regarded as social outcasts. Since the nuclear family was seen as the cornerstone of social order, the Canadian government unilaterally barred single women who were not widows from owning property, since they were not contributing to society via marital reproductive labor.
The customs of English common law formed the basis of Canadian law codes, and these laws had historically preserved the idea of the "doctrine of marital unity" under which the legal autonomy of wives was subsumed by their husbands who were allowed to "chastise" their wives in so far as that chastisement did not put her life in jeopardy. In practice, divorce was expensive and exceedingly difficult to obtain, so it was ruled out as an option for all but the wealthiest members of society. Divorces were granted solely by Parliament and involved the examination of witnesses as well as public debate, an obviously embarrassing procedure that few women were willing to endure even in the most distressing situations. Furthermore, a husband was legally entitled to divorce if his wife had committed adultery, however wives could not divorce their husbands on this qualification alone, needing evidence of extreme violence or desertion.
No one benefits by minimizing the abuses perpetrated by members of the Blackfoot tribes or other indigenous communities, yet the fact remains that, before colonists arrived, the concept of illegitimacy, including single motherhood, was unknown in Native cultures. Within many aboriginal communities, the terms "mother" and "father" applied to cousins, aunts, uncles and siblings. Complex kinship systems predominated and came with the assumption that the community shared collective responsibility for children. Previously, marriage laws of Plains aboriginals had been flexible on the issue of divorce, but after colonial bigamy laws were enforced, women in abusive relationships had little recourse to leave dangerous situations. Officials from the Department of Indian Affairs were given nearly unlimited amounts of power over aboriginal communities, since they alone were able to authorize the legal validity of a marriage, meaning that DIA agents often arranged marriages, refused to recognize marriages they deemed unacceptable and captured "runaway wives" who were then returned to their former husbands.
When residential schools enforced enrollment of First Nation children, indigenous communities consequently began arranging marriages of very young girls, since marriage exempted their daughters from being subjected to the dangerous, unhealthy conditions of boarding schools. According to Carter, "Aboriginal women were often labeled immoral prostitutes who posed a serious danger to public health. The movement of aboriginal women off their reserves was restricted and monitored through a pass system", a limitation that did not apply to DIA agents who routinely trespassed on Native lands. Moreover, it is surely not a coincidence that, at the time bigamy laws were established, tribal communities were in the majority of Canadian populations and had fomented several armed uprisings which threatened the stability of colonial expansion. In conclusion, while theologians and politicians alike wax philosophical about how two parent families form the basis of moral societies, scant analysis has been focused on the ways that standardization of the nuclear family has destroyed communities while aiding in the suppression of dissident populations.