03. Reflections on Indigenous People, Colonization & Common Law | Indigenous Sovereignty | Sovereign’s Handbook

By Johnny Liberty

If we were playing a word association game and I said “Freemen” not many people would respond with “Indian”. Strange as it may seem the USA Patriot movement and the ongoing struggles of North American indigenous people are closely linked – the word “sovereignty” being an example of a shared value heard often in both camps. 

It goes much deeper than that though. It reaches into the fundamental concept of Common law. Frazzled journalists must find it difficult to grasp the essence of the USA Patriot community’s discussion of Common law, lapsing instead into lazy-minded demonizing of the Freemen – a treatment they may well deserve, but not in the media. 

Mindless sensationalist sound bites are cheating We the People out of one of the more interesting cultural discussions to come along in a while. While it is true that many people have no idea what the Common law was or is supposed to be. 

Our state and federal constitutions say the Common law is the law of the land – except when the Common law is replaced by statutes. Some USA Patriots say the Common law has its foundations in the Holy Bible. But even a cursory excursion into the vibrant venue of the Common law court phenomena currently sweeping the USA Patriot community, will reveal fundamental disagreements over details about how to revive the Common law in our nation. 

There is a consensus however, that the Common law must be revived, which is only natural. The popular support the Militia/Patriot movement has been enjoying, despite media attempts to make it look violent and stupid, is due to a common sentiment that a fictitious, corporate government entity is encroaching on peoples liberties by leaps and bounds. 

Some people have already been choked by this encroachment – their traditional ways of life have been threatened and disrupted. Some of the USA Patriots have been recolonized, so to speak, by an invading power – the corporate political and global elite which occupies with force of rules, regulations, tribunals and an army of officers and bureaucrats.

Organic Law of America

The founding fathers of the USA knew that the right of the people to live, move and have their being was rooted in their own organic law.  They also knew if people were to loose touch with that organic law, the country would be vulnerable to invasion from armies without, or an incursion by a corporate government from within. 

So they wrote documents and set up a government designed to preserve the organic relationship of the people to each other. They relegated the federal U.S. government to ten square miles and a few “federal areas” , unincorporated territories and outposts so that the federal U.S. government was prohibited from interfering in that organic relationship. It was a wise arrangement.

At the heart of the Common law the people carried across the sea were two universal principles that when ignored, always cause hardship and sorrow. 

  1. Do all you agree to do.
  2. Do not encroach on other people’s rights or their property.

It is a cruel paradox of history that many of the colonizers forgot to apply their lofty principles to everyone, especially when everyone knew the Common law rules as well as they did, and it was obvious who was breaking them.

However, it is still an incontrovertible fact that those same Common law breakers knew how valuable the Common law was. Let’s face it; this country was established by radical, white, narrow-minded men who had some very good ideas. 

Such good ideas in fact, that people from all nations still clamor to come here, sneaking in illegally if they have to. And all of us here are quite content to pursue our right to happiness on this finagled land and to plead the 1st, 2nd, 5th, or whatever Amendment happens to embody the solution to our problems.

There is another fundamental principle in Common law, that of restitution. Instead of denying the fact that this national castle is built half on the rock of Common law, and half on the sands of usurpation, we must apply the law to our own breach by confession and restitution. After all, we are now beginning to understand how uncomfortable for the now “U.S. citizens” is to be colonized as well.

All people share the fundamental characteristics of identifying with their groups, which are described by language, culture, tradition, beliefs, morals and relationship to property – both real and personal. 

The Common law springs from spiritual morals and philosophical principles and it preserves the sphere of common interaction for all societies. 

Common Ground Between White & Brown

This is as true for the white “Freemen” patriots in Montana as it is for the brown Ye’kuana of Venezuela, who incidentally are very unhappy about a United Nations (UN biosphere reserve being foisted upon them. ) Sound familiar?

The conversations of colonized people tend to resonate from nation-to-nation and tribe-to-tribe as they strive to hold on to the things that uniquely identify them. 

For example, notice the similarities between the following statements taken from the Abya Yala News, the journal of the South and Meso American Indian Rights Center, and the often repeated comments of the radical patriot community: “They have superimposed artificial and arbitrary borders over a cultural and historical geography; they have tricked us into thinking we can obtain justice in their courts; they have undermined the peoples’ justice systems; they define us with legal language that does not define the nature of our character; democratic fictions…enable d) the oscillation between democracy and dictatorship; true Indian liberation will begin when we assume our condition of immemorial identity, when we abandon the entities of the national states that dilute and disavow us.”

Only those who have been thoroughly reeducated by the occupying powers insist on perpetuating the illusion that the corporate state represents the interests of the people and their commons.”


  1. Native Web | Quote from Abya Yala News; South and Meso American Indian Rights Center; Article reviewed by Estar Holmes, North American News Service, Summer ‘96, p.18-21.
  2. Special thanks to Estar Holmes for writing this section Reflections on Indigenous People, Colonization & Common Law.

Source: Sovereign’s Handbook by Johnny Liberty (30th Anniversary Edition), p.93-95


Sovereign’s Handbook by Johnny Liberty 
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