Origins of Native American Knowledge Systems

In contrast, Native American knowledge systems were created for generative economies. Rather than extracting value, they help it circulate back to the original source. In contrast to the pin factory, a Native American labor system works more like this Iroquois flow chart.

Clan mothers are responsible for nominating the clan chief, and can have him removed if need be. They also govern labor collectives. If everyone works together on each farm, then no one farmer feels like they are left to fend for themselves. Each farm keeps most of its harvest, but some goes to a general storage, the commons. That way even the smallest farm is looked after. The cycle is complete.

There is also a cycle within the cycle: the three sisters. Spiky squash leaves ward off pests, and prevent soil evaporation. Corn creates strong stalks to support bean vines. Beans improve the soil. They take nitrogen from the air and convert it to usable form through bacteria in their root nodules: a cycle inside the cycle inside the cycle!

Instead of optimizing for value extraction (such as monocropping the most profitable type of corn), Native systems are diversifying for value circulation. This is why Europeans were astounded to find an explosion of biodiversity in the New World. Corn, potato, tomato, bell pepper, chili pepper, vanilla, tobacco, beans, pumpkin, cassava root, avocado, peanut, pecan, cashew, pineapple, blueberry, sunflower, chocolate, and other plants whose existence was unknown. Many had been bred for centuries to diversify variety.