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Characteristics of a Leader: U.S. vs the Apache

Profile of Cochise in the Chiricahua MountainsWhile research in the field of political science has identified a list of ideal characteristics for a leader, it is questionable that such a person has ever led this country. On the contrary, it is almost certain that persons possessing the ideal Apache characteristics have led their people. Great leaders of a people share various characteristics across cultures, and characteristics of poor leaders are shared as well.

Americans in most recent times have seemed to eschew the characteristics identified by political science researchers. We have had recent leaders who flout these traits. And when we have been given the opportunity to remove these persons from office, time after time, we have chosen to re-elect them. The following is a list of attributes that political science has set forth as ideal in a great leader:

  • Has experience in office
  • Energetic and aggressive leader
  • Faithful to spouse
  • Forceful public speaker
  • Moral character
  • Talks about nation’s problems
  • Honest
  • Younger than 60/65 years of age
  • Remains calm and cautious
  • Has solutions to problems
  • Served in the military

A similar list from the Apache might look something like this:

  • Industriousness
  • Generosity
  • Impartiality
  • Fairness
  • Forbearance
  • Conscientiousness
  • Eloquence

Political culture has been defined as the inherited set of beliefs, attitudes, and opinions people have about how their government or leaders ought to operate. The similarities in the above lists is remarkable. It seems apparent that the same traits must have been recognized across cultures for hundreds of years, yet so few renowned Anglo leaders seem to have possessed all of them. However, from what is known about Cochise, it appears he can be counted as one leader who had it all. Comparing Cochise and the most recent American presidents, makes the Anglos look foolish.

All great Indian chiefs led their men into battle, shunning personal safety. None of the recent Americans has. Apaches valued and kept their word. Enough said. Cochise was known for his generosity, always sharing his food and belongings with those who were without. Poverty is growing by leaps and bounds in this nation, and people without means are losing their houses. An Apache chief always valued the opinions of others in making a decision; some recent Anglos don’t even ask or care what others (lawmakers) think. There was no secrecy in Apache leadership. They led by strength of character, not with an iron fist. It is interesting that “forceful” public speaking and eloquence appear on the above lists. Reading the words of Geronimo and Cochise is like hearing a poet; George Bush made a mockery of the English language. An Apache chief never showed favoritism when arbitrating disputes or appointing U.S. attorneys.

All leaders should serve as role models for their people. It is amazing that this country has chosen over and over again, leaders that lack moral character. From presidents to governors to mayors, infidelity is rampant. Greed and lust, power and pride, these are the motivating factors in American leadership. An Apache chief protected and fed his people, he worked for consensus within his group and he was recognized for the commendable way he lived his own life.

If the Apache bands had been led by American presidents the people would have been squashed decades before they were or the people would have ostracized them within a few months. If only America could be led by one of the great Apache chiefs, or a succession of them, how different would things be. Imagine a string of presidents with the qualities of Mangus Coloradas, Cochise, Victorio, Juh, and Geronimo. Imagine an America that would be respected by the world. Imagine an America that cared for its land and cared about its entire people being fed. Imagine. I’ve just spent a couple of hours doing it.

It would be a remarkable place.

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2 comments to Characteristics of a Leader: U.S. vs the Apache

  • […] a very viable alternative. My law firm is working on many of these right now to try to […] Characteristics of a Leader: U.S. vs the Apache – 08/07/2009 While research in the field of political science has […]

  • @anarchists

    This very well thought out comparative study,obviously local to the Apache Nations traditional lands,gives lie to the question of leadership selection.Whilst there is a scholarly tendency to assume that indigenous peoples traditionally organised on a pyramidal basis,my research of tribal oral histories including some #NativeAmerican nations(but not Apache)indicates that there were in fact most commonly several chiefs of most groupings at any one time.Post colonisation,it is apparent that war chiefs and some others were elevated to the peak of a pyramidal structure.There is more evidence of matriarchy preexisting colonialism than patriarchal structures.
    In the context of putting national leaders on the front line,I would prefer those leaders to co-ordinate from a safe secure bunker.However,it should be mandatory that their children be on the front line for the duration of any war.

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