Chris Corrigan describes some insights from First Nations elders in Canada. Here’s one:
I asked him about the Ojibway word “ogiimaw” which is often translated as “chief” or “boss.” I asked Ralph what he thought the word must have meant before contact when the concept of “chief” was basically unknown. He said that word relates to the word ogiimatik which is the poplar tree, the tree that is considered the kindest of trees. Poplars are gentle, flexible, quiet and kind and are also good medicine. He said this idea of kindness is what is under the word “ogiimaw” and that influencing people through kindness is the kind of leadership that the word implies. This is very different from the kinds of leadership implied by the word “chief” which is a title now won by competition in a band election, a process that seems to engineer kindness right out of the equation. This is a great legacy of colonization – the lowering of kindness from a high leadership art to a naive sentimentality.