Thursday, November 25, 2004

My Family Didn't Get Here Until the Turn of the Century -- Honest!

Thanksgiving has traditionally been the one holiday when Americans acknowledge that there were thriving societies here when the Europeans arrived. (OK, the Native Americans have forced us to remember this fact on Columbus Day, as well, but Thanksgiving has historically been the only time when we bothered to acknowledge Native Americans). It’s gotten trite, but no less true, to begin any discussion of Native Americans with an acknowledgement of the fact that it took the European settlers very little time to decimate the Native American cultures in both North and South America. Often in the name of brining xianity to “godless heathens” the European Americans were pretty shitty to the Native Americans -- sending them smallpox-infested blankets, stealing their land and forcing them onto “reservations” in strange and undesirable locations, taking their children away from them and sending them to church schools where the children were forbidden to speak their own language or learn about their own rich spirituality. Just recently, Lame Duckie found himself completely unable to articulate the relationship between America and the sovereign nations within our shores.

When I was in school, I was fascinated by the Native Americans (whom we called Indians -- I know I’m dating myself), their culture, history, art, languages, religions. It’s not surprising that I wound up in an Earth-centered religion, albeit one based upon a European pantheon. One of the women in my coven is part Native American, and we’ve had some fascinating discussions concerning Native American spirituality and religion. America went through a period in the late 80s and early 90s where it was fashionable to adopt certain aspects of Native American spirituality. Most Native Americans consider this appropriation and don't appreciate it; so unless it's actually a part of your religion, stop already with the "sweat lodges" and "vision quests" -- and don't ask us to call you White Eagle, either.

One of the most interesting books I’ve read recently concerning, inter alia, how Native Americans came to North and South America was The Seven Daughters of Eve by Brian Sykes. Definitely worth a read if you get a chance. Here in Washington, D.C., we’ve just opened the National Museum of the American Indian. It’s amazing, gorgeous, beautiful -- none of those words really do it justice. In a city of beautiful fountains, this museum has the most incredible fountain that I’ve ever seen. If you're coming to D.C., contact them and get tickets ahead of time; it’s still impossible to just walk up and get in. And, as my friend Sarah pointed out when we walked around this endlessly fascinating building, if you have a picnic there, show some respect and don’t eat it in the garden area where Native Americans have taken to leaving offerings. Sheesh!

Anyway, for Thanksgiving 2004, I thought I’d check out some Native American blogs. Here are a few you might want to check out on a day when we remember a brief moment in American history when the Native Americans and the European settlers sat down together to express their gratitude for the abundance of the land.

News and Views by Native American Students can be found at Rez Net

Bad Eagle is a conservative blog by an “American Indian patriot.”

Brown Chick is a more personal blog by a Native American student who writes: “Plea to liberal/cool white people: Please do not flee the country. I am Native American and do not have the option of moving to another country to escape Bush and his neonazi Republican minions. This, in the deepest sense possible, is my country. And so we need cool white people here more than ever. Please don't leave, please don't give up. Fight!!!!!!
Plea to Bush's neonazi Republican minions: Go back to where you came from. And if you're Native American, you need to have some sense bitchslapped into you. I will gladly oblige.”

Reflections of an Outlaw Indian Lawyer has an interesting story about Ronald Reagan who is, let us give thanks on this day of thanks, still dead.

Finally, check out Blue Corn Comic Books for some interesting art work and story lines.

Happy Thanksgiving!