A NOT ALWAYS LIGHT-HEARTED WALTZ DOWN
MEMORY LANE 

INTRODUCTION TO INDIGENOUS HISTORY
(with animated pictures!)

Where appropriate, you are welcome to sing along !!

 

    "We once thought you came to live with us. You still could have that chance. We're still here, and we live on this land. We don't live in your libraries in the pages of your books. This project is not for digging up our pottery, or for digging up our bones, for that matter. It's not even for digging up data and statistics about us. We have a long surviving and sacred tradition and an experiential wisdom that's been passed on for more centuries than you can imagine. This is your chance to benefit from that. All you have to do is be quiet and listen and quit worrying about proving and believing."
(Mad Bear - Tuscarora Holy Man of the Tuscarora Nation of the Six-Nation Haudenosaunee Confederacy)


 

 

Before the Ark there was Indigenous History...Yes folks, Indigenous life hummed for thousands of years before  the  attack of the 4 Killer 'Bs'  
 

  Blackrobes; Big Black Book! 


The gospel according to the Eurymthics with lyrical license by Thunderbird, a 1 anda 2 anda.......

I was born the original winner
I was born Mother Nature's kin,
and if I had a moccasin for all the lies
I’d have a mountain of footwear piled up to my chin.

My Mama told me good, my Mama told me strong
Be true to yourself and you can’t go wrong
There’s just one thing that you must understand
You can fool with your brother
But don’t mess with a missionary man

Don’t mess with a missionary man
 

A missionary man he’s got God on his side
He’s got the saints and apostles backin’ up from behind
Black-eyed looks from those bible books
He’s a man with a message got a serious look

Native Woman in the Forest and a Raven in a tree
Missionary Man he’s been following me
Stop what you’re doing get down upon your knees

My God is watchin' and you’d better believe, believe, believe"

 

 

    "They say we have been here for 60,000 years, but it is much longer. We have been here since time before time began.  We have come directly out of the Dreamtime of the Creative Ancestors.  We have lived and kept the earth as it was on the First Day." 
(Anonymous Indigenous Tribal Elder)

 

 

FALLACY OF THE BERING STRAIT THEORY

There is not a shred of proof to substantiate the Bering Strait (or Berengia) Theory. Academics insist on seeking an empirical comfort zone (it helps sell books!) and surmised that Indigenous people of North America had to have originated somewhere - Asia, Africa, or Europe with some coming through the Strait to settle in North America. (It begs the question: Where, then, did the inhabitants of Central Asia originate from? and on and on it goes.)

At the time, the northern world was one huge glacier making it impossible to pass through, over or under.  There are many ancient stories that come from a variety of Native Nations that talk about a huge wall of frozen water that blanketed the northern part of Turtle Island.  

Nonetheless, the intrepid academics continue to give life to the Bering Strait Theory, because empirical enquiry insists there simply HAS TO BE a logical explanation of where Native people came from. The theory continues to be taught as a fact in most educational institutions from primary grades to universities and colleges in Canada and the United States. 

Most Indigenous Creation Stories speak to the fact that Native people came from the unseen or upper world to settle on Turtle Island. In other words, Native people have always been here. 

This is just another fallacy that proves the point that all other cultures have 'real' history, Turtle Island's Native people have been saddled with anthropologists! (paraphrase of the late great Vine Deloria Jr.)

STORY: (Anishinaabe) Four animals were sent by Original Elder and his wife to the four corners of the world to see if any life existed. Wolf to the East, Bear to the West, Buffalo to the South, Eagle to the North.  They returned after many days to say that they had not encountered any other humans.  Eagle was the last one to return. He had been sent north; he flew and flew. He eventually came to a wall of ice and somehow managed to fly over it to discover that there was no life on the other side.  He flew back to report his findings.  

ESSENTIAL POINT IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:  Original Elder was already living on Turtle Island when he requested that Eagle, Buffalo, Wolf and Bear go looking!

 

 

ENTER THE VIKINGS!

    

The first recorded contact between Europeans and Turtle Island's Indigenous people occurred in the Arctic, with the arrival of the Norse about 1000 B.C. on Baffin Island (Leif Erickson and his Dad, among others) and down the Atlantic coast. They settled in Greenland and Vinland (Newfoundland).

Indigenous peoples most likely to have been affected by this encounter were the Dorset, Thule and Beothuk. There was death, there was pillaging, the Norse were a brutal people and looked strange.

The Arctic Dorset arrived before the Inuit, and were displaced by them; the Beothuk were a proto-Algonkian people inhabiting Newfoundland. Very little is known about the Beothuk and any early encounters with the Vikings.

Between 1613 and 1633 English and French settlers enlisted mainly Mi’kmaqs to massacre Beothuk people of Newfoundland.  The label "Red" Indian OR "Red Paint People" was derived from the Beothuk who used red ocher to paint their bodies. In 1829, the last Beothuk, Nancy Shanawdithit  died of tuberculosis in St. John’s.  The Beothuk are now extinct.

What is known is that even the hardy Vikings found the east coast to be a harsh and forbidding land; they lasted a scant 4-5 years and ran towards the nearest galleon  to set sail for greener pastures.  Whew! saved for a few hundred more years.

Ah, a Song from Oklahoma
.... A 1 anda 2 anda....

"Oh What a beautiful ocean
Oh What a beautiful sea
We're out on the water in a rowboat
Lookin' for someplace sunny

Oh, we've landed on a large pile of rock
The weather's no different from home
The waves are as high as an elephants eye
And the cold, well its creepin' right into my bones

Oh, what were we thinkin' when we landed
on this barren and cold geography
We can't get away cuz were stranded
I hear Santa Cruz calling me"

 

 

The gospel according to the Eurymthics with lyrical license by Thunderbird, a 1 anda 2 anda.......

"I was born the original winner - I was born Mother Nature's kin, and if I had a moccasin for all the lies I’d have a mountain of footwear piled up to my chin.

My Mama told me good, my Mama told me strong
Be true to yourself and you can’t go wrong
There’s just one thing that you must understand
You can fool with your brother
But don’t mess with a missionary man

Don’t mess with a missionary man
 

A missionary man he’s got God on his side
He’s got the saints and apostles backin’ up from behind
Black-eyed looks from those bible books
He’s a man with a message got a serious look

Native Woman in the Forest and a Raven in a tree
Missionary Man he’s been following me
Stop what you’re doing get down upon your knees

My God is watchin' and you’d better believe, believe, believe"

 

 

 WE WERE HERE FIRST - HONEST INJUN!  
WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HERE!

 

OKAY, maybe not quite lookin' like the Hollywood standard of a Native 'white-featured' Barbie Doll, but we HAVE always been here!
 

Without a written history to back up claims of the existence of Native settlements all across Turtle Island, early European interpretation of the settling of North American endured outrageous historical license at the hands of white interpreters. Early historians (usually Jesuit missionaries and other religious orders) refused to attach any legitimacy to the time-honoured oral narratives of Indigenous people. 

Turtle Island's history was basically rewritten to claim that the story of  Native people began with the 'discovery' of North America and its Indigenous people by European explorers! The previous sixty thousand years was completely invalidated by those who sought to conquer and control. Such arrogance is a complete mystery to the Elders right up to this day who find it hilarious that something could be discovered that wasn't lost in the first place!!  

 

Let us all remember folks, Christopher Columbus never set foot on North American soil! The great tragedy as this belief allowed for, among other things, the theft of ancestral land with callous impunity ("we discovered it, it's ours!") as "manifest destiny" became the rallying cry for greedy settlers and other opportunists. 

Oh, is that a C&W song I hear? 1, 2 3....

"My cheatin' heart won't set you free
Manifest Destiny
Is our rallying cry, you're in the way
If you don't move, yer gonna pay."

However, Indigenous Elders and leaders continue to teach that, "One could not discover what was never lost in the first place!" Unlike Christopher Columbus who seemingly couldn't find his way of out of the proverbial wet paper bag, Native people always knew where they were -- right here on Turtle Island. It has been estimated that there were upwards of eighteen million Native people living here at the time of the arrival of a relentless chorus-line of Europeans, looking (and smelling) the same, and spouting the same conquering rhetoric

Ah, is that a Gershwin tune? 
('I Got Rhythm') - A 1 anda 2 anda.....

"I got power, I got small pox
I got conquering
I'm here and I'm gonna to stay
I don't need you, I don't want you
All I know is you're standin' in my way

All you savages don't come round here
You ain't welcome, stay away from my door.

This land is my land, this land ain't your land
I now own it and I'm gonna go out and get more" 

The explorers did find hundreds of different settled tribal communities scattered all across Turtle Island, most with very complex and sophisticated, primarily matriarchal social and political organizations, (i.e. Pacific Northwest coast).  Their very survival depended on a well-ordered existence with disciplined tribal infrastructures. The role of each member of the tribe was valued and celebrated. Issues of gender power were not even on the radar-screen - Women and Men shared equally in the tasks, no one was made to feel inferior.  Everyone simply did what they were good at - what a concept!

There was little in the way of regular inter-tribal gatherings for the simple reason that the tribes were scattered across a vast land mass making travel to gatherings difficult if not impossible.   (See warfare below)

Sadly, the history books are full of the names of the intrepid Explorers who traversed this grand land, but not the names of the Native Women and Men who got them there!

 

 

 

"I am going to venture that the man who sat on the ground in his tipi meditating on life and its meaning, accepting the kinship of all creatures, and acknowledging unity with the universe of things was infusing into his being the true essence of civilization."

Luther Standing Bear, 1868-1939, Oglala Lakota Chief

 

 

PEACE, PARLAY, PUMPED PECS, POWER-OVER

GET THE WORD OUT!! THE VISITORS ARE COMING & WE DON'T THINK THEY'RE GOING HOME ANYTIME SOON!!

The image of Native people has been damaged by popular culture who reveled in stereotypes embedding them in their myths about how the west was won. The myth of glamorous, and pristine pilgrims, perfectly coiffed, perfectly pec-ed cowboys moving across the west riding powerful steeds, with a strong sense of adventure and freedom flowing through their wavy black hair and swirling around their perfectly coordinated ten gallon hats, chaps and boots, all the while conquering the land, is just that, a terrible myth.  In fact, they arrived on filthy boats, diseased, with a holier than thou attitude and very angry to discover they were not alone.

Ah, is that a song from My Fair Lady?
('Show Me')

"We know you've got land; Don't try to run
I'm pointing my gun, show me.
We know that this land extends far and wide
Don't try to hide, show me.

Even if you pack your things and try to steal away
We'll hunt you down and you'll have to pay
We want everything you have across this mighty land
And if you don't give we will take

So, lay down your arms, kneel on the ground
Don't ever forget we surround you
You can take to the bank that we're right on your ass

Don't give us no sass were upon you."

In reality, most Europeans were a barely literate, unclean, harsh and brutal people who came here to conquer and settle; the settlers moved west with the approval of the Canadian government using horrific practices such as the deliberate distribution of alcohol. In the United States, Natives were forced out with the savage assistance of the United States cavalry on orders from the American government. Indigenous people were thwarted at every turn - war, murder, alcohol, deliberate introduction of germ warfare (small pox-infested blankets were given to women and children to try and cut down the population), whatever it took to subdue and get them out of the way.  Hollywood created the brave cowboy and the "savage savage" because of its pervasive racist view and fear of all things non-white, and, of course, to sell tickets. A further stupidity was the use of white actors to portray the "savages"; there is a bit of a bemused irony there.

"American Indians seem an enigma to most other Americans. The images portrayed in the movies, whether of the noble red man or bloodthirsty savage, recall the stereotypes of western history. Newspaper stories dealing with oil wells, uranium mines, land claims, and the occupation of public buildings and reservation hamlets almost seem to speak of another group altogether and it is difficult to connect the two perceptions of Indians in any single and comprehensible reality."
(Vine Deloria Jr. (Standing Rock Sioux), American Indians, American Justice)

Indigenous people from all over Turtle Island created rich, powerful, wonderful cultures filled with art, music, theatre, storytelling and dance. The original languages are music unto themselves.  When you hear it spoken, it is hard to argue that these languages were not the original 'romance' languages because of their lyrical and narrative focus. Indigenous art is now seen as valuable and collected by many of those who continue to classify the makers of the art within very narrow stereotypical and patriarchal parameters.

 

WARFARE AND CONQUERING

There is a fallacy that Native people were conquered because they had inferior fighting forces.  On the contrary, nothing could be further from the truth. Their intimate knowledge of the terrain, superb physical conditioning and the tactical skills made Indigenous warriors a formidable and often superior fighting force, and it really irked the the U.S. cavalry, for example, as over and over again they were routed by Native forces so much smaller than their own.  In most cases, Native forces were not defeated in war; disease and starvation were the greatest killers.

Ah, is that a song from South Pacific?

"We're gonna rout that cavalry right off our land
We're gonna rout that cavalry and take a stand
We're gonna get together in one large band
and send them on their way."

"We're gonna shoot 'em where it hurts them the most
But we're Natives so we're not gonna boast
But we'll be damned if yer gonna be our host
Let's send 'em on their way."

  Native Warriors, more often than not, triumphed despite the superior weaponry of the soldiers, i.e. Oglala Lakota Leader, Crazy Horse, Shawnee Leader, Tecumseh. Some of the strategies of Crazy Horse and Nez Percé Warrior Chief, Olikut (Chief Joseph's younger brother) are still taught at military schools.  

A Brief Story

Nez Percé, Chief Joseph and his Warrior Chief Brother, Olikut led their people on an 1800 mile 'walk' towards Canada.  With only 250 warriors, Olikut never lost a battle (seven in total), holding off 5,000 well-armed cavalry as they raced for freedom. Chief Joseph only stopped because his people were starving. 

In the early years of post-European contact (up to 1812), Indigenous fighting forces were courted unashamedly as allies by the French and English. They were badly needed as Turtle Island was being conquered and settled. All bets were off after 1812 - this was the last major battle between warring European factions. Native people were almost immediately abandoned because they were no longer useful.

Native people were conquered for a variety of reasons including: lack of immunity to European Diseases; Destruction of Food;  Downfall of the Matriarchy; Warfare against an enemy with superior supplies and armaments; Land Appropriation (often achieved by the deliberate introduction of alcohol and small pox infected blankets to Native people); Imposition of Christinaity, Indian Act, Residential Schools. All of these oppressive tactics deprived generations of Native people from living their culture as they had for so many thousands of years.

A commonly asked question: Could not a united Native front have prevented a European invasion? The answer is quite simply that the tribes were too different culturally and lived too far apart on a vast land mass to fight together as a cohesive unit. Moreover, years of disease and starvation had decimated many tribes. There were rare occasions, however, when large fighting forces were amassed such as the Battle at Rosebud Creek and the Little Big Horn River in 1876 (over 7,000 warriors) in which the Lakota and Cheyenne warriors triumphed.  The triumphs were short-lived, however as the United States cavalry who really hated to lose (an attitude that continues to this day!) were relentless in their pursuit of annihilating the Natives.

Another common misconception was that Natives were savages, war mongers and treacherous. Again, Native people fought hard to hold onto their culture and traditional ways; they did not fight any harder than any other civilization on earth battling to defend its lands, sovereignty and way of life. This kind of stereotype came out of the early American movie and television westerns, when racism reigned supreme and John Wayne rode tall in the saddle. This is why so many love to think that all Native people did was rape, scalp (a European abomination, by the way) and pillage white settlers. 

Native warfare consisted of "Warrior to Warrior" combat; there was a tacit agreement never to harm or violate women and children, except to take them as hostages or slaves. Women were highly valued and many such 'hostages' went on to marry their captors, raise families and take leadership roles in their adopted tribes; Rape and scalping  were savage acts introduced by the European invaders. Bet you didn't know that about SCALPING did you? Surprise!

For more on Tribal Lifestyle    

 

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ENTER THE MISSIONARIES

 

"Calling all Indigenous people to a new religious order!"
"Calling all Indigenous people to a new religious order!"  

"Follow me." a missionary trumpeted. "Oh, verily I say unto thee, in 1537, our Pope Paul III, in one of his decrees, called a "Papal Bull" in the world of Pope-dom (or papal bullshit in the world of Indigenous people!) has determined after much deliberation, that although Native souls are not as civilized or sophisticated as the European soul, and not as defined as the animals, Native people nonetheless have souls." Pope Paul Prattle: "They [Natives] are veritable men capable of reasoning and receiving divine grace." 
Whew, what a relief!

Ah,  is that  a John Denver song?

"Follow me, where I go, what I do and who I know
Oh you Savages might just be salvage-able 
Come with me, hear the word of our thundering male God.
And the Pope may just amend his Papal Bull Sh...t"

 

 

ALL NATIVES HAVE SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROBLEMS

Native people are no more pre-disposed to alcoholism or other substance abuse than members of any other ethnic group; Alcohol was deliberately given to Native people during the fur trade years as a means of control and to take advantage of very sophisticated Native traders and to wrest land away - remember for thousands of years, Native culture was based on trading and so the Ancestors were really, really good at it. 

Thunderbird's Ancestors, for example were shrewd and tough bargainers. Of note: the deliberate introduction of alcohol into the negotiating mix was widespread both in Canada and the United States. After being given alcohol, some of Black Hawk's warriors, for example, signed away the Mississippi Valley when they had no right to do so; there were no leaders present to prevent it, including Black Hawk!

Cultural genocide attempts using alcohol is a principle cause of great despair among Native people that resonates to this day. Most reserves across both Canada and the United States are at the same subsistence levels as third world countries with poverty and strife being the norm rather than the exception. It is little wonder that despairing people turn to artificial means to mask their fear and anger....at least for a little while, just like a lot of other Canadians with less reasons to do so!  

The Innu Settlement at Davis Inlet (now known by their Tribal names: Sheshatshiu and Natuashsish  is an example of a lost people.  The Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota is another example of Native people living well below the poverty line and taking their rage out on each other - this reservation has had an ongoing difficult relationship with an unyielding American government; it suffers from a very high murder and suicide rate. Moreover, and most important Native women, in general, are the most marginalized of all Canadian Citizens.

More Facts and Fantasy's About Native people

 

For more about Indigenous Women

 

 

HORSES

 

The introduction of the horse around 1567 by the Spanish eventually made travel  much more efficient. Prior to the horse, dogs were used. A good dog could carry up to fifty pounds. One horse replaced a dozen dogs.

By between 1745-60, horses had spread all over Turtle Island.  Native people, particularly the Plains (e.g. Lakhota, Crow, Cheyenne) became very skilled in horsemanship, breeding (and stealing) horses. The stealing part became a bit of a testosterone-driven competitive cottage industry among rival tribes.  Native warriors also on more than several occasions were able to one-up the military in terms of stealing their horses as well.  

The Nez Percé are credited with raising and breeding the beautiful Appaloosa horses ("Ma Min") in the Nez Percé language.  Sometime beyond 1877 when their 1800 mile race for freedom led by Chief Joseph finally ended, the U.S. government to further ensure their obedience saw to it that the Appaloosa horses were given away, sold to settlers or shot (a bottle of whiskey was the bounty for each Appaloosa killed) almost to the point of extinction.  With patience, luck and steadfast belief, the Nez Percé have been able to 're- birth' their ponies once again to generally healthy herds.

 

DISEASE

While wars played a part in the rapid decline of Native populations, European diseases were probably the main cause for the dramatic number of deaths in a relatively short spate of time. Smallpox passes through the air in droplets discharged from the nose and mouth. It spreads from the lungs of an infected person into the lungs of a susceptible person. Smallpox can survive years on the clothing and bedding used by smallpox victims.

DID YOU KNOW......Hispaniola (modern Dominican Republic) was the first site of European contact (established by Christopher Columbus). Deliberate exposure to smallpox during early Spanish attempts to convert the population into plantation slavery exterminated all 2.5 million inhabitants. They were replaced by African slaves, and this process was repeated throughout the New World for decades to varying degrees. The numbers of dead are so staggering it is hard for the mind to absorb the sheer enormity of it.

While smallpox was the main culprit, other European diseases that devastated Indigenous populations included: malaria, yellow fever, tuberculosis and polio.

In 1520 Spanish Explorer, Cortes made an attempt to conquer Techotitlan, the Aztec capital, now Mexico City. Thinking that Aztec warriors would come in hot pursuit, he quickly moved his troops to the coast, but no warriors followed.  He soon discovered that most of the people were dead or were dying from disease.  He was able to return and conquer the Aztecs in a matter of weeks. Needlesstosay, he became their new Emperor and God.

GERM WARFARE

While most historians agree that the introduction was in large part accidental, British Lord, Jeffrey Amherst secured his place in history with the deliberate introduction of the first act of modern germ warfare in North America. 

The tide of war with the Cherokee had turned against him. He ordered: "Infect the Indians with sheets upon which smallpox patients have been lying, or by any other means which may serve to exterminate this accursed race." Fort Pitt’s commander then offered to parlay with the Cherokee Chiefs, they agreed and received gifts of the contaminated blankets in which they wrapped many of their children. As a result a small pox epidemic raged all summer killing hundreds of Natives, particularly Elders and children.

EXAMPLES OF THE DEVASTATION:

  • 1634 and 1640, smallpox infected the Huron Nation. By 1639, the disease had reached epidemic proportions and the Huron population was reduced by half. Severely weakened, the Hurons became a target for the Haudennosaunne, resulting in a war in 1648. Finally, with Jesuit father Jean de Brébeuf having been martyred during the Haudennosaunne raids at St-Ignace on March 16, 1649, the Hurons were effectively dispersed and ceased to be a nation. A few remain in Quebec today.

  • By 1620 C.E., 4,000 Mi'kmaq remained from an original population of about 35,000.

  • Susquehannock: smallpox epidemic in 1661 devastated their population to a point from which it never recovered.

  • 1515 - Two-thirds of the Natives of Puerto Rico died from smallpox.

  • 1616-19. The Massachusetts and other Algonquin tribes in the area were reduced from an estimated thirty thousand to three hundred. This is considered the first major outbreak on the northeastern Atlantic coast.

  • 1837 - Plains. Mandan, Blackfeet, and the Assiniboine suffered the highest number of deaths. Death by smallpox was reported at 90% among those infected. (Thirty-one Mandans out of a population of sixteen hundred survived the epidemic).

  • Between 1860-1863, 80% of the Tsimshian on the Pacific Northwest coast fell victim to smallpox.

 

TOTALLY MISGUIDED, AND YET A HERO TO SO MANY.........

"I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves." 

(John Wayne,
deluded pro-gun wielding actor)

Ah, is that a song from Oklahoma? 
(People will say we're in love) A 1 anda 2 anda....

"John Wayne you got it wrong
We were willing to share it all along
But now you're living down below          
Our hope is you came back as a buffalo."

 


AND FINALLY

"While American Indians have a grand past, the impact of their culture on the world has been slight. The time for the way Indians live is gone and it's doubly sad because they refuse to accept it. They hang onto remnants of their religion and superstition that may have been useful to savages 500 years ago but which are meaningless in 1992." (Late, Andy Rooney, pathetic racist diatribe.)

Although I do not like to give energy to crap like this, I have put it here to show how misguided some prevailing views are - Rooney's drivel was said forty years after John Wayne's stupid diatribe - sad, very sad as the racist beat goes on. The hope is they both came back as Buffalo.

 

 

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