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Thursday, July 4, 2024

Almost Dead Indians (excerpt)

What did tribes make of the INVASION?

“Try as he might to comprehend the life on the far side of the ocean that the white man described, the brown man was unable.  Such a life was beyond belief.  He could not envision one man or a small group of men and women owning all the land, all the animals, all who dwelt upon it, all the produce, man’s labor and his harvest, and men’s lives. But he felt sorry for his friend.” – Basil Johnston, THE MANITOUS (1995), Chapter 11, AUTTISSOOKAUNUK, describing the strangers with light complexions who landed on the brown man’s land and described Europe.  Tribes had no concept for what he described, which was colonization and slavery.

(👆this is my favorite quote)

What has been written about the European’s arrival is for the most part sinister.  In rock art, scrolls and oral history, tribes recorded, understood and remembered the events of early colonial contact by means of symbolic images: Manitous (or spirits), floating islands, flying and underwater ships, giant birds, thunder and lighting, sounds of music in the air, a strange white whale, dreams, premonitions and warnings.  Early tribes viewed Puritan disregard for ritual to mean earthly disaster and punishment.  The tribes believed these aliens were Manitous possessing a powerful spirit.  (This is according to missionaries who knew the tribes here in the northeast.  And of course, this was written from their perspective…) (I use “Indian” in this text, as they did.)

Anishinaabe say:  After the French came the Zhaaganaash (“Off-shore ones”) of Great Britain.  But out of the Zhaaganaash came the Gichi-ookomaan (“Big-Knives”)the Virginians (i.e. pre-Americans) via WIKI   Wonder if the Anishinaabe have a word for serial killers?

The Indians lack of material wealth and simple lifestyle was viewed as a character flaw; Puritans could not comprehend their apparent lack of interest in wealth.  (The “Indian” had no concept of being owned or owning land.)


You and me: we are not supposed to know.    

President Thomas Jefferson

The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, December 29, 1813  

 “This unfortunate race, whom we had been taking so much pains to save and to civilize, have by their unexpected desertion and ferocious barbarities justified extermination and now await our decision on their fate.”  

Jefferson owned many slaves, had offspring with slaves, and had a fancy plantation, of course. (In Virginia)

These are real crimes and real atrocities against Indigenous First Nations People yet no one involved has been charged or put in prison?  Their goal? 

When details of the Indian Adoption Projects were sealed and files were closed after adoptions, a child would not have his/her name or tribal identity anymore, with their birth certificate altered and falsified.  Tribal membership might exist for some adoptees on paper but with secrecy and sealed files, the adult adoptee would never know or be able to find out.  

It appears that was the plan.   


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