The Power of Words

The purpose of words is to convey meaning. How they’re spelled, how they sound differs tremendously. Sometimes they convey the same meaning, such as for a cat or dog. Others are unique and can’t be translated into another language, especially if they’re based on cultural context.

When immigrants come to a country, they assimilate better if they learn the host language. This is not simply a matter of getting along better in society. It integrates them into the culture. America became a “melting pot” as immigrants came from a multitude of foreign nations, then were united in a common language, i.e. English, even if they maintained their ethnic traditions.

When Europeans came to the American continent they encountered indigenous peoples whose languages were entirely foreign. While there’s a similarity in etymology and syntax among Latin-based languages (English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, etc.), those spoken by Native Americans (which were several) had no similarities to European languages. Their culture and society were so different, many words common to Europeans didn’t even exist in theirs and vice versa.

Most of our thoughts comprise words. A person’s vocabulary determines their ability to think and comprehend the world around them. Without applicable words, unfamiliar concepts cannot exist. Emotions, however, exist beyond words. If you see someone laughing or crying, you know they’re feeling something.

Europeans took possession of this country in a less than friendly manner. Eventually, indigenous people became the “Indian Problem.” They refused to cooperate by giving up the land gifted to them by the Creator, a.k.a. Great Spirit. After numerous wars, massacres, and ugly confrontations, those that remained were herded off to reservations. As if that wasn’t bad enough, their children were taken and sent to government boarding schools where they were “reprogrammed.” This comprised cutting their hair, dressing them in “civilized” clothing, and forbidding them from speaking their native tongue. Being caught doing so resulted in their mouth being washing out with soap.

This was not a benevolent gesture to help Native Americans assimilate into European/American society. The intent was to annihilate their culture, identity, and beliefs, an insidious form of virtual genocide. A slight improvement, I suppose, over edicts from the Vatican that gave early explorers and colonists permission to kill them or make them their slaves.

Imagine forcing new immigrants to give up their language and customs. As “guests” in this country, it could almost be justified, a condition of habitation that promotes unity. Instead, just about any document they may need to read is available in their own language at taxpayer expense. Yet, quite the opposite was done to indigenous peoples who were here first.

If you have a difficult time relating to this, consider hoards of Chinese soldiers swarming our borders and forcing us to abandon our way of life, including our language, and adapt to theirs or die.

As intended, indigenous languages began to disappear. Fortunately, some survived. Ironically, helping the current younger generations to learn their native tongue is now a function of the very schools who originally forbade them from speaking it.

Why should they care? Because that is who they are. Culture, ceremonies, and their collective philosophy of life is embedded in their language. They have words with no English analog. Even in English, certain things have different meaning. For example, “All my relations” to a Native American includes all living things as well as the Earth herself. “Turtle Island” is not only this continent, but embodies their creation story.

Why should we care if their culture is lost? Because it’s in the world’s best interest for it to be revitalized. Assimilating it may be the only thing that can save us from ourselves in this war-torn, polluted, technology-dependent world.

This short video (less that 3 minutes) contains the 10 Commandments of Native Americans. As you listen, consider they initially welcomed Europeans to their land. They only became aggressive when the Founding Fathers and those who followed didn’t want to share this country with its original inhabitants.

They wanted them out of their way.

A Quizzical Glimpse of Native American History

Most people are familiar with the saying “To the victor go the spoils,” which includes writing (or rewriting) history books to justify defeating the enemy.

With that in mind, see how many of the following questions you can answer correctly.


1. True/False King Ferdinand was given permission to kill indigenous people or make them their slaves by the pope.


2. How many tribal nations have a formal nation-to-nation relationship with the U.S. Government?

a. 14

b. 567

c. 173


3. How many federal and state-recognized American Indian reservations are there?

a. 492

b. 39

c. 334


4. How many states have a recognized American Indian reservation?

a. 35

b. 9

c. 17


5. True/False The Founding Fathers were sympathetic toward Native Americans and recognized their rights under the Declaration of Independence.


6. True/False The Declaration of Independence’s statement that “all men are created equal” included Native Americans.


7. What was the reason for the majority of U.S. Government – Indian wars?

a. White settlers occupying Indian land in violation of treaties

b. U.S. Government ignoring existing treaties due to westward expansion.

c. Loss of livelihood and hunting grounds to encroachment by white settlers.

d. All of the above


8. Indian people are categorized by culture and geography. Which of the following are NOT considered culture areas?

a. Arctic, subarctic, Northwest Coast, Plateau

b. Great Basin, California, Southwest, Mesoamerica

c. Great Plains, Northeast, Southeast, Caribbean

d. None of the above


9. In the early 19th Century, Sequoyah, a Cherokee polymath from the Little Tennessee Valley created:

a. A list of treaty violations to present to the U.S. Congress

b. The allotment system to assign land to individuals

c. A syllabary of 86 ornate characters


10. Which of the following places are based on Native American names?

a. Allegheny, Alaska, Adirondack

b. Biloxi, Caddo, Chattanooga

c. Hatteras, Erie, Huron

d. Wyoming, Winnebago, Wichita

e. All of the above


ANSWERS

1. True. The first papal bull issued for King Ferdinand in Spain after Columbus returned from the Caribbean stated: “All people of North America are no better than feral animals and may be slaughtered at will.” 

And that bull was followed by another that accompanied the North American land grants: “All land grants will be governed by the same rules as the land grants in Spain, to which you have been accustomed. Thus, as usual, any people populating your land defined by the land grant here issued are your slaves.”

2. b. 567 tribal nations

3. c. 334 reservations

4. a. 35 states with reservations

5. False. George Washington was known as Town Destroyer in the Seneca language based on the decimated cornfields and razed villages he promoted. Thomas Jefferson as Governor of Virginia, ordered a war of extermination against the Shawnee.

6. Following that “created equal” statement it states “except the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.

Yes, it really says that. The Natives were accused of being savages for defending their homeland while as one example, at Sand Creek the U.S. Army slaughtered innocent Native Americans who were literally flying the U.S. Flag with a white banner of surrender.

Custer did, indeed, have it coming.

I find it ironic that following WWII the U.S. was more than generous helping to rebuild war zones of former enemies in Germany and Japan, yet few promises made to this country’s original residents have been kept.

7. d. All of the above are reasons for the U.S. – Indian Wars.

The “Manifest Destiny” attitude of America’s early European explorers and subsequent settlers toward the country’s native population was overtly hostile. Land that was virtually stolen, deceptive treaties of which the Indigenous signers were not advised of their true content, and treaties to which both signatories agreed but Congress never ratified are but a part of the sordid tale.

Too many members of the Native population live in substandard conditions with many reservations comparable to a Third World Country and comprise some of the poorest counties in the United States. Yet now the government proposes giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to illegal aliens for being “inconvenienced.”

What’s wrong with this picture?

8. d. None of the above. All represent designated cultural areas.

9. c. A syllabary of 86 characters based on the sound of syllables in the Cherokee language

10. e. All of the above. Hundreds, more likely thousands, of places in the U.S. and Canada retain their Native American names.


SCORES BASED ON NUMBER CORRECT

9 – 10 Cheated or has a college degree in Native American History.

7 – 8 Assumed this was an open-book quiz.

5 – 6 Fan of Longmire series on Netflix.

3 – 4 A few lucky guesses.

0 – 2 Don’t waste your money on lotto tickets.


Swallow your pride and leave your scores below.

Review of Nancy Red Star’s “Star Ancestors: Extraterrestrial Contact in the Native American Tradition

This book is a masterful work of art in addition to containing a collection of personal experiences from members of several different tribes. These include Navajo, Mi’kmaq, Abenaki, Seneca, Cherokee, Tarahumara, Maya, Olmec, Yaqui, Creek, and Choctaw.

Though testimonials about UFO encounters are included, the majority of the book is on a more spiritual level, dealing with other types of connections with the Star People. These include the importance of ceremony, previous lost civilizations from millennia ago, high technology in the distant past, the origin of indigenous people, and prophecies of the future, which is upon us now.

The book has been around a while, the original copyright in 2000, then renewed in 2012. In today’s world that’s a long time and many things prophesied that may not yet have occurred by either of those dates have by now.

I think my favorite section was “We Wander This World with a Purpose” by Mali Keating. She spoke of the Hopi, where they came from, and their numerous prophecies. Here’s an excerpt of one section that explained so much about our modern world.

“The Anasazi were a people left over from the migration. The people were told they must never stop and build cities, but of course some did…. Cities make people crazy, as we all know. People become greedy and lose the ability to work together.”

Here’s another, that may not have been as apparent when this book was first released as it is now:

“The Hopi said that they would know that the end is coming when roads crisscrossed this continent like the web of a spider–those are the vapor trails of airplanes. You can see vapor trails like the webs of spiders in the sky.”

Actually, roads on which we drive crisscross the continent, too. Those trails in the sky,  however, are not vapor trails, they are called chemtrails. Vapor trails are condensation from normal airplanes whereas chemtrails are chemicals such as barium and aluminum being deliberately sprayed in the atmosphere to supposedly combat climate change. This, like so much else out there today, is a lie. If anything, they are causing the climate to go crazy by facilitating weather manipulation.

There are numerous photos of indigenous art and the layout of the book itself is genius, between Nancy Red Star’s commentaries before each entry to her free verse poetry at the conclusion. Reading these stories is not just informative, it’s an experience of another realm beyond what meets the eyes.

A realm that Native Americans and all indigenous people understand.

May we all learn from their ancient wisdom before it’s too late.

5-stars, Highly Recommended

Available from Amazon and InnerTraditions.com

THE STORY OF BRIGHT EYES IS COMING TO THE BIG SCREEN

Many indigenous people from various tribes have fought for their rights, whether on horseback or in the halls of Congress. Among them was a young woman named Bright Eyes, about whom plans are in work to make a feature-length movie.

To quote the producer’s website:

It’s the true story of a shy, young woman of the Omaha Tribe whose love for her people and other Native Americans helped her overcome her fear. So, she spoke out against injustice and helped bring about the landmark court case of Chief Standing Bear vs. General George Crook where a Native American was first regarded as a “person” with legal rights!

Can you believe that it took until 1880 for Native Americans to be considered a “person?”

What’s wrong with this picture? Let’s take a look at the founding documents of the United States penned in 1776. How many times have you heard the following words from The Declaration of Independence ?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

“All men?” Really? Obviously that didn’t apply to First Nation peoples.

Did you know that in the early 19th Century slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person for census purposes while indigenous people were not counted at all?

Then there’s the Fourteenth Amendment, ratified July 9, 1868, following the Civil War:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; or shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Did this apply to indigenous people? Obviously not.

Instead they were considered savages for fighting for their rights to land on which they were the original occupants. A country that shoved them out of the way, yet states in the Second Amendment to its Constitution, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

And why the Second Amendment? To defend our country from a tyrannical government or foreign invaders!

Sound familiar?

Seems to me that’s what Native Americans were trying to do when all other negotiations with the U.S. Government failed.

If more people understood the true history of how indigenous people were treated it could make a huge difference. As I’ve discovered the truth through research I’ve done writing The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits and working with my Northern Cheyenne co-author, Pete Risingsun, I’ve been outraged by the hypocrisy and double standard.

The United States would be a wonderful country if only it followed its own declarations rather than the whims of greedy, powerful individuals who either warp or by-pass the law to their own benefit. And if you think things are improving currently, clearly you don’t understand what’s going on. Why are illegal aliens treated better than our nation’s first people? Everyone who belongs here is losing their rights at an unprecedented rate.

Perhaps it’s a case of “What goes around, comes around.”

I didn’t intend for this blog to turn into a rant, but it’s something I’ve come to feel very strongly about.

Back to Bright Eyes, this wonderful true story about an heroic Native American woman is being made into a feature film. I encourage you to watch the trailer here.

The producers are looking for crowd funding to make it happen. You can help bring this inspiring story to the big screen! Find out more on their website.