Saturday, March 6, 2010

Contributions of Native Americans

Some of the Things They Took From Native Americans
There was a time when
the so-called Indians were the only
people who lived in the Americas.
Then came the Europeans.

For hundreds of years
Native Americans defended themselves
from the theft of their lands
and the attempted destruction of their culture.

What was the culture
that hundreds of Native American nations
were so determined to defend?
What were some of the things they lost?

The Spanish found gold and silver in
Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia.
They forced Native Americans to mine
those riches and sent them to Europe.

The gold and silver from the Americas
mined under horrible conditions
was the foundation of the political economic system
of capitalism throughout the world.

More important than gold and silver
was the food Europeans found in the Americas.
Much of the food we eat was originally
farmed by Native Americans.

When Europeans began to use the potato
They had more time for other kinds of work,
and this also aided
in the development of capitalism.

Lewis Henry Morgan was intrigued
by lifestyle of Native Americans and lived with the Iroquois,
whose real name is the Ho-de-no-sau-nee,
and are also known as the League of Six Nations.

Morgan, with the help of the Seneca,
Ely S. Parker found that this community
was completely different
from the so-called civilized society he lived in.

Women had real political power
and had the right tell the political
leaders known as sachems
that they would not be sachems any more.

In this community everyone shared
in the work and private property was unknown.
Europeans called Native Americans “Indian Givers”
because all their possessions were shared.

The communist, Frederick Engles
read Morgan’s work and concluded that
the family, private property, and the state
were all creations of the capitalist system.

The psychologist, Erik Erikson also studied
Native Americans and compared
their style of life
to the lifestyle of civilized society.

Erikson made his studies at a time
when Native Americans had been militarily defeated
and forced to live on horrible reservations.
Yet what he saw was truly remarkable.

He found that the Oglala Lakota
and the Yurok people collectively
raised their children
taking much of the pressure off of the mothers.

In these societies children were encouraged to explore.
They were also nurtured in a way where
young people became confident in
carrying out their responsibilities.

Adults had a sense of purpose
because they all played important
roles in teaching the younger generation.
Erikson then looked at civilization and concluded:

If children are not nurtured in their first year,
they will become mistrustful.
If children are not becoming independent in their second year,
they will develop shame and doubt.

If children are not made to feel confident
when they take on responsibility,
they will feel anxious and guilty.
Children need to think logically, or they will feel incompetent.

Teenagers need to be allowed to explore
many roles in order to establish an identity.
Without an identity the teenager will feel lost.
If teenagers don’t learn intimacy, they will feel isolated.

If adults don’t feel they are teaching
the younger generation,
they will stagnate.
And if they do not feel a sense of integrity, they will feel despair.

Today parents have the sole responsibility for their children.
Women are the ones who
have taken on most of this responsibility,
and this is indeed a daunting task.

Today women are paid about 75% of the wages of men.
All workers toil for longer hours
so one percent of the population
can own half of the wealth in the United States.

The government asks children to
pledge allegiance to a flag
which allegedly represents one nation,
under God, with liberty and justice for all.

Yet one out of every four prisoners in the world
lives in a jail located in the United States of America.
And the world’s superpower is located on a planet
where half of the human race lives on $2 per day or less.

Under these conditions, is it any wonder
that people have feelings of mistrust, alienation,
isolation, incompetence, a lack of identity,
stagnation, and even despair?

But these were only some of the reasons why
Native Americans defended their way of life.
Today we know that the first nations
used over two-hundred plants for medicines.

Hundreds of years after these medicines
were used by Native Americans
western medicine claimed
that they were the ones who discovered these treatments.

Mark Twain was a writer who
argued that the Shoshone were
“. . . the wretchedest type of mankind
I have ever seen up to this writing.”

Mark Twain also lived at the time
of the assassination of President Garfield.
A doctor examined the bullet wound to Garfield,
but didn’t clean his hand before the examination.

President Garfield probably died because of an infection
caused by the dirty hands of this doctor.
The Shoshone routinely used a sterile
field in their surgical operations.

Native Americans grew hundred of plants
to treat specific medical conditions in various parts of the body.
Today western medicine develops blockbuster drugs
so the affluent can have lots of money.

Speaking of money, Native Americans
have never been paid for all of the contributions
they have made to the world.
But then someone said:

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the kings horses and all the kings men
couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Capitalism will have a great fall just like Humpty Dumpty.
Working people, farmers, and Native Americans
all have the potential to transform the world,
so we can all live rewarding lives with liberty and justice for all.

1 comment:

  1. Insightful...Don't romanticize the people as my relatives say . A bit of a stretch but I'm reminded of Fela the Nigerian singer . (What difference does it make if the foot kicking my ass is black or white. Still a good piece