Thursday, November 1, 2018

Chewing Sapodilla Gum

The Sapodilla tree first seen by the Spanish in the Taino Caribbean, is a tree endemic to Central and South America and the Caribbean and is the source of chicle. A sticky, milky white sap collected today by chicleros and processed into world popular chewing gum as Chiclets, et al. Notice the name "Adams" on the Chiclets packet. He "inherited" Santa Anna's chicle that the general had brought to Staten Island from Mexico.   
Sapodilla (sap-o-de-ya) 
1. From the Nahuat (Mexica) word tzapotl (za-pot). 2. A large evergreen tree of tropical America, bearing a brown, rough, sweet, edible fruit and yielding chicle (chick-lay) 3. The fruit of the tree. 4. Also called sapodilla plum, sapota, Chico, Chico sapote, Zapote chico, Zapotillo, Chicle, Naseberry, etc. 5. Not to be confused with a different fruit, the sapota. 6. The source of chewing gum ; a sweetened and flavored preparation for chewing, originally made from the dried sap, chicle, of the sapodilla.

Early ad for Chiclets with the fruit-like 
Sapotilla/Naseberry shaped pendant.
Chewing Gum has a history in both Eastern and Western Hemispheres. The ancient practice in the Tropical Americas was the sap of the Sapodilla tree. North American Natives chewed sap from the spruce tree. Chicle from the Sapodilla tree was introduced to New York by the conqueror of the Texans at the Alamo, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. After 1860, Americans were hooked. It is ironical that contemporary Americans (especially their soldiers) are hooked on chewing gum from people South of the Border who are seeking asylum from countries that produce the most chicle.


VERY EARLY CHEWING GUM

"One of the oldest pieces of chewing gum dating back 6,500 years (C&EN, March 24, 1997, page 64) from Bokeburg, Sweden is believed to be from a natural tar.  Elizabeth Aveling, University of Bradford, England, analyzed it and thinks the source was birch." 

It is obvious that humans have been chewing gum, mostly from the sap of trees for thousands of years. First encountered in the Caribbean after 1492, chewed by the Taino, chicle provides the highest portion of natural sap in the making of chewing gum today.  The Taino, originally a South American people who possibly also chewed chicle as the local Central Amerindians did, continued to do so in the Caribbean where the Sapodilla tree was endemic to the area.

Although today chewing gum is also made from synthetic materials, much of the natural sap, chicle, is harvested from the Sapodilla tree, and mainly from Mexico, Guatemala and Belize in Central America. The Sapodilla trees are cut in a zig-zag pattern, the white sticky sap is collected in small bags. The chicle is "boiled until it reaches the correct thickness. [Amerindians] who collect chicle are called chicleros."--Wikipedia

Chicleros and the gathering chicle from the Sapodilla tree in the South American forest,


The Sapodilla tree and its fruit made their debut to the newly arriving Spanish in the Caribbean soon after 1492. Its not called by its Taino name but by the later Nahuat (Mexica) derived word "sapodilla" or the English term"naseberry." The tree, Manilkara zapota, is the source of two popular treats. In the tropical places where it is grown or exported, it is a delicately sweet, brown, egg-shaped fruit. Although the dry sap, chicle, was chewed by the ancient Maya and its wood used as support beams in temple construction, to the world it is the source of chewing gum and is associated with American popular culture. 

Chicle's recorded entry into the United States began in the late 1860's with Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna the former Mexican president and famous general of the Battle of the Alamo. The fruit's value as an exported item to the Eastern Hemisphere, is evidenced by the many countries which now grow the tree and has more than 29 international names for the fruit. For example, India alone also has 30 named cultivars each with distinctive characteristics for the fruit they call baramasi (Bengal and Bihar), chikoo, chiku, sapota or sapodilla plumb.


The tree is an ornate, large shiny leaved evergreen native to the Caribbean and Central America. It can reach 100 feet high and produces 2,000 to 3,000 fruits per year. Grown in the wild and as a fruit tree it has many uses. Its hard red wood is used economically for lumber, its milky white sap is used as chicle, and its fragile fruit is not easily marketed away from the source of its production. Sap from the bark of Sapodilla tree, like most plants which produce a similar liquid, was protection against insects and animals. The sap was exploited by indigenous Americans of  Mexico who chewed the dry resin while the fruit was praised by the Aztecs and was grown and enjoyed by the Tainos.


Tree resins have been highly prized by humans for many years.  On Columbus' first trip into the Caribbean he was on the lookout for "mastic." (An aromatic sap from a small Mediterranean tree used in making varnishes and adhesives) The habit of chewing gum was also found among the early Greeks and Turks who chewed the resin of the mastic tree. In a similar contemporary fashion, some Jamaican children chew a gum from the dried sap of the imported Polynesian breadfruit tree.


The use of the "blood" of trees for a variety of reasons was widely practiced in the Americas. The Maya used quic (blood) from the rubber tree in the process of vulcanizing rubber (a skill which is believed to have originated among the Olmec). They also made a fragrant copal incense for burning in the temples. There is also the turpentine tree (Bursera simaruba) used as a sealant. The Island Carib (Kalinago) used the "blood" of the gommia tree as an ingredient in making a weather resistant, waterproof wood sealant for their canoes. Eastern Woodland people of North America made syrup from the sap of maple tree and chewing gum from the spruce. Mexican chicle chewing made its way to the U.S. market (and ultimately the world market) in the late 1860's through the infamous Mexican leader Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.

The Alamo's Santa Anna and the American Chewing Gum Industry

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna: The man who brought chicle to the United States.

Born in the state of Vera Cruz in 1794, entering in the army at 16, Santa Anna led the victorious Mexicans in the battle against the Alamo. He was  later defeated by Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. Before the battle he was sidetracked through the intrigues of  Emily West, a beautiful mixed race (mulatto) enslaved woman from the island of Bermuda. She is believed to be the person in the song *"The Yellow Rose of Texas", a notorious personality in a supposed "love triangle" between Sam Huston of Texas and Santa Anna of Mexico. Santa Anna had a checkered life of victories and defeats in the Mexican military and politics. He directly ruled Mexico eleven times and his left leg had been blown off by a French cannonball in 1839 during his country's turbulent history of independence. Of Spanish decent he indulged in the Maya practice of chewing the gum called chicle. In one of his exiles, as a result of another ouster from Mexican politics, Santa Anna found refuge in New York's Staten Island in 1869. He had brought with him a large quantity (around a ton, although two tons have also been reported) of chicle. Santa Anna had the idea of having the chicle processed into rubber for carriage wheels.

Santa Anna sought the services of the inventor, Thomas Adams, for he wanted to find a way to refine the chicle into a rubber substitute. Adams' experiments failed since the mixture remained lifeless and did not bounce. Upon a visit to a drugstore Adams saw a little girl buying the popular sweetened chewing condiment made from the wax paraffin. Adams thought that the paraffin made a "pretty poor gum," He remembered Santa Anna's comment on the Mexican use of chicle as a chewing gum. Adams asked the druggist if he would be willing to try another kind of chewing gum. The druggist agreed and Adams hastened home to soak and knead the ancient Maya chicle into grayish balls of gum. The druggist sold out of the gum in one day. In 1876 Thomas Adams, a glass merchant, formed Adams Sons and Company with his two sons. He sold gum with the slogan "Adams' New York Gum No. 1 -- Snapping and Stretching." The firm was the largest and most prosperous chewing gum manufactures in the United States and in 1899 formed a monopoly with the six largest chewing gum manufacturers in the United States and Canada. It was renamed the American Chicle Company and they produced the popular chewing gum Chiclets.

Although an ancient indigenous tropical tree and fruit the chewing gum residue litters the sidewalks of major American cities. For this reason, chewing gum, perceived as a bad habit, is banned in schools and some foreign cities. American habit the chewing of chicle is associated with contemporary popular culture from the United States. The chewing of gum can be considered to be a nasty habit yet it is associated with calming of the nerves. It was promoted as just such a remedy for soldiers in the heat of battle during World War II. The effectiveness of chewing gum is probably due to the result of salivation, combined with the cleansing influence of mastication. Not accepted in certain social circles, there are other negative aspects of excessively chewing gum. These down sides are, the wear it places on joints connecting the jaw and the preparation of the stomach for a meal it will not get.

Mexico is the largest producer of chicle which makes up about 30% of today's chewing gum. Commercial Chewing gum may contain a blend of different kind of latex from tropical trees, resin from pine trees, and synthetic made from materials like polyvinyl acetate, various waxes and imitation rubber. It could also contain corn syrups, sugars, glycerin and literally hundreds of flavorings. There are also natural chewing gums made from "Rainforest Chicles", evaporated cane juice, rice syrup, filtered water, natural flavor oil and natural colors. The most natural product of the Sapodilla tree is the brownish translucent flesh of the goose-sized egg-like fruit.


The size and shape of a roughly textured brown egg (almost like a kiwi fruit), the sapodilla or naseberry flesh is sweet as honey and granular like a peach. Rarely found outside of its tropical habitat, because of its delicate fruit, the tree was taken to the Philippines by the Spanish. It is also grown in Florida since the tree can tolerate cool weather. The fruit has from two to ten flat shiny black seeds from which the the bitter white kernels are used to make a tea. The sweet-smelling fruit is more often eaten raw when very ripe or cooked, or pureed, or pressed to be made into a juice. The Sapodilla makes delicious sauces, jam, sorbets, ice cream and an excellent wine. The fruit is high in fiber and contains a great amount of potassium, as well as vitamin C, sodium and iron. It is found in yards as a fruit tree and in markets in tropical America and may are bought in some Caribbean stores in the United States and England (as naseberry)
________________________________________________
*SONG: "The Yellow Rose of Texas" sung by the famous movie star, Roy Rogers (Who was part Choctaw Native American). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPM7zzElj-Q

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Anansesem’s GOLDEN STOOL OF ASHANTI


 Anan-se-sem: (Twi) AnansiStories, the stories of Kweku Anansi the Spider-Man, owner of all stories. The name "Ashanti is also spelled "Asanti". 


  • While some Western Europeans were caught up in the American Slave Trade, in the 17th century history was being made in West Africa. 
  • Although the Ashanti/Asanti is the largest tribe in Ghana, there are some beliefs that they had migrated down from Egypt. One belief this is so since they share many names –usually with Egyptian Gods.

Panel 45 from "The Golden Stool of Ashantu (Asanti)", an Anansesem story by Michael Auld that illustrated the rise of the Asantehene (King) Osei Tutu and the 17th century creation of the formidable Ashanti Confederacy.


Panel 49: On a Friday at a gathering of royalty and Queen Mothers in Kumasi, Anokye the Priest, brought down from a cloud of  white dust, a decorated Golden Stool that gently perched on Asantehene's Osei Tutu's knees. They witnessed the birth of the Ashanti Confederacy.


The Story of the Golden stool of Ashanti not only belongs to these people of Ghana, West Africa, but many descendants who arrived in the Americas during the period of enslavement. It is evident that before their gaining of political power, some were traded to the English as prisoners of war. While the Americas were embroiled in the African Slave Trade, some Akan people were sold into slavery by the more powerful surrounding West African nations. The area became to be called the “Gold Coast” because of its rich deposits of alluvial gold.

This is the reason why the Ashanti Kingdom’s dignitaries, ornamentation, jewelry and sculptures area dripping with gold.(See Ashanti gold weights used for measuring gold.) The most revered object to the Ashanti was the Golden Stool, created in Heaven.

  • That the Ashanti became formidable warriors is evidenced not only in Ghana, but by historic Maroon (“Maroons are people who escaped the sugar plantations to join the island’s Yamaye Taíno “Cimarrones” in the mountains). Their leaders in Jamaica were those who successfully and strategically fought the English military in Jamaica. Under Captain Kojo and Nanny and his brother, Quao, obtained independence from the British before the American Revolution.

Starting in the late 17th century, the Ashanti king Osei Tutu ( c. 1695 – 1717) and his adviser Okomfo Anokye established the Ashanti Kingdom, with the Golden Stool of Ashante as the sole unifying symbol for the kingdom. 

This Anansesem was a researched, published comic strip of a folkloric story about the Golden Stool of Ashanti, Asantihene Osei Tutu and his cousin Okomfo Anokye, the Priest and the founders of the Ashanti Confederacy.

For a video on the Golden Stool of Ashanti go to:

anansistories.com

Monday, October 8, 2018

JAMAICA'S TAINO DAY


The very first Taíno Day in Jamaica was in 2007.
(Jamaica annually celebrates Taíno Day with educational programs, lectures performances and exhibitions.)
 
Indigenous Yamaye (Jamaican) Taíno  symbols

While the US observes Columbus Day in October, Jamaicans, instead,  celebrate Taíno Day on May 5th. By way of many conferences, the day for honoring the Taíno was in 2007. Conversely, the USA is stuck with Columbus Day to placate its influential Italian émigrés who revere their hero, Saint Christopher. And a deep Eurocentric need to discover people into existence. Where as Jamaicans, once removed from under British yoke in 1962, began to challenge old notions and charted their own course and reality

Yet, a growing number of Americans have arrived at the same conclusion as Jamaicans did in 2004, by wanting to abolish the celebratory day that honors a man whom caused the Amerindian Holocaust. Jamaica, by way of much deliberation, has led the way to honoring the Indigenous people of this hemisphere instead.

How Jamaica Did It.

“In 2004, during the Haitian Bicentennial, the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) discussed the possibility of replacing the contested “Encounter Day”, an annual commemorative event on the organisation’s calendar usually held on May 5 to mark the meeting of the cultures, with the equally contentious “Taino Day”. Actually, my preference as a historian was for “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” in order to be more inclusive of the civilizations which existed in the island before the invasion by the Europeans.

“We wanted to introduce Jamaicans to Taíno, their knowledge of the rest of the
Caribbean; their regionalism; their belief system; their economic, social and political systems. The idea then, that our history should always be determined by what happened after the European colonization was unpalatable to some of us.”
--Prof. Verene A. Shepherd, former Board Chair, JNHT—

The first Taíno Day was a historic occasion, with the participation of two members from the Kalinago (“Carib”) community in Dominica (who were then students at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies and who were sponsored by that campus). Our guest lecturer was Professor Rita Pemberton from the St. AugustineTrinidad, History Department and there were in attendance hundreds of visitors and students from schools around the island. Those who could not attend were kept abreast of the day’s excitement by IRIE FM.

The second reason was to cement the idea firmly in the consciousness of youngsters that people were living in the Caribbean before Columbus’s invasion of the region.
“Why Taino Day? By Prof. Verene A. Shepherd, historian and former Board Chair, JNHT --  www.jnht.com/news/WHY TAINO DAY.pdf

Sunday, October 7, 2018

WHAT DOES COLUMBUS DAY MEAN TO AMERINDIANS?


Wooden sculpture titled “Rape of the Carib Woman” is an analogy of the European rape of the Americas.

A STOLEN HEMISPHERE

This day above all, reminds Amerindians of the suffering from hemispheric genocide. To some non-Natives the day is one of celebration of their successful inheritance of “free” if not stolen Indian lands. Conscience of territorial theft does not matter to this latter group. Alter all, we have transferred the blame of Amerindian genocide to a distant past and massacres to anonymous “Spanish” and English “settlers”. Some even prefer to blame diseases over the wanton killing of human beings via destruction of their societies and anti-Indian policies. Currently, many Amerindians throughout the hemisphere are at risk. In the US (as it is in the Americas) suicide, poverty, alcoholism, TB  and many other maladies plague the survivors. These health issues are the direct result of displacement and stolen territories.

“The Receiver Is Worse Than the Thief”

This is a Jamaican saying about receiving stolen property. In this Columbus Day instance, we celebrate our fortunes inherited from holy "Saint Christopher".

I was born on a Caribbean island visited and stranded on for a year by Christopher Columbus. The island was Jamaica, that has changed the honoring of Columbus to Taíno Day

The Yamaye (Jamaican) Taíno attacked Columbus’ ship in war canoes as it first entered Yamaye waters. He was not welcomed. Columbus retaliated by killing a number of Taíno with war dogs and crossbow fire. His intent was to not retreat from people who did not want his presence. But he forged ahead to begin the destruction of sovereign nations in the Americas' Cir-cum Caribbean..

News had traveled fast among the Taíno in the Northern Caribbean and his presence was suspect. On Kiskeya (Haiti & the DR), just in the first year of his arrival, his stranded men, not satisfied by a Taino welcome, demanded more food and women from their host, a local Kacike.(ruler) They were subsequently killed after a skirmish for breaking a code of honor. Upon his return during the Second Voyage, he randomly killed many Taíno who were not even responsible for the massacre of Spanish barbarians. 

The Yamaye were right. Columbus and his crew turned out to be barbaric slavers, claiming Taíno territory under the name of foreign gods and a foreign country. As far as the Taíno were concerned the main Spanish god was Guanin, the Taíno’s 14k gold.

Hatuey a Haitian kacike said this to the Cuban Taíno after he had escaped the Spanish hanging of his queen, Anacaona in Ayti,


To paraphrase Hatuey;
“If you swallowed your Guanine trinkets to hide their god from them, they love him so much that they will cut open your bellies to retrieve him.” He advised the Cuban Taíno to gather their guanin in baskets and throw it into the rivers.


Who are the people that revere Columbus on his special day? 

They are the followers of a murderous, violent and racist man who also brought devastating diseases. He came through the Caribbean as a slaver collecting a people whom he said “would make good servants.” His men were the first European rapist of the Amerindians who stole entire islands. 

One story recorded by his friend, Cuneo, off the coast of St. Croix, described his rape of a Carib woman. 


“A captured woman from a canoe had accurately shot an arrow into the chest of one of a boatload of Spanish pursuers.” 
Her Carib companions were immediately killed, while she was brought on board Columbus’ ship. The Admiral gave her to Cuneo who described in detail how he thrashed her into submission with a rope, then he raped her.

This man, Columbus, responsible for starting the Amerindian Genocide, larger than Hitter’s Jewish extermination, is given a day of honor?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Invisible Indian

A GENOCIDAL DILEMMA!


Unknowingly, we may be contributing to 
“Paper Genocide”* ... 
*The method of writing American Indians out of history.


This also has contributed to a phenomenon that I call,  The “Invisible Indian.”


Out of sight, out of mind” has been the mantra associated with an irreplaceable neglected culture, the American Indian. This current state of ignorance about the real founders of our country is not shared by all Americans. I have encountered many folks who attend Native festivals and powwows with their children to get first-hand knowledge about indigenous Amerindian cultures. These many festive gatherings provide a brief insight into contemporary Native Americans, functioning in today's work world, who don their tribal regalia to honor their ancestors.

Although these powwow settings are very helpful, it is my experience that additional research into Amerindian cultures is mandatory. A case in point; When politicians can assail and cage Amerindians from southern countries with impunity, this is an example of  a lack of knowledge about the victim's ties to this hemisphere.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
I arrived in Washington, DC in 1962 to pursue advanced degrees. As a foreign student, my knowledge of Native Americans was from distorted Hollywood movies. I met the first Native American on Howard University's campus. She told me that she was Pamunkey. The Pamunkey was the leading nation in the extensive 32-34 nation Powhatan Confederacy (Powhatan nations could be composed of many villages yet referred to by the diminutive designation as a "tribe" or "band").

I was introduced to a part of American society whose members were survivors from the historic Powhatan Confederacy. The curious thing was that none of her fellow students or professors knew about her Native American ethnicity. Since that time of President Kennedy only one American president (Barack Obama) consistently mentioned Native Americans in his speeches.

Instead of protecting Native Americans, the quiet destruction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) by the current administration is ongoing. For survival purposes, some departments of the agency have contingency plans for survival. In his private casino life Trump had seen Native Americans as the enemy of his gambling concerns.

At 19 years old with a British education in a Jamaican colonial school system, students knew more about European history than we did about our Caribbean homeland. Although the name of our island was derived from "Yamaye", named for the indigenous Yamaye Taino, I was taught zero about these Amerindians of our hemisphere. Yet, our Caribbean British colonial masters had, themselves, no clue about Amerindian cultural history. Wrapped up in themselves, the British were never curious to learn where they were. I had no interest of living in England yet, I was taught mostly about British history. Learning about our hemisphere became a later personal quest. Over 50 years later after my arrival in the USA, also once a British Colony, little or nothing has changed in America’s educational approach to Native history. Most Americans know more about Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Harry than we do about one of America’s major founders, Powhatan II who in his lifetime was considered a king by the English


INVISIBILITY and GUILT

Because of a deep “National guilt” about Native American genocide, (most notably perpetrated by President Andrew Jackson's "Indian Removal Act") the plight of the American Indian has retained its “invisibility” status in our national discourse.

Test yourself.

Q: How many Native Americans or Amerindians do you personally know? 
(P.S. They may also be called "Hispanic" since most arrivals from south of the border have high percentages of Amerindian DNA.)

Q: Do you know your own Amerindian blood quantum?

Or do you suspect that you may have some Native “blood”?

Q; Are the Powhatan nations extinct?


Solving the Native invisibility issue requires concerted efforts by concerned individuals and parents to encourage educators and School Boards to provide students with more in-depth Native American studies. Also because of the impact of the "Columbian Encounter"of 1492, in the creation of countries in the Americas, knowledge of the Caribbean's Taino civilizations is a must. (The first European impression of the Americas was, for them, a "New World". This 1492 Encounter with the Taino and "Island Carib" civilizations enabled the Spanish and other Europeans the ability to survive in this ancient "Terrestrial Paradise".)

This broader approach to our education should also include examinations of the Mesoamerican Empires and Civilizations of Central America and Peru. After all, these studies should be as important to us in this Western Hemisphere as the studies of Greece, Rome, Egypt, Mesopotamia and China are to Europeans and others in their Eastern Hemisphere. We should become more knowledgeable of our own hemisphere. Allowing the Amerindian to continue to be invisible adds to their cultural demise.

A cautionary note: Europeans in the Americas are overly interested in Mesoamerican human blood sacrifices. In teaching about Mesoamericans, less emphasis should be placed on this religious activity. Emphasis on Amerindian sacrifice is a way of diminishing Amerindian cultural and technical advancements. There is a need to look in the mirror.
 As for Judaeo-Christian sacrifice... After all, human sacrifice and the ritual "drinking of Christ's blood and the eating of his flesh" are not taught by Christians as a form of ritual cannibalism. Beheading and torture in Europe are not usually emphasized in the teaching of European history.


 Suggested Reading:
To understand our ancient Amerindian hemisphere adults should read the book "1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbusby Charles C. Mann




The "HIDDEN INDIAN"

Invisibility issues are compounded by the "Hidden Indian" syndrome.

A "Hidden Indian" is a person who may or may not know their actual tribal ancestry. Some prefer to pass as white or black depending on economics or a fear of shunning within their adopted white or black group. The tribal identity that they often choose is Cherokee. This is simply because of the loss of tribal contact during America's assimilation period. (Mainly after the Civil War.)

Over the years as a vendor at powwows, I have met some brave attendees with the desire to reconnect with their Native roots. Another issue within current Native America (at least on the East Coast) is a desire to not abandon their African roots while embracing their Native heritage. They sometimes call themselves "Black Indians".

Granted, each American Indian nation has its own US Federal Government coerced blood quantum criteria for tribal membership. So, being of Native descent through DNA is more widespread than the census could imagine. Many Natives with varying degrees of blood quantum, don't know their tribal affiliation and may belong to the "Hidden Indian" category. In families, here and in Brazil, three family siblings can identify as black, white or Indian. 

During the centuries old dispersal of Native peoples throughout the continent, as well as the application of the *Racial Integrity Act of 1924, many Natives lost track in the ethnic mix within the American society because of  socially "blending in", or denying that they were Indian. Many passed over into the "white" or "colored" communities to survive the dictates of racially divided neighborhoods, some succumbed to the Racial Integrity Act, or assimilated for purely economic reasons. Remember, in America it was better to be white or black than it was to be a disposable Indian. These racial choices can be political, physical, pride based or because of peer pressure. For example, in the Black community pressure to conform to the racist "One Drop Theory" by the "race police" is often worded this way, "What? You sayin', ...you not Black?" is as common condemning refrain. 

We must do the research that was denied us during our early education.

* The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 was conceived by Dr. Walter A. Plecker of Richmond, Virginia, a member of the racist Eugenics Movement. It stated that America was composed of two races, the black and the white race.

NATIVE HISTORY?

Unfortunately most people are oblivious to Native American history. This is not their fault. Conquerors rarely taught indigenous history and the impact that these Indigenous cultures had in the creation of our homelands. The historical truth was that Spanish and English colonial aims were to eradicate and replace indigenous Amerindian cultures with their own. Nothing is more obvious than in South and Central America where rabid Spanish priests tore down the Amerindian religious temples to build Catholic cathedrals over them. They even gathered and burn Amerindian books as "Works of the Devil!". The theory was to eradicate the Indian and make him or her a manageable Christian.

For example: On our continent, the English and their successors, the Americans, rarely taught about the Powhatan Confederacy and its role in the founding of America. Instead, we are saturated with the cartoon images of a minor Powhatan II daughter, Pocahontas, a bigamist Pamunkey young woman who was a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. (When a captive begins to identify with the captors.) Patty Hurst is a good contemporary example. Most people within driving distance are shocked to learn that the oldest American Indian Reservation, the Pamunkey (Pocahontas' tribe) is 30 miles East of Virginia's amusement park, Kings Dominion on I95.


 A MONUMENT TO POWHATAN II?


ANOTHER INVISIBLE INDIAN:
Figure: The bust of a  proposal for a full figured sculpture for a "Monument to Powhatan II" proposed by the powhatanmuseum.com to be placed next to a bronze figure of George Washington in Capitol Hill's Statuary Hall. 

Q: What are the qualifications for a monument to this Native American statesman? 

A: Without Powhatan's approval to allow the English to set up a trading post that became Jamestown, Virginia, we would ALL not be here in a country that became the United States of America. His decision did not work out well for his vast Confederacy/Kingdom. But the same cannot be said about the European "Founding Fathers" who built their expanding democracy on the Powhatan Confederacy's territory. YET, HE REMAINS INVISIBLE! 



ALSO: How can we forget the Amerindian holocaust that began in the 15th century?

The question about this historic event has rarely been a part of our educational curricula. As above, the invisibility issue is a case of "Out of sight, out of mind." This phenomenon continues today with the offhandedly dismissal of the plights of the descendants of the victims of this planet's greatest human holocaust.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

WHY JOHN CROW HAVE A PEEL HEAD


This tale of baldness is similar to the Cherokee's Grandmother Spider's "Bringing the Light". During the process Turkey Vulture becomes bald and Possum's tail becomes naked.

THE JAMAICAN VERSION
*Note: "Peel' = Bald



A traditional Jamaican tale by Pamela Coleman Smith who collected, 
illustrated and published it.

The first illustrated Anansi storybook was by Pamela Coleman Smith, published in 1899. It was 
titled "Annancy  Stories". She was born in London, England to an American merchant, 
Charles Edward Smith from Brooklyn, NY and a Jamaican mother, Corinne Coleman.  
The family moved to Jamaica to build the first railroad in Colonial America.



Sunday, September 2, 2018

Grandmother Spider: A Cherokee Tale


Grandmother Spider by Michael Auld from his book, "Ticky-Ticky's Quest: Travel to Turtle Island".
Grandmother Spider glides on the surface of a stream like a Water Spider, in front of her Asai (a traditional
Cherokee house.

 A CHEROKEE STORY ABOUT "THE BRINGING OF THE LIGHT"

[From a tale reported by James Mooney in the 1890's. "American Indian Myths & Legends"
Selected and edited by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz].


In the beginning there was only blackness, and nobody could see anything. People kept bumping
into each other and groping blindly.

They said: "What this world needs is light."

Fox said he knew some people on the other side of the world who had plenty of light, but they were
too greedy to share it with others.

Possum said he would be glad to steal a little of it. "I have a bushy tail," he said. "I can hide the light
inside all that fur." Then he set out for the other side of the world.
There he found the sun hanging in a tree and lighting everything up.

Possum sneaked over to the sun, picked out a tiny piece of light, and stuffed it into his tail. But the
light was hot and burned all the fur off.

The people discovered his theft and took back the light, and ever since, Possum's tail has been
bald.

"Let me try," said Buzzard. "I know better than to hide a piece of stolen light in my tail. I'll put it on
my head." He flew to the other side of the world and, diving straight into the sun, seized it with his
claws.

Buzzard put it on his head, but it burned his head feathers off. The people grabbed the sun away
from him, and ever since that time Buzzard's head has remained bald.

Grandmother Spider said, "Let me try!"

First she made a thick-walled pot out of clay. Next she spun a web reaching all the way to the other
side of the world. She was so small that none of the people there noticed her coming.

Quickly Grandmother Spider snatched up the sun, put it in the bowl of clay, and scrambled back
home along one of the strands of her web. Now her side of the world had light, and everyone
rejoiced.

Grandmother Spider brought not only the sun to the Cherokee, but fire with it. And besides that,
she taught the Cherokee people the art of pottery making.
From a tale reported by James Mooney in the 1890's. "American Indian Myths & Legends"
Selected and edited

by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz.

In the beginning there was only blackness, and nobody could see anything. People kept bumping
into each other and groping blindly.

They said: "What this world needs is light."

Fox said he knew some people on the other side of the world who had plenty of light, but they were
too greedy to share it with others.

Possum said he would be glad to steal a little of it. "I have a bushy tail," he said. "I can hide the light
inside all that fur." Then he set out for the other side of the world.
There he found the sun hanging in a tree and lighting everything up.

Possum sneaked over to the sun, picked out a tiny piece of light, and stuffed it into his tail. But the
light was hot and burned all the fur off.

The people discovered his theft and took back the light, and ever since, Possum's tail has been
bald.

"Let me try," said Buzzard. "I know better than to hide a piece of stolen light in my tail. I'll put it on
my head." He flew to the other side of the world and, diving straight into the sun, seized it with his
claws.

Buzzard put it on his head, but it burned his head feathers off. The people grabbed the sun away
from him, and ever since that time Buzzard's head has remained bald.

Grandmother Spider said, "Let me try!"

First she made a thick-walled pot out of clay. Next she spun a web reaching all the way to the other
side of the world. She was so small that none of the people there noticed her coming.

Quickly Grandmother Spider snatched up the sun, put it in the bowl of clay, and scrambled back
home along one of the strands of her web. Now her side of the world had light, and everyone
rejoiced.

Grandmother Spider brought not only the sun to the Cherokee, but fire with it. And besides that,
she taught the Cherokee people the art of pottery making.


ANCIENT SPIDERS

Four Ancient Gorgets: Spiders and their webs have intrigued
humans for many thousands of years. Here are
four shell
gorget pendants from ancient earthen
mounds in Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee. The
pyramid-like mounds are part of indigenous
American mound-building societies whose
structures seemed to have spread north from the
civilizations of Central America.
A Hopi interior food bowl design
of  the sun and the spider. From
Homolobi in the American Southwest


An Anansi the Spider-Man's version of Baldness


 The above Cherokee story is similar to an explanatory tale's Anansi Story about "How John Crow (Turkey Buzzard) got a peel (Bald) head." The Sun was responsible for Possum's once furry tail to become bald while Anansi used trickery and hot water to explain John Crow's pink baldness.