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 the17th century history was being made in West Africa.

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 Tute 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.



Friday, August 24, 2018

ANANSI AND ALLIGATOR 
Excerpt from “Ticky-Ticky’s Quest: Travel to Turtle Island”


The Swamp Dragon rose out of the Everglades, startling Anansi.
Anansi, who was feeling his age,had gone to the Florida Everglades in search of the Fountain of Eternal Youth. He had heard a story about this magical Viagra-like spring that would allow old men to regain their youthful vigor. 

In the Everglades he came across a Seminole village’s communal garden. Captured and tied to a log for a whipping, he begged the chief to forgive him.

“Á will do anything if you let me go... I will leave the area!”

“Hah! So, how are you going to pay for the honeydew melons?” Asked the Chief.
All Anansi could do was stammer.
“I tell you what... Catch the Swamp Dragon and you go free!” Said the Chief. The village cracked up.

“Dat’s easy,” The cocky Spider-man cracked.

When everyone had gone, Anansi went into the bushes and cut the longest, skinny Black Mangrove log that he could find. He trimmed off the branches and leaves and dragged the crooked Black Mangrove pole to the lair.
Anansi stood on the bank of the stream, doing a little jig; he began to beat the machete against the pole. Each slap of ther machete gave off a “Twingggg!” Anansi shouted the Asanti name for crocodile to the beat of steel against wood.

"Odenkyem!” He shouted.

Twingggg! went the machete.

“Odenkyem!”

Twingggg twingggg! The steel blade rang out.

“Á have something to tell you."

A pair of eyes and nostrils silently broke through the smooth surface the stream’s deep hole. Then the rest of the body of a humongous alligator surfaced. Anansi stepped back in surprise.

"Who is making this racket outside of my home?" The Swamp Dragon said.

"You don't know me but I just arrived here in search of the largest crocodile in the world." Anansi said.

"Well bug off. I am not a crocodile." The alligator said.

"Alligator, crocodile, whatever! I am here to measure the largest reptile in the world. By the looks of it, you are smaller than an African Nile crocodile." Anansi taunted.

"Says who?" Retorted the Swamp Dragon who was also known as the “Beast of the East”.

"Well, the only way to prove it is to take your measurement." Anansi challenged.

The alligator had his pride, so he crawled out of the water and told Anansi to take his measurement. Anansi took 14 paces from the alligator's snout to his tail.

"I know that you are taller than you seem. However, I have to ask you to stretch out a little more to beat the record," he said.

The alligator complied and Anansi walked off 14 and a half paces. Then he said, scratching his head. "No. Á know we can stretch you a little longer. Here, let me lay this pole alongside you. Ok, now… Let me tie you tail to the log. Good. Now stretch you snout to the end of the log. Don't move. Just let me tie you snout so that you won't slip back."

"Issfff thisfff good enough?" The Swamp Dragon hissed through his clenched, tusk-like, ivory teeth.

"One moment," Anansi said. “Á must tie your back to this pole to keep it firm against you.” When Anansi had tied the alligator’s midsection securely to the pole, he said. “Now, Á just want to tie your tippi-tail to the end of this pole so that I can get your best stretched out length.” Then Anansi tied the alligator’s tail-end to the pole and stepped back.

“Mmmhh. You are almost as long as the pole. Let me get the tribe to make the judgment.

Anansi ran off and got the tribe. Everyone was astounded. Anansi did something that their hunters had been unable to do for years.

Moral: “Alligator lay egg, but him nó fowl.” (An alligator may lay eggs, but she is not a chicken.)
Or, “Things are not always what they seem!”

MORAL: Alligator lay egg, but him no fowl.



Friday, August 17, 2018

THE RE-BROWNING OF AMERICA


Above: John White’s watercolors and a deBrey inspired print of the 1585 appearance of Powhatan Indians of Virginia.

By 2040 America will be made Native again. Thanks to the Hispanic cousins from the south and the low European-American birth rate.

As an immigrant married to a Native American for over 50 years, from the historic Powhatan Confederacy and having been intimately involved with Native issues since then, I tend to see the current fear of the re-Browning of America from a unique vantage point.

The Hispanic population will become America’s majority in 2040. So, treat Latinos right, or we may have to ask for forgiveness. Like the movie, "El Norte”, a Latino (Amerindian) illegal alien said, “we are just moving North.”

The current American political fear is the pending loss of European power within a few coming decades. Since the founding of Jamestown by the Virginia Company of London in 1607, Europeans have been in North America for just 411 years. The country was founded on a peculiar history, steadily increasing their numbers by inviting other Europeans in to partake of stolen Indian territories and the forced importation of Africans for enslavement..This founding of the USA, as with all countries in the Americas was on ancient Amerindian foundations.

Quickly blanketing rich Amerindian cultures Europeans, beginning with the Spanish in most of the Americas, were followed by British bullies bent on getting a piece of the North American pie. The English had learned their craft of empire from the expanding Roman Empire. The Spanish had learned their colonizing techniques from the Moors of North Africa who expanded into southern Spain.

This history of first coming in as traders followed by subtle conquest in Europe has its forerunner in Ancient Egypt by Greeks, Romans, Hittites and other neighbors. Nubian Kings saved the day and returned Egypt to the Egyptian pharos.

England threw out the Romans to regain control of Londonium. The British were eventually kicked out of North America, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.All empires eventually fall.

WHAT ABOUT THE USA?

After the American Revolution the USA began a campaign towards empire-building and the eradication of Native Americans. The election of the current president who campaigned on a wall between brown Mexico, strengthened by anti-brown rhetoric, caging brown Amerindian infants, and deporting indigenous Amerindian mothers and fathers is a sign of Eurocentric fear of “Making America Native Again”. This governmental policy is especially poignant since some of the refugees only speak their own Amerindian language. Amerindian ancestors have been crisscrossing the entire hemisphere for thousands of years before the arrival of aliens from the Eastern Hemisphere. An example of this Amerindian migratory practice, was the Uto-Aztecan speakers (from New Mexico with relatives in Utah) who migrated south into Mexico to form the Triple Alliance of the Aztec (Mexica) Empire. So, some Mexicans crossing a belated 1800s border, made possible by America's forcing their expanding country/empire through the Mexican-American War, are "just returning North".

For Trump’s supporters, the re-Browning of America is coming too fast for their minds to wrap around. Therefore, the dog whistle-blower message to the base 
is "Make America Great Again".


Sunday, August 12, 2018

THE AMERICAS AS “ASIA EXTENDED”?

Asia: [from the Greek name for] “the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.6% of the Earth's total surface area (or 29.9% of its land area) and with approximately 4 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population.” Wikipedia


Mix up the world’s population and every 3rd human you meet would be Chinese. Every 5th person would be from India. The rest of the continent includes millions more of other Asians in East Asia and the Pacific.


Added to these Asians, approximately 47,834,251,490 indigenous people who are genetically “Asiatic”, live in 16 countries in South and Central America. There are roughly 3,672,790 in the USA and Canada. These overall numbers do not include the indigenous Caribbean populations or the extremely large meztizo and other African, European and Asiatic populations with indigenous American genes in this hemisphere. Even Europe (and possibly other areas) had its mixing of indigenous Americans soon after Columbus brought some Taíno back to Spain. Some meztizos in the Americas obviously relocated to their father’s homelands in Europe and Africa (For example, Jamaican Maroons to Sierra Leone and African Americans to Liberia). At this time in history the Jamaican Maroons had been the result of the assimilation into the Yamaye Taíno population of the mountain Cimarrones, who themselves had escaped subjugation on Spanish ranches. (Both the words “Maroon” and “Seminole” came from Cinarron.) Some African Americans had themselves mixed with their local Native American neighbors.   


Is the vast Western Hemisphere of the Americas also a part of Asia? Some folks think so. However, not according to some writers. Yet, indigenous Americans, they contend, are believed to have come “from Asia over a land bridge that connected both Asia proper and the Americas.” Indigenous Americans, at the time of Columbus, were genetically, philosophically and religiously “Asiatic”. Columbus was on his way to Asia when he collided into the Caribbean homeland of these Asiatic peoples, the Taíno and Island Carib. To him, they appeared to be Indios/indu. Sailing down from the Guanahani in the Bahamas, he arrived in Cuba. There he sent out an overland expedition to find the home of the Great Kahn of China. Until his dying day, maybe he was rightfully convinced that he had encountered, explored and temporarily governed Indians (Indios) from the outer reaches of Asia’s subcontinent.



Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Taíno Origins: Influence on the Naming of "California", et al


*California (kal-e-for-ni'-ya)
(El Dorado, the Fountain of Youth and the Taíno Myths) 

     *Note: This is an excerpt from Michael Auld's "Good Gifts from Noble People: Impact of the 
               Taíno and Carib Cultures on the Millennia"

The Island of La California (left) as it was seen by Cortez and 16th Century mapmakers.
The gold image representing Atabey, the Taino goddess of childbirth
represents Matinino, the Island of Women. Silkscreen print by Michael Auld


1. The name of a fabled island in the story, “Las Sergasde Esplandian” (The Deeds of Esplandian) (Seville: 1510). 2. From the Greek words kalli (beautiful) and ornis (bird). 3. The name given to the California Mountains by Hernán Cortés. 4. The Spanish American name for the Pacific territory in New Spain. 5. Pacific coast state admitted in 1850 to the United States of America.
 Hernán Cortés, the ill reputed "conqueror of the Aztecs", is credited with the naming of the territory now called California. It is said that after the conquest of the Mexica (Me-she-ka, or Aztecs of Mexico), he saw the California Mountains while in Baja California. It is stated that upon seeing the mountains he called it the "Island of the Califa" (or the "Island of Queen Califia"). To him the distant mountain appeared to be like the mythical island from the most successful printed romantic novel of 16th century Spain. The story about the mythical island was in Las Sergas de Esplandian which was a sequel to Amadis de Gaula. Sixteenth century Spanish explorers were enamored with romantic stories of that era and were prone to rename places with terms from these European fables. Why did Cortez think that this mountain was the famed island of California.

 Hernán Cortés was just a lad of around 8 years when Columbus first landed in the Caribbean. By1498 Fray Ramon Pane had completed a report on Taíno myths and customs in Hispaniola as mandated by Christopher Columbus. It is very likely that Taíno myths of an island of gold was known by many Spaniards in the Caribbean. In 1506 at age 22 Cortez arrived in Haiti (Hispaniola) which was the center of operations for the expanding Spanish American empire. It has been stated that Cortez was of the "Generation 1500" who strongly believed the Americas was the land of their fantasies.


In 1448 the goldsmith Johann Gutenberg and his financial partner Johann Fust set up their first printing shop in Mainz. Soon after this historic event the duplicating of books and their ownership was no longer in the sole ownership of the Church or a local Prince. By 1500 there were about 10 million books in Europe with editions on many subjects. This printing revolution gave rise to the popularization of the romance novel. Many Europeans, some who became conquistadors, read the works of Spanish writer Garcia Ordonez de Montalvo who wrote the novel Amadis de Gaul and its sequel Las Sergas de Espaladian. It was in this sequel of the exploits of  Esplandian that the name "California" was coined. Many Europeans were bombarded with the [1]"works by Sir John Mandeville (and Ordonez) about men with two heads, Amazons, and the Fountain of Eternal Youth which would revive the fading sexual powers of elderly men, and which even rational people would expect to find in the Americas beyond the next cape." Years earlier (1492) the seductive beauty of the pristine Caribbean appeared to be like Eden to the arriving Spanish seamen. Did the 1492 to 1510 exploits of Christopher Columbus and his "discovery" of exotic flora and fauna, attractive nude and semi-nude brown skinned people appeal to the fantasies already in the male European mind? It is also highly probable that within days of his arrival in the Caribbean segments of the Taíno Origin Myths were told to Columbus. In 1492 Columbus recorded key elements of this Taíno myth about a Caribbean island of women and another of solid gold. Among Columbus' first insistent queries to the Taínos concerned the source of their guanin (14k gold) jewelry. The Caribbean exploits of Columbus was the biggest story of the era that seemed have captured the imaginations of European novelists of the time. English writer William Shakespeare’s “Tempest” is another example of how Caribbean people and weather phenomenon found their way into his plays. A tempest was the English word for huracan or hurricane. While the monster Caliban was “Cariban”, a Columbus interpretations of a Taíno word for “Strong Men”. Caribales led to canibales which is the source of “cannibal” a practice mistakenly applied to the Kalinago or Island Carib. One cannot underestimate this impact on European minds about the "finding" if a "New" world.

The Spanish novelist’s legend of the fabled La California told of a magical island populated by beautiful black women living like Amazons. They made weapons and tools from gold which was the only metal found on the island. They were protected by flying griffins (a European described half eagle and half lion) that were fed the flesh of any man taken prisoner. The published story in Las Sergas de Espalandian, about a mythical island of women/gold, had strikingly similar elements to a more but recently garnered ancient Taíno story.  The conquistadors in the Caribbean (islands which they also thought was the fabled Atlantis) had, in 1492, learned of a strikingly similar Taíno Origin Myth. The story was that of the hero Guahayona (Gua-ha-yo-na = "Our Pride") and the islands of Matinino ("No Fathers"), and Guanin ("Gold"). In his letter of March, 1493 to the monarchs of Spain, Christopher Columbus wrote of a Taíno island of women which he called "Mateunin" (a version of the Taíno word "Matinino"). On Mateunin the women acted like men and were armed with "bows and darts" and "they protect themselves with sheets of copper, of which there is great abundance among them". Columbus was also told of an island, which he described as larger than Hispaniola "which abounds in gold above all the others." As early as 1492 the lust for Amerindian gold and women had fuelled the Spanish imagination. These myths caused them to risk life and limb trekking through foreboding tropical and subtropical American terrain with the hope for a rich retirement.
The Spanish interest in Caribbean gold was so intense that the Taínos believed that the god of the Spanish was the copper-yellow metal they knew as guanin. In 1495 Columbus, disappointed in the meager gold resources of the Caribbean, had shifted to more aggressive slave trading and the Taínos were his targets. This turn to force against the Taínos backfired when the fist seemingly docile people began sporadic rebellions and attacks on the Spanish forts of Haiti (Hispaniola). The Taínos had been angered by the cruelty of the Spanish in exchange for a civilized welcome. In 1495 Columbus had decided that he should know more about the "Indios" and in early April he had turned to a priest, Fray Ramón Pane (Pan-aye). He directed Pane to live with the Taínos to learn more about them and their strategies since the friar had learned one of the Caribbean languages. Pane was among the clerics, barely tolerated by the Taínos, who came to the Caribbean on Columbus' second voyage. It was from the skeptical Pane, who stayed at cacique (chief) Guarionex's yucaieke (village) in Magua (in Hispaniola), that the following, more in depth portion of the Taíno Origin Myth was recorded.

Guahayona invites the women of Matinino to leave with him in his canoa/canoe.
Detail of "La California" print
         

The Flight of the Gueyo Women
          He [Guahayona] said to the women, "Leave behind your husbands
          and let us go to other lands and carry off much gueyo" [a green
          chewing tobacco mixed with salty ashes] .
          "Leave your children and let us take only the herb with us
          and later on we shall return for them" 
          Guahayona , OUR PRIDE, left with all the women and went
          searching for other lands.
          He came to Matinino, NO FATHERS, where he soon left
          the women behind, and he went off to another region
          called Guanin. [guanin is Taino 14k gold or copper colored metal]

The Taíno story went on to tell of Guahayona's departure from Guanin in search of other lands and adventures. The women of Matinino were never returned to their husbands, so their children were changed into frogs when they became hungry and began to cry for their mother's breasts. Frogs were therefore revered by the Taíno and their cries were believed to sound like "Toa, Toa" or "Mother, Mother". Traditionally, the crying of frogs announced spring.

Image with symbolism: The goddess, Atabey, virgin mother of Yucahu, god of the life-sustaining yuca tuber and the sea. This image of a golden Atabey is from Puerto Rico. The symbols within the figure's design reveal the story of  the aftermath of  the above Abduction of the Gueyo Women. Since there were no women left on the main island, some famine creatures were seen down by the river. Some men decided to capture them for their own desires. But their bodies were too slippery. One man who had rough hands was able to hold on tho the females. However, they did not have genitalia. The design within Atabey's torso, shows a woodpecker that pecked out a vagina. (See the bird's vulva-like beak). In this way the "creatures" were able to have children, a connection to Atabey's role as the goddess of childbirth and fresh water, that cascades down the mountainsides of the Earth Mother. Moons of the Four Directions are embed ed in the image as she sits in the shape of a frog. The frog is another symbol of the human transition from a water to an air breather, similar to the metamorphosis of a tadpole to a frog. The rectangular panel superimposed over Atabey'.s legs is from an early woodcut illustration of Taino panning for gold with a batea, as seen with the figure to the left, a practice exported to other gold rush areas in the Americas. Although one source said that "batea" is from Arabic, it may instead be from a flat clay field on which the Taino ballgame batu, was played.

This segment of the Guahayona myth seemed to have been told to Columbus on his first voyage since he used key words from it to describe Taíno islands of mythical women/"Amazons" and gold. The myth fueled the cravings (for fame and fortune) by the conquistadors who braved starvation and death to encroach into continental America. Always believing that there were signs that Guanin/El Dorado/the Seven Cities of Cibola was just "around the next cove" or mountain. In the Americas the first sign that Guanin would be "around the next corner" was the sight of the abode of the Amazons or the island of women (Matinino). For Cortés, who had, beginning in 1519, plundered Aztec riches, the sign of even more booty ahead was the sighting of the "Island of La California". From the Sea of Cortés, Baja's eastern coast, rose steeply, just like the impenetrable coast of the mythical island of La California. The Californian myth seemed to have inspired the Spanish in Mexico to send out expeditions in search of gold further north (in an attempt to find the "Seven Cities of Cibola") into the land of the "Pueblo" Indians – or Zuni (see below.)

Other Searches Influenced by the Taíno Origin Myth
The Image of El Dorado, (the gilded man is from the Spanish word "gold" or "gilt") is based partially on truth as well as a myth in Columbia, South America.
https://redice.tv/news/mysterious-el-dorado-a-place-or-a-person

El Dorado
Both the search for El Dorado and the European naming of the Amazon River were influenced by the Taino myth of an island of women (Matinino) and an island of solid gold (Guanin). "El Dorado" means "guided man" and is a South American inspired myth about an alleged ruler who was so rich that he covered his body with gold dust each day and washed it off each evening in a lake. During the 16th century El Dorado was believed to have originated among the Chibcha of Bogota, Columbia, in South America. Their chief was reputed to have carried out the above mentioned practice in sacred Lake Guatavita. Expeditions began in 1530 to find El Dorado. In 1536 Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada who founded the city of Bogotá went on an inland expedition to find El Dorado.

Nine months later, starting with 900 men, he found, conquered, and plundered gold and emeralds from the kingdom of Chibcha in Columbia. Beginning in 1569 he spent three more years again searching for El Dorado. He returned to Bogota,  ill with leprosy, where he later died bankrupt. Cervantes is believed to have modeled Don Quixote after Jimenez.

A 1530 Myth Embellished with the Taíno Origin Story

The origin of the story of the Seven Cities (of Cibola) was created from a tale by an enslaved Native American, called Tejo by the Spaniards. In 1530 Nuno de Guzman, President of New Spain (Mexico), owned Tejo, from whom he was told the story of the northern location of a place where his father, a trader, had brought back "a large amount of gold and silver". Tejo, when he was young, had accompanied his father once or twice on trips to the location where "he had seen seven very large towns (which he compared to Mexico and its environs) which had streets of silver workers" Nuno de Guzman mounted an unsuccessful expedition with "nearly 400 Spaniards and 20,000 friendly Indians of New Spain" to find the "Seven Cities". Instead of finding the Seven Cities, Guzman founded the town of Culiacan. After Guzman's return from the expedition Tejo died with the information of the precise location of the Seven Cities.

In 1536, Cabeza de Vaca, three other Spaniards and Esteban (Stephen), an enslaved African, arrived in Culiacan, Mexico after an ill fated 1527-28 Narvaez expedition to Florida. They were the sole survivors of the Navarez expedition and gave "extended account of some powerful villages, four and five stories high, of which they had heard a great deal in countries they had crossed." This account of their overland survival trek from Florida to Mexico seemed to corroborate the earlier story of the Seven Cities . Estaban (who paved the way with the Indians) was then sent with Friar Marcos de Niza and two other friars, on the search for the Seven Cities.  Estaban, with an escort of 60 Indians (including many pretty women and turquoise which the locals had given him) arduously forged north into the territory of the Zuni people of New Mexico. There Estaban met his death at the Zuni pueblo of Hawikuh after demanding more women and turquoise from his new guests.

Earlier in 1493, a similar fate befell Columbus' men on their first trip to Ayti Bohio (Haiti on the island of Hispaniola), around 35 years earlier. Not having even entered the pueblo, and fearing for their lives, Marcos de Niza and the other two friars hastily retreated to Culiacan and gave vivid accounts of "treasures". It is from these friars' account that a more embellished version of the Seven Golden Cities of Cibola was given. The new version of the Seven Cities included earlier myths "about the South Sea and islands (Taíno?) and other riches". News of the Seven Cities quickly spread in New Spain (Mexico), even from the pulpit, and an armed force of conquest was brought together. Coronado mounted the more organized expedition and attacked Hawikuh in 1540 but found no treasures.

The Amazon

In 1541 the Spanish explorer Francisco de Orellana set out up the second longest river in the world. He reputedly saw, or was shot at, by some women warriors from the bank of the river. This confirmed his belief that he had also found the mythical Amazons (probably from the fabled island of California, or Matinino). He named the river the Amazon.
What influence did the Taino myths have on the Spanish in the Americas? In evaluating the Taíno myths, if the sequence of Guahayona's travels to Matinino and Guanin was correct, once "Amazons" were sighted gold was not far behind. The story of the Taíno’s mythical islands unwittingly seduced the Spanish in the Caribbean. The myth influenced them and other Eastern Hemisphere peoples to push further west, north and south onto the mainland Americas. They came feverishly in search of greater quantities of gold which they eventually plundered. "Finding" wealthy Chibcha and the rich Inca Empire did prove that behind every myth there is some truth.



Taino returning from the transforming Bimini's "Fountain of Youth",

Bimini, 'Life of the Spring Waters' and the Fountain of Youth

Juan Ponce de Leon believed a story about a Taino "island" called Bimini. There, he thought, old men would be turned sexually young again by the waters of a spring. Ponce de Leon believed that the Bahamas was the location of Sir John Manderville's published tale of the fabled "Eternal Fountain of Youth". Bimini was the Taino word for North America's Florida peninsula. 
"Bimini" meant [1] "Life of the Spring Waters" and it was part of a Taino myth which Ponce de Leon learned, probably while in Borik'n (Puerto Rico). He set off from Borik'n on a private expedition to search for the mythical Taíno site which seemed to confirm the existence of the European's "Eternal Fountain of Youth."

The Taíno guides who went with him on this failed 1513 expedition spoke of mainland North America where they said that their people also lived. The Poce de Leon expedition traveled on to the nearby peninsula, which he thought was also a Bahaman island, and named it La Florida. This was because his expedition arrived on the mainland during the week of Easter or Pascua Florida (season of flowers). The expected Bimini/La Florida location of the Fountain of Youth was another Castilian (Spanish) misinterpretation of a complicated Taino reference. The Taíno connotation in their myth about "Life of the Spring Waters" (according to Jose Barreiro, author of The Indian Chroniclers)) may have alluded to the rejuvenation of their expanding civilization which was moving further north island by island into Bimini/Florida.


In 1521 Ponce de Leon again sailed for La Florida where he tried to set up a Spanish colony between today's Fort Myers and Tampa. During a skirmish with the the indigenous Calusa, whom the Spanish disrespected, he was mortally wounded by an arrow. Taken back to Cuba he died there of his wounds. Today, although not taken as seriously as it was in the 16th century, the mystique of the Fountain of Youth has continued in contemporary stories, medical jargon and in tourist promotions of the "Sunshine State".