Friday, April 30, 2021

Indigenous DC, A Hidden History



Who are the Indigenous Washingtonians?

The 1970 painting below was done by a Washington Pamunkey artist who was descended from a family of 21 siblings. She was one of many family members with deep roots in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area. In keeping with Native American tradition, one must be familiar with their identifying tribal surnames. In the “DMV” area, Indigenous names are mainly those associated with Powhatan Paramountcy affiliation. Indigenous Washingtonians live among the city's populations but have just not yet been "discovered" by the mainstream. They are literally “hidden in plain site." 


One of the most overlooked stories of our Nation's Capital is about its Indigenous Washingtonians. The assumption is that the city is a barren plum only sought after by outside tribes or other newcomers. DC is often thought of as having no real history of its own before the arrival of Europeans. On the contrary, there is a vast underground of local Native Americans who never left the DMV area. Their roots go back over 10,000 years.


Most Indigenous documentaries are not linked to the Powhatan Paramountcy, except for five of whom are Pamunkey and/or Tauxenent. They are Georgia Mills Jessup’s, "We'reStill Here", her daughter Rose Powhatan’s "SurvivingDocument Genocide", and Rose’s sons, Alexei Auld’s "Tonto Canto Pocahontas: A Review," Kiros Auld’s "Pocahontas:Patron Saint of Colonial Miscegenation?", and their cousin's, "Pocahontas'First Marriage: The Powhatan Side of the Story" by Dr. Phoebe Mills Farris. They all have roots in DC and have written about their city's tribal nations while the Indigenous DC history is mostly written by non-Natives.

 

Unfortunately, DC's Indigenous story is often interpreted by newly arrived Euro-American historians who mostly don't have a clue about who our living Indigenous Amerindians are as well as the international impact of the city's Indigenous Washingtonians. Some seem unable to connect the dots. One case in point is the portrayal of Pocahontas as a 17th century Virginia Indian first married to widower John Rolfe. His newly introduced Christian religion forced her into a bigamous marriage (see the "Various romanticized versions" of Pocahontas below). To the contrary, Pocahontas was already married to Kocoum, a young war captain with whom she is believed to have had a son. Indigenous men usually moved to their wife's village, so It was from his village where she had moved for safety that she was lured into abduction with the help of a Patawomeck sub-chief and his wife in Stafford CountyVA.  Also, it was within her father, Powhatan's domain that the boundary stones of the Federal City were included.


"Urban Renewal" (1970) by Washingtonian artist, Georgia Mills Jessup (Pamunkey). In the darkened center of the painting it shows her, an Indigenous Washingtonian surrounded by the city's residential majority at that time. This collage painting is a statement about her city's unseen people of color in their home "under the Capitol," where they have become invisible. The city's Indigenous descendants also became “extinct”, due to racial politics.

 

Some contemporary Eurocentric skeptics, underestimated Amerindian genius, and had little faith in the cultural impact of Powhatan’s immense Indigenous territory with its unique form of Amerindian freedoms within a political group. Although political unions like his had been present in the Americas for thousands of years, one glaring mistake is that some writers believed that Native Americans never ventured out of their immediate tribal areas. On the contrary, Amerindians traveled extensively and left their homes on long distance trading expeditions. Models of Amerindian empires abound and their populace included cosmopolitan adventurers. For example, the seafaring Taínos of the Caribbean traveled around the time of the birth of the Jewish Christ, from the Orinoco River Basin in South America, going island by island up into Florida, creating a large civilization with stratified leaderships. Elsewhere in Central and South America, the Spanish had encountered extensive Amerindian political ventures. Archeologists discovered that this type of political process was common in the Americas' vast, highly sophisticated empires.

Powhatan’s territory was the largest Indigenous political organization met by the English in North America. However the main similarity to the pyramid builders was that Powhatan was buried in a pyramid inspired mound on the Pamunkey Reservation. Their original men were stated as "coming from the south." Some believe they came from the direction of the Yucatec "Pauhatun." An old set of Bacabs, or four part deity or deities of the four directions and four colors who are also four pillars which hold up the world. This possible Powhatan origin story could be that in addition to similar political acumen in Mesoamerican politics, Powhatan's burial site may have been a part of Central American pyramid inspired mound building tradition which had spread north to Ohio's 70 mounds. The travel of Mexico's botanical invention of maize, had already reached north to Canada centuries before.

Powhatan's power left an indelible impact on the expanding British Empire. The DMV has an unmatched record with published information on one of its Indigenous historic Amerindian groups, the Powhatan Paramountcy (See below). However, the city of Washington, DC was built on ancient Indigenous Amerindian ground. It is seen by newcomers to DC with no general knowledge of its ancient Indigenous past, as a transient area. Yet some of its Indigenous citizens have deep unbroken Native American roots in the Metropolitan area. They are proudly "Still here."


Over 100,000 people claim descent from one woman, Pocahontas. Her father, Powhatan had 100 wives, mostly from villages within his domain. Two examples of his lineage are Taux Powhatan whose mother was Tauxenent or Dogue. He was a half brother to Pocahontas. Keziah Powhatan, an 18th century Tauxenent leader in Fairfax County has many blood relatives in the DMV area. Additionally, many contemporary Indigenous nations from the Carolinas to Washington, DC, once within the Powhatan Paramountcy, have descendants from the unions between Powhatan and his wives from those nations. This common international practice among leaders was to create loyalty to the Paramountcy.

DC's Federal City was carved out of at least three Indigenous Algonquian territories of the Nocotchtank, the Pamunkey and the Tauxenent (or Dogue) and inaugurated on July 16, 1790. Although at the time of Captain John Smith's arrival in 1608, the now extinct Nocotchtank had been recorded to have at one time been a part of the Powhatan Paramountcy. The Pamunkey was the leading nation in the Paramountcy to whose governing family Powhatan (or Wahunsenacawh) and Pocahontas belonged. According to historians, these three DC Algonquian tribes were part of the Indigenous group whose residency went back 3,000 to 10,000 years prior to the Little Ice Age which suddenly began in 1275 AD and petered out by 1700 AD.

One example of tribal movement during that cooling of the Earth was Maryland’s Piscataway who in 1300 AD came from the freezing north into the Chesapeake shoreline to live among the original Algonquians who were already there thousands of years before. This move ended in 1711 when they were forced out by the unbridled emigration of their English Catholic "friends". They dispersed and some moved back north to the Iroquois while others went west into the powerful warrior territory of the Powhatan Paramountcy.

As for Anacostia’s Nocotchtank, after their town was bombarded and destroyed by Jamestown residents intent on grabbing the beaver pelt trade, with the help of their Patawomeck allies (who were responsible in the luring and kidnapping of Pocahontas), some surviving Nocotchtank remnants moved to the Tauxenent's Roosevelt Island for a time, then left the area in 1685 to go north to Ohio.

The 1600's were especially violent times in the Americas. To the south, the Spanish extended the American branch of their empire into areas not yet conquered. In the north, Englishmen and women began to move into the Chesapeake area following the enslaving Spanish who had first moved into the Caribbean in 1493, beginning with the arrival of Christopher Columbus’ 17 to19 invading ships. These Iberians euphemistically called themselves “settlers” of territories already settled thousands of years before them. They found it more self-aggrandizing to call themselves “conquistadors,” who were actually pandemic bearers, church and royal sanctioned Amerindian enslavers, murderers and rapists, as seen in the diary written by Columbus’ Italian friend and lieutenant, Michele da Cuneo. He chronicled the first rape of a Caribbean woman. Using his rope whipping followed by the raping of a young Carib (Kalinago) woman off the coast of St. Croix in 1493.

The DMV
(DC, MD, and VA's tri-state area)


John White's 1585 watercolor of a Secotan woman and child from the Chesapeake Bay. Both probably died almost immediately after contact from an English disease when this watercolor was made.

 

During the 17th century over 32 local tribes, mainly from Maryland’s Indigenous people, were forced out of their area by the aggressive land hungry English working class people (mostly called serfs). This antagonistic class set of English men and women sought first time land ownership and riches away from their densely populated European homelands, not similarly endowed with precious reserves. They conveniently believed that their God had given their race domain over the land, animals and the Americas’ Indigenous human beings. The term was “Manifest Destiny.”

 

The newly formed Virginia Territory's dominant Powhatan Paramountcy who fought three major homeland security Anglo-Powhatan Wars, remained in their area which had been settled by their ancestors 3,000 to 10,000 years before. Known as formidable warriors of a growing empire of Attan Akamik, or “Our Fertile Country,” its capital was called “Tsenacommacah,” or "densely inhabited land." From this location, the Powhatan "Indians" who had developed a complex culture, had a centralized political system of 32-34 Algonquian nations governed by a second Powhatan or “Dreamer” named Wahunsenachaw, who had succeeded his father's eight nations Confederacy.

 

Also, in the 17th century, many remaining Indigenous people intermarried with arriving foreigners, some, especially those of the Powhatan Paramountcy, never abandoned their ancestral territories. This retention of Indigenous culture was attributed to descent from matrilineal groups, and was especially true of those whose mothers were Native. The same cannot be said about that portion of Maryland which was not included within the boundary stones of the Federal City.

 

“One of the largest tribes in the Powhatan [Paramountcy], the Pamunkey tribe was centered in northern Virginia, with villages in Charles, Prince George's and St. Mary's counties, Maryland.” Virginia’s Tauxenent families also remained in Washington, DC proper. Many of these survivors lived in DC or daily crossed the Potomac River for educational opportunities as well as for Federal and local governmental jobs. 


By 1711, most Maryland tribes south and north of Washington, DC's border either became extinct as identifiable tribal entities within that state’s boundaries, or migrated north or west of Washington, DC. This pattern was not true of those who were a part of the 19,250 square mile Powhatan Paramountcy’s territory whose Accohannock firmly remained in Southern Maryland. Some Powhatan families such as the Tauxenent/Dogue and Pamunkey either remained in Virginia within the Federal City’s original boundary, lived in the city, or moved back and forth across the Potomac River for schooling and job opportunities into the redefined 1847 District of Columbia border. The Iroquoian-speaking Susquehannock on the northern border of the city retreated north to Pennsylvania and New York.

 

In Virginia two of’ its Indigenous nations, the Pamunkey and Mattaponi, remained a part of eleven state recognized tribes. Seven of whom became federally recognized. Maryland’s state tribal recognition only began in 2012 with three tribes, one of which (the Accohannock) was a part of the original Powhatan Paramountcy.

 

Descendants of the Powhatan Paramountcy have continued life in the tri-state Metropolitan Area as, among other things, 19th century stone quarry miners and masons who were responsible for the construction of iconic DC structures such as the Washington Monument, portions of the Capitol Rotunda, the Smithsonian Castle, the "Exorcist Stairs" in Georgetown, canals, bridges and other outstanding DC structures. Their accomplishments also included a variety of professions. Many excelled in the arts.


Powhatan Paramountcy descendants fought in or contributed to war efforts from the American Revolution to today’s conflicts. Stories, many books, statues, paintings and movies have chronicled their history, nationally and internationally. The Powhatan Paramountcy is the only Indigenous entity which has continued to have one of the greatest impacts on North American nations. The following photographs tell it all.

 

Powhatan and Pocahontas’ Descendants

Powhatan with some of his wives, by Captain John Smith (1607).


Powhatan had 100 wives and many descendants scattered throughout the areas of his Paramountcy and beyond. For example, there are over 100,000 people who claim decadency from his daughter, Pocahontas. This DNA phenomenon compares to Europe's “30% of all [its] people” who are descendants of Charlemagne and his ten children. In Asia, one study discovered that Genghis Khan has 16 million descendants, while Mohammad is the Middle East’s most famous ancestor.

 

Images of Pocahontas and Her People



One of two statues of Pocahontas with DC Native, Rose Powhatan (Pamunkey/Tauxenent), in Gravesend, Kent, England (1995). A replica of the statue is at Jamestown, Virginia. The town of Gravesend's main claim to fame is that Pocahontas is burried there. Rose tecnically assisted the local St. Georges Church high school teacher, Di Colman in that year's annual production of the travelling play, "The Pocahontas Story." The minister, Reverend Wiley, told her that they believe that Pocahonas' grave was located under the churche's alter. The second St. Georges Church was built there after the great fire of Gravesend.



"Pocahontas Unmasked" is a print by Rose Powhatan showing her interpretation of the unmasked English version. She used the image of a 100% Native American woman, based on the John White watercolors.


Various romanticized versions with cartoons and actresses who played the role of Pocahontas.


The "Baptism of Pocahontas" is a large painting of her located in the Capitol Rotunda with Roman-like setting and participants. The original event took place in a more rustic Jamestown. Here the Powhatan attendees sit on the ground as secondary individuals or "savages," as they were sometimes called.

   

A statue of Cockacoeske, the Queen of Pamunkey who points to the 1677 Treaty, as a Virginia Women's Monument in Capitol Square, Richmond.




Artist, Georgia Mills Jessup (Pamunkey) with her grandson, Kiros Auld (Pamunkey/Tauxenent) standing next to their family's Powhatan totem depicting the Mantle of Powhatan, at a yearly Chickahominy festival/powwow.




Bronze statue of Powhatan, Williamsburg, Virginia.


Powhatan's Mantle on display from Oxford's Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology, with a school group in London, England.


One of the many books on the Powhatan Paramountcy.



A movie made about a fictional love story between a little 10 year old girl (Pocahontas) and the 24 year old Captain John Smith.




Two young Washingtonian descendants of the Powhatan Paramountcy and Diné Nation, who are wearing the sacred colors of the Four Directions (red, black, yellow and white). On their backs are signs which their Diné (Navajo) mother and Pamunkey/Tauxenent father made, stating "Still Indigenous. Still strong. Still here." They are standing on one of their ancestral territories at the Reflecting Pool with the Washington Monument in the background, giving the salute of defiance. Their 19th century Pamunkey and Tauxenent ancestors mined the stones from ancient Indigenous quarries, used for the interior structure of the Washington Monument in the distance.

 




 






Wednesday, March 10, 2021

WHERE ARE WASHINGTON, DC'S INDIANS?

Most Americans think that DC's Indigenous people are extinct.

However, not so. There are Washingtonian families whose history goes back before Captain John Smith's English arrival in 1607. These descendants have continued to be born in DC hospitals, gone to its schools and worked in both Federal and local governments. Yet, because they have been dismissed out of hand mostly by DC's relative newcommers, benign treatment of Native Americans, plus local ignorance of Amerindian history, they have become invisible. Our children deserve some clarity.


So, here is an insight into DC's indigenous history.

Presented by the PowhatanMuseum.com


THE DC AREA’S NATIVE AMERICAN MAP


Figure 1: Markers around the original ten square mile demarcation of Washington, DC, beginning on April 15, 1791 at Jones Point lighthouse in Alexandria, Virginia.


Arriving in Washington, DC in 1962, I have often wondered what became of the Indigenous People of the Metropolitan Area. So, I did my research. 

LOCAL NATIVE DC PATRIOTISM:

The Inside Scoop on the People Who Stayed


An indigenous Washington, DC Land Acknowledgement by a Native Wasingtonian. 


Figure 2: (L) Rose Powhatan (Pamunkey/Tauxenent) with the likeness of her ancestor, Tauxenent leader, "Keziah Powhatan: the Firewoman Warrior" traditionally based totem in her Northwest DC Tauxenent home, giving a Land Acknowledgement blessing, August, 2020. Keziah burned down the Fairfax County courthouse in 1752. Her Tauxenent/Dogue tribe's land was given to Lord Fairfax by his cousin the King of England.

(R) Rose on her Fulbright Foundation’s Teacher Exchange (1994-1995) in front of the original Pocahontas statue, St. Georges Church, Gravesend, London. Pocahontas was buried under the alter of the church. While at the St. Georges School, she assisted teacher Di Coleman as a consultant and costume designer in a traveling play on Pocahontas’ life.

 (1) Click on this first link to see a DC Land Acknowledgement video segment: :https://www.dropbox.com/s/bol8mzptzgs3bzv/Sankofa%20Land%20Accomplishments%20-2.MOV?dl=0

(2) Or see the Sankofa blessing on the opening of the beginning of Into Action on YouTube: https://youtu.be/T9zlVJvL1l4


Indigenous Washingtonians

Other than above photo, have you ever seen a real DC Indian?

Cherokees cannot identify as Navajo, neither can an Apache be a Miccosukee. Yet three related newly state recognized Maryland tribes located 22 miles away from Washington, DC are now trying to make such a name-changing move with Anacostia’s extinct Nochotank. They, against Native American tradition, want to be illegally installed as DC’s Indians. Anyone other than the Pamunkey or Tauxenent is as fake an indigenous Washingtonian as the Redskins football team. Native Americans from our area were dogmatic about tribal identity. These Algonquians even had identifying hair styles, unique feather adornment, a specifically designed bows and arrows, clothes and body tattoos. To steal the extinct Nochotank’s identity, as is a current move by outsiders, is ancestral sacrilege.

 

Figure 3: A Theodore de Bry (1528 – 1598) etching from John White’s watercolor of Secotan Algonquians of the Chesapeake Bay. John White cataloged the wearer with a tribal marking and other designs associated with Chesapeake Indians. In the Americas this totemic figure or entity design acknowledged tribal identity. All three DC Indian tribes had this practice.

 

Native Lives Matter and Land Acknowledgement narratives are in keeping with the inclusive movements of our times, as an honoring of our indigenous people, many of whom have become invisible. They suffer nationally from a spate of disappeared women; higher percentages of suicide, alcoholism, poverty and above numbers of devastating illnesses. Yet, Native Americans, including Rose Powhatan, her children, grandchildren, and other local Powhatan descended families who call DC home, have continued to survive in their ancestral Washington, DC homeland. This honoring of an Indigenous people in the spirit of a United Nations edict on indigeneity is necessary. It is an acknowledgement which makes a DC statement that all who are of Native descent can feel welcomed in a city which houses the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, and other indigenous Federal and private sector workers as well as those transplants to our Nation's Capital. Native Lives will indeed matter.


 
NOTES

A LOCAL NATIVE HISTORY

Washington, DC was carved out of Indigenous Amerindian territory originally named Attan Akamik,  which turned into the Virginia Territory, then the states of Virginia, Maryland and other states as far north as New York. 


Earlier in the 1600s, Wahubsenachaw (publicly known as Powhatan) also provided life-saving corn during the harsh 1600s winters. Scientists have recently found that during this era the Americas became much colder, caused by planetary cooling. This was the result of the Amerindian Holocaust instigated by the droves of  European arrivals in this hemisphere. The pandemic and killings caused an estimated 90% demise of indigenous inhabitants in the Americas


The Powhatan people also made clothes for the Revolutionary War effort; Pamunkeys were persecuted for hiding out escaping enslaved African Americans on their Tidewater reservation (the first North American reservation); while cousins were marched off in chains by the Confederates and charged for helping the Union Army during the Civil War. Powhatan descended stone workers from the Tauxenent and Pamunkey, indigenous to the Washington Area’s families, mined rocks from local quarries which were built from their ancient ancestral stone mines. One example is Rock Creek’s 3,000 year old bluestone mine on Quarry Road, NW, on which the National Zoo was later built. This DC mine was active until 1885. The Amerindian antecedents had also knapped arrowheads, axes, hammers, and pecked out cooking utensils from the many sites along Rock Creek.  

 When other nearby indigenous people cowered, beginning in 1610 the Powhatan people fought in all of the wars since the homeland security Anglo-Powhatan Wars. During WWII, one DC mother of her city's Pamunkey children, repeatedly sneaked off her Federal job to go to a downtown movie theater. She serially watched her Pamunkey son riding on his US Army truck into Berlin as part of the US force to liberate that German city. Her son-in-law who was from a large local Tauxenent family survived the Pacific War Theater when his destroyer was shot out from under him. After the war, he defied the segregated bus system, when he told his young Pamunkey wife, "We are Indian, and we do not sit at the back of the bus."


Other sites which these Algonquian descendants helped to construct was the Washington, DC's iconic Exorcist movie steps in Georgetown. Bridges, canals, and other important buildings were constructed from the Seneca sandstone endemic to their Potomac River area. These rocks were used for backing the Washington Monument's marble facade, the Smithsonian Castle (between 1847-1857), as well as the Capitol floors and Rotunda door frames.

 

The Powhatan descendants are not to be just dismissed entities, but are living people who have continued to contribute, born, educated, work, die and buried in DC and its surrounding Metropolitan Area.

 

1.    The original “Washington County” (or DC) was mainly carved out of Montgomery County (Susquehannock tribal territory) to the city’s Northwest and Northeast, and Prince Georges County to the Southeast and Southwest DC. These western and southern counties were Algonquian. The city’s boundary was located in Virginia’s Arlington County, and still includes the Tauxenent’s Roosevelt Island in the Potomac River. Arlington County seceded back to Virginia so that voters could participate in the election of George Washington for whom the District of Columbia was also named.

2.    Some Maryland Pamunkey (whose capital in the 32-34 tribal  Powhatan Paramountcy, and its leading tribe, originated in Prince William County, Virginia) while some of their villages were located near other Algonquian tribes which lived in Prince Georges County (they as well had other villages in Charles and St. Mary’s Counties of Maryland). The only remaining presence of the Pamunky in Maryland is the township of Pomonkey in Charles County. They, along with the Tauxenent/Dogue were trade partners with the Piscataway, “a loosely knit smattering of tribes” (whose center was in Moyaone or Accockeek, with 1,000 souls) in Maryland where they existed “between the fourteen and seventeen century.” During the 17th century upheavals brought on by encroaching European colonists, “from 1642 to 1685 leading to the destruction of Susquehannocks in 1676 [in Maryland] and the removal of the Piscataway in 1699 to Virginia where they melted in with local tribes. By 1711, the Piscataway no longer [existed] as a separate tribal community.” – chnm.gmu.edu. .

3.    So, what happened to Maryland’s Indians? In the case of the state’s indigenous history it shows that in the 1700s the state was left with a mélange of tribal remnants who intermarried with European and African arrivals, three newly state recognized tribes being called by sociologists “Tri-racial Isolates.”  There were three major tribes within DC’s Boundary Markers; they were the Tauxenent of Arlington County and Washington County, the Nochotank and Pamunkey in Washington and Prince Georges Counties. During the post European Colonial encroachment,  Amerindian history of Maryland and Virginia became horrific. Deaths by murder, wars and European pathogens caused most surviving tribes to remove themselves from ancestral lands. Native refugee patterns show that, in Maryland alone many of its indigenous populations who survived European diseases and attacks were routed and forced to leave the state, some crossing the Potomac River to join the powerful Powhatan Paramountcy who themselves were at constant war with the Jamestown invaders. Other indigenous Marylanders fled the fledgling European state to melt into eastern Virginian and northern tribal nations as far as New York and Ohio. Similar to the later 1838 Cherokee’s Trail of Tears, in the case of Marylanders some stopped along the way north to melt in with Algonquian Delaware, Iroquoian Pennsylvania and New York tribes. To see the turmoil of Amerindian relocation within the original counties of Maryland which bordered Washington, DC and beyond Maryland’s Historic Tribes is a state’s governmental document which describes all of that state’s historic tribes by county locations before and after European contact. https://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/01glance/native/html/01native.html

4.    Then, what happened to Virginia’s Indians? After the First Anglo-Powhatan War in 1610, many kept their territories via the British introduced reservation system in 1658, even after the 1677 treaty of Middle Plantation with Cococoeske the Queen of Pamunkey and those Indians under her. The treaty was between her and Charles II, the King of England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Virginia. (http://powhatanmuseum.com/Historic_Documents.html) . The Pamunkey have the oldest reservation in America since theirs and the Mattaponi’s were established in 1658. Others lost theirs in the 18th century. For example, the the Rappahannock and Chickahominy in 1718; the Nansemond sold theirs in 1792 after the American Revolution. Native Americans did not believe tyhat humans could own the Creator's land. So, the Manhattan "sale' of that island to the Dutch for beads, fits the Native concept thatat land belonged to  the Great Spirit. They must have thought that they got over on the stupid Dutch belief in owning segments of Mother Earth. After losing their reservations to encroaching colonists, “some landless Indigenous members in Virginia and Maryland intermarried with other ethnic groups and became assimilated. Others maintained ethnic and cultural identification despite intermarriage. In their maternal kinship systems, children of Indian mothers were considered born into her clan regardless of their fathers.’”—Wikipedia.   Only the Pamunkey and Mataponi held on to their reservations. Seven of Virginia’s 11 state recognized tribes are federally recognized.

 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

THE LONGEST WALK, 43 YEARS LATER

An Indigenous Washingtonian Welcomes the 1978 Longest Walk

by the Powhatan Museum of Washington, DC, the first and only site dedicated to
the city's oririginal inhabitants and their descendants. -powhatanmuseum.com

Figure 1: A pensive Georgia Mills Jessup (Pamunkey) a DC teacher/artist/administrator in hot July, 1978 on 16th Street, NW the city of her birth. Number 13 of a centuries old DC family of 21 Native American siblings indigenous to DC, MD and Virginia, a part of her ancestral Powhatan Paramountcy, she came out of her DC home to support the hundreds of the Longest Walk participants.– Photo by her niece, Dr. Phoebe Farris (Powhatan Renape/Pamunkey).

 

In 1978, the "'LongestWalk' (below) drew attention to American Indian concerns. Several hundred American Indian activists and supporters marched for five months from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., to protest threats to tribal lands and water rights. The Longest Walk is the last major event of the Red Power Movement."

 

Figure 2: The Longest Walk which ended here on DC’s Mall as the largest gathering of Native American tribal members in the city. If you were not in Washington, DC in !978, you missed it.

 

So, what has changed in the Nation’s Capital since then? With the Republican Senators blocking Representative Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) from becoming the Secretary of the Interior and its  first Native American Cabinet member? Not much. Anti-Indian senators doing the bidding of the crude oil industry and other backers are questioning this indigenous woman of color’s “qualifications.” Not many disparaging genocidal views on Indigenous people have changed today. 

 


Figure 3: Representative Deb Haaland, Esq who at this writing is being rejected by immigrant descended anti-Native racists for a no-brainer post as steward of the land which is her people’s Indigenous tradition. Her New Mexican lineage goes back to over 40 generations, and thousands of years of Amerindian presence in America before her Capitol Hill colleagues who are fighting against her confirmation.

 

The irony is that Republicans on the Hill have a chance to redress the wrongs which were protested forty-three years ago by honoring a Native American (a woman of color) and begin to correct the continued atrocities against them and their sacred sites. But, they go in the opposite direction. Regardless of the historical acts of violence on Native Americans the issue continues to be that only money talks. 


Native Americans have long since buried the tomahawk in spite of broken one-sided treaties; given America its Constitution and a deliberative body via their caucus; and had American wealth wrested from their Turtle Island territories. America boasts to the world about its material richness gained from the bodies of its Amarindians, and speak glowingly about an unatained democracy. Yet, Native American reservations resemble internment camps ravaged by the Corona virus, alcoholism, diabetes, suicides, disappeared women and many poor country ills. Their plights when considered, makes the United States a country composed of a patchwork of third world sovereign nations within one of the richest "First World" countries on the planet. All because of endemic neglect, greed and racism.

 

True to the traditions of the dominant society's European origins, America is economically and politically run like a medieval society with a veneer of democracy which does not need a titled king and queen, royals or nobles over vassals. The Longest Walk highlighted the only added feature to America’s struggle with equality, a fight against the creation of an indigenous untouchable underclass. These truths we can see now playing out in the Senate’s hesitancy to confirm Representative Deb Haaland to a trusted position on President Joe Biden’s multiethnic cabinet. 

In spite of our president's efforts, the fight continues for equal rights and representation to higher offices by people of color. 

Confirm a Native American for the selected Cabinet post.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

A Native Acknowledgement

By the PowhatanMuseum.com

THE NO-BRAINER NOMINATION

WELCOME AGAIN TO ATTAN AKAMIK (Our Fertile Country)

Continue to Walk in Beauty!

Figure 1: Representative Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) welcoming DC's local indigenous Auld family to the US Capitol where Kiros' ancestral relative, Wahunsenachaw (Powhatan II) caucused during his 16th century lifetime.

L: Kiros Auld (Pamunkey/Tauxenent) represented the Indigenous Washingtonian presence of a Powhatan Paramountcy descendant to his ancestral Attan Akamik,(Our Fertile Country) and its city of Washington, DC, the Land Acknowledged “Place of the Caucus.” This was the location next to the Tiber Creek on Capitol Hill which was liked on caucus visits with surrounding aboriginal nations by the 16th to 17th century Wahunsenachaw (or Powhatan II), the Pamunkey Algonquian leader on whose Paramountcy's territory the US Capital was built. Kiros maternal descent is from the tribe of Wahunsenachaw and his daughter, Pocahontas whose portrait adorns the Capitol Rotunda. Kiros who was born in and attended  schooling through to Howard University's School of Law in the Nation's Capital, hails from the only two surviving of the three original District of Columbia and its Metro Area's Algonquian tribes, the Pamunkey and Tauxenent/Dogue. These local nations and its many living descendants are historically documented as living within the original Capital City’s boundary stones which came from ancient ancestral quarries which his 19th century DC Area relatives later mined. The third tribe of Naoctchtank who had a beaver pelt trading town next to the Anacostia River in Southeast DC became extinct after around 1668 when its last remnant was recorded as moving North to Ohio from a temporary stay on the Tauxenent's Roosevelt Island. The gap left by Southeast DC's extinct, distinctly named Algonquian Naoctchtank tribe is recently being questionably claimed by three new state recognized Iroquoian identified Maryland tribes whose names were never located within the Capital City.

Since the Presidential elections, much has been written in our leading national media outlets about Senator Kamala Harris. She has been introduced as a groundbreaking biracial woman of color’s ascendancy to the role of Vice President of the United States. On the other hand, our nation institutionalzed amnesia towards Indigenous Americans is about to change. Not surprisingly, almost nothing is yet popularly known about this country’s other first, a female descendant of indigenous custodians of Turtle Island (or the North American continent).

 Debra Anne Haaland is that Native which our city’s indigenous Powhatan Museum will here honor. She is a lawyer, Congresswoman from the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico with vast life experiences and an inherited ancient legacy concerning the role which she is about to play as the Secretary of the Interior.

 (Her live video congratulating President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris https://twitter.com/i/status/1351992670219087874)

 However, not surprisingly, as is ever true about national exclusion of Indigenous people from our history, there has been less press coverage about this other American first. The no-brainer elevation to the Presidental Cabinet is of a Native American descended from custodians of our Mother Earth, America’s indigenous Amerindians.

 


Figure 2: Politically and socially astute Secretary nominated Debra Anne Haaland, Esq. (Laguna Pueblo) with the seal of the US Department of the Interior whose design, for the first time reflects the aspirations of that Federal agency.


Honoring an Esteemed Native Leader

Optics is important and for the first time in our history there is no more appropriate form of American symbolism as the distinctly Native American images above.

 This Presidential season has probably provided American history with the most ground-breaking firsts in inclusively. It is right up there with the first female Vice President who is the also a uniquely tri-racial person of Asian Indian and Afro-Euro Jamaican ancestry in that leadership office. Added to the Presidential Cabinet makeup is Representative Debra Anne Haaland, Esq (Laguna Pueblo) a Native American woman. Also included in the lineup is young Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay Cabinet member. But, in our opinion the most groundbreaking decision is the inclusion of a Native American woman as the Secretary of the Interior. She is an indigenous New Mexican who is tribally enrolled in the historic Laguna Pueblo Nation, a people whose ancient legacy includes the second indigenous North American contact by the arriving 15th century Spanish. To them, her homeland was a second mystical set of Seven Golden Cities of Cibola. The other was the "Fountain of Eternal Youth" in Bimini or La Florida.

 Deb Haaland has known homelessness and poverty while struggling to attain her life's goals. Her life’s experiences have been one of overcoming the struggle of being a single mom while balancing the raising of an extremely talented daughter, and starting her first degree from the University of New Mexico, culminating with a law degree while balancing motherhood. Learning about her life’s expiries is inspirational since she has had a passion for helping people from a place of her own understanding of society’s historic neglect of its Native Americans whose people are ironically keepers of the land. This history places her in the right position as a caretaker of our planet since, as in Native traditions, how we treat our mother, the Earth is linked to our own survival as a specie. With this time where sensitivity to Mother Earth’s health is at a crucial juncture of a planetary climate change, Deb Halland’s role in America’s environmental path is no less prophetic as it is fitting of her heritage.

 We in Washington, DC know too well of the dismissive agenda of not honoring the city’s surviving indigenous Pamunkey and Tauxenent people of the historic Powhatan Paramountcy and the current attempts by outsiders to resurrect a dead tribe in threir own name. So, it is therefore easy for us at the Powhatan Museum of Washington, DC to welcome the Honorable Deb Haaland to our ancestral homeland of Attan Akamik, to share in the founding history of Our Fertile Country as an honored guest from the sacred West. Although she came as a Congresswoman we tribute her in her new caretaker role as our city’s highest ranking Native American. Her placement will directly impact on the lives and fortunes of living American Indians. As with America’s significant world position of planetary influence, she too, as it is with the Vice President Harris, provide a role model for all women and girls worldwide, whether Native or non-Native. Too often the Eurocentric tradition is to only honor European men and dead Indians. President Biden has broken yet again another racist mold.

Rising From a Rich History

What makes Representative Haaland a perfect fit for her cabinet role as Secretary of the Interior is her unique history. Her's is not much different from Kamala Harris’ legacy who was born from the other ancient Asiatic civilization of the Hindus. Deb Haaland hails from another of the planet’s noteworthy ancient cultures with thousands of years honed in uniquely accomplished Amerindian hemisphere replete with multi-storied stone and adobe apartnents, large uniquely organized pyramid cities and temple topped mound builders, accomplished agronomists, mathematicians, scientists and sky-mapping astronomers. Both people are the confident beneficiaries of ancient Asiatic cultures, one the daughter of a “true” Indian immigrant and the other an Indigenous descendant of this soil. These Eurocentric termed “prehistoric” legacies are especially pertinent to the American Experiment. As Secretary Haaland, her role will be seen as a Native American “keeper of the land” with a connection to thousands of years in this hemisphere’s human development. Here, the optics of her role of land husbandry is more profound when one scratches her cultural surface.

 We are the sum total of our history on this planet. And as we see, Deb Haaland is the byproduct of a uniquely rich Amerindian legacy, the things that often shapes one’s world view. Yes, she is a contemporary Native woman steeped in the legacy of early Spanish survival and the imported laws of this land. So, let’s examine her Native roots.

Her ancestral legacy predates her people’s encounter with the gold-seeking Spanish Empire’s newly acquired Aztec Empire of Central Mexico in the 16th century. This was the time of the Zuni of Hawikuh, and her pueblo neighbor’s 1539 encounter with Mustafa Azemmouri. Called Estavanico (Little Stephen) he was a 1600 born multilingual enslaved Black (Moorish) adventurer/ambassador cooperatively seeking the mythological Las Siete Ciudades de Cibola (the seductive Seven Cities of Gold). This Mexican territory was later acquired in 1853 by equally encroaching English-American expansion.

 Deb Haaland’s mother was an ethnic Laguna Pueblo. Her Norwegian American father was a decorated Vietnam War veteran who is appropriately buried with full honors across the Potomac River’s in our land acknowledged Powhatan Paramountcy Territory located Arlington National Cemetery. However, the original name of Deb Haaland’s Pueblo people is Kawaik in their language. “Pueblo” means “Town or vilage” and “Laguna” (”Lake”) in the imported Spanish tongue, still used along with their indigenous Kres language group which has continued to be spoken. Their ethnic designation, “Pueblo” was derived from the multi-story type of indigenous structural town-like style of architectural settlements made of sandstone and adobe from which their villages were built. Their buildings, gleaming in the sunlight, were initially mistakenly believed by Estavanico as evidence of the existence of the mythical gold rich shining City of Cibola, and conveyed this information back to Mexico.  This myth which spurred the Spanish adventurer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, originated from an escaping Catholic monastery’s gold vestments and a raiding Islamic encounter event in Europe. Then, the Americas and Deb Haaland’s ancestral area were considered the location of some European tales. The 1540 Francisco Vásquez de Coronado scouting encounter ahead of that infamous Spanish expedition undiplomatically spearheaded by Estavanico, ended tragically as the scout was killed for insisting on extracting Zuni women from his hosts.

 Unfortunately, Americans are rarely taught the histories of past and living Native Americans and their leaders. From an area known for its uranium, undisputed ceramic beauty, turquoise and silver jewelry, and the fabled land of the Seven Cities of Gold to DC’s Shining City on the Hill, let us hope that Secretary Haaland’s welcomed role model presence encourages us all to discover more about our rich Amerindian hemisphere.


NOTES:

Related

  1. Duties of the Secretary of the Interior include management and conservation of most federal landand natural resources, leading such agencies as the Bureau of Land Managementand natural resources, leading agencies as Bureau of Indian Affairs, the US Geological Survey, and the National Park Service.
  2.  
    Tribal Seal

  1. Laguna Pueblo is a Spanish name from the first European contact, was established by the Ka-waik or "lake people" a traditionally self-governing agriculturalists community. It is the largest pueblo of the Keresan people, located off the famous Route 66, forty-five miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico along the San Jose River. It's people have resided in that area of the US since 3000 BCE. This pueblo is one of 100 which are still inhabited.

  1. Cibola is both the recent name of one of thirty-three counties of New Mexico and an early mythological Seven Golden Cities of a fabled location from early Spanish tales.The story was believed by the arriving Spanish in Mexico as the location  be found in today's New Mexico.   See:Seven Cities of Gold - Wikipedia .