Friday, March 18, 2022

The INDIGENOUS WOMAN: March 1 to 31

The Horrendous Beginnings: 

Copyright 2022 by Michael Auld (Yamaye)

“Invisible Indian” A graphic illustration that portrays the reality of the convenient invisibility of Native Americans from the National discourse, is based on guilt.


The Encounter Period  

Print by Jodocus van Winghe, published in 1598 is of the Murder of Anacaona (Golden Flower) the Taino provincial leader of Jaragua, showing the carrying out of the order by Governor Nicolas de Ovando, successor to Columbus on the island of Hispaniola (Ayti Bohio/Kiskeya) in 1504. Anacaona, Queen of Jaragua had invited Ovando to a reception on her homeland. Ovando accepted, and upon arrival at Anacaona's large Caney (chief's house), he ordered his crossbowmen to surround the house of 100 assembled sub-kacikes. His men took Anacaona from the Caney, set it afire, and shot anyone attempting to escape. He offered Anacaona to become a concubine. She refused and was hanged. This Spanish pattern of annihilation of the Indigenous leadership was copied in the Conquest of the Americas.


The Role of Indigenous Women of the Americas

Indigenous women have always held a place of honor among their people. From Earth Mother to goddesses, tribal property owners, and matrilineal icons. Even our planet was seen as "Mother Earth.” Native women have occupied the highest rung in endemic societies.  However, after the arrival of the first Spanish Europeans, the Indigenous woman became survivors of violence and dismissal. The Caribbean was the first to experience this chauvinistic horror.



  
Atabey, the Taino virgin goddess of
childbirth and freshwaters.

HONORING OUR INDIGENOUS AMERINDIAN WOMEN

In March, we honor the First Women of the Americas, some who paid the ultimate price for leadership or for just being the first to, unfortunately, encounter a hemispheric invasion


The first recorded atrocity, a rape, occurred in 1493 on Columbus' return trip to the Caribbean. We know of her, but we do not know her name. She was a young Kalinago woman from Ay Ay, (meaning the "River" in Taino), a Leeward Caribbean Island which we now call St. Croix, (ironically meaning the "Holy Cross" in French). A similar concept to the Christ crucified on a cross, she was the first Indigenous victim of a Christian crime in her homeland. Michele da Cuneo flogged and raped an Amerindian woman. 


Surprised at the arrival of the Spanish ships, while in a Kalinago canoe and fighting off a boatload of Spanish seamen from Columbus’ flagship, one of whom she shot an arrow through his shield with such force that it penetrated three inches into the attacker's chest, killing him. After a skirmish, she was captured by da Cuneo, an Italian lieutenant and a childhood friend of Columbus’ from his flagship, one of the 17 to 19 arriving vessels. The ensuing rope whipping and rape took place in da Cuneo's cabin on the Admiral's flagship. Ripping her attacker with her nails, her loud screams brought no help from Columbus or his crew.


"Rape of a Kalinago Girl: 1493", Sculpture by the author



The first martyrdom of an Indigenous woman in our hemisphere to be recorded occurred in 1503 in Ayti Bohio, meaning "High Mountain Home," or Kiskeya, meaning "Mother of All Lands." Anacaona is our first named honoree who was the kacike or ruler of over 100 sub-kaciles in her province of Jaragua (Ha-rag-wah) located in today's Haiti on the second largest Caribbean Island. This island was the center of the Taino Civilization, whose vast Bagua, or the Caribbean Sea to the north, included hundreds of islands and cayaos (keys). In 1492, on the east shore of their northern island of Guanahni, or Island of the Iguana, land of the Lucayo or Lukku-Cari, i.e. "Small Island", they encountered men from Spain headed by the Italian wool merchant called Cristobal Colon by his Spanish employer, Queen Isabela. His real name was Cristoforo Colombo in his native Italian but was later Latinized as Christopher Columbus by English speakers.

Above: Kacike Anacaona (seated on a ceremonial dujo stool) while in a cohoba trance communing with the ancestors. --By the author.

Below: A book illustration by the author of the hurakan/hurricane which is seen as an angry woman goddess, Guabancex, Rider of the Winds. She is part of a triad that includes the twins, GuatauBA! the Herald lightning and thunder. Coatrisque the Deluge, follows her yearly arrival from Africa’s Sahel Desert where she is born.





Above composite sculpture by the author.



CHESAPEAKE WOMEN IN 1585 

The Second Amerindian Pandemic

Ethnic watercolors by John White also included men. We must remember these women of the Chesapeake Bay region of Secotan who first encountered the English in 1585. They may not have lasted beyond a week after these watercolors were made. Villages were decimated by a European disease soon after being revisited by John White's expedition.


   


The Powhatan Paramountcy 1607 to the Present 

The Powhatan Paramountcy was the second Indigenous Encounter in North America in 1607. This is where the United States of America began. Founded as an eight Algonquian confederation by the first “Dreamer" or Powhatan I, his son, Wahunsenachaw was the second Powhatan who expanded the Algonquian political group into a 32-34 nation Paramountcy which the arriving English called a “Kingdom.” Their territory included affiliation with the Nanticoke or Kuskarawaoks people of Maryland and Delaware to the north. The ensuing conflicts between the Powhatans and the Virginia Company of England’s representatives and the English Crown ended in three Anglo-Powhatan Wars in Virginia, Maryland North Carolina, and Washington, DC. In suing for peace, Cockacoeske, the Queen of Pamunkey whose 1677 Treaty of Middle Plantation at Williamsburg, Virginia, ended the conflicts with the invading English and their ever-continuing violent expansion. This is the story of the great women of the Powhatan Paramountcy. 


 

DC once had an Indigenous Queen,--Washington Post article. Illustration of the late Georgia Mills Boston Jessup (Pamunkey) as her relative Cockacoeske, Queen of Pamunkey. --By the author.



Sculpture of Pamunkey Queen, Cockacoeske in the honored Women’s Monument at Capitol Square, Richmond, VA. She holds the 1677 Treaty of Middle Plantation as the major signatory on behalf of her people and the many Indigenous nations under her governance. The treaty ended the last of the three Anglo-Powhatan Wars of Homeland Security and set the stage for the American Revolution.


Shaman” collage painting by Georgia Mills Boston Jessup a Pamunkey painter and ceramicist. The painting was used as an invitation to a family exhibit at the Fondo del Sol Museum in DC. The contents of a pouch incorporated into the painting, include spiritual objects from her cousin Pamunkey Chief Paul Miles’ medicine bag, given to Georgia by her late cousin, Chief Bill "Swift Eagle" Miles.



Rainy Night Downtown”, is a painting of her DC city hometown by Georgia Mills Boston Jessup. Included in the Permanent Collection of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC.






Urban Renewal”, is a collage painting by Georgia Mills Boston Jessup that comments on the removal of people of color in DC to make way for gentrification.



Georgia Mills Boston Jessup (Pamunkey) was an artist, teacher, and administrator from Washington, DC, and its Metropolitan Area. She was number 13 of 21 siblings and a family of over 29 members in various local and national arts disciplines.




Above: This is a video of a Land Acknowledgement given by Washingtonian Wisdom Keeper, Rose Powhatan a Pamunkey and Tauxenent descendant of the historic Powhatan Paramountcy in her yard in North West Washington, DC. Capitol Hill is known as the “Place of the Caucus” where Wahunsenachaw or Powhatan II, met in caucuses to promote solidarity with the surrounding Algonquian nations. Chroniclers during his lifetime said that “Powhatan never left his area.” The 32-34 nation Algonquian Paramountcy was governed by both women and men.


 

Above: Artist, tribal historian, and storyteller Rose Powhatan (Pamunkey/Tauxenent) with her “Firewoman Warrior” ancestor totem, Keziah Powhatan, the Tauxenent leader of the 1752 burning of the Fairfax County, Virginia courthouse. 

Below: Tysons Corner D.A.R. plaque about the event. Kezia's people's land was given to Lord Fairfax by his cousin the King of England. So, she and her warriors burned the building down. This story was passed down in her Fairfax County's extensive family.
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Storyteller” an acrylic painting by Rose Powhatan (Pamunkey/Tauxenent) is also an example of a mother passing on inspirational stories to her daughter. 


MYTH & REALITY

(1) Will the real Pocahontas please stand up!

America’s iconic Native American has been mostly interpreted by non-family members for decades. All that we know is that she was a little girl of 11-years-old in 1607 when the 27-year-old English Captain John Smith arrived in Attan Akamik as an employee of the Virginia Company of London. Almost everything else is conjecture since she never spoke for herself. She is either idolized by Eurocentrists as a Christianized princess collaborator or despised by some Native Americans as a sellout of her father’s Powhatan Paramouncy’s territory. Or a victim of the Stockholm syndrome, where the kidnapped becomes a supporter of the kidnappers.

Rose Powhatan (Pamunkey/Tauxenent) stands next to one of two commissioned sculptures of Pocahontas. A Fulbright Scholar and exchange teacher for the school year 1994 to 1995 she also worked with the high school students at the St. Georges Church of England School, Gravesend, Kent, England,  Here she is next to her ancestral cousin, Pocahontas' monument at Gravesend, England in 1994.  The British acknowledged Native American princess is buried at the nearby St. Georges Church, possibly under the altar area, and is the town’s main tourist attraction.


Rose Powhatan's “Pocahontas Unmasked” print by a Native American Pamunkey family member questions the portrayal of the iconic young woman’s physical interpretations. "Pocahontas was a full-blooded Native American young woman, not a European," the artist said.


(2) The Island of Women

Indigenous women in the Americas were seen by the arriving Spanish as earthly members of the place of unequaled beauty which their awestruck men called the Terrestrial Paradise, technically identified as the biblical Garden of Eden. This impression was concretized when Columbus first arrived on Guanahani (renamed San Salvador) in October of 1492. By sign language, he was introduced to the Taino epic of Matanino, the Island of Women, and Guanin, its twin Island of Gold. Father Pané later recorded this epic in more detail on Hispaniola.

(Above): A montage print titled, "La California," with a Taino image of Atabey, the goddess and virgin mother of Yucahu, god of the sea, and the life-giving yuca or cassava. Her image is overlaid by an early Spanish woodcut of a drawing by Fernández de Oviedo, 1526 of the Taino method of panning for gold, as introduced to Europeans.--Silkscreen print by the author.

(Below): Left side enlargement showing the early Spanish map of La California as an island, thinking, as Hernan Cortez did in 1519 when he saw the California Mountains in the distance from Mexico's Baja California, after the conquest of Montezuma's Mexica or Aztecs. Cortez was familiar with the recently published Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo's book "La California." He thought that this was the abode of Queen Califia's golden island. Coincidentally, gold was later found in those California Mountains which caused the California Gold Rush.





An illustration of Queen Califia of the Island of "Black" Amazons called La California protected from men by griffins, and whose only weapons were made of gold. This story was adapted as Las Sergas de Esplandián (The Adventures of Esplandián) a popular novel written by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo. It was probably adopted by the Spanish 16th-century novelist from Fray Ramón Pané’s recorded manuscript on the Caribbean Island of Hispaniola (Kiskeya/Ayti Bohio) titled "Account of the antiquities of the Indians." 

In about 1498 after the Tainos began attacking the Spanish invaders, Pané compiled and presented to Columbus his Relación acerca de las antigüedades de los indios ("Report about the antiquities of the Indians"). This account was known to have contained accurate and unbiased descriptions of the Taino beliefs and was used by Peter Martyr, las Casas, and Ferdinand Columbus.


  WOMEN OF POWER

Frida Khalo was a Mexican painter, proud of her Indigenous ancestry and dressed in their style, whose feminism is still admired by many. She is celebrated in Mexico for her attention to Mexican and indigenous culture and by feminists abroad for her depiction of the female experience and form. 

"I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone because I am the person I know best."



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Representative Sharice Lynnette Davids (Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin) was born May 22, 1980, was raised by a single mother, who served in the Army for 20 years. After graduating from Leavenworth High School, she worked her way through Johnson County Community College and the University of Missouri-Kansas City before earning a law degree from Cornell Law School. As a first-generation college student who worked the entire time she was in college, Rep. Davids understands the importance of quality public schools and affordable higher education. It is that foundation that allowed her to go on to a successful career, focused on economic and community development, which included time as a White House Fellow under President Barack Obama.

When she was sworn into the 116th Congress, Rep. Davids became one of the first two Native American women to serve in Congress.




Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo). Interior Secretary Deb Haaland made history when she became the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary. She is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and a 35th generation New Mexican. 

Secretary Haaland grew up in a military family; her father was a 30-year combat Marine who was awarded the Silver Star Medal for saving six lives in Vietnam, and her mother is a Navy veteran who served as a federal employee for 25 years at the Bureau of Indian Affairs. As a military child, she attended 13 public schools before graduating from Highland High School in Albuquerque.  

As a single mother, Secretary Haaland volunteered at her child's pre-school to afford early childhood education. 


An Hour-long Congressional Condemnation of hatred by some men against women: https://youtu.be/jUIbIWgBWo8


In January of 2019, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez who is descended from the Taino People of Puerto Rico (Borinquen) was sworn in as the youngest woman and youngest Latina ever to serve in Congress.   Her first piece of legislation was the Green New Deal resolution, which envisions a 10-year national mobilization, akin to FDR’s New Deal, that would put millions to work in good-paying, union jobs repairing the nation’s infrastructure, reducing air and water pollution, and fighting the intertwined economic, social, racial and climate crises crippling the country.

Over her first term, she introduced a total of 23 pieces of legislation. Among them is her Loan Shark Prevention Act, which would cap credit card interest rates at 15%. The Congresswoman also introduced a group of bills collectively titled ‘Just Society,’ which would raise the federal poverty line, include immigrants in social safety net programs, require federal contractors to pay a living wage, strengthen renters' rights, and decrease recidivism.

“There are some politicians who are very good on policy, and there are some politicians who are good communicators, and there are some politicians that have a way about them that relates very well to ordinary people. Alexandria has all three of those characteristics.” – Senator Bernie Sanders




Wilma Mankiller, in full Wilma Pearl Mankiller, (born November 18, 1945, TahlequahOklahoma, U.S.—died April 6, 2010, Adair County, Oklahoma), Native American leader and activist, the first woman chief of a major tribe.

Mankiller was of Cherokee, Dutch, and Irish descent; the name Mankiller derives from the high military rank achieved by a Cherokee ancestor. https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/wilma-mankiller


“One of the things my parents taught me, and I'll always be grateful . . . is to not ever let anybody else define me; [but] for me to define myself. ” 



NOTES:

Some Indigenous ladies I adore...

(Top) The Next Generation.

(Bottom Left) A Geriatrician mother of three, of Mixtec Mexican ancestry and who works with New York City's elderly patients heavily hit by COVID. 

(Bottom Right) A Navajo or Diné meaning "the People", and a mother of three who is promoting Indigenous cultures in the DC Metropolitan Area.





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