Time to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day! No more Columbus Day! I am happy to inform that more cities are recognizing Native Americans today—the movement to change the holiday to celebrate the history and contributions of indigenous cultures around America. It is a huge deal.
My grandmother on my father’s side–her own mother–my great grandmother was Cherokee born and raised in small town called John Day in Oregon–she died at “childbirth” giving my grandmother a life and she refused to talk about it because her father (my great grandfather) told her not to bring up about it. I was from small town, Yacolt, on the southwestern border of Washington, in the shadow of Mount St. Helens. The name, from local Native American lore, means “haunted place” or “valley of the demons.”
I had no idea that I have Cherokee blood until I was 33 and I begin to learn more about Native Americans now and then. I had no idea about Wounded Knee incident in South Dakota where one of the courses I signed up for requiring us to read one of many books called “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” written by Dee Brown really bury my heart. Hint: Did you know that there was a Deaf Native American in that book by the name of Black Coyote who “started” it all? Then after that, I started to read more Native Americans books–from political to cultural to history to hate crimes and so. The picture you see above I bought in DC—I have more books stored inside a box in the great Pacific Northwest.
As for hate crimes, it does happen—there is plenty of virulent hatred and bigotry toward Native Americans in this country—and feel that they only suffer from the challenges of poverty and neglect as well limited access to opportunities and it is not true. They are survivors of hateful assaults on given day now and then. I think diversity is racist in America. Why do I think it is racist? Because it presumes that the color of Native American or the surname of a Native American defining his or her thinking, that somehow he or she will bring something different to the intellectual table just because he/she looks Native American or his/her name looks Native American.
One of books, which had influenced me greatly written by Barbara Perry, called Silent Victims: Hate Crimes Against Native Americans, where Perry writes in page 25, “There is an important distinction between the two terms. The former, genocide, refers to the explicit and frequently brutal physical violence perpetrated against Native Americans in an effort to eliminate them as a people. There are those who would oppose the use of such strong terminology.”–Is true enough in this country with Perry writes another one in same page, “The second term, ethnocide, refers to the much more subtle efforts to deculturate Native Americans, sometimes through physical violence but more often through the social violence implied in efforts to “resocialize” or “civilize” Natives.”
Now I understand hate crimes more.
When I visited Harper’s Ferry, there were two rivers there—Princess Shenandoah and Potomac Warrior why the rivers were named. Princess Shenandoah and Potomac Warrior were forbidden to get married by their tribes. They both cried a lot and made the rivers to meet. That is where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers meet. The Native American folklore. One of my favorite stories from a book I hold in my possession The Storytelling Stone: Traditional Native American Myths and Tales edited and with an introduction by Susan Feldman about ‘Bat.’
“Once there was a war between beasts and birds. Bat was on birds’ side. In the first battle, the birds were badly beaten. As soon as Bat saw that the battle was going against them, he crept away, hid under a log, and stayed there till the fight was over. When the animals were going home, Bat slipped in among them. After they had gone some distance, they saw him and asked one another: “How is this? Bat is one of the men who fought against us?”
Bat heard them, and he said, “Oh, no! I am one of you; I don’t belong to the bird people. Did you ever see one of those people who had double teeth? Go and look in their mouths and see if they have. If you find one bird with double teeth, you can say that I belong to the bird people. But I don’t; I am one of your own people.” They didn’t say anything more; they let Bat stay with them. Soon after, there are another battle; in that battle birds won.
As Bat’s side was getting beaten, he slipped away and hid under a log. When the battle was over and the birds were going home, Bat went in among them. When they noticed him, they said: “You are our enemy; we saw you fighting against us.” “Oh, no.” said Bat, “I am one of you; I don’t belong to those beasts. Did you ever see one of those people who had wings?” They didn’t say anything more; they let him stay with them. So Bat went back and forth as long as the war lasted. At the end of the war, birds and beasts held a council to see what to do with him. At last they said to Bat: “Hereafter, you will fly around alone at night, and will never have any friends, either among those that fly, or those that walk.”
If you visit DC for some reason, please visit the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian—it would blow your body and mind away. Appreciate Indigenous Peoples Day! I wrote this blog post last year (October 2014) to get better idea why I am against the idea of celebrating Columbus Day. The link below:
For additional links about Deaf Community: A Hidden Dimension of Racism Among Sports. Plenty of Deaf vloggers wearing Redskins to belittle Native Americans. One of them is a teacher.
Copyright © 2015 Jason Tozier
This text may be freely copied in its entirely only including this copyright message.