Monday, November 21, 2011
ON GIVING THANKS
I’ve written extensively on the contributions from Native Americans, contributions that are usually forgotten. These include foods, medicines, political ideas (including the U.S. Constitution and method of government), and much more.
Now that Thanksgiving is nearly upon us again this year, it’s appropriate to thank those people who helped the earliest settlers to survive. By “thanks,” I mean tangible forms of thanks, such as direct gifts to Native families who are still suffering from economic hardship. Look folks, their land was stolen from them as the flow of European culture rolled over them. Now they are the “forgotten minority.”
Casinos haven’t come to all the tribes, and even casinos are not the panacea that they are made out to be.
Yes, also give thanks to God! You should humbly give thanks for your bounty and your blessings. And this does not require you to consume massive amounts of food!
I gave a talk at the Sunday Spiritual Studies at WTI. I was describing the great diversity of Native Americans here in what is now Canada, U.S., and Mexico, with as many as 5000 distinct languages and/or dialects at the time of European contact. The cultural practices and religious ideas are likewise diverse. The Native Americans were never a homogenous group of people.
As a prelude to why we as Americans should give tangible thanks to Native Americans, I attempted to answer the very complicated question of “Who are/were the Native Americans?”
I hope to write this up into a full report with all the details, but for now, here is the basic outline and reference list of my report.
1. Scientific American, November 2011, The First Americans. A report showing that the “first Americans” were here far longer than previously thought.
2. “Red Earth, White Lies” by Vine Deloria, demonstrating that the “Bering Strait Theory” is just that, a theory, based on very little fact.
3. The case of Kensington Man, whose unofficial test showed that he was related to the Ainu of Japan.
4. “The Zuni Enigma” by Nancy Yaw Davis, who shows amazing connections between Japanese and the Zuni. Her theory is that Japanese Buddhists left earthquake-wracked medieval Japan and sailed across the Pacific to Southern California, eventually migrating inland to the Zuni territory.
5. “Pale Ink” by Henriette Mertz, detailing two visits by Chinese to the American west coast, one about 2000 B.C. and another about 400 A.D. She compares some uncanny connections between the Maya and the Chinese.
6. “He Walked the Americas” by L. Taylor Hansen, a collection of fables, legends, stories, and songs from assorted Native American tribes who speak of a holy man or prophet who came from the sea and spread teachings among all tribes.
7. National Geographic, December 1972, article “Mounds: Riddles from the Indian Past,” page 783. Page 794 and 795 shows a conch shell that was dug from a mound. A drawing on the conch shell shows rowers on a boat with an obvious symbol of Tanith, a Carthaginian lunar goddess of the Phoenician pantheon. How did that get there?
8. “America B.C.” by Barry Fell, a fascinating account of the many people who came to America before Columbus, and the evidence left behind.
9. “Cahokia, Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi” by Timothy Pauketat.
And there was much more in this fascinating exploration of the diverse roots of the people who became the First Americans. I hope that reading some of the books listed here will help to expand your perspective.