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Nov-08-2012 17:32printcomments

What if 'Pre-History' was Really History?

Goodbye Columbus (Deleting our favorite myth).

Election 2012
Courtesy: wendycicchetti.com

(DAYTONA BEACH, FL) - If you're in trouble, or hurt or need - go to the poor people. They're the only ones that'll help - the only ones... and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.
- John Steinbeck

Two things happened recently that reaffirm how strange and misguided our popular mythology really is. First, there is the popular North American myth that prior to the entrance of fat, conquering white explorers from Europe's decadent empires there was no civilization - and therefore no history - in the Western Hemisphere. There was only a sort of dim "pre-history," a desolate wasteland of pagan people and their stone-age subsistence.

Recently, an enterprising assistant English professor from the University of Alaska Southeast, Ernestine Hayes, delivered a lecture in Juneau discussing her book, which challenges the facile assumption that the European saviors rescued the hemisphere from eternal misery, introducing it to the marvels of European society, circa the 15th Century.

With her quasi-fictional treatment, "Blonde Indian," Dr. Hayes illuminates Tlingit history and its relationship with contemporary Southeast Alaska. Incidentally, it earned the American Book Award in 2007.

First she detailed the extent to which Tlingit culture (which is similar to that of the Haida nation slightly to the south along the "Canadian" coast, in its lifestyle, its history - not limited to "pre-history - because it really happened). The Tlingit culture, like that of so many other nations, has been engulfed in "Western Civilization," (read European greed). Lingit Aani, or “Tlingit Country,” was the homeland and sustenence for the native people of what is now Southeast Alaska for millennia without any European help or support.

“We do well to remind ourselves that had the colonial invasion not taken place, Alaska Native people would still be living in the 21st century,” Hayes contended, in a recent lecture in Juneau. “Our lives would still be modern. Paved roads, airports and electricity would still occur here in Lingit Aani. Some things would be different, of course. We would be speaking our own language. We would be living in houses of our own design. We would not be devastated by incarceration, alcoholism, violence, poverty. Our children would be healthy.”

That may be drawing a rather long bow, or at least making questionable assumptions. But certainly history would have been kinder to the original Tlingit, and ALL the other people who were here first, from Tuktoyaktuk to Tiera del Fugo, whether or not they would have managed to acquire Toyotas and tequila. We're talking about the white supremacy myth.

The second manifestation of that myth, which has taken a drubbing in the last few days because of the Presidential election, is that American saga promulgated since 1787, to the effect that America in that year forged a new nation dedicated to the proposition that a government of rich white guys, by rich white guys and for rich guys would not perish from the earth. Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers and the U.S. Supreme Court all must be having their doubts since Tuesday, November 6.

First, let me quote a brief article written by Tim King, who with his wife Bonnie runs a hugely important news service in Oregon known as Salem-News.com, an organization with more than 100 writers in 22 countries who - unlike the mainstream corporate media - routinely tell the truth about the world, unfiltered by the likes of NBC, the New York Times and Rupert Murdoch. On November 7, Tim wrote:

A Human Rights Reporter's thoughts on Election Night

    As children we learn that taking more than your share is a 'bad' thing because it limits others. As adults we discover that many believe it is all about possession and greed, and 'he who dies with the most toys wins'.

    We are told lying is wrong and that any form of violence has negative consequences. Then we grow up and discover that our government's leaders lie through their teeth to us in order to start wars and are never taken to task for their crimes.

    We are told, 'hands are not for hurting'. But the truth is that the second your child turns 18, or 17 with parental permission, they can enlist in the military, be trained to kill, and go to war and kill people and possibly be killed. The wars overseas are so real and disastrous... they never should have happened.

    The U.S. has wars in store for other parts of the world too. The aggression the nation is showing to its primary investor, China, is certainly on the radar. American politicians like to wage war and we need to put an end to their ways.

    It is hard when we live in a country that brokers death and is guided by a government that believes it is OK to kill by the million. When it is learned that there was no evidence or justification for the violence, such as in Iraq, there is no remorse.

    Barack Obama sold his people's soul under the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) which allows Americans to be arrested and detained indefinitely without charges. Romney hails from a gay-bashing right-wing religion that didn't allow Black people to serve in higher echelons until the late 1970's; whose founder taught his Mormon followers that African-Americans were Black because they were bad and being punished by God.

    Yup, that's America, a place nearing the end of the line it seems.

__________

To which, I commented as follows, in a letter to the editor:

All very true, Tim. Or as Shakespeare said: "'Tis true, 'tis pity, and pity 'tis, 'tis true." But I think there was a huge 'change' delivered yesterday, November 6, 2012, which is perhaps more important than what you put so accurately: 52 million people delivered it.

Obama didn't win; the American people did, and here's how: In 1787, a new nation was founded by, of and for old rich white guys. Yesterday that tradition was altered for the first time. Almost half of us still voted for an arrogant, dominant, omnipotent white society. But thank God, a majority recognized what is happening, what will ultimately happen in a short few decades: America will be - in fact already is, emotionally - not white Anglo-Saxon protestant, but a nation of minorities. Yesterday, we turned that corner.

The truth may be that Obama is scarcely better than Romney, as you say. But cut him some slack, because that isn't as important as the fact that he is a more understanding vessel, or vassal, through which this nation of federated minorities can forge real change. Obama won't educate us as much as we will educate him - as we did yesterday. (And I do prefer Michelle over Dolley Madison.)

Hell, we might even admit native "Americans" to our group of equal minorities.

___________

As a final note, perhaps about the time when the minorities include us - the pale-faced ones - we will retain the annual celebration known as Columbus Day, simply because we need a holiday from political bickering, but we might consider calling it Red Cloud Day. And it would be refreshing if that Central Ohio metropolis could be re-named Sitting Bull, Ohio and the famous New York City locale should become Geronimo Circle.

In other words, Goodbye Columbus.

______________________________________________________

Bill Annett grew up a writing brat; his father, Ross Annett, at a time when Scott Fitzgerald and P.G. Wodehouse were regular contributors, wrote the longest series of short stories in the Saturday Evening Post's history, with the sole exception of the unsinkable Tugboat Annie.

At 18, Bill's first short story was included in the anthology “Canadian Short Stories.” Alarmed, his father enrolled Bill in law school in Manitoba to ensure his going straight. For a time, it worked, although Bill did an arabesque into an English major, followed, logically, by corporation finance, investment banking and business administration at NYU and the Wharton School. He added G.I. education in the Army's CID at Fort Dix, New Jersey during the Korean altercation.

He also contributed to The American Banker and Venture in New York, INC. in Boston, the International Mining Journal in London, Hong Kong Business, Financial Times and Financial Post in Toronto.

Bill has written six books, including a page-turner on mutual funds, a send-up on the securities industry, three corporate histories and a novel, the latter no doubt inspired by his current occupation in Daytona Beach as a law-abiding beach comber.

You can write to Bill Annett at this address: bilko23@gmail.com

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