Sunday, July 05, 2015

An American Indian Fourth of July : Not So Much


Herein, an editorial sampling of American indian ideas of the 4th of July. Like many other "holidays" on the American calendar, American Indian communities participate, because really everyone loves a holiday, especially the children. Yet we view them with some consternation, some suspicion, some dread.

Rezinate is an interesting blog narrative, often controversial, and clearly, like many of us, not enamoured of the myths, crimes, and corrupted plastic heroes of "AIM", the so-called American Indian Movement...here is his latest post on 4th of July, for your editorial consideration:

HarrietNahanee 2
“What I would like to see is people with [traditional] knowledge to teach the small, little people how to grow up with pride. This generation is lost. My generation is lost − they’re  assimilated. They don’t think like an Indian. What I’d like to see is our five-year-olds being taught their language, their songs, their games, their spirituality, their Indian, eh, their Indian-ness. I’d like to ask all the people out there to reclaim their culture − practice it, teach the children, and let’s reclaim our backbone, our culture and put some pride in our children.”
The above words were spoken by Harriet Nahanee who passed away in 2007 – the loss of another tradition based grandmother/elder the nations can ill afford.
It isn’t just the little ones who no longer think like an Indian, but a great many who were little ones when the AIM era of destruction and corruption began.
Pride….can be misplaced, manipulated, ego centric, inflated, and entirely unwarranted – but it is also an integral part of any culture.
An essential ingredient that contributes to communal well being and standing in opposition to assimilation blunting it’s advance – this is the pride Harriet spoke of.
Not tats proclaiming it, not alcoholism, substance abuse, dependency, gangs, or the likes of cultural genocidists such as the AIM leadership.
Not the selling and corruption of ceremonies that characterizes shaimsters like Leonard Crow Dog, Dennis Banks, Clyde Bellecourt, or the great bunko artist Russell Means.
Harriet was a diminutive grandmother, but more than that a true woman of the nations and proof that women can be as much a warrior as any man, and more than some, when the need arises.
We are more than sheep or cattle to be confined to pastures, we are the land.
Which brings me to this day, The 4th of July, and it’s significance for the nations:
People will be celebrating and watching the fireworks displays.
The children of our nations are no exception, no different than other children when it comes to such things, they too are captivated by the thunderous display of fireworks and I have no issue with that, but at some point they should also understand that as nations our Independence Day has yet to come, that the fireworks only represent bright lights in the night sky for us, for them….and for those who know and understand the history something entirely different.
Hopefully one day we as nations will have a comparable reason to celebrate, and in doing so will not have enslaved or oppressed anyone. 
In the interim our little ones may watch and marvel if the opportunity presents itself while they too wait as do all within the nations.
©2015 Rezinate

This, from the Museum of the American Indian:

Do American Indians Celebrate the 4th of July?
The following was originally posted on July 3, 2013 by the National Museum of American Indian and has been updated with more readers’ comments and descriptions. Follow the discussion on the museum's Facebook page.

How do Indians observe the 4th of July? Do we celebrate? To answer, let’s turn back the pages of time. A reasonable chapter to begin in is July 1776, when the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence and 13 colonies became the United States of America. With the emergence of a nation interested in expanding its territory came the issue of what to do with American Indians. History tells us that as the American non-Indian population increased, the indigenous population greatly decreased, along with their homelands and cultural freedoms.
From the beginning, U.S. government policy contributed to culture and land loss. Keeping our focus on the 4th of July, however, let’s jump to the early 1880s, when Secretary of the Interior Henry Teller developed what has come to be called the Religious Crimes Code—regulations at the heart of the Department of Interior, Office of Indian Affairs, Code of Indian Offenses that prohibited American Indian ceremonial life.
Teller's general guidelines to all Indian agents were to end tribal dances and feasts. Enforced on reservations, the code banned Indian ceremonies, disrupted religious practices, and destroyed or confiscated sacred objects. Indian ceremonial activities were prohibited under threat of imprisonment and/or the withholding of treaty rations.
The Secretary of the Interior issued this Code of Regulations in 1884, 1894, and 1904 through Indian Affairs Commissioner's circulars and Indian agent directives. Indian superintendents and agents implemented the code until the mid-1930s. During this 50-year period, Indian spiritual ceremonies such as the Sun Dance and Ghost Dance were held in secret or ceased to exist. Some have since been revived or reintroduced by Indian tribes.
In response to this policy of cultural and religious suppression, some tribes saw in the 4th of July and the commemoration of American independence a chance to continue their own important ceremonies. Superintendents and agents justified allowing reservations to conduct ceremonies on the 4th of July as a way for Indians to learn patriotism to the United States and to celebrate its ideals. That history is why a disproportionate number of American Indian tribal gatherings take place on or near the 4th of July and are often the social highlights of the year. Over time these cultural ceremonies became tribal homecomings. American Indian veterans in particular were welcomed home as modern-day warriors. The Navajo Tribe of Arizona and Pawnee of Oklahoma are two examples of tribes that use the 4th of July as an occasion to honor their tribal veterans.
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During these celebrations, tribal flag songs and veterans’ songs are sung. More than 12,000 American Indians served during World War I, and after the war, the American flag began to be given a prominent position at American Indian gatherings, especially those held on the 4th of July. This symbol of patriotism and national unity is carried into powwow and rodeo arenas today. It is extremely important to note that before the Reservation Era, when most Indians saw the American flag coming toward their villages and camps, it symbolized conflict, death, and destruction.
Today tribes hold ceremonies and celebrations on or near Independence Day for different reasons. The Lumbee of North Carolina and Mattaponi of Virginia use this time as a homecoming for tribal members to renew cultural and family ties. The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma holds Gourd Clan ceremonies on the 4th of July because the holiday coincides with their Sun Dance, which once took place during the hottest part of the year. The Lakota of South Dakota and Cheyenne of Oklahoma continue to have some of their annual Sun Dances on the weekends closest to the 4th of July to coincide with the celebration of their New Year. Some American Indians do not celebrate the 4th of July because of the negative consequences to Indian people throughout history, while others simply get together with family and have cookouts, like many non-Native American citizens.
Jumping ahead to the present: To find out how American Indians across the country spend their 4th of July, we went to Facebook. This handful of replies represents both the diversity of responses we received and the direction of the discussion:
Carnegie, Oklahoma: We celebrate every 4th Gourd Dancing, camping, and visiting my Kiowa people while we’re here, listening to the beautiful Kiowa songs. For three days we are just in Kiowa heaven. Been doing this for years. Now my parents have gone on, but we will continue to attend the Kiowa Gourd Dance Celebration.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Do American Indians celebrate the 4th of July? Answer: Yes, it represents freedom in the United States of America. Freedom to continue to worship Creator, freedom to dance my prayers, freedom to sweat, freedom to rise early and pray the day in and be up late to pray the day out. We, the Host People, celebrate the 4th of July every day!
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Prewitt, New Mexico, and the Navajo Nation: No, I do not celebrate. Because I as a Diné will never relinquish my belief or understanding that we as a people and a nation have the right to be loyal to the Holy Ones before all others, including the United States of America, since we as a people existed long before there was ever a United States.
Taos, New Mexico: Taos is a very close knit community, and even more so at Taos Pueblo nearby. Both have had many citizens serve in America's military in the heartfelt belief that they are protecting our nation. One of our honored tribal elders is Tony Reyna, 97, who survived the Bataan Death March in World War II. I have been told many times that, for us, the idea of protection goes deeper than for most Americans, because this land is where our people emerged, and that any threat to it is met from a place of deep, deep meaning. People here celebrate Independence Day pretty much as they do everywhere. It's a day off, and there are parades and fireworks displays. But for many we remember WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the sacrifices our people made. I wish all people could remember that, especially those who allow blind bigotry and hate to cloud their judgment.
Parshall, North Dakota, and the Three Affiliated Tribes: The 4th is the celebration of independence, which Native people have practiced as sovereign nations for generations.
Shawnee, Oklahoma: No, I do not celebrate Independence Day, simply because the Declaration of Independence labels my people "our enemies, the merciless savages of our frontiers." You notice they were already calling the frontiers "ours" when the land was not theirs. Because I do not celebrate Independence Day does not mean I am not proud of our Native American veterans and soldiers. I am very proud of them and of the fact almost all Native American families have a family member who is a veteran and/or an active member in the Armed Forces.
Anadarko, Oklahoma: I am Kiowa/Delaware/Absentee Shawnee, my mom is a Kiowa/Comanche, my uncle is a vet, as many of my other relatives are, as well as my stepdad (Comanche/Caddo). My Delaware grandma always said, “This is not our holiday. Out of respect we will honor their day, because our people helped them.” She said, “I will mourn on this day.” She would wear a black dress that day.
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Laguna, New Mexico, and the Pueblos of Acoma and Laguna: I celebrate the 4th of July and I do so proudly. … When you have been lucky enough to travel and see life in other places, you come to appreciate the home and land you live on. Maybe I'm not as bitter as some of my other Indigenous brothers and sisters because my tribes were not relocated and have been lucky to remain on ancestral lands. Our Pueblo people … fought against the Spanish in the Pueblo Revolt, but also learned to harmonize with the Catholic Church. Many years—even centuries—of healing have taken place to get us to this point. And I think by celebrating the 4th of July, I feel I am honoring that healing my Pueblo ancestors have prayed for. …
Sawmill, Arizona, and the Navajo Nation: I recognize Independence Day as a day off, as time with family. I recognize that the United States declared its independence on that day, but Native people weren't a part of their envisioned emancipation. As Native people, we recognized our independence through our prayers and practicing our traditions. We didn't need a special day to mark our freedom, we just were. So on the 4th of July, I will practice my American heritage and celebrate this country's Independence Day. But my heart knows I don't need a day to recognize my autonomy.
Oklahoma City and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma: I think of the 4th of July as American Ideals Day. If only America would live up to its own stated ideals, none of what happened to American Indian people would have happened. Today, if those ideals were finally acted upon, American Indian sovereignty would be fully recognized and the treaties would be kept intact. The fireworks celebrate the great ideals that could be America, if only greed were not allowed to pervert them.
Norman, Oklahoma: My 13-year-old son (Comanche/Cherokee) is currently reading the U.S. Constitution (just because). When I asked him about the 4th the other day, he kind of shook his head and said that most people just don't get it. Reading the comment above on American Ideals Day made me think of how true it is—how little we know about America's ideals of the past and where we hold them now.
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Wichita, Kansas: My people, Kiowas, have always held this time of the year as a gathering of all our bands. They would celebrate for a week, indulging in each society’s dances, renewing friendships, visiting relatives, and so on. As we progressed into this modern society we are a part of, we recognized the importance of this celebration even more so. To honor our freedoms and the men and women who sacrificed for us today is truly a reason to celebrate the 4th of July. Does it mean we are to forget our struggles and the plight of our people? NO, but it commemorates the beauty of our land and the resolve of this nation we call America.
Pawnee, Oklahoma: [It's a day] to celebrate all our Native men and women who served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America, our Native men [the Codetalkers] without whose tribal language, [World War II] might have been lost. To honor our fallen ones, who sacrificed their lives for us, and the veterans who are buried in our tribal cemeteries… and overseas. To honor my daughter … in the U.S. Army, a proud Native American woman who is serving our country.
Waikoloa, Hawai'i, via the Red Cloud Indian School, Pine Ridge, South Dakota: It is a sad time, … thinking of all the treaties never honored. I try to hold my children and grandcubs near and invite others who are alone or ill or elderly to eat lots of food that I cook until I am very tired and thank the Creator for another wonderful day.
As Americans everywhere celebrate the 4th of July, I think about how many American Indians are taking their yearly vacations back to their reservations and home communities. All across Indian country, tribes hold modern celebrations— including powwows, rodeos, and homecomings—that coincide with the United States’ Independence Day celebrations.
As for me, I’ll be with my two daughters, and we'll watch a huge fireworks display!
Dennis Zotigh (Kiowa/San Juan Pueblo/Santee Dakota Indian) is a writer and cultural specialist at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

...and THIS, from 1854 by John Quinney, a Mahican American Indian:


Fourth of July Address at Reidsville, New York

by John Quinney (Mahican, 1854)

From Great Documents in American Indian History, Edited by Moquin, Wayne and Charles Van Doren (1973). 
It may appear to those whom I have the honor to address a singular taste for me, an Indian, to take an interest in the triumphal days of a people who occupy, by conquest or have usurped, the possessions of my fathers and have laid and carefully preserved a train of terrible miseries to end when my race ceased to exist. 
But thanks to the fortunate circumstances of my life I have been taught in the schools and been able to read your histories and accounts of Europeans, yourselves and the Red Man; which instruct me that while your rejoicings today are commemorative of the free birth of this giant nation, they simply convey to my mind the recollection of a transfer of the miserable weakness and dependence, of my race from one great power to another.
My friends, I am getting old and have witnessed for many years your increase in wealth and power while the steady consuming decline of my tribe admonishes me that their extinction is inevitable. They know it themselves and the reflection teaches them humility and resignation, directing their attention to the existence of those happy hunting grounds which the Great Father has prepared for all his red children. 
In this spirit, my friends, as a Muh-he-con-new, and now standing upon the soil which once was and now ought to be the property of this tribe, I have thought for once and certainly the last time I would shake you by the hand and ask you to listen for a little while to what I have to say.
About the year 1645, when King Ben the last of the hereditary chiefs of the Muh-he-con-new nation was in his prime, grand council was convened of the Muh-he-con-new tribe for the purpose of conveying from the old to the young men a knowledge of the past.
Councils for this object especially had been held. Here for the space of two moons, the stores of memory were dispensed; corrections and comparisons made and the results committed to faithful breasts to be transmitted again to succeeding posterity.
Many years after, another and last council of this kind was held; and the traditions reduced to writing, by two of our young men who had been taught to read and write in the school of the Rev. John Sargent of Stockbridge, Mass. They were obtained in some way by a white man for publication, who soon after dying, all trace of them became lost. The traditions of the tribe, however, have mainly been preserved, of which I give you substantially, the following:
A great people from the northwest crossed over the salt water, and after long and weary pilgrimage, planting many colonies on their track, took possession of and built their fires upon the Atlantic coast, extending from the Delaware on the south to the Penobscott on the north. They became in process of time different tribes and interests; all, however, speaking one common dialect. 
This great Confederacy, Pequots, Penobscot, and many others (Delawares, Mohegans, Manses, Narragansetts) held its councilfires once a year to deliberate on the general welfare.
Patriarchal delegates from each tribe attended, assisted by the priests and the wise men, who communicated the will and invoked the blessing of the Great and Good Spirit. The policies and decisions of this council were everywhere respected, and inviolably observed. Thus contentment smiled upon their existence and they were happy. 
Their religion communicated by priest and prophet, was simple and true.The manner of worship is imperfectly transmitted; but their reverence for a Great Spirit, the observance of feasts each fear, the offering of beasts in thanksgiving and atonement is clearly expressed. 
They believed the soul to be immortal—in the existence of a happy land beyond the view, inhabited by those whose lives had been blameless. While for the wicked had been reserved a region of misery covered with thorns and thistles, where comfort and pleasure were unknown. Time was divided into years and seasons; twelve moons for a year, a number of years by so many winters.
The tribe to which your speaker belongs and of which there were many bands, occupied and possessed the country from the seashore at Manhattan to Lake Champlain. Having found the ebb and flow of the tide, they said: "This is Muh-he-con-new," "Like our waters which are never still.” From this expression and by this name they were afterwards known, until the removal to Stockbridge in the year 1630. 
Housatonic River Indians, Mohegans, Manhattans, were all names of bands in different localities, but bound together as one family by blood and descent. 
At a remote period, before the advent of the European their wise men foretold the coming of a strange race from the sunrise, as numerous as the leaves upon the trees, who would eventually crowd them from their fair land possessions. But apprehension was mitigated by the knowledge and belief at that time entertained, that they originally were not there, and after a period of years they would return to the west from which they had come. And they moreover said all Red Men are sprung from a common ancestor, made by the Great Spirit from red clay, who will unite their strength to avert a common calamity. This tradition is confirmed by the common belief, which prevails in our day with all the Indian tribes; for they recognize one another by their color, as brothers and acknowledge one Great Creator. 
Two hundred and fifty winters ago, this prophecy was verified and the Muh-he-con-new for the first time beheld the paleface. Their number was small, but their canoes were big. 
In the select and exclusive circles of your rich men of the present day I should encounter the gaze of curiosity, but not such as overwhelmed the senses of the Aborigines, my ancestors. Our visitors were white and must be sick. They asked for rest and kindness; we gave them both. They were strangers, and we took them in; naked and we clothed them. 
The first impression of astonishment and pity was succeeded by awe and admiration of superior intelligence and address.
A passion for information and improvement possessed the Indians. A residence was given—territory offered—and covenants of friendship exchanged. 
Your written accounts of events at this period are familiar to you, my friends. Your children read them every day in their school books; but they do not read—no mind at this time can conceive, and no pen record, the terrible story of recompense for kindness, which for two hundred years has been paid the simple, guileless Muh-he-con-new. 
I have seen much myself—1 have been connected with more—and I tell you I know all. The tradition of the wise men is figuratively true that our home at last will be found in the west; for another tradition informs us that far beyond the setting sun, upon the smiling happy lands, we shall be gathered with our fathers, and be at rest.
Promises and professions were freely given and ruthlessly and intentionally broken. To kindle your fires was sought as a privilege; and yet at that moment you were transmitting to your kings intelligence of our possessions, "by right of discovery," and demanding assistance to assert your hold.
Where are the 25,000 in number, and the 4,000 warriors, who constituted the power and population of the great Muh-he-con'new nation in 1604? 
They have been victims to vice and disease, which the white men imported. Smallpox, measles and firewater have done the work of annihilation. Divisions and feuds were insidiously promoted between the several bands. They were induced to thin each others ranks without just cause; and subsequently were defeated and disorganized in detail. 
It is curious, the history of my tribe, in its decline, in the last two centuries and a half. Nothing that deserved the name of purchase was made. From various causes, they were induced to abandon their territory at intervals and retire farther inland. Deeds were given indifferently to the government by individuals, for which little or no compensation was paid. 
The Indians were informed, in many instances, that they were selling one piece of land when they were conveying another and much larger limits. Should a particular band, for purposes of hunting or fishing, for a time leave its usual place of residence, the land was said to be abandoned,and the Indian claim extinguished. To legalize and confirm titles thus acquired, laws and edicts were subsequently passed, and these laws were said then to be, and are now called, justice. 
Oh, what mockery to confound justice with law! Will you look steadily at the intrigues, bargains, corruptions and log rollings of your present legislatures, and see any trace of justice? And by what test shall be tried the acts of the colonial courts and councils? 
Let it not surprise you, my friends, when I say that the spot upon which I stand has never been rightly purchased or obtained. And by justice, human and Divine, is the property of the remnant of the great people from whom I am descended. They left it in the tortures of starvation and to improve their miserable existence; but a cession was never made, and their title was never extinguished.
The Indian is said to be the ward of the white man, and the negro his slave. Has it ever occurred to you, my friend, that while the negro is increasing and increased by every appliance, the Indian is left to rot and die before the inhumanities of this model republic?
You have your tears and groans and mobs and riots for the individuals of the former, while your indifference of purpose and vacillation of policy is hurrying to extinction whole communities of the latter. 
What are the treaties of the general government? How often and when has its plighted faith been kept? Indian occupation is forever next year, or one removal follows another, or by the next commissioner, more wise than his predecessor, repurchased, and thus your sympathies and justice are evinced in speedily fulfilling the terrible destinies of our race.
My friends, your Holy Book, the Bible, teaches us that individual offenses are punished in an existence—when time shall be no more—and the annals of the earth are equally instructive that national wrongs are avenged, and national crimes atoned for in this world to which alone the conformation of existence adapts them. These events are above our comprehension, and for a wise purpose; for myself and for my tribe i ask for justice—I believe it will sooner or later occur, and may the Great Spirit enable me to die in hope 
Back To History Is A Weapon's Front Page
'Each generation must, out of its relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it.' 
—Franz Fanon


As for The World Journey's feelings on 4th of July...a feeling of "not so much". Yet, who does not really like fireworks, or BBQ, or a chance to take a day off from work? On a personal level, American Indians like everyone else, looks at holidays as free time with family and friends and a chance to share good feelings. You don't have to be for an American Holiday to be against it.

So much is being lost...and even more has entered into a great maze of confusion, indifference and redirection. Everywhere, not just with American Indians. Perhaps this is just the normal movement of society, the inevitability of time.

We are loosing animals species at unprecedented rates. This sad statistic mirrors the loss of languages, ideas, insights and actual direct and beautiful knowledge itself; also at an unprecedented rate.

So, pass the baked beans.

Editor. July 2105.........






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