November 25, 2005 at 1:32 pm #8635
I love Thanksgiving, one of my favorite cultural holy-days. Its simple, community and food/earth centered.
To refocus Thanksgiving on its historical roots seems appropriate to me.
What is the main thing that I give thanks for?
That the Native Americans decided to feed the starving Pilgrims, instead of slaughtering them.
Because it wasn’t long before the Pilgrims turned around, having survived the winter with local help, and slaughtered the Natives in order to get their land.
Land/Earth is at the center of all Taoist cosmology and all of Chinese culture. So its important to look at modern American root relationship to
Good time to read this obit on Vine Deloria.
To your peace, gobbly chi, and abundance,
Working with wit and wisdom for Native American rights
Thursday November 24, 2005
The most effective weapon of the Native American historian and activist Vine Deloria, who has died aged 72, was the scathing and sardonic humour in his accounts of white treachery towards his people. He also knew that its novelty helped him to destroy myths, a major objective.
Widely regarded as the 20th century’s most important scholar and political voice in Native American affairs, Deloria was at his most formidable when demolishing cliches and stereotypes, and their associated thinking. Anthropologists were an important, and unexpected, enemy, and they suffered such an onslaught in Deloria’s first book – for alleged laziness and limited thinking – that, in later references to their own scholarship, they would ask jokingly if it was AD, or after Deloria.
An equal target were Christian missionaries, whom Deloria attacked from a secure position, having undergone four years at a seminary and taken a degree in theology – and later, in law. He once said missionaries had “fallen on their knees and prayed for the Indians” before rising to “fall on the Indians and prey on their land”.
The book that made his name was Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto (1969), described by one scholar as “the single most influential book ever written on Indian affairs”. Part of its success was because of Deloria’s views. He wrote: “We have brought the white man a long way in 500 years … from a childish search for mythical cities of gold and fountains of youth to the simple recognition that lands are essential for human existence.”
In his next book, We Talk, You Listen: New Tribes, New Turf (1970), he claimed that the destruction wrought by corporate values and its technology was so damaging that a return to Native American tribal standards and culture could be viewed as salvation.
His hatred of General George Custer, until then the white American hero and martyr of the Little Big Horn battle – his “last stand” – led Deloria to more provocative language still. He described the officer as the “Adolf Eichmann of the plains”, whose soldiers were tools “not defending civilisation; they were crushing another society”.
Deloria wrote 20 books, edited others, and published his memoirs and a two-volume set of US-Native American treaties, all of which make devastating reading because of how many agreements were broken by lies and cheating. He also opposed the anthropological theory that Native Americans only arrived on the American continent from Asia via the Bering Straits – a critique gaining in credibility – and argued that, unlike African Americans, Native Americans did not seek to be equals in US society. They wanted no part of it.
Among his most important works were: Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties: An Indian Declaration of Independence (1974); A Better Day for Indians (1976); The Metaphysics of Modern Existence (1979); A Brief History of the Federal Responsibility to the American Indian (1979); American Indians, American Justice (1983); The Nations Within: The Past and Future of American Indian Sovereignty (1984); American Indian Policy in the Twentieth Century (1985); God is Red: A Native View of Religion (1994); Red Earth, White Lies (1995); and For This Land: Writings on Religion in America (1999).
Deloria was born into a distinguished Sioux family, the son of an Episcopalian clergyman in one of America’s poorest areas, then and now, the town of Martin, South Dakota, near the Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux reservation. After a spell in the US marine corps, he got a master’s degree from the Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago, in 1963, before taking a law degree from the University of Colorado in 1970. He taught at the University of Arizona from 1978 until 1990, when he returned to Colorado to teach history, political science, law and ethnic and religious studies.
From 1964 to 1967, Deloria was an executive officer of the National Conference of American Indians, where, before the Custer book made him famous, he was a leading spokesman on native affairs in Washington. He often testified before the US Congress at times when civil rights and ethnic identity movements were causing volatile dissension and change in America.
He is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.
· Vine Victor Deloria, historian and activist, born March 26 1933; died November 13 2005November 26, 2005 at 5:33 pm #8636
“What is the main thing that I give thanks for?
“That the Native Americans decided to feed the starving Pilgrims, instead of slaughtering them.
“Because it wasn’t long before the Pilgrims turned around, having survived the winter with local help, and slaughtered the Natives in order to get their land.
“Land/Earth is at the center of all Taoist cosmology and all of Chinese culture. So its important to look at modern American root relationship to
Um, why exactly are you thankful that the Pilgrims survived to be the aggressors? And how is the United States’ history of somewhat bloody conquest of its land — it’s “root relationship” — much different than pretty much every other country out there?
I’m afraid I’ve missed whatever point you’re making.November 26, 2005 at 10:42 pm #8638
I am grateful because the Native American held the values of centeredness (living in correct relation to the land – so the land supported them in return) and sharing their Earth with strangers. Even if they didn’t survive the slaughter by Europeans, their values/essence does. It survives in the ceremony of Thanksgiving itself, which is really a ritual recreation of those values.
And it haunts American history – it is one of the issues that our national consciousness must still complete. The land doesn’t forget – it holds the soul fragments of our ancestors, including the native americans torn from their lands, and their incompletions. It patiently waits its time, as all must unfold eventually to achieve balance.
I became acutely aware of how different the Land is in China from the USA on my many trips there. It has completely different memories and ancestors.
The sacred Tao mountaisn hold the vibrations of generations of accomplished adepts. And unlike American history, the indigenous religion of China – Taoism – has never initiated nor suffered a religious war. How was this accomplished? By expanding their inner Earth to embrace foreign religions and movements that entered their space, and accepting whatever truth they found useful in them.
In this way they shared values with the native Americans who embraced the Pilgrims, only were fortunate enough to not suffer from western aggression – at least not until the Opium Wars of the 19th century when western powers invaded China, using technology (gunpowder) they had gotten from the Chinese.
mNovember 28, 2005 at 2:31 pm #8640
Thanks for the clarification.
My only additional comment is that China was more densely populated for a much longer period of time, and subject to more war death, war destruction and war famine than the north american continent. It may be that a large part of that was one chinese warlord fighting another, but the land in china has certainly soaked up a lot more blood than that of north america.
So, not counting the (minimally populated and adept filled) sacred mountains, my guess is that the “memory of the land” in China is considerably more sorrowful than that in the US.
Hope you had a happy thanksgiving.November 28, 2005 at 3:28 pm #8642
Maybe the point is that America has not had thousands of years of high level adepts practicing in their mountains to clear out the inner energy fields.
This also does not change recent history of Native American Genocide, and 500 years of african slavery.
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