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Old 04-21-2007, 10:41 AM   #1
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Lightbulb Where Native American History Was Lost And Found

In 1492, when Christopher Columbus accidentally discovered the Americaís on his way to India, our history was forever changed in ways that our ancestors could not imagine at the time.

From the early days of European settlement in the Americaís, the relationship between the Europeans and our First Nationís people has been one of convenience for the Europeanís. At times they would feast with our peoples with a great camaraderie, and at other times, they would war with our people and kill us without regard for civility.

The feast that is referenced in the great U.S. holiday, Thanksgiving, was one of mutual respect between the Europeans and our First Nation peoples. Pilgrims.net stated that the First Thanksgiving was a three-day holiday, in which at least 90 Native Americans participated. Both the Europeans and the local native residents brought food for the feast, and all shared a great time together.

But, Native history has been marred and forever changed by the whimsical pleasures of the Europeans. When it was their pleasure to be friendly with the First Nations, they were friendly. When it was more to their liking to engage us in war, they did. When faced with great challenges in the relationships with certain tribes, they would engage in agreements with opposing tribes to engage the problem tribes in warfare.

As long as our people remained an asset to the Europeans, the Europeans kept us close. When our people fell out of value to the European settlers, then our people were swept aside as if we meant nothing to them.

Historical relationships that our peoples had with the Europeans, held no long-term value with the Europeans who settled near and around our lands. Europeans continue to show disdain for historical relationships even today. As America called out for help in the aftermath of 9/11, Europeans turned their backs to the people who helped Europeans escape tyranny through the twentieth century.

Starting With Christopher ColumbusÖ

Everyone knows that Columbus and his ships came to the Americas in 1492. But, not everyone knows that his first contact with the natives was when he met up with the Island Arawaks (or Taino) in the Carribean Islands. It is said that the Tainoís numbered in the range of one quarter million to one million people. Within six decades of Columbusí arrival, the Taino had been reduced to just fewer than 500 people. Despite historical notes to the contrary, the Taino people are still with us. To read more about the Taino People Of Boriken and their struggle for recognition from the American government, please visit the Taino Tribe website at: http://www.taino-tribe.org/jatiboni.html

The Integral Role of Jamestown In Policy Decisions Concerning The First Nations

In 1607, John Smith created a settlement at what is now known as Jamestown in the Virginia colony. Smith found himself constantly at odds with the Algonquian Nation, who inhabited the land before Smithís arrival. The European colonists and the local Algonquian Tribe (who were part of the Powhatan Confederacy) engaged in a four-year war from 1609-1613 called the First Anglo-Powhatan War. An uneasy peace continued for another decade, before war came again between the colonists and the native tribes.

In 1622, the Powhatan Confederacy launched a new war that ended in the deaths of nearly one-third of the colonists. Later in the same year, the colonists struck back with such ferocity that the leader of the Powhatan Confederacy, Chief Opechancanough decided to seek a peace with the colonists. A peace accord was reached between the colonists and the Powhatan Confederacy. At the official celebration of the peace accord, the Jamestown leaders spiked the nativeís share of the alcohol for the ceremonial toast with poison. Two hundred of the attendant natives died from ingestion of the poisoned drinks and the colonists killed another fifty by hand.

There are two reasons why the Jamestown story is important to the historical relationship between the Europeanís and the people of the First Nations.

First off, the 1622 raid by the Powhatan Confederacy convinced Europeanís that all tribes of the First Nation were savages. In that fateful moment in history, the Europeanís and the colonists forgot about better times they had shared with the native people and decided that ALL aboriginal tribes of the Americas were a savage people on the order of animals.

Secondly, because Chief Opechancanough and other tribal leaders had managed to escape the fate of their compatriots who had died at the hands of the Jamestown leaders at the peace celebration, the story of the double-cross was carried to other tribal leaders of the First Nation.

The sad events of 1622 left the colonists with the belief that our people were savages, and our people were left with the understanding that the Europeanís could not be trusted to their word. This set of events led to three centuries of oppression by the European colonists and the subsequent U.S. governments perpetrated against our people by U.S. government policy. And, our distrust of the colonists continued to deteriorate as the American government regularly made and broke treaties with the many tribes of the First Nations.

The Loss Our Culture In The Face Of Oppression

Some tribes of the First Nations have been able to hang on to their relationship with their native lands. Within these tribes, our people have been able to maintain our all-important ancestral relationship with our lands.

Other tribes have not been so fortunate, as their lands had rested in the path of the European and American expansions across North America. These tribes were introduced to forced relocation by the American government at gunpoint.

Our lands have always played such an integral role in our relationship with the Great Spirit. When we were born, the Great Spirit gave us to our parents. It was our parents job to teach us how to live-at-one with our lands. Our society, our culture, our history and mythology, our religion and our spiritual souls have always been tied to the land that the Great Spirit had given us.

But, when European and American expansion tore us from our native lands, our people lost that important connection to their ancestors and the Great Spirit who leads us in our daily lives.

The trauma of the relocation was such an ordeal that many of our ancestors sat down to wait for death on the Trail of Tears. For those individuals, death was preferential to the loss of their connection to their past and their spiritual existence.

The Strength of Our Grandparents

Some tribes met a ninety percent reduction in the size of their population during the forced relocations of the late 1800ís. More died on arrival to the new lands that we were given, because frequently we were given lands that no American considered habitable.

To exacerbate the problems, the American government had decided that they would set up schools to teach our children. But, we were not permitted to teach our native history in the new native tribal schools. Even to this day, many schools ridicule students who want to learn about our native history.

We praise the strength of our grandparents, who realized that we as a people were on the road to losing our native culture, language and heritage. Our newly established tribal governments worked with the elders to encourage teaching the young our culture so that it could survive into future generations. Without those individuals who had the foresight to preserve our culture over the last century, we would certainly be a people lost to our history and cultural identity.

The Modern Age

In this modern age of the Internet, we have discovered an opportunity to preserve our history, mythology, language, culture and heritage through the ages into eternity. With the global and digital nature of the Internet, our elders are now able to come together for a sharing of ideas and history with those of our extended tribal families.

MyRezSpace is building a community for the people of the First Nations to share all aspects of their tribal heritage. All of the extended members of the First Nations family are encouraged to come in and set up their own window to the past, so that our children, grandchildren and great-great-great grandchildren will have a place to go to learn of our cultural heritage.



Written by: Eagle Vale of MyRezSpace.com
The name is a merging of the Myspace concept, with "The Rez," from a television show of the same name that reflects life on the reservation in Northern Canada.

This article about native american culture was created for the
express purpose of bringing awareness to our "Native American Cultural Preservation Project" at http://www.MyRezSpace.com You may also use the MyRezSpace Native American MySpace Interactive Community at: http://www.MyRezSpace.org
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Old 04-27-2007, 05:45 AM   #2
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