Wednesday, November 21, 2012, let's rephrase that....

"They Had Already Met the Vikings!"
Uh, huh.  Then they met us....or really, the distant European version that preached the virtues of Christianity, but practiced something else entirely.  Had to hand it to the Vikings though, for at least they were honest about the whole thing.  "We're here to steal your stuff and murder you folks because...well, shucks, it's what we do!"      

"Shit Bob, they're not gonna leave the boat?"
"We're here!"
From the book:  "We all have this image of the Pilgrims -- overdressed, somewhat plump people that seemed to get their clothes from K-Mart.  They were always pictured with a few Indians standing around looking passive, but intent on butchering the whole bunch after dessert.  The Indians weren't stupid. Quaint perhaps, but they had already met the Vikings so they had a fair idea of what to expect from tourists.  They also knew that this bunch of idiots didn't seem to know the difference between an ear of corn and a parakeet.  Sadly, the Pilgrims persevered through that first winter, quite contrary to what the Indians had hoped.  Next thing they knew, the place had been renamed Manhattan and sold to Donald Trump.  The Indians never could fathom the real estate business.  It was like selling the sky.  The land had no intention of going anywhere, so why would someone need to own it?  Or build a fence around it.  Was the land going to escape, like a horse might?  Just run away?"
Yeah, we even stole this rock.  Oh, and invented graffiti.
Chief Joseph []
Chief Joseph of Idaho's Nez Perce described it best:  "The white man comes to my house and wants to buy my horses.  I say, 'No, I need my horses.'  So he goes to my neighbor and buys my horses from him."
Ah, but outright thievery was too slow, so we adopted the age-old practice of genocide.  Pretty sure that is why Hitler figured he'd get away with it because...well, we did.  Revisionism is an historian's best friend...after ignorance.  Dehumanize the obstacle obstructing your plans and simply sweep 'it' away.

 Course, we never could quite connect the dots between Rights and Rights.  Seemed to be a few different versions of Equality floating around this new Republic.  However, we finally did accept the Irish.  Reluctantly.

And the slaughter didn't stop with the people.  It was the intent of the US Army and its civilian leadership to put the great tribes of the west afoot.  The horses weren't captured and sold, but merely shot and left to rot where they fell -- among the wind-blown and bleached skeletons of their own brethren in the ageless competition between life and death:  the buffalo.  And the hunters and gatherers of the North American continent were left to drift in the endless morass of what was sold to them as a new civilized society....under God no less -- whoever that was.  But of course, the Indians didn't need this new God anyway.  They were content to worship, more accurately celebrate what was in front of them.  The sun, moon, stars -- abundant game, open sky and endless horizons.  The kind of altars that begged participation in this life, the one in front of them and not some magic kingdom hiding above the clouds.  And their own civilization was far advanced over the guilt-ridden palaces of Christianity, for they had created the notion of a shame-based society.  No police, no jails, no public rebuke was as powerful as the notion of bringing shame upon oneself or family.  And no moral confusion as all else was subject to the simple law of survival.  So basic, so savage and yet so kind.  And so vulnerable under these laws of God and man's making..    
From the book:  "The only bright spot in American expansionism was when Custer scratched his head and said, 'I think we have a problem here.'  Well, it was probably more like using the 'F' word as a noun, verb and adjective in the same sentence, but I'm trying to keep my ratings intact.  "Holy something!" is quite likely a more accurate declaration of the situation at hand.  I'm pretty sure a lot of turkeys can relate to that image, especially if they hang around Safeway the week before the big day.  But that's the bewildering part about American culture -- we seem to be always celebrating somebody's bad luck, even our own.  What's the difference between Thanksgiving and Pearl Harbor Day?  And who honestly believes that George Armstrong Custer got a bad deal?"

Too severe a criticism?  Perhaps.  But history is the story of the evolving consciousness of what is assumed to be the 'smartest specie' on this planet.  We know that to be true because we said so.  We even wrote it down for other humans to read, just to make sure everybody was on the same page.  And if we didn't appreciate one spin on the events of our distant past, we simply gave them a new one.  Something appropriate to the sentiments of the time.  Sadly, I can't do that.  But it doesn't mean I am not thankful for being here, instead of perhaps somewhere in Rwanda, Palestine, the Sudan...or perhaps the vast plains of the Lakota.  But then I probably wouldn't know the difference anyway since I would have little knowledge of American life or the education necessary to separate my life story from a different life's tale. So, in that sense I owe a fidelity to the truth, because by all accounts, I can afford such an outlandish privilege.

From the book:  "One day the great American dynasty will join the ashes of the long dead pharaohs of Egypt's great kingdoms.  Archaeologists and anthropologists will be left to pick through the rubble, noting with astonishment that this civilization had 187 different kinds of cars.  Nothing else, just the cars.  And nobody knew where they drove off to."  

 So perhaps while we are all giving thanks and stuffing our faces with near fatal doses of arterial mud, we can take a moment for accountability.  History is rarely kind to the weak, the vulnerable or the marginalized.  So while we celebrate everything we have built, all we assume to have gained, the security that blankets our fondest dreams -- let us also look clearly at the price paid by those who merely wanted to keep what they already had.