“To understand the magnitude of the genocide, it is instructive to lay out the pre-colonial sophistication of indigenous societies in the Americas. Not only were their agricultural systems highly developed to coexist with natural systems, they even invented methods of mass food storage, and charted trails within and between territories, many of which form the basis of the modern freeway system. Additionally, American Indians “were very healthy [and] lived long lives,” said Dunbar-Ortiz, “partly supported by excellent hygiene, which the Europeans always noted with some suspicion.” Many American Indian forms of self-government were matrilineal, which, explained Dunbar-Ortiz, was not simply “the opposite of patriarchy”; rather, it was a democratic form of government. In fact, “women were in charge of the food supply and the distribution of food.” There was also a rich and vibrant system of trade. These facts about pre-colonial Native American history “[don’t] make it out of the technical and archaeological journals,” she lamented.”
I’m was still in bed when I read this article on my phone a few days ago. My husband and I had already received two early morning “Happy Thanksgiving” texts. Instead of going on a rant of resistance on my phone, I just texted the same in return to someone I know full well knows better than to think I take the ideas behind Thanksgiving seriously. But I get it. We just wanna wish each other and our families well and there’s no harm in that.
I was home schooled up until about seventh grade. Yes, I’m one of those children whose mothers took it upon themselves to educate my brother and I through correspondence course. And I remember reading for the first time about the great Thanksgiving feast that the Pilgrims made to thank the Native Americans for basically teaching them everything they needed to know to survive life in a “harsh” and foreign new land. On the next page they killed all the Native Americans they could. I literally remember looking back at the Thanksgiving Page and then at the massacre page. That just happened? I even remember sharing it with my parents and pointing out the obvious problems and they were like yeah, that’s what happened.
Do they still teach that history in schools now? WAIT! Don’t answer that question. I’m still in bed. Haven’t eaten my fourth round of leftovers yet.
But when I read the passage above in the two page article, I sort of sat back and ruminated a bit on these facts. Whenever I try to imagine a time on our planet when any Native peoples existed whose agricultural systems did not spoil and deplete the earth and had matrilineal forms of self-government, i just have to take a moment. Because to me it just sounds like a completely different world than what early American settlers had in mind and what was ultimately forged through murder, rape, slavery, genocide, brainwashing and historical whitewashing. How can I be proud of that? How can anyone?
You wanna talk about systems that work? How about a system where what is needed from the land to survive does not irreparably destroy that land? Who would fuck that up?
Hope you and your family had a good one.