dontravis.com blog post #525
Image Courtesy of Clipart-Library.com
Image Courtesy of Clipart-Library.com
For the second week in a row, I’m going to post something unusual for me. Not a story… but a greeting to all on this national holiday of Thanksgiving. And a reminder we do not all view this holiday in the same manner.
Ever since President Abraham Lincoln in 1863—for political reasons of his own—declared the last Thursday of November to be a National Day of Thanksgiving, most of our citizens have blithely observed this holiday with a vision of a three-day feast by Pilgrims and Native Americans (namely the Wampanog) in celebration of a good harvest and the burgeoning friendship between the two peoples. As usual, it is history as written by the victors. In my opinion the story is pure myth.
· In the second place, the Wampanog were likely rethinking their welcoming of the strangers who came to their land aboard ships with great sales.
· In all likelihood, the Pilgrims were dependent upon the Natives for survival in the early years, so it is unlikely they had much to contribute to a feast.
· Others who consider it merely as a paid day off from work, usually enriched by turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes (or creamed potatoes), cranberry sauce, a green vegetable, buttered buns… and likely a pie for dessert. FYI, this is likely where I fall.
· And those who consider this not as a day of thanksgiving, but as a day of mourning over the theft of billions of acres of land, a sustained and continuing assault on their culture, of genocide by murder, warfare, and the introduction of devastating diseases. For many years, some of our indigenous tribes have celebrated this as a Day of Mourning, not a Day of Thanksgiving.
In honor of the latter group, I would like to present a poem by my friend Mark Wildyr, who has written five books exploring how the attitude of certain tribes who honored Two-Spirits as people who could see from both the eyes of a man and the eyes of a woman changed over the years after the coming of the white men. He calls his poem, “Echoes of the Flute,” the name of the third book in his Cut Hand series. I hope you enjoy his thoughts:
ECHOES OF THE FLUTE
With curious hearts,
we greet whey-faced strangers
on canoes with great white sails,
honor them with booming drums
and welcoming songs of the flute.
Still they come.
Blue seas turn ghostly with blossoms of gray canvas.
Dismayed, we withdraw to lodges.
Thrumming drums become wary.
Warbling flutes grow drear.
Bearded men cast cold eyes upon lands our fathers left us.
“Now it is ours,” they claim.
The beat of drums turns angry.
Beaded flutes go shrill.
Timbers fall to ringing axes, game to booming sticks.
Hunger drives us from ancestral homes.
Tribal drums go hollow.
Flutes pipe in despair.
Invaders overwhelm us.
We fall to thundering guns, flee west across broad rivers.
Beating drums become frantic.
Flutes give voice to fear.
They seduce with bright beads and iron hatchets, then trade
blankets of spotted death.
Drums throb in mourning.
Flutes proclaim our loss.
Rails and wires despoil vast prairies.
Buffalo, once flowing like rivers, now piles of sun-bleached bone.
Drums pulse in anger, and flutes call out for war.
We wither like weeds before fire.
Conquerors herd us to far, fallow patches of unwanted land.
Drums fall silent in misery.
Flutes become forlorn.
“Be civilized and prosper.”
Warriors put into trousers, called by alien names.
Yet fortune never smiles.
Only wretched pain.
Drums remind of yesteryear, and flutes lament what was.
Children exiled to distant schools, familiar tongues forbidden.
They weep for faraway fathers.
Drums lie rotting in corners.
Flutes are cast away.
Long, dark decades we languish, mere shadows of a paler people.
Where are our silent drums?
Our sad, broken flutes?
Hah! Our hearts swell in pride as young ones dance anew.
We are yet alive and always will be.
Drums lift up our spirits, and we hear echoes of the flute.
sts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.