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Posts Tagged ‘Native Americans’

Is it International Mental Health Day or International Coming Out Day? Am I supposed to put my favorite picture of my son or my daughter on Instagram? Wait, Melinda Gates posted her Kindergarten picture with hashtag, #thislittlegirlisme on Twitter because it’s the International Day of the Girl. Can I even find my Kindergarten picture?

Phew, I just remembered it’s Columbus Day! When I was a young camper at Camp St Joseph for Girls, we would occasionally have sing-offs in the dining hall. We didn’t call them “sing-offs” then, it was just a part of our competitive culture – the Irish would belt out a Celtic ballad, and then the Italians would respond with something Romanesque, like “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!”

Today, statues of Christopher Columbus have started toppling over almost as often as Confederate generals.

If I were of Italian descent would I be OK with this happening? I wonder if it might be akin to stripping away all public notions of St Patrick or John F Kennedy. Hindsight is never kind to conquerors; and so the Italian sailor who spotted the Bahamas at least half a millennium after Leif Eriksson first landed in North America is suffering from historical and moral context.

Out of 170 Columbus monuments scattered across our country, only 40 have been taken down so far. We still have a big parade today in NYC. But did the great explorer “discover” or “invade” North America? We never learned about his treatment of Native Americans in school.

For Mahtowin Munro, an Indigenous rights activist, these symbols represent historical violence. “Celebrating Columbus is intended to erase us and ultimately is celebrating our genocide,” said Munro, who co-leads the United American Indians of New England. ”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/interactive/2021/christopher-columbus-monuments-america-map/?itid=hp-top-table-main

Now I don’t want to sound conservative at all, but after reading that the Charlottesville, VA City Council ordered the removal of the Lewis and Clark statue in a roundabout, I was pissed. I loved that statue, and not just because it had one of the only public renderings of a Native woman. I always knew I was close to the historic downtown mall when I saw it, also that’s when Bob told me that all statues in the South have their backs to the North.

But because the Meriwether Lewis and William Clark guide Sacagawea was depicted in a crouching position at the feet of the two men, Native people said they felt she looked “cowering.” Historians have said her position signified “tracking,” since she was hired along with her husband, carrying her baby, as a guide and translator for the westward expedition. And YES to giving Sacagawea her very own statue!

It just depends on what perspectacles you happen to be wearing. Should we take down every statue of a president who owned slaves? Should we the people demolish someone’s good work because maybe they had a mistress? Would FDR have liked seeing himself depicted in a wheelchair, probably not. Does your religious iconography need to be all over our money?

The answer is sometimes we can go too far.

Pizza of the week with Bob’s eggplant and pablano peppers

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Yesterday, I woke up and felt the day looming large. Every morning Bob asks me what’s on our agenda, which should be funny right? My reply was “Absolutely nothing!” I was somewhat short and slightly incredulous while trying to smooth out a bumpy start to another day in quarantine. Day number 62 or 63 or 64? After coffee, I reconsidered.

I wanted to change the sheets, I needed to do a Shipt grocery order, and before long the Bride called because she needed Bob to print something out for her. Kids today don’t have printers. Or landlines or clothes lines. Or cable TV.

This morning is different. I woke up on clean sheets and thought to myself, “Hooray it’s Tuesday.” Today I’ll be writing and listening to Dr Tony Fauci on CNN speak remotely to a Senate panel about the coronavirus. Bob’s planning on listening to SCOTUS discuss Mr T’s taxes on NPR. We’ll be having a dueling listening party in our separate offices/guest bedrooms with a background of birdsong in the garden. Deciding our lunch plans seemed a long way off.

Yesterday, I also remembered I wanted to mend a pair of pants, an old, soft corduroy pair of Eileen Fisher pants that I love. So I picked up my iPad to scroll through Pinterest because I knew I had saved a tutorial on the Japanese art of Sashiko under my “Corona Crafts” board.

Time really flies on Pinterest! Before long, I realized I’d ordered the wrong iron-on facing and I was going to need an embroidery hoop. I thought I had embroidery hoops because I’d made dream catchers for the Grands with ribbons of feathers since we’d moved to Nashville. So I opened up my overflowing office closet and began organizing my jewelry making materials while looking for an embroidery hoop… My office was littered with beads and unfinished knitting projects.

I was also trying to find a picture of me at 13 so the Love Bug could compare me to Hayley Mills. Then my phone dinged and it was Vanderbilt texting to tell me that I had an eye doctor appointment. “Text YES to confirm or NO.” And for a day with nothing planned, I suddenly felt overwhelmed. I’ve never been great at multi-tasking, but could I be developing adult-onset ADHD?

Now Dr Fauci is talking about the “inevitable return of infections,” and I thought about the wisdom of our Native people. A governor in South Dakota is threatening to sue native tribes for attempting to keep the virus out of their community by setting up roadblocks, “checkpoints,” on state roads.

“The chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, Harold Frazier, issued a statement in response to the governor on Friday, saying: “We will not apologise for being an island of safety in a sea of uncertainty and death.”

“You continuing to interfere in our efforts to do what science and facts dictate seriously undermine our ability to protect everyone on the reservation,” he added.  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52615311

Our country has infected Native Americans before, we have thrown them off their land and herded them into reservations like the Cheyenne River Sioux, who have only one hospital with no intensive care beds. It happens that my Parnassus First Edition Club book this month is all about tribal history. “The Night Watchman” by Louise Erdich.

Based on the extraordinary life of National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich’s  grandfather who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native dispossession from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, D.C., this powerful novel explores themes of love and death with lightness and gravity and unfolds with the elegant prose, sly humor, and depth of feeling of a master craftsman.”

Today Dr Fauci is “cautiously optimistic.” I wish I felt the same way. I used to worry about violent, mentally ill patients in the ER when my daughter announced she was interested in Emergency Medicine. I never thought about a virus like this, even though Bob has dealt with Ebola, H1N1 and HIV over the course of his career. This morning the Bride called on her way to work, she is a courageous and resilient young woman, so I must let go of my fear. I must focus, and try to create an island of calm in the midst of this crisis.

I must order an embroidery hoop online. This was yesterday, in the garden.

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