Biblical Judges: Chiefs?

So say some Jewish scholarsOne per “Tribe” of the traditional 12 Tribes of Ancient Israel?  Maybe even a permanent office in each Tribe, versus the occasional charismatic commander we’re told about?  Some of whom were more noteworthy than most?  (How many Presidents, Monarchs, or Prime Ministers of any one country can you name?!)

I know enough Hebrew to know Professor Sarfatti isn’t out on a limb here (no pun intended!).  Conflating shevet and shofet?  Consider that every Sunday School class — or Hebrew School — has been asked, “Why are they called judges?”  We see them as military commanders, prophets, philosophers, power-lifters, lovers….  The answer is, They might not have been called “judges” as the word has been most commonly understood in the centuries since then!

Maybe King James should’ve sent the Old Testament by his translators one more time!  Then again, a Biblical book of “Chiefs” or “Chieftains” around that time, the early 1600s, might’ve made Irish or American Indians look too favorable for His Majesty’s comfort … or rather, that of his wicked counsellors….

It’s a minor semantic point.  The roles and deeds of the particular Israelite Chiefs upheld in Judges are clear enough for Scriptures’ purposes.  But since the English words chief, chieftain, chiefdom, etc., are today so identified with Indigenous Peoples, Scottish Clans, Irish Septs, and other oppressed people, “Speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.”

What do we see, then, in pre-Monarchy Israel?  Twelve or so loosely-affiliated “Tribes,” or rather, Chiefs, each with his “staff” or “scepter,” literally and figuratively — the Tribe.  “Tribal Sovereignty,” even!  With him, various officials, aides, counselors.  And within each Tribe, Clans, Houses, and so forth.  And a God Who opposed a permanent royal federation under an earthly king: The Israelites’ problem in Judges isn’t that they keep getting harried by their neighbors, but that they keep slacking-off in their devotion to Him Who Is, so He lets them have their way, and they get the stuffing beat out of them — rightly, we are to believe, since who knows better than God how to do anything?!  Their problem isn’t geopolitics, it’s Theology.  (Even these gentlemen agree today.)  Doesn’t God say so often throughout Scripture?  Early Israel’s throne was atop the Ark of the Covenant, not in “a cedar palace.”

And so should we who are “Judeo-Christians” today continue to adjudge the ups and downs of our favorite “nations”: My sins, not anybody else’s, not any other nations either.

(I know: “Joshua Chiefs Ruth” doesn’t have the ring of “Joshua Judges Ruth”….)

Lumbee Indians near Federal Recognition

That’s Heather Locklear‘s tribe.*  They believe they do it by swearing-off casinos they say they’ve never been interested in anyway.  Like my Nanticokes and many other East Coast tribes who’ve borne the brunt of the colonization of what is currently the U.S. the longest, Lumbees have been heavily intermarried for many generations. 

Issues around racialism, after 518 years of European-American politician and governmental influence and oppression, have unfortunately penetrated parts of America’s Native community also, hence the references in some WWW comments to certain Tribes or individuals as Black or White or “Wannabes,” attempting to deny their Indianness.  This is despite the claim of U.S. “Indian Law” and every Federally-Recognized Tribe that their Sovereignty gives them the inherent right to regulate their citizenship just like any other nation; tragically this basic U.S. law is contradicted by other laws, such as Congressionally-supported regulatory Recognition criteria requiring a nearly-Amish level of endogamy thruout the Tribe’s recorded history, and remaining in a small geographical area, despite the violent, racist, anti-Indigenous, economic, and cultural pressures of the Settler polities.  (Their own Common Law stipulates that a criminal should not profit from his crime, yet these crimes go studiously and dishonorably unpunished in a tradition as old as British settlement here.)

Anyway, Many Years to the Lumbee Nation!  And their website!

*–(Locklear is a frequent surname among Lumbees.)

No Child’s Red Behind Left

Imagine an education concerned with students, instead of with the corporations that only want docile drones, or with (Wannabe-)Suburbanites who want quiet, dead neighborhoods and conforming, boring, ‘vanilla’ neighbors.  They do tell us the word education comes from two Latin words meaning to lead out … not to repress and conform and restrain….

Atypical Native American perspectives

Looking down on State Recognition of Indian Tribes?

Sure, it’s not the same as a Treaty … er, Supreme Court ruling … er, Executive Order … er, Act of Congress … er, BIA ruling….

OK, now we realize anything government (pretends to) give* it can and will take away.

Be that as it may, check out what some Metis in Alberta, Canada, have got themselves!

(*–Including “recognize” as “inherent from time immemorial,” am I right?!)

“Settler” irony: Muslims in Europe

An email purporting to represent a speech given by a Dutch ultranationalist MP, making the rounds, includes the following:

Muslim demands are supported by unlawful behavior, ranging from petty crimes and random violence, for example against ambulance workers and bus drivers, to small-scale riots. Paris has seen its uprising in the low-income suburbs, the banlieus. I call the perpetrators ‘settlers’. Because that is what they are. They do not come to integrate into our societies; they come to integrate our society into their Dar-al-Islam. Therefore, they are settlers.

Ain’t colonial/imperialist blowback a b*tch?  I hear some Mexican Indians (ie, Native Americans) are converting to Islam too.  I don’t celebrate at all … but what goes around does come around.  Is it too late for any other solution besides war or genocide this time?

Update from Buffalo Commons

from NY Times Magazine in 2006, an intriguing ‘surface-level,’ face-to-face, “up close and personal” *  encounter with the emptying Plains.

The article isn’t a very enticing ad for a region theoretically trying to attract ‘new homesteaders’ or semi-homesteaders not already from or IN such a place, if you get what I mean.  But does it have to be hopeless?

Indians said a century or more ago that it really was (all due respect to the writer) more desert than farmland….  The Dust Bowl just added insult to injury.  There are a couple large Reservations near the communities featured, Fort Berthold and Fort Peck Reservations, that maybe could be asked about helping ‘re-vision’ the larger region’s future ISTM.

More conventionally, the Dakotas are already home to “National Grasslands” that maybe could be a future attracting visitors … and wildlife … maybe even hunters … and/or bison or other ranching.

Going out on a limb, let me say as one American who’s never been to ND that winter there sounds intolerable to most Yanks!  At least Alaska has windbreaks (trees, mountains…), mild Pacific currents and breezes, etc.  HOWEVER: Remember that scene in the recent HBO remake of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee where the Mountie welcomes Sitting Bull across the Border in Queen Victoria’s name with the polite warning, “The winters get pretty cold up here — This isn’t Dakota!”?  I’m sure some scriptwriter had tongue planted firmly in cheek at that point.  But my world atlas’s climate maps suggest a kernel of truth after all: ND as a little bit warmer than most of Canada, and drier than most of Settler Canada … you know, that ribbon of population that stays pretty much within 200 miles of the Border, from Nova Scotia to Vancouver?  I mention drier since they say Manitoba’s provincial bird is the mosquito!  So, a “modest proposal”?: Instead of being America’s Icebox, how about … well … The Fridge, to the Rest of Canada’s Icebox!?  If North Dakota became the 11th Province (ND residents might prefer the sociopolitical approach of this post!  And spooky: exactly two years ago…!), right away it’d have nearly the same population as New Brunswick, well larger than Newfoundland-and-Labrador, and Prince Edward Island, respectively — two provinces also losing residents.  And long term, I’d imagine lots of Manitoba and Saskatchewan folk moving south now that they could do so without changing countries … followed by Alberta Oil Sands layoffs once the world starts recovering from its hydrocarbon addiction.  (Many Sands workers are the expatriates from Atlantic Canada, where it IS less cold in winter than Alberta, though wetter … and increasingly desolate of Settlers’ descendants.)

And provincehood isn’t even necessary ISTM.  MB and SK are sometimes referred to as “North America’s socialist heartland,” traditionally strongholds of Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP), actually social democratic rather than strictly socialist.  Point being, a healthy sense of the Common Good — not unlike many ND’ans’ ancestral Scandinavia — and they just might open their bleeding hearts to ND’s economic needs, especially if ND were to join one or both provinces.  Either way, sounds like a Win-Win proposition, eh?

Otherwise, I guess some version of the “Buffalo Commons” idea will pretty much replace ND.  And/Or some version of the outstanding Great Sioux Nation claim.  Waving grasses, thundering herds, fenced-in towns if any at all, elevated highways/railroads if any, Tribal Villages / ranches / farms…. 

Your call.

(*–…what with the Olympics coming up and all…)

Census 2010: Further thoughts

occasioned by Native American students in Idaho and an ’08 MSNBC piece on the increasing profile of ‘mixed-race/multiracial’ folks, what with Obama and all.

Black Indians at Smithsonian

Specifically, the National Museum of the American Indian.  Fascinating, maddening, enlightening, racist and anti-racist, historical and anti-historical discussion among the Comments, too!

Here’s the exhibit’s website.

Speaking as a controverted Nanticoke (who doesn’t qualify for Indian Assn. membership at this time AFAIK) who also likes his Irish background too, the U.S. Metis Identity movement looks more and more appealing….

Indian Country getting ready for Global Warming, Peak Oil

Actually former Ralph Nader/Green Party running mate Winona LaDuke reports GW is ALREADY impacting many Reservations, being rural and poorer than most of the U.S.

I guess I have to add that yes, “they’re gathering firewood like crazy” — nothing like Winter in September!  😉

Was England’s claim to N. America pre-empted by Norway?

At its recent Church convention, the Episcopal Church of the United States, traditionally America’s branch of the Anglican Communion, denounced the late-medieval “Discovery Doctrine” which encouraged / justified (Western) Christian nations’ annexation and exploitation of newly-discovered non-Christian lands, nations, peoples, and persons.  This appears to be at this time an unofficial or ‘semifinal’ version of the adopted resolution, minus the strikeouts.  They also call on the Successor of one royal perpetrator of this legal doctrine, in her capacity as “Supreme Governor” of their Sister Church, the Church of England, Queen Elizabeth II, to also repudiate it … for their government lobbyists to press overturning this legal basis for a kind of suzerainty over Native American Tribes with the U.S. Government … and for their member dioceses and adherents to support Tribes’ struggles for their God-given rights as Indigenous Nations.

As Wikipedia relates, this “doctrine” backed-up Western European overlordship of Indigenous Peoples not previously Christianized.  Commonly it was considered for the “heathens’ ” own good, as well as providing cover for all the depredations Indigenous have suffered at their hands and those of their “legal successors,” including the United States, down to the present.  More to the point, also for the seizure of their lands and resources, especially all the gold that was rumored to be here.  I don’t know enough about the claimed legalities beyond this, for Spanish- and Portuguese-claimed territories … but for English, “the rule of law,” i.e., the English Common Law, eventually developed at least a legal fiction of respect for existing inhabitants of lands they were interested in acquiring, as having actual legal rights to or in those lands, as long as they lived in them — rights to which ambitious English rulers and explorers needed to at least pay lip-service.  (Remember, this is the system wherein the lawyer asks his client, “What do you WANT the law to say?”!)  This was an evolving thing, as I’ve said previously here.

American relevance was nailed down (supposedly) by Chief Justice John Marshall in an 1823 case.  He stated that on the plot of land at issue, in Illinois, England/Great Britain had “discovered” and taken precedence over the Natives, whether directly or by treaty(!) from France, and the United States succeeded to British “rights” therein.  Therefore, Native Nations had limited rights to their own lands and resources, Britain/America having ultimate determining legal authority, at least vis a vis other European powers.  The idea included reducing the Europeans’ habit of going to war with each other; Indigenous didn’t matter!  (Though England came preferring to acquire their rights by “treating with them,” i.e., treaties — even if these, too, often became “legal fictions”!)

Here’s Marshall’s language I want to focus on (emphasis added by me):

The states of Holland also made acquisitions in America and sustained their right on the common principle adopted by all Europe. They allege, as we are told by Smith in his History of New York, that Henry Hudson, who sailed, as they say, under the orders of their East India Company, discovered the country from the Delaware to the Hudson, up which he sailed to the 43d degree of north latitude, and this country they claimed under the title acquired by this voyage.

Their first object was commercial, as appears by a grant made to a company of merchants in 1614, but in 1621 the States General made, as we are told by Mr. Smith, a grant of the country to the West India Company by the name of New Netherlands.

The claim of the Dutch was always contested by the English — not because they questioned the title given by discovery, but because they insisted on being themselves the rightful claimants under that title. Their pretensions were finally decided by the sword.

No one of the powers of Europe gave its full assent to this principle more unequivocally than England. The documents upon this subject are ample and complete. So early as the year 1496, her monarch granted a commission to the Cabots to discover countries then unknown to Christian people and to take possession of them in the name of the King of England. Two years afterwards, Cabot proceeded on this voyage and discovered the continent of North America, along which he sailed as far south as Virginia. To this discovery the English trace their title.

In this first effort made by the English government to acquire territory on this continent we perceive a complete recognition of the principle which has been mentioned. The right of discovery given by this commission is confined to countries “then unknown to all Christian people,” and of these countries Cabot was empowered to take possession in the name of the King of England. Thus asserting a right to take possession notwithstanding the occupancy of the natives, who were heathens, and at the same time admitting the prior title of any Christian people who may have made a previous discovery.

Here’s the problem: Since around the Millennium, North America* had been “known to the Christian people” of Norway, as mentioned here.  The Norse main settlements were in Greenland.  But knowledge of the lands to Greenland’s west is undeniable from approximately then, which was about the same time those colonists became Christians.  Even if you give no credence whatsoever to my foster-kinsman St. Brendan, Carthaginian Early Christian monks in Connecticut, the alleged succession of Catholic Titular (absentee) Bishops of the village of Gardar, Greenland and Vinland, and as-yet-undiscovered Icelandic Sagas, etc etc etc, living knowledge came down to the first Lutheran bishop of Greenland before he attained to that title by venturing there in 1721 in hopes of rescuing the many-centuries-old and long-isolated colony from Catholicism(!–or Orthodoxy!!) or apostasy … not finding them (as far as he knew!) … and setting out to evangelize the Native Inuit (Eskimos) instead(!).

But Britain did not treat with Norway or Norway’s sometime sovereign Denmark for any of its North American rights (under European law), nor did it acquire them “by the sword.”  Now, it is not currently known that any Norse (or their Mixed-Blood descendants) survived here until 1492 or ’96.  However, the Cabots’ charter did not say, as later English ones, “not actually possessed by any Christian prince,” merely “unknown to all Christian people.”  Christian Norway’s “knowledge” of this northern landmass may have been obscure at that time, but it was knowledge:  Norway “discovered” North America before England did!

So what?  As one commentator to the story at the website of the newspaper Indian Country Today reminds us all,

Just better be careful that you don’t also overturn our sovereignty while overturning Johnson v. M’Intosh. Too many times, an unideal but working scenario gets scrapped when ‘reformers’ come in and start changing things. I present as evidence term limits, ‘independent’ legislative redistricting and other such ‘reform’ scenarios that have contributed mightily to the current state of ideological gridlock that grips both federal and state governing bodies.

I know enough about law and history, and more about courts, judges, lawyers, and politicians, to take this counsel seriously!  Also, although today Norway is a rather politically correct place, who knows about the future?  Is it a case of The Devil You Know over The Devil You Don’t Know?!  Though it might be interesting to see Washington and Ottawa have to re-negotiate their independence with PC Oslo!

One might say that Norway has never pressed its claim, challenging Britain, France, Sweden, the Netherlands, or anybody else.  But with the discovery of the Sagas and their settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, in a possibly-improving climate of International Law and politics, especially Norway being a NATO ally of both the U.S. and Canada (and let’s remember the last bits of New France), Norway itself may have a “Native Claim” needing respect and recompense!  Even the US Supreme Court awarded huge money to the Lakota for the Black Hills!

No one ever said the ‘Piskies don’t know how to make life interesting sometimes!!!  😉

(*–Presuming Marshall is associating Spanish and Portuguese “discoveries” with OFF North America.)

Light-skinned Mixed-Blood harassed on IHS clinic staff

But a dense Federal Appeals Court ruling doesn’t seem to get it!

What if it was the NAACP discriminating against a light-skinned Black employee?  In recent years they had one in charge, so maybe they don’t, but one other member of the Court panel might have been swayed by substituting Black for Indian ISTM.  Indians’ and Mixed-Bloods’ issues aren’t taken seriously in America; actually they’re only starting to be taken more seriously in Canada.

Even in the pages of Indian Country Today it seems open season on Mixed-Bloods.  In America you always must be either/or … maybe, like Fr. Andrew Greeley and David Tracy say, it’s that [sectarian] Protestant “dialectical imagination” rather than the Catholic “analogical imagination” for both/and.  The constant questioning and attacking and innuendoes and doubts are a real plague for us, and divide an Indigenous community that really can’t afford it.  U.S. Mixed-Bloods need a place where they can safely be who they are and know themselves to be and faithful to what’s been handed down to them by their forebears.  Yes, I know I look like the oppressor, but I am not, I never have been, and neither have any of my ancestors, and in fact once you go back about a thousand years if not sooner, we all have the same number of individual Indian ancestors, so the (unconstitutional, racist) “Blood Quantum” is a wash, if you really want to go that way!

I note the dissenting Appellate Judge was a woman, the majority two men.  (One with the CV of an Irish Catholic, which only goes to show you that’s not always a guarantee of social justice!  She’s a Clinton appointee; the men were appointed by Bush I and II respectively.)  Is it possible a woman brings necessary extra “experiences,” sensitivities, “biases,” to questions of “hostile workplaces”?  [You GO, Justice Sotomayor!!!]

This isn’t to say “Get over it,” at all.  (This is personal now, obviously.)  I grew up lower-working-class, without much known Irish OR Native culture or connections.  I would like more now, especially the Native because it’s HERE, in North America, where I have spent every moment of my life, and to which I have a special attachment since I’ve been learning more about my Native background.  If I ever am able-bodied again, I’d like to do more, too, even help.  But folks like me, “the 7th generation” perhaps?, need your help, humbly seek your help.  Why can’t it be a mutual give-and-take?  I didn’t grow up “On The Rez;” I grew up urban Poor Overextended “White” Trash, OK?  Sure, I won’t get called lazy by White South Dakota farmer-settlers at first glance, and I’m not proud for not speaking up when I heard that; but they were hosting me for the night, free of charge, and I had no other options at that time in my life … and it was July … you know what I’m talking about there, July in Dakota….  Anyway, WANNABE” STANDS FOR WHITE AND NATIVE NORTH AMERICAN BY EXOGAMY!  (I wanna claim the rights to that expression, but I don’t want to restrict its dissemination, so if you ever meet me, keep that in mind, ’cause I could really use the money….)

In any case, was that poor woman counseling at that clinic because it pays so well?!!  That’s not what I hear.  Probably she could’ve gotten much better pay and benefits elsewhere, even Passing For White, or not: Some Whites have more regard for someone being “part-Indian” than some Indians it seems.  But she stayed there 11 years, helping kids, the next generation, while enduring that racist crap from her own people.  She herself seems to be an elder — Worse yet!  This is the Appeals verdict, including Dissent (PDF).  I wish her lawyers had demanded proof/testimony of the faxing of a copy of her original EEOC complaint by and from the EEOC to the Clinic, supposedly within minutes of her filing it; then if the Clinic couldn’t produce it, nor reasonable cause why not, there might’ve been a question of withheld or destroyed evidence in discovery — very nasty for them, and helpful for her case.  One would wish Ms. Nettle had taken notes of the harrassment she received — names, dates, verbiage used; but good-faith employees aren’t always looking to build a case against someone until it’s too late — management has the built-in advantage: they can fire you, you can’t fire them.  But the male judges don’t see that in questioning her very Indianness they were directly attacking her employment there, because of the legal preference for “Indian” hires; these aren’t run-of-the-mill skin-color disparagement insults, so to speak.  They DO “alter her conditions of employment,” in a very technical sense of the term: presumably her skin color didn’t change much between 1993 and 2004!  It was OK enough to hire her, but not OK to make her feel welcome when she first arrived at least, and for her last 5 years there.  Because her employment was under what I must refer to as a racio/legal preference system, these insults struck directly at her continuing employment there, as well as any future employment anywhere else where they’d ask, What happened at the Clinic?  Maybe their job descriptions should state clearly, Must look like a Hollywood Injun!  “Hostile work environment”?: How about one where you might be fired because of how you look?  Isn’t that what EEOC and civil rights laws are all about?!!!  If not, My God, what!  Even “jokes” pile up after 11 years, especially “race” jokes!  And I’m not even a lawyer, though I was a Shop Steward.  The male judges, Republican appointees, just don’t get it, and as usual, analyze a complaint to pieces unjustly.  (What the Dissent goes on to call disparagingly, “divide-and-conquer analysis”!)

It is interesting to see “light-skinned Native Americans … in a protected legal class” though, even from the GOP!  Though only they would consider loss of some pay or benefits NOT “an adverse action”: She wasn’t a volunteer!!!  What I really wish is that she had a union in there, with a Shop Steward and a collective bargaining agreement — They’re present in many nonprofit workplaces.  When I was a Steward (in admittedly very different circumstances), I spent most of my time having complaints from my members bounced off me; most of the time management was allowed to do what was complained of (I inherited a lousy contract), but we at least cultivated a Shop where these things were talked up, evidence gathered for when Grievances were eventually filed in other cases. 

I have to question the competence of her counsel also, though her only appeal from here, within the U.S. system, would be to the still-GOP-dominated Supreme Court; although it’s possible even they would feel the need to send the case back to District Court for a full trial (This was only “summary judgment”), since there are so many holes in the Appellate Majority’s reasoning (if it can even be called that).

Scottish Metis

Fascinating little article here from 2001!

Aboriginal Title: Today’s word is…

USUFRUCT.  (Sorry, I grew up too Catholic to pronounce it that way! 😉  )

This is the Common Law principle on which is based the occasional English and successor Settler States (USA, Canada, Australia, I know for certain, maybe others) practice of deigning, that is to say condescending, to let Aboriginal Peoples in “their” countries retain (I say retain) certain rights with regard to their “former” territories and their tribesmembers.  It’s the theoretical basis of Reservations, remnant fishing / trapping / hunting / subsistence rights, regard for Tribes’ Sovereignty (to attempt to put it into European terms), Native Treaties, Lands Held in Trust (including royalties [at 18th-century rates]…if only Uncle Sam can remember where he put them!), etc.

The alternative might well have had to be full military defeat, actually wiping out all our ancestors … genocide in its simplest, bloodiest sense — I’ll say it — ala Hitler.  And I deduce that conundrum is where the idea came from, IOW, Settler convenience, politics, occasional conscience.  The earliest case I know of — though I’m no professional historian — where English courts upheld native legal status is only The Case of Tanistry in the early 1600s.  Here the Irish lost by winning (300 years before they won by losing!): the court employed traditional Irish Brehon Law to cheat a rightful traditional clan chief of his chiefly lands in favor of English-Law inheritance previously unknown among traditional Irish … four-and-a-half centuries after first invading.  My current point being, the English certainly have become experts at riding roughshod over Irish culture (which is why 1998’s Good Friday Northern Ireland Peace Agreement was such a monumental reversal for them).  I guess they didn’t always enjoy how hard it was, and so decided to take a (slightly) less harsh approach in Quebec and North America beyond (to the frustration of the greedy and anti-Catholic eastern seaboard “Founding Fathers”), and Down Under.  (In New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi is even considered technically part of the national constitution!)

Anyway, as Merriam Webster reminds us, a usufruct is Europeanly-considered technically only temporary — in our case, until the “death” of each Native Nation, envisaged by (unconstitutional) Blood Quantum laws, mandatory dispersion and exogamy, ethnic/racial cleansing, culturecide, divide-and-conquer, even leaving Tribes with the worst-quality land around on which to survive, as well as what I compare to illegal and unjust “constructive eviction” in attempting to claim a Native Community “abandoned” a temporarily-disused right or plot of land.*  Conveniently, the U.S. has never recognized Mixed-Bloods as such, as Canada has in its Métis since just 1982, otherwise Native Nations might never die!

(*–The Settlers of Maryland Colony did this to my Nanticoke people.  Once they interpreted an Abandonment Clause in a colonial treaty to mean temporarily going up the Susquehanna River for their traditional annual hunt relinquished one of their Reservations: But when they arrived to find one elderly man guarding the otherwise-empty village, they burned him alive in his home.)

Saving endangered Native American languages

There’s a fair bit about this online, but I’ll just highlight the following:

Canada’s National Post newspaper recently did a multimedia series including the Delaware Indian language Munsee, called Lunaape (ie, Lenape)* at the Moraviantown Reserve in southern Ontario.  Behind the scenes of that story is that First Nation’s Bruce Stonefish, profiled in the Newark Star-Ledger a few years agoHe’s behind a weeklong Language Immersion summer camp at Moraviantown (PDF) that at least went on as late as 2007, maybe last summer too, I’m not sure.  Various ‘official’ and other Lenape and other groups got together with Philadelphia’s University of Pennsylvania a year ago to rap Indigenous Language preservation.  “Unofficial” is that article’s “Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania,” but they seem to be kicking butt in promoting the language at least!  (See here, and this curriculum intended for parents to catch on to and share with children.  I’m not sure if their Lenape language is Munsee or Unami [see “Language Links” below the lessons on that page].)

As you may have seen, Stonefish has taught some lessons to some of my kin, the Nanticoke Lenni Lenape in New Jersey, and visited the State of Delaware, where my Nanticoke ancestors lived after 1742 or so.  But the Nanticoke Indian Association a couple years ago started to resurrect the Nanticoke language with the help of an Anishnabay (or Ojibwe or Chippewa) dialect from Manitoba, since it’s a sister Algonquian language.  Maybe you heard how Hollywood did something similar for a Virginia tribe descended from Jamestown’s neighbors (WaPo link may break).

Why?  In my reading, the folks at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, Canada, say Native Language Immersion is the best if not the only way to treat some of Natives’ social problems both on the Reservation and in larger Settler society, from problems with school grades and academic learning in general, to cultural preservation, to self-destructive behavior, a/k/a internalized oppression/repression/genocide.  Bicultural competence is something many people in Canada know something about.  We’re literally talking about saving lives in many cases.  As Stonefish’s Immersion Camp brochure states: “In order for the Lunaape Language to survive, it needs to once again become an instrumental part of our lives, our everyday conversations and everyday view of the world. Within our language we will find our original Lunaape worldview. It is within our language where we will find the concepts of how we related to all that is around us. It is within our language where the Lunaape people will find keys to understanding our true original identities, gifts and responsibilities to ourselves as well as those around us.”

(*–Both words are correctly pronounced “luh-NAH-pay,” more or less.  The vowel in the first syllable is closest to an American English schwa, that upside down ‘e’ thingie, or more technically, a vowel in an unaccented syllable.)

Alex Haley’s Red “Roots”

According to this page (text-search him — no matter what Google’s cache says, he’s there!), the author who in his famous book traced African roots and heritage, also claimed Cherokee ancestry.  Cool twice over!  Whatever one may say about the book or the man, God be good to him.

“WE SHALL REMAIN” Public broadcasting series on Native America

debuts tomorrow night (Monday) on PBS-TV: as they say, consult your local listings.  The idea is a series of Native perspectives on the history of the settlement of what is currently the U.S.  The producers concede in a public email that they couldn’t cover all bases:

“With 560 federally recognized tribes in the US, it was impossible for us to tell everyone’s story,” says WE SHALL REMAIN executive producer Sharon Grimberg.

If you have Native roots, now it’s your turn to share your experiences through WE SHALL REMAIN’s Online Story Sharingtool. It allows Native people across the country to publish video, audio, or written pieces on the Web sites of public media broadcasters in their communities.

Not to mention the hundreds of Native communities/groups not yet “federally recognized”….  We ALL Shall Remain!!!

See Greenland!

Aka, Kalaalit Nunaat.  This tourism etc. site is very user friendly, with downright seductive photos!  Next plane to Reykjavik!!!

They say after WW2 the people wanted to “modernize,” and so traditional Inuit ways are disappearing.  I have mixed feelings about that as someone looking into my own Indigenous heritage/s.  Recently I saw a documentary, mostly about Inuit in Nunavut Territory, Canada, but one who often trekked more than a thousand miles over ice to NW Greenland in Spring had to fly one recent year because the ice wasn’t there or thick enough.  And subsistence whaling and sealing there was said to be becoming alot harder because they relied on the ice traditionally, just like the polar bears we hear so much about now, with Global Warming.

Indigenous issues aren’t all cut and dried, so to speak….

2010 Census: Part-Indians, Part-Blacks, etc.

After looking over this 2001 story from a fine journalistic publication that maybe needs a new name(!!), IOTM that ‘traditional’ Census-Indians and Census-Blacks are poorer, disempowered, oppressed, discriminated against, etc., raising the question whether an increasing number of ‘non-traditionals’ laying claim to their Mixed Race Ancestry skews the demographics in ways that harm the discriminated-against, darker-skinned Americans?  (The same thing has been happening in Canada.)  ‘Ah, yes, Indians have now made it into Scarsdale, Redmond, Beverly Hills, West Palm Beach, so we don’t have to worry about them anymore!’

I ask this of myself too (as I did last May).  For logistical reasons I was not counted in the 2000 Census, but in 1990, feeling cheeky, I wrote myself down as Native American, in the only choice allowed me before 2000’s multiple-choice Census.  (Though I wasn’t living in a particularly upscale neighborhood at the time.  [I’ve been growing slowly in my Native self-consciousness since my mother informed me of it in the early ’70s … more quickly since I got on the Internet in the late ’90s!])

Ironically, this is the flip-side of a concern voiced by some Black leaders in the runup to 2000 — that traditional Census-Blacks claiming other races or ethnicities might dilute their political strength.  Remember that Congressional, State, and Local legislative and election districts are re-drawn every ten years in part on the basis of race (along with Party registration, neighborhood voting habits, income, etc.) — including Federal-Court-ordered “majority-minority” districts to redress racist housing segregation or exclusionary zoning.  So this isn’t just about paid-up membership in the NAACP.

Maybe those of us interested in claiming additional identities officially besides the one (North) America thinks we belong to, for which we don’t suffer as much from (North) America actively anymore [I’m choosing my words carefully here], should assert a specifically Mixed i.d., distinct from African-American or Native American or whatever — standing totally in solidarity with our oppressed cousins, whatever our internal disagreements.

What term or terms to use?  Metis, to those who have ever heard of it, usually connotes French-Canadian-Indian, although the term, as I have reported, historically and again now increasingly has broader usage.  Mestizo, again to those who have heard of it in the U.S., usually connotes a Spanish-Indian Mix somewhere in the family tree, although some have tried to apply it also to us Eastern U.S. “tri-racial isolates” (a term we have traditionally eschewed).  Mulatto is usually thought to mean a Black-White Mix, although Jack Forbes believes that historically it was mostly Black-Indian.  It’s said Forbes tried to broaden the local (colonial Carolina and New Jersey) term Mustee/Mestee* to cover all us “tri-racials.”  I once toyed with the equivalent Irish Gaelic term, Meascach, at least in regard to myself.  Some folks at the National American Metis Association have used the historic English Halfbreed or even its historic contraction ‘Breed, though my question here is what if my Native blood quantum — a racist, racialist, and unconstitutional category in the U.S. — is less than “Half”?  I haven’t seen anybody trying to revive the terms Quadroon and Octoroon, or any of the dozen or more other historical terms Forbes chronicles!

We could unite on a term like Mixed Aboriginal, going on to specify the Mix we wish to claim for ourselves on that same line on the Census form, eg, “Mixed Aboriginal: Irish and Nanticoke Indian.”  Except apparently the 2010 form won’t accommodate such a thing; see this 1.7MB PDF, and when it opens, go up in what is usually the page number box in the Reader toolbar and type “Sec1:5” without spaces or quote marks, then hit Enter/Return.  We get only 17 letters and spaces.  [I’m sure someone tried hard, but this is not well-designed even generally speaking.  What if someone is both Asian and Pacific Islander, as many traditionally-“Asian/Pacific Islanders” are?  What if they’re more than one “other race (sic)”?: Jewish, Arab, Turkish, Kurdish, Iranian/Persian, Azeri/Azerbaijani, Kazakh, Indigenous Siberian, Tatar, Chechen, Aboriginal Australian?  By some estimates Armenians and Georgians are Asian too.  Many of these are small groups in this country, but it could happen!]

Yup, the 2010 Census discriminates against us ‘Breeds: Part-Indians, Half-Blacks, part-Whites, whatever, wanting to claim “All My Relations”!  They want to break us into tiny little pieces!  Actually it wants to break down traditional Census-Blacks and Census-Indians, hoping to be done with legal or political obligations to them.  That’s called genocide, the same old story. 

 

(*–I believe it’s pronounced mis-TEE, derived from the same French, Spanish, and Latin words like Metis [formerly, Mestis and Mestif] and Mestizo.)

How long have Europeans been here more-or-less continuously?

This Wikipedia article reminds me that it’s probably been pretty much 1,000 years, not just since 1492.  Leif Erikson and Co. didn’t just visit.  There were Norse settlements in Greenland and coastal northeastern Canada from around AD 1000.  They first settled in Greenland in 984, the original Norse settlements disappearing, possibly to malnutrition, “by the late 1400s.”  Seasonal settlements seem to have dotted coastal Canada starting not long after 984, and tantalizing evidence is that Norse visited and traded even farther down the coast, into New England, and less credibly, even farther south.  In the same late 1400s, Spanish, Portuguese, Basque, and French fishermen started seasonally fishing Canadian  Maritime waters once again, making use of coastal lands in doing so, soon after Spanish and Portuguese ‘rediscovered’ the Americas, farther south.

When you think about it, it’s doubtful that Vikings didn’t have intimate relations with Native women, by force or voluntarily, so they may have even left behind Mixed-Blood descendants among the Aboriginal populations here.  So even when Europeans seemed to disappear from here, in a sense they may not have.

IQ and Thanksgiving

I just read here about Inuit (Canada Eskimo) traditional knowledge being called (in the Inuit language, Inuktitut) Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, or IQ.  LOL!  That’s so cool!  I know *I* couldn’t pass this IQ test!!!  Hell, if what we laughably call civilization collapsed tomorrow, I’d probably unknowingly eat some noxious weed growing out of the ground and croak!  That’s right, we’ve all been “taught” how to survive in a supermarket – or worse yet, McDonald’s – and Heaven forbid we should ever find ourselves without one!  Seriously, we should all learn some Native knowledge about wherever we live, in case we need it someday;* we probably need it NOW!  It might help us more to “walk lightly over the earth.”

(*–Interestingly, it took the Peanuts gang to remind many of us that when Squanto, one of the last Patuxet Indians after a British smallpox epidemic devastated “New England” and the Maritimes, taught the Plymouth “Pilgrims” and Co. how to survive in their accidental new home in Massachusetts [vs. New York], he was passing on to them the traditional knowledge of his by-then-dead village nation, something not done lightly by Indigenous Peoples today because they usually end up regretting it.  Had he not done so, the colonists might have died, or abandoned the colony.)

Biggest defeat of U.S. forces ever

…was at the hands of an American Indian confederation in the Midwest, the (original) Battle of the Wabash (River), near present Ft. Wayne, Indiana(!).  Seems the Revolutionary War didn’t end there with the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which amounted to little more than a ‘separate peace’ between His Majesty King George III on the one hand, and the United States of America on the other.  Hostilities continued between Old Northwest Natives and their Native allies on the one hand, former allies of The Crown, and illegally encroaching U.S. settlers on the other, unrestrained by the U.S. government (as usual).  What the Wikipedia article leaves out is that British forces took a few years to evacuate the Midwest, leading the Indians to believe they might rejoin the struggle – and to feel betrayed and abandoned by their Britannic ally when they didn’t.  In addition, the Lenape of this war were the first Native Nation the new U.S. had signed a Treaty with (ceding it most of central Pennsylvania), and had been promised a seat in the Continental Congress as well as a Lenape-led Indian state in what became instead the Settler state of Ohio.  (Cf. Delaware County, Ohio.)

Long story short, although the Paris Treaty transferred Britain’s claims over the Old Northwest to the U.S., the US still had to “treat with” the Native Nation-occupants before exploiting any part of the territory itself or on behalf of its Settler-people.  This the US failed to do.  In fact, President George Washington, other “Founding Fathers,” and many other settlers had long improperly speculated on land in the Ohio Country, back to the French and Indian War as a result of which its claims transferred from France to Britain … and Washington’s home-colony of Virginia (then including West Virginia) even long claimed Ohio as part of its territory.  King George had tried to put a stop to all this illegality with his Proclamation of 1763,* setting colonial boundaries at the top of the Appalachian Mountains and restricting settlement to the West, but was unable to police it in such a remote area against his own settlers.  Many Native Nations were acquainted with Britain’s Sovereigns and their ostensible rule over their settlers and colonies, and again, felt betrayed when the settlers got other ideas, with impunity.  Thus the colonists, especially their Planter elites (the future Founding Fathers), sowed the seeds of continuing conflict with Sovereign Indian Nations west of the Eastern Seaboard – just as many of their encroachments on the coast were also at first illegal, only justified by Treaty after the fact.  Is it any wonder that they were (are!) said to “speak with a forked tongue”?

(*–I can’t find a comprehensive online treatment of the Proc. of 1763, ie, that isn’t narrowly-focused on U.S. or Canadian interests.  However, there were and are many more Indian Reserves in eastern and central Canada — Ontario and eastward — than in the U.S. east of the Mississippi, in part because the British Crown continued to ‘honour’ this Proclamation somewhat, whereas the U.S. assimilated, denied, or “removed” west the overwhelming majority of its eastern Indians.  OTOH, Founder speculation and Settler western ambitions, along with Crown resistance to them and attempts to protect the legal rights and territories of the Natives sort-of under his protection, were a significant cause of the U.S. Revolution in the first place — a cause little-emphasized in standard U.S. histories and school systems.)

Native American rights not equality vs. inequality

The human rights case against a neocon former MP in Canada gives me an opportunity to explain briefly how he misunderstands (or perhaps deliberately confounds) Native peoples’ position in the United States and Canada … a misunderstanding shared by most Americans, not cleared up by our civics or history classes, which treat Natives as nothing more than a vanishing, if uppity, ethnicity.  Although Natives’ legal positions in the two countries are not identical at this time because of legal divergence since the American Revolution, for my current purpose they are close enough.

There are over a thousand societies in North America: the U.S., Canada (perhaps Francophone and non-Francophone!), and hundreds of Indian, Inuit, Aleut, and Mixed-Blood Indigenous Sovereign Nations, from Florida and the Caribbean to the North Pole, and from the Southwest and Pacific to Alaska.  Legally all these societies live side-by-side with each other.  Obviously the first two, the US and Canada, currently have a certain pre-eminence on account of military or other inequality, respectively, vis a vis the Native peoples.  But the Native peoples retain certain rights or privileges never ceded to the US or Canada, possessed by them from before European establishment here.  The English/North American Common Law, at least since the 17th century, as well as subsequent Acts of Crown, Parliament, or Congresses, have held that Native peoples are to be “treated with” — hence “treaties” — for what the European Sovereign — British or North American — desires from them, otherwise its seizure is generally not according to law.  And generally, these treaties did not deprive Native peoples of everything they ever possessed (just almost everything).  In addition, in recent years US and Canadian governments have felt a desire to make good to Native persons and peoples for centuries of INequality, illegality, unfairness, etc., by some (relatively few) programs of affirmative action or “privileges;” also, to help them as persons and peoples to make better of a bad situation.

Native North Americans are not the same kind of ‘thing’ as non-Native ethnic groups.  Irish-Americans, Ukrainian-Canadians, etc., have never had Sovereignty in North America as such, except through the non-Native governments of Canada or the American States.  The Natives have, and still do.  If not for British/American treaties with the Natives, the colonization of this continent could not have happened, or only by truly wiping out the Natives militarily, rather than just most of them.  Native residual rights and Sovereignty isn’t a question of equality or inequality with non-Native North Americans; in fact, if we Natives would just assimilate, all our problems would be solved, right?  Except we would be unfaithful to ourselves and what we are, like no other group here is required to be.  Therefore, ironically, occasional preferences for Natives in hiring or admissions are a sign not of Native superiority, but Natives’ inferiority and discrimination in US and Canadian societies.  They’re not “special rights,” just the same rights Europeans would retain if 350 million Native Americans had colonized Britain instead of the other way around.

Settlers are a Tribe — a very large and powerful tribe, but just one among hundreds or thousands here — it’s a whole continent, after all, just like Europe or Africa or Asia! — each having certain rights and, on a good day, recognizing or according others to others.  Natives cling to these rights because they continue to exist as Sovereign Peoples, and hope to restore some of what they have had taken from them over the last 500 years and more, of their life together, cultures, self-sufficiency, freedom from discrimination and racism and exploitation; and for these reasons they also attempt to use any help forthcoming from the big “tribes” that the US and Canada are, as small as that help may be, and as seldom.  For the Settler Tribe to call for the unilateral dismantling of Native Peoples is indeed racist, in fact genocidal, whether it stems from ignorance or intentional malice.  I prefer to believe most of it does stem from ignorance, though culpable on the part of Settler education systems, which teach Settlers all kinds of things in all kinds of depth and detail, but not these facts which are fundamental to the very existence and founding of their States.

Consider if the Honourable MP had instead called for the absorption of Canada’s Jews into its Christian Churches … or its Hindus, Muslims, atheists, etc.  Or for the abolition of, say, Catholic schools and colleges in Canada — ‘No more special rights for Catholics; old Churches have no relevance in modern times.’  And with taxpayer-funded mailings, yet!  ISTM religion is a helpful analogue to Native sovereignty and rights and “privileges” and existence.  It’s not just “political correctness” that prevents him from doing so, but the legal freedoms increasingly recognized by liberal democracy … and entrenched in Canada’s constitution by 1982’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms … the same constitution that now explicitly guarantees the Aboriginal and Treaty Rights of Canada’s Indians, Inuit, and Metis.  And considering the evidence that inflammatory public speech can tend to incite violence against the targets of that speech, the MP might even be held liable.

Younger generations re-embracing their Indigenous backgrounds

These people aren’t all Wannabe’s; some of them ARE Indians or Metis in Canada and the U.S.!

Advice on Native American spirituality

Of course, if we’re to take this writer seriously, maybe we shouldn’t even take him seriously! 😉

What does an Indian look like?

Not taking sides in the Cherokee Freedmen controversy because I don’t know enough about it … still, see the two pages-images from the Tribe’s advertising at this Wikipedia article!

Or even the front page of the American Indian College Fund site: The masthead image at top including a student, rotates among four different folks, one an Irish-looking young lady (except her eyes).  Red hair and turquoise, best of both worlds!

Or this 2005 NY Times Magazine piece about Mixed-Bloods / urbanized Natives, and others, “going Native.”  I believe the author is mistaken or underinformed about some things, but maybe I’ve been studying it more than he has(!).  (NB: The new Circe Sturm book mentioned there doesn’t seem to be out yet: it looks like her research continued longer than expected.  [Apparently post-grad research can go on and on!]  I get more potentially helpful hits searching not via the then-working title “Claiming Redness,” but the subtitle “Racial and Cultural Politics of Becoming Cherokee.”)

(The Times piece reminds me of how some Mixed-Blood activists / theorists insist on our right to identify as time, place, company, life-stage, etc., sall for.  But U.S.-rotted Mixed-Bloods mostly didn’t develope as solid a Metis / Mestizo / Mestico / Mulatto identity as Canada or Latin America have — painful as it may have been going through it for them, constantly ‘between tribes,’ Native and European / African.  We should be grateful to them for it.)

Aboriginals making the difference in Canadian elections?

Could be.  It could be that close.

“Town Destroyer” equals Genocide

The Iroquois nickname for George Washington, supposedly from his behavior towards non-combatants among Native Nations that sided with the Crown in the Revolutionary War.  War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, Genocide, all part of Settler America’s (not-so-)revolutionary heritage.

Happy Columbus Day.

Palin update!

She’s no working-class hero.

And despite her husband’s alleged Yup’ik Eskimo background, she’s no friend of Alaska’s first peoples.

North America before the makeover

Indian Health Emergency Declared

…by the Portland, Oregon, area Indian Health Board, due to rising gasoline costs and the distances impoverished Indians have to go for care from the federal Indian Health Service (hinted at in the classic “Bureau of Caucasian Affairs” treaty bit).  The vote has no legal effect like a settler-government disaster declaration, but it’s hoped it’ll draw attention to the problem … and dollars.

Indigenous liberation through language-immersion?

That’s the premise of this essay from Andrea Bear Nicholas.  I can certainly say how “neat” it felt taking a weekend ‘semi-immersion’ course in Irish Gaelic in the ’90s, I who previously “studied” Spanish, Latin, Biblical Greek and Hebrew.  (Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams once commented how he “loved to talk Irish in front of the White House!”)

I might even extend the usefulness of the idea a little more, such as one time when I was involved in discussing labor union business in Spanish right in the lunchroom, in an Anglophone workplace that subsequently sought to ban this behavior.  I guess there’s more than one kind of community-identity that can be facilitated by “minority” language!

Karma, or, Indigenous oppression like a bad psych drug for oppressors?

So argues this talk (PDF).  Try and stick through what seems like gratuitous anti-psychiatry, Tom-Cruise-style, because it builds toward some fascinating, even moving, ideas.  I might even borrow the book he’s selling!

These last few Native-related things come via the Native Studies program at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick.

Corporatocracy and Native Americans

Interesting (briefly-)detailed history (PDF) of New Brunswick’s Loyalist American settlement, illegitimate growth of corporations’ power, politicians’ conflicts-of-interest, and how all of the above left the province’s Natives destitute, as they largely remain.  A newspaper commentary by Professor Bear Nicholas.

Indigenous genocide

Andrea Bear Nicholas teaches and works in Native Studies at/from St. Thomas University in the Province of New Brunswick, Canada.  Read through this brief talk transcript at least twice for an inside sense/feel of the genocide that’s still going on against Indigenous people and peoples around the world, including the U.S., as well as “kinder, gentler” Canada.  Against children as well as adults.  Even now, after the closure of the Residential Schools, even now, in “politically correct” government schools.

I think if there’s even ‘one drop’ of ‘Red blood’ left in you, it’ll “cry out to Heaven for” redress.

Professor Bear Nicholas’ talk also raises the question for me, as an Irish / Native American convert in the Greek Orthodox Church, of, What about more-recent immigrants and their languages and cultures?  (UPDATE: Also see FURTHER, below.)  Well, bilingualism, English-French, remains the federal ideal in Canada, although as we are told, there are probably more Chinese speakers than French in British Columbia!  (Tho BC is perfectly entitled to adopt Chinese as an official language … and Manitoba, Ukrainian … and Nova Scotia, Gaelic … etc.  How about Mohawk in Quebec?!  Send Gilles Duceppe back to school! 😉 )  As Bear Nicholas points out, when even school is a “cross-cultural experience” for an oppressed minority child, it’s alot harder: Look at how some majority adults need to receive special training in cross-cultural this and that!  So the alternative is not necessarily two – or more – “solitudes” in a country; she also points to so many Europeans who are multilingual.  (As British “executive transvestite” comedian and actor Eddie Izzard reminds us, “The Dutch speak four languages and smoke marijuana!”)  But it also reminds me how unnatural and perhaps unnecessarily difficult, such humongous and “diverse” conquest / immigrant countries are … maybe frees us to think of better, time-tested ways, tolerant rather than physical-force- or other-force-genocidal.  Can you imagine the Romans trying to impose Latin on the Greeks or the Jews?!  (Tho that scene has more to do with latter-day English schools than 2,000-years-ago Mideastern politics!)

Just thinking…!  Not advocating the violent overthrow of the government or anything.  (I need my driver’s license!)

She also shows how we *all* need Aboriginal education, not just Indians.

Finally, what kind of mental health can be expected from what imperialists have put the rest of the world through?  What blowback?  Suicide, schizophrenia, substance abuse, terrorism, rebellion, revolution, desperation, “unreasonableness,” dangerous romanticism, ideology, demagoguery, fragmentation, civil strife, sectarianism, overdependence, “fundamentalism,” “radicalism”…?

FURTHER

The difference between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous peoples is just that, indigeneity.  In nearly every land there have been Indigenous peoples compromised by non-Indigenous settlers, conquerors, invaders, exploiters, overwhelmers, displacers, etc.  Sometimes their ancestors may not have relocated voluntarily, as with Slaves in the Americas from Europe and Africa.  But non-Indigenous peoples in one land are indigenous to other lands, or their families, their family cultures, languages or dialects, surnames, physical appearance, etc., are.  In theory – I say in theory – if they decided they didn’t like it in the new land, they would in some sense have a home … land … to “return” to, one where they might not stick out as much as if the Indigenous of their new land moved there, one where, if many Irish-Americans are typical, they might even feel an instant ‘mystical’ connection to, even before the plane lands there.  For Indigenous, where they are IS their home … land.  As hospitable as folks in other lands might be, it wouldn’t be the same, especially if the Indigenous in question have managed to retain some Indigenous sense of connection to their home … land … soil … etc.  In the ’90s I thought a little about emigrating to Ireland, but since I’ve learned more about my American Indian background, I wouldn’t dream of leaving the Americas permanently!  I’ve realized as never before in my life a relationship to this soil that goes back literally eons; it’s part of me.

All this may be one good way to understand the special status Indigenous peoples have in international politics, often in domestic law, treaties, countries’ customary law, social ethics or morality or social justice, racial or ethnic justice, etc.  Or should, or aspire to.  Indigenous peoples have been victimized in ways that prove to be fundamental to the very existence of the modern countries in which they now find themselves encapsulated, ways that in doing so fundamentally compromise Indigenous peoples’ way of life, spirituality, economy, language and self-expression, freedom and rights, homes and habits and customs, etc etc etc.  In former times often Indigenous peoples would simply be “terminated with extreme prejudice,” forcibly assimilated, exiled – all things we now consider criminally genocidal, or aspire increasingly so to do.

New Nanticoke Indian chief, powwow plug, Recognition?

This is the tribe I’m related to – though it seems I don’t qualify for formal membership because my particular ancestors weren’t in the right place at the right time.  But if you’re in or near Delaware next Saturday or Sunday, do check out the powwow, one of the biggest east of the Mississippi (and every year, the weekend after Labor Day).  It’s along State Route 24 between Millsboro and Lewes, Delaware, on the north side of the road … you can’t miss it.  Sunday morning even includes an on-site outdoor Christian Indian worship service – they’re big Methodists (hence Chief Jackson’s comments against casinos, I presume).

I was surprised to read he’s ‘visualizing’ Federal Recognition … but the late Ned Heite (pronounced like Hyatt) believed he’d scientifically confirmed what we’ve always known, our continuous communal history and Native identity, considered difficult for many Eastern communities at one time categorized as “tri-racial isolates.”  The following I’ve gleaned from Mitsawokett.com:

…From 1994 to the end of 1998, a group of archaeologists excavated and researched a small house site (called Bloomsbury) in Duck Creek Hundred, Kent County, Delaware, that was occupied at the end of the eighteenth century. In the course of this research, it became necessary to understand the community context in which the site existed. The community study led to some conclusions, some of which are detailed in a report posted at Heite Consulting’s Web Page. (See Related Web Sites)

Essentially, the group headed by Ned Heite, a historian and archaeologist working on the project for the Delaware Department Of Transportation, documented the continuous existence of a Native American remnant community throughout the past 300 years. The group believes that it has conclusively shown that the community defended its existence as a distinct lineage group, even when there were no “Indians” on the official record. Moreover, Heite and his co-workers show it is obvious that the families recognized their Indian origins, and that their non-Indian associates accepted this.

…Ned Heite says, “There is, clearly, a need for in-depth revisionist histories of the Native American remnants. A few steps have been taken along this path by genealogists, by tribal organizations and by a few academic historians whose points of view are neither afro-centric nor eurocentric.
“There is a large and growing body of literature on the isolate communities, written from both inside and outside.

“Virginia Easley DeMarce published two articles on the “isolate” communities, both of which are extremely useful. Dr. DeMarce brings the professional historian’s techniques to a genealogical problem. Essentially, she showed that the Melungeons and other groups with exotic origin legends were actually Indian remnants. The articles were published in 1992 and 1993 in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly:

  • “‘Very Slitly Mixt:” tri-racial isolate families of the Upper South – a genealogical study.’ Vol, 80, No. 1 (March 1992), pp. 36-56.
  • “‘Looking at legends – Lumbee and Melungeon: Applied genealogy and the origins of tri-racial isolate settlements.’ Vol. 81, No. 1 (March 1993), pp. 24-45.

“There has been a burst of scholarship concerning isolate communities, but much of it must be taken with several very large pinches of salt. Brent Kennedy’s book on his own people, the Melungeons, is an example. While Kennedy’s research and activism are massive and admirable, the book contains some leaps of faith that are, in my opinion, unacceptable. Dr. DeMarce has pointed out that the most logical explanation for Melungeon origins is that they are an Indian remnant group who migrated from Central Virginia.

…”Communities went under a variety of names, of which Melungeon is one of the more common. In {northern and maybe central Kent County,} Delaware, the Indian community were called moors. I have heard that this kind of evasive nomenclature was adopted to avoid being called black, mulatto, Negro, or Indian, during the ante-bellum period. If they were identified as Negro or mulatto, they would be subject to discriminatory laws. People identified as “Indians not taxed” lost their civil rights and got shipped west.

“There is good evidence that large numbers of Indians stayed behind during each “removal” episode. To this day, there are remnant communities in each of the steps along the westward migration from which Indian tribes were ‘removed.'”

…”What are you?”

A correspondent wrote, “…I am one of these Delaware ‘Moors.’ …as a growing adolescent, life posed many questions to my siblings and myself. Removed from Cheswold and living in south Jersey many of our friends would often ask “what are you?” and although often we would ask our parents and grandparents (living in Cheswold) we never got much more than “our people.” Within the last four years I have lost my mother …and my maternal grandparents, all of whom were dearer than life to me. I would very much appreciate anything you could forward me so that I may let my children know whom and what a wonderful lineage they came from.”

Another, living in the deep South, says, “Folks ask me all the time, ‘just what are you?'”

And a third wrote, “I also remember being told as a child that the direct family…were mostly a mixture of Anglo/Indian and Spanish blood which didn’t make it easier for my sister and I to answer the question “what are you?” that was so frequently asked by classmates in the 60’s and 70’s. It wasn’t until the early 70’s that the term “other” was provided on the national test papers we were given in elementary school. Before that you had to list yourself as white, black or asian, those were the only choices. In short, I’ve learned much about our roots through this group and would like to offer my assistance in anyway that I can to help uncover and document the truth of our family history for ourselves and for future generations.”

 

“I Never Knew”

My people never told me about my real ancestral home
Those that came before me sought to protect their own.
I never knew the old ones and who my ancestors were
I never knew what they sacrificed or what they had to endure.
I never knew about the family secret and why my mother cried
I never knew until all of the old folks had died.
I never knew until I found out for myself, without any shame
That what I am inside is to be loved and that no one is to blame.
I never knew who I truly was; hidden way down deep inside
I do know now that I must tell it to all with great pride.
I never knew that I, son of my mother, was of mixed race
Delaware Moor; the Yellow People; this is my true human face.
I never knew that I was white, black, and Indian
I never knew because others considered it to be an ultimate sin.
I never knew what my grandmother taught me came from Indian ways
But loving memories of the touch of grandma’s hands stays and stays.
I doesn’t matter that I never knew.
It only matters that now I do.

–{Mr.} Loren Kelly
August 27, 2006

Our forebears have left us many orally transmitted records telling us we are descended from one or the other or both of the Lenni-Lenape and Nanticoke peoples of the Delmarva area; as we have learned more of the connections between our contemporaries across North America we have broadened the scope of this web site from being initially a record of Lenni-Lenape descendants to one which is inclusive of the Nanticokes.

…Native American research in southern New Jersey and Delaware presents often unsoluble problems to their living descendants and to historians. The greatest problem: the Indians living in these areas in the 1600’s and 1700’s were either forcibly removed or fled or avoided brutalities by dissolving into the European-descended community–and by so doing lost their identity and, to genealogists, research is all about individual identity.

It is easy to imagine that the removals of those of the original inhabitants who insisted on retaining their native identity was a powerful influence on the many who remained in Delaware to blend in and not attract attention. Proclaiming their Indian roots would attract unwanted attention.

Many Native Americans accepted baptism, the act of which, in the view of Christian society, converted the participants from ‘heathens’ or ‘savages’ to Christians. The simple act of baptism kept them from being swept up in Jacksonian purges, permitting them to live on the margins of transplanted European-derived society. The implications for the historical record were ominous. In effect, baptism brought about a change of status, from persons with Native American heritage to an officially recorded racial class of ‘colored’ or ‘mulatto’ or ‘black’. The resultant of this process of virtual “pleckerization” was a population of Native-descended people in Delaware whose recorded history became inseparable from colored persons of other ethnic derivations.

Institutionalized poverty and segregated, inferior schools, as well as indifference on the part of officials and citizens reporting to the recordkeepers, affected the sources available to us. Illiteracy compounded this problem, severely hindering family recordkeeping in Bibles and journals. Poor folks then, and today, did not and could not create records reflective of wealth and learning, i.e., land transactions, wills and probatable estates. Ministers of their churches, many minimally literate, kept few records. Where a circuit rider visited both white and colored churches, the recording of births and marriages of members of colored congregations were, by comparison, not nearly as complete. Readers may judge for themselves by viewing surviving records at the Delaware Archives. As would be expected based on economic and educational factors, more is found in jailhouse, almshouse and illegitimacy records than in church birth, marriage and death records and records dependant on family wealth.

A teacher, Anne Pemberton, has written, “Oral history must be preserved – otherwise history falls to the wayside as the province of the privileged – ignoring the history and stories of those who were not gifted with the opportunity to read and write.”

The archaeologist, Lyle Browning, adds, “Oral history definitely has a place and rightfully so. But there are oral histories that are not valid. What it does is provide a challenge to go to work on and push the interpretation of evidence as far as the evidence allows. The trick is to extract the nugget of truth from the whole.”

Library of Congress research specialist, Jurretta Jordan Heckscher, states, “Oral history is not inherently more or less truthful or accurate than written history: accounts of both types must be carefully evaluated for their sources, circumstances of production, biases, probable effects of knowledge or ignorance, degree of correlation with established fact, and other human filters before their veracity can be assessed for its factual utility in any given instance.”

The Mitsawokett web site takes from governmental, church, family and other records and, where these are not available, oral tradition and history to enable our cousins around North America to learn of each other’s existence, to share family lore and genealogical data, to give them a handle on “what they are and where they came from” and to give them a base from which to begin personal research.

These pages signal the respect we have for the original inhabitants of these lands and are a link to the past for their descendants.

Western diet causes Alaska Native cancer

They say Indigenous Alaskans have some of the highest cancer death rates in the country.  Which is why that state’s Native health consortium is trying to get Natives – and non-Indigenous too – to take another look at The Great Land’s traditional Subsistence diet.  After all, it worked for thousands of years!

Indigenous and other Alaskans have been fighting over Native and others’ Subsistence rights and resources – rural hunting, trapping, fishing, gathering, etc. – versus recreational and commercial taking – for a couple generations now.  Natives often argue that it’s necessary not just for food or low-level trade, but culture and spirituality.  Well, now it may be a matter of life-or-death for them.

I wonder if this also applies to Native Subsistence rights conflicts in the Lower 48 – the Indian health and cancer concerns I mean?  For years there have been conflicts in Washington State and the upper Midwest, even death threats against Indians.

Complex math among ancient indigenous

So complex I can barely follow this 16-minute talk (blog post linking to video with pictures; maximize video if possible to see the pictures), maybe since I only got to Algebra II, junior year of high school!  But fascinating!  Even roots of computer science.

The guy says informing young minorities in the U.S. of this fact improves their performance in math and science.  Very cool!

(I just hope he got that African Native priest’s permission to share with the whole world what he was reluctant to share with him at first on account of its cultural / religious sacredness….)

Overview of Alaska Native Settlement

Buffalo is/are good for you

If you ‘must’ eat meat, that is.  Just don’t burn down the house trying to cook it, like I almost did the other day!  Carbonized hockey puck isn’t as pleasant a buffalo burger as it was once I got the hang of it (sort of) this morning (Chaotic Sleep Patterns strike again).  But it turns out even a bad buffalo burger is still pretty good….

Neat article from a Canadian producer about our continent’s buffalo/bison heritage.

Why most Indigenous North Americans’ ancestors revered the beast.  Pretty damn useful!  But I’m surprised the National Bison Assn. didn’t produce a basketball-styled “NBA” T-shirt like Rez Dog’s “Native By Ancestry” one!

Have *you* ever heard of this place?!  Another of North America’s best-kept secrets!  Turns out I twice drove past it years ago, unawares….

“Bison bison,” eh?  I can visualize the ad campaign, like “Pizza pizza”!  A few years ago I read that it turns out bison meat may be what the Doctor Upstairs ordered for Native diabetes….

Somebody linked from somewhere up there commented that the pre-Catastrophe environment of most of North America was shaped by buffaloes’ (sp?) munching and trampling of grasses and such (and of course, excreting too – BTW: buffalo-chip jewelry?  Sometimes progress is good!!).  Think about it: their range area stretched from the Appalachians / Alleghenies to the Rockies, and from Sonora to the Northwest Territories – HUGE!  Then Whitey came along and mucked it all up, and now we have weeds out the kazoo….

Natives lose on Atkins?

I’m wary of posting anything about certain kinds of extreme diets some experts claim are dangerous, so take this for what it may be worth:

After one year on a low carbohydrate diet, 60 members of the Namgis First Nation community of Alert Bay, [British Columbia,] have begun to reap some very positive health benefits.

Confounding diet experts and Health Canada….  Benefits that include weight losses and even reversals of diabetes.

Weight problems and above average incidents of diabetes are all to[o] common in the aboriginal communities of Canada.

The problems can be directly linked to the fact that traditional diets have in most part been superseded by the modern high fat diets of the industrialized world.

The U.S. Metis dilemma

Reading about Obama’s goals for Native policy reminds me of the dilemma faced by Mixed-Blood Indians within the United States who may be luckier (for now) than our Indian-identified cousins: In some ways we would wish, like our brothers and sisters within Canada, to receive some kind of recognition under U.S. law, considering that many of our communities antedate 1776, or the later U.S. conquest / cession of our territories.  But doing so could detract from the material help so many other Indians and Tribes receive from Washington, which is already far from enough, reflecting continuing illegal and genocidal policies and negligence on the part of the American government.  This was pointed out to me in recent years by one or more U.S. Métis groups like this one.

What’s the goal of “recognition” if not money, reservations, casinos, etc.?  Most basically, the government-to-government relationship of co-sovereigns.  Beyond that, influence in U.S. policy that concerns us and even our Indian cousins.  One thing not commonly mentioned in the U.S. is non-Treaty aboriginal rights, such as hunting, fishing, trapping, and gathering, when such rights have not been ceded by Treaty.  But even “Federal recognition” as currently set up takes decades, sometimes generations, and to add hundreds of non- (or semi-)Indian-identifying Indigenous communities to that process would probably bring it crashing down!

Some US Metis spokespersons even say non-Indian-identifying Metis who are currently luckier than our Indian-identifying cousins shouldn’t seek individual recognition, Tribal membership / citizenship, for similar reasons, but instead should join one of the newly-forming Metis groups.  But, at least since the ’60s, Tribal membership is sometimes seen to have a certain cachet, especially for those of us separated by miles and/or generations from our Native roots.  (Sure, if we don’t “look Indian,” and society doesn’t maltreat us like it does those who do….)  This is a little like Black-activist objections to the mixed-race option introduced in the 2000 Census, fearing Whites will perceive a smaller Black community and belittle their aspirations for equality and social justice and fairness – “divide and conquer.”  In fact, a majority of historic African-Americans have also Native American and European ancestries, just as most persons with Native American ancestries also have European and/or African ancestries now, and more European-Americans than realize it – especially Italians, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch – have African and/or Native American and/or South or Southwest Asian ancestries.  (BTW, most non-Latinos don’t realize that most Latinos have substantial Native American ancestry, either.)  And more than a few Indian-identified persons treat Metis as “wannabe’s,” rather than “are’s.”  The fact is that America usually treats you based on what you look like … unless they know that there’s more to you than what you look like, and then they mistreat you on that basis!  So by no means should equality, fairness, social justice continue to be denied somebody, simply because he or she doesn’t meet the deniers’ traditional definition of this or that.

OTOH, in Canada at least, Metis often share Indians’ problems with health, poverty, and discrimination.  It might be interesting to investigate whether American Metis are worse-off in these ways than any of their non-Indian cousins, and perhaps more like their Indian cousins in this regard than currently suspected.

If Mixed-Blood profile, roots, and culture(s) could be raised in this country, their groups might be able to take pressure off needy Native communities.  Indians or Tribes could help with this perhaps.  But as currently understood here, no Metis group as such has any claim on the U.S. (except perhaps the couple cheated out of “Halfbreed Reservations” promised in Indian [sic] Treaties in the Midwest), and so like the group linked above, their aspirations are mostly less tangible and more voluntary.

The other thing is that Halfbreedness in the US has been mostly a highly-localized phenomenon, somewhat below-the-radar, with few if any of the larger kinds of groups, communities, and cultures that developed in what is now Canada – even a couple short-lived regional Republics in the Plains!  (This Wikipedia piece, while somewhat semi-comprehensive, focuses on the Plains Metis of Canada, especially their French-derived; this one, on what might be called Plains British-derived Metis; these links provide a bare hint that there are Metis in and rooted in Central and Eastern Canada; this site seeks to do much better, as does this oneThis document suggests that at one point ALL QUEBEC could be considered a Metis Reserve, and this long and quirky but rewarding one, that most French-Canadians are in fact Metis, “Creole [continental] North America,” not-quite-White, not-quite-French!)  As the links in parentheses indicate, Metis have a higher profile in Canadian history than here.  In fact it has been documented that many of the ‘border tribes’ the US warred with, stretching from the Great Lakes to Texas, were in fact Mixed-Blood Nations.  And many “White” cities from the Midwest to the Northwest were founded by Metis, even Francophones, even immigrants from Canada.  But in US historiography – as in fiction, movies, TV shows, etc. – ” ‘Breeds” usually have to choose between Native and Settler peoples.  [How many Old West cowboys were Metis / Mestizo???]  And so we have more than 200 relatively-tiny, loosely-organized communities in the Eastern U.S., identified around 1960 by Brewton Berry in Almost White, and by others before and since, most with a tradition of Native roots as well as Old World(!), most of whose neighbors seek to deny them any origins sounding more ‘exotic’ than mixed-Black-and-White: Nanticokes, “Turks,” “Portuguese,” Brass Ankles, Redbones, “Blackfoot Cherokee,” Melungeons, “Moors,” etc etc etc.  (OTOH, it’s highly likely that many of the early-modern Blacks and Whites invoked, had acquired Indian ancestry too, since Indians were enslaved as part of the Greater-Atlantic Slave Trade since the 1400s or earlier [sic], according to Powhatan-Renape / Lenape Metis Jack Forbes.)  And culturally, often these have been forced ‘underground,’ to largely assimilate to surrounding White or Black communities – though always retaining a certain distinctiveness, even if often uncertain to others or even themselves or their kin, or “hidden in plain sight” – unlike the ingenious blended Euro-Indian culture(s) of Metis in Canada.

THEN AGAIN, this US group thinks the solution isn’t to go along with the problem, but to challenge it head-on – “apply directly to the forehead,” so to speak! – not by simply joining the competition for a small or even shrinking pie, but with greater numbers to get the pie enlarged!  (They do perceive a need in the US Metis community similar to that in the Native-identified community.)  By some estimates one in three people in the U.S. has Native ancestry!  Imagine THAT Mixed-Blood Nation – 100 million registered voters!

In true Native fashion, one wants to honor “All My Relations.”  But how to do that – ah, that is politics!

Obama for Indians

Obama promises to name a Native as senior advisor for Indian affairs in the White House (what a concept!), to promote the government-to-government relationship with Tribes, and help alot of the problems on The Rez and even for off-rez Indians.  And the other day he was “adopted” into the Crow Indian Nation on its reservation encapsulated within Montana.  (That oughta screw up the demographics, with all his money now!)

Soda kills

Just in case you missed the new research about diet soda (yes, diet) recently, there’s this.  And diet was supposed to be better than regular!

Think about it: liquid sugar by the gallon, all those bubbles to mess with your gastrointestinal tract and environs, bigger and bigger cups – some now look like mini kegs! – and we expected to get away with it?!!!

Think of soda like candy – it is, after all, liquid candy: a little bit, once in a while.  Otherwise, just “obey your thirst.”

Or … there’s always beer, wine, liquor!

Could a State join Canada?

The article from the last post is about people in Maine interested in having that State secede to Canada.  The author lightly opines, “we would need to change our system of government to Canadian standards and start calling ourselves a province.”

THOUGHT EXPERIMENT.

A State is a sovereign, like “the State of Israel;” a province is a subdivision of a sovereign, like the provinces of the Roman Empire, or of many countries today.  When the UK colonies of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia (as we now call them, more or less) decided to get together in 1867, after watching the Union of sovereign States to the south go through a bloodbath of a  Civil War, they decided they wanted ‘a more perfect union,’ and so remained provinces (as all Britain’s North American colonies were sometimes called), legally giving more power to the central “Confederation” they were creating, Canada.  (Up there this word denotes the exact opposite of what it does for Americans, reflecting on the traditional propaganda about America’s previous “weak Articles of Confederation.”)

It’s true that after over a century of legal adjustments, court rulings (especially by the Brits aiming to protect the constitutive Provinces from Federal encroachment), and political compromises, Canada today seems among the world’s loosest federations, and it’s common to say the Provinces are “co-sovereign” with the Confederation (or Dominion), in almost American terms.  And while, in theologian Stanely Hauerwas’ perfect phrase, “there may be no denying the descriptive power of this statement,” and the Provinces of Canada may have evolved nearly into sovereign States, it still remains a bit of an exaggeration, constitutionally speaking.

Let me elucidate.  As described in their unilateral Declaration of Independence, 13 of the colonies / provinces to the south considered themselves “free and independent States” on or about July 4, 1776 – and they meant States, not State.  Over the next 11 years several wars among them almost broke out, one-on-one affairs IIRC, including New York vs. New Hampshire over the territory claimed by yet another one, the independent Republic of Vermont which everyone forgets, which wasn’t cooperating much with the other 13 at all, sought to exchange ambassadors with the Mother Country, and even to reunite with it!  So in 1787, when a mostly-secret “convention” proposed their “more perfect union,” one thing these “free and independent States” didn’t give up was sovereignty.  The new (written) Constitution merely delegated some of these States’ sovereign attributes or powers or rights to the Union, retaining all those not explicitly delegated.  In this arrangement, similar in species to the “pooled sovereignty” often referred to in connection with the European Union, these States and their Union were definitely co-sovereign (though the term isn’t used in the U.S., being of more-recent Canadian coinage), the Union in the areas delegated to it, and the States in every other way.  American law takes this very seriously, even though the States delegated to the Union powers the world usually considers primary reflections of sovereignty, such as international relations, defense, and currency … and even though there’s been some growth of Federal power due to Constitutional Amendments and court rulings down through the years.  Perhaps the best illustration of this is the fact that not just any case can be appealed to Federal courts; it has to be “a Federal matter,” otherwise the State courts have the last word.

(This came up after the 2000 Presidential Election.  As you may have heard, we don’t actually elect the President of [the Executive Branch of] the United States, Presidential Electors do.  And these Electors are State officers, not Federal.  Each State legislature is completely free to prescribe how to choose its Presidential Electors.  In the first place, as the mischievous Florida Legislative Republicans reminded us, Electors don’t have to be popularly elected; it’s up to each State.  [Though it’s debatable whether they would’ve gotten away with changing the rules after the fact. Would the U.S. Supreme Court have been that brazen?]  More importantly, how each State elects its officers is entirely its own business, and not normally “a Federal matter.”  Therefore, most of us considered that the Federal courts had no business hearing GW Bush’s appeal from the Florida Supreme Court regarding interpretation of Florida’s election laws and administration, by its own State courts.  To get around this, Bush had to concoct a laughable argument that his civil rights – a Federal matter – would be violated if every vote were counted in the counties in which Republican shenanigans were alleged by the Al Gore campaign and many others.  This was an argument of the proverbial “legal mind: the ability to think about something intimately related to something else, without thinking about that to which it is related”: Civil Rights, intended to protect Blacks from re-enslavement after the Civil War, used to deny many Florida Blacks and others the electoral franchise accorded them in this contest under Florida law!  [This is exactly the same area of law that supposedly bestowed human rights on corporations in the U.S., and of course the irony is identical. It’s also the kind of reasoning made famous by the medieval {Western, Catholic} Scholastic philosophers and theologians, now employed by a son of the Protestant Reformation, a Methodist: rationalizing about how many teeth a horse was allowed to have based on made-up prior principles … instead of opening his mouth and counting them!!!  Instead of rationalizing, Florida law provided that the winner of the election would be determined by counting the votes cast.  WHAT A F*CKING CONCEPT!!!]  In a tragic example of expansion of Federal power by court ruling, the Federal courts allowed Bush, and ultimately so did a partisan Supreme Court – although they sure didn’t want their ruling used against  Republicans, when they said, in flagrant violation of every legal principle and tradition this country – and all Common Law countries – supposedly stand on, that their ruling shouldn’t be used as a precedent in any future case.  So much for independent judiciary and rule of law … and the last 7 years of American and world history!  Yes, Canada, courts aren’t always legally correct.)

This is the opposite of what happened in Canada in 1867: the Fathers of Confederation delegated to the Provinces some powers, rights, and privileges, delineated others as shared by the Confederation and Provinces, with the rest remaining with the Confederation.  Arguably, legally, the Provinces are creatures of the Confederation – and hence Provinces – even though they antedated it!

For comparison purposes, in 1901 the drafters of the Australian Commonwealth constitution, fearful of a Canadian-style (theoretically) stronger center, went more with the American model again, on behalf of the federating colonies there.  And so Australia’s constitutive parts, like America’s, are sovereign States, not Provinces – and BTW, their State viceregal officers Governors instead of Lieutenant-Governors.  (Which brings up another illustration: Canadian Provinces have LGs because historically they are lieutenants to the Governor General, even Federal employees, appointed on Federal Advice, not Provincial employees, clearly subordinating the Provinces to the Federal Crown, in spite of the fact that they can have “Her Majesty In Right of” a Province … even suing “Her Majesty In Right of Canada”!)

This is not to say that a State can’t create additional sovereign States; in fact it’s alleged to have happened in a number of newer “federal” countries, essentially constituting their subdivisions Sovereigns in certain areas.  The Holy Roman Emperors even bestowed actual sovereignty on some of their subject principalities (while they remained subject).  I fully expect this century that some Canadian court will find Canada’s Provinces are, have always been, or have become, Sovereign States.  Whether this would require formally reopening the constitution, or could take effect by itself in the British tradition of uncodified constitutional evolution, I don’t know.  Or else Provinces will insist on (greater) involvement in nominating their LGs, and then, on the exclusive right.  Quasi-American Alberta might even be the first to declare itself a (Canadian[?]) State!

Nevertheless, the question before us for now is whether, as the words of the columnist quoted atop this post suggest, an American State would have to give up Statehood to join Canada.  (I doubt she had this question in mind, so I must take full blame myself!)

Before answering it, just for the record, let’s establish whether Maine and other things like it in the U.S. really are States.  After all, only 13 States formed the Union … Vermont joined having formerly been independent just as they … so did Texas, maybe California … that’s it.  The rest were carved out of Federally-controlled/occupied “Territories” (including Indian Lands), settled by Whites and others from elsewhere, then elevated to Statehood and “admitted to the Union.”  But if we accept that sovereigns can create other sovereigns, that’s OK.

So.  Could the Canadian Confederation include both Provinces and States?  Well apparently there’s such a thing as “asymmetrical federalism,” best illustrated by the Russian Federation at this time, the Holy Roman Empire previously (sort of).  But theoretically two ‘levels’ both claiming all but delegated powers would seem to cancel each other out!  Furthermore, Maine residents would be used to the theory of the 9th and 10th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, saving an undetermined reservoir of rights to them even against the government of Maine … as well as the whole three centuries of experience with The Common Law of Maine (including Massachusetts before Maine’s separation from it).  Section 26 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms brings the 9th Amendment into Canada so to speak, but only insofar as it relates to “any other rights or freedoms that exist in Canada”: here’s one place where the competing “residual powers” doctrines collide head-on, because Mainers might not want to give up U.S. or Maine Unenumerated Rights, especially if they don’t know the extent of what they’d be giving up – kind of like the reluctance to codify the Royal Prerogative for fear of leaving out something that’ll become important in the future.  Then again, not knowing might make it easier for the Mainers!  Aside from this perhaps academic conundrum, in terms of legal systems it might go OK, since each Province does have its own version of the Common Law already, we’d just be adding Maine’s to the mix.  Maybe even the Residual conflict could be finessed with words saving as much of what each side is used to already as practicable.

What’s Admission look like?  Several of the relevantly-named documents here convey an idea, although they all cover admission of British territories … without a lapse of 250 years! 😉

Does Maine remain a State in all this?  I don’t see why not.  The physics of the balance of powers between State and Federal might be shuffled slightly in the move from the USA to Canada, and some shared powers would probably be introduced that America isn’t used to constitutionally … but then again, in reality America has evolved some degree of sharing via Federal mandates and/or funding, it’s just that the method and tone are very different, less ‘interactive’ you might say!

Then there’s the matter of the 3 Indian Reservations and associated Trust Lands in Maine (our example).  I don’t believe Canada holds lands in trust for First Nations groups or individuals like the U.S. Federal government does.  Quite a bit of the U.S. is actually Indian Trust Lands!  The U.S. exploits the land, pursuant to Treaties, and is supposed to collect the revenues and forward them to the Tribes or individual Indians who own them.  (They’ve been screwing this up for years though – so bad they even had to take down their website? – and Indians suing the government allege they’re out 12 Billion dollars all tolled!  Maybe they’d have better luck going to the Chinese!)  Especially Out West, Trust Lands have farms or ranches on them, or mineral extraction, or even towns, counties, railroads, highways, etc.  I don’t know how much land we’re talking about in Maine, but they originally claimed more than 2/3 of the State on the basis of unratified Treaties before a settlement agreement in 1980.  There’s also the matter of the Reserves themselves.  I’m not too familiar with Indian Law in Canada, and it’s pretty rough down here, but there’s the potential to consider that Reserves and Tribes are in fact subject sovereign States themselves (the 1800s Supreme Court’s “domestic dependent nations,” as bad as that sounds!), and my impression is that Tribal self-governance and Sovereignty are farther along here than in Canada.  For that matter, there are also a fair number of French-speakers in Maine … and the theory that most of them are Métis, facing potential recognition under the Canadian constitution as Aboriginal North Americans, and whatever that may entail – adjudication of Aboriginal Rights, Land Title, Sovereignty, hunting and trapping rights….

Does Canada accept a State though?  Well, talks with Maine might “call the question” of the Statehood of the other Provinces anyway.  OTOH, constitutional sticklers might consider it too great a risk to the union; as I’ve said, courts aren’t always legally correct.

As for the columnist’s other comment, “we would need to change our system of government to Canadian standards,” the British North America Act 1867 presumes the kind of government the Provinces have now, ie, the Lieutenant-Governor appointed by the Governor General (on advice of the Prime Minister) in The Queen’s name, governing with the advice of a Ministry retaining the confidence of (in Maine’s case I guess the lower house of) the legislature; and a legislature consisting of the LG and its one or two houses.  ISTM any deviation from this would require a Constitutional Amendment.

Another way might be a Treaty of Union between all Canada and Maine, or USA and Canada with respect to Maine, which Canada could simply receive into its law as constitutional legislation.

Métis are Legally Aboriginal

I’ve just remembered why the Canadian Constitution Act 1982 says Métis are as Aboriginal as Indians and Inuit: Because Métis have Aboriginal and/or Treaty Rights of which Canadian Law is required to take notice.

I have said I think Indigenous is a better word for Métis than Aboriginal, because as I read the word in its plain meaning, Aboriginal means “here first” (or at least, before actual European-led settlement began) or “from the beginning.” Métis as such, being of Mixed Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal ancestry by definition, wouldn’t be described that way.  But I was looking at the matter perhaps anthropologically (Heaven forbid!) or sociologically, even just grammatically.  The constitution is a legal document, addressing a special set of concerns not necessarily identical to or coterminous with those of the anthropologist, sociologist, or grammarian.

For centuries in the Anglo/American legal system, Aboriginal groups, and sometimes Aboriginal individuals, have been held by courts to continue to possess certain rights in tenure (Aboriginal Title) and/or use of territory and resources (Aboriginal Rights), to the extent that the rights in question are not incompatible with Crown rule “where The Queen’s Writ runs,” or have not been extinguished* by the Crown-in-parliament, ie, by competent, valid legislative statute.**  This ultimately goes all the way back to when the Welsh and Anglo-Saxons were the Aboriginals when William the Conqueror arrived in Britain in AD 1066, since the Common Law in England has been held to antedate the Conquest.  It also would have applied to Ireland if The Case of Tanistry had gone another way in the 1600s; the court ruling was that the Celtic chiefly or clan succession system (to lands) by that name, by a competent, previously-appointed, -nominated, or even -elected adult near relative (rather than strict primogeniture) was incompatible with Crown rule.  (I remember thinking when I read about it a few years ago that, in the light of more recent and diverse Imperial and Commonwealth jurisprudence and governmental experience – my gosh, India! Africa! – that the Irish practice of tanistry might have been upheld vis a vis British rule had the case only been brought today rather than 400 years ago.  I forget exactly why, though.)

Since the 1600s the Crown, its successors (eg, the USA) and its agents (eg, colonial proprietors or governors) have frequently tried to free-up lands and/or resources they desired, in the hands of Aboriginal groups outside Europe, by Treaty – not always accompanied by the threat or reality of violence as commonly in the case of the U.S. … nevermind broken Treaties.  It’s possible they thought relatively-voluntary relinquishment would be easier than by war, which would inevitably follow mere legislative extinguishment way off in London or Ottawa.  Even the U.S., I suppose, is to be lauded for not simply extinguishing – or trying to – all rights by a piece of paper on Capitol Hill, despite its mostly “warlike”(!) approach to Aboriginal peoples since the Revolution.

In any case, any land title or other Aboriginal Rights not ceded by Treaty (or sometimes equivalent negotiated settlement) remains in the hands of the Aboriginal possessor(s).  In what is now Canada many Métis groups and individuals in the past or even the present have lived “on the land,” occupied territories for centuries alongside or “in-between” Indian Tribes, hunted, gathered, fished, trapped, signed or “adhered to” Treaties ceding some but not necessarily all Aboriginal Rights – who knows, maybe even have mineral rights!  There are even a handful of Métis Reserves (reservations) in Canada.  And Métis living elsewhere may still hold unceded Aboriginal Rights or Treaty Rights, whether as Métis or even strictly as Indian/Inuit descendants.

In addition, like the U.S., Canada often offers benefits or assistance – never enough of course – to Aboriginal groups and individuals as part of (lobbied) social legislation or executive government functions.  While not technically part of the constitution or Treaties, these may be more available to Métis from lawmakers and Governments now that they’re officially recognized in the constitution as Aboriginal.  Métis in Canada suffer much from discrimination, poverty, and health problems, little different from their Indian or Inuit cousins.

Now how about other countries?!!

(*–I do not believe this use of extinguished is the same as when, in the 20th century, the United States Congress acted to “terminate a Tribe.”  Congress has since “unterminated” some “terminated Tribes,” but Aboriginal Rights “extinguished” are considered incapable of being “unextinguished” or restored, at least in Commonwealth Nations.  However, I am not a lawyer, just an amateur legal scholar!)

(**–The way I read U.S. constitutional documents, I’m not sure any U.S. legislative body is empowered to extinguish Aboriginal Rights without Treaties or similar agreements, like a Westminster Parliament probably is by Common Law, since U.S. lawmakers have only powers explicitly or clearly implicitly delegated to them by written Constitutions, Federal or State, respectively.  Thank God!)

FREE CANADA!, or, What else American Red Tory means

Many Canadians feel economically dominated by the United States, the 800-pound gorilla to the South.  Though what should be done about that should probably be guided by Canadians who have that country’s best interests at heart.  For instance, letting them tear-up NAFTA and US-Canada Free Trade as well as other agreements prejudicial to Canada – or reopening them for fairer negotiations – and impose domestic corporate ownership quotas.

Some Canadians also feel culturally dominated by us.  Certainly they get all the American TV shows, books, movies, and music – though somehow they don’t seem to affect them like they do us, ie, making us kill each other and others different from us!  Also, Canadian influence on U.S. TV, movies, music, etc., is strong, or at least, the influence of Canadian-born persons (Pamela Anderson, Michael J. Fox, Lorne Michaels, Neil Young, Peter Jennings, etc.).  Interesting question for further examination.

But worst of all is U.S. influence on Canadian politics.  Not merely keeping an eye on the 49th Parallel since we are the local 800-lb. gorilla, but putting up with us exporting American republicanism, Republicanism, Classical Liberalism / irrational libertarianism, political Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, other ideologies, horse-race campaign news coverage and attitudes, greed and Rationalized Capitalism, giving orders to Canadian Forces behind the back of their own government, dictating policy to Ottawa, our government influencing their elections, Bay Street a carbon copy of Wall Street, the question of Fort Drum,* etc etc etc.  Now, ‘children must play,’ but must America muck around with such a loyal ally and generous neighboUr, when instead we should be learning from them?!!!  MAKE AMERICA IN CANADA’S IMAGE!!!

PS: Why don’t Canucks, with more guns per capita than us, kill each other like we do?  Why don’t our TV and movies have such a bad influence on them if any at all?  Why do they have health care, multiple parties, Responsible Government (read accountable executive),** hand-marked paper ballots, profounder education, more peaceful diversity, nicer cities, less-“concentrated” Indians, recognized Mixed-Blood Indigenous, true friends in all parts of the world, etc etc etc.  They’re not perfect.  But the answers must lie in their culture, their heritage, their history, even their legal tradition.  (Conversely, our late friend Marc Chaitlin firmly believed our violence today was rooted in our violent Revolution and replacement of legitimate government with “the Slavemaster Republic.”)  How do they differ from us?  Monarchy, peaceful evolution vs. violent revolution (They’re ‘the American Evolution’!), Classical Conservatism, gradual independence, British tutelage (vs. enmity) in statecraft and soldiery and diplomacy, “Peace, Order, and Good Government” more important than mere “Pursuit of Happiness” (sounds like a motto for Hedonism!), a sense and tradition of the Common Good as an active not passive thing, national solidarity even in peacetime, self-restraint, a check on politicians even in the appointive offices of Governor General and Lieutenant-Governors, greater High-Church influence (Roman Catholic and Anglican), an Empire-cum-Commonwealth of Nations, etc etc etc.

(*–Rudmin alludes to the “unprecedented” Congressional appropriation behind the initial construction of Ft. Drum, unprecedented because it was unconstitutional!  Being for three years, it violated Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, which limits military appropriations to two years!  Somebody in Washington really wanted Ft. Drum, bad enough to risk public exposure and a court case, neither of which apparently came.)

(**–Think about how our elite structure their own corporations.  There isn’t a Board of Directors in the land that would give a CEO the carte blanche any U.S. President has for 4 or 8 whole years, unless he was already majority owner or the inventor of the product or something, of course.)

Diabetes Blindness hope?

Speaking of Diabetes, this article reports an interesting-sounding theory about how people with diabetes sometimes lose vision, how this might be stopped, maybe prevented, maybe even reversed?

Maybe I should get my blood sugar checked, as my GP recommended a few years ago(!), ’cause needles in the eyes sure don’t sound pleasant!  I’m really weird about my eyes as it is, and always have been.

I wonder if this treatment could even be delivered orally?  After all, some meds go just where they’re needed on the basis of distribution throughout the blood, and so get concentrated somewhere because there’s lots of extra blood where needed, eg, anti-inflammatories.  One would have to work on the underlying cause(s) of the retinopathy too, I guess, including the diabetes….  Hmm….

I’m definitely not a doctor.

What about eyepatches delivering the treatment through the skin, one at a time even if necessary, to localize the effect more, versus body-wide via a pill?

But if they slow/stop new vessel formation, they don’t solve the “leakyness” problem….  I guess like that last quote said, this tackles just one aspect of the diabetic retinopathy problem.

Another take on Canada’s ‘conservative progressiveness’

from a Boston Globe writer who seems to just about ‘get it’!

I would just add a comment on this paragraph:

The differences between the two countries are captured in their founding documents. As Canadian textbooks often note, Canadian politicians deliberately avoided the eloquence found in the Declaration of Independence, which ringingly celebrates ”life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Instead, Canada’s much more prosaic bedrock document, the British North America Act of 1867, promises ”peace, order, and good government.”

I wouldn’t call “peace, order, and good government” prosaic, or even excessively deliberately anti-demagogic vis a vis the Declaration of Independence.  Isn’t “POGG” the proper basis for “LLPH”???  Isn’t LLPH “a house built on sand” without POGG?  Couldn’t we use some POGG in America today, after all these years of so much of the opposite?!!!  As the writer says at the end, Canada’s progressive Classical Conservatism is “a conservative worldview – albeit a type of sober-minded conservatism that has few parallels in an ever more radically right-wing America” (emphasis mine).  And of course, most Americans have had to keep struggling for LLPH even since 1776: most Catholics, women, Blacks, non-landowners, the poor, workers, the disabled and elderly, the sick, Classical Conservatives, radicals, cities, immigrants, pacifists, progressives, gay people, Indigenous people/s….

Mixed-Blood/Mixed-Race artists

I.e., Young Indigenous and European and/or African.

Currently a show in Phoenix, moving to New York next summer.  They question the ‘required Indianness content’ of artificial Indigenous-of-the-Americas art, identity, etc.  Looks fascinating.

(Damn, Great-great-great-great-Grandma shouldn’ta slept with Whitey!!! 😉 )