Sunday, June 11, 2017

There’s a Dance or Two in the Dinosaurs Yet

Consider our indigenous people.
We believe that they came across a land bridge from Siberia and from there spread south through the Americas. There is some evidence that aboriginal people from Australia sailed in and settled in South America and Baja California, as well.
Tools and arrowheads found near Clovis, New Mexico, are thought to be 12,500 years old, and were considered the oldest evidence of native people here until more tools, scrapers, and points were found near Austin, Texas, that date to 15,500 years ago.
So. Fifteen thousand five hundred years ago, about 13,500 B.C.E. by our reckoning, native people had been here long enough to populate the American continents.
I went to my Grun’s “The Timetables of History (The New Third Revised Edition)” to see what was going on in the world at that time.
Well, guess what. It only goes back to 5,000 B.C.E. It notes that there was an Egyptian calendar of 360 days, 12 months of 30 days each, and that the earliest cities were founded in Mesopotamia.
So guess further what. The American continents do not enter in to this comprehensive “timetable of history” that far back because it was compiled by Europeans for whom the American continents did not exist until a little over five hundred years ago.
You’d think someone would have the bright idea of updating a “comprehensive history” to include the history of all the world, but no. Egypt is covered extensively, but the rest of Africa? Hah. The Roman Empire gets a lot of play. There are odd mentions of China and Japan. It’s the history I was taught in the 1950s and 1960s. The history of America does not begin until the white Europeans arrive.
So, for 15,000 years and more(rumors of many thousands of years more, I hear), indigenous people lived here, from Alaska to the tip of Chile, from the Pacific to the Atlantic. They traded with one another, they warred with one another, they made agreements, they fell out, they banded together. They were nomadic, and they built cities. They had arts, music, and dance, they had languages and spiritual and commercial practices. They built civilizations which flourished for hundreds or even thousands of years. They had codes, and laws.
They managed fine, with only brief visits from Vikings on the Atlantic coast, and Asians and Russians on the Pacific coast (there is that Chinese ship stranded inland down in Oregon).
Fifteen thousand years of tribes, cultures, and civilizations.
And then the white Europeans arrived. Thousands of years of indigenous peoples’ tribes, cultures, civilizations, and communities were almost destroyed in fewer than five hundred years. Just. Like. That.
The United States of America has officially existed for 241 years. A spit in the wind of time. Now our little experiment of a republic seems to be getting flushed down the hole by the greed of a few guys of mainly European extraction who already have more money than they could ever spend, a profound hatred of women and the poor and the old and the non-white, and an amoral code of behavior which is impervious to reason. These are people who find our Constitution and the system of checks and balances in our government impediments to their goals.
I said to a friend the other day, “Sometimes I think we are the dinosaurs, and Trump is the asteroid.”
Pause. Deep breath. Let it out slowly. Keep breathing.
I believe we must take care of one another and of ourselves. Get your sleep, laugh often, love your friends and family. Sing. Write a poem. Encourage one another. Be kind. Be angry. Resist.
Some of us will die before this unfolding apocalypse is over, but we must keep working in the sure and certain knowledge that our children and grandchildren do not deserve this.
Human beings excel at committing atrocities, we know that, but there’s a dance or two in the old dinosaurs yet. If there is anyone left to record history, let them record that there were people who resisted the forces of evil.
Consider, once more, our indigenous people. They were proud and independent and free for much longer than we whiteys have strutted around here. They fought to preserve their way of life. They lost. They are fighting now, to be recognized and respected as human beings even though they are so few, and even though the forces against them are so great.
Way to go, First Nations. I hope we pantywaist, bleeding heart, pot smoking, infighting progressives can follow your example.

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