America’s Eden Narrative…

…and Our Original Sin

Thanksgiving is about celebrating the brief Eden before a continental genocide.

But it’s an important story, for ourselves and especially our children.  We should not hate ourselves or our country because of our past.  We should look to stories of when we followed our better angels, and the story about a shared Thanksgiving meal is entirely appropriate event to celebrate annually.

It’s also appropriate to understand the reality, especially here on the North Coast.  This year sandwiched between this and last Thanksgiving has been pretty poor in regards to the mainstream culture’s connection to our Native American neighbors.  And even that sentence is hard to write, on the one hand we are one mass culture or people sharing this land, on the other we are different nations.

For some of us, it’s appropriate between the family, turkey and cranberry to reflect on one of the most amazing events in human existence.  Two populations, once family, separated by continents and eons, were reunited.  There were brief instances of comradery, one of which we celebrate today, but the arc of history tells all too clearly the real narrative of the reunion of these two peoples.

How do we move forward?  Look toward our better angels, be honest, forgiving and generous to ourselves and our neighbors.  Make sure there is more than adequate representation in public institutions (including local political organizations #HCDCCideas ).  Revere and celebrate this amazing intersection of peoples that we still have in this area.

One example of what is right, the story of Yurok being taught in our schools and I hope we can do more to preserve then grow our unique and rich local linguistic history.  We were two branches of our human family tree, but we are becoming one again and we always had and will always have more in common than not.

Happy Thanksgiving.


What happened locally between Thanksgiving 2013 and 2014…

  • We failed our Native American children in our local schools to the extent a lawsuit could be brought forward.
    • “The lawsuit and complaint include dozens of specific allegations, including that administrators have turned a deaf ear to complaints of racial taunting and bullying, that minority students are disproportionately disciplined, that the districts fail to comply with federal laws protecting students with disabilities and that numerous employees of the districts made racially and sexually insensitive comments.” (From the linked TS story by Thadeus Greenson)
  • We attempted then failed in a modest official attempt for our heinous local history.  And it is heinous, by any measure and, we have to be able to accept that to move forward.
    • Here was the pre-revision reaction by Cheryl Seidner, Wiyot Tribal Chair (via TS)
      • I think that is a wonderful thing to happen because no one has ever done that before outside of giving us 60 acres, which we are grateful for”
  • We gained another resource which shed a little more light on our past.  Including a letter as the TS writes…
    • “signed by three prominent Humboldt County settlers — Benjamin T. Jameson, Theodore D. Felt and Kennerly Dobyns”.

 #PROUDTOBE

One small but deeply symbolic move that could be done nationally in 2015?  changethemascot.org.  Here is their moving #ProudToBe video, again.


Resources:

Frank Jåger’s letter which was sadly retracted and revised by the City Council.

Dear Members of the Wiyot Tribe:

In February 1860, 154 years ago, citizens from Eureka participated in what has been described as a massacre of unfathomable proportions. On that winter night long ago, the Wiyot people of Humboldt Bay were attacked. That incident resulted in the death of scores of mostly women and children on the tribal island in Humboldt Bay. Worse yet, this attack occurred during the Wiyot Renewal Ceremony to bring healing to the Earth. The ceremony was never finished.

Today the people of Eureka are pleased to see the World Renewal Ceremony, that was cut short in 1860, will at last be finished. The ceremony will take place on island land deeded to the Wiyot people in 2004.

As Mayor of Eureka, on behalf of the City Council and the people of Eureka, we would like to offer a formal apology to the Wiyot people for the actions of our people in 1860. Nothing we say or do can make up for what occurred on that night of infamy. It will forever be a scar on our history. We can, however, with our present and future actions of support for the Wiyot, work to remove the prejudice and bigotry that still exists in our society today.

Sincerely,

Frank J. Jäger

Mayor

Genocide:  (From Wiki):  Genocide is the systematic destruction of all or a significant part of a racial, ethnic,religious or national group. Well-known examples of genocide include theHolocaust, the Armenian genocide, and more recently the Rwandan genocide.

Peter Martin from the Times Standard:  It’s never too late to tell the truth about America’s genocide

“Both Sides Of The Bluff” by Jerry Rohde.  The new book which was highlighted in the linked TS story above.

Update:  From today’s NYT: How the Civil War Created Thanksgiving.

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5 thoughts on “America’s Eden Narrative…

    1. …and?….?

      Whoever or whatever Frank Jäger is, Mayor, Republican, Democrat, Old World, New World, lawyer, non-lawyer, accountant or not. He got it right, the rest of the city council failed.

      I would like to hear truth from my leaders, Frank’s truth earned him the first check I can remember giving a Republican on a Tuesday.

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