Thursday, July 1, 2010
The story not told
I knew coming on this trip would provide me the opportunity of an education I could gain no where else. I am being educated, but unfortunately I do not always like what I am being taught. Shiloh, Wounded Knee, Tatanka, Little Big Horn...They say the truth is sometimes painful, so I would being doing myself and you, my fellow countrymen, a huge disservice if I did not present this voyage as authentically as I am living it. So, here it goes: I want to wave the B.S flag, high, none of this half-mast stuff, but full sail and flying in the breeze, because that is what I think has been done in so many ways. We have traveled to many historic sites, monuments, battlefields, etc., you name it - we've found it. Time and time again I am more than modestly insulted at the flamboyancy with which the victors have re-written history (or erased some perspectives). Mt. Rushmore, for example, is supposed to be this awe-inspiring creation in tribute to our country's growth and perseverance. Ok, I get that, but let's be real, its just a bunch of faces carved into a sacred rock that never belonged to our government in the first place! Twelve million (that's: 12,000,000!) people lived on this land before my European ancestors even stepped foot on its soil. In the name of our democracy we invaded land that was not ours, we set up fences to keep the original inhabitants out. We killed their food sources as a way of starving them into oblivion, we punished the practice of their ancestral history, forced them into submission and we call ourselves the Land of the Free? My stomach turns when I visit a beautiful State or National Park that is named after a wretched person in wartime history. I debated on writing this entry, being cautious that it may offend some people, then I laughed at my own trepidation. Am I missing something? I have learned, from several credible sources, that the Native Americans lived in symbiotic harmony with the land for hundreds of years before the white man came in and pillaged the land of its resources. Native American tribes, specifically those of the Lakotas, were cognizant to use only what they needed and protect the rest. They believed in leaving little trace. For all of our modern day glory I cannot help but wonder when I pass a landfill seeping with plastic bottles or turn on the news and hear more about the BP disaster, are we really all that advanced? Maybe those people to whom our ancestors turned up their noses actually knew a thing or two about the preservation of life on this earth. Maybe the cognitive myopathy was ours. So this year as I prepare for the festivities related to the Fourth of July, I will also be giving thanks to those that lived on and took care of the land that I now travel. I cannot erase the twinge of guilt or disgust that accompanies my "education" on this trip, but I can use my voice so that you as well will remember that there are ALWAYS multiple sides to the stories that make up history. Just because we have learned one, doesn't mean it is the whole truth, seek out the complete story, then make your own assessment. I will now dismount my horse, thanks for listening.