Posts Tagged With: Native Americans

Erasing History

When Land-O-Lakes began to remove the Native American woman from its products, they talked around why, only saying it was to better represent their farmers and customers. Most people suspect it was also in response to activists claiming the image was racist, and perhaps the American Psychological Association’s Fake Science claiming such images have “a negative impact on the self-esteem of American Indian children.”

Turns out the artist, Patrick DesJarlait was a Native American himself. He painted the iconic woman, named Mia, to represent a real native. His son, who has protested other images and icons that he felt weren’t a positive reflection of natives, also confirms Mia is not racist or a stereotype.

He also noted,

Mia’s vanishing has prompted a social media meme: ‘They Got Rid of The Indian and Kept the Land.’ That isn’t too far from the truth. Mia, the stereotype that wasn’t, leaves behind a landscape voided of identity and history. For those of us who are American Indian, it’s a history that is all too familiar.


The madness continues (6/20/19)…

Quaker Foods is removing the image of the woman from its Aunt Jemima brands, stating, “We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype.”

However, the original Aunt Jemima on the products was freed slave Nancy Green. Green has been called a “trailblazing corporate model,” a “talented entrepreneur” and “transitional symbol.” Green also “transformed Aunt Jemima from a strictly racist, commercial cipher into a symbol of friendliness and hospitality.”

Just as with Land ‘O Lakes erasing the Native American woman from their products — even though she was drawn by a Native American to honor his ancestors — more companies are choosing to give in to false claims of racism. “Aunt Jemima” began as a racial stereotype, but symbols can change, and Green changed it.

Mia, the native woman, wasn’t a real person, but Nancy Green was. Both, however, have had their stories whitewashed from society.

Isn’t that ironic?

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Rescuing History

The truth is that the white men and savage Indians could never live in peace in the same land. The Indians wanted the land for hunting grounds; the white people wanted it for farms and ranches. The white men, being stronger, were able to win.

So it was written in the elementary school history text, The Growth of the American People and Nation, published in 1937. Boy, times have changed. A perfect example of history being revised, perhaps unintentional or based on the intentional agendas of others. Some more:

The government at last decided it was cheaper to feed the Indians than to keep on fighting them…moved [them] to…Indian reservation[s]…Government Indian schools were opened…The Indian problem was no longer one of our chief problems.

History has since, for the most part, corrected its recording of what transpired to the natives in the Americas. They didn’t just want the land for hunting, it was their home where they had lived for generations. Nor were they particularly more “savage” then any other humans. The text even notes that, “…the Indians had no food supply [buffaloes killed], [their] lands were taken from them…[they] were put on reservations.” Sobering to those who think such things cannot happen in a democracy. Historian Francis Jennings wrote in The Founders of America:

From 1812 until the end of the century, official policy, no matter what euphemistic terms expressed, was simple conquest. Its purpose was to reduce Indian persons to dependence and to seize tribal lands. It is common scandal that the United Sates has violated every single one of its treaties with Indians.

We cannot engage in revisionism of history, the good or bad, what we like or dislike, or else we cannot learn from it. One wonders, though, how many genocides and oppressions we must witness, or allow happen, before we get it. Unfortunately, historical revisionism is alive and well and is a favorite of those with political and other agendas.

There seems to have been a craze of trying to dig up dirt on the Founding Fathers in order to justify support for our less than stellar elected class. No one ever claimed the founders were perfect, unblemished humans. Comparative to many of our own, they did have a higher respect for their office. In the zealous attempts to dethrone them, facts have often been flushed away. For instance, take the cottage industry of attacking Thomas Jefferson.

One of those attacks is the claim that DNA proved he was fathering children with slave Sally Hemings. The problem with this is that the DNA didn’t have Jefferson’s name on it, only that someone in his family was implicated. Turns out that his brother could have been the father of the children. There is nothing that can be used to state that Thomas Jefferson absolutely was fathering these children, as so often has been implied or stated.

Often the old history books do get it right and can be used to ferret out agendas in our own. It is always a fun exercise to compare the two. The points to remember are these: Dig a little deeper, don’t think everything you are told or read is without error. Look for bias and agendas, especially when attached to politicians and those that fund them. Ask why some detail of history has changed and where’s the evidence. Yes, it can take time and may seem unnecessary to some people. Ultimately, however, we have a responsibility to pass on accurate and truthful history.

We must start thinking about those who will follow us instead of just tomorrow and the next day. We do this in the hope that our ancestors won’t repeat our tragedies and mistakes and will remember our triumphs.


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Should we Destroy the Past for Energy’s Sake?

I don’t think so. Read more here.

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American Natives: Not so Primitive

There is a common misconception that the Native Americans were primitive or only a step or two removed from barbarians. In reality they built sophisticated societies across the Western Hemisphere. The cities of the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas are a testament contrary to the myth. So are the sophisticated irrigation works and brick towns of the Southwest. In the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys natives built thousands of mounds across the region. Many were complex shapes, effigies of animals or were part of sprawling earthworks. Mounds often hid burials, some with underground tombs. Places like Cahokia in East St. Louis, Illinois, were the centers of massive populations. This city centered around an earthen flat-topped mound that resembled the pyramids in Mesoamerica in shape and Egypt’s in size. It was no small feat for pre-industrial peoples to build such structures that seem only mounds of dirt to us.

Sadly, the vast majority were destroyed as settlers moved into these areas. Where they stood out in the relatively flat lands of Ohio, town-builders and farmers were quick to level them. In hillier lands, what mounds existed often blended into the terrain. Farmers, who had to farm the rolling land as it was, were more apt to leave mounds alone. At times they farmed around and over the mounds. I suspect that some have survived to this very day hiding in plain sight.

The Mound Builder cultures (Adena, Hopewell and Mississippian) were gone by the time the colonials arrived. The Indians then living in the lands knew little about those who had lived here before. The colonials couldn’t believe that the natives were sophisticated enough to build such things which gave rise to the fantastic tales of Josiah Priest, and some say the books of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church. What archaeology has uncovered, and some native legends confirm, is that after centuries of civilization the Mound Builders succumbed to war, assimilation and other factors.

There are those, however, who have uncovered evidence that they believe points to outside influence on these Mound Builder cultures. It’s not proof of the spinners of fables (whose stories bare scant resemblance to known history), but, in particular, the suggestion is of pre-Columbus explorers and settlers from across the oceans. Controversial to say the least, but not in the way one may think. These visitors assimilated into existing cultures and added to them from their own. Sounds innocent enough, but this diffusionism is not so simple. More on this later…

(Adapted from here. See book for references.)

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There’s a pervasive belief that the Indians were primitive or only a few steps above the cave man. Neither were true. From the metropolis at Cahokia (modern-day St. Louis), to the irrigation systems of the southwest to the teeming civilizations of Mesoamerica, the cave man was no where to be found. Had Columbus arrived a few decades later, or diseases not wiped out as much or more than 90% of the population, history in the Western Hemisphere may have unfolded a bit differently. One of the best books on the subject is 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. A must read on a lost world far different, and far more advanced, than many realize.

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