"One does not sell the land people walk on." ~ Crazy Horse, Sept. 23, 1875
"Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard." ~Standing Bear
"When all the trees have been cut down,when all the animals have been hunted,when all the waters are polluted,when all the air is unsafe to breathe,only then will you discover you cannot eat money." ~Cree Prophecy
Way before the white man set foot on American soil, the American Indians, or the Native Americans, had been living in America. When the Europeans came here, there were about 10 million Indians living in what is Now the United States of America. They had been living in America for Many, many years. It is thought that the first Native Americans arrived during the last ice-age, crossing over a land bridge, across the Bering Sound, from northeastern Siberia into Alaska. The oldest documented Indian cultures in North America Date back to 15000 BC. And they were almost surely here before then. The name "Indian" was first applied to them by Christopher Columbus He believed that America was part of the Indies, in Asia.
~ Do you think Columbus ever realized just how mistaken he was? Do you think he ever realized what would become of those people he miss-named?
The Natives, at first, thought their white-skinned visitors to be something of a novelty. They thought our clothes to be very strange and the Large ships to be even stranger. There were things they liked though, The whites had new technology. They brought guns and cannons and pots and pans. They had mirrors and Brass Kettles. They had knives and swords and bells and Baubles of all kinds. They had metal tools and glass beads.
~ I personally would have loved to have been there to see the look on the face of the first Native American looking into a mirror. I bet he was petrified. I am petrified sometimes even now when I look into a mirror and I have had them forever.
Conflicts between the two soon began. To begin with, the whites were not in tune with Nature. They marched to the beat of a different drum. They considered nature to be an obstacle to their way of life. The Indians, on the other hand Loved the rhythms and spirit of Nature. The fair skinned were also searching for commodities. A forest where the Indians had lived for many years became so many board feet to cut and sell. Animals that the Indians hunted only to eat became so many furs to ship back home. Even the people themselves were a commodity. They were considered souls ripe for saving and being brought into any one of many different religions.
They weren't in need of being saved they already had their own religion. Most of them worshiped the creator.
~ Why must some people try and fix what is not broken? No wonder they wanted to pull our hair out! We drove them nuts! People can do that to you.. Y'all all know that!
These pale skinned men Had come here with a desire and a will to conquer this land of all its material riches. They also brought diseases that the Indians had never been exposed to. These diseases hit the Natives hard. Killing thousands. Many of their elders and their children died. They also brought alcohol, called fire water by the Indians. They would sell the fire water to the braves and then while the men were incapacitated they would kill entire villages.The whites continued to come in greater and greater numbers, until the Indians said that we were, as many "as the stars in heaven". The whites were used to owning their land and they would lay claim to as many acres as they could. They wanted the forests and the animals and finally the gold. The Indians didn't want to own the land. They all used it and shared it. They lived something of a nomadic life style Moving along with the seasons and the buffalo.
~ I know we all hope to own our own land and house someday.. It's one of the American dreams, But you do have to admit that their way of life sounds so much better than the hectic world we live in right now.
The conflicts led to the Indian Wars, the Indian Removal Act and other acts that the white invaders instituted to accomplish their own objectives. In these wars the Indian tribes were at a great disadvantage for many reasons. The white man outnumbered the Natives many times over. Their Nomadic Lifestyle kept them broken into small groups, easily overcome. They had Bows and a few guns they had traded for. WE had lots and lots of guns and swords. They also had an unwillingness to cooperate, with the white man, even in their own defense.
~ And why would they cooperate with us. We just took their land and pushed them around and brought them sicknesses that killed their children and old ones. Now lets see, would you cooperate in those conditions?
The Indian wars more or less ended along with the end 19th century. The last one being more of a Massacre than a Battle. In 1890, at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, Indian warriors, women, and children were slaughtered by U.S. cavalrymen. Ending the Indian wars and forever staining the history of the American movement to the west. Forever ending a way of life. Forever ending a rich history of America's Native people. The surviving Natives were rounded up and herded onto the reservations.
~ I have to wonder how many of us would have embraced the white mans way if we had lived back then. Would the desire for riches have caused us to act just as they did? It is easy to sit here today and say that I would have helped the Indians or fought for their rights. Listening to beautiful flute music, played by a Native American, and reading quotes From their elders, I like to think that I would have stood with them. I like to think that riches wouldn't have meant a thing to me. I like to think that I might have made a difference. But I know that I would have been just another white face. We are all a product of the time in which we live. I am saddened but honest enough to say that I would have been afraid to take a stand against the white leaders of that time and would have been powerless in my fear. I am glad that there is a day set aside to remind us of this sad and awful part of our history. I think we should always remember the proud and brave People who were here before us. America's Natives! I can not though very easily say~ HAPPY Native American day!
Today examine your life and heart. Do riches or the promise of riches lead your steps? It they do, I pity you. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of life coming from Nature. Try to think of the beauty of a night sky without the city lights. Can you imagine it? Try today to find peace within yourself. Have a great day!