I have been recently reading several books at the same time about the American Indian. Back into early eighties, when I was studying with Grandmother Twylah Nitsch, Seneca Wolf Clan Mother and Medicine Woman, I decided not to read anything more about Native Americans because I had firsthand access to their oral traditions directly from Twy. But now, twenty-five years later, I find myself wanting to revisit stories about these indigenous people of the "New World."
There was a counter-culture group in the sixties called the Firesign Theatre. Their recording entitled "Waiting for the Electrician or Something Like Him," was about the White Man's interaction with the Native Amerindians. One scene began something like, "Here we are men, with our wagons circled up on the west bank of the Missouri River, ready to carve ourselves a new nation - out of the American Indian." While in a more serious vein, the books I have been reading recently reflect this reality exactly.
Barry Fell & America BC 2
In the seventies, when I was studying the New England Stone Chambers for my Master's Degree in Sacred Space, a very influential book by Harvard Professor Barry Fell was "America B.C." (1976, America B.C.: Ancient Settlers in the New World. New York, Simon & Schuster). Fell had the temerity to suggest that Columbus wasn't first to reach these shores after the Indians had arrived over Beringia - the Bering Straight to Alaska. And it wasn't the Vikings either. The main thrust for me was that he felt it was the Celts who had built the underground stone chambers here in New England that I had been studying. While my good friend, Byron Dix and his co-author Jim Mavor ultimately convinced me that it was the indigenous Abenaki who had built most of the chambers in question here in New England, Barry Fell opened the floodgates to other here-to-for suppressed theories of the many people who reached these shores before Christopher Columbus. I even taught a Community College course based on the title of a book by Ivan van Sertima, "They Came Before Columbus."
So on this trip to the US, I picked up a copy of The Suppressed History of America: The Murder of Meriwether Lewis and the Mysterious Discoveries of the Lewis and Clark Expedition by Paul Schrag and Xaviant Haze. (2011. Rochester, Vermont, Bear & Co. ISBN 978-159143122-0.) This carries Fell's thesis of hyper diffusion to cover the entire North American Continent. Perhaps most interesting is their take on the obstructionist posture of the Smithsonian Institution, who seemed to do everything they could to cover up anything that might indicate that voyagers were here from all over the world before Columbus. If true, it is a rather damaging expose. Unfortunately, the authors bounce around quite a bit, and at times seem to verge on conspiracy theory, but their discussion of the Welsh connection with the Mandan Indians of the Northern Plains expands upon my awareness of Prince Madoc's voyage to the New World. Even with some of its weaknesses, I feel it is worth reading because the authors give all kinds of evidence of pre-Columbian contact, and also of Western Man's genocidal treatment of the Native Americans.
I've also been reading a book I should have read long ago, it was initially published in 1970 - Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West - by Dee Brown. (New York: Iconic Books, Open Road Media ©1970 & 2000 by Dee Brown.) I downloaded it from iTunes for $3.99. It is written from the Indians' point of view, and it carries forward the Firesign theme of carving a new nation out of the American Indian, and the shame associated with this genocidal massive land grab west of the Mississippi between 1860 and 1890.
One final book comes from Project Gutenberg's (for your computer) "Stories the Iroquois Tell Their Children", by Mabel Powers. © 1917. <http://www.gutenberg.org/files/22096/22096-h/22096-h.htm> or from iPad App <Eucalyptus>. Both downloads are free.
Here's one story in this book that has picked up the themes of the other books I've been talking about so far. It is entitled:
HOW THE WHITE MAN CAME
Long, long before Columbus came to America, the Red Children were here. They were the first and only real Americans.
From the Big Sea Water on the east to the Big Sea Water on the west, ranged these Children of the Sun, as they called themselves.
Happy and free as the sunlight and air about them, they ran through wide forests all their own, or plied their bark canoes up and down the streams.
Then the Indian had a dream. This was long before Columbus dreamed his dream of the Western World.
In his dream the Indian saw a great White Bird coming out of the east. Its wings were stretched wide to the north and[Pg 46] south. With great strength and speed, it swept toward the setting sun.
In fear and wonder the Indian watched this giant White Bird appear and disappear. He knew its meaning, and the Indian's heart was sad.
Then the White man came. From the Big Sea Water on the east he came, in his great white-winged canoe. With one hand pointing to the Great Spirit, and with the other extended to the Red man he came. He asked for a small seat. A seat the size of a buffalo skin would be quite large enough for him, he said.
In the name of the Great Spirit, the Red Children greeted the White man, and called him "brother." They gave him the seat he asked. They gave him a large buffalo skin also, and showed him where he could spread it by their council fire.
The White man took the buffalo skin. He thanked his Red brother in the name[Pg 47] of the Great Spirit. Then he began to cut the skin into many, many small strips.
When the whole buffalo skin had been cut into narrow strips, he tied the strips together. They made a long cord that would reach over a long trail.
In amazement the Indians watched the White man while he measured off a seat as long and as broad as this cord would reach around. The "small seat," the size of a buffalo skin, became a tract of land.
Soon the White man asked for another seat. This time his seat took in the Indians' lodges and camp fire. He asked the Indians if they would move on a few arrow flights. This they did.[Pg 48]
Then the White man wanted another seat. Each time it took a larger skin for him to sit upon. This time the skin stretched so far that it covered a part of the Indians' hunting and fishing grounds.
Again the Indians moved on. Again the White man followed. Each time his seat grew larger, until the Indian had a place but the size of a buffalo skin on which to sit.
Thus it was that the White man came. Like a great White Bird that swept from the Big Sea Water on the east to the Big Sea Water on the west, the White man came; and he drove the Indian from the rising to the setting sun.
[Pg 49] Stories the Iroquois Tell Their Children. With permission of the publisher.
This is an especially interesting work as one of the story tellers is Moses Shongo, Ho non da a suh - "Keeper of the hills." He was a member of the Seneca Wolf Clan and last of the Seneca Medicine Men. He also was Twylah Nitsch's actual Grandfather who told her as many stories as he could before she was taken away at about five years of age to be raised by good Christian (read: White) families. Twylah told me that as she went from family to family, and she didn't really remember how many times she was baptized because each Christian family wanted to feel that they had saved a primitive savage's soul!
As I write this, it is Thanksgiving. One of the few times in American history when the European invaders and the Native Americans actually got along and celebrated together. So what happened after that? How could good Christian folk commit such barbarity and genocide as they "carved a new nation out of the American Indian"? .... But that's another story.
Glastonbury, Somerset BA6 8JE
-------- Two Totally Unrelated Tidbits -------------
You may say "Duh!", but I just learned that you can now get a copy of my latest iBook, The Sacred Space Handbook, for your computer rather than on a Kindle or iPod. You need an Amazon account, and you can download the free Kindle software for your Mac or PC computer to do this from:
Then you can read any eBook available from Amazon on your computer using this software.
Two old friends, Elyn Aviva and Gary White, have started Powerful Places Blog and Powerful Places Newsletter. www.PowerfulPlaces.info. Some great photos and interesting blogs.