To those who wonder where the poetic content of this is perhaps I need to
point out that the modernist poet was very concerned with myth. In the loss
of their original culture many Native Americans are today struggling with
maintaining their myths. Loss of the myth is central to many
interpretations of "The Waste Land". Charles Olson's poetry used the Mayan
much like Eliot and Pound used the Greeks.
The Rio Grande gorge is breath taking. I am among those who have been
reduced to physically crawling across the bridge. I've flown North, east of
Santa Fe to Taos through the mountains several times at fairly low
altitudes. About 30 miles away from Taos the mountains fall away and you
suddenly see the beauiful Taos valley with the gorge splitting it like a
pencil line. I've dropped down to about 500 feet above the ground and
followed the river and gorge for a spectacular view. An east/west flight
at 500 feet or lower always brings gasps as the ground suddenly falls away.
If you get out here again let me know and I'll give you a visual experience
that will be with you forever.
Cortes (I misspelled it-the Spanish "s" sounds like the English "z" to me)
conquered the Aztecs with less than 100 men. With the exception of one
large battle where they defeated about 20,000 Native American warriors It
was largely a bloodless conquest. It was a classic illustration of
disciplined soldiers acting as a unit against warriors acting as
individuals. Whenever the Aztecs acted in consort they soundly defeated
I am not forgetting or trying to minimize the atrocities of the Spanish
empire and the evangelical zeal of the Roman Catholic church. The mayan
peoples were still in active revolt at the turn of the 20th century and
today's Mexico still has its problems with them. Your outrage may find
profitable expression in the context of Mexico's unsensitive treatment of
its Native American citizens today.
Native Americans were jerked from the stone age into the steel age with no
concern for their cultures. In your posts,however, you ignore the Native
American's willing trade of stone age culture (which you seem to value) for
steel age culture. Again, an angry Sitting Bull with repeating rifles beat
Custer with single shots. They wanted the steel and were eager to adjust
their lives in order to get it. They did this as individuals to their
individual profit and loss.
Many Native Americans individuals have been able to reach effective
compromise between stone and steel. Some individuals live in both steel and
stone, while others live in a manner which centralizes either steel or
stone. Some tribes have worked hard at allowing the individual choice.
Those living primarily steel lives lose almost all of their stone culture
and with it the myths that poets so value. Cradle boards are necessary for
the stone age/early steel age nomadic Navajo life. They don't work well in
Albuquerque where car seats are the modern equivalent. (A cradle board
won't fit in a car seat). BTW seat belts and, I think, car seats are
mandated by Navajo law on the Dene'tah.
I agree with you concerning the European and American industry of slavery.
It is a disgusting fact that slavery seems inherent to human existence, but,
Europeans and Americans of the 16th and 17th centuries dramatically changed
its characteristics. They changed it from an incidental of human societies
to a brutal industry central to many cultures. To our shame, slavery is
still with us, and, in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, is even
beginning to again approach the industry it was in the early Americas. It
must be eradicated. I think the modern unfortunate individuals being held
today in slavery deserve at least as much of our attention and energy as
dead slave owners. With our knowledge of past atrocity it is a moral
outrage that the civil people of the world don't unite against the brutality
of modern slavery.