Here Before Us

Earth Natives Have a Day to
Celebrate But Not Much Else

To call ‘indigenous peoples’ those who predate the European rise to global dominance is an insult and a reminder. Their subordination and misery were brutally determined by the so-called civilization. And their very existence is proof that, if it were up to them, the planet wouldn’t be in such dire straits.
Yet they survive. Thus today’s U.N. International Indigenous People’s Day, both a mournful date and a celebration of their endangered wisdom. Since you’re bound to read and hear all about the reasons that there are for grieving over them throughout the day, we’ll rather focus briefly on some of their legacy.
Even ‘packaging’ natives as part of a supposed worldwide collective is an expression of prejudice. Only in North America, there are more tribes and languages than Europe, Asia and Africa combined. And most didn’t even make it to our times. The same about the rest of the world.
A staggering diversity and history, dating back from at least 10,000 BCE, informs their status as the original lords of Earth. With the now nearly impossible virtue of having not spoiled the place, as we did in mere 500 years. All but wasted, though, when they met our truculence.
The fate of the Comanche, Hopi, Cherokee, and Navajo, Maya, Aztecs, Incas, Mapuche and Quechua, the Tupi, Guarani and Kayapó, plus million others, was sealed in 1492, when Christopher Columbus landed on what he called La Española. It’s been downhill ever since.

That’s no reason to dismiss their fight to protect their land, and our own survival, and criminalize their defiance. Indigenous peoples, native tribes, and forest dwellers, equal resilience. Their endurance is a testament to the power that preserved them to our age.
Moken children see 50% better than Europeans; Bolivian Kallawaya healers may speak the language of Incan kings; Sentinelese live on the Andaman Islands for some 55,000 years; Brazilian Awá-Guajá women care for orphaned monkeys by breastfeeding them.
400 years ago, the Incas performed head surgeries with better survival rates than Civil War-era medicine. Ancient cities uncovered under Guatemala City housed millions of Mayans. Aztecs philosophers would advise on matters of moral virtue and (more)
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Last of the Apaches

Geronimo, a Feared Warrior
Whose Skull May Be Missing

A century and three days ago today, the chief native American known as Geronimo passed away of pneumonia at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He died a prisoner, having surrendered to the U.S. in 1886. But revisions about the conquest of the West, the circumstances of his life and even his name had already started way before his death.
Even among other distinguished tribal chiefs, the man born in 1829 as Goyathlay occupies his own place in the origins of this nation. And as such, personifies the ambivalence, misconception and extreme brutality that marked its unification.
Geronimo fought both Mexican and U.S. armies and became know for his bravery and rebellious spirit. But as ‘Indians’ were considered then devoid of soul or natural rights, and as European descendants began to outnumber the native tribes of North America, their fate was already sealed even before the first clash between them started.
In his long and storied life, which outlasted some of his many wives and children, he went from feared leader in combat to the tamed, most valuable captive prize of the American army at that time. He managed to dictate his memories in the end and became a sort of a minor celebrity. But he was never to set foot again on the land of his birth, in Gila River, Bedonkoheland.
To many, the genesis of his rebelliousness, against what was perceived by native Americans as the occupation forces of European descendants, can be traced back to a bloody attack by a company of Mexican soldiers Continue reading