Appreciation of Indian culture offers many lessonsI took “Indian Givers, How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World” by jack Weatherford along on a western trip with stops at the Crazy Horse Museum in the Black Hills and a National Indian Monument in Pipestone, Minn.
By: Bernie Hughes, Superior Telegram
I took “Indian Givers, How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World” by jack Weatherford along on a western trip with stops at the Crazy Horse Museum in the Black Hills and a National Indian Monument in Pipestone, Minn.
I learned to appreciate our Indian brothers and their culture during my first teaching assignment in Poplar, Mont., headquarters for the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.
Probably the very first things the Indians gave us, in addition to first-hand survival help, was a nation “opened up.” From my early reading, I had mental pictures of Daniel Boone hacking his way, tree by tree, through dangerous terrain infested by blood thirsty wild animals. Weatherford paints a different picture:
“Despite the many self-serving and self-glorifying accounts of brave adventures written by white explorers and pioneers, America was by no stretch of the imagination an overgrown continent through which the Europeans had to hack their way. Over tens of thousands of years, Indians had already opened the land, built roads or paths, and developed a system of canoes and small boats to reach every corner and crevice of the Americas from the Bering Straits to Terra del Fuego. The present road and highway system, railroad network, and even the canals of the U.S. largely follow Indian trails and roads ... Today the Interstate Highway System follows essentially these same paths.”
The only other part of Weatherford’s works that I’ll touch on is the heaIing, medicinal and medical aspects of the Indians. Our European forefathers brought a lot of diseases with them that the Indians were not familiar with and could not counter before losing many of their people. One that they did have a cure for was malaria. They had Peruvian bark medicine, containing quinine, that relieved malaria symptoms. The Quechus-speaking Incas of the Andes understood the medicinal properties of many plants. In fact, this process of discovery is still going on today.
Another quote from Weatherford, “Today no steel scalpel has been made that cuts sharper than the obsidian implement of the Aztec surgeons. Only the laser beam can cut a finer incision with less bleeding and less scarification that the Aztec surgeons ... The Aztecs may have had the most thorough understanding of human anatomy of any society in the world of the 16th Century ...”
I can’t claim, even for closing humor purposes, that I consider the Indian gambling casinos a gift from the Indians. I think, in this case however, they’ve turned the tables on us — the gambling tables that is.
When asked by an anthropologist what the Indians called America before the white man came, an Indian said simply, “Ours.” (Vine DeLoria, Jr.)
Some of us used to root for the Indians against the cavalry because we didn’t think if was fair in the history books that when the cavalry won it was a great victory, but when the Indians won it was a massacre. (Dick Gregory)
I love the idea of God tempering the wind to the shorn lamb, but I’d hate to have to sell that idea to the American Indian. (Mignon Mc Laughlin)
Before I judge my neighbor, let me walk a mile in his moccasins. (Sioux Proverb)
Treat all men alike. Give them all the same laws. Give them all an even chance to Iive and grow. (Chief Joseph)
and even more we appropriated just as I am doing with Jack Weatherford’s title. Red Cloud said it better:
They (the white man) made us many promises
More than I can remember
They never kept but one
They promised to take our land
And they took it.