Does the word that just popped into your head show up here? Find out:

02 November, 2013

Feeding the Hand that Bites You

"So long, and thanks for all the fish."
The last book I read was about the Nez Perce war, and right now I'm working on one about the Puget Sound wars, treaties, and trial of Leschi a generation earlier. It ain't pretty, and ties into why I'd rather fill out "Other" than "White" or "Caucasian" on forms that ask for ethinicity. I have to assume that a large percentage of "Others" are similarly aware of "white" misdoings (I'll leave the "Caucasian" misdoings to that Caucasus favorite son, Joe Stalin).

Another Joseph, the Younger Joseph of the Nimipu (Nez Perce) was betrayed and hunted like a disagrreable neighbor's rabid dog a generation after Leschi of the Squally Absch (Nisqually) was killed like,...the same. The reason for this was not that either of these men, their forebears, or their kin, had done wrong by American settlers. To the contrary, Nimipu and others saved Lewis and Clark from starvation, provided guides, and even horse-sitting services, without which the Corps of Discovery would not have reached the Pacific, much less returned home. Leschi and others accomodated Hudsons Bay men and even attempted to deal with the Bostons (Americans) and their psychopath Governor of Washington Territory. 

As in Jamestown and a thousand points of dark in between, tribes in the Columbia Plateau and Puget Trough first dealt with west-hungry explorers and settlers by feeding them. Thanks for the Giving.

But food for the small settlements only led to hunger for everything outside the pale. Lewis and Clark handed out medals, but later American settlers grabbed and acted offended when the natives wanted to stay free on the land they'd tended for millennia. Even in the middle of the Pacific Moana, sons of missionaries who had depended on the kindness of kanakas turned around and plantationized islands, pauperizing most of the inhabitants.

Fresh out of native people to rob, the American elite eventually turned to stealing Africans and distilling wealth from their sweat (yeah, the Yankees did it too, with shiploads of human cargo headed to the plantations). Once they ran out of brown peoples, the uber-white people turned their attention to their unter-brethren, continuing to concentrate wealth among the few while consigning the masses of crackers to poverty. The process continues unabated (accelerated, even) until today.

But none of this would have happened had not Wahunsenakawh (Powhatan) fed the hand that would eventually bite him and eventually everyone else in Indian Country. As my people say, "No good deed goes unpunished."

No comments:

Post a Comment