Thursday, November 17, 2016

"I Welcome Questions - I Hate Assumptions," by Chris Clarke - *cough-cough* - I mean by 'Red Haircrow'

Untold History: The Survival of California's Indians
by Science Writer, Chris Clarke
Chris Clarke
Today I read an interesting article (lesson) on the history of California Indians by Science Writer/Author & Poet, Chris Clarke of Joshua Tree California. I've been following Chris for some time now ever since I first discovered through google an article on the Mojave River Chub which is a rare desert fish. Although once more common than now, Desert Fish in general are becoming more and more rare as their riparian stream or spring fed pool habitats are rapidly disappearing like most everything else on Earth. Chris writes numerous articles on various environmental issues, but his desert pieces are closest to my heart. See, I'm by nature a desert rat like Chris and for the past 10 years I have lived in a Scandinavian (Göteborg) Boreal forest environment which for a desert rat is something like a sort of Frozen Hell. Well, that's how the middle eastern refugees here in Sweden & Finland describe the place where they've been relocated in those far north wilderness detention camps far away from the contemporary Scandinanvian designed utopian centres to the south. His article on California native Indians had two opening paragraphs which immediately captured my attention. About a week ago, when talking to my Swedish wife about what first got me interested in California native plants, so I googled an old classic 1964 docu-drama film about the Nicoleños natives who once lived on San Nicolas Island off the Southern California coast who were evacuated in the early 19th century by the Spanish padres of the California mission system. These people were molested and many killed after an attack by Alaskan Fur Traders. But one lovely young woman remained behind and the account in the film documents her survival. Chris' words were similar to an article I read a few years back by a native American born in Germany who also writes about his hertitage from the same perspective as Chris Clarke. But first, here are Chris Clarke's two opening paragraphs from his latest article: 
If you grew up in California, you probably learned most of what you know about the history of California Indians while you were in fourth grade. All that several generations of Californians learned of the state’s Native peoples can be summed up thusly:   
California was originally populated by people who did not farm but made very nice baskets. The Spanish padrés arrived, and California Indians moved to the Missions to learn farm labor. Some of them died there, mainly because their immune systems weren’t sophisticated enough to handle modern diseases. By the time Americans arrived Native Californians had mainly vanished somehow. The Gold Rush happened and California became a modern society with factories and lending institutions. Finally, in 1911, Ishi, the last wild California Indian, wandered out of the mountains so he could live a comfortable life in a museum basement.
That was my experience as well. The fourth grade class in my elementary school gave us all a picture of the seemingly simple idyllic life of the average Mission Indian under Spanish colonization and domination. Why, we even went on some of those Pepper Drive Elementary School sponsored field trips to the original Mission in San Diego just above the present day Mission Valley overlooking the San Diego River. I was also interested in native American Indians because we had several ancient native settlement sites in and around the foot of Rattlesnake Mountain between El Cajon & Santee where I grew up. When climbing and exploring on that mountain, I'd often ponder away at what life must have been like for those unknown Native families and how they must have survived. But the film, Island of the Blue Dolphins , changed all that for me. First, even though I was a child in elementary school, it angered me to come to the realization of truth that life for the Mission Indians was actually no picnic. To be honest, most of the world of mankind who have heard of the American Indian probably have in their heads the more romanticized version of Natives dressed in Plains Indian attire. They are probably only familiar with more written about culture of Indian Nations such as the Souix, Cheyene, Crow, Blackfoot, Comanche, Apache, Arapaho, Navajo, Hopi and so forth. Admittedly, we only have early historical paintings which reveal the early encoutered Native Californians as having a kind of primitive half naked appearance by comparison to the tribes of the other states. Early photos are not helpful as they show California Mission Indians already adapting to Euro-culture and dress. Even in the Spanish explorer, Juan Bautista de Anza & the Padre Pedro Font documented in their respective journals of the many smaller clans of tribal outcasts thay encountered and their pitiful condition. But the docu-drama I watched as a kid did a couple other things for me that I now admit looking back was extremely important in the way I view things at present. It made me more fascinated about life of the natives and how they lived off the land. It also made me hungry for more historical writings not only of this region of Southern California, but also expanding my horizons well beyond to other areas around the globe when it came to my developing interest in native plant communities by those early original world  explorers who first encountered them and how whole plant ecosystems must have worked and functioned prior to human disruption. Chris in his opening introduction on his Facebook page also wrote about how his research on the subject made him feel, which also triggered another memory of something similar I read in an article back in 2013 by a fellow named Red Haircrow and the German people's obsession with American Indians. First, here is what Chris wrote:
"It offers me solace because the descendants of those who suffered the unspeakable evils I fleetingly describe here, who knew this history all too well already and didn't need to sit down and research it, are still willing to work with non-Native people to set things right. Eager to work with them/us, even, provided we non-Native people do a little bit of elementary learning and display a little bit of elementary sensitivity."
Yup, most of the native peoples don't have to dig and scratch in various libraries for research to understand what they've known for decades about the plight of their ancestors. The gentleman to the right here is Red Haircrow. He is a writer, filmmaker, chef, counselor. BSc Psych, Grad Student Native Studies of Apache/Cherokee descent. He lives now in Berlin, Germany. I found some of his interesting articles in an online journal called, "Indian Country - Today Media Network." Take a look at the Meme photo with quote below. When I first read this, my first thought was, "This is like something Chris Clarke would coin." Notice the uncanny similarity of thought in both paragraphs from Chris Clarke and Red Haircrow. Hence the silly title I chose for my post:
"As a Native American in Germany, when I am asked honest questions, I give honest answers, and if I don’t know something, I direct the person toward a reliable source of information. When I am dismissed by hobbyists who think they know more about my people and culture than I do, I do not let them bother me. Instead, I try to educate those who are willing to listen and hope they will support causes that help improve the life and future of Native Americans"
(Author - Red Haircrow)
I'm not going to post any other links about Red Haircrow or links to other references which would detract from the message within Chris Clarke's article which I'll link below. There is so much more to say about the native descendants of the California Indians, but I'll let Chris' article say it. For me personally, my own family has a  personal connection to the Sycuan Kumeyaay Tribe east of El Cajon through my Sister and her daughter. While as Chris mentioned in his article, Gaming Casinos have financially benefitted some tribal nations, it has not always resulted in genuime happiness and contentment. This has a lot to do with not only the  general human imperfection common to all cultures, but also a result of the conquest of more technologically advanced foreign nation peoples imposing their will and aggression on indigenous peoples which took a heavy toll on their traditional family and cultural structure. This is also mirrored around the globe everywhere. From personal experience myself living in Anza California and associating with members of the Cahuilla Tribe up there, it was a challenge to get them back in the 1980s to rebuild the forested ecosystems which once existed on some parts of their Reservation. Even when I volunteered to purchase the Forest Service grown bareroot trees and teach them what I had successfully done with a native species of mycorrhizal fungi found in the foothills of Anza Valley which I had collected up there for years, long before such techniques were ever spoken about as they are today, they just had no interest. Mostly I was dealt with suspicion and mistrust. I didn't take it personally, but conversation always ended with "It's the White Man's fault and he should fix it." Back in many remote lesser known Indian Reservations there is a purvasive apathy, lack of purpose and hopelessness that has been around for generations through no fault of their own. But you'll also find this same negative effect in many of the world's inner cities as well. But every so often you will find many individuals who will recognize their hopeless situation and work hard to pull themselves up and out of that dark abyss. Keep in mind, not all tribal circumstances around North America are equal. Just like any European countries. But anyway, below here is Chris Clarke's informative article. Again if you wish any further references on these other subjects mentioned here, Google is your friend! 😑

A young Cahuilla woman in the early 20th Century | Photo: Edward S. Curtis 

Chris Clarke: "Untold History: The Survival of California's Indians"

Monday, November 14, 2016

Time Magazine: "The End is Near"

Well, we can only hope and pray this will come soon
Time Magazine

Another stressful and controversial year is almost finished here in 2016 as time pants on to the end. Incredible apathy pervades this world in general as various ruling political ideologies (& their most diehard promoters) continue to convince masses of people that only their side can bring about real change. Truth is, mankind in general over the centuries has been merely treated to the same old same old under a different recycled label for eye candy appeal. Nothing's really ever changed. From the time I grew up in the 1960s where radical college & university activism really got it's start, nothing has really improved. We are in a time of angry activism with that symbolic angry clenched fist thrust upward into the air.  Well known British author of Indian ancestry, Salman Rushdie, had one of the more accurate and interesting observations I've ever listened to as to why many of these activist movements (political, environmental, religious, etc) are so flawed in ever accomplishing their goals.

“We live in an age of identity politics in which people have been encouraged to define themselves by what makes them angry. You know, I mean, I would say that the more healthy definition of the self is to define it in terms of the things you value and care about and love, you know."     
"But now, we seem to be—or many of us—seem to be defining ourselves by what we hate. You know, and that rage, as you say, becomes a badge of identity—becomes a kind of selfhood." 
"Classically, we have defined ourselves by the things we love. By the place which is our home, by our family, by our friends. But in this age we're asked to define ourselves by hate. That what defines you is what pisses you off. And if nothing pisses you off, who are you?"
CNN Interview of Salman Rushdie - transcript
What an incredibly bold and astute observation of how the leadership of various so-called enlightened movements have mutated so low and justifying such a low road as being for the greater good. It's a sad fact that many political ideologies and environmental movements are also manipulating children for the very same reason. Between 1998 & 2001, I worked on various University and Community College campuses throughout northern and southern California for the financial aid industry.  Moving around I watched first hand how many environmental and political activist groups took advantage of student youth and inexperience which were fertile ground to indoctrinate and manipulate into supporting some imaginary utopian cause. Human beings while young are like potter's clay which is easily molded for a specific purpose by the potter. It should be a parent's responsibility to know and understand what is taking place in all schools so as to safeguard their children from predatory thought police. Later in life at adulthood such molding is almost impossible. So today's youth are generally the prime target. Young people do not have the common problems of family and financial responsibility obligations either. By nature they gravitate towards such things as civil disobedience and disrespect for authority. Most people often forget that many college aged students are still emotionally and mentally nothing more than children in adult bodies. Not all, but many. What I've noticed over some decades is that often times, these once young energized activists will at some point completely burn out as they further approach adulthood where the true realities of life set in when they go to find a job, get married and later have kids. There may be a few who will continue to follow the cause of an Activist movement, but quite often they only do so through an anonymous avatar profile within some popular social media site on the internet. Hence they become the new recruiters. Colleges and Universities can be compared to a sustainable agricultural enterprise where every year brings in a new crop of inexperienced young people. So these activist movements are kept sustainable by having a permanent presence on campuses where they acquire newer immature recruit prospects not fully aware of what they are getting themselves into. This happens irrespective of the type of cause or political affiliation of the organization involved in the harvesting work. In the end, nothing ever changes for the better. Since the enlightened age of the Counterculture protests of the 1960s, nothing has gotten better from either an ecological or environmental perspective where our natural world is on the brink of collapse with the global nations as a whole not really knowing the way out. 

Now that this USA Presidential Election is over and has anything changed for the better ? Apparently not if some leaders of the opposition have their way. We see the same old same old when it comes to partisan finger pointing and insults from both sides. Once again we see the College Students are being harvested for the newer activism movement against the new evil establishment. The Press themselves have recently been exposed as a major factor in this ongoing disunity. Other nations also, especially over here in Europe have been upset that the United States hasn't moved towards a more Socialist Utopia like themselves. Well, *cough-cough* not exactly, expecially with the major blunder decision making they've brought upon themselves from 2015 thru 2016. This failure of there being any viable political solution being realized was summed up by Margaret Thatcher, who gave a speech at the 40th Anniversary Session of UN General Assembly with the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan on October 24, 1985 where she put the blame for the failure of the United Nations squarely on the shoulders of all it's member Nations. 
"Secondly, when we ask about shortcomings we should start by looking at ourselves. The United Nations is only a mirror held up to our own uneven, untidy and divided world. If we do not like what we see there's no point in cursing the mirror, we had better start by reforming ourselves."
Source - Margaret Thatcher Foundation 
Unfortunately, the various activists from both sides have a bad habit of never looking into the mirror and admitting they also are equally part of the problem as those they hate. But I was pleasantly surprised to read one ABC News report from Los Angeles California where they attempted to explore the reaction of hispanics to the Donald Trump victory. As a general rule the media looks for  controversial outrage to stir up their ratings which are actractive to their advertisers. I don't think the comments ABC got were exactly what they expected or wanted. Fortunately for the average readers, they did go ahead and printed them anyway. Take this one below:
ABC NEWS - "Hispanic Community in Los Angeles Reacts to President-Elect Donald Trump"

As a Jehovah's Witness (Los testigos de Jejoval), 81-year-old Rudolph Anparano said he believes people should "respect superior authorities" when it comes to the president of the United States.   
"Nothing I hear today is any different than I heard in my youth," Anparano said.      
Anparano and his parents were born in the United States, but his grandparents are from Spain.       
People should be "respectful of humans in general," Anparano said.
(Source - ABC News - Los Angeles)
Mr Anparano's beliefs are one of neutrality. He has a true sincere belief in the Kingdom of God as the only legitimate government and therefore takes no political stand in the politics of any nation. He also respects others right to choose. 

Other countries around the globe are also experiencing an end to once homogenous culture which creates challenges to stability. I've previously written about this final experimental type of governance called Democracy which got it's birth in Greek history. It's often hailed as the perfect type of government mankind has ever invented. But just how perfect is such a government if the average citizen with all the same imperfect flaws common to all people elects as leader another imperfect human being with the same identical flaws and failings ? Rather than being the answer, democracy is also a hindrance to true peace and security. Democracy will always mean at best 49% verses 51%, give or take a few percentage points. There will never ever be a true unanimous concensus. People whose side loses the election and are terribly unhappy about it can only fault themselves because of something called community responsibility. Why ? Because to believe in democracy has always been about both sides accepting the final results. But we all know that is not how it goes down. If one group is angry over the result, then it's revolution time and peace is just some mythical illusion. What both parties really want is absolute power with their respective side's ideology dominating over the other side. So what do today's election results really mean for hispanic peoples ? Today most of the Press Media is pushing fear-mongering as an answer to their frustration. Somebody once described FEAR as False Evidence Appearing Real. Okay, that’s a nice acronym. Sort of catchy. Kind of a new trendy Meme to spread around on all those time wasting social media sites. But what about hispanics ? What can they do ?

They'll figure something out. They always do!

I've grown up and lived around the hispanic community most all of my life. Hispanics are some of the most resilient, resourceful and tough peoples I know. They are incredibly problem solving with McGuyver-like ingenuity and a love of family closeness that sadly most of the affluent regions of the USA have long lost. For decades in many Latin American countries to the south the hispanic culture have had to endure under harsh oppressive political regimes and economic corruption. So this isn't exactly like something they have never encountered before. But I really appreciate this Mr Rudolph Anparano's take on respect for authority no matter who is in power. The present hatred that is prevailing all across the United States is now the result of Adult Activist organizations recruiting mainly people with inexperience of youth to do the dirty ground work. this is creating a dangerous scenario if they are not careful. Everyone should take to heart the words expressed by Salman Rushdie, Margaret Thatcher and Rudolph Anparano. Neither side's version of ideology here is going to bring about true peace and security if indeed that is their ultimate goal as advertised. This world's direction is clearly on a wrong course and it's NOT just one side's fault as opposed to another. Both are running neck and neck in the whose got the moral high ground derby and no matter who claims to come off the winner, the common people on Earth will be the loser. Be extremely careful who or what you put your faith and trust in folks, because this is all insaneness is about to hit the proverbial fan very soon now.