When we were in “Primary school”, “The Class” learned about Native Americans.
One particularly intriguing lesson, for myself, was the story of the “White Man” “buying” Manhattan from the Native Americans, for a mere pittance.
The transaction was supposedly in Dutch Guilders, which equates to about $24.
(But…WHO KNOWS what $24 would buy in that day–or said equivalent of Dutch Guilders?)
Note: In the 1600’s, The US Dollar had not yet “been invented”. Since it’s time of invention, US Currency has been through numerous iterations. It has been: “pegged to Gold”, “worth zero”, “re-valued”, changed, and re-issued in various forms, by multiple Central Banks, over the last 200+ years, so we prefer & choose to draw exactly ZERO conclusions regarding it’s “worth”, at any given moment in time. Especially in this age of Fiat Currency, and Fractional-Reserve Banking.
A key element of this Manhattan tale (to me), was how the “Natives” “laughed amongst themselves”, as to how they were “tricking” the “naive White Men”.
I’m quite certain “the laughing” was an integral part of the story, I recall that that IS how the History books reported it, and I also recall the Teachers of ‘That day’ reinforcing it.
But, is it “The Truth”? Was it “The Truth”?
Or was this as-reported-event needing some (what we’ll term) “Political Cleansing”?
(note: think of the combination of two evils–do the math–“Political Correctness” plus “Ethnic Cleansing” are approximately equal to “Political Cleansing”. But who’s counting, in this, the Era of (intentional) Errata, where the Press takes “Editorial License” with “The Actual Facts”, and reports “Nothing But The Narrative”. And not Even the Whole Narrative, at that–but just enough to allow the audience to draw their own wrongful conclusions.)
Regardless, “The Manhattan Tale” illustrates two diametrically opposed sentiments, both of which expose the weaknesses of both sides of the trade–never mind the notion that trading is intended to “be fair”, and is supposed to benefit both parties.
Everyone knows who benefited, and are we all to believe that these Natives were somehow representing a quorum of Chiefs, who were truly complicit and willing to execute the Transaction, without deep and thoughtful contemplation beforehand?
The premise rings-hollow, and indeed wears very thin, very quickly, given (any) scrutiny.
No, it is much more likely that these Natives, and Dutchmen were merely hucksters, going-about business-as-usual.
If so, it would seem quite coincidental (and fortuitous) that these few White Men were in-fact hucksters, and, thinking-on-their feet, made sure to spin-up the “Laughing Natives” slant, to introduce the notion of fairness into the incredulous minds of those who later heard “The News” that the deal had gone-down. Or at least that’s One theory…perhaps you’ve heard of another one, which better-explains the murkiness of it all?
It seems like a very salient (and favorable to the Dutchmen) point to illustrate how the Natives were “so ignorant” of the White-Man’s compendium of science(s) and engineering, that it was, in fact The Natives who were amused (evidenced by the laughing?) by the silliness of the situation. Couldn’t this very same detail be “woven-in” at almost any time, by anyone, simply to spin the Narrative?
As the story goes, they (The Native American impromptu ‘Land-Sellers’) were incredulous to hear of this (White Man) ‘fairy tale’ of “Owning Land”! What a farce, they thought! How could these Whites be so arrogant and audacious as to believe that they could divvy-up and claim ownership to piece-parts of the actual earth upon which ALL things walk, upon which ALL things subsided? The very same Earth that ALL Native Teachings identified as “One of the Greatest Gifts” given to ALL by the Great Father? This very Earth provided Everything a Native Tribe required for not only survival, but also to prosper. IT was the source of ALL Joy, all pursuit, all Life, and a metaphor of the Great Father, inspiring and requiring a strong work-ethic, bravery, loyalty, honor, and respect. Values which, Native ancestors had been passing-down through their generations.
For Tribes-People, there was NO questioning that these teachings were sacred and indeed, true.
Authors Note: That particular anecdotal evidence of the Native Americans “laughing amongst themselves” is difficult to validate, these days. Citations of both validity and disproof are welcomed, indeed, invited.
Please note that this tale was particularly striking to the Author. It was reported in “the accepted Text-Books of the day”, and may have been part of a class discussion afterward.
We may never-know the “Actual facts” of this Historical Anecdote.
The ‘Anecdote’ consists of a few people’s recollections, reported to the “journalists” of the day, who passed-along the (likely) imperfect recitation of said recollections. The story eventually became regarded as “The Truth”, as it was painted in the Public Schools…
But we ALL know the flaws in the “Retelling Problem”, wherein the latest “Retell” of the originally recited story is a vast departure from the original.
Consider too, that certain Political antecedents may have had an agenda which was better served once a bit of the “proper spin” was applied to this “Tale of the Frontier”.
(How many other ‘tales’ have needed “massaging” to fit political agendas?)
Inquiring minds will want to know: If, some type of spin has influenced our understanding of events, WHO is responsible? And, WHAT possible motives may they have had?
INDEED. A subject for a completely Different Essay.
But, let us delve into the particulars of THIS particular “Frontier Tale”…
For starters, we absolutely cannot blame the Teachers, of the 20th Century, if any/all of this was/is in-fact a fabrication.
The text-book-writers? A possibility.
Who were their Editors, and WHOM did those Editors (willingly-or not) serve?
Who were the Editors’ Supervisors?
The Author posits that, if one fails to mull these questions in ANY Historical Recount, then the Reader is perhaps “Granting more literary/editorial license” (to whomever has published said Recount) than Freedom-Loving People should. A lack of awareness of the need for Free People to contribute to the sensible Stewardship of Individual Rights & Freedoms should be Paramount in the Public Schools!
AND THAT is NOT just the Author’s Opinion – is constantly remains incumbent upon ALL, according to the Founding Fathers.
(Claims as-to the Validity of the Documents written by the Founding Fathers, notwithstanding!)
Back to the Questions:
Regardless of the answers to the questions above, the reporters/writers/editors/supervisors were probably faced with the same ultimatum thrust upon every individual faced with performing a work-related task of questionable morality:
“DO YOU WANT TO KEEP YOUR JOB?”
(Of course the answer is Almost Always: “Yes”. The (dominant) mental refrain: “Don’t Rock the Boat” having become more the rule than exception. Yet another topic for another day, “How We’ve Slowly Been Taught That Docility Is OK, All The Time”.)
Damn, that particular Soap-Box is/was extremely difficult to ascend-to, and renders any situation in-which one has successfully done-so, prone to many reader’s eyes glossing-over…
Of course we had no choice…
So we will step-it-down a notch, and relate a short tale of my own, which helps to coalesce all of these abstractions into something more accessible, and tangible.
Something of a Personal Epiphany, the context of which is an unexpectedly impactful dramatization.
Specifically the movie “Dances With Wolves”
As a preamble, let me say that I used to (always) be one to believe everything they were dishing in school, pretty much unquestioningly.
We needed to go to school. I believed it. Not a question in my mind.
We were portrayed as the good guys. The good guys in all the wars, the Wild West, everything, always.
The proof was in the pudding. We had 50 states. I knew the capitals. Those places existed.
They were pictured on TV, from time to time.
All those thick textbooks. There was documentation. Everything in them was true and accurate.
All the teachers, parents, relatives, friends, everybody–everybody was lock-step in the same story. I encountered absolutely zero dissent.
I had already had my questions regarding Santa, the Easter Bunny – but those
weren’t School…those weren’t world events. Made-up stuff. Indeed, the justifications continue to be puzzling.
All that Text-Book stuff withstood ALL the scrutiny I had as a kid, and into young adulthood…the majority, even into adulthood. Oh, I knew there were problems with Vietnam, but I thought that was just a minor, isolated type of thing. I was trying to remain the Optimist.
I finally discovered other viewpoints in college. By then I was focused on getting out of the low income place I was born-into, and the even lower-income place that college life was. But I knew it would be resolved, as long as I just maintained my focus and diligence. I did discover that there were indeed plenty of bad apples, but most were in other places around the world. Plenty of good apples in the Good-Old USA!
Who were the “Bad Apples”?
These were inclusive of the likes of the famous assassins of the 60s, then Nixon, and of course Ho Chi Minh, as the media portrayal went.
It wasn’t until I found a book about the history of Vietnam, that I discovered just how much of the actual truth had been buried, twisted, and/or distorted.
It was a thick book. Stanley Karnow’s “Vietnam: A History”. It was a long, slow process to digest it all.
But it was never dull or boring. When I was done, I digested it for a while, and then when back and reread it.
At least twice.
There was NO WAY that that whole thing was perpetrated by some small group of individuals.
It was really making me think.
Author’s note: Stanley Karnow’s “Vietnam: A History” is highly recommended reading.
This, of course brings us back to “Dances With Wolves”.
My limited young-adulthood-questioning had established a “base” for me to build-upon.
Karnow’s book provided scope and context which laid bare all of the mainstream-peddled nonsense about Indochina, and the West’s relentless ruthlessness.
Dancing With Wolves hit me like a Sledgehammer. I walked out of the theater, and I absolutely could NOT get it off of my mind. I was blown away. It changed my life. Forever.
That “hit by a Sledgehammer” feeling remained with me…days later. I had NOT been affected like that before. All fundaments had suddenly been terribly shaken.
I did not know where to turn.
I let it sink-in for a few days.
And, then, I re-read Karnow’s book again!
(Finally, somewhere to turn!)
The feeling of the Dramatic Impact that that movie made on me, as well as the Dramatic Impact it left upon my mind, remain with me to this day.
Years later I read “The Trail of Tears” and that was yet another milestone.
The impact remains fresh.
After having mentally digested “The Trail of Tears” (and re-reading it), I tackled “Wounded Knee”. The “Wounded Knee TV-movie” (“Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”) might even be a good place to start, if you are just starting your journey.
Its kind-of shocking that that was allowed on TV!
After days, weeks, month, and years of mental deliberations, the only sensible conclusion is that the Truth has been thoroughly massaged. Or hidden. Or covered-up. Repeatedly. Over a long-long time.
My initial reaction was maybe a little like the average person’s reaction:
“Yes–But so what?”
And one day, it dawned on me.
THIS is exactly how people Lose their Freedom.
By allowing this to happen.
By not demanding Truth and Integrity.
I don’t remember the day I arrived at that realization, but I DO remember all of the milestones I passed on my journey to that destination.
This last weekend, we celebrated the victory of and by the First Free Men, in Recorded History.
A single group of individuals triumphed over every Longstanding Historical Political System.
A single group of individuals triumphed over every other Nation-State, Monarchy, Kingdom, Despot, and Dictator.
A single group of individuals became Free Men; no longer subjects; no longer chattel–Their Long-Term Vision to demonstrate to Mankind that it could indeed be a reality!
That battle was won. We became Free.
The battle to retain that status, they knew, would be The Battle of Evermore.
They knew that their descendants would NEVER be free from the obligation to defend these Freedoms.
They even put measures in their brilliant system to hopefully make it extremely difficult for the system to be undermined, watered-down, or otherwise made impudent/ineffectual.
But they could NOT install permanent watch-dogs to stand full-time-guard throughout the decades & centuries…THAT is OUR collective task!
We hope that SOME understood and reflected upon this, during all of the recent fireworks.
We trust that SOME have only just started to understand and reflect upon the gravity & obligation of the awesome responsibility we are uniquely privileged to have been given.
We pray that many more gain an understanding, and “Answer The Call”.
YOUR Freedom depends on it.