Monday, October 12, 2015

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day!
Happy Columbus Day too!
We are all kin under the skin

'the blue marble'
aka planet earth
And for those of you who want to celebrate Europeans coming to the 'New World' (to them) happy Christopher Columbus Day, aka Christoforo Colombo, aka Cristobal Colon, aka Cristovao Colombo.  In his real life, born in Genoa in somewhere in October 1450, or maybe 1451, he answered to Christoforo Colombo. 

Saint brendan german manuscript.jpgAnd for those of you who who are Irish, we have St. Brendan the Navigator - because I love the Celts/  However to be honest that 6th century claim is a bit iffy.  The Scandinavians have Erik the Red and the rest of his Erikkson progeny, in the late 10th century going to North America.

Whatever floats your personal boat, an awful lot of boats traveled the world, in migration and exploration, as did a lot of people on foot.  I refer you to the entry on Early Human Migration in Wikipedia for a pleasant summary. 

It is evil, it is stupid and willfully ignorant to turn any part of the planet, including the USA, into some sort of territorial Musical Chairs of who got here first, who has the most right to be here, or who is going to hijack power over others.  PEOPLE MIGRATE.  Always have, always will.  Get over it! Don't fear it! Better, CELEBRATE IT!  Expect it, welcome it, and act to make it a positive rather than negative outcome for old AND new!

The three great Heyerdahl trans-oceanic rafts!

Whether we celebrate the Indigenous peoples, who came here first, or we celebrate early European immigrants to North, Central and South Americas, or if we celebrate the remarkable navigational accomplishments of other explorers, be they Scandinavian, Chinese - yes, they got here too!, or northern African.  The Chinese also went to Africa and to Australia, as early as 1402, and may very well have discovered the Americas nearly a quarter of a century earlier - well before Columbus sailed the Atlantic Ocean blue in 1492. Here is a short 4 minute link to an excellent video about the Chinese 15th century exploration.  (That amazing explorer, btw, was a Chinese Muslim eunuch, for those who have poorly informed ideas about the remarkable contributions of people who are not mainstream hetero-normative or western Christian.)  I wish the video would embed properly; please do follow the link, if you can make the time; it is worth it.

 The three great Heyerdahl trans-oceanic rafts!


We know, especially from the work of the modern adventurer, the late, great Norwegian scholar and adventurer, Thor Heyerdahl, that people have gone to many places from many places, and sometimes back again.  They have gone from Polynesia to South America -- and back; the Pacific Islanders have their explorers.  Our ancestors have gone from the eastern and southern Mediterranean to South America as well, and Heyerdahl duplicated those journeys too.  And we have Heyerdahl positing and providing supporting evidence that his Viking ancestors, way back when came to Norway.......from what is now Pakistan, based in part on the same kind of boat research he did for his voyages!

Earliest peoples have crossed land bridges from Africa to Asia and Europe, and from Asia into North America. We've been migrating all over the planet for at least 2 million years! 

WHO got here or there WHEN, or where they came from, should NOT MATTER. Race is a failed artificial construct; we are all kin under our skins.  We are not as different from each other as those who obsess about race or ethnicity would define us.  Some of us, including those who are primarily of European ancestry,  are not even pure homo sapiens, but contain traces of Neanderthal and Denisovan. When you consider how many of contain the genetic inheritance of more than one human species, caring who is bi- or multi-racial, that failed concept, is ludicrous, worse than a waste of time and effort, and a damaging and counterproductive belief.

Use this holiday to celebrate the adventurous human spirit that is a credit to humanity, and reject prejudices, that fail to recognize our common humanity and our individual capacity to excel, and to contribute to our shared heritage and mutual benefit.  We are the dominant species on our planet, although not always wisely so, because of when and where we cooperated.

If you have time to read anything today, read Jared Diamond's exceptional work, Guns Germs and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies;  National Geo and PBS have aired a documentary on Diamond's work, and it was the 1998 Pulitzer Prize winner for general non-fiction.  It is not light reading, it is not a short, breezy or trashy beach paperback, but it IS good reading, engaging and enriching to human understanding about ourselves and each other.

And good on Minneapolis, and the other cities trending to follow their example and other examples of celebrating Indigenous People Day.  There is room for all celebration, not one group over another, but the one that looks back furthest and looks most comprehensively at the totality of who is here is the better option.  As a species, our common cradle was Africa; since leaving we have gone everywhere on the planet, throughout human history.

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