INDIAN SURVIVAL CRISIS BULLETIN
NO. 22 DECEMBER, 1986
10TH INSTALLMENT: FUN AND FROLIC IN HISTORY
(In the last issue, we had the Kaneswake Mohawks running the cataracts of the Nile in Egypt in keelboats and later wandering all over Europe, the white man's land.) The years 1838 to 1890 were not exclusively of hard dangerous work. It was also a time of great sports activities. On two occasions, the Kahnawake Indians were invited to Europe to give exhibitions in Lacrosse and Indian dancing. They played in England, Ireland, Scotland and lastly in the courtyard of Windsor Castle before Queen Victoria.
Britain's highest society had some kind of a do-funny going on which included the presence of the "crowned heads of Europe." No doubt British royalty was the leading light of European kingdoms and Queen Victoria decided it would be good to entertain the kinds and queens of Europe by exposing them to a lacrosse game featuring the best Indian team playing the best white lacrosse team. The promoters thought the Kahnawake Mohawks are the best and they obtained the consent of the Montreal Shamrocks (Irish), considered the best among all the white teams, to oppose the powerful Indian team on the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The show was a sensation. As a result, lacrosse clubs sprang up all over the British Isles and spread over Europe. One king was heard to remark to another king during the game at Windsor Castle: "There must be a high rate of mortality in this game." Lacrosse is one of the fastest and roughest of games. Sixty years later, the star defenceman of the Montreal Shamrocks recalled the famous game: "Frank Cross-the-River was the fastest man in lacrosse and he got a break away. There was only me between him and the goal. I was the best defenceman in the league and I was determined that he wasn't going to pass me. He would have to pass on my right or on my left. There was another way I didn't think of ... I'm six feet four tall and he jumped right over me the goat in front of Queen Victoria and all the kings and queens of Europe!"
The manager of the Indian team was the giant John Taiaiake Rice of the River ships fame and the star defenceman of the lacrosse team was none other than Big John Canadian, the redoubtable shooter of rapids and cataracts. On being presented to Queen victoria, Big John Canadian was not one to genuflect (act of worship) to anybody. He simply walked up to the Queen and grabbed the mighty head of the British Empire in two huge hands and gave Queen Victoria a resounding kiss on her cheek and walked back to his seat, amidst the stunned silence of the royal assembly! One who dares the dreaded Lachine Rapids and the Cataracts of the Nile was likely to dare anything. There was a little smile on Queen Victoria's royal lips which indicated that she was "amused."
Seven years later in 1883, another "Command Performance" saw the lacrosse teams cross the Atlantic for a series of games and dance exhibitions before great crowds in the British Isles, France, Holland and other countries. A new enterprise was generated - the Show Business. The erstwhile warriors became actors, singers and dancers as copies of Gay Nineties billboards and posters testify. From the warpath to the Thespian stage, the ferocious Iroquois crashed into civilization. That is, what passes for civilization.
To prove his civilization, the white man put on a great show called World War 1, which wa to be a war to end all wars. The overreligious declared that the big war of 1914 was prophesied in the Bible. Just because it doesn't say so in so many words, it doesn't mean the Good Book did not prophesy the terrible event, in between the lines, of Buddy, in between the lines. "The most terrible war in all history". When another war, much bigger and infinitely more terrible made its appearance barely 30 years after the war to end all wars, the Bible promoters kept silent about prophecies. The big flu epidemic which started in the summer of 1918 and ended one year later put an end to the war to end all wars. More than half of the German army was on its back, helpless. The Kaiser escaped to Holland and became a wood chopper. The 1914 war killed 9,000,000. The Spanish flu killed 19,000,000. When the call for volunteers went out, young Mohawks in all Mohawk centers answered the call, not to "do their duty" but for the adventure. Something happened in between the two big wars for precious few Mohawks answered the draft call in the second World War.
After the first World War, a group of Mohawks in Kahnawake Akwesasne, and Kanesatake (Oka) applied for reinstatement in the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy. They were the descendants of the original prisoners of war of the French in the 1600's who had to dig up the stone for the Fort Ville Marie (Montreal) and were indoctrinated into the white man's European religion and brainwashed away from the Iroquois Confederacy. Slowly, the separated Mohawks found their way back to the Long House. Indians in all the reserves were allowed to run their town governments in their own traditional way until 1890 when the Government of Canada decided that the white man's system would be forced on the Indian reserves. It was called the "Band Council". The Mohawk National government system worked for 1000 years until the infinite wisdom of the paleface decided to demote the Indians from the nation status to a state lower than even the "tribe" status which he called "the band". The government of Canada also drew up an Indian law called "The Indian Act" which should have been called "White Man's Act" since the Indians did not devise it. One of the purposes of the Indian Act is to integrate the Indian people into the mainstream of the white society. In brief, the Indians shall be absorbed by the white race and disappear from the face of the earth. It is frustrating to the white society that the Indians had not become "naturalized Canadians of Indian descent" by their own choice but have remained strongly nationalistic.
When the second wild stupefaction was declared (World War II) there was no great rush by Mohawks to serve under Canadian or U.S. colors. Some did serve either from curiosity or to get away from some worse situation. Every young Mohawk was called up by the draft board which was mostly ignored by the disinterested young Mohawks. In 1944, when the Normandy invasion was at its peak, the law enforcement rounded up all drafted Mohawks and required them to go to the recruiting center for physical examination. This writer got caught in the round up. There was only a few that failed the physical and the rest of us were physically fit but were rejected for other reasons.
In my case, the examining officer noted my healthy condition (I was a runner) and urged me to go "active". Going active meant going overseas to fight the Germans in contrast to the draftee who would serve only in Canada. I said: "Any Indian who joins the army is a sucker." He sent me to a room where the examiner only asks questions and who finally asked me how I felt about the army. Again, I said: "Any Indian who joins the army is a sucker. " I was in a rut. Single track mind one might say.
With his best official air, he asked: "What do you mean?"
With what I thought was a sad, sweet smile, and in tones dripping with honey, I answered: "You white folks came from Europe. You took our land. You took our freedom. You took everything we got and now you want to stick us out at the front to fight and die so you can keep what you took from us. "
He turned deep red: "No you're not expected .... but a lot of good Indians are in France and fighting. They're not complaining. "
With a look of sadness I told him: "Don't forget that when the war began, lots of Indians were starving. One way of getting three square meals a day was to get in the army. That's why you got Indians in the army."
He said: "That's a good argument. Go back to the drill hall and wait there." Along with a couple of thousand other Indians, I got a rejection certificate. Officialdom must have decided they'll get a mutiny on their hands if they got us in their army. I wonder what the other Indians said to get rejected. I saw a lot of Mohawks there that day. All rejected.
This brings us to "modern" times. The ancients had their fun and frolic and now it's our turn. We also have some serious business ahead. The way to survival for Indians have been pointed out by events in the past. Great civilizations of the past became extinct, such as the Romans, Greeks, Persians, Phoenicians and others. They numbered in the millions. They were great and powerful yet they are extinct. Why did it happen to them? It "boggles" the mind they say. A ten year study was made by university professor to find out why great civilizations of the past became extinct.
The professor unearthed four main reasons why those great societies bit the dust. First, they became careless in their speech, lost the R and L sounds of their languages degenerated into dialects. Loss of the language is the first step to extinction. The second step is the loss of respect for the laws which made them great. The third cause was the deterioration of their economic systems. They started out helping each other and ended up with every man for himself. The fourth cause was disregarding spies and traitors, who hacked away at the very existence of their own people for pay and ended up as extinct as the people they helped to destroy. It was also noted that people who give up the struggle decrease in number, grow weak, die out and become extinct. People who continue to struggle, increase in number, grow strong and achieve survival. This is an important lesson here for us "Injuns". To struggle for survival means to fight for it. Find out ways and means to struggle. The term "fight for it" means to struggle actively. Action and not just words. To struggle then means a strong fight to achieve power. In this day and age, one has no power if one has no money. What Indians need to survive is by getting strong through getting money. Not just some money but a lot of money.
Let's look back at history for examples. Constantine the Great thought that if the people of the various countries in the Roman Empire were to stop fighting the Romans he would first have to make them meed and humble. To achieve that end, he would have to make them like the Christians he had read about. the Christians numbering 3,000 to 4,000 at that time were poor, meek and humble. He talked them into allowing rich people like himself to become Christians and to change their economic system. The agreed and overnight, their membership went up to hundreds of millions as Ol' Connie (Constantine) adopted Christianity and made it a Roman State church by putting everyone in the Roman Empire into the Christian church. It changed the wrong people. The Christians became agressive and warlike as the later Crusades and other invasions point out. They stopped being meek and humble. The teachings of Jesus were forgotten as they found easier and more practical ways to go to heaven.
The teachings of Jesus however came in handy. They used it on Indians to make them meek and humble like the Christians used to be before Ol' Connie. The idea was to make the Indians weak so they can be pushed around, robbed of their lands and other possessions and in time become extinct. The white Christians do not follow the teachings of Christ but do follow a souped up version via Thomas Aquinas via Aristotle.
The proof of this is in the remark made by Pope Leo X during the big Church Council in 1519, which was to raise money for a new church (the present one) more than 700 feet long by 450 feet wide and seating 50 thousand. The afternoon session of the council was over and the tired Cardinals, bishops and other prelates repaired to the basement lounge for refreshment. There the pious mistresses came out of the woodwork to make it a happy occasion. Cognac is a potent libation and under its influence unwise words began to flow. Pope Leo, now slightly tipsy, was heard to say to Cardinal Bembo (who officiated at the funeral of Rafael the great painter): "What a profitable superstition for popes is this fable of Christ!" A lot of meaning in those words. According to Pope Leo, the story of Christ is a fable (fairy tale) and a mere superstition but a profitable one.
The attitude of Pope Leo X explains the indifference of the Christian clergy to the teachings of Jesus. A study made by scholars revealed that 240 sayings of Jesus are completely ignored by the clergy and the "faithful". For example: "And call no man on earth your Father for one is your Father which is in Heaven." Matt. 23: 9. The clergy require the faithful to call them "Father" and they, the clergy, call each other "Father" in direct contradiction to the words of Jesus. Another is: "A rich young man came to Jesus and asked him what he must do to go to heaven. Jesus said unto him. If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven and come and follow me!" Matt. 19:21. So! to be a follower of Christ, that is, a Christian, one has to be perfect; and to be perfect one has to sell what one has and give to the poor, then one can follow Jesus, that is, be a Christian. So, we see that what goes on is not real Christianity.
Many Indian people are Christians who do not know that what they are following is not the real and true Christianity. The Apostolic Church, the original Christian church, became extinct when Roman Emperor Constantine the Great adopted Apostolic Christianity and made it into a State Church and called it the Roman Catholic Church. Catholic means "universal" for Constantine hoped to conquer the entire world. In the religious schools we Indian kids attended we were taught to be ashamed of anything that's Indian, especially Indian religion. The white teachers (nuns) called it superstition. So, if Indian religion is a superstition and the Christian religion is also a superstition, what is a religious Indian person to do?
A Jewish lawyer I spoke to provided a reasonable solution to the problem. "We Jews have suffered 3,000 years of persecution. How did we survive? Our religion is a force for unity and national survival. There are a lot of Jews, myself included, who have no use for religion, any religion; but we support the Jewish religion with money and our presence because it is a force for unity and national survival. Do you have a national religion?
I said: "Yes, the Long House."
"Do you have many people in that religion?"
"Oh, about half of the town." (exaggerating a little)
"Better get the other half in it because a national religion is a force for unity and national survival. Don't worry about the soul. It's greatly overrated. Anyway, it can take care of itself."
There, we have it from the people with the most experience. The Jews advise that even if we don't believe in our own Long House religion or if we think it's only a superstition (remember the Church is also just a superstition according to Pope Leo X) to join it anyway as it is a most important force for unity and national survival. The Jews have been very successful in surviving and even became an important power in the world and many of them are members of a religion they don't believe in but are members because it keeps them strong and a force to be reckoned with.
Many Christian Indians are afraid to leave Christianity because they think they'll go to hell. The preachers cannot prove that hell, devils or purgatory exist. Egyptian priests invented hell and the devil 5,000 years ago and if, in all that time, they have never been proven to exist then reason tells us that they'll never be proven. They will always be mere superstition.
Isn't it time the Christian Indians stop being deceived by white men who cannot prove what they say? If a man cannot prove what he is saying, not only does he not know what he is talking about, but he is deceiving the people he is talking to. So, let's all of us Indians be strong and stand up for our rights and one of our rights is that we be told what can be proven to be true. A "truth" that cannot be proven is not a truth. Devils, hell and the rest cannot be true ... no proof.
So, if that's what prevents Indians from unity and becoming strong again, then it's time we dropped this nonsense from our lives. To survive, Indians have to be strong, and this means not only being physically strong, but also politically, economically, morally and mentally strong. Indians did not need money when the great Iroquois Confederacy was all-powerful. Now, Indians need money to achieve power. So, let's go after money. Not just some money, but a lot of money. It will be a great struggle. The struggle was always won by those who took the chance and at the same time had fun! Sing those rousing songs of yore. Beat the drums of ancient lore. To unproven hell with civilization's tired beat! Give us wild primordial rhythm for our eager dancing feet!
INDIAN SURVIVAL CRISIS BULLETIN