The Indigenous Ground

I read with great appreciation a post by Donna A. Walling about her summer pilgrimage to the Lakota reservation, which was very moving. As a mild rebut, we do have here in Santa Fe spoken Navaho heard on the street. To them, genocide and persecution came NOT from America but from the Crusades as the Conquistadores invaded seeking a mythical city of gold and forcibly converting survivors. The United States captured this land and set up reservations, an act that essentially saved these cultures from extinction. The First People of New Mexico, Anasazi, Zuni, Pueblo and others, were peaceful agrarian tribes. They were more interested in painting pottery and weaving rugs than waging war. It would seem that it was not official USA policy to wipe out peaceful tribes, contrary to what many claim today. Santa Fe is a living symbol of that pluralism, in that the “Indians” are doing pretty well. And THAT has been good for tourism.

In every place of the world earth-centric cultures have been exterminated. One might conclude that for all our rotten treatment of the First Nations, they are still around because of US. I honor the United States for at least recognizing the First People have rights to exist. That itself, I think, shows some huge progress in human evolution. The fact that the United States was founded on enlightenment principles is responsible for our non-genocide morality.

As a Jew who spent time in the historical indigenous ground of the Jews, Judea, I resonate with Donna’s empathy at her tribal experience on Indigenous Ground. This is why I call myself a Liberal. A “Liberal Zionist“, to be precise. And I don’t say that as a slam on Conservatives, but rather in the sense that we are still in the Enlightenment. Or more likely, post-Enlightenment.

I am blessed to live in a place where these people are a part of the foreground, and their culture the scenery. The Southwest Tribes are tremendously artistic and industrious people. The grinding poverty of displacement camps was never known here, but they got a good dose of forced conversion in their historical villages. Even under the federal United States government tribes were auctioned off to Christian missionary sects, all of whom set out to save souls. It was only recently in history that the churches were driven off the reservations. An interesting Jewish take on the history of the Pueblos is a fascinating read. In general, Jews are liked by the tribal peoples and I recently met one who claimed to be descended from crypto-Jews!

Yes, injustices have been done to these people for centuries. In the page I linked to is the chilling story of the chopped off foot, a controversial legend that some people reject. While the Maya and the Inca cultures are extinct, our New Mexico tribes have only been persecuted under our Enlightenment form of government. We should be thankful the United States captured this territory from Mexico and annexed it just before the Civil War.

And I appreciate Donna’s feeling about Israel, which is founded on the same Enlightenment values. As a liberal democracy, Israel does have an indigenous population and they are called Israeli Arabs. Israel never tried to convert them or forbid them to speak their language. Other nations, however did just that, like the Finns to the Sami and the Australians to the Aboriginals. Israel’s indigenous Arabs were peaceful people who accepted democracy and so they stayed. They may be the victims of government policies, but as indigenous people that have done pretty well under Israeli rule. They are, it seems, comparable to the Pueblos of New Mexico who were peaceful and allow to stay.

Some may take offense at me calling Arabs the indigenous people of Israel but you see, they were physically there, and the Jews were not. The Jews were in exile, and Israel was their historical land. The two groups, in fact, are getting along pretty good together, as something like 20% of Israel is Arab. This fact I believe is proof that Israel is a nation founded on Enlightenment Ideals, and I honor that.

With the current batch of refugees, the Palestinians, their fate is undecided. They could have been like the Israeli Arabs but they refused Israeli citizenship. I can’t accept a solution where the Jewish historical homeland Judeah should ever be given away to the sovereignty of indigenous people. It doesn’t work that way. We’re the conquerors and we get to decide. That’s how its always been throughout history.

About the Author
Just another epicene half-Jew heretic exiled to Santa Fe.