Mary Beth Writes

In the 1500’s a lot of loose European adventurer/exploiter types were cruising the new Americas. Ship captains and crews trolled the eastern seaboard; they frequently kidnapped native people to sell as slaves or curiosities back in Europe. Yes, they did this.

In 1614 several Wampanoag men were kidnapped by Captain Thomas Hart, an explorer who then sold them in Malaga, Spain (future hometown of Picasso). Spanish monks bought the Indians, including one young male named Trisqantum. He apparently learned Spanish and later English when he was traded to England. From England he eventually joined – as their translator - an expedition headed for Newfoundland. In Newfoundland he left (I don’t know if he left or escaped) the ship’s crew and walked back to his village. I looked on Google maps; that was a thousand-mile hike.

When he finally got home, six years after he’d been kidnapped, he discovered that every single person of his Patuxet clan had died (of disease). There were other Wampanoag clans in that eastern Massachusetts, western Cape Cod area, so he probably stayed with them. But he was the last of the Patuxet clan.

The following year was 1620, when the Mayflower Pilgrims landed at the summer location of his people - the west side of Cape Cod. Trisquantum eventually moved close to the Pilgrims, translated among them and other neighboring tribes and clans. He taught the pilgrims how to grow the three sisters i.e. beans, corn, and squash. He showed them how to fish and hunt in this land that was new to them. 

Half the pilgrims died that first year, but without the serendipitous presence and help of Trisquantum it is likely none would have survived.

Some people called him Squanto (thus beginning the racist American tradition of calling people from other cultures any damn thing we want to call them, instead of learning their actual names).

Like I said, his clan belonged to Wampanoag tribe. They endured epidemics, violence from Europeans, violence from rival Indian tribes as they all tried to survive the onslaught of change that arrived with the Europeans.

In 2007 the Mashpee Wampanoag were federally recognized and accorded sovereignty over their own land. There are three other bands of Wampanoag who are recognized by the state of Massachusetts.

All of them together desire to build a casino on Cape Cod. There is only one casino license left to obtain in Massachusetts.

“Late last Friday afternoon (3/27 at 4PM), the Tribe was contacted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to inform them that the Secretary of the Interior has issued an order that will terminate the Tribe’s ability to self-govern, strip the Tribe of their reservation lands, and effectively terminate them as a recognized people.”

You can read more online about the 12,000-year-old Wampanoag people and their 100-year struggle to secure control of their own land.

You can also steam with anger at our administration which, during this epidemic, is using our preoccupation to steal land and power back from the Indian nation that saved out forefathers’ butts.

I believe each of us have places where we just can’t take the lies, exploitation, and duplicity. For me, this is one of those lines in the sand.  I have already written to my senators. 

Here are more actions you can take: HERE.

Why care about an Indian issue 1000 miles from me? Maybe because I become furious at people who make huge decisions that affect the destinies of others without doing any of the work of understanding what’s going on.  Colonial Era history is not for the faint of heart. Or more likely, understanding the world around us requires understanding of how we got here.  For contemporary politicians to play fast and loose with the sovereignty of indigenous people, at this point in time, says they are operating on sheer racism and greed.

If there are questions about a casino license, that can be addressed without pulling a homeland out from underneath a People.

Damn.

That’s all I got today. 

Probably enough.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

I share your indignation. NM is home to 19+ Pueblo Communities and the eastern part of the Navajo Reservation -- I can walk to one of the Pueblos (and their casino), so I am deeply concerned and aware of the ways that the current administration is trashing treaties without compunction. The US has done nothing but wrong by the indigenous peoples from the get go. I feel angry and ashamed of our country.

And just want to add that my NM senators (both Dems) raise a fuss every time this administration tries another stunt like this or messes with our lands, parks, or environment. Sometimes they are even successful at preventing the bad stuff.
Mary Beth's picture

Warren is a Massachusetts senator and she is protesting, as well as John Kerry and even Bernie. There are many who will fight this. But I think most people (me included) are so whacked by Coronavirus and the economy (or lack thereof) - that this administration is just punching its way through society like a bully, grabbing up what it wants.

So angry!!!!!!! Damn greed that is ramped among so many politicians and , like you said, racism!!!

Don't know which is worse, the greif or the anger!!!!!!!

Thanks.I have known about the issue of the Wampanoag people being persecuted by our Government. It is an illegal act which the government is trying to pursue. I appreciate being able to sign the petition. Thank you for the link MaryBeth.
Mary Beth's picture

Good. If we don't act as if our voices count, we might as well abandon this ship. Thanks.

I live on the shores of Webster Lake, the largest non-manmade body of water in Massachusetts. At one time the local Nipmuc tribe lived in and hunted the wooded area surrounding the lake and fished the pristine waters. Sad to see is the tiny piece of land they were granted by our government to use for their ceremonies and gatherings which is miles from the lake. From the road it looks to less than an acre. It's painful to see. It appears that this administration is riding roughshod over the Wampanoags now. Thanks for the link you provided to voice our concerns.
Mary Beth's picture

Thank you, Christine, for your first hand view. If you happen to have any photos of the place that you can send digitally, send them to me at MB@MaryBethDanielson.com and I will post them.

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