Recently I’ve been involved in a discussion about the “little people” and this has
given rise to personal musing about the age of steel and our introduction to it as
indigenous people-the impact and life altering results brought with it.
My counterpart in this discussion is of the opinion that the little people are in
decline, there may be a truth to that for a variety of reasons and led me to offer
an opinion that if you encroach upon or disrupt an environmental habitat all manner
of things, life forms are effected. From plants, to birds, even to mammals and people
as we see in rain forests and other ecosystems.
Uncontacted tribes are dwindling dramatically, even more so following contact, sometimes
to the point of extinction.
Some say the time of the nations is passing-and if you look at it objectively from the viewpoint of language, culture, tradition, genocide,and assimilation, an argument
can be made to that effect- but it is not one I would subscribe to.
If there is a truth in any of this assimilation is the vehicle that is the driving force, and
is in my opinion the root cause for all of the above. Assimilation introduced under the
aegis of steel.
Regardless of what a person wants to believe even the most resistant have to give some
consideration to the fossil record and the theory of evolution-many things that were are no
more. Did they outlive their ability to survive, were unable to adapt to a changing world,
hunted to the point of extinction, or adapt and in that become something else?
In the blog On This Day I wrote about how when the age of steel came to us we were
decimated by it’s unforgiving nature, and that we may never be the same because of it- I’ll
add to that we didn’t have the luxury of discovery for ourselves and a gradual introduction.
Steel wasn’t given to us as a gift, or knowledge and the acquisition of it through any kind of
original pursuit. We neither made or had a prior awareness of it.
What we had in the way of introduction was the sudden and blunt force trauma of steel
and how it was inflicted upon us. It was a pivotal turning point, this steel of sabres, rifles,
and cannons,and as I’ve said we have never been the same-not the land, nor the people, nor our lifestyle. We have been attempting to survive and maintain our cultural integrity from that first moment when nations collided to this present day.
So, if one is to offer an hypothesis that the little people’s time is passing and there is a truth
in it, is it possibly the result of factors mentioned above, singularly or in combination?
It is a part of the process of assimilation that people set aside, exchange, one belief or
custom for another-it is an erosion that has taken place in all assimilated or conquered
We are witness to it in this day and time with the loss of language and traditional values-maybe there exists a degree of inevitability in this, but if such exchanges are to be made, if some things are to be set aside, we would well advised to attempt to gain ground than to to lose it-and I for one fail to see that as having been the way of it.
To gain an education is an advantage-to tolerate gangs in any manner is not. To know
and maintain our history and traditions is an advantage-to alter them or tolerate any
revisions of our history as in the laughable assertion of the “300” at the Big Horn is not.
Whatever has been is a part of us-if we scalped as we surely did, if captives were
abused as they surely were, if we made war on other tribes as we surely did, those memories
remain in our blood, and no revisionist attempts or high talk alters so much as a single
iota of that.
The fact that we lived as a people with communal values, that we had a spiritual appreciation and awareness that we were a part of all things and our role directly was linked to that are a part of the blood memory as well.
This modern break down of our communities is becoming a part of us as well-and
it is up to each of to decide if it is a blood memory they want.
I for one have no desire for future generations to look back in shame and say there was a time when it wasn’t uncommon for our women or children and elders to be abused, or there was a time when we allowed loud talking self serving buffoons to enrich themselves and claim to speak for us.
That there was a time when women could be murdered and men calling themselves leaders and warriors sat around making excuses, ignoring, or worse, thumbed their nose at justice- and in doing so cast the heritage and culture of entire nations into the dirt.
How much can be lost before we become something other than what we are? How much will
we allow or find acceptable? Will it be when we have learned to make right look like wrong
and wrong to look like right? Seems to me we’ve already started down that path.