The relationship between the nations and hotowa’e is a timeless and storied one, something of a communion among kindred spirits, and the creation of a “national mammal” will be received differently by people even among the nations.
Friends and strangers alike I have talked to are ambivalent, others accepting, and still others to put it politely aren’t impressed.
Our history with hotowa’e has been one of respect, dependency, and survival, knowing this a campaign was initiated to eradicate the buffalo, millions were slaughtered resulting in the near extermination of both our nations.
Today ten thousand non hybridized buffalo remain, survivors much the same as our people have been.
At the turn of the twentieth century an estimated quarter of million first nations people were all that were left out of millions – there’s more than one city with a population larger than that.
I suppose in a way it is fitting that this friend of ours has been selected as a “national mammal”, fitting in the sense that as they have endured as a nation so too have we as a people, and perhaps as the designated national mammal hotowa’e stands as a testament to that, though I doubt that was either a consideration or the intent.
Whether this is to be viewed as an honor or reminder is up to the individual – but at the same time however it is viewed perhaps another look should be taken at the current public romantic sentiment about indigenous people that too often clouds real issues and facilitates the corruption and selling of all that we are and have been.
For me it serves only as a reminder, and as a reminder a different purpose is served.
National humans? A question that arose in the manner of what’s next? In being first nations and the original occupants it may be that in that in a way we are, as we represent along with hotowa’e what this country originally was, and yet we need no proclamation to that end.
hotowa’e was first memorialized in coinage, the “Indian head” or Buffalo” nickel as it came to be known, and I’ve blogged about that.
Earlier there was the Indian penny minted during a period that has become known as the “Indian wars”, something else I’ve blogged about as well, and I’ve yet to understand the motivation for having done so during that period of time.
I’ve thought about this national mammal since the initial announcement and looked at it as more of a curiosity than anything else – this is a country long on holidays, long on feel good proclamations, and long on gestures, as such reactions will vary, but for me mine remains one of a curious ambivalence thinking that if some believe they have been handed a negative better to turn it into a positive in the hopes that our friend having been nationally recognized will now have an easier road to travel.
We shouldn’t forget that the marketing of our ceremonies and traditions by those among our own are a symbol of greed – arguably a for profit attempt to make us national humans, and we can’t have it both ways.
He once showed me what he thought looked like a well defined silhouette of a horse produced by rust on a piece of metal, and once having pointed it out to me the resemblance was obvious.
Some likenesses he points out are well defined, others a closer look reveals what he saw all along.
Like the photos above of a rock – there’s so many rocks along a river bank people tend to see the forest and not the individual tree.
Grandfather sees in edition to a rock a buffalo calf’s face – if you look you can see the general shape, the eye, and even nostrils.
This ability to look beyond the norm, to not take something for granted, has been adopted by his grandchildren who consider it to be something of a game – as young as they are and with the unfettered imagination so common to little ones you sometimes have to just nod your head in agreement – other times finding yourself amazed at their perception.
There’s a poem by William Blake titled Auguries of Innocence I read years ago the first few lines of which come to mind:
“to see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in flower – hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.”
I don’t recall the rest of it but I believe both grandfather and his grandchildren have this ability, an ability we could all probably use a little more of.
Driven to the edge of extinction-estimates set their numbers at sixty million or more during their zenith-herds so large it could take an entire day to pass reduced at one point to an approximate number of two thousand.
Other brothers, those of our nations have been driven to extinction or to the precipice as well.
A proud history-something for this nation to wave the flag about.
A nation that in the midst of genocidal policies directed at the indigenous people of this land turns on itself in a Civil War and kills what the latest statistics suggest is in excess of 750,00 of it’s own.
Power corrupts -it is a an attraction, an avenue, that sociopaths are drawn to-and it makes no difference if they refer to themselves as politicians, liberators, patriots, or what nation they are from.