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Salvadoran-Americans - Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 16, 2010 11:00am | Post a Comment
Salvadorans
Salvadorans on the march

In the US, what the word "Latino" connotes varies regionally. Often, regardless of accuracy, in the southwest it means "Mexican;" in the northeast it means "Puerto Rican;" and in Florida, "Cuban." Indeed, those are the three largest populations of Latino-Americanos in the country, although obviously not the only ones. Each have their own distinct culture, history, and place in America. This entry is about the fourth largest Latino population, Salvadorans.

Flag of El Salvador
The flag of El Salvador

The indigenous people of what's now El Salvador are the Pipil. Today, 90% of Salvadorans identify as mestizos, in this case usually meaning of Spanish and Pipil backgrounds. Although only 1% of Salvadorans self-identify solely as Pipil, in reality the percentage is likely higher, but, due to prejudice, many Salvadorans are reluctant to embrace their Native side. 

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We Shall Remain

Posted by Miss Ess, November 20, 2009 05:38pm | Post a Comment
we shall remain

It seems timely to think about the history of Native Americans with less than a week to go before Thanksgiving. And if you already dislike the US Government, prepare to be impressed, evenapache astounded by the lows it has sunk to...It'll make you want to deface that cool, snide Andrew Jackson staring at you from your twenty dollar bills. You will see that the arrogant United States of America has its own history of genocide, one that has been going on for hundreds of years.

I watched the entire series We Shall Remain, a set of PBS documentaries about Native Americans' history once the settlers hit the continent's shores. The films cover brutal, unsettling material that unfolds in a deft, direct manner. It covers histories of the Cherokee, Shawnee, Apache, and others in episodes entitled "After the Mayflower," "Tecumseh's Vision," "Trail of Tears," "Geronimo," and "Wounded Knee." There are definitely some major tribes missing from the series, but hopefully their stories will also accessibly be told with such care in the future. There's still about 8+ hours worth of straightforward viewing here, and the films are made from careful, studied recreations, truly haunting photos, interviews and even found footage.

The most interesting and vital pgeronimoart of the films though, I found, is definitely the interviews conducted with Native people living today. This is particularly moving during "Geronimo," when ancestors of Geronimo, Cochise and others are interviewed. Their words and stories are intense, and the gravity of what their families have experienced is devastating. It is also particularly moving during the final film of the series, "Wounded Knee," which focuses on growing Native American activism in the 70s and the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee by the radical American Indian Movement (AIM). The interviewees' memories are so fresh, and their hope and passion for The Movement is so strong. If you think things will have gotten better for Native people after making it through the first 4 portions of this series, think again! Just because the final film covers the post- hippie 1970s doesn't mean the government is any sweeter to Native Americans.

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The situation in Ngulu Mapu intensifies

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 31, 2009 01:16pm | Post a Comment
Although it's received little-to-no coverage in most mainstream media, clashes between Mapuche activists and the Chilean government have intensified as of late. Two days ago, thousands of Mapuche and other Chileans gathered around the country to protest plans for damming many of the country's rivers. This was only the latest round in a growing protest movement over land rights issues in Ngulu Mapu, the Mapuche homeland.

Mapuche memorial

Just two weeks ago, a young Mapuche, Jaime Mendoza Collío, was shot in the back and killed by a Chilean police officer. The police were attempting to evict a group of about eighty Mapuche who were occuypying the San Sebastián farm. Following Collío's death, many Mapuche took to the streets of Temuco demanding direct talks with the Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet. The killing of Collío was only the latest death of a Mapuche at the hands of Chilean police. On January 3, 2008, 22-year-old Mapuche student Matias Catrileo was shot and killed by police. 17-year-old Alex Lemun was similarly shot and killed in November of 2002.


The Mapuche, whose claims to Ngulu Mapu stem from thousands of years of continuous presence, routinely clash with the Chilean governments as it sells off more and more of the Mapuche homelands to foreign mining companies which wreak considerable environmental destruction whilst reaping considerable profits. Meanwhile, large timber firms (most state-owned) continue to deforest the countryside. Most of the timber ends up in the US, at an annual profit of about $600 million. After the forests are destroyed, the timber firms replant the area with thirsty, non-native trees like eucalyptus. Those who speak out against what they call environmental racism are frequently arrested under the banner of counter-terrorism. The government regularly applies laws enacted during the Pinochet dictatorship to imprison activists, especially those belonging to Mapuche organizations like Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco (CAM).

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Greenland --> Naalakkersuisut - And Inuit cinema and music

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 9, 2009 10:22pm | Post a Comment
Greenlanders

Though Greenland has been home-ruled since 1979, on June 21, 2009, the Danish government made steps toward granting Greenland full independence. In a 2008 referendum, 76% of the 58,000 residents of the sparsely populated island voted for self-rule and the Danish government has been handing over control of services to the local government and making symbolic changes, like changing the official language to Kalaallisut (the Inuit language of most Greenlanders) and renaming the country Naalakkersuisut.

Satellite image of North America

Every schoolchild has at least a vague awareness of Greenland, that conspicuously white island (decidedly not green) near the top of most globes. According to Eiríks saga rauða (the saga of Eric the Red) and Íslendingabók (the book of Icelanders), the name was chosen to attract settlement by promoting Greenland as an attractive place to live.


Although part of the North American Tectonic plate, Eurocentric models of North American discovery either credit Columbus or Bjarni Herjólfsson with discovering the New World when they sighted the Caribbean and Canada, respectively. As Wikipedia's entry on the Norwegian explorer states, "Bjarni is believed to be the first European to see North America," which he did in the summer of 986 on the way to visit his parents in Greenland, and island which is itself part of North America. So Europeans (including Herjólfsson’s parents) had already "discovered" Greenland, although many before have quite reasonably questioned one's ability to discover something already known for thousands of years to many people.

November is Native American Heritage Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 5, 2008 07:19pm | Post a Comment
Native Americans from across the Americas

NATIONAL AMERICAN INDIAN HERITAGE MONTH

The first American Indian Day was celebrated in May 1916 in New York. Back in 1990, President George H.W. Bush named November National American Indian Heritage Month. The purpose of the observance is to highlight the roles America's aboriginal peoples have played in the country's history. It's kind of interesting. I'd say that the main role Natives have played in regard to American history was armed resistance and reluctant subjugation. It's kind of like Israel having a National Palestinian Heritage Month, Turkey having an Armenian History Month or Sudan having a Darfur Day.

I suppose, somewhat begrudgingly, that most Natives today have come to accept the fact that America is here to stay ...at least until 2012. Furthermore, Natives have, in many cases, actually been supportive of America and contributed to her history, to be sure. For example, not only did many Native nations align themselves with the US and its colonial antecedents at various times, but they also served as really good trackers and proved to be natural ecologists who demonstrated their intrinsically environmentalist natures by using every part of the bison and coming up with 30 different names for snow.

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