Friday, December 5, 2014

Christopher Columbus And Thanksgiving: Under Savage Assembly


Under Savage Assembly
Under attack
Under Surveillance All the time
Under the boot of your...
Sociopathic flesh-eating virus

Supremacist egos fed by 

Surrender - Never -Will - I...

Accept your cannibalistic heritage

Eating the fruit of your own womb
Lickin' bloody blade
Thinking you are feeding 
But, really, depleting 
Yourself of 
Vital plasma,  
Aborting Life, Liberty and Legacy
Just-less handshakes in dark rooms 
and private meetings...
To amass
Unlawful Securities 
Live Stock, Land & Human Life.  

On Tuesday November 25, 2014 my 10 year old Nani came home with one of the most insulting, deceitful, culturally undermining and historically incorrect assignments to date.  Not only does the Holyoke School department not teach our children the truth about world history but, it completely erases the truth about US history.  Our children are indoctrinated with fabrications of European prowess and cultural, religious, and political supremacy.  Our children's ancestors and their rich political, social and economical history is strategically eliminated; erasing our Afro-Indigenous cultural heritage leaves them feeling ashamed and displaced in their world.  

I was sitting on the couch tying my shoelaces when my daughter quietly informed me

"Mommy, Ms. Moriarty gave us a Christopher Columbus assignment."   

Nani and I were headed out to WTCC Springfield Technical Community College's community radio station where I have been (guest) co-hosting going on two years.  I was sitting on the couch tying my shoe laces and the defeated tone in her annoyed admission triggered my righteous indignation.  

"Don't worry mama, you don't have to do it.  In fact, we are going to Plymouth, Massachusetts to a ceremony to honor and be with the first true Americans - The American Indians of New England."

Nani's eyes lit up with curious wonder.  

"American Indians from the Arawak tribe settled in New England living in very civilized societies.  In fact, if it hadn't been for the Arawak in what is now called New England; Christopher Columbus and his crew of pirates would have died diseased-ridden and starved," I explained.  

In a People's History of the United States: 1492 - Present, (Howard) Zinn recounts: Spain was recently unified, one of the new modern nation-states like France, England, and Portugal.  Its population, mostly poor peasants, worked for the nobility, who were 2 percent of the population and owned 95 percent of the land.  Spain had tied itself to the Catholic Church, expelled all the Jews, driven out the Moors.  

Like other states of the modern world, Spain sought gold, which was becoming the new mark of wealth, more useful than land because it could buy anything.  In return for bringing back gold and spices, Spain promised Columbus (who was from the Italian city of Genoa) 10 percent of the profits, governorship over new-found lands, and the fame that would go with a new title: Admiral of the Ocean Sea.  A part-time weaver and expert sailor, he set out with three sailing ships, the largest of which was the Santa Maria. 

Columbus would never have made it to Asia, which was thousands of miles farther away than he had calculated, imagining a much smaller world.  

October 12, 1492 was a disastrous day for the Arawak.  

From Christopher Columbus' log: "They brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawk's bells.  They willingly traded everything they owned...They were well built, with good bodies and handsome features...They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance.  They have no iron.  Their spears are made of cane...They would make fine servants...With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."

Zinn recounts: "These Arawaks of the Bahama Islands were much like the Indians on the mainland, who were remarkable for their hospitality, their belief in sharing.  These traits did not stand out in the Europe of the Renaissance, dominated by the religion of popes, the government of kings, the frenzy for money that marked Western civilization and its first messenger to the Americas.  

Could the Arawak, Apache, Taino, Wampanaog and other indigenous tribes still really be around? Are they really people who are humble enough to give you whatever they have?  

Together with my daughter, I was determined to find out.  So, while everyone else was spending their money on "Thanksgiving Day" turkey, sides, decorations of turkey with pilgrim hats and the like; I responded to the United American Indians of New England call to action: National day of Mourning.  I didn't know what to expect; it sounded sad kind of like going to a funeral.  But, I heard an inner spirit or, perhaps the voice of my ancestors calling me to do it afraid.  

It was not an audible voice, no, it was like a hunger pang which leaves you doubtless of what action you must take to stop it.  

From left to right: Alberto Barreto, Monica Moorehead and Mahtowin Munro

I received an facebook invitation from Mahtowin Munro (Ma-to-wee) one of the organizers of the National Day of Mourning and member of the United American Indians of New England. On my way back from the communal food table I passed the beautiful Afro-Indigenous woman in the middle, Ms. Moorehead, who sat at a table eating happily with people.  

Before the communal dinner, there were presentations, declarations, singing, drumming and speeches for two hours.  Regrettably, I missed those because as I mentioned I struggled with issues of going alone, the possibility of getting lost, not knowing anyone there, etc. And even though I left late, all those doubts, fears and anxieties went away as soon as we hit the road.  

Overcoming fear is an amazing spiritual leap.   

I couldn't believe how easy the drive to Plymouth was...we drove right up to the harbor where large boats were docked.  And then, my daughter inquisitively asked 

"Mommy, how come I don't see anything Native American?"  

Every storefront was named Pilgrim this or, Pilgrim that.  No images of Native American culture on Water Street along the boardwalk.  

Not unlike the Sonar LRAD NYC police just used on peaceful protestors...last night

So loudly racist; it was deafening.  

The state police presence was disturbing.  Who or better yet, what were they protecting?  And, from whom?  Soon we reached Cole Hill where the memorial ceremony had already taken place.  I walked up to a family of four.  

"Hello, have all the presentations ended?" I asked.  The mother smiled and said "They've already marched and delivered some speeches.  But, I think there is still someone speaking in the church."  

I nodded.  "What tribe is your family from?"  

Well, we are Mexican." the mother proudly announced.  

"How wonderful," I thought.  What a powerful act of Solidarity from generation to generation.  

"My parents are from Puerto Rico." I said to the mother.  "Oh, there was a woman from the Taino Nation here and she spoke beautifully." she said excitedly.  

I was elated and proud (by her immediate knowledge of my ancestors) yet sad I had missed such an important part of my experience. I later learned, the Taino woman's name is Inarunika and she spoke about how the Taino were the first to have to deal with the invasion, and about the need to fight back.  Next year, I will not miss a thing.  I said my thank you(s) and good bye(s) and ascended up Cole's Hill towards the only Native American image in Plymouth. 

"After the Pilgrims' arrival, Native Americans in New England grew increasingly frustrated with the English settlers' abuse and treachery. Metacomet (King Philip), a son of the Wampanoag sachem known as the Massasoit (Ousameqin), called upon all Native people to unite to defend their homelands against encroachment. The resulting "King Philip's War" lasted from 1675-1676. Metacomet was murdered in Rhode Island in August 1676, and his body was mutilated. His head was impaled on a pike and was displayed near this site for more than 20 years. One hand was sent to Boston, the other to England. Metacomet's wife and son, along with the families of many of the Native American combatants, were sold into slavery in the West Indies by the English victors."  (

Within 15 or 20 minutes I encountered at least 10 people I had met recently; all of which were either Hampshire College students and a Springfield resident who is involved in social justice work. 

Walking up the hill towards the church where the potluck was beginning I met Sparrow Hawk of the Apache  Nation.  Bro. Sparrow had a gentle and humble spirit not at all encumbered by my brash "hello". Sparrow wore beautifully colored regalia and let me know he was originally from the Southwest but, was now residing in Connecticut.  By far the most diverse event I have attended this year: Indigenous, Caucasian, African American, Afro-Indigenous and Indigenous from all over Latin America including Mexico.  A true reflection of America.  

Inside the church the dinning hall was full almost to capacity.  So many different races, nations, genders, generations - all ready to break bread together.  There were at least five tables brimming with all kinds of delicious cabbages, roasted pumpkins, squash, veggies, grains, salads, lentils and yes, turkey.  No cost, only a donation.  The dessert tables were mouth watering adorned with apple, mutli-berry and pumpkin pies, cookies, brownies, tarts, just to name a few.  It was truly a magnificent spread of food and unity.  

I did not find it robbery to leave a generous donation as they fed me something I truly needed: Self Love and Community Love.  

My daughter sniffed out a kids play area and when we returned with our food to sit she opted to sit with the children.  In line with my shy nature, I went right up to a table with an Afro-Indigenous older couple and asked if I could sit with them.  From the wife, I learned she was Haitian but, had come to the US as a teenager over 30 years ago and made Brooklyn, NY her home.  

My two hour journey to Plymouth, MA answered many questions but, the most important one was:

Could the Arawak, Apache, Taino, Wampanaog and other indigenous tribes still really be around? Are they really people who are humble enough to give you whatever they have?  

Yes, we are here.  

We are not vanishing.  
We are not conquered. 
We are as strong, as ever. 


  1. I love this piece Viv.
    I have been in the process of reading Zinn... I started reading it in my undergrad in an intro to what was once Multicultural and ethnic studies at Westfield State College (University now). Zinn is the beginning for me. It's where my passion for learning about REAL history and for the love of who I really am commenced.
    In that first chapter Zinn writes about Columbus' fascination with the Indigenous people... how generous, how beautiful, right? Envious where they? Of how people could live so freely? Envious of their ability to love and welcome and survive without the chains of oppression and colonization.
    I found that interesting.
    Thank you for sharing your words and thoughts! :)

  2. Peace Alycia ~
    Thank you for engaging so personally in your feedback...very rewarding. Please keep quenching your thirst and feeding your hunger for knowledge and when you apply it; it will be your wisdom. When you L.A.D.Y (Love And Develop Yourself) you will write your own Herstory.
    Pressin' on.

  3. " Its population, mostly poor peasants, worked for the nobility, who were 2 percent of the population and owned 95 percent of the land" Remarkably similar to the situation globally today--the parasitic elite who exploit us for cheap labor and brainwash us into believing we live in a democracy.

    LOVE the poem! Proud of you and Nani for standing up to the white supremacist holocaust denying school system. Keep speaking the truth!

    1. Mekdes ~ Thank you for always bringing your critical analysis to every conversation! Fist raised!

  4. Yes, right on. Thank you for sharing your experience. Would like to attend. It is so important that we don't forget what the day represents. I love the poem too.