Chief Joseph

I've become more interested in displaced people over the years. I guess that for me it began with the Maori and Island guys that I went to high school with. We wasted a heck of a lot of lunch hours playing rugby together. Back then I was just living amidst it all without understanding anything. Years later, when I played against a couple of the old lunch-time mob at a friendly rugby game with the local prison inmates (I was playing for an Auckland University team), I still couldn't see the bigger issues, only a faint and fleeting realization of some personal tragedies.

A long time has passed. There is nothing like seeing similar problems in multiple countries for gaining perspective. But I look outside the mainstream media to find anything sensible. I have an interesting DVD about the Plains Indians that I sometimes watch while I do my exercises in the basement. The warrior-horse culture was an amazing ecological adaptation!

I don't know if you ever saw/read "Once Were Warriors" by Alan Duff? For me it was like a jolt back to mindfulness.

I also got a hold of another one of Duff's books: "Maori: the crisis and the challenge". It's a sensible analysis if you start with the premise that aboriginal people should adapt to the invading culture.

The more I read about the many types of culture that existed before our civilization, the more I wonder if invaders shouldn't be the ones who are doing some adapting.

The trouble is that we spend too much time blaming people for their shortcomings and too little time considering how to adapt civilization to suite the nature of the human animal.

The single biggest failing of all civilizations has been that they sacrifice quality of life on the alter of perpetual growth. A rich, happy civilization has a lot of open niche-space which enables satisfying options for all. Our global society is hell-bent on filling every miserable little niche that a human being can conceivably cram into --- even niches that are not survivable, as Chief Joseph pointed out 126 years ago!

Chief Joseph spoke out against the America's broken promise of freedom and equality. The following is from a speech made at Lincoln Hall on 14 January 1879

"Words do not pay for my dead people. They do not pay for my country now overrun by white men. They do not protect my father's grave. They do not pay for my horses and cattle. Good words do not give me back my children. Good words do not make good the promise of your war chief, General Miles. Good words will not give my people a home where they can live in peace and take care of themselves. I am tired of talk that comes to nothing. It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and all the broken promises. There has been too much talking by men who had no right to talk."
"All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers. The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it. You might as well expect all rivers to run backward as that any man who was born free should be contented penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases. If you tie a horse to a stake, do you expect that he will grow fat? If you pen an Indian up on a small spot of earth and compel him to stay there, he will not be contented nor will he grow and prosper. I have asked some of the Great White Chiefs where they got their authority to say to the Indian that he shall stay in one place, while he sees white men going where they please. They cannot tell me."
And this from an earlier speech by Joseph:
"Hear me my Chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever."
And Black Hawk:
"Black Hawk is an Indian. He has done nothing for which an Indian ought to be ashamed. He has fought for his countrymen, against white men, who came year after year, to cheat them and take away their lands. You know the cause of our making war. It is known to all white men. You ought to be ashamed of it."
"Black Hawk is a true Indian, and disdains to cry like a woman. He feels for his wife, his children and his friends. But he does not care for himself. He cares for the Nation and the Indians. They will suffer. He laments their fate. Farewell my Nation! Black Hawk tried to save you and avenge your wrongs. He drank the blood of some whites. He has been taken prisoner, and his plans are crushed. He can do no more. He is near his end. His sun is setting, and he will rise no more. Farewell to Black Hawk!"
Now, show me a modern politician who could say so much with a straight face! We live in a civilization that is without honour. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are exemplars of our disgrace.

I tire of our political pinheads. Bring back Chief Joseph!