Saturday, March 5, 2011

Indian Givers

*** Inspired by the book,
“Indian Givers-- How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World” by Jack Weatherford

Mark the writing on the wall.


Take heed.

The painting in the cave sweats.

It elicits our response

to ignore it

will incur a penalty.


Reconsider the truth

of their contribution to our society.


They remind us of when our resources

were many

and the tether that held us

together

taught us true democracy and

revealed how their gold and silver

could provide us with a rich economy.


The Native American healer

introduced us to quinine

and the bark that healed malaria,

later transformed into a medicine show

and reintroduced as a healing tonic.



From the woody vines

of the chondodendron

in Peru

we came to know

curare a deadly

muscle relaxant,

to ointments

like petroleum jelly

still sold today as precious goods

by street vendors in Mali.


We have provoked centuries

of painful forced labor upon them.

Ignored their contributions

and drained the oceans of them.


We know more about the dead

civilizations

then about

the pockets of indigenous still alive.


Long before Columbus

landed in the West Indies

the Inca had built sophisticated highways

and bridges from Cuzco to Quito.


The North American

native pathfinders

blazed interlocking trail networks.

The Iroquois dispatched armies

from deep inside Canada

to the Carolinas.


The indigenous lead the European settlers west

developed a system

of canoes and small boats to reach

every corner and crevice

of the Americas.


And yet the history and culture

of the Americas

remains a mystery

It screams

for discovery.