Thursday, June 18, 2015

Irish - Native American Parallels - 8

The indigenous people of Ireland and the entire western hemisphere share many commonalities.  One of the most obvious is that they reside in a land of invasions.  The small island got its name from early invaders, the Firbolgs, who called their new home 'Eueriio', which evolved to Eire, Erin, and finally Ireland.  Each invader was subsequently defeated by subsequent invaders, and some, like the Tuatha De Dannan, were absorbed into the mythology of the island.  Invasions continued with the Milesians, Norsemen, Normans and English. The friction of invasion remains today, with differences in language, military strategy, politics, land ownership, and the most turmoil, the differences in religion.

Likewise in the Americas, (a name given to the land by invaders), the Spanish, Portuguese, the Dutch, French and English invasions continued for centuries.  Their agendas were mostly the same: Acquisition of land for resources and military advantage, the religious conversion or the annihilation or enslavement of the indigenous population.  The invaders imposed similar changes on both cultures.

  • Law systems: Imposing English law over Brehan law in Ireland gave an excuse for persecution.  European law systems over tribal values and traditions is part of the reason for failure of every treaty.
  • Destroying food sources:  As a military tactic to overcome resistance to invasion, the English burned crops, or stole food and exported it.  Likewise as an ongoing tactic in the U.S., crops were burned, the prairies were plowed and the buffalo were exterminated.
  • Land ownership:  English and Scottish royalty granted Irish land to peers and adventurers who financed their wars, totally ignoring familial or clan ownership.  For the people of the western hemisphere, 'owning' land was a new concept totally alien to all of their beliefs and values  For both cultures facing the military advantage held by the invaders, land was ceded for survival.  Better to give up land rather than die trying to keep it.
  • Ignoring social hierarchy: Invaders negotiated with lower level leaders who had no right to speak for all of the people.  An Irish clan leader could not speak for all the other clans.  Likewise, no tribe could speak for the entire nation of tribes.
  • Religion:  Pagans with long history of Druidic spirituality were slowly converted to Catholicism and subsequently persecuted by Anglicans, Presbyterians and Puritans.  Catholic missionaries from Spain and France and Dutch and English Protestants made it their mission to convert all of the indigenous people of the Americas.
  • Sanctity of trees: The mystical beliefs of the druids about oaks and rowans were ignored as the English stripped Ireland of trees to keep the British navy afloat.  The sacred forests of the southeast U.S. were stripped for cultivation, and for the construction of a growing invasion population.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Irish - Native American Parallels - 7

Some of the parallels are subtle, and likely could be true of most cultures when considered with another. But I looked deeply into the Irish and the indigenous people of the western hemisphere, ( I will reluctantly use the term of common usage, i.e., "Indian"), simply because they have long been of interest to me.  This posting will consider some of the lesser similarities which I found intriguing.

Both cultures were highly social, and gatherings were enhanced with music and story telling.  Both the Irish ceilidhs and the Indian 'pow-wow, are joyous events.  For the Irish, story telling was the oral process of passing the culture to the next generation.  And each new generation with evolving creativity embellished the stories of heroes and saints, fairies and banshees, and they would never let the truth get in the way of a good story.  Mystical beings populated the stories of both cultures  Leprechauns and the sidhe,fallen angels, harbinger of doom filled the Irish tales, just as the Iroquois tales told of shape changers and little people.  The Indians held that stories help 'shorten the night', and many of the tribes had similar creation stories embedded in their culture over generations, so conversion by early missionaries was a daunting task.  But more on that later.  

The ceilidhs and the pow-wows had to have music.  Singing and chanting added sophistication to the story telling, and instruments added aural enhancement.  And the music helped create a mood for acceptance of spirituality. For the Irish, harps and whistles, bodhrans and fiddles celebrate life and mourn death, and as a call to arms.  Similarly, Drums and whistles, rattles and bells raised the spirits and motivated the Indians to hunt or fight.  And both cultures used music, chanting or keening to aid in entering a state of meditation.  Food at the socials would find bread without yeast. Soda bread for the Irish, and from the woodland tribes in the Southeast, maize bread mixed with a dash of wood ashes.

The gatherings were also to celebrate the changing seasons.Beltane and Lughnasadh festivals in Ireland, and corn dances, rain dances and a dance for a successful hunt in the tribes of the Americas.  The elders at these celebrations were held in high esteem, for it is they that hold the treasured stories. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Shift in Focus

In addition to having a strong passion for Irish History and the plight of the native people of our continent, I have been an avid fan of the game we Americans call SOCCER, and a strong supporter of women's rights.  So given that the FIFA Women's World Cup matches commenced in Canada yesterday, the same day the FIFA EUEFA Champions finals were held in Berlin, guess which event got the most coverage in the press.  Let me guess.  Was it the two top men's football squads in Europe, Barcelona and Juventus? Or perhaps the matches between some of the top female athletes on our planet?  No contest.  Canada's victory over China was relegated to the bottom of page 5 in the Washington Post, below the headline of the FIFA scandals, and a team picture and article covering BARCA'S  victory.

Nowhere to be found was the bracketing of the WWC (Woman's World Cup). Nor any hype for our U.S. Woman's championship records in world competition.  Our men's national team got more coverage in their  futile attempt last year in Brazil.  Our women have done more to promote soccer in the USA than any other TEAM.  I accent 'team' because our WWC has been the epitome of what teamwork is all about.  The documentary on ESPN2 was a tribute to the 1999 champions and their story.  If it's rerun, check it out.  They are champions!!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Irish - Native American Parallels - 5

The Legacy of Land Grabbing

The lies and greed and treachery continue even today. Arizona Senators have sneaked a provision into a military funding bill.  The bill is important and will likely get passed without much scrutiny.  The hidden rider would steal more land from the Apaches and lease it to an Australian- British Company to come in and start mining on sacred land. It's the first time that land grabbing Americans have opted to offer Native lands to a foreign entity.

McCain and Flake have joined the legacy of America's greedy leaders (I use the word loosely).  They have joined the infamous ranks of treaty breakers and removal champions like Jefferson, J. Q. Adams, and Mr. Manifest Destiny himself, Ole Hickory, Andrew Jackson.  Our land grabbers follow the traditions of the Tudors, the Stuarts, and the British Champion of removal, Oliver Cromwell.  All firm believers that they possess some divine rights given by a god that those truly entitled to the land do not recognize.

The 'grabbers' included Henry Clay who is thought to have said, "Your theology is wrong so you must give way.  My religion entitles me to take your land, so you must leave."

Part of the 'grabbers' assumed entitlement was for military purposes.  Elizabeth I confiscated Irish land to protect her vulnerable western shore against the Spaniards.  And Ole Hickory quickly removed southern tribes who were allies of the British in earlier wars.

So McCain and Flake continue the shameful tradition, and ironically do so under the guise that it is critical to some military agenda. Gentlemen, I am ashamed of you.