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.