The following (short) essay is very emotion-stirring, for me. I love Native American culture, so I actually felt very sad (but in a good kind of way, if you know what I mean) at certain parts of this essay.
I hope you enjoy this personal essay. I hope I wrote it in a way that makes how I feel clear, but is also (or, at least comes close to being) very “correct” and factual (because I mention some things about some aspects of some cultures, around the world. Some beautiful cultures, of course. What culture isn’t beautiful?, and also; some historical facts).
I hope whoever reads this essay understands what I am saying, when it comes to my feelings about Native American culture.
By the way; I actually wrote this essay because I heard that Sen. Bernie Sanders (of the U.S. presidential race. He’s so cool) talked about the Native American communities in the U.S., and visited a certain reservation (I’m not sure which one, though), and spoke there, and stuff. (Which. Is. Awesome!!! 🙂 I would love* to learn more about Native American peoples, and how things are going for them, and what is happening for them these days. But I agree that a presidential candidate is slightly more important than…well…me. (. 😔 ) But anyways; hopefully someday I can learn more about the beautiful Native peoples—their pain, their resilience, and their hearts/character.) So, anyways, like I was saying, I was inspired to write this essay because of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ visit to a Native community. (That got, like, the thought going in my mind). But actually, I have been a big fan (as we put it in our colloquial, today) of Native American culture (like their oral traditions, values, and everything else) for quite some time. I think they are so…peaceful and pure. And, ultimately, it’s not “I think.” It is true—they are peaceful and pure (both the culture and the peoples). ❤
And; one more thing, before we start the essay. This is slightly off-topic, but it is very in-topic, too (if you get what I mean):
(and; you can skip to my creative nonfiction essay part, if you want. It starts with “I’m both African and Arab. Being from northern Sudan….”).
- I hope that Native American peoples and their organizing bodies can receive some kind of federal compensations/reparations! To my knowledge, that has never happened. I mean; certain people (even people who are part of the U.S. government…like governors, for example) recognize that Native American communities (like the ones in their jurisdictions/states, for example) are not doing very well, in some of the essential aspects of being a strong, healthy community. Like; employment is not as high and strong (in terms of having good-paying jobs) as it could be, in Native American communities. And; the reason why some Native American communities are struggling/not doing as well as they could be is because of European imperialism (of the past).
- This is quite annoying. It’s extremely frustrating how the U.S. government (certain people in it, of course) are basically saying; yeah. We know that the people who stole this continent from you (and by “continent,” I of course mean what is now called “the U.S.”, present-day “Canada,” which originally belonged to the Native peoples (Native Canadians, as they are now called), and Mexico, which was also inhabited by its native peoples, before European colonialism…as well countries of Central America, I believe? I’m sorry-my geography is not very good). Anyways, some in the U.S. government are (basically) saying to the Native American communities; yes, we understand that you are destabilized because of the imperialism, bloodshed, and ravaging (of natural resources, etc.) that was afflicted on your ancestors. And, also; We know that your communities are not in the same situation as other communities, in this country. that your history is not one of immigration, unfortunately. It is one of having your own land taken from you. And we’re sorry. But we really can’t do anything about that.
Ugh! How ugly! There’s a lot you can do! Come one, U.S. government! And, besides, if it weren’t for the Native Americans at the time of “king Columbus,” or whoever else they might someday say “discovered” America (like, I think some say that the Vikings discovered America? I am slapping my forehead, right now, by the way. No one discovers a land where some people are already living! That is pompous and cruel language. And dangerous language, too! It is the type of language that leads governments into thinking that they don’t owe the Native American communities a huge “sorry,” as well as a huge compensation/reparation.
So, anyways, like I was saying; there would be no United States (no Canada, and no Mexico) if it weren’t for the Native people. They played the original, and a huge, role. Get it together, U.S. government! 😦
(Rant: And, unfortunately, that’s Western government/media/educational systems, for you. They suck, in many ways. (Not all the time. And; not all of them. But I, for one, am pretty wary of many things that come out of Western-based governments (like; laws, etc.), media (I mean, like: Western/American/Canadian/British, etc. media outlets (such as certain magazines, TV news programs, and etc. that shall remain unnamed) and school/university classes.
Like; I was taught (when I was in elementary school…and this happens to be very relevant to this essay) that Christopher Columbus was such a cool dude (to put it in coloqial language). He not only discovered America—he was just sooo nice! And a great seamen/navigator—(he definitely knew he wasn’t in India! But he was just so nice, that he called the people he found “Indians.” Because, hey! Who doesn’t love to be labeled with the wrong ethnicity?) He was just…awesome.
I mean, that’s really gross, to put it lightly. I mean, Columbus was an awful person. (And; an idiot, too, I guess you’d have to call it. He was looking for India, right? I know the year was like 1492…but you had compasses, and maps, and previous people who travelled to the Indian subcontinent, didn’t you? How do you end up in…ughhh. Never mind).
Also, as just one other example of American educational curriculums being completely wrong; American (and possibly other countries, too. I can only speak for the U.S., because I grew up, here, for most of my life) school classes mess up, a lot, in teaching Islamic beliefs/history, etc. I remember very clearly that in my AP World History class (in like tenth grade, I think it was): it said in the textbook that “jihad” means “holy war.” (Holy war, in Islam, of course. “Islamic holy war.”)
No, textbook. “Jihad” doesn’t mean “Islamic holy war.” It means “to struggle, in the path of God (who is commonly called “Allah,” by Muslims).” To (possibly) give your life in a declared war that is fought to defend yourself is an ultimate struggle, in the path of God, no doubt. But; to say that “jihad” means “holy war,” by definition….that the etymology of the word goes back to the word “war,” or “bloodshed” or something similar, in the Arabic language, is just incorrect. It’s a misconception/misperception, unfortunately. And; that (false) definition only serves to perpetuate the ugly stereotype that Muslims are violent, bloodthirsty, or terroristic.
All Muslims know that there’s nothing “holy” about war, in itself. Like; bloodshed is not “holy.” It is an awful thing, in Islam. It should be the very last resort. But, yes, when an official war between two groups/countries/etc. is going on, to give your life for the cause of Islam/for the cause of an oppressed people is an ultimate sacrifice. Your blood that was spilled is holy. The martyr’s blood is “holy,” I guess you could day, in Islam. But not the blood of the others (the enemy forces). So, what I’m trying to say is; there’s nothing holy about spilling the blood of others, in Islam. 😦
In a nutshell: They (like; lesson planners, curriculum planners, etc.) are often soooo bad at teaching cultures that are not European cultures. I don’t know why that is. Like; they can teach (for example) Western European history so well (and they certainly do a good job in teaching about Plato, and Aristotle, and everyone else, and about how advanced the Greco-Roman civilizations were), but they stumble and mess up in inexcusable ways when teaching African history, Native history, etc. Like; Columbus was not a good person, a smart person, or anything like that. And, the worst thing is; they know it.
Why the dishonesty? Why are they trying to teach little kids that the European colonizers were all “kind to the Natives?” You can’t just attempt to re-write history, like that, man. :(same goes for things like “southern African history” or the histories of other African peoples.) 😦 😦
My actual essay (on the subject of my admiration of Native American culture) is below:↓
I’m both African and Arab. Being from (northern) Sudan, those are my two ethnicities/cultural roots/origins. (I think* my African origins are east-African (that makes the most sense, I guess…since Sudan is in north-East Africa)…And my Arab origins are perhaps Saudi Arabian, but definitely (I suppose) from the Arabian Peninsula.
“Sudanese Arabs of Northern and Eastern parts descend primarily from migrants from the Arabian Peninsula and intermarriages with the pre-existing indigenous populations of Sudan, especially the Nubian people, who also share a common history with Egypt. Additionally, a few pre-Islamic Arabian tribes existed in Sudan from earlier migrations into the region from Western Arabia, although most Arabs in Sudan are dated from migrations after the 12th century.”
“The vast majority of Arab tribes in Sudan migrated into the Sudan in the 12th century, intermarried with the indigenous Nubian and other African populations and introduced Islam.”
“In common with much of the rest of the Arab world, the gradual process of Arabization in Sudan following these Arabian migrations after the 12th century led to the predominance of the Arabic language and aspects of Arab culture, leading to the shift among a majority of Sudanese today to an Arab ethnic identity. This process was furthered both by the spread of Islam and an emigration to Sudan of ethnic Arabs from the Arabian Peninsula, and their intermarriage with the Arabized indigenous peoples of the country.”
wikipedia page on “Sudan.” (where i got the above paragraphs in orange, from). (they can be found under “Demographics—ethnic groups,” of the table of contents).
I think my Arab ethnicity is more dominant than my African. (which is sad. 😦 I would love to be “more African.” That would be awesome.)
My fellow Sudanese people know this identity struggle thing—they know what I’m talking about. (“I want to be African!” “I want to be Arab!” “I want to be 50/50!” Haha, this identity crisis will go on forever, I think).
(By the way: here’s a great article that really highlights this interesting struggle of being Sudanese (the “identity crisis,” as it’s often put): http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/jun/10/sudan-identity-crisis-north-south
But, anyways; though I am content and ok with being Afro-Arab, I’ve always thought to myself that if I had a choice about what place I’m from, or my ethnicity, or my culture, or however it is put—if I could go back in time and choose my origins/homeland—I would probably choose Native American. (meaning; any of the native cultures or groups of North or South America. Like; the Iroquois of North America, for one example.:))
Why? The answer is obvious, to me, actually. It’s because; Native American values, beliefs, and traditions/practices are some of the most peaceful, on Earth (if not the most peaceful). To me, anyways. Like, reading their history, I am very touched by their gentleness and their views on certain topics (like; how to treat the earth that we all live in). And, as a very diverse people (with many, many different Native tribes, groups, and etc.), they seem to me to be peaceful, non-combative, and tolerant, as a whole. That really says something about Native culture, as a whole, I think. I mean; all Native peoples/groups seem peaceful, they have a strong sense of “being good stewards of the Earth,” as it is sometimes put, today, and they are just extremely calm and compassionate people (and in this crazily chaotic and cruel world, we need that).
I hope the ignoring and the overall harshness towards the Native peoples can someday completely stop. They have done nothing to us. And, historically, they did nothing to the horrible “settlers” who exploited them (e.g., by ransacking their natural resources), brought over awful diseases from their ships (and killed a great number of them, that way), went to war against them (and killed a great number of them, that way), or any of the other injustices that were done against them.
Lastly! I hope I can learn more about the Native cultures and history, in the future. Knowledge is one of the only ways to affect positive change, in other people. (Like; if you simply don’t know about the injustices that were done against the Native peoples, you simply can’t do anything about it. You just can’t be a volunteer for a Native American nonprofit organization, for example…because you don’t know that the cause is so crucial and beautiful).
I end this mini-essay with this clip from Disney’s “Pocahontas.” (I know it’s extremely cliché to do so….but the song (sung by Pocahontas to the settler) comes at least a little bit close to depicting how beautiful Native culture is, I think.
“You think you own whatever land you land on. ‘The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim.’ But, I know every rock and sea and creature has a life, has a spirit, has a name.”
…”And we are all connected to each other in a circle, in a hoop that never ends.”
You can own the Earth, and still all you’ll own is earth until you can paint with all the colors of the wind.”
-“The Colors of the Wind”
These essays (both parts) were written by Ethar Hamid…