For many months now, we have been publishing, in serial form, a book called Bury my heart at Wounded Knee, written by an American by the name of Dee Brown. This is a book that is maybe forty years old or so, and it is a very famous book among people who care about history, injustice, greed, racism, and these sorts of things.
We do not have permission from Mr. Dee Brown to reproduce his work, but we figure that a man who could write such a wonderful book would not try to pressure a little old newspaper in little old Belize. We would suppose, moreover, that Mr. Brown made many millions of US dollars off his book, which was a bestseller, and therefore he is not in need of any Belize dollars. (NOTE: Dee Brown passed in 2002. May he rest in peace.)
The hundreds of Native American tribes who inhabited what is now the continental United States of America before the white man came, used to live a certain way: they had their own cultures. Fundamental to the lifestyles of the Native Americans was a relationship to the earth wherein the earth was viewed and treated with reverence. The Native Americans also believed in a communal concept of life where the individual was not as important as the tribe.
The white people who came from Europe had a different outlook on life. They wanted to use science and technology to bring nature under control so that they could generate wealth and power. The white people worshipped gold; they wanted to build railroads and cut up the open land into private properties for ranches and farms.
The story of Wounded Knee is the story of how the Europeans who came from across the ocean deceived and overpowered the Native American tribes, and essentially destroyed their way of life. If you are a Native American, or if you have sympathy for Native Americans, this is a very, very sad story. But if you are a European, or an admirer of Europeans, this is a case of what they describe as “manifest destiny” – it was meant to be. So then, the conquest and domination of Native Americans become, from this perspective, a glorious tale of heroic war, of progress and development, and of modern civilization taking over from savagery, paganism, and primitive ways of life.
If you have been reading Wounded Knee in this newspaper’s serialized form, and we really hope you have, then you will have a basic idea of what is going on at the Sarstoon–Temash. The Maya of southern Toledo have a way of life which is ancient. Like the Native Americans, the Maya of Toledo have a harmony with the earth, as much as this is possible. The oil company in Toledo is like the Europeans who came to America centuries ago. This oil in modern times is like gold used to be. It makes men mad. It makes men greedy. In fact, oil is often referred to nowadays as “black gold,” and those who are in the business of finding and pumping oil are the most wealthy and powerful of individuals and companies.
If you were a gambler, you would have to bet on US Capital Energy, the oil company, to win this battle with SATIIM, the representatives of the Maya. In fact, you can see already that prominent Belizeans from Belize City who are “smart money,” so to speak, have aligned themselves with the oil company, and some have even taken up employment and signed contracts with the company. More than that, there are Mayas in southern Toledo who have done the same, so we can see that the oil company has divided the Maya, and this was always the prescription for disaster when Native Americans clashed with the invading Europeans. There were Native Americans who went against Native Americans. Those who betrayed their own believed that this was the sensible thing to do.
Dee Brown does not discuss this, but there were black men who hired out themselves to the United States Army and fought against the Native Americans. Little has changed in America. If the United States Army was given orders to invade Cuba, as much as the Castros and the Revolution have done for black Cubans, black Americans would be part of the forces invading Cuba. This is the real. These are the limits of black nationalism.
This newspaper supports SATIIM, and will support SATIIM to the end. We know that our people on the Southside are not politically and historically educated enough to see that the struggle of the Toledo Maya is similar to the struggle of marginalized black people in the old capital. But, our people have a lot of confidence in Kremandala, and they will support our solidarity with the Maya.
We are not, in principle, against progress and development. But, we have seen what the oil companies have done to indigenous peoples in Ecuador and Nigeria, for instance. We have seen how the earth has been violated and polluted. This is what Wall Street calls progress and development. This is what Rome and Canterbury call Christianity and civilization.
Independent scientists have been saying that this obsession with progress and development, because of the excessive burning of fossil fuels in the First World economies, has caused the earth to heat up in a way which is dangerous for humankind. A change in climatic conditions has taken place, a change which helps to explain why an area of disturbed weather near Nicaragua ended up crippling the mightiest city in America earlier this week. There is more of this to come, because man became greedy and man became arrogant. Man violated the earth, in defiance of the principles of Native Americans and indigenous peoples.
If you point your finger at us, and say, so how are we going to develop Belize, this is what we would say to you. Because of Belize’s “wealth untold,” Belizeans don’t have to do anything everybody else does, and Belizeans don’t have to go anywhere everybody else goes. They say there is only one God, but the One we worship lives in Addis Ababa and in the Black Hills of the Lakota Sioux. We don’t listen to Rome or to Canterbury. This makes us radical, and this has caused us to be ridiculed. Fine. We stand with the Maya of Toledo. You know what this makes us? Belizean.
Power to the people.