Indigenous People's Day
October 9th, 2017
Today is widely published to be "Columbus Day," even the Apple OS is reminding me that today is the national holiday that goes by that name. Today people all over the nation are rebutting this 500-year claim and honoring this day as Indigenous People's Day. GOOD.
Some acknowledgement is happening. GOOD.
PrayersUP that this is more than a trending thought pattern.
Growing up in Southern Idaho provided myself and students state-wide (in 1990) with a focus on "Idaho History" in 4th Grade. 9-11 year old kids are pretty sharp, open, honest and full of energy, as we were. Each week there were afternoons dedicated to learning the history of the state we lived in. Together we got the broad-overview of the story of the Nez Perce people, who were mercilessly pursued by the US Army from Oregon State, 1,170 miles to Bear Paw, in Northern Montana, a couple days walk from Canada where they sought refuge with the Lakota people and Sitting Bull.
Kids that age are sensitive to their surroundings, and the general sense I got then was that the injustice of this was very clear to all of us, as impactful as the brief education we would get on the Holocaust just a couple of years later. It was wrong, that was clear. I did not feel I was the only child who had that impression form about as quickly as quick-dry cement in my young understanding of the world, we were all quiet during these portions of our brief education... I still remember the old overhead-projector and the transparency-film images the teacher used to communicate this to us. I remember the worn-out binding on the big old book, that had been through the hands of 100s of us in the little elementary school of Eagle, ID.*
That chapter was part of the only public-school education I recall getting about the Sovereigns of these lands. It was preceded and/or followed by dry sections detailing the various missionary groups that set up throughout Idaho, moving in parallel with the military, making way for the miners and farmers... leading us to our commodified present existence, in the commonly-published world.
Chief Joseph was romanticized, and the story of Idaho's Tribes was told in a way that made them seem gone, wiped out by the world-apparent to us in that brick-lined classroom and our increasingly paved-over farmland world.
With their absence, in my mind anyway, the live-magic of the land was gone, and all around me I saw and perceived life built and growing on a homogenized, heavily edited and censored structure. Boring architecture, limited activities, and the general understanding that "This is the way it is now. This is the way it's always been. Hope is good, but holding onto it too tightly is naive." Getting a job in whatever industry still has room is the mode of operation, and being a good member of a religious organization (there were at least 13 churches in that little town when I was a kid) was expected. Any diverting from that narrow, well defined programatic path was dangerous, and there were all kinds of warnings from people who'd fed me, hugged me, and sang with me for years.
We are programmed, indoctrinated, to forget the feeling of injustice that we get for a moment in our early years, just long enough to imprint the notion that we are moral people, no matter what we're told to do with the prescribed number of options available for the rest of our lifetimes. Layers and layers of the same messages are provided for us, and that becomes the common-understanding. Staying WOKE takes WORK, but it is rewarding emotionally to work on it, to work on alleviating that stress that comes from the emotional weight of connection to the genocidal history of the United States.
The sense that some big things in our world are VERY WRONG is VERY REAL, and we should listen to that.
Staring Down Complicity | Exercising Moral Copyright
Whichever way you want to look at it, I have been complicit in the continued acceptance of the glorification of Columbus. In my one corporate job (the good job, the secure one with great benefits, and a relatively well-treated workforce at the home office I worked at, and the warehouses as I was told) I was a packaging graphics designer. My job was to grab the attention of a customer in .3 seconds, inform them of the products benefits by communicating the feeling that needed to be evoked in order to make the sale. I held that job for 9 years.
The job was to 1. Provide original maps that the company could reproduce as much as needed without having to suffer the changing royalty costs that stock-maps-sale often carry. 2. Give the map-art that "Old World" feeling.
I spent about 2 solid weeks traveling the globe via various map images, cutting and pasting the city names of the world all over Her, and picking up on naming-patterns etc. There's some typos if you look... it was a hard job for any editor to proof to be honest, and took a solid 14-hours each day for a week to produce the higher concentration of names of places that would evoke the feeling.
My complicity, and moral obligation in sharing this with you is this: I have no idea what this product line has done to the places and people where these spices have been grown to meet the market demand I was an artistic instrument in creating.
As we all live this day, and think about it, I hope I'm not the only white person from Idaho, or any state, that's taking a look at how we are connected to some bloody parts of history, and how our day-to-day jobs may be continuing the damage to the planet, and Indigenous people who exercise Sovereignty by doing all they can to Protect Her, and Protect coming generations.
It might be a moral right as the artist involved to state these things, I at least have the right to present the proof of work. What doesn't tend to happen is the relation between the work produced, and the actual cost of it. It's a moral obligation to point these things out.
I am grateful for the many friends I made at that job, the art department I worked in, and the 100+ years of skill that between them they share. I am grateful for the quality of the ground pepper, some of the best I've ever had, and cheapest to buy... but at what real cost?
The packaging involves ink, labels, and plastics
All of these are mass-produced as affordably as possible
Recycling the lids is not possible at a large number of facilities
Recycling standards are determined from state to state, by the waste-stream of products provided, reliant on program-funding.
There was a regular flow of US plastics being shipped to China for recycling, and then rejected. Much of it is winding up in our oceans, forming huge floating gyres, unstable plastic islands.
I'm not going to unveil everything I could tell you about plastic and packaging at the moment, but I'll leave you with this:
Plastic is the cheap, widely proliferated product of petroleum. It doesn't take too much oil to make a ton of plastic... but plastic at this abundant rate is detrimental to life and living.
*Now fashionably called a School of the Arts... please forgive the snark, but what does that even mean? Art-programs were cut with federal funding when No Child Left Behind was implemented... maybe there's some rebel art-teachers there.