THE HIMALAYAN TALK: INDIAN GOVERNMENT FOOD SECURITY PROGRAM RISKIER

http://youtu.be/NrcmNEjaN8c The government of India has announced food security program ahead of elections in 2014. We discussed the issue with Palash Biswas in Kolkata today. http://youtu.be/NrcmNEjaN8c Ahead of Elections, India's Cabinet Approves Food Security Program ______________________________________________________ By JIM YARDLEY http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/04/indias-cabinet-passes-food-security-law/

THE HIMALAYAN TALK: PALASH BISWAS CRITICAL OF BAMCEF LEADERSHIP

[Palash Biswas, one of the BAMCEF leaders and editors for Indian Express spoke to us from Kolkata today and criticized BAMCEF leadership in New Delhi, which according to him, is messing up with Nepalese indigenous peoples also. He also flayed MP Jay Narayan Prasad Nishad, who recently offered a Puja in his New Delhi home for Narendra Modi's victory in 2014.]

THE HIMALAYAN DISASTER: TRANSNATIONAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT MECHANISM A MUST

We talked with Palash Biswas, an editor for Indian Express in Kolkata today also. He urged that there must a transnational disaster management mechanism to avert such scale disaster in the Himalayas. http://youtu.be/7IzWUpRECJM

THE HIMALAYAN TALK: PALASH BISWAS LASHES OUT KATHMANDU INT'L 'MULVASI' CONFERENCE

अहिले भर्खर कोलकता भारतमा हामीले पलाश विश्वाससंग काठमाडौँमा आज भै रहेको अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय मूलवासी सम्मेलनको बारेमा कुराकानी गर्यौ । उहाले भन्नु भयो सो सम्मेलन 'नेपालको आदिवासी जनजातिहरुको आन्दोलनलाई कम्जोर बनाउने षडयन्त्र हो।' http://youtu.be/j8GXlmSBbbk

THE HIMALAYAN TALK: PALASH BISWAS LASHES OUT KATHMANDU INT'L 'MULVASI' CONFERENCE

अहिले भर्खर कोलकता भारतमा हामीले पलाश विश्वाससंग काठमाडौँमा आज भै रहेको अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय मूलवासी सम्मेलनको बारेमा कुराकानी गर्यौ । उहाले भन्नु भयो सो सम्मेलन 'नेपालको आदिवासी जनजातिहरुको आन्दोलनलाई कम्जोर बनाउने षडयन्त्र हो।' http://youtu.be/j8GXlmSBbbk

THE HIMALAYAN TALK: PALASH BISWAS BLASTS INDIANS THAT CLAIM BUDDHA WAS BORN IN INDIA

THE HIMALAYAN VOICE: PALASH BISWAS DISCUSSES RAM MANDIR

Published on 10 Apr 2013 Palash Biswas spoke to us from Kolkota and shared his views on Visho Hindu Parashid's programme from tomorrow ( April 11, 2013) to build Ram Mandir in disputed Ayodhya. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77cZuBunAGk

THE HIMALAYAN TALK: PALSH BISWAS FLAYS SOUTH ASIAN GOVERNM

Palash Biswas, lashed out those 1% people in the government in New Delhi for failure of delivery and creating hosts of problems everywhere in South Asia. http://youtu.be/lD2_V7CB2Is

Palash Biswas on BAMCEF UNIFICATION!

THE HIMALAYAN TALK: PALASH BISWAS ON NEPALI SENTIMENT, GORKHALAND, KUMAON AND GARHWAL ETC.and BAMCEF UNIFICATION! Published on Mar 19, 2013 The Himalayan Voice Cambridge, Massachusetts United States of America

BAMCEF UNIFICATION CONFERENCE 7

Published on 10 Mar 2013 ALL INDIA BAMCEF UNIFICATION CONFERENCE HELD AT Dr.B. R. AMBEDKAR BHAVAN,DADAR,MUMBAI ON 2ND AND 3RD MARCH 2013. Mr.PALASH BISWAS (JOURNALIST -KOLKATA) DELIVERING HER SPEECH. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLL-n6MrcoM http://youtu.be/oLL-n6MrcoM

Imminent Massive earthquake in the Himalayas

THE HIMALAYAN TALK: PALASH BISWAS CRITICIZES GOVT FOR WORLD`S BIGGEST BLACK OUT

THE HIMALAYAN TALK: PALASH BISWAS CRITICIZES GOVT FOR WORLD`S BIGGEST BLACK OUT

THE HIMALAYAN TALK: PALASH BISWAS TALKS AGAINST CASTEIST HEGEMONY IN SOUTH ASIA

Palash Biswas on Citizenship Amendment Act

Mr. PALASH BISWAS DELIVERING SPEECH AT BAMCEF PROGRAM AT NAGPUR ON 17 & 18 SEPTEMBER 2003 Sub:- CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT 2003 http://youtu.be/zGDfsLzxTXo

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fwd: [bangla-vision] Returning to American Indian Ways of Democracy and Ecology [2 Attachments]



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Romi Elnagar <bluesapphire48@yahoo.com>
Date: Mon, Nov 14, 2011 at 10:18 PM
Subject: [bangla-vision] Returning to American Indian Ways of Democracy and Ecology [2 Attachments]
To:


 
[Attachment(s) from Romi Elnagar included below]

Dear Folks,

This weekend the mailman brought copies of my new article in GREEN HORIZON, a quarterly published by Green Party members.  The article is entitled, "Can We Find for Ourselves the Spirit of American Indian Ways?" and is about the environmental and social-political practices of native Americans.

Unfortunately, the website of GREEN HORIZON does not publish many articles in the magazine, so I am posting the text below (and also sending it as an attachment).  There are many good articles in this issue besides this one, though, and I hope you will consider giving a donation to start your own subscription or get a copy of this issue.
http://www.green-horizon.org/index.php

I hope there are not too many little mistakes and NO big ones in my essay.  I welcome your constructive criticism.  

Peace and best wishes,
Hajja Romi, "Blue"

..............................................................................................................................................................

Returning to American Indian Ways of Democracy and Ecology
by Romi Elnagar


Those of us whose roots lie in Europe, Africa or Asia are new arrivals to this American land.  Our connections are to other places, other soils.  Some of us may have some Indian blood, but only those who practice the time-tested ways of forefathers who came here so long ago that they have no ancestral memory of anywhere else can truly said to belong to the land we all now live upon.

We have forgotten this.  Or never knew it.  In their pride and arrogance, most of our white ancestors ignored this tie to the land, a tie that native Americans have felt so deeply that it seems almost part of their physical being.  Our grandfathers may have once felt this way about the lands from which they came--from County Cork or Manchester, from Senegal or Canton--but they had largely lost that connection even before they left those places for these shores.  To be sure, they may have felt some respect or affection for the land, but nothing like what American Indians clearly feel for theirs.  For among native Americans there is a mystical element that few Westerners can claim to experience, but it is present in the rituals, the teachings, the spirit of American Indian ways.

If we could only recapture that spirit!  For our latecomers' society is destroying the Earth that American Indians treasured and preserved for thousands of years.  The survival of all life on the planet may indeed depend on our regaining it.


Ecology

In his classic history of Indian law, In the Courts of the Conqueror:  The Ten Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided, Walter Echo-Hawk discusses the modern struggle of Indians to preserve the sanctity of their ancient sacred sites.  That the land was held sacred was true throughout the Americas.  One scholar tells us, for example, about the highlands of central Mexico, where the most important sites had a spiritual meaning accumulated over centuries of occupation.
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"... the hill named Huizachtlan, the great urban pyramid of Tenochtitlan, the ritual Hill of Tetzcotzingo, and the shrines upon the heights of Mt Tlaloc and at Pantitlan in Lake Tetzcoco were principal icons of Aztec sacred geography, designed to manifest the inherent power of things seen and unseen in the natural environment."
    ~ Richard Townsend, The Aztecs
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In the Old World, perhaps only Mecca with its holy rock, the Kaaba, is venerated as much. But, while it is true that some sites were sacred to Indians, they regarded all of the land with a respect that white Europeans failed to understand and emulate.  The indigenous inhabitants of the New World did not, could not, see it divided and parceled out, much less abused and polluted.  The Hopis of the Southwest refuse even now to sell their land to whites, unlike many other Indian tribes.  Perhaps the experiences of other tribes have shown them how little trust they can put in the words of whites.  When asked to sell or lease their land for oil development, they said, "This land is not for leasing or for sale. This is our sacred soil.  Our true brother has not yet arrived." (Frank Waters, The Book of the Hopi)
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"Indian religious beliefs are intrinsically ecological since they regard nature as sacred. The various tribes who inhabited North America [and all the Americas, in fact] before the European invasion had been here for tens of thousands of years where they developed economically sustainable hunting-and-gathering economies that were respectful of the environment.  They did not consider themselves as ruling over nature, but as part of nature.  Humanity was sacred, but so were the animals and vegetation that sustained it."
        ~ L. Proyect, "Ecology and the American Indian"
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Environmental management

New research indicates that the Indians of the Amazon, as well as those of North America, practiced environmental management over thousands of years.  In his history of pre-Columbian America, Charles Mann describes evidence that in many areas in the Amazon basin, they planted orchards of peach palms, a highly nutritious fruit, and other ecologically important species.  The evidence from human burials is unmistakable: thousands of people were engaged in this work.

But even more important are regions--perhaps as much as 10% of Amazonia--of  terra preta do Indio, "Indian dark earth," which anthropologists believe was created by human beings, who mixed charcoal, organic nutrients such as animal waste and excrement, and soil microorganisms.
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"The key to terra preta's long-term fertility... is charcoal... terra preta contains up to sixty-four times more of it than surrounding red earth. Organic matter sticks to charcoal, rather than being washed away..."     
    ~ Charles C. Mann. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
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And in tropical soils, the leaching of organic matter is what renders the soil infertile.

There were many other ways in which American Indians preserved the land.  Louis Proyect says their attitude was one of restraint: "When the Menominee of Wisconsin gathered wild rice, they made sure that some of the rice fell back into the water the next year so that there would be future crops... [and] Cherokee herb gatherers had to pass up the first three plants they found, but when they encountered a fourth, it was permissible to pluck it and any others."  He says they also practiced a hunting-society variation of "fallowing," not hunting some areas each year so that the wild animal stock could replenish itself.


Democracy

The idea that the tribes were "ruled" by "chiefs" seems to have arisen from Europeans who misinterpreted the role of someone who may have been no more than a spokesman or the one person most fluent in English.   Nonetheless, while some of the tribes were democratic, the social structures of the Indians were as diverse as those of the Old World.  There were empires among the Aztecs, the theocratic Mayas and Incas, as well as among Indians in the US, particularly in the southeast. 

In 1491, Charles Mann describes how the Inca treated their mummies, with each mummy attended by courtiers as if it were still alive.  The burial of pre-Columbian peoples throughout the Americas shows evidence in many places of hierarchical social structures, as in the Old World.  For example, in Florida, "It has been hypothesized that these individuals [two females and a child] held positions of authority sufficient to warrant burial with artifacts recognized as status markers..." (McEwan, ed., Indians of the Greater Southeast).  Tribes in the Southeast, most notably, such as the Apalachee of Northwest Florida, had social and political structures that were hierarchical in nature.  I will return to the issue of Indian social organization later.

At the other end of the spectrum from empires were the small bands of people living at subsistence level, such as those in the most arid parts of the American southwest.  Throughout Indian societies, though, there probably was never the kind of extreme hostility or discrimination against women that existed in European cultures.   On the issue of gender equality, while there was certainly separation of the roles of men and women in nearly all tribes, this does not seem to have been a function of misogynistic attitudes towards women.  On the contrary, women seem to have been almost universally treated with respect and honor

Much is made of the idea that inspiration for the American Constitution came from native Americans, but looking at the Constitution of the Iroquois Federation of the great Mohawk Indian Degandawida, it seems clear that it had little in common with the American Constitution besides defining an orderly process of decision-making.  It is interesting, though, to see how Indian "religious" traditions, including close association with the Earth and its creatures, are infused in this document to a degree not found in the white man's American Constitution.
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"The duty of the two head Seneca chiefs... is to watch and if they see any crawling creature entering in the session they will disallow to enter in the session; Crawling creature signifies [that] any case or proposition which brought before the session would be ruinous..."
           ~ Constitution of the Iroquois Federation (Degandawida [Mohawk])
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Ecology and Indian Movements

As I indicated earlier, Indian societies were exceedingly diverse in pre-Columbian times.  There is no doubt that environment played a huge role in this, but I will set aside the question of how environment influenced social structure and instead jump ahead to the European conquest.

In Latin America, as every schoolboy knows, the Spanish found three empires of note, the Aztec, Mayan and Incan.  These empires, of course, had numerous class distinctions, although the Incan Empire in particular has sometimes been characterized as a kind of socialism because there were no markets:  the state collected all food, clothing and other necessities and redistributed them to every member of society.  But, like the great riverine civilizations of the Old World--in Egypt, China, and India--American Indian empires had hierarchies of priests and rulers who controlled the society because their knowledge of astronomy enabled them to predict the seasons upon which their agricultural societies depended.  It has been suggested that this hierarchical structure, and increasing distance between social classes may have been part of the reason the Mayan civilization collapsed.  (Adams, Prehistoric Mesoamerica)

In any case, that system was destroyed by the Spanish, both intentionally through war and unintentionally with the introduction of European diseases, particularly smallpox.  The Spanish, however, retained the system of communally conscripted labor, called the mita system, but instead of using it to provide useful infrastructure for the Indian communities at large, they exploited it to provide an unending stream of laborers, and literally millions died under their rule. (It is estimated in less than two centuries, some 8 million Indians died in the silver mines at Potosi' alone.)

But not all Indians suffered forced labor.  Throughout Latin America, class distinctions which had existed in pre-Columbian times were continued.  As James Petras tells us, these distinctions have had consequences for both democracy and the environment.
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"...There are two class struggles which are intertwined:  one led by the petit bourgeois Indian professionals to consolidate a liberal democracy backed by the masses mystified by religious and cultural symbolism and another led by independent, downwardly mobile, class conscious Indian workers and peasants against both the European ruling class and their own Indian petit bourgeois leaders."
     ~ James Petras, "Ecology and Indian Movements: "Diversity with Inequality is Not Social Justice."
_________________________________________________________________________________

One thinks immediately of Evo Morales and movements today, particularly in the Andean regions, for social justice.  Is it any accident so much of the struggle is in very region which was organized by the Incas into a proto-socialist society?  I think not.  While many Indian societies did, in fact, have a sense of democracy and social justice, this was not necessarily the case.

But Petras says that Evo Morales called for class collaboration by declaring his intention to interact with the upper class as 'partners not bosses'.  "The real divergence of class interests between the property-less and impoverished Indian masses and the upwardly mobile pro-capitalist Indian petit bourgeois professionals and leaders were subordinated to the common struggle against the racially exclusive fascist big capitalist regional power bloc," he says.  He concludes that the liberal approach "...cannot create a sustainable environment and cannot provide the material basis for the social liberation of the poor and Indian majorities in Latin America." 

Time will tell whether Morales made a wise move, but Indians' best hope for their culture and their land is to look to their traditions for the solutions to problems created by European capitalism.  And we, too, must look to their traditions for these solutions.  Throughout the Americas, there are traditions of social cohesion and communalism which can provide the basis for a social system of egalitarian distribution of wealth and shared responsibility, especially for the environment.


In conclusion, the ecological crisis of today is intimately linked not only to the destruction of the American Indian's land, but his very existence.  White society decimated peoples whose ancestors had lived in harmony with each other and the Earth, preserving the land for tens of thousands of years, and European--capitalist--ranching and farming, instead of living with Nature, sought to "subdue" the land and exterminate the people on it.   Resolution of the ecological crisis can only come when those of us who now live on this continent understand and adopt the beliefs and practices of the people who preceded us here, whose attitude toward nature was one of respect and gratitude. And it will come  when those people themselves achieve social democracy and economic justice.


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Sources and Further Reading

It is impossible to do justice to human activity that occurred on two continents over tens of thousands of years.  I have tried in this short essay to suggest ways to think about the issues of ecology and democracy, and I hope that the interested reader will dig further.

For a good general background of American Indian history and archaeology, I used Jake Page's In the Hands of the Great Spirit: The 20,000-Year History of American Indians. New York:  Free Press, 2003.   One of the best sources, though, is Charles C. Mann's 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus.  New York: Random House, 2006.

Two indispensable sources of all things American Indian are the great authors Vine Deloria, Jr., and Eduardo Galeano, especially the latter's trilogy, Memory of Fire (trans. 1988 by Cedric Belfrage), and his well-known Open Veins of Latin America:  Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent.  New York: Monthly Review Press, 1997.   

Also useful was James Petras, "Ecology and Indian Movements: 'Diversity with Inequality is Not Social Justice:' A Class Perspective." online in Global Research, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10559

For the Constitution of the Iroquois Federation, I used Great Documents in American Indian History, edited by Wayne Moquin with Charles Van Doren.  New York:  Da Capo Press, 1995.


Other Sources

Richard E.W. Adams.  Prehistoric Mesoamerica. Rev. Ed.  Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977.

Walter Echo-Hawk. In the Courts of the Conqueror:  The Ten Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided.  Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 2010.

Ed. Marijo Moore.  Eating Fire, Tasting Blood:  An Anthology of the American Indian Holocaust.  New York:  Thunder's Mouth Press, 2006.

Bonnie G. McEwan, ed., Indians of the Greater Southeast:  Historical Archaeology and Ethnohistory.  Gainesville, FL:  University Press of Florida: 2000.

L. Proyect. "Ecology and the American Indian." http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/indian/ecology_indians.htm

J. Eric Thomson.  The Rise and Fall of Maya Civilization.  Norman, OK:  University of Oklahoma Press, 1975.

Richard F. Townsend.  The Aztecs.  London:  Thames and Hudson, 1992.

Frank Waters. The Book of the Hopi. New York:  Penguin Books, 1963.


____________________________________________________________________

Bio


During her history studies in Third World colonialism at U.C. Davis, the writer read Latin American history and has continued to do so ever since.  She now lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is a representative of the Louisiana Greens to the USGP International Committee.  She may be contacted at bluesapphire48@yahoo.com.



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Attachment(s) from Romi Elnagar

2 of 2 File(s)


Palash Biswas
Pl Read:
http://nandigramunited-banga.blogspot.com/

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