Gregory V. Boulware
The medicine men and priests among the Indians were usually merely those men who thought more deeply and strenuously than the average men in the tribe. These thinkers tended to live among the more successful tribes. To think, one needed at least some time free from the chore of procuring food.
Native American tribes did not call their medicine people “shamans.” This is a New Age term often misapplied to Native American Spiritual Leaders by people of European descent, self-professed “medicine” people and their followers.
Native Americans, New Agers, and charlatans alike have radically augmented and revised the tenets of traditional Native American religions. “Crystal skull caretakers” sit beside Native American medicine men and medicine women, shamans and priests, and “Star Beings,” rather than buffalo, are pondered. Outraged Native Americans have entered this fray, castigating those they see exploiting traditional Native American spirituality.
These medicine men or spiritual leaders were in a different class than the other men of their tribe. This special status was not dependent on their hunting and fishing. Contact with other tribes enabled thinkers to build and expand their belief frameworks, so medicine men or spiritual leaders were more prevalent in tribes that were accessible to outsiders.
As contemporary Native American religious flowerings are best understood by first examining the origins of Native American Spirituality, all of the contemporary sects are best comprehended in light of the traditional religions. As these differ from their New Age and Christian versions, each group is also unique compared to other traditional sects. These traditional sects are best understood as a conglomerate by investigating a few individual traditional Native American religions.
Indian medicine men, spiritual leaders, priests and shamans
Chief Gerald Glenn, the Medicine Man, was second only to the chief in importance and standing within his tribal group. His duties involved both religious interpretations and pharmacology. A good medicine man became adept at both and as a result, he was often thought of as one who possessed magical powers. Before William Penn’s holy experiment, human impact in the Pocono Mountains by Native Americans and European settlers was minimal.
The Pennsylvania Mountains was one of the last colonies to be settled in the northern region of the state. The region remained wilderness until pressure from European settlers caused and influx of Native Americans from Maryland and the Carolinas’. Glenn, a direct descendent of the Lenape Chieftain of the Penn and Lenape Peace Treaty, 1682, Chief Tammany who died in 1718, was his great-great-grandfather. His wife, a Huron Princess, reared sons who took over as Chief of Nations along the Delaware Water Gap. They lived in peace with the residents of Stroudsburg, founded by Jacob Stroud in 1799.
The villages of the mountains raised buckwheat and rye, a big crop with potatoes, maze, oats, cattle, sheep, and hogs. Chief of his village as well as Chief of the Northeastern regional Forestry and Parks Services, Ranger Captain Glenn; like his, people are also members of the Northwestern Indian Confederacy in the Mountains of Pennsylvania, New York, and Canada. The tribal members are The Cree, The Creek, The Ottawa, The Seminole, The Huron, The Cherokee, The Algonquian, The Ojibwa, The Shawnee, and The Lenape Nations. Glenn continues his leadership in the protection of his people, their land, their tribal beliefs, and their heritage. Glenn’s mother was of Creek/Seminole descent while his father was the Tribal Chief of The Shawnee-Lenape (Munsee-Minisink) of Ontario Canada and the Poconos.
Willice Samuel’s family arrived up North from Georgia by way of Winnsboro, South Carolina. The family settled in Coatesville Pennsylvania, in or about April 1911. Willice’s Great-Great Grandfather talked about a lynching and burned at the stake murder of a Black Man by a mob of white men who wore masks. He said the Black Man; named Zachariah Walker was accused of shooting to death a white cop; named Edgar Rice. He was supposed to have been a special police officer in Coatesville. He went on to say, “The Colored Man was chased and treed in the woods in or near the Robert Faddis Woods near Youngsburg.
The Black Man tried to shoot himself in the head, but failed. They took the Black Man to the hospital were his injuries were treated. A gang of white men broke the window in the main hallway, corralled the police officer guarding him and dragged the Black Man from his sick bed to the Sarah Jane Newland Farm just to the right of the road and almost directly opposite the farmhouse. In a grass field about fifty feet from the road, they gathered dried Chestnut Rails and old fencing to build a fire. It took all of three minutes to get the fire up to a height of ten feet or more. They asked him if he had any last words…he didn’t. He was then thrown into the fire. The flames burned his clothes and seared his flesh – he managed to leap from the fire-pile and jump over a fence. They caught him and tied a rope around his neck and dragged him back onto the burning fire. Walker tried two more times to get out of the bonfire. He tried to get out of the seething furnace of hell. But he was beaten and pulled him back on the burning pile with each try.”
Great-Great-Grandpa continued on with the graphic details. “The sickening smell of burning flesh permeated the air. Folks came from all around to see and take pictures of the burning Black Man. They laughed and drank liquor. Their children had fun too. This all happened on or around Saturday April 12, 1911…we packed and moved to Philadelphia.” The Willice’s are descendants of America’s lucrative Industry of Black Slavery.
“The understanding of the racial question does not ultimately involve understanding by either Black or Indians. It involves the white man himself. He must re-examine his past. He must face the problems he has created within himself and within others. The white man must no longer project his fears and insecurities onto other groups, race, and countries. Before the white man can relate to others he must forego the pleasure of defining them.”
~Vine Deloria Jr. – Samuel L. Katz, Black Indians, a Hidden Heritage~
For the people of the ‘Americas’ the arrival of Columbus was hardly a blessing. On his first day, October 12, 1492, the explorer wrote in his diary – “I took some of the natives by force.” He later found the original inhabitants to be tractable, peaceable, and concluded ‘there is not in the world a better nation.” His response as a European was to say that Indians must be made to work and adopt our ways.
The Columbus whose unique seamanship opened the Americas to European penetration also began the transatlantic slave trade. He started by shipping ten chained ‘Arawak’ men and women to Seville, Spain. In 1498, he wrote enthusiastically to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella about the business possibilities. “From here, in the name of the blessed Trinity, we can send all the slaves that can be sold.”
When he loaded 1100 ‘Taino’ men and women aboard the four Spanish ships, the crowding and the stormy Atlantic crossing took a fearful toll. Only three hundred survived. But Columbus and Spain had decided to continue the profitable slave trade from the Americas. Seville became the slave capital of Spain.
Spanish Priests were the first to denounce the horrors of bondage. In 1511 Dominican Friar Montesino called slavery a mortal sin and said cruelty and tyranny over Indians could not be justified by Christians. A few years later Bishop Las Casas, who witnessed countless Indian massacres by his fellow Spaniards, blamed greed for the horrors.
“They kill them because they want to be rich and have much gold, which is their sole aim.” Las Casas concluded that in the New World Spaniards had become devils and Indians were the only true Christians.
Las Casas led a determined effort to halt Indian bondage. He pointed out that Indians died off by the thousands from slavery and European diseases. Forced labor in Spanish mines in the Americas was so harsh that the average worker died before he was twenty-six.
To meet their need for more laborers, Europeans looked next to Africa. The strongest sons and daughters of Africa were seized in their homes and fields or purchased from local traders. They were packed into cargo ships and shipped across the Atlantic.
“Children are torn from their distracted parents; parents from their screaming children; wives from their frantic husbands; husbands from their violated wives; brothers from their loving sisters; sisters from their affectionate brothers. See them collected in flocks, and like a herd of swine, they resist; but all in vain. No eye pities, no hand helps.”
The first Africans brought to the New World by European slavers probably arrived in April 1502 aboard the ship that brought the new governor of Hispaniola, Nicholas de Ovando. Soon after they landed, some Africans escaped to the woods and found a new home among the Native Americans. Later that year Governor Ovando sent a request to King Ferdinand that no more Africans be sent to the Americas. His reason was simple – “They fled amongst the Indians and taught them bad customs, and never could be captured.
Why did he feel they could never be retaken? Had the two peoples united as a military force at this early date? Were Native Americans prepared to drive off European slave-hunters? Was an alliance taking shape in the woods between two peoples who opposed the Spanish conquerors?
Governor Ovando described more than a problem of bad, untrustworthy servants. His words are more than a complaint about the difficulties of recapturing fugitives in a tropical rainforest. His words are the first hint of a growing problem for the European masters of the New World, the first notice of a new relationship budding beyond their control.
Africans arrived on these shores with valuable assets for both Europeans and Native Americans. They were used for agriculture labor and working in field gangs, something unfamiliar to most Indians. As experts in tropical agriculture, they had a lot to teach both white and Red people. Africans had a virtual immunity to European diseases such as smallpox, which wiped out Native Americans.
For Europeans seeking a source of labor that could not escape, Africans were ideal because they were three thousand miles from home. They could not flee to loved ones, as Indian slave could. African men and women who fled could always be identified by skin color, and Black became the badge of bondage.
Native Americans soon discovered that Africans had some gifts that made them uniquely valuable. Through their slave experience they qualified as experts on whites – their diplomacy, armaments, motives, strengths, and weaknesses. Escaped slaves came bearing knowledge of their master’s languages, defenses, and plans. Sometimes Africans were able to carry off muskets, machetes, or valuable gunpowder. For these reasons their role could be crucial to Native Americans, their place secure in village life. A common foe, not any special affinity of skin color, became the first link of friendship, the earliest motivation for alliance.
Next the two peoples began to discover they shared some vital views of life. Family was of basic importance to both, with children and the elderly treasured. Religion was a daily part of cultural life, not merely practiced on Sundays. Both Africans and Native Americans found they shared a belief in economic cooperation rather than competition and rivalry. Each people was proud, but neither was weighed down by prejudice. Skill, friendship, and trust, not skin color of race were important. Since Indians willingly adopted people into their villages, Africans found they were welcome.
In the century following Columbus’s landing, millions of Native Americans died from a combination of European diseases, harsh treatment, and murder. Africans took their places in the mines and fields of the New World. The estimated 80 million Native Americans alive in 1492 became only 10 million left alive a century later. But the 10,000 Africans working in the Americas in 1527 had by the end of the century become 90,000 people.
These figures are even more striking within local areas. In 1519 when the Spaniards arrived, Mexico had a population of 25 million Indians. By the end of the century only a million were still alive. The invader calculated that more profit would be made if laborers were worked to death and replaced. In their plans pain and suffering did not count, and no cruelty was considered excessive.
Out of the shifting labor forces a new population emerged of mixed Africans and Native Americans. By 1650 Mexico alone had and African-Indian population of one hundred thousand. Anew race was being born.
In 1510 King Ferdinand, visions of gold dancing before his eyes, lifted all restrictions on sending Africans to the Americas. He promised to send all that were needed and include “a trustworthy person” to be in charge of each group – an overseer. In this way, slave and masters would “share in the gold they may collect” and slaves would receive “ease if they work well.” This was an idle dream.
The slave population expanded, but was never rewarded with ease for its great toil. European masters continued to drive those in chains as hard as they could. Ease only came when people escaped to the forests and swamps. Increasingly Africans and the remaining enslaved Indians fled their masters and created their own secret colonies beyond European eyes. In time these would pose the most disruptive challenge the European colonial system faced in the Americas.
In the age of Columbus and Las Casas this threat was not clear. Europeans counted their profits and kept importing African as slaves. “One Black can do the work of four Indians.” Here, he believed, was a danger worth the price. His fellow Europeans heartily agreed with him. From then on slavery would expand, brutality would keep it in place, and whites would reap enormous profits.
The city is gearing up for a major visit from the ‘Vatican’ in the fall. The massive fallout of visitors and followers threaten complete and utter gridlock throughout the town. This major event was thought to be trumped by the ‘DNC’ convention that is sure to shut-down the city and create traffic fallout of nightmarish proportions. The catastrophe at the Philadelphia Zoo was no shot in the arm for peaceful and trouble-free contentions. ‘Rocky’ made his mark at the very same spot the ‘Pope’ is making his ascension to the podium for the mass commemoration throughout the commodious accommodations for the passage of blessings; touching all the people. Two investigators are assigned to cure this killing cancerous attacker from spreading its evil intent, in this virtual garden and smorgasbord of fresh fleshy meat to eat! Witness the terrifying events as they unfold…Glenn and Samuel along with Philadelphia’s citizenry, its counsel leaders, and mayor on one of the most thrillingly dangerous and deadly missions to serve and protect. Gerald Glenn and Willis Samuel are faced with one hell of a dilemma when a juggernaut on a rampage erupts in blood; ‘Fairmount Park’ and “The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection!”
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