1992 Photo Narrative ~ 500 Fun Years
The first casualties of the American Indian holocaust were a small group of Taino kidnapped by Christopher Columbus and taken back to Barcelona for presentation to the Spanish court. According to records of the royal court, only six trembling, weeping Taino men, dressed in common shirts and pants, holding sickly featherless parrots were presented to Isabella and Ferdinand, all the women and children having died on the trans Atlantic voyage. The monarchs were not pleased by the display, being more concerned about the insignificant amount of gold Columbus had brought them. On subsequent voyages Columbus and his cronies enslaved, diseased or exterminated the remaining 30,000 Taino. May 1, 1990, Plaza de España, Sevilla.
In 1512, Pope Julius II decreed that Indians were human descendants of Adam and Eve.
A thousand years of Aztec art, melted down for the altars of Spain.
* Parking lot, teeming with history, St. John’s, Newfoundland, August 3, 1984.
* The first people to visit this spot were undoubtedly the now-extinct Beothuk, probably the first “Indians” ever seen my Europeans (Vikings). The Beothuk were known as the "Red Indians" because of their lavish use of powdered hematite (Iron Oxide) or red ochre, with which they painted their bodies, canoes and possessions. Following contact with European cultures, the Beothuk failed to grasp the concept of private property, which placed them in conflict with French and English fishermen whose gear they fancied. Punitive slaughters against them were carried out by the fishermen, while French officials placed bounties on their scalps and provided arms to Micmacs who further decimated the tribe. The last known surviving Beothuk, Shawnandithit, died of tuberculosis in St. John’s in 1829.
* Portuguese fishermen claim to have wintered in this parking lot hundreds of years before Columbus was born.
* Sir Humphrey “The Cruel” Gilbert claimed this parking lot for the English Crown, August 5, 1583. He’d just come from Ireland where he lead Queen Elizabeth I’s bloody colonization effort and was known for gleefully displaying the severed heads of Irish men, women and children he’d murdered to their kinfolk. A month after claiming Newfoundland, the maniacal Gilbert was lost at sea on his return voyage. Last seen on the eve of September 9th as he stood astern his ship the Squirrel, brine-lashed and bellowing into the heavy seas and darkness, “We are as near to heaven by sea as by land!” and with this he rode the Squirrel to the bottom, swallowed up by the sea.
Gimli, Manitoba, discovered by Vikings circa 1000 AD.
Pieces of Plymouth Rock, couched in velvet at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.
History’s worst case of mistaken identity occurred November 19, 1519, when Moctezuma, ruler of the Aztecs, welcomed gold hungry conquistador and mass-murderer Hernan Cortes to Mexico believing the demented Spaniard to be Quetzalcoatl, the mythical Aztec king returning to reclaim his throne. Mexico was a city four times the size of London and as grand a city as Rome. Within two years Cortes had exterminated its inhabitants and razed its buildings, leaving only its pyramids forlornly commanding a landscape of total devastation. Cortes’s total take in gold – about $10 million Canadian. Museo Colon, Madrid, May 4, 1990.
Jacques Cartier plants his cross and infectious microbes in somebody else’s yard.
Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, the founder of Montréal, puts the finishing touch on a real estate deal with the Mohawks.
The first three boat loads of colonists from England arrived in Virginia in the spring of 1607. Fleeing the maligned reputation of English cooking, they brought little food with them.
Here Captain John Smith tries to convince Chief Powhatan from the town of Werowocomoco to accept some glass beads and half a dozen little bitty mirrors in exchange for enough food to feed 105 people. Powhatan wasn't impressed. Within six months more than half the settlers were dead from disease and malnutrition, right there in the land of plenty. Natural History Museum of the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C., August 11, 1989.
Canada ~ colonized for rodent fur as fashion statement.
Between 1870 and 1883, 65 million buffalo were slaughtered to the edge of extinction.
Haida singers outside the British Columbia Supreme Court celebrate the handing down of suspended sentences in an anti-logging case which saw their people charged with trespassing on their own land. The Haida have never agreed to relinquish their territory and are engaged in a continuing land claims dispute with federal and provincial governments. On the left their leader Miles Richardson gets swarmed by the media while on the right artist Robert Davidson, with drum in hand, directs the singing. Vancouver, British Columbia, December 6, 1985.
Clear-cut wasteland, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. 500 year old trees ground up for toilet paper.
Parks supply recreation for tourists while cutting off traditional fishing and hunting grounds from native communities.
"Odeyak," a word combining Cree and Inuit and meaning canoe-kayak, displayed on the steps of Christ Church Cathedral, Montréal, March 31, 1990. 800 Inuit and Cree have sent the Odeyak on a mission to inform the public about their battle against Hydro-Quebec’s James Bay II project which will flood their land. They travel from the Hudson Bay, down the Hudson River, arriving in New York City, April 22, 1990 – Earth Day.
“We are the people you never hear about until you want something from us. We were the people you discovered when you discovered Canada and every time you want to take more from us, you discover us again. The last time we were discovered was in 1973 when Quebec decided to build the world's largest hydro electric complex on top of our homes (James Bay I). Our fish is now contaminated with deadly methyl mercury, great rivers are now dry, the once abundant sturgeon are gone, the geese and ducks are far fewer, our trap lines are under water and our trees have been turned into newspaper and garbage” Mathew Coon-Come grand chief of the Québec Grand Council of Crees.
James Bay II dam parade float. A symbol of pride for Hydro Québec. A symbol of genocide for the Cree.
Corporate Colonialists, aided by gonvernment, rob resources and poison the environment.
Golf Crisis in Québec
On the morning of July 11, 1990, the mayor of the town of Oka, ordered 200 heavily armed police to open fire with machine guns, tear gas and grenades on the Mohawk men, women and children of neighboring Kanehsatake because he wanted their land to expand his 9 hole golf course into a full complement of 18 holes. The Mohawk people bravely stood their ground and repelled the terrorist golfer's cowardly assault on their sovereign territory. After the attack, golfers Brian Mulroney and Robert Bourassa ordered a siege of Kanehsatake by federal and provincial military forces.
On July 29, 1990, thousands of Native People from across North America converged on Oka to demonstrate their support for the besieged Mohawks of Kanehsatake.
St-Jean Baptiste Day parade, Sherbrooke Street, Montréal, June 25, 1990.
Kahnawake, October 15, 1989. Bingo blockade.
Elijah Harper speaking at Oka, July 29, 1990. Harper’s simple ‘No’ delivered in the Manitoba Legislature, killed the arrogant Meech Lake Deal which recognized only the French and English colonizers as founders of Canada while ignoring the sovereignty and preexistence of its many First Nations. The three month siege of Oka saw demonstrations right across North America held in support of the "People of the Pines."
Elijah Harper says no, June 12, 1990.
Kahnesetake support demonstration, Oka, July 29, 1990.
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©2017 Henri Robideau