Indigenous

We are the people of the land. We are taught that we were killed off, but we have always been here. We are all indigenous to somewhere.

Redhawk Indigenous People Day Pow Wow

Sun-Mon, Oct 13-14, 2019
RANDALLS ISLAND ~ The Redhawk Native American Arts Council’s annual Indigenous People Day pow wow celebration in front of Icahn Stadium in Randall’s Island Park

Staten Island Day of the Dead Festival 2019

Sunday, October 20, 2019
WEST BRIGHTON, Staten Island ~ Help build a communal ofrenda (altar) and learn Mexican Day of the Dead handicrafts for the entire family with teaching artists at Our Lady of Mount Carmel-St. Benedicta School

Bulla en el Barrio sings Colombian Bullerengue of San Basilio de Palenque

Monday, October 28, 2019
PARK SLOPE, Brooklyn ~ This Colombian women’s song and dance from San Basilio de Palenque, the first free African town in the Americas, is at Barbès

Native American Heritage Month

November
UNITED STATES ~ We are the first Americans. We have always been here. We are still here from the Arctic to Tierra del Fuego.

México City Day of the Dead Parade

Saturday, November 2, 2019
MEXICO CITY, Mexico ~ This parade was inspired by the movie parade in the James Bond film ‘Spectre’

Taíno culture at the Museum of the American Indian

July 28, 2018 – Nov 12, 2019
FINANCIAL DISTRICT, NYC ~ This art exhibition examines the renaissance of Indigenous Taíno identity in Caribbean communities. FREE

Las mañanitas a nuestra Virgen de Guadalupe 2019

Wed, December 11, 2019
MIDTOWN, NYC ~ A special concert for the patron saint of Mexico, a symbol of our multicultural identity

Our Lady of Guadalupe is patron saint of Mexico

Thursday, December 12, 2019
MEXICO CITY, Mexico ~ The brown Madonna, the icon of Mexican identity is mixed race, Indigenous and European. We love her because she is like us.

Socrates Annual, the sculpture of history, landscape and community

Daily
Oct 5, 2019 – Mar 8, 2020
ASTORIA, Queens ~ The annual exhibition of work by emerging artists created during a summer residency at Socrates Sculpture Park

Hunter’s Moon to rise over New York City

Sunday, October 13, 2019
EARTH ~ The first full moon after the Harvest moon will rise at sunset

Celebrate Indigenous People Day 2020

Monday, October 12, 2020
EARTH ~ In the United States, we celebrate our Indigenous heritage on the second Monday in October. Many countries celebrate on October 12.

‘Crown of the Andes,’ Colombian art at the Met Museum

Daily
Colombian Ecuadorian Peruvian Indigenous Inca art
UPPER EAST SIDE, permanent collection ~ This Marion crown from Popayán, Colombia contains the legendary Atahualpa Emerald which belonged to the last Inca emperor

Tolima gold pendant (1 BC - 700 AD). Museo del Oro. Bogotá, Colombia.

Tolima gold pendant (1 BC – 700 AD). Museo del Oro. Bogotá, Colombia.


This pendant, the most iconic piece of Indigenous Colombian gold, shows the shaman squatting to put his first chakra close to the earth.

Chakras are basically places on our body through which we breathe different energies. The first chakra is at the end of your spine between your sex part and your anus. We are a people of the earth and the first chakra “grounds” us in the basic needs of survival and security. Interestingly, the first chakra color is red which in western culture we associate with the heart and love.

This squat is also recognizable as a gesture in some African dance. It is the original meaning of “getting down” and one of the reasons that we lower our center of gravity to dance Argentine Tango (Tango was originally an African dance in Montevideo, Uruguay and Buenos Aires, Argentina.)

This gesture is also the plie of ballet, the Italian and French court dance. Ironically, in plie the body goes down, but the energy goes up. Notice how the squat makes the figure taller. The shaman is doing a plie to enter a moment of transcendence.

In each of these examples, we are getting down, closer to the earth and the Great Spirit.


 


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Indigenous America

We are the first Americans. We have been here for at least 14,000 years. Europeans only arrived about 500 years ago.

Columbus called us “Indians.” He was almost right. We came from Asia (Siberia) and the Pacific Islands. He just didn’t realize that we walked or sailed halfway around the world.

A U.S. education teaches a little about “American Indians” as if the Indigenous people of the United States are unique. Actually we are a continuum of Indigenous peoples from Alaska and Canada’s Northwest Territories to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of Argentina and Chile.

A U.S. education teaches that we are primitive. No, we are just not European. After climate change runs its course, humanity may have no choice but to return to our ways of living in a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with the land. We are people of the land.

A U.S. education teaches that we are extinct, but we have always been here. We are the first Americans.


We are Taíno and Garifuna(Caribbean), Aztec and Mayan (Mexico), Inca (Peru), Quechua (Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina), and Mapuche (Chile). These are just a few of our major indigenous cultures.The United States recognizes 562 indigenous tribes. Mexico has 89 different living indigenous languages. Colombia recognizes 102 indigenous groups.

There are estimated to be about 70 million of us.

In the United States, November is National Native American Heritage Month (nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov).



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Indigenous New York City

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Daily
UPPER EAST SIDE, NYC ~ New York’s encyclopedia of art

American Museum of Natural History

Daily
UPPER WEST SIDE, NYC ~ Human cultures and the natural world includes us all

Brooklyn Museum

Wednesday-Sunday
PROSPECT PARK, Brooklyn ~ NYC’s second biggest museum has good collections of African and Pre-Columbian art. First Saturdays are a Free party.

National Museum of the American Indian

FINANCIAL DISTRICT, Daily ~ This branch of the Smithsonian does great bilingual exhibitions. FREE

El Museo del Barrio

Wednesday-Sunday
Art museum
EAST HARLEM, NYC ~ Puerto Rican, Caribbean & Latin American art museum and community center

Christie’s

ROCKEFELLER CENTER, MIDTOWN ~ Antiques to contemporary art and Latin American art
# auction house

Sotheby’s is one of the world’s leading auction houses

UPPER EAST SIDE ~ Antiques to contemporary art and Latin American art
# auction house

The first New Yorkers are the Lenape people. We are Algonquian speakers.

The most beautiful spot in Manhattan is the site of our old village in Inwood Hill Park at the very northern tip of Manhattan. There are “Indian Caves” up the hill.  Today they are used by the homeless.

The start of Broadway at the southern tip of Manhattan was originally a Lenape trading post.

Broadway was the Lenape trail from the trading post to the Lenape village and on up the Hudson to what is now Albany. That is why Broadway meanders diagonally across the rectangular Manhattan street grid.

The Red Hawk Arts Native American Arts Council (redhawkcouncil.org) carries on Indigenous American traditions in New York. Part of their mission is to promote understanding of the great variety of Indigenous traditions.

We have the same problem across the Latin world. People think we are all the same. Yet each country, and even each region in each country, has a different mix of Indigenous + European + African people and traditions.


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Indigenous People

Mexican President Benito Juárez worked for democracy and Indigenous rights

Saturday, March 21, 2020
SAN PABLO GUELATAO, Oaxaca, Mexico ~ The Indigenous founding father of the modern Mexican state was born on March 21, 1806. There is a statue of Juárez in the northwest corner of Bryant Park.

Martín Fierro is the foundation of Argentine literature

By José Hernandez (1872)

Gaucho

South American cowboys in Argentina, Uruguay, and the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul


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Indigenous Culture

Celebrate National Chocolate Day

Monday, October 28, 2019
Chocolate, made from cocoa, is native to the upper Amazon of Colombia and Venezuela. It was domesticated in Guatemala and Mexico. Spanish priests took it to Europe.

Mictlancihuatl is the Aztec goddess of the underworld

October 31 – November 2
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“You live as long as someone remembers you.” We remember you Mictlancihuatl.

Mexican Marigold, Aztec Marigold, Cempasúchil are Day of the Dead flowers

October 31 – November 2
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Mexican Marigolds are a Central American flower with healing powers that attract spirits to visit their families on the Day of the Dead

Catrina La Calavera Garbancera is the icon of the Day of the Dead

Skull Catrina, by José Guadalupe Posada, makes fun of Indigenous Americans trying to be European. Death teaches that we are all equal.

Ofrendas are home altars that invite family souls to visit on the Day of the Dead

October 31
~
We build home altars to invite family souls to visit us on the Day of the Holy Innocents (November 1) and the Day of the Dead (November 2)

Quechua, the Indigenous language of the Andes

CENTRAL ANDES ~ The Indigenous language of Andes communities in Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia

During the glacial period until about 14,000 years ago, the first Americans crossed from Northeast Asia over the land bridge on the Bering Strait. They came from what is now Siberia.

Growing up in Los Angeles with Mexican – American kids and in Bangkok, Thailand with Thai and Chinese kids, I noticed as a boy that old Mexican women and old Chinese women look a lot alike. If you open your eyes, it is obvious how interconnected we all are.


 

Within a 100 years of the arrival of the Spaniards, European diseases depopulated large sections of what is now the eastern United States. We had no resistance to foreign diseases.

The Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock took over mostly abandoned fields because much of the local population had already been wiped out.

Some of this was accidental, but some of it was intentional biological warfare with smallpox as the weapon. Our founding fathers practiced biological warfare. Even George Washington and his British opponents used biological warfare against each other during our Revolutionary War. It was standard practice at the time.


 

One of the surprising Indigenous contributions to our U.S. American culture is our democratic form of government. Democracy, the idea that common people should have a say in their own governance, comes from the Greeks. But the U.S. Constitution, our country’s foundational law, was modeled in part on the relations of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy.

The Six Nations were roughly equivalent to states. One of the things our constitutional framers noticed was that the Six Nations at times undercut each other by making their own deals with foreign powers. To avoid this, the framers gave responsibility for foreign dealings to the central government.

In 1988, the 100th U.S. Congress acknowledged the contributions of Native Americans in H. Con. Res. 331.