Redskins, Pumpkins, Pilgrims, Wild Turkeys and does anybody have a beer?

Recent New Yorker Magazine Cover questions the reality of a pro football team in our nation's capitol that is named for the "redskins"
A recent New Yorker Magazine Cover questions the reality of a pro football team in our nation’s capitol that is named for the “redskins”

A Tumultuous Journey and Landing

To say that the pilgrims had a tough time of it in their early goings in the New World, might be a gross understatement. First, there was the oceanic crossing, which occurred in the autumn months, when the North Atlantic is at its stormiest. Although many were seasick for days on end, only two people perished during the tumultuous journey. But from here, things only got worst, as during the first winter at Plymouth, half of the 100 colonists died before the winter was out.

Does Anybody Have a Beer?

The first encounter with the Native population was even more surreal, as it occurred in the early spring after so many had died. In early March, an Indian by the name of Samoset, proudly walked into the Pilgrim settlement and promptly asked in understandable English, if anybody had any beer. To make things worst, Samoset and some of his Wampanoag friends had been living nearby for the course of the winter and so they must have been aware of the settlers severe decline.

So Maybe the New World Wasn’t So New After All

As it turned out, Samoset’s taste for alcohol and limited use of the English language came from his home on Monhegan Island, just off the coast of Maine. Here, English traders had been stopping by on this remote island for at least a decade and trading many items with the Natives for fresh supplies of food and water. A few unlucky souls had even been taken capture and transported across the Atlantic, where they were sold off as slaves. Squanto fell into this category, so maybe the New World wasn’t so new after all.

Divine Guidance Or Just Plain Lucky

In some ways the pilgrims were very lucky, for their new home occurred in a part of the America that had just  been ravaged by small pox. Actually, this could have turned out really bad, if the local inhabitants had viewed the new arrivals as harbingers of the dreaded disease. But as it turned out, this was not the case. Instead, the English transplants were seen as suitable replacements, for the nearby village, which had been wiped out by smallpox.

Not only did Samoset and his associates help the pilgrims survive, but also, the newcomers formed a mutual defense alliance with various Wampanoag villages that existed in what is now eastern Massachusetts. This became known as the Mayflower Pact and the agreement lasted, for as long as the Wampanoag sachem, Massasoit was alive. In fact, the Mayflower accord became a realistic model for the many treaties that were created between Indians and Whites in the following centuries.

Origin of the term “Redskin”

The main objection to using Redskin as a team mascot, in the NFL (or anywhere else), comes from its use as a term for a scalp, which is taken from an American Indian during warfare. Some scholars have pointed out the term originated among the American Indians to differentiate themselves from Whites and Blacks and so it is no more offensive than those terms.  This may be true, but would anybody suggest changing the name of the Washington Redskins to the Washington Caucasians or the Washington Blacks.





Ten Things I’m Happy To Celebrate On Turkey Day

1. Free Turkey – Thanks to the generousity of other Americans, l can enjoy a hot Thanksgiving dinner without spending any money or doing any cooking. I know this sounds very callous, but with every avaiable nickel going towards putting a roof over my head, the chance of going to a place like the Salvation Army to enjoy my hot sliced turkry and pumpkin pie is wonderful. Maybe next year I will be in a position, where I can contribute more.

2. Good Health – Even though I somedays walk as many as ten miles on my local rounds, I am grateful that I am able to do this without any discomfort or pain. Many others ( some of them much younger than me) are not so fortunate.

3. Thursday Afternoon Football – Another decadent pleasure that seems to have become a mainstay of the fourth Thursday in November.

4. Spiced Eggnog – This goes well with #3. I like the store-bought version bettrr than the homemade variety that some people work so hard to make.

5. Butternut Squash – Today most commercially produced pumpkin pie is made from the pulp of butternut squash, which is slightly sweeter in taste and lighter in color to real pumpkins.

6. Native American Agriculture – How can one enjoy a Thanksgivinf Day feast without paying tribute to the diverse crops of squash, corn, beans and pumpkins that had been developed in the Americas for so many centuries before the pilgrims arrived.

7. A Sunny Day Here in Santa Fe – This part of the country has justed passed through a wicked winter storm, which dumped a whole bunch of snow and sent night time temperatures. However, the storm has passed, the days are warmer and the mountains are covered with the white stuff. This makes for good skiing, an abundant spring runoff and a pretty holiday sight.

8. A Reprise from Black Friday – Even though I spent the last two weeks on a temporary job helping a new sporting goods store open for Black Friday, I am grateful for the wages already paid and the fact that I don’t have ro work on Friday.

9, Comet ISON – Even though it appears that the comet has broken up (bummer) I am grateful to Hubble, ESO, NASA, SOHO and ISON for keeping an eye on the voyageur from the Oort Cloud.

10. A New Pair of. Blue Jeans – On the Tuesday before T-day a family member mailed me a brand new pair of jeans. They are due to arrive on Saturday.


Orhan Pamuk’s Speech

Orhan Pamuk

The audience packed the house of the old historic church on Copley Square to hear the words of Orhan Pamuk, the keynote speaker for the first annual Boston Book Festival. He was introduced by a medium-sized blond woman with a slight British accent, who made a reference to Mr. Pamuk’s home town of Istanbul, Turkey with the short descriptive statement that read: Istanbul is one of my favorite cities in the world.

So began the speech which ended the first annual book festival. Just by the size of the audience that came to hear the Nobel Prize Winner, the inaugural festival was quite the success. Maybe the dreary weather had something to do with this fact, for book lovers and literary readers collected in droves to hear all the speakers and listen to the many poets.

By the sound of things, Mr. Pamuk may be somewhat of an exile from his native Turkey, but he saw no lack of enthusiasm from this attentive crowd that filled the main knave of the Old South Church.

His troubles with the Turkish government that resulted in a trial in Istanbul in 2005, where he was charged with insulting the Republic or Turkish Grand National Assembly. However, the charges were dropped on a technicality that they were not approved by the Ministry of Justice.

However, Mr. Pamuk’s trial has raised eyebrows around the world and especially with the EU, who is planning to admit Turkey to its ranks in the near future. In fact, so important are good relations between the Turkish government and the European Union that at a recent Frankfurt Book Fair (2008), where Pamuk was speaking, none other than a Mr. Abdullah Gul, the president of Turkey, sat in the audience listening to Orhan’s speech.

Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul, Turkey

Over the past years Mr. Pamuk has sometimes criticized the past deeds of his native country, especially in regards to conflicts with the Turds and Armenians, both past and present. The presence of the president of Turkey in the audience of one of Mr. Pamuk’s speeches pays  mute testimony to the power of the written word.