Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
During the last weekend (9th Dec 07), I saw this movie named "The Song of Hiawatha". The movie is based on the epic poetry by the same name written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow based on the legendary leader named Hiawatha of the Obijway Indians. Obijway Indians are one of the largest group of Native Americans and the third largest native community in the United States - surpassed only by Cherokee & Najavo.
Hiawatha was one of the so called protagonist and considered as a 'god sent' leader* (similar to the Rama avatara of Mahavishnu in the epics of the Indian Subcontinent) of the Obijway Indian community who had tried to broker peace between the warring tribes and taught the folks the art of growing corn - who until then lived by hunting, eating berries & roots. He was a skilled and charismatic orator, and was instrumental in persuading a large group of Native North Americans who shared similar languages, to accept the Great Peacemaker's vision and band together to become the Five Nations of the Iroquois confederacy
After doing a lot of heroic deeds for his tribe & others he loses his lover & wife Minehaha to the fever (Ahkosewin) and famine (Bukadawin) who visits his abode as 2 ghosts who refuse to talk to anybody but him. It is when the 'white-men' visits them asking to do trade with them and they bring along with them a priest who is referred to as - The Priest of Prayer, the Pale-face. Hiawatha welcomes them joyously calls the Priest as the 'Black-Robe chief'. He endorses the missionaries and launches his canoe for the last time to depart for ever, to meet his destiny at the West winds.
The epic ends here, but the movie goes on for some more time. And that is what actually prompted me to write this post.
The movie goes on talking about the trade that the white-men do, while the "Black-Robe chief" watches helplessly. They trade guns and ammunition to the second-rung leaders of the community who are waiting to suceed Hiawatha because it makes "hunting easy", so life made easy. They give rusted iron vessels to the women folk who had been cooking & eating healthy using their earthen pots because it "does not break" if it slips off your hand! And the white-men have their hands on the wealthy fur & and other valuables that the tribes had gathered over years and years.
Yes, there is a point in there, and what happens after Hiawatha leaves is not really trade, but abuse. Abuse of the have-nots by the haves. A problem that the present world is still grappling with.
Does the gun trade ring a bell somewhere in the past few decades with Afghanisthan? A dragon that had turned its head towards their own protector off-late? Does the untreated iron vessels ring a bell somewhere in the African continent - on the pretext of removing poverty?
I do not want to conclude anything on this post, but sometimes I feel that only socialism can save the world!
* There is a dispute/disagreement on the character in Longfellow's poetry and the legendary character since there is no proven evidence that they are one and the same. Even Longfellow has NOT made such a claim.