The American white man has grown in maturity to the point where he does not make silly and ethnocentric movies about the Native Americans (previously “Indians”) any more. When the Europeans landed at Jamestown, Virginia and began to make a settlement four hundred years ago in 1607, the land we now know as the United States was peopled, from east to west and from north to south, by hundreds of Native American tribes. Over a period of three hundred years, the Native Americans were driven off their lands, murdered, raped, betrayed, deceived, dishonored, and eventually confined to a form of concentration camps called “reservations.” But because the Native Americans resisted the invasions of wave after wave of Europeans over those three centuries, white Americans used to depict them in their white American movies as uncouth savages who had to be “cleansed” from the land in order for refugee Europeans to “civilize” the place and bring “progress.”
Today the American white man has become the most powerful man in the world, and so he can afford to make movies which tell a lot of the truth about who the Native Americans were, the atrocities which “Christian” Europeans inflicted upon them, and the heroism of their resistance.
Up until a half century ago, when my generation were children, the white American was still haunted by fear and loathing of Native Americans, and that is how he depicted them in his movies, movies which he exported to places like British Honduras for our young, innocent and gullible minds to be programmed.
Recently I saw the last 15 minutes or so of a movie called GERONIMO: AN AMERICAN LEGEND, and it was clear that it was a film which had sought to tell an honest story. I wished that I had seen the whole movie. The end was searing in its lesson.
Any native people under attack from modern, invading forces will produce basically two types of leaders – those who demand immediate and total resistance, and those who counsel negotiation and accommodation. Historically we have seen that whichever leaders the indigenous people chose to follow – the warriors or the negotiators, the result was the same. They lost their lands, their way of life, and their freedom.
So it was with the Oglala Sioux. Crazy Horse was the warrior: Red Cloud became the negotiator. In the end, the result was disaster – the loss of the sacred Black Hills. For the Apaches, Geronimo was the most famous warrior, but there were Chiricahua and Mescalero Apaches who worked as scouts for the United States Army to track down warriors like Geronimo and his band. These Apache scouts had negotiated deals with the “white eyes” which were supposed to secure their status. They were supposed to be special, because they had chosen to collaborate with the “pale face.”
As the movie about Geronimo ends, however, U.S. Army soldiers, on presidential instructions from Washington, bundle Geronimo with the thirty odd or so remainder of his warriors, and all the Chiricahua and Mescalero Apache scouts into boxcars on the same train, and dispatch them to Florida to live the rest of their lives in reservation humiliation. This is the year 1886.
In the closing scene, one of the Apache scouts who had worked for the United States Army to chase Geronimo, says to him, “You were right to fight the white eyes. They have lied. They have broken every promise they made to us.” Whereupon, one of Geronimo’s warriors, said to the former scout, “I hate you, because you fought against us.” Geronimo’s words end the film, as the train rattles on to its destination. “We cannot hate each other. There are so few of us left.”
As we look at our situation as black people in Belize today, we see that there are some of our leaders who have already chosen to throw in their lot with the local “white eye” – Lord Michael Ashcroft. To such leaders, such a choice appears to be the sensible decision, and there are those of their followers who will go along with such “prudence.” We are not surprised when we find such accommodationist leaders in the United Democratic Party, because they are descendants of the National Party, and the National Party leaders were open apologists for British colonialism.
But we are disappointed and saddened when we find such leaders having emerged in the People’s United Party, because the PUP was the party of resistance, the party of Geronimo. In 2007, British colonialism is now British neo-colonialism. All it is, is that the office has moved from North Front Street to Market Square, from the Belize Estate and Produce Company to the Belize Bank. We natives continue to toil to make the British richer.
If you understand the scene in 1950, when the modern resistance to colonialism began in British Honduras, then you will understand why it was that Philip Goldson became a rebel in his old age and ended up outside of the UDP. In a sense, Goldson had only returned to his original PUP roots when he struck out with NABR in 1991. He did not understand this, but we think we can see this now with the clarity of retrospect.
With the PUP of 2007 having become the National Party of 1950, we conclude that the names of the two major parties will not mean anything anymore in this “post-modern” battle for control over the resources of Belize. All it will be in this new era, will be those who choose to resist, and those who choose to submit.
It is not as if you have to think twice to figure out where Kremandala is or will be. We come from the legacy of Crazy Horse, Geronimo and Lumumba. All power to the people.