Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Bird Myths, Pt. 6: Native American Myths (Introduction)
But first we'll learn something about the
Aboriginal Ammeriken Enclave!
Long ago (that is, May 20) when I posted my last installment of my Bird Myths series, I ended with the above statement. As you may know, I've decided to work on preparing The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars for publication. These bird myth posts were extracted from a much later part of that piece. I intend to cut out this part, but I thought the material was too interesting to waste (I may add bits of it to the first volume of MWFB). The character who narrates the Native American (or Aboriginal Ammeriken, as that ethnic group is called in the 28th century) myths first provides a glimpse into his own future history. Here it is:
"That just leaves us with Lt. Brokenbow’s story," said Robbie. "Have you got anything that can match all these others, Howie?”
With his infectious wide-mouthed grin, the young gravity engineer jumped up to sit on the table. “Yes, sir, Captain! And I thought you’d never get to me! We’ve heard Inden stories, and Judish and Afriken and Middle East and Griek, but we haven’t heard anything from Midammerik, and I suppose that’s because all Midammerikens came from somewhere else originally so they have only borrowed traditions. All, that is, except aboriginal Ammerikens. And that’s what I am – I mean, a good deal of me is – I’m not sure there’s anybody left in the world with an undiluted AbAm genome. But I do have the lineage from all four of my grandparents, which is a feat in itself. I’ve got Osage and Hopi on my father’s side, and my mother descends from the people of the northwestern coast of this continent. A group made up of different tribes fled their homeland at the beginning of the 24th century when the TWL Gerard ‘The Sapper’ Chance seized power in the Greater Northwest and the area seceded from the Old Ammeriken States. Like so many people in those perilous times, they headed for the center of the continent and ended up in Okloh Prefecture.
“I was born and raised in the western part of Okloh Prefecture, on a Gov enterprise that’s dedicated to maintaining the prairie ecosystem while raising semi-domesticated bison for human consumption. A livestock ranch, to put it in simpler terms. But that doesn’t mean that my parents lacked education; my father was a school administrator and taught middle and upper form mathematics and my mother had studied business and accounting. She started out as the ranch’s purchasing agent and ended up as Business Officer for the entire operation. I spent all my summers riding horses and herding bison, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t good in school. I liked math and science best, but my parents, and especially my mother, wanted me to learn something about my heritage, so she arranged for me to spend my third year of prep in Old Aridzone, studying in the Aboriginal Ammeriken Enclave. I didn’t much want to go, but she insisted. She had done that herself as an adolescent and she found the experience beneficial.
“Let me refresh your memories on the history of the AAE. Its citizens are about 65 percent Navao, an AbAm people who lived in that area PDA on what was called a ‘reservation’ – a piece of usually worthless land where the governments of the time would stick uncooperative AbAms when they got to be a nuisance. Actually, the foreign settlers of this part of the world stole all the land from the AbAms, but so much time has passed that that’s not relevant any longer. The Navao had – and still have – their own language; it’s one of the few aboriginal languages to survive in spoken form, and they did a better job than most of governing themselves and preserving their heritage.
“Because they kept themselves isolated from the rest of the world and because they were used to hardship and lack of resources, they survived the water famines and the diseases and the destruction of the big dams on the Koloredo River better than the urban centers did. When the ancient Aridzonan cities of Phenix and Toosen lost their water supplies and were abandoned, the Navao endured. Gradually they spread out of their reservation and populated the entire northern half of Aridzone. At the time of Unification they petitioned to be chartered as an Enclave. They were granted the Charter on condition that they accept any individual who could prove AbAm ancestry and who wanted to join them. That was because EarthGov didn’t want every little remnant tribe with a dozen members seeking to set up tiny Enclaves all over Northwest Quad. And the Navao realized that such inclusiveness would in fact benefit the preservation of AbAm culture.
“The citizens of the Enclave are a bit xenophobic; they don’t relish publicity and they’re very self-sufficient, and since they have a peaceful ethic, the world pretty much ignores them. But that doesn’t mean they’re backward. Today they run not only their own Enclave – they’re also charged with administering the entire Aridzone Preserve, including the Great Koloredo Canyon. The Navao are fanatical about caring for the land; they allow people to come in, but they regulate tourism severely. For example, if you don’t have credentials as a field scientist, you have to obtain a special pass to visit the Canyon, and only a limited number are issued – there is a waiting list five years long.
“The capital city of the AAE is Flagstown, just south of the Great Koloredo Canyon. The Enclave residents have their own university there. Actually, it’s not called a university – it’s called the Institute of Aboriginal Culture. It provides pre-grad education for citizens of the Enclave, but otherwise it’s mostly for advanced studies in anthropology and archaeology, cultural history, native languages and art – and mythology, of course. And they don’t study just aboriginal Ammeriken culture – they study primitive ethnic cultures around the world, like the aboriginal Ostrailiens. They operate in concert with several of the NWQ Consortium’s Universities, exchanging Professors and providing specialized programs and a base for fieldwork, and they confer their advanced degrees through the Consortium.
“They also have a special prep program where non-Enclave AbAms who want to learn more about their heritage can spend their Second-Form year. That’s what I did and I found it just as rewarding as my mother had.” Howie nodded at his attentive audience. “So that’s the lengthy preamble to my tales! I just wanted you all to know how I happened to have learned what I’m about to tell you, because I’m sure most of the world has forgotten."
The final installment of this series: Native American Bird Myths (continued)