Thanksgiving Day - the First Day, the First Table: The Native chief and tribal families and the first guests sat, shared, talked and ate. They recognized each other, each other's worth, dignity, decency, the prospects of living and ruling together, and trusted one another's intelligence and wisdom. Apparently, they agreed on a set of rules or laws to live by. There is no account mentioned or written of them throwing knives and forks at each other. They returned to their homes to go about their own business, having accepted each other. Natives opened up their land and its rich resources to the new guests to share with. For all they knew, this was to be the way of life for the next two hundred years, sharing in every aspect of our American way of life, promoting each other, helping each other, taking care of each other, rebuilding where needed and restoring where necessary.
This was a grand, bold and brave move on each side. And, actually, it isn't too late. We have another two hundred years ahead of us.
As in the recent case with Mr. Eddie Barr, the Native spirit hasn't diminished a bit - more than two hundred years later. For all America to see, Mr. Barr extended out his hand for the next two hundred years.
The seeds for the present fruits of racial hate or racism were planted generation-by-generation, becoming plentiful and abundant.
We are all descendants of the people at the First Table. We should have a renewed hope for the next two hundred years. We're Americans.
We all talk about economy and how it can bring down our country. We are fearful of our national debt. But we fail to see just how serious racial hate, its crimes and practices are. It will drastically further burden our country, not strengthen it, and it will drastically build up our national debt. The solution(s) isn't going to be our government. It is our hearts. The accountability is ours. We had a beginning, - The First Table - but we blew it. We've never returned to it.
Had we not been herded into reservations, had we been trusted, had our human decency and dignity been respected and honored, had we been allowed quality education, had we been accepted into the society, had we not been charicatured, demeaned, stigmatized, alienated and put aside as less than intelligent, had we been allowed to leave our villages or reservations and allowed to fully live out our education, had our qualifications been given a chance rather than avoided or questioned, and had we been given opportunities and free reign to advance, we would have averted big-time public assistance, welfare, public housing, hospitals, Bureau of Indian Affairs, public subsidies, and all other preventable headaches of our federal and state governments. We could have walked on equal basis, and instead of as described, contributed big time, become taxpayers - and helped everyone advance.
Mr. Barr encouraged us Natives on by one extension of his hand to handshake. He reminds us of our worth in character, strength, stamina, ability to endure pain and suffering, boldness, spirit, generosity, kindness, compassion, sensitivity, and all other attributes, but above all, mercy and forgiveness. The Natives are at the Second Table, waiting for our fellow Americans to join us. We have no grudges. No revenge, ill-feelings or ill-will. We do not blame - just wait.
Sadly, as it is, our Native communities need jumpstarts to get out of what we had been forced into. It will cost to rebuild and restore. The cost will be minimal compared to what it will be in the next 200 years if we do not return to the Table.
Nicholas Tucker, Sr., is a resident of Emmonak, a village of about 800 people in Western Alaska. He is best-known most recently for making Western Alaska's food and fuel crisis last winter known to the world with a widely-circulated letter pleading for swift aid.
Alaska Dispatch Publishing