Cafe Parlez for November

Tonight we’ve discussing “Until I Have No Country: A Novel of King Philip’s War” by Michael Tougias.  For refreshments, we’re using the “Three Sisters” of Northeastern Native people: corn (corn bread and corn chips), beans (bean dip), and squash (pumpkin muffins),  cider and tea.

J is greeting everyone and going over the titles for 2008, and the packet that was handed out to the group.

Everyone loves this book.  We’re looking at the maps and wondering how the people involved in the books walked the distances marked on the maps.

First question: Why didn’t we learn about this in school?  History is written by the winners and most of what we learn in history class is slanted.  M brings up the fact that people everywhere need more room, more space, and take it.  How does religion play into this?  It makes anyone else “other” and subject to persecution.  When another culture is unknown to us, we don’t understand, and can’t appreciate the differences. 

Most of the plaques and roadside memorials about the War are about the whites and J is asking why.  By now there should be, at least in honor or memory of the people that lived in a place.  There is the Wampanoag cemetary on Rte.105.  The dead were buried facing the sun, says J’s mom.  She says they have arrowheads in their yard.  Anyway, MS says it may have to do with how people think of themselves and their place in the world.  The native people had a different view of ownership from whites.  White people wanted to buy the land, but the natives didn’t feel that they owned it to sell.  The cultural differences were a large part of the problem.  It took thousands of years of living close to the land to develop the methods of farming that the native people used. 

How much have we lost in our modern life?  Instructions aren’t being passed down verbally for more people.  There is much discussion on how our culture is getting away from family. 

What would have happened if the other tribes had not turned against the Wamapanoags?  The consensus is that they would have been overwhelmed by the number of whites.  LS says that Roger Williams had the right idea, to try to live alongside in peace.  MS wonders if women had been in charge instead of men, would it all have happened.  Everyone (all women) says no, that women would have talked it over.  They think about sending children off to war.  Maybe it’s hormonal.  Maybe it’s that men are more physical and women are more verbal.  The Natives had nothing to lose, and would gain nothing by negotiating, so could lose nothing by fighting.

The author is white and writing about Native people.  How accurate can he be?  Did anyone think about this while reading.  LR likes that we could see both sides of the story.    Comments about the writing style being kind of stilted and simplistic.  Most people were frustrated by the ending and wanted more, felt it ended rather abruptly. 

Some characters were too bloodthirsty and enjoyed the fighting too much.  It can’t be black and white.  “All wars should be fought on paper”, says MS. 

Why aren’t we seeing more books by Native authors?  Is it a cultural thing?  Are they too angry and don’t want to share?  Why are we still letting that happen to the Natives?    Are our differences working against understanding each other? 

That’s all for now.  See everyone on December 27th to discuss “Night” by Elie Wiesel.

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