December 18, 2007

Indians honor USS Mesa Verde

Crowd celebrates USS Mesa Verde

Pueblo tribal leader, Campbells join Navy for commissioning National Park Service and state of Colorado officials traveled to Panama City, where exhibits and activity stations about the park, American Indian culture, and construction of the ship accompanied the commissioning. The exhibition took place at Gulf Coast Community College.

A group of American Indian high-school students, members of the Oneida Nation in Oneida, Wis., danced just before the commissioning ceremony, and Peter Pino, administrator of the Pueblo of Zia Tribe, spoke.
Comment:  So a Zia official spoke at the commissioning and apparently gave it his blessing. That doesn't mean he had any input into the name. It doesn't even mean he approves the name, although he may well.

A Pueblo Indian might support the Mesa Verde warship for the same reason some Indians support sports mascots. As Jodi Rave wrote in "Need to Tell Stories About Natives Fuels Pen" (Lincoln Journal Star, 6/24/02):One of the few consistent images our young people get from the media come in the form of Native-based sports mascots. Stephanie Fryburg, a Stanford University psychologist, and a co-worker have been researching indigenous students' reaction to how they felt about Native peoples' names and images used by sports teams.

The last time I reported on the results, they looked like this: 50 percent of indigenous high school students said they opposed Native mascots; 50 percent said they didn't mind. But overall, 90 percent said they felt it was disrespectful. When asked why they didn't mind being used as a mascot even if they felt it disrespectful, Fryburg said, students responded: "It's better than being invisible."
In Indians in the Military, I asked a key question: Why don't Native people protest military stereotypes? My answer:

Indians like to think of themselves as warriors because the image is superficially positive....because it affirms their worth...and because our society values it. They have more important problems to deal with than military images...or commercial images such as Indians selling Jeeps, motorcycles, or beef jerky...or even some sports mascots (you'll notice they reserve the worst ire for vulgarities such as the Washington Redskins, Chief Wahoo, and Chief Illiniwek). Finally, as some Native children said about Indian mascots, it's better to be stereotyped than to be invisible.

Ben Nighthorse Campbell explains why "Mesa Verde":Ships in the San Antonio class are typically named after cities, Campbell said. However, naming the ship after Mesa Verde National Park was a perfect fit. The park is a site where the Ancestral Puebloans constructed the country's most ancient city.

"(The USS) Mesa Verde honors the oldest city in the U.S.," Campbell said.
Comment:  A cluster of buildings housing a hundred people isn't a city. It's barely a town or a village. Campbell must be the only one who has ever used the word "city" in conjunction with Mesa Verde.

So the name "Mesa Verde" isn't a perfect fit at all. It's a total mismatch with reality. There are trailer parks and homeless camps that are closer to being cities than Mesa Verde's ruins were.

If you want to name a ship after a city populated by Indians, try calling it the USS Shiprock. That seems like a great name for a ship to me.

14 comments:

russell said...

Writerfella here --
Natives are proud of the US military and being in the US military but not principally because they like to think of themselves as warriors, true as it may be. That simply would mean that Natives think of themselves merely in superficial terms. Not so. Rather, they still defend this continent because it still is here and they still are here. It was their homeland while the ancestors of EuroMan still were picking up rocks in the Caucasus and eating them. And Mesa Verde more properly is called the longest continually-occupied community in North America. Ben Nighthorse Campbell notwithstanding, Mesa Verde instead was a citadel, a high position that defended a 'city.' Hmm, writerfella likes that particularly differing point of view...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

dmarks said...

I occasionally read a local Native newspaper, and one thing I noticed right away is how much they honor the veterans who are part of the community (or were until they recently died). Much more than white/mainstream publications.

russell said...

Writerfella here --
And what you may not know but writerfella knows, is that during the Viet Nam Era, Natives became the only segment of the American populace that continued to honor their veterans returning from SE Asia. They did not curse or vilify or dishonor their soldiers but feted and feasted and celebrated them, all the way to the end of the Viet Nam 'conflict' and beyond. This was untrue for all other groups of people of other races in these United States. writerfella attempted to demonstrate such a fact by writing pageant play presentation for the American Indian Exposition staged here in Anadarko, Oklahoma, each August. The Expo board members, all Native tribal members from this region, were horrified. "Um, er, uh," they said. "We don't want to OFFEND our white tourist customers." So, writerfella's play, 'Warriors Through Time,' was rejected, not for merit nor for quality but for content and ratings, no matter how true and faithful to history and reality it might have been. *sigh*
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

alanajoli said...

I may be missing the point here, but is the part that's offensive that it's an exploitation issue? I don't find anything intuitively offensive about naming a ship after a "continually-occupied community" as writerfella put it. ;) I just want to make sure I'm not missing what's upsetting!

alanajoli said...

Nevermind--it's posted back on the 17th and I just missed it. ;)

Rob said...

I wouldn't say the name is offensive. I'd say it's weirdly inappropriate. Naming an ocean vessel after landlocked ruins. Crediting people who abandoned a site with enduring virtues. Using Western symbols such as swords and gold to express Native values. Etc.

Rob said...

Are you sure you know what "abandoned" means, Russ? Mesa Verde has not been continuously occupied since the Anasazi abandoned it. Indians may have camped there occasionally, but they did not take up residence there. Most of the time the ruins lay empty and unoccupied.

http://www.cliffdwellingsmuseum.com/sites2.htm

Centuries of silence

For almost 600 years after the Anasazi abandoned Mesa Verde at the end of the 13th century, the cliff dwellings lay silent, remembered mostly in the oral histories of the Pueblo descendants of the Anasazi, who had moved far away. Other Indian tribes skirted around the ancient canyons out of fear of "bad medicine." Spanish and Mexican explorers passed by Mesa Verde between 1765 and 1848 on the Old Spanish Trail, never knowing what wonders lay just out of sight.

russell said...

Writerfella here --
Re-read writerfella's post and you will see no mention of the Anasazi nor 'the Abandonment.' Only the Hopi claim Anasazi ancestry and only the Hopi claim that Mesa Verde was built by the Anasazi, thus ostensibly cementing their alleged ties to the vanished tribe.
All writerfella did was to indicate that history texts identify Mesa Verde as 'the longest continually-occupied community in North America.' Find Anasazi, 'the Abandonment,' or other such indicatives in those words, and writerfella will give you a cookie. THEN name the city or community in North America that is older AND continuously-occupied longer than is Mesa Verde, and writerfella will put fig jam on that cookie...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

I referred to Mesa Verde's being abandoned in my previous postings on the subject. If you were paying attention, you have no excuse for your mistaken claim that Mesa Verde has been inhabited continuously. It hasn't even been inhabited intermittently, since it was abandoned.

Your so-called "researches" into the "Anasazi" are sadly lacking. Actually, all the Pueblo tribes claim to be descended from the Anasazi. A Google search quickly makes this evident:

http://inkido.indiana.edu/w310work/romac/indians.htm

The Pueblo people are descendants of the Anasazi culture. Their culture is the oldest north of Mexico.

http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/cultural/northamerica/anasazi.html

The Anasazi existed around two thousand years ago and are thought to be the ancestors of modern Indian tribes like the Hopi, the Zuni and the Pueblo.

http://www.santafe.edu/~johnson/articles.anasazi.html

Groundbreaking climatological studies have convinced many archeologists that the "so-called Great Drought," as detractors now call it, simply was not bad enough to be the deciding factor in the sudden evacuation, in which tens of thousands of Anasazi (the name, pronounced an-a-SAH-zee, means "enemy ancestors" in Navajo) moved to the Hopi mesas in northeastern Arizona, to the Zuni lands in western New Mexico and to dozens of adobe villages in the watershed of the Rio Grande.

Rob said...

My home town of Rancho Palos Verdes, incorporated in 1973, has been inhabited for a longer stretch than Mesa Verde. Why? Because Mesa Verde was abandoned 800 years ago and remains abandoned. These days rangers or groundskeepers may live there temporarily, but as far as I know, no one lives there permanently.

Both Acoma and the Hopi village of Oraibi claim to the longest continuously inhabited place in the US. Perhaps your fading mind has confused one of them with Mesa Verde. Here are the competing claims for your edification:

http://www.kansascity.com/270/story/392784.html

The Acoma, one of 19 pueblo tribes in New Mexico, say their mesa-top village is the longest continually occupied settlement in the United States.

http://www.redtt.org/html/CM%20Cibola.html

The Pueblo of Acoma's Sky City, has the oldest parish, dating back to 1629 and claims to be the longest, inhabited "city" in North America, probably dating to 1150 A.D.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Green-Home-Building/2004-10-01/Solar-Self-Reliance.aspx

The Hopi village of Old Oraibi is believed to be the longest continuously inhabited village in the United States.

http://www.azpbs.org/arizonastories/didyouknow.htm

Oraibi, a Hopi Indian village on Third Mesa, dates back to before A.D. 1200 and is believed to be the longest continuously inhabited community in the nation.

Rob said...

If you can find a reputable source that says Mesa Verde is the longest continuously inhabited place in the US, I'll send you a cookie. Heck, I'll send you $100 and you can buy your own cookie. That offer is safe because no such source exists.

In other words, you've lost another debate. Oops. Better luck next time, chum.

Of course, you didn't send me a cookie last time I met one of your challenges. Maybe you'll show a smidgen of honor and pay up this time. Send the cookie with fig jam to my usual address, please.

russell said...

Writerfella here --
In an interview published today (12/24), Denzel Washington speaks about his next film, THE GREAT DEBATERS. And he said this: "The advent of televison killed off debate as a spectator sport. No one today has the least bit of interest in watching people spar about opinions." Opinions? What happened to 'facts' in such discussions? Now it is that writerfella understands why those trained in 'debate' speak and/or write so fast, because they are trying to confuse their opposition. The next thing that Denzel Washington said was this, "Look at rap. Two guys get up and verbally spar. And the 21st century form of debate is called blogging."
NOW, writerfella understands why it is that you believe that our postings on your blogsite are 'debates.' WRONG! In fact, WRONG-O! You believe that you win because you use more words in rapid succession than does writerfella. Sorry, Mr. Gumby. You lose every time, if you use more words than does writerfella simply because it takes you longer to type those words as ideas than it does for writerfella to disprove them. Wow, Denzel has done writerfella an immense favor! writerfella even may vote for Denzel for the Best Actor Academy Award for his role in AMERICAN GANGSTER, as writerfella is a member of the Academy...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

Your intellectual cowardice is certainly efficient, I'll grant you that. Since you rarely if ever try to disprove one of my assertions, we don't know how many words or minutes it would take you. I'm guessing you couldn't do it no matter how long you took.

Yes, it sure does take a lot of words to back my claims with evidence. To post the facts that disprove your erroneous opinions. I make the effort because readers deserve to know the truth, not your made-up beliefs about the "Anasazi."

You have nothing to say about Mesa Verde's being abandoned. Nothing to say about the Pueblos claiming to be descended from the Anasazi. And nothing to say about Oraibi and Acoma being the longest continuously inhabited places in the US. You lose on every point.

It's not clear to me you even know what Mesa Verde is. Perhaps you've confused it with Chaco Canyon, Canyon de Chelly, or some other site in the Four Corners area. Why else would you make the absurd claim that it's been inhabited continuously?

Rob said...

You said to "name the city or community in North America that is older AND continuously-occupied longer than is Mesa Verde" and I did so. Where's my cookie, Russ? Were you lying about sending me a cookie if I met your challenge?

"Russell Bates is a big, fat liar"...here's another comment that will rank highly when you search for "Russell Bates" and "liar" in Google. Enjoy the results of your prevarication, pal.