January 02, 2009

"America's First Settlement"?

Chief seeks recognition for Panzacola IndiansWhen native Chief George B. Dodge Sr. sees the sign leading into downtown Pensacola that reads, "America's First Settlement," it bothers him.

"It's downright silly. It's just unintelligent to put something like that out there," he said. "Use brain, think. Expand your social consciousness a little bit. Why do we have to have culture begin and end 450 years ago?"

Dodge—whose job through a nonprofit is helping American Indians living in difficult conditions on reservations—is referring to native settlements thousands of years before the first Europeans came ashore.

His latest mission is to acknowledge those first settlers with a statue at the foot of the Five Flags display north of the Pensacola Bay Bridge.

The statue would depict an Indian man, woman and child to symbolize the Panzacola Indians, for whom Pensacola is named. Panzacolas lived near the bay when the Spanish arrived in 1559.

"Let's take things back before three ships in the Gulf, before the British occupation, before 450 years," he said. "Let's go back tens of thousands of years, and our social knowledge can be increased greatly, knowing that there were native people here long before Europeans."

Dodge's recent push for a native statue centers on the city's plans for a 450th anniversary celebration this year, marking 450 years since Spanish conquistador Don Tristan de Luna is said to have founded Pensacola. Private fundraisers, along with contributions from city and county governments, will have a monument built honoring de Luna at Plaza de Luna in downtown Pensacola.

"These civilized people from Spain, bringing Christianity, also brought diseases and their swords," Dodge said. "Spanish conquistadors, their job was to rob, pillage, rape and murder, and bring back whatever gold they could find. I don't have a lot of respect for them or what they did. Today, that history has been kind of cleaned up for everyone's taste."
Comment:  To recap, Pensacolans want to honor the conquerors who robbed, pillaged, raped, and murdered the people who inhabited Pensacola. They have no plans to honor the victims whose blood, sweat, and tears the city was built upon.

Yeah, that's just what America needs: the 100,000th monument to the Euro-American philosophy of white might makes right, the winner takes it all, be a victor or a victim. Sounds like another monument to topple.

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