From my space in Harlem, I look out at a little “mountain” with a small forest of trees on it. It was once used by the Native Americans as a lookout station to see over the entire island of Manhattan. I try to imagine what the landscape looked like then.

A number of cities now observe Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day, in honor of the people who inhabited America before Columbus. We honor them by looking to understand their history and culture, scrolling through image sites like Getty’s rich archives.

Getty Images

Seems like a fine idea to be aware our dark history, and the roots that preceded it. Though I’m not sure why we need to have an either/or. Columbus Day was started by Italian Americans who thought we should honor their heritage…You can read about Columbus here. The guy was both amazing and treacherous.

Bartolomeo and Christopher Colombus – Bibliothèque Nationale de France

In honor of this day: a Navajo poem that seems to count blessings and give a blessing at the end.

House Song to the East

Far in the east, far below, there a house was made; 
Delightful house. 
God of Dawn, there his house was made; 
Delightful house. 
The Dawn, there his house was made; 
Delightful house. 
White Corn, there its house was made; 
Delightful house. 
Soft possessions, for them a house was made; 
Delightful house. 
Water in plenty, surrounding, for it a house was made; 
Delightful house. 
Corn pollen, for it a house was made; 
Delightful house. 
The ancients make their presence delightful; 
Delightful house.

Before me, may it be delightful; 
Behind me, may it be delightful; 
Around me, may it be delightful; 
Below me, may it be delightful; 
Above me, may it be delightful; 
All, may it be delightful.

 

 

 

Here is a rich selection of Native American poets.  And some awesome vintage photos from Getty Images here.

 

 

 

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