Monday, November 17, 2008

Column: City's 450th no cause for special event

Column: City's 450th no cause for special event

Publication Date: 03/02/08

St. Augustine is the cradle of the North-American European invasion, conquest, cultural and physical genocide committed against American-Indians.

The local American-Indian community and many others say "no" to a 450th commemoration, where someone impersonating the oftentimes brutal Pedro Menendez will be paraded around as a "hero." He's no hero to Indians or Protestants who know the real history of what happened.

* Pedro Menendez, while not the butcher that Ponce de Leon and Hernando de Soto were, nevertheless did his share of plundering and murder "in the name of God."

It's well-documented that Menendez murdered 20 Calusa Indians and many Kiskiack Indians (in Cheaspeake Bay area) predominantly for resisting his coercive attempt to convert them to Spanish-Catholicism.

* Menendez murdered 245 French-Huguenots (Lutheran-Protestants) who surrendered, for the "crime" of being protestant not Catholic at infamous Matanzas (massacre) Inlet.

* Menendez ordered the first documented, anti-gay, hate crime in North America with the execution of the French-interpreter Guillermo (who was the lover of a local Guale caciques' son) for being what Menendez called "a Sodomite and a Lutheran."

We are especially annoyed by Section 2, Article 2 paragraph of the S. 2359 declaration that alludes (strongly) to some mutually-beneficial "multicultural picnic" from this forced invasion, conquest and subsequent cultural/physical genocide. It could have happened that way but unfortunately it didn't.

Like elsewhere, it started out peaceful enough, but went quickly downhill when the Timucua, others further South (Calusa) to up North (the Kiskiack of Chesapeake Bay) came up against the rude, arrogant and violently-abusive behavior of Menendez and his Spaniards.

Many decades of coerced-Christian conversions, forced labor (if not outright slavery), and cultural genocide along with widespread death from disease and cultural disruptions followed until the Timucua, as a nation, were no more.

The (protestant) French up at Fort Caroline had a much better relationship with the Indians.

They were somewhat respectful, not overtly-racist and owned no slaves unlike the slavery-supporting Menendez. The French were the preferred European-power by both Indians and blacks.

If local, state and congressional officials plan to go ahead with their 450th Commemoration they should, at least, ensure appropriate Native-American representation on their Commemoration Commission.

We see no plans to do that at present.

Virginia included representation and much input from its tribes (Mattaponi, Pamunkey Nations, etc.) at its 400th Jamestown Commemoration. That seemed to work for many Indians and Euro-Americans. A balanced presentation was crafted.

A very different situation exists in St. Augustine, but American-Indians do want the ignored side of the story told which won't be done without strong native-representation on the panels.

Many American cities, because of GOP-mandated federal budget cuts, the Bush Administration's costly, still-bloody, protracted occupation in Iraq and several earlier "natural disasters" from Katrina, to the La Jolla fires to recent tornadoes still lack necessary funding for relief and full disaster recovery.

Federally funding a 450th commemoration would present a gross misappropriation of scarce federal dollars for a superfluous, Euro-centric and unnecessary event honoring colonizers who command no historical honor.

For both American-Indians and Protestants a 450th St. Augustine Commemoration event would be a mourning not a celebration of the arrogant, disruptive and oftentimes brutal historic Spanish conquest.

David Thundershield Queen is a writer and activist.

Click here to return to story:

© The St. Augustine Record

1 comment:

belenenses said...

Dear Mr Queen,

I read your article with interest as someone living in Cevennes, the scene of much butchery against the resident Huguenots 300 years ago.

I am delighted to hear that..."The French were the preferred European-power by both Indians and blacks." I presume you are referring to the Huguenots who escaped French repression to settle in the US?

I wonder if you are able to answer the question I pose on my Blog regarding The Huguenot role in the US Civil War? You'll find it at:

Best wishes,