Here's something I did on my summer vacation—not that working three science fiction conventions in four weeks, in parts of the country experiencing a triple-digit heat wave, constitutes a vacation in the normal sense of the word. Anyway, in late July I drove from
They turn out to be Muscogee (Creek) Indian names, echoes of people who lived in the Deep South, including along the Chattahoochee River between present-day Georgia and Alabama, before the U.S. government forced them to move to Oklahoma in the 1800's.
The forced removal was called the Trail of Tears. It was a wretched historical episode. American ethnic cleansing. To make it, if possible, even worse, Indian spirituality is generally connected to land in a way that Western spirituality isn't. Exile from ancestral land meant being cut off at the religious, cultural and even medicinal roots. This was explained to me once by a Lutheran theologian who belongs to the Osage Nation. He said that after being forced from Missouri to Oklahoma, Osage medicine people practiced less of their traditional medicine, and part of the reason was unfamiliar plant life. They didn't know the healing properties of plants in Oklahoma.
I recall precious little awareness of Indian peoples in
There were a lot of migrations and upheavals of Indian peoples in the centuries after 1492. Topping it all off with removal and genocide, the end game was a colossal land grab by Europeans in North America. Now we live on stolen land, as the Lutheran Osage theologian emphatically pointed out to me. He added that the morality of living on stolen land can get sticky even for Indian people. He was then living in
For a lot of mostly irreparable reasons, most Americans dwell on the land of ancestors other than our own. Sometimes the original people are gone. The
Conestoga in an SFFnal sense, namely Oklahoma's largest literary science fiction and fantasy convention, is a good con with a flair for originality. This year the con's charity was Safari's Sanctuary. The Safari's Sanctuary people rescue wild and exotic animals from the pet trade and from overpopulated zoos. They do educational outreach too, bringing some of the animals: wolves and lemurs and oh my—Carmella, the Burmese Python. A Safari's Sanctuary volunteer draped her on interested shoulders at Conestoga. A big (well fed, mellow) snake is all languid muscle from tip to tail. When you're wearing one, you feel the muscles flex as the snake shifts position. Not a suitable pet, but an amazing creature.
Carmella may be a kindred soul of mine.