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Palaeo-Indian Meso-America

Reconstruction of the face of Naia, a teenage girl who lived in Mexico over 12,000 years ago. (National Geographic)

Palaeo-Indian Meso-America (c. -18,000 to -8,000) was Meso-America during the Stone Age, when it still had mammoths, ground sloths, sabretooth cats, horses, and camels. The 2,000 years of climate change that followed the ice age brought that world to an end.

First people: Palaeo-Indians were the first people to live in Meso-America. No one is sure when they first arrived. They may have arrived by the year -31,000, most likely by -18,000, and most certainly by -10,800.

  • Location: Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras.
  • Size: Fewer than 1 million people.
  • Cities: none, just seasonal campsites
  • Languages: unknown.
  • Religion: shamanism, which will become the bedrock of Meso-American religion. Not only did humans and animals have souls, so did trees, rivers, and mountains.
  • Technology: Clovis spear points, knives, spear-throwers (the atlatl), etc. No bows and arrows – they came much later.
  • Economy: some trade, mainly hunting and gathering. Hunted mammoths (Mammuthus imperator).
  • Social structure: bands of hunter-gatherers made up of a few families, often led by a shaman. No class structure. Kinship was everything. Each band moved over a set range according to the season, setting up campsites along the way.
  • History:
    • -31,000: some evidence of people already in Meso-America
    • -18,000: good evidence of people in Meso-America, maybe descended from seal hunters who followed the kelp highway along the Pacific coast.
    • -11,000: mammoth hunters arrive with Clovis technology. Crossed the Bering land bridge a thousand years before.
    • -10,800: A teenage girl, now called Naia (pictured at top), fell to the the bottom of Hoyo Negro, a deep cave now underwater in Yucatan, Mexico. She was descended from Siberian mammoth hunters (mitochondrial haplogroup D).
    • -10,000: Climate change: Meso-America becomes hotter and wetter. Big game animals begin dying out, either because of climate change or over-hunting or both. Whatever the cause, it leaves Meso-America without any beasts of burden.
    • -8,120: The poisonous seeds of Sophora secundiflora being used as a hallucinogen, probably by shamans.
    • -8,000: Meso-America now has pretty much the climate, plants, and animals of today.

Mammuthus imperator

Feast and famine: They had no way to store food. They did not even have pots. So after a successful mammoth hunt, a feast was required. They needed the protein and fat. Most of their food, though, came not from hunting but gathering, foraging for plant food.

atlatl (spear thrower)

Rich and poor: none, because they were always on the move and therefore had few material possessions. They had no way to store up wealth and pass it on.

Rules and regulations: none. It was a face-to-face society. You almost never dealt with someone you did not know personally.

Rabbit on the Moon: They saw a Rabbit on the Moon, not a Man on the Moon. They saw the earth in terms of the four directions, each direction having its own colour, special plants and animals, etc. We know that because these are cultural features found both in Meso-America and on the other side of the Bering Sea. So were:

Shamans: They were mostly men, some were women. They could see the future, cure disease, find good places to hunt, talk to the spirit world, etc.

– Abagond, 2018.

Sources: mainly Google Images; “Ancient Mexico & Central America” (2004) by Susan Toby Evans; “The Maya” (1999) by Michael D. Coe; “The First American” by Glenn Hodges in the January 2015 issue of National Geographic. 

See also:

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Hall & Oates: Wait for Me

Remarks:

My favourite Hall & Oates song. From 1976 to 1988 they had 16 top-ten hits on the US pop chart, 2 on the US R&B chart and 2 on the British pop chart. This is not one of those songs, which is probably why I like it since they did not play it to death.

This song came out in 1979 and only made it to #18 on the US pop chart and did not chart at all outside North America.

Check out the pre-boom-box radio in the video. That is how radios looked in the 1970s. By cracky.

See also:

Lyrics:

Midnight hour almost over
Time is running out for the magic pair
I know you gave the best that you have
But one more chance
Couldn’t be all that hard to bear.

Wait for me please
Wait for me
Alright, I guess
that’s more than I should ask
Wait for me please
Wait for me
Although I know the light is fading fast.

You could go either way
Is it easier to stay
I wonder what you’ll do
When your chance rolls around
But you gotta know how much I want to keep you
When I’m away I’m afraid it will all fall down.
Love is what it does and ours is doing nothing
But all the time we spent
It must be good for something
Please forgive all the disturbance I’m creating
But you got a lot to learn if you think that I’m not waiting for you.

Source: AZ Lyrics.

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Roman calendar

The Roman calendar (c. -735 to -45) was the calendar Rome used from its founding to the time of Julius Caesar. Caesar reformed the calendar in the year -45, giving us the Julian calendar. Pope Greogry XIII in turn reformed the Julian calendar in 1582, giving us the Gregorian calendar, the one still in common use in the West.

Months: The Roman calendar had 12 to 13 months a year, starting with March:

  1. March (31 days)
  2. April (29)
  3. May (31)
  4. June (29)
  5. Quintilis (31)
  6. Sextilis (29)
  7. September (29)
  8. October (31)
  9. November (29)
  10. December (29)
  11. January (29)
  12. February (28 or 23)
  13. Mercedonius (27 or 28, a leap month)

Notice months 5 to 10 are named after numbers in Latin: quinque (5), sex (6), septem (7), octo (8), novem (9), decem (10). 

January and February were added by the second king of Rome in about -700. Romulus, the first king, only gave the calendar ten months. He loved the number ten and, as Ovid noted, was “better versed in swords than stars.”

Mercedonius, also called Intercalans, was added every now and then by the top priests of Rome to keep the calendar roughly in line with the seasons. The first 12 months only had 355 days – ten to eleven days short of a year. There was no set rule about when to add it. Sometimes the priests would add it or not add it to lengthen or shorten someone’s time in office. Or to collect more rent. Because of that, the calendar could be up to two months off. Mercedonius started the day after February 23rd, cutting February short.

Quintilis and Sextilis were later named after Julius and Augustus Caesar. Other months were named after other rulers, like Nero, but those names did not stick.

Days of the week: The seven-day week does not come from Rome but Babylon by way of the Jews and Christians. It was not added to the calendar till the year +321 by the Emperor Constantine.

Days of the month were not numbered from 1 to 31. Instead they were named in relation to the kalends (the 1st of the month), nones (the 5th or 7th) and the ides (the 15th). March 11th, for example, was known as “five ides” because it was five days till the ides of March. We would say four days, but that is not how the Romans counted time. That fact would later screw up the Julian calendar.

The reason Julius Caesar is famous for dying on “the Ides of March” is because back then almost no one called it March 15th.

The calendar was named for the kalends, the first of the month.

Years: Years were named after whoever were the two consuls of Rome that year.

There was no AD or BC, of course – not only was Christ not yet born, but AD was not invented till the 500s, and did not catch on till the 800s.

There was AUC, short for “ab urbe condita”, which is Latin for “from the founding of the city”. It numbered years from the founding of Rome in -753, which was counted as 1 AUC. But it was not in common use.

– Abagond, 2018

See also:

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Debra Haaland (1960- ) is the Congresswoman-elect for New Mexico’s 1st District. On January 3rd 2019 she and Sharice Davids of Kansas will become the first two Native American women ever in the US Congress. Both are Democrats. The two Native American men already in Congress are both Republicans from Oklahoma – Tom Cole and Markwayne Mullin.

Activism: In 2016 she took part in the #NoDAPL protests against the Dakota Access pipeline. The protest failed to stop the pipeline, but it showed her and many other Natives that their voices needed to be heard – and could be heard. It has led to a new wave of Native activism. Add to that the racist rise of Trump.

In 2018 ten Native Americans ran for Congress – and four won!

New Mexico’s 1st District takes in most of Albuquerque and parts nearby. It is almost half White and half Latino and leans Democratic (blue) by 7 points. It is only 3.5% Native, much lower than the state overall, which is 11% Native.

Laguna Pueblo is the reservation where she is from, 50 km west of Albuquerque. It started as a Spanish mission in the wake of the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. The reservation has uranium, yet her grandmother’s one-room house did not have running water or electricity till the 1970s. As a girl Haaland had to fetch water from a nearby pump. She calls herself a 35th generation New Mexican.

Military brat: She has lived all over, not just on the reservation. Her father was in the Marines for 30 years, winning a Silver Star in the Vietnam War. He was White – thus her Norwegian last name. Her mother is Laguna Pueblo. Both were Reagan Republicans. When she found out how terrible Reagan was, she learned to do her own research on politics – and became a Democrat. And, unlike her parents, she went to university, and later law school.

Politics: She got into politics by campaigning for John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. In 2014 she ran for Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico and lost. In 2015 she ran for Chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico and won.

Green New Deal: She is for a $15 an hour minimum wage, Medicare for all, and other “radical” left-wing causes, much in the vein of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But her two big issues are climate change and renewable energy. New Mexico is going through a terrible drought – while it gets so much sun it could become a leading provider of solar energy. The US needs to wean itself from fossil fuels for the sake of the earth.

“A voice like mine”: And of course she wants to be a voice for Native Americans:

“I don’t know if it’s actual legislation as much as it is just really advocating to make sure that Congress recognizes the fact that the United States has a trust responsibility to Indian tribes. So at every possible opportunity, I’ll work really hard to make sure tribal leaders have a seat at the table when there’s issues of importance.”

Thanks to Mary Burrell for suggesting this post.

– Abagond, 2018.

Sources: Vox, Newsweek, CBC, her speech in 2018 at Netroots Nation.

See also:

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Jemel Roberson

Jemel Roberson (c. 1992-2018) was a security guard at Manny’s Blue Room Bar in Robbins, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. At 4.00am Sunday, after subduing a shooter, saving the lives of everyone at the bar, the police arrived – and shot Roberson dead.

Eyewitnesses:

Mark Harris:

“The security guard that got killed, he caught somebody and had his knee on him the whole time, just waiting on the police to get there. I guess when the police got there, they probably thought he was one of the bad guys, cause he had his gun on the guy and they shot him.”

Adam Harris:

“Everybody was screaming out, ‘he was a security guard,’ and they basically saw a black man with a gun and killed him.”

Roberson was in uniform. His uniform said “SECURITY”.

Roberson had kicked out some drunks, but then one of them returned with a gun and started shooting. He shot three people. Roberson returned fire and was able to subdue him.

The Midlothian police:

“Upon arrival officers learned there were several gunshot victims inside the bar. A Midlothian Officer encountered a subject with a gun and was involved in an Officer involved shooting. The subject the Officer shot was later pronounced deceased at an area hospital”

President Trump and the NRA, both champions of gun rights, have been silent. Gun rights only seem to apply to White people.

Investigation: At least the Midlothian police are not investigating themselves:

“It is the policy of the Midlothian Police Department to utilize the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force for any officer-involved shootings so we can ensure transparency and maintain public trust.”

Yet they are not giving out the name of the officer, who is on paid leave. Nor is the press despite the officer being named in a:

Lawsuit: The family is seeking over $1 million in damages from the Midlothian police. They say the shooting was “excessive and unreasonable” and that there was a racial element.

Race: Just the other week police in Pittsburgh took Robert Bowers alive, a White neo-Nazi who had killed 11 people at a synagogue.

Video: None so far. There was a security camera in the parking lot where Roberson was killed. There might be some citizen video too. It is unclear whether the Midlothian police have bodycams or dashcams.

Criminal record: None. We know that because the police and the press would have been quick to point that out if Roberson had one. Instead they picked on the fact that he did not have a concealed carry permit for his legally-owned gun.

Roberson was an organist at the New Spiritual Light Baptist Church in Chicago. He played the keyboard and drums at other churches too. He was the light of his mother’s life. He was also a father. Avontea Boose, his son’s mother:

“This was going to be my baby’s first Christmas with his dad and now he’s going to miss out on everything.”

Roberson was getting ready to train to be a police officer.

– Abagond, 2018.

See also:

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Maurice Ravel: Boléro

Remarks:

The song and the ballet were first performed in 1928 at the Paris Opera. It is probably one of the best known songs of the 1900s, somewhere up there with “Wannabe” (1996) by the Spice Girls. There are different versions on YouTube, even a 1934 Hollywood version with Carole Lombard and George Raft. This one by Spain’s Ballet Nacional Danza is my favourite.

See also:

 

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The Mayan Long Count date for November 10th 2018.

Welcome to Native American Heritage Month, which in the US is in November. During this month I try to do some posts having to do with Native America.

Because Hispanic Heritage Month was such a bust, this year I am giving most of my attention to Meso-America, past and present.

Posts I might do:

  • The caravan
  • Hondura
  • Chiapas
  • Olmecs
  • Zapotecs
  • Maya
  • The Maya in the 900s
  • The Maya in the 1900s
  • Mayan religion
  • Mayan languages
  • Mayan books
  • Toltecs
  • Aztecs
  • Quetzalcoatl
  • The goddess Tonantzin
  • Montezuma
  • Bartolome de Las Casas
  • The Three Sisters (maize, beans, squash)
  • burrito
  • rubber
  • tobacco
  • chocolate
  • chilli
  • turkeys

Posts I have actually done so far:

Suggestions: If you have a post suggestion or want to second one, please leave a comment below.

Thank you!

– Abagond, 2018.

See also:

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