Interview with Antonia Mosqueda, American convert;

Today Native Americans try to keep the native spirit alive

9 Nov 2015 232015000000Mon, 09 Nov 2015 23:28:08 +0330 23:28

It used to be considered a curse to have native blood, so many natives took to calling themselves Spaniards to blend in or say they had European even Jewish blood to be accepted.

MWFpress- Interview by Ali Ebrahimnia

- Please introduce yourself for us and tell us a bit about yourself!

• Bismillah Hiraman Niraheem, my name is Antonia Mosqueda people simply call me Ani. I'm Native American/Irish myself, I now live in the Islamic Republic of Iran. My undergraduate/ BA degrees are in Sociology/Anthropology (a broad studies in Native American culture and history), with a minor in Geology. My Masters of Science is in Sociology with a minor in Political Science.

- How many years Indian Americans have lived in North America?

• No one knows exactly when the first Natives arrived in pre-America. The strongest studies suggest that the first natives or Paleo-Indians crossed the Bering Strait from Asia between 20,000 - 13,000 years ago when the land bridge was exposed. They traveled in small bands and radiated outward to eventually form different tribes and empires throughout the northern and southern continents of America. This little fact is known about natives because of artifacts like arrow heads and other empirical evidence scientifically tested via radio carbon dating. With this source of information we can safely say the Americas were populated during what scientist call the Paleolithic era, hence the name Paleo-Indians. They existed right along with wooly mammoths, saber toothed tigers, giant sloths and other large extinct animals in the region that is how rich and deep native culture is in the Americas. Other scientists suggest some natives arrived as long as 40,000 years ago, however evidence is not strong enough to support this theory.

- What happened to Indian Americans since migration of English people to North America? Was it legal? Can it be justified by any law or human right regulation?

• First of all, the name Indian was a mistake that my people somehow got stuck with. When the formidable explorer Christopher Columbus landed on the present day Bahamas he referred to the natives as Indians. He was looking for a trade route to India and thought he made his way onto Indian Territory not realizing he reached unchartered territories for Europe, so he called the people "Indians". Natives had names. My ancestors had great, profound and beautiful ways of life unlike so many are taught by Europeans today wig still refer to natives as "savages". They had God and Nations and Empires however the arrival of Christopher Columbus marked the beginning of the end for many Natives or more politically correct First Nations People. From then on their riches, their women, their gold, their lands were eyed and sought after by Spaniards, British, French, Dutch and so forth. Nothing was ever legal about the encroachment of Europeans on Native American soil. The Americas turned into grounds for thieving, rape slaughtering and cannibalism in some cases-for the invading Europeans. Many also took or stole native women for marriage and forced them to work virtually as slaves on their own lands. Europeans had guns, they could take out an entire village for one native who rejected them so they used weapons to control the natives. Salves were also imported during their attempts to settle the Americas and to expand on these territories. In the time Columbus had arrived to the Americas until the 1900s researchers estimate the death toll of natives to be at 90 million or more. It was not a war and it was not at all legal. This was an alien invasion by Europeans for more wealth and territory and anyone who got in the way was killed. Tribes that rebelled were slaughtered, their communities burned their women raped and children skinned alive for rewards. Some natives fled and turned on their own people to escape the brutality of the "white man".

- How is the situation of Native Americans now in USA? How much are people aware of this fact? How much do government and people pay attention to this?

• Today Natives are small not because of numbers but because they are without knowledge of self, their own history and culture. Many natives have been assimilated into American culture. They do not know that they are native. This was a major plan by invaders to wipe out their language, culture and history. Until the 1980s were many natives even allowed to speak their own language in US schools. We had many court battles just to preserve our culture and what lands we had left, this is not enough. Native Americans live on the worst lands, have some of the worst living conditions and when it comes to schooling and education, they are underfunded and swept under a rug as a society. There is so much prejudice they face today and many controversies surrounding their existence and history. Native Americans are marginalized just as Muslims are in the USA, blacks and Mexicans. Many Mexicans by the way who are considered "immigrants" are Native American as well. So things can be very complicated in terms of describing the difficulties natives face today.

- How much does media talk about this fact?

• The media everywhere has completely and totally forgot that natives exist. Once in a while they show some fun festivals with a bunch of Europeans dressed in our ancestors threads but that's it. Real issues with natives and our battles they won't cover those in the news. We have political prisoners, brothers who spoke against our mistreatment who end up mysteriously dead. It's still not safe for us to speak and it has not been since the invasion. Natives basically have to reject who they are to function in USA society and get by today. It used to be considered a curse to have native blood, so many natives took to calling themselves Spaniards to blend in or say they had European even Jewish blood to be accepted.

- Are there any laws in order to respect the rights of Native Americans in the US?

• Even if there are laws to protect the rights of natives there are many loopholes. There are laws you just want to laugh at , because you have to have a lot of money to earn your rights as a native and money is not something most natives have. A few rich natives own casinos and malls but where does that corruption lead our people?

- What are the main problems that Native Americans are facing today, concerning residence, education, employment, etc?

• There was the Texas Text book controversy which was a blow to natives because the all-white school board rejected Native/ Mexican American request to add our history to school books so our children may learn. The only opportunity they have to learn on their true history is in College if they're lucky. Most school boards are made up of white who are ethnocentric and reject any history from marginalized groups such as natives. There is much more than this though my fathers used to get erg emotional when he used to tell me how he was beat in Texas schools for not speaking or knowing English. English was forced on Mexican natives as a way to assimilate them into European cultures. My father was Texas native, Texas was once part of Mexico as were many other states before the sprawl of a fairly new USA. You might want to research these recent controversies in USA not only did they reject the truth of my people but they tried to reject the slave trade. They are often trying to cover up the truth starting with schools. And the history of education itself in USA has been a depressing and emotional experience historically and today for natives and children of other ethnicities. I see a reflection in my history and many parallels when I look at present day Palestine being taken over by Euro Zionist, Americans, etc. I feel they use the same methods and break their own laws for self

- How do you think mainstream media should react to this fact and what can people and NGOs do about this?

• There are some native movements today who try to keep the native spirit alive and some effort from the elders and youth. I’ve been active, my patents have been active in some as well but they are often targeted by scared white people and the government. Such groups for natives, peaceful too are viewed as more as a greater threat than the violent kkk and neo Nazi groups in USA. I think education on our true history is an important action for anyone to take who empathize with my people. Debunking stereotypes and misconceptions is useful as the west still puts out so many stereotypes on my people in the film industry. Hollywood often portrayed us as ignorant, "primitive", savages without social structure, God and governments.

- Is there anything else you would like to add?

• I would like to add, one reason why I came to Iran is because of the similarities I saw in the traditional lifestyles among Iranians and Native Americans. The way of Iranian life in some of these villages that are so colorful, resourceful and agriculturally intelligent reminded me of native history and a life I longed for that I could not find in USA. Our way of life is nearly gone with little resources and land to revive it. This had much to do with why I made the decision to leave USA. To escape into the woods and drink from fresh springs without having to pay a fine or be on someone's personal property is a blessing. To fish without these outrageous fees and to know how to farm your own food is so rare in my country. These are things I imagined my ancestors would not take for granted as I do not.

Story Code: 57227

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