Thursday, November 24, 2005

Halley's Comet

John Amos brought his play "Halley's Comet" to Port Angeles on November 11, 2005. It is a one man show about an old man that plans to return to the hills where his father took him to see the comet. He was ten years old at the time. His father talked to the comet, telling him his life story and current events of the world.

Now Halley's comet is coming back. The old man announces his plan to return to the same spot and make his report to the comet. His friends and family tease him about it. He goes anyway.

He is confused because the scenery has changed. He places his picnic basket on a stump and searches for the maple tree that marks the spot.

He sees Halley's comet on the horizon. He excitedly introduces himself. He says people are always wondering where the Indians have gone. There are people called archaeologists. They dig up bones in old Indian cemeteries to study them. The old man says it is killing the Indians. The auditorium was so silent, the kind when EVERYONE holds their breath.

He said he went on a cattle drive when he was young. That was when he learned to believe in the Great Spirit. An Englishman who considered himself an Indian fighter was on the trip. He wore a necklace made of scalps. The old man explained that scalping was introduced by the Europeans. They paid a bounty for Indian scalps, men, women, and children.

The Englishman had participated in the Sand Creek Massacre. He bragged about the scalps of Indian women he had taken while the men were away hunting. It is one of the many dark times in American History that is being denied and/or ignored.

They entered tall grass country. All of a sudden Indians on horseback stood up. There was a Chief and Medicine Man leading. The medicine man rode up to the Englishman and pointed at his scalp necklace. He said "That is my mother." The medicine man started singing. The Chief and warriors joined in as they circled the cowboys.

In the distance they saw the biggest dust cloud they had ever seen. They also heard thunder as the dust cloud approached. There was a big male buffalo at the head of the cloud leading the charge. He put his head down and picked up the Englishman with his horns. The herd passed through the other cowboys without touching them.

When the cloud passed, everything went with it. There were no more Indians, no buffalo, no thunder, and the cloud itself disappeared taking the murderous Englishman. That was when the old man knew that the Great Spirit was real.

The old man said he had 16 children and 3 wives. He lost 3 sons in the wars and one daughter. He told of one son that died on an island in the Pacific during World War 2. Until that time black soldiers were only allowed to clean up and serve white soldiers.

The enemy was coming to invade the island. It was decided that it was necessary to arm the Black soldiers to repel the enemy.

The Japanese soldiers parachuted in. The American soldiers opened fire on them. So many men were killed midair that it rained blood. His son died defending that island. He lost two other sons in Korea and Vietnam.

The old man would hear a bell ringing. To him it sounded like the laughter of his daughter. He would run towards the sound calling her name. Then he would stop and look inward, remembering.

His daughter wanted to go down south to register Black People to vote. He told her no, that it was too dangerous. She must let someone else do it. The girl couldn't do that. She felt compelled to do her part to better the lives of others. He was proud of her, though afraid.

One day a call came telling the old man that his daughter had died of exposure. It didn't make sense, how did she die from exposure? He traveled south to claim her body.

He could barely recognize her. They had turned the dogs loose on her. She didn't die from exposure. Dogs had killed her.

Racism in Port Angeles still exists. A couple days ago there was another meeting of the Community Multicultural Alliance. The article in the paper said that there were no reports of racism at the meeting.

That doesn't mean racism has been overcome. I have recently started going to the pool. Three or four tall white women came in while I was getting ready to go into the water. One women threw her bag at me. I turned in shock as it hit me. They kept on talking as if nothing happened. I decided to ignore them. She hit me again with her stuff. One of my cousins said that another woman always does that to her. A small group of us from the reservation had begun taking exercise classes at the pool. Apparently some people didn't like it. The woman hit me again with her stuff. This time I pushed them back at her hitting her. This time she looked at me in shock. I said "Excuse me, am I in your way?" She got scared and said "No, of course not." I asked her name and she told me. I finished getting ready without further incident and they no longer bother me. My cousin just tells her tormentor that she will pray for her.

I had hoped to go to the CMT meeting and testify. I didn't make it.

Just because no community members were there to testify about ongoing racism does not mean that it has been overcome.

There have been new incidents of harrassment of Coast Guardsmen that are Pacific Islanders.

I do believe we can beat racism. It will take commitment and work to educate people who accept racism as natural.

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