January 22, 2018
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The Dene (pronounced Denay) people speak a language which has 39 consonants and 116 vowel sounds. That is a total of 155 phonemes. For the sake of comparison, English and French run from 40-45 phonemes (total consonant and vowel sounds). These people are indigenous to the northern regions of the four western provinces of Canada, plus Yukon and Northwest Territories.
About 600 years ago (the timeline is sketchy), large numbers of these people migrated to the southwest part of what is now the USA. There they are known as Navajo and Apache and their languages are just as complex. It is said that Dene and Navajo people can still understand each other.
The Iroquoian people of Eastern North America, Cherokee in the south and Six Nations in the Great Lakes area, developed permanent settlements sustained by the cultivation of corn. The cultivation of corn originated in southern Mexico and spread south and north from there. It appears that the Six Nations people originated in the south and moved northward.
From where did all these people originate? The most likely explanation is that they came from Asia and travelled to North America over a land bridge that once existed in the area of the Bering Sea. Some indigenous people reject this explanation, because some whites use it as an excuse to claim that the indigenous people are also immigrants.
That is not very valid. The indigenous people have obviously been here thousands of years, spreading throughout the Americas and differentiating into a multitude of linguistic and cultural groups. White immigration to the Americas goes back just over 400 years. We are obviously the newcomers. My family came to North America 380 years ago, but the indigenous people were here long, long before that.
Many of the early European settlers hoped that the indigenous peoples would fade away and disappear. That hasn’t happened. North Americans of European, African and Asian origin are not going to disappear either. What will it take for us all to live together in mutual respect and appreciation?
A first step might be to admit that Charles Darwin was wrong, the white race is not a more highly favoured race destined to supplant all other peoples. DNA testing confirms what the Apostle Paul told the Athenians: God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” There is no white race, or black race, or red race, we are all part of one human race.
October 9, 2017
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Today is Thanksgiving in Canada and for some reason my mind drifted back to a meal we were served many years ago at a family reunion in Massachusetts.
Succotash was served at the first Thanksgiving meal at Plymouth, Massachusetts. It was prepared by people of the Narragansett tribe, from native North American vegetables that had been domesticated by the native peoples. The word is from the Narragansett language. This is the kind of food that helped the Mayflower passengers to survive until they could grow grains and other things that they were used to.
The illustration shows corn and lima beans, the two essential ingredients. Other beans can be added, plus tomatoes, green peppers and sweet red peppers, maybe some squash. These are all of North American origin. There are many recipes available on the internet, but I’m not sure a recipe is needed. Just cook until you think it is done.
Succotash is a very nutritious food with negligible amounts of sodium and fat, but tastes rather blah to a North American palate accustomed to more seasoning and spice. You can try adding some imported flavours, such as a little salt and some chopped onions. Maybe even some hot peppers, which originated farther south in North America.