Court is in session…

Upon reading Apess’s An Indian Looking-Glass for the White Man I immediately imagined a court room . Mr.Apess’s style and tone reminded me of a no nonsense lawyer who would happily tear down Mrs.Rowlandson’s assumptions of her native captors. I imagine the following going down in a court room, Judge Maricruz presiding….

Mr. Apess: Mrs. Rowlandson, for the record will you please explain, in your own words, why we are here in court today? 

Mrs. Rowlandson: I certainly will. It’s tragic really, what happened to me, I never thought I would be a victim of “barbarous creatures” (First remove) – 

Mr.Apess: – In an attempt to maintain the integrity of this courtroom, Mrs.Rowlandson, I ask that you refrain from insulting the defendants. Judge? 

Judge Maricruz: Mrs. Rowlandson, this is your warning. 

Mrs. Rowlandson: Understood but please understand where I am coming from. I was working in my kitchen, in my house, on my property, on the fateful day – I was making corn and wild rice when I suddenly heard some loud noises out front. And these “natives,” as you would have them called, began to wreak havoc on my entire life. 

Mr.Apess: Please be specific, Mrs. Rowlandson. In what ways was your life changed?

Mrs.Rowlandson: My children were taken from me, my husband was killed, my way of life was uprooted by a people with no regard for my natural life. I was thrown from my own home with absolutely no warning – I have been left with nothing, Mr.Apess, please will yourself to see where my sorrow and anger stem from. They took all that I had. 

Mr. Apess: Ma’am I ask that you yourself take a moment and will yourself to see how these Natives you so accuse of such atrocities are simply expressing their own sorrows and anger. They were ripped from their homes with no warning, their children were killed by the hundreds, they were starved and minimized to nothing more than, as previously stated by you, “barbarous creatures.” 

  Does it not matter to you because of the color of their skin, Mrs. Rowlandson? Is their skin color somehow supposed to make them more deserving than you of such atrocities against man? Is your skin color somehow meant to be a shield against suffering? I don’t imagine that you, the wife of preacher, believe this to be true, or do you? 

Before you answer I would like to remind you that our Lord and Savior himself was blessed with some color in His skin and what you say here in court you will have  to answer for when you meet Him. 

Mrs. Rowlandson: I don’t believe my ears – they took EVERYTHING from me, sir. I am left with nothing at the hands of those you aim to protect. I am a broken woman – LOOK AT ME I AM —

Judge Maricruz: Mrs. Rowlandson, I ask that you contain your emotion to the best of your ability. Mr. Apess, any other questions for Mrs. Rowlandson? 

Mr. Apess: Yes, your Honor. 

Mrs. Rowlandson, I will leave you with this last thing. I ask that you self-reflect: 

Are you able to look outside of your own suffering and see the suffering you have caused? Are you able to see how suffering is not comparative? I mean not to minimize your experience and I am very saddened by your experience but do you see the root or just a dead flower? Some questions to ponder the next time you encounter a “barbarian” – remember, they are people too, Mrs. Rowlandson. A people who have suffered, persevered, overcome, and stood up stronger than ever…the same way you can. I ask not that you tolerate these individuals but rather that you respect their suffering the way you have asked this courtroom to do for you. I am not your Judge nor am I your jury but I am a fellow man, a mixed-race man at that, asking you to just see that we too are people able to suffer heartache and celebrate victory.

I wish you well, Mrs. Rowlandson. May your God, whatever color He is, light the rest of your days. 

I am done, Your Honor. 

 

— Maricruz Rivas (Court is adjourned)

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Mary Rowlandson’s Journey of Confusion

John Winthrop left behind the ideals that genocide and sexism were all in the name of religion. In fact, it’s the reason why many crimes that have happened in America throughout history, have been committed and tried to be justified through history books. Something interesting that Thomas Pham’s post mentioned was genocidal intent. This is something that was always a part of the plan; colonists wanted to take the land they felt belonged to them by divine right, while converting everyone to Christianity and if there was someone who didn’t want to have their home and beliefs raided, then they deserved to die. Mary Rowlandson mentions, “I have seen the extreme vanity of this world: one hour I have been in health, and wealthy, wanting nothing. But the next hour in sickness and wounds, and death, having nothing but sorrow and affliction.” But, this is what the Algonquian must’ve been feeling themselves because they knew there was genocidal intent; which is why I believe they responded the way the same way they were shown.

This emphasis on religion, specifically Christianity is seen in Mary Rowlandson’s “Narrative of the Captivity & Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson.” She would constantly mention: “no Christian friend near me” or “no Christian soul” was around her to help her. She explicitly stated that she wanted help from someone only if they were Christian. But, later in the narrative we see that cross-religion definitely created some confusion for her, as well as for those reading at the time. We talked in class about the fact that Rowlandson couldn’t seem to nice to the Algonquian people, but in some parts, she couldn’t help it. There’s a part in the narrative where the Natives came back from Sadbury and one of them told her they had just killed “two English men at Sadbury” (Rowlandson, 38). But, in the next paragraph she says, “Yea, instead of that, he many times refreshed me,” along with, “they would always give me something,” describing it as something she will always remember as, “sweet, pleasant, and delightful relish” (Rowlandson, 39). This definitely complicates the situation because it shows that Algonquian people were not just “ravenous beasts” as she described them in the beginning and even towards the end, they were people too. Despite the fact that they had killed her people, she was beginning to see beyond that. I can only imagine the frowns on people’s faces when they came across this part, thinking there was no way that they could be human too.

Justification Through Ideology

Native LandExtremism 1Extreme 2

As we have come to read the works of Winthrop and Dryden, we also come across captivity Novels that were amongst the most popular novels of the time. The “Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson,” by Mary Rowlandson detailing her through the lens of her Puritan beliefs, of her captivity from the Native Algonquians. Such works contain a similar ideology of justification for such ideologies or reference thereof. For instance, we have John Dryden’s, “The Indian Emperor, or the Conquest of Mexico,” portrays native Indians specifically the Aztecs as selfish, like Moctezuma, and through his work, emphasizing for an imperial and just Great Britain. Nevertheless, instances of torture and conversion are expressed in the play. However, through this Ideology of Eurocentrism, dehumanization, and justification for those actions are granted, thus, okay. In Mary’s captivity novel, the descriptions of the Algonquian people are racist, stereotyped, and dehumanizing. In the beginning, she addresses the Indians as savages, barbarians, black-faced, and enemies. We also obtain insight into the lives of the Algonquian people, and thus, a cross-cultural moment and gradual change of addressing the natives. However, puritan ideology was most emphasized throughout her novel.

Everything we are seeing is through the lens of Mary herself, however, we never obtain the native’s suffering in this war. Her descriptions do not talk about the native’s surmount and undeniable losses including great defeat. The genocide of the Alogians children, women, and men. The lens that she is applying while conveying the “work of God,” or his purpose, serves her justification for others to see the natives as savages. This ideology we see at hand uses the bible to enforce, not God’s word, but the vanity of man. Winthrop cites the book of Matthew in which states to love thy enemy, yet took the lands and lives of their, “enemies,” and justified by saying it was God’s will. The Eurocentrism, imperialistic, and colonializations are saturated within these works. These kinds of justifications we see throughout our times. We have the genocide of many natives all over the world. Like the Trail of Tears, World War 2, and blatant racism that is displayed in the media, in our t.v. and our lives. In the U.S. we have what I call the silent genocide of continuous murder of native women that are not reported in the media. The racial agendas like Fox News and people like Tomi Lauren who justify their ideologies of white supremacy just like in Winthrop, Dryden, and Rowlandson among many more. However, within reading them we also obtain the additional perspective and as such are not as ignorant. Ideology in extreme, or with universal principals, is a danger to the world.

  • Karla Garcia Barrera

Is captivity a justification for genocide?

In Mary Rowlandson’s A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, confirms the history of intolerance against indigenous people during the English colonization of eastern North America. The important moments of cross-cultural, cross-linguistic, and cross-religious exchange between Rowlandson and her native captors reflect the bigotry against indigenous people. Rowlandson’s interaction with her native captors was tense, shocking, and observant. Rowlandson’s clash of culture with her native captors seemed to differ from her Puritan beliefs and life. She constantly calls native people savages, creatures, and refers to their existence as another world. The way she describes the native culture is a reference to the wild life and ultimately reciprocates this idea of natives as barbaric. However, the essential piece of language and religion played a huge role that confirms the history of intolerance against indigenous people during the English colonization of eastern North America. Rowlandson uses religious references in her narrative that makes readers sympathize with her experience. She uses her religion to erase the destruction colonizers have caused in the native community. At the same time she’s a hardcore Puritan, she’s also using derogatory terms to describe the indigenous people. Rowlandson seen the real Indian versus the Puritan stereotype of the Indian and acknowledge their different behaviors that didn’t resemble those of Puritan beliefs. Yet, she continues to be a Puritan at the end of her narrative. Her Puritan beliefs might have been influenced, but not eliminated from her life. It becomes highly problematic when Rowlandson believes that her captivity was a challenge from God and she had to experience this terror. Its implication suggest that certain people have to suffer because it’s a challenge from God. It’s reinforcing the idea that genocide, sexism, and all hateful experiences are God’s choice. Most importantly, it justifies and confirms the history of intolerance against indigenous people. Like Rowlandson, John Dryden’s play The Indian Emperor, uses a relationship with colonizers and Aztec natives that is humorous and tense. Dryden changes the history of the Spanish invasion in Mexico and creates false relationships with colonizers and Aztec natives. Both Dryden and Rowlandson construct relationships with the “others” but never intertwine their same beliefs. Both use writing platforms that help perform their ideologies and justified their own beliefs. Their way of using language causes sympathy among the colonizers and therefore reproduces racist and sexist white ideologies that confirm the history of intolerance against indigenous people during the English colonization of eastern North America and construct today’s world.

-Priscilla Ortega

A Prideful Fight for Freedom

In John Dryden’s, The Indian Emperour, the relationship between Cortez and Cydaria is always one step ahead of each other. They’re never on the same page because there are still politics between their love and though Cortez loves Cydaria, he’s not able to stop the war until it is too late. Even when the story is about to end, Cortez and Cydaria aren’t on the same page because she gets stabbed. This is definitely Dryden making a statement that the relationship between foreign imperialists and Aztec natives would never be a good one, it would never be reconciled. It is him at the end with death surrounding him. The fact that Cortez wasn’t able to stop the war long before figuring out his conflict between love and honor had a lot to do with the reason why he couldn’t end up having his happy ending which was to save both Cydaria and Moctezuma. However, there was the huge factor of pride that created most of the doubt in the plot of this play. Not expecting any less, Moctezuma was not able to accept that it would be Cortez, his enemy, to be the hero in his life after destroying everything, that his life would solely be dependent on him. He didn’t consider that having a grip of his freedom. I think there was a sense of foreshadowing when Moctezuma was being tortured and the priest asks him if he’s allowed to say where the gold could be found and Moctezuma’s alternative is for him to die.

That is why it doesn’t come as a shocker when Moctezuma kills himself instead of giving thanks to the person who’s responsible for starting it all in the first place. Moctezuma dies holding on to his statement of, “If either Death or Bondage I must choose,/I’ll keep my Freedom, through my life I lose.” I think this line is what determines the relationship between imperialists and Aztec natives because the reality is that it could never be tied to a happy ending. Theatre and politics also have a lot to do with this given that the result of this play was for Cortez to be left with nothing but nonetheless a huge win in his favor. The audience watching this play would probably be even more encouraged to see it as a justification for all the hierarchies and the treatment of those around them.

 

-Ruth Serrano

Internalization

Olaudah Equiano’s narrative highlights his personal experience being under slavery, and escaping the institution. Equiano conveys a message of abolition. However, there are instances within the text that he, too, falls for looking at aspects of slavery with justification. The prime example is a certain passage from the text that I found troubling.

When Equiano is speaking about the overseers he says they are “indeed for the most part persons of the worst character of any denomination of men in the West Indies. Unfortunately, many humane gentlemen, by not residing on their estates, are obliged to leave the management of them in the hands of these human butchers..”

This quote is conflicting because while it does denounce the horrors of slavery, and the overseers,  it suggests that the owners of the estates are ‘humane gentleman’ who are simply “obliged” to leave their slaves under the cruel overseer. This idea is conflicting because even if the owner did not horribly abuse their slave (which is impossible to even phrase because owning a person is abuse itself)…the fact that the owner’s have a slave at all isn’t the least bit humane. The passage can be compared to the satirical cartoon.

The satirical cartoon that is by an unknown author in 1832 (bottom) is arguing that there was mass production of literature and reports of the horrors of slavery. It’s apparent that this is a point that is being highlighted because on the bottom of the cartoon there are books and papers scattered all over the floor that read “Slavery” “horrible punishment” “brutal outrage” etc. The man that is coming out of the barrel is saying that the “suffering African called a slave” is facing violation of rights, he is saying that the slaves don’t have the reform bills that the white Britains have. However, the right part of the cartoon shows the slaves dancing with joy. There is a depiction of a mother, father, and son. The mother is grabbing the son, a toddler, and the father is telling the baby that he ate “yam yam” and that his belly is full. This is contrasted with the left that shows a white European family where the father has his face buried in his hand, and is grieving. The mother tasking the father why an “industrious and honest man” is starving in the country. The father is basically saying that the only way he wouldn’t starve is if he was a slave “fed by the parish”.

The cartoon is depicting the typical rhetoric used to further oppress people that have been victims of abuse saying: “it’s not that bad. Everyone is just sensitive” and “other people have it worse than you”. Similarly, the passage is excusing the owners, and saying ‘well they weren’t terrible, it was the overseers that were terrible’. While Equiano was for abolishing slavery, and his voice is extremely important,there are parts in his narrative where we see how the slave trade subconsciously internalized justification of certain parts of the institution.

-Beyanira Bautista

Mary Rowlandson Political Influence

What Mary Rowlandson writing was unethical despite the fact that some may feel sympathetic towards her. Although Mary’s grief may have led her to such extreme actions, which she believed to be justifiable under the eyes of GOD, her addition to the history of intolerance to others and this genocide were not ok. Although the tragedy she suffered in which she lost her children due to an act of violence from the native Americans who killed her children while in her arms is sad, it can, later on, be seen as how this moment in her life became a scapegoat for her actions. Upon hearing this sad story of her children dying before her, Rowlandson becomes an image of distraught and anguish that cries out for sympathy and here is also where we begin to see justification of her acts due to sympathy towards a woman (who was clearly a part of a movement to establish colonies in the name of Christianity) that looked emotionally and mentally abused. However despite looking like a fragile woman whose only intentions was to help the Native Americans let go of such gruesome lifestyles and actions by showing them the way of God, some claim despite the tragedy that occurred, it is not justifiable to sympathize with this women and the loss of her children due to the fact extreme acts of violence and her true underlying intentions.

As one sympathizes with her it is important to also keep in mind the white colonialist/ imperialist voice that asked for the voice of her people but not; where was the voice of the native Americans in all of this? Did the women in the Indians side not lose children due to the wars as well? But the fact of the matter is that women did have political influence caused by sympathy that reflected from one of the most “weakest” members of their society as well as the use of religion. Religion, Christianity is the key factor, to the type of power and influence it can have no matter what gender one may be. For instance, Thomas invites the comparison of both Anne Hutchinson and Winthrop’s feud: “Remaining confident with the belief that God remained within her, she countered Winthrop’s accusations intelligently over days of trial, but she would cement her fate as her character showed eminently whilst addressing the court in an impassioned outcry, ‘You have no power over my body, neither can you do me any harm…Therefore take heed how you proceed against me—for I know that for this you go about to do to me, God will ruin you and your posterity and this whole state.’” Anne Hutchinson was able to argue with Winthrop over religious beliefs by using religion against him thus proving that in a free and development an integration between the natives and the colonist, the woman also had a saying in the movement.

Mary is not so different, her works became propaganda to millions of puritans/or colonist to justify the murdering of people do to Indian retaliation.

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Sure women did not have authority the same way man did, but they were really influential through writing,(as we can see with the case of Hutchinson v. Winthrop) because writing erases gender; that is if people do not view the name of the woman on a piece of literature; or if the woman writer uses a fake name to publish her stuff, as it was done around these times; or more unethically, the man in charge, allow for works like Mary to be spread around to gain “sympathy” and be justifiable of their actions to their own people, without even considering the fact that there is another side of the story, resulting in the justification to wipe the Native Americans which I theorize, might have been the beginning of the separation between the colonist, politically and ethically. Thus, fast-forwarding to the present, the creation of both political parties: Republicans and Democrats.  In short, although Mary Rowlandson may not have written her piece as a means of political involvement, it seems that maybe it was politically manipulated and pushed the religious ideas to back up the colonist view of the native Americans to be nothing but cruel people and savages.

Enrique Ramos