A Word in Edgewise 10/9/17

Producer/Host: R.W. Estela

(Note: This episode was not recorded for the archives so the producer has provided this transcript)

Indigenous Leif Columbus Day . .

Today is the 9th of October, the 282nd day of 2017, with 83 left in this year. Today is a Battle of the Days, of sorts, depending upon where your sympathies lie—or perhaps your nationalistic tendencies, or even your sense of accurate history . . .For many of us who trust the science of archaeology at Newfoundland’s L’Anse aux Meadows backing up the Norse Vinland Sagas, today is Leif Eriksson Day, which made its debut as a national day of observance in the United States in 1964. For others among us who side instead with Italian-Americans in 1892 initially celebrating the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ journey to the Americas and eventually lobbying the U.S. Congress sufficiently to in 1971 make Columbus Day a federal holiday, today is the 2017 version of that moveable commemoration. And then for still others among us, today is the lately emerging Indigenous Peoples’ Day, to which former President Barack Obama brought considerable political support just a few years ago. In honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, for example, I will be providing a few moments of expansion tomorrow, having invited a close friend who is a Penobscot along to one of our local restaurants, in an effort to do my part during Take an Indian Out to Breakfast Week. Robert Fuson, who translated The Log of Christopher Columbus, which came out in a paperback version in 1992, just in time for the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ first American voyage, tends to color the New World ventures of Cristobal Colon, as he was known to Ferdinand and Isabella, with grand complimentary strokes. When Columbus writes that the naked natives he meets in San Salvador “ought to make good and skilled servants,” Fuson’s translation does not provide a footnote of apology. The reader also does not see any qualifying remarks when presented with Columbus brazenly “taking possession of this island” as soon as he sets foot on it. Steve Meyers’ View, a regular political cartoon feature of the Maine Sunday Telegram, yesterday depicted a young-to-middle-aged couple sitting on a sofa and watching a big-screen TV on which a commercial was appearing. A car salesman, replete with Indian war paint and head dress, is gesturing with his hands to a car in the dealer parking lot and proclaiming INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’DAY SALE, to which the viewing wife comments to the viewing husband regarding the salesman, “IT FELT LESS LIKE EXPLOITATION WHEN HE WAS DRESSED LIKE COLUMBUS.” Fifty-two years ago, when Yale University announced a new find (which has since been brought into some doubt)concerning a map attributed to the Vikings and dubbed The Vinland Map, members of the Italian-American community stepped forward in outrage, pledging never to ever have any of their children attend Yale, for doing something as audacious as to insinuate that Christopher Columbus—or Cristoforo Colombo, as he was known in his native Genoa—was not the first European to set foot in the New World. L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland and its 1,000 AD Viking artifacts had, however, already been discovered somewhat earlier—in 1960. But we are really good at not letting ourselves get confused by facts, no matter the holiday.

From Orono, Maine, Happy Indigenous Leif Columbus Day! rwe edgeword @ 2017