Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bowls For Blankets

Some years back I read where some of the early American colonists
went into indian reservations as they spread their colonies eastward,
to "save" the native peoples. For centuries the method of commerce
for the people had been a system of trading. You make pottery,
you trade your pot to a weaver who makes blankets. No need
for money or cash, banks or lenders. But these early colonists saw
this system as backward, and they brought a new system of commerce,
credit. Alas, it is not hard to see how this system has infected our culture
today. The Aztecs measured wealth by the number of feathers a man
possessed. The brightly colored feathers of the Quetzal bird were the
most highly valued, so those of parrots. The Aztecs also mined silver
and gold before the arrival of the Europeans. It proved soft and shiny,
perfect for making jewelry and art objects. After the Spanish Conquest,
the Spaniards collected these beautifully crafted artifacts, tossed them
in a pot and melted them into bricks. Sometimes they piled so many bricks
onto boats bound for Europe that they sunk in the Gulf of Mexico.
Que tontos, verdad? "Pssst, hey gringo ju' 'wanna buy dis
blanket, cheep? Ju' can pay me later."

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