Jack wrote this in August, 2005:
Someone sent me this in an email:
MY LEFT FOOT:
“I’ve got my foot back,” says Ezekiel Rubottom, 21, of Lawrence, Kan. “That’s all I wanted.” After it was amputated due to a bone infection, Rubottom kept his left foot in a bucket of formaldehyde
on his front porch, but police confiscated it because “We had to make sure that no crime had been committed,” a police spokesman said. But they returned it after “verifying” it was his by looking at his medical records, which noted his recent amputation. (Lawrence Journal-World) …You’d think it would have been easier to “verify” it was his by looking at the end of his leg.
The story brought to mind the annual hoopla and chest-pounding over at Acoma Pueblo. Happens every year, whenever Fiesta begins to crank up, the Acoma feels the need to remind whites that around 1620, the Spanish Governor pulled some serious ugliness on the tribe.
Onate, first governor of New Mexico, visited the sky city while he was doing a rudimentary re-conquest establishing the Spanish presence here. Acoma tribe didn’t precisely welcome the Spaniards with open arms, but they did accept them and promised to be governed by them.
Onate left a few soldiers and some priests with them, obviously taking them at their word.
The seat of government was at San Juan Pueblo, north of present-day Santa Fe. So it took a bit of time before Onate got word the Acoma had killed his soldiers and priests, dropping them off a cliff.
The short version of what happened next is that Onate announced he couldn’t be forever going over there recovering the mutilated corpses of his soldiers and priests, that something needed to be done to engrave it on the minds of the new subjects of New Spain that he meant business.
He pronounced that the left foots were to be removed from every man in the tribe who was present when the killing of the soldiers and priests happened. He sentenced every woman of the tribe to twenty years of servitude. He put all the chillerns of the tribe into servitude until adulthood.
Harsh treatment by any standard.
I suppose I’d like the Acoma better if they didn’t feel the need to be reminding everyone of all this as though it happened last year, as though it happened to someone they know.
The world’s a tough place today, though usually not as tough as that. Janet Reno didn’t have the foots removed from David Koresh and his crew, when they got cheeky. She just spang burned them up and got it over with, which seems to me a more reasonable way of dealing with matters of this sort.
But, of course, they hadn’t killed, hadn’t been convicted of breaking any laws, so I suppose it’s right they got more leniency. Not a good comparison, actually.
But this business of dredging up things that happened to ancestors of ours hundreds of years ago as a reminder that it somehow came down the pike of generations until now somehow we’ve ourselves been mistreated strikes me as an unhealthy view of reality.
We’ve almost certainly all had things done to our ancestors ….. things that just weren’t right. But those things didn’t happen to us. We were born naked, fresh start and all that.
When we point to a group of people over there, Italians, say, and we say, “Those dirty skunk Romans enslaved my ancestors,” or point at people of the Northern persuasion and say, “You guys killed two of my Great great granddads and eighteen of my great great uncles with all your high and mighty burning and raping of the old South,”….. fact is, you’d be right in saying, yeah, we did. And that Great great grandma of yours was some fine lady, too……. but that didn’t happen to you Jack. You were born naked. You started fresh.