In 1492 Columbus and his crew, lost, battered, and stricken with dysentery, were helped ashore by a people he described as “neither black nor white . . . fairly tall, good looking and well proportioned.” Believing he had landed in the East Indies, he called these people Indians. In fact, they were part of a great population that had made its home on this continent for centuries.
The inhabitants of this land were not one people. Their customs differed. Their languages differed. Some tilled the earth; others hunted and picked the abundance of the land around them. They lived in introduction different kinds of housing and governed themselves according to differing rules.
But they shared in common a belief that the earth is a spiritual presence that must be honored, not mastered. Unfortunately, western Europeans who came to these shores had a contrary…
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