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Question: I Am....
Of the first nations of my country - 0 (0%)
A metis/mestisso/local equivallent - 1 (14.3%)
Officially white but of aboriginal descent (due to the great number of people in this case, only pick if you get the birthmark or if you tan easilly) - 2 (28.6%)
100% Paleface - 4 (57.1%)
Total Voters: 7

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Author Topic: The Longhouse: A Gathering For Steampunker Of Aboriginal Descent  (Read 6366 times)
J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #50 on: November 03, 2014, 08:53:30 am »

The Longhouse is open to everyone.  In the end, all people are Native to this planet.  One day we will all be classified as Terran Natives...

Odd how things tumble out unexpectedly. We (my parents and I) were discussing family history the other evening, and it fell out that my maternal grandfather was born and raised in Oklahoma, in a community right on the edge of the Comanche reservation. It further fell out (though extremely vaguely) that said grand father might in fact have been a grandson/great grandson of the war chief's brother (what was actually said was that he was the son of a man who had the same name as the war chief's brother, and that he was half Comanche, the product of a union of an 1830s Chief with a white captive (!)), which means or appears to mean that whereas I had been convinced that we were related only by marriage, it now appears we are in fact blood relatives with the war chief, but descended from the original union of a certain white captive girl and a certain previous chief down through the war chief's brother, rather than a direct descendant of the war chief.

*snip*

In any case you are happily a member of this club, circumstances notwithstanding.

Something similar, I'm sure...worse, likely, as the more my father and I have dug into that side of the family's genealogy the more we find that they have been secret-keeping, misinformation-spreading, sometimes out-and-out lying scoundrels...which granted, makes things intriguing (what were they all doing that was so 'wrong' that they felt the need to be SO deceptive?), but makes a lot of potential answers as ephemeral as the wind.

And when you do find the answers it makes it than much more interesting.  Found a couple of "shot gun weddings" on my Italian family side - you can tell because of the marriage certificate dates compared to the birth certificate days.  Great gossip ensues  Cheesy

 I have uncovered a pattern of "late"  or "change of life" babies in my very straitlaced and secretive family tree. 

yes things were different then  - but one does have to question the  sudden births  after a long gap to   women in  their  late 40s with a  60s husband  and several adult  and teenage children.  Is it genetic?  Will I have to worry about  a future " stay with relatives in the country side" and "bringing home a little visitor " of my own ?

Everything that can happen today could happen back then - they just wouldn't talk about it!
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« Reply #51 on: November 03, 2014, 09:00:29 am »

 Yes there is nothing new under sun

 Just different ways of explaining  illegitimate  grand children  away.
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« Reply #52 on: November 14, 2014, 09:16:26 am »

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

Below I reproduce a sequence of posts which seemingly are disconnected from the conversation above.  I do so because I recognised that the rather long rants, which I was posting actually fit better in this thread, and are of relevance to the subject at hand, namely sociology among Native and Hybrid Native societies.  I just felt that a particular exchange between Mr. Vagabond Gentleman and myself  was reaching rather a interesting process where we touch on some rather important points.

The original subject at hand in that other thread, as arranged by Mr. Chicar, was the cultural appropriation of Native symbols by Native+ Non-Native hybrid people and Non-Natives, in a Steampunk context, and somehow I began to touch past the dynamics of hybrid Native/Non-Native societies, and in particular Mexico.  Partly because the Mexican people struggle with their identity as hybrid people, with large populations of pure Native and Pure European to boot - which leads to interesting social problems - not the least of which is cultural appropriation and usage of Native symbols, both sacred and secular - in every day life.  Relevant in the sense that Native+Non-Native hybrid people can and often are insensitive to their own roots without intentionally being disrespectful.   And that is when I began to diverge in my answers focusing more on the Native Identity issue, rather than the Steampunk-based cultural-appropriation aspect.

Hopefully Mr. Chicar and Mr. Vagabond Gentleman will forgive my very cavalier actions and not feel I'm treading over their posts by quoting them again in this thread.  What I will do is simply re-quote their posts and mine (in yellow letters), so that the reader has an idea of what my final answer to Mr. Vagabond was on the subject of Hybrid Native Identity -just follow the posts below, starting with Mr. Chicar's original query:
« Last Edit: November 14, 2014, 09:37:43 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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« Reply #53 on: November 14, 2014, 09:18:34 am »

Mr. Chicar wrote:

I don't know if it count as a political debate, but i would want to adress the problem of cultural appropriation when it came to cosplay in general and steampunk fashion in particular. There this nice article about integrating your OWN heritage in your steamyness:
http://beyondvictoriana.com/2010/11/21/beyond-victoriana-50-overcoming-the-noble-savage-and-the-sexy-squaw-native-steampunk-monique-poirier/

But for ''whindian'' , ''whigger'' and other ''wheaboo'' it seem to be more problematic. At first i thought it was just about rank ( ex: feathers) or sacred (ex: bindi) symbols but more i study the situation and more i realised is more difficult than it seems to play a character of a culture other than your own. What it is particularly depressing if you feel nearer of this other culture.

Thankfully there guidelines:
http://www.springhole.net/other/what-is-cultural-appropriation.htm
http://apihtawikosisan.com/2012/01/the-dos-donts-maybes-i-dont-knows-of-cultural-appropriation/
http://apihtawikosisan.com/hall-of-shame/an-open-letter-to-non-natives-in-headdresses/

And as my ''studys'' show, Don't Dress Like A Cartoon seem to be the prime directive.

Any steampunk specific additional tip you would want to give to ''transethnic'' (think transgenderism but for ethnicity) peoples like me ?

Edit: Ok, not quite popular. ^^ Well, i later on realised than the time period may be a limited excuse as long than you are accurate on your representation on your chossen tribe.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2014, 06:51:33 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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« Reply #54 on: November 14, 2014, 09:21:16 am »

Mr. Wilhelm wrote:

I don't see why we need to be so exquisite about our apparel details and perhaps feel "not entitled" to bear Native Artefacts for fear of causing offense by way of our blood "impurity."  We may be over complicating issues and neglecting the reality at the continental level.

What about all of us from "South of the Border" (US-Mexico border, specifically)?  Are we doomed to culturally appropriate by default?  Some of those guidelines you show are pointing toward trivial usage of symbols, as in the sense of cosplay.  But what if you are genuinely part Native?  Do we follow the "North American Guidelines?"

Should I refrain from using a representation of the Aztec god of water Tlaloc or the Mayan Maize god Yuum-Kax, because I am culturally appropriating symbols of a long-dead religion?   Or showing disrespect because I'm not 100% Olmec?  Should I keep Lakota people from wearing Aztec symbols? Or Mayan symbols?  Sorry Navajo, no Chaac-Mol usage for you.

The problem is that I feel we can easily overthink the situation and regulate dress codes to the point of silliness.

By the way, I take serious exception to the idea of anyone using the name "Oreo" - seems offensive to me.  If you must use a name, use the proper name assigned centuries ago by the Spanish and still used today by Caucasian-Natives themselves, "Mestizo" (lit. "mixed"). Mestizos may be scarce in your region, but they are decidedly the majority of the population in the American Continent.

As an aside, both the author's article and Beyond Victoriana #9, referenced throughout are somewhat myopic (near-sighted), in my opinion, probably because of the North American-centric views held by the author.  There is a major flaw in the arguments presented therein; the outline of her Steampunk world assumes contact/conflict/interaction between Native and Europeans in her Native Confederation occurred in the context of the 19th. C in Political North America (US and Canada as opposed to Geographical North America, ie Mexico, US and Canada).  There is no mention of previous interaction.

Thus the author views Mexico and the United States as having parts of it's territory lost to a Native Confederation, as if there were no Native or cultural background and influence in the rest of Mexico (or the Americas for that matter).  Unrealistic given the extensive integration of Natives since the times of 1500's Viceroyalty of New Spain.

I guess it is a very hard pill to swallow to realise that at a continental level, racial and cultural assimilation did in fact occur successfully - but really came to fruition only at the hands of the Spanish, whereas in North America, the interaction between Native and Europeans unfolded with far more devastating consequences in the long run.  Now we revere the last remains of the North American Natives and proudly count the percentage points in our blood. After having displaced and hunted them down to near extinction.  All while in parts of Mexico you can still find people who don't even speak Spanish (admittedly a very reduced number by now), and noting 60% are Mestizo (ranging from 90% Native through 90% European), plus a full 1/3 of the population is still full-blooded Native, even if they no longer speak their mother tongues.


Mexican woman from the state of Campeche is wearing a Huipil ("oo-ee-peel") dress which is very close to the original native dresses but was adapted to Spanish textiles and European embellishments such as lace, which you see everywhere in Mexico (Lace was important in Spain, because during the reign of Philip II of Spain in 1555 he wa the lord of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands.  So lace became a commodity in the trade between the Spanish colonies and Europe).

These Mexican girls' expression is worth a thousand words  Grin  That's some stare they gave the camera man
The one in the middle is thinking, "you are about 5 seconds away from getting your ass whooped..."  Grin

Outside of Political North America, Native symbols and culture were bastardized, adapted, reinvented, introduced into religion, and re-adopted over and over and over.  Day of the Dead altars and sugar skulls folded into Catholic ritual being a prime example. Seemingly gaudy Purple, Royal Blue, Yellow and Magenta/Fuschia colours calling the attention of American and European tourists to Mexican contemporary architecture at hotel resorts and cityscapes (e.g. architect Luis Barragan) - all of these colours are traditional Native pigment colours used in Mesoamerica, obtained from insects and plants, and at some point they held strong significance even in the religious sense (Maya use of White and Red in their buildings).  The Mexicans just adapted the colours to 20th. Century culture.

21st. Century Native Style: San Francisco architects House+House take a page from Barragan's style to create "Casa de Las Estrellas" in the resort town of San Miguel de Allende. http://unfarodeideas.blogspot.com/2013/11/casa-de-las-estrellas-mexico.html

Andean Native girl, Bolivia  Photo by Ximena Bedregal (2010). http://www.mamametal.com/

Perhaps culture underwent a bastardisation to an unrecognisable state if you were to bring a 15th.C. Aztec back to life and show him what his country looks like now.  Yet the symbols endure. The Mexican Flag's coat of arms is in fact a sacred Mexica (Aztec) symbol - an eagle devouring a snake - the legend of how the Mexicas first found the place for their capital Tenuchtitlan (Mexico City).  Are Central Mexicans appropriating the symbols, because they are not racially Mexica any more? Should I be checking blood percentages before they can display the Aztec Calendar in their homes?

Why do I mention this? Because a great part of what we call "Mexican" or "Hispanic" or "Spanish" in North America is in reality a fusion of Native and European ethnicity, food and culture already... Native symbols and culture are right in front of your eyes!  Native skin colour is right in front of your eyes!  They are still here!  When aiming for Steampunk aesthetics, there is already a strong precedent for cultural mixing and people to play the part!  It will be very hard to pass the "lithmus test" to see if I'm entitled to wear this symbol or that symbol...

I just felt I needed to point this out, and we can look at Mr. Chicar's own thread at BG's Meta Clubs section,  "The Longhouse" for more details ...

 
« Last Edit: November 19, 2014, 06:52:22 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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« Reply #55 on: November 14, 2014, 09:22:41 am »

Mr. Chicar wrote:

Oreo=Black people who wanted to be white.

My enumeration of slang terms was meant to indicate people , like me, who feel their born in the wrong race. I admit thought i only took oreo because i felt i lacked one last word and the term it slightly more pejorative.

And it don't decrease the value of J Whillelm's rant in no fashion. It was utmostly instructive and reassuring.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2014, 06:53:04 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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« Reply #56 on: November 14, 2014, 09:23:51 am »

Mr. Vagabond Gentleman wrote:

Appropriation vs. Homage is always a tricky conversation, mostly because there isn't a consensus so it boils down entirely to opinion.
I feel that essentially that the thin red line is based on two factors:  education and respect.

The education factor might be illustrated thusly:  One Steampunk wants to cosplay as a Steampunk "Native American" and dons war-bonnet, bone choker, etc.  This person hasn't invested in educating themselves; it's the same person who speaks of "Native American Religion" or "Native American Culture" as if there weren't 600-plus distinct indigenous cultures with different languages, religions, values, etc.  The notable ignorance makes their endeavor less-than-empathetic and potentially insulting.
A Second Steampunk wants to cosplay as a Steampunk Lakota War-Chief, and therefore appropriately dons the war-bonnet and bone choker (with gears or something, I dunno) and can explain exactly why these various costume factors are important, what they mean, and essentially isn't just stereotyping.

The respect factor might be easier to pinpoint.  Metaphorically, is the cosplaying person in question an Eminem or are they in Minstrel-Show Blackface? I know that's an over-simplification, and the devil is in the details.

Ultimately, perhaps the thin red line boils down to a single factor, that being empathy.  If you're not Maori and you're dressed up as a Steampunk Maori and you meet a group of Maori folk, do they think your gear is cool and they're a bit flattered, or do they think you're a jackass dressed up in mockery?  Have you done your genuine best to put yourself in the shoes of the people you're emulating and looked at yourself critically?  If you're wearing the Moko of one of their great-grandfathers drawn on your face with eyeliner, you're haven't, and you're appropriating. >shrugs<

Basically, their feelings come first, your excitement about what u think is "so cool" comes second.


And following other posts he wrote (and this is when things get interesting):

It's important to note, whether you agree or not, that the general consensus amongst those of a progressive philosophy (with plenty of argument and plenty of room for argument) is that a big part of the appropriation playing field has to do with the power structure and status quo, i.e. there ISN'T an even playing field, so it's easier for an individual of what's understood to be the 'privileged' groups (hetero folk and/or white folk and/or male folk) to appropriate than it is for non-privileged groups.

It's true that if we lived in a truly egalitarian society this wouldn't be true, e.g whites would be no more guilty of appropriation than non-whites in X circumstance under Y conditions or whatever.  But we DON'T live in a truly egalitarian society, and power structure DOES change the game.

I'm not entirely sure where I as an individual stand on this particular issue, but again, it's important to note.  >shrugs<
« Last Edit: November 19, 2014, 06:53:37 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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« Reply #57 on: November 14, 2014, 09:27:28 am »

To which I replied:

I agree on the concept of not allowing ourselves to trivialise cultures which are perceived as non-priviledged.  I completely agree with Mr. Vagabond GentleMan on said point, and with Mr. Inflatable Friend on the importance of respecting culture.  However, as stated by Mr. Inflatable there is no such thing as a static or isolated culture, thus leading to the paradox of how hybrid people are supposed to not be insensitive to their ancestors, which is what Mr. Chicar refers to.

I would also like to point out that one must not be allowed to self-marginalise. I see that a lot among North American tribes.  Perceiving oneself to be underprivileged (and worse, taking advantage of said perception) is not a process that is limited to life outside of a tribe, but rather can be strongest within the tribe's boundaries. The worst thing that can happen is that you view your own culture with contempt - a problem not really known in the United States, but if you look South of the Border, historically it is widely suffered throughout the Americas even till present day, as a social order was established based on colour of skin in the 1600s.  While in (Political) North America this marginalization too the form of a sharp divide along racial lines, elsewhere in the Americas the marginalisation was more subtle, and yet far more pervasive as the racial lines blurred (and hence the relevance to Mr. Chicar's point).

You see, the Spaniards believed in racial mixing, since the time of the German Visigothic Kings in the former Roman colonies of Iberia, but that doesn't mean that they believed in equality, as the whiter you were, the more privileged you were.  They wanted to Hispanicise the continent and reach the stability of the Christian kingdoms of Spain.  The Hapsburg rulers of the New Spain simply followed suit as tradition demanded.  Unfortunately, the long term consequence of that quasi-caste system is one of self deprecation and depreciation, which has long lasting consequences.

Even after independence the social standards kept some people socially on top (leading to the Mexican "Revolution," that is their Civil War of 1910).  Being Mexican means understanding this painful process intimately and eternally pondering one's own identity. Subconsciously you want to be a blond and blue eyed European, but simultaneously carry the honour of the Aztec warrior and the majesty of Mayan scholar, but in the real world you are never able to achieve either standard, if that makes any sense at all.  Naturally most of the time you don't reach either of those standards.  I'm not sure if this psychological phenomenon is even known (let alone understood) outside of Latin America.  Often times this leads to a contradiction in Latin American society that strongly smells of hypocrisy.  When the tension grows too large you get another "Revolution," to try to bring some equality into society.

In the meantime many of the Native people of North America, those not lucky to survive intact until present day, were left to pick up the pieces of their own culture, scattered among the non-natives.  Often times these pieces are in the form of blood percentages left here and there, so you again have the same phenomenon of cultural and racial hybridisation - we just don't call it that in (Political) North America.  The saving grace being that perhaps you hold on to that original culture a little tighter since your tribe and family history is so much more harrowing.  But in doing so, a permanent psychosis is generated.  Its you against the world, defending your endangered identity as a Native.

It is very hard to pay proper homage to the Native Ancestors in this hyper-dynamic society, especially if you don't respect yourself.  And by that I mean respecting all sides of yourself.  Not just the White not just the Brown.  But all.  You have to accept yourself to pay homage to your ancestors.  This is just true for all American Natives.  The Spanish racial caste system and cultural whitewashing never existed in (Political) North America, and maybe because of that you claim to respect your North American Native heritage more than your Southern counterparts.  But in being proud, you have to make sure that you don't stereotype yourself to the point of turning yourself into a martyr (i.e. don't lick your wounds - instead, wear them proudly).

Nodding to Mr. Chicar's point I re-iterate that when you reach a certain level of mixing it becomes a very difficult proposition to be 100% properly respectful of your own background in either direction.  Half a millennium long scars of racial hierarchy can easily lead you into pigeon-hole yourself in the role of the "victim," when in fact you have far more power than that.  In the end, Natives all around the world are just people like everyone else.  We were all once Native somewhere, so you have the power to change things.

I'd like to think that Natives and their descendants have a role to play in the future, rather than just focusing on the past.  Perhaps it is up to the hybrid children of Natives to do just that.


Cheesy tourism board videos I found  Grin

Video: "Federal District" (i.e. Mexico, Federal District <-> Washington, District of Columbia)
Distrito Federal

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdkObmYehuM
« Last Edit: November 19, 2014, 06:54:02 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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« Reply #58 on: November 14, 2014, 09:29:07 am »

And then Mr. Vagabond Gentleman, graciously replied:

The worst thing that can happen is that you view your own culture with contempt - a problem not really known in the United States...

I love your post, Wilhelm.  You're a scholar and a gent, most certainly.  Smiley

I do want to comment on this particular above statement, though.  Perhaps compared to the situation South of the Border it doesn't seem like we in the States don't view our own culture with contempt, but we certainly do, both amongst the privileged and non-privileged groups.

Amongst white, we KNOW very well of the phenomenon of "White Guilt".  Pretty much every mainstream Hollywood film about American Indians has the White Indian character to soothe the average white American's culturally instituted guilt, giving them a Goodguy character to relate to even though they're probably a conformist who would have been a "Badguy" if they'd lived during the era of Westward expansion or earlier.
Similar situation with American Civil War era-based entertainment media.  There's an egalitarian white hero in there somewhere to help the average white American deal with the White Guilt thing.
Black Power is something one can be proud of, Red Power is something one can be proud of, Brown Pride is a thing...but all of the white folk know that you can't be proud of being White and White Power is Badguy stuff (well, it IS badguy stuff, so...there's a good point there. >shrugs<).  So, even amongst the privileged groups there's some degree of self-contempt.

However, that really doesn't compare to the situation amongst black Americans.  The complex nature of the internal battle between black pride and self-loathing is a serious issue for a great number of black Americans.
For the first few years I lived in DC as an adult, I almost never interacted with a white person.  I was very much embraced by the black community.  I was the only white at my job from the bottom to the top of the hierarchy, all of the clients were black, all of the locals were black, etc.  So I came to be enlightened to a number of complicated and often paradoxical issues having to do with the interaction of black pride and self-contempt.  For instance, my best friend in this area to this day is a black fellow who grew up penniless in a SERIOUS ghetto, both in poverty and in an environment of violence, and pulled himself up by the bootstraps, got an education, became a small business owner, and is now comfortably successful.  When he uses the N-word, it can be VERY off-putting, because he's often NOT using it as a reclaimed term of brotherly endearment...he often uses it quite cruelly.  He's very proud of being a black man, ESPECIALLY a successful black man, but does a good deal to distance himself from 'those' black people, from his point of view.  The way he speaks, dresses, carries himself, etc. all betray some degree of cultural self-loathing right alongside his black pride.
Perhaps more interesting is the perception of lighter-skinned black folk by darker-skinned black folk.  On the one hand, the lighter-skinned (and especially lighter-eyed) black folk generally seem to be considered more sexually desirable.  But in the same moment that a darker black woman is swooning over a lighter-skinned feller, she and her darker-skinned male friends are wary that he might be somehow 'weaker'...probably coddled and sheltered by his mother and/or sisters and family, always given unfair advantages, etc.  Similarly, in the same moment that a darker-skinned black male is drooling over a lighter-skinned lady, he and his darker female friends might be telling what amount to 'dumb blond' jokes about her, metaphorically.
Those are in-culture stereotypes, they've no real basis in fact, of course...but they do betray some complex paradoxical co-existence of loving one's own culture whilst disdaining it as well.

I must disclaim that these ARE all outsider anecdotal observations, I do not pretend to fully understand the situation by any means.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2014, 06:54:28 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
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« Reply #59 on: November 14, 2014, 09:33:32 am »

And now I can finally reply in the context of Native Identity properly within the confines of this Longhouse:

Again, much obliged Mr. Vagabond GentleMan.  I'm not sure how much of a scholar I am, but I'm glad to have this conversation with you, as you are indeed touching on very deep sociological issues that many Native societies around the world, not just America, face on a daily basis.

Identity is a touchy issue for a large percentage of the world population.  As had been stated before societies often clash and converge violently, leaving a great many with both an identity crisis of sorts and with a longing to connect to the past.

~ ~ ~

The reason for so much fanfare in my posts, is because I have a first hand experience to share with you about what it means to be a Native+Non-Native hybrid living in the 21st. C.  This is extremely relevant for any one living in "Latin America," and at least relevant to an  extent for a Native+Non-Native hybrid (or Mestizo) living in modern North America (politically speaking: US and Canada).

You see, I experienced first hand this social engineering machine I shall refer to as the "Visigothic Order."

In Mexico, the process of racial hybridisation starts at the top of society, not the bottom.  This process has remained, not unchanged, but say at least fairly static across the centuries since the 1600s when it was decided that the Mexican "Indians" were "descendants of the 13th tribe of Israel" (a pretext used by the Spanish monarchs to abolish slavery in Mainland New Spain).  The purpose of this was simply to start the Hispanisation of America and achieve said "Visigothic Order."  All of this noting that even after smallpox decimated 80% of 16th. C. Native populations (a favourite line used by modern textbooks - mostly a heuristic and unproven figure), the remainder of the Native population still outnumbered the Spanish by a whopping 5 to 1 ratio according to 17th. C. Catholic Church records.

As it happens, all that Mexican independence did was "re-organise" the Visigothic order, but not eliminate it completely. Not even independence from Spain could eliminate that social order. White people were still at the top, and Natives were at the bottom.  This is unfortunately true even today - with a caveat.  You see Independence gave Natives a second avenue for rising among the Spanish "caste" system.

Previously, if you were un-privileged, a Spaniard would simply tell you "marry a whiter woman" and your children will have more rights."  And guess what?  The formula worked like a charm.  For the price of introducing the Spanish into the bloodstream of your family, your children (and hence your household) would be rewarded with a higher position (and hence more legal rights) in the Viceroyalty of New Spain.  But it was a dead-slow process which took many generations to raise your family to an acceptable standard of living.  Only the Spanish-pure could be rulers.  Not even the Mexican-born children of Spanish parents, "Criollos," could be in the government.

Then after Mexican Independence, something remarkable happened; suddenly, some in the lower bottom castes of Mexican society, like Afro-Mestizos (Vicente Guerrero, Jose-Maria Morelos), and full blooded Natives (e.g. Benito Juarez), found their way up to the top, as Founding Fathers and leaders of the Mexican nation.  This process was continued into the 20th. C, because people from lower rungs of society could now skip the "Visigothic Order" hybridisation process altogether, and instead, simply go into the service of the nation in the government or military.

Vicente Guerrero, 2nd President of Mexico, and former general of the Mexican Independence forces


President Benito Juarez


The second remarkable thing that happened after Independence, is than non-Spanish whites began to emigrate from Europe to Mexico.  Never really explained in history books (as 20th. C history tends to be too "recent"), is the fact that toward the late 19th C waves of immigrants from Europe, such as Italians and French started flooding the cities Mexico with Non-Hispanic ethnicity (and indeed the rest of Latin America if you count also German, Chinese and Japanese migrants as well on top of the Italians and French).  This is something most Americans (even scholarly ones) are likely to ignore.

By the early 20th. C. Non-Hispanic Europeans had replaced the Spanish as the migrant class and became the new Bourgeois class of people - who did not look Mexican at all, but yet they were Mexican as well. These were now affluent owners of private businesses which linked Mexico to the greated world of business, and attracted British and American technology into Mexico (e.g. Railways). By the way, some of those late 19th, businesses, such as Chocolates Turin, and Pasteleria El Globo (Italian migrants) are listed in the "Victorian Food Brands Still Extant" thread elsewhere in this forum. I've often ranted about my French and Italian family in this forum as well.

Hybridisation would now take place between these new Europeans and Native and Mestizo higher classes in the government and the military.  To top it off, WWI and WWII brought even more migrants such as Spanish, Polish and Russian Jews during 20th. C.  They were fleeing the dual scourges of Communism and Fascism.  By 1940 you had a really interesting mix of people among Mexico City's upper classes.

Fast forward to the 1970's  and people like me come to the fore.  My own background is very hybrid, with Basque+Native-Mexican, French+Native-Mexican and Italian+Native-Mexican roots that are easily found at the turn of the 19th. C.  I posses a treasure trove of photographs dating back to the 1890's mostly on the French, Italian and Basque sides.

When I was a child I was, for lack of a better term, privileged. Not a millionaire. But well to do. My forefathers were, as expected, a mix of people who raised themselves by the bootstraps (the Basque were originally farmers - then became civil engineers) or were merchants (the Italians ran convenience stores) as well as the "comfortably situated" (the French were plain wealthy).  

At my school  (a private k-12 through college institution - complete with uniforms like in the Manga I read  Grin), you could would walk in, read the class roster, and see names (I will improvise names here because of privacy concerns for my fellow classmates) like "Annabel Martinez-Katz," "Mauricio Gianotti-Fernandez," and well, yours truly (you guys already know my real name as I have plastered it over the Internet many times).

Most of these kids did not look Mexican.  You need to picture that in your mind.  Some did have a mysterious "olive" skin complexion (such as your truly), plus a wild mix of clear eyes and blond hair here and there too - like "well tanned white people" - with a few of them really white, either Celtic or Germanic types running around - some Spanish blonds too. Certainly nothing you would call "Mexican."  Maybe a few people identifiably Middle-Eastern looking - as some of these kids were part Lebanese (e.g. Carlos Slim - Google this name) and Jewish people too (e.g. Jacobo Zabludovsky - Google him too)...A few of these wealthy kids, a minority,  however, were definitely darker, and identifiably Mexican if you follow your stereotypes.

This is what upper class society looks down there, even today.  The social injustice of the Visigothic Order implies that can tell the social rung of the kids by the colour of their skin.  The exeption being that a few people in the posh neighborhoods don't fit that order.  They're "too Native," and hence you can tell they had to climb up the ladder by way of the government or military.  And in a sense it has always been like that, as naturally even in Colonial Mexico people would rise through the caste system.

The point is that hybridisation in modern times takes place at these levels between the mostly-Mexican and Mostly-European children, and this is precisely where the cultural identity crisis begins.  What does it mean to be Mexican? Native? European? Something else? Light skin? Dark skin? Rich? Poor?  The answer is not clear.

One good day I was being bullied by another kid.  I think it was at some point in my middle school years - perhaps 8th grade, who knows.  The kid was the son of a politician. Good natured but somewhat of a trouble maker, this clearly dark-skinned Mexican-looking kid has a bone to pick me that day.  Apparently, he was intrigued by the fact that I had a common skin condition on my chest and he kept asking me "what was wrong with me," trying to extract an answer.  He kept pointing at his own skin through his polo shirt. "See? I don't have those bumps."

My best friend at the time  was a Spanish-Mexican kid, who happened to be perfectly white, blond and blue eyed. Two siblings of that family took after their mother who was very blond and the older brother took after the father who perhaps looked more "Spanish" in the stereotypical sense.

So my best friend came to my rescue.  Without thinking, and in a derogatory tone, he said, "well it's because on "black" people you can't see any of those bumps."

Talk about an awkward moment.  The bully stood speechless.  I stood speechless.  My friend stood speechless.  The terrible realisation of what he said had quieted down all of us loud kids.

You see, my friend was trying to protect me.  He came to my rescue, but in doing so he vomited a statement that is unacceptable, even in Mexican society.  Colour of skin is a touchy subject in Mexico - it implies your "overall status," right?  You don't go out commenting on the colour of skin of anyone down there - unless you want a punch in the face.  But by blurting this out he had revealed the "Visigothic Order."  My skin was olive.  The bully's was plain brown.  He used the Visigoth style put-down to stop the bully, and in doing so, he revealed the mechanism of that Visigothic Order as a tool.  White on top, olive in the middle, brown at the bottom.

Like a cog in a terrible machine I had a place in that society.  I felt terrible that day.  It's everywhere you look. The Spanish-immigrant owner/rector of the private school (a real a***hole of you ever met one) criticised his own kind by saying that "in Mexico being white means money."  He was right of course.  The terrible Visigothic Machine pumping in our Mexican veins....

In other instances during my childhood I got to see times when in commercial Television, you could not even find a news anchor male or female who looked Mexican.   Typical famous news anchors names of the era (1970's, 80's) included Jacobo Zabludovski and later his son Abraham Zabludovsky, Lolita Ayala (google these names find the pictures).  Most TV personalities looked suspiciously Non-Mexican.  A teenage idol at the time (among the girls) was "Lucerito," a very pretty girl who barely bore a Mexican ethnic similitude.  Sort of like the Mexican version of Brooke Shields.  Private broadcasts were made by people with money for people with money.  And that usually meant a lighter skin too.  This is very much a part of the Mexican paradox that will have many Americans scratching their head.

Lolita Ayala, age 60, in 2012


Jacobo Zabludovsky, age 84, in 2012  (still working for ESPN Sports in Mexico  Shocked )


Singer Lucero (a.k.a Lucerito) in the 1980s


There was no conspiracy.  These were the educated class in Mexico.  Not surprisingly, in the private media, those were the ones who got to study communications, acting and other disciplines in college between the 1920s, through to the 1960s.  Not necessarily the wealthy, mind you - Jacobo Zabludovsky grew in "Tepito" the poorest borough of Mexico City, being the son of Polish Jews who sold cabbages at the farmer's market (you can't be any poorer than that).  But the rise of many of these immigrants was undoubtedly aided by the innate favoritism that Mexican society has for lighter skinned people.

These people are definitely not representative of the average Mexican in the streets of Mexico City. But they do represent a sizeable proportion of society -it just happens to be the top class. About 10% of the population in Mexico are ethnically 90% or better European. Compare that to the 12, and 13% for African Americans and Hispanics, respectively, in the United States. Americans will never spot them abroad unless they hear them speak. Not at Disneyland, South by Southwest, or the Washington Monument.  Nor the Kosher Deli at my local supermarket (hee, hee). But I will. They are representative of the people who live in the posh and fancy neighborhoods, that top 10% of the population as prescribed by the Visigothic Order.

I got to see many times when teachers at my school, themselves conspicuously "un-Mexican" - yet all of them "perfectly Mexican," would scold students who dared utter racist epitaphs or discriminate other students for having darker skin.  The socio-economic order made life hellish to those students who didn't fit in or were new arrivals from that "service to the nation elevator" we've had since Independence.  Imagine you come from a poor background in whichever your country is, and suddenly your parents win the lottery.  They send you to a fancy school where everybody is a stuck-up snob - but you have to do it wearing a tattoo on your forehead that reads "I'm poor."  That is a bit like what happens to some of those children in Mexico in their posh schools.  But you can't have Mexican society without all of those kids white, brown and in-between.  Because ever since Hernan Cortes took "La Malinche" as a mistress, that has been the origin of Mexican Society.

Things did improve in popular media during the late 1980s, though.  The Mexican government started a new national chain of television and radio stations which focused more on Mexican heritage, politics and history, manned by anchors who looked more Mexican, who could relate more to the general population.  Many years have passed since those days.  So the changes must be very apparent by today. I don't really check.  Univision and Telemundo are really American broadcatst corporations who slap together content from several Spanish-speaking countries, so it's difficult to see "straight-Mexican" TV where I live.

I'm surprised Zabludovsky is still alive though.  And I think Lolita Ayala is a vampire.   Shocked

Now that I have the Internet and plenty of pictures, Wiki and Goggle Maps  Grin, I can actually do the whole "show and tell" about what Mexico really looks like (or at least better than just describing what it looked like 30 years ago).  The Good the Bad and the Ugly.  Being Mexican means you need to understand it all.  All of this is intimately related to the fact you are part Native.

Sometimes I wrestle with the idea of going back to Mexico.  Sometimes I think that is the only way I'm going to be able to raise a family, for societal, economic and even cultural reasons -and it is damn late for me already.  But I struggle with how to raise my hypothetical children.  That was one aspect of Mexico I didn't like (the hierarchy).  Those Visigothic racial hot buttons will be there. Should I go back and obey the Visigothic Order of things myself? Let me put it to you this way; You don't go back to live in Mexico unless you plan to have a good income and live in a large city, in one of those posh neighborhoods.  This is still a developing country.

On the other hand they will have a much greater sense of self, with a comprehensive panorama of their own history.  They will eat well.  And live in pretty places - in a big house. The standard of living is higher, dollar for dollar of income, if you are in the top half.  It's not that bad, really -provided you have a professional-level income. It's a beautiful country. They say the 7th. largest economy in the world.  I guess I turned out OK, but every child is a different universe.  Having to educative them about these things will be important.

Yes I know, it sounds horribly harsh.  And yet Ayala and Zabludovsky are not any less Mexican than me nor less Mexican than Benito Juarez. Neither are my French,Italian and Basque family members. We are just cogs in the Visigothic Machine.

« Last Edit: November 14, 2014, 07:49:27 pm by J. Wilhelm » Logged
jonb
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« Reply #60 on: November 14, 2014, 02:13:39 pm »

But the same thing is true in most societies, OK in Northern Europe skin colour as a defining factor is not so prevalent (Unless you happen to be an immigrant), just because the populations are of a more consistent hue, but the social order is still enforced.
My background in England.
I was born into a family of artists of about four or more generations. The thing about artists is that we tend to mix across classes. An artist might have the status to sit a the table of the wealthy, but on the other hand you would not want your daughter to marry one.
Because of this background  I learnt and was allowed to mix freely in many quiet different social circles.
The thing I noticed was that a person who obviously was not of the same class as the rest of the circle was often accepted, but the real ire of the group often descended on a person who was just a bit below them, who might have most of the etiquette right but for a few points. On the other hand status was inferred on a person who had status but was relaxed enough to not have to strictly adhere to the right etiquette. (I must admit I got to love playing with the complexities of this social etiquette which is just the behaviour that is expected of an artist invited to diner, as such you would be right to say I performed to role given to me perfectly, and as such rather than upturning the social order I was in truth just ratifying it).
I have come away from these encounters with a set of conclusions. Firstly that people who have done well or are doing well in life have a need to justify their good fortune, and often achieve this by finding ways to separate themselves from those less fortunate. For the self made this will often be in the sort of phrases like 'I pulled myself up by my boot straps', the implication being everything was achieved by my hard work, they did not work so hard so they do not deserve what I have. Then you might hear new money being mentioned as a put down which implies the person is all about making money they work too hard 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy'. New money meaning somebody who is just driven by money is not as good as us.
There is also a second part to my experiences, about twenty five years ago I became increasingly disabled and as such have fallen through the social order, this has meant i often found myself in positions where although my demeanour and stance were hinting I was of a high social class, when I was in fact saying materially I was in need. This lead to disbelief, and often passive aggressive responses. I found that the stratification of society into classes is not just a top down mechanism, but is also supported bottom up. It justifies my being a good person but not having anything, because of the colour of my skin or background has held me back.

I would like to think it would be possible to imagine a world where a person is seen for who they are not the colour of their skin or their class, but I think there maybe a driving force within all people that needs to classify groups of people into easy understandable blocks, and we are all the poorer for it.  
« Last Edit: November 14, 2014, 02:16:02 pm by jonb » Logged
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« Reply #61 on: November 15, 2014, 06:05:01 am »

I would like to think it would be possible to imagine a world where a person is seen for who they are not the colour of their skin or their class, but I think there maybe a driving force within all people that needs to classify groups of people into easy understandable blocks, and we are all the poorer for it.  

I often wondered what the fuzz is all about this colour/class separation between groups.  Could it be some form of genetically engrained competitive dynamic?  The natural isolation of groups and competition for resources?  Really this is a very deep anthropological question even more than a sociological one.

But I see no easy solution to the problem.  Certainly friction between groups is what the Visigothic Order sought to suppress, and yet no pretense was ever made to give equality to all, with the consequence that you still have rivalries emerge withing the stochastic variation of the group.  Like some sort of chaotic engine.

Now I'm not advocating a perfect hybridisation of humanity. The fact is that things don't work that way (say the "universal man", coloured a perfect shade of tan-gray), because within groups you have varying reproduction rates and immigration from other parts of the wprld (e.g. note the higher reproduction rates among lower classes and also the immigration from Europe; each of these phenomena ensured by the 19th.C that no "perfect Mexican" would ever exist.  Like a racial homoeostasis, the percentages froze in the 20th. C to their present values. 

In the 1960s some Mexican political activists had this myth of the "Copper Race" or the Bronze Race,"  in other wprds, the "perfect Mexican," as a "super group over the Mestizo definition; but hierarchical divisions within the group virtually guarantee that will not happen.  Not that Mexicans don't have an identity, but the Visigothic Order makes it nearly impossible to coalesce perfectly, because it is a subconscious phenomenon.  People will stratify all by themselves, and they don't get to see it until they travel elsewhere, like the US, where they find that Americans don't see any strata among them, and instead see them as a completely separate monolithic racial group (as opposed to the US government definition of "Hispanic," a defined term for a group for which it is clearly stated in the law books that Latin Americans are a racially diverse group - but I'm more interested in the American public's perception because that is what affects migrants lives)...
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« Reply #62 on: November 15, 2014, 01:29:33 pm »

I think we also have to look at how much of identity is built from false stories. For instance I am English, yet the story of who the English are which is currently accepted by most people is very questionable to say the least. If we were to overturn the presumptions, and tell a true story we would then loose some of the motivations that drove the history because some of those motivations were based on falsehoods.
An instance of this is that it seems Bede invented the concept of a common English identity as opposed to a British identity, to hold the catholic church's position over the Irish church. In showing that to be false and that there are no actual roots for an English identity would make it hard to understand why anybody did anything in Britain. If there are no English who are the Scots and Welsh.
As such to reach an understanding of who we are, we not only have to know the truth but also take into account the lies that have created us.   

I love difference and a homogenised world where everybody is the same is my idea of hell. The trouble with my outlook is that so many will take the concept of difference and turn it into better and worse. That because one thing is different from another one must be better than the other.
For me this way of hierarchical thinking is the problem, but it is so ingrained in people it seems impossible to shift, even when it is pointed out to them it has no footing in reality.
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« Reply #63 on: November 15, 2014, 09:47:26 pm »

And then Mr. Vagabond Gentleman, graciously replied:

The worst thing that can happen is that you view your own culture with contempt - a problem not really known in the United States...

I love your post, Wilhelm.  You're a scholar and a gent, most certainly.  Smiley

I do want to comment on this particular above statement, though.  Perhaps compared to the situation South of the Border it doesn't seem like we in the States don't view our own culture with contempt, but we certainly do, both amongst the privileged and non-privileged groups.

Amongst white, we KNOW very well of the phenomenon of "White Guilt".  Pretty much every mainstream Hollywood film about American Indians has the White Indian character to soothe the average white American's culturally instituted guilt, giving them a Goodguy character to relate to even though they're probably a conformist who would have been a "Badguy" if they'd lived during the era of Westward expansion or earlier.
Similar situation with American Civil War era-based entertainment media.  There's an egalitarian white hero in there somewhere to help the average white American deal with the White Guilt thing.
Black Power is something one can be proud of, Red Power is something one can be proud of, Brown Pride is a thing...but all of the white folk know that you can't be proud of being White and White Power is Badguy stuff (well, it IS badguy stuff, so...there's a good point there. >shrugs<).  So, even amongst the privileged groups there's some degree of self-contempt.

However, that really doesn't compare to the situation amongst black Americans.  The complex nature of the internal battle between black pride and self-loathing is a serious issue for a great number of black Americans.
For the first few years I lived in DC as an adult, I almost never interacted with a white person.  I was very much embraced by the black community.  I was the only white at my job from the bottom to the top of the hierarchy, all of the clients were black, all of the locals were black, etc.  So I came to be enlightened to a number of complicated and often paradoxical issues having to do with the interaction of black pride and self-contempt.  For instance, my best friend in this area to this day is a black fellow who grew up penniless in a SERIOUS ghetto, both in poverty and in an environment of violence, and pulled himself up by the bootstraps, got an education, became a small business owner, and is now comfortably successful.  When he uses the N-word, it can be VERY off-putting, because he's often NOT using it as a reclaimed term of brotherly endearment...he often uses it quite cruelly.  He's very proud of being a black man, ESPECIALLY a successful black man, but does a good deal to distance himself from 'those' black people, from his point of view.  The way he speaks, dresses, carries himself, etc. all betray some degree of cultural self-loathing right alongside his black pride.
Perhaps more interesting is the perception of lighter-skinned black folk by darker-skinned black folk.  On the one hand, the lighter-skinned (and especially lighter-eyed) black folk generally seem to be considered more sexually desirable.  But in the same moment that a darker black woman is swooning over a lighter-skinned feller, she and her darker-skinned male friends are wary that he might be somehow 'weaker'...probably coddled and sheltered by his mother and/or sisters and family, always given unfair advantages, etc.  Similarly, in the same moment that a darker-skinned black male is drooling over a lighter-skinned lady, he and his darker female friends might be telling what amount to 'dumb blond' jokes about her, metaphorically.
Those are in-culture stereotypes, they've no real basis in fact, of course...but they do betray some complex paradoxical co-existence of loving one's own culture whilst disdaining it as well.

I must disclaim that these ARE all outsider anecdotal observations, I do not pretend to fully understand the situation by any means.


 Sadly in my own country  where Maori and Pasifika are significant minorities , I have had young girls and older women of  those cultures express the false view that  white women and girls do not suffer any form of  abuse at the hands of their fathers, husbands, boyfriends etc.  . That is something that just happens by matter of course to women  and children of their culture and it is inevitable.  It is an attitude that is  fed by media manipulation, stereo types and moral panic.

They are quite shocked and in disbelief that [some] men of all cultures can be abusive   and no woman or child has to tolerate it.

 Crimes by young  brown women  are highlighted in the media  and lead to social and  self opprobrium of these groups and their male counterparts.  Where as crime by wealthy middle aged white men remains hidden. 

 
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jonb
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« Reply #64 on: November 16, 2014, 04:23:54 am »

Being a child of the late fifties, I was brought up in a world of hope where things were expected to get better, The horror I feel now is all that has happened is that new ways have been found to sweep things under the carpet.
I want to go into a huge rant about how abuse is becoming normalised in Britain and how much I am becoming divorced from my own land because of this, I suppose this is the driving force of my steampunk alter ego in a totally evil world how little or much 'non evil' does a person have to be to be seen as good.
I hope my disrepair caused by what I see is just the usual that is expected of an old man thinking about what could come, but my hope is not vibrant.
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« Reply #65 on: November 17, 2014, 10:42:42 am »

Part Sioux mixed with Cherokee, Scottish, irish, German, English, and if my Grandfather is to be believed- Egyptian
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« Reply #66 on: November 18, 2014, 12:43:02 pm »

Part Sioux mixed with Cherokee, Scottish, irish, German, English, and if my Grandfather is to be believed- Egyptian

Welcome to the Longhouse Dr, Madd.  And please forgive my long rants.  Just exercising my memories and airing the lint in my skull...  My life must be interesting to someone...
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« Reply #67 on: November 18, 2014, 02:34:41 pm »

Mr Wilhelm, I find your 'rants' both fascinating, and illuminating. I that your experiences are in a lot of ways mirrors of my own.
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« Reply #68 on: November 19, 2014, 05:23:27 am »

I'm most honoured by your comments. Mr. Jonb.
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« Reply #69 on: December 06, 2014, 12:34:39 am »

Living in western Europe it is not easy to identify any strong dominance in ethnicity. For example on my mother's side, the melting pot that is south east England means a mix of Gaul, Saxon, Angle, Viking, Roman as well as traces of Briton! On my dad's side, essentially Scottish, being able to go back 300 odd years suggests a strong Pictish make up. Most of the large scale churn happened in coastal areas whereas inland, self contained family groups, trading with their neighbours were relatively undisturbed until the middle ages and even then it seems to be limited because terrain and climate was hostile to outsiders but mainly because nobody was particularly interested in making the effort! Irish monks seem to be one of the earliest strong external influences which had an impact. I can still look across many of my relatives and see a characteristic set of family features - is this what a Pict looks like? Who knows, they didn't leave any photos...

They certainly were seafarers and that seems to be a dominant trait in my family and yes, I know so were the Vikings but we are all dark haired and brown eyed, hardly Scandinavian! Every now and again - once or twice a generation - we see a blue eyed blonde so there are genetic threads betraying ethnic intermarriages.  Strong family ties to the Gunn family (well known pirates!), but otherwise inland farming stock indicates a shadow of something but we will never know.

I am named in real life after my uncle who was killed when the destroyer he was serving on was sunk in action in E-Boat Alley, but my forum name is from pictish kings!

Which brings me to my point - often, you cannot easily identify a strong aboriginal trait if you are western European even though there has to have been a First Nation, but connecting to it is often more an emotional link than a scientific one.

Óengus mac Iarrnaig    Roll Eyes
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« Reply #70 on: January 08, 2016, 06:43:39 am »

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think I ever posted this PBS documentary.... It belongs here.

Cracking the Mayan Code PBS Nova
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« Reply #71 on: January 10, 2016, 06:49:24 am »

Another really interesting documentary on the Maya: The Red Queen...

« Last Edit: January 11, 2016, 03:09:04 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
Hurricane Annie
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« Reply #72 on: January 10, 2016, 06:57:44 am »



 I don't have enough broadband but they look interesting . Mayan and Aztec history is always interesting.
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« Reply #73 on: January 10, 2016, 09:05:52 pm »



 I don't have enough broadband but they look interesting . Mayan and Aztec history is always interesting.

Being You Tube videos,  I'm wondering if there are lower resolution versions, or if you can buffer the video before watching...
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« Reply #74 on: January 11, 2016, 03:03:49 am »



 I don't have enough broadband but they look interesting . Mayan and Aztec history is always interesting.

Being You Tube videos,  I'm wondering if there are lower resolution versions, or if you can buffer the video before watching...

 there is always a way
  I may even find some on the library catalogue.  Documentaries are usually free to loan
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