I recently spent a week in Williamsburg, VA, and the surrounding area. I have already told you a little bit about that. I want to delve a little deeper into some of the thoughts I had while touring this historical area of our country.
At Jamestown you learn about the first permanent European settlement on what is now the continental United States. At Monticello you learn about Thomas Jefferson, who was one of the founders of modern American thought regarding government, religion, and personal freedom. Yes, a slave owner was also one of the founders of the thinking that led to equal rights and freedom of belief for all people. Weird, I know. At Williamsburg you can take a tour of the Governors Palace and the Capitol Building. The fine tour guides there will tell you all about the founders of our country, their amazing bravery of action, and courage of thought. It is truly an awe inspiring and humbling experience.
There is a lot of information about European and African peoples, and how they built our country. But I repeatedly was aware of a huge omission in all of this information. The Native American is scarcely mentioned, anywhere I went anyway. At Jamestown, there were some guides and information that touched on the Powhatens, but that was about it.
When I was a little boy, in elementary school, I was told that Columbus discovered America. That is complete bullshit. The guy never set foot on the continental United States. If he had, he would have been proceeded by several million Native Americans, Vikings, and who knows who else. Columbus, like other European visitors, was sponsored by a Church or country, or both, in order to lay claim to new lands, riches, and peoples if they were convertible. If not, they just sent more guys to kill them. Columbus Day is a Catholic holiday to celebrate The Church of Rome claiming a whole continent that already belonged to someone else.
The settlement at Jamestown likely was in fact the first permanent English settlement. English. The Powhatens were already there.
At Colonial Williamsburg you can feel really close to the thinking behind our system of government, our way of life, and our personal freedoms. It is truly a humbling and mind boggling experience. You will also hear about how the language of the Declaration of Independence and other important documents of the time were altered so as not to include enslaved or indentured peoples. Although, by my interpretation of the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, it includes everyone. At least everyone that these bold thinkers considered human. Apparently that did not include anyone who was not white European, and maybe even not male. Again, the mention of Native American peoples is glaringly absent from anything I heard, saw, or read.
My purpose here though is not to belittle the efforts of any of our Founders or the brave unmentioned people who did the work and fought the battles. But I do encourage you, should you have the chance, to visit this area, and consider the significance of what you see and hear. In the absence of the opportunity to go there, take the time to read The Declaration of Independence. Google up some information on the times and events that led to the writing of it. And above all else, have respect for all of the people who were a part of the times that initially shaped who we are today.