The Heirs of Columbus (Wesleyan University Press, 1991)
Excerpt from Chapter One, “Santa Maria Casino” (pp 3-5)
Christopher Columbus saw a blue light in the west, but “it was such an uncertain thing,” he wrote in his journal to the crown, “that I did not feel it was adequate proof of land.” That light was a torch raised by the silent hand talkers, a summons to the New World. Since then, the explorer has become a trickster healer in the stories told by his tribal heirs at the headwaters of the great river.
The Admiral of the Ocean Sea, confirmed in the name of the curia and the crown, was an obscure crossblood who bore the tribal signature of survivance and ascended the culture of death in the Old World. He landed at dawn with no missionaries or naturalists and heard the thunder of shamans in the coral and the stone. “No sooner had we concluded the formalities of taking possession of the island than people began to come to the beach,” he wrote in his journal on October 12, 1492, at Samana Cay.
Columbus unfurled his royal banner, and the green cross of the crown shivered on the wind over the island the tribe had named Guanahaní. He was blinded by the white sand, the broken sun on the water. He showed his sword to a painted servant on the beach, “and through ignorance he grabbed it by the blade and cut himself.”
"In order to win their friendship, since I knew they were a people to be converted and won to our holy faith by love and friendship rather than by force, I gave them some red caps and glass beads which they hung around their necks,” he wrote about his first encounter with tribal people in the New World. “They ought to make good and skilled servants, for they repeat very quickly whatever we say to them,” but he misconstrued a tribal pose and later traced his soul to the stories in their blood. “They all go naked as their mothers bore them, including the women, although I saw only one very young girl.”
At Samana Cay the great adventurer was touched by a hand talker, a silent tribal wanderer, who wore a golden braid in her hair and carried two wooden puppets. That night she danced with the blue puppets on the sterncastle. The Santa María was brushed with a blue radiance.
Columbus and the sailors were haunted by the wild puppets and roused by a golden shimmer on the night water. Samana was an island in the ocean sea that would be imagined but never possessed in the culture of death. Five centuries later the crossblood descendents of the explorer and the hand talker declared a new tribal nation.
“Samana swam out to touch the man from heaven that first night in our New World and here we are on radio,” said Stone Columbus.
Columbus was a seasonal voice on late night talk radio because of his surname and the curious stories he told about his inheritance. “She was a natural healer, a tribal hand talker, blessed with silence, and she discovered the incredible truth that the great explorer was tribal and he carried our stories in his blood.”
The Heirs of Christopher Columbus are serious over their names and resurrections; the heirs come together at the stone tavern each autumn to remember the best stories about their strain and estate, and the genetic signature that would heal the obvious blunders in the natural world.
The stone tavern, that wondrous circle of warm trickster stones, has been located for more than a hundred generations on a wild blue meadow near the headwaters of the Mississippi River.
The Anishinaabe, the woodland tribe that founded this obscure tavern, the oldest in the New World, remember that Naanabozho, the compassionate tribal trickster who created the earth, had a brother who was a stone: a bear stone, a human stone, a shaman stone, a stone, a stone, a stone.
Naanabozho was the first human born in the world, and the second born, his brother, was a stone. The trickster created the new earth with wet sand. He stood on his toes as high as he could imagine, but the water rose closer to his nose and mouth. He could dream without a mouth or nose, but he would never leave the world to the evil gambler and his dark water. The demons in the water caused him to defecate, and with pleasure, but his shit would not leave; several turds floated near his mouth and nose.
Naanabozho was at the highest point on the earth and could not move, so he invented meditation with trickster stories and liberated his mind over his own excrement. The trickster created this New World with the sand a muskrat held in her paws.
The Heirs of Christopher Columbus created one more New World in their stories and overturned the tribal prophecies that their avian time would end with the arrival of the white man. The heirs warm the stones at the tavern with their stories in the blood. The tavern is on the natural rise of a meadow, and tribal panic holes are sown near the mount. The House of Life is on the descent to the headwaters, the burial ground for the lost and lonesome bones that were liberated by the heirs from museums.
The stones create a natural theater, an uncovered mount that is never touched by storms, curses, and disease; in the winter the stones near the headwaters are a haven for birds, animals, humans, and trickster stories of liberation.
Stone Columbus heard the summer in the spring once more on the occasion of his third resurrection. That season the rush of aspen touched him as a child on his first return from a furnace in a government school; he came back a second time in the arms of the notorious ice woman, and then he drowned in his bingo caravel and heard the push of bears. None of these stories would be true if he had not inherited an unwonted surname and the signature of survivance from the Admiral of the Ocean Sea.
May 11, 2011