Portion of an Colchian Headdress

Portion of an Colchian Headdress


The Scythians ( / ˈ s ɪ θ i ə n , ˈ s ɪ ð -/ from Greek Σκύθης, Σκύθοι ), also known as Scyth, Saka, Sakae, Iskuzai, or Askuzai, were an ancient nomadic people of Eurasia, inhabiting the region Scythia. Classical Scythians dominated the Pontic steppe from approximately the 7th century BC until the 3rd century BC. [1] They can also be referred to as Pontic Scythians, European Scythians or Western Scythians. [2] [3] They were part of the wider Scythian cultures, stretching across the Eurasian Steppe. [4] [5] In the broader sense Scythians has also been used to designate all early Eurasian nomads, [5] although the validity of such terminology is controversial. [4] According to Di Cosmo, other terms such as "Early nomadic" would be preferable. [6] Eastern members of the Scythian cultures are often specifically designated as Sakas. [7]

The Scythians are generally believed to have been of Iranian (or Iranic an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group) origin, [8] They spoke a language of the Scythian branch of the Iranian languages, [9] and practiced a variant of ancient Iranian religion. [10] Among the earliest peoples to master mounted warfare, [11] the Scythians replaced the Cimmerians as the dominant power on the Pontic steppe in the 8th century BC. [12] During this time they and related peoples came to dominate the entire Eurasian Steppe from the Carpathian Mountains in the west to Ordos Plateau in the east, [13] [14] creating what has been called the first Central Asian nomadic empire. [12] [15] Based in what is modern-day Ukraine and southern Russia, they called themselves Scoloti and were led by a nomadic warrior aristocracy known as the Royal Scythians.

In the 7th century BC, the Scythians crossed the Caucasus and frequently raided the Middle East along with the Cimmerians, playing an important role in the political developments of the region. [12] [15] Around 650–630 BC, Scythians briefly dominated the Medes of the western Iranian Plateau, [16] [17] stretching their power to the borders of Egypt. [11] After losing control over Media, they continued intervening in Middle Eastern affairs, playing a leading role in the destruction of the Assyrian Empire in the Sack of Nineveh in 612 BC. The Scythians subsequently engaged in frequent conflicts with the Achaemenid Empire, and suffered a major defeat against Macedonia in the 4th century BC [11] and were subsequently gradually conquered by the Sarmatians, a related Iranian people living to their east. [18] In the late 2nd century BC, their capital at Scythian Neapolis in the Crimea was captured by Mithridates VI and their territories incorporated into the Bosporan Kingdom. [10] By this time they had been largely Hellenized. By the 3rd century AD, the Sarmatians and last remnants of the Scythians were dominated by the Alans, and were being overwhelmed by the Goths. By the early Middle Ages, the Scythians and the Sarmatians had been largely assimilated and absorbed by early Slavs. [19] [20] The Scythians were instrumental in the ethnogenesis of the Ossetians, who are believed to be descended from the Alans. [21]

The Scythians played an important part in the Silk Road, a vast trade network connecting Greece, Persia, India and China, perhaps contributing to the prosperity of those civilisations. [22] Settled metalworkers made portable decorative objects for the Scythians, forming a history of Scythian metalworking. These objects survive mainly in metal, forming a distinctive Scythian art. [23]

The name of the Scythians survived in the region of Scythia. Early authors continued to use the term "Scythian", applying it to many groups unrelated to the original Scythians, such as Huns, Goths, Türks, Avars, Khazars, and other unnamed nomads. [10] [24] The scientific study of the Scythians is called Scythology.

Where did the Keffiyeh originate?

Today it is well known that the keffiyeh is a symbol of resistance and solidarity in the Arab countries and in Palestine in particular. But the root history is said to go back to the Sumerians in Mesopotamia (the civilization of Sumerians and Babylonians in West Asia in 3100 BC). The yamegh, or shemagh, was worn by priests, as a symbol of high rank, or honor. These priests were the rulers, managing and controlling the lands where they lived.

Moving forward in history, the keffiya as a head covering was adopted by peasants who wore it while they were working on the land to protect them from the sun, and sand, as well to wipe their faces from the sweat, and in winter to protect them from the rain and cold.

Get yourself a Keffiyeh. We have 65+ Styles including the Traditional Arafat Hatta or Palestinian Scarf and the Jordanian Red Hatta. Go to collection.

The Moors of Colchis/Armenia

Colchis is an ancient region at the eastern end of the Black Sea, south of the Caucasus, in the western part of modern-day Georgia.

Historically, Colchis was colonized by Milesian Greeks to whom the native Colchians supplied gold, slaves, hides, linen cloth, agricultural produce and such ship-building materials as timber, flax, pitch and wax.

After the sixth century B.C. it became a vassal state of Achaemenid Persia, annexed into the kingdom of Mithradates VI in the first century B.C. and, then, fell under the rule of Rome.

The Greek historian Herodotus noted that the ethnic composition of the Colchians was similar to that of Black Egyptians. In the late fourth century A.D., church fathers Sophronius and St. Jerome referred to Colchis as a “second Ethiopia” because of its large Black population.

According to The Adventures of the Twelve Apostles by L. A. Murray, “St. Matthias was one of five Apostles to have led a mission to Armenia.” Murray adds: “The lands to which Matthias sailed are now called Adygey, Abkhazia, Adzhar Karachay, Ossetia and Georgia but some ancients then called that region Ethiopia, others called it Albania, and some called it Iberia.”

As Murray notes: “Ancient Armenia was a large country stretching from mid-Turkey to Persia up to the top of the Caspian Sea.”

Portion of an Colchian Headdress - History

Shaman with drum
painted with her visions
and spirit allies.
Central Asia.

Maria Sabina, the renowned
Mazatec curandera of Mexico.
Her incantations as she entered
the shamanic ecstasy were poetic,
devotional, and yet subverted the
patriarchal theologian's insistence
on a masculine god by calling on
a "padre santísima."

Vrachka (female healer)
giving medicine, from a mural
at Rila monastery, Bulgaria.
Several church murals
in Bulgaria and Macedonia
show clear propagandistic intent,
to turn the common people away
from their (typically female) healers
who often incorporated pagan and
shamanic elements
in their chants and ritual.
Thus, the artist depicts demons
defecating into the herbal brew.
Here as in the rest of Christian Europe
devils were imaged as dark-skinned.

A machi drums on her kultrún.
Most shamans are female in the

Mapuche Nation of southern Chile.

An ecstatic dancer brandishes sistra
flanked by waterbirds in flight.
This Spanish bronze shows Egyptian
influence (note the Hathor hair)
by way of the Phoenicians,
with a Celt-Iberian twist.

Women drummers at a kut,
the shamanic ceremonies officiated
by the female shamans called mudang.

Shamanic rites are very much
a living culture in Korea,
although a strong social stigma
has grown up against the powerful
women who run the ceremonies, heal,
prophesy, and commune with ancestors. Confucian and Protestant influences
both militate against female
spiritual leadership.

Click arrow to view clip of "Shamans and Seers"
from Women's Power dvd by Max Dashu


Max Dashú

This is a brief summary of a visual presentation, first shown in 1986, which was given in September 2005 at the Shamanic Studies Conference in San Rafael, California.

A Chukchee proverb declares, “Woman is by nature a shaman.” (1) Yet the female dimension of this realm of spiritual experience has often been slighted. Mircea Eliade believed that women shamans represented a degeneration of an originally masculine profession, yet was hard put to explain why so many male shamans customarily dressed in women’s clothing and assumed other female-gendered behaviors. Nor does the masculine-default theory account for widespread traditions, from Buryat Mongolia to the Bwiti religion in Gabon, that the first shaman was a woman.

In fact, women have been at the forefront of this field worldwide, and in some cultures, they predominate. This was true in ancient China and Japan, as it still is in modern Korea and Okinawa, as well as among many South African peoples and northern Californians such as the Karok and Yurok. There are countless other examples, including the machi of the Mapuche in southern Chile and the babaylan and catalonan of the Philippines.

Images, oral traditions, and historical descriptions show women as invokers, healers, herbalists, oracles and diviners, ecstatic dancers, shapeshifters, shamanic journeyers, and priestesses of the ancestors. The Chinese Wu were ecstatic priestesses who danced to the music of drums and flutes until they reached trance, receiving shen (spirits) into their bodies, healing and prophesying under their inspiration, speaking in tongues, swallowing swords and spitting fire. The power of the shen gathered around the whirling dancers was said to cause objects to rise into the air, to prevent wounds from forming when the dancers slashed themselves with knives.

Similar descriptions were recorded by Greco-Roman visitors to Anatolia: "At Castabala, in Cappadocia, the priestesses of an Asiatic goddess, whom the Greeks called Artemis Perasia, used to walk barefoot through a furnace of hot charcoal and take no harm." (2)

Certain female burials from ancient Central Asia have been designated as shamanic priestesses by archaeologists Natalia Polosmak and Jeanine Davis-Kimball. The priestess of Ukok (fifth century BCE) was buried in a three-foot-tall framed headdress adorned with a Tree of Life, with gilded felines and birds on its branches. Similar finds have been excavated at Ussun’ in south Kazakhstan, and from the Ukraine to the Tarim basin, with recurrent themes of the Tree of Life headdress, amulets, incense, medicine bags, and sacramental mirrors. Such mirrors are also seen in the Bactrian region of Afghanistan, held facing out against the body, and they still figure as initiatory devices wielded by female adepts in Tibet. The overwhelmingly female mikogami of Japan also kept the “sacred mirror” of the sun goddess Amaterasu.

My visual presentation Woman Shaman includes a sequence of women shapeshifting into animal form or riding on the backs of shamanic steeds. These themes recur in many shamanic traditions, and are vividly illustrated in modern Arctic carvings. An Aleut ivory (circa 1816) shows a woman shaman wearing an animal mask. Other examples from the mid-20th century include "Woman Riding a Bear" by Cecilia Arnadjuk, Repulse Bay, Canada "Woman/Polar Bear" by Odin Maratse, Greenland a walrus-tusked "Woman Shaman" by Nancy Pukingrnak of Baker Lake a half-woman, half-walrus piece titled "Woman Shaman Transforming Herself" and "Medicine Woman" by Kaka of Cape Dorset.

The darwisa or maraboutes of North Africa bear Islamic titles, but practice much older North African customs. Among the Tunisian cave-dwellers, the darwisa cures sick people from possession from the jnun. In the ritual, she plays drum rhythms to discover which jinn caused illness when she hits the right one, the person begins to dance. Then the darwisa talks to the spirit about what caused the illness and what is required to cure it. (3)

Codices produced by Aztec artists shortly after the Spanish conquest show women presiding over the temescal (sweat lodge). One of the invocations sung by such a priestess was recorded: "Mother of the gods and us all, whose creative and lifegiving power shone in the Temezcalli, also named Xochicalli, the place where she sees sacred things, sets to right what has been deranged in human bodies, makes young and tender things growing and strong, and where she aids and cures." (4)

Invocatory chants have remained an element of Mexican Indian shamanism. One of the great master was Maria Sabina, “the woman who knows how to swim in the sacred,” whose incantations seem to have acted as a means of entering into deep states of consciousness. Laying on of hands was part of her healing practice. Further north, in California, Bernice Torrez of the Kashaya Pomo, healed by touching and removing spirits of illness from the body of the sick person. She was the daughter of Essie Parrish, the great yomta, a title which means “Song.” This prophet-seeress carried chants for ceremonies, healing, and control of the elements.

Chant and shaking a sacred rattle are important elements in the practice of Katjambia, a Himba medicine woman in Namibia. As she shakes the rattle, she calls out Njoo, Njoo, in a "secret language from Angola." After absorbing the negative energies into her own body, Katjambia returns to the sacred fire of her ancestors, who release them. A song by the Chilean composer and folklorist Violeta Parra celebrates the powers of the Mapuche machi, describing how she presides over the guillatún ceremonies and how her shamanizing cures the sick and brings a crop-threatening rain to an end.

The healing power of female shamans was occasionally stated to have been so far-reaching that they were described as being able to restore life to the dead. So it was told of Pa Sini Jobu, great Tungutu of the Bosso people in the middle Niger region. Her method of dancing to ecstasy and shifting into the form of a great bird echoes the story told of Isis. Both the goddess and the Tungutu are described as beating their wings over the dead (a ram, in Pa Sini Jobu’s case) and bringing them to life. (The Colchian sorceress Medea is also pictured bringing a ram to life, using a cauldron, herbs, and incantations.) In western Africa, the sorceress Kulutugubaga has the power to heal all and bring the dead to life. She is the last of the legendary Nine Sorceresses of Mande.

Reviving the dead was one of the marvels performed by Yeshe Tsogyel, a foundational figure of Tibetan Buddhism. In Lady of the Lotus Born, she says, ". In Nepal I brought a dead man back to life. My body journeyed like a rainbow in celestial fields. " (5) This 8th-century poem is loaded with shamanistic content, recast in a Buddhist mold. The shamanic Bönpo religion is known to have contributed many elements to Tibetan Buddhism.

A Manchurian epic, Nishan Shaman, turns around the story of a woman who is the most powerful shaman in the country. She is called upon to revive the son of a rich man after countless others had failed. She beats her drum, chants, and sinks as if lifeless herself while journeying to the Otherworld, where she meets up with Omosi-mama, the "divine grandmother" who "causes leaves to unfurl and the roots to spread properly," who is the giver of souls and protectress of children. It was she who ordained that Nishan would become a great shaman.

Of course, Nishan finds the soul of the dead boy. But she is pursued by her long-dead husband, who demands to be saved as well, but she calls for a great crane to seize him and throw him back into the city of the dead. The shaman is hailed as a heroine when she comes back to the upper world and showered with riches. Later she faces repression from Confucian authorities who accuse her of not being an obedient wife, and they burn her shamanic regalia and drum. (6)

In much the same way, Spanish colonials persecuted women shamans in the Philippines, calling them “devil-ridden old women” and “witches,” and destroying their shrines and sacred objects. (7) Maya oracles and shamans faced the same treatment the Tzoltzil priestess María Candelaria raised an insurrection in Chiapas in 1712 to resist the repression of the indigenous religion.

Several hundred years ago, the Jesuit Acosta wrote that Peruvian witches were shapeshifters who could journey through the skies and foretell the future "by means of certain stones or other things they highly venerate." He and other Spanish sources agreed that the witches were mostly old women.(8) The colonials imposed their own preconceptions on Peruvian shamans, notably that of the devil and flying ointments, and persecuted these Quechua and Aymara women shamans as witches.

The Peruvian Inquisition forbade seeking knowledge through dreams or signs in the sky or through vision quests: "the said women other times go out to the country by day and at night, and take certain brews of herbs and roots, called achuma and chamico and coca, with which they deceive themselves and numb their senses, and the illusions and fantastic scenes which they experience there, they think and claim afterwards as revelations, or certain news of what will happen." (9)

Inquisitors tried the curandera Juana Icha for healing with the power of the old Quechua gods. She had offered corn meal, coca and chicha to the mountain spirit Apo Parato. An Indian informer told the monks that she "worships the earth and the stars and cries to the water." (10)

This is necessarily a truncated synopsis of a presentation which has not yet been committed to writing, but I hope it conveys a glimpse of a very international spectrum of women’s shamanic experience – and leadership.


1. Czaplica, M. A. (1914) Aboriginal Siberia, a study in social anthropology. Oxford: Clarendon Press, p 243

2. Frazer, James (1955) The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion. London: Macmillan, Vol. XI, 14

3. Early Modern European Witchcraft: Centres and Peripheries (1988) ed. Henningsen, G, and Ankarloo, B, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p 211

4. Nuttall, Zelia (1901) The Fundamental Principles of Old and New World Civilizations: A Comparative Research Based on a Study of the Ancient Mexican Religious, Sociological and Calendrical Systems. Cambridge MA: Peabody Museum

5. Dowman, Keith (1996) Sky Dancer: The Secret Life and Songs of the Lady Yeshe Tsogyel. Ithaca NY: Snow Lion

6. Nowak, Margaret (1977) The Tale of the Nishan Shamaness: a Manchu Folk Epic. Seattle: University of Washington Press

7. Brewer, Caroline (2001) Holy Confrontation: Religion, Gender and Sexuality in the Philippines, 1521-1685. Manila: Institute of Women’s Studies

8. Silverblatt, Irene (1987) Moon, Sun, and Witches: Gender Ideologies and Class in Inca and Colonial Peru, Princeton: Princeton University Press, p 171

9. Contramaestre, Carlos (1979) La Mudanza del Encanto. Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia, p 204


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Colchis, ancient region at the eastern end of the Black Sea south of the Caucasus, in the western part of modern Georgia. It consisted of the valley of the Phasis (modern Rioni) River. In Greek mythology, Colchis was the home of Medea and the destination of the Argonauts, a land of fabulous wealth and the domain of sorcery. Historically, Colchis was colonized by Milesian Greeks, to whom the native Colchians supplied gold, slaves, hides, linen cloth, agricultural produce, and such shipbuilding materials as timber, flax, pitch, and wax. The ethnic composition of the Colchians, who were described by Herodotus as black Egyptians, is unclear. After the 6th century bce they lived under the nominal suzerainty of Achaemenian Persia, passed into the kingdom of Mithradates VI (1st century bce ), and then came under the rule of Rome.

United with Lazica in the 4th century ce , Colchis constituted an important buffer state between the Sāsānian and Byzantine empires. In the late 8th century Colchis was attached to Abasgia, which in turn was incorporated into Russian Georgia.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Alicja Zelazko, Assistant Editor.

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Portion of an Colchian Headdress - History

By 1830 slavery was primarily located in the South, where it existed in many different forms. African Americans were enslaved on small farms, large plantations, in cities and towns, inside homes, out in the fields, and in industry and transportation.

Though slavery had such a wide variety of faces, the underlying concepts were always the same. Slaves were considered property, and they were property because they were black. Their status as property was enforced by violence -- actual or threatened. People, black and white, lived together within these parameters, and their lives together took many forms.

Enslaved African Americans could never forget their status as property, no matter how well their owners treated them. But it would be too simplistic to say that all masters and slaves hated each other. Human beings who live and work together are bound to form relationships of some kind, and some masters and slaves genuinely cared for each other. But the caring was tempered and limited by the power imbalance under which it grew. Within the narrow confines of slavery, human relationships ran the gamut from compassionate to contemptuous. But the masters and slaves never approached equality.

The standard image of Southern slavery is that of a large plantation with hundreds of slaves. In fact, such situations were rare. Fully 3/4 of Southern whites did not even own slaves of those who did, 88% owned twenty or fewer. Whites who did not own slaves were primarily yeoman farmers. Practically speaking, the institution of slavery did not help these people. And yet most non-slaveholding white Southerners identified with and defended the institution of slavery. Though many resented the wealth and power of the large slaveholders, they aspired to own slaves themselves and to join the priviledged ranks. In addition, slavery gave the farmers a group of people to feel superior to. They may have been poor, but they were not slaves, and they were not black. They gained a sense of power simply by being white.

In the lower South the majority of slaves lived and worked on cotton plantations. Most of these plantations had fifty or fewer slaves, although the largest plantations have several hundred. Cotton was by far the leading cash crop, but slaves also raised rice, corn, sugarcane, and tobacco. Many plantations raised several different kinds of crops.

Besides planting and harvesting, there were numerous other types of labor required on plantations and farms. Enslaved people had to clear new land, dig ditches, cut and haul wood, slaughter livestock, and make repairs to buildings and tools. In many instances, they worked as mechanics, blacksmiths, drivers, carpenters, and in other skilled trades. Black women carried the additional burden of caring for their families by cooking and taking care of the children, as well as spinning, weaving, and sewing.

Some slaves worked as domestics, providing services for the master's or overseer's families. These people were designated as "house servants," and though their work appeared to be easier than that of the "field slaves," in some ways it was not. They were constantly under the scrutiny of their masters and mistresses, and could be called on for service at any time. They had far less privacy than those who worked the fields.

Because they lived and worked in such close proximity, house servants and their owners tended to form more complex relationships. Black and white children were especially in a position to form bonds with each other. In most situations, young children of both races played together on farms and plantations. Black children might also become attached to white caretakers, such as the mistress, and white children to their black nannies. Because they were so young, they would have no understanding of the system they were born into. But as they grew older they would learn to adjust to it in whatever ways they could.

The diets of enslaved people were inadequate or barely adequate to meet the demands of their heavy workload. They lived in crude quarters that left them vulnerable to bad weather and disease. Their clothing and bedding were minimal as well. Slaves who worked as domestics sometimes fared better, getting the castoff clothing of their masters or having easier access to food stores.

The heat and humidity of the South created health problems for everyone living there. However, the health of plantation slaves was far worse than that of whites. Unsanitary conditions, inadequate nutrition and unrelenting hard labor made slaves highly susceptible to disease. Illnesses were generally not treated adequately, and slaves were often forced to work even when sick. The rice plantations were the most deadly. Black people had to stand in water for hours at a time in the sweltering sun. Malaria was rampant. Child mortality was extremely high on these plantations, generally around 66% -- on one rice plantation it was as high as 90%.

One of the worst conditions that enslaved people had to live under was the constant threat of sale. Even if their master was "benevolent," slaves knew that a financial loss or another personal crisis could lead them to the auction block. Also, slaves were sometimes sold as a form of punishment. And although popular sentiment (as well as the economic self-interest on the part of the owners) encouraged keeping mothers and children and sometimes fathers together, these norms were not always followed. Immediate families were often separated. If they were kept together, they were almost always sold away from their extended families. Grandparents, sisters, brothers, and cousins could all find themselves forcibly scattered, never to see each other again. Even if they or their loved ones were never sold, slaves had to live with the constant threat that they could be.

African American women had to endure the threat and the practice of sexual exploitation. There were no safeguards to protect them from being sexually stalked, harassed, or raped, or to be used as long-term concubines by masters and overseers. The abuse was widespread, as the men with authority took advantage of their situation. Even if a woman seemed agreeable to the situation, in reality she had no choice. Slave men, for their part, were often powerless to protect the women they loved.

The drivers, overseers, and masters were responsible for plantation discipline. Slaves were punished for not working fast enough, for being late getting to the fields, for defying authority, for running away, and for a number of other reasons. The punishments took many forms, including whippings, torture, mutilation, imprisonment, and being sold away from the plantation. Slaves were even sometimes murdered. Some masters were more "benevolent" than others, and punished less often or severely. But with rare exceptions, the authoritarian relationship remained firm even in those circumstances.

In addition to the authority practiced on individual plantations, slaves throughout the South had to live under a set of laws called the Slave Codes. The codes varied slightly from state to state, but the basic idea was the same: the slaves were considered property, not people, and were treated as such. Slaves could not testify in court against a white, make contracts, leave the plantation without permission, strike a white (even in self-defense), buy and sell goods, own firearms, gather without a white present, possess any anti-slavery literature, or visit the homes of whites or free blacks. The killing of a slave was almost never regarded as murder, and the rape of slave women was treated as a form of trespassing.

Whenever there was a slave insurrection, or even the rumor of one, the laws became even tighter. At all times, patrols were set up to enforce the codes. These patrols were similar to militias and were made up of white men who were obligated to serve for a set period. The patrols apprehended slaves outside of plantations, and they raided homes and any type of gathering, searching for anything that might lead to insurrection. During times of insurrection -- either real or rumored -- enraged whites formed vigilance committees that terrorized, tortured, and killed blacks.

While most slaves were concentrated on the plantations, there were many slaves living in urban areas or working in rural industry. Although over 90% of American slaves lived in rural areas, slaves made up at least 20% of the populations of most Southern cities. In Charleston, South Carolina, slaves and free blacks outnumbered whites. Many slaves living in cities worked as domestics, but others worked as blacksmiths, carpenters, shoemakers, bakers, or other tradespeople. Often, slaves were hired out by their masters, for a day or up to several years. Sometimes slaves were allowed to hire themselves out. Urban slaves had more freedom of movement than plantation slaves and generally had greater opportunities for learning. They also had increased contact with free black people, who often expanded their ways of thinking about slavery.

Slaves resisted their treatment in innumerable ways. They slowed down their work pace, disabled machinery, feigned sickness, destroyed crops. They argued and fought with their masters and overseers. Many stole livestock, other food, or valuables. Some learned to read and write, a practice forbidden by law. Some burned forests and buildings. Others killed their masters outright -- some by using weapons, others by putting poison in their food. Some slaves comitted suicide or mutilated themselves to ruin their property value. Subtly or overtly, enslaved African Americans found ways to sabotage the system in which they lived.

Thousands of slaves ran away. Some left the plantation for days or weeks at a time and lived in hiding. Others formed maroon communities in mountains, forests or swamps. Many escaped to the North. There were also numerous instances of slave revolts throughout the history of the institution. (For one white interpretation of slave resistance, see Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race) Even when slaves acted in a subservient manner, they were often practicing a type of resistance. By fooling the master or overseer with their behavior, they resisted additional ill treatment.

Enslaved African Americans also resisted by forming community within the plantation setting. This was a tremendous undertaking for people whose lives were ruled by domination and forced labor. Slaves married, had children, and worked hard to keep their families together. In their quarters they were able to let down the masks they had to wear for whites. There, black men, women, and children developed an underground culture through which they affirmed their humanity. They gathered in the evenings to tell stories, sing, and make secret plans. House servants would come down from the "big house" and give news of the master and mistress, or keep people laughing with their imitations of the whites.

It was in their quarters that many enslaved people developed and passed down skills which allowed them to supplement their poor diet and inadequate medical care with hunting, fishing, gathering wild food, and herbal medicines. There, the adults taught their children how to hide their feelings to escape punishment and to be skeptical of anything a white person said. Many slave parents told their children that blacks were superior to white people, who were lazy and incapable of running things properly.

Many slaves turned to religion for inspiration and solace. Some practiced African religions, including Islam, others practiced Christianity. Many practiced a brand of Christianity which included strong African elements. Most rejected the Christianity of their masters, which justified slavery. The slaves held their own meetings in secret, where they spoke of the New Testament promises of the day of reckoning and of justice and a better life after death, as well as the Old Testament story of Moses leading his people out of slavery in Egypt. The religion of enslaved African Americans helped them resist the degredation of bondage.

The Myth of the Monthly Check for Native Americans

About ten years ago, I attended a social event for young professionals at an upscale hotel in downtown San Diego (back then, I was young). As almost everyone was a stranger to me, most conversations began with introductions and inquiries about our jobs. One man, upon learning that I represented tribes, shook his head and said something like, “sorry, but I don’t think we should give reparations to Indians.” I wondered who he was talking to as no one had mentioned reparations. But his belief, while mistaken, is common. Many people think Native Americans get a monthly government check as some form of apology.

The truth is that Native Americans do not receive monthly checks from the federal government, although many think they should. The United States does not pay reparations to indigenous people as a way of saying “I’m sorry” for centuries of genocide, land theft, and disease outbreaks. There are, however, several reasons why a Native American might receive a check in the mail or automatic deposit. Some specific federal laws authorized one-time payments to compensate Native people for taking land, such as the 1971 Alaskan Native Claims Settlement Act passed by congress to settle all land claims brought against the United States by Alaskan Natives.

Some tribes issue quarterly or monthly per capita payments to their members from the profits of tribally owned enterprises such as casinos. The amount and frequency of these payments depend on several factors, including the success of the business, the overall fiscal health of the tribe, and the tribal government’s decision on whether and how to distribute wealth. Not all tribes have casinos, and some that do still struggle financially. One southern California tribe filed for bankruptcy in 2012 after its casino folded. Non-gaming tribes within the state receive revenue sharing trust payments from gaming tribes and sometimes divide these funds among individual tribal members. Again, the payments do not come from the United States.

Other sources of financial payments include various government benefit programs which have eligibility criteria it is not automatic, nor is it limited to Native Americans. TANF, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, for example, is a federal program designed to help low income families attain self-sufficiency. Individuals with children can apply for TANF funds to supplement their income. Federally recognized tribes can apply to administer and operate their own TANF programs to accomplish one of the program’s purposes for eligible individuals and families. The funds go to families, however, and are barely enough to pay for basic living expenses, let alone support a lavish lifestyle.

The myth of the monthly check could also have its roots in lease payments made to Indian landowners who receive royalties from mining and grazing on allotment land held in trust for them by the United States. This revenue, however, is not a gift, but part of the federal government’s trust responsibility to manage land allotted to Native Americans in the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries (the allotment process ended in 1934 with the passage of the Indian Reorganization Act). The amount of lease payments depends on the income generated by the land, the owner’s proportionate share, and the terms of the lease.

The bottom line is Native Americans do not get automatic monthly or quarterly checks from the United States government. Maybe they should, and maybe one day they will, but at this time it is merely a myth.

For more information about funding for tribes, government benefits, or general questions about federal Indian law, contact your local CILS office.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

On the periphery – the Caucasian kingdoms

My primary goal in collecting these kingdoms was to expand scenario options outside the standard Rome vs Parthia, or later Sassan themes.

During the 2nd and 3rd centuries, the major powers were busy securing one of the most important barriers keeping the nomadic hordes at bay, the Caucasus. Both Rome, Armenia and later Sassan would in turn would set their preferred ruler on the throne of the kingdoms and send military assistance to keep that barrier secured.

Creating an army list
We know Iberian and Albanian troops serving Armenia are listed (DBM) as javelin armed auxiliaries or bow armed fighting in open order (Ps) with smaller numbers fighting in loose order (Bw).

Like their predecessors that remained in the mountainous region (Scythian) we can add a mounted force to our list. The nomadic armies are substantially small numbers of armoured nobles with the majority being bow or javelin armed.

There are Iberian archaeological finds depicting hunting scenes of javelin and bow armed figures killing deer and wild boar. Riders are bare-headed and wear typical Persian style of clothing loose trousers and hip length shirt or coat.

Iberian and Albanian lists might follow an Armenian one, however reviewing related lists (Scythian to Georgian) I would incline to downgrade cataphracts to cavalry and have total number mounted vary from 1/3 to 1/2 of the army.

A speculative list for our game purposes might look like this:

Iberia and Albania
1 x 3Cv or 3Kn General and bodyguard <1>
1 x 3Cv or 3Kn <1>
2 x 2LH
4 x 3Ax javelin armed tribesmen
2 x 2Ps or 3Bw
1 x 3Ax or 2LH
1 x 2Ps or 2LH

<1>The selection of Cv or Kn class would reflect which major power is extending influence in the kingdom at the time Rome and Armenia (Cv) or Persia (Kn). Although Parthia and Sassan placed members of the royal family on the throne, Sassan would offer greater military support. Nonetheless, more research is need in this area.

On the subject of economics, one of the useful references listed by H. Sidebottom in the Warrior of Rome, The Caspian Gates is "Georgia in Antiquity: A History of Colchis and Transcaucasian Iberia, 550 BC-AD 562” by D. Braund. At a list price of 𧴬.00, this is a serious investment. I will see what can be sourced first around the net before taking the plunge.