The history of the Aboriginal people of the United States and the history of the Jewish people are quite similar. There are also similarities in language, beliefs, treatment of the life around you, and the spiritual dances. Most people know the history of the Native Americans from the settler’s point of view, a view that has been known to sway the truth. Let me show you why the Jews and the Aboriginal people have more in common than anyone realized.
History: Both have been oppressed and abused. Both have been confined to small pieces of land compared to once was theirs’. Both have been kicked out of their homeland and some returned to try to take it back. Both have been hated and despised for centuries/millennia and have endured cruelty and hardships. Both strive for peace in the modern world and both want equal rights. Both are hated by many, but that doesn’t stop any of us from taking part in the Aboriginal/Jewish culture. Both have been forced to conform to European standards and culture. Both have been oppressed by Europeans throughout centuries. Many Aboriginal people and Jewish People have died rather than convert and many practiced their beliefs in secret.
Language: Both languages at some point nearly died. Hebrew used to be only for prayers, but when Israel was founded, it became the language of the country. Similarly, There are various dialects between tribes of the New World. There are common songs and dances throughout all the tribes, especially when in community gatherings sometimes called powwows). However, many tribes are losing their language because the settlers had prevented new generations from learning the language of their people. This is similar to how European nations tried to ban Hebrew from publications, something that ended up leading to Yiddish, and were killed if caught with Hebrew text.
Beliefs: The Jewish people have always wanted peace. We do our best to treat each other with respect and to “do the right thing” as our bible sees fit. The Aboriginal people also want peace and equal rights. They treat the organisms around them as if they were equals and let nothing go to waste. They have sacred rituals and sacrifices just as the Jewish people do/used to do. We both have special landmarks where our people have fought heroically and died. We both believe that we will all be equals in the afterlife and it is neither heaven nor hell.
Social Gatherings: I have been to several authentic powwows with my Cheyenne friends. Some dances are very similar to Jewish folk dances and some of the songs have a similar beats and rhythms. The gatherings also have a similar purpose: to celebrate an event in someone’s life or to celebrate a holiday.
This is why the Jewish people and the Aboriginal people should get along and help each other. We have so much in common that it is a pity we don’t have more culture exchanges. Go out and learn about the other side of history. What you will find just might surprise you.
*Picture was taken by my father at one of the powwows that the Cheyenne held in my city. The picture is of me and my Cheyenne friends dressed in authentic dresses passed down through the generations. I was borrowing the shawl that belonged to one of the adults accompanying the Cheyenne kids on their trip. Our eyes have been covered over for our protection. All I can say is that it was cold that night, but it was the most fun I had in ages. To anyone who lives in North East Ohio, please join in next fall! It will be something you will never forget, I promise.