Right on cue, about two weeks before the official Columbus Day here in the U.S., the call to replace that day with “Indigenous Peoples Day” rose loud and clear. While this site does its best to refrain from anything even slightly political, being of partial “indigenous” ancestry, we thought a few words here were in order. And of course, since this site is focused on tea and all things related, we had to mention a word or two on that side of things as well. Cheers and happy reading.
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What in the world could Christopher Columbus have to do with tea? During the time he was out sailing around on those dangerous oceans and trying to find India, tea had not yet made its way to Europe, where he was from. And tea growing in India was confined to parts of the state of Assam at the northern tip of that country. He was seeking spices and other treasures, not to plunder but to trade other goods for. To get there from Italy, Spain, Portugal, etc., meant sailing around Africa, and getting around the southern tip was especially treacherous, subject to unpredictable and wild storms that regularly sank ships. So he sought an alternate route.
Now, remember that this was a time when folks weren’t quite yet sure that the world was a sphere. Many still thought it was flat, and even those convinced that it was a sphere weren’t quite sure about traveling westward across uncharted oceans. The idea of sea monsters and edges of the world dropping off into a void still persisted. Getting together a crew was a bit problematic. And then when he had managed that and those three ships (the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria) had sailed farther west than others before them from that part of Europe (the Vikings are another matter), what happens? He runs into land. The wrong land. It wasn’t even this continent. It was some islands. Sheesh!
Here’s where the tea part comes in:
If tea had come to Europe, there would have been lots of tea parties. And we all know how tea not only stimulates but calms, so they would have had tea and then said, “Heck with the spices. I’m taking a nap.” And those islands would have been discovered by somebody else. Maybe even Vikings. And it’s anybody’s guess how history would have gone from there. Especially considering how those Vikings took over Dublin and then a chunk of the rest of Ireland. And let’s not forget their settling Iceland.
So, raise your teacup in a toast to Christopher Columbus and his inability to get to India by sailing west from Palos de la Frontera, southwestern Spain. Poor misguided sailor. We could have all been speaking Scandinavian right now. Skol!
Side Notes on “Indigenous Peoples” Here in North America
Geological evidence clearly shows that at one time there was a land bridge between northeastern Asia and what is now called North America, allowing Asians to migrate eastward.
As retreating glaciers opened new routes into the continent, humans travelled [sic] first into the Alaskan interior and the Yukon, and ultimately south out of the Arctic region and toward the temperate regions of the Americas. The first definitive archaeological evidence we have for the presence of people beyond Beringia and interior Alaska comes from this time, about 13,000 years ago.
These people are called Paleoindians by archaeologists. The genetic evidence records mutations in mitochondrial DNA passed from mother to offspring that are present in today’s Native Americans… indicates a population isolated from the Siberian mainland for thousands of years, who are the direct ancestors of nearly all of the Native American tribes in both North and South America… [source]
The physical appearance of “indigenous peoples” of fairly pure ancestry here in North America certainly show a clear Asian appearance. The term “Eastern Asians,” therefore, seems a bit more appropriate. We state this here to put a more rational perspective on an issue being used more, it seems, for financial gain by those “indigenous peoples” who get a lot of money from the Feds here in the U.S., which those Feds get from hard-working taxpayers. Frankly, we’d prefer to spend our money on buying tea.
Credit: NOAA/Wikimedia Commons
As for the definition of “indigenous”: produced, living, or existing naturally in a particular region or environment [source]. In short, we are all at this point in time “indigenous” to North America unless we immigrated here after birth. So, frankly, all this fuss is a bit unnecessary. Let’s all just focus on today.
Time for more tea!
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