[Marxism] Respecting cultural nationalism
Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Mon Aug 7 18:49:55 MDT 2006
This is an interesting article on the intertwining of culture and the
transition of a young woman from childhood to womanhood. Those of you
from the Trotskyist tradition may be inspired to again look at
"Problems of Everyday Life" which describes the need to integrate the
rather abstract ideas of Marxism with the daily lives and life cycles
of the citizens of the USSR. If you haven't read it, you should.
My own connection is that Pauline Murillo was probably in school with
me in grammar and junior high school in Highland, California, a
small community six miles from San Bernardino and near the cities of
Redlands and Riverside. However, she must have been in a different
grade, for I don't remember her.
We may also have in common the events that I describe below, for the
reservation was small and the incident must have been shared.
IN MANY CULTURES AND FAITHS, RITUALS HIGHLIGHT
GIRLS TRANSITION FROM CHILDHOOD TO WOMANHOOD
By BETTYE WELLS MILLER
The Press-Enterprise, August 5, 2006
Pauline Murillo recalls the day 60 years ago when she awoke with
Her grandmother and aunt dug a long hole more than 2 feet deep, built
a fire in the pit, and then covered the hot coals with sand and a
piece of canvas.
Gently they placed Murillo on the cloth. They covered her with a
blanket and hot sand, placed herbs around her exposed head and
chanted blessings over the 12-year-old girl experiencing the onset of
It was the beginning of an all-day ritual that marked Murillo's
passage from childhood to adulthood among the San Manuel Band of
Serrano Mission Indians.
FULL AT http://makeashorterlink.com/?C1DE3268D OR
June 21, 2003
It must have happened in 1948 or 1949. I was a student at Highland
Junior High School. My mother, Dr. G. W. Shannon, was the Assistant
Superintendent at Patton State Hospital. There were a few of us that
lived on the grounds, but because of slight age differences, a school
bus, and parochial school for the Gericke boys (sons of the
Superintendent), I usually walked alone to school. It was only a mile
away. Once in a while an Indian boy from the San Manuel reservation,
a year or two older than I, came by on his bicycle and offered me a
ride. I may have sat on the handlebars, but it was probably on the
We weren't friends. First of all, he was older. I was in the seventh
or eighth grade and a year young for my grade.
He lived on the Indian reservation next to the state hospital. I had
friends from Highland that I played with and the Gericke boys lived
across from me on the hospital grounds. And there were other children
of doctors and bureaucrats at the large mental hospital (over 5,000
But I liked him. He seemed very kind. I used to hike up in the hills
and once or twice came up to the reservation. My memory may play me a
disservice, but I think that one time I actually asked for him. I was
firmly but I believe gently excluded. I had no idea of the level of
poverty that was being hidden.
Then I heard a story. It seems that the bicycle rider had come to the
school late or decided not to go into class. A younger student had
encountered him in the dump area of the schoolyard. (In those days,
there was an incinerator on the school grounds; I'm sure such a thing
wouldn't be allowed today.) The story was that when the younger boy
discovered him and went "to tell," my acquaintance threatened him
with a knife. The consequence was reform school for my "friend."
All of this was rumor, of course--I don't know how true any of it
was. But I never saw him again. I remember at the time that it didn't
seem right. He was nice to me and whatever the threat was, the
punishment didn't seem appropriate to the offense. But that's the way
things were in the "good old days." I haven't been back to California
in decades,* but I see now that the Native Americans of the San
Manuel reservation have some sort of recompense in the form of a
successful gambling establishment. I'm not a fan of gambling, but its
comforting to know that some descendants of the original Americans
are getting some restitution.
And I hope my friend from long ago and his relatives are sharing in it.
* I have since been back to Southern California and visited Highland,
but was unable to personally see the transformation of the lives of
the San Manuel Indians, which has been immense.
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