You must’ve heard by now that Margaret Thatcher is dead at 87 years of age. The former prime minister of Great Britain slipped away into forgetfulness. She was the first woman to head the British government and was responsible for either the United Kingdom’s economic renaissance or the selling of its soul to corporate greed.
There you have it. Not everyone agrees that she was Britain’s greatest prime minister, or that this is the most appropriate place for this subject. To which I retort – well, yeah.
There are a lot of women who say “First woman PM? So What!” They say Thatcher was neither good for feminism nor a good role model for women. They wonder about the example she set by empoverishing families, slashing social programs, crushing labour unions, and throwing hundreds of thousands of people out of work. That didn’t make her a good feminist or a visionary in economic leadership?
A few say yes, and call for a state funeral. And these few have a lot more money.
But is this reason enough to mention Mrs. Thatcher on this blog?
Alrighty. What about that time she sent thousands of young men to fight and die in the South Atlantic, over a dim glimmer of Britain’s colonial past called the Falkland Islands? The colonialism angle? Not workin’ for ya? Hmmm…
How about her wish to keep them pesky Indians off the front stoop at Number 10 Downing Street?
Yeah, baby! That’s the ticket.
Many of you, dear readers, may not remember the time Canadian newspapers trumpeted the arrival in London of “300 Indian chiefs” in colourful headdresses and buckskin outfits liberally sprinkled among their companions attired in lumber jackets and jeans. They marched into Trafalgar Square, parked themselves in front of Canada House to chant and drum their condemnation of the Canadian Government for refusing to give them seats at the constitutional bargaining table while their Indigenous rights were being ripped asunder.
You’d also remember that the Indians had a point. In fact, their questions ignited wider debates among sleep-walking Canadians about little things like equality rights, and provincial rights, and so on. Most Canadians were oblivious about these constitutional debates until the “300” debarked at Heathrow with their 6-pack abs, swords and sheilds, and… Wrong “300”? Sorry about that.
All of a sudden, everybody and their granny wanted a seat at those constitutional tables. If those pesky Indians wanted something, it must be valuable. If it was valuable, the Indians would have to surrender it. That was just the Canadian way.
The Iron Lady of Great Britain was a mite perturbed that that arrival of these Indians in the 1980s might lead to a full-scale invasion of lumber-jacketed hooligans from the colonies. And then – horrors – the Indians planted a flag to claim those emerald isles in the name of the Haudenosaunee…
Hold on. Just a sec. Thatcher had been booted from office by then. It couldn’t have been the vaunted “300” as they rode into the Valley of Death… (oops, again) That’s right. That was little old me with that tiny little six inch flag but size (so I’ve been told) doesn’t matter.
Yep. I did that all by my lonesome in the 1990s. I strode up to some den of iniquity in Soho and solemnly declared “this land is now and forevermore under the rule of the Haudenosaunee, its Great Law, and under its protections…” Blah, blah, blah.
I probably got the same reception as Cartier at Hochelaga; a lot of blank, confused stares by the locals. I didn’t get any press at the time. Maybe I should’ve worn some fancy feathers and buckskins instead of a Marks & Spencer navy blazer and blue jeans.
By the way, there’s a job open for a Minister of Caucasian Affairs assigned to govern our European colonies once we get this Canada thing settled. Oh, and one other thing: Tell them lords to keep their ofay arses off the lawn. But I digress.
My loyal subjects have been gnashing their jawbones about Thatcher. What to do with the old dear now that she’s gone? Margaret Thatcher’s will specified she be given a humble, private ceremony. Ever the contrarian, she also wrote that if it was the will of the people to haul her casket through town in a full-blown state funeral, well who was she to argue? Especially as she’d be dead.
There’s been a distinct unwillingness from those from the north and the west, and the left of Merrie Auld and just about anybody else in Britain who isn’t a conservative to end the bitterness and just let the dear fade away.
Then again, who are we to preach about turning pages, let sleeping dogs lie, or allowing the past to become another country. Take this headline from that bastion of English journalism, the good old Telly:
Queen buries hatchet with the Mohegans
(I know. I know. So bad on so many levels. Another thankless task for my future Minister of Caucasian Affairs. But let’s look to the facts of the story.)
It’s the early 1700s. A Mohegan lad, too young to be chief, leaves his home territory around what is Connecticut in these modern United States of America. He heads over to Great Britain because he wants to lodge a complaint with King George II. It seems the King’s minions have been abusing Mohegan hospitality. I know. Ridiculous. Right?
If these guys had been Mohawk, they would’ve marched into those settler stockades, thrown a couple of blokes on the bar-b, and that would’ve been that. Instead, the Mohegans sent an under-aged boy to London to present a petition. A petition! How polite.
It probably asked the King with all kinds of nice words to please instruct his minions to mind their manners and to please stop stealing Mohegan land. Or something like that. Really. Please? You’d think they were Canadian with all those “pleases”.
Anyway, imagine this fastidiously clean Mohegan lad, used to bathing at least once a day, stuck on a stinking, cramped little boat tossing about the North Atlantic with a couple of dozen or so blokes who thought that washing removed layers of dirt and sweat and let illness in through the pores. And the seasickness. And lousy rancid food. And they didn’t even understand Mohegan NO MATTER HOW LOUD HE SPOKE! Oy!
Mahomet Weyonomon (the Mohegan’s name) somehow survived that voyage. The ship probably sailed up the Channel and landed at Portsmouth on the south coast. Then Mahomet the Mohegan likely took a coach ride to London. He was so close to fulfilling his purpose, his task, his mission. Then he died. That old smallpox did him in. And that should’ve been that.
Except we Indigenous types have terribly long memories, for good or ill. Let’s have the Telegram continue it’s tale:
It had taken almost 300 years but yesterday the Queen helped the leaders of the Mohegans finally accomplish a mission begun by a tribal chief in the reign of King George II. […]
In the incongruous setting of London’s Southwark Cathedral, she received a native American peace pipe and, more significantly, a copy of the petition Mahomet Weyonomon had tried, but failed, to hand personally to the king in 1736.The Mohegans, not to be confused with the Mahican tribe of James Fenimore Cooper’s 1826 novel Last of the Mohicans, had lost their lands to the tide of English settlers, despite being their allies against the French.
Mahomet left Connecticut to plead for royal help in protecting his hunting grounds but died from smallpox in his City of London lodgings. He was buried in the cathedral’s grounds, where he was to lie in obscurity for 270 years.
Hold on. What gives? After all this time, the Mohegans arrive in London to “finally accomplish a mission” begun by Mahomet the Mohegan. But they forget the reason why he sacrificed his bloody life in the first place?!
The Mohegan’s just hand over a piece of paper but don’t issue a demand that the Queen order her former minions (now Americans) to get off Mohegan lawns and leave them alone? Or else? Wasn’t that why Mahomet took on the job in the first place? How is that completing his mission?
It seems to this Shmohawk that the Mohegans might’ve saved a lot of time and let the U.S. Postal Service do the job instead.
Maybe the only purpose here was to put on some fancy dress, drop off a red stone pipe to the dear lady, and then act like bloody tourists. Bet they went to a few shows in Soho too. At least, they could’ve demanded this Queen send her navy to blockade Connecticut until those sons of settlers wised up? Or something?
Definitely not the Mohawk way, dear readers. If it had been Thatcher instead of the Queen, I bet she would’ve done something. Of course, the Iron Lady might’ve sent her armada to beat up the Mohegan – again. And bloody well right!