Cover Image from Artsor*
Rain. Shine. Fog. For some, the weather is caused by a divine being. For others, the weather is caused by the water cycle and weather patterns in the world. But what if the weather was caused by magic? In Humcore, we are reading Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, which features a controlling wizard, named Prospero, who uses magic to create a storm on a ship filled with nobles (most notably the King of Naples, his son, and the Duke of Milan).
As a child, I was always a fan of having magical powers. I wanted to be like the Avatar and bend the elements of water, air, fire, earth, metal, and more! But what if magic was used in a sense to describe the superiority complex of colonizers?
In the adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, A Tempest, by Aimé Césaire, Prospero is the colonizer who takes over the island. Prospero was exiled from his hometown, Milan, and sent to an unknown island. His magical powers allowed for him to take control of that island and obtain two servants: the spirit Ariel and Caliban, the son of the previous inhabitant Sycorax. His powers represent the privilege of coming from a developed city and access to resources used to conquer the island’s inhabitants. He decides to stay on the island as he believes that it is his duty to stay on the island. Unlike Shakespeare’s version, he does not relinquish his power.
Image by Selous
So how does Prospero relate to the modern world?
Prospero believes that it is his duty to stay on the island and leave a permanent impact on its inhabitants. This is similar to the mindset of developed countries toward developing countries. We have resources and technology superior to those of developing countries and since we have the advantage, we decide to extend our hand out to them to aid them. Just like Prospero, we take those who we believe are less fortunate and under our rule, we make their lives “better” for the colonized. Ariel and Caliban both desired freedom from the colonizer, Prospero. However, when bringing up that idea, Prospero refuted with the “facts” that their lives would have been worse off if Prospero wasn’t there to save them. Similarly, the colonization of Native Americans in the US was due to the idea of the natives being “savages” incapable of becoming more advanced without the help of someone else, such as the English (Native Americans & American Popular Culture). Manifest destiny also drove the English to colonize the Americas as they believed that it was God’s will for the United States to expand its territory and ideas of capitalism and democracy (Manifest Destiny).
So what have we done to make reparations for the natives of this land?
Pretty Nose, a Cheyenne woman. Photographed in 1878 at Fort Keogh, Montana by L. A. Huffman. (Ratner)
Some may think of the native reservations as compensation for all the horrible deeds done to them. Lands are reserved for their tribe and some believe that natives on the reservations receive special privileges such as not having to pay taxes and getting paid by the government. However, it varies from tribe to tribe. Some pay taxes, others don’t depending on the tribe. If they trade outside of the reservation, they would have to pay the state and local taxes. On the other hand, tribes may also gain some money from the government in fulfillment of treaty obligations or in return for using the resources on the reservation (Frequently Asked Questions).
But mentally, we have disturbed them more than we have tried to make amends for. We stripped them of the land that they used to roam free in and separated relations between communities of natives. That sense of loss with their ancestors in terms of not being able to hunt and live how they used to could never be repaired (Reserves).
So what can we do for them?
I believe that something should be done for the natives. What I propose is surveying native groups in order to ask what they think would be the best judgment. Inclusiveness is what is needed for the natives since it directly involves themselves and their ancestors.
What do you think we should do?
Césaire, Aimé. A Tempest. Edited by Richard Miller, TCG Translations, 2002. Web. 20 Feb.
“Frequently Asked Questions.” Native American Rights Fund. Web. 20 Feb. 2019.
“Manifest Destiny.” History, A&E Television Networks, 5 Apr. 2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2019.
“Native Americans & American Popular Culture.” History on the Net. Web. 20 Feb. 2019.
Ratner, Paul. “Rare, Old Photos of Native American Women and Children.” The Huffington Post,
7 Dec. 2017. Web. 20 Feb. 2019.
“Reserves.” Indigenous Foundations. Web. 20 Feb. 2019.
*Ruisdael, Jacob van (Holland, 1628-82). The Tempest. Artstor.
Selous, H. C. “The Tempest Full Page Introductory Illustration.” Victorian Illustrated
Shakespeare Archive, 17 Aug. 2016. Web. 20 Feb. 2019.
Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Edited by Robert Langbaum, Signet Classics, 1998. Web. 20