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ful illustration of the communal orientation of the Mayan culture as opposed to the indi vidualistic perspective of Western culture. This ecological, communitarian orientation in which the earth is seen, on the one hand, as a biological unit that needs to be nurtured so that it can renew itself and, on the other, as a resource that should be used for the common good, is an orientation that would foster the kind of global consciousness needed for resolving the environmental problems that humanity faces. Further, there is a great deal of wisdom that indigenous cultures possess, including vast knowledge of medicinal plants, multiple uses of trees and other natural resources and methods of long-term, environmentally sound, sustainable living with a minimum of resources. The Quincentennial should be an occasion for us to educate ourselves and others about these cultures and to develop a new respect and appreciation for them. But in addition to developing these new attitudes toward these indigenous cultures, it is also necessary to reflect deeply on the European attitudes and perceptions that lead to the numerous atrocities committed against indigenous cultures. There are many accounts that describe the inhumanities perpetrated by Europeans. Bartolome de Las Casas provides a first-hand account of how Spanish soldiers placed bets amongst themselves to see who would be able to cut off the heads of Indians or slice them in half with one blow. He also describes how the soldiers cut off the Indians’ hands and leave them hanging by threads. Indian babies were grabbed by their legs and, as their mothers watched, were smashed against rocks. Some soldiers enjoyed seeing Indians being torn apart by war dogs. The decimation of the indigenous population was on a monumental scale. Between 1500 and 1550, it is estimated that 70 million indigenous people died. In Mexico and in part of Central America approximately 25 million people lived in 1500, but by 1600 only 1 million remained. Even though most died as the result of diseases introduced into the New World by the Spanish, we must not use this as a convenient excuse to avoid remembering the actions of the Europeans throughout the American continent. The results of the diseases were greatly exacerbated by slavery, overwork and the malnutrition suffered by the Indians. It also is important to realize that extermination of the indigenous populations goes on even to this day. In 1986 the Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States noted that in Guatemala alone 100,000 people, many of them Indians, had been killed by the government, and that 40,000 had disappeared. What is most disturbing about this is that the Guatemalan government received support, including military training, from the United States during some of the years in which these murders occurred. In the United States, many Native Americans continue their struggles against the government to retain or regain rights to ancestral lands and resources. The Quincentennial should be an occasion both for remembrance and initiation. Remembrance of what we have lost as a world community through the wholesale destruction of cultures with unique ways of life. Remembrance of the horrors which our prejudices, racism and dogmatism can produce. But it also should be an occasion for initiating a more profound understanding of indigenous people for seeing them not merely as victims but as possessors of wisdom. And above all, it should be an occasion to initiate the creation of the global consciousness which can enable us to transcend the illusion that others are truly different from ourselves. El ASSASSI SYMPO ON JOHN F. Twenty-nine years after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, disturbing questions remain unanswered. ASK is your opportunity to ponder those questions and to visit the sites where history was made on November 22, 1963. The Hyatt Regency at Reunion Square is an ideal host for this symposium, located within four blocks of Dealey Plaza, t h e Sixth Floor Museum, the former Texas Schoolbook Depository, and the Dallas JFK Assassination Information Center. ASK ’92 will offer four days of new panel discussions, intensive group workshops, and other special events related to assassination research. As with the inaugural event last year, this symposium will continue the effort to convince the United States government to make public all evidence that is currently sealed and reopen an inquiry into the assassination. Experts, authors and eyewitnesses scheduled to speak include Dr. Charles Crenshaw, John Davis, Jim DiEugenio, Bob Dorff, George Michael Evica, Mary Ferrell, Larry Ray Harris, Jean Hill, David Lifton, Jim Marrs, Wallace Milam, John Newman, Mark North, Paul O’Connor, Jim Olivier, Jerry Policoff, Dr. Jerry Rose, Jane Rusconi, Dick Russell, Gary Shaw, Allan Stone, David Tucker, Dr. Cyril Wecht, and Gordon Winslow. Registration price, $150. Send name, address, city, state, zip and phone number to ASK, Box 4999, Austin, Tx 78765. For more info, call 512/445-8390 or 512/467-7979. fo rma t io n line 51 A 4 -: 11 TION UM NNEDY THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15