The Natives This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Rain pelted thebeveled glass of the giant windowpanes, and a great fire burned in the hearth.Even though the raging blaze was hot, the immense room remained damp and cold.Huge, intricately woven tapestries, dating from a time long ago, lined the graystone walls. From the massive rafters hung brightly colored flags representingcivilizations no longer in existence. Near the blistering fireplace stood atallbacked chair, upholstered in royal red and gold with elaborate designs carvedinto its dark oak legs. Under the chair lay an exquisitely crafted rug showingthe wear of many years.

In the chair sat a bald old man, and on the rug,leaning against his legs, sat a bald young boy. Both stared into the brightyellow flames, feeling the intense heat envelop their faces. After a longsilence, the boy spoke.

"Grandfather," he asked, "who werethose people we saw today?"

"Which people?" replied theman.

"The different people, the ones who do not look like us,"described the boy.

"Those were the Natives, Grandson," answeredthe man.

"Oh," said the boy. "Grandfather," hestarted after a long pause.

"Yes, Grandson?"

"Whoare the Natives?"

"The Natives were here before our ancestorscame. Some of them had great cities and powerful civilizations; others lived insimple tribes, subsisting on primitive methods of survival. Each had a rich andprofound culture."

The bald young boy and the bald old man were bothquiet then, listening to the fire consume the dry wood and the rain continue itsbarrage against the old house. The boy sat with a perplexed expression, his facescrewed up; the old man gazed stoically into the fire. Several minutes later, theboy broke the silence.

"What happened to the Natives, Grandfather?Why have I never seen them before, and why do they look so sad?" he queried.

The bald old man stared at the boy for a long time.

"Ourancestors arrived, Grandson," he finally responded. "That is whathappened to the Natives. When our ancestors discovered this place, many of theNatives welcomed them with open arms. They had not been aware that others, likeus, existed. Some of the Natives even thought our ancestors were gods, whileothers treated them as enemies. But in the end, they all turned out the same..."

"But why do we not see them,Grandfather?"

"Patience, Grandson. Our ancestors came for manyreasons; many came to start new lives, unfortunately at the expense of theNatives' survival. Our ancestors brought pestilence and diseases the Natives hadnever experienced, and millions died. Many more died fighting the colonists. Ourancestors were technologically superior and crushed the Natives. Defeated, theywere driven from their homes and forced onto isolated preserves where they wouldnot bother the colonists. The once-burgeoning Native population diminished toalmost nothing. Entire cultures were wiped out. The most powerful civilizationswere reduced to the same level as the primitive tribal societies, but it did notend there, Grandson. No aspect of the Natives' cultures was respected. Many wereforced to integrate into the society of our ancestors and to forget theirheritage."

"Why, Grandfather? Why did our ancestors do suchhorrible things?"

The bald old man sighed. "I do not know,Grandson. Some were selfish, others believed the Natives were little more thananimals, while others truly believed it was the right thing to do. All ourancestors had reasons for doing what theydid."

"Oh."

The room was silent once more, exceptfor the beating of the rain against the house and the fire roaring in thefireplace.

"Grandfather?" asked the bald young boy, finally."Why do we not return to the homeland of our ancestors and give the Nativesback their home?"

"What our ancestors did when they came toEarth was wrong. However, our people have been born and have lived on this planetfor many generations. This is our home now, too. Even though our ancestors werenot born here, we are also now natives of Earth."

Ne atrocitatespraeteriti obliviscamur
Haec eadem atrocitates in futuris
nostris




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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