The Strange History and Legend of the Moran Moor
Extract Fifteen. Reservations, The language of Deception
European speech had at its base the same need for plain communication and honest interaction as any other naturally developed language. However, in the case of old-world languages the fundamental purpose was rapidly changed to include a level of falsehood, manipulation, exaggeration, and craft not prevalent in most new world forms of communication. The simple exchange of pleasantries, ideas and information was adapted to include politicization, something only possible with the nuance of extensive vocabulary, tense and vocal inclination, practices incompatible with the use of of sign, that most commonly used tool for interaction between small localized but widely travelling populations.
Interaction between politicized or nuanced language and a more fundamental pictorially based system is almost guaranteed to produce confusion, misunderstanding, the probability of misrepresentation at the most basic of levels. Attention to accurate and meaningful translation is such discussions is paramount to any cohesive hope of communal comprehension.
We must assume that many conversations between the arriving settlers, traders, politicians, soldiers and the first peoples were problematic at minimum, outright and purposefully divisive at worst. To indigenous people the spoken word was still largely a vessel containing only truth, a promise given representing an unvarnished commitment, something that could not be deviated from or fundamentally changed without further parley. Words were assumed to be frankly and openly exchanged, vows and treaties made without reservation or hidden agenda.
‘Reservation’ is of course a fine an example of a European word that is both divisive and manipulative. To the indigenous people a reservation was a promise given of a space totally for the use of themselves, their brothers and sisters and their descendants till ‘the sun ceased to rise or set’. For the westerner the word ‘reservation’ with simply a more pleasant way of describing what we would now term at best an open prison or at worst a concentration camp. With the added bonus of some Indian Agency provided blankets that somehow were mysteriously infected with smallpox the same concentration camp could easily become within the course of a winter an extermination camp.
The sudden seemingly miraculous appearance of Julien Lasalle-Bargossa changed the unpredictable tides of fate in many unforeseen ways. As a child born into a society ravaged by smallpox, measles, cholera and multitudinous other diseases bound to become plague amongst the first peoples he quite inadvertently provided through his paternity of Łixwlqeel’č’ antibodies capable of fighting what otherwise would have been deadly diseases, creating a probable line quite of continuous succession.