Tuesday, February 24, 2009
ElmoElmo has been a hard character to nail down visually; he's a descendant of a dead nomadic tribal culture from the American mid west. The Ben Ishmael Tribe.
From the script
"He stood only about 5 ft 3 or 4. His face was broad and his hair was dark red almost black and tied in braids. He wore a brightly coloured smock. His pants were Grey and baggy made something ancient, soft comfortable looking. Somehow he seemed "authentic." There was no hint of him being put on. He leaned into the sound, his knees bent- the horn yelped, cooed, soared, slurring and screeching a particular song sung to no one in particular. With all the rest of the sound, it was a symphony in itself. If you wanted to hear it that way."
"What are you, last of the angry white men?"
I was taken by surprise.
White man? What was he?
He looked white at first glance --maybe--but as I studied his smiling face beaming at me... it seemed to change: White, Black, an Islander, French, and Palestinian? Indian? I was lost here- "whatever--- what difference does it make." My diversity training clicked in but somehow this elicited - an even greater smile.
"The old race thing's got you down, man?" Elmo grinned again. He was enjoying himself immensely for a man in cuffs.
A primer on the Ben Ishmael tribe
In the late 18th/early 19th century groups of runaway slaves and serfs fled from Kentucky, Florida and the eastern seaboard, into the Ohio Territory. There they inter-married with Natives who had lost their land to the early colonists and had moved inland to territory set aside for them by their allied tribes. Together they formed a new tribe - red, white & black - called the Ben Ishmael tribe. The Ishmaels followed an annual nomadic route through the territory, hunting & fishing, and finding work as tinkers and minstrels, carpenters and tradesmen. They were polygamists, drank no alcohol, & sang and danced to show their reverence for life. Every winter they returned to their original settlement, where a village had grown.
Eventually the US Govt. opened the Territory to settlement, and the ~official~ pioneers arrived. Around the Ishmael village a town began to spring up, called Cincinnati. Soon it was a big city. But Ishmael village was still there, engulfed & surrounded by 'civilization'.
When the Eugenics movement was looking for examples of 'degenerate peoples' to prove their ideas, they found the perfect scapegoats in the non-conformist Ishmaels, and they became their first success story. They succeeded in nearly whipping out the population and drove the surviving members underground. There the Ishmaels, sometimes called "REDS" in part due to their mixed ancestry and often-reddish hair, became founding members of the American Black Islamic movement and strong civil rights fighters. They have added much culture and variety to the American cultural landscape, and for it have received almost no recognition at all in mainstream culture.
In addition to their arts, politics and music they have a few noteworthy, though largely unknown credits to modern cultural history. It's thought that the servant James Whitcomb Riley based his poems "Little Orphan Annie" on was possibly an Ishmaelite. That's not certain by any means but It fits the context of the times and the story of how she cam to be a member of his household.
More cretin is the fact that, when the 3rd Reich was looking around for ideas as to how to solve 'the Jewish problem' they found their answers in the documents that described how the eugenics movement dealt with the Ben Ishmael tribe. Making theirs one of the first archetypal modern examples of conscious organized Genocide in western culture.
For more on the Ben Ishmael tribe look to the only book currently in print that contains any information on them, Gone to Croatan.
Short history and maps for the Tribe of Ishmael territories
Curio Americana: Ben Ishmael Tribe
The Ben-Ishmael Tribe of Indiana
Inventing America's "Worst" Family | Eugenics, Islam, and the Fall and Rise of the Tribe of Ishmael
Islam and Eugenics
THE TRIBE OF ISHMAEL: A STUDY IN SOCIAL DEGRADATION.
BY OSCAR C. McCOLLOCH.
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