Haibun for humanity

The dverse haibun this week is about indigenous people, which set me wondering about what this term actually means in the European context. The answer is, nothing at all.



Once there were the Celts, and they shared the land with the Romans who were drawn from all the known world. On these fields there were Gascons and to the east the Occitans and the Provençals. To the south were more Celts, Visigoths and Moors. Further north and east there were the Franks, and across the sea, even more Celts, driven west by Angles and Saxons, the Low Germans, then colonised by Norsemen and Goths, and in the farthest west, even there, the Norsemen built their towns among the Celts, and later the Normans, Norse-Frankish-Gallo-Romans with their Latinised ways, invaded and settled. Later still, the Italians came and the Portuguese and the Spaniards, fleeing war and poverty.

Now we point the finger at the African and the Arab, and say we, this mish-mash of tribes and peoples and nations, are the indigenous people, and we were here first. But we are all just people, colonised and coloniser, victor and vanquished, a story centuries old of the great brassage of populations. One day, we may realise no one has right of residence, that the earth belongs not to all, but to no one.

in the field

an oak tree grows

already older

than my grandparents

still setting seed

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

44 thoughts on “Haibun for humanity”

    1. I heard it hear, only a few weeks ago, one neighbour who is of Swiss Protestant extraction (generations ago) talking about the other neighbours, also all French, but only the old couple who had the house we live in now were ‘true Gascons’. The others were from the north, from the Lyonnais, from somewhere else in the same département, or from Provence.

    1. Wandering is one thing. You can only wander of you’re allowed, and you’re not allowed if some other tribe has grabbed the next bit of land. Then is you want to wander, you have to fight, conquer and colonise. If only we allowed wandering. I wonder if we ever did?

  1. Human nature is two-faced, shallow, greedy, and can be calloused or too easily other-directed; thus the rise of Trumpland posing a peril to the whole planet. History kind of forgave Nixon. They sure as hell won’t forgive #45.

    1. I agree with you about human nature. But I don’t see who is going to blame Trump for anything in particular, since history will be written by the Trumps of this world. He has his mirror images all over the globe, and he knows his voters. They think like he does.

  2. Excellent Jane, and absolutely on point. We humans are simply another group of passengers here on spaceship earth. We sure as hell don’t own it — we do a piss poor job of even helping keep it clean.

    1. I don’t believe it does. The last indigenous forest people don’t believe in land ownership and they won’t last long. Interestingly the Celts didn’t believe you could own the land either and even the poorest of the poor farmed where they liked without some overlord telling them it belonged to him. The land was to provide for everyone therefore it couldn’t be hived off for individual gain.

      1. It was one of first stumbling blocks with the Normans. The Irish hadn’t understood that when the Normans were given land, it meant that they believed it was theirs, not just lent to them to use in their lifetime. Nor did they think it would be an exclusive right. The Normans obviously had more modern ideas.

  3. This view is understandable in Europe. In the States, the conquest meant genocide or herding the defeated onto reservations, often with squalid conditions, and that black-eye has not faded.

    1. But all colonial powers have done that. The English tried to exterminate the Irish, the Turks the Armenians, the British the Zulus, the Arabs the Berbers and Kabils, the Aztecs, Incas and Maya were wiped out by the Spaniards and the Portuguese, and everyone has tried to exterminate the Jews. Always by portraying the indigenous people as savages and non-human. I think what is disturbing about the US is that it is a colonial power that is still regarded as a coloniser and oppressor by part of its population. In most other cases, the colonial power has withdrawn and the wounds can start to heal over.

  4. I couldn’t figure out how to fit the fact that the land belongs to nobody, although that was my first thought. But you’ve said it better than I ever could. (K)

  5. It’s God’s good earth…human race was put here as stewards and we’ll have to answer to Him about how we treat the earth and our fellow human beings. Good one, Jane!

    1. To me, the point isn’t who was here first, it’s more do any of us have the right to grab anything that nature provides? Fences, frontiers, boundaries are the invention of people incapable of sharing.

  6. “One day, we may realise no one has right of residence, that the earth belongs not to all, but to no one.” I pray every day for Mother Earth’s liberation.

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