April 11, 2022- Dr. Carlos Montezuma was a Yavapai, literally sold, as a boy, to an Italian photographer, for 30 pieces of silver, by his Akimel O’odham captors, in October, 1871. Named Wassaja (“Beckoning”), by his parents, he was renamed by his adoptive father, Carlos Gentile, as Carlos Montezuma. He grew up to fully avail himself of formal education, becoming the second Indigenous person to earn a medical degree, after Susan Picotte. Carlos Montezuma invented several medical procedures and devices, for which he never has received official credit. In fact, even mentioning those in print would likely get me in trouble for “copyright violation”.
One thing that Carlos Montezuma did get accredited to his name was founding the Society of American Indians, giving voice to First Nations people, long before the American Indian Movement took it up another notch, in the 1970s. Thanks to Carlos, the road to visibility became clear to the people who were here, long before Columbus, or the Vikings. No one today can say, with a straight face, that they are unaware of our twin continents’ original inhabitants and at least some of what they accomplished.
I say this, because there are still many, across ethnic groups, age categories, genders, who are treated as invisible. One of the things I notice about reaction to my blog is that those posts which give credit or recognition to specific people in marginalized roles are also those posts which get the least acknowledgement. Human nature trends towards the “golden rule of power”: “He who has the gold, makes the rules.” In following this trend, the readers who choose to ignore the “uninteresting” characters, say much about themselves and their own self-concept.
The fact is, though, my friends, each of us has a point of interest about oneself. I learn much from the barristas, the janitors, the bussers, the homeless and the random little kid who wanders about, looking for his family. No one gets to be invisible, in the long run.