I came across this beautiful story of adoption from rural East Cork, in Ireland.
Two children from Guatemala, Jacobo aged 4 and Natalie aged 5. Their father, Vittorio, is Italian. Their mother, Jools, is English. A family from three countries - making their home in a fourth, Ireland.
It was broadcast as part of the Documentary on One series on RTÉ, the Irish national broadcaster, and you can listen to it here.
Last Sunday, among the now routine roll-call of violent death in Guatemala appeared one name for whom the grave would not be silent. “Good Afternoon, my name is Rodrigo Rosenberg Marzano… sadly if you are watching or hearing this message it is because I was murdered by President Alvaro Colom…” His accusations have been seized on to generate the most serious political crisis seen in Guatemala for some years. Allegations are made about other people too: the president’s wife, private secretary and a major party funder.
On the Mountains of the Prairie, On the great Red Pipe-stone Quarry, Gitche Manito, the mighty, He the Master of Life, descending, On the red crags of the quarry Stood erect, and called the nations, Called the tribes of men together.
There's little connection between Longfellow's hero and the sixteenth-century Iroquois chief Hiawatha who founded the Iroquois League. Longfellow took the name from works by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, whom he acknowledged as his main sources. In 1856 Schoolcraft published The Hiawatha Legends, based on this material.
Despite this it is an enduring symbol of the attempt by North American writers to discover and understand the native American culture that mainstream society was largely ignorant of. I can't help feeling it mirrors many of the challenges facing the outsider trying to understand the Maya and their descendants in Guatemala.
Here below is a full reading of the poem "The Song of Hiawatha". You can download the original here from Project Gutenberg or view it online here.