|One Called From Afar (Chippeway)|
Thursday, June 02, 2011
Violence of Savages and Savage Violence || State of the Tribes 2011
As I move around in the world I am often in a position to address the so-called condition or state of American Indian people. After all, I know everyone of them. That’s what people think anyway. All minorities experience this expectation from modern people, corporate types. Anyway, I try to do the best I can and take some time to inform my audiences of the violence, addiction, poverty, hopelessness, isolation and doom that faces most, if not all, American Indian tribes.
Usually when people, who care, meet American Indians they want to know about about the fanciful, the magical, the cultural (curiosity)…they are interested in hearing about their domesticated expectation of what an American Indian might be like (if they care at all).
The shadow of the story goes like this…American Indians beat each other to death, slap their wives and children around, neglect their elders, steal from their families, sell their children as sex slaves, join gangs, rob the so-called innocent, lie and cheat whenever possible….really they do, just like the rest of you do. All societies have these problems. Statistical calculations (damn them) tell us that American Indian women are ten times more likely to be beaten, raped, or murdered than everyone else, with many times fewer convictions of their abusers. Homicide by other American Indian kids is the number one cause of death among American Indian youth…..either homicide directly or murder by alcohol and drugs and car smashes in the middle of the night.
Just recently I read a report that informs us that American Indian children have three times the normal rate of untreated tooth decay. Anyway, the report on the bad teeth of American Indians was followed up a few days later by a study of highway deaths, including pedestrians killed by automobiles, and there American Indians are also killed at a much higher rate than any other group.
One of the most iconic (and expensive) images of an American Indian in the present age is the gigantic painting of an American Indian holding a bear can while dressed in ceremonial clothing. This inspiring work was done by an artist who was never an American Indian but who had a little American Indian blood named Frtitz Schoelder. No actual American Indian artist ever made such a painting or was paid so much to do it. The painting is discussed all over the world in “academic” circles as a definitive revelation about the character of the American Indian.
Later I read a US Government report that says the feds refuse to prosecute more than fifty per cent of all serious criminal charges on tribal reservations. The federal government prosecutes all serious crimes on American Indian lands but, says the report, they rarely follow through with prosecutions against tribal members, even in the case of serious felony crime.
These reports can be easily googled. Easy work. What I am referencing here is in just the one week I have been writing this column. Whenever I write about these issues it always becomes a little overwhelming right away. The bad news seems without end for American Indians.
A multi-racial United States President was elected; he was supported by my tribal communities given that he has one fourth of his ancestors were American Indians. Many American Indians and their friends were really optimistic. It is a little tragic to realize, at least at this point, that Obama is not going to do very much at all to help American Indians. There have been some improvements in the administrative levels of health care and law enforcement, but nothing for the tribes real needs. It is harder now than ever for tribes to get loans, financing or consideration for much needed and well thought out ideas developed by tribal business leaders. They have been left holding dust and their vote for the Obama flim-flamon tribal policy. He appointed a man who has never been an American Indian but a working Mormon but who has Indian Blood to a high position. Like the famous artist who sees an Indian and thinks Beer Can, this guy is a Mormon who see what when he looks at Indians? We had an American Indian who was sometimes and American Indian but usually a US Senator for a while. Can’t say he did a single memorable thing or said a memorable word about anything.
If we change the conversation to the geologic and territorial; mining companies continue to utterly destroy tribal lands as the extract uranium from Navajo and Hopi lands. Their lawless methods have condemned thousands of Navajo and Hopi families to early deaths and future generations with dire birth defects. Federal war machine corporations exercise absolute control of tribal lands which contain Uranium and other war materials, destroying local life and giving the sovereign tribes no voice at all in Uranium mining….an occupation by the war machine. If this kind of thing happened in a region filled with white people, there would be international outrage at the highest levels. Because they are isolated American Indians no one cares, no one shares this information. The terrible things that happen every day to American Indians are known only to the victims and survivors and the few academics that can prepare reports which inspire me to this fit of journalism. American Indian tribes are by specific treaty and Law within the Federal government established as sovereign entities. Yet, now more than ever, aggressive state governments have managed to nickel and dime and demand a piece of the pie around most tribal reserves….which is incomprehensible really. The Feds will not help the tribes stand up to the states. They have been left to defend against such mafia-like practices with their own resources, unsupported by the Obama BIA.
What if I had a secret military operation and called it Abe Lincoln? Let’s say it was the code for killing Hitler. This is what happened to one great American Indian hero named Geronimo. His name was the code word for the ugly bag of mostly water called Osama Bin Laden. It is like using Lincoln’s name to talk about Hitler….very nasty and offensive to American Indians. The other side of this is the grossly insulting logos of multimillionaire white man owned sports teams with vulgar tribal nicknames….and last but not least the many tribal names used by the US Military weapons systems to name their weapons. Winona Laduke, one of the bravest, clearest and outstanding American Indians living today, has gone into great detail about the military abuse and exploitation of American Indians by the military. Her new book is an important read, The Militarization of Indian Country.
A pattern begins to emerge that puts American Indians at the bottom of every list of what is good, and the top of many lists for what is bad. It is a strain to bring up the issue of tribal Americans without tears. It is also a strain to accept that each American Indian must “man up” and stop complaining and do something. It is a strain to praise the many programs, advisors and volunteers that do not exist to address these problems.
Even though tribal populations are increasing, cultural specific resources such as language, food, ceremony, religion and lifestyle are being lost at record rates. The blood itself is thinning, with fewer than five percent of all tribal people now with “full blood” of their specific ancestors. Even so, the racial tensions between mixed-blood and so-called full bloods escalates year by year, in particular among the most loud-mouthed tribes, meaning mostly the Lakota.
The Lakota talk to much and talk to loud. Other tribes, many tribes, most tribes are really not saying much to the world. The epidemic of silence is another element in the portfolio of the shadow of the American Indian.
Meanwhile people all over the world send money to a vile criminal, a murder and scam artist named Leonard Peltier who compares himself to Nelson Mandella. This money to free this self-appointed political prisoner is a great disgrace among American Indians who see this money going to enrich Peltier’s friends and perpetuate the marketing of this worthless bastard as a “great man”. New age people pay seven thousand dollars to squeeze into a sweat lodge in the capital of all that is most phony about America….Sedona Arizona. A sweat lodge run by a little white man who has never spoken to an American Indian in his life. Four people died in that sweat lodge and today he sits in prison. It seems it is easy to raise money and people for fake American Indian causes and impossible for American Indians to get a seat at the table for anything real.
Yet, for all this, all of it and the thousand other things I did not add to the list, American Indians refuse to become domesticated Americans and prefer to journey on as themselves, for better or worse.
I am now exhausted and will say more on this, and hopefully make my point, in the next post.
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