|Copyright ©2011 Turtle Heart|
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Over the last years I have made a strong video study of the history of the world. In the morning I watch the history of the middle east, in the afternoon I look at the history of europe and the evenings bring me to China and Japan with frequent readings and viewings in American Indian and South American issues (mush less material on those subjects is available).
A curious pattern emerges. All of those non-american indian nations have long histories of strong arm bosses, kings, queens, pharohs, sheiks, shoguns, warlords and generals. Native America never had those things. Tribes in North America favor self-determination and self-governing and never had the need for emperors or kings or presidents.
At this point there are many outstanding documentary videos about the histories of the non American Indian world. Not so many on the American and South American cultures.
These boss-emperor-king-president cultures have written the histories of the world which fill our libraries and schools. No one has said it more clearly, in recent years, than the authors Paul Schrag and Xaviant Haze in their important must read book, “The Suppressed History of America”
“….how to define the America that existed before the Spanish conquistadores, French explorers, and British adventurers arrived in the so-called New World. This intellectual battle has been waged for centuries now by two factions of scholars—the diffusionists and the independent inventionists.
To this day the diffusionists are spoken of with derision in main- stream academic circles, as they dig into the past with the same courage that characterized Lewis (of Lewis and Clark) and his journey west. Like Lewis, these rogue scholars continue to unearth evidence that America was visited long before Columbus by explorers crossing both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Moreover, these scholars continue to unearth evidence of rich, vibrant, highly evolved cultures that existed in ancient America. This growing volume of archaeological evidence stands in clear contradiction to many key assumptions held by America’s founders and their scholarly counterparts, the so-called independent inventionists. The inventionist perspective remains the standard among archaeologists and suggests that natives of the American continent are descended from Ice Age relatives who crossed the Bering Strait and developed in complete isolation—until, that is, they were “discovered” by Spanish, French, and British explorers during the late fifteenth century. In the early days of America it was the federal government and its proponents who were most interested in characterizing the continent as an untrammeled paradise populated by savages.
This set of assumptions gave early explorers and exploiters of the American continent the justification they needed to co-opt and pillage its resources, wage war on its native people, and occupy its lands with impunity. It was the perspective that America’s government officials held as they tamed America’s terrain and battled its people for control of the vast stores of resources that would fuel the creation of their New World. It also became the perspective that was later adopted by the Smithsonian Institution, which, more than any other organization, has defined our understanding of America’s origins. Since its inception in the 1800s, the Smithsonian joined the powers in Washington in vigorously promoting the idea that America was an untouched landscape before Europeans arrived to “claim” it. Simply put, the Smithsonian’s initial administrators followed the direction already chosen by America’s early leaders, supported by their own inherited cultural and scholarly myopia.”
I find it gratifying that at last some historians and technical research is revealing clearly the sophistication, complexity, beauty and deep social sophistication of American Indians tribes and lives. It has always been, and remains, in the interests of the United States government to see American Indians defined in the weakest possible terms. After so many generations of this, so many volumes, so many enacted policies, the inmates themselves have come to believe the made up stories which is passed around as history.
Most minority scholars argue that the compiled and accepted histories of the world is a basket of lies and misdirection. These days most educated people do not argue this point, in general, but rather accept it as the status quo.
In private art auctions, very old ceremonial items sell for millions of dollars. In international art galleries, you will never see an American Indian painting in the same showing as a Van Gogh or a Rembrandt. This toxic duality of high profit from the ceremonial and often sacred bones of ancient people while considering them “not artists” in mainstream galleries is a perfect example of how widely accepted this policy of diminishing American Indians has become ingrained in the culture of America.
As a student of both history and life, I have experienced many valuable teachings and experiences from American Indians all over the country, all my life. When I compare those ideas and those experiences to what I have learned from politics in America, American history, Christianity and other world religions and all the rest of it, the ideas of the old Indians shine like a jewel in the mud, to me. The status quo demands that all attention be given to the bosses, the corporations and the institutionalized truth over the evidence of time and our senses.
It seems that the quest for the “truth is out there” is only for fictionalized actors. The real truth has become less important the the flavors chosen for us by our paymasters. Much like the victims of bad government policy, the mainstream itself is a victim to its own desire to accept a manufactured reality.
Today is the Summer Solstice. The old Indians call this moment “a gateway”, implying if you know how, you may pass from one place to another. This is what the old Indians tell us. The Christians, Muslims, Jews and so forth tell us…..nothing.
Friday, June 17, 2011
This poster is from an election campaign in Italy some years ago (2008). It was related to the issue of controlling immigration. A basic translation is that if we (Italians) do not do something about immigration, we (Italians) will end up on reservations like the Indians (who were not able to control immigration). This poster is from the pro Silvio Berlusconi group. Berlusconi is a butt-ugly empty bag of mostly water who is the long-ruling president of Italy.
Around the world the United States “reservation system” has been a model for ethnic and racial isolation/punishment. Adolf Hitler referred to the American Indian reservation system as an effective way to control a minority population.
Now many generations later, the inmates defend their reservations with a great passion, and perhaps rightfully so. The problems are not so much with the space as it is with the philosophy of the United States in regards to its minority American Indian population.
Many people believe American Indians get a lot of free money and other services. They do not. Tribes have congressionally ratified treaties with the Federal government which grants them certain entitlements. This is not the same thing as a hand out. Every American Indian bleeds a little for every Federal dollar that somehow finds its way onto an American Indian reservation. For every dollar that might reach an actual program, around fifty dollars is spent in administrative costs, overhead and BIA salaries. There is enough money in the federal budget for the American Indian situation to give every American Indian a million dollars a year and still have billions left over. A tiny trickle of that money actually arrives. No one in the actual world ever questions this.
Sometimes, quite often really, only the loudest voices are heard out in the world. Criminal money scams, such as the Leonard Peltier Defense Fund, have stolen millions of dollars over the years from all over the world. Peltier is a gangster and killer who murdered two FBI agents in a senseless act of violence many years ago. He is a punk with no standing among American Indians. His so-called supporters have been clever at feeding on people’s concern for justice to amass quite a lot of money over the years. This scam continues because they are clever enough to promote their agenda relentlessly. Only modern people who really know nothing at all about American Indians get taken in by this scam. Those who know the reality understand clearly the punk that is leonard Peltier. Fortunately there are only a few scams like in the American Indian world. What is more common are tribal officials pocketing money and anything that is not nailed down. Many tribal communities offer very few jobs. Among the few they do offer are jobs in the tribal government. These can be very well-paying jobs with benefits. There is a lot of jealousy and possessiveness around these jobs. Many tribal communities are plagued with this sort of selfish and desperation-inspired corruption. Because of these facts, corruption among tribal officials is a serious problem. It is not universal, but it is wide spread.
There is yet another criminal element which exploits the worldwide interest in tribal spirituality. Among tribes like the Lakota, one of the loudest tribes, possibly the loudest talking tribe, there is a lot of opposition to what they call plastic medicine men. These are non-Indian people who make or pretend to make ceremonies like the sweat lodge, or pipe ceremony, to open groups around the world. They fail to mention the many enrolled “full-blood” tribal members who make all manner of faked ceremonies and faked ceremonial objects illegally available to modern people, in defiance of the clear instructions of the tribal elders. This activity of the “plastic shamans” on one hand and the “illegal ceremonies” of tribal members on the other, is a real mess. Another mess not very well understood outside in the so-called information driven society.
The quiet voices are the ones that have the great power among the real American Indians. Quiet voices are hard to promote in videos, blogs and television. Humility and sweetness cannot be marketed if they are real. Most American Indians live profoundly complicated, often isolated and generally difficult lives invisibly, in the heart of the United States of America. Many of them do it with grace, with a sense of humor. They do it with a determination to remain American Indians, whatever that might mean or might cost at any given moment.
The bad news is that the bad news is pretty bad, and abundant. The good news is that there is no good news, not really. Beyond the normal human capacity for hope and individual triumphs in the face of long odds, there is not so much in the way of good news when we look collectively at the American Indian situation right now. I have not managed to understand any way to make this story a positive one.
|Custer last battle flag, recently sold at auction...|
Getting any information out to the world at large is not so easy. Every year there is at least one American Indian Film Festival with lists of possibly very significant information from American Indian film makers. As to where and how you can see, buy, rent or download these films there is no information. For several years I sent one film festival web site this question…they never gave me an answer. There are some well made collaborative efforts among the tribes who share fishing rights, hunting issues and natural harvesting of things like wild rice and maple syrup. The five per cent of tribes that have gambling casinos have conferences and web sites but these are just about the casinos and offer zero information about any reality. There is a very nice publisher of American Indian books. You cannot email them, telephone them, you can only use a paper letter to order their great books…they don’t sell many books. These are just examples of the wide problem here. Thousands of web sites, blogs, face book profiles and so forth exist through internet connections. So many of them are making up their content, or babbling with good intentions about subjects in which they have been poorly informed…finding your way to any good information on these subjects is the last great frontier perhaps…it is not easy. One should always be skeptical. Yet being skeptical can lead to many false assumptions and mistakes. Being well informed really helps but being really well informed is very difficult; so there we are, between here and there.
I remember one of my old Indians told me, “The Eagle will not tell you where she has her nest. If you know how, you can find it.” This idea works very well in the Mystery Life, but not so well in the Information Age.
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
|©2011 Turtle Heart|
(part two from the preceding post)
Looking around the world…one sees a seeming endless succession of dictators murdering everybody in sight and lining their pockets with cash. The middle east “Arabian awakening”, sub-Sahara Africa, South America and near-Asian countries have hatched one murderous dictator after another. Long after the horrific Holocaust of the Jewish people, when world leaders swore it would never happen again, from Serbia to Syria who can count the murdered men, children, families and whole communities?
America has a “reservation” system where it has housed and effectively minimized and isolated nearly 2 million human beings. In the beginning they took away their clothing, footwear, hair, food, religion, language, freedom of movement, government and even the children (sent away to government academies). It is not as brutal as the new wave of dictators, it is more subtle and quiet. It is a population of human beings who do not have freedom, who do not have what you have, a people who see no open doors. American Indians (unlike blacks and women for example) are not even on so-called “affirmative action” lists.
American Indians, nevertheless populate every strata of American society. They have served as soldiers, astronauts, engineers, iron workers, doctors, lawyers, judges, government officials, indeed any profession you could name. People do their best to carry on, even under federal racial restrictions.
While tribes enjoy the unique and amusing status as “Sovereign Nations”, this profound opportunity has been manipulated to a crippling dependance on the federal government and isolation from banks, lines of credit, social services, public education, public health and all the other great services enjoyed by regular American Citizens. Most American Indian men have been arrested at least once by white police, so most of us have some experience with those government services.
Most American Indians know these terrible facts. They are a shadow that accompanies every American Indian. Most of the rest of you have no idea, no idea at all. These shadows stand between every conversation we could possibly have on the subject of American Indian.
What is most savage is when captured, isolated, denied and minimized human beings begin to turn on themselves, destroy themselves. What is most savage is the silence, absolute ignorances (as in not knowing and not caring they do not know), and arrogance of bureaucracy. The national American character flaws are the root of what is savage…and lives are lost with every beat of every indifferent heart.
AmeriKa spends billions propping up dictators in the Middle East, wars of culture in two countries. AmeriKa is indebted to a brutal Chinese nation and is utterly dependent on the exploited labor and resources that country provides. It is governed by a complex council of corrupt and self-serving so-called politicians. It promotes democracy in countries like Iraq where it has transported cash by the metric ton to disappear inside corrupt Middle eastern administrators. Yet they can do nothing, in fact they do what amounts to nothing to help, assist, preserve or even protect American Indian elders, children and communities.
We can now add to this toxic portfolio of bad news the strange behavior of mostly white new age ghosts who believe they have found a new religion built upon the stolen bones dreams and songs of these same damaged and isolated American Indians….without their permission, consent or participation…..and there are millions who do this, making millions of dollars, filling up thousands of web pages and published toilet paper.
Perhaps my only point is that the reader try to know these things, the reality, the current reality.
Thursday, June 02, 2011
|One Called From Afar (Chippeway)|
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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