Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ojibwe Rule of 8-sided Character : Scalia (Fail)

Symbol: Native American Church

©2016 Turtle Heart
Editorial Opinion

If we follow the history of the judicial majority and minority rulings and opinions stated the the passing life of the reprehensible justice Anton Scalia,we find nowhere in those tomes what the constitution might hope to be blind justice. In fact, looking at his record there is a very precise matching up of his works with the political right in particular. There is no question about this. His obvious zeal for the right was and remains reprehensible. One needs only look at the hysterical panic of the GOP leadership when the news of his death arrived. In mere minutes the highest voices of the GOP establishment yelled out “hell no”.

Most reasonable people I believe are somewhat, and perhaps even greatly relieved that Scalia is gone from the court. Very hopefully we might conclude it is unlikely that such a zealous and biased justice could ever be confirmed at this point. Whomever is put forward will be assailed with historic vigour.

65% of Republicans in office right now were elected in opposition to and during the Obama presidency. The moronic, obstructionist, self-destructive and irrational comportment of republicans has produced a generation of possible the most stupid politicians in American history…by the actual voters. Even today, given the horrible candidates putting themselves forward, Republicans are still being voted into office. One could ask the question, in every corner, how is this possible? I have yet to hear a satisfying answer. That some voter could so despise another politician as to vote passionately against his or her own interests? It is just incredible.

8 sided character. One of the most fantastic elements of the spiritual teachings that were the backbone of Ojibwe culture was the ethical and moral guidance of the mide-wian sacred society. Inside this dedicated body of teachers, scholars, healers and philosophers were anointed/appointed Keepers and caretakers of the most advanced and important ceremonies and their associated objects. This includes drum keepers, pipe keepers, and other objects and offices of the tribal sacred. It was required by strident mide-wian tradition that any person appointed to high office should have what we Ojibwe call “an 8-sided character”. The largest Ojibwe tribal groups all have appointed judges that serve in tribal courts. This 8 side character rules applies to every one on them. Did Scalia have an 8-sided character?

Scalia. An effective bastard? Yes. Quite influential. Honourable Justice? Not by the most artful press of any truth could Scalia be considered an honourable public servant.

The funeral: Senator Mike Lee. Ted Cruz. Both prominent. Both with all the character of empty cardboard boxes, giving faux dignity to faux ceremony, officiated by 100 priests and a son of the late Justice. Crux was taking selfies, revealing in profile the body of an ancient curmudgeon, even though he is still a young man. A tortured and worn-out visage in an ill-fitting cheap black suit. A candidate for President of the United States.

 From David Wilkens (Lumbee Nation) writing in Indian Country Today:

 “… Justice Antonia Scalia was one of the most rabidly anti-American Indian  
 justices—closely aligned with former Chief Justice William Rehnquist—ever to serve   on the High Court.

 Petra Shattuck and Jill Norgren wrote a wonderful book in 1991 titled, Partial
 Justice: Federal Indian Law in a Liberal Constitutional System. The central
 question they posed was this: “Whether the law ought to be praised or cursed what it has done to Indians.”

 While acknowledging that the Supreme Court occasionally hands down decisions on a   lower level that  
interpret treaty language in favor of Natives and even some that have   guaranteed compensation for the
unjust taking of recognized Indian lands, by far their   research showed that on a higher level federal courts
have long given the political  branches virtual carte blanche authority–plenary power defined as virtually
absolute–to do whatever federal officials think is in the tribal interest.

 Over time, the trust doctrine has consistently been defined by the courts and the
 political branches in a way that normally benefits the federal government rather than
 the beneficiaries of the alleged trust, Native peoples.

 This two-tiered system of justice leaves Native nations extremely vulnerable and in an
 inferior legal and political position because the occasional judicial victories on the lower  level of treaty i
 interpretation have never been used to breach the higher-level plenary   and trust power of the federal

 Justice Scalia’s Indian Law opinions between 1986-2016 both reaffirmed federal
 superiority over Native peoples and also dramatically elevated state power vis-a-vis
 tribal governments in most of the opinions he wrote or joined. Lawrence R. Baca, a
 Pawnee lawyer, published a useful article last year that covered the last 40 years of
 Supreme Court cases dealing with Native issues. Important for our purpose is that
 Baca also did a statistical analysis of how individual justices voted in each case and
 whether the case “favored” or was “adverse” to Native interests.

 Of the more than 115 Indian law cases delivered between 1975 and April 2015
 five justices “have perfect records of their opinions always being against Indian
 interests:” Clarence Thomas (six opinions), Antonia Scalia (five opinions), Samuel
 Alito (three opinions), and Chief Justice Roberts (one opinion.) Let us look quickly at
 the five Scalia anti-Native cases that he authored and see if we can tease out his
 underlying ideology regarding Native peoples.

 Employment Division v. Smith (1990)
 This was a devastating blow to the First Amendment religious freedom rights of Native   American Church
(NAC) members. Two men had been fired from their counselling    
 jobs in Oregon and denied unemployment compensation because of their use of peyote, deemed a
“prohibited drug” by state law.

 In denying NAC members the right to freely practice their religion, Scalia, a devout
 Roman Catholic, wrote this remarkable sentence: “It would doubtless be
 unconstitutional, for example, to ban the casting of ‘statues that are to be used for
 worship purposes,’ or to prohibit bowing down before a golden calf.” Vine Deloria,
 analyzing Scalia’s opinion, observed that worshiping golden calves had been
 reprehensible to Moses. He went on to say “That it would now be the primary form of
 religious activity protected by the U.S. Constitution seems ludicrous.”

 Blatchford v. Native Village of Noatak (1991)
 In this case the Noatak Village sued a state official in federal court seeking payment of   funds of money that
the village believed was due under a state revenue sharing plan.   The state claimed that it was immune from
suit by the Village under the Constitution’s   11th amendment. Scalia, for a 7-2 majority, sided with the state.

 County of Yakima v. Confederated Tribes and Bands of Yakama Nation (1992)
 Here, Scalia wrote that the General Allotment Act of 1887 permitted Yakima County to   impose an ad
 valorem tax on reservation land that had been patented in fee and owned by individual Yakama’s or the
Yakama Nation itself.

 Nevada v. Hicks (2001)
 Scalia, for the court, wrote that tribal courts lacked jurisdiction to regulate state game
 wardens who were executing a search warrant on the reservation for an incident that
 had happened off the reservation. This case contains the devastating line: “State
 sovereignty does not end at a reservation’s border.”

 U.S. v. Navajo Nation (2009)
 Writing for a unanimous court, Scalia said that the Navajo Nation’s complaints against
 the Secretary of Interior for allegedly violating its trust responsibility by having colluded
 with a coal company did not rise to a claim under the Indian Mineral Leasing Act and
 that the Nation was not entitled to compensation.

 Each of these opinions caused great consternation in Indian country, especially the
 Smith ruling on peyote and the Hicks case on state jurisdiction on tribal lands. In a few
 cases where individual Native interests conflicted with those of their nation, Scalia,
 usually ruled for individuals against Native national interests. For example, in two
 cases involving land consolidation, Hodel v. Irving (1987) and Babbitt v. Youpee
 (1997), Scalia sided with individual Indian property holders who challenged a
 congressional law that would have had their small interests in land revert to the tribal
 government upon their death without compensation.

 And in two important Indian child welfare cases, Mississippi Band of Choctaw v.
 Holyfield (1989) and Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl (2013), he showed support for the
 Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). He joined, in Holyfield, with the majority which held
 that Native parents could not avoid ICWA’s provisions by simply giving birth to a child
 off the reservation. And in Baby Girl he filed a dissenting opinion that stressed that
 biological parents had legal rights and even if they had no custody of a child in the past
 they might secure it in the future.

 These three cases were solid victories for both individual Indian property rights and for
 the right of tribal governments to be directly involved in the adoption of Native children.
 Although the Baby Girl case was a terrible loss for the biological parent and a blow to
 ICWA, the decision clearly outlined Scalia’s support for the rights of Native parents.

 Given his history of scornfully brushing aside most questions of Native rights, this
 position is most puzzling. I would speculate that his views might have been based
 more on strong feelings in support of private property and parental rights—especially a
 father’s rights—rather than those of Indigenous Peoples.

 On balance, however, the vast majority of Scalia’s jurisprudence was dismissive
 or denigrated indigenous religious rights, reduced tribal powers vis-à-vis state
 governments–i.e. jurisdictional, voting rights, taxation, criminal matters, and hunting
 and fishing rights–and accorded the federal government even greater leeway to define
 the trust relationship in a way that benefitted the federal government rather than Native
 peoples. His opinions, in short, reaffirmed the two-tiered level of justice that Shattuck
 and Norgren wrote about.

 The next Supreme Court appointee will be immediately besieged by a bevy of
 constituencies hoping that the jurist will look favourably on their requests. But given the
 High Court’s historic track record on Native issues we should be wary about what to
 expect. That said, let us hope that Obama is successful in having his judicial candidate
 confirmed by the Senate. His two previous nominees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena
 Kagan, already have established a much more favourable stance on Native issues t  
  than Scalia ever did.”

All of this news unfolds for the informed reader as the New York Times proclaims in large type, at his funeral, Scalia’s Funeral Reflects the Justice’s Life of Faith !!  Is that ironic or just condescending?

One can be rightfully suspicious of men in authority, white men in authority, who affirm with passion their own faith while denying that privilege to all others. What part of blind justice is that? What part of the real and actual truth is that? This is the essential problem with the so-called legacy of Scalia. A true legacy for the ages upholds all people, uplifts all of society. If we examine the opinions of Scalia, over and over we see how the anointed, the corporate, and the political right are upheld at the actual expense of everyone else. Reprehensible is the word that resonates inside my spirit every time I think of Scalia.

When he died, he was sleeping in a free bed, in a free resort, after having imbibed free wine and free gourmet food. Top dollar. Golden plates of free food in a polished tower of a hand-.made bed. He died in a rich man’s Texas resort, provided the repast and accommodations of a Prince, by people whom had had business before his court.

Every person who ascends the golden arch of fame, in the end must be measured and weighed by it. There is no measure in the obstinate and condescending life of this little Sicilian of honour or of history. All that remains is the meanness of his person and the graceless, corrupt manner of his passing. The only good signal to come out of this, is that this may be the beginning of the end for the dominance of the extremist and obstructionist stranglehold the GOP exerts in national politics.

Animal life. As a parting note, I confess I love all the animals. Scalia was a sport shooter. The shooting of animals for sport by fat, rich white men is just gross. It is a filthy and pointless pastime, indulged in by the absolute vermin of politics, such as Dick Cheney. Scalia was in Texas to eat free food, drink free wine and kill innocent animals with free guns firing free bullets. And then he died: perhaps in fact from Gluttony. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Frozen Truth and the War on Terror

©2016 Turtle Heart

For years I traveled with a version of the Four Directions Unity Bundle you can see in the photo. In those days it had a handle (made from Elk antlers), and I just carried it through the security checkpoint. I would tell the security people just what it was. They always let me pass through. Some years ago that experience ended. For several years now the security inspections have become so invasive, so mechanical, that it has become impossible to subject sensitive, sacred objects, such as a sacred pipe or an eagle feather, to this process.

So I had to stop traveling with the sacred bundle. It has been a few years now that I had to do that. I do not like it. It is creating an increasing sense of grave concern.

Departing on a journey in full possession of the moving parts of that sacred bundle that it is my life to protect and share with the modern word is a great feeling. Traveling without those sacred tools is an empty experience. It feels like I am betraying the trust, obliterating the opportunity, that humanity itself is being insulted, deprived and induced to believe fear is the only luggage we all carry when we travel abroad.

Arriving into society with only words to describe my work is not right. The old Indians do not approve of talking about the tribal sacred in the abstraction of words. What is needed is the practical, verifiable experience…not the words used to describe them.

There is not a single American Indian tribal community, or nation, that offers or provides official, state/diplomatic protection to the contents of sacred bundles in motion in the world. Not one. Every keeper of a sacred tribal bundle is on their own. This is yet more detail in the portfolio of information on how tribal communities fail to provide for themselves. Fail to step up. Fail to lead. Fail to understand that they have powers yet unimagined and opportunities they never see. There exists no authority or council I can turn to to certify, seal or protect the international movement of the tribal sacred. Likewise the United States government offers no recognition, protection or security to American Indian sacred objects in movement. The Federal government barely recognises that American Indians even have sacred objects or sacred movements worthy of protection.

Here is  link to another tribal Pipe Carrier, a tribal Chief, having his own troubles with the invasive security of airports these days : http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/Grand-Chief-files-complaint-with-CATSA-over-handling-of-sacred-pipe-bundle-368119641.html

This blog began as a record of the world journey of the sacred pipe and other ceremonies and ideas represented by its movement. Since the increasing intensity of invasion of privacy brought about by the so-called war on terror, that movement has slowed to a trickle. Over 1 million people have been logged reading this blog. Not one of those million people have contributed a dollar, an idea, or even an interesting comment to this interesting and historical journey. The work has never been a popularity contest. It does not matter if the mob is with me or against me. The mob has always been the mob. I expect only to continue. I have used the sales of my art and other work to pay the expenses of this project. While we live in a world where people give freely to political parties, by the millions of dollars, and otherwise through vast sums of money at any number of bizarre causes and events, no one has ever stepped up, in all of human history, to help any American Indians accomplish anything. Probably, this is to bad. But it has never been enough of a problem to stop the movement of the tribal sacred, of tribal ideas. It does slow them down. In a materialistic society, any forward movement requires both cash and infrastructure, even to just cross the street…much less try and go around the world. Like a real and actual Turtle I move slowly, since it takes time, lots of time, for me and my wife by ourselves to gather resources for each movement. In the coming days, weeks and years, we will continue to do that.

In politics they often want us to declare if we are left or right. So it is in choosing a path in life…do you go left or right? My choice has always been up. My choice has been to keep faith with the old Indians. In making that choice, I did not consider money, or popularity or even approval of the modern world. I chose faith; faith moving up. I can do no more than keep truth, keep faith with that motion, with those hopes of those old Indians…even in a world where it seems we American Indians are all but invisible. Up. Yes. I am an old man at this point. I know my days, and my opportunities, are limited. My work has not earned me a pension or retirement benefits, or even recognition. Yet when I look at my face in the mirror, I see a smiling, light-filled reflection looking clear-eyed back at me.

In moments of clarity, moments of silence, I see in this idea, in this journey out into the world, a great adventure, a wonderful idea, an important ceremony that could change……Everything. I see around me a sleeping society. Dreamless. Automated.Congested with sleep-walkers crowding out each other, choking the life from the very grass at their feet. Breathless. Only rarely, and then at a great distance, does any light appear. I am not afraid of that vision. But it does make me weep. Mostly in the morning are my tears, as the dawn spreads itself over the waiting world. In those early hours I can feel the whole earth stretching towards the dawn, stretching towards hope, silently accepting the hope and promise of a new day. In not one country on this mother earth, at this moment, does there exist a single competent “leader” whom embodies any of these values, or any values at all beyond pragmatic materialism and fear. This is a grey and dangerous moment in history. I see it and feel it in the hearts of nearly everyone around me, friend and foe, family and stranger. Society is looking down rather than up. Choking on the dust of denial rather than soaring with the freedom of imagination and hope. It is almost desperate…everywhere.

Those who read this blog, and who might actually understand and grasp what we are trying to do with this historic and important work, are invited to donate, invited to accept the sacred bundle into your community for a couple of days, invited to support and believe. Any time.

Very few people, I have learned, care even a little what the truth really is. I only realised this a few years ago. I have to admit, it came as a surprise. Yet, that remains where my work is. Imagine how lonely that is at times.

Turtle Heart (William Fredric Posey)
Pantelleria Island, Italy


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

I punch Myself In the Face : Election 2016

Sky Falling ©2016 Turtle Heart

editorial opinion
@2016 Turtle Heart

The other day I was watching the news, the coverage of Flint Michigan…sort of grim news that was sneaked in between the Donald Trump coverage. The story of an actual Gov who took away elected officials, destroying democracy in his state (and somehow not being arrested for it)…a wormy, tiny, high-voiced pissy little white man. Flint Michigan with one school nurse for the entire school system. No grocery stores because the “big chain” supermarkets will not build in poor black communities. Thousands of children poisoned with toxic water. Thousands. For two years. The wormy Gov still not arrested.

I wept. I banged my head on my desk and tears poured down my face. My fucking country, the United States.

The Republicans. The GOP. In control of 37 states. They did this. The GOP. A party now so toxic, so stupid, they are dangerous to humanity, a threat to civilisation. Actual monsters. So I wept. In shame and outrage.

I read these stories. These outrages. Often I take the time to read the comments. In the face of so much disgrace, I read comment after comment where people actually support these bastards, these liars, these criminals, these inept, posturing, piss-faced clowns that populate the Republican party.

I write and publish my own words. So I can say whatever I want. I don’t have to be nice. I don’t have to be polite. Maybe Donald Trump has given us all permission to say it as we feel it. Maybe if writers like me scream and curse and weep and call out the GOP something will change.

I don’t live in America anymore. I got out. I would like to say I live in a better place. In many respects, I do. But Italy is very high on the Corruption Scale. It has one of the most inept, stupid, cowardly, over-paid and clueless governments on earth. Yet, even with the corruption and incompetence, every person here has health care. Every person has food to eat and a place to live and a little money in their pocket. In America I have been homeless. I have been sick with no way to see a doctor. I have lived in poverty with not a penny to my name sometimes. In America. But never in Italy, corrupt and inept though it is.

I voted in the last two elections for Obama. I would have preferred to vote for HRC. I think, in spite of everything, Obama has been a good President. I also think he jumped the gun. Was impatient for useless self-confirmation. He should not have run when he did. That’s my could have been take. Has the intervening time broken HRC? Answer: no.

Young People. This fractured demographic apparently likes Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders. A bat shit crazy old man. Sanders is a more user-friendly version of Donald Trump. If American voters were disgusted and astonished at the near absolute opposition of the GOP to every word out of Obama’s mouth, with Sanders they have seen nothing yet. If Sanders were to become President, dogs would refuse to bark, champagne would refuse to fizz, the Eagle would refuse to fly and it would snow up, rather than down. Sanders would be an absolute disaster…and perhaps it is in fact the GOP, actual Republican voters who are out voting for Sanders…imitating Claire McCaskill in hand-picking her opponent. The GOP would love to see Sanders as the candidate. I believe republicans are voting for Sanders as the best way to stop Clinton. Otherwise we are left with the conclusion that America’s young people have lost their souls, lost their minds, lost their way and have replaced confusion with reason in this decidedly strange election cycle. 

So. Occasionally, now, before I gather the latest news; I punch myself in the face. To be sure I am awake. To be sure I can feel. To give me the strength to watch more Donald Trump and Ted Cruz…with the sound off…because no way will I listen to these “men” actually speak. One can learn a great deal by watching politicians with the sound turned off. Body language often tells a leaner, more subtle truth. And you don’t end up throwing your TV out the window, at least not so much.

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