Monday, November 15, 2004


A plenary session Posted by Hello

In a classroom Posted by Hello

Reading a paper at China conference Posted by Hello

In front of Norman Bethune memorial Posted by Hello

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Papal Bulls Burning: A Chronology

PLEASE FORWARD

*Aloha kakou and guatiao,

Please join us for the annual Papal Bulls Burning, Indigenous People's Day observation. This year's event in Honolulu will take place on Friday, October 8 at 5:30 pm in front of the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu, 1184 Bishop St. (Fort Street Mall). Indigenous peoples and supporters from around the world are encouraged to organize a small ceremonial event and symbolically burn or tear-up copies of the May 4, 1493 papal bull "Inter Caetera" in response to the October 12 "Columbus Day"/"Discoverer's Day" observation. The document can be downloaded from our website at: http://bullsburning.itgo.com/papbull.htm

Also, please sign the webpage version of the "Appeal to the Vatican and Pope John Paul II" at: http://www.uctp.org/ - Click on "Hawai`i."

Below is a copy of the chronology we had been working on at our monthly meetings. It'll soon be put together in display board form along with other items (photos, letters, etc.) for public viewing.
*****
CHRONOLOGY OF THE PAPAL BULLS MOVEMENT

*13th Century Crusades Era - King Alfonso X incorporates the Las siete partidas (seven division of laws) into Castilian law, one division explicitly referring to the granting of political and territorial jurisdiction to a monarch by "papal donation."

*January 8, 1455 - The papal bull Romanus Pontifex is issued by Pope Nicolas V to King Alfonso V of Portugal.

*May 4, 1493 - The papal bull Inter Caetera is issued by Pope Alexander VI to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain.

*September 26, 1493 - The papal bull Dudum Siquidem is issued by Pope Alexander VI. Confirms the bull Inter Caetera, and revokes (revocamus) all earlier papal grants to Portugal which might give her a claim to westward lands.

*November 1493 - Indigenous resistance to Inter Caetera begins. The indigenous peoples on the island of Quisqueya ("Hispaniola") valiantly resist the Spanish intrusion. The cacike (chieftain) Caonabo leads a retaliatory military campaign against the thirty-nine Christians left behind by Columbus at La Navidad after atrocities committed by them. All thirty-nine are found dead upon Columbus' return. Later, indigenous Caribbean peoples publically reject the "papal donation" stating the pope had no right to give what was not his to give.

*June 7, 1494 - Spain and Portugal sign Treaty of Tordesillas based on the bull Inter Caetera. The Treaty divides the world in half between the two nations, and is the foundation for subsequent treaties and custom relating to the Americas.

*June 2, 1537 - Pope Paul III issued the Papal Bull Sublimis Deus, which supposedly "freed the Indians," and is regarded as "the most important papal pronouncement on the human condition of the Indians" (Gutirrez, "Las Casas," 1993). However, as history unequivocally shows, Sublimis Deus is purely a theoretical act since there would be no need for an accounting of those declared to be "extinct," nor for the tens of millions who had been eliminated by the end of the 16th century.

*June 19, 1538 - Pope Paul III revoked Sublimis Deus at the urging of Spanish Emperor Charles V. However, there is controversy as to whether the Pope actually revoked Sublimis Deus or the brief Pastorale Officium of May 29, 1537. Revoked or not, it should be made clear that Sublimis Deus did not revoke Inter Caetera (Boyle, 1998, 1999).

*1542 - The "New Laws" that had prohibited Indian slavery and banned the encomienda (slavery system) were revoked.

*1823 - In the Johnson v. McIntosh case, U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall blatantly inserts language of "discovery" based on the bull Inter Caetera into the decision.

*1831 - In Cherokee v. Georgia, Justice Marshall rules that the Cherokee Nation was not a "foreign state" as defined in the U.S. Constitution, and therefore they could not sue the state of Georgia in the Supreme Court from usurping the gold on their land.

*1992 - A formal movement to revoke the bull Inter Caetera is initiated by the Indigenous Law Institute based in the United States.

*1993 - At the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago, Illinois, sixty indigenous delegates draft a Declaration of Vision calling for the revocation of the bull Inter Caetera.

*October 12, 1997 - An annual papal bulls burning commenced in Honolulu, Hawai'i calling international attention to the papal bulls issue.

*October 12, 1998 - Over 50 indigenous and human rights advocates gather in Honolulu to demand the revocation of the bull Inter Caetera, and called for it to be revoked by the year 2,000, or by the beginning of the "new millennium".

*November 28, 1998 - Pope John Paul II called "Christianity's 2,000 anniversary a year of mercy," as reported by AP, saying "the church will seek forgiveness," "atonement," and that he "wants the church to enter the third millennium with a clear conscience."

*February 19, 1999 - The United Church of Christ, Hawai'i Conference, passes a resolution which resolves that: "President Paul Sherry on behalf of the United Church of Christ urges and calls upon people of conscience in the Roman Catholic hierarchy and in other organized religions to persuade Pope John Paul II to revoke the Papal Bulls Dum Diversas of 1452 [Romanus Pontifex of 1455] and Inter Caetera of 1493 by the year 2,000."

*May 1999 - At the international Hague Appeal for Peace conference, Tony Castanha (Carib/Boricua) and Steve Newcomb (Shawnee/Lenape) directly address and call for the revocation of the bull Inter Caetera on both "Interfaith" and "Root Causes of War/Culture of Peace" panel presentations.

*October 2000 - Indigenous Peoples' Delegation (nine delegates) converge on Italy and the Vatican advocating for the revocation of Inter Caetera. Delegates meet with official from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

*2001 - Pontifical Historical Commission studies the issue for the first time and rules that "Inter Caetera is no longer juridically valid." Kosmos Indigena founded. Continues to call on the Vatican to revoke Inter Caetera if it is no longer juridically valid.

*October 2003 - Seventh annual papal bulls burning observed in Honolulu, Hawai`i, as well as other locations around the world. Call is made to return to Rome in October 2005.
*******

Marlon Brando on the American Indian

"And history will surely judge us. But do we care? What kind of moral schizophrenia is it that allows us to shout at the top of our national voice for all the world to hear that we live up to our commitment when every page of history and when all the thirsty, starving, humiliating days and nights of the last 100 years in the lives of the American Indian contradict that voice?"

*This applies to Western civilization in general. What may be uncertain to most but clear to some: Revoke the bull!!

*Mahalo Lilia Firefly
*****

March 30, 1973
That Unfinished 1973 Oscar Speech
By MARLON BRANDO

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- For 200 years we have said to the Indian people who are fighting for their land, their life, their families and their right to be free: ''Lay down your arms, my friends, and then we will remain together. Only if you lay down your arms, my friends, can we then talk of peace and come to an agreement which will be good for you.''

When they laid down their arms, we murdered them. We lied to them. We cheated them out of their lands. We starved them into signing fraudulent agreements that we called treaties which we never kept. We turned them into beggars on a continent that gave life for as long as life can remember. And by any interpretation of history, however twisted, we did not do right. We were not lawful nor were we just in what we did. For them, we do not have to restore these people, we do not have to live up to some agreements, because it is given to us by virtue of our power to attack the rights of others, to take their property, to take their lives when they are trying to defend their land and liberty, and to make their virtues a crime and our own vices virtues.

But there is one thing which is beyond the reach of this perversity and that is the tremendous verdict of history. And history will surely judge us. But do we care? What kind of moral schizophrenia is it that allows us to shout at the top of our national voice for all the world to hear that we live up to our commitment when every page of history and when all the thirsty, starving, humiliating days and nights of the last 100 years in the lives of the American Indian contradict that voice?

It would seem that the respect for principle and the love of one's neighbor have become dysfunctional in this country of ours, and that all we have done, all that we have succeeded in accomplishing with our power is simply annihilating the hopes of the newborn countries in this world, as well as friends and enemies alike, that we're not humane, and that we do not live up to our agreements.

Perhaps at this moment you are saying to yourself what the hell has all this got to do with the Academy Awards? Why is this woman standing up here, ruining our evening, invading our lives with things that don't concern us, and that we don't care about? Wasting our time and money and intruding in our homes.

I think the answer to those unspoken questions is that the motion picture community has been as responsible as any for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing his as savage, hostile and evil. It's hard enough for children to grow up in this world.

When Indian children watch television, and they watch films, and when they see their race depicted as they are in films, their minds become injured in ways we can never know.
Recently there have been a few faltering steps to correct this situation, but too faltering and too few, so I, as a member in this profession, do not feel that I can as a citizen of the United States accept an award here tonight. I think awards in this country at this time are inappropriate to be received or given until the condition of the American Indian is drastically altered. If we are not our brother's keeper, at least let us not be his executioner.

I would have been here tonight to speak to you directly, but I felt that perhaps I could be of better use if I went to Wounded Knee to help forestall in whatever way I can the establishment of a peace which would be dishonorable as long as the rivers shall run and the grass shall grow.

I would hope that those who are listening would not look upon this as a rude intrusion, but as an earnest effort to focus attention on an issue that might very well determine whether or not this country has the right to say from this point forward we believe in the inalienable rights of all people to remain free and independent on lands that have supported their life beyond living memory.

Thank you for your kindness and your courtesy to Miss Littlefeather. Thank you and good night.

This statement was written by Marlon Brando for delivery at the Academy Awards ceremony where Mr. Brando refused an Oscar. The speaker, who read only a part of it, was Shasheen Littlefeather.
*******

Draft Constitution of the Blackfoot Nation

[Soverignty] Draft Blackfoot Constitution
written by N/A // 7-15-2002
Published: Pockets of Resistance #19

It is "Indian Days" -- rodeos, fancy-dancing, fry bread, etc. -- in Blackfoot country and activists are approaching literally hundreds of Blackfoot who are reading and signing their agreement with the Constitution. We are dutifully recording all suggestions for additions or changes to be discussed and incorporated in mass meetings. They are all risking a great deal just giving their signatures. We are not having a "Constitutional Convention" to be convened and held by elites to craft a Constitution whose language and structure are designed to institutionalize and perpetuate the rule, power and property of those elites -- like that of the US and most other nation-states’ constitutions. Our Constitution and demand for recognition of traditional governments will come from and be ratified by the so-called "governed" themselves. – Jim Craven, Solicitor General, Sovereign Blackfoot Nation, July 2002

Dark Night relatives is committed to printing documents of self-governance that stand as models of human liberation and a right relationship with the natural world. To the Zapatista Revolutionary Laws of Women (Dark Night field notes 8, 10), the San Andres Accords (DNfn 8/9, 20), and the Akwesasne Good Mind Research Protocol (DNfn 14, 26), we here add highlights from the draft Blackfoot Constitution now undergoing approval and fine-tuning. We present the Preamble in full and those articles that distinguish themselves by contrast with typical colonizer constitutions. Each article is followed by a note from the Pockets of Resistance (POR) editorial board, detailing significant features.

DRAFT CONSTITUTION OF THE BLACKFOOT (PIIKANI) NATION

Preamble

The Blackfoot People of the Blackfoot Nation, in order to secure our physical and cultural survival, in order to provide for our common defense and security, in order to provide for prosperity for all Blackfoot, in order to secure redress for past and present injustices done to Blackfoot People, in order to realize our internationally recognized right to independence and self-determination, in order to form bilateral relations with other nations, in order to respect the legacies and sacrifices of our ancestors and pass them on to our descendants and in order to secure and protect our resources and birthrights, do hereby declare that we constitute/are--and have never relinquished our right to be or be recognized as--a sovereign nation and do, also, hereby create and enact this Constitution. By any test or definition of a nation under international law, we have met and continue to meet all criteria: a) for establishing the fact of our nationhood; b) for requesting recognition of our nationhood; and c) for recognition of our associated rights to independence, sovereignty and self-determination. These criteria are binding on any and all nations, especially those demanding similar recognition for themselves. By virtue of and through this Constitution, the traditional authorities of the Blackfoot Nation, with the consent of the People of the Blackfoot Nation, in the exercise of our internationally-recognized rights to independence, sovereignty and self-determination, do hereby assert and give unto ourselves and our posterity this Constitution in order to proclaim our existence as a nation to other nations of the world and to preserve, nurture and protect the constituent elements, whole, traditional institutions and authorities, survival and fundamental values and culture of the Blackfoot Nation and its People.

We, the Blackfoot People, as a whole People and Nation, have been brought to a crossroads of history facing almost certain extinction as a People without the assertion and protection of our nationhood, traditional institutions and internationally-recognized rights to independence, self-determination, survival and prosperity. Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution are instruments for the assertion/protection of our traditional ways and institutions and are absolutely essential to the survival, prosperity and independence of the Blackfoot People and Nation..

Constitutional Principles

Article 1:The Blackfoot Nation is comprised of: the traditionally-recognized authorities, leadership and representatives of the Blackfoot; members of the Apatohsipiikani, Kainaiwa, Siksika, Amskaapipiikani and related "Bands" of the Blackfoot; all those recognized by traditional authorities as Blackfoot with or without current affiliations/residence with the existing "Bands" of the Blackfoot. Members of the Blackfoot Nation must possess some degree of Blackfoot ancestry and/or be adopted/recognized through traditionally-recognized institutions; no specific "blood-quantum" is required for recognition of Blackfoot citizenship.

POR: The Blackfoot Constitution explicitly rejects blood quantum as a criterion of citizenship, a tool used by colonizing states to legislate indigenous peoples out of existence. It also rejects all outside claims or attempts by other entities to determine who is Blackfoot, claims historically and currently made against them by the US and Canada.

Article 2:The Blackfoot Nation ascribes to multi-citizenship but reserves the right to demand relinquishment of either Blackfoot citizenship or the citizenship of another nation in the event that the rights, responsibilities or allegiance of citizenship associated with another nation conflict with the rights, responsibilities or allegiance associated with Blackfoot citizenship. All rights of Blackfoot citizens, elaborated and protected in this Constitution, shall never be invoked or affirmed as instruments to deny or abridge the same individual rights of others or to compromise the survival and prosperity of the Blackfoot Nation.

POR: Made citizens of the US or Canada without their consent, the Blackfoot Constitution gives Blackfoot interests priority while letting individual Blackfoot citizens retain what advantage can be gained from their involuntary partnership with the colonizing states.

Article 3: In accordance with international law and internationally recognized rights to independence, self-determination and survival of nations, the Blackfoot Nation does not recognize and is not in any way under the authority of any laws, policies, procedures, agencies, "officials", agreements or structures imposed or recognized by any (past or present) colonizing powers or foreign nations or any "authorities" not selected or recognized by and through traditional Blackfoot authorities, institutions and Ways exclusively.

POR: The Blackfoot Constitution rejects the claims of any other state to determine its statehood.

Article 4: Unless otherwise provided in this Constitution, any agreements between the Blackfoot Nation and any other sovereign entities or Peoples, including other First Nations, shall have the form and substance of an international treaty. Treaties shall become an integral part of the "Supreme Law of the Nation" to which all Blackfoot authorities and persons shall be bound, anything in Blackfoot law or traditions to the contrary notwithstanding.

POR: The Blackfoot Constitution establishes parity of the Blackfoot Nation with other nations.

Article 5(1) The Blackfoot Nation has never ceased to exist as its existence and right to exist does not depend upon recognition or non-recognition by any other sovereign entity or force. The Blackfoot Nation continues to exist despite many attempts by colonizing powers at "non-recognition", "termination", extermination or imposition of colonial, genocidal and non-Blackfoot laws, institutions, "Tribal officials" and "trustee relationships". The central purpose of the Blackfoot Nation is to guarantee and protect the survival, prosperity, identity, rights and culture of the Blackfoot People collectively and individually.

POR: The Blackfoot Constitution explicitly names the governmental, economic and legal means that have been used to erase their nation, to forestall their presentation in the future as legitimate instruments for use against the Blackfoot .

Article 5(2): All members of the Blackfoot Nation are endowed by the Creator and/or their Humanity, as sanctioned/recognized by law, to certain fundamental and internationally recognized human and civil rights and freedoms to include (and not to be limited to) the following: Freedom of Speech and Assembly; Freedom of/from Religion; Freedom of Association; Freedom of the Press; Freedom From Unreasonable and Illegal Search and Seizure of Property; Freedom to Lawfully Own, Sell and Bequeath Personal Property; Right of Due Process, Right to Appeal of Judicial Verdicts and Freedom From Double Jeopardy; Freedom From Any Discrimination Based on Gender, Age, Disability, Color, Blood-quantum, Sexual Orientation, Social Class, Religion, Political Affiliations or Family/Clan/Band Affiliations; Freedom to Keep and Bear Arms (for hunting, personal protection and militia responsibilities); Freedom to Petition for Redress of Grievances; Right to Privacy; Right to Confront and Answer Accusers and Accusations...

POR: This article adroitly addresses several issues that most "mainstream" constitutions avoid or ignore. The first is the role of religious language in a document. The mere presence of religious language implies acknowledgment of a role for the spiritual in the governance of the people. The US constitution for instance refers to a creator also, but elsewhere calls for separation of church and state. The presence of this religious language in its Constitution is readily cited by US citizens who would impose their religious values on other citizens in public venues. Notably, the Blackfoot themselves had their territory carved up for forcible proselityzing by various Christian denominations. The wording of the Blackfoot Constitution acknowledges the views of both spiritual and non-spiritual citizens, while strongly implying that the rights it upholds inhere in merely being human; it succeeds in being both respectful and non-exclusive, while avoiding internal contradictions. Second, the Blackfoot Constitution explicitly recognizes and seeks to disarm several factors that can and do militate against equal rights for all citizens: racist and family connections, sexual orientation and social class. Of the three, social class is the great unmentioned and unmentionable in the US and Canadian constitutions. Third, the Blackfoot Constitution attempts to avoid US Constitution difficulties with the Right to Bear Arms by being more specific about the allowable purposes.

Article 7: The Blackfoot Nation shall adhere to and preserve and protect Blackfoot survival, prosperity, heritage, values, customs and world view in all expressions of terms and obligations of treaties which it may undertake with other nations and/or in relation to relationships and interactions with any foreign States surrounding or influencing Blackfoot territories...

POR: Cultural survival and continuance is an overt objective of the Blackfoot Constitution. By implication, so is cultural diversity among all nations. By contrast, Zapatista documents, defending the rights of a multiplicity of indigenous nations in Mexico, frequently refer to the right of each nation to retain its own cultural ways. Although the Blackfoot and Zapatista emphases differ, both support the underlying principle that cultural survival is at stake, is a critical value, and that the loss of any culture diminishes all other cultures.

Article 10: Nothing in this Constitution shall authorize or be interpreted as consent to the termination of any trust, or of any claim of fulfillment of historic promises, or of any claim for receipt of any and all restitution for historic and present-day human rights violations, or of any other responsibilities of the United States and Canadian Governments or their internal State/Provincial Governments to the Blackfoot Nation and People.

POR: The Blackfoot Constitution does not erase history or inaugurate an amnesiac new era. This article denies the legitimacy of any attempts by the nations that have hitherto denied Blackfoot sovereignty to wash their hands of the past, present and the future. Freeing yourself from colonizers does not mean that colonizers should be let off the hook.

Territory and Jurisdiction: Article 11(1): This Constitution recognizes that the Blackfoot Nation and People are primarily but not exclusively domiciled in areas of Canada and the United States on lands including but not limited to, the present-day "Reserves"/"Reservations" of the Siksika, Kainaiwa, Apatohsipiikani and Amskaapipiikani Blackfoot/Blackfeet Peoples.(2) This Constitution also recognizes that there is a Blackfoot Diaspora that is dispersed throughout the United States, Canada and elsewhere, and that such individuals have the right to participate in the rights, duties and obligations of the Blackfoot Nation, having requested and met the requirements for Blackfoot Citizenship...

POR: This article recognizes the results of many genocidal attempts to dissolve the Blackfoot. Specifically, it rejects continued occupancy of particular territories as determining Blackfoot identity, a criteria the US government has used as a double-edged sword against many tribes in denying them recognition as tribes even though it was US- instigated dispersals of their populations that made it impossible to prove.

Article 14: The Blackfoot Nation shall devote itself to just, equitable and sustainable environmental, economic, land-use, water, natural resource and other policies and practices in accordance with Blackfoot traditions and values. The Blackfoot Nation, in accordance with Blackfoot values and traditions, shall be guided by the needs of future generations, preservation of the Blackfoot Nation and sustainability in formulating and implementing all environmental, economic, land-use, water, natural resource and other policies and practices...

POR: The Blackfoot Constitution holds the Blackfoot Nation responsible to future generations and to the world in which it lives. It includes the environment in its economy from both ends, not just the use-end as a notionally inexhaustible resource or as a luxury for the well-to-do. Zapatista documents also explicitly mention human responsibility to other life and beings in the environment.

Citizenship and Rights/Responsibilites of Citizens: Article 28: In accordance with Blackfoot traditions, any Blackfoot citizen convicted in accordance with judicial processes that are conducted in accordance with the Blackfoot Constitution, of treason or other designated high crimes against the Blackfoot Nation, may be stripped of Blackfoot citizenship and suffer banishment from all Blackfoot lands, resources and communities.

POR: This article gives loss of citizenship and banishment rather than capital punishment as the penalty for crimes against the nation, unlike the ferocious US provisions.

Article 29: All Blackfoot citizens shall have the right to respect for his or her privacy, without prejudice to restrictions laid down by or pursuant to acts by competent authorities of the Blackfoot Nation. Rules to protect privacy shall be laid down by competent authorities in connection with the recording and dissemination of personal data as well in connection with the rights of Blackfoot citizens to be informed of data recorded concerning them, uses made of such data and to have such data corrected.

Article 30: All Blackfoot citizens shall have the right of inviolability of his or her person without prejudice to restrictions laid down by or pursuant to acts of the competent authorities of the Blackfoot Nation.

POR: Articles 29 and 30 and honor protections of privacy that were not provided by the US Constitution or that are currently being whittled away.

Article 31: All Blackfoot citizens who are capable of doing so shall have the duty to cooperate in defending and maintaining the territories, sovereignty, independence, self-determination and national security of the Blackfoot Nation. This duty may be imposed on residents not Blackfoot citizens.

POR: This article is interesting for its expression of what is expected of non-Blackfoot living on Blackfoot territory. Much US citizen resistance to indigenous sovereignty and land restoration claims stems from abject fear at what would happen to non-indigenous living on indigenous parts of a re-drawn map. It might achieve a better balance to include more in the Constitution on how the Blackfoot Nation sees its relationship with its resident aliens, beyond this one constraint on their behavior. Ward Churchill addresses this issue under the name of the Big Fear in "I Am an Indigenist," in his Struggle for the Land.

Article 32: Entries into homes and other premises of Blackfoot citizens, searches and seizures shall be permitted only in cases laid down by or pursuant to acts by competent authorities of the Blackfoot Nation. Prior identification and notice of purpose shall be required to enter a home or other premises subject to exceptions prescribed by competent authorities and a written report of entry shall be issued to the occupant.

Article 33: Privacy of correspondence, telephone, telegraph or any other media shall not be violated without prejudice to acts laid down by or pursuant to acts by competent authorities or with the authorization of those designated by acts by competent authorities.

POR: Like Articles 29 and 30, Articles 32 and 34 address privacy issues that are being eroded in the US in spite of its Constitution.

Article 34: Other than in cases laid down by or pursuant to acts of the competent authorities, no Blackfoot citizen may be deprived of his or her liberty. Any Blackfoot citizen deprived of liberty other than by a court order may request a court to order his or her release and in such case, may be heard by a court within a period of time to be laid down by competent authorities. The court will order his or her release if it considers the deprivation of liberty to be unconstitutional/unlawful. Trials of citizens shall take place within reasonable periods of time and any citizen who has been lawfully deprived of liberty may be restricted in the exercise of fundamental rights only to the extent to which the exercise of such rights is not compatible with the deprivation of liberty.

POR: The Blackfoot Constitution upholds the principle of habeas corpus in contrast to current US erosions of its own constitutional promise.

Article 37: No citizen shall suffer being tried more than once for the same alleged crime. All citizens shall have the right to legal representation in all legal and administrative proceedings and are entitled to legal aid if needed.

Article 38: It shall be the concern of the authorities to promote the provision of sufficient employment for all capable citizens consistent with the resource and other constraints faced by the Blackfoot Nation. Rules governing the legal status and protections of working persons shall be laid down by acts by the competent authorities. All persons shall enjoy freedom of choice of work consistent with their own qualifications and necessary qualifications for particular work. No persons shall suffer any form of discrimination in application for work or at work nor shall any person suffer denial of work due to nepotism, cronyism or any form of unconscionable favoritism.

Article 39: It shall be the concern of the competent authorities to secure the means of subsistence of the population and to achieve the distributions of wealth consistent with Blackfoot traditions and the survival and prosperity of the Blackfoot Nation. Rules concerning social security and access to all life-sustaining resources and needs for all Blackfoot citizens unable to provide for themselves shall be laid down by competent authorities.

Article 40: It shall be the concern of the competent authorities and all Blackfoot citizens to protect and improve the environment and not to waste or abuse any and all creations of the Creator consistent with Blackfoot culture and traditions.

Article 41: It shall be the concern of the competent authorities and all Blackfoot citizens to promote the general health of the population, to provide for equitable distributions of means of subsistence, to protect children and all those unable to care for themselves and to promote social and economic development for all citizens.

Article 42: It shall the concern of the competent authorities and all Blackfoot citizens to provide comprehensive and ongoing education for all citizens consistent with the resource and other constraints of the Blackfoot Nation. Educational curricula shall provide knowledge and skills requisite for survival and prosperity of the Blackfoot Nation including those necessary for relations and trade with other nations; curricula shall also provide knowledge and skills requisite for the knowledge, appreciation and survival of Blackfoot culture, traditions and the Blackfoot Nation itself.

Article 43: It shall be the concern of the competent authorities to allocate resources to ensure adequate housing, medical care and all other necessary means of subsistence for all Blackfoot citizens consistent with resource limitations and other constraints faced by the Blackfoot Nation. All Blackfoot citizens capable of work are expected to contribute to the resources, survival and prosperity of the Blackfoot Nation as a condition of access to the resources and means of subsistence of the Blackfoot Nation.Article 44It shall be the concern of the competent authorities to redress any inequalities of wealth, incomes, security, access to services, access to information, access to legal assistance, access to government or access to means of subsistence that threaten the social cohesion, traditions, survival or prosperity of the Blackfoot Nation subject to resource and other constraints and imperatives faced by the Blackfoot Nation.

POR: Articles 37 through 44 honor the government’s responsibility to Blackfoot citizens across a wide range of social benefits: work, food, housing, education, health care, and a healthy environment. The language regarding the environment rather indicates that the nation has a responsibility to the environment rather than that the environment is to be manipulated for the peoples’ benefit, a significant emphasis, with the understanding that respectful treatment of the environment is to the peoples’s benefit.

Government: Article 45: The Government of the Blackfoot Nation recognizes, operates and rests on the principle that government is only legitimate when it governs with the recognition and consent of the majority of the governed...

POR: This language, historically more honored in the breach than in the performance, can be usefully compared with the Zapatista principle of "governing by obeying."

Article 60: All deliberations of the Representatives shall be open to scrutiny by the public of the Blackfoot Nation unless the Principal Chief and Advisors deem that they be held in camera for cause consistent with the Blackfoot Constitution. All votes shall be recorded with roll call if requested by one member. Votes in camera may occur only with the authorization of the Principal Chief and Advisors for cause consistent with the Constitution. All decisions or proposals for laws and acts will be decided on the basis of a good-faith attempt at consensus failing which a two-thirds majority of all Representatives is required to pass laws for consideration by the Principal Chief and Advisors...

POR: The Blackfoot Constitution accords priority to sunshine rather than concealment, and consensus over majority rule.

Law and Judiciary: Article 65: In accordance with Blackfoot Law and traditions, the supposed "duality" or differentiation between criminal and tort or civil law is rejected as dangerous to the survival and prosperity of the Blackfoot Nation. All crimes necessarily generate torts and many torts are crimes when seen in their totality of humanity and real causes and effects.

POR: The Blackfoot Constitution gives expression to an indigenist and more holistic conception of justice and law than the European model.

Article 66: The fundamental mandates guiding all law and judicial processes shall be: Truth; Justice; Healing; Reconciliation; Prevention of Future Abuses; Survival and Prosperity of the Blackfoot Nation. All rights, policies, judicial procedures, protocols and regulations governing individuals, judicial processes and government are without prejudice to and subordinate to these survival imperatives and mandates...

Article 70: All Judicial proceedings, procedures, findings and sentences must consider the totality of effects not only on the accused and convicted but also on the families of the victims and accused or convicted as well as on the survival and prosperity of the Blackfoot Nation and People. Family relations and other associates of an accused or convicted person, if not complicit with that person, shall suffer no penalties, discrimination, revenge or negative effects from association with the accused or convicted person. In the event that family relations suffer economic hardship as a result of conviction and punishment of a convicted person, those persons may draw material support from the Blackfoot Nation as a whole...

POR: Articles 66 and 70 reflect that the Blackfoot consider it a legitimate function of the Blackfoot justice system to promote wider social goals such as healing, reconciliation and prevention of crime rather than treating crime as a two-party quarrel between two citizens or a citizen and the state without regard for, say the affects on society as a whole or as individuals. Its aim is essentially restorative rather than retributive.

CONNECT:The full text of the draft Blackfoot Constitution and other documents are posted at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota at http://www.chgs.umn.edu under "Histories, Documents and Narratives"

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Speech by Maj. General Smedley D. Butler, USMC (Three times nominated for Medal of Honor, twice awarded it)

Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933 by General Smedley Butler, USMC

War is just a racket. I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.I helped make Mexico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

1934 Attempted Overthrow of FDR Government and Replacement with a Fascist Dictatorship (Foiled By Maj. General Smedley Butler). Note, in addition to the Duponts and various other industrialists in the American Liberty League, George Herbert Walker and Prescott Bush and other Skull and Bones members were intimately involved in the plot.

[At about the same time the Du Ponts were serving the Nazi cause in Germany, they were involved in a Fascist plot to overthrow the United States government. ]

"Along with friends of the Morgan Bank and General Motors," in early 1934, writes Higham, "certain Du Pont backers financed a coup d'etat that would overthrow the President with the aid of a $3 million-funded army of terrorists . . ." The object was to force Roosevelt "to take orders from businessmen as part of a fascist government or face the alternative of imprisonment and execution . . ."

Higham reports that "Du Pont men allegedly held an urgent series of meetings with the Morgans," to choose who would lead this "bizarre conspiracy." "They finally settled on one of the most popular soldiers in America, General Smedly Butler of Pennsylvania." Butler was approached by "fascist attorney" Gerald MacGuire (an official of the American Legion), who attempted to recruit Butler into the role of an American Hitler.--R. William Davis, "The Elkhorn Manifesto," July 4, 1996] [Butler exposed the plot in a famous press conference to the public.]

[If one were to look closely at the past 58 years, one would be hard pressed to find a single U.S. military or C.I.A. intervention that has brought us one iota of safety, or, for that matter, that has actually been done for national defense purposes.] As Butler illustrated in 1933, and it is even truer now than then, the U.S. engages in interventions meant to protect the interests of the powerful and wealthy of our nation and our allies, and rarely, if ever, in order to actually protect its citizens.--Chris White, "Is War Still a Racket?" CounterPunch, January 9, 2003]
Charlie Liteky, "An Open Letter to the U.S. Military: Congressional Medal of Honor recipient addresses U.S. forces in Iraq," Veterans Against the Iraq War, May 7, 2003
John S.D. Eisenhower, "War Turned Eisenhower Into a Pacifist," International Herald Tribune, June 6, 2004


Comments on Fahrenheit 9-11 and Veterans in Film

Posted to Marxism List 7-8-04

First of all, I have read some of the literature--from the services themselves--on the backgrounds of recruits (active duty, versus Reserves/Guard) and some of their own stated reasons for going in. On active duty, the poorest of the poor, the ones who may "THINK" there is no way out of poverty except through the military, are found generally in the MOS categories having to do with combat arms--particularly at the "grunt" level. They can also be found as cooks, logistics, truck drivers, etc. Actually, these days, with the squeeze on the middle class and many young people unable to qualify for certain financial assistance because their parents make too much (even though they may not be living with their parents) many of the new recruits are not from strictly working class--or at least ultra-poor working class--or lumpenproletariat as was once the case; many are from families hardly on the verge of starvation and outright poverty. Although money for college and specialized training are the top reasons given among recruits in interviews (not "killing commies/muslims for Jesus, patriotism, making a difference, defending the country, etc) there are additional reasons as well: the Audie Murphy Syndrome (nothing like a war to turn a nobody into a somebody), low self-esteem (become a Ranger or Airborne or Special Forces and come back home and show that bitch who dumped you in high school for the quarterback on the football team that you are now a somebody and now how does she feel about dumping you?), travel (get out and see the world beyond that in-bred podunk town you were raised in), adventure (watching too much JAG, war movies etc), a career (retire at 40 years old with a pension, medical benefits--less and less--), and of course the standard--can't make it on the outside at anything interesting and that pays more than minimum wage.

Once in, then you get the full dose of ideology designed to help you rationalize why you went in in the first place. Although you went in for strictly mercenary reasons like help with college tuition, and didn't give a fuck or thought about what and whom you might be really serving or whom you might really be hurting--and in whose interest--now comes the icing on the cake to ease your cognitive dissonance problems--if you are not some kind of sociopath and actually have such problems. No you are among the elite. You are fighting for freedom. You are the cutting edge of the most powerful military machine ever known and you are sacrificing--perhaps life and limbs--so that those at home can live in "freedom." And you also get a full dose of what it takes to get anywhere significant promotion-wise. In Army terms, you need a patch on your right shoulder (unit in a combat area), you need horizontal bars on the right sleeve (each is six months in combat zone), you need a CIB (combat infantryman's badge) or combat medic badge, a purple heart is excellent (particularly if you can get one without too-damaging wounds), a Bronze Star with V-cluster or Silver Star will take you far coupled with theater and combat campaign ribbons. And then there is further specialized training, networking, good performance reviews and most of all, demonstrating unquestioning loyalty to and being on the same page with the ideology, mission, goals, objectives and dominant values of your superiors. All of this is understood and the best evidence is to look at the ribbons of those at the top and/or look at what the likes of Haig et al did to get combat decorations they clearly did not deserve--why did they go after them and engage in all sorts of phony and desecrating stuff (to those who might have deserved some special award) to get them?

I know not only from the research, but I was one of them once. And no amount of liberal hand-wringing and solicitous "these-poor-souls-with-nowhere-else-to-go-to-escape-poverty" will ever rationalize or let me off the hook for my having once been a willing tool, dupe and instrument of U.S. imperialism like so many other willing accomplices. I am responsible for what I did, whom and what I served and what victims were created by my own complicity with U.S. imperialism.


Jim Craven

Aboriginal Justice

[Residential Schools] Aboriginal Justice

written by James Craven // 11-1-2001
Published: Dark Night field notes #17

One of my specialties is applying Nuremberg precedents to the residential school situation in Canada and the US. I've worked with UN-connected groups to conduct legal tribunals on genocide, applying the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide and human rights laws and statutes we're all governed by. I also prepare our people who are victims for cross-examination and litigation.

Right now, survivors of the residential and boarding schools are launching a hundred lawsuits a month in Canada. One of the things I do is go to our reserves. We have four reserves among the Blackfoot Nation - three in Alberta and one in Montana - with a lot of victims who want to tell this story. The title of this conference is The Past is Present. Indeed, the past is alive and well embedded in the present and shaping the future. A lot of the legacies you see today go back directly to the residential school system.

First of all, there are legal precedents that we can talk about. The First Nations are, by all that defines a nation in international law, sovereign nations. Countries don't make treaties with their own citizens, even bad and fraudulent treaties. They only make treaties with sovereign nations. Blackfoot, for example, have possessed and do possess: common territory, common culture and language, common history, common political institutions, common economic life and even common blood. Any nation has a right to its own laws, tribunals, code, moral codes, family structures. That's part of being a sovereign nation.

The second thing you need to know is that we don't need permission from anyone to act like nations. We've already been recognized as nations. That includes the right to apply laws.For example, one of the things that the chief prosecutor at Nuremberg noted was that they would be forever bound by the precedents they were going to set at Nuremberg. Interestingly, the US noted during the trials that some of the crimes they were putting the Germans and their collaborators on trial for were crimes the US and Canada were guilty of - in the past as well as at the time they were conducting the trials.

One of the reasons the churches and government are talking so much about reconciliation and healing is they have more to fear from cross-examination than any victim has to fear. I've interviewed hundreds of residential school victims and all you have to do is look in their eyes to see that this isn't being made up. Nobody could make this up. What you also find when you interview victims is generations of continuing abuse. For instance, a family can have five generations in the residential schools, maybe three with the United Church and two with the Anglicans. You also find people from different bands who never met each other, who went at different periods through the same schools and who name the same abusers, describe being brutalized in the same ways, the same modus operandi. And there's no possible nexus, no collaboration, no conspiracy to rig their testimony. Their stories corroborate each other.

This talk of a healing fund is a whitewash. It's about keeping what happened off the record, about keeping it vague and generic. For instance, I'm not a Catholic, but it's as if I said "Father, forgive me. It's been two weeks since my last confession, but I don't really want to get into the specifics because we'd be here all day. So for any sins I may have committed, am about to commit or that people may say I've committed, just give me blanket generic forgiveness and let's get on with it." I don't think that would wash. But that's precisely what they're proposing to do. They ask for generic forgiveness. And when you say what they're asking forgiveness for, they say, "Get over it. We don't need to dwell on the past. It's morbid." You know the "Our Father" prayer - you can't get forgiveness unless you're willing to give it.There's a powerful lesson here. The reason they don't want to get into specifics is because what went on is genocide.

That word has been misused and trivialized but we do have a definition that originated in the writings of Raphael Lemkin. It's codified in Article 2 of the 1948 Convention on Genocide.That convention also codifies who can do a tribunal. Sovereign nations have a right to bring to trial in a competent jurisdiction those who committed crimes against the people of that nation. By every law that lets Canada issue passports, call itself a nation, sit in the UN, the various First Nations are sovereign and have a right to their own governments, their own tribunals and to hold Canada to international law. And that's the first order of business. It's not rhetoric, it's not hyperbole. It's law.The same thing applies to the religious bodies. If they want to reject this, they're rejecting their own gospel. Their own gospel says that you don't just ask for forgiveness. You have to make atonement, you have to make it right, you have to reach out. They don't want it to come out that what they intended to do was not a mistake. This stuff that they meant well, that they wanted to bring the gospel of Jesus to the savages. No, they didn't mean well. They meant to destroy us. There's nothing well-meaning about sexually molesting kids and beating them for speaking their languages or being left-handed. They were not well-meaning. They never brought the message of Jesus to their own children by molesting them and beating them. It was only Indian children they did that to.

Now you know this Hollywood Indian caricature? The Washington Redskins and the Kansas City Chiefs? This illiterate bucktoothed caricature. The Nazis used to make caricatures of Jews. We hanged a guy named Julius Streicher at Nuremberg, but he was never charged with actually killing someone. He was the editor of Der Sturmer, the Nazi propaganda rag. The formal charge against Streicher was helping to create a climate conducive to genocide. Because ideas kill. He helped to create a climate that made dehumanizing and killing people easier to handle. That's exactly what they did at the residential schools. By dehumanizing these people with racist caricatures, they make it easy to brutalize, easy for a "good Christian" to molest a child and not suffer the cognitive dissonance and suffer the angst, because it's no longer like you're molesting a real person. It's only an Indian you're molesting. It's not like you're killing a real person.

Raphael Lemkin, who coined the word genocide, said that genocide involved two phases. The first is destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group. The second is imposing the national pattern of the dominating group. So the first phase is to strip the people down of their identity, self-worth, self-esteem, history, knowledge of themselves, ability to relate to each other and be comfortable with each other. Set them at each others' throats. Make them competitors. The second phase is to impose a whole new value system on them. It's not enough just to destroy the Indian ways. You've got to impose whole new ways.And that's exactly what the residential schools did, just like in boot camp.

The first phase - if you ask anybody who was in the schools - is to strip you down, dissociate you from any connection with your value system, your family, your religion. The first part is to make you feel totally worthless, so that anything you have is what they gave you, any self worth came from them, not from you or your people or history.And then after they've brutalized you and stripped you down, the second phase is to plant the new value system in you. So in the residential schools, the first part was to beat the children down - cut their hair, beat them for speaking native languages, for their rituals, any kind of spirituality. First, you de-Indianize them - beat them down so they associate being Indian with being worthless, inferior, dirty, backward, illiterate.After that, comes the second phase: imposing the national pattern of the oppressing group. And what they do then is transplant a whole system of ideas. "Well, yes, you're God's child, but the only way for you to have salvation is to forget where you came from, forget that Indian stuff. We'll never accept you as white but we'll make you an honorary sort of white if you say the right things and you toe the line and you break with your people." And not only break with them, but sell them out.

One of the things the British learned early, the US never learned. The British were artists at this. The British had what they called the DC system, the district commissioner system. They had a minimum of white faces dominating non-whites. Most of the domination would be through brown people dominating brown people. Or brown people dominating black people. Or just a little bit off-white dominating darker people. The whites would stay in the background. There would be a few of them here and there because when you have a lot of whites dominating non-whites, it's pretty clear who the dominators are and who the dominated are. The US never learned that lesson and that's one of the reasons they lost in Vietnam.What they were also trying to do with the residential school system was to create a core of Indians who would serve their interests, functionaries who would sell out their own people. So you would have people the same color controlling their own kind, and then, in the background, you'd have a few white faces who would be dropping in on the schools periodically to check the curriculum, molest a few children and head on back to Ottawa.

That's how it worked.That's why they don't want the residential school issues brought to court except through their shrinks and their certified lawyers and their courts, because once they get under real cross-examination they're afraid we'll really go crazy. You would see specifics and names: that a crown minister of justice is a pedophile, that a RCMP superintendent is covering up murders, that an esteemed cabinet minister from a liberal government is involved in molesting children. You would start seeing what happened in the schools: so-called teachers who would force a child to eat her own feces or maggot-infested food or pierce a child's tongue or use one child to bully another, to be an enforcer.

Anybody whose ever been even remotely touched by the gospel could never do something like that. One reason the churches are so afraid is that the facts are coming out and they're irrefutable. The facts say what those people did was no mistake, no accident, no product of a different historic time when standards were different. People who ran Indian agencies didn't let their own children be molested in the 1800s and the 1900s.And we would be able to see that the present is the past, that the residential schools were just one part of a whole larger custody system, the trustee system, the Department of Indian Affairs/Bureau of Indian Affairs system, all of which have to be smashed. Because look what it's produced.

What has the trustee relationship produced in Canada? Are the suicide rates lower than twenty years ago? The substance abuse rates? Are there more people in the Indian nations and bands than twenty years ago, generally speaking? See what I mean? Is there more cohesion? Is the crime rate lower?No. All those rates have steadily gone up under the so-called trustee relationship between the federal government and the tribes in both the US and Canada. So what good is it? What kind of trustees are these? What would happen to the trustees of this college if enrollment steadily fell, the debts steadily mounted, the buildings fell apart, and the trustees were all going to Hawaii on college money? What would happen to the trustees of this college if the whole place went to hell on their watch?Well, that's exactly what's happened in Indian country in both Canada and the US. So what good is their trustee relationship?

Right now for example, the BIA? Over 6 billion dollars gone, missing. The records have been torched; and another 13 billion dollars or so in undervaluation of royalties - in other words, when they refuse to charge the oil companies the proper royalties that were owed to the tribes. And those lost dollars mean lost opportunities and lost lives when you look at the poverty on the reservations and reserves. Where is that money? What kind of trustees are these? You know what they say? "Well, we're sorry. We don't have the records." Where are they? "Well some of them were lost." Where? "Well, we don't know." Some of them they say are buried under rat crap in Albuquerque, New Mexico and they can't get them because of Hanta virus. I'm not making this up.Among African-Americans, there's a parallel.

Right now in the US, one out of four AfricanAmericans between 18 and 30 years old is in the prison system one way or another. They're in prison or they're on parole or probation. Among 22 industrialized nations, the US is "number one" alright. Using UN statistics, number one in wealth and income inequality; in infants born at low birth weight; suicide rate; substance addiction rate; homicide rate; teenage pregnancy rate; teenage abortion rate; divorce rate; infant mortality rate.Now multiply those rates by five and up because the statistics for indigenous people show their respective rates are five times and up the overall US rates. In other words, the suicide rate for Indian children, for example, is five times the US rate and the US rate is number one among 22 industrialized countries.

The government and the churches want to direct your attention away from this bigger picture and the media helps them. You've got to watch the main stream media because they aren't about the truth, either. Mainstream media is about soundbites. I overheard a CBC reporter at the Vancouver tribunal on residential schools. Another reporter was asking her when she would be done and she said: "I just want to get some sex stuff for the six o'clock and then I'll be gone." We have to develop our own alternative media. Dan Rather didn't get to be Dan Rather by asking tough questions. He got to be Dan Rather by not asking tough questions. It's like a child knowing what questions not to ask his parent. If you play the game right, knowing what nasty questions not to ask, you get access; and access gets you the scoop; and the scoop gets you exposure; and exposure gets you a name; and name brings expanded access to the even bigger scoop, leading to expanded exposure, leading to a bigger name.

Stop looking for respectability.And so what we also need to do is stop going to the same institution that constructed, designed, calculated and carried out all this, stop letting them be the courts to decide what will be admissible and what will not, what will be the fit punishment and what will not. You want to go the Nazis and say "OK, you guys decide how you're going to atone and you guys decide what the fit punishment is for an Eichmann." When Israel kidnapped Eichmann and took him to Israel, did anybody complain about that? As a matter of fact, when Eichmann played his part in genocide, there wasn't even a Jewish state, but later Israel was accepted as a competent jurisdiction to try him as mass murderer. They took it on themselves to try and hang him and they took it on themselves because there was no court they could go to.So they were the victims trying the victimizer. Did anybody say, "Oh, no. We need to have a dispassionate court. We need to have a court made up of non-Jews, non-gypsies, non-gays, non-trade unionists, non-communists, non-socialists and nondisabled?"

In a true aboriginal court, we have five interrelated mandates that form a sacred hoop: Truth, Justice, Healing, Reconciliation, and Prevention of Future Abuse. And all five mandates help to form and protect a society in which the further search for truth is valued and promoted, so the mandates form a sacred hoop from Truth to Truth.So we too must tell the truth in all ways and some of that truth is not pretty to hear. It would be nice if it were as simple as all Indians are pure and all white people are the devil. Then you just go off all the white people and we'd have a pure world. Unfortunately, it's not that simple.

My mother used to talk about Custer work. She said that "any Indian who doesn't keep the sacred sacred, any Indian who doesn't protect the children and respect the elders, any Indian who does corruption is doing Custer work. They are aiding and abetting the extermination of what they dare to claim as their 'own blood' and relations."And so there are some Indians doing Custer work. There are some Indians who are corrupt. They put their relatives on tribal payrolls. They take the best homes for themselves while others live in homes with five times the radon levels for condemnation. Right now at Browning for example, we just had an elder die and the tribe is so broke, we can't even bury an elder. His body is sitting in a frozen locker unembalmed because they couldn't come up with $1500 to bury him. But they had just cut a big deal with two oil companies for mineral rights on 720,000 acres for less than $10 an acre while the Akaina Blackfoot were getting $5,000 an acre just across the border.

The people who did that are traitors. They're the enemy, because without them the ones who want to grab the Indian lands, who want to de-Indianize the children couldn't do what they do. Just like in Germany, where they had rich Jews selling out poor Jews. They had Jews who were kapos who were worse toward fellow Jews than some of the Nazis were. We've got the same thing in Indian country. We have some Indians who need to get right with the Creator. They need to stop the corruption.Right now we have an 83-year-old elder and her daughter who were left on the street in Lethbridge a couple of weeks ago at five thirty at night with no concern for their safety because they refuse to have non-native plates on their car. And they refused BIA cards, driver's licenses and passports. They have Blackfoot drivers' licenses, plates and passports. I myself have no current US or Canadian passport. When I enter Canada, I just say "I'm Blackfoot." Hundreds of us carry Blackfoot documents and some of us are enrolled.I have been through blood search but I would never carry a BIA/DIA card. We take the risk when we go through customs that it won't be accepted. And we do this not only because we don't go along with the BIA/DIA's so-called right to tell us who we are or are not, to decide we don't exist as Indians. We also do it as part of taking our co-opted and divided tribes back. To take them back from how they've been smashed and divided so as to be destroyed as a whole nation. We regard allowing the BIA/DIA to define who and what a Blackfoot or an Indian is exactly like a Jew would regard allowing a nazi to define who and what a Jew is.

We have our own traditional societies that go back hundreds of years to decide such things - one's called the Brave Dog Society.Let me give you a parallel. Among the parties who sat in judgment at Nuremberg, not one was the government officially recognized by the nazi occupying powers. The nazi puppet Vichy government didn't sit in judgment. The Quisling government of Norway was the accused - it didn't sit in judgment. When you have rotten tribal councils elected through corrupt mechanisms, why recognize them? That's another thing that has to be done, to take the tribes back.Further, while the non-indigenous talk about - and break - certain treaties, it was the traditional governments, summarily and illegally destroyed in 1924, that created any authority for those Blackfoot who signed or allegedly signed those treaties on behalf of all Blackfoot. If those traditional governments and chiefs are not recognized, then those who allegedly signed those treaties had no authority to do so, in which case the non-Indians should get off our land immediately-according to the non-Indians' own laws and principles governing ownership and control of property.

Right now, all four Blackfoot councils have no real popular support. The most they're ever elected with is 20% of the votes. Not every tribal council is like that, but there are enough like that that you don't have to recognize tribal councils as legitimate governments any more than the French recognized the Vichy government as the legitimate government of France. It was a collaborationist government.And we have the same problem in Indian country today with many of the so-called officials. I'll never carry their ID cards for the same reason that no French person in occupied France would carry a card saying "I'm certified by the Germans and the Vichy government as a real Frenchman instead of by those guys in London calling themselves the provisional government of France." Reject the BIA. Reject their tools. It's like the Nazis deciding who is a Jew. People bent on exterminating the Indians - why let them determine who and what an Indian is?We need to stop going to the system that has only been used to exterminate us - and the collaborators the system creates and needs - and go back to our own aboriginal justice systems.

We have the precedent, we have the law, we have the justice, and we have the right. When you see a real aboriginal court run the way it's supposed to be run, it's an invigorating process.Our tribunals are not about revenge, bashing the churches or whatever. We're also using these tribunals to discover ourselvesand our authentic past that was stripped away. One of the things it allows us to do is to look at the curriculum in the boarding schools. We look at what they wanted us to unlearn, to take away, and that tells us something about what is really valuable. It's like when you purposely let a thief out of jail to go find the stolen goods. He leads you directly to where they are. It's a real discovery process.And I promise you that the churches get more justice from us than they ever gave us. There is more respect for them and more justice for them than they ever gave us in their schools. Because we don't want to become like them. If we do a witch-hunt, if we become just a vigilante operation, we lose our own credibility and without our credibility, we have nothing.We bring our young ones in because our elders are our link to what's authentic. Our children are our only hope to carry it on. And the present generations are our trustees to preserve what's authentic. They all work together, so we need to train our young ones and bring them in. It helps them tap in not just to the pain and the problems but to discover and become committed to what their roots are and to see what can be and be created.

These tribunals are also important because we need the testimony before the people die. They are living museums. We need that knowledge. All the children need to sit down and understand what their parents went through. Not as an excuse, but as an explanation - there's a difference but it's important to learn the history. The idea is that we should have reconciliation and healing, but the real thing. We should also talk to each other and get comfortable with each other. This is where I think there's some hope.It's also important to do the homework. On an emotional, on a visceral level, the tribunals are talking about powerful things. The personal stories are critical, but it's also important to do the homework, to do the research, and also for people who have computers to form networks and use the Internet to link up and start sharing resources with each other and also to open up dialogue. When injustice has been done, sometimes it's emotionally satisfying to paint a whole institution with a broad brush, but there are some good people in all of these institutions and I think it's really important to link up with some of these people and have dialogues.Even in the churches, there are people who are trying to make these churches better. It's not all a monolithic institution. I've had discussions for example with United Church of Christ clergy who are very troubled about their church's position on various issues and there are some good Catholics and Lutherans around and so on who are worth linking up with. You have to be careful, see how far you can go with them. It's important not to paint everyone from a certain institution an enemy, because they're not.

We have enemies amongst our own people and we have friends in what some people call the enemy camp. It's important to have those kinds of dialogues.And it's also important to be respectful. Just as we want respect for Indian ways and native ways, we have to be respectful of what's important to other people as well. It does no good to trash the whole gospel because some people have misused it or defamed it and it's important not to trash other peoples' faith because their faith has been misused to oppress us. I think it puts us in their camp. It's important to differentiate between the gospel and the misuse of the gospel, and between how a particular church has been captured versus the whole institution and the people in it. It's just like any nation; you can't paint a whole nation by what one or two people inside it do.So we need make sure that we understand exactly what the issues are and to speak from a factual base. Check your facts and recheck them. Once you lose your credibility, you can't get it back. If you repeat rumors without checking them out, you lose your credibility. Sometimes you can check and still turn out to be wrong, but you have to make a good faith effort. And you have to tell the truth, even when it's uncomfortable. All Indians are virtuous and all whites are the devil takes you nowhere. It undermines the cause. People speaking for the cause have to be on top of the game because the cause will be judged by the spokesperson. It takes time and it takes energy to arrive at truth, but nothing less will serve any of us.
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Bush the Empathic

"I am angry that so many sons of the powerful and well-placed...managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units...Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal."
(Colin L. Powell in "My American Journey", 1995)

"During his first year [at Harvard Business School] George came to the attention of Yoshi Tsurumi when the macroeconomics professor announced his plan to show the film 'The Grapes of Wrath' based on John Steinbeck's book about the Great Depression. ' I wanted to give the class a visual reference for poverty and a sense of historical empathy,' Tsurumi explained. 'George Bush came up to me and said, Why are you going to show us that Commie movie?'

'I laughed because I thought he was kidding, but he wasn't. After we viewed the film, I called on him to discuss the Depression and how he thought it affected people. He said, 'Look. People are poor because they are lazy.' A number of students pounced on him and demanded that he support his statement with facts and statistics. He quickly backed down because he could not sustain his broadside.'

Professor Tsurumi continued: ' His strong prejudices soon set him apart from the rest of the students. This has nothing to do with politics, because most business students are conservative, but they are not inhumane or unprincipled. Unlike most of the others in the class, George Bush came across as totally lacking compassion, with no sense of history, completely devoid of social responsibility, and unconcerned with the welfare of others. Even among Republicans his kind was rare. He had no shame about his views, and that's when the rest of the class started treating him like a clown--not someone funny, but someone whose views were not worthy of consideration...I did not judge him to be stupid, just spoiled and undisciplined...I gave him a 'low pass'. Of the hundred students in that class, George Bush was in the bottom 10 percent. He was so abysmal that I once asked him how he ever got accepted in the first place. He said, 'I had lots of help.' I laughed, and then inquired about his military service. He said he had been in the Texas Air National Guard. I said he was very lucky not to have had to go to Vietnam. He said, 'My dad fixed it so that I got into the Guard. I got an early discharge to come here.' "

(quoted from "The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty" by Kitty Kelly, Doubleday, N.Y. 2004, pp. 309-310)

Some Poetry of Resistance

WE

by Jim Craven

We,
who dream,
of that better world,
must learn:
not only to dream,
but to act;
not only to destroy,
but to build;
not only to hate,
but to love;
that,

love for the oppressed,
implies,
even demands,
no mercy for oppressors;
that,
on a long road,
some call it life,
with so many twists and turns,
and ups and downs,
and forks and crossroads,
and no one,
leaves any signposts,
or maps for the grand journey,
some pain, some joy,
more joy than pain,
for those who can love,
and not merely hate,
for those who can build,
and not merely destroy;
that,
in the scheme of things,
we are insignificant,
and yet so significant,
in that we can contemplate,
our insignificance;
that,
We are like the wind,
here for a brief moment,
in the scheme of things,
suddenly gone, leaving a memory,
of what was,
and hope,
for what could be.

Jim Craven
(Written in 1963 before entering U.S. Army)


Tautological Hubris
A Poem by Jim Craven

We,
are Americans,
"Number One", you know,
just ask us;
"Number One" in what?
money, for instance,
and that buys everything else
of "worth".
We are the most, among nations,
in God's Grace;
How do we know?
we're "Number One",
and only those in God's Grace,
would God make "Number One",
that is the evidence, the "proof",
it is all very Calvinist,
and purely tautological.
And only those in God's Grace,
have the "Truth",
that is also the evidence,
the "proof",
that we are in God's grace,
and have the truth,
since only those with the "Truth",
could be in God's Grace,
and vice versa,
it is all very Calvinist,
and purely tautological.
And how can those with the "Truth",
be wrong?
or not act in accordance with the "Truth"?
and that is the evidence,
the "proof",
that we have the "Truth",
and act in accordance with it,
because what we believe,
and what we do,
keeps us in God's Grace,
"therefore", we must have the "Truth",
and must be acting in accordance with it,
it is all very Calvinist,
and purely tautological.
And since those who have the "Truth",
and act in accordance with it,
are the Good and the Blessed,
we must be the Good and Blessed,
we have the "Truth",
and act in accordance with it,
which means that those who do not believe as we do,
or act as we act,
must not have the "Truth",
or be acting in accordance with it,
they must not be in God's Grace,
they must be Evil and the Damned;
it is all very Calvinist,
and purely tautological.


Deadly/ Contrived Syllogisms
A Poem by Jim Craven

"Logic" can be benign,
and yet, so deadly,
it can give the illusion,
of structure,
and yet be an instrument
of brutal anarchy;
"Logic" can help to liberate,
and to heal,
and it can be used to repress and enslave,
and to spread sicknesses;
"Logic" can wear many masks,
or be used to strip the masks away;
If--but only if:
A=B
And if--but only if:
B=C
"Ergo" , and then:
A= ?
It is all so simple,
and yet not so,
and then?
U.S. = Capitalism?
Capitalism = "Freedom"?
"Ergo", and then?
U.S. = ?
Religion X, and ONLY Religion X, is in accordance with / = "Holy Book" Y?
"Holy Book" Y, and ONLY "Holy Book" Y, is in accordance with / = The TrueWorld of "God"?
"Ergo", and then?
Religion X = ?
"Human Nature" = Greed ?
"Greed" = Capitalism ?
"Ergo", and then?
"Human Nature" = ?
U.S. Foreign Policy = Globalization of "Human Rights"?
Globalization of "Human Rights" = Only hope of Humanity?
"Ergo", and then?
U.S. Foreign Policy = ?
Nation X = "Socialism"?
"Socialism" = Barbarism?
"Ergo", and then?
Nation X = ?
"Logic",
can be so seductive,
or penetrating and frightening,
so necessary to enlighten,
so able to bring darkness,
so able to create,
so able to destroy,
like a hammer,
it can be used to build a house,
or to smash a skull,
and build a tomb.


The Labor of Sisyphus

by Jim Craven

From the genocidal Puritans,
and all the misery--and wealth--their genocide brought,
to the occultist Masonics and Illuminati,
and the "Founding Families" of the Republic
--slaveholders, oligarchs, elitists and predators all--
to the opium trade of the 1800s,
and all the misery--and wealth--that it brought,
to the "Indian Wars",
"redskins", decapitated dead, stolen skulls,
"research" for a twisted "skull science",
and "proof" of preordination to supremacy and rule,
to plunder and "extraterritoriality",
throughout the continents,
and all the misery--and wealth--that brought,
to the financing, of all sides,
of the "Great" War,
and all the misery--and wealth--that brought,
to the looting and desecration of the tomb,
of a great Warrior,
as if, posessing his skull and other remains,
could give them his great spirit and power,
or even his stature,
to the vicious Thule society,
and the financing of its offspring,
the evil one, Hitler,
early on, when "IT", and ITs kind, could have been stopped,
to the eugenics movement,
the sterilizations of many innocents,
lacking the "right breeding", they said,
as if these preppy in-breds,
were anything to write home about,
to the plot to overthrow FDR,
to set up a system, like that of the evil one,
the fascist cancer, they continued to finance,
and profit nicely from,
to the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
in no way "military necessity"
--not the final shots of a global war--
but rather,
the opening shots of a new war,
and the opening of a deadly "Pandora's Box",
that continues to threaten human survival,
to the use of the poor and downtrodden,
as subjects of "medical "experimentation,
to provide "proof" of their "superiority",
and preordination to rule,
to the hiding of nazi criminals,
justly wanted for only a portion of their crimes,
to hide their own complicity,
and their own crimes,
to the creation of many fronts,
wearing many masks,
in business, media and government,
hiding intentions and capabilities
as ugly and deadly as those,
behind the masks,
to the "New Order",
as ominous-sounding,
and with the same intentions,
as when the nazis used the term,
to the present,
the illusion of "choice",
from a rigged menu,
heads we win, tales you lose,
cover the thesis,
manage the inevitable--the antithesis--
thus engineering,
a synthesis,
to become the new order,
of the "chosen" and preordained, ,
always in their interests,
and of their choosing,
until their masks are ripped away,
and they face their real destiny,
that for which they were really preordained,
judgment in a higher court,
even they cannot contrive and control,
with their own illusions and intentions,
as dead as the skulls and bones,
and their quest for immortality,
through their "Tomb",
their money and power,
cannot buy eternal life,
they labor,
like the labor of Sisyphus.





The War Prayer of Mark Twain

The War Prayer by Mark Twain

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fulttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory with stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.

It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came--next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams--visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender!

Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation: God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest, Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!

Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory--

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord and God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside-- which the startled minister did--and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said: "I come from the Throne--bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import--that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of--excpet he pause and think. "God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two--one uttered, and the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this--keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon your neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain on your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse on some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer--the uttered part of it. I am commissioned by God to put into words the other part of it--that part which the pastor--and also you in your hearts-- fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard the words `Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory--must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth into battle--be Thou near them! With them--in spirit-- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended in the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames in summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it--

For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimmage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, strain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!

We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits."

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

American Authors of the 19th Century - Mark Twain Size: 11x17 inches .

Twain apparently dictated it around 1904-05; it was rejected by his publisher, and was found after his death among his unpublished manuscripts. It was first published in 1923 in Albert Bigelow Paine's anthology, Europe and Elsewhere.

The story is in response to a particular war, namely the Philippine-American War of 1899-1902, which Twain opposed.

Marxism and Indigenous Struggles: Speech to Sacramento Marxist School, Nov. 21, 2002

POCKETS of RESISTANCE no. 23
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Pockets of Resistance is published online by Dark Night Press and supports the struggle for liberation of indigenous peoples
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In this issue:
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Speaking of Struggle Series - April 2003
Finding Voice: Telling Our Own Stories by Ward Churchill
Marxism and Indigenous Struggles: A Case Study of the Blackfoot Nation by James Craven
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This issue inaugurates a thread of Pockets of Resistance pieces that give voice to activists and organizers in the field. It is intended to address the need expressed by Ward Churchill in our opening piece for writing from the field of struggle that educates to empower liberation. Jim Craven in our second piece discusses problems besetting cooperation and solidarity between various movements. Upcoming issues will present material on the contexts, pragmatic actions, and the spirit of struggle from Ramona Africa, Carter Camp and Subcomandante Marcos.
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Marxism and Indigenous Struggles: A case study of the Blackfoot Nation
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James Craven spoke at The Marxist School of Sacramento in Sacramento, California on November 21, 2002
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I live in two worlds. I am a Blackfoot. As you can see from my appearance, extermination is almost complete, genocide is almost complete. Only 5% of federally registered Indians today are full blood. Almost all Indians today are of mixed race. Not that that’s a big deal in and of itself, but it’s an indication of something else -- that what’s going on inside this country is genocide. There’s no other word for it. I’m going to talk about the law because that word is often misused. You hear about the "genocide" of whales, "genocide" of trees. As much as I’m in sympathy with some of the people raising those issues, it trivializes the word "genocide," which has a very specific meaning, which we’re going to talk about.
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To frame the discussion, first of all I’d like to read something to you if I may. This is from the address by Robert Jackson to the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1946. He said: Unfortunately the nature of these crimes is such that both prosecution and judgment must be made by victor nations over vanquished foes. But we must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well. We must summon such detachment and intellectual integrity to our task that this trial will commend itself to posterity as fulfilling humanities aspirations to do justice. "
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The fact is that that United States was the primary moving force for Nuremberg. No doubt about it. The fact is that Nuremberg was the primary force for the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide. No question about that. Yet the United States did not even bother to sign the UN Convention on Genocide until 1988 – 40 years later. And furthermore, when they signed it, this is what the United States put into the UN Convention on Genocide: it’s called the Lugar-Helms-Hatch Sovereignty Exemption. It says basically that anything in the Convention contradicting the Constitution of the United States or the laws of the US as interpreted by the US is trumped by those laws and Convention.
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Now that itself is a violation of the US Constitution – Article 6 Section 2: "Treaties shall be the supreme law of the land and the judges of each state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or the laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding." That is the US Constitution.
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Why? Because obviously, nations otherwise could declare a supreme right or sovereign right to engage in genocide. Which is what the Germans did. When the Germans came to Nuremberg they said, "Well, we didn’t break any German laws. And furthermore, there weren’t any international laws that governed us, and therefore you’re practicing ex post facto justice. Therefore we reject your authority to try us for genocide." That’s what the Germans said.
In essence, that’s what the US has said with the Helms-Lunar-Hatch Sovereignty exemption. We’ve got a sovereign right to do genocide in this country. So because the word genocide….does anybody know where that word came from?
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It came from a Polish jurist named Rafael Lemkin. He wrote a book called Axis Control in Occupied Europe. It comes from the Greek word genus which means race, and the Latin "cide" which means killing, together the killing of a whole race.
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But when you read the law, genocide is defined very clearly in Article 2 of the UN Convention on Genocide. It says the following: "Any of the following five acts – any, not all – any of the following constitute genocide: 2A. Killing members of the group. That doesn’t mean you have to kill all the group. Genocide very seldom involves murder of a whole people.
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What’s required is that people are targeted for killing because they are members of a group. 2B. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group. 2C. Deliberately inflicting upon a group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
2D. Imposing measures designed to prevent births with the group--Sterilization. 2E. Forcibly transferring children from one group to another group.
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Has all of that been done in American history? Absolutely. My own mother was one of them. My mother was grabbed by the Mormons, was taken out for adoption to Ft. Hall, Idaho where they had a little colony going. The Mormons had this weird doctrine, which is that Indians are part of the lost tribes of Israel -- they’re called Lamanites -- who inherited brown skin because God cursed them with brown skin because they chose to be evil and fight the white settlers, the Nephites. But the good news is that on the last day, on Judgment Day, God is going to turn them white, turn them "white and delightsome", according to the Book of Mormon.
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And the Mormons to this day are still actively grabbing Indian children as we speak. They are grabbing Indian children and doing forced adoptions as we speak. They have a very elaborate system. But not only the Mormons. The Catholics, the United Church, the Methodists, and so on.
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One of my jobs for the Blackfoot is I served as a tribal judge in Canada dealing with residential schools abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, torture, using Indian children for medical experimentation, medical procedures with no anesthetic, forced adoptions, murder, gang rape, and so on.
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I speak from two worlds. On the one hand I’m a Marxist; on the other hand I’m an indigenous activist. And I’ve got to tell you…there’s some bad blood between some Indian activists and some Marxists. Some very bad blood. And some of it has to do with misunderstanding on both sides.
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You haven’t lived until you’ve had some smart-mouthed young punk Maoist tell you "Well, you people are primitive communalists, you know, and you’re going to have to go through feudalism and capitalism before you get to socialism."
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So one of the reasons I was asked here today is to talk about some of our realities, and then to talk about how we can build some common bridges, because we need allies. Blackfoot people – there’s only 35,000 of us left. We’re almost all mixed race, our land base is about 2.6 million acres – bigger than all of Israel and Palestine combined. We have four major bands. They stretch from the Siksika Blackfoot at Gleichen who are near Calgary, in Alberta, down to the Northern Peigan at Brocket in Alberta. They’re called Apatohsipiikani;That’s what I am. Down to Carston, Alberta, they’re called Kainai or Blood Blackfoot, then down to the Blackfeet in Browning, Montana, or the Amskaapipiikani people.
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Most of the people now are living off the rez, not on the rez. On our reservations we have one of the last sources of pristine water in all of North America. We have dinosaur bones all over our land and wherever there’s dinosaur bones, there’s oil, because that’s where oil comes from. We have coal, manganese, copper, uranium. All of that and guess what? The Man wants it and we’re in the way, because of Article 6 Section 2. We have treaties.
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Not that they care about breaking treaties. They don’t. And we’re going to talk about that, too -- the whole issue of bourgeois property relations, and contradictions of capitalism. We’ll get into all of that.
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But just to frame it for you. This is a quote from John Toland’s Adolph Hitler:
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"Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and for the Indians in the Wild West, and often praised, to his inner circle, the efficiency of American extermination by starvation and uneven combat of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity." (702)
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So Hitler’s major inspiration was the Canadian and American Indian experience, for the possibility of genocide, the scope of genocide, for the methods of genocide. Hitler even used the term "redskins" when referring to Russians. Hitler used to read Karl May’s novels all the time, Wild West novels. He used the term redskins when talking. And there’s another thing right there.
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Redskins. Can you imagine a football team called the New York Niggers or the Boston Bitches? Frisco Fags? But we have a team called the Washington Redskins. Do you know how offensive that term is? Do you know where the term "redskin" came from?
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It came from Andrew Jackson’s time when they would skin Indians, cut off testicles and breasts and use them for tobacco pouches. They would skin Indians, cut all the way down the back, the legs, and they would use the skin for bridle reins. What happened was they became a novelty item. And so Europeans would come to the west, and they all wanted redskins. It became a novelty item. So calling the football team the Washington Redskins is like calling them the Auschwitz Lampshades. Calling an Indian a redskin is like calling an alligator a purse. It’s extremely offensive.
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That’s where it comes from. Yet in this country they can use terms describing what has been done to Indians that they wouldn’t use for any other group. As bad as it is for African Americans, and it’s bad, they don’t have a Department of African American Affairs. African American’s don’t have to prove their blood. They don’t have to get a permit to sell – Indians on reservations must have a BIA (boss Indians around) permit to sell their goods. It’s called DIA in Canada – Department of Indian Affairs.
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This is from a BIA document: "Set the blood quantum at one-quarter. Hold to it as a rigid definition of Indians. Let intermarriage proceed and eventually Indians will be defined out of existence. When that happens, the federal government will be finally freed from its persistent Indian problem."
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And from a Canadian document. This was April 12, 1910:
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It is readily acknowledged that Indian children lose their natural resistance to illness by habitating so closely in the [residential boarding] schools that they die at a much higher rate than in their villages. But this alone does not justify a change in the policy of this Department which is geared toward the final solution of our Indian problem.
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When they use the term "final solution of our Indian problem" they mean exactly what the Nazis meant at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942. Final solution means the extermination, the extinction of a whole people.
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That’s an example. Just one more to frame this for you because these are statistics you will never hear:
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"Indian health levels are the lowest and disease rates are highest of all major population groups of the United States. Instances of tuberculosis are over 400% higher than the national average. Instances of strep infection are 1,000% higher, meningitis 2,000% higher, dysentery 10,000% higher. Death rates from disease are shocking when Indian and non-Indian populations are compared. Influenza and pneumonia are 3,000% greater among Indians. Hepatitis? Epidemic proportions. Diabetes is almost a plague. The suicide rate for Indian youth ranges from 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than for non-Indian youth in the United States.
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Furthermore, between 50,000 and 55,000 Indian homes are officially considered uninhabitable. On Pine Ridge, for example, which is the Lakota reservation, over 80% of the homes are considered substandard and uninhabitable. The modern life expectancy among reservation men is 44.6 years, and it’s about the same for women. That’s versus 71 or 73 years for white males/females in the US. It’s lower than in Ghana. And finally, one of every four native men is in prison or in the system, and almost 40% of all native women of childbearing age have been sterilized."
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And in most cases they didn’t even know they were being sterilized because they would be told, "You’ve got a gynecological problem," or "You’ve got a medical problem," and children were routinely sterilized at 10, 11 and 12 years old in the residential boarding school systems in the US and Canada. That’s a fact.
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Remember Article 2D -- imposing measures designed to prevent births within a group? Article 2E -- transferring children from one group to another group? Any of those is called genocide. Genocide’s going on right now. This is not rhetoric. This is the law. Even though the US declares itself exempt, it is a treaty and we are bound by it according to Article 6 Section 2 of the US Constitution.
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Now, one of the sources of friction that occurs between some native activists and some leftists is we’re wondering how come people can demonstrate against invasion of East Timor, or wax eloquent about the Palestinian cause – protests we strongly support – but when genocide is going on right here in this country – in your face – we hear almost nothing from the left. Part of it is our own fault. We haven’t reached out, we haven’t had discussions about this reality. Because I know that if you knew what is going on today on reservations in this country, you would be outraged.
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One year, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency published a list of 73 toxic waste sites in the US. Seventy-two of them were on Indian reservations. Seventy-two out of 73. So instead of taking people to the gas chambers like the Nazis did, they bring the gas chambers to us.
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It’s interesting to note that number 73 on their list was an area heavily occupied by African Americans. So while this country goes around lecturing everybody about human rights and the rest of that, genocide is going on right here in your face, big time.
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As I said, I’m one of 35,000 left. In the case of the Makah, there are only 2,200 left. Let me tell you about another case that happened the other day with that moron they’ve got in the White House. The Chinook people were the ones who helped out Lewis and Clark. We [Blackfoot] were the only ones by the way who took on Lewis and Clark with armed conflict. We were the ones who knew "there goes the neighborhood." We saw it coming.
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Mr. Bush invited the chief of the Chinook to the White House. Told him to bring all his feathers and all that for a good show. So he went and they had a big ceremony saying "Thank you very much for helping out Lewis and Clark." Two days later the Chief and his wife were walking down the street in DC. They were going to buy some trinkets to bring back home, and he gets a call on his cell phone and he’s told "Guess what? You no longer exist. The BIA has just terminated you as a federally recognized tribe."
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Because we’re also a people who have to be "recognized" to exist. We have to have recognition from the Master.
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So we desperately need allies. But the problem is there’s a lot of friction and misunderstanding. One source of misunderstanding comes along these lines. People take mechanically Marx’s dictum that religion is the opiate of the masses. And they say from that "Well, you know, religion’s just another kind of dope. And you Indians with your spiritual crap, well, we sympathize with you and all, but you’re too mystical for our tastes. We’re dialectical materialists! All this spiritual hocus pocus…we understand the need for it, all the unfulfilled promises and contradictions of capitalism give rise to the need for religion, and you poor souls are deluded and we understand why you need religion, but we can’t get on board with this."
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Well, Marx also said something. He said you don’t attack capitalism by attacking religion. You do it the other way around. You attack religion by attacking capitalism, by getting rid of the basis that creates the need for it.
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But we don’t regard religion and spirituality as the same thing. For us spirituality is a very individual thing. It means being guided by a spirit of something beyond oneself. It could be god. We know there are socialists who are religious people, who gave their lives standing with oppressed people because they are being guided by their religious beliefs.
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Why would you attack them? If somebody’s reading of the gospel drives them to stand up against capitalism, racism, sexism, homophobia, then so be it. Why lay it on them about the opiate of the masses stuff? Unite where you can unite – on principle, not opportunistically, but on principle. I’ll take some religious people to some vulgar Marxist any day of the week. Because some of them don’t have souls; they’re just reading books. It’s not about people -- they love humanity but they can’t stand people. It’s just an abstraction for some of them.
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Or they’re laying clich├ęs and slogans from the 18th Brumaire or The Civil War in France. One of the greatest inspirations I ever had was in the early 70s. I was at Karl Marx’s grave in Highgate Cemetery where I’ve been twice. And I’m sitting there meditating on the inscription on Marx’s grave which is from the eleventh thesis on Feuerbach – that "the philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it."
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The question is now there’s the doing and the doing takes unity among oppressed peoples, not just picking on their own little special issues, but finding a common ground on principle – not opportunistically, but on principle.
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So take a look at this. This was produced by grade 12 children of the Spokane Nation. Grade 12. They were asked to do a project that described what challenges the Spokane people face and what it will take to survive as a people.
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Notice this? First of all, like dialectical materialism, it’s not linear. There’s no ultimate causes and effects here. Just like dialectical materialism. Secondly, most of the time among Indian people, we dance clockwise. So when you read this, you read clockwise. The reason we dance clockwise is because the sun comes up in the east, then moves to the south, then the west, then the north.
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See this? If you read it, it’s clockwise. So what they’re saying is that service to the people is necessary for and is realized through spirituality. Not religion, but being guided by the spirit of something beyond one’s self. I would argue that any serious socialist is a very spiritual person. By definition, because in the US the worse thing you can be is a socialist. You can be a rapist, but a socialist? Never. So somebody who is a socialist is by definition being guided by something beyond him or herself. And that something is not popular in this country, that’s for darned sure.
Looking back now at this 12th grade project, the message is that it’s through spirituality that we forge unity, which is necessary to protect our environment and our heritage, and protecting our environment and heritage is necessary for our sovereignty as a people, and our sovereignty is necessary to produce healthy families, which is necessary to produce healthy individuals, which is necessary to capture the benefits of education, which is necessary for personal and collective health, and a strong economy, which is necessary for sobriety (which is a big problem), which is necessary for service...
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Now when you look at that it’s extremely dialectical. In fact, classical Indian thought is so dialectical you wouldn’t believe it. How do you explain, for example, these "savages" coming up with the Mayan calendar, invented 3750 BC, the most accurate calendar ever invented? How do you explain Machu Picchu with blocks that are 4 tons, when the largest blocks at the pyramids of Giza? weigh only 2 tons, and at Machu Picchu they’re on a sheer cliff, so close together that you can’t put a piece of paper between the stone blocks. There’s no mortar, they’re so finely tuned. There’s no engineering today that could duplicate what they did at Machu Picchu or Teotihuacan or others. For those interested in this area I strongly recommend a trilogy of books. The first one’s called Native Roots, the second is Indian Givers, and the third is Savages and Civilization, all written by a non-Indian called Jack Weatherford.
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And you notice this -- people ask "What’s that? They’re blowing the eagle away, got the eagle in the crosshairs?" No, this symbolizes the number four which is a sacred number among Indian people. For example, the four forms of balance, the four directions, the four primary colors of the human race. That’s why that number is sacred.
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Also, we look at context. Eurocentric thinking is highly reductionistic. Right? There are ultimate causes and ultimate effects. In Eurocentric thinking we can study a thing without even worrying about the context within which it occurs. Not among Indians and not among Marxists. Among dialectical materialists we always need to understand the context within which something is occurring. There are no ultimate causes, or final independent or dependent variables in dialectical materialism, nor is there any in Indian epistemology. It’s very, very nonlinear. So we share some common things in terms of paradigms that fit quite easily together.
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Plus we share something else. In Indian country capitalism is raw and naked. Most Indians I know are instinctively anti-capitalists. We know about commodification. We’ve seen what it’s done to Indian spirituality with the Hollywood medicine men, and the Tontos, and whatever.
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We know all about the class nature of the state. Many haven’t read Lenin. Haven’t read State and Revolution, but know absolutely that state is an instrument of capitalist rule, for our oppression and extermination. There is no doubt about it. They make it real clear. And outside the reservation they have other opiates, sedatives besides religion – Worldwide Wrestling, The Dating Game, Meet the Folks, Survivor, all this Social Darwinist crap getting people tuned up for the new world order. There are all these opiates. You see in Indian country there aren’t many opiates at all except for some dope and some booze. There aren’t fancy movie theatres. If there’s even one, you’re lucky.
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There’s nothing fancy there. It’s raw and it’s naked. There’s no question of who are the rulers and who are the ruled. And just like here, the government creates a core of functionaries to keep Indians down. Just like here, you have labor aristocrats who keep workers down under the banner of unionism while they’re cutting deals for themselves and their buddies, and just like among African American people, you’ve got a selected little group of folks who dance for the Man while they keep their own people down and trade off their own people.
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Well we’ve got the same thing. We’ve got a corps of functionaries. I do not like to use the term ‘apple’ because it implies that white is bad and it’s not a race question. You see, if you’re being betrayed by your own people, that’s even worse. It would be easy if you could say "Well, white is bad so let’s just off all the white people and we have a virtuous society." But it’s not that simple. It’s more about class than about race. Because we also have had in history white people dying to save Indians, and we’ve also had our own people betraying us. Custer had Indian scouts. He had traitors. And that’s the way it goes.
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When the Nazis for example went into occupied territories, the first thing they did was set up Jewish councils, and they would get the rich Jews to sell out their own people. They would trade a little security for aiding in the deception and the rounding up and transport and extermination of what they called their own people. We have the same thing. We have our traitors who are aiding and abetting the destruction of what they dare call their own blood and their own people. So we have something in common that we need to talk about. Because we need allies but we also have something too.
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Because when you study Indian country especially among people who have not been radicalized yet, let me tell you, it’s raw. If you want to learn about raw, naked capitalism without the veneer, come to Indian country. You’ll see it in your face. But the problem is getting there. But another problem we have, and we have it among Indian and non-Indian activists, is speaking the language that people can understand. I don’t mean talking down, I mean talking straight.
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If I go to a reservation and start talking about the labor theory of value, people will sit there and say, "What?" "Well, you know, it’s the difference between the wage rate and the value of labor. And it’s divided between financial, industrial and landed capital." "What?"
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But I can show them the mills. We can get on down to where surplus value is generated and appropriated in very visible ways. And one of the problems of the left in my opinion is – and we’ve got the same problem, we often only talk amongst ourselves – just like the left often talks amongst itself. Writing on the same nets: "Oh that was brilliant!" "Trotsky said this! Stalin said that!"
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Well, what do we do with it? How does it help us to change the world, build unity, bring people together, if I’m just sitting there waxing eloquent about the price transformation problem in Volume II of Das Kapital?
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And so part of the problem we’ve got is that we’ve only been talking amongst ourselves. Most of the Indian activists I know have written off a lot of the non-Indians and say, "Well, screw these people. We’re dying and they’re running around talking about East Timor. Wonderful! When they get around to America, have them give us a call. We’ll bring them in and educate them."
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Meanwhile they seem to be so interested in foreign genocide, but it’s going on right in front of them. And not only Indians – for African Americans, the same thing. Sorry, African Americans ain’t Denzel Washington. Yeah, he is, but he’s in a whole different place. I don’t think he’s got diabetes from screwed up conditions and bad diets that have been foisted on ghetto areas. The same thing with us. Do you know why diabetes is such a problem in Indian country? It goes back to the residential schools system, because to feed a lot of kids, to do it cheaply and profitably, what do you do? High carb! Pasta! Noodles! Guess what? That’s foreign to Indians. Indian diet is traditionally nuts and berries, some meats and fish, stuff that doesn’t cause diabetes. When kids were dragged off to those schools first their hair was cut, then they were beaten for being left-handed, --for some reason many Indians are left handed, I don’t know why -- then they were beaten for speaking their own language so now we hardly have any who speak the language because it was beaten out of them -- if you dared speak your own language you were beaten! All in the name of Jesus, of course. And then you were fed a cheap diet that set the stage for later health problems.
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By the way, I’ll be leaving a film here called Where the Spirit Lives, a Blackfoot film about the residential school system in Canada, the prototype of which was here in the United States.
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So here’s the problem: leftists by definition are mandated to do serious social change. And we need it, not only for us but for you, too, because today it’s us, tomorrow it’s you. Just like the famous quote from Niemoeller: first they came for the Jews -- you know the quote -- finally they came for me and there was nobody left to do anything about it. So today it’s us, tomorrow it will be somebody else.
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So we need to get out of our reality, we need to bridge like we’re doing now and have some serious discussion, to talk beyond ourselves, or to celebrate the few glories we’ve had. At the same time, we need the left to get out of its shell and to start talking not just to each other about what Marx said, but about reality here, what some of the fundamental contradictions are, who are our friends, our enemies. How do we capture the wavering elements in the middle, how do we isolate the true enemies and bring over the people who are wavering, who are good folks but just don’t yet understand, and how do we build unity among people who are so committed, and that’s not an easy thing to do especially within the context of this country.
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I know when I was back on the Rez a month ago and there was a big thing about Enron, and a bunch of Indians were saying, "Hey, you know, now they’re getting a taste. It’s karma time for whitey." We know about brownouts; they happen all the time on the reservation.
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In the US, 93% of all homes have a telephone hookup and telephone. The average on the rez is 43% who have even a telephone line. No telephone line, guess what? No telephone and no internet. No internet, no access to the outside world, and no access to outside possibilities.
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The libraries are pitiful. Why? Because the government only throws a little money…not much. An average Indian in Canada who lives say in Brocket, Alberta lives on $C229 per month. Rent, utilities, phone -- everything. Anybody want to try it? Indian Health Service is a joke. We have a joke about it: "What’s the most powerful medicine on the whole earth? Tylenol." Because it doesn’t matter what you got, that’s what you get at the old IHS. You’re given Tylenol and told to get the hell out of there. How would you like that? You walk into a clinic with pains and someone gives you a Tylenol and says get the hell out of here. And then somebody else comes and says "Damn, you Indians got it made. You got free health care. You guys get Indian money. Education."
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Right. How can you get education when the most formative schooling is in very inferior schools because no good teachers want to go there. So guess what we often get? All the losers. Everyone who has raped the student winds up on an Indian reservation because that’s the only place they allow them to teach. Some foreign doctor who couldn’t pass the national board exams: we get them because they get an exemption if they’ll work on an Indian reservation. The worst of the lot: that’s what you often find on the reservations.[noting some exceptions of some dedicated people who just want to help]
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So we watch a demonstration in Washington, DC saying "Don’t bomb Iraq." Well, we support that. Why do we want to bomb Iraqi people? They’re not Saddam Hussein -- they didn’t do it. But then we’re wondering when those leftists are going to get to us, because they’re bombing us, too. They’re not just bombing Iraq. Maybe not with bombs, but they’re bombing us with inferior food. Go to any reservation and you’ll find almost all the businesses are non-Indian owned. You’ll find like an IGA there with rotten meat, rotten milk – all way beyond the expiration date. And then you’ll find that the rotten food typically costs 40%-60% more than good meat you’ll find in Great Falls or Helena or whatever. The worst meat is on the reservations.
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And we’re sitting there saying, "Well, we’re oppressed. When are those people in Washington, DC going to get to us? In their own country? Right here. Where genocide is going on." That’s why I get a little harsh sometimes. Because the attitude we get is, "Well, why don’t you people just stop your whining?" OK. We’ll stop our whining when you get out of our face.
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So what we do now is we’re a sovereign people. You don’t make treaties with your own citizens, do you? Article 1 Section 10 of the US Constitution: No nation makes treaties with its own citizens, only a sovereign nation. Article 29 Vienna Convention on Treaties: All parties of a treaty are assumed to be coequals, otherwise who could any one of them have standing to represent their own people, unless they are coequals. Correct? So we’re a sovereign people, a sovereign nation. By anything that makes American a sovereign nation, we are a sovereign nation. Almost gone, but not quite yet.
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You can read Stalin on the national question. Sorry if I put anyone off by quoting Stalin, you can read Lenin. What defines a nation? A nation is a collection of people who have a common territory, a common economy, a common political life, a common culture and language, a common history. Not even common blood, by the way. But we also have that, too. By all international law we are a nation of people, a sovereign people. Not dependent captive people, we are a sovereign people. And so what we’re doing now is saying, "You’re going to have to kill every one of us." And it’s going on right now.
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Paul Harvey, for example, said on national radio, that Browning, Montana -- that’s the home of the "Blackfeet" -- is the murder capital of America. If you want to get away with murder, go to Browning, Montana because activists are being killed right and left there. Norma Guillam, blown up in a car. Kathleen Fleurey, a Turtle Mountain Chippewa lawyer, a great freedom fighter, found hanged in her closet. We’ve had almost 10 activists murdered in Blackfoot country in the last 10 years, usually hanged, sometimes shot, sometimes something else.

[snip]

[snip]

[snip]

Of 22 industrialized countries, the US is number one in income and wealth inequality. It is number one in infants born at low birth weight and infant mortality rate. It is number one in infants born substance addicted. It is number one in divorce. It is number one in all forms of violent crime, in percentage of population in prison. It is number one in executions and number one in executions of children under 18 years old.
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We’re Number One! Number one in teenage abortion and pregnancy. Multiply those rates times 10, 20 or 30, and that’s the rate you’ll find in Indian country. For example, as I read to you earlier, the suicide rate for teenagers in Indian country is 10,000 times the teenage suicide rate overall in the US (that already has the highest rate in the top 22 industrialized countries). The infant mortality rate in the US is higher than in Cuba. As a matter of fact, it’s higher than in Ghana. Right now the infant mortality rate in the US is about on par with the bottom quarter of third world countries globally. We’re number one.
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This is one of the reasons Indians are instinctively anti-capitalist. Because when we get the missionaries coming in spreading not only the good word of Jesus but also the good work of capitalism, a lot of Indians will say "Well, just a minute. If I buy a car, I want to see how it works. If I’m going to buy a system, let’s see how it works and who it works for." When they look at capitalism in American, it’s not a glowing endorsement, cause it ain’t working. It ain’t trickling down.
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So the question is how do we unite, help each other out, dispel some of these myths and so on? Well one thing is, let’s do some homework. I don’t mean to embarrass anybody here and please forgive me if I sound like I’m doing that, but I can’t tell you how many places I’ve been where I’ve asked people the question, "How many people know the word genocide?" and they’ll raise their hands. And I’ll say "How many people have used the word genocide in a sentence in the last six months?" And a lot of people will raise their hands. And I’ll ask, "How many people have read the US Convention on Genocide that defines the word genocide?" and typically not one hand will go up.
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Then why use words if you don’t know their meaning? Because this word has a meaning. This is international law. And whatever Mr. Bush and the rest of his creatures think, nobody has a sovereign right to ignore international law while holding others to it. It doesn’t work that way. You can’t hold other people to the law while you ignore it yourself. You can’t claim manifest destiny, that God’s ordained America as some special little place, international law for everybody but us ‘cause we’re special people.
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The Indians are saying, we’re not buying this crap. We already know about obesity; a large number of our children are obese. Well guess what? Now the non-Indians are getting it too. They’re getting’ Big Macked. If you really want to destroy Iraq, drop a whole bunch of Big Macs on them. They’ll have obese kids in nothing flat.
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But do you know about the stats re McDonalds ads? African American people are only 12-13% of the US population, but about 70% of their advertising dollars are going for kids and targeted toward African Americans. Do you know why that is? Brothers hanging and doing a little hip hop and rap, bopping on through the drive through? That’s called nutritional imperialism.
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And we’ve had the same thing, so we have affinity with African Americans already; we’re on the same page. But we don’t have a lot of conversations with them. We’re on the same page with a lot of leftists. We really are, but the problem is we’re not talking with each other. And it’s not just you, it’s also us. I know a whole bunch of Indians who have all the rage of any Al Quaeda terrorists you can imagine. I know Indians who hate whitey like you cannot imagine. They’d sooner blow them away than look at them twice. And they’re wrong.
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Because it’s about class, it’s about systems. It’s not about what color people are. Because good and bad people come in all colors. But we have so much rage in Indian country, you just can’t imagine. Imagine what it’s like when the only time people come through your town is to buy your trinkets, molest your daughters.
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It used to be that for years we had these rich white lawyers from Lethbridge, Great Falls, judges and legislators, coming here looking for Indian kids, easy pickings. We’d find them hanging out around the reservation. Not only girls, but boys too. Because on the rez there’s no transport, right? So everybody hitchhikes. So everybody helps each other out and gives each other rides. So guess what? We’ve got these nice Christian white lawyers, judges, whatever, who come by and give kids a ride, then give them dope, booze, then take advantage of them sexually, and communicate AIDS – they don’t even care that AIDS is in epidemic proportions on the reservation, so they take it back home to their wives.
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So we complained. We complained over and over and over again. And nothing happened. Why? Because some of those molesters were high up judges and nobody wanted to touch them. So we took matters into our own hands. Spirit of volunteerism, a thousand points of light, all that. So we grabbed them when we caught them picking up Indian kids. First time, we beat them up. Then we would take their wallets with their ID, and would give their wives a call. We’d say, "Sister, we’re concerned about you. Your husband is out there messing with Indian kids and we’re sad to say a lot of our kids have AIDS because of others like your husband. So ma’am we strongly suggest you get an AIDS test because if we caught him doing it now, he’s probably done it before. It’s in your interest not to sleep with him and we hope you don’t have AIDS, but we thought you should know." And then we’d tell the guy "If we ever catch you on our land spreading whatever, we’re going to kill you" and we will. Because it’s life and death. It’s not a joke. Especially when there’s so few of us left.
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Take a look. Take a look all around you to see how many federally recognized tribes are left. See how many are left in each one: 1700, 2200, 100, 600. Some of them have 5 left. And here we’ve got a government bent on our extermination defining who and what an Indian is. What are you going to do with that?
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For those of you who are on the left, can you help us out? I know we’re not exotic. I know it may be a little more fun way over there, but we’re right here. And we need help. And it’s the capitalist system that’s doing it to us. We’re on the same page on that score. The profit motive is behind it, among other things. We need help. So fight those fights. We fight them too.
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I talk to Indians about the Palestinian cause and say, "Look, we’re the Palestinians of North America. They’re the Indians of the Middle East." As a matter of fact, some Palestinians call themselves Palestindians. So we need to link up. And some Indians say, "Why are you talking to me about this stuff? I want to talk about here and how." And I say, "Yeah, but how can you ask people to support us if we don’t support them?" They say, "Yeah, yeah, but that’s over there." And I say, "No, no, it’s not just over there. It’s right here. The same forces that are doing it to them are doing it to us. The same ideology that’s doing it to them is doing it to us. The same system that’s doing it to them is doing it to us." We need to link up.
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In our language NI-KSO-KO-WA is our word meaning we’re all related. All my relations. That’s the word we used when we greet each other, NI-KSO-KO-WA we’re all related. So I say to my fellow Blackfoot, "Hey, we have to link up too. We can’t just ask people to link up with us. We’ve got to link up with them, and in order to do that we’ve got to educate ourselves. Not just emotionally -- we’ve got to have some facts behind us. Not that "Capitalism Sucks" isn’t OK. I’ll go for that. But now what’s next? Can you tell me why? No, please tell me."
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Tell me who wins and who loses and how. Tell me about the mechanisms of oppression. Tell me about the role of culture and oppression. Tell me about state and superstructure. But please tell me --- in ways I can relate to, that are right on down home -- how we can link up in a common experience.
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We got Indians who are racist, homophobic, sexist like you absolutely cannot believe. So we try to say to them, "Hey brother, your mom’s a woman, your sister’s a woman, your daughter’s a woman, and you should be treating women like you want your mother or daughter to be treated. And if you don’t you’re not an Indian."
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Our name, by the way, one of our names is "piegan", French for pagan. Some of our people even dare to use the name Piegan Nation. I’m going to hand you our prayer that we say every morning. Now, on the one hand some people might say, "Well why?" Take a look at this. This is hundreds of years old. Depending upon how you look at it, it’s very radical. It recognizes that our strength is collective, not individual. That we only survive if we act collectively. Ultra individualism celebrated by Capitalism is foreign for most Indian people. Crass materialism is foreign. I can tell you families that have absolutely nothing, nothing, but guess what? When someone loses a husband or a loved one they pitch in 10% of nothing to help that person.
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Instead of throwing them out in the street, or to some battered woman’s shelter, without any regard of what’s going to happen to them or who’s going to take care of their kids.
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That’s what capitalism does. Under capitalism everything’s disposable. Everything’s for sale, and everything’s disposable. Everything’s a commodity, including people. And so when some poor battered woman gets the crap beaten out of her, the priest tells her "Marriage is forever. Sorry about that, but you’ll get yours in the afterlife." The law is telling her "Why don’t you just shut up, leave and go on welfare or whatever." And meanwhile people are just thrown away. In traditional Indian societies, that just didn’t happen. There was no such thing as throwaway people. Either everybody eats or nobody eats. Either everybody has shelter or nobody has it. Either everybody has clothes or nobody has them. And the chiefs always ate last, not first. And chiefs could be removed in a heartbeat if they abused their powers or whatever. Very direct.
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Obviously that’s not exactly a Marxist vision, but there is some common ground there, is there not? Is there not common ground with leftists on anti-commodification, anti-homophobia, anti-racism? And we’re struggling to find that common ground not only between non-Indians but amongst ourselves, too. There’s a whole macho culture in Indian country big time, especially among men who have been beaten down and dispossessed. I’m not excusing it, but the fact is, it’s like the old story: Poor whites, "Well, at least I ain’t black." Oppressed men, "Well, at least I ain’t a woman. At least I ain’t gay." Whatever. And so capitalism divides and rules by giving marginal benefit to one group to encourage them to oppress those with whom they have something in common. It’s the oldest game in the world. Well we’ve got it too. We’ve got Indians who talk about bitches, and whores and fags and lord knows what else. And they don’t get the connection, that when you talk like that it’s the same as someone calling you a damn Indian, redskin, stupid drunken Indian. So if you don’t like hearing it, then don’t say it about others with whom you have something in common. Link up. Fight.
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And so, again, we have our aristocrats, and our traitors. We have our religious people and our atheists. One of the things I do for example when I’m doing political work; I don’t get into religious arguments. I don’t understand how someone who has been horribly abused by priests can remain a Catholic, I don’t understand it, but there are some who do. I don’t start quoting "religion is the opiate of the masses" to them. What I do is find what I have in common. So maybe I’ll be getting the Sermon on the Mount and I’ll say "OK, what does this have to do with racism? Imperialism? Oppression?"
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I work on common ground. And I’ll fight the other fight about the class nature of religion on another day. Because right now we need allies of all kinds and persuasions, and people come to the table for different reasons. Some people’s religion is actually driving them to activism, not sedation. Dietrich Bonhoffer is an example. Here’s an ardent pacifist from an aristocratic German family. Nazis said "Don’t come back to Germany and if you do, you’re dead meat." What does he do? He not only goes back, but leads the plot to assassinate Hitler. Because he came to the realization that sometimes evil has to be eliminated, and pacifism ain’t going to cut it. When you’re dealing with something really evil, sometimes you’ve got to take him out. Because it’s a matter of who dies, and better them than us. And this was a guy who was a very religious person, who was driven by his faith to leave pacifism and lead the plot to assassinate Hitler. Why argue with that?
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The same thing with us. We have our own spirituality. Without native spirituality, there wouldn’t be any of us left. It’s a miracle, actually, that’s there even one left frankly. With all that’s been done in history to indigenous people, in Canada, the US, New Zealand, Australia, the Nagas in India (it’s not just the Americas). With the extermination that has occurred, it’s a miracle that there’s even one left. And some of our traditional ways are traditions because they work. So if you come to us and start bashing and quoting from the 18th Brumaire, some people aren’t going to appreciate it a whole lot.
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So there are some traditions that are traditions because they work. There are other traditions, however, that are traditions because nobody has had the guts to get rid of them. For example, the old Blackfoot tradition is that if a woman committed adultery, they cut her nose off. If a man committed adultery, they cut one braid. Well that’s obviously not a tradition that any of us sensible people would ever want to go back to. It’s barbaric. There are some traditions that are traditions because nobody has fixed them yet. Like slavery was a tradition until someone had some guts to take it on. So we don’t just celebrate tradition because it’s a tradition.
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But there are other traditions we’ve had that are absolutely vital to survival, and leftists who come amongst us need to understand that, and they need to understand our history and reality in order to work together on common concerns and with a common front.
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On our side we’ve got to do a better job of educating ourselves. We can’t just be going around to pow wows and living on past glories. We have to read some books, learn things, hook up with some folks. We need to be taught as well as to be teachers. We need to see what we’ve got in common.
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But right here, right now, genocide is going on big time. In Chiapas, all over the US, all over Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the Nagas in India and Burma -- these are the traditional indigenous people there. All of these traditional indigenous groups are being exterminated one by one by one by one. And the question is whether you want to sit by and watch it in your own country, because the day will come, if there’s any of us left, if we catch people demonstrating against the war in Iraq we’re going to have to ask them, "What about us? How do you feel about us? About us getting bombed in America? Does that bother you? Then start demonstrating for us, too." And we need to show up at those demonstrations against bombing in Iraq, do some serious work on aspects of culture that don’t serve us well.
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CONNECT: James Craven is a member of the Sovereign Blackfoot Nation and Professor of Economics at Clark College, Vancouver, Washington, jcraven@clark.edu"The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." – Steve Biko
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<<::--::>><<::--::>><<::--::>><<::--::>><<::--::>><<::-- ::>><<::--::>>Pockets of Resistance is published online by Dark Night Press. With each newsletter, our mailing list has grown. We suggest a donation of $12.00/year or whatever you can afford to help us cover our expenses. You can send your donation to Dark Night Press, PO Box 3629, Chicago, IL 60690-3629. You can find back issues on NativeWatch/Z Net at: http://www.horizons.k12.mi.us/~aim/nwindex.htmlPockets of Resistance, while focused on indigenous liberation issues, supports multi-dimensional quests for human liberation from imperial power by addressing the factors and conditions that make these struggles necessary.
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For us, liberation involves the creation of circumstances in which relationships based on recognition of and respect for the interconnectedness among all living things are given primary value.The name of our electronic newsletter recalls the words of Subcomandante Marcos, who reminds us that pockets of resistances against imperial power take many shapes:"Each one of them has its own history, its own differences, equalities, demands, struggles, and accomplishments. If humanity still has a hope of survival, of improvement, that hope is in the pockets filled with the excluded ones, the leftovers, the ones who are disposable.. There are as many shapes as there are resistances, and as many worlds as there are in the world. So draw the shape you prefer. As far as this thing about pockets goes, they are as rich in diversity as the shapes resistance takes."
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"Dark Night" recalls the words of Chief Sealth who, two generations before the massacre at Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890, forecast a future for his relatives which promised to be long and dark. Dark Night Press and the dark night relatives are engaged in ending the darkness.
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