31 December 2004

Clay Old Woman & Clay Old Man (Hopi Nation)

Clay Old Woman & Clay Old Man - Hopi

In the beginning the Pueblo peoples did not know how
to make pottery. They had no bowls to cook their
rabbit stew. They had no jars to carry cool water. The
people had no pots to store their seeds for next
year’s planting.

The Wise One in the Land Below saw how hard their life
was. Taking some clay, she made one man and one woman.
The Wise One named them Clay Old Woman and Clay Old
Man. She sent them onto the earth with a big ball of
clay and her blessing for the Pueblo peoples. Clay Old
Woman and Clay Old Man found themselves in a pueblo.
They sat down in the middle of the plaza and the wife
set to work with the clay. Curious children crowded
close. Women with their babies peered from the
rooftops of the houses around the plaza.

Clay Old Woman rolled the clay into long coils between
her two rough hands.

Around and around she wound the coils to build a pot.
The men standing on the log ladders propped against
the houses leaned closer for a better look.

Clay Old Woman made pot after pot. Her husband began
to sing and dance. The longer his wife worked, the
louder Clay Old Man sang.  The more pots she made, the
harder he danced. Puffs of dust danced in his
footsteps. Clay Old Man became so caught up in his
dance that he tripped.  He fell hard against the
largest, most beautiful pot. The pot shattered.  The
people held their breath, wondering what would happen

Clay Old Man collected all the potsherds. He handed
them to Clay Old Woman and apologized. Clay Old Woman
soaked the pieces of the broken pot in water and
rolled them back into a ball of clay. Clay Old Man
gave a piece of it to every woman in the pueblo. “You
have watched my wife work,” he said. “You know what to
do.” The women began to knead their clay.  Clay Old
Woman nodded to herself as she watched the women work.
She was very pleased.

“The Wise One has given you a gift to treasure for all
time,” said Clay Old Woman. “Do not lose her gift.
Never forget how to make pottery.”

And the Pueblo peoples have never forgotten.

From Blue Panther Keeper of Stories.

Gourd Dance

From Farmington Daily Times:

New Year's Eve Gourd Dance
By Valarie Lee/The Daily Times
Dec 31, 2004, 10:44 pm

SHIPROCK — The Native American Church of New Mexico, Inc., Shiprock Chapter is hosting an event today that promotes positive healing and supports the family unit.

Starting today at noon in the Nataani Nez Elementary School Gym, event organizers will welcome hundreds of people who will join together for the New Year’s Eve Gourd Dance Celebration.

“Because of the support of community members and small business owners in the area, we are able to have this celebration,” said Leonard Anthony, who is one of a dozen event coordinators.

Anthony said they plan on honoring veterans from the past and current military personnel for their service to the nation.

“We will also honor the elders, Native American Church Robe Man and Water Woman,” said Anthony. “All War Mothers will be honored, too.”
Anthony said the elderly will be honored because of their guidance, prayers and support they give to the younger generations that enabled cultural traditions to continue.

“We know how important our traditional teachings are from them and we need to hold tight onto them for our future,” Anthony explained.
Event organizers said they will have space for vendors who want to sell their arts and crafts.

Donations from Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr., and first lady Vikki Shirley will help feed the dancers.

“Mayor Bill Standley said he would stop by and show support for our event,” Anthony added. “The support and donations we have received has been really appreciated and helpful.”

Officials said they hope to start a yearly tradition with this first gourd dance celebration.

“Our intent, the Native American Church of New Mexico, Inc., is to hold this event every New Year’s Eve. Down in Gallup, they have a powwow and that is very successful. Many people attend the powwow and spend quality time with family and we’d like to provide that kind of encouragement to families in this area,” Anthony said.

Iris Anthony added another reason why this event is special.

“We know people are going to drive into Farmington and other places to drink and perhaps drive,” she said. We strongly encourage them to not do that. We invite you and your family to come here and spend time with family doing something positive. Who knows? Maybe a song will begin a healing for someone who is hurting. Or maybe someone is thankful for the good things in their life, so now, they can come here and share that blessing with others.”

Valarie Lee: vlee@daily-times.com

30 December 2004

The Enchanted Lake...

Atagâ'hï, The Enchanted Lake – Cherokee

Westward from the headwaters of Oconaluftee river, in the wildest depths of the, Great Smoky mountains, which form the line between North Carolina and Tennessee, is the enchanted lake of Atagâ'hï, "Gall place." Although all the Cherokee know that it is there, no one has ever seen it, for the way is so difficult that only the animals know how to reach it. Should a stray hunter come near the place he would know of it by the whirring sound of the thousands of wild ducks flying about the lake, but on reaching the spot he would find only a dry flat, without bird or animal or blade of grass, unless he had first sharpened his spiritual vision by prayer and fasting and an all-night vigil.

Because it is not seen, some people think the lake has dried up long ago, but this is not true. To one who had kept watch and fast through the night it would appear at daybreak as a wide-extending but shallow sheet of purple water, fed by springs spouting from the high cliffs around. In the water are all kinds of fish and reptiles, and swimming upon the surface or flying overhead are great flocks of ducks and pigeons, while all about the shores are bear tracks crossing in every direction. It is the medicine lake of the birds and animals, and whenever a bear is wounded by the hunters he makes his way through the woods to this lake and plunges into the water, and when he comes out upon the other side his wounds are healed. For this reason the animals keep the lake invisible to the hunter.

The Struggle Continues...

December 29 marks the 114th anniversary of the Massacre at Wounded Knee. 

There are no articles about it in the news this evening, but
without fanfare or flashing cameras the Big Foot Riders will finish
their ride along that trail to honor and remember those killed as well
as those who survived.  While some may speak of struggles and their
own difficulties, frustrations and fatigue, remember the struggle of
those massacred and those who survived--elderly, sick, children,
mothers with babies in their arms and men all unarmed, surrounded with shots ringing out, piercing and tearing through their bodies and
howitzers blasting at them, bodies falling...300 massacred and tossed
into a mass grave--and remember the unity and action their struggle
has continued to inspire.  Wounded Knee inspired and became the symbol of the indian struggle and resistance of AIM over 30 years ago and on this date it is fitting to also remember and honor Buddy Lamont and Frank Clearwater who also gave their lives at Wounded Knee as well as all those who fought and stayed and walked their talk throughout their lifetime and paid dearly in so many ways, so many still paying, just so another generation has the right to survive and continue the struggle for the next. 

The repression has not ended, there is still work to be done, and
Leonard Peltier remains a political prisoner in a US federal
penetentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas.

Today and always we remember Wounded Knee.

The Battle of Wounded Knee 1973
Resistance Stories of Lakota People
by Debbie Lang

Revolutionary Worker #1038, January 16, 2000

In the spring of 1973, hundreds of Indian people and their supporters
occupied the village of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian
Reservation in South Dakota. They demanded an end to the
U.S.-government-backed murder and intimidation of American Indian
Movement (AIM) supporters and "traditionals" on the reservation. And
they demanded that treaties signed by the U.S. government be honored
that gave the Lakota (also known as the Sioux) the right to self-rule
and to the land surrounding the Black Hills.

Federal authorities surrounded them with an army of over 300--which
included the U.S. Army, FBI and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) agents,
U.S. Marshals and state police. The Indians refused to back down. They
used weapons to defend themselves and held off the government forces
for 73 days. The courage and militancy of the fighters at Wounded Knee
grabbed the attention of people all over the world and helped build
powerful support for the struggle of Native peoples. Wounded Knee--the
site of the massacre of 300 Sioux men, women and children in
1890--became a symbol of Indian struggle and resistance.

After this siege, the U.S. government unleashed an intense, murderous
repression against the people of Pine Ridge. And AIM activists,
including Leonard Peltier, came from around the U.S. to help organize
and defend the people of Pine Ridge.

In 1977 Leonard Peltier was framed-up for the murder of two FBI agents
and railroaded into prison-- where he has now spent 23 hard years. He
is respected around the world as a voice for Native people and an
inspiring political prisoner who refuses to be broken.

November 1999 was Leonard Peltier Freedom Month. Thousands of people
traveled to Washington, DC to demand freedom for Leonard
Peltier--including people who took part in the Wounded Knee occupation
and the Pine Ridge struggle. This article is based on conversations RW
reporter Debbie Lang had with these veteran fighters.

"In our family stories we have stories of what happened to our people.
I have a grandma. Her name was Dora Hi White Man. She survived the
1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. As a little child, four, five, or six
years old, I remember my grandma Dora. So I'm very fortunate to know a
survivor of the 1890 massacre. And today you might think 1890 was
long, long, long ago. But it's just recent, because I knew my grandma
and my grandma ran from that massacre.

"I live in Oglala. When Wounded Knee 1973 was going on I was a little
girl. I looked that way and the whole sky was pink (from the flares
being shot up by the government). To me Wounded Knee was just right
over the hill there. I was like, Oh right on! Cool! Keep on doing
that, man! I was really happy. Little did I know that my nation was
trying to make war with one of the big power nations of the world. I
was just proud of them. And ever since Wounded Knee I've always been
real happy to be an Indian and I'm proud of the fact that you mess
with us, we'll mess right back."

Arlette Loud Hawk, Lakota, resident
of Pine Ridge Indian reservation 

In the 1960s, in the midst of the Black liberation movement and the
mass upsurge against the Vietnam War, a great movement of resistance
rose up among the Native peoples in the U.S. AIM drew forward a whole
new generation of Indian youth to fight the powers. They helped
organize a 19-month occupation of Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco
Bay; occupations of Mt. Rushmore; a Thanksgiving "Day of Mourning"
held at Plymouth Rock; and the Trail of Broken Treaties caravan to
Washington, D.C.--which ended with the occupation of the BIA (Bureau
of Indian Affairs) building.

AIM member Carter Camp told me: "People were waiting for us to appear
on the scene and for some Indians to stand up and say that we're not
going to take this shit no more. We've lived under this oppression for
so many years. We're going to fight back now. The American Indian
Movement is the force that stood for the people as a warrior society
and said we're no longer going to allow you to roll over our people,
to take our land, to pave over our reservations and dam up our rivers."

The Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota has a lot of valuable
natural resources including coal, uranium and an aquifer (an
underground water reserve) with millions of gallons of clean water. In
1868, after losing in battle against the Sioux, the U.S. government
negotiated the Fort Laramie Treaty. Then, right after this, they began
breaking the treaty in order to steal Indian land and resources. The
U.S. government and Christian missionaries tried to force the Lakota
to assimilate into U.S. society. Children were stolen and forced into
boarding schools run by Christians. Lakota language, culture and
religious ceremonies were outlawed. By the 1970s, the Lakota had lost
two-thirds of their land and the government had plans to steal
more--especially in order to get uranium for their nuclear weapons

In February 1972 Raymond Yellow Thunder was beaten to death by two
white men in Gordon, Nebraska. Attacks on Indian people by white
racists and the police were common around the reservation, and the
white people who committed these crimes were almost never punished.
This time, AIM led a caravan of 200 cars to Gordon and forced the
authorities to file serious charges against the murderers. AIM's
actions had an electrifying effect on the reservation. Rosaline
Jumping Bull, who grew up on the res, told me:

"My dad worked for the BIA. He was on the credit board. One time he
came home and said, `You know, a strange thing happened today. Some
real strange looking Indian boys were at the BIA building. They had
long hair. They said they call themselves A-I-M.' We weren't allowed
to have long hair so we didn't know what a long hair was. I said, this
I've got to see. And that's when they killed my uncle Raymond Yellow
Thunder at Gordon. Mom said, `Don't go over there and get in trouble.
Don't you try and go over there. You're always doing things wrong.' So
I sneaked over there. I rushed over there. The TV and media was there.
I was busy hiding because I didn't want my folks to see me. But I
wanted to join AIM's march. Oh, it was fun, it was really fun. I
didn't know we could fight back, you know? I was taught not to fight
back, to obey the white people cause I'll get punished. That's what my
folks always told me. My grandmother did, too. Then I took my mom and
she was right up there with them."

Arlette Loud Hawk was a young teenager at the time and I asked her
what she remembered. She said: "I remember everything graphically,
vividly, with such clarity. One of the reasons why Wounded Knee 1973
stands out in my memories is because of my cousin, Wesley Bad Heart
Bull. Wesley Bad Heart Bull had gotten killed in a nearby town called
Buffalo Gap. My mother's maiden name is Stella Bad Heart Bull and that
was her brother's son who had been killed by white people. Before that
I had a cousin that was named Lesley Bandley. He was in the United
States Army. He was walking along the side of the road and some white
boys just came and ran over him and killed him. And there was no
justice for Lesley Bandley. And there is no justice for Wesley Bad
Heart Bull.

"My mom and my dad, they knew Dennis Banks and they knew Russell Means
who were both with AIM. My uncle was the vice president of the Oglala
Sioux tribe. His name was Dave Long. He always came over to visit my
parents. When my cousin died I could hear my uncle telling my mom,
`Stella, you'd better call in AIM."'

On February 6, police attacked AIM members at a demonstration at the
Custer courthouse where they demanded that the white man who murdered
Wesley Bad Heart Bull be charged with murder. Arlette told me she
watched the TV and saw "Indians had started fighting back with all
those federal marshals" after police attacked AIM.

In an attempt to counter the growing influence of AIM on the
reservation, the U.S. government backed the election of Dick Wilson as
tribal chief in 1972. Wilson was a super-patriotic reactionary who
hated AIM. He used tribal funds to hire thugs called GOONs (Guardians
of the Oglala Nation) and began a reign of terror on the reservation
against AIM, the "traditionals" and their supporters. Hundreds of
people were threatened, beaten, shot at or had their homes burned.
Wilson was backed by BIA police and the FBI. Carter Camp described
some of the military force the U.S. government positioned on the
reservation to back up Wilson:

"There was a force of the U.S. Marshals Service there called Special
Operations Group. These people were not your regular law enforcement
that you might see in a city with a suit and tie on, but they wore
combat fatigues and carried M16s. They drove around in humvees and
jeeps and they had APCs. They had helicopters. And wherever Indian
people gathered, it didn't matter if it was a wedding or a funeral,
they came out in force. Then they started telling the people that they
couldn't gather in groups of larger than four for any reason. Our
people were living under this oppression and they just couldn't stand
it any longer. And they came to us in the American Indian Movement."

Ellen Moves Camp told me how she and other members of the Oglala Civil
Rights Organization turned to AIM for help: "We called the American
Indian Movement because they were already in Rapid City. They were up
in Washington. They went to the courthouse in Custer. So we invited
them down. We wanted to talk to them. We were with a boy by the name
of Pedro Bissonnette, who later got killed by the GOONs. We were
talking to them and they said, "Join the civil rights movement with
us. That's where we belong. We got them helping us." In a secret
meeting, Ellen Moves Camp and other residents of Pine Ridge persuaded
the Sioux elders to invite AIM to intervene.

"The best, most free time of my life"
"For security reasons the people had been told everyone was going to a
meeting/wacipi in Porcupine. The road goes through Wounded Knee. When
the People arrived at the Trading Post we had already set up a
perimeter, taken eleven hostages, run the BIA cops out of town, cut
most phone lines, and began 73 days of the best, most free time of my
life. The honor of being chosen to go first lives strong in my heart.
That night we had no idea what fate awaited us. It was a cold night
with not much moonlight, and I clearly remember the nervous
anticipation I felt as we drove the back-way from Oglala into Wounded
Knee...We were lightly armed and dependent on the weapons and ammo in
the Wounded Knee trading post. I worried that we would not get to them
before the shooting started...

"We were approaching a sacred place and each of us knew it. We could
feel it deep inside. As a warrior leading warriors I humbly prayed to
Wakonda for the lives of all and the wisdom to do things right. Never
before or since have I offered my tobacco with such a plea or put on
my feathers with such purpose. It was the birth of the Independent
Oglala Nation. Things went well for us that night, we accomplished our
task without loss of life. Then, in the cold darkness as we waited for
the caravan (or for the fight to start), I stood on the bank of the
shallow ravine where our people had been murdered by Custer's 7th
Cavalry. There I prayed for the defenseless ones, torn apart by
Hotchkiss cannon and trampled under hooves of steel by drunken wasichu
(whites). I could feel the touch of their spirits as I eased quietly
into the gully and stood silently, waiting for my future, touching my
past. Finally, I bent over and picked a sprig of sage--whose ancestors
in 1890 had been nourished by the blood of Red babies, ripped from
their mothers' dying grasp and bayoneted by the evil ones. As I washed
myself with that sacred herb I became cold in my determination and
cleansed of fear. I looked for Big Foot and YellowBird in the darkness
and I said aloud, `We are back, my relations, we are home."'

>From "Remembering Wounded Knee," written by Carter Camp 

Carter Camp says they chose to make a stand at Wounded Knee because of
its history--it had special meaning to Native people and was well
known to millions of others from the powerful book written by Dee
Brown, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. He said:

"On the tribal headquarters they put machine gun emplacements on every
corner of the roof with big sand bags and they had these .50 caliber
machine guns. They thought we were going to attack the Bureau of
Indian Affairs in Pine Ridge and the tribal government. But we knew we
couldn't. We were too lightly armed. And when we agreed to help the
Oglala Civil Rights Committee and the traditionals do something we had
to find a place where we could make a stand without getting totally
wiped out too quickly. We thought we might get wiped out but we wanted
a place where people would know about it." On February 27, a caravan
of 200 cars of Indians and their supporters wound its way through the
darkness towards the village of Wounded Knee. The advanced squad had
already liberated it. Carter described how it happened:

"First, we captured the BIA police and ran them out of town with no
radios or anything and no guns and let them go. Then we took 12
hostages and put them in a safe place. After we had held the place for
maybe two hours the AIM leadership came with a caravan of about 400
people. We had set up perimeters around Wounded Knee and by now the
FBI and these people are understanding that they've been outflanked
because now we're there, we're ensconced and we're starting to build
our bunkers. And now they know if they come in they're putting their
own lives at risk, not just our lives. We're in the defensive
position, we're making bunkers and we've got the high ground. And so
they're nonplused. They actually don't know what to do. So they backed
off a while, which gave us time to get our people situated and that
sort of thing and it became a 73-day siege."

Everyone I talked with looked back on the armed siege of Wounded Knee
as one of the best times of their lives. Russell Loud Hawk helped on
the military perimeter around Wounded Knee. He smiled broadly when he
said: "AIM came in to straighten out the reservation because before
that the traditional people were catching hell from the U.S.
government. That's why I was pretty glad that they came. So I joined
them. I was telling one of these ladies here, remember all the crazy
things we did? You people were in, us guys were surrounded. We pulled
some crazy things but I think we outdid the FBI at that time."

Carter Camp said: "We were fighting every day and in danger every day.
But it was a lot of fun. During the lulls in the fighting, or during
the time when there was not actual danger, it was just a wonderful
time being together. People would break out the drum every night and
we'd sing together and different tribes would sing their songs. We had
Indian ceremonies that are very special to us, but we don't bring 'em
out in public. But now we could have 'em right there where everybody
could participate. We don't have to hide them around anymore. We had
the elders, medicine men, women and children--all in Wounded Knee with

"We were a strong community. We all had work to do and fighting to do.
But at the same time, we could live together and do the things that we
wanted to do, say the things that we want to say, and understand this
world the way that Indian people understand it. So it made us feel
good. We just really were able to come together in a unity that you
don't hardly find in Indian Country. We're different tribes and we
don't always get around to each other like that. I mean literally
thousands of Indian people were coming from around the country. At any
one time we might only have 700 or 800 people in Wounded Knee, but
people were coming and leaving. Then, of course, a group of AIM people
and the traditionalists stayed there throughout the thing."

Ellen Moves Camp remembered: "We had meetings in the morning. We had
prayer in the morning. We'd all go and our negotiations would start.
And then we had sweats every night...When they'd start firing on us
everybody would just sit and wait to see what was going to happen.
Once I went outside and I was standing there watching that shooting
going on, those flares coming in... It was bad and yet everybody
seemed to be happy and everybody worked together. There was no fussing
or anything. Everybody was together there. It was a good feeling."

Lasting Legacy
On March 11, AIM and the Oglala Sioux elders declared the rebirth of
the Independent Oglala Nation and demanded discussion with U.S.
government representatives over the terms of the 1868 Fort Laramie
Treaty. In response, the government brought in reinforcements to stop
food, supplies and new recruits from reaching Wounded Knee. The phone
lines were cut. The major media left. The government announced dozens
of indictments against the people inside. On May 4, the White House
sent a letter promising their representatives would meet with the
Sioux chiefs within weeks to talk about the Fort Laramie Treaty--on
the condition that the Indians lay down their arms. The Indians agreed
to end their occupation.

The government never investigated the BIA as they had promised.
Richard Wilson and his murdering GOONs were never prosecuted. Instead
a new reign of terror was carried out against the Native people of
Pine Ridge. And almost 700 indictments were handed down by federal
authorities in connection with the Wounded Knee occupation.

Ellen Moves Camp was one of the Indian negotiators. She described the
government's attitude: "People would come in from Washington and
they'd lie to us. They didn't do anything they said they were going to
do. We tried to negotiate with them but they just lied to us all the
way through. They promised to negotiate the treaties and follow the
treaties and they never did do it."

Millions of people were inspired by Wounded Knee. Hundreds risked
their lives and hiked many miles over the hills to join the people
inside or to bring food and medical supplies. Doctors and nurses came
to help in the Wounded Knee clinic. Telegrams of support came in from
all over the world. Tens of thousands of people held support
demonstrations in many cities across the U.S. and around the world.
The broad support for the Indians at Wounded Knee made it difficult
for the government to launch a full-scale military assault.

Carter Camp told me: "Wounded Knee galvanized Indian Country, all
over. During those 73 days we were in there, from Seattle to
Washington, D.C. and from New York to Florida, Indian people were
trashing BIA offices, protesting at the Indian health services,
telling their own tribal governments to stop the leases with the
uranium companies and the coal digging and that sort of thing. Indian
people were just making themselves known.

"Wounded Knee and the rise of the American Indian Movement and the
struggle of the late '60s and '70s just changed everything about the
way Indian people think of themselves. They started thinking in terms
of the future, not of being exterminated or maybe this is our last
generation that cares about being Indian. It just invigorated the
entire Indian nations...They started having pride in where they came
from and what they were and who they were. And that wasn't done in
America for many, many generations. It also made the government
understand that once more there was a line in the sand that they
couldn't push us beyond. We had taken all we could absorb and that if
they push us just too damn far then we'll fight."


This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker


Write: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497
(The RW Online does not currently communicate via email.)

Home to Rosebud...

Wopila Wakantanka!


Bison return home: Journey from Catalina Island to Rosebud

© Indian Country Today
December 27, 2004.
All Rights Reserved
LOS ANGELES - In 1925 a small herd of 14 bison, also known as American buffalo, was brought to Santa Catalina island just a few miles off the shore of Los Angeles. The purpose for their move from the frigid Great Plains to the temperate climate of coastal Southern California was to appear as animal extras in a movie.

That film, ''The Vanishing American'', was one of the early silent epics and depicted a broad expanse of history from before Columbus to World War I. When filming wrapped, because of cost consideration by the film company, the bison were left on the island and went feral in their new surroundings.

Eventually that herd grew to include some 350. Some reports claim that it was once as high as 600 individual animals and preservationists and environmentalists started to sound an alarm.

Like the Great Plains, Santa Catalina Island is predominantly grassland. However, the climate and weather patterns on Santa Catalina Island are markedly different from the endlessly rolling plains of the interior of the North American continent.

The differences between the mild wet winters and summer drought of Catalina Island and the extreme continental climate of the Great Plains in which the bison developed had almost an immediate effect on the animals.

For example, the thick bison coats that kept many Plains tribes warm throughout the cold mid-western winters, failed to grown in sunny Southern California. The animals also did not grow to their normal weight because of both the mild climate and the lack of thick prairie grasses. Because they dry out every summer, grasses in Southern California tend to grow a little thinner and lack the caloric punch of the grasses that blanket the plains.

The available vegetation on the island was also becoming a problem. Because of its geography and fairly unique climate, California also sports several delicate ecosystems with enough rare plants to make a botanist's dreams come true. Since the ecosystem of Santa Catalina Island did not develop with large grazing animals in mind, the expanding population of bison was beginning to upset the delicate balance of the island's ecology.

Enter the Catalina Island Conservancy, a non-profit group based in Los Angeles, who has the often thankless task of balancing nature with human uses. After a study of the island's ecology a few years ago, it was decided that the island could maintain a herd of 150 to 200 bison. The herd numbered some 350 at the time.

After careful consideration the conservancy came up with a plan. Why not just return the bison to their native Great Plains? It sounded good but there were some concerns that had to be studied first. After nearly 80 years and several generations on the island, how would the change in climate affect the bison?

With little fanfare the conservancy set out to find a willing taker to test the animals in a cold winter. They quietly partnered with the Cheyenne and moved 50 test animals, mainly intact families, to their lands last winter. The results were good.

''Their genetics kicked right in. Within a few weeks [the bison] had grown their winter coats and gained on average 100 pounds,'' said Leslie Baer who works for the Catalina Island Conservancy and was a project manager for the bison repatriation.

Buoyed by the success of the test run, the conservancy then decided to repatriate 100 more animals from the herd back to the Great Plains. One of the problems with this was cost. Southern California is home to several large gaming tribes and one of them, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, located about 90 miles east of Los Angeles, stepped up with a little help from American Indian television and film character-actor and Oneida Indian Nation employee Sonny Skyhawk, who helped secure the funding. (Indian Country Today is published by Four Directions Media, an enterprise of the Oneida Indian Nation.)
''We are very proud to make this historic event happen in an effort to return not only the buffalo but a symbolic piece of American Indian culture back to its roots,'' said Morongo chairman Maurice Lyons.
All that was missing was a taker for the animals and this is where the Lakota Sioux of the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota came in.
For many generations the bison were an integral part of Lakota survival. Some estimates claim as many as 60 million bison roamed the plains and woodlands of America's midsection in the early 19th century. As most American schoolchildren know, that number was reduced to a little over a thousand by the end of that century, a victim of short-sighted U.S. policy designed to starve Plains tribes, including the Cheyenne and Lakota.

The unfortunate policy worked and the tribe's way of life on the Plains was changed forever. However, the lore of the Lakota also predicted a more prosperous time for the future. According to Lakota lore, a new era would be heralded with after the birth of a white buffalo. Many Plains tribes took it as a sign when a white bison was born in Wisconsin in 1994, the first since 1933. Sadly, that animal died this previous September, but the idea of that birth prefigured a re-population of the Plains with buffalo.

With all the players in place and tribal lore on their side, 100 animals were taken off Santa Catalina Island last week amid fanfare and a ceremony. The ceremony included Morongo tribal members as well as Lakota spiritual leaders to send the animals off to South Dakota.
After the ceremony the animals were loaded onto a boat and taken to Los Angeles. Reached briefly on the road in Utah during the drive, Lenny Altherr, who with several Lakota tribal members oversaw the transport, said the animals were loaded into two trucks to make the 2,000 mile drive over sometimes icy winter roads.

Skyhawk later confirmed that the animals made it safely to South Dakota on the morning of Dec. 17.

Baer claims there are only three remaining genetically pure bison herds left, a victim of the ''beefalo'' craze in the 1970s when crossing American bison with domestic cows, their close cousins, was attempted to create a new kind of healthier meat. Some groups, however, claim that the herd currently at Yellowstone National Park is the last remaining genetically-pure herd besides the Catalina Island bison.
For that reason, because of the genetic purity of the Catalina Island herd, the receiving tribes, the Cheyenne and Lakota, have agreed to use the animals only for breeding stock to reintroduce their genes and have promised not to slaughter the current generation of bison for this reason.

Baer maintains that given the new understanding of size limits for the Catalina Island herd repatriation efforts of excess animals will be an ongoing project as the herd size on the island inevitably increases.
''We plan to find a new partner tribe [in the Great Plains] probably in about three years. This is just going to be part of our management plan.''

Susan La Flesche Picotte, M.D.

Remembering the first American Indian female M.D.
Picotte served on Omaha Reservation
It has been almost a century since she died, but the memory of the first Native American female M.D. still has relevant lessons in this day and age of wrangling over American Indian health care.
According to Heath Care for Native Americans website, Susan La Flesche Picotte was born in 1856 and lived until 1915.
La Flesche received her medical degree from the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1889, graduating at the top of her class. She spent her internship at the Woman's Hospital in Philadelphia. From August of 1889 to October of 1893, she served on the Omaha Reservation in Nebraska as physician to her tribe, finally resigning for health reasons.
During this time, she worked for the government's Office of Indian Affairs. From 1891 to 1893 she also served as "medical missionary" for her tribe, so designated by the Women's National Indian Association. This dual workload included travel across the length and breadth of the Omaha Reservation, making house calls in addition to receiving patients in her office. La Flesche married in the summer of 1894 and added her husband's last name, Picotte, to her own.
Throughout the remainder of her life, Picotte worked for improved health conditions of the Omaha tribe. This is born out by her extensive correspondence with the Commissioner of Indian Affairs throughout her career, as well as local newspaper accounts of her community achievements in Walthill, Nebraska.

Picotte died on September 18, 1915.
The website features tantalizing tidbits from newspapers of the era
chronicling Picotte's contributions.
"Dr. La Flesche commenced her studies of English at the school on the Indian reservation. Coming East, she continued them for awhile at a boarding-school, and later at the excellent school for her people at Hampton, Va., where she graduated in 1886, and came at once to Philadelphia to study medicine. The impulse to a professional career was not of recent growth nor from friendly suggestions from those who had watched her course," wrote the Medical Missionary Record in 1889. "It came as an inspiration when at home with her people and was born of a desire to see them independent, so far as she could make them, of the too frequently unskilled and oftener indifferent attention of the reservation doctor. What must those who oppose women physicians as impossibilities or monstrosities think of such a course? Thoughtful of a service to her people, child though she was, she permits not the magnitude of her task to stay the inspiration, but bravely, thoughtfully, diligently pursues the course, and to day receives her fitting reward. All this without a precedent. She will stand among her people as the first woman physician. Surely we may record with joy such courage, constancy and ability."

28 December 2004

If It Ain't Broke...

The GOP's Sabotage of Social Security

Robert Scheer
Op/Ed - The Nation

Just my luck: I finally get to be a senior citizen only to discover
that the President considers my longevity a grave threat to the
nation. Apparently, my collecting Social Security checks for as long
as I have left on this Earth is going to help bankrupt the economy
and/or be an unbearable burden on young Americans.

That's why, after seven decades of unmitigated success in protecting
seniors from the vagaries of market forces, the White House now wants to turn Social Security itself over to the vagaries of market forces. The conservative mantra, whether it comes to energy policy, war in Iraq or education, is to siphon public money into the private sector whenever and wherever possible, through such gimmicks as agribusiness subsidies, school vouchers and the hiring of private mercenaries.

Greed perfectly meshes with ideology in the Republican Party, and the attempted sabotage of Social Security is just another example. While
the followers of Milton Friedman talk about the free market in
religious terms, Wall Street is slavering at the possibility of one
of the biggest potential windfalls in human history if the Social
Security spigot is turned its way. The attendant investment fees
alone would be enormous--certainly higher than the minimal 1 percent
overhead costs the current Social Security system consumes.
What's astonishing is that despite the recent spate of abrupt
corporate bankruptcies and Wall Street corruption scandals, the
President would have us believe only stockbrokers can save Social
Security, and the stability of the entire fund would be tied to a
stock market that has been known to tank now and again. Further, even the President's key advisors admit that the short-run cost
of "privatizing" Social Security would add trillions of dollars to
the Bush legacy of federal government red ink.

While I am all for expanding opportunities to invest in tax- deferred
retirement accounts (like 401k's), it does not follow that Social
Security should be exposed to the same risks. Social Security is the
safety net for the elderly that has since its inception protected
millions from facing abject poverty upon retirement--even if their
pensions should evaporate, as they did for the employees of Enron.
Along with Medicare, Social Security is the key reason seniors are no
longer the most impoverished class in our society or a crushing
burden on their children. This last needs to be mentioned to counter
the argument that ensuring the security of baby boom seniors would
impose an intolerable burden on younger workers. For who is going to
replace those Social Security checks, should they stop coming because
Grandpa picked the wrong stock? The kids and grandkids, that's who,
if they have any real family values.

I speak out of an experience I'm sure many of you share. My mother
retired after forty years as a garment worker, after which she lived
with me until she died at the thankfully old age of 88. Her presence
was of great emotional value to our family, but because of her two-
decade bout with Parkinson's, it would have represented a serious
financial burden on my wife and me had it not been for government

The President says the system that has served us well in the past is
no longer sustainable. He, or rather those cooking the books for him,
attempts to scare us with projections that the Social Security trust
fund will begin to run deficits thirty-eight years from now.

But those numbers assume no dramatic change in the increasing ability
of seniors to retire later and otherwise continue to earn income that
is taxable. The anti-Social Security crowd is trying to make this a
young-versus-old generational fight, even though seniors still pay
taxes like anybody else. We even pay taxes on most of our Social
Security earnings, if our household income rises above a pittance.
If the President is truly worried about the federal coffers running
dry he should stop cutting taxes for us better-off folk and stop
spending so much money on boondoggles like the occupation of Iraq.
However, if it turns out that we need additional taxes to cover the
obligations of the Social Security trust fund four decades from now,
so be it. After all, money distributed to the elderly through Social
Security is poured right back into the economy.

For three-quarters of a century, Social Security has guaranteed us
all a life of modest dignity as we live out the end of this mortal

So--if you'll pardon this senior's use of a curmudgeonly truism--I
say if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the material for research and educational purposes. This is in accordance with Title 17 U. S. C. section 107.


Kerry Files Motion

Perhaps recent events in the Ukraine have inspired Kerry to rally...


t r u t h o u t - Kerry Files Motion to Protect Ohio Vote Evidence

    By William Rivers Pitt
    t r u t h o u t | Report

    Monday 27 December 2004

    This afternoon, an attorney representing the Kerry/Edwards presidential campaign filed two important motions to preserve and augment evidence of alleged election fraud in the November election. The motions were filed in the matter titled Yost et al. v. Delaware County Board of Elections and J. Kenneth Blackwell (Civil Action No. C2-04-1139) with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. The document is titled "Motion Of Intervenor-Defendant Kerry-Edwards 2004, Inc. For A Preservation Order And For A Leave To Take Limited Expedited Discovery."

    The purpose of the motions is twofold: A) To preserve all ballots and voting machines pertaining to the Yost matter for investigation and analysis; and B) To make available for sworn deposition testimony a technician for Triad Systems, the company that produced and maintained many of the voting machines used in the Ohio election. The technician has been accused of tampering with the recount process in Hocking County, Ohio, though other counties are believed to have also been involved. Any officers of Triad Systems who have information pertaining to said tampering are likewise subject to subpoena for sworn deposition testimony.

    If the judge in this case allows these motions, and these individuals are served with subpoenas for deposition, the information disclosed under oath could have a major effect on the case. Likewise, judicial approval of these motions will open the door to forensic analysis of both the ballots cast and the machines they were counted on. If tampering took place, such an analysis could reveal it.

    The document filed in Ohio reads as follows:

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26, Intervenor-Defendant Kerry-Edwards 2004, Inc. hereby moves this Court for an order preserving materials from the 2004 presidential election and for leave to take a limited number of depositions on an expedited schedule. The depositions and preservation order sought by Intervenor- Defendant Kerry-Edwards 2004, Inc. are the same as those sought in the motion filed on December 23, 2004 by Defendants NVRI, Cobb and Badnarik. Intervenor-Defendant Kerry-Edwads 2004, Inc. hereby adopts the memorandum and proposed order filed by the Defendants in support of its own motion.

    As has been previously reported on truthout, this filing for the preservation and augmentation of evidence is centered on Hocking County, Ohio. According to a sworn affidavit by Sherole Eaton, Hocking County deputy director of elections, a technician for Triad Systems entered the county elections office on December 10 and dismantled one of the vote tabulation computers.

    Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb, a central figure in the Yost matter, described the incident as related to him by Eaton during a hearing on the matter chaired by Rep. John Conyers. "A representative from Triad Systems came into a county board of elections office un-announced," said Cobb. "He said he was just stopping by to see if they had any questions about the upcoming recount. He then headed into the back room where the Triad supplied Tabulator (a card reader and older PC with custom software) is kept. He told them there was a problem and the system had a bad battery and had 'lost all of its data.' He then took the computer apart and started swapping parts in and out of it and another 'spare' tower type PC also in the room.

    "He may have had spare parts in his coat," continued Cobb, "as one of the BOE people moved it and remarked as to how very heavy it was. He finally re-assembled everything and said it was working but to not turn it off. He then asked which precinct would be counted for the 3% recount test, and the one which had been selected as it had the right number of votes, was relayed to him. He then went back and did something else to the tabulator computer. The Triad Systems representative suggested that since the hand count had to match the machine count exactly, and since it would be hard to memorize the several numbers which would be needed to get the count to come out exactly right, that they should post this series of numbers on the wall where they would not be noticed by observers."

    Responding to Eaton's allegations, Rep. Conyers dispatched a letter of complaint to Brett Rapp, President of Triad. In it, Conyers wrote, "I am concerned that your company has operated - either intentionally or negligently - in a manner which will thwart the recount law in Ohio by preventing validly cast ballots in the presidential election from being counted. You have done this by preparing 'cheat sheets' providing county election officials with information such that they would more easily be able to ignore valid ballots that were thrown out by the machines during the initial count. The purpose of the Ohio recount law is to randomly check vote counts to see if they match machine counts. By attempting to ascertain the precinct to be recounted in advance, and then informing the election officials of the number of votes they need to count by hand to make sure it matches the machine count, is an invitation to completely ignore the purpose of the recount law."

    The filing by the Kerry/Edwards campaign is significant. The Yost matter deals with a recount of the votes cast in Ohio during the election. In order for a judge to consider such a motion, the plaintiff must be able to prove irreparable harm in the matter at hand, and must also be able to prove a significant chance that the case will succeed on the merits. The stumbling point for the Green Party and Libertarian Party in this matter has been the ability to prove that potential for success, because no recount would deliver an Ohio victory to them. A recount could very well deliver Ohio to Kerry, thus fulfilling the success on the merits requirement.

    In the end, this filing amounts to a "Me, too" from the Kerry/Edwards campaign. This case would not exist in any form without the dedicated efforts of Green Party candidate David Cobb and Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik. Though the inclusion of Kerry into this matter strengthens the case significantly, Cobb and Badnarik deserve the lion's share of credit for carrying the matter to this point.

    Attorney John Bonifaz serves as general counsel for the National Voting Rights Institute, and is co-counsel for Cobb and Badnarik in this matter. Reached for comment on this Kerry filing, Bonifaz said, "We are pleased that the Kerry Edwards campaign has joined our motion to preserve all of the ballots and election machinery in the presidential election in Ohio and to investigate the potential tampering of voting machines by Triad Governmental Systems, Inc, prior to the start of the recount. We welcome the Bush Cheney campaign joining our motion as well. The integrity of this recount is at stake. All candidates ought to join together in ensuring the proper counting of every citizen's vote."

    William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and international bestseller of two books - 'War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know' and 'The Greatest Sedition is Silence.'


21 December 2004

Castro Decorated by A.I.M.



HAVANA - An American Indian activist group has selected Cuban President Fidel Castro for its highest honor for exceptional warriors - the first time the "Eagle Feather" has been bestowed on a non-native of the United States, a Cuban news agency reported Thursday.

Daniel Cheng Yang, leader of the American Indian Movement's youth group, traveled to Cuba to present the award to Castro along with a declaration honoring "the man who represents respect, success, honor and bravery," the official National Information Agency said.

During his visit, Cheng also condemned the U.S. economic blockade against the communist island and expressed the Indianorganization's solidarity with five Cuban spies held in U.S. prisons.

He read a letter from imprisoned Indian activist Leonard Peltier, who thanked Castro and the Cuban community for supporting efforts to free him.

Peltier was convicted in 1977 for participating in the slaying of two FBI agents on a South Dakota Indian reservation in 1975. He is serving back-to-back life sentences in federal prison. The Indian movement claims the FBI obtained his conviction through coerced and false testimonies. U.S. courts have denied several appeals.

The five Cuban spies were convicted in Miami in 2001
of trying to infiltrate U.S. military bases and Cuban exile groups
in Florida. Their sentences range from 15 years to life.

Cuban authorities say the men are heroic patriots who were working to prevent violent Cuban exile groups from launching terrorist acts against their homeland.

Castro is the first living person, head of state, and non-U.S. native to receive the "Eagle Feather," the highest honor bestowed by the American Indian Movement, the news agency said.

Just One Last Wish. . .

Just in case you all thought I'd given up one of my favourite pastimes: "Bush-Whacking". . .


A Liberal's Final Wish

"Hoping all who made Bush's victory possible will
someday share in his conviction, both federal and
state. . . "

By Dean Opperman [Pasadena Weekly 12/14/04]

Give me a break — or a big glass of vodka. We've gone
from shock and awe to shuck and jive, and Captain
Quagmire ran the table anyway. Now he's got the White
House, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the military
and a chip on his shoulder he's calling a mandate. I
don't know about you, but I'm getting a Republican
haircut just to blend in.

For four years it's been one big all-you-can-eat
buffet for the corporations, and now they're coming
back for more. Go ahead, you marvelous bastards! Rip
out all the trees, pave the beaches, build 12-lane
freeways, plunder the treasury, destroy our future.
Cook the books, rig elections, pack the courts, hand
the regulatory agencies over to fascist maniacs.
Invade more countries, declare code red, invoke
martial law, and keep going until your oil-sucking
exploits kick off a nuclear exchange.

By God (or Diebold), you've earned it. You've
hoodwinked the evangelicals. You've threatened the
journalists. You've built a propaganda machine and
disguised it as a legitimate cable news network.
You've used it to force-feed every right wing loon
from Ashcroft to Zell down our throats until they
began to sound normal. You've used phony government
alerts to manipulate the trailer park patriots, and
you've dismantled the separation of church and state
to the point where the Stars and Stripes represents
the anti-choice, fuel-guzzling, homophobic God of the
blow-dried televangelists.

Yes, Mr. President, it's your great and lasting
legacy. You've brought brazen deceit into the
political mainstream. In fact, it wouldn't be too much
to say you are the single most credible Republican
since Dan Quayle sprayed that grey stuff on his
sideburns. And now you say you want my support. To
assume you are being sincere is in itself a
faith-based initiative, but in the spirit of fleeting
bipartisanship, I'll play along.

I pledge allegiance to the united corporations of
America. For the next four years I will continue
wearing my Nike shirt, my Adidas shoes, and my Old
Navy logo pullover. While eating my corn flakes, if I
find that I'm chewing on a coupon, I'll suppress the
thought that the corporations aren't content to have
turned me into a human billboard, they want me eating
their advertising, too.

I'll do my best to suppress my inner environmentalist.
When my conscience says things like, "Hey! Isn't that
bioengineered food you are eating?" I will assure
myself that the radioactive waste in my dental work
will kill off any cooties.

I will overlook the fact that you've done more damage
to feminism than 20 years of gangster rap, and I will
ignore the fear that we will soon need Sherpa guides
to reach the ruins of anything resembling such relics
as an eight-hour work day. I will do my best to ignore
the feeling that I've fallen into a Fellini movie by
ignoring the eyes of the old TV news anchors who,
caught up in TV's sudden shift to the right, seem to
be trying to tell us something they aren't allowed to
say on the air. I will suppress my suspicion that you
are part of the same gang of psychopaths who brought
us Enron, Vietnam and Dallas '63, and I will shelve my
theory that the best way to make a dent in terrorism
is to invade the state of Texas. And I promise not to
move to Mexico, which seems pointless anyway since it
appears to be moving to me.

Those are my concessions, Mr. President. Now I need a
few from you. I've found it hard to feel proud of
America since you first took office. I was among the
millions who were appalled when you morphed the home
of democracy into a rogue nation endorsing the kind of
preemptive war that characterized the Nazis. I don't
want a Cowboy-in-Chief roaming the world in search of
convenient villains on which to impose gunslinger
justice. There's a place for that in an episode of
"Gunsmoke," but in today's world we have the United
Nations to resolve international disputes. It took
World War II and the deaths of 53 million people to
create that institution; it seems a waste to disregard
that so you can play Judge Roy Bean.

Your West of the Pecos diplomacy has created a
trickle-down paranoia that is ruining the
neighborhood. We are becoming a dog-eat-dog,
everyman-for-himself nation of fair-weather friends.
That's what happens when the PATRIOT Act makes enemies
of librarians and when the Pentagon begins probing our
emails. There are other ways to track Al Qaeda without
having to know everything about me going back to those
X-ray specs I ordered from the back of Boys' Life.

I know we don't agree. After all, I am a liberal — by
your definition, a godless feminist heathen running an
abortion clinic in my kitchen and a gay wedding chapel
in my garage. Hey, in today's economy, a guy's gotta
make a buck. But rest assured that I am no atheist. I
know there must be a God. With you in the White House,
if there wasn't, we'd surely be dead by now.

So, on behalf of liberals everywhere, and with all the
Viagra of progressive thought I can muster, I extend
this salute. I offer it with my best wishes and the
sincere hope that all who made your victory possible
will someday share your deep convictions, both federal
and state.

Native American Christmas

A most enlightening essay. . .


A Native Christmas

by Looks for Buffalo and SandieLee

European Christmas for Native Americans actually started when the Europeans came over to America. They taught the Indian about Christianity, gift-giving , and St. Nicholas. There are actually two religious types of Indian people in existence. One of these is the Traditionalist, usually full-blooded Indians that grew up on the reservations. The second type is the Contemporary Indian that grew up in an urban area, usually of mixed blood, and brought up with Christian philosophy.

Traditionalists are raised to respect the Christian Star and the birth of the first Indian Spiritual Leader. He was a Star Person and Avatar. His name was Jesus. He was a Hebrew, a Red Man. He received his education from the wilderness. John the Baptist, Moses, and other excellent teachers that came before Jesus provided an educational foundation with the Holistic Method.

Everyday is our Christmas. Every meal is our Christmas. At every meal we take a little portion of the food we are eating, and we offer it to the spirit world on behalf of the four legged, and the winged, and the two legged. We pray--not the way most Christians pray-- but we thank the Grandfathers, the Spirit, and the Guardian Angel.

The Indian Culture is actually grounded in the traditions of a Roving Angel. The life-ways of Roving Angels are actually the way Indian People live. They hold out their hands and help the sick and the needy. They feed and clothe the poor. We have high respect for the avatar because we believe that it is in giving that we receive.

We are taught as Traditional children that we have abundance. The Creator has given us everything: the water, the air we breathe, the earth as our flesh, and our energy force: our heart. We are thankful every day. We pray early in the morning, before sunrise, the morning star, and the evening star. We pray for our relatives who are in the universe that someday they will come. We also pray that the Great Spirit's son will live again.

To the Indian People Christmas is everyday and the don't believe in taking without asking. Herbs are prayed over before being gathered by asking the plant for permission to take some cuttings. An offer of tobacco is made to the plant in gratitude. We do not pull the herb out by its roots, but cut the plant even with the surface of the earth, so that another generation will be born its place.

It is really important that these ways never be lost. And to this day we feed the elders, we feed the family on Christmas day, we honor Saint Nicholas. We explain to the little children that to receive a gift is to enjoy it, and when the enjoyment is gone, they are pass it on to the another child, so that they, too, can enjoy it. If a child gets a doll, that doll will change hands about eight times in a year, from one child to another.

Everyday is Christmas in Indian Country. Daily living is centered around the spirit of giving and walking the Red Road. Walking the Red Road means making everything you do a spiritual act. If your neighbor, John Running Deer, needs a potato masher; and you have one that you are not using, you offer him yours in the spirit of giving. It doesn't matter if it is Christmas or not.

If neighbors or strangers stop over to visit at your house, we offer them dinner We bring out the T-Bone steak, not the cabbage. If we don't have enough, we send someone in the family out to get some more and mention nothing of the inconvenience to our guests. The more one gives, the more spiritual we become. The Christ Consciousness, the same spirit of giving that is present at Christmas, is present everyday in Indian Country.

Looks for Buffalo is an Oglala Sioux Spiritual Leader, the full-blood Oglala grandson of Chief Red Cloud and White Cow Killer, and a Cheyenne Oglala Leader. He saw in a vision that a White Buffalo was coming to the people and that it would mean world peace. His vision foretold of the White Buffalo that was born in Janesville, Wisconsin two years ago. He resides on the Pine Ridge Reservation in SD; but can be contacted for consulting or healings at (605)867-5762; P.O. Box 150, Pine Ridge, SD 57770.

Sandie Lee Bohlig, spiritual healer, counsels and teaches around the globe.


History Done Right?

Museums and the Nations should work together more on the telling of the history, both could benefit. . .



Who Should Tell History: The Tribes or the Museums?

CHICAGO - Museums always make use of the past for the
sake of the present. They collect it, shape it, insist
on its significance. When that past is also
prehistoric, when its objects come to the present
without written history and with jumbled oral
traditions, a museum can even become the past's
primary voice.

But what if that prehistoric past is also claimed by
some as a living heritage? Then disagreements about
interpretation develop into battles over the museum's
very function.

That was the result, for example, at the Smithsonian
Institution's $219 million National Museum of the
American Indian, which opened in September in
Washington and calls itself a "museum different."
George Gustav Heye's extraordinary collection of
800,000 tribal American objects is put in service of
contemporary Indian cultures with tribal guest
curators determining how their heritage is to be
presented. The result is homogenized pap in which the
collection is used not to reveal the past's
complexities, but to serve the present's simplicities.

There are, however, other ways in which the
prehistoric past can be revealed, as two exhibitions
in Chicago suggest. At the Field Museum, "Machu
Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas," is
remarkable not just for its careful exploration of the
famed archeological site high in the Peruvian Andes,
but also for demonstrating an almost devotional care
to exhuming a lost past. At the Art Institute of
Chicago, "Hero, Hawk and Open Hand: American Indian
Art of the Ancient Midwest and South" is no less
remarkable in its display of objects created by
ancient American cultures, but it is subject to many
of the same forces that molded the National Museum of
the American Indian. Here though, rather than
overturning the museum's enterprise, they merely
distract from it.

First, the Machu Picchu exhibition. Created by the
Peabody Museum at Yale, it offers the largest
collection of Incan artifacts ever shown in the United
States, including robust three-foot-high jugs for corn
beer (which was fermented by the saliva of women who
chewed the maize before brewing it); samples of
bright, geometrically ornamented 500-year-old fabrics;
and a corded "quipu," a linked collection of knotted
strings used to record events and numerical accounts.
The curators are Richard L. Burger, a Yale
anthropologist, and Lucy C. Salazar, a Peruvian

The major question about Machu Picchu has not been who
speaks for its past, but what that past actually was.
The site, with its terraced, mountainous landscape and
stone structures, was known to only a few local
inhabitants when it was discovered by Hiram Bingham
III, who led Yale's Peruvian Expedition in 1911. As
Mr. Berger and Ms. Salazar explain various hypotheses
by Bingham, including one that the site was a sacred
nunnery for Incan "Virgins of the Sun," have been
conclusively disproved. The curators established,
instead, that it was a summer retreat for a ruling
Incan family, built between 1450 and 1470 and used
only for about 80 years before being abandoned in the
face of the Incas' defeat by Pizarro's Spanish armies.

The exhibition also makes it clear what an
extraordinary site Machu Picchu is. Nestled in the
cloud-decked mountains of the Andes, its architecture
serves as a kind of cosmic clock, the sun and
constellations appearing in certain stone windows at
specific times of the year. The exhibition shows how
scientists have used bone fragments to analyze the
Incan diet (60 percent maize), and demonstrates how
Incan skulls were deliberately elongated by molds
placed on infants' heads, presumably for aesthetic
effect. One emerges astonished by this lost world.

Still, there are subtle traces of contemporary claims
evident in the portrayal of this prehistoric culture.
After all, Machu Picchu is now a national symbol in
Peru; in 2001, it was used for the inauguration of the
president, Alejandro Toledo. It is also the object of
almost mystical devotion. Hundreds of thousands of
tourists climb its ruins every year.

In response, perhaps, there are hints of overly
tactful delicacy in the exhibition's descriptions of
Incan society. Incan aesthetic and cosmological
preoccupations become clear, but other aspects do not,
including a rigid social structure that involved forms
of slavery, a religious culture that incorporated
human sacrifice, and a military organization powerful
enough to conquer 2,500 miles of the South American
coastline and build 25,000 miles of roads. Mr. Berger,
in an e-mail message, said that for the Peruvians, the
Incans looked good compared to the Spaniards. The
exhibition wants us to admire, and we do. But we know
less about what we might admire less.

At the Art Institute of Chicago more explicit
pressures are at work, and they nearly derail the
considerable achievements of "Hero, Hawk and Open
Hand." The exhibition is devoted to products of
societies that thrived along the Ohio, Tennessee and
Mississippi Rivers as early as 5,000 B.C. Their
remnants can still be seen in landscapes near Newark,
Ohio, or St. Clair County, Ill., in enormous earthen
mounds and geometric shapes outlined by raised ground.

These structures testify to a highly organized society
barely glimpsed by European settlers. Some sites had
already been abandoned by the time the Europeans
arrived. Others were devastated by diseases brought by
the settlers, which wiped out as much as 90 percent of
their Indian populations.

But as Richard F. Townsend, the curator of the
department of African and Amerindian art at the Art
Institute, shows, these cultures' mastery can be
sensed in the objects produced: a haunting
2,000-year-old elongated face smoothed out of stone
found in Kentucky; a graceful, elegant hand cut out of
mica from about the same era in Ohio; a 500-year-old
wooden figure - half human, half feline - found in

Such a display, along with historical commentary,
would once have been sufficient. But contemporary
Indian tribes, supported by some scholars, have argued
that they have an ancestral connection to these
cultures. And since museums have not traditionally
displayed much sensitivity toward living cultures, the
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
now obliges them to consult with tribes about their
holdings. In preparation for the exhibition, four
years were spent consulting with tribal leaders. But
to what end?

Joyce Bear, the cultural preservation officer of the
Muscogee Nation, has the exhibition's first word,
declaring on the wall leading to the galleries, that
it will "make our tribal people realize that we are
descendants of a wonderful and great culture." In the
catalog, she proudly announces that the exhibition
proves that "I come from kings and queens." The
exhibition ends with a statement about a "new,
sweeping movement of cultural preservation" among
Indians, including a film showing their renewal of

But all this has little to do with the objects on
display and makes it seem as if the exhibition's
purpose were to boost tribal pride. Also, while there
may indeed be ancient traditions that have found their
way into contemporary practices, the nature of these
connections, at the very least, demands closer

One anthropologist's assertion that contemporary
Indian beliefs are "analogous" to those of these
ancient cultures is challenged by others in the
catalog. Mr. Townsend writes that these earthworks
were "built by peoples whose achievements and
ancestral connections to present day tribes are at
best only vaguely surmised." Robert L. Hall, an
anthropologist, points out that Cahokia, an imposing
culture on the Mississippi that was already in decline
in the 14th century, "left no written records and no
native peoples possess oral traditions that
specifically identify Cahokia or even recognize its
existence." In the 18th century, another writer says,
Indians encountered by settlers "did not construct
mounds, nor did any of them have oral traditions
relating to these earthworks."

Even the exhibition's explanations of these societies'
workings seem idealized, skewed by contemporary
sensitivities. In the catalog, for example, an
anthropologist, David H. Dye, explores warfare among
the Mississippi Indians, but it is barely alluded to
in the exhibition, despite the presence of objects
like a pipe (1200-1500 A.D.) sculpted as a bound
captive and a vase whose decorations are "trophy
scalps stretched in a starlike pattern." The
exhibition gives so refined a picture of these
societies that there is no way of knowing how
important such images were, or where historical
evidence of slavery and human sacrifice fits in.

This is also, of course, what happened in the
Smithsonian's Indian museum. Since almost no tribes
had a written culture and oral traditions were
disrupted by disease, massacre, government policy and
assimilation, the tribal curators often seem to know
less about their history than do scholars. Yet
scholars' assessments are ignored in favor of
self-promotional platitudes.

All this is a form of guilty overcompensation for past
museum sins that themselves need re-examination and
assessment. In the meantime, exhibitions like the one
on Machu Picchu serve as reminders of what is
possible. And the objects at the Art Institute can
still be heard straining to speak for themselves,
despite the layers of promotional and political gauze
in which they are wrapped.

18 December 2004

Red Crow Speaks. . .

Floyd Red Crow Westerman is an Indian actor, singer, songwriter and advocate. He made his big screen debut in the movie "Renegades" and is best remembered for his role as elder/leader Ten Bear in "Dances With Wolves". His songs like "Custer Died For Your Sins" and "BIA Blues" have helped spread the American Indian Movement's message throughout the world. He has had featured roles in "Northern Exposure", "L.A. Law" and many other television series and movies. He performs with countless musicians including Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt and Don Henley in large benefit concerts for Indian self-determination, human rights and environmental protection. He toured the world with Sting to publicize the plight of the Rainforest People who are dying along with the Rainforests and, as caretakers, must be protected if the rainforests are to go on providing for all life on Earth. Red Crow has been an ambassador of good will representing the International Indian Treaty Council from the time of its inception.

The following is an excerpt from a speech he gave at the World Uranium Hearing:
I would like to quote a very prejudicial doctrine that was handed down by the Supreme Court in 1823. It was written by the Church. This doctrine should be denounced by this Hearing in some formal way. I think that from this Hearing we should create a United Indigenous Nations Council, such as the United Nations. We shall be the United Indigenous Nations. We should denounce this prejudicial doctrine that was created by their Church, Catholic Church, in 1823.

Here is the doctrine:
"This doctrine handed down by the Supreme Court in 1823, in which it said that the Indian Nations do not have title to their lands, they only have title of occupancy, because they weren't Christians when the Europeans first got here. That the first Christian Nations to discover an area of heathen and infidel lands has the ultimate dominion over those lands and the absolute title."

This is a doctrine that we should, the Indigenous Nations, should go to the Pope and also to the President of the United States to withdraw and renounce this document and to establish a new basis for relationship between indigenous peoples and other peoples of the world.


Please visit JohnnaRyry's Broomwagon!

14 December 2004

Sung Wakan Speaks. . .

Once again, one of our Tribal Elders must take Mr. Bush "to school". . .


Dear President Bush:
My name is Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota
Nation.  I am also known as "Sung Wakan" (Horse Man).  My position
with my People is the 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White
Buffalo Calf Bundle.  As a Keeper of this Bundle, which is around
2000 years old, it has been recorded in petroglyphs and oral stories
that the horse nation was around our people long before the
Spaniards brought the other relative of the horse nation to this
land. These ancient horses were much smaller in size and not so much
in numbers, to a point of extinction.  With this ancient Bundle
existed a horse ceremony acknowledging the horse nation in respect
to their wise and gentle spirit, as they offered a gift of healing
for our own human spirit.  

My work has involved many efforts in bringing awareness to the
importance to all life upon Mother Earth, along with Mother Earth
herself in concern of the environment, for all life to live in
Peace.  I have been raised with the understanding that all forms
life has it's meaning of importance and should not be taken for
granted.  To ignore and not try to learn these precious rights of
all living beings to live in Peace with us as humans of power and
decisions, will sooner or later affect our own children.  This can
either be in our future generation's health of body mind and
spirit.  Our children need to look at life as being sacred.

The Horse Nation is an important spirit being.  The Nation deserves
the protection and awareness of what we humans can offer.  They have
saved, assisted and given of themselves for all humans throughout
history.  Whether it was riding in battles, traveling, through
friendship and most recently discovered by therapists, they can give
healing to our troubled spirits.   The Native Nations always
understood this gift with our horse dance ceremony.

This awareness of the horse's gifts to humans has transformed into a
strong respect.  This awareness has been gathering People across the
country to protect this fine spirit from a very negative attack on
their health and existence, by unconscious disrespectful humans for
the name of greed.  No matter what uncomfortable conditions, as
horse can feel their environment of impending trauma, these horses
trust humans and are being lead to slaughter.  This is not a way of
respecting life that our children need to learn, as we adults having
positions of role models and leaders in our communities.  This
energy, as we understand these actions to be, will indeed backfire,
if people do not educate themselves of the importance in the
different spiritual roles of all life forms.   Some animal nations
indeed give themselves for food; they actually know their purpose in
the human's food chain, as long as this is understood with respect. 
We should understand the Horse Nation has earned the right to live
in Peace for what they have contributed to all our lives throughout

    * Despite the passage of the Wild-Free Roaming Wild Horses and
Burros Act of 1971 which as enacted to protect the wild horse from
slaughter, hundreds perhaps thousands continue to be slaughtered
each year in one of the two remaining horse slaughterhouses which
are both located in Texas.  The BLM has aggressively worked to
remove too many wild horses from their range resulting in ongoing
sales to the slaughterhouses.

    * Slaughter is not an answer for population control or an excuse
for rewarding those who would abuse these magnificent animals.
In a Sacred Hoop of life, where there is no ending and no beginning!
Thank you for your attention to this effort.

Mitakuye Oyasin (All My Relations),

Chief Arvol Looking Horse,
19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe

Rumsfeld Caught by His Short and Curlies?

He should be terribly embarrassed and ashamed of his role in putting our troops in their current positon. . .


Rumsfeld's Fig Leaf Falling

The fig leaves are tumbling from the cover story Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gave to a soldier's query on Wednesday about the lack of armored vehicles available in Iraq.

"It isn't a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it," Rumsfeld answered when pressed on the armor question in Kuwait.

But that appears to be simply not true. Cox News Service reported Friday that both the company that makes Humvees for the military and the company that adds armor to the utility vehicles could make plenty more, if the Pentagon would ask them.

Also apparently not true are the assurances President Bush had given just the day before to families of Marine casualties during a visit to Camp Pendleton, Calif. "We're doing everything we possibly can to protect your loved ones..."

There is still a critical shortage of armored-up Humvees and only a tiny percentage of the nearly 9,000 military transport trucks used to supply troops in Iraq are armored. Even the Humvees with added armor remain unprotected on the top and bottom, and the added weight of the armor reportedly has increased the stress on, and failure rate of, the vehicles' transmissions.

The families of those risking their lives in Iraq ought not be reassured but enraged. This was a war of opportunity, not necessity, so there is no excuse for, as Rumsfeld put it, "going to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have."

13 December 2004

Guilty As Charged?

And what was the charge? SCROUNGING!
What the F**k!!!

The real question is: Which enemy are our troops supposed to be fighting?


'Scrounging' For Iraq War Puts GIs in Jail

By Aamer Madhani Tribune staff reporter

Six reservists, including two veteran officers who had received
Bronze Stars, were court-martialed for what soldiers have been doing
as long as there have been wars--scrounging to get what their outfit
needed to do its job in Iraq.

Darrell Birt, one of those court-martialed for theft, destruction of
Army property and conspiracy to cover up the crimes, had been
decorated for his "initiative and courage" for leading his unit's
delivery of fuel over the perilous roads of Iraq in the war's first

Now, Birt, 45, who was a chief warrant officer with 656th
Transportation Company, based in Springfield, Ohio, and his
commanding officer find themselves felons, dishonorably discharged
and stripped of all military benefits.

The 656th played a crucial role in maintaining the gasoline supply
that fueled everything from Black Hawk helicopters to Bradley
Fighting Vehicles between Balad Airfield and Tikrit. The reservists
in the company proudly boast that their fuel was in the vehicles
driven by the 4th Infantry Division soldiers who found Saddam Hussein
hiding in a hole last year.

But when Birt's unit was ordered to head into Iraq in the heat of
battle in April 2003 from its base in Kuwait, Birt said the company
didn't have enough vehicles to haul the equipment it would need to do
the job.

So, Birt explained, he and other reservists grabbed two tractors and
two trailers left in Kuwait by other U.S. units that had already
moved into Iraq.

Several weeks later, Birt and other reservists scrounged a third
vehicle, an abandoned 5-ton cargo truck, and stripped it for parts
they needed for repair of their trucks.

"We could have gone with what we had, but we would not have been able
to complete our mission," said Birt, who was released from the brig
on Oct. 17 and is petitioning for clemency in hope that he can return
to the reserves.

"I admit that what we did was technically against the rules, but it
wasn't for our own personal gain. It was so we could do our jobs."

The thefts mirror countless stories of shifty appropriation that has
been memorialized in books and films as a wartime skill. Birt and
other reservists in the unit said that what the prosecutors called
theft was simply resourcefulness, a quality they say is abundant
among soldiers in Iraq.

While in confinement, Birt had a chat with a military police officer
who was puzzled by why Birt was in the brig. The MP, a guard, told
Birt that his unit had "acquired" a Humvee in a similar fashion.

Equipment shortages have become a concern, and soldiers are
expressing growing frustration about them. On Monday, the military
announced it would not court-martial the 23 reservists who balked at
transporting fuel in Iraq because their vehicles were in poor
condition and lacked armor, and on Wednesday, soldiers complained to
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about the lack of armor for

In addition to the six in the 656th who were court-martialed, eight
others in the unit were given non-judicial punishment, including
fines, pay reduction and loss in rank.

The commanding officer of the company, Maj. Cathy Kaus, 46, was
sentenced to 6 months in jail and fined $5,000 for her part in the
thefts. She is scheduled to be released from the Naval Consolidated
Brig Miramar in San Diego on Christmas Day after serving most of her

Kaus and Birt chose to be tried by a military judge rather than a
panel that would have included fellow soldiers, and they waived the
formal investigation.

An Army spokeswoman said Friday that the Army does not comment on
specific cases. But she noted that the military's judicial process
allows those who are court-martialed to apply for clemency.

The severity of the punishments was surprising to many members of the
company, who regularly saw off-the-books trading and thefts of
military property in Iraq by troops in other units.

Surprised by severity

Even Lt. Col. Christopher Wicker, the former commanding officer of
the battalion overseeing the 656th who ordered the investigation of
the thefts, said he was shocked by the hefty penalties.

"Circumstances at [the] time, however, made these acts less serious
than if done in a peacetime garrison environment," Wicker said in a
letter supporting clemency for Birt. "The sentences . . . are too
harsh given the situation during the initial drive north of Baghdad
in April 2003, and the limited flow of repair parts that existed
April-September 2003."

Theft of military equipment is legendary among American war veterans,
and the act has its own lexicon. In past wars some called
it "scrounging," while others called it "midnight requisitions"
and "liberating supplies," said writer and Vietnam War veteran Robert

Military bureaucracy combined with the reality of warfare has long
made "scrounging" a necessity for soldiers trying to get a job done,
Vaughan said. Stealing is justified, he said, because everything
being taken is U.S. government property and is being used toward the
war effort.

He recalled that while his unit was serving in a remote area in
Vietnam, headquarters in Saigon repeatedly denied his unit's request
for high-power generators because it said there were none in stock.
But on previous trips to Saigon, Vaughan had seen dozens of
generators stacked in a holding area at headquarters.

Frustrated, he drove to Saigon one afternoon, posed as a captain from
another unit and gave a guard a forged requisition to get the

"I was the greatest scrounger in the Vietnam War," said Vaughan, who
has a war novel to be published in January in which the protagonist
is an expert at stealing equipment for his unit. "If you did
something that is not for your own personal gain, your higher-ups
tended to protect you from getting into any trouble for it."

The problems for the 656th started days before the company was to
move into Iraq. The company had only two cargo trucks to haul six
containers filled with tools, spare parts, ammunition, biological-
chemical protective wear and other supplies.

Kaus, the commander of the 656th, said that officers with the 544th
Maintenance Battalion, whose command her company fell under, informed
her the day before their scheduled push into Iraq that they could not
provide her company support in moving the company's six containers.
She said she discussed the problem with Birt and her other chief
warrant officer, and the two told her they could solve it.

Just deal with it

Kaus said in a telephone interview that she told the men "to do what
they had to do" to move their supplies, but she did not tell them to
steal equipment.

Birt said he inferred that they had her permission to take the
vehicles. The other chief warrant officer, Christopher Parriman, was
not charged in the thefts and left Iraq because of a medical
disability before the investigation began. Parriman declined to

Kaus said Birt and Parriman initially told her they had permission to
take the vehicles from another unit. She said she learned in late May
or early June of 2003 that the vehicles were stolen, but at that
point the trucks had become an integral part of the unit's regular
fuel convoys.

"These were vehicles that were not going to be used by the unit that
originally owned them, and they had become an important part in
allowing us to deliver 40,000 to 50,000 gallons of fuel a day," said
Kaus, who was awarded a Bronze Star for effectively leading the unit.

Kaus also said she could not determine which unit the trucks belonged
to, so she could not return them. In fact, the vehicles and trailers
in question were never reported stolen, according to transcripts of
court-martial proceedings.

In a meeting with 656th officers and leaders of other companies under
his command in June 2003, Wicker, the 544th Maintenance battalion
commander, asked the officers if they had any equipment that did not
belong to them. Kaus and the other officers said nothing, Wicker

No one mentioned the stolen property, Wicker and others said, until a
disgruntled soldier, Sgt. Charles Neely, reported the unit to Wicker
as the company was preparing to end its tour and return to Ohio.
Neely, who also took part in the theft of one of the trucks, was
reduced to private as part of his sentence. Neely lives in Ohio; he
declined to comment.

Wicker, who had heard stories from relatives about scrounging in
Vietnam, said he was more bothered that the officers did not admit
having the equipment when asked and that they dismantled the 5-ton
cargo truck. He said he understood the rationale for stealing the
equipment, but he did not agree with it.

In the first several months of the Iraq war, the supply line moved at
a glacial pace. Obtaining even basic parts to repair vehicles took as
long as six weeks, said Robert Chalmers, who had been a sergeant with
the 656th. He received a court-martial for stripping the cargo truck
for spare parts and disposing of its frame.

Sitting in his kitchen in Greenville, Ohio, Chalmers recalled the
rocket attacks, bomb explosions and small-arms fire his company faced
on the road between Tikrit and Balad.

He laughed about his eagerness to head to Iraq. Anticipating that his
company was going to be called up, he took two weeks off from work as
an electrician to get gear ready before the unit's soldiers received
official word that they would be going.

Other reservists' penalties

Chalmers said their actions were technically wrong, but he felt the
importance of the company's mission justified the thefts. During the
company's year in Iraq, members of the 656th drove more than 1.2
million miles and delivered about 33 million gallons of fuel.

Chalmers was reduced to a specialist as part of his sentence. Of the
other two reservists who were court-martialed, one received a jail
sentence, and the second was punished but not jailed.

The situation has left Chalmers in debt and bitter. His wife, Tina,
said she had to borrow against her retirement savings to pay his
$20,000 in legal fees.

"We were sent to Iraq without what we needed," said Chalmers, who has
spent 15 years on active or reserve duty.. "If they don't make that
decision to get the vehicles we needed, we are worse off and can't do
our mission. If we don't do our mission, those tanks at the front
stand still."

For Birt and Kaus, the court-martial and confinements are a
devastating end to long and successful military careers. Both are
holding onto a thin thread of hope that they will be granted clemency
by Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, commander of the multinational forces in
Iraq, so their benefits will be reinstated and they will have a
chance to continue their military careers.

Birt and Kaus were dishonorably discharged, and unless they receive
clemency, they lose all military benefits, including the right to
have the U.S. flag draped on their coffins.

This month, Birt received a certified letter from the trucking
company he worked for as a shop foreman, telling him that it could no
longer employ him because of his felony conviction. Kaus said her
employer, sporting goods manufacturer Huffy Corp., has informed her
that it is unlikely she will be allowed to come back to work because
of her conviction.

Kaus said her anger has subsided, and she is trying to move on with
her life.

"My family and friends remind me how fortunate we are that everyone
of us [in the 656th] made it out of Iraq in one piece," she said.

For Birt, the end to his military career has been jolting.

"I don't have any regrets," Birt said. "I am proud of the work we did
serving our country. If I could get back in the reserves, I would go
back to Iraq in a second."