28 June 2005

Nancy Grace Brings Mob Justice to CNN...

I'm really glad that to find out that I wasn't the only one who see Nancy Grace for what she really is.

All I can say is, thank God she's not still working (officially) the state's side of the courtroom. At the recent Edgar Ray Killen, all she could focus on was the fact that the South came off looking like racsist, ignorant rednecks-- No simpathy or empathy spared for the three murdered men, their families or the fact that they had to wait 41 years for a small measure of justice.

Just like Curious George, she's another one who likes nothing better than to wipe her ass on the Bill of Rights...


Guilty or not, here she comes -- Nancy Grace Brings Mob Justice to CNN

By Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle

"How many boys claim or witnesses claim they saw Jackson's hands down some kid's pants? ...
A number. A number. Can anybody give me a number?"
-- Nancy Grace.

With all the porn, pajamas and Culkin-related distractions in the Michael Jackson case, it's easy to forget that his criminal trial is similar to thousands of others conducted every year. There were opening statements, witnesses for the prosecution and defense -- and after a few more weeks of testimony, a jury will weigh the evidence and let the world know if the singer committed the crime.

Unless you're one of more than 500,000 viewers each night watching CNN Headline News, where Nancy Grace talks as though she determined the celebrity's guilt a long time ago.

Since CNN earlier this year positioned "Nancy Grace" as the centerpiece of the Headline prime lineup, the channel has enjoyed a short-term ratings bonanza. But if executives in charge of the once-respected cable news station are getting a good night's rest, then they haven't been watching her bizarre coverage of the Michael Jackson trial and a dozen other sensational cases.

If one looks at every page of every transcript since "Nancy Grace" debuted three months ago, the program more closely resembles a torch-bearing mob than the "legal issues" show that CNN promised. Grace has created her own parallel universe in which guests are berated for advocating due process, panelists are invited back frequently if they make ad hominem attacks and suspects are seemingly guilty until proven innocent.

"I just wonder," Grace said on her April 7 program about Jackson, "how much money and how much celebrity does it take to make people totally ignore what's under their nose?"

"Talk about garbage and luggage in your past," she added a minute later. "There's Michael Jackson getting his star on the Walk of Fame. If I'm incorrect, correct me. But isn't that where he took his chimp as a date?"

Just a few months ago, Grace was an outsider looking in. She rose to fame as a painfully shrill yet mercifully small player in the Scott Peterson trial media circus, frequently contributing to "Larry King Live."
Grace's delivery was problematic during the Peterson trial, although for completely different reasons. She would repeatedly phrase her comments as if she had been in the courtroom, even though she was almost always more than 2, 000 miles away. And with no more firsthand knowledge of the courtroom on most days than King's listeners in Bangor, Maine, she seemed willing to convict the fertilizer salesman.

"Well, I think today they're in the best form that they have looked the entire trial," Grace said of the prosecutors, after June 21 court proceedings that she didn't attend. "Today, great day for the prosecution."

CNN executives could have used the end of the Peterson trial as a time to seriously reflect on her presence on a network with a respected history. Instead, they sent out the press release that the real journalists in the building must have been dreading.

"There is no one more knowledgeable and passionate about legal issues than Nancy," CNN News Group executive vice president Ken Jautz said at the beginning of the year, announcing that Grace would get her own hour-long program starting February 21. "Whether you agree or disagree with her, you'll want to watch her."

There can be no argument with the second half of Jautz's statement. In Grace's first full month in prime time, as she focused on the Robert Blake and Michael Jackson trials, Headline News vaulted past MSNBC as the third most- watched cable news network behind Fox News Channel and CNN. Grace averaged more than half a million viewers during that period, and several journalists at big newspapers wrote about what a big success it was.

But public stonings used to be popular, and they don't belong on CNN either. From the beginning, Grace has run her show like she's the most popular girl on the junior high playground, often picking on the least affluent or weirdest-looking subjects in the news cycle.
When reading Nancy Grace transcripts, keeping an eye out for improprieties, a color-coding system becomes a necessity.

Blue Post-It notes are good when the prosecutor-turned-legal-pundit makes an error or a wild exaggeration. Yellow can be used for each of Grace's gratuitously blunt questions for people whose loved ones have been killed. ("Tony, does your little girl have any recollection of the murder of her mom? Clearly she was there," she said on an April 15 show, probing the father of a young girl whose mother was killed. "The facts surrounding the discovery of the body were horrific, with your little girl clutching her mom's dead body.") And a separate color -- maybe salmon? -- is helpful every time she uses farm animal adages as a rush to judge someone yet to be convicted of any crime.

"You can't put perfume on a pig! ... If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it must be a duck! ... When you don't know a horse, look at his track record!"

At the three-month mark, the Nancy Grace show is already strangely skewed from the real world. Guests who advocate a wait-and-see attitude toward suspects are used as punching bags. Guests who bring a scary amount of anger are praised, often becoming regulars.
"I think the common theme of this show tonight, Nancy, is very clear," victims' advocate Marc Klaas said during one of 14 appearances he's made on her show. "There are people on this earth who should never be allowed to give birth."

"Marc Klaas, stinging indictment," Grace responded. "But you know what? I think a lot of people share your sentiment. But you have the guts to say it, friend."

Grace's mob-mentality panel discussions aren't illegal, or even especially unique. In picking Grace's show as the prime time centerpiece for Headline News, they're using the same hateful-language-attracts-viewers template that Bill O'Reilly has used to win the time period. But Grace's rants are even more dangerous, because they turn the simplest principles of our judicial system upside down.

On an April 14 show, Grace moderated a short panel discussion about the prospects of the death penalty for a Florida man connected to a missing girl, even though authorities at that time declined to even name him as a suspect in the case.

It's only a matter of time before her decision to choose heroes and villains before the story has unfolded ends badly, the way it did for journalists who piled on exonerated Olympic bombing suspect Richard Jewell. Grace cast the missing Jennifer Wilbanks as a sympathetic figure, and look how that blew up in her face.

"Well, look, I don't have a degree in being a police chief. But I can tell you this much: This is not cold feet, all right?" Grace said on April 28, less than 24 hours before the bride-to-be proved her wrong. "This is not cold feet. I know that much."

E-mail Peter Hartlaub at phartlaub@sfchronicle.com.
©2005 San Francisco Chronicle

The Battle of the Greasy Grass

WOW! What I would given to have been there to hear that...


Northern Cheyenne Break Vow of Silence

By MARTIN J. KIDSTON - IR Features Writer - 06/28/05

BILLINGS - A group of Northern Cheyenne storytellers gathered here Friday night to give for the first time an oral account of the killing of Lt. Col. George Custer and the defeat of the 7th U.S. Cavalry at the Battle of Little Bighorn.
The event, held in conjunction with the High Plains Book Festival, drew
nearly 200 people including Yellowstone Public Radio. It was, the story-tellers said, the beginning of a Northern Cheyenne project to make the tribe's version of the famous battle known.
Frank Rowland, the night's emcee, said the tribe is now beginning to compile an oral history of the event. Rowland said the Northern Cheyenne had never publicly revealed their version of the battle. Fearing retribution after the fight in 1876, tribal leaders had called for a vow of silence.
"The chiefs said to keep a vow of silence for 100 summers," Rowland said. "One-hundred summers have now passed and we're breaking our silence. This is going to be a first for the Cheyenne people and a breakthrough for Western history."
In June 1876, Custer led 647 men with 7th Cavalry into the valley of the Little Bighorn River. The Cavalry and their Indian allies attacked the village of 8,000 to 10,000 people. After the battle, 263 U.S. soldiers had perished, including Custer, or Long Hair, as the Cheyenne called him Friday.
"We've been told we were the villains of history," said Eugene Little Coyote. "No more. It's important for our young Cheyenne to know the truth. We want to share our history now."
Steve Brady, a member of the Cheyenne Crazy Dog Society, said the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 set the stage for what was to come at Little Bighorn.
There, on the Colorado prairie, Col. John Chivington led approximately 700 U.S. soldiers to a Cheyenne and Arapaho village along the banks of Big Sandy Creek. A white flag flew above the Native village where the Cheyenne and Arapaho people believed they were living under the protection of the U.S. Army.
The U.S. troops attacked and killed between 150 and 500 people, mainly women, children and elderly. Many Cheyenne chiefs were also killed, including Black Kettle. The U.S. troops paraded body parts of the fallen Indians through the streets of Denver and received a hero's welcome.
"Our people had never seen such atrocities committed," Brady said. "It was the Western European who was supposedly here to tame the savages, which was us. This laid the groundwork of what was to come. My great-grandfather never forgot what they (U.S. troops) had done for the rest of his life."
James Rowland, a Northern Cheyenne artist, said it was those bitter memories, mixed with visions by the Keeper of the Broken Arrows years later, which helped fuel the ferocity of the Battle of Little Bighorn.
Rowland presented several art panels to the audience. Using traditional Native American imagery, each panel told a different moment of the battle according to Cheyenne history. The images were printed over old newspapers which once told the country how the "Indians" had overwhelmed and defeated the U.S. Army.
"I had read several books, but things didn't add up until I heard the
Cheyenne version," said Rowland. "Custer was spotted riding north while the battle was raging on the field."
Stories passed down among the Northern Cheyenne say Custer died a mile away from the current monument that sits upon the knoll overlooking the Bighorn River.
The storytellers, including Rowland, attributed Buffalo Calf Trail Woman for delivering the blow that knocked Custer from his steed before he died.
"We know from history Custer had two wounds," Rowland said, referring to Custer's head wound and the wound to his chest. "When he fell, he wasn't touched by the warriors because he was unclean. He was bad medicine."
It was the women, Rowland said, who took their revenge.
Clarence Spotted Wolf said his great-great-grandfather fought bravely at the battle, where he lost his left eye.
"He had two boys with him," Spotted Wolf said. "He went around and made a circle to get to Custer. He went down to his knees. They made a pass at him and said 'He's going down to his knees.' "
Frank Rowland said the Northern Cheyenne are collecting such oral accounts, which they hope to make public later this year.
"This is just a platform to build on," he said. "We have a moral
responsibility to tell the truth. This is the Cheyenne truth."
Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 406-447-4086, or at
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

27 June 2005

US accused over Muslim detentions

NEWSFLASH: Bush wipes his ass with the Constitution, again!

What I want to know is what do we have to show for this? What did the American people gain from our government's efforts to deny citizens and residents their Civil and Human Rights? Are we safer? How many lives were saved? WHERE is the PROOF?

More importantly: Who's next..?


US Accused Over Muslim Detentions

The US indefinitely detained some 70 Muslim men after the 11 September attacks on baseless accusations of terrorist links, US rights bodies say.

The US Justice Department held the men under a federal law as witnesses likely to flee, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union say.

In a new report, the US is criticised for not arresting the men as criminal suspects, and later releasing many.

The Justice Department says the witness ruling is crucial to crime-fighting.

The material witness law was designed to allow the detention of witnesses thought to have information relating to a crime but who might flee.

Judges were willing to co-operate with FBI calls for detentions in the weeks and months after 11 September 2001 as authorities attempted both to investigate the attacks and to prevent fresh strikes.

Rights 'Denied'

In the report, the two human rights groups say the US government has "twisted" the material witness law "beyond recognition".

They accuse the US government of using the law to detain suspects when there was not enough substantive evidence to hold them for questioning.

Many were not informed of the reason for their arrest, allowed immediate access to a lawyer, or permitted to see the evidence against them, the report says.

"They didn't have access to the basis for their arrest, weren't provided with lawyers, weren't allowed to talk to family members and were held in complete secrecy with no concrete end to their detention," said the report's author, Anjana Malhotra.

A spokesman for the US Justice Department told the Associated Press that the material witness ruling was designed with judicial safeguards in mind and was a key part of fighting a range of crimes.

New Limits?

The report says arrests were often made at gunpoint and the men were held in solitary confinement and subjected to degrading treatment.

It says only 28 people were charged with offences, and just seven were charged with providing material support to terrorist bodies.

The US government has issued apologies to 13 of the detainees in question, the report adds.

Senator Patrick Leahy, the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told AP he was concerned over possible misuse of the law and would consider narrowing its uses.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/06/27 00:13:58 GMT



Dumbassed, trigger-happy, sh*t-for-brains Republican Neo-Cons!
I told you so...


Iraq Rebellion 'Could Last Years'

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has warned it may be years before the insurgency in Iraq is defeated.

Speaking on US television, Mr Rumsfeld said ultimately Iraq's own forces, rather than coalition troops, would beat the insurgents.

Earlier, Mr Rumsfeld said US officials in Iraq have had talks with leaders of the insurgency.

It comes amid growing concern in the US about rising casualties and warnings that the insurgency is strengthening.

Recent opinion polls in the United States have shown a considerable drop in support for the US-led invasion of Iraq.

President George W Bush is to make a prime-time address to the nation about the situation in Iraq on Tuesday.

More than 1,000 people - mostly Iraqis - have been killed since the new government was installed in April.

Domestic concerns

The US defence secretary told Fox News: "Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years.

"Coalition forces, foreign forces, are not going to repress that insurgency. We're going to create an environment that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi security forces can win against that insurgency."

Mr Rumsfeld warned that violence could escalate ahead of new elections for a permanent government, due in December.

Maintaining domestic support for a continuing role in Iraq was crucial, Mr Rumsfeld said, but he warned about paying too much attention to a myriad of opinion polls.

"If you start chasing polls, you're going to get seasick," he said.

"The task for the president and the government and the military leadership is to show that progress is being made, which it is."

The senior US general in the Middle East, John Abizaid, also called for Americans to remain calm.

"We don't need to fight this war looking over our shoulder worrying about the support back home."

The BBC's Ian Pannell in Washington says the White House, engaged in a public relations offensive, is worried by the rising casualties, the ongoing insurgency and waning domestic support.

The latest remarks by Mr Rumsfeld would suggest that managing expectations is now an important part of White House strategy, our correspondent says.

Meetings downplayed

During a round of network TV interviews, Mr Rumsfeld made light of a report by a British newspaper that said US officials have secretly met with Iraqi insurgents.

Meetings go on "all the time", Mr Rumsfeld said, adding that Iraq's government often initiates contact.

"I would not make a big deal out of it.

Mr Rumsfeld denied a Sunday Times report that the US met with Ansar al-Sunna, which has carried out suicide bombings, and several other Islamist groups.

"There's no one negotiating with Zarqawi or the people that are out chopping people's heads off... but they're certainly reaching out continuously, and we help to facilitate those from time to time," Mr Rumsfeld said.

A statement allegedly from the leader of Ansar al-Sunna was also posted on the internet denying all contact.

"Jihad is the only way to restore dignity to this nation. Without this dignity, the nation will be shamed and defeated," the statement said.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/06/27 01:12:03 GMT


Let Me Tell You How the West Was Spun...

How the West Was Spun

As an exhibition exploring the heroic myths of the American frontier opens in the UK Annie Proulx, who lives in Wyoming, reflects on the grim reality behind the enduring fantasy of the lone ranch hand

Saturday June 25, 2005
The Guardian

The heroic myth of the American west is much more powerful than its historical past. To this day, the great false beliefs about cowboys prevail: that they were - and are - brave, generous, unselfish men; that the west was "won" by noble white American pioneers and staunch American soldiers fighting the red Indian foe; that frontier justice was rough but fair; and that everything in the natural world from the west bank of the Missouri to the Pacific Ocean was there to be used by human beings to further their wealth. These absurd but solidly rooted fantasies cannot be pulled up. People believe in and identify themselves with these myths and will scratch and kick to maintain their western self-image. The rest of the country and the world believes in the heroic myth because the tourism bureaux will never let anyone forget it.


Today, at Compton Verney in Warwickshire, an exhibition opens called The American West, which aims to explore the heroic myth from the days of the trappers to today's political and corporate cowboy culture. Curator Richard William Hill, of Cree-Canadian descent, describes his skittering, kitsch-gathering trip through the American west in search of cowboy and Indian culture for this exhibition as "Gonzo curating". It's good this exhibition is happening in Warwickshire: if it were somewhere in the real American west, not many local people would be interested.

In the real west people see only those qualities that fit the limited concept of individual freedom, independence, toughness and pioneer "spirit". The easiest way to do this is by donning the ritual garments that symbolise all these presumed virtues: ten-gallon hat, boots and spurs, pearl-buttoned yoked shirt, blue jeans. Western Day celebrations, stock exhibitions and rodeos often declare obligatory western attire for local inhabitants so tourists are treated to hundreds of faux cowboys limping around in high-heeled boots. (A few years ago at the cowboy poetry gathering in Elko, Nevada, I noticed a heavy man wearing a pair of beautiful boots, his trousers stuffed down inside them the better to show off the appliquéd design of cards, dice and six-shooters. A day later I saw him again, shuffling across the street in a pair of commodious bedroom slippers.)

Architecture helps: log mansions in the Bitterroots; the faux adobe structures of Santa Fe (municipally regulated construction of stucco over chicken wire and plywood); the still-popular false-front stores of many small western towns all carry the message that the west of the 21st century is still the west of 1885. Teepees stand as come-ons in front of shops selling "Indian" crafts made in China. The Native American painter David Bradley is a master at deflating various parts of the myth with his sharp observations of the real Santa Fe: cigar-smoking invader Texans, neon, gay Indians (Tonto and the Lone Ranger smiling from the balcony of their cute pink house), massage parlours, the hustle and grab of the art game, the fallen cowboy under the sofa.

No one in today's west wants to know that most trappers were rough, illiterate men, who used their liaisons with tribal women to discover the best trapping areas and trading opportunities. Their goal was financial success and to retire wealthy and respected back in old Missou'. The highly detailed illustrations of artist John Clymer, used on the covers of many western histories, show these big-chinned, clean, buckskin-clad trappers on handsome horses in stunning landscapes. Sometimes there is an Indian in the painting, but usually in the background or in subordinate position, and often with a receding chin - subtle reinforcements of the myth of Caucasian superiority. The trappers, like their successors, the cowboys, were a force in the west only for about 20 years before the beaver market crashed. The fur trade was the earliest act in the boom and bust economics drama that characterises the region.

The cowboys, many of them ill-paid and armed Texas teenagers, were not revered in their brief years after the civil war driving cows up the trail to northern pastures. They did not call themselves cowboys but cowhands, punchers, buckaroos, wranglers and waddies. They were hired hands, under the control of older foremen, themselves employed by investor cowmen. The myth, of course, contains no whiff of homosexual behaviour on the part of these cowboys who often shared bedrolls as well as work and danger. But little notes here and there, bits of verse, indicate they were not the pure heterosexual tough guys we might think. Social historians John D'Emilio and Estelle Freedman remarked in their book Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, on a poem one cowboy had written when his partner died ". . . declaring that the two had loved 'in the way men do . . .'" The authors also quote a limerick: "Young cowboys had a great fear / That old studs once filled with beer / Completely addle' / They'd throw on a saddle, And ride them on the rear."

The cowboy became heroic under the pens and brushes of the painters of the so-called Old West. Still recognised as the champion artists are George Catlin, Frederick Remington, Charles Russell and Will James. In their hundreds of pictures and sculptures depicting brave white men in terrifying combat, usually against Native Americans, it could be said that Remington and Russell created the cowboy hero. Remington, who had been raised in a well-to-do New York family, fell hard for the west. He started as an illustrator and worked to become known as a painter, until he became enshrined as the most masterly of the narrative western painters. In It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own, Richard White quotes Remington as writing: "Jews, Injuns, Chinamen, Italians, Huns - the rubbish of the Earth I hate - I've got some Winchesters and when the massacring [sic] begins, I can get my share of 'em, and what's more, I will." White adds: "The bloodthirsty racism of Remington was an extreme, but hardly unusual, example of the use to which an invented West could be put." Today's white supremacists in the west preserve Remington's sentiments.

Charles M Russell (1864-1926) is known almost as well for his semi-literate illustrated letters as for his paintings and sculpture. He was born into a prosperous family in St Louis, but was psychologically bound to his frontier ancestors, the Bent clan, who operated the famous fur-trading post, Bent's Fort, on the Arkansas River. His family let him spend a summer on a ranch in Montana when he was 16. For the next 11 years he worked cattle round-ups and night-herded horses, drawing what he saw. He became very popular among the cowboys and not a few western families today treasure a Charlie Russell illustrated letter handed down from a grandfather. Russell's last painting, unfinished when he died, Father De Smet's First Meeting with the Flathead Indians, is included in this exhibition.

Born Ernest Dufault in Quebec, Will James headed out for the Canadian west in 1906. He drifted down to Montana a few years later, learned idiomatic cowboy English, did time in Nevada State Prison for cattle rustling, and worked as a stuntman in the early Hollywood westerns. He explained away his accent with the story that he was the orphaned son of a French trapper. His illustrated books, Smoky the Cowhorse, and the outrageous invention, Lone Cowboy: My Life Story were a huge hit in the 1930s. But the subterfuge eventually ruined his health. He was one of many who not only swallowed the myth entire, but added his own distinctive gloss to the portrait of the solitary, decent cowboy whose best pal is his horse.

Arthur F Tait (1819-1905) was a popular painter of the west who never set foot on the plains he depicted. He did visit Chicago for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1896, but that was it. He worked hard at research and used every crumb of information about the west that came his way. His pictures were entirely derivative, unsullied by any personal observations or experiences. He owned (or borrowed) a suit of buckskins and a pair of moccasins and was photographed wearing this western garb while pointing a rifle up and away. He then used the photograph of himself to paint his first western picture, On the Warpath (1851). The next year he painted American Frontier Life (Trapper Retreating Over River). The landscape of this painting reflects an eastern environment, but not the plains, mountains nor river banks of the west. The subject trapper is charging his flintlock pan with powder while his horse climbs a steep bank - quite a difficult task. These three artists shaped the idea of the American west as we know it.

There are still men who work cows and who wear the traditional regalia (especially on Saturday nights when they hit the bars looking for girls who don't mind sexually transmitted diseases as long as they come with a ten-gallon hat and boots). Film-maker Vanalyne Green, visiting Wyoming a decade ago, made a documentary, Saddle Sores, detailing her amatory and medical adventures following an encounter with a local cowboy. A few years later Kim Shelton made a gritty documentary called The Highly Exalted, about present-day Nevada cowboys. Last year, when I bumped into someone who knew the cowboys in the film and asked what had become of them, he remarked casually that they were probably all in jail - ranch work is a dependable fall-back job for ex-convicts.

Women in the west boiled down to emigrant wives and female children on their way to Oregon and California over the dusty trails; frontier school teachers; the wives that ranchers, cowboys, store-keepers and army officers went back east to marry and bring west; and, at the bottom of the ladder, prostitutes and squaws.

One of the west's favourite sub-myths is the prostitute with the heart of gold who has been forced into the trade by tragedy and poverty, who treats her customers fairly, becomes the intimate confidante of powerful men, owns half the town, gives (anonymously) to the church and eventually marries a rancher. Anne M Butler blew this myth apart in her book Daughters of Joy, Sisters of Misery (1985). (The myth reassembled itself almost instantly.) Frontier prostitutes were poor, wretched, with no chance to escape the life once they were in it. They were vulnerable to alcohol and drug addiction, extortion, disease, unwanted pregnancies, brutality, arrest and jail. If they married at all it was usually briefly to low, transient men with as many problems as the women. Western newspapers used prostitutes as the butts of arch humour, and did not hesitate to name names. Small wonder that so many of these women killed themselves.

Many land features in the west are locally called "squaws' tits", though states and mapmakers have renamed most. The Grand Tetons, or Big Tits, on the Wyoming-Idaho border cannot be changed. They decorate too many calendars. In the west, Native American women were either squaws or princesses.

And what of the whites and Indians? Myth sifts the complex multi-mix of tribes and nationalities to absurd simplicity, pitting conquering white settlers and US army against generic but "fiendish, cruel and bloodthirsty" Indians. One reason the Battle of Greasy Grass (Custer's Last Stand) so catches the American imagination is because it could be easily grasped and because it illustrated basic prejudices: a few white American soldiers on one side, a large mass of red Indians on the other. This battle has achieved a kind of macabre popularity thanks to the Anheuser-Busch brewery of St Louis which in 1896 printed lithographs of Cassily Adams's painting, Custer's Last Stand, showing the beleaguered general in the centre of the swarming battle brandishing his sword and holding his empty pistol by the barrel to use as a club. The painting was crammed with historical errors but it fuelled the myth. The brewer sold more than a million of the prints, which decorated bars and homes from coast to coast.

Although white westerners today like to believe there were only a few groups of backward Native Americans in the golden west when Europeans arrived in the New World, there were, in fact, between 850,000 and one million Native Americans in America, people who had successfully practised stone-age cultures for at least 12,000 years. In the 18th and 19th centuries, tribes were on the move, eager for the horses of the southwest, pushed out of their old territories in the east by other tribes and encroaching civilisation. By the 1880s, the tribes, pushed off their lands, riddled with smallpox, tuberculosis and venereal diseases, were starving and tattered.

Not all the invaders of the west were blinded by greed and their own ambitions. Photographer Laton Huffman (1854-1931) was at Fort Keough in Montana in the 1880s and saw first-hand what was then the New West. He objected to the extermination of the buffalo; to the barbed-wire fences that subdivided the land; to the cowboys; and to the railroads, which he called "the fatal coming".

There arose in the eastern part of the United States a widespread belief that the Native Americans, like the bison, were vanishing, and now not only painters but photographers rushed west, first with their cumbersome wet plates, and then after 1884 with handier dry plates. From the 1860s onward, cabinet card photographs of Native Americans were hugely popular. The Native American quickly became a commercial commodity, eventually used to sell everything from sports teams to canned peaches. Not a few of the photographers used props and costumes to enhance their images; real Native Americans were, by the 1880s, demoralised and clad in dirty rags. The sense that they would soon be gone goaded museums and collectors to start gathering up artifacts - baskets, beadwork, pottery, arrows, cradleboards. This habit became ingrained in westerners who always seek and pick up arrowheads. (Not knowing what to do with them, most put them in glass jars and save them for some obscure future.)

By the early 20th century, the Native Americans, safely confined to reservations and subject to the tender mercies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, underwent a magic transformation. A kind of romantic, impressionistic pictorialism began to show them as a handsome, noble and tragic (though still generic) people. This sympathy for the conquered persists - although now it is mixed in with a quest for spiritual help, environmental idealism, and ancient herbal medicines that promise to show today's harried white population the way to serenity and health. One look at conditions on most reservations will show that serenity and health are not hallmarks of today's Native American existence. The other side of the Noble Indian experience is Gallup, New Mexico, on Saturday night in the grip of the deadly bottle. Still, many tribes have pulled themselves away from inept and corrupt government by establishing popular gambling casinos and using the profits to fight diabetes and alcoholism, two diseases that ruin many Native American lives.

The Compton Verney exhibition includes some Native American art rarely seen in America outside museum archives. Several of the drawings are by Zotum, a Kiowa whose Indian name meant "Hole-Biter". Zotum was one of a number of young braves captured and sent in irons to Fort Marion prison in St Augustine, Florida, under the charge of Lieutenant Richard Pratt. A gelatin silver print in the Trout Gallery of Dickenson College by an unknown photographer shows 16 young men in buckskin leggings, their hair in braids, their muscular bodies naked to the waist, standing in front of the grim stone prison on arrival. Another of the group commemorated the photo session in his drawing. Pratt ordered their hair cut and replaced their Indian clothes with proper American trousers and shirts. They were made to choose new American names.

Pratt, who opened the era of the Native American reformer, was interested in Native Americans, not as individual humans, but as subjects for rehabilitation as industrious, possession-minded Christian Americans. He persuaded Washington to give him a free hand with this project. The young men at Fort Marion, loosed from shackles, showed a keen interest in drawing. In three years 26 of them made nearly 850 drawings. Pratt disapproved of the subject matter, which showed military-Indian encounters, attacks, coups or fighting, and encouraged work featuring trains, bridges, American buildings. Later he brought in white artists to wean the men from what he considered the flat and inferior Indian style, forcing them to practise perspective and shading.

In Wyoming where I live, not more than an hour's drive from ancient petroglyphs and charcoal horses under sheltered ledges, I am constantly reminded that Native American art on rock, hide and bark was made for very different reasons than Euro-American art. Art was an integral part of Native American life, not a rarefied aesthetic _expression practised by a few. The switch from natural materials to white-man paper and ledger books was not only a huge change in materials, but in the Native American perception of the purpose of art.

Two influential people in early 20th-century Native American art were Angel de Cora and Dorothy Dunn. Hinook-Mahiwi-Kilinaka (Fleecy Cloud Floating in Place, translated as "Angel" in English) de Cora was born to a prominent Winnebago family on what is today the Ho-Chunk Reservation in Nebraska. A boarding-school success story, she graduated from Smith College and went on to study art in Philadelphia and Boston. She should have been recognised in her time as an important American painter, but was not. She took on a thankless job in 1906 as a teacher at the Carlisle Indian School founded by Pratt and dedicated to erasing the Indian cultural past. De Cora tried again and again to build appreciation for Indian art and its acceptance as American art. She wanted to bring Indian design to household objects, and to some extent her ideas did influence the Arts and Crafts movement. But when she left Carlyle after nine years, her innovative programme collapsed. She died at 48 in the great influenza outbreak of 1919. Illustrator Howard Pyle (popularly known for his Treasure Island paintings), with whom De Cora had studied, was asked once if he considered any of his past students to have been a genius. He replied, "Yes, once, but unfortunately she was a woman, and still more unfortunately, an American Indian."

De Cora was far ahead of her time, a Native American and a woman. She is still lamentably obscure. Her opinions were disregarded but in 1928 the Meriam Report, named for its editor, Lewis Meriam, convinced the federal government that there could be economic value in Indian arts. The Santa Fe Indian School was designated the arts and crafts centre for the entire Indian boarding-school system. In 1932, a white graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, Dorothy Dunn, arrived at the Santa Fe Indian School. She expanded the arts and crafts curriculum to include design and painting courses which eventually became famous as "The Studio". Oscar Howe is perhaps the best-known Studio alumnus. Dunn organised exhibitions in the United States and abroad that attracted the attention of wealthy collectors and patrons.

In the 1960s and 70s, influenced by the civil rights movement, the Vietnam war, social ferment, the explosion of Pop Art and the nascent American Indian Movement (AIM), the art of Native Americans began to change. Anger erupted in work loaded with bitter social content. Fritz Scholder, who died last February, was born in 1937 in Minnesota. His father was half Luiseño (a California Mission tribe). The family moved to South Dakota in 1950 and Scholder studied with Howe. In 1964 he was hired to teach at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, the 1962 revamp of Dunn's old Studio. At this time he was painting abstract southwestern landscapes and said ". . . he would never paint Indians because the subject was too clichéd".

At the school he encountered students from scores of different tribes. Among them were TC Cannon and Bill Soza. In 1967, Scholder began painting Native Americans: a big meaty man with one eye, another sitting at a bar with grinning skull showing beneath the flesh, a traditional dancer with a pink ice-cream cone, fleshy feathers, dark and dangerous shadows, pin-heads, rains of blood, alien thoughts and massive painted jaws. He was a brilliant colourist, but perhaps not more so than Kiowa Stephen Mopope, who painted in the 1920s. Scholder brought Native American art to international attention and museums clamoured for his work, but he had many detractors: people who objected to the strength that made the paintings meaningful; people who thought he was showing Indians in a bad light. Almost as if to counteract Scholder's intense art, the Cowboy Artists of America formed, preferring romantic, campfire Indians to violent yellow dancers wielding knives and leaping on purple ground.

Today's descendant westerner who feels he or she is the living embodiment of some clear-eyed American pioneer happily overlooks the terrific and complicated ethnic mix of whites fighting for land, hunting rights, cow pasture, water. A large number of Irishmen served in the armies of the west where the arid climate, ceaseless wind and brilliant sunlight were so different from the soft rain of home, and many of them settled in the west and became ranchers. When the Union Pacific Railroad pushed through the west it brought in foreign miners to dig the coal that kept the trains going. At one time, Rock Springs, Wyoming, counted 56 nationalities in its population. In 1885, white miners killed or drove out more than 50 Chinese miners in an ethnic cleansing riot, not an isolated event in the west.

Much of the heroic myth is now concentrated in rodeo, the west's own contribution to sport. (There is Indian rodeo, too, a separate world from the white cowboy shows, as is women's rodeo and gay rodeo.) Rodeo, once an exhibition of a buckaroo's riding and ranch-work skills, has devolved into show business and has itself become a stand-alone myth.

Once rodeo featured serious contests in roping, saddle bronc riding, calf-tieing, cattle-penning and the like, contests won by the most able men who were often notoriously rough-mouthed, heavy-drinking, pea-brained, ungodly louts happy with a belt buckle and a few dollars' prize money. Today the louts have vanished, replaced by religious-minded, college-educated, young, Christian, mostly white men who make whacking amounts of money. Jesus, of course, was the first rodeo cowboy when he rode that unbroken colt into Jerusalem. Almost nothing in rodeo now has anything to do with ranch work, especially barrel-racing, the only women's event, where horses ride as fast as they can around a slalom of barrels.

Richard William Hill writes in his exhibition catalogue essay that ". . . by the time we got to Wyoming I knew that LA was really the hub of all this nonsense. It was Hollywood that taught cowboys how to be cowboys, that took an unglamorous working-class job and turned it into an iconic identity". It seems more likely to me that the technology of film simply took over where Remington and the other white western painters left off.

As always, showman Buffalo Bill was ready in the wings. The first western film was an 1894 short strip for the Edison Kinetoscope (a peepshow contrivance) and featured Buffalo Bill. The early film cowboys were often the real thing, dressed in real clothes. The movies provided employment for these men, whose ranch jobs were seasonal and spotty. But it wasn't long until show-off Tom Mix, a Pennsylvania fellow with a little Oklahoma experience, introduced the white hat and other fancy costume items to the superficial, shoot-'em-up plots.

Much of the west's past is literally acted out each year by enthusiasts called "re-enactors", who don appropriate costumes and take on pageant-like roles in such events of yesteryear as a Trapper's Rendezvous, a Texas Trail Drive, Custer's Last Stand, or a Mormon Handcart Journey. For a few days it is real enough. Like Will James, everybody can be a cowboy for a while.

In recent years "cowboy" has come to stand for shoddy, don't-give-a-damn construction work and rude, boisterous behaviour. And, as this exhibition shows, it has also taken on a political colour, not of the decent, stalwart protector, but of an aggressive, foolhardy bully who forces weaker entities to submit to his will. The west has come to symbolise the policies and character of a country increasingly hated in the larger world, cutting fences and forcing its cows through. Thus has the heroic myth circled back to bite its creator on the ass.

· The American West is at Compton Verney, Warwickshire from June 25-August 29. Details: 01926 645540, or at www.comptonverney.org.uk.

25.June 1876: The Little Horn Massacre

We prefer to call it "The Battle of the Greasy Grass"...


The Little Horn Massacre

The Little Horn Massacre
Latest Accounts of the Charge
A Force of Four Thousand Indians in Position Attacked by Less Than Four Hundred Troops--Opinions of Leading Army Officers of the Deed and Its Consequences--Feeling in the Community Over the Disaster

Special Dispatch to the New York Times

The dispatches giving an account of the slaughter of Gen. Custer's command, published by The Times of yesterday, are confirmed and supplemented by official reports from Gen. A.H. Terry, commanding the expedition. On June 25 Gen. Custer's command came upon the main camp of Sitting Bull, and at once attacked it, charging the thickest part of it with five companies, Major Reno, with seven companies attacking on the other side. The soldiers were repulsed and a wholesale slaughter ensued. Gen. Custer, his brother, his nephew, and his brother-in-law were killed, and not one of his detachment escaped. The Indians surrounded Major Reno's command and held them in the hills during a whole day, but Gibbon's command came up and the Indians left. The number of killed is stated at 300 and the wounded at 31. Two hundred and seven men are said to have been buried in one place. The list of killed includes seventeen commissioned officers.

It is the opinion of Army officers in Chicago, Washington, and Philadelphia, including Gens. Sherman and Sheridan, that Gen. Custer was rashly imprudent to attack such a large number of Indians, Sitting Bull's force being 4,000 strong. Gen. Sherman thinks that the accounts of the disaster are exaggerated. The wounded soldiers are being conveyed to Fort Lincoln. Additional details are anxiously awaited throughout the country.

Details of the Battle

Graphic Description of the Fighting--Major Reno's Command Under Fire for Two Days-- Every Man of Custer's Detachment Killed Except One Scout--Affecting Scenes When Relief Arrived

Special Dispatch to the New York Times

Chicago, July 6.--A special to the Times tonight from Bismarck, recounts most graphically the late encounter with the Indians on the Little Big Horn. Gen. Custer left the Rosebud on June 22, with twelve companies of the Seventh Cavalry, striking a trail where Reno left it, leading in the direction of the Little Horn. On the evening of the 24th fresh trails were reported, and on the morning of the 25th an Indian village, twenty miles above the mouth of the Little Horn was reported about three miles long and half a mile wide and fifteen miles away. Custer pushed his command rapidly through. They had made a march of seventy-eight miles in twenty-four hours preceding the battle. When near the village it was discovered that the Indians were moving in hot haste as if retreating. Reno, with seven companies of the Seventh Cavalry, was ordered to the left to attack the village at its head, while Custer, with five companies, went to the right and commenced a vigorous attack. Reno felt of them with three companies of cavalry, and was almost instantly surrounded, and after one hour or more of vigorous fighting, during which he lost Lieuts. Hodgson and McIntosh and Dr. Dewolf and twelve men, with several Indian scouts killed and many wounded, he cut his way through to the river and gained a bluff 300 feet in height, where he intrenched and was soon joined by Col. Benton with four companies. In the meantime the Indians resumed the attack, making repeated and desperate charges, which were repulsed with great slaughter to the Indians. They gained higher ground than Reno occupied, and as their arms were longer range and better than the cavalry's, they kept up a galling fire until nightfall. During the night Reno strengthened his position, and was prepared for another attack, which was made at daylight.

The day wore on. Reno had lost in killed and wounded a large portion of his command, forty odd having been killed before the bluff was reached, many of them in hand to hand conflict with the Indians, who outnumbered them ten to one, and his men had been without water for thirty-six hours. The suffering was heartrending. In this state of affairs they determined to reach the water at all hazards, and Col. Benton made a sally with his company, and routed the main body of the Indians who were guarding the approach to the river. The Indian sharpshooters were nearly opposite the mouth of the ravine through which the brave boys approached the river, but the attempt was made, and though one man was killed and seven wounded the water was gained and the command relieved. When the fighting ceased for the night Reno further prepared for attacks.

There had been forty-eight hours' fighting, with no word from Custer. Twenty-four hours more of fighting and the suspense ended, when the Indians abandoned their village in great haste and confusion. Reno knew then that succor was near at hand. Gen. Terry, with Gibbon commanding his own infantry, had arrived, and as the comrades met men wept on each other's necks. Inquiries were then made for Custer, but none could tell where he was. Soon an officer came rushing into camp and related that he had found Custer, dead, stripped naked, but not mutilated, and near him his two brothers, Col. Tom and Boston Custer. His brother-in-law, Col. Calhoun, and his nephew Col. Yates. Col. Keogh, Capt. Smith, Lieut. Crittenden, Lieut. Sturgis, Col. Cooke, Lieut. Porter, Lieut. Harrington, Dr. Lord, Mack Kellogg, the Bismarck Tribune correspondent, and 190 men and scouts. Custer went into battle with Companies C, L, I, F, and E, of the Seventh Cavalry, and the staff and non-commissioned staff of his regiment and a number of scouts, and only one Crow scout remained to tell the tale. All are dead. Custer was surrounded on every side by Indians, and horses fell as they fought on skirmish line or in line of battle. Custer was among the last who fell, but when his cheering voice was no longer heard, the Indians made easy work of the remainder. The bodies of all save the newspaper correspondent were stripped, and most of them were horribly mutilated. Custer's was not mutilated. He was shot through the body and through the head. The troops cared for the wounded and buried the dead, and returned to their base for supplies and instructions from the General of the Army.

Col. Smith arrived at Bismarck last night with thirty-five of the wounded. The Indians lost heavily in the battle. The Crow Scout survived by hiding in a ravine. He believes the Indians lost more than the whites. The village numbered 1,800 lodges, and it is thought there were 4,000 warriors. Gen. Custer was directed by Gen. Terry to find and feel of the Indians, but not to fight unless Terry arrived with infantry and with Gibbon's column. The casualties foot up 261 killed and fifty-two wounded.

Reality Check?


By Bobby Ann Starnes (Oct 2003)

TWO YEARS ago, my ignorance and I began to teach on Montana's Rocky Boy Reservation. Until then, I had never really thought of myself as white. My identity was formed by the facts that I am an Appalachian woman, the daughter of a coal miner, a hillbilly -- somehow not quite white. But at Rocky Boy Elementary, I was bride-dress white, and it mattered more than ever before.

Before Montana, my only Indian experience had been in the summer of 1959. Our family was on the way to Florida, and the route took us across the Smoky Mountains. My father nervously maneuvered our 1949 Buick along the twists and turns and through the tunnels that curled around and through the mountains. The road was narrow. The turns were sharp. The valley was far below. There were no guard rails. I held my eyes tightly shut but could not contain persistent slow-motion images of our car flying off the mountainside and drifting silently to the ground below.

Moments after the mountains were behind us, a wooden sign welcomed us to the Cherokee Indian Reservation. Stretched out before me was the closest thing to Disneyland I'd ever seen. Motels, restaurants, and souvenir shops were lined up wall to wall on both sides of the highway. There were cars and people as far as I could see.

My father wheeled our tank of a car into a parking space right in front of Big Bear's Cherokee Trading Post. I jumped out of the car and ran to the window. There before my eyes was a virtual cornucopia of essential Indian and frontiersmen's regalia. They had everything I needed -- hard plastic bows with yellow-suction-cup-tipped arrows; rubber tomahawks decorated with secret Indian symbols; cardboard headdresses adorned with blue, red, or yellow feathers; and a real cedar ash tray with a ceramic insert showing a hillbilly boy with his pants down. "Put your butts here," it said. While that was funny, it paled alongside the bag of corn husks labeled "Hillbilly Toilet Paper."

My eyes continued to scan the window until they landed on a genuine faux fur coonskin cap. I knew I had to have it and began to concoct a plan to attain it. As I crafted the finer points of the coming battle between my mother and me, my eyes were diverted. The coonskin was erased from my mind and replaced by the most remarkable thing I'd ever seen. There, right in the parking lot, stood an enormous painted teepee. I was lured to it as though under a spell. But I forgot all about it when I saw an Indian chief standing beside it. I looked him over as if he were a museum specimen. His arms were tightly folded across his chest, his headdress was feathered all the way to the ground, and his stance conveyed emotionless power. "Just like Tonto," I thought.

"The chief wants us to take a picture of him with you and Tom," my father said. I couldn't imagine why, but, sure enough, the chief motioned to us to come stand beside him. I was going to get my picture taken with a real Indian! Why, it could be the best thing that ever happened. My neighborhood status would shoot to the top when kids saw me standing beside the chief. My little brother refused to loosen his death grip on my mother's arm. "Always a baby. He's going to ruin everything." I took matters into my own hands. With whispered threats of bodily harm once Mother and Daddy weren't there to protect him, I pulled him into camera range. Just before the camera snapped, I flashed my biggest smile, Tom's face froze in terror, and the chief contorted his face to create an appropriately fierce look. Later, I saw my father drop quarters into a cup labeled "tips."

TODAY, MOST Indian children are taught by white people who, like me, possess only the sanitized knowledge and understandings of Indian people and their history from bland white history texts. We learned about the pilgrims, but not about the Indians who saved them; about Lewis and Clark, but not about the Indians who saved them; about the great westward expansion, but not about the destruction of the Indian way of life it required; about reservations, but not about the attempted genocide. And Indians disappeared after they killed Custer. At least there was no more about them in my history books. As a result, we learned little beyond one-dimensional caricatures of history.

Here in Montana, and I imagine throughout Indian country, deep wounds and resentments still fester. Many of the white teachers' great-grandparents participated in the wars that gave them the right to plant wheat and graze cows on land promised to Indians. They told their version of history to their children and their children's children. The children we teach are descendants of warriors who fought fiercely but lost the war to preserve their way of life. Like white men, they passed their version of history along to their children and grandchildren.

Even as a teacher not burdened with the histories shared by many of my colleagues, I struggled to understand. But only seemingly random thoughts cluttered my brain. Then one day, I had a bolt-of-lightning realization so obvious it stunned me. As the new understanding began to sink in, everything I knew, or thought I knew, about Indians and settlers morphed into a new perspective. Our "relocation" was their death march; our rebellion was their resistance; our sport shooting of buffalo was their loss of food, clothing, and objects of great significance in their religious ceremonies. When a small Cree band killed eight white people, we called it the Frog Lake Massacre. When 200 mostly unarmed men, women, and children were killed by the Seventh Cavalry, we called it the Battle at Wounded Knee.

In our school on the Rocky Boy Reservation, much is taught about life far beyond the reservation. Virtually nothing is taught about life just outside our school walls. Sadly, the marginalization of the Indian people seems never more blatant than during Native American Week, as children fashion construction-paper moccasins, color in profiles of Indians in headdresses or pulling back a bow, construct toothpick teepees and birch bark canoes. The focus is crafts, not meaningful understandings of their own history. But white teachers don't know history from a Chippewa-Cree perspective. And, as one teacher pointed out, you can't teach what you don't know.

Our social studies textbooks are no help. They are the same series used by many mainstream public schools. The fifth-grade book has special inserts about women, blacks, and Asian Americans, but no Chippewa or Cree is ever mentioned. Texts whose titles call for exploring "our community" do not, in fact, have anything to do with our Rocky Boy community. When we study government, we learn how Congress and state governments pass laws. But we never explore the government that has the greatest impact on our children's lives -- the tribal council. Facts and understandings of Chippewa-Cree history don't show up on E. D. Hirsch's list of what literate people need to know, and they definitely won't be on the Iowas. Our job is to educate our students to perform as if they were white. Not because there are practical applications for the isolated knowledge bits, not because children need to feel the American Dream is within their reach, but because white history is the real history.

Still, in Montana every school is required to teach the history of the state's seven tribes. There is no agreement on the content of these histories. There are no texts or curriculum manuals, no standards, no assessments, and no support materials.

Teachers are indentured into inservice workshops of every form and shape. Funded with No Child Left Behind monies, unsupported by research predicting positive outcomes for our children, and showing no connection to our kids, the workshops teach us approaches that will only push our students further behind. What we white teachers really need is intensive professional development to help us learn to teach children living in a culture we do not understand. We need to learn history from an Indian perspective, to learn the language and traditions that are so much a part of reservation life. But there is no funding for such things. So, with the best of intentions, we stumble on.

The Indian wars are not really over. They may never be. Their effects are visible every day. The issues that matter are seldom, if ever, discussed. Persistent cultural mistrust, long-ago miscarriages of justice, and who did what to whom for what purpose silently linger just below the surface.

Last week in the grocery store, I overheard a white man telling a joke. I didn't hear the beginning, but the punch line was, "There's a limit of one deer, but there's no limit on Indians." The cashier's booming laugh rolled across the aisles. I hoped no child was near as my eyes scanned the store.

Even my terminal optimism is challenged by such experiences. On good days, I believe white teachers can educate Indian children. But sometimes, standing in line at the grocery store, I begin to wonder.

BOBBY ANN STARNES is president of the Center for Collaborative Teaching and Learning, Opelika, Ala.

30 Years Later...

Much Unresolved 30 Years After FBI Agents, AIM Member Killed

Associated Press

OGLALA, S.D. - Calvin Jumping Bull was away at college when the names Stuntz, Coler and Williams were added as casualties of the 1970s battles between the American Indian Movement and federal government.

Jumping Bull, 75, now lives on the family ranch where 30 years ago, tension between the two camps escalated when FBI agents Ronald Williams and Jack Coler were shot in the head at point-blank range after being injured in a shootout. They had come here to serve arrest warrants.

AIM member Joseph Stuntz also was shot that day, June 26, 1975, on the southwest corner of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The Justice Department concluded an FBI sniper killed Stuntz, who was clad in Coler's FBI jacket when his body was found.

"This is the place he was found," Jumping Bull said of a spot now green from a recent rain.

Stuntz' gravesite at a nearby cemetery reads: "Incident at Oglala Warrior, American Indian Movement Patriot."

Two AIM members, Robert Robideau and Dino Butler, were acquitted of killing Coler and Williams. Robideau now is a spokesman for another AIM member, Leonard Peltier, who was convicted of the agents' deaths in 1977 in Fargo, N.D., and sentenced to life in prison.

Peltier, 60, has maintained his innocence. His lawyer and others have said the FBI framed Peltier. The agency denies the allegation.

Numerous appeals have failed to overturn the convictions or order a parole hearing. Several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have called for Peltier's release.

Before President Clinton left office in January 2001, he considered granting Peltier clemency. Among those who urged Clinton to keep Peltier behind bars: then-FBI Director Louis Freeh, former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle and former Gov. Bill Janklow, who said he flew to Washington and had a long meeting with Clinton at the White House over it.
In April at St. Paul, Minn., a federal judge admonished the FBI for withholding some documents on Peltier's case but denied a request by his lawyers for quicker access to information used to convict him.
And most recently, at a hearing this month in Fargo, Peltier lawyer Barry Bachrach argued that the government had no right to send Peltier to prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Schneider said the claim is frivolous and the only way Peltier could get back in court. A ruling is expected within months.

Though it's been Peltier and his lawyers drawing most attention to his case, federal prosecutors also have introduced a possible link between Peltier and the 1975 slaying of another AIM member, Anna Mae Pictou Aquash. Her body was found in February 1976 on the Pine Ridge reservation.

At the February 2004 trial of Arlo Looking Cloud, one of two men charged with the killing, the former wife of AIM leader Dennis Banks testified she heard Peltier say he thought Aquash was a government informant.

Darlene Nichols also told jurors she was with Aquash when Peltier bragged about killing the two FBI agents.

Bachrach vehemently denied the accusation and said the prosecution's purpose was to smear AIM and cover up history.

The issue likely will resurface if John Graham, the other man charged with killing Aquash, is extradited from Canada. His Canadian appeal is still pending.

Jumping Bull, like many other Indians, believes Peltier's claim that he didn't kill Coler and Williams.

"He probably knows who did it but he'll probably never tell," he said. "A lot of people come here. You'll hear stories. I don't know if anyone actually knows what happened."

On the Net:
Peltier defense: http://www.freepeltier.org

Leonard Speaks...

Leonard Peltier Speaks on the Occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the Jumping Bull Shootout:

Hau Kola,

I know this is a dictated speech that is going to be read to you,
however, I want to speak to you as if I were there, or should I
say.here with you. Every year someone or some people at Oglala remember the sacrifices of the people who were there trying to make a difference for our people. And every year I remember the ones who aren't with us, the ones who can no longer be with us, and the sacrifices that they made. Sometimes I'm at a loss for words for the heartfelt appreciation I have - that you would remember all of those that gave their lives - as Joe Stuntz did; and, all of those who continue to strive in so many different ways to serve the people.

I deeply regret that I can't be there with you. But yet in a way, I
have to count my blessings. I have lived to see changes take place for
our people. Though they are not as good as I would wish, there have
been changes brought about by Joe Stuntz and others who have sacrificed in some way for our people. As I said, I have to be grateful because, although in a limited way, I have had the chance to get to know my children, some of my grandchildren, and they in turn have gotten to know me; something that my brother Joe and so many others who lost their lives fighting for the people, did not have an opportunity to do.

When I first came here, I was considered a young warrior and now within my circle, I am looked upon as an Elder- Something that hopefully all of you will come to be a part of in your lifetime. I had a friend once, an Elder who has since gone on, who once said to me that every person that he had consulted with on their death bed had spoken of the Creator and their family. That became the highest priority in their life and what was left of it. And he spoke to me of many because he had been an emergency room technician at one time. In thinking and remembering this, it always reminds me of the Sundance and the Sweat lodge and how the extremes of pain and sacrifice always seem to bring those same concerns to mind. Each of us - from the day we are born, to the time that we pass on, should remember to talk to the Creator and pray for our relatives.

Forgive me if I sound a little sentimental or dramatic, but I've
experienced thirty years of dying, thirty years of hearing that some of
my relatives have gone on, thirty years of praying for our people, and
I am so grateful that the Creator has allowed me to talk to you in some
way and let you know that you are my family. You are my relatives.
You are my young warriors and my Elders. And, if I am remembered for
anything at all, I want it to be that I never gave up - for you. I
want you to know that I have faith in you, that one day your efforts will
bring about a stronger nation; a nation where alcoholism, diabetes,
suicide, and poverty do not control the lives of our people.

I know lately there has been a lot of concern and rumors about various individuals who have collaborated in some way with the government against their own people, people who are giving away some of our sovereignty; giving away our right to determine our own destiny and to handle our own affairs. With this in mind, I want to encourage you to remember always who we are and I want to ask you to remind yourselves that this is our land, given to us by the Creator, and our freedom was given to us by the Creator. The forest, the trees, the animals, the prairie - were all given to us by the Creator. No man of any nation or color or origin has the right to take that away. We have the right, given to us by the Creator, to resist; to protect our own; to stand firm on the principles and the teachings the Creator has given our people for thousands of years.

We are a beautiful people; we have a beautiful culture, and we should
seek to join with all our brothers and sisters and relatives of other
Indigenous nations who are faced with the same dangers of loss. There is an old Cheyenne saying I once heard that a Nation is never defeated until the hearts of it's women are on the ground. The hearts of our women may be low, but they are not on the ground and I damn sure ain't gonna let it happen on my shift. I love you to the nth degree. I always will. You will always be in my prayers. Do what you can, where you can, from where you stand and - to quote Sitting Bull - let's see what kind of nation we can make for our children. I don't say I love you easily but I want you to know that I love you - my heart is with you and never, never, never, give up!

Before I finish, I want to say thank you, though I was told by an Elder
that it was better to show your thanks with your deeds and your gifts,
rather than just speaking it with your mouth. I apologize that I have
nothing to give but I want you to know that you have my prayers, my
thoughts, and what is left of my life. I will always be with you.

Your relative!

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Leonard Peltier

21 June 2005

21.August 1968: Philadelphia, Mississippi...

Never forget the Sacrifices of those who cleared the Road for us...

Mitakuye Oyasin

Mississippi Murders Revisited

James Chaney, 21, a black Mississippian from Meridian
Michael Schwerner, 24, a white New Yorker
Andrew Goodman, 20, a white New Yorker

Klansman Ray Killen is charged with the notorious murders of three civil rights workers in the American state of Mississippi in 1964.

The case against him has re-opened the history file on the circumstances of the killings and the tense period of the fight for civil rights that summer.

The killings of black Mississippian James Chaney and white New Yorkers Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman have remained etched in America's collective consciousness and formed the basis of the film Mississippi Burning made in 1998.

The three were participating in Freedom Summer 1964 - an effort by hundreds of colleges students from the North to help to educate and register blacks to vote in the South.

On Sunday 21 June 1964, the three were driving to Meridian, Mississippi, when they were allegedly stopped by Ku Klux Klansmen on an isolated road outside Philadelphia.

They were arrested and held in the local jail, accused of speeding while driving to investigate the ruins of a black church that had been firebombed.

They were then released and later ambushed.

Chaney, 21, was beaten to death, while Schwerner, 24, and Goodman, 20, were shot in the chest.

Their bodies were found several weeks later, buried in an earthen dam on a nearby farm, after one of the largest searches ever undertaken by the FBI.

The station wagon they were driving had been burned.

Summer of rights

Freedom Summer 1964 was an education and voter-registration movement organised by civil rights groups in an atmosphere of overt racial hatred.

About 1,000 people, many of them college students, went down to Mississippi and other southern states to register black voters and fight segregation.

That summer saw some 35 black churches burned or bombed, 1,000 organisers and volunteers arrested and many more beaten.

Rita Schwerner Bender - the then wife of Michael Schwerner - recalls the climate of terror in which she and her husband worked.

"These murders, other murders and church burnings didn't happen in a vacuum," she told Mississippi's Clarion Ledger newspaper in an interview five years ago.

"There was an atmosphere of frenzy created. I believe strongly that history has to be understood because if it isn't understood, it gets repeated."

It was the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four girls that inspired her and her husband to travel south and become part of the civil rights movement.

Many Mississippians were not happy to see outsiders telling them how to change and Ms Schwerner Bender said she often felt their hateful stares.

Howard Ball, the author of Murder in Mississippi: United States v Price and the Struggle for Civil Rights and a professor of political science at the University of Vermont, says Mr Schwerner was particularly targeted because he was a paid worker for the Congress of Racial Equality.

"The other two were killed simply because they were with Schwerner," he told the Associated Press news agency.

Many hope this and the other circumstances of the murders will be clarified in the new court case against Ray Killen.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/01/12 17:15:52 GMT


41 Years Later...

Justice is finally served! Killen was just now found guilty of three counts of manslaughter...


Mississippi Jury Debates Verdict
The case against a former Ku Klux Klan member accused of murder has gone to the jury after a week-long trial.

The judge at the trial in the Mississippi town of Philadelphia said the jury was split 6-6 at the end of the first day of deliberations.

A unanimous verdict is required to secure a conviction.

Defendant Edgar Ray Killen, now 80, denies taking any part in the killings of three young civil rights activists in Mississippi in 1964.

The killings formed the basis for the Hollywood film Mississippi Burning.

'Big mouth'

In their closing arguments on Monday, lawyers representing Mr Killen called for the acquittal of the former sawmill operator and part-time Baptist minister.

Lawyer James McIntyre said Mr Killen "may have been associated with the Klan" but had nothing to do with the killings and was not present at the scene of the shootings.

"He had a big mouth and he was talking all the time. That's all that he's guilty of," Mr McIntyre said.

However, prosecutors made an impassioned plea for a conviction, saying the victims' families had waited a long 41 years for justice.

"Because the guilt of Edgar Ray Killen is so clear, there is only one question left," prosecutor Mark Duncan said.

"Is a Neshoba County jury going to tell the rest of the world that we are not going to let Edgar Ray Killen get away with murder any more? Not one day more."

The activists were two white men from New York and a local black colleague, who were killed while campaigning for the registration of black voters.

Michael Schwerner, 24, Andy Goodman, 20, and James Chaney, 21, were abducted as they drove out of the Mississippi town. Their bodies were buried at a dam.

Mr Killen, who was a suspect in the original investigation but never convicted, was re-arrested after new evidence emerged.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/06/21 11:54:55 GMT


04 June 2005

A New Opportunity...

From Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (LPDC):

Attention Peltier Supporters! John Gallagher has provided us with a
good opportunity to voice our concerns about an apology that does not
include a substantive act of good faith.

John has provided the email addresses of those representatives leading this initiative. Please add your voice to John's and let the Committee know that an apology is empty so long as the Federal Government continues to imprison American Indians without cause or who have been proven innocent of their crimes. Doing so means that they have been denied their basic rights and freedoms just because they are Indians.

I think it would be worthwhile to add comments to
Senators Brownback & McCain, & Representative Jo Ann
Davis on congress.org that no apology is complete
while Leonard Peltier remains behind bars.
These messages can be publicly displayed.
Here are the links to those federal lawmakers.

John G

Senator Brownback (R-KS)

Senator McCain (R-AZ)

Representative Jo Ann Davis (R-VA)


Senators Weigh Indian Apology Resolution
The Associated Press
Wednesday 25 May 2005

Washington - Legislation that would offer a formal apology to American Indians for centuries of government mistreatment and neglect received a warm reception at a Senate committee hearing Wednesday.

Introduced last month by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., the resolution
would apologize for the "many instances of violence, maltreatment and
neglect inflicted on Native Peoples by citizens of the United States."
"While we cannot erase the record of our past, I am confident that we can acknowledge our past failures, express sincere regrets and work toward establishing a brighter future for all Americans," Brownback told the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

The resolution recounts the long history of government mistreatment of
American Indians, including forced relocation, the outlawing of
traditional religions and destruction of sacred sites.

Congress rarely apologizes for official government conduct. Exceptions
include a 1993 apology to native Hawaiians for the unlawful overthrow
of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and a 1988 apology to Japanese Americans placed in detention camps during World War II. Efforts to win an apology for slavery have failed to gain momentum in

Tex Hall, president of the National Congress of American Indians,
called the apology "a long time coming" and urged Congress to recognize ongoing problems in Indian relations with the U.S. government.

"Tribal leaders have cautioned that the apology will be meaningless if
it is not accompanied by actions that begin to correct the wrongs of
the past and the present," Hall said.

Edward Thomas, president of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida
Indian Tribes of Alaska, called the issue a distraction from the true
problems facing American Indians, such as what he called "Third World conditions" on reservations and the erosion of tribal rights.

Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., said he would help Brownback steer the resolution to the full Senate so it can be considered for a
vote. The committee passed the resolution last year, but the Senate
never acted on it. "Reviewing the history of this government's
treatment of native people's makes painfully obvious that the
government has repeatedly broken its promises and caused great harm to the nation's original inhabitants," McCain said.

A similar resolution has been introduced in the House by Rep. Jo Ann
Davis, R-Va.

A Lost Opportunity...

From Danielle Willmott, a fellow activist:

Ponca Chief Won't Appear on Nebraska State Quarter

Tribal members in Nebraska criticized Gov. Dave Heineman (R) on Wednesday for not picking Ponca Chief Standing Bear to appear on the state quarter.

'My heart is broken,' Donna Wendzillo, a member of the Ponca Tribe, told The Lincoln Journal Star.

Indian leaders had hoped Heineman would pick Standing Bear, whose landmark court case on behalf of Indian rights was celebrated just a few weeks ago. But instead the Republican chose Chimney Rock, a natural formation that symbolizes western expansion.

'I think this would have given an opportunity to make amends for the Manifest Destiny tragedies that befell our people,' Judi Morgan gaiashkibos, the director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, told the paper. She called Heineman's decision 'unconscionable' and an 'insult to Nebraska's first citizens.'

Mark Peniska, the chairman of the Ponca Tribe, questioned whether Heineman was under pressure not to choose a Native person. 'If it was just a political move, that would upset me,' he said.

Please send comments, otherwise he will never know how we feel.  I want this governor to know how we feel about this as Natives and non-Natives who are in support of Natives.  His intent on the quarter was to bring more visitors, so you might want to slip in that you will never go to that state as a result of his decision.  Email: http://gov.nol.org/mail/govmail.html

Brazil Kicks Microsoft to the Curb...

First China, now Brazil, seems like the herd is starting to get hip to Gates's games. It's just a manner of time before Europe gets wise...


Brazil Adopts Open-Source Software
By Steve Kingstone
BBC News, Sao Paulo

In Brazil's Ministry for Cities, staff are busily at work.

The scene is much like any other modern office: an open-plan work space crammed with desks, telephones and computers.

But there's one big difference. The word 'Microsoft' is nowhere in sight.

Instead, computers here now use the Linux operating system. It has many similar functions to Microsoft's Windows - but unlike Windows, it is available for free.

Increasingly, Brazil's government ministries and state-run enterprises are abandoning Windows in favour of 'open-source' or 'free' software, like Linux.

Money saving

"The number one reason for this change is economic," says Sergio Amadeu, who runs the government's National Institute for Information Technology.

He explains that, for every workstation, the government is currently paying Microsoft fees of around 1200 Brazilian reais ($500; £270).

"If you switch to open source software, you pay less in royalties to foreign companies," explains Amadeu. "And that can count for a lot in a country like Brazil, which still has a long way to develop in the IT sector."

Overall, the government reckons it could save around $120m a year by switching from Windows to open-source alternatives.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is studying a draft decree which, if approved, would make the change compulsory for federal departments.

Global development issue

For Mr da Silva, this is a vital development issue in a country where nine out of ten people have never used the internet.

Through tax breaks, his government is subsidising the sale of computers to low-income families. For as little as $550, paid in instalments, they can buy a basic machine which operates using open-source software.

"Open-source alternatives are a great opportunity for developing countries," says Jose Luiz de Cerqueira Cesar, head of IT at Banco do Brasil. "If computer users within a geographical region pool their expertise, they can develop software that is perfectly suited to their needs."

Mr Cerqueira Cesar is a leading light behind the newly-created "Global Organisation for Free Software," which has been set up by a broad coalition of Brazilian businesses and NGOs. More details are being released this week at an International Forum on Free Software, in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.

The aim of the new organisation is to encourage greater cooperation and the sharing of ideas among governments, businesses and individuals within the developing world.

On a smaller scale, that is already happening in Brazil, which has seen some ingenious attempts to span the so-called "digital divide" between the developed and developing worlds.

Computers in the favelas

One successful example is the "Recycling Goal" project, which extends computer technology into the shanty-towns or "favelas" on the outskirts of Sao Paulo.

"We have 80 computers here, all donated by Brazilian businesses," says the project organiser, Dalton Martins. Around him, children and teenagers from the Sacadura Cabral favela are tapping away on brightly-painted keyboards.

Dalton explains that open-source software is an essential to the project: partly because it drastically reduces costs; and partly because it can be modified to suit local needs.

"We use Linux," he says, "which means we've been able to customise the graphics and language content. Life has a special reality here, and we need to build technology that works for the community."

Dalton adds that Windows does not offer the same level of flexibility, because its source code - the raw material of a program or operating system - is kept secret.

Microsoft fights back

So what does Microsoft's founder, and the world's richest man, make of this challenge?

On the face of it, Bill Gates does not have much to worry about. More than 90% of the world's personal computers still use the Windows operating system.

But there are signs of nerves. In January, Mr Gates unsuccessfully sought a private meeting with President Lula at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

In a written statement, Microsoft's Brazil office told the BBC:

"We strongly believe that governments and computer users should be free to choose whichever software and other technology best meets their needs. But when all the costs and benefits are taken together, we think Microsoft offers the best value."

The statement adds that open-source software can entail hidden costs, for features over and above the basic operating package. Microsoft executives have also questioned the security of software whose source code is freely available.

To back up its value-for-money pledge, Microsoft recently launched a stripped-down, cheaper version of Windows XP in Brazil. And in April it announced a new credit deal for companies investing in Windows software, in partnership with Bradesco Bank.

But the corporation's battle with Brazil is only just beginning.

UN Battle

The government here has its eye on a UN summit on information technology, to take place in Tunisia in November.

Already, Brazilian diplomats are pushing for a final declaration that would stress the advantages of open-source software.

They have won the backing of India and are now canvassing broader support from the developing world.

"It would be wrong to portray this as a personal war against Bill Gates," cautions Mr Cerqueira Cesar.

"But I think free software will encourage Mr Gates to reinvent his business. The world of technology is opening up; there are hundreds of thousands of people working to improve free software. The old, closed model must adapt in order to survive."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/06/02 22:47:34 GMT


The Truth Is Revealed...

It ALWAYS comes out in the end... enit?


US Guantanamo Guard Kicked Koran
The US has given details of how guards mishandled copies of the Koran at its Guantanamo Bay prison, including a case of one copy being deliberately kicked.

It was part of an inquiry sparked by a magazine report, later retracted, that a Koran was flushed down a toilet.

The US listed five incidents of mishandling at the Cuban facility, including the splashing of urine and water on copies of the Koran.

The report said most of the cases were accidental or unintentional.

It also said that there were a number of cases where detainees had desecrated the Koran by ripping pages, urinating on it and trying to flush it down a toilet.

Water balloons

Brig Gen Jay Hood, commander at Guantanamo, said in his report: "We defined mishandling as touching, holding or the treatment of a Koran in a manner inconsistent with policy or procedure.

He confirmed that five of these alleged mishandling incidents by US guards did take place.

In one instance, a guard was said to have urinated near an air vent.

The wind allegedly blew his urine through the vent, soiling one detainee and his Koran.

According to the report, the guard was reprimanded and sanctioned, and the inmate was given a new uniform and Koran.

Other Korans became wet after night-shift guards had thrown balloons filled with water into a cell block, the report found.

In a third case, an interrogator reportedly apologised to a detainee after stepping on his Koran.

In a fourth incident, a soldier deliberately kicked Islam's holy book.

Finally, a prisoner found a "two-word obscenity" in English written in his copy of the Koran.

Gen Hood concluded that the words might have been written by a guard or by the detainee himself.

He said: "When one considers the many thousands of times detainees have been moved and cells have been searched since detention operations first began here in January 2002, I think one can only conclude that respect for detainee religious beliefs was embedded in the culture of [Guantanamo Bay's task force]."

Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita said there had also been 15 cases of "mishandling and outright desecration by detainees".

The report said these included "using the Koran as a pillow, ripping pages out of the Koran, attempting to flush a Koran down the toilet and urinating on the Koran".

'Lasting damage'

The earlier report in Newsweek magazine of the Koran being flushed down a toilet by guards had sparked protests across the Muslim world.

In Afghanistan, riots resulted in the deaths of at least 15 people.

Thousands rallied in Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Lebanon and Malaysia, demanding apologies from the US and punishment for those involved.

The magazine withdrew its story after saying it could no longer corroborate the report.

The inmate who made the original allegation about the Koran being flushed down the toilet had retracted it, said Gen Hood.

The White House rounded on the magazine, saying its report had done "lasting damage" to the US image in the Muslim world.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/06/04 06:16:22 GMT


01 June 2005

Strawberry Fields Are Not Forever...

This story brought tears to my eyes when I first saw on the BBC. I certainly do hope that someone saves and preserves the site for its historical and cultural value. Perhaps the British Government will step in to make it a national museum...


Strawberry Field Childcare Ends
Childcare provision at the famous Strawberry Field site in Liverpool ends this week after 69 years.

The decision to close the Beaconsfield Road children's home, which was immortalised in a song by The Beatles, was announced in January.

The Salvation Army said that the last of the children living there had now left and that childcare provision would end on Tuesday.

However, some administrative staff will stay at Strawberry Field until August.

The site in Woolton, Liverpool, was made famous when John Lennon wrote the song Strawberry Fields Forever after playing there as a child.

The building was saved from closure in 1984 by a cash donation from his widow Yoko Ono.

When The Salvation Army gave two years' notice in January that the home was closing, there were still three children living there.

Two of the children were placed in foster care earlier this year and the last child has now moved out, with the placement in the hands of Liverpool's social services.

The Christian charity said it was "now preferable for children to be cared for within a foster family or in a small group home, rather than within large residential institutions".

Marion Drew, of the Salvation Army in the North West, said they remained "committed to supporting children and families in Liverpool and across the United Kingdom".

She said there was still no official closing date for Strawberry Field and that nothing had been decided as to the site's future use.

Of the 26 staff, one member has been redeployed within the Salvation Army and eight are still seeking work.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/05/30 13:46:42 GMT


Fourth Place IS a Victory...

I predict that Danica will eventually take on Formula 1.
Look out boys!


Patrick Strikes Blow for Equality
Danica Patrick struck a blow for equality in a male-dominated sport when she came close to becoming the first woman to win the Indianapolis 500.

The 23-year-old American led Sunday's prestigious race before finishing fourth behind Dan Wheldon, the first British winner of the race since 1966.

Patrick, who dropped down to 16th at one point and survived a six-car crash, stressed the importance of her finish.

"I made a hell of a point for anybody. I came from the back twice," she said.

"I stalled it and went back to 16th. I can't believe that my car didn't get completely demolished because I got hit twice and spun it around."

Ken Ungar - senior vice-president of business affairs for the Indy Racing League, of which the Indy 500 is the centrepiece - said Patrick's performance would have a positive impact on the sport.

"What something like Danica's performance does is help us through the clutter," he said.

"There's now so many competing demands on the American consciousness, she, along with our other drivers, will help."

The 5ft 1in American, who drives for the Rahal Letterman team, began her senior racing career in Europe, when she competed in Formula Ford for Haywood Racing.

Patrick, who was team-mate to Briton Anthony Davidson, finished second to the current BAR Formula One test driver in the 2000 Formula Ford Festival, the highest-ever finish for an American in the event.

Her drive at Indy earned her the Rookie of the Year award.

Public interest in Patrick has also grown, with ABC television in America recording the best ratings for the Indy 500 in nearly a decade.

Story from BBC SPORT:

Published: 2005/05/31 10:52:42 GMT