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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A BLACK HILLS FOOTNOTE 

Hey Jack Random,

Reading your post "The Wounds from Wounded Knee" (http://www.counterpunch.org/random02262005.html), I thought you might like to know a small footnote in the Paha Sapa/Black Hills story. Once upon a university...

Back in 1988-89 i was t.a.-ing a big intro. anthropology class at Tufts (near Boston), and the department received a letter out of the blue. Eventually they handed it to me: introducing Phil Stevens, nuclear engineer and Indian Chief, ready to make a presentation on the pending Bradley Bill (U.S. Senate) and the Black Hills mineral rights. No fee, and he would pay for his own plane fare and room at the Marriott. Interested?

At the same time it happened that I was advising an undergrad anthro. student at Harvard: Judy Rabinowitz, daughter of a progressive judge and with Native American heritage herself. Judy, check out this letter, who is this guy in the fancy dance outfit? She sent me to the Harvard American Indian Law Students Association, in the person of Steve Emery. Steve said, yeah we know the guy, he's a shill trying to sell out the sacred lands, but go ahead and invite him, then say there will also be a student presentation, and our group will invite a speaker from the other side, Mr. Gerald Clifford of the Oglala-Lakhota Black Hills Steering Committee. But hey, it's gonna cost something to fly Gerald here, how can we raise the money? I suggested a benefit concert, and Steve said he could sing and play Hokha Wichasha (Lakhota music), let's try. So we rented a church hall in Harvard Square for 80 bucks and I postered all around, advertising Steve paired with Nurudafina, a good friend of mine who plays and teaches Afrocuban rumba in the Boston area. Sliding scale. About 10 paying customers showed up, and we ended the evening dancing in a circle with Gerald. (I have a tape, and man, Steve can sing, and talk too.) When everyone left, the hat contained about 80 bucks; I gave the whole thing to Steve (and defaulted on the church--they didn't fuss too much). Steve suggested we should keep a video record of the forum the next day, and one of the non-paying customers promised to bring a video camera. I borrowed another handycam from a classmate just in case.

Three nights later at Tufts, the department had reserved the main hall in the diplomacy school, and when our team arrived, there in the front row sat Dr. Jean Mayer (college president, Republican, now late) and some "cigar store" stereotype in red makeup and the full Hollywood regalia. I introduced Stevens to the audience (mostly comprising the students in that intro. class), then announced a cultural presentation before the Chief's special talk and slide show.

Steve took the stage with a big drum in hand.

"Before we begin, everyone stand for the Lakhota National Anthem..."

Wow, with the first notes everybody's hair was already on end.

He followed right up with a welcome song to Gerald, but before handing over the stage, said he had a short folk story: about the Duck People. One day, the Fox came by and told them he had a new drum to play, but in order to dance to it you have to close your eyes. So they did, but as each dancing Duck Person passed the Fox, he'd grab it by the neck and stuff it into his gunny sack. Then the next one and the next one until... as Steve illustrated Fox's actions, each time he'd swing his big right arm a little closer to Stevens' delicately coiffed head. ...until a little Baby Duck disobeyed the rules and opened up his eyes. Hey everyone, the Fox is killing all of us! So they chased the fox away. Don't dance with your eyes closed.

Then Gerald Clifford gave a basic intro to law and politics on the res, and described how Stevens was not the first outsider to tell different stories depending on who was listening, or to throw around lots of cash to rig the votes and sell off resources like uranium.

Lastly Stevens got up, his voice not so firm as before, and ran through a slick slide show: self-promotion, Stars & Stripes, nukes for energy independence from those Arab Sheikhs, blah blah blah, but his heart wasn't in it for sure.

With the last slide, questions please? The hall erupted in recriminations, accusations, and order rapidly broke down, class dismissed. One student (fellow Italo-American, sad to say) stands up and calls me a damn commie. I reply that at least I'm no Bluecoat like Stevens. Mayer hustles Stevens out of the room. The End (almost). Not bad educational value for one evening, total cost 80 bucks, not a dime from the university. Some nice term papers came out of it too, if I remember.

Epilogue: theory meets praxis. One of the two videos (not mine) came out pretty good and Steve arranged for it to be seen in Rosebud and elsewhere back home. Stevens' cover is thereby blown and his anti-Bradley operation fades away. Probably more to that part of the story, but anyway there was feedback/blowback/other unintended consequences from the p.r. job. Not that anyone had been dancing with their eyes closed...

Next spring, Steve Emery graduated and drove his van back west. I heard from him indirectly once or twice before disappearing into my dissertation (on Southern Nigerian languages). Years later while browsing in a 1960's photo book about Lakhota culture, Steve's Picture jumps off the page: a skinny teenager, caption: "well known, up and coming singer" or words to that effect. No kidding.

Just a small footnote in a very long story.

Best regards,

Victor Manfredi

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

United Native America on Ward Churchill 

United Native America
02, 27, 05
American Indian Professor Ward Churchill
On to Wisconsin UV Whitewater

Mike Graham founder of United Native America, attended professor Ward Churchill's speaking event at the University of Hawaii on February 22, 2005. His group was invited by faculty members sponsoring Ward Churchill.

The Honolulu Star Bulletin newspaper stated in their report that Professor Ward Churchill said he was not Native American, this was a misquote of what Churchill actually said. Graham having a front row seat at the Churchill event states what Churchill did say, Churchill said I'm not Native American "I'm Indian. "

A retraction is being issued from the Star Bulletin newspaper concerning their misquote of Ward Churchill. United Native America is outraged over the way some national media people are reporting on the Churchill issue. Ann Coulter a talking head reporter for the Republican Party and Bill O'Reilly are attacking the American Indian community in their zealous attempt to have Churchill fired.

Ann Coulter press release "The Little Injun That Could" stated that "Churchill should pack up his teepee and hit the trail of tears." Ann Coulter's statement clearly dehumanizes the loss of lives of over five thousand Indian men, women and children! The trail of tears is just one of many hundreds of  9-11's Indians had to endure because of U.S.  Policy's against their race.

Ann Coulter in her report "Not Crazy Horse Just Crazy" attacked Ward Churchill over his comments of comparing Indian reservations to the equivalent of Nazi concentration camps. Ann Coulter fired back at him by stating "I forgot Auschwitz had a casino." This statement by Ann Coulter goes to the heart of the Republican party's stand against Indians economic well being. Republican party members across our country use every tactic at their disposal to hinder or stop legislation that would bring economic relief to the Indian community. Ann Coulter is obviously uneducated and oblivious to true documented history of Indians in America.

Bill O'Reilly attacks Ward Churchill by trying to link Indian nations with casino's to Wisconsin's Democrat Governor Jim Doyle for his silence on the issue of  professor Ward Churchill. Bill O'Reilly had former republican Wisconsin Governor Scott McCallum on his fox News TV show this past week trying to connect the dots that Indian casino money played a major role in electing Jim Doyle as state governor. Former governor Scott McCullum told Bill O'Reilly that he was also offered money from state Indian tribes as was Jim Doyle, the tribes money was offered at the end of the election and really played no part in who won the governor's race.

Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter and the republican party need to get off the Indians back! Bill O'Reilly's infamous words are, "the buck stops here, the no spin zone" It's obvious that O'Reilly, Ann Coulter and the republican party are very worried about how many bucks Indian's are making today and how their spending their money. Their riding across America acting like Custer, warning the American people that the Indian's are coming. Their heads are spinning faster than Linda Blaire in the Exorcist.

It's true American history that Indians endured a for real holocaust over U.S. policy against them. Indians in America today stand united with all Americans in defending their true homeland against foreign and domestic enemies. The manor in how America came about as we know it today concerning Indians should never happen again in mans history. Today all Americans are in the same boat in defending our country. 

Ann Coulter web page:
http://www.anncoulter.org/cgi-local/archives.cgi

United Native America web site:
http://www.unitednativeamerica.com/main.html

Mike L. Graham, member Oklahoma Cherokee Nation
Founder United Native America
www.UnitedNativeAmerica.com

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Re: Wounded Knee 

Sir,
I read with interest your article posted in Counterpunch, as well as your exchange with Mr. Brook. Mr. Brook sounds a little like the type of person who sits in the audience of a daytime TV talk show and becomes foam-at-the-mouth angry at whatever topic is under discussion.
This is our land. Period. Far as I know there's no statute of limitations on genocide. Like you, I wonder when a crime is no longer a crime. I sometimes make the analogy of a car thief giving a stolen car to his son. Does that make it no longer stolen ? Should the victim then cease legal address because the original malefactor is no longer in posession of the stolen property ?
I entertain no serious belief that the non-Indians are gonna pack their bags and head back to Europe-Asia-wherever, but I certainly do support our people in their struggles everywhere. I take so much pride in my race that I refuse to cite statistics of victimhood, it makes me feel helpless.
With that said, I resent people making " Get over it" statements. Mr. Brook has no sympathy for my people, that's fine. I haven't asked for it and don't expect it. But it's very annoying to hear the horrors of colonialism reduced to "Get over it".
Regards,
Joe Osorio
Quechan
Oakland

[Editor's Note: The CounterPunch article was posted 2/26/05; the exchange with Mr. Brook is posted below.]

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