Monday, December 07, 2009
I prefer the term American Indian; here are a few other opinions:
Author Steve Hendricks, whose book The Unquiet Grave: The FBI and the Struggle for the Soul of Indian Country I recently read, wrote in the book's afterword, "I use the term American Indian rather than the alternatives - Native American, indigine, aborigine, and so on - because it is the word most Indian of the Plains use to describe themselves, because it is simple, euphonious, and familiar to non-Indians, and because although its origins are disputed (possibly it was a mistaken reference to the people of India, possibly it was a reference to people 'of God,' or in dios), it is in any case not derogative in origin. The National Congress of American Indians, the American Indian College Fund, the American Indian Movement, Indian Country Today, News from Indian Country, and many other organizations run by and for Indians see no reason to stop using the word. Nor do I."
Russell Means, an Oglala Lakota Sioux and one of the founders of the American Indian Movement, certainly the most militant of Indian groups, states, "I abhor the term Native American. It is a generic government term used to describe all the indigenous prisoners of the United States. These are the American Samoans, the Micronesians, the Aleuts, the original Hawaiians, and the erroneously termed Eskimos, who are actually Upiks and Inupiats. And, of course, the American Indian. I prefer the term American Indian because I know its origins . . . As an added distinction the American Indian is the only ethnic group in the United States with the American before our ethnicity . . . We were enslaved as American Indians, we were colonized as American Indians, and we will gain our freedom as American Indians, and then we will call ourselves any damn thing we choose."
And Christina Berry, a Cherokee writer and producer of the website All Things Cherokee, says:
"In the end, the term you choose to use (as an Indian or non-Indian) is your own personal choice. Very few Indians that I know care either way. The recommended method is to refer to a person by their tribe, if that information is known. The reason is that the Native peoples of North America are incredibly diverse. It would be like referring both a Romanian and an Irishman as European. . . . Whenever possible an Indian would prefer to be called a Cherokee or a Lakota or whichever tribe they belong to. This shows respect because not only are you sensitive to the fact that the terms Indian, American Indian, and Native American are an over simplification of a diverse ethnicity, but you also show that you listened when they told what tribe they belonged to. When you don't know the specific tribe simply use the term which you are most comfortable using. The worst that can happen is that someone might correct you and open the door for a thoughtful debate on the subject of political correctness and its impact on ethnic identity. What matters in the long run is not which term is used but the intention with which it is used."
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
November is National American Indian Heritage Month. I doubt a lot of people know that. In November of this year, November 5, in fact, representatives of the 564 federally recognized Indian tribes, at the invitation of President Obama, will converge on Washington, DC, for the White House Tribal Nations Conference to be held at the Department of the Interior (the White House isn't large enough to accomodate the expected crowd). This is part of Obama's plan, and promise, to address the concerns of Native Americans. The president says he wants to hear directly from tribal leaders about how his administration can meet their needs and help make their lives better. Many Native Americans suffer higher rates of crime and poorer health than the rest of the population. Many tribal leaders hope this will not be just a huge gripe session, but rather a coordinated, meaningful meeting that will produce results. I think this President will listen, and get something done. We'll see how it goes.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
I have been anxiously awaiting the release of THIS book (see editorial review for a good summary). I have been intrigued by Pat Tillman's life journey for quite a while, and one of my favorite authors now tells Tillman's story. I have a lot of questions, and I hope this book will answer them.
Friday, September 04, 2009
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
May 1969. With a friend I enter the Kinetic Playground in Chicago where we are to see the Who in concert. The opening act is a group called Joe Cocker and the Grease Band. I had never heard of them. We take our seats, which are actually not seats because everyone sits on the floor. So, Joe and the Grease Band come out and start to play and . . . Whoa. They knocked everybody out. These guys, Englishmen, were quite good, especially Joe, with his spastic moves and guttural bellowing of songs. That band left a lasting impression on me.
Fast forward to a few months later, August 1969. I'm looking over the front page of the New York Times at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. I'm in the second week of basic training in the Army. The photo in the paper shows the masses at the music festival at Woodstock. I didn't know it then but Joe Cocker and the Grease Band had played at Woodstock and had made an indelible mark in rock music history.
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Woodstock this weekend, I will watch my DVD of the Woodstock movie and once again be mesmerized by Joe and the Grease Band's version of the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends." Watch it above. Starts slowly, then roars. Knocks me out.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
THIS article is a sad commentary on gang problems on American Indian reservations, while THIS article is specifically about the Pine Ridge reservation.
Vic Glover, a Vietnam vet (combat medic), journalist, and Pine Ridge resident, has written a series of short essays on life on the reservation entitled "Keeping Heart on Pine Ridge." From his book:
"People out there in the American world don't know how pitiful America's First Citizens really are....They don't know that 67 percent of the population here lives in third-world poverty, and half the people over forty-five suffer from diabetes. People don't seem to know or care that there is more than 85 percent unemployment and an incredible rate of alcoholism and dysfunction, infant mortality, and teenage suicide. The enormity of the problems are as staggering as America's neglect. Like a stake in the heart....When America is having a hard time, life then becomes especially difficult for many of her native people....We rely on each other, get by and keep the fire lit."
And THIS site details the story of troubled Pine Ridge youth. No wonder there is so much despair.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
While on Old Grunter, Buddy managed to shake hands with Kennedy and Johnson during the parade. Also on Inauguration Day, Buddy rode Grunter up the steps of the Capitol Building.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Look closely at this, especially the segment that starts in about the middle of the video: a lame buffalo calf and its irritated mom tell the story; a result of the hazing. You would think that descendants of the wild buffalo that fed, clothed, and sheltered Native Americans, pioneers, soldiers, railroad workers, and countless others in the settlement of America would get a little slack today. They're aren't a lot of wild buffalo left in the country, and these particular buffalo are a special lot. The buffalo here have wandered out of the park boundary and onto the Horse Butte peninsula near West Yellowstone, a favorite area for them in the spring, especially for the births of new buffalo. The "cowboys" of the Montana Department of Livestock are hazing not only buffalo, but also any other wildlife in the area as they are pushed back onto park land. The cowboys are on private property where there are signs posted by residents stating that the area is a welcome zone for buffalo. If left to their natural tendencies, the buffalo would wander back to the park, but the threat of brucellosis, a disease that buffalo can transmit to cattle, is a powerful tool that livestock growers use to protect their cattle grazing interests. HOWEVER, there are NO cattle in this area when this hazing happens every spring, and there has not been a single case of brucellosis transmsitted to cattle by buffalo. In fact, the brucellosis that infects some of the Yellowstone bison was passed on to them by cattle. I am a staunch supporter of The Buffalo Field Campaign, which shot this video. They and many others out West are doing their best to try to stop the hazing, but the political choke hold of the cattle ranching industry is strong. It's a shame that the magnificent buffalo herd is treated like common livestock, not the wildlife that are admired by so many Yellowstone visitors and buffalo lovers from afar, like me. As I was preparing this, a press release by the Buffalo Field Campaign came out:
"June 17. Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) agents captured three bull bison this morning in the Duck Creek bison trap located on private land less than 200 yards from the western border of Yellowstone National Park. The bison were loaded onto a livestock trailer and shipped to a slaughterhouse. They had been grazing peacefully near the Park border for the past several weeks on and around National Forest lands purchased for wildlife habitat."
Friday, June 12, 2009
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Monday, June 01, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Top photo: Taken a few days after the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, this is the scene of the mass burial trench of the Indian victims. Bottom photo: The burial scene today. Buddy's grave (inset photo) is just to the left of the 1890 memorial marker in the middle center of photo.
One of the Indian bunkers during the siege of Wounded Knee in 1973. In the left background can be seen the memorial marker for the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre. The church in the background was burned to the ground by unknown persons shortly after the siege ended. Some say it was destroyed to spare tourists the sight of bullet holes in the building's siding.
While reading about South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation and its historic village of Wounded Knee, where about 300 Indians (many of them women, children, and elderly) were massacred by US. cavalrymen in December 1890, I came across a reference to the fate of a modern-day warrior.
Buddy Lamont, a 31-year-old Oglala Lakota (Sioux tribe) Indian and a Vietnam veteran, joined other Native Americans in the takeover of the village of Wounded Knee in South Dakota in 1973. The corruption of the local tribal government combined with the extreme poverty on the reservation had boiled over into a confrontation that turned ugly and forced the FBI and U.S. marshals to lay siege to the town as the Indians dug in to hold their position. Buddy was not a member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), but when his people called in AIM members for help, Buddy was ready for whatever came. Many, including Buddy, were armed because the local leader and his GOONs (Guardians of the Oglala Nation) at times used extreme violence.
Buddy, an easygoing, popular, well-repected member of his tribe, was shot through the heart by an FBI sharpshooter from long range when he vacated a bunker that had been tear gassed. The firefight was so intense that medics could not get to Buddy for two hours; he probably died almost instantly.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
A member of the Blood gang at the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre mass grave site on the hill above town. Wounded Knee is the site of frequent gang violence.
Pine Ridge Reservation visitors are greeted by some of the tribe's buffalo. There was great joy at the Reservation in 2004 when yearling buffalo were released to live on Indian land.
To get an idea of the conditions on the reservation by one who was there, take time to read THIS.
By far the best collection of photos I've seen of the life of many residents on the Pine Ridge Reservation is HERE (click Photo Galleries I, then click Pine Ridge and click on individual photos at bottom). Haunting images.
PINE RIDGE RESERVATION STATISTICS
Unemployment rate of 80-90%
Per capita income of $4,000
8 Times the United States rate of diabetes
5 Times the United States rate of cervical cancer
Twice the rate of heart disease
8 Times the United States rate of Tuberculosis
Alcoholism rate estimated as high as 80%
1 in 4 infants born with fetal alcohol syndrome or effects
Suicide rate more than twice the national rate
Teen suicide rate 4 times the national rate
Infant mortality is three times the national rate
Life expectancy on Pine Ridge is the lowest in the United States and the 2nd lowest in the Western Hemisphere. Only Haiti has a lower rate.
Friday, May 15, 2009
After viewing "Wounded Knee," the final installment of the PBS series "We Shall Remain," I have become immersed in Wounded Knee and the history of its people. In short, horrible living conditions for most of the district's residents, part of the vast Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The Obama Adminstration's proposed 2010 budget calls for the following gravely needed funds for Native Americans of our nation:
$4 billion for Indian Health Services, a 13 percent increase over 2009 and the largest increase in 20 years. The money would be used to contract with health providers on reservation land, raise money for urban health centers that primarily treat Native Americans, and help build health facilities in Alaska, Arizona and South Dakota.
$304 million for public safety funding - a 12 percent increase - through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The money would expand police presence on reservations, refurbish crumbling tribal jails and improve court services.
Almost $800 million for Bureau of Indian Affairs education programs - an 11 percent increase. Some of the money would pay for public schools, tribal colleges and scholarships for Native American students.
I'll soon show through photos and text just how bad conditions are at Wounded Knee. It will be a feeble attempt, but I hope to give you some idea of the plight of the people there.
Friday, May 08, 2009
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
This is pathetic; the worst kind of hunting. "Wild" buffalo, indeed. The "hunt" took place HERE. Yeah, we really have a lot of roaming, wild big game in the Illinois cornfields. Manufactured hunting at its best. Viking devoured by a Chicago Bear? Justice.
Friday, May 01, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
From a taxidermy business web site: hunting for sport - not a necessity
Seeing videos of hunters gunning down buffalo at Yellowstone during during the winter of 2007-2008 was an event that got me to wondering even more about hunters and why they shoot animals. I also have a couple of friends who are hunters, one of whom says he feels closer to nature when hunting, like when he bagged moose in Canada (Geez, can't you just observe wildlife and appreciate nature?). Anyway, this moose slayer referred to the book Heartsblood: Hunting, Spirituality, and Wildness in America by David Petersen. I now own a copy and have been poring through its pages. This is an enlightening read for me, and though only about a third of the way through the book, I have some new perspectives on hunters and anti-hunters (myself the latter). Maybe by the time I finish reading Heartsblood I will understand better why grown men act like little kids when gunning down wildlife on hunting programs such as those on ESPN. More on this later.