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I have multiple names for today: When I'm feeling sorrowful, European Invaders' Day. When I'm feeling strong, Fight Back Against Colonialism Day. When I'm feeling sarcastic (which, admittedly, is most of the time), We Are Still Fuckin' HERE Day.
In that spirit, let me welcome you to today's special edition, covering recent examples of Indians fighting back against the continuing colonialism of the dominant culture. Some of the victories are small — incremental in both senses of the term. But "small" is often significant, and sometimes, the smallest of victories proves to be the turning point in the entire war.
We've covered many of these battles right here in recent months. But there are new developments in some of them, and they're all worth revisiting as part of a larger whole. Yes, there are also other Indian stories in the news this week, and many of them are not especially encouraging or pleasant. But what else is new? They'll keep for a week. Today, I think it's important to view some of these stories through this particular lens — that of an ongoing, 500+-year struggle to maintain our sovereignty, our cultures, our very existence — in the face of a relentless and powerful onslaught.
One caveat: As part of today's edition, I had planned to include a section on saving our children — from the trafficking, the theft, the cultural genocide that today is seeing a dangerous resurgence across the country, aided and abetted by no less than a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court.
But in the week when Dusten Brown, in the face of insurmountable odds, was forced to drop his fight to save his own daughter . . . I can't do it. At the moment, the trends are too bad, too dangerous, the deck stacked anew too thoroughly in the favor of the traffickers and thieves.
Genocide by other means.
The 7th annual National Congress of American Indians will be held this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Both the organization itself and the annual meeting of its delegates are known by the same name and the NCAI acronym.
Founded in 1944, the group describes itself as "the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities." The Preamble to the NCAI Constitution lists as part of its purpose:
In order to secure to ourselves and our descendants the rights and benefits the traditional laws of our people to which we are entitled to as sovereign nations[,]and it defines its purpose as follows:
to serve as a forum for unified policy development among tribal governments in order to: (1) protect and advance tribal governance and treaty rights; (2) promote the economic development and health and welfare in Indian and Alaska Native communities; and (3) educate the public toward a better understanding of Indian and Alaska Native tribes.
At the group's annual congress, it customarily invites a number of featured speakers from the federal government and the state in which that year's meeting is held. Invited guests this year include Attorney General Erick Holder (D); Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin (R), and Oklahoma Congressmen Tom Cole (R) and Markwayne Mullin (R). However, organizers are waiting to see whether Congressional Republicans' shutdown of the federal government will prevent Attorney General Holder and the Congressmen from attending. Mr. Holder's speech, in particular, is regarded as especially salient: It is intended to help to group mark the 50th anniversary of the keynote speech delivered before the NCAI in 1963 — by then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
Among other activities, the organization will choose a new president to lead the group in 2014, which will be its 70th-anniversary year. This year, there are four candidates: Brian Cladoosby, Swinomish Nation Tribal Chair; Joe A. Garcia, former governor and current tribal council member of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo and former NCAI president (2006-2009); Juana Majel-Dixon, member of the tribal council of the Pauma Band of Mission Indians ad current NCAI first vice-president; and George Tiger, Muscogee Creek Nation principal chief. Mr. Cladoosby has appeared in a Swinomish Nation story I covered earlier this year.
You can read Indian Country Today Media Network's interview with the four candidates here. Despite Mr. Cladoosby's record on environmental issues, there is a large part of me that believes that Ms. Majel-Dixon needs to lead the group in the coming year. She would be only the third woman president in NCAI history, and she's known as a warrior woman on issues like VAWA and sovereignty. If you've ever read anything I've written on Native issues, you'll know how important those two are — not merely to me personally, but to our very existence as Native peoples.
I've written several times about Wandering Medicine v. McCulloch, the Montana voting rights case currently wending its way through the federal court system — specifically, here, here, and here. The case was calendared for oral argument before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last Thursday, October 10th. At issue is whether the Voting Rights Act (which, of course, the SCOTUS gutted earlier this year) requires states to make voting as accessible to Indians on far-flung reservations as they do for non-Indian [in this case, white] voters in urban and suburban areas.
Mark Wandering Medicine is the lead plaintiff in the suit, which has grown to include four Montana tribes: the Assiniboine, his own Northern Cheyenne, the Crow, and the Gros Ventre. He's also the subject of a new profile by The Guardian.
It's a moving story. Unfortunately, it's not a new one. It's yet another in this country's tragic history of using American Indians and then attempting to throw them away.
But Mr. Wandering Medicine is a warrior, and he won't be consigned to the historical trash heap.
Now, when I call him a warrior, I mean that literally. He enlisted in the Marines and fought a six-year tour in VietNam, nearly losing a leg in an ambush. Upon returning home, he was — again, entirely predictably — denied the disability payments he was due.
For thirteen years.
So much for caring for wounded vets.
Now he is fighting once more, this time to overcome a century and a half of disenfranchisement and secure voting rights for his fellow Native Americans. He has barely voted over the past 40 years, not because he hasn't wanted to but because it has been too difficult. The only sure way to register to vote, he says, is to make a 157-mile round trip from his home to the nearest county seat.Did you catch that? In case you didn't, I'm going to lay it out for you. He's not saying the Indian voters go to the polls drunk. He's saying that when they go to the polls, they're subject to racist harassment, and when they respond, they're arrested and charged with disorderly conduct or public drunkenness. Because, you know, all Indians are drunks anyway, so who wouldn't believe it? Nobody who has control over who's locked up and who's not.
"We love our country, we do," he says forlornly, a brightly colored marines ball cap perched on his head, as he points out the dilapidated housing, broken-down trucks and stray dogs that characterise the streets of Lame Deer, the reservation's main population centre. "But when is our country going to love us back?"He and several other Native veterans finally realized the answer: It's not. They decided that it was time to join forces and fight back in a way that Montana's racist power structure would understand.
Tom Rodgers, the Blackfeet tribal member, lawyer, and Washington lobbyist who is bankrolling much of the litigation (and about whom I have written here), calls the lawsuit "spiritual"; "fate"; "poetry."
The poetry is evident, in fact, in the characters due to line up in front of the ninth nircuit nourt of appeals on 10 October. On one side is Wandering Medicine, whose great-grandfather helped rout George Armstrong Custer and the US 7th Cavalry at the Battle of Little Bighorn, 20 miles west of Lame Deer. And on the other is the elections clerk for Rosebud County, Geraldine Custer, whose husband is a direct descendant of the ill-fated general. The county seat, a speck of a town called Forsyth, is named for the general who oversaw the Indian massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in 1890.Poetry or no, what's required here is war, a fact that Tom Rodgers has had no difficulty grasping.
Eighteen months ago, Rodgers was outraged to learn that there was no money to provide a traditional funeral ceremony for a Northern Cheyenne member who had been killed by an IED in Afghanistan. Rodgers raised and delivered the money himself, only to become more outraged when other veterans in Lame Deer told him about the voting impasse.Which was, of course, a lie. Two lies, actually: She's not at all in favor of them for Indians; and she does have a say in the matter, but is punting in hopes that she won't have to give them that to which the law entitles them.
She'll have help from her defense lawyer. Sara Frankenstein is a local GOP operative (and perhaps unsurprisingly, a former beauty-pageant queen). She takes great pride in her work — indeed, she tells you so right in her official bio:
"[She] particularly enjoys defending public bodies from lawsuits brought by the ACLU and other 'civil rights' groups."Nice dog whistle there, with the scare quotes around the phrase civil rights. I'm glad you included them. Leaves absolutely no doubt about where you stand on civil rights. Real ones.
She also whines that it has nothing to do with voting rights, but with something she calls "convenience voting." A nice Republican neologism for something that doesn't exist.
The Indians back home in Montana see the state actors for exactly what they are. And they're continuing to fight.
If you want to help protect Native voting rights in some very active cases, you can contact Four Directions here.
More "This Week In American Indian News" & Latest Updates on Kossack Regional Meet-Up News Below the Frybead Thingey
Eleven days ago, the Washington Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community in its lawsuit against the Washington State Department of Ecology. At issue was the Department's so-called "Skagit Rule," enacted in 2006, which had "radically changed" the earlier rule, enacted in 2001 with assistance from area tribal nations, regulating minimum instream water flows to protect fish and the habitat generally.
In 2004, Skagit County sued Ecology challenging the 2001 Rule. Multiparty discussions ensued as the Swinomish and other tribes, water purveyors, and the State tried to resolve the County's complaints. Eventually, Ecology and the County settled the County's lawsuit without consulting any of the other parties to the negotiation. In return for Skagit County agreeing to drop its lawsuit, Ecology agreed to adopt the 2006 Rule Amendments.
"Reservations." The irony burns.
Tribal Chair Brian Cladoosby (who is a candidate for NCAI president, as noted above) has long been a staunch defender of Swinomish sovereignty, treaty rights, and the environment. This is not the only battle the tribe is currently fighting: I've written here about their suit against the Seattle suburb of Oak Harbor and three construction firms for attempting an ned run around tribal concerns on a road project — and then illegally disposing of remains of the Swinomish people's ancestors by giving it away as "free dirt."
"We would have preferred to work together to find a solution to everyone's water needs as we did prior to the original 2001 Rule," observed Cladoosby, "but, Ecology chose to go it alone with the County and we were left without any option other than calling the problems with the 2006 Rule amendments to the attention of a court. If we had not acted, the stream flows needed to support our diminishing salmon stocks would have been further impacted."The state's highest court agreed: It invalidated the amended rule on grounds that "it is inconsistent with the plain language of the statute and is inconsistent with the entire statutory scheme."
The Swinomish have long worked hard to fulfill their historical obligations as stewards of their ancestral lands and watersheds, a tradition that appears to be thriving under the leadership of Mr. Cladoosby:
Swinomish is also an important voice on environmental issues: recent local initiatives include restoring indigenous ownership and stewardship of Kiket Island, and restoring the shoreline and developing a park and native-plant garden on Swinomish Channel.Perhaps most important is the tack that the Swinomish take in resolving such problems. In keeping with many Native traditions, they begin with a collaborative approach, working to achieve consensus for the best result. When that fails, however, they've shown no hesitation about playing hardball — in the courts, and in the public sphere. Today, that's the approach that gets results.
And in the face of the growing environmental and existential threats to Indian Country, it's an approach that would make me very comfortable with Mr. Cladoosby at the helm of the NCAI during its 70th-anniversary year.
As noted last week, the Oneida Indian Nation has been in the forefront of the immediate movement. Led by Tribal Chair Ray Halbritter, they've launched ChangetheMascot.org, a social media campaign designed to pressure the Washington team to do the right thing and divest itself of its pernicious racism. They've staged protests outside Washington NFL games, both at home and on the road. They organized a symposium in Georgetown last week to coincide with the NFL owners' meeting, intended to put pressure on racist Washington team owner Dan Snyder (and, by extension, the owners of all other major-league sports teams with racist mascots). As a result of that symposium and the media attention it garnered, the National Football League has now agreed to meet with representatives of the Oneida Indian Nation by November at the latest. It's a small step, but a step nonetheless.
Meanwhile, as also noted last week, President Obama came out in favor of changing the name. And, as Meteor Blades noted in his subsequent diary, FOX News promptly trotted out Lanny Davis [
Indian groups are not, however, limiting their focus to the Washington [Redacted]. Also in their sights is another racist mascot, Major League Baseball's Cleveland "Indians" and "Chief Wahoo." Reviving an old poster, the NCAI launched a parallel campaign this week, complete with graphic visual aids, as shown in the recent diary by Charles CurtisStanley. [Yes, I know the Cleveland team's current uniforms do not include the appliqué of "Chief Wahoo." The gear with that nasty bit of redface is still for sale and in widespread use, and the team name is itself racist. So, your point?]
The ChangetheMascot.org campaign has spawned a groundswell of support among tribes and Native groups across the country. The Minnesota chapter of the American Indian Movement [AIM] has taken up the mantle for sporting events in its state.
A letter co-written by representatives of the Minneapolis-based American Indian Movement asks the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) to refrain from printing or broadcasting the Redskins’ name or logo within the Metrodome during the team’s Nov. 7 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. Doing so within a publicly owned facility, they reasoned, violates federal labor laws, hate-speech protections and the civil rights of American Indians.The group also plans a protest outside the stadium during the game.
In the meantime, numerous non-Indians have stepped up to tell us how completely un-racist the mascots are, how they're honoring us, how we're "oversensitive" and "looking to be offended," and how it's not a real issue. Here on this site, in every single diary about these issues, including the most recent by Meteor Blades, covering white ESPN sports pundit Rick Reilly's defamatory lies about the position of his father-in-law, Blackfeet elder Bob Burns. As the diary makes clear, Reilly did not simply make an error in quoting his father-in-law; he changed the man's words outright to pretend that bios opinion is the opposite of what it really is [hint: Mr. Burns hates the Washington NFL team's mascot, and thinks it should have been changed long ago.]
Reilly is not the only caught in a lie on this issue this week, either. Washington team owner and ardent racist Dan Snyder was busted attempting to use a Pine Ridge Indian Reservation school to buttress his smoke-blowing about how the mascot "honors" Indians. In a truly disgusting bit of racism, Snyder attempted to invert reality by issuing a letter telling Indians that we need to "respect" what the racist mascot means to the team and the fans. Sort of like how people of color need to respect the "culture" of white sheets and hoods.
And, predictably, he overplayed his hand.
He cited the Red Cloud Athletic Fund, of the Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation, as endorsing the use of the racist mascot.
As an organization, Red Cloud Indian School has never—and will never—endorse the use of the name “Redskins.” Like many Native American organizations across the country, members of our staff and extended community find the name offensive. Although we were encouraged to hear that National Football League representatives met with the Oneida Nation to discuss the name’s derogatory nature, more must be done. We call on Dan Snyder and managers to engage in further discussion with Native groups across the country and, ultimately, to move toward changing the name, once and for all.Boom.
It will take time. It's a battle that's been ongoing for some 40 years already. Suzan Shown Harjo bears the scars. And still she fights. [And just for the record, the sense of personal invasion she recounts? We've all been there. Colonizers aren't deterred in the slightest by the boundaries of our very bodies.]
The victory may be left to those who outlive Snyder. But it will happen. Across the NFL, MLB, the NHL, the NCAA, and countless K-12 schools across the nation.
Because our images and our identities are not up for colonization anymore.
Let's build communities!
Every region needs a meatspace community like SFKossacks.
We take care of each other in real life.
I urge YOU to take the lead and organize one in your region.
Please tell us about it if you do and we're here for advice.
THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY
NEW GROUPS IN THE PROCESS OF ORGANIZING:These are the groups that have started since * NEW DAY * began. Please Kosmail navajo if you have started a group before that.
Send a Kosmail to the organizers and ask for an invitation to the group.• Northern Indiana Area: Kosmail Tim Delaney
• Long Island: Kosmail grannycarol
• Northern Michigan: Kosmail JillS
• Nebraska: Kosmail Nebraska68847Dem
• Westburbia Chicago Kossacks: Kosmail Majordomo
• New York Hudson Valley Kossacks: Kosmail boran2
• North Carolina Triangle Kossacks: Kosmail highacidity
• Caprock Kossacks (Panhandle/Caprock/Lubbock/Amarillo area) : Kosmail shesaid
• West Texas Kossacks (including Big Bend Region and El Paso) : Kosmail Yo BubbaNote to the above new leaders: Feel free to leave a comment any day reminding readers about your new group. Also, tell us about your progress in gathering members. Kosmail me when you've chosen a good name for your group and have created a the group. Then I'll move you to the NEW GROUPS LIST. When you've planned a date for your first event I'll make a banner for you to highlight your event in our diaries and your diaries.
NEW GROUPS LIST:
• Kansas City Kossacks - Formed Oct 15, 2012, Organizer: [Founder stepped down]
ESTABLISHED GROUPS LIST: (List will grow as we discover them)
Saturday, October 19th
Los Angeles Kossacks Dine at Saladang Song Again
TIME: 2:00 PM
LOCATION: Saladang Song
383 S Fair Oaks Ave • Pasadena
ORGANIZER: Send Dave in Northridge a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: LA Kossacks: Meetup: October 19, 2:00 PM, Pasadena, Saladang Song
1. Dave in Northridge
Saturday, October 19th
DKos Asheville Kossacks Meet-up
TIME: 1:00 PM
LOCATION: The Bywater
796 Riverside Dr. • Asheville
ORGANIZER: Send randallt a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: DKos Asheville - Weekly Open Thread
7. Sandy on Signal
8. Mr Sandy on Signal
11. Mr Alecia
14. Otteray Scribe
15. Burns Lass
people power granny
One Pissed Off Liberal
Christian Dem in NC
Phil S 33
Sunday, October 20th
MEGA Philly/NJ/NYC Kossacks Meet-up!
LOCATION: Stuff Yer Face
49 Easton Avenue • New Brunswick, NJ
ORGANIZER: Send mconvente a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: Philly/NJ/NYC Mega Meetup! Additional Call for People Interested in Attending!
2. belinda ridgewood
11. blue jersey mom
13. Rogneid + husband
aravir and son
Friday, October 25th
LAKossacks & SoCal Inland Empire See Lewis Black!
TIME: 9:00 PM
LOCATION: Agua Caliente Casino Resort & Spa
32-250 Bob Hope Dr. • Rancho Mirage
ORGANIZER: Send 714day a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: L.A. Kossacks, Lewis Black Fans in So Cal
Friday, October 25th
Meet the Daily Kos Editorial Staff!
TIME: 6:00 PM
LOCATION: Daily Kos HQ
Address given privately to RSVP'ers • Berkeley
ORGANIZER: Send navajo a kosmail to attend.
You will need to bring Potluck.
HQ will be providing the main course; Salvadoran pupusas queso y loroco, (thick corn masa tortilla stuffed with cheese & Salvadoran vegetables and served with curtido & salsa) tamales de sal, (chicken tamales with potato & gravy steamed in plantain leaves) tamales de elote, (white ground corn served steamed) fried yucca and plantain.
Please volunteer for beverages & side dishes needed below.
- POTLUCK SIGNUP -
20 bottles of wine [11 down, 9 to go]
16 six-packs of beer [5 down, 11 to go]
8 six-packs soft drinks [1 down, 7 to go]
6 six-packs bottles of water [6 complete]
5 appetizers, anything goes here. Whatcha' got? [3 down, 2 to go]
4 green salads needed, each to feed 10 [4 complete]
3 black bean side dishes needed, each to feed 10 (need Salvadoran inspiration?)
3 rice side dishes needed, each to feed 10 (need Salvadoran inspiration?)
6 desserts, a dozen hand-held desserts each [5 down, 1 to go]
ANNOUNCING: A Carved Pumpkin Contest with 1st, 2nd and 3rd Prizes. Feel free (or not) to bring an already carved pumpkin complete with candle. They will be placed on the tables for decoration and then voted on by attendees. Remember, a PRE-carved pumpkin.
2. Susan Gardner
3. Meteor Blades
4. Joan McCarter
6. Faith Gardner
7. Will Rockafellow
8. Jen Hayden
9. Paul Hogarth
10. Chris Bowers
11. Rachel Colyer
12. Michael Langenmayr
13. Jason Libsch
17. navajo + large ice chest with ice + 4 bottles of red wine
18. Lusty + dessert
19. side pocket + two 6pks beer + 2 wines + stuffed mushrooms appetizer
20. paradise50 + two 6pks beer
21. smileycreek + 2 wines
22. citisven + beer + beet dip
23. norm + pumpkin bars
24. Lorikeet + big bowl of fruit
25. kimoconnor + appetizer
26. remembrance and TLO + 1 wine
27. Glen the Plumber + Pasta Mystery Dish
29. dharmasyd + brownies
30. ceebee7 + green salad
32. Dave in Northridge + 2 bottles of wine
34. LinSea + six 6pks of bottled water
38. justiceputnam + grilled balsamic veggies
40. exlrrp + souvenirs ;) !
41. shanikka + salad
44. jpmassar + dessert
45. PatG + dessert
46. LaughingPlanet + one 6pk of juice drinks
Saturday, October 26th
Drinks and Dinner at Lefty O'Doul's
TIME: 5:00 PM
LOCATION: Lefty O'Doul's
333 Geary St • San Francisco near Union Square
ORGANIZER: Send navajo a kosmail to attend.
6. Glen the Plumber
9. Dave in Northridge
Saturday, October 26th
New England Kossacks Meet-up
TIME: 10:30 AM
40 Washington Avenue • Portland, ME
ORGANIZER: Send nhox42 a kosmail to attend.
Latest diary: C+J Kossack Fall Meetup (Updated 9/25/13)
3. Portia Elm (a potential mileage winner!)
6. Bill in Portland Maine
7. Common Sense Mainer
15. Jane in Maine
SFKossacks BBQ in the Wine Country
We will also be honoring Día de los Muertos with an altar, feel free to bring something to place there.
ORGANIZER: Send navajo a kosmail to attend.
1. Andrew McGuire
6. Hunter/elfling offspring
14. Mr. dksbook
17. side pocket
18. Mrs. side pocket
20. ceebee7's sister
21. leema (will carpool from Marin)
22. Meteor Blades
23. Glen The Plumber
Send navajo a kosmail if you post a diary about an event so we can update our round-up.
Okay. Floor's open.
Tell us what you are doing on this NEW DAY?