Friday, June 30, 2006


Inured to Indigecide

Today's post by Mona El-Farra (From Gaza) is perhaps not so different from those one can read from Riverbend at Baghdad Burning--electricity and water knocked out, daily trauma of bombing and gunfire, loss of sleep--and were it not for Mona's position as a physician at a Red Crescent hospital, these accounts from the occupied territories of Palestine and Iraq might seem indistinguishable. Even the fighter jets screaming by their windows are the same American model.

But Mona is a doctor, and her matter-of-fact reports of lack of medical supplies, or her worries about incidental disease becoming epidemic as they have in some sectors of Iraq--interspersed with her anxieties for her children who might get trapped on their way home from school or work--conveys the authentic immediacy of someone who has lived her entire fifty-two years under military occupation, and witnessed so many atrocities that endurance and love is all she has. That and the need to communicate.

Indigenous peoples in America know something about that, themselves. Having continued despite centuries of genocide, they understand coexistence is not the same thing as cooperation, but it's a start.

True, today's massacre of Igbo natives, by Nigerian government death squads attempting to quell their autonomous aspirations, is but one of many examples of state-sanctioned terror to control land, people, and resources for first world consumption, but lest we become innured to this phenomenon, we might want to begin asking ourselves what we will do when push comes to shove again between the US government and the indigenous nations and peoples of our own country. Would we maintain our silence if the national guard began shooting Navajo, or Iroquois, or Shoshone?

Thursday, June 29, 2006



Although the featured post link is in French, the Global Voices synopsis in English is sufficient to generate some interesting discussion on the history and impact of the customary practice of slavery on the African continent. The fact that it was an internal institution independent of and preceding the slave-trading managed from the Arabian peninsula--and later the Algarve and Rhode Island--is a factor discussed alongside the waves of colonialism and disease that plague these resource rich peoples today.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Coming into Being

Though there were a few schools located in Native American communities or "Indian country" and American white teachers were sent out to educate Native American people, many, many children were sent away to federal and Christian mission boarding schools far from their homelands. The policy was to break or sever ties to culture, family, and tribe, to change indigenous people into "Americans." It was a severe and traumatic form of brainwashing, literally to destroy the heritage and identity of native people...

That year I learned the world outside was very big while Deetseyamah and our Acoma community were very small... White people were very different from us; sometimes they did strange and perplexing things, but generally if you watched and listened and considered them very carefully, you could understand them. As a people, I distrusted them less, although I was still wary of something that drove them willfully, aggressively, powerfully, and arrogantly.

In that first time of living outside of Acoma, I didn't know it was the same drive that had settled its domain and rule over Native American lands and enforced an educational policy disguised as civilization.
--Simon J. Ortiz
from the introduction to his book Woven Stone


Global Slumlord

The ongoing collective punishment of Palestinians by Israel and the US reminded me of an article written two years ago about new developments in the field of military warfare against urban civilian populations as a means of exercising colonial control. Having witnessed one of the naval exercises in urban warfare on San Francisco Bay in the late 1990s, I was intrigued by what writer Mike Davis called the "Sharonization of the Pentagon's worldview."

On April 19, 2004, as American Marines attempted to subdue Fallujah--a resistant city of 300,000--Davis wrote about the background of "the very nightmare that American military leaders desperately wanted to avoid...urban warfare against a determined foe, employing the house-to-house equivalent of guerrilla tactics known to cancel out many of the advantages of overwhelming firepower and advanced war technology."

According to Davis, since the early 1990s, facing an ever more global imperial mission into the "arc of instability" (the energy heartlands of our planet), the American military has been in preparation mode -- preparation for a grim future fighting in the sprawling slum cities of the Third World. In The Pentagon as Global Slumlord, Mike Davis observes, "the Marines have again unleashed indiscriminate terror... slaughtering at least two hundred women and children in the first two weeks of fighting."

Looking back, Davis notes that the Mogadishu debacle of 1993--when neighborhood militias inflicted 60% casualties on elite Army Rangers--forced U.S. strategists to rethink what is known in Pentagonese as MOUT: "Militarized Operations on Urbanized Terrain." ...Israeli advisors were quietly brought in to teach Marines, Rangers, and Navy Seals the state-of-the-art tactics -- especially the sophisticated coordination of sniper and demolition teams with heavy armor and overwhelming airpower -- so ruthlessly used by Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza and the West Bank.

Artificial cityscapes (complete with "smoke and sound systems") were built to simulate combat conditions in densely populated neighborhoods of cities like Baghdad or Port-au-Prince. The Marine Corps Urban Warfighting Laboratory also staged realistic war games ("Urban Warrior") in Oakland and Chicago, while the Army's Special Operations Command "invaded" Pittsburgh. Today, he says, many of the Marines inside Fallujah are graduates of these Urban Warrior exercises as well as mock combat at "Yodaville" (the Urban Training Facility in Yuma, Arizona), while some of the Army units encircling Najaf and the Baghdad slum neighborhood of Sadr City are alumni of the new $34 million MOUT simulator at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

To help develop a geopolitical framework for urban war-fighting, Davis recalls, military planners turned in the 1990s to the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit think tank established by the Air Force in 1948. Says Davis, one of the most important RAND projects, initiated in the early 1990s, has been a major study of "how demographic changes will affect future conflict." The bottom line, RAND finds, is that the urbanization of world poverty has produced "the urbanization of insurgency" (the title, in fact, of their report). ...

One of the RAND cookbooks ("Aerospace Operations in Urban Environments") even provides a helpful table to calculate the acceptable threshold of "collateral damage" (aka dead babies) under different operational and political constraints. To MOUT geeks, writes Davis, "Iraq is a laboratory where Marine snipers and Air Force pilots test out new killing techniques in an emergent world war against the urban poor."


Point of View

From Gaza brings us a view from her window of the current onslaught against Palestine:

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


All it Takes

"Direct action case work has always been one of the things I have liked the most about OCAP's approach to social change. Of course it didn't originate with OCAP -- I've heard OCAP members say they model it on actions that were common during the Great Depression in response to evictions and abuses of people who were "on relief", to use the language of that era. The idea is that a person comes forward with some situation in which they have been unfairly treated by the welfare bureaurcracy or a landlord or the immigration bureaucracy or some other authority. OCAP figures out what basis there is for restitution, complaint, or better treatment, sends a polite letter demanding that the issue be addressed, and then backs it up with things like office occupations by lots of unruly activists. This has proven to be very effective over the years, to the extent that often these days all it takes is the initial letter to win appropriate action."

Read more about how anti-poverty activists do things in Ontario:


Ireland's History in Maps



Just for fun, here's a little slideshow we composed using photos we happened upon at various Internet locations:


Inordinate Powers

Noting the recent uproar in Persian blogs over the inclusion of notorious Tehran chief prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi as part of the Iranian delegation to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, I am reminded of how cynical modern states can be in exercising their inordinate powers. Infamous for his involvement in torturing an Iranian-Canadian journalist, Mortazavi might even have a few laughs someday with our US ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte.

Yet, states and the international institutional architecture they've created are a reality that stateless nations and unrepresented peoples have to deal with in managing their own realities. States--like other established elites--may create more problems than they solve, but until we can sufficiently dissipate their destructive powers, they remain the proverbial 800 pound gorillas.

Monday, June 26, 2006


Total War

Full spectrum dominance--in preparation for what author Zevedei Barbu called total war--requires control of all social institutions: government, religion, academia, and media.

Over the past decade, I and my colleagues from these arenas of cultural conflict have experienced similar forms of exclusion, yet, to date no one has managed to unite in any meaningful or productive way those who have lost the opportunity to contribute to social development or to exercise their social responsibility.

I've noticed, though, that from time to time our more entrepreneurial admirers weigh in with commentary on this dilemma, but never seem to get beyond their laments to actually organizing some form of alternative online funding mechanism to support such things as hedge schools, conferences, or learning houses where we can build the networked intellectual infrastructure required for effective activism. It may be tempting for them to critique and leave it at that, but what we really need is their help.


Seeds of Doubt

In the posts below, we discussed the failings of academia to provide space and nourishment for free, informed intellectual exchange. In turn, our colleagues further developed our proposition that this neglect signals a death knell for American culture. For those who might ask what's the big deal?, I refer you to the right-wing coup of the Southern Baptist Convention and the looting of its extensive assets; university and government treasuries are no less formidable when deployed in the cause of fundamentalism now merged with organized crime.

The all-out culture war that resulted from this arranged marriage may have fuel in abundance, but now needs to consolidate its shallow ideological gains by ousting all opposition. (Theocracy cannot abide academic freedom, only the pretense of it.) The opportunistic nature of the merger between these two inbred lineages of American conservatism has some vulnerabilities though. As we've witnessed of late, their hubris has landed fall guys in front of grand juries, and even the false piety brigades have begun to shun the most blatant hypocrites.

In our experience, what usually happens as things fall apart in this milieu is that the core retrenches, plans and commits higher crimes, even violence, to maintain their power and influence. Ironically, this stage of undevelopment is also when they are most likely to be infiltrated by law enforcement informants or stoolies rolling on their buddies in exchange for immunity for themselves. As my friend Rufus T. Firefly once remarked, "The cheese is binding."

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Coup de Grace

UFOB samples views of higher ed., humanities, and the outlook for both scholars and society at large:


Beyond Reproach

I've written previously about my difficulties with the gatekeepers of academia in my pursuit of doctoral work and faculty positions. In these earlier posts, I mostly focused on the apparent non-compliance factor in my rejections: having considerable experience, recognition, and acclaimed publications to my credit actually worked against me.

What I overlooked, though, was the age barrier. I'm only 53.

But in a recent conversation with another highly creative intellectual--who just happens to have been rejected at the same institution where I did my graduate studies--I discovered that over 50 is indeed considered a liability there, not because of diminished energy or brilliance, but because it conflicts with the college's marketing brand of being young and hip.

I had, by the way, noticed the large influx of young faces on the faculty staff over the last few years, but I guess I mistakenly took that to mean they were adjuncts being groomed by core faculty. The fact they are also more compliant is undoubtedly another plus in the eyes of exploitive administrators, but the message writ large by this discriminatory policy is that to the institution, education and learning are secondary to commerce and control. If they can provide less and charge more, then that's what they will do.

Being sold a bill of goods, of course, is nothing new in the US socioeconomy--academia included--but the devaluation of experiential learning, mentoring, and indeed the judgment acquired over time, is a death sentence on the future of American culture. The fact that this trend is actively supported by private schools that promote themselves as alternative, progressive, even revolutionary, is beyond reproach.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


New Venture

I've been thinking about podcasting as a medium for engaging our network. Possibly a magazine-style format. I suppose this means I'll have to hook up with somebody at an existing studio for editing and tech support.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Blogging Studies

Stephanie Hendrick from Umea University in Sweden has some interesting things to say about blogging:

"Although weblogs are perceived as low-threshold tools to publish on-line, empowering individual expression in public, there is growing evidence of social structures evolving around weblogs and their influence on norms and practices of blogging."
--In search for a virtual settlement: An exploration of weblog community boundaries

The weblog as an immersive space: Moblogging Jokkmokk 2004

Stephanie has more articles at:


Below the Surface

Canadian Lefty reviews Journeying Forward by Patricia Monture-Angus, a Mohawk legal scholar:

"It is fascinating, particularly for someone like me with no background in law, to trace the ways in which colonialism remains an active, living part of the Canadian legal system. Things as simple and integral as the rule of precedence makes sure that cases today, even if they are not argued by the state on the basis of explicitly colonial ideas -- though often these are just below the surface in any case -- are decided in part based on precedents that did come out of explicitly colonial laws and assumptions. In fact, a theme throughout the book is the ways in which many of the assumptions made by judges to this day in their decisions are based, in one way or another, on ideas of European superiority which also still permeate the culture at large."

Read the rest of Scott's review at:


No Substitute

Protests and polemics can serve very useful purposes, but it is no insult to the bravery and skill of the people who conduct them to say that emotion is no substitute for strategic thinking. ...The people who achieve lasting good for the people do it by subordinating action to strategic foresight and emotion to calm thinking.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


One Must Communicate

As a community organizer in the early 1990s, I was blessed with the companionship of several women who took it upon themselves to publish a small local newspaper and invariably served as a counterpoint to the local daily, as well as offered me regular columns and interviews. Bless their righteous souls.

But as I progressed to wrestling with regional, national, and now global problems, my colleagues and companions are considerably more dispersed and in many ways less intimate, which suggests greater resources are required to build bonds, trust, and loyalty by overcoming our isolation. Blogs are a tool for achieving this, but only one, and nothing can really replace face-to-face interaction.

I've introduced the idea of podcasting to my new network in hope that we can extend the use of this blog medium to its maximum potential, and I'm hopeful that this will lead to some conferences and seminars and maybe some distance learning venues. The irony of my location in the thickest hotbed of "activism" in the US (San Francisco Bay) and not being able to connect with anyone for either paid or volunteer work is not lost on me.

Back in December, I asked Devin Burghart from the Center for New Community in Chicago if there were other networks like the group of opposition researchers who met up in December for the national human rights conference, and he said, "No, this is it." What he referred to was the dozen present and the dozen who couldn't make it, but still, when you're talking about a population of 200 million, you'd think we could muster more than 25.

There are, of course, probably hundreds of naturals keeping an eye on their communities, states, or regions who might attend conferences if we could find someone to fund them, and in fact Chip Berlet at Political Research Associates in Boston has been hounding foundations like Ford and MacArthur to do just that for some time. Meanwhile we stay in touch, stay informed, and practice our storytelling. Maybe someday we'll meet in person.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Call to Conference

Fortress Europe cannot be fought on one level alone; the increasing dangers facing migrants, refugees and ethnic minorities are increased by both undemocratic intergovernmental decisions and racist networks.

European-wide campaigns against racism and fascism, however, do not just happen by themselves. Conferences are designed to enable the UNITED network organisations to make concrete plans and discuss common strategies.


Principles of Society

Laura Carlsen writes:

There is no doubt that immigration reform is an urgent national priority. Twelve million people living and working without citizenship, legal security, or labor rights, not only hurts them but erodes the democratic base of society, divides communities, and foments racism and discrimination. ...

The guest worker programs have a history of abuse. Moreover as immigration has shifted from the pattern of seasonal agricultural workers to work in permanent jobs in services and manufacturing, a guest worker program is little more than a guise to convert jobs with full rights and benefits into low-wage temporary contracts with little or no benefits...

Unlike murder or theft, immigration itself is not a universally condemned criminal act. ...

It is a problem of labor flows. These stem from deep economic roots that include economic policies in the sending countries, in the United States, and especially in the forms of integration between them. ...

Politics is the art of negotiating solutions. But there are times when it is foolish to attempt to reconcile diametrically opposed viewpoints, constructed on conflicting versions of the nature of the problem. There are times when one of those sides fails to reflect reality or violates basic principles of society. In other words, is simply wrong. So wrong that the implications for society are potentially disastrous. This is one of those times.


Women of Peace

Nobel Laureates call on governments to "refrain from using the fight against terrorism or the excuse of national security as pretexts for violating human rights."

Monday, June 19, 2006


Networks and Netwars

What Makes a Network Effective?
*Organizational level - its organizational design
*Narrative level - the story being told
*Doctrinal level - the collaborative strategies and methods
*Technological level - the information systems in use
*Social level - the personal ties that assure loyalty and trust

Read more


Autonomy for Catalonia

Basques next?


Alternative Ways of Governance

Navajo Nation initiates looking at greater sovereignty by referring the question of writing its first constitution to the Navajo people. Leaders assert the process of consultation is vital to breaking the chains of government structure imposed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the 1930s:

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Sidekicks of Satan

A short lesson on American fundamentalism by Chip Berlet:


Money to Burn

"...We also know that for women on Indian Reservations and women in the Armed Services serving overseas, reproductive rights vanished under Democratic majorities, and workplace rights, both those specific to gender and those indifferent to gender, as well as environmental protections and civil liberties, were all rolled back under Democratic majorities, by men like John Murtha and Harry Reid.

Least this seem academic, Rahm Emanuel spent $4,500,000 on a race in a district that is overwhelmingly Republican. Charles Schumer has committed the Democrats in Pennsylvania to a candidate who advocates first-use of nuclear weapons against Iran, on the Sharon-Leeden-Rubin-al-Zarqawi (George W. Bush) plan, and is as anti-woman as any Pennsyltuky bible thumper, for another $20,000,000 lost. ..."

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Falling off a Log

[Ed. note: the following dialogue is from the transcript of the March 24, 2004 9/11 Commission hearing. Richard Armitage was the then U.S. Deputy Secretary of State.]

THOMPSON: The establishment of a policy dealing with Al Qaida that was finally ready for presentation to the president in September of 2001, obviously involved more than simply a military response to Al Qaida. Pakistan was involved, is that correct?
ARMITAGE: Yes, sir.
THOMPSON: And so those charged with the responsibility of dealing with Pakistan and trying to balance between keeping the Pakistanis flexible had to be a part of the policy, is that right?
ARMITAGE: Governor, yes. Thank you. This is an important point, and it gets at something Senator Kerrey was talking about, I think, twice yesterday, he was quite frustrated with. You know the giving of an order by the president improved the relationships with Pakistan so that we can have a better chance of uprooting Taliban, et cetera. That's a pretty simple statement and it doesn't look like much, but if you peel back the onion, what you see in Pakistan's case is we'd had over ten years of divorce from their military. We had no inroads there. We had very limited intelligence work. We had no political relationship worth a damn with them. We had stopped all the World Bank or international financial institutions. We didn't have many places of purchase. So the order given to improve a relationship with Pakistan, then as you go down the food chain
there are more and more and more activities that are associated with doing just what the president wanted, and that's true with all these issues. You could add in the Al Qaida case; Iran was part of it. We actually had to work with Iran if we had military action. So it is complicated.
THOMPSON: Uzbekistan?
ARMITAGE: Uzbekistan was a special complication for two reasons. The affection for human rights there was not what we wanted and desired, and we had some questions about whether we'd be able to base there and what would be the reaction of the Russian federation. So we had to work those things out.
THOMPSON: You needed more funding?
ARMITAGE: Funding, I think Dick Clarke and others have spoken to it. Making a decision to fund is one thing, and then going through the appropriations process is quite another.
THOMPSON: How to get arms to the Northern Alliance, if that was to be the policy...
ARMITAGE: Getting arms to them was not so difficult.
ARMITAGE: It was making sure that we wouldn't be, one, embarrassed by what they were. And no matter the charismatic nature of Ahmed Shah Massoud -- and he was quite charismatic -- that doesn't make up for raping, drug dealing, et cetera, which many of the Northern Alliance had been involved with. So it's not easy. And that's why, I think, you don't see -- we're not sitting up here saying, well, why didn't people do it in the '98 time frame? They had two years. The fact is, they're hard. It's difficult. It's not like falling off a log.

Read the full transcript of Armitage's testimony (last witness):
Listen to other testimony:
Learn more about Richard Armitage:


Live it Up

Lest anyone suspect us at Skookum of being overly serious:
*when we were young we rode our horses
*when we had money we went to Europe
*when gas was cheap we camped up and down the Oregon coast
*when we're running on empty we go to the beach


National Aboriginal Day

First Peoples Festival in Montreal:


Donkey Kick

Stop Me Before I Vote Again brings a desperately-needed sense of humor to the long overdue ridicule of the Democratic Party and its apparatchiks who've infested bloggerdom. After you get up off the floor laughing at the linked post, check out his live coverage of Kossack shillerdom in the sidebar, and browse around the main page archives. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Lost in Translation

What initially got me banned from prospective employment at my alma mater was when our grad school cohort, under the facilitation of our instructor--who was at the time consulting the college on its organizational evaluation--held a series of short seminars on the current dysfunction of the institution. (Even the administrators knew something was wrong.)

Long story short, as library assistant, I had listened to many student and faculty complaints--as well as experienced the bureaucratic ineptitude and corruption firsthand--and was able to present a candid and coherent as well as comprehensive overview. Fellow students found the detailed examples shocking, as did the instructor, but, as I observed, the only way out of the mess was for the trustees to acknowledge the extent of the mismanagement. Referring to the points made in our discussions, I think I said, "They need to hear this."

Unfortunately for me, but probably good for the school, one of the students from Brazil took my comment literally and forwarded our confidential e-mails on the topic to the college president, after which I was forever apparently persona non grata.


Hot Breath

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Industrial v Sacred

The focus of the conflict between the industrial way of life and the sacred, of course, will continue to be the shadow war between the Fourth World (stateless nations) and the modern states that make up such state-centric institutions as the UN, WTO, IMF, and World Bank. The difference in this century--half a millenium into the recovery from and transition out of the colonial enterprise--is that the indigenous peoples and their organizations like UNPO have mastered communication technology, and are well-prepared to defend their territories as well as present their more integrated worldview to industrialized peoples.

Indeed the battle to protect themselves and their resources from industrial exploitation has already begun in earnest both on the ground and in venues like the UN Human Rights Council.

Anyone concerned about environmental devastation will find the global indigenous networks have already developed an effective model of engagement. All we have to do is support them.


Full Circle

We watched Sherman Alexie's disturbing video Business of Fancydancing last night. Not the bundle of laughs his book by the same name evoked. However, a pleasant surprise in the form of undisclosed cameo appearance by Alexie himself, and 2.the rediscovery of Lummi Nation violinist Swil Kanim, whom I first met at a benefit for my friend Sherilyn Wells just before I moved away from Salish country.

To my delight in looking up Swil on Google, I found the following reviews of his music done in collaboration with my old friend Cha-Da-Ska-Dum Which-Ta-Lum, now deceased, who was honored at a ceremony I was fortunate to have attended in May 2001. Known in the 1970s as Kenny Cooper, we first met when he was a tribal fisheries police officer and I was operating as an unlicensed fish-buyer on the rez. Many years later, in front of Whatcom County courthouse, at a drumming ceremony shaming some dreadful racist politicians, Kenny and I reunited and laughed heartily that it took us two decades.

A year before that, I had mailed Kenny a photo Marianne and I took of a beautiful canoe on the Quileute reservation on the Washington coast south of the Makah. After asking the canoe owner if he knew my friend from the Hoh rez down coast, he told us that Kenny grew up next door to him, so I sent Kenny the photo. Kenny phoned me and gave me a gift, too--the story of how he used to scuba dive out there and sit on the bottom of a bay eye-to-eye with Gray whales that came in to rub barnacles off their bellies on the steep, gravelly slope.

I can't wait to listen to his voice and the music of his family and friends.


Cha-Da-Ska-Dum Which-Ta-Lum

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Loose Cayuse


Respectful Revolution

When I was in graduate school in San Francisco, I developed a curriculum for an MA program in activism and social change, and was encouraged by my professor to bring it to the attention of the Dean of Academic Affairs for the School of Humanities. I did so, but never heard back from him, and shrugged it off as one of many proposals they must receive and reject in any given year.

A few months later, though, I noticed an announcement by the Dean that the school would begin offering an MA and a BA program in activism and social change the following academic year. When I attempted to discuss my applying for an instructing position in the new program, I was completely ignored by the Dean. Unanswered e-mails, unreturned phone calls, unavailable to meet face-to-face.

Informing my friends at the school of this disappointment, one of them ran a program to identify the key word and concept match between my proposal and the program description and came up with a very high degree of correlation. No surprise to me given the unlikeliness of such a coincidence, but reassuring nonetheless.

I must admit to a significant level of distress over the matter at the time, but since then I've managed to put it into perspective. Aging administrators from higher education--trapped in the competitive as opposed to a cooperative model--must inevitably feel compelled to steal the work of sharper minds that pass through these institutions in order to maintain their status and livelihoods. It's unfortunate, but there it is.

Ironically, the institution I attended markets itself as creating a more just, sacred and sustainable world; the concept of respecting intellectual property and acknowledging scholarly contributions would seem to be foundational requirements of such a revolutionary endeavor.


Keeping Hope Alive

One of my favorite actors, Gary Farmer, conveys in his words and deeds an important lesson and inspiration for young people.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Preventing Peace

Mona El-Farra, a physician in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, sends her account of Friday's massacre by Israeli gunships and tanks of Palestinian families playing at the beach in Gaza.


Resistance to Change

"Having a network of supporters makes all the difference when under attack, and meeting socially to tell stories helps a lot. It also gives you a chance to remind them not to be suckered into repeating the opposition's talking points."

This, I have concluded, is a good measure of whether or not a community can handle the outspoken truth. If a handful of activists are not seeing and researching the same stuff, the community cannot bear the exposure, the activist is self-immolating. Simply put...the truth is always good, but I think it takes an extraordinary individual to stand alone and be martyred. If -- as a community activist -- you can find no like minded individuals, then it is a massacre. It is bad enough when you are pillaried, but it is even worse when no one stands with you.

I have discovered my community is only at the level of quiet opposition research. There is NO ONE, NO BLOG, NO ACTIVIST, NO PROGRESSIVE, NO HUMAN RIGHTS WORKER who is curious to uncover the wretched local structure. Boy, oh boy Spartacus. I am learning burn-out is a real thing in this field.
Nancy 06.13.06 - 11:12 am #

Richard Atleo, in his book Tsawalk, writes about civilizations completing phases of growth, and likens the resistance to change or transformation to the reluctance of individuals to leave the comfort zones of womb, home, and immediate family as they mature and encounter institutions and ideas outside their infantile experience.

He specifically denotes the exhausted model of the colonial enterprise, and remarks on how it has changed the natural environment and the spiritual capacity of both indigenous and colonial peoples. The need to make a spiritual connection in order to advance has him concerned that great harm might take place as we struggle to get unstuck from this unworkable arrangement of relationships.

Given the degree of dysfunction and disharmony we live in, I suppose it is inevitable that sacrifices will have to be made.
Spartacus Homepage 06.13.06 - 12:01 pm #

Monday, June 12, 2006


Turn the Tables

Some of the Yale bigshots are very wary of people they think might be activist in some way. As an outspoken critic on his own time, Cole was easy to make unacceptable. People like the bigshots dread institutional reformers with credibility even more than they dread the substance of their critique. Cole's daily presence, itself, would be "disruptive". Hence the focus on trying to slime rather than rebut.

It's likely that someone who could legitimately prove Cole wrong on something would find that Cole was willing to acknowledge it. He's very much a scholar.He has some gracious thoughts on the subject, which doesn't surprise me.

To digress a little, Spartacus have you written anything on how to fight ad hominem attacks?
J. Alva Scruggs Homepage 06.12.06 - 3:56 am #

I'm not sure if I ever wrote about that, but I always advised myself and my associates to stay on topic and to not be lured into defending oneself from libel and defamation. When attacks became particularly vicious, we often simply mailed copies to moral authorities we knew we could count on to make our enemy's misbehavior the public issue rather than the slanderous allegations.

At a somewhat less intense level of conflict, I frequently found myself challenged in public by an inaccurate portrayal of either my character or motives, and used these situations to turn the tables on my opponents by calmly presenting facts they managed to obscure in private.

Having a network of supporters makes all the difference when under attack, and meeting socially to tell stories helps a lot. It also gives you a chance to remind them not to be suckered into repeating the opposition's talking points.
Spartacus Homepage 06.12.06 - 11:34 am #

[Ed. note: see the post Mobilizing Resentment (located under Right-Wing Milieu) for an example of what can happen when demonizing gets out of hand: ]

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Collective Memories

Absent a widespread tribal support system or reliable institutions for the exercise of new narratives incorporating our vital stories, values, and norms, it is the network form we must now rely on as “curator” of these tales. Organizations within a civil-society network--more precisely, the individuals who retain these collective memories--are then crucial to keeping them alive. ...

It is in this constructing of networks through face-to-face interaction, in pursuit of comprehending the forces against us, that we can discover our strengths and deepest values, and, with luck, develop enduring loci of memory and understanding to guide, comfort, and console those yet to come.

Read the entire paper at:

Friday, June 09, 2006


Capitalist Cornerstone

"Crime is not a by-product of an otherwise effectively working political economy: it is a main product of that political economy. Crime is in fact a cornerstone on which the political and economic relations of democratic-capitalist societies are constructed.

Crime is a political phenomenon which takes its character from the economic institutions that exist at a particular point in time. ...My research has shown very clearly that organized crime really consists of a coalition of politicians, law-enforcement people, businessmen, union leaders, and (in some ways least important of all) racketeers."
--William J. Chambliss, author of On the Take


Yale Sells Out

Pro-Israel lobbyists prevent tenure at Yale's department of Middle Eastern Studies of academician/blogger Juan Cole, who believes--and publicly states--that the Palestinians are human beings and have rights that are being violated daily by the Israeli government and the settlers.


Right-Wing Sampler

Ten years ago in August I hung up my guns as a public-interest environmental litigation manager, and ventured forth into the world of alternative media, first as an editorial advisor and only last year as a blog editor and occasional columnist. Woven through and uniting these two arenas of activism is an appreciation of archival records and the stories they can tell in the hands of someone with a gift for narrative.

I won't attempt to do that here, but I will provide a sampler from some righteous archives compiled in the summer of 1996, in hope that someday, someone will be inspired by this Northwest Update collection now available online. A few highlights:

*The sixty-plus day stand-off between federal agents and the Freemen militia holed up near Jordan, Montana continued.
*Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed released his latest book Active Faith: How Christians are Changing the Soul of American Politics.
*Freemen sympathizers in Spokane robbed a bank and bombed the local newspaper office.
*United Methodist Church's ruling body upheld church policy that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.

*The 18-month arson count against African-American churches in Washington, Oregon, North Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia and other Southern states stood at 35.
*Operation Rescue conducted its Show the Truth tour displaying 6 ft. tall photos of aborted fetuses.

*Aryan Nations in Idaho welcomed Ku Klux Klan leaders to its World Congress.
*Eight militia members in Northwest Washington were arrested by the FBI for building bombs to murder government officials.
*President Clinton announced his intention to sign a GOP welfare bill abolishing Aid to Families with Dependent Children, cutting billions annually from food stamps and other social services.

Browse the complete archives .


Class of 2001

One thing no one can ever take away from my BA Completion cohort is our designation as the class of 2001. As readers can see from reading the essay Awakening or the poem Think One--both written in the fall of that year--it is a mark that stamps both us and our world.

Read The Awakening

Read Think One

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Wise Use Cookbook

I have wondered about the effect of tribal gaming (inter-tribal competition) in fracturing/splintering indigenous people's solidarity to work against anti-Indian elements. When racists like Chuck Cushman and his anti-Indian history fly the banner of "morality" with regard to tribal gaming I am saddened. Not all is noble, but it is unfortunate that Cushman and his anti-Indian efforts aren't seen as a bigger threat to native peoples than inter-tribal conflict over gaming prospects.

In many ways I am naive. Sigh. Thanks for all you do Spartacus.
Nancy 06.08.06 - 11:12 am #

While we await the Cobell v Norton case to be resolved, we would do well to recognize its implications. Had the oil, gas, and mineral leases from Indian tribes been paid rather than stolen by the US Department of Interior for the last century, these tribes would not need to resort to gaming to meet their basic needs.

The fishing economy tribes up in your neck of the woods--had their treaties been honored--would still have fish rather than casinos as a mainstay. But whether a tribe depended on salmon, buffalo, or corn to sustain them, the destruction of the environment that these life-givers need was the most devastating betrayal of trust between the US and the indigenous nations.

You might be interested to know that two thirds of tribes don't have gambling, most who do don't make a profit, and the highly successful ones support such things as Native American college scholarships, health care clinics on reservations, and Indian K-12 curricula.

As for hatemongers like Cushman, the definitive report is The Anti-Indian Movement on the Tribal Frontier by Rudolph Ryser available from Daykeeper Press located at the Center for World Indigenous Studies.
Spartacus Homepage 06.08.06 - 12:23 pm #

I will have to look up the case you mentioned. I totally agree with the BLM rape of tribal royalties. To this day. Unpaid. Thanks for the reference.
Nancy 06.08.06 - 1:47 pm #

Indian Country Today online, as well as the blogger Wampum--both found in the sidebar--have tracked this fraud and collusion by the energy industry with the feds in ripping off the Indians. Another discovery during the Cobell investigation is that the resource extractors have been consistently cooking the books by underreporting the volumes they've been stealing just in case they should have to make restitution some day. Nice, huh?
Spartacus Homepage 06.08.06 - 3:38 pm #

Read the article online.

Order the report online.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Encouraging Feedback

Our readers continue to inspire us. In return, we've added Indigenous Resurgence and Right-Wing Milieu to our index.


Evolving Standards

"The case has huge implications for other indigenous people of southern Africa like the bushmen in Botswana because it shows that they do actually have rights to their land, even if the government says they do not," he said.

"Governments can no longer just do what they want with vulnerable minorities. There are evolving standards under international law which are increasingly important."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Empire Religion

"The Empire religion espoused by George Bush and his white Christian conservative allies is headed by a God who appears to be white supremacist, patriarchal, and upper class, one who stood on the side of enslavement and the genocide of native peoples throughout the globe, including the Americas.

This is the message of conservative right wing Christians. They misuse scripture to justify their beliefs, and they hide their intentions behind self-centered and pious God talk that undergirds and propels exclusion and domination--whether it's about the inferiority of women, black people, or lesbians and gays.

Liberation Christianity begins with the assertion that God is on the side of the oppressed rather than the side of the Empire. This is the good news of the radical Jew Jesus who challenged the Roman Empire."


Cork to Cannes

The Wind that Shakes the Barley


Saskatchewan Showdown

Fifth Session
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
United Nations
May 15-26, 2006
Statement for Agenda Item #4a

Madame Chairperson, Human Rights violations come in many different forms and today's governments and corporations have refined ways to violate the basic Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples. ...

We consider ourselves the caretakers of our land, something that we have done for thousands of years. Our Traditional Territories are being invaded by corporations intent on resource extraction. Today, we face not only legislation that impairs our self-development, but also a system designed to bring to an end our traditional life as we know it.

I now quote an excerpt from a letter from our Chief to the Prime Minister of Canada dated May 18, 2006:

"On October 17th 2005 Chief and Council passed a Band Council Resolution to the Federal and Provincial Government informing them that Buffalo River Dene Nation has retaken our Traditional Territory, our land, our natural resources and water. No development will happen within our Traditional Territory until we are consulted and the free, prior and informed consent of the Buffalo River Dene Nation is obtained.

We are aware that the Federal and Provincial Governments and multinational corporations are poised to begin development in our Territory. At this point, we are restating to you that no development will be allowed in our Territory without our free, prior and informed consent. We would like to make it clear that we, the people of Buffalo River Dene Nation are prepared to defend our position by any means necessary."

Monday, June 05, 2006


Nice to be Noticed

Thanks to the gracious attention afforded this weblog by the likes of the illustrious Dr. Scruggs and Professor Hill, the editors of Skookum have added two new categories to our sidebar: Building a Movement and New World Order. We plebes who grind out the daily content are most grateful for their acknowledgment.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Sow and Reap

Further developing a theme I've driven home so many times I've lost count: without opposition research, there is no opposition.

As any experienced, effective activist can tell you, sans regular, reliable, comprehensive intelligence on the plans and operations of the enemies of democracy in this country, no amount of advocacy, protest, or litigation after the fact will set them back one iota. On the other hand, if we know what they're scheming in advance of it appearing in the media or on the street, we have half a chance of jamming a stick in their spokes.

And as all the top researchers in the country--most of whom are unfunded--will tell you, intelligence is not something you can get off the Internet or in the newspaper. Rather, it's gathered through field agents and network contacts painstakingly cultivated through personal connections and nurtured through reciprocal deeds like covering someone's back from attack, and constantly sharing resources and information.

For a brief period of time, back when militias and Aryans were blowing up federal buildings and dynamiting human rights activist's homes, a trickle of dough got into the hands of some very good opposition researchers from philanthropists who were rightly terrified that their regularly-funded do-gooders might get their heads blown off. But ever since the right-wing terrorists of the moment were convicted in the latter half of the 1990s--largely due to the tireless and mostly unrewarded efforts of protector societies like the Public Good network--liberal funders went back to financing environmental poster-coloring contests and multi-cultural parades.

Nothing wrong with either, of course, but knowing how lame law enforcement is in preventing such things as hate crimes, and being at least vaguely aware of the malicious intent of the American right-wing, you'd think that progressive bankrollers would consider investing say ten percent of what they lavish on career complainers in keeping them alive. Just a thought.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


Unprotected Uninformed

From 1995 to 2000, two private investigative human rights organizations in the Pacific Northwest--Coalition for Human Dignity and Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment--played vital roles in providing timely, accurate information about right-wing candidates, organizations, and activities throughout the region. This information and analysis--essential to the effectiveness of local human rights groups and activists--was otherwise unavailable. The collapse of this investigative wing of the human rights movement in the eight state area, due to lack of financial support, effectively disabled the previously well-educated, exercised, and coordinated human rights network, leaving the region essentially unprotected and uninformed.

Recognizing the importance of this valiant work, Building Democracy Initiative--a project of the Center for New Community based in Chicago--has archived online the five years worth of bi-weekly Northwest Update reports documenting the people, groups and organizing efforts of the anti-democratic right-wing. An archive that is unparallelled in value to historians and activists alike, this collection illustrates most clearly why the right-wing in the US has been so successful--its opponents have no resources.

Archives available.

Friday, June 02, 2006


The Alternative

Representing those on the bitter end of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the organizers of the Other Campaign in Mexico have shown what can be done when a united people decide to resist rather than retreat from fundamental conflict with those who insist on the privilege of controlling their lives. Now apparently on the verge of widespread action, the community organizing there is progressing to regional levels, spurred on by the painstaking two decades of preparation through unmediated dialogue, discussion, and self-constructed education.

As fellow North Americans, we in the US are considerably far behind both Mexicans and Canadians in our humanitarian educational development, but we at least have the technological capacity and financial ability to move quickly as greater numbers see through the facade of our social system. After watching Gore, Kerry, and the Democratic Party take a dive on democracy, some are even suggesting our Constitution is little more than the framework of a rigged game to keep power concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy people.

In Mexico, the Zapatistas just today recommended that the energized people get together to look at their collective problems and demands in order to analyze, discuss, and reach agreements on their coordinations, actions, and support. Meanwhile, here in the US, the discussions through venues like weblogs and conferences are just beginning to broach the systemic problems with representative democracy.

Perhaps a starting point is to consider a recent remark by Delegate Zero:
"The alternative isn't to vote or not vote; the alternative is to organize or not. This is to say that we are not within the electoral logic, but instead the construction of a movement that truly opposes the capitalist system."

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Call for Consultation

Given the amount of wealth appropriated to convincing us we cannot recreate our lives in ways other than those permitted by the media-approved political class, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at the apparent lack of imagination on the part of the powerless in America, but perhaps there is a potentiality in the rejection of electoral politics and representative democracy as expressed through non-participation by very large numbers of eligible US citizens. Maybe their instincts are valid, even if they have yet to express their dissatisfaction in revolutionary terms, as the polity of other countries have.

Perhaps they are ready to walk a different path. Maybe it's time they were asked.

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