Saturday, June 30, 2007



It's always easier to get a handle on the past than it is on the present, but I think that a significant qualitative change has occurred due in part to the sheer critical mass of criminality that converged in the Baby Bush White House. The consequent reverberations from the deprivation of good works seem almost to loom on the horizon of our psyches like an approaching tsunami.

Friday, June 29, 2007


Pillaging Paradise

Wampum has more on the Wyoming Gang scandal at Interior, and how their leader in the White House directed them to clobber the Klamath while covering their tracks from the Mineral Management robbery.


Acquisition and Development

When I was a kid, my big adventure was riding the Empire Builder, the Great Northern Railway's passenger train that ran from Seattle to Chicago. My paternal grandfather worked on this railroad, and by my reckoning, his grandfather would have witnessed the conquering of the continent for which the route was named.

As empires go, America can hardly rival the vast terrain of Tsarist Russia or the cultural diversity of Imperial Britain, but it is nonetheless a spectacular landscape of cultural and geographic wonder.

A couple of years ago, during the bicentennial of the Voyage of Discovery -- Lewis and Clark's contribution to the building of the American Empire -- a Shawnee professor at Lewis and Clark Law School wrote about the mission of the expedition sent forth by President Jefferson, and helped shed light on the mindset of America at the time, as well as the worldview of our empire that was about to quadruple in size.

In the article Lewis and Clark, "Discovery" and the Indian Nations, Professor Robert J. Miller describes in detail the intriguing process by which the American Empire acquired some of the rights to this vast landscape from the discovered peoples who inhabited it. He also has an article on how the treaties governing these contracts were made and interpreted over time, but we'll save that for another post.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


A Fragile Peace

A Frontline interview with Irwandi Yusuf, Aceh's new governor and former commander in the war for independence from Indonesia.


Gutless Guardians

Reading the New York Times coverage of Senate subpoenas to the White House and Vice President's office for documents on illegal wiretapping, what comes across crystal clear is that the one thing Congressional oversight of intelligence and the judiciary will not provide is protection of our constitutional rights. Fifty-nine years of a secret national security state has thoroughly converted them into mere caricatures mindlessly celebrated on Independence Day.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Bitter Harvest

On July 3, PBS Point of View airs Standing Silent Nation, a documentary of the Oglala White Plume family's struggle to survive the mindless brutality of the US government toward the Lakota people.


A Deafening Silence

It is often perplexing, I suppose, to citizens of the former British Empire to watch their governments and militaries assist Third World dictators in slaughtering Fourth World peoples in order to deny them their indigenous claims to resources and territories. Especially when they are non-violent, unarmed, and simply ask to be left alone.

Reading of the British warships shelling Biafran villagers during the Nigerian Civil War, reminded me of a story my sister told me of talking with Australian Air Force pilots who’d just returned from what they described as a “turkey shoot” in East Timor, where alongside Indonesian forces, the Australians were murdering native civilians as part of the ethnic cleansing of the region adjacent to oil fields the two countries planned to divide between themselves once the rightful owners had been eliminated. More recent actions by Indonesia to exterminate West Papuans using US armaments, likewise, seems destined to clear away tribal peoples for the benefit of Canadian and American mining companies.

Sometimes, though, I think that the incongruity of British, American, Canadian, and Australian relief efforts for starving children or traumatized adults, in these Fourth World theaters of war instigated by their own governments, must dawn on at least a few perceptive souls. So why is it that no one speaks of indigenous peoples?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Interior Conviction

Firewall of corrupt cabal at Department of Interior breached as former Deputy Secretary heads for prison. We know the trail leads much higher, but we'll take what we can get--for now.


Cinema in Srinagar

Himal magazine looks at the decline of cinema and nightlife in Kashmir as a result of fear generated by fundamentalist militants. As a region once rich in cinematic experience amongst a thriving film-making industry, attending a film festival now requires the presence of heavily-armed police behind barbed wire and sandbagged entrances. Hardly the experience most film-goers are looking for.


Day of Reckoning

The Assembly of First Nations National Day of Action website provides information about Friday's events to draw attention to indigenous human rights neglected by the Canadian government. If you're in Ottawa, or Toronto or Vancouver for that matter, this should be both a memorable and educational occasion.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Jakarta Genocide

Ethnic cleansing by Indonesian military feared in the offing in West Papua. Signs of preparations for East Timor-style bloodshed have native West Papuans on edge.


Supreme Betrayal

The National Association of Home Builders being to nature what the US Chamber of Commerce is to human rights, we were not surprised in the least to see them hammering away at the foundation of the Endangered Species Act. Having caught on videotape a White House emissary of Papa Bush endorsing industry-backed violence against Indians and other environmental activists, we are likewise not shocked by the emissaries of Baby Bush on the Supreme Court as they hand the final nail in the coffin of endangered species to the developers who made their lives so tenuous in the first place.

This will, of course, ensure the vigilantes of the building industry have ample opportunity to act out their fantasies of aggression against defenders of nature. After all, when the highest court in the land is on your side, it's hard not to feel a little feisty.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Two Answers

We are enjoying reading Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's historical novel of Nigeria. More later...

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Wall of Denial

As is often remarked, sometimes the most obvious things are hidden in plain sight. While occasionally this is due to a simple matter of neglect or a pre-conditioned blindness to other points of view, in the case of indigenous invisibility, our inability to see the forest for the trees is more often than not due to the monumental wall of denial meticulously constructed and maintained by state-centric institutions and market-oriented media.

With the resurgence of indigenous leadership in North and South America in recent years, the critical mass of the world’s unrepresented ancient nations and original peoples is finally beginning to dismantle this 500-year-old wall. And despite all the distortion and deception mustered by modern states like Russia, China, and the US, the authentic message of peoples close to nature is getting through. That message -- that they, as the ancient seed of later migrations, are the proprietors of a natural consciousness vital to the survival of mankind, and perhaps more importantly, are ready to share this knowledge with anyone willing to treat them with respect -- comes none too soon.

As we witness the collapse of the planetary ecosystem and the breakdown of modern states built on foundations of aggression, this act of generosity by the Fourth World is one we would be wise to accept. But whether or not we enter into this new relationship with the world’s 7,000 surviving aboriginal societies, depends largely on our willingness to listen attentively to their stories and to learn to navigate the sacred dimensions of human relationships summarized by author Jamake Highwater as follows: "Freedom is not the right to express yourself, but the far more fundamental right to be yourself...The abiding principle of tribalism is the vision of both nature and a society which provides a place for absolutely everything and everyone."

From the Mapuche in Argentina and Chile, to the Naga of India and the Sami of Sweden, Finland and Norway, the World Indigenous Movement -- catalyzed thirty years ago by First Nations in British Columbia -- is now gaining recognition in international fora like the EU, UN, and International Criminal Court; how we respond to this moral challenge will determine whether our future is one of rapprochement and coexistence, or one of violence and misery.

The World Indigenous Movement is now fighting what Fourth World nations perceive as the final battles to protect their lands, knowledge, and ways of life from total annihilation. All the world’s natural resources, governing institutions, and economic structures are involved in this conflict. Absent satisfactory resolution of this fundamental disagreement, no modern societies will long be able to meet their basic needs in terms of mobility, energy, security, food, or water. As Dr. Rudolph Ryser of the Center for World Indigenous Studies puts it, “What the people in the Fourth World nations think, decide and do on their own behalf will decide much of the world’s international policies for generations to come.” Almost singlehandedly denying self-determination to Fourth World peoples over the past two decades, the US has a lot to answer for.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Harassing Hamas

How Hamas is handling the challenge of administrating Palestine while keeping US-armed thugs at bay.


Dining with the Devil

Ken Silverstein talks about how serial abrogators of human dignity find friends in Congress. Listen in to Their Men in Washington.


Sacred Paths

In this article, Indian Country Today looks at reconciling Christianity with Native American sovereignty, and why churches failed in the past to support indigenous rights with the same commitment they did civil rights.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


American Prospect

On the whole, Americans are morally unfit for self-governance. Raised, trained, and educated to be acquiescent, the activism required to lead an independent democratic way of life is a practice in which they are utterly unskilled. Authentic, consensual, social democracy is entirely outside their personal political experience.


Haunting History

Morality aside, the counterculture message of the 1960s world social revolution -- that the brutally violent culture of militarism is an exercise in collective suicide -- is no less true today than when it was popularized by hippies, feminists, black and American Indian activists. No matter how much our mythologies glorify the scorched-earth policies executed by Generals Washington, Spaatz, and Westmoreland, the super-violence of biological, chemical, and nuclear warfare is coming back to haunt us.

Brutality begets brutality, as they say, and given the lethality of these weapons of mass destruction, it is only a matter of time before they are turned back against us. What goes around comes around.

So, in the end, we have two choices: escalate the violence in a spiral of global doom and destruction, or change our way of life--our entire way of life.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Creapy Energy

As everyone knows, there's a lot of visible energy in Yellowstone National Park, but as many Plains Indians can tell you, there's a lot of invisible energy -- good and bad -- in the land of the Shoshone, Teton, and Cheyenne. Between Wind River and Bear Lodge, there's a bunch of BTUs up for grabs, and Wyoming politics produces more than its share of grabbers. In today's post, Wampum looks at some of these grabby characters and who's pulling their strings.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Common Wealth Account

Haudenosaunee spokeswomen are presently touring Ireland, Scotland, and England to explain the current conflict with the government of Canada over the lands of the Six Nations confederacy.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Onward Christian Soldiers

Trial Ad Notes links to a New York Times article about the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division's new mission to support religious bigotry.

Friday, June 15, 2007


Fiasco Written All Over It

Earlier fears of American oil companies about The Kissinger Plan to rule the world, by occupying all the Middle East oil fields with US troops, have now proven prescient. The irony of the US Department of Defense having now become the world's number one consumer of petroleum products has many Americans wondering just what they are getting for their investment in the worlds' largest military.


Dioxin Doc

The Last Ghost of War, a documentary about the continuing catastrophe of Agent Orange on Vietnam vets and the Vietnamese people--exposed to United States Air Force chemical warfare thirty years ago--premiers this summer. For those concerned about the current use of chemical warfare by US troops in Colombia and Iraq, this film serves as a reminder that the effects of war crimes and crimes against humanity don't disappear with the end of hostilities.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


A Critical Mass

There was a moment when there existed the danger of a nuclear explosion, and they had to get the water out from under the reactor, so that a mixture of uranium and graphite wouldn't get into it--with the water they would have formed a critical mass. The explosion would have been between three and five megatons [350 Hiroshimas]. This would have meant that not only Kiev and Minsk, but a large part of Europe would have been uninhabitable.

--Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


No Safe Nukes

As a result of the [Chernobyl] accident, 50 million Ci of radionuclides were released into the atmosphere. Seventy percent of these descended on Belarus; fully 23% of its territory is contaminated by cesium-137 radionuclides with a density of over 1 Ci/km. ...As a result of the perpetual presence of small doses of radiation, the number of people with cancer, mental retardation, neurological disorders, and genetic mutations increases with each year.

---Belaruskaya entsiklopedia

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Legacy of Slavery

Heaven knows the lives of American Indians have been complicated by 500 years of European religions, economics, and governing institutions. Surviving this onslaught was tough enough, but when the Euro-Americans themselves were irreconcilably divided--as during the Civil War--first nations like the Cherokee were likewise torn asunder.

Reading this account of the history of the Freedmen issue helped us put the current conflict in context, and aided us in understanding the longstanding resentments of US interference in Cherokee affairs, as well as the fact that while unfortunate situations accrued over time under this unequal relationship, there are some things that cannot easily be undone.

Reflecting on the unsavory aspects of the legacy of slavery on all Americans, I recalled a story told years ago by my friend from the Eastern Band of Cherokee in North Carolina, of a time in the 1960s when she was a young girl traveling across the South to see relatives in Oklahoma, and asking her mother why they had to use the Coloreds drinking fountain. I don't recall how her mother explained this to her young daughter, but I do remember meeting older white people from the south who looked Indian but were very defensive against being identified as such. Given the disadvantages associated with this identity prior to the American revolution of liberation in the 1960s, it is not hard to understand.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Shaming the UN

Dr. Mona El Farra speaks to the United Nations in New York on the 40th anniversary of the occupation of Palestine by the UN-sponsored apartheid state of Israel.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Indigenous Movement

We were recently asked by a reader to define the Indigenous Movement. Here's our reply:

The Indigenous Movement is a term used to describe original peoples whose culture is still extant that continue to perceive themselves as a distinct nation or tribe in opposition to the dominant structures and narratives of state-centric and market-oriented systems of social organization. One characteristic these ancient political entities share are systems of governance, cosmology, and economics that precede modern states, religions, and other such institutions.

Examples of Fourth World nations that make up the present Indigenous Movement include Maori, Aborigines, Basques, Saami, Biafrans, First Nations of Canada, and Native American tribes in the US. Worldwide, these bedrock nations number in the thousands, and are seeking some degree of autonomy from the states whose boundaries overlay their ancient territories.

Some confusion has arisen due to the use of the term fourth world by New Age sects and the claim of the term native american by white nationalists. So while any local aspect of a broader social movement can claim to be indigenous to the area in which it was born, to say they are part of the Indigenous Movement would be incorrect in the current context, and only serve to confuse.

To use an analogy, I may choose to pursue my civil rights as part of a class action suit under the law, but that would not make these actions part of the Civil Rights Movement, which is recognized by custom and convention to refer to a specific era and the actions of particular organizations and individuals in obtaining the legal rights which we now have a right to demand and defend.


Nowhere to Run

Cornering the real estate market and enslaving indigenous, black, or poor whites is as old as, well, the Founding Fathers, but while this was once accomplished by force of arms, nowdays we are run off the land by legal concoctions like NAFTA. As Narco News reports, the system of such colossal dealing in stolen property south of the border, is now planned for New England. But before we talk about that, you might want to hear what has happened to the family farm in Mexico since American agribusiness invaded ten years ago.

The first thread to be ripped from the societal fabric as a consequence of NAFTA was the Mexican family and collective farm. In Mexico, that has also equaled a kind of genocide: the vacuuming of indigenous farmers (still speaking 62 pre-Hispanic languages and fighting to preserve ancient customs and knowledge) from the land they have stewarded for millennia. It is an assault that intensifies each day.

The destruction of the family farm also brought radical impositions upon the family unit: Millions of fathers, broke and with hungry kids, left home to find work in Mexican cities, or in the agribusiness fields of the US and Canada, or in the service industries of all three countries. The young men soon left, too (in many parts of Mexico, high school classrooms have mainly girls as students; the boys have followed their fathers northward), and, increasingly, young women have joined the economically imposed pilgrimage. Children are typically raised by single moms, or by grandmothers or aunts, in fatherless households, and may never get to meet their brothers and sisters born “on the other side.” Entire regions once dedicated to farming are now dependent on funds wired back from the US and Canada. Bereft of young adults, the population of the Mexican countryside has aged by default.

As there is nowhere to run from the murderous greed of a market freed of social responsibility, we either choose to fight alongside the indigenous uprising, or we choose to lose. It's that simple.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Faking Elections

Indian Country Today observes that vote fraud [which in our opinion put the final nail in the coffin of US democracy] is not the same as voter fraud, which, in the view of the present Department of Justice, is "voting while black, Indian, or poor."


Rail of Fears

There's usually a lesson to be learned from human adversity, and I suspect this will, in time, be true with the current conflict between the Cherokee Nation and the US Congress over terms of their treaty and constitution. For now, suffice to say that with so many politicians and emotions involved, we will probably get more heat than light on the subject, and would probably do well to educate ourselves on how this situation arose, and how it might best be resolved.

But like I say, few with the ability to influence the outcome are presently ready to receive reconciliatory ideas, so researching and creating a record to prevent this sovereignty train from going off the rails is perhaps the only thing indigenous scholars can do. As usual, there is bound to be more than meets the eye involved, and who else is likely to compose an analytical narrative without the hyperbole?

Common sense, reason, the rights of man will never, of course, be enough for those looking for opportunities to exterminate aboriginal culture, but I believe there is another audience waiting for someone other than pols and pundits to make sense of it all. Maybe some of us can help.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Aid Bait

We're enjoying reading Dave Eggers' new novel What is the What?, a remarkable story that shatters preconceptions of Africa, civil war, and the plight of refugees in the modern world--reminiscent of The Balkan Express and its formulaic revelations about ethnic cleansing as an almost unstoppable tool of fascist states.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Only Humans

One of the kneejerk responses of conventional progressives is to be pro-union. But what happens when unions, designed to serve wage-earners in adversarial employment relationships, come up against benign employers who prefer to treat employees well without union interference? What happens when unions confront the sovereignty of Indian nations over employment in tribal casinos or charter schools?

At the very least, unions--like any other form of social organization--should be supported when they are helpful in resolving conflict, but abandoned when they get in the way. After all, they're only humans.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Lions Tigers and Bears

The Sudanese lions, Sri Lankan tigers, and Russian bears have all manifested terrifying attributes in the images and imaginations of English-speaking peoples, but larger-than-life human monstrosities and mythologically-constructed caricatures of these frightening political creatures have never contributed to constructive relationships or resolutions.

While the world is indeed fraught with dangerous diversions and treacherous traps for the innocent, the perpetuation of scary tales is nearly as destructive as heroic myths of chosen peoples and manifest destinies. In the end, all these cruel illusions create are terrified children and horrified adults incapable of dealing with a world that is undeniably charged with psychological hazards they are unprepared for.

Amplifying these anxieties or denying these deviations only renders them helpless.

Monday, June 04, 2007


Mourn Learn Engage

The Civil Rights Movement was co-opted by state and market interests. The human rights movement, likewise, was defeated by international institutions--such as the UN and World Bank--that serve these same interests. The indigenous movement, however--united by relationships and values that precede states, markets, and institutions--remains a viable social phenomenon, offering an authentic counternarrative to the synthetic corporate message.

Whether the latter can endure long enough to attract sufficient support from civil society to affect a change to a sustainable way of life, remains to be seen.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Power of PEN

What we have experienced now not only goes beyond our knowledge but also exceeds our ability to imagine. ...The things that are happening to us today are unbelievable.
--Svetlana Alexievich

What I really care about is the relation between violence, trauma, and the loss of language. ...People lose their language or their ability to give an account, to give a narrative of what happened to them, because they lose trust that anyone will care. ... If we are talking about writing and catastrophe, what the writer has to do is give voice to people who have become silent.
--Carolin Emcke

I think there is a cumulative effect---that if we stopped what we are doing, the world would be worse. And if you believe that at all, you have to accept that there is value in the cumulative power of truth-telling, of making and keeping a record, and keeping track of what has happened.
--Philip Gourevitch

People want their lives to make a story.
--Oksana Zabuzhko

[ World Voices, PEN America: A Journal for Writers and Readers ]

Friday, June 01, 2007


Profitable Parlay

GE lights the way to corporate irresponsibility.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?