Reflections from the Ah­nish­i­nah­bæójib­way (We, the People)

June 21,1993

Professor Lanai Guinier
University of Philadelphia Law School

Dear Professor Lanai Guinier,

We are writing in the hopes that you or one of your colleagues may be able to put us into contact with a lawyer who is able to take on the establishment in a case involving Aboriginal Indigenous Peoples’ Sovereignty and human and natural rights.

I am an Anishinabe Ojibway—I am not an “Indian.”  I live on my ancestral Aboriginal Indigenous homelands, which the White man calls “Red Lake Indian Reservation.”  For several years, I have been writing a newspaper column in the Native American Press, clarifying the identity of the peoples who are here, and standing up for my peoples’ rights.  I have been addressing the problems in the community, and have been addressing the violence which has been brought in by external forces such as the United States Government.  The philosophy of the Anishinabe Ojibway has always been non-violence.  There were no wars here, and we do not have a word for “war” or “peace” in our Anishinabe Ojibway language.

The historical background which led up to the present problem includes that the United States Government is trying to re-define both the Aboriginal Indigenous People and the French Métis, and make us into “Indians,” which is an artificial identity.  I told the United States Supreme Court and the Bureau of Indian Affairs that I am not a “Chippewa Indian,” and I turned in my “Indian Enrollment Card” to Justice Thurgood Marshall, who kept it.

We have been working for the last eight years, researching the genealogy and the history of Red Lake, debunking the lies which have been told about the Anishinabe Ojibway.  The people who signed the Red Lake Treaty were not Anishinabe Ojibway—we can prove with meticulously documented genealogies that they were French Métis who the U.S. Government re-defined as “Red Lake and Pembina Chippewa Indians.”  As is proven by the transcripts of the Treaty Negotiations, the Red Lake Anishinabe Ojibway did not sign the Treaty.  As was said at these negotiations, we cannot sell Grandmother Earth, which is our identity, our birthright, and a part of our religion the Midewiwin.  This relationship to the land, our religion, our philosophy, and our non-violence, is why our permacultural ecosystem was intact, why a person could drink the water from any lake or stream—and for that matter, why all newcomers were greeted as friends.  If we had been the violent, warlike people presented in the projection of Western European Civilization, the “Indian” stereotype, Columbus would have never landed.

The Anishinabe Ojibway people define ourselves, in accordance with our ancient Midewiwin religion, in terms of our patrilineal Dodems, which White anthropologists have translated as “Clans.”  I am of the Bear Dodem, as were my father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and so on into time immemorial—as is my son.  The Métis people who are maintained here by external forces do not have Anishinabe Ojibway Clans/Dodems.  They are patrilineally European.

At the present time, there are approximately eight thousand people on the Red Lake “Chippewa Indian” rolls.  Of these, about two hundred are actually Anishinabe Ojibway—the rest are White people, French Métis, and others, many without a drop of Anishinabe Ojibway blood.

The United States Government uses these “Chippewa Indians” to maintain the fiction that our Anishinabe Ojibway land was ceded; as a smokescreen to hide the massive genocide of the Anishinabe Ojibway; and through the intentional blurring of our identities as “Indians,” to maintain an occupation force under U.S. control in what remains of the Anishinabe Ojibway community.  The “Indian culture” which is fostered by external forces is one of violence.

Red Lake Reservation is categorized as one of two “Closed Reservations,” meaning that the land was never allotted.  The United States Government unilaterally and fraudulently [we have documentation to prove this] forced the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act onto Red Lake Reservation in 1959, and at the present time is dealing with this external government called the “Red Lake Chippewa Tribal Council” through the Western European Sovereignty which unilateral U.S. Statute assigns to the Secretary of the Interior under what they call the “Sacred Trust.”  The reality is that it’s an occupation force.

There is an island of land claimed by the State of Minnesota on the Red Lake Reservation, called the “Redby Townsite,” which originated from a railroad patent unilaterally granted by the United States Congress.  The “Redby Townsite” went through a land company, and much of it ended up in White hands, as planned.  There remain some parcels of land which are on the State of Minnesota property-tax rolls, and for which Beltrami County collects a “garbage tipping fee” although they do not collect the garbage.

THE CASE:  On June 12, at approximately 7:30 p.m., I called my son, who was living in a house for which I have been the care-taker for a year and a half, on the Redby townsite.  By some circumstance, I telephoned him at the particular moment that two Métis Indians had broken into his house, and were in the process of assaulting him.  Myself and the other people with me could hear him screaming over the phone, “Don’t kill me, don’t kill me,” after which the phone went dead.  The assailants had torn the phone out of the wall.  I immediately left for Redby, and the Reservation police were called.  I took my son to the hospital for X-Rays in Bemidji, 37 miles away.  (I am enclosing a copy of the hand-out that the Bemidji Hospital gave him.)  The Reservation [Bureau of Indian Affairs] Police did not arrive until we were ready to leave for Bemidji.

I and my son filed assault charges both in the Bureau of Indian Affairs (which is called a “CFR—Code of Federal Regulations”) Court at Redlake, and with the County Attorney in Bemidji.  In the French Métis culture which prevails on the Reservation because of their majority population, the “traditional” way of dealing with an assault is to perpetuate the violence by going over and beating up the assailants.  Some friends of mine offered to “even the score” by beating up the people who tried to kill my son, but I said no.  We need to use their law, and address the violence which is in this community.

The Red Lake B.I.A. police have not even picked up the assailants for questioning—one of them is the son of a police officer.  The Beltrami County Attorney is claiming that he has no jurisdiction over “Indians” on the land that the county claims in Redby townsite, although these “Indians” were created and are defined by imported European law.  They are shirking their responsibility, and they are enabling the genocide of the Anishinabe Ojibway to continue, and are covering up the grand theft of the land.  I repeat, there is no such person as an “Indian,” and never was.  The County Attorney is colluding with the long-term U.S. policy of obscuring the issues by claiming that the European immigrant Métis are the same people as the Anishinabe Ojibway.  The Métis Indians are not indigenous to this land.  The Beltrami County Attorney is caught up in the United States Government’s structure of artificially defined apartheid based on illusory “Indian blood quantum” [which has nothing to do with Aboriginal Indigenous ancestry].

As a parent, I am understandably upset about the assault of my son, but I am also concerned about the larger issues.  We have done the background research to prove that the people I am saying are Europeans are, in fact, Europeans.  The paper “sovereignty” wielded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs has been consistently used to oppress the Aboriginal Indigenous People, through their subject people, their created “Indians.”

Throughout the course of their history on this Continent, the Europeans have consistently refused to recognize the inherent Sovereignty of the Aboriginal Indigenous People here.  And yet, it is our land and resources which underwrite the United States economy and the U.S. monetary system.  Our people have been going without in our own land.  We, the Anishinabe Ojibway, are neither a “minority” nor an “ethnic group”—those few of us who have survived the centuries of genocide remain a Sovereign people, and we have an inherent right to exist on our own land.

There is much more detail, but we don’t want to make this letter too long.  Do you know of a lawyer who is willing to take on the United States Government, the governments originating out of Western European thinking in the United Nations, and is willing to use this particular case as a lever to get at the broader issues?  The immigrant European Nations, including the United States Government (which bases its legal system, including so-called “Indian law” on British Common Law, Roman Statute law, and Judeo-Christianity), has consistently refused to recognize the inherent Sovereignty of the Aboriginal Indigenous Nations of this Continent.  They are bringing a foreign law onto this land, and although even the [European-law] United Nations says they do not “recognize” us, are implicitly acknowledging our existence through their unilateral writing of labyrinthine “Indian law,” the paper “Indian Sovereignty” used by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and their use of “Indians” to obscure the genocide.  This stealing of Aboriginal Indigenous Peoples land and resources, this consistent refusal of Western European Civilization to recognize the Aboriginal Indigenous peoples and our inherent right to exist unmolested on our own land, and the ongoing genocide, must come to an end.  The violence must be addressed.  We have, over the course of the last eight years, already done much of the background research, and we can win.

    Thank you.
    Wub-e-keniew,  
        a.k.a. Francis Blake, Jr.

        


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