Reflections from the Ah­nish­i­nah­bæójib­way (We, the People)


July 20, 1994

“Hey, Chief!”  “Hey ... Indian!”  “Can you make it rain?”  “Ugh!  Do you live in a tee-pee?”  “Can you make a fire by rubbing two sticks together ... do you use smoke-signals? ... How much wampum you got?  ... You smokum peace-pipe? ... You got-um fat squaw? ... “  These are all stereotypes and projections which promote the mythological identity of “Indian.”

It wasn’t too long ago that the professional Indians in Minneapolis got national media attention by speaking against the racist mascots of the big-league sports teams, as well as of the schools.  Now these professional Indians have a new theme, “save the Indian culture.”  Bleeding-heart White liberals [another stereotype] are riding shotgun for the Big-Bucks Indians who make a living promoting the Indian images of the moment: save the Chippewa language; shake-the-sweat-lodge shamans; and Wellstone and Inouye’s cult of Indian Religion.  The crooked Treaties of the last century excluded the Aboriginal Indigenous people—the only religion at the Treaty meetings was Judeo-Christianity.  Friend-of-the-Indian Bishops prayed over the Treaty participants and their stereotypes, and then they began preying on the Aboriginal Indigenous people, and the Good Christians haven’t stopped.  The Indian Freedom of Religion Act legislation currently under consideration by the United States Senate is one more attempt to unilaterally draw the Aboriginal Indigenous people under the jurisdiction of racist Roman Law and Judeo-Christianity.

During the mascot-stereotype protests at the Hubert Humphrey stadium, B.I.A. Big Chief Earl “Vouchers” Barlow sat in a skybox doing the Tomahawk chop, while the other Wanna-be Indian leaders used the Atlanta Braves’ Indian symbols to feather their own nests, and these clowns also dressed up as caricatured painted, beaded and feathered Indians for the national media.  The National Indian Leaders were not addressing the needs of the people in the Red Ghettos—they were following the agenda of the National Council of Churches and the other people who were funding them, promoting racism and scapegoating so that their exalted leaders would retain their position in the hierarchy.

The reality of U.S. history is that the Euro-Americans have all but destroyed the Aboriginal Indigenous cultures of these two continents, and what is being promoted is now as “Chippewa” is a White man’s re-interpretation which has nothing to do with the Ahnishinahbæótjibway.  The Indian stereotypes which are being so obligingly portrayed by Wanna-Be Indians insulate the people of the mainstream immigrant culture from facing the heinous genocide of more than a billion Aboriginal Indigenous people, and the other atrocities of Western European civilization.  When a White Wanna-be gets a racist, stereotypical question like, “can you make it rain,” that Wanna-be takes it as a compliment, “I’ve finally arrived, because that [other] White person thinks I’m an real Indian.”  These Wanna-be Indians are the ones who actively promote degrading and demeaning stereotypes of Aboriginal Indigenous people.  The Wanna-be’s who so desperately crave the artificial identity of Indian may not realize that all stereotypes—no matter how complimentary they may seem—have another side, and provide an easy avenue for scapegoating, etc.  Stereotyping and labelling also make it almost impossible to deal with the underlying causes of the racism that they portray.

The narrow world-view of which Roman Law is a part, depends on an artificial hierarchy sustained by self-serving illusions like scapegoating and stereotyping.  The world has reached the point where we can no longer afford to waste the human resources which are destroyed by racism, stereotyping, and other vicious illusions.  Whether it’s nappy-headed papooses eating watermelons, Amos ‘n Andy, drug-dealer gangsters or Ten Little Indians, the time has come to trash these obsolete stereotypes.  If racism and other hierarchical insults make you feel good—take a long look in the mirror, you should really have a good laugh.

RED LAKE SCHOOL BUCKS:

According to the Sunday, July 17, Bemidji Pioneer, there are only fourteen “taxpayers” on the Red Lake Reservation, and they all live in Redby.  The article quotes Superintendent Schmidt, “We have to rely on state and federal funding.  The impact aid supplements the state aid we receive.  The idea behind the funding is that it is designed for Indian reservations because of no tax base.”  This sounds like pork barrel, doesn’t it?  Someone slopping at the public trough, and all of those lazy Indians are on welfare, eh?

Well ... who gets the high-paying jobs?  Hey, who gets the contracts and sub-contracts them out at a big profit?  Since the Treaties, compulsory Indian school-education has provided lucrative jobs for the White community, paid for out of Aboriginal Indigenous peoples resources.  Where are the billions of dollars of supposed “Indian money?”  Where is it actually spent?  Would the town whose mascot is the original ecocidal resource thief and his Big Blue Ox (and that other wooden Indian down the block, shading his eyes looking for graft and hand-outs) have any economic base, not to mention a “tax base,” if it were not for Ahnishinahbæótjibway land and natural resources?

There is a certain in-group of Whites who are using Indians as a get-rich-quick economic system.  As wards of the government under Trusteeship, Indians have no political clout, and have always been exploited by unscrupulous Whites.  The latest shakedown about Red Lake School funding obscures the real issue, which is compulsory school education as child-abuse, again.  The “good students” at the Red Lake Schools are being trained to be pow-wow Indian mascots for the White man, drumming up business for the tourist industry and the rest of the regional White infrastructure.  Can you imagine what will happen to one of these kids when they try to apply for a real job at a big corporation, and they have to fill out their resume: “I speakum Chippewa ... wear feathers and heap-many beads and do-um pow-wow dancing ... Ugh, me Indian!”  According to the grapevine, the programs which are going to get cut in the recent “budget crunch” are the ones which actually give the kids access to some real job skills: transportation outside the red-lined I.S.D. 38 into the “white” schools, and vocational education like welding and mechanics, which gives the students self-esteem and incentive to take on more responsibility, including continuing their education.

To all of you people who are hollering about the tax base and the “welfare mothers,” let’s have a Constitutional Amendment, to repeal the provisions that your White racist Founding Fathers wrote about “Indians not taxed”—and thereby without representation or Constitutional rights.  I’ll bet that the people who predictably raise the issues of “taxes” and “welfare mothers” every election, won’t get off their dead asses to help make a level playing field, where everybody has an equal chance to steal the Aboriginal Indigenous peoples’ wealth, and shares the illusion of the elusive pursuit of happiness.

To the Lakota woman who called me Sunday:  Thank you for the encouragement, but I can’t speak for you.  There are people in your community who can, and must, write your own history, and your own present perspective.  If the Whites and the Wanna-be’s try to assimilate into Aboriginal Indigenous culture, more than likely they’ll become better people, and show more responsibility for Grandmother Earth.  The problems come when “outsiders” try to act like Indians, who don’t know anything about the Aboriginal Indigenous people, either.

My telephone number is (218) 679-2382 and my mailing address is P.O. Box 484, Bemidji, MN 56601.

Wub-e-ke-niew


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