Reflections from the Ah­nish­i­nah­bæójib­way (We, the People)


September 1, 1995

“Activist heads home from China,” according to the front-page headline in Friday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune.  American citizen and human rights activist Harry Wu was expelled from China after having been convicted of spying.  Mr. Wu had been videotaping documentaries about human rights violations and prison labor in China, but his arrest was used by the Good Ol’ Boys in the United States as a pretext for boycotting the United Nations World Conference on Women to be held in Beijing September 4-15.

Women around the world have not had an effective voice in international—or national—politics.  The International Conference on Women is finally providing a forum for women to have dialogue, debate and discussions about the systematic oppression of women, worldwide, under the Romanized Western parody of international law.  The Good Ol’ Boys have used all kinds of strategies to keep women from gaining the voice which is rightfully theirs: from witch-burning to polarizing discussion into volatile and inflammatory divisive issues like the “abortion debate.”  The world is changing; the entrenched male hierarchy has had their chance and has created nothing but wars and other violence, poverty, pain and suffering, and ecological devastation.  Hey guys, wake up and smell the coffee!

LABOR DAY: Labor Day will be celebrated September 4.  Union-busting intensified under the Kennedy administration and has further escalated since the Reagan administration, and we need acknowledge the changes by re-naming this national holiday.  A more accurate name would be “Slave-labor Day,” or, better yet, “International Human Rights Day,” recognizing the people who will be working the whole three-day weekend in the highly touted “service sector” at $4.25 an hour or less, and the migrant laborers who will be sweating in the fields for far less than the minimum wage, harvesting the food for your Labor Day picnic.  And, what about the guys in the newly-formed chain gangs, bringing back the good ol’ days of prison-labor, do they get a 3-day holiday?  Harry Wu, where are you?

CRIME WATCH: In the cities, local police departments sponsor “Neighborhood Watch” programs under which neighborhood residents report criminal activity.  We also need “Neighborhood Watch” groups in the Northbrush: the tree-huggers need to organize to stop fly-by-night wood-butchers from terrorizing the local environment and destroying the habitat of the bears, birds, deer, and other local residents.  If you see any suspicious bulldozers, tree-skidders (especially the kind that takes 40 acres to turn around, and wrecks everything in front of it)... if you see people in hard-hats or orange vests, building roads that go nowhere; if you see any questionable-looking politicians with that greedy look in their eyes, especially ones with bulging back pockets—that’s when the people who care about this land should be able to call a hotline and report crimes against the environment.  The only problem: what’s the phone number?

BROKEN PROMISES: When I was growing up at Red Lake, when we met someone, instead of saying “Hello,” we usually said, “When’s Payment?”  That was standard etiquette on the Rez a generation ago.  But, things change, although people still don’t greet you with a “Hello.”  Now, especially at White Earth, the usual greeting is “When are the indictments coming down?”

John Collier, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs who was the Founding Father of the Indian Reorganization Act (I.R.A.) Tribal Governments, was quoted as saying the Indian politicians he wanted had a “white-plus psychology,” meaning that they were greedier and more corrupt than the white politicians that Collier knew in Washington—if that’s possible.  But, there is always “the good and the bad” in every politician, including the Federally-Recognized I.R.A. Indian leaders.  I try to see the good in everybody, and these Indian politicians are good at stealing, they’re good at lying, and, in a Democratic way, they’re very good at putting their own interests ahead of their constituents’.  (The “mismanagement” of the recent Indigenous Games is one of many examples.)

FEDERALLY RECOGNIZED INDIGENOUS GAMES: The White man has been playing games with his Indians since he invented them.  On one hand, he says “Indians are sovereign,” but on the other, he says that “Indians are wards of the government, under trusteeship,” which means “incompetent.”  Under the English common law used in the U.S., in order to be guilty of a crime, a person must be competent to stand trial—maybe this is why certain Indian Leaders can rip off tax dollars.  The White immigrants used “Indians”—specifically adult Indian males—to sign treaties and land cession “agreements.”  How can documents signed by incompetent people be legally valid?

FOURTH PARTY: Rumor has it that Senator Bill Bradley is throwing his grey hat into the political melee.  He publicly announced that he is leaving the Senate, but he hopes to make some changes in Washington, D.C.  I don’t know what his platform is, but he sounds inspirational and patriotic; as though he sees some fresh air and a light at the end of the tunnel.  His Party needs to start with cleaning out the bull-pen: some of those old bulls and over-fed steers have been fouling the barn for 200 years (and rats have infested the foundation), and the stench and pollution from Washington, and the brown cloud that hangs over it, are sometimes remarkably vile.

Have a safe holiday—drive safely and wear your seat belt.

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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