Uprising for May 29th
PART TWO OF TWO PARTS: Same Country, Different Nation: The Real Red
Lake by Mike Mosedale, City Pages, May 4, 2005. http://citypages.com/databank/26/1274/article13249.asp.
Shirley Cain's response to
Mosedale's May 4th story
I am glad you are doing a story on the "Real" Red Lake.
disagree with a lot of what this writer says about the "Real" Red Lake.
I grew up in Red Lake. That writer does not know the "Real" Red Lake. A
non-Indian who has never lived there does not have a clue about what
really goes on there. If you want to know the "Real" Red Lake, talk to
any person who grew up there. Many of us who grew up there still talk
about how terrible the other kids treated us because we were
"different" because we were poor.
My parents took my siblings and I out of the public school because the
other students picked on us or made fun of us every day. Although I
certainly do not support the action Jeff Weise took, I can certainly
empathize with other kids who are made fun of because they are
different. Every one of my siblings were taunted and shamed by other
students because they were poor. My sister¹s best friend knows a
student who moved so far away and wanted to get as far away from Red
Lake as they could. One of my sister¹s hates Red Lake so much she
she will never go back to live there. My brother told me a story about
a young bully who teased him every day until my brother just had to
beat him up so the bully would leave him alone.
Many people do not know the real stories about what went on at Red Lake
for people who had to endure growing up there, especially if you were
different in any way. I just wanted to say my piece. I have horror
stories about the "Real" Red Lake. The media paints the Tribe as being
"traditional" and able to "take care of themselves." The truth be told,
many of the Red Lake people are lost, even people from my era. Also,
many of them will not talk about the recent traumas they just endured,
let alone their past trauma. Also, they forgot their traditional ways.
I grew up in Ponemah where a lot of the people lived traditionally
which means they were respectful of others and very hospitable. These
days, you are lucky to have genuine hospitality in Red Lake.
Oftentimes, they will show you public hospitality, but, it will be
different if you went up there incognito. There are a lot more stories
to be told about the "Real" Red Lake than what is being told
Clara NiiSka's response to
Mosedale's May 4th article
City Pages reporter Mike Mosedale is, in my
honest and thoughtful writer who has the - perhaps it's courage,
perhaps chutzpah - to put his perceptions and understandings in
indelible ink for more than one hundred thousand readers. He made
effort to include a broad range of perspectives in his recent article
about Red Lake, and to be 'sympathetic' to grieving Red Lake Indians.
But, no writer is ever going to get all of their words
"right" in the eyes of each and every reader, especially not when
writing about a place like Red Lake where almost everything - including
how many people actually live on the reservation - is disputed,
'subject to interpretation.'
Mosedale writes that Red Lake is "home to about 7,000 people," but
according to whom? He did not tell us who gave him that
information, or else his editors at City Pages decided that we
readers do not need to know.
Seven thousand people? Just five years ago, in
the year 2000, there were about five
thousand people (mostly Indians) living at Red Lake, only half of them
over the age of 18. Mosedale comments on a huge increase:
"Between 1990 and 2000, the population jumped by a
staggering 40 percent, leading to acute housing shortages and
Did that "staggering" rate then double: yet another 40%
increcase in population in just five years? Or, did Mosedale's
unnamed source deliberately mislead the City Pages
reporter about something so basic as "population"? Either way,
an important part of the story about "the Real Red Lake" that didn't
City Pages also erred in reporting important
historical and political facts about Red Lake.
Red Lake is, according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, "very
unique." A short translation of that 'bureauspeak' is that the
realities of overt colonial violence, economic oppression, and
neocolonial manipulation on the un-ceded Indigenous people's
lands at Red Lake are still raw, real, personally experienced in
everyday life ... and, although the key documents are publicly
available at archives, libraries, and increasingly, online, the full
extent of what's happened at Red Lake has been at least to some degree
hidden from the 'outside' world.
Until recently, the history of colonial transformation at Red Lake was
known by Indigenous people through personal experience just
once-removed: told by elders whose grandfathers were there
at the treaty negotiations, whose fathers remembered from their own
boyhood when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, elders across whose
backs the scars of boarding-school abuse were undeniable testimony to
both historical reality and the colonizers' brutality.
Violence-saturated Red Lake - as it is now, in this year 2005 - has
been molded by that history: more than a century of U.S. military
occupation, genocide, forcible wresting of ancient home land into a
prison-camp, dubbed an 'Indian reservation' and then 'repackaged' in
the colonizers' forked-tongue doublespeak, puffing oppression into a
peculiar sort of misplaced pride: "federally-recognized Indian Nation."
And, in 2005, the realities of Red Lake history have been blurred,
distorted by federal 'spin' and obscured by colonizers' self-serving
inaccuracies. Instead of standing in the present with a
understanding of their own history and current political situation,
young people like Jeff Wiese have been enveloped in a miasma of
ambiguities and illusions, floundering in misconceptions about
land-cession treaties and U.S. federal laws that are somehow supposed
to make us "sovereign," and - as Mosedale writes in his City Pages
article - struggling with racist, colonially created "blood quantum"
identities. ... Deadly errors.
Details of the factual mistakes in the City Pages article: the
particulars of the 1864 treaty, what was ceded - and what wasn't
... the specifics of subsequent 'agreements' and federal legislation
... the historical relationships of the Red Lake Band and the
Minnesota Chippewa Tribe
... the legal cases wending their way to the U.S. Supreme Court and
ways that 'legal precedents' thus established have affected daily life
at Red Lake ... even a brief summary would likely be too heavily laden
with dates and legal technicalities to make 'good radio,' at least not
in this short response on Indian Uprising.
If we are ever to heal the problems at Red Lake, it's
important to begin with accurate, honest understandings of both history
and present-day realities.
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