Wub-e-ke-niew was a survivor of institutional practices and conditions created by genocidal U.S. policies; he had scars. He understood U.S. genocide against the Ahnishinahbæótjibway his own personal experience, as well as from what his grandfather and others had told him. Wub-e-ke-niew remembered the names the Ahnishinahbæótjibway at Red Lake who had been killed, had often known them personally. He was all-too aware that only a handful of Ahnishinahbæótjibway survived.
The discursive strategies employed by the B.I.A. and the “Indian” elite, including extremely restricted access to information, politicized contestation of available information, and identity categorization using parameters which obscure the existence (and present non-existence) of indigenous people, are effective ones. Wub-e-ke-niew knew of only a few Ahnishinahbæótjibway who were over the age of fifty, most of them worked with us closely or were people with whom we were in contact, almost none of them are still alive today—and more than one of their Dodems went completely extinct when they died. Wub-e-ke-niew had known the people at Red Lake for a lifetime, he recognized every name on the 1930-39 B.I.A. censes (and many from far earlier censes), and he not only knew who these people were, but had personal reminiscences and stories about almost everyone.
Nonetheless, as the patterns of our compiled data emerged, the stark realization that he knew every single Ahnishinahbæótjibway whom there was to know, was both exceedingly painful and emotionally unanticipated: it was far easier to hold onto the relatively unexamined belief that there were at least a few more surviving Ahnishinahbæótjibway … somewhere. The clarification of B.I.A. policy and practices he gained through studying their documents fit together and confirmed from another perspective what he knew from other sources including his personal experience. The reality was undeniable. Genocide.
What is it like to read documents specifying the plans and processes intended to destroy one’s own people? What is like to confront, in exhaustive detail, the near-total accomplishment of that annihilation? What is it like to stand among the ghosts of millions, in the terrible solitude of the survivor? I was the witness of my husband’s standing there. I have not yet fully discerned the balance between his privacy and what must be said publicly. What has been written cannot be reliably recalled, and so for the time being what I shall write about it is this: the mere fact that any human being should have ever stood in that devastating place is an obscenity beyond words. Genocide is wrong.
About a week after my husband died, I talked at great length with a man who is one of the very few of the next generations of the Ahnishinahbæótjibway. “Wub-e-ke-niew was the last” of his generation, we acknowledged to each other, struggling to come to terms with his death. What he and I had inherited is an awful responsibility.
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there were 4,119,301 “American Indian and Alaska Native” people in the United States, and 5,087 ‘Indians’ at Red Lake Reservation. Wub-e-ke-niew was adamant that he was “not an Indian,”  and he pointedly refused to be enumerated in previous censes on the grounds that the U.S. did not have the jurisdiction to count him as a U.S. resident – on his unceded land.
In 1988, now-deceased elder and World War II combat veteran G.W. sat at my kitchen table and looked me straight in the eyes. “I am not an Indian,” he told me. He indicated Wub-e-ke-niew with a glance and reiterated, ‘We are not Chippewas and we are not Indians. We are Ahnishinahbæótjibway, and we are a different people than the Chippewa Indians. Ah-nish-i-nah-bæ-o-tchi-bway means ‘We, the People.’ That is who we are.’
Wub-e-ke-niew agreed, ‘The people who call themselves Indians are descendants of Europeans and Africans who were ‘packed onto’ the Reservation by the White man. When I was young, I was told that they were not indigenous to this land. Indians are not our people. ‘Indian’ is not who we are. We are Ahnishinahbæótjibway—our patrilineal Dodems are an essential part of our identity, and this is our aboriginal indigenous land.’
Later, Wub-e-ke-niew added, “‘Indian’ is a projection of the Western Europeans. It is a stereotype and an invention of the White hierarchy that has been internalized by the Lislakh Creole [Métis] people who are calling themselves Indian. Indian is not a real identity. The Indians were invented by the White man, and are presently used by him to hide the land theft and the massive genocide of the Aboriginal Indigenous people here.” He explained,
The ‘Indians’ are used as a buffer and a go-between. The White men uses them to create an illusion, because the ‘Indians’ are violent and get angry like the White men do. Ahnishinahbæótjibway were egalitarian and non-violent people. Anger and hate are man-made, juvenile and pathological emotions and behaviors that the Western Culture uses to control people. The Western patriarchy could not afford to let his subject people come into contact with the aboriginal people—we are living proof that a harmonious egalitarian society works, and by the very existence of our ancient culture, we destroy the mythology necessary to maintain the White man’s hierarchy.
The Indians are a sacrificial goat. The Indians have no place for redress of grievances, as long as they take on the ‘Indian’ identity. They are used as political pawns by the White establishment to maintain their position and their slave-society.
Up into the 1930’s, the Indian was the ‘Vanishing American,’ but then Hitler made genocide—which was an acceptable thing for the European—look bad. Now, the good ol’ boys are marketing and promoting the Indian for all he’s worth. They point all around the world and accuse everybody else of ‘human rights violations,’ but, look what they are doing to their own people, giving them the identity of Indian. The Indians are not the Aboriginal people here—they are from Europe and Africa. If they did ‘a DNA’ on them, the White man would find that the Indians have the same bloodline as he does; most of the Indians do not have any Aboriginal blood in them. There are only a very few people here who have much Aboriginal ancestry at all.
Many of the people who publicly play the role of Indians are aware of their own ethnic identity, particularly those whose understanding of self was formed before World War II. Wub-e-ke-niew wrote in 1994:
When I was growing up in the late 30’s and early 40’s, one of the luxuries we had on the Rez was “going to the show.” We never went “to the movies,” and there was no place called a “movie theater” at Redlake, but anybody who had the price of admission (ten cents) went to the show—at the Show Hall. Those of us who did not have ten cents sat outside, and listened to the movie through the thin walls of the theater.
At that time, politicians had already realized the power of propaganda in the mass media. Most of the movies at Redlake were Grade B Westerns—the archetypal Cowboy-and-Indian movies (“shows”). The plot was always the same: in the early part of the movie, Hollywood Indians in grease paint rode out of the barren hills with war whoops, terrorized White “pioneer” women and children, burned the wagon train and drank up the whiskey. (They never attacked the Chinese railroad laborers or the Black slaves.) The climax of all these Western movies was the Cavalry charge on horseback, coming to the rescue in a cloud of flying dust, with bugles blowing and horses running, then the U.S. Army would slaughter the “merciless savage” Indians: every man, woman and child. The French Métis children would stand up on their benches in the Show Hall, clapping their hands and cheering loudly for the Cavalry as they mercilessly killed the Indians, shooting them in the back and scalping them.
These burnt stumps grew older, and guess what. Times have changed, and now these very same French Métis people who applauded the Cavalry, along with their descendants, have replaced the dead Indians who were massacred every week on Hollywood’s movie sets. They are now running around with beads and feathers and pow-wow paint, telling gullible White people that they are “Real Indians” who are experts on Indian culture; Indian Medicine Men practicing White Christian shamanism in what they claim are “sacred sweats” for big White bucks; hiding a heinous and despicable Holocaust—the genocide and “ethnic cleansing” of the Aboriginal people here, exploiting the rotten residue of Manifest Destiny and playing the White man’s burden of guilt for all it’s worth; parading in the mass media and acting like damn’ fools. Before World War II, these Métis spoke Creole French, and had lively French dances with expert French jiggers and fiddle-players. The highlight of these French dances was a raucous drunken fist-fight, which kept the local gossips busy until the next week’s dance. I often wonder what happened to their Traditional Cajun culture (did the English take it away from them as a part of the French-and-Indian wars?). I also wonder why they reject their own roots for the shallow pretense of mythological Indians. Could it be they fell for the second oldest dirty trick in the books, that carrot-on-a-stick of “payment” and “land money.”
Politically correct people have claimed this manufactured phenomenon of [mythological] Indians is a “Diversity of Culture,” but on closer examination, it’s an self-serving illusion of White culture that’s really out of focus, out of kilter and way out of balance.
To promote the Johnny-come-lately Indian culture on this Continent, the formerly French Indians create jobs for themselves, using phony “Indian preference” as “equal opportunity” to hire their relatives. These Indian fakers and con artists should be in jail for fraud and abuse of hard-earned taxpayers’ money and pigging out at the public trough [“salt pork”]. The people who claim to be “Indians” are nothing more than dark-skinned southern Europeans. Also participating in the Indian scam, are the lighter-skinned low-class Whites who are trying to get their share of the plundered resources here. The “me-too” grabbers include Squaw-Men who have become instant Indian experts because they fathered “Real Traditional full-blood Indians,” although they know nothing about the Aboriginal culture or values. Squaw Men have a vested interest in promoting Indian programs for their so-called Indian children, and some, like Schoolcraft, have written much nonsense about how to be a Real Indian. Instead of supporting their children in their own society like everybody else does, the Squaw Men are pretending that they did great service by making Indians, who can take advantage of Indian college tuition subsidies, Indian health care, and other “Indian” programs paid for with Aboriginal resources and taxpayer dollars. These parasitic Squaw Men are not only complicit in hiding the genocide of the Aboriginal people of these Continents, they are also vital to the perpetration of the American Indian fraud, which makes a pathological liar out of everyone who claims to be an “Indian.” The only Indians who have ever lived on either one of these Continents are people from India.
Wub-e-ke-niew’s scathing critique of the “formerly French Indians” was written from his cultural context, in which public shaming was a potent form of social sanction, and the older Métis at Red Lake understood exactly what he was saying. Wub-e-ke-niew may have underestimated, however, the degree to which the Métis have been penetrated by the colonizers’ externally imposed identities, and entrapped by the federal “Indian” system.
Contemporary Indians’ internalization – and reification – of federally-recognized ‘Indian-ness’ has involved fairly complex and nuanced processes, reinterpreting past realities to legitimize and even celebrate the annihilation of indigenous world-views, and the roles that the Métis historically played in the expropriation of indigenous people. Thus, although the hierarchical concept of royalty is antithetical to egalitarian aboriginal society, many Indians claim eighteenth-century “Indian princesses” or “Chiefs” on their matriline. And, in remarkable ‘rewrites’ of history as perceived from an aboriginal indigenous vantage, the Métis signing-away of millions of acres of land that did not belong to them, for example, has been re-scripted as somehow affirming the “inherent sovereignty and self-determination” of the very indigenous people they helped destroy. They also retain private family traditions tracing their patriliny back to the Mayflower (at least three White patrilinies at Red Lake), to Scottish fur traders of the 1700’s, or to French, or French-Canadian progenitors. The Métis’ historical acknowledgement of their dual heritage is documented by Kohl
I met one half-breed, a man tolerably well off, who had engraved both his French coat of arms and his Indian totem (an otter) on his seal-ring.
Because of the political, cultural and economic pressure to be Indian, their public role is frequently quite different than their private one.
Our genealogical research changed, to some degree, peoples’ acknowledgement of their ancestry, at least within the Red Lake community. In the course of compiling the genealogy, for example, one of the elders we were working with, M.P., said to an older woman from one of the old Métis families, “I heard you were descended from the Mayflower.” She replied, “How the hell did you find that out?” Other people at Red Lake, some enrolled as “fullbloods,” admitted—almost as a confession—to European patrilineal heritage. For example V.K. quietly acknowledged, as I was showing her the computerized database, “my great-great-grandfather [the father of the nineteenth-century patriarch of one of the big “fullblood” families in Ponemah] was a White trader.”
With Wub-e-ke-niew’s encouragement, I enrolled in graduate school at the University of Minnesota in 1996, a bit more than a year before his death. Among the academic papers I wrote with Wub-e-ke-niew’s collaboration, during that last year of his life, was an anthropology paper addressing issues of “Indian identity” at some length:
… the issue is not lineage. The crux of it is group identity, and, in a deeper sense, American historical archetypes and mythology. I find the implications wrenching: if most of those people whom the U.S. Government recognizes as Indians are in fact descended from immigrants, just like the mainstream Euro-Americans and African-Americans, then where are the descendants of the indigenous aboriginal people? Honestly confronting a cultural heritage of genocide, in its full extent, may be neither easy nor pleasant, although I believe it is necessary. Indians are firmly at the core of what present-day Americans think about their history and their identity as Americans. It is an issue that is highly emotionally charged—and about which therefore it may be difficult to penetrate the mystique and consider the facts clearly.
In this paper, I will present some of the factors which lead me to give credence to what Wub-e-ke-niew and other Ahnishinahbæótjibway are saying: that the vast majority of the people identified as “Indians” are in fact people of European heritage, culture and descent, and that to consider them as representative of the aboriginal indigenous people of this continent is to do the indigenous people, the so-called Indians, and the facts of history a great disservice. Wub-e-ke-niew adds that controlling subject people by distorting their identity and that of leaders “appointed, bought and paid for” by the colonizing power is a standard strategy of Western European “democracy.”
That academic paper, along with all the rest of my academic work, was in Wub-e-ke-niew’s and my house when he died, and was, therefore, seized when I was forcibly removed from our home a week later. (Wub-e-ke-niew and I maintained off-site backups of our computer data.)
On May 26, 1998, Indian court judge Bruce Graves sat in the Red Lake courtroom with me for about half an hour, waiting for petitioner-for-probate to show up – about two and a half hours after the hearing was scheduled to begin. The Red Lake policeman with the Order to exile me was right behind her, although Graves “denied foreknowledge of the Order of Removal” to the Native American Press.
As we waited, Graves and I conversed: one of those testy conversations bound by courtesy, in which there is much only alluded-to (it did not occur to me to discuss the upcoming hearing with the judge before the hearing was formally convened). Graves mentioned We Have The Right To Exist, and said that he was considering writing his own book. I acknowledged that he doubtless had some interesting experiences to write about, and said that if he wanted to write his memoirs, of course he should do so. Graves mentioned Wub-e-ke-niew’s and my genealogical databases. I told him that we’d kept off-site backups of our computer data and other critical documents.
“Oh,” Graves said, and then sat silently. My sense was that he, like on-the-books “fullblood” and tribal council chairman Bobby Whitefeather, was personally concerned about Wub-e-ke-niew’s and my documentation of his Mediterranean ancestry, as well as about the documentation underlying We Have The Right To Exist more generally, and perhaps also about the directions that my academic work might take.
After I was exiled, the Leech Lake resort where I was an off-season tenant was destroyed by arson. When I emerged from ‘underground’ (after keeping a very low profile in a friend’s basement for several months) and rented openly again, I was summarily evicted by a Bemidji landlord – with overt connections to the ‘Red Lake establishment’ – who seized my papers, destroyed my computer, and gave away much of my other personal property to a tenant he moved into my place while I was in Minneapolis for a few days.
An employee of the Red Lake courts contacted the Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Anthropology at the University and urged him to throw me out of school, and remarkable rumors about my being an “evil” person circulated at Red Lake. One of the “Indian medicine men” who had been affronted by Wub-e-ke-niew’s writing, accepted a ‘commission’ to kill me with witchcraft. State Senator Linda Berglin, chair of the legislative committee that oversees the Minnesota Department of Health’s budget and heavily involved in ‘Indian politics,’ wrote to Health Commissioner Anne Barry, advising her of apparently serious ‘concerns’ that “Ms. NiiSka … will publish works for her PhD which will continue the genocide to the twenty or so indigenous persons still residing in Red Lake.”
An “an issue that is highly emotionally charged—and about which therefore it may be difficult to penetrate the mystique and consider the facts clearly”? Perhaps I under-estimated.
By 1938, which was one of the baseline years that Wub-e-ke-niew and I used for the genealogical database, there were a number of fairly distinct groups of people on the Red Lake reservation. In a 1996 academic paper written with Wub-e-ke-niew’s collaboration, I detailed these:
· “White Indians,” who are described by the Métis as “taking off their feathers at the reservation line.” Including the generation born just prior to 1940, many are patrilineally descended from the literate, frequently Scottish, Whites who managed the fur trade posts after the War of 1812; some are descended from notable political figures in early Minnesota history. Many of these people have only token non-White ancestry. As one Ahnishinahbæótjibway put it, “if he was bit by a mosquito, he’d lose his Indian blood.” Many of the “professional Indians” employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in middle-class jobs come from this group of people.
· The Métis, including at least two subgroups:
- The people referred to before World War II as “French Canadian” or “French-and-Indian.” Many Métis people born before the turn of the twentieth century spoke French, and a high percentage of those born before 1940 have retained their French or Quebeçois surnames, and are patrilineally (usually on several branches of their family tree) descended from the Quebeçois involved in the fur trade.
- The people often referred to as “Chippewa Indians” or “Ojibwe,” or, more recently as Anishinaabeg. Although many of these people are enrolled in the United States’ federally-organized and federally-recognized “tribes” as “fullbloods,” the oral history (often both their own and the Ahnishinahbæótjibway’s) retains their non-indigenous patriliny and frequently the places from which their family migrated. The ancestry of these people is often a mixture of Northern European, Mediterranean, and sub-Saharan African, and the “Indian names” in their genealogies often have such revealing meanings as “Soldier,” “Voyageur’s Woman,” “Blonde Hair,” “English Man,” “Big Far-away,” and “Big Black.” Many of these people born prior to 1940 spoke the creole Chippewa language, and their surnames at Red Lake are an eclectic mixture of “Indian-sounding” English-language names, anglicized Chippewa names, and nondescript generic “American” names like Smith.
· “Mixed bloods” who are descendants of recently (after about 1890) in-married (or transient) White men, some of whom are referred to by the Métis as “lumberjack bastards.” Many of these ‘mixed bloods’ have married outside of the Red Lake community, assimilating over the generations into the mainstream American culture; others have married back into their own subgroup or into the “White Indian” and/or Métis communities.
· The Ahnishinahbæótjibway, presently a very small minority of those on the United States Government’s Red Lake “tribal enrollments.” Several of the older Ahnishinahbæótjibway, now deceased, have commented that the ‘White man has succeeded in his genocide. We are an extinct group of people.’ Their children and grandchildren have been assimilated as “Indians,” and although they may have a Dodem—the patrilineal group identification essential to Ahnishinahbæótjibway identity—most of generations born after World War II are no longer ensconced in the network of Dodems which comprised the deep structure of Ahnishinahbæótjibway society. Those Ahnishinahbæótjibway elders expressed an opinion, did not expect their aboriginal indigenous ways-of-being to survive beyond their personal deaths.
 Amercian Indian and Alaska Native
Total population (all races) 281,421,906 100.0
American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination* 4,119,301 1.5
American Indian and Alaska Native alone 2,475,956 0.9
American Indian and Alaska Native in combination* 1,643,345 0.6
* In combination with one or more of the other races listed. The six numbers for race “alone or in combination” may add to more than the total population and the six percentages for race “alone or in combination” may add to more than 100 percent because individuals may report more than one race.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Summary File 1, Matrices P7 and P9, accessed through the U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, http://factfinder.census.gov/home/saff/main.html?_lang=en, accessed September 12, 2004.
 P9. RACE (TOTAL RACES TALLIED)  - Universe: Total races tallied; Data Set: Census 2000 Summary File 1 (SF 1) 100-Percent Data, http://factfinder.census.gov/home/saff/main.html?_lang=en, accessed September 12, 2004.
 In addition to stressing that he was “not an Indian” throughout his book, We Have The Right To Exist, Wub-e-ke-niew repeatedly emphasized the distinction between “Indians” and the aboriginal Indigenous Ahnishinahbæótjibway [which he initially spelled ‘Anishinabe Ojibwe’], and stated that he was not an Indian in his newspaper columns for the Native American Press/Ojibwe News, as well as in letters and other writing. For example:
July 18, 1992, letter to Al Gore, http://www.maquah.net/AhnishinahbaeotjibwayReflections/1997/1997-08-29_Wub-e-ke-niew_column.html
June 21, 1993,letter to University of Philadelphia Law School professor Lanai Guinier, http://www.maquah.net/AhnishinahbaeotjibwayReflections/1993/1993-06-21_letter_to_Lanai_Guinier.html
 As Wub-e-ke-niew defined it in the glossary to We Have The Right To Exist:
Lislakh: I am using this word, which was brought into the English language by linguist Carleton Hodge, to refer to the inter-related and historically connected peoples who share societal, cultural, language and/or patrilineal roots within that usually referred to as an abstract entity, Western Civilization. Lislakh includes Germanic people and the heirs of the Roman Empire (who speak languages academically categorized as Indo-European), as well as the Arabic and other peoples whose languages are categorized as Semitic, and the Moorish and other North African and Middle Eastern peoples who have common and long-standing historical inter-relationships within the context of Western Civilization.
Lislakh was coined as an abstract analytical category, although it describes historical and present reality. The word is used in this book to refer not only to the common roots of the Lislakh people, but also to their often violent co-history during their millennia of expansion. That the word Lislakh is a neologism of limited circulation is itself a manifestation of the ethos of English-speaking and other Lislakh peoples, symptomatic of the abstract isolationism of their linguistic structures and of the extent to which these peoples have been severed from their roots and their own identity.
In using the word Lislakh, I do not presume to define those people to whom I refer--especially not in the ways that they have tried to re-define and label the Aboriginal Indigenous people as Indians, and have imposed their derogatory names, projections and stereotypes onto the indigenous peoples whose land they have expropriated. I observe, however, that these people who have no name for themselves urgently need to come to terms with their identity, their past history, their roots, and their present reality: both as an inter-connected group of people, and as human beings with inherent responsibilities. The people to whom I refer as Lislakh must no longer go about stealing from each other and from other peoples; they can not continue to shirk their responsibilities toward Grandmother Earth.
 “Burnt stump” is a literal translation of an Ojibwe word describing the Métis.
 Newspaper column in the Native American Press/Ojibwe News, October 21, 1994, online at http://www.maquah.net/AhnishinahbaeotjibwayReflections/1994/1994-10-21_Wub-e-ke-niew_column.html, accessed September 13, 2004.
 E.g., the International Indian Treaty Council, 30th Anniversary Converence, July 8 – 11, 2004, http://www.treatycouncil.org/PDFs/IITC_Resolution_Biodiversity_FoodandHealth_final.pdf, accessed September 13, 2004.
 Kohl, J. 1860. Kitchi-Gami, Life Among the Lake Superior Ojibway. 1985 republication by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, St. Paul, p. 297
 The Ahnishinahbæótjibway and the Indians (two historically and culturally distinct groups at Lac Rouge), submitted to Dr. William Rowe, September 5, 1996.
 Native American Press/Ojibwe News, May 28, 1988, page 1, online at http://www.maquah.net/AhnishinahbaeotjibwayReflections/1998/1998-05-28_Widow_removed.html.
 State Senator Linda Berglin (DFL - Dist. 61), to Anne M. Barry, Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Health, online at http://www.maquah.net/----/death_certificate/1998-06-09_Berglin_p2.html#genocide, page 1 at http://www.maquah.net/----/death_certificate/1998-06-09_Berglin.html, accessed September 13, 2004.
 NiiSka, September 1996, op cit.