Reflections from the Ah­nish­i­nah­bæójib­way (We, the People)

August 8,1991

Why does Chief Bemidji have his hand shading his eyes?  For all these years, he’s been looking for a job, and waiting for his ship to come in (his ship came in, in 1492).  The Arts Council could give him a promotion, a new title but no pay raise, and put him in the Indian Employment Office.  He can stand facing the front door, looking for racist employers and cheap labor.

The town of Bemidji is named after a Mythological Indian.  The venerable Town Councillors of this mythical little transplanted European hamlet have recently expressed concern that their namesake, Chief Bemidji of the Lakefront, “is considered to be offensive to the Chip-away Indian people who live around here.”  Calling us “Indian” is offensive and derogatory to the Aboriginal Indigenous people who live around here, as well as being a racial slur.

Marlon Davidson, Director of the Bemidji Community Arts Council, wanted to replace the mythological Chief Bemidji with another mythological Indian to “honor the Native Americans.”  But then, the Bemidji City Council voted to keep the Mythological Chief Bemidji.  The Concerned Citizens were on the horns of a blue-ox dilemma; if they had put up another mythological Indian, what about all of the other Native Americans: Swedish people, Norwegians, French, English, Germans, Finlanders, and all of the other people who were born in what they call “America” and are therefore “Native American.”  (The only people around here who are not “Native American” are the Aboriginal Indigenous Peoples.  In the Northwoods, we’re the Anishinabe Ojibway, “We, The People.”)

The Bemidji Community Arts Council was asking for input from the community about who should replace the mythological Chip-away Chief Bemidji, but then the City Council decided that the Firemen will spruce up the old Halfbreed Chief, because he’s a wooden Indian.  Why did they assign the Firemen to fixing Chief Bemidji?  There are plenty of unemployed Chip-away artists in Bemidji, who could have used a job, restoring and restructuring Chief Bemidji.

If the City of Bemidji had decided to put up another “Indian” up at the lakefront, they are would have been still stuck with a statue portraying a mythological identity.  (They also would have had to rename their town.)  There were no “Indians,” nor Chip-aways, nor Pembinas nor Pillagers, on either one of these continents before the Europeans got here; the Europeans invented Indians, and fake Tribes and fake Tribal Councils to go along with them.  The people who have the mythological identity of “Indian” are legally non-persons: the only “Indians” who have any civil or legal rights are the neo-colonial Tribal Councils (created by the U.S. Government)—and when it gets right down to it, even the Tribal Councils have only a sovereignty given to them by the United States Government.  The U.S. gave the Chip-away Indians a White “Sovereignty” because they are White.  They couldn’t recognize Aboriginal Sovereignty for the Chip-away Indians, because they has European fathers and had lost their Dodem, their Clan, and had lost their Aboriginal Indigenous Sovereignty from the Anishinabe Ojibway Nation.  The U.S. also gave their Chip-away Indians an identity and a revised history, and less then twenty years ago, under the Indian Freedom of Religion Act, they finally got around to giving them a religion.

The Anishinabe Ojibway have always been here.  In White Earth, in the late 1800’s, the United States Government recognized the relocated Chip-aways, who were half-breeds formed into a fake tribe by the Europeans.  These Chip-away Indians could not get the identity of Anishinabe Ojibway (“We, the People”).  The Chip-away Indians do not have a Clan or a Dodem, and that’s why they’re called Chip-away Indians.  That’s why they’re recognized by the U.S. Government, because they’re the blood brothers of the Europeans.  Many of them are also blood brothers of the Africans and some of them have Aboriginal Indigenous ancestors.  Because of this identity problem, the people in White Earth still can’t get good and honest government.  They are stuck with an artificial White ghost Sovereignty.  That Sovereignty is an old shell game, now you see it, now you don’t.  The U.S. Justice Department doesn’t recognize them; their status is “purely political” and the U.S. can do what they want with Indians because the Englishmen created them.  The Sovereignty given to the White Earth Chip-away Indians isn’t good for protecting hunting and fishing rights, and it doesn’t exist in getting stolen land back, Anishinabe Ojibway land that the Chip-aways sold.  The U.S.-created “Sovereignty” for the Chip-away Indians seems to be mostly good for protecting the White men from the consequences of social and genetic engineering, and genocide.

The people who call themselves “Indians” are trapped in this mythological identity.  They have European fathers or grandfathers, but their racist White European fathers won’t accept them as people.  Their own relatives look away from them and don’t recognize them as human beings; they call them “bastards” and disinherit them, even if by English law they should inherit British or French Estates and Noble Titles through the primogeniture line.  On the Anishinabe Ojibway side, these “Indians,” by our own Traditional laws of patrilineal inheritance, take the Clan and Dodem of their fathers.  The “Indians” do not have Aboriginal Indigenous Clans, and therefore cannot share in the joint ownership of Anishinabe Ojibway land and religion by the Clans.  For a long time, the Anishinabe Ojibway people tried to accommodate these Indian people in our own community, but both because they had their European fathers’ values and religion, and because the United States Government claims patrilineal rights to their sovereignty, it hasn’t worked.  These Chip-away Indians have spent the last 150 years selling land that does not belong to them, clear-cutting AnishinabeOjibway forests that do not belong to them, and have been co-opted by the United States Government into being agents and brokers of genocide against the Aboriginal Indigenous people.  The foster care and adoption of children of the Clans out of the Anishinabe Ojibway community is one ongoing example.  Because the English and United States Governments hold their sovereignty, the Indians have been drafted and conscripted to fight in wars ever since the Europeans got here, and to serve as mercenary scouts against the Aboriginal Indigenous people.

Senator Dawes said it, the Lake Mohonk Conference proclaimed it, and the Nuns told us every day in school, that “Indians are the vanishing Americans.”  Theodore Roosevelt graphically described it, “like a giant machine, pulverizing the Tribal mass.”  The scheme was to brainwash the Anishinabe Ojibway here into becoming Chip-away Indians, and then they’d have everybody under their control.  The United States sets the agenda and defines Indians down to the last decimal point, as in “Blood Quantum.”  The Indo-Europeans use crooked English, and they also use Crooked Math.  I don’t need that racist identity of Chip-away Indian, I am Anishinabe Ojibway. 

MY SIVILIZATION PROGRESS REPORT:  In the process of researching history and genealogy, I found a “Civilization Test” applied to Aboriginal Indigenous People, and Indians, from the 1890’s (reprinted in the March, 1986 issue of Roots).  In 1889, the United States Congress said they were going to relieve us of our land, and civilize us; that we were to assimilate, and adopt the European values and conform to the social problems that the Europeans brought from Europe.  The mandate for civilization included:

“- Do you wear “citizen’s dress” (shirt, trousers, coat, and shoes)?  [Are you in style?*]
“- Do you live in a wood or brick house built with a square (not circular) floor plan?  [How about a sod house?*]
“- Do you farm, raise cattle, or work in a wage-paying job?  [How about permaculture: wild rice, maple sugar ... ?*]
“- Do your children go to school?  [Yes, the Anishinabe Ojibway were brainwashed into a new identity of Chip-away Indian.*]
“- Are you a Christian?  [Do they practice what they preach, or are they hypocrites?*]
“- Do you have only one wife?  [The Whites had only one wife at a time, but they didn’t say anything about their mistresses and concubines, and all the lumberjack bastards.*]
“- Can you speak and write English?  [Does this make Swedes and Norwegians uncivilized?*]
“- Do you abstain from liquor?  [Alcohol is the sacred drug of the Europeans.*]

[*Bracketed comments mine.]  So much for Sivilization this time.


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