Reflections from the Ah­nish­i­nah­bæójib­way (We, the People)

February 19, 1993

Treaties are still in the news.  The Tuesday Minneapolis Star Tribune featured a commentary article by Ronald Steiner, stating “Treaties function to specify grants from Indians to non-Indians,” and adding that “a treaty does not go out of date until one of the parties ceases to exist, or both of the parties agree to change it.”

The crucial issue is one which the mainstream media has obscured: the Third Party—the Anishinabe Ojibway Nation who own and have always owned the land “covered” by these Treaties, and everything connected with the land.  We, the Anishinabe Ojibway cannot sell Grandmother Earth, because of our religion and our identity.  This is why the ecology was abundant and the permaculture was intact when the Europeans got here with their Indians.  These immigrants said we were “not using” the land, but we were sustaining the ecology and the ecology gave us food, clothing, medicine, identity, and everything else we needed for life.  The Bureau of Indian Affairs, and their consequent I.R.A. “Tribal Councils,” has always been external governments, operating under the direction and for the benefit of the immigrant Euro-Americans.  In 1979, a B.I.A. planning report said (on Roman-numeral page “v”) about the proposed mutilation of the Anishinabe Ojibway ecosystem at Red Lake, “Such a program will necessitate changes in certain activities and attitudes that may not be entirely acceptable to tribal members [meaning the Anishinabe Ojibway].”  The White man was blinded by greed, and so he said that there was “nothing here.”  Why do they want to destroy the ecosystem, pollute the water, and steal the fish, if there is “nothing here.”

The media focus on “treaty rights” has been on FISH.  Something smells fishy here, like a rotten red herring drawn across the real issues.  The State of Minnesota’s January 15, 1993 “Settlement Agreement” goes into great detail: about catch-and-release, and netting, and spearing, and permits, and etc., and etc.  They are engineering gridlock about fishing.  The emphasis on “environmental conservation”: catch-and-release, is because the water is so polluted it’s dangerous to actually eat the fish.  In Wisconsin, in order to avoid the issue of mineral rights, violent confrontations were orchestrated about “spear an Indian, save a Walleye,” and all of the other ugly racism that the élite in Wisconsin promoted.  They even sold “Treaty Beer.”  What we need to do is manufacture and promote “Treaty Tissue,” then everybody in the State of Minnesota can be part of this crooked “Treaty.”  The Tourists can drink Treaty Beer and then use Treaty Tissue to deal with the inevitable consequences.  Those who don’t drink beer, can use Treaty Tissue for the Montezuma’s Revenge from drinking the polluted water.

It’s a certainty that some influential corporation has found something valuable under “mineral leases” in the Treaty area of Minnesota.  The “Indians” who did not own the land allegedly ceded under the 1837 Treaty did not cede the mineral rights, and nobody’s talking about the value of the iron ore taken out of the Mesabi Range, either.

The people who talk about the Treaty should read it, particularly the Wanna-Be Indians.  Among others, Scottish Indian Trader William Aitkin received twenty-eight thousand dollars for gratuities and influence-peddling, under Article 4 of the 1837 Treaty.

A CENTURY OF PROGRESS, mismanagement, graft, rip-offs, destruction, pollution, waste, and nepotism.  According to a September 26, 1952 Red Lake B.I.A. letter, “since the construction of the Redlake sawmill at Redby in 1924 approximately 107 million feet of timber had been sawed from 1925 to 1952.  All but 5 million feet had been produced from the Redlake Indian forest.  The total cut from the 105,000 acres up to 1952 was approximately 207 million feet of timber.”  This does not include the timber plundered from the Red Lake Anishinabe Ojibway land which was “ceded” by Indians who did not own it, and which was never paid for, nor does it include the timber that was stolen—probably more again than the recorded 207 million feet.  207,000,000 feet of sawed boards is a lot of lumber—and does not include just as much which was wasted.  207 million feet of timber will build 23,000 two-bedroom 24 x 30 houses.  I don’t know how many times the people of Red Lake have been told that the “mill is so you can have ‘civilized’ houses.”  And, if they were placed end to end, the logs would go around the world at the equator twice.  Imagine that: logs one after the next, extending around the world two times, just from half a million acres of Anishinabe Ojibway permacultural forest.

LENGBY, Minnesota—a story told to me by Dick Anderson:  Years ago, when there were family farmers and they had chicken coops, and country circuses made their rounds, the Gypsies also came through the small towns.  When they came, the farmers always seemed to be missing a few chickens, and they blamed the Gypsies.  The farmers knew that their chickens were being stolen, but they could not catch the culprit, because the chickens disappeared in silence.  If a fox goes in a chicken coop, the noise would wake any farmer from a sound sleep, and he would come out with his shotgun and chase the fox.  Dick Anderson said he bribed a group of Gypsy boys with bottles of pop, to tell him how they stole chickens.  He said, “I know you’re stealing chickens, but tell me how you do it.”  They finally told him, in exchange for pop on a hot day, but said, “don’t tell our fathers, because we’ll get a licking.”  This is what they said:

You go into the chicken coop or the hen-house with a sack at night, when the chickens are sleeping on their roosts.  You take a broomstick, and tap the chicken on the toes with the broomstick.  The chicken will step off of his roost and onto the broom handle.  After the chicken is standing on the broom handle, your partner holds the sack open, and you just dump the chicken into the sack.  All the chicken says is “Ark, Ark,” and then you go onto the next chicken.  If you grab the chicken and pull him off the roost, he’ll holler and raise a ruckus in the chicken coop, and you’ll wake up all the chickens and everybody else including the farmer.

I’m not advocating a life of crime, but almost nobody raises chickens anymore, so this is just a good story.

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


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