Reflections from the Ah­nish­i­nah­bæójib­way (We, the People)

May 14, 1993

Bemidji Mayor Douglas Peterson proclaimed last Friday, May 7, to be Arbor Day in Bemidji.  According to the Bemidji Pioneer, in his proclamation address he said “I urge all citizens to support efforts to care for our trees and woodlands and to plant trees to gladden the hearts and promote the well-being of present and future generations.”  (I guess the City of Bemidji’s icon, Paul Bunyan, wasn’t thinking about the next generations.  For Arbor Day, they should have taken Paul Bunyan’s statue down, tarred and feathered him, and run Paul and his Blue Bull out of town—and planted a tree there by the lake instead.  Paul Bunyan and Arbor Day go together like drinking and driving.)  Mayor Peterson said that whenever trees are planted, “they are a source of joy and spiritual renewal.”  The Pioneer quotes nothing about primeval forests providing joy—and also nothing about the abundant and beautiful ecosystem which the Anishinabe Ojibway maintained.  Apparently, the only trees which the White man sees as “beautiful” is the ones that he’s planted and “owns.”  The Bemidji area economy depends, in large part, on the continuing destruction of the ecosystem.  You are just now starting to glimpse the price you will pay for plundering and squandering the fat of this land.

A healthy forest is much more than trees, and planting trees will not restore an ecosystem which has been demolished.  They say that the Europeans “can’t see the forest for the trees.”  Don’t get me wrong—I’m certainly not against planting trees—but no matter how many trees you plant or tree farms you make, no matter how much public pomp and circumstance, and no matter how many scientific foresters with Ph.D.s, a tree farm has very little resemblance to the harmonious, intricate, and balanced ecosystem of the Anishinabe Ojibway.  A tree farm will not stop your lakes from drying up; it will not provide what forests must provide in order for the lakes and rivers to be full of fish.  The spear-and-release fisherman [that’s how the Europeans think—the D.N.R. had to publicize a regulation prohibiting spear-and-release for the White spearfishing season] are going to have to do more than plant a few trees (or scapegoat “spearfishing Indians”) in order to have fish.

The ecosystem in this area is in serious trouble.  The forest products companies will not—and cannot—restore what they are looting and ransacking.  A few trees cut down, will grow back in an intact forest, but forest ecosystems, once destroyed, are not renewable.  Just one example is what we called “fish flies.”  Ask any old-timer about the clouds of fish flies, so thick they looked like smoke, that swirled and hummed every May.  I haven’t seen even one fish fly in four or five years.  They may be “pesty,” but they are a necessary part of the ecosystem.  When you destroy the forests, you destroy everything.  If you fishermen really cared about the fish, instead of hollering about “Indians,” you would be chasing the wood-butchers out of the woods, and doing something about the D.N.R. poison-spraying programs that are killing the fish flies.  All of the insects (including mosquitos!) are here for a purpose.  Everything is a part of the ecosystem—it’s about time you immigrants came to terms with that.  But, most of the White people I’ve met are either so domesticated, so brainwashed, or so afraid, that they’ll swallow the propaganda about scapegoats hook, line and sinker, and not even dare to think about addressing the real problems.

FIRST “ENVIRONMENTALISTS”:  Have you noticed that this concentration camp called a Reservation doesn’t have as much garbage laying around as it used to?  There have been people out in crews, picking up garbage along the roadside.  The Red Lake I.R.A. Tribal Council finally provided some leadership, at least with roadside litter.  Congratulations.  This is a milestone event, which should have been done years ago—but better late than never.  Picking up roadside trash is only half the project.  Not only is the clear-cutting wrecking the ecosystem, but the loggers are really leaving a mess: piles of slash, stumps, wasted wood, oil spills, oil cans dumped all over the place, trash everywhere.  The slash and trash of the Anishinabe Ojibway forests is going on under the misnamed “Forest Management” bureaucracy of the racist crooks in the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  They have no jurisdiction to be cutting Sovereign Anishinabe Ojibway forests in the first place, and they’re adding insult to injury by letting the irresponsible wood pirates who leave such a mess come back and cut again on another contract.

Several people have asked me to write about taking the asphalt removed as a part of the Nebish Road repair, and dumping it in the woods.  The road crews should have crushed it, and used it again in the road.  It looks like they’re going to cover the mess they made up with dirt—it will be here for millennia.  There is also absolutely no excuse for taking “cleanup” toxins from a Bemidji oil spill, and dumping it up here on the Reservation.  Did the Tribal Council take a payoff and grant them permission to do this—or is it that they don’t have the power (or the guts) to stop outsiders from dumping poisons on this land and in the water.  Maybe the Red Lake Chippewa I.R.A. Tribal Council’s paper “sovereignty” doesn’t have any substance.

ROGER JOURDAIN’S DREAM COME TRUE:  Former Chairman-for-Life Roger Jourdain finally got a “National Indian Month,” which is happening this May.  It would been better to have a “invite a mythological Wanna-Be to dinner month”—guess who’s coming to dinner.  The National Celebration could be kicked off with stereotypical colonial “Indian Food” like fry bread and hangover soup.

THE TRUTH IN LYING:  Senator Packwood of Oregon is weaseling out of the hot seat, using crooked linear thinking.  Now that he squeaked back into the Senate, Packwood admits that he sexually harassed women.  The Oregonians are accusing Packwood of lying to his constituents, and are pressing the Senate to expel him for telling lies.  The Catch-22 is that the Senate can’t set the precedent of invalidating Packwood’s election for telling lies—because if that precedent were set, the entire U.S. Congress would have to pack their bags and go home, and admit that they’re liars.  If that precedent were set, then the U.S. Government would also have to abolish the Bureau of Indian Affairs, because the entire “Indian” identity is a lie.  There are no “Indians” here, and there never were any “Indians” on this Continent.  The entire “Indian” mystique is a myth, and it needs to be debunked.  I am not an Indian.  I am Anishinabe Ojibway.  We, the Anishinabe Ojibway and other Aboriginal Indigenous People have a right to exist as a Sovereign People on our own land, without being saddled with the projected European identity and racist lie of “Indian,” which is an illusion and a demeaning caricature, and an abusive mythology which serves the vested interests of the European colonializers.

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


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