Reflections from the Ah­nish­i­nah­bæójib­way (We, the People)

November 4, 1994

Staffwriter Gary Blair’s article in the October 28 Ojibwe News was headlined, “Indian Chamber of Commerce faces dilemma: Who is an Indian?”  In his article, Blair observed that “many of the Indian chamber members ... are only Indian when they’re at chamber meetings.”  The Minnesota American Indian Chamber of Commerce is confronted with the same dilemma as the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs—that, because of the genocide, there aren’t enough Aboriginal Indigenous people to act as Indians, but the Bureau has been solving this problem since the early 1800’s by creating their own Indians from the ranks of their patrilineally European “minority” people.  Blood runs thicker than water, and not only are they resurrecting dead Indians as absentee voters, they are also using their paternally White relatives to resurrect entire Bands of Indians.  I suppose that the day will come when they will “discover” that whole Tribes of Indians formerly thought to be “extinct” can be unilaterally resurrected by re-enactment, using European subject people as Acting Indians.  Rather than inefficiently re-defining one person at a time (and trying to validate “Indian Princess” genealogies), the Indian Chamber of Commerce should go to the U.S. Department of the Interior, where you can get a voucher issued for a whole new Band of Indians, or a used blood-quantum Indian, or a blue-eyed full-blooded BIA Indian.  The BIA’s Acting Superintendent can unilaterally create any number and many kinds of Acting Indians—why not Rent-an-Indian, like some minority businesses do.

HAIR-SPLITTING: In his book, “Race Relations,” Professor Brewton Berry asks the question, “Who is an Indian.”  He writes, “there are Indians (the writer has seen them on the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina) who have blue eyes, fair skin, and blond hair.”  In explaining Indian identity, Berry cites legal definitions of “Indian” and “Negro,” observing that in the State of Virginia, some people are forced into a dualistic identity, “Virginia regards [these people] as Indians as long as they remain on a reservation.  Should they move [off the Reservation], however, they are regarded as colored [meaning Black or mixed-race Negro].”  Translated into plain English, what he means is that on all of the 535 Indian Reservations, as long as the Indians are living on the Rez, they can beat their pow-wow drums and wear their Federally-licensed feathers.  When they leave the Reservation, they are re-defined by the White man into yet another “ethnic” racial category, which reflects their real identity as Mediterraneans mongrelized by the violent and rapacious Classical Empires of Western Civilization.  The State of Minnesota’s racist definitions such as “Jackpine Nigger” and “burnt stump” are the reason Reservation Indians have problems with racism in little towns like Bemidji.  They have been forced into a chameleon dual identity, and the Good White Christians are “color-blind” in their usual, peculiar and self-centered way, favoring “diversity” as long as everybody else is just like they are, and under the White man’s centralized control.

GIT ‘EM UP, SCOUT: According to the news, a woman was arrested in the metropolitan skyways for wearing her traditional Muslim dress.  The charges were “concealing her identity in a public place,” but the Christians scored in forcing their right-wing values on another group of people in this land of “religious tolerance.”  There have been comments from members of the public about making citizens’ arrests of people who are wearing ski masks, although nobody has mentioned lipstick, beards, dark glasses, and wigs—or “falsies,” “Annie-fannies,” American passports and Indian sovereignty.  (I’m not going to say anything about Polident, Preparation H, eyeglasses, and walking with a cane.)  There are others who run around unimpeded (cheered by the masses) in masks and long capes, like Batman and Robin.  There is also another “heroic” character, the Lone Ranger who carried two handguns (six-shooters).  He is the embodiment of Manifest Destiny, was widely known as the Masked Man, and was never arrested.  His side-kick, Tonto, who was categorically identified by the BIA as a “dumb pagan,” didn’t dare wear a mask (for fear of Rodney King police protection).  I don’t know on what reservation Tonto was enrolled—he never flashed his enrollment card or talked about his blood quantum, like some of the BIA’s Great Wanna-Be Chiefs.

TERM LIMITS: One of the issues in this mid-term election across the U.S. has been “term limits,” although no mainstream candidate, incumbent or aspiring, has fully endorsed their own “term limit” (political suicide).  To return to meaningful government, there should also be “term limits” on political hacks, party bosses, and lobbyists.  They need “term limits” on the old worn-out issues that have been waved like red flags in front of the electorate for the last half century, like abortion, gun control, crime, patriotism and “family values.”  If you don’t want to solve the problems, why bring them up?  Could it be these are bread-and-butter issues for those in political power, and the endless rhetoric on empty issues puts money in the incumbents’ pockets.  The two political party-system has never intended to act on these filibustering, gridlock issues—which are yet another strategy of social engineering to keep the “unwashed masses,” peasants and peons from rubbing elbows with the political elite.  While we’re on the subject of “term limits,” there should be irrevocable “sunset clauses” on every piece of legislation which creates a subsidy for corporations and wealthy individuals—although the self-righteous finger-pointers never talk about the upper-class, all of whom are engorging themselves on Welfare (they wouldn’t be on this land if they had to depend on their own resources).  If the U.S. Government is going to “subsidize,” why not give a subsidy to those earning the sub-poverty minimum wage, and transform the minimum wage into a middle-class “living wage” for the people whose labor is the foundation of the Euro-American economy.  A “living wage” should also be paid to illegal nannies, migrant farm workers, and sweatshop “aliens.”

DÉJA-VU: One of the aspiring Senatorial candidates, Rod Grams, summoned Moses, a.k.a. Charlie Heston, down from Hollywood Mountain to accompany him on the political stump circuit.  Heston finally revealed the Thirteenth Commandment: “It’s time to return to the ways of those wise old dead white guys who started all this.”  Hey, Charlie, if you’re going to return to these dead ways, you should get your real identity and go back to your ancestral homeland where all these dead white guys and their traditions originated—the Aboriginal people didn’t invite you, or your God, to live here, or to practice bigotry.  The Religious Reich of the Third Right backed democratically elected Reich-wingers, the “dead white guys” Adolf Hitler and his deputy Herman Goering.  Is this the kind of government your God is in favor of, Charlie?

Speaking of dead White wise guys, why not resurrect right-wing Methodist minister Colonel Chevington, who took the sword of God into his hands in service of the U.S. Army, and led the Sand Creek massacre, killing every man, woman, and child who was non-violently living at Sand Creek.  Although most of these people were not Ah­nish­i­nah­bæót­jib­way, these were my Aboriginal relatives that your Minister of God slaughtered.  The Aboriginal Indigenous people of this Continent never massacred the White immigrants, Charlie—either on this Continent or in Europe.  For those Whites who were killed (either by Army Scouts in Indian costume, or by the U.S. Cavalry), a monument should be erected in their memory.  Like the Vietnam Memorial, every one of their names should be engraved in stone for posterity—although it’s a very short list if you don’t count the ones killed in the movies or in inflammatory nineteenth-century “reports” concocted to mold White public opinion in favor of annihilating Aboriginal people and the subsequent grand land theft.

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


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