Reflections from the Ah­nish­i­nah­bæójib­way (We, the People)

November 8, 1989


Dear Michael Q. Patton,

You requested information regarding our application to the Northwest Minnesota Initiative Fund.  You say that this information will be used to “improve the operations of the Initiative Fund.”

Our request for funding was not approved; however we have been paying attention to the types of program which have been funded by the NWMIF.  Despite the high-sounding rhetoric in the literature of the NWMIF, the general orientation of the funding granted by the NWMIF has been toward maintaining the societal structures which inherently generate the problems which the NWMIF professes to address at the root causes.  In the main, the funded programs seem to function as “band-aids,” to alleviate the symptoms of societal dysfunction without curing the underlying problems; as such they in fact perpetuate both the need for such programs and the human misery which these programs alleviate only on a temporary basis.

The Red Lake Peoples Council has spent two years unsuccessfully seeking mainstream Foundation funding for a grassroots, Indian-community owned economic development program on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.  We conclude that although the quite openly stated agenda of the dominant society is to assimilate Indian people into its structure, Traditional Indian people and organizations do not have, and have never had, access to the European-American money system.  Probably this is because we are supposed to assimilate at the bottom of the social hierarchy, to quote Tony Bouza, as a “blasted and destroyed” people.  We realize quite well that the United States monetary system is based on Ojibway and other Indian peoples’ land and resources.  However, with only token exceptions which confirm the predominant pattern, the U.S. monetary system remains controlled by European-Americans, and we consider it quite doubtful that Traditional Indian people will be able to gain access to this system, even on the insignificant level of our subsistence-agriculture/permaculture proposal, through Foundations which are funded by corporations which took our sustainable permacultural subsistence base and turned it into the European-American owned dollars which underlie their racist hierarchical social system.

From the time of their forbearers the slave-states of Greece and Rome, the perspectives and world-views professed by the European-Americans have been extremely narrow and limited—and not particularly well connected with reality as we see it.  The reason why the dominant European-American society cannot possibly be an honest and fair society is because it is founded on stolen Indian resources and remains on stolen Indian land.  Lies and deceit are interwoven throughout their structure, including their religion and their government—because the entire system is based on lies about Indian people and about history, as well as about reality.  The European-American-English language is almost impossible to communicate clearly with, because of its narrow point of view, and because of the embedded racism, lies and forked-tongue speaking.  The entire system is distorted and bound up by the tangled mass of lies, lies to cover up the lies, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam.

One example of the way in which the European-American monetary system is used against Indian people is the “buying” of our hunting and fishing rights—our resources back up the money which is used to “pay” us, so we are really paying two or three times over and getting nothing back.  The same thing has happened with the Treaties, 400 of which have been broken.  You are told in school that an economic system is supposed to be based on trade, but the European-American system is, from our perspective, based on dishonesty, exploitation, environmental destruction, and theft.  Indians have never been “given” anything worth having by the European-Americans: these two entire continents, with what were once their harmonious permacultural subsistence bases and pristine and abundant resources, are and have always been Indian peoples’ continents.  For all the good the European-American economic system has done us, we would have been better off using Monopoly money.  Most of the European-Americans who are in middle-level decision-making positions are too lost in abstractions, too misled by pervasive distortions of history, to see what’s really happening.  Standard “social programs” merely reinforce the system which is destroying the environment as well as the spirit and humanity of the people caught up in it.

I talked with Ruth Edewold of the NWMIF, and she said I was “getting political” by briefly raising some of the underlying issues which operate to prevent Traditional Indian people from getting any kind of funding for community-owned economic development.  (The decision had already been made when I talked to her, not to fund our program.)  What makes me particularly angry is the European-American system of legislation to take away our resources and given them to the European-Americans, who “develop” them, “make money” by wasting, polluting, and destroying them beyond regeneration for generations yet to come.  Indian people are then penalized for not having any money.  Everybody is deeply concerned about Jacob Wetterling being kidnapped, but over the years hundreds of thousands of Indian children have been kidnapped away from their families because although Traditional Indian people once had abundant resources, we did not have paper money, and don’t have access to the money system.  We were told because we do not have paper dollars (how could we, it always has been a crooked European-American system), that our children would be taken away from us and given to European-American people who had paper money because it was a part of their system.  This crooked scheme still destroys many Traditional families.  We never designed this system, we have no say in the operation of this system—our only input into this system is the underlying value to U.S. paper money.  This has been the case ever since the European-Americans brought heir system here.  Traditional Indian people are angry about this: European-Americans will be hearing a lot more about it from Indian people across our continents.

We wrote to Robert Beech who was high in the hierarchy of McKnight and NWMIF Foundations, expressing some of our concerns about both the application process and about the structural difficulties of getting funding for a subsistence-oriented economic development program run and owned by Traditional Indian people.  Although Mr. Back told us through a third party that he would respond to our concerns and was willing to meet with members of the Red Lake Peoples Council, he never did so and resigned instead.  We would still be interested in meeting with him; however avoidance of dialogue is another one of the standard tactics of Europeans and European-Americans.

Crime, prisons, poverty, taxes, acculturated dishonest people pretending to be Indian, and many of the other “social ills” which plague the imported European-American society (and which nourish charitable social programs) are alien to Indian culture and Indian society.  We never had any of these problems before the European-Americans brought them from their homelands.  These causes of human suffering are necessary for the maintenance of the social hierarchies of the Indo-Europeans and their colonies including the U.S.A.  They are not indigenous to Indian Tradition, social organization, nor values.

I—and many of our people—stand behind what is written here.  We speak the truth as we see it, and are not afraid to back up our word.  Anonymity is not necessary.


Francis Blake, Jr.
Chairman, Economic Development Committee
Red Lake Peoples Council

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