When I was a teenager, nearly a hundred years ago, there was a popular television show called “Combat.” It was about World War Two and the fighting in France. The reason this is important is because of the similarities between occupied France at that time, and occupied Oceti Sakowin (all seven sub-nations of the Great Sioux Nation) and occupied Peta Sakowin (the Tituwan) today in western South Dakota. For those of you who don’t know the history of World War Two, a brief synopsis. During the War, Nazi Germany went violently into other countries in Europe using aircraft to bomb, followed by tanks and soldiers to occupy the land and the people.
On December 9, 1984 the United Nations (UN) General Assembly approved the Genocide Convention and developed an international law that recognizes acts of genocide. Article 2 of the Genocide Convention lists the following acts. (a) Killing members of the group. (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group. (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part. (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group. (e) Forcibly transferring children of one group to another group.
Gila River Indian Reservation, Arizona – On Friday, Jan. 20, the United States Department of Interior hosted a fourth community listening session on its year-long “Road to Healing” tour. The tour is a result of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative launched by U.S. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland within months of her confirmation by the U.S. Senate on June 22, 2021. “Federal Indian boarding school policies have touched every single Indigenous person I know,” said U.S. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland at the listening session on Jan. 20 in Laveen, Arizona. “Some are survivors, some are descendants, but we all carry the trauma in our hearts.” “My ancestors, and many of yours, endured the horrors of the Indian boarding school assimilation policies of the Department I now lead,” Haaland said. A citizen of the Laguna Pueblo Tribe, Haaland is the first Native American to serve in a president’s cabinet. “This is the first time in history that a United States Secretary comes to the table with this shared trauma,” she said.
Dakota men, women and youth rode into Mankato, Minnesota, on horseback on Dec. 26 to honor Dakota warriors hanged by President Abraham Lincoln on that day in 1862, in the largest mass execution in U.S. history. The Dakota 38+2 Wokiksuye Sunk Akan Yankapi — the 17-day Dakota Prayer Ride and Water Walk — honors the 38 warriors hanged in Mankato, as well as two additional men who were kidnapped from Canada three years later, brought back to the U.S. and then executed. This year about 100 riders rode from their homes throughout South Dakota and elsewhere to gather at Sisseton, South Dakota, and began the honoring ride on Dec. 10. The ride follows the 330-mile path of their ancestors to the site of the mass hanging. Also this year Dakota runners started Dec. 25 from Fort Snelling in St. Paul, Minnesota, and joined the riders at Reconciliation Park in Mankato.
According to UAINE youth organizer Kisha James, who is Aquinnah Wampanoag and Oglala Lakota and the granddaughter of Wamsutta Frank James, the founder of National Day of Mourning, “Native people have no reason to celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims. We want to educate people about the true origins of the first Thanksgiving, which were far bloodier than the ‘Pilgrims and Indians’ story in the Thanksgiving myth. The first official day of ‘thanksgiving’ was declared in Massachusetts in 1637 by Puritan Governor Winthrop to celebrate the massacre of over 700 Pequot men, women and children on the banks of the Mystic River in Connecticut. Wampanoag and other Indigenous people have certainly not lived happily ever after since the arrival of the Pilgrims. To us, Thanksgiving is a Day of Mourning.
“Land Back.” You may have seen this slogan recently on T-shirts or hashtags, but its roots are as old as the colonization and displacement of Native people in the U.S. In recent years, Washington has seen several new Native land reclamation efforts, ranging from ancestral land purchased by tribes themselves to land returned to tribes that was purchased by conservation groups or other entities. At their core, Land Back initiatives are intended to support the sovereignty and self-determination of Indigenous people. The reclamation efforts begin to remedy the injustice of government policies that stripped land, language and culture from Native people. They also recognize the urgent need to approach our environment and ecology in a more sustainable way that protects life for seven generations and beyond.
Today is Indigenous People's Day, still celebrated by some as the violent colonizer Christopher Columbus Day. Clearing the FOG speaks with Jean-Luc Pierite of the North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB) and United American Indians of New England (UAINE) about the growing recognition of the trauma and murder of American Indian children who were sent to assimilation centers called residential schools across the US and Canada and how that theft of children's cultural heritage and identity continues today through the foster care system. A major Supreme Court case that could destroy the Indian Child Welfare Act is set to be heard in November. Pierite also discusses the campaign in Massachusetts to recognize Indigenous People's Day statewide, the Massachusetts Indigenous Legislative Agenda and the work being done in solidarity with indigenous peoples around the world and the Black Lives Matter movement to create a path to a better future.
Indigenous people and their allies rallied and marched in Boston on Saturday, October 8, 2022 to observe Indigenous Peoples Day in Boston and demand that the MA state legislature vote to establish the day statewide which will replace Columbus Day. They called on the presumed next Governor, Maura Healey, to make it a priority to support this and other Indigenous-centered legislation (MAIndigenousAgenda.org). Furthermore, because Indigenous liberation is intertwined with Black liberation, they also call edfor Faneuil Hall, named after a slaver, to be renamed. Marchers celebrated the declaration of Indigenous Peoples Day in Boston and urged city, state and federal governments to take further steps to address Indigenous community concerns.
President Joe Biden makes me laugh. One would think at his age, he would know that you can't heal a major illness, or wound, until you start at the source. I am referring to his continually saying, "We have to heal the soul of the United States (U.S.)." That's never going to happen until the powers-that-be, including President Biden, begin to heal the original illness, or wound, as you wish, which is the mistreatment and injustice they continue to give to the Original Nations, the American Indian Nations who are us. Some call it Karma. We call it the circle. Whoa!! No one wants to think about that let alone verbalize such an idea. Yet, that is precisely what the 1894 Sioux Nation Treaty Council has been doing for the past few years through letters to President Biden. He has been given the opportunity to "heal" the U.S. What is his response? The first year, there was NO response. So another letter was sent.
The playwright Eugene O’Neill said that one of the few events worth celebrating in American history took place on June 25, 1876, when Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho, led by Crazy Horse and Chief Gall, annihilated a unit of the 7th Cavalry under the command of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer. There are few battles in American history that have generated as much controversy or been as meticulously dissected and examined. And with good reason. The death of Custer and his command stunned the nation. It turned Custer into a martyr for the cause of western expansion and imperialism. His death, portrayed as the ultimate sacrifice for the nation that was at the time celebrating its centennial, was used to justify a massive military campaign against Native Americans that would culminate in the massacre of some 300 Native Americans in 1890 at Wounded Knee.
This is the dilemma that Native ‘Americans’ face every day. The foundations of the United States of America are blatantly unjust. This land was stolen. Native peoples, Africans and many other minority communities have long been recipients of systemic racism. And the roots of it are right there for the entire world to see, printed in many of our founding documents; like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and United States Supreme Court case rulings. We announce it. We flaunt it. We celebrate it.. As a nation we embrace this history because we are largely ignorant of the true nature of our past and have never been held accountable for our actions.
The July 4 holiday in the United States commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Anyone educated in this country has been propagandized with lies about patriotic colonists seeking freedom from a tyrannical British monarch. Our minds were filled with tales of Paul Revere and Betsy Ross which erase the role that indigenous and Black people played as they attempted to end true tyranny over their lives. The present day traditions of enjoying cookouts, vacations, and fireworks should not obscure the true meaning of this date.
In 1621, though Pilgrims celebrated a feast, it was not repeated in the years to follow. In 1636, a murdered white man was found in his boat and the Pequot were blamed. In retaliation, settlers burned Pequot villages. Additionally, English Major John Mason rallied his troops to further burn Pequot wigwams and then attacked and killed hundreds more men, women and children. According to Mason’s reports of the massacre, “We must burn them! Such a dreadful terror let the Almighty fall upon their spirits that they would flee from us and run into the very flames. Thus did the Lord judge the heathen, filling the place with dead bodies.” The Governor of Plymouth William Bradford wrote: “Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword; some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so that they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped.
Upon his arrival into the “New World” Columbus and his crew unleashed a vicious and relentless wave of violence against the Indigenous populations. From enslavement, to mass rapes, to mass killings Columbus and his men inflicted grotesque levels of violence never before seen in the Western hemisphere. By 1508, an estimated three to five million Indigenous peoples from the Island Nations had died since the time of Columbus’s arrival. The genocide had begun, one driven, and backed, by an ideology under the Doctrine of Discovery that claimed European Christians had a God given right to set forth and colonize any lands not occupied by European Christians. Throughout the Western hemisphere, colonization and genocide followed from the eastern shores to the Pacific Ocean.