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Pow Wow Welcomes Native Adoptees Home -


I’ve been to pow wows before, but this one was different. The entrance read, “Gathering for our Children and Returning Adoptees.” The annual powwow is in its ninth year at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, and is a collaboration between the Department of Human Services, Hennepin County ICWA Unit’s Tina Knafala and Jacque Wilson as well as my Aunt Sandy White Hawk, Director of the First Nations Repatriation Institute. The goal is to reconnect adoptees with their families and culture as well as raise awareness of the need for Native foster/adoptive homes. My heart smiled seeing my Auntie and cousins. For the last several years I’d been on a quest to find the rest of my Lakota family. My mom had largely given up; then again you could say she never really tried.

“They’re like strangers to me. They’re not family. My adoptive family is my real family.”

“Why can’t we have both?” I countered.

“I don’t know! Quit asking!” The unknown is scary for my mom.

My family history follows a common theme in Indian country: assimilation. My mom was one of 9 children born to my Sicangu Lakota grandmother, Nina Lulu White Hawk on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. Before the protections of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), social workers broke into my grandmother’s house when she wasn’t home, stole her children and flung them to the winds. Grandma Nina’s only crime was lack of an indoor toilet.

My mom and three of her siblings were placed in an orphanage in Nebraska. Mom recalls being locked in the closet at the orphanage without food or water. When she was sleeping, a social worker stole her stuffed kitten and chucked it into the dumpster because it was a reminder of her previous life. A white family finally adopted my mom and three of her siblings with the command, “Forget your mother. We are your only family now.” They were raised in Custer County, Nebraska, where they were the only Indians except for the school mascot.

None of us were allowed to be Native growing up. My adoptive grandparents painstakingly attempted to hide our biological family from us, but over the years we were able to connect with many of our relatives thanks to Aunt Deb. This year at the annual Rosebud wacipi, I was finally able to meet my mom’s biological sister, Aunt Sandy. And despite my adoptive grandparents’ misguided beliefs that all Native Americans are alcoholic, suicidal, drug abusers, I am immensely proud to be Lakota.

At the Pow Wow I hopped down the bleachers filled with a couple hundred onlookers to join the circle of returning adoptees preparing for the healing ceremony. Suddenly I felt a knot in my throat growing. “Crap,” I thought. “I’m going to cry before the ceremony even starts.” I was there representing my 52-year-old mom, who had refused to come despite my every attempt.

Sage smoke filled the air. I stood with the other adoptees in a circle, surrounded by a ring of jingle dress dancers followed by a ring of veterans. I gazed across the group to see a visibly distraught woman tightly clutching her shawl and choking back sobs. Her eyes were swollen and red from crying.

The drum group started to sing a healing song. The jingle dress dancers began their sacred footwork, waving their eagle feather fans over us. They swayed and dipped. Tingles shot down my spine with every fan that touched my shoulders. Then I lost it. Tears flowed uncontrollably. Every tear represented a moment I felt lost, afraid, angry, frustrated, empty, and confused. Every tear burning down my cheek screamed at those who thought taking us from our family was in our “best interest.” I felt the anger boil up from all the hurtful comments about Natives my adoptive family has said over the years, laughing at me for making regalia. The rage spilled out as I recalled my adoptive Aunt Lila’s comments last month that the “poor, pitiful Indians” still needed saving. But I was comforted by the swish of the jingles mimicking the sound of water, the sound of healing. And slowly my emotional burden started to fade. As the tears fell to the ground, I felt lighter. When the singing stopped, I felt a sense of renewal. Crying is medicine.

After the ceremony, we gathered upstairs for an adoptee talking circle. We each reflected on our experience. Several adoptees commented the powwow was unlike any other they’d been to. Even though so many of our Native children were lost through adoption, many tribes don’t yet have a powwow or ceremony to acknowledge their return. But the adoptees felt welcome at Aunt Sandy’s powwow; they felt like they were finally coming home to a community. One older man commented he felt the gaping, empty hole inside him start to fill up to form a complete person.

Throughout the powwow, I filmed my Aunt Sandy and cousins Dyani, John, and Alicia to familiarize my mom with our biological family and ease her fears. Next year I hope she’ll join us at the powwow, especially for the end of the ceremony when community members streamed down to shake our hands and said with a warm embrace, “Welcome home.”

Racheal White Hawk Strong,e nrolled Rosebud Sioux Tribal Member, is the administrative secretary at Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, a Native Daughters graduate student and a former Fulbright Scholar to China.

(via rematiration-deactivated2013111)


“This was seen by my nephew who is attending SDSU in his dorm bathroom our young Lakota men & women who are attending higher education institutions are also being educated on how racism still exists with their neighbors. For many of us who experience this for many years we learned how to tolerate this, yet for these young people they are traumatized.” - Wayne Weston



“This was seen by my nephew who is attending SDSU in his dorm bathroom our young Lakota men & women who are attending higher education institutions are also being educated on how racism still exists with their neighbors. For many of us who experience this for many years we learned how to tolerate this, yet for these young people they are traumatized.” - Wayne Weston


(via internettenoirette)


Behind the Buckskin Curtain: Realities of Life in Modern Native America

Christopher Scott Sewell


A recent article in National Geographic spoke of the “Rebirth of a Sioux Nation”, and highlighted the emergence of a growing nationalism and sense of peoplehood among the Oglala Lakota, a perspective that views the outside world of modern America and its people as “other”, and Lakota tradition and language as truly important to their survival as a people.

On the vast Pine Ridge reservation, a people who a century ago were predicted to be “gone”, “assimilated”, and “Americanized”  by the 21st Century are in their own view as Lakota as ever, and many of the younger generation are questioning the legitimacy of the social order that has reigned on the reservation for generations, just as their parents and grandparents have.

This sense is not new among the Oglala Lakota for those who were there or remember the struggles of the 1960’s and 70’s and of the seismic effects of these times on the minds of many Indian people across America, as a sense of the potential for rebirth and renewal of Indian identity emerged from the heart of the urban Indian ghettos and windswept reservations.

In a sense the Lakota have never loss their grip on their identity as a people who have been corralled but not broken, challenged but not defeated, and who walk in peace and holiness even as the rates of murder, suicide, neglect, and poverty on the reservation far exceeds those any other communities, and for some families conditions are at times worse than those for many third world countries, smack in the heart of the American Midwest.

When I saw the cover of the National Geographic showing a young Lakota charging across the plains on horseback in silhouette on a crest of a hill, I thought of people who I hadn’t seen and years, some of whom I had found out during the last decade through the Indian grapevine had left this world, usually in a violent way.

As I perused the pages, I saw many faces and names of old friends and people who I knew well then, and had ran with twenty years ago when I was a young man brimming with energy and  active in sobriety workshops, cultural renewal, and language preservation, in the cities and the reservations of the west.

The article made me think about how much change even a young man of 40 years like me has seen, and how sometimes when one is ‘steadily’ watching something, one may not see the slower changing developments happening for just this reason.

Sometimes a snapshot, such as this article in National Geographic, contrasted with the Pine Ridge I remember from decades ago, or the half century ago of some of my teachers and elders, shows how fast some things change.

As I think of the Indian Country of a century ago described by the oldest elders to me over the years in Indian church camp houses, sweat lodges, and Corn Dance arbors, compared to what I see daily in my life here in Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma this past decade, I see things unfolding that few have reason to speak of, and fewer even see.

A sense of Indianess certainly continues to grow among people choosing to identify as Native American and affiliate with the cultural traditions of various tribes, whether or not they have actually lived in those tribal communities, strongholds where ancient communal rhythms and  traditions are facts of daily life, where people go to sweat lodge with the new moon and life is not a Norman Rockwell painting, places where commodities are food, checks from relatives in faraway cities are gas money, and tribal gatherings and connections the most important activity on the social calendar .

The mainstream of the American society really knows little more about what is happening behind the “Buckskin Curtin”, the invisible line that separates the people of ‘Indian Country’ from other Americans, than do many of the politicians who influence the creation of the state and federal Indian policies and procedures that partially determine the present and coming generations of Indian peoples quality and way of life.

Under the current conditions of governmental policies and practices, the social lives of many of the persons who are enrolled in federally recognized tribes, especially here in Oklahoma, is one that is not actively resisting the forces of assimilative social and economic inclusion, always touted as “beneficial” to Indian people and communities.

Economic development and other such endeavors have become the forefront of tribal goal setting and endeavors, even as small percentages of budgets are earmarked for the (in most cases) social institutions based on the ‘differences” in the Indian cultural heritage from Euro-American majority that surround the small and often rural communities where truly traditional Indian life survives in the Sooner state

American governmental policies promise success to young Indians, even as it takes youths away from building social institutions that have been historically important  for tribal survival, to serve in the military far from the Oklahoma tribal or reservation communities where their presence (and the crucial generational reinvestment that they and their children represent) is lost to the larger Indian community.

Often with little commentary, the ‘patchwork’ of sovereign trust lands that are the reality for all but the largest reservations allows for a steadily increasing non-Indian population “on the rez”.

As anyone who attends powwows and community events in Oklahoma or the eastern U.S. can tell you, there is no shortage of powwows and the like today anywhere in the country, but fewer and fewer people will be seen there who can be differentiated from the general population.

Many of the feathered and enthusiastic participants at these events attest to an adherence to traditional values, customs, and a sense of self –identified ‘Indianess’, even as the intermarriage rate to persons of a ‘different’ race is highest among today’s Native American population according to the U.S. Census.

(See for more information on how these increasing situations impact on the tribes of the northern plains and other areas).

The Office of Management and Budget defines the concept of race as outlined for the United States Census as not “scientific or anthropological”. It takes into account “social and cultural characteristics as well as ancestry”, using “appropriate scientific methodologies” that are not “primarily biological or genetic in reference.

Another words, the idea of who is, and is not an “Indian” is more hotly debated as ever, even in the face of declining blood quantum degrees and increasingly self-identified “Indians” who are not connected with tribal communities or Indian population centers.

Not known by most people, if not for the geographical and social isolation of many of the dozen or so large reservations, especially in the northern plains, intermountain west, and south western region, most tribes would be like the vast majority of the Oklahoma and eastern U.S. tribes enrolled members; indistinguishable physically from the general population (regarding phenotypical appearance) and in many cases knowing and practicing little if any of the ‘traditional’ culture of the tribe, with blood quantum degrees in increasingly small fractions.

A tribal community identity, language and cultural preservation, and other aspects of tribal life are independent of concepts of race as understand to westerners, but with a swelling mainstream (and in many cases now not white necessarily) pressing in on geographic isolation of many tribal populations, ancestral genetic diversity (and in most cases non-Native American) increases.

As a case in point, in her life time my (late) ‘Auntie’ Mary Frances Johns, a Miccosukee born in the everglades in the early 1900’s, saw many families of Seminole and Miccosukee transition from “Full-blood” traditional, primarily native language speaking persons living in all Indian settlements, to the situation faced by her grandchildren, much like the children of Miccosukee Tribal Chairman Buffalo Tiger; persons of several racial/ethnic ancestries and unable to attend traditional religious green corn ceremonies due to this.

Unfortunately from my observations of many ‘federally recognized’ Indians that I share my daily life with, few want to see what is happening around them, the continuing erosion of “Indian blood” as defined through the lens of blood quantum, the loss of the few remaining identity markers that make them in anyway different from the surrounding mainstream population.

Tribal governments continually changing political/economic strategies emerge to deal with hard-to-accept social change (unfortunately for politicians and social conservatives of any ‘race’ an unending ever-changing reality), and political infighting increases as blood quantum amounts on tribal members CDIB cards continue to plunge, even as various multi-‘tribal’ ancestries increase in an individual or family, and every year more tribes switch from a ‘blood-quantum’ roll, to a descent roll.

‘Descent roll’ enrollment is a situation in which descent from an ancestor on a past roll is the requirement for current enrollment, no matter how small the blood quantum for example, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma citizens of 1/2000 blood quantum…I’m not kidding.

Currently the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has 300,000 enrolled members, 9 out of ten of which have blood quantum amounts in the 1/100’s or less, and who in most cases know little or nothing of the language, culture, etc. of the Cherokee…i don’t say this as a criticism, only reporting the realities i see among friends and family here in Cherokee Nation.

If I have seen anything that could put what is happening into a brief statement it is that “ISOLATION=Indian Identity (genetics, language, culture)” and that when social isolation is lost, so is most of the wide spread native traits you find in large tribal populations.

The history of Europe over the last few millennia reflects this same process of how with the end of social isolation, massive change ensues, often with the loss of previous identity markers, as any genetic and linguistic map of Europe shows, only in regions with geographical features like mountains, swamps, and islands are the remnants of the earliest Europeans found .

Social identity does not equal genetic identity though, for the process of synthesis that destroys also creates and social hybridity often chooses aspects of past identities to enshrine as “defining” features, as groups like the Lumbee, Melungeons, and other hybrid peoples show.

Though genetic research of the past decade has shown that many modern non-federally groups who identify as Indian socially have little Native American genetic ancestry, it has not slowed the struggles by many to secure federal acknowledgement by the BIA and Congressional legislation.

On the other hand, millions of Americans have a significant amount of American Indian ancestry, even as they keep this aspect of their ‘racial’ and cultural identity at arm’s length for the most part.

I am speaking about the Native American genetic heritage of the millions in America of Hispanic descent, primarily Mexican and other Latin American extraction.

Though few Academicians and NO tribal leaders want to admit it, there is more “American Indian” DNA in an east L.A. neighborhood than there is in the entirety of many of eastern Oklahoma tribes, though political realities (“Indian Sovereignty”) says that treaty obligations to tribes means that the ‘unique’ government to government relationship between tribes and the United States government means that they will still be “Indian Tribes” even when the ‘highest’ blood quantum degree in the tribe are in the 1/100’s. ( A situation faced by several tribes in Oklahoma and the Northeastern United States)

Anecdotally speaking,  if you go to the ‘Indian hospital’ here in our little rural Northeast Oklahoma town, you see 95% of the people there are clearly phenotypically Caucasian in appearance ( many being enrolled members of tribes from the area like Cherokee, Delaware, Shawnee, Modoc, Peoria, Wyandotte), and are receiving free medical care, even while hundreds of thousands of southwestern United States American citizens of ‘Chicano’ ancestry are dying of diseases and health issues DIRECTLY tied to their American Indian ancestry.

For many people in Indian Country, the American Indian Movement and other organizations and personalities statements about colonialism and the like are just posturing and political hyperbole, but in many cases they are pointing our situations that haven’t yet come to the awareness of the greater Indian community.

Over the last few years ‘Direct To Consumer’ genetic ancestry testing has led to many revelations about aspects of identity that would have otherwise been unknown.

Modern genetics is another world from the rooms full of dusty records used to track the blood quantum degrees of modern Indian America, and its reality is not tied to 200 years or more of US government and Bureau of Indian Affairs ‘paper-pushing’ and supposed benevolent social control of “its tribes”, often practiced social policies bent on suppression/isolation/annihilation of Indian identity (people), and exploitation of this continents wealth to make contemporary America a world leader.

 Despite Americas place as a superpower and arbitrator of affairs of nations world-wide, America’s prominence and financial success which its American Indian communities for the most part do not share in (or in many cases, like the Hopi, Mohawk, Miccosukee, and others even want to share in if it means a loss of the communal identity and life ways held preeminent by these communities.)

Even as our often neglected cousin to the south continues to be awash in blood and dysfunctional and crippling corruption directly traceable to the American hunger for drugs, Billions of dollars flow to the Middle East while the cancer of the drug trade spreads steadily.

Almost without comment the Latin American genetic heritage of the great new world civilization cradle continue to spread across the North American social landscape, a new reckoning of ‘Indian’ will emerge during this century, as most Americans ancestral heritages continue to mingle to a degree never known before.

From what I can see, a time will come in 50 years when the membership of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma will be over a million people most of whom will be of truly miniscule fractions of Cherokee or even Indian ancestry, and the general  population will be of American Indian ancestry as much through ‘Latino’ ancestry as through any ‘native’ to the continental United States.

The families of many of my relatives can attest to the current realities of the impact of Latinos on the average American experience; my own, my brother, several cousins, my ex-wife, and countless friends marriages to persons of Hispanic/ Mexican ancestry right now attests to the unfolding nature of identity today.

as one of my heroes, the Cherokee Nation’s favorite son and sage Will Rogers said a century ago, “i don’t know but what I read in the papers”, and as I try to ‘read between the lines’, and this is something that is not too often reported on unless there is some money in it for somebody; Change isn’t ‘coming’ to Indian Country and America for that matter, it is here, now, and with bells on as the saying goes.

The question is who is benefitting from the changes occurring?

the new found monies flowing into tribal communities is affecting them surely, but for example, is money from the new,  huge (Hard Rock) Cherokee Casino in Catoosa going to help the struggling traditionalist and stomp dancers of the nearby Kenwood and other “Cherokee full-blood” areas to preserve the social institutions (and yes, I will say it, necessary self-imposed isolation) to STAY Cherokee deep into this next century?

I am not wanting to sound judgmental of the tribal, state, or federal government, none of these governments, peoples or communities are “to blame” for the ever present and unchanging reality of social change, but as someone of Creek and Cherokee Native ancestry (among my many ancestries, like most people), i think that if the Basque, Jews, Roma, and other “old world” populations can develop cultures and identities that can ‘adapt and survive’.

I truly do hope for Americas sake that for the beautiful and culturally-vulnerable peoples and communities I have come to know and love in my life, the Euchee, Cheyenne-Arapaho, Natchez, Pottawatomi, Kickapoo, Kialegee, and, though few realize it, the Maya (yes there are many Maya in Tulsa and OKC), that the modern notions of diversity, inclusion, multiculturalism, and ‘ economic development’ are not necessarily new to Indian communities, and are not necessarily  the answer to “the Indian problem” as it was once known, and that new strategies should and must be considered for the preservation of what remains of distinct native American communities.


(via moniquill)

RNC Leader Says Governor Dishonored General Custer's Memory by Meeting With American Indians


General George Armstrong Custer died in 1876, but that doesn’t mean we should forget his legacy of slaughtering indigenous peoples.

That’s why Republican National Committee leader and GOP lobbyist Pat Rogers has condemned New Mexico governor Susana Martinez for meeting with American Indians.

In an email sent to Martinez’ staff, Rogers wrote—

The state is going to hell. Col. [Allen] Weh would not have dishonored Col. Custer in this manner.

Allen Weh was a Republican candidate who ran against Martinez.

Rogers is the RNC National Committeeman for New Mexico and a recent member of the RNC Executive Committee. ProgressNow New Mexico is calling for his dismissal.

Such a blatantly racist statement against our Native people is offensive from anyone, but to come from a national GOP leader and lobbyist for some of our country’s largest corporations is indefensible. These e-mails show the contempt and disrespect New Mexico’s Republican leadership has for our Native people. Unless they drop Pat Rogers immediately, we can rightly assume that those organizations he speaks for, including the RNC, Modrall Sperling and his lobbying clients, feel the same way.

On the other hand, maybe Rogers was just using “redist” ironically?

(via rematiration-deactivated2013111)

Auction Cancelled, Yet the Land is Still for Sale: The Struggle for Lakota Sacred Land Continues (This is a Self Post, I Don't Care About Karma One Whit...just want to say something) : politics


The end of the Pe’ Sla auction is not the end of the struggle. The land is STILL publicly listed for sale and so could still be bought by developers unless the Lakota can get the money together quickly.

Rumors/Misinformation going round serve to muddy the issue:

1.) ‘The Natives’ land was stolen long ago, so who cares?’

The fact is that the Supreme Court admitted in “United States vs. Sioux Nation of Indians” court case (1980) that the land was ‘illegally seized territory’. According to our own RECENT laws, the land is considered stolen. That cannot be said for a lot of places in the US.

In referring to the 1980 case, some believe that the Lakota ought to

2.) ‘Just accept the $106 million awarded in that court proceeding and use it to buy Black Hills/Pe’ Sla’

That is not possible. If the Lakota accept that money, which is explicitly marked as ‘compensation’, then the Lakota would have to give up all claims to Pe’ Sla/Black Hills.

The same goes for the ‘1 billion dollars’ that people may tell you that the Lakota have on hand. What they are referring to is a court case in which one ‘Mario Gonzalez’ filed a lawsuit asking for the land of Black Hills and $11 billion in damages. Mr. Gonzalez said that he would give $1 billion dollars to the Lakota in order to alleviate their poverty and use $10 billion dollars to remove nonrenewable resources from Black Hills.

It’s the same thing. If the Lakota took the billion, then they would have to give up the land which they see as Sacred and watch it be carved up and developed to feed various industrial interests.

3.) ‘If the Lakota are so poverty-stricken, then why don’t they take the money and give up Pe’ Sla?’

I understand how easy it is to think this way, but you must look at if from the other side. Buddists, would you abandon your path for piles of fine clothes and jewelry? Christians: if someone told you that you could move out of your shack and into a mansion where you would be fed a seven-course meal every day, would you give up Jesus in exchange and never say another prayer? Humans are not just calculators, they have a heart. There are things more important to many humans around the world than simple financial security.

4.) ‘So why don’t they just get the money from the casinos they have?’

The Lakota in question do not have casinos — as was mentioned, they are poverty stricken. There are more than 500 Native tribes in the US, as well as at least seven different tribes of Sioux to begin with. To just assume that the Pe’ Sla Lakota have such resources available to them is incorrect.

5.) ‘Development is nothing new, it goes on all the time. Why is it such a big deal?’

This question fails to acknowledge four things that are unique and that serve to raise the non-monetary value of this land in particular:

a.) The Lakota consider it a part of their creation story. A significant part of Traditional Lakota culture depends on the prayers and rituals made at Pe’ Sla on a regular basis. It would be like paving over the ‘Wailing Wall’ in Israel, parceling out pieces of ‘Sagrada Familia’ or turning ‘Uluru (Ayers Rock)’ into an amusement park. If you respect the beliefs of another, then you do not do these things. To sell the land to developers would be infringing on the Lakota’s religious freedoms, especially when one considers the State of South Dakota’s intent to put a roadway right through Pe’ Sla.

b.) The land is pristine. Few places on this planet are left that are still pristine, which is why some would prefer to make Pe’ Sla a natural preserve (something which the Lakota would be thrilled to hear).

c.) Black Hills contains ranches that belong to the homestead era of US history. It is ripe to become a living history museum. Turning Black Hills into a historic site would also be agreeable to the Lakota and wouldn’t interfere in their worshiping there.

d.) Any attempts to open a gold mine in the area or put a Keystone XL pipeline in the area (which could endanger sources of local fresh water) are likely to cause more problems for all the communities in the area than they would solve. Yet these are amongst the main interests that would be sure to buy the land.


  • The Supreme Court already admitted that the land was seized illegally.
  • Environmental concerns surround those that would develop the Black Hills
  • Pe’ Sla/Black Hills has a kind of ‘non-monetary’ value that cannot be replaced

(via rematiration-deactivated2013111)

Nine days left to reclaim Pe’Sla, the heart of Lakota territory





Nine days left to reclaim Pe’Sla, the heart of Lakota territory.





The heart of the Black Hills will be put up for auction on August 25th, potentially cutting the heart out of Lakota territory. The Pe’Sla fundraiser has managed to gather together $22K in a short period of time, but there are only 9 days left until the sale takes place. Help the Lakota back land stolen from them, land that is vital to the Lakota people.  Literally every dollar helps!

What about the Crow, Pawnee and Kiowa? Shouldn’t it actually be returned to them?…If we are in the business of returning land to original owners I mean.

That is a whole can of worms I don’t want to open, because then you have to consider the people that have been living in those areas for years now ( it should have never been taken from the original owners in the first place though) However if currently the original owners are still taking care of that land then they shouldn’t have yet more taken away from them.

I admit to opening the can of worms.  The Lakota took the land in conquest and it was later taken from them the same way.  So who does it go back to if anyone?  I dunno, I understand the grievances given the Ft. Laramie treaty, but that treaty is not the fault of all the people living their now.  I would think it just another crime to evict all of them.

True, I don’t know, this honestly goes into subject matter I’m not as well versed in as I would like.

Then to be quite blunt, why are you inserting yourself into this conversation, at this time? 

You admit that your understanding of the situation is not that good.  Right now, the situation is one of crisis, and your musings are not helpful, nor are they particularly accurate.  It takes a lot of time and energy to educate people on these issues, on the history, on the way what you’ve been taught has been skewed…and that is not time well spent right now.  But when you open up these conversations and suggest things, and wonder about things and question without really knowing what you’re talking about, you draw attention away from the real issue at hand.

Don’t do that.  It’s disrespectful.  It minimises the situation we are trying to bring attention to.  If you want to have a side discussion about what you think you know about the area, please feel free to create a blog post rather than comment on this one.


colonizer privilege is the ability to conveniently redefine pre-contact conflict among indigenous groups as interchangeable and exactly the same as colonialism (as if indigenous peoples ever created an entire economy on the trading of scalps of those who they deemed racially inferior, built boarding schools designed to slowly and painfully crush the souls and cultures of its kidnapped students, and attempted to systematically destroy the lands and peoples they conquered)

colonizer privilege is debating who the ~real owners~ of a sacred site are when everyone (colonized) who holds it sacred is pouring their hearts and energy into doing what they can to make sure that site isn’t desecrated and is in the hands of people who understand its significance (and I mean everyone—there are numerous Native peoples aside from the Lakota who hold the Black Hills sacred, but you don’t see any of them starting this stupid debate and tryna create unnecessary and counterproductive divisions; we have faith and trust that the Lakota people will take great care with this land. I would much rather see the land in Lakota hands than to any highest bidder, who will not understand that the land is sacred and will most likely desecrate it in the name of development)

^^^last two comments… truth… however back to the real issue at hand: Getting the Black Hills back into the hands of the Lakota

The heart of the Black Hills will be put up for auction on August 25th, potentially cutting the heart out of Lakota territory. The Pe’Sla fundraiser has managed to gather together $22K in a short period of time, but there are only 9 days left until the sale takes place. Help the Lakota back land stolen from them, land that is vital to the Lakota people.  Literally every dollar helps!

Pe’ Sla is an area in the Black Hills of South Dakota (just west of Rapid City) that is considered by the Lakota people to be the Center and heart of everything that is. It is part of our creation story. It is a sacred place. We perform certain ceremonies at Pe’ Sla which sustain the Lakota way of life and keep the universe in harmony. This area is currently owned by the Reynolds family. They plan to auction off almost 2,000 acres on August 25, 2012 to the highest bidder. It is likely that the state of South Dakota will put a road directly through Pe’ Sla and open up this sacred place for development. The seven bands of the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota Oyate (people) aka Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) have a collective effort to buy as much of Pe’Sla as we can at this auction (although we also believe that the land cannot be owned and that our sacred places were illegally taken by the United States). Yet we are trying to work within the current U.S. laws to regain custody of our sacred sites and prevent future road and industrial development. Our sacred ways must be protected and passed on to our future generations so that our children may live. This area of the Paha Sapa (Black Hills) is also home to many plants and animals who should also be protected. In fact, many consider that the area should possibly be a historical site, which would also assist in protecting it from future development as well. As Lakota people, our ancestors prayed here, at Pe’ Sla, at certain times of year, when the stars aligned. We cannot go elsewhere to pray. We were meant to pray here. This is what they do not understand. Please help the Lakota people. “Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.” Chief Sitting Bull, 1877 We have a group of young professional Native people that are dedicated to the promotion of education, health, leadership, and sovereignity among our indigenous Nations. Our goal is to assist in any way possible the purchase of Pe’ Sla by a collective effort of the seven bands of the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) - the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota people. All proceeds from this campaign will go towards that effort. This area would be open to tribal nations for ceremonial purposes. The plants, animals, water, and air in the area would be respected and honored. Please see… for more information. We thank you for your hope in the future.

We are hoping to buy as much of the land that is being put up for auction as possible. The total amount of land is 1,942.66 acres which is in 5 tracts (300 - 440 acres each).  It is diffcult to say how much this land would be sold for as developers may increase the true western “value”. 

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe has designated $50,000 for the purpose of purchasing Pe’ Sla land.  By contributing to the effort of all the Sioux Tribes, we aim to purchase at least some of the tracts, if not all.  Many of the Sioux Tribes continue to exist in poverty and do not have a thriving casino-based economy as the media may have portrayed.  Yet we continue to fight for what is sacred, because it matters!

(via rematiration-deactivated2013111)



support indigenous designers and vote for Lakota jewelers to win small business grant



Lakota Charm, a small online jewelry business run by a disabled Lakota woman and her husband, is applying for a $250,000 grant from Chase Bank to open up a physical location and expand their operations to offer a wider selection of fashion from both the artists at Lakota Charm, as well as other contracted indigenous artists. The couple that run Lakota Charm are really great people and talented artists, and 10% of the proceeds of all sales of their gorgeous jewelry goes towards children’s programs on the Pine Ridge reservation. 

support indigenous designers and follow the instructions on the link to vote for Lakota Charm! they need at least 250 votes to be eligible, but the more the better!

Reblogging this again because:

  • indigenous businesses and livelihoods are beyond important
  • it doesn’t fucking cost anything to vote

(via madamethursday)

Ms. Magazine Blog Highlights Native American Women -


This February 5 entry from the Ms. Magazine blog enlightens readers to the contributions of Native American women.

It’s no exaggeration to say that American Indian women are missing from most media coverage, history books and classroom discussions. But at least journalism students, instructors and state educators in Nebraska are doing something to help end America’s ignorance of Native women and the contributions they make to their communities, their tribes and to the nation as a whole.

Last year, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications published the magazine, Native Daughters. With a grant from the Carnegie Foundation and under the guidance of five university professors, students spent 18 months reporting and writing about American Indian women who are artists, activists, lawyers, cops, warriors, healers, storytellers and leaders.

Now the Nebraska Department of Education has also released a companion curriculum for the magazine. You can download it for free here.

Can’t wait even one minute more to learn about Native women? Here’s a teaser of what you can learn more about in Native Daughters—and what you can share with your students via the new curriculum.

1. “A lot of people think that us women are not leaders, but we are the heart of the nation, we are the center of our home, and it is us who decide how it will be.”–Philomine Lakota, Lakota language teacher, Red Cloud High School, Pine Ridge, S.D.

2. The art forms Native women practice stand as reminders of cultural endurance. “Their crafts survived the Greasy Grass (Battle of Little Big Horn), Wounded Knee One (1890) and Two (1973),” writes Christina DeVries in Native Daughters. “Their spirits survived the Trail of Tears, the Relocation and Termination program and continued struggles against cultural annihilation.”

3. In 1997, Ms. magazine named Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabeg) Woman of the Year. That same year, the activist also debuted her first novel, Last Standing Woman.

4. Of nearly 2 million women enlisted in the U.S. armed forces, 18,000 are American Indian women.  Their representation in the military is disproportionately high—and Native women are more likely to be sexually harassed, which increases their chances of developing post-traumatic stress disorder.

5. The number of Native women applying to medical school has increased since 2003, peaking in 2007 when 77 Native women applied nationwide.

6. In 2007, when Cassandra Manuelito-Kerkvliet (Diné) was named president of Antioch University, she became the first American Indian woman president of a mainstream university. Not only that, but about half of the nation’s tribal colleges are led by Native women presidents.

7. Cecelia Fire Thunder (Lakota) became the Oglala Lakota Tribe’s first woman president. She has fought against domestic abuse, saying it’s not a part of traditional culture, and been a leader for women’s reproductive rights. In 2006, when the South Dakota state legislature prohibited abortion, Fire Thunder announced plans to build a women’s clinic on the reservation, and therefore beyond state jurisdiction. She was impeached by the tribal council, who said she was acting outside her duties as president.

8. Women lead nearly one-quarter of the nation’s 562 federally recognized tribes.

9. “Through the late 1700s, Cherokee women were civically engaged. They owned land and had a say during wartime,” writes Astrid Munn in Native Daughters. “But this changed after the tribe ceded large tracts of land to the U.S. government in 1795.”  Since the mid-1980s, though, a generation of Native women activists, lawmakers and attorneys have been changing that history and working to empower women again.

10. Indian Country could never survive without Native women.

To order copies of the magazine, contact Joe Starita. You can also visit to watch video clips and extended raw footage of the interviews.

Reprinted with permission from Ms. Magazine.

(via rematiration-deactivated2013111)

Sitting on Top of Teddy Roosevelt’s Head- John Lame Deer on Mount Rushmore


Here we are, sitting on Teddy Roosevelt’s head, giving him a headache, maybe. If we get tired of the view from here, we move over and sit for a while on Washington or Lincoln or Jefferson, but Teddy is by far the best. There is moss growing near the back of his skull, lots of trees, firewood, boulders to lean your back against, a little hollow surrounded by pines, which makes a nice camping ground- especially with that cliff rising behind it on which that big “Red Power- Indian Land” sign is painted. It looks nice, doesn’t it? Actually, we’re not sitting exactly on Teddy’s head, which is bald and smooth, but in back of it, halfway toward Lincoln. We are really higher than any of these heads. One good thing abut being on top of Mount Rushmore, it’s the only place around here where you don’t have to look at those big faces, these giant tourist curios, ashtrays, paperweights. I know a Santee Indian who some years ago climbed up here one night with a few friends just to pee down on the nose of one of those faces. He called it a “symbolic gesture.” The way he told it to me it was quite a feat. They had to form a human chain to make it possible for him to do it.

Don’t get me wrong- we hold no grudge against Lincoln, Jefferson, or Washington. They signed a few good treaties with us and it wasn’t their fault that they weren’t kept. What we object to is the white man’s arrogance and self-love, his disregard for nature which makes him desecrate one of our holy mountains with these oversized pale faces. It’s symbolic, too, that his “Shrine of Democracy,” these four faces, are up to their chins in one tremendous pile or rubble, a million tons of jagged blasted, dynamited stone reaching all the way down to the visitors’ center. If you look up the mountain the way most tourists do, you see those four heads rising out of something like a gigantic, abandoned mine dump. But nobody seems to notice that.

It’s funny that we all got the sudden urge to be up here- you, a white artist with your wife, I, an old Sioux medicine man, a handful of Indian ladies with their children and grandchildren, and a bunch of young, angry “Red Power” kids. We are all different and have come here for different reasons, each of us bringing his own private anger with him. Well, a good anger is a good thing too. It could turn into love in the end. Anger is something we can all share like food.

Listen, my white friend Richard here told me some reasons why he doesn’t like Mount Rushmore. We Indians have many reasons why we don’t like it, but he has thought up a few we never hit on. He calls these faces one big white ego trip. He says good art can’t be made with a jackhammer, and I think, being an artist, he knows what he is talking about. He says that anything which is in disharmony with nature is bad art. Even if Michelangelo had made this monument it would still be ugly, because it fits into these mountains, our sacred Black Hills, like a red-hot iron poker into somebody’s eye. Did I get you right so far?

Richard also called it a disease of our society-I guess you meant white society, not us- to confuse bigness with greatness. I got this right anyway, because that’s what we think, too, but you also told me something I had not known before. It was this: that the only other mountains carved up like Rushmore are some huge cliffs in Asia. They always show some Babylonian big cheese, or Egyptian pharaoh, trampling some people underfoot, and the inscriptions always go like this: “I, the great king, the king of kings, the living god, I smote fifty towns over there and buried the inhabitants alive, and I smashed fifty cities down here and had everybody impaled, and I conquered another fifty places on this side and had everybody in them burned up, and to show you what a big guy I am, I had a thousand slaves carve up this mountain.”

That really got me thinking. What does this Mount Rushmore mean to us Indians? It means that these big white faces are telling us, “First we gave you Indians a treaty that you could keep these Black Hills forever, as long as the sun would shine, in exchange for all the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana. Then we found the gold and took this last piece of land, because we were stronger, and there were more of us than there were of you, and because we had cannons and Gatling guns, while you hadn’t even progressed far enough to make a steel knife. And you didn’t want to leave, we wiped you out, and those of you who survived we put on reservations. And then we took the gold out, a billion bucks, and we aren’t through yet. And because we like the tourist dollars, too, we have made your sacred Black Hills into one vast Disneyland. And after we did all this we carved up this mountain, the dwelling place of your spirits, and put our four gleaming white faces here. We are the conquerors.”

And a million or more tourists every year look up at those faces and feel good, real good, because they make them feel big and powerful, because they own kind of people made these faces and the tourists are thinking: “We are white, and we made this, what we want we get, and nothing can stop us.” Maybe they won’t admit it to themselves, but that’s what many of them are thinking deep down inside. And this is what conquering means. They could just as well have carved this mountain into a huge cavalry boot standing on a dead Indian.

One man’s shrine is another man’s cemetery, except that now a few white folks are also getting tired of having to look at this big paperweight curio. We can’t get away from it. You could make a lovely mountain into a great paperweight, but you can’t make it into a wild, natural mountain again? I don’t think you have the know-how for that.

A reporter from the Rapid City Journal asked me why I come up here. I told him that the Presidents’ faces on Mount Rushmore had become dirty and hat I wanted to plant a staff up there, like an altar, on the very top making this a sacred mountain again. That guy really looked puzzled. For a while he said nothing. Finally he asked, “What is the true significance of this staff?” I told him, “The lower part of the staff is painted black. That stands for night. It stands for black face paint in war. It also represents people praying, either with their eyes closed or in the dark. IT also means that I am putting a blanket or shroud, over the mountain by planting this staff, and he Presidents’ faces shall remain dirty until treaties concerning the Black Hills are fulfilled, the Black Hills will be covered with brightness again, but this could take some time. In the meantime we Indians renamed Mount Rushmore ‘Crazy Horse Mountain.’”

“Well,” said the reporter, “I hope I’ve gotten all this right.” I told him I hoped so, too.

Now, Richard here had another good idea. He said there should be a law that all statues over a hundred feet high should be put in abandoned mine shafts. This way nobody would be forced to see the giant sculptures. That way everybody would be happy. I wished we’d had a law like this before this big thing was started. Maybe it’s not too late to put an elevator under this whole shrine of democracy-press a button and the whole monument disappears. And once a week-say, every Sunday for nine to eleven- you press the button and those four heads come up again with the music going full blast. The guys who got an astronaut on the moon should be able to do this much for us Indians, artists and nature lovers.

In one thing you’re wrong, though. You said we could relax now, the worst was over; they had done everything they could to the Black Hills. There was no room left for more. So now I have to tell you about a white fellow artist of yours- a sculptor. I have the name written down somewhere, back in my hip pocket. We Indians are so uneducated we can’t even remember a simple name. We should be able to do it, because our won names are so complicated-Red Cloud, Lame Deer, Gall- after this it should be easy to catch on to a simple, civilized white man’s name. But I can’t memorize it, I have to look it up. Here it is: Mr. Korzak Ziolkowski, pupil of Gutzon Borglum, who built Mount Rushmore. It seems Ziolkowski  and Borglum had a falling-out at one time. Ziolkowski felt bad at having to work at such a measly thing as Mount Rushmore.

He went off and sarted working on Thunderhead mountain, which is about twice as big as Mount Rushmore. Now Ziolkowski says that he is a friend of the Indians. He says he wants to do something for us. If a white man says this, it’s time for us Indians to run. What Ziolkowski wants to do for us is put up a giant statue of Crazy Horse which will make those four Presidents look like dwarfs.

This statue of the chief sitting on his pony is supposed to be about 650 feet long and 560 feet high. It will have a forty-foot feather sticking out from its head. Ziolkowski has made a huge model of his monument. Crazy Horse doesn’t have braids and the feather coming out of his hair looks like a air valve sticking out of a tire. The chief’s arm is point ahead like “this way to the men’s room.” It is said that all the people on our reservation could stand on that arm, or maybe just on his hand. That statue is supposed to be wired for sound. Maybe its jaws will open and war whoops will come out that you will be able to hear all the way to Sioux Falls. The heap of rubble all this will make could be ten times as big as the rock dump at the foot of Mount Rushmore. The advertising says, “An entire mountain is being carved in the likeness of Chief Crazy Horse by a sculptor-genius Korczak Ziolkowski.” That man thinks big.

This genius, I am told makes more than 100,000 green frog skins (dollars)  a year tax-free from tourist admissions and by selling plaster models of his statues from three dollars up- tax-free, because he is doing all this for us poor Indians. Somewhere in, or under, that statue is supposed to be fifty-million-dollar university for Indians, maybe in the big toe or a hoof, I’m not quite sure where, but I’m fairly sure that we Indians never got any money out of this.

There are two things wrong with this statue. Crazy Horse never let a white man take his picture. He didn’t want white people to look at him. He died fighting before he would let white soldiers shut him up in a stone guardhouse. He was buried the way he wanted it, with nobody knowing his grave. The whole idea of making a beautiful wild mountain into a statue of him is a pollution of the landscape. It is against the spirit of Crazy Horse.

Mr. Fool Crow, one of our most respected medicine men, says, “This mountain doesn’t want the statue to be built. The ghost of Crazy Horse doesn’t want it. It will never be finished.”

Godfrey Chips, our youngest medicine man, told me, “This man Crazy Horse, in the beginning he was a peaceful man but when he sees that all his people are massacred down the line, well, he had been given a power, so he starts to fight with it. He used to be gentle, but life made him into a man-killer. The hate was in him. He never like the white people and he died that way. So his spirit told me he doesn’t want them to build a tourist monument of Crazy Horse.”

Another Yuwipi man said, “Thunderhead Mountain, that’s an old name. It could mean some thunderbirds were up there once. They won’ like this. Our dead people don’t want it being built. The trees and the animals don’t want it. All of us medicine men know this.”

The second thing wrong with this statue is that the time has passed when a white man could simply decide for us to build a monument on our behalf according to what he had in mind, in our sacred hills, without asking us. When he started it over thirty years ago, he could still find Indians who were flattered that a white sculptor-genius wanted to do a statue of an Indian chief. But these days are over.

Ziolowski sometimes say that the Indians are superstitious and that the main trouble is our lack of vision to understand him. The trouble is that we understand him too well.  It’s he who doesn’t understand. He might have good intentions, but he doesn’t see all that gigantic carving of our sacred mountains is just another form of racism.

But don’t worry. The genius-sculptor is getting long in the tooth, while his statue isn’t making much progress. Also he is very busy collecting admission fees from tourists, taking them on guided tours, selling them plastic models of all sizes, letting them look through a pay telescope, letting them ouch off dynamite blasts, and what not. Maybe it’s the spirit of Crazy Horse which is sending him all these interruptions. My father was a betting man. In a fight between Korczack Ziolkowski and the spirit of Crazy Horse, he wouldn’t have put his money on Ziolkowski. I’m telling you, the statue of Crazy Horse will remain faceless.

Why am I wasting my time taking about white man’s giant statues? Because they are a form of discrimination. It’s discrimination which brought us all up here on top of Teddy Roosevelt’s head. And that’s what I want to talk about. Some of our young Indians have bumper stickers on their cars- “Custer Died for Your Sins!”- but I’m telling you, Custer is alive! Not one but many Custers are at work in their trade, which is beating down on the Indians. Custer’s spirit is in all those tourist traps which desecrate these mountains. It’s in the Mother Goose Story Book Island, in the All-Aboard, Narrow Gauge, Scenic 1880 Train, in the Flintstone’s Bed-Rock Village, the Doll-House Museum, the Horseless Carriage Museum, the Unforgettable Fun for the Family Gravity House, the Pan Your Own Gold Dust Place, all the phony pageants, the whole crap. There’s a little Custer in all those sightseers, souvenir hunters, rock hounds, tourist scalpers, sharps and Deadwood hookers which cover these hills like so many ants.

(via rematiration-deactivated2013111)

For the asshats


  • Pine Ridge is the POOREST reservation in this country AND one of the top three POOREST COMMUNITIES in this country.
  • It is not “handouts” when the government pays (what little they pay, mind you) for health-care etc. to the reservations. IT’S A TINY FRACTION OF WHAT YOU OWE FOR THE VAST AMOUNTS OF LAND YOU HAVE TAKEN OVER.
  • Yes, many people are “forced” to stay there. And those who have left struggle off the reservation too.
  • No. No one outside of corrupt tribal government officials has “more than most Americans” on Pine Ridge. Or any reservation for that matter.

(via poemsofthedead-deactivated20120)