.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

American Indian Movement of Colorado

Spirituality • Self-determination • Solidarity • Sobriety
Colorado AIM home page

Sunday, May 30, 2004

the cartoonista

Lalo Alcaraz is the alter ego of Eduardo Lopez. Lalo's comic strips mostly center on Chicano characters or issues, but he also includes Ndn issues in his strips, as well. Here are a few of them.

Most Indians are familiar with this kind of exchange. Another version of this is the "cocktail Cherokee." This person is a middle to upper class, white conservative who can be spotted at cocktail parties saying "You know, my great, great grandmother was Cherokee, and Indian mascots don't bother me one bit."

This one is a reference to an incident in 2002 when the cast of "the Sopranos" was barred from marching in the columbus day parade in New York City. Portraying a crime family on television was viewed by the parade sponsors as being worse than honoring an actual murderer.

This one shows that there are other views about who the terrorist are.

Check out more of Lalo's work here. click

Friday, May 28, 2004

The U.S. Empire - Then and Now

There was a recent celebration of soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment who were returning to Fort Carson, CO from their deployment in Iraq. The imagery of the celebration reveals a great amount about how the United States government views its privilege in the world, in much the same way that it celebrated its vision of "Manifest Destiny" across the Americas in the 19th century. One illustration of the continuous line of U.S. imperial policy, from then to now, is found in the picture of Donald Rumsfeld below, at Fort Carson this past October. As with all photo opportunities in the Bush administration, the picture below was carefully staged, framed and choreographed by the U.S. Defense Department.

Rumsfeld at Fort (Kit) Carson, Colorado, October, 2003

As the image indicates, the U.S. acknowledges and champions the connection between the U.S. government (represented by Rumsfeld) and the soldiers arrayed immediately behind him who are on their way to occupy Iraq, and, behind them, the 3rd Cavalry Color Guard -- seated on their horses and dressed in the same uniform of the soldiers of the 1870's who invaded the territories of indigenous nations throughout what is now called the American West. This photograph sends a very powerful non-verbal message about the legitimacy of the extension of the U.S. empire into Indian territories then, and about how the U.S. government would like the public to analogize the current neo-conservative escapade in Iraq with the benefits that most Americans continue to reap from the U.S.' 19th century imperial ventures in Indian Country

Rumsfeld's October message was reinforced this week during another ceremony at Fort Carson to unveil a new statue honoring the Indian killer, Kit Carson, after whom the base is named. The images below also raise the illusion of glory that is wrapped around the U.S. invasion and theft of Indian territories in the 19th century.

3rd Armored Cavalry Color Guard charging, May 25, 2004

After all, who is it that these soldier are supposed to be charging? We are to assume, subconsciously of course, that they are charging "the Indians," the evil ones, the "terrorists" of the 17th through 19th centuries, the obstacles to civilized Christian progress, those who would obstruct the U.S. from defending and globalizing its "way of life." And aren't we all (Native and non-Native alike) supposed to be grateful that the soldiers are charging, that they are attacking the heathens in defense of the blessings of Western civilization, just as Kit Carson had done 140 years ago? Perhaps these soldiers imagine themselves to be charging the unarmed women and children at Sand Creek or the Washita or Wounded Knee -- on their way to Fallujah or Najaf. In either case, the goal is the same: the extension of "superior" Western, Christian and civilized values over the poor wretches who have the misfortune of being born into backward, primitive, savage societies. Trouble is, those backward, pagan, cooperative societies have given more to the world in terms of art and science and philosophy and spiritual insights and freedom than these soldiers shrouded in navy blue pestilence could ever imagine. Here is one example:click And another: click

The final image in the Fort Carson montage is yet more telling about the ideological extension of the 19th century U.S. empire, and its current global delusions.
Kit Carson statue dedicated, Ft. Carson, Colorado, May 25, 2004

The statue that was unvelied on May 25th of Kit Carson sent an alarmingly chilling, racist message that was presaged by Rumsfeld's remarks this past October. The statue of the marauding Kit Carson, who was personally responsible for the slaughter of thousands of native people, is an insult to all Indians. Carson started with the invasion of the Mescalero Apache territories in New Mexico in 1862. It was, however, Carson's tactics against the Diné (Navajos) that earned him a permanent place in the "Indian Murderer Hall of Infamy." In 1863-4, when the Diné refused to be cowed by U.S. threats, Carson engaged in a "scorched earth" policy, destroying all crops -- beans, pumpkins, corn and melons, in an attempt to starve the Diné into submission;it did not work. The Diné continued to fight heroically in defense of their homelands for two more years.

In the bitter winter cold of 1864 (the same winter that hosted the Sand Creek massacre of 300 Cheyenne and Arapaho children, elders, and women less than 100 miles from the current Fort Carson), Kit Carson destroyed the prized peach orchards of the Diné, cutting down over 5000 trees, with the sole purpose of starving the Diné, and this meant all the Diné -- men, women, children, elderly, and sick -- into surrender. Even with this hardship, the Diné resistance continued until the fall of 1866. Carson's most notorius act, however, was the forced march of the Diné over 300 miles across New Mexico to the concentration camp at Bosque Redondo. Over 300 Diné died from exhaustion, illness or exposure on the forced march -- and they may have been the fortunate ones. Once at Bosque, which Hitler later used as a model for his own extermination camps - and which is easily recognizable as the tactical and cultural precursor to Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prison today, the Diné lived a desperate existence -- where hundreds more died of starvation, exposure and disease. All as a result of the actions of Kit Carson.

Bosque Redondo Concentration Camp, New Mexico Territory, 1864 - the reality of Kit Carson's heroism

In Carson's honor, this past October, Rumsfeld lionized the Indian-killer, and extended Carson's human-butcher ethic to the latest chapter in U.S. imperialism in Iraq, saying:

"In the global war on terror, U.S. forces, including thousands from this base, have lived up to the legend of Kit Carson," Rumsfeld said, "fighting terrorists in the mountains of Afghanistan, hunting the remnants of the deadly regime in Iraq, working with local populations to help secure victory. And every one of you is like Kit Carson."

"Few men have been chosen by destiny to serve their country as Kit Carson served, and fewer still have risen to the challenge," Rumsfeld told the group. "Each of you has been chosen by destiny to serve in this unique time in the history of our country. It's a time of change, a time of challenge, and you have risen to that challenge and have made America proud."

Kit Carson would have fit in perfectly in the "time of challenge" at Abu Ghraib prison. That certainly must have been Rumsfeld 's intended inference when he concluded that the soldiers "have lived up to the legend of Kit Carson." They were all, in the final analysis, implementing Kit Carson's, er...Donald Rumsfeld's -- and the United States' -- enduring imperial strategy. click

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Media not so hot on George Bush anymore.

The love affair between the media and George Bush seems to be coming to an end. To shore up his falling numbers, Bush has scheduled six weekly addresses in the run up to the "handover of sovereignty" to whatever Government is installed in Iraq. Last monday, Bush held his first address and it was ignored by ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX. What's more, his address wasn't received with it's usual fanfare, by his loyal followers in conservative media mags like the National Review.

Pundits that championed the Occupation in Iraq are making the U turn as well. Thomas Friedman, David Brooks, George Will and Tucker Carlson are some of the more well known warmongers to have expressed doubt or outright regret for pushing the war in the first place.

In another sign of how the mood has turned against the Bush Administration, yesterday, John Ashcroft held a press conference in which he spoke about vague, yet imminent terrorist attacks that were likely to occur. In the past, this tactic has served the Bush administration well in frightening people into silence. This time, however, mainstream media questioned whether or not this was a ploy by the Bush administration to take the focus off his sliding poll numbers.

At the end of last sunday's 60 Minutes program, Andy Rooney(nobodys idea of a flaming liberal) gave voice to a sentiment that seems to be sweeping a lot of George Bush's former supporters. This is what Rooney had to say.

In the history of the world, several great civilizations that seemed immortal have deteriorated and died. I don't want to seem dramatic tonight, but I've lived a long while, and for the first time in my life, I have this faint, faraway fear that it could happen to us here in America as it happened to the Greek and Roman civilizations.

Too many Americans don't understand what we have here, or how to keep it. I worry for my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren. I want them to have what I've had, and I sense it slipping away.

Have a nice day. full article

The New York times issued a (kind of) apology for the role they played in featuring the reporting of Judith Miller. Judith Miller's reports contained most of the discredited misinformation that Achmad Chalabi was feeding to the Neo-conservatives in the run up to the war. NYTimes columnist, Paul Krugman examines the change in the media's coverage of George Bush and makes some frank observations about the dynamics that were in play since September 11.

People who get their news by skimming the front page, or by watching TV, must be feeling confused by the sudden change in Mr. Bush's character. For more than two years after 9/11, he was a straight shooter, all moral clarity and righteousness.

But now those people hear about a president who won't tell a straight story about why he took us to war in Iraq or how that war is going, who can't admit to and learn from mistakes, and who won't hold himself or anyone else accountable. What happened?

The answer, of course, is that the straight shooter never existed. He was a fictitious character that the press, for various reasons, presented as reality.
full article

The media's love affair with George may be a thing of the past. It's unfortunate that it took the deaths of so many people, (soldiers & iraqi's) a debt ridden future for the next generations, and a foreign policy disaster to bring them to their senses.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Vine and Winona in the news

Winona LaDuke and Vine Deloria Jr. were the recent subjects of news stories

First, Vine declined an honorary doctor degree in order to protest the lack of accountability/responsibility by those in leadership positions at the University of Colorado. The University tried to bestow an honorary Degree on Vine and he told them "no thanks." Vine has always raised the hard questions and set a high standard for himself and others. Those that don't know Vine may have been suprised that he declined the degree, but for those of us in indian country, we are not at
all suprised that Vine declined the Doctorate as a matter of principle. He even managed to get in a quote that encompassed the CU scandal, the Abu Ghraib Prison Torture and sexual abuse cover ups by the Catholic Church.
"We're running amok in Iraq, but it turns out nobody knew what was going on" in Abu Ghraib prison. "The Catholic Church has all this pedophile abuse, and none of the bishops knew what was happening." Similarly, he said, coaches and administrators at CU claim they didn't know about the use of sex, drugs and alcohol to attract football recruits.

"That's no excuse. They should know what's going on. None of them is willing to accept the blame."

Deloria said he mulled his options for two days before sending the letter. He's proud of his career as a scholar. He didn't take the action lightly.

"Then I remembered Rosa Parks refusing to go to the back of the bus. I felt embarrassed that I even had doubts about objecting to the coverup. She had a lot more to lose than I ever did and more courage than I'll ever have.

"So to hell with the degree." full article

Winona LaDuke also was the subject of an interview by the Grand Forks Herald. Winona spoke at the University of Denver a few weeks ago. One of the themes in her talk was about cultural differences in a democratic society. In this interview, she continues to discuss the role society plays in the lives of indigenous peoples.
So, to start with, I am someone interested in making change - making things better. The communities I work for are poor, rural communities of color and farming communities - not really on the national political radar. I asked myself if these communities deserve to be heard in Washington, D.C., and if what happens to us is indicative of national politics. I think it is.

Winona LaDuke

For me, that is part of the process, because I think American politics are not stagnant. Democracy is a vibrant process. Democracy is not a spectator sport. It actually requires people to form it and change it. If you don't participate and you don't raise your voice and say what you believe, it is just not going to get out there. full article.

Both Vine and Winona have a history of offering vision, direction and examples of action rooted in principle. Here again, they remind us what is possible as well as what is necessary in this time of cynicism

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

San Carlos won't accept bribe

The Universtiy of Arizona recently made an offer of $120,000 to the San Carlos Apache, as part a Northern Tribes initiative, which is the consortium of universities responsible for the Mount Graham Observatory, which sits on Mount Graham. Mount Graham is sacred to the Apache People and the San Carlos, in particular, have vigorously opposed the construction of the Observatory on those grounds. Mount Graham is home to the Mountain Spirits that impart wisdom and a place for the people to hold their ceremonies. The proposal was rejected during a session of the San Carlos Apache Tribal Council.

San Carlos Apache rejected an offer of $120,000 from the University of Arizona, calling it a bribe, and said they would continue to honor their sacred Dzil Nchaa Si An (Mount Graham), as darkness envelopes the world because of violations of the sacred.

Apache elder Ola Cassadore-Davis, speaking in the Apache language during a special session of the San Carlos Apache Tribal Council, said the University of Arizona has done nothing but tell lies to the Apache people.

Speaking to university officials at the session, she said the offer of money is like an offer of ice cream.

"You talk to us now, offering bribes of cash in exchange for letting go of our defense for our Apache religion and culture, something like giving us a little ice cream to quiet us down.

"Money, like ice cream does not last, but our mountain stands there for us and we must stand for our mountain," said Davis, chairwoman of the Apache Survival Coalition.................

...After the council voted to reject the university’s offer, Apache elder Raleigh Thompson praised the council’s action. "I was so happy. They took a stand for their people, really their traditional people and their ancestors," said Thompson, former tribal councilman for 16 years.full article

Wendle Nosie, A San Carlos Member and founder of Apaches for Cultural Preservation was arrested for tresspassing(and later acquitted) on Mount Graham, in 1998.

A San Carlos man arrested for criminal trespassing on Mount Graham in August was acquitted last week because the prosecutor failed to prove his case.
Wendsler A. Nosie, a San Carlos Apache, was arrested on the mountain, about 70 miles northeast of Tucson, Aug. 30 by University of Arizona police officers after he reportedly went to nearby Emerald Peak to pray. William Foreman, an attorney for Nosie, said his client was called upon by a higher power, and that there was more to the case than the university's claim that its property had been breached.

"What was at stake was nothing less than the religious and cultural health of the San Carlos Apache people," Foreman said.

Foreman said that on Jan. 20, Graham County Justice of the Peace Linda Norton found that the prosecutor was unable to prove that Nosie was knowingly trespassing....

Nosie's wife, Theresa, said yesterday that Nosie went up the mountain to prepare for their daughter's Sunrise Ceremony, a religious practice to prepare a young woman for the coming of menstruation.

..."He just woke up one morning and said, 'I have to go up on the mountain to pray,'" she said.

Wendsler Nosie was stopped by a U.S. Forest Service worker while Nosie was walking down the private access road leading up the mountain, where the UA is building its large binocular telescope. Mrs. Nosie said the Forest Service worker warned her husband that the road was UA property, then called university police, whose officers arrested him on a charge of trespassing.article

In addition to working with the Apache for Cultural Preservation, Wendle Nosie has also organized the Mount Graham Sacred Runs. These runs have been conducted since 1992 and they include runners from many different indigenous Nations. This year's run was recently concluded.

Persevering, through pouring rain, Apache young people on the Mount Graham Sacred Run received special blessings from Apache and Pascua Yaqui medicine people, as they shared the power of the mountain, its medicine and waters.

As runners formed a prayer circle on top of the mountain, Wendsler Nosie, run organizer, spoke of the mystery of sacrifice and the need for balance in the world.

"Life is not right when it is too easy. You have to suffer for the things God will bless you with," Nosie told runners, the majority of them youths from San Carlos and White Mountain.

"It has been a Holy Mountain since the beginning of creation. This has been passed orally through our ancestors. It was taught to us that it was given to the world.

"Our culture, our language, our religion is being threatened. All of this is our identity. Our identity is the land and where God has placed us in this part of the world.

"We cannot let it end."article

Most Americans do not understand that sacred areas exist not only overseas but on this land as well. Not only do they not understand, they either resist education efforts or they scoff at the knowledge that has been presented to them. The analogies have been made before. What would the reaction be if natives were to occupy churches and,say, add slot machine rooms? Never mind the noise, go on with your prayers and services. Pay no attention to us. But don't come here on Saturday nights because that is our busiest time of the week and you will be subject to removal by our security. We've made a pretty good profit, using your church, so here's $10,000 dollars. Go buy yourself some new sunday school books and leave us alone.

check out the Mount Graham Coalition website here

Monday, May 24, 2004

Aymara Indians in Peru rise up against the state

Last month, in Ilave, Peru, over 10,000 Aymara Indians lynched the mayor of the city after repeated warnings about government corruption went unheeded. (Click here for original story: click) Today, the Aymara people clashed again with the police, with several indigenous people shot while trying to block the international bridge connecting Peru and Bolivia. (Click here for today's story: click)
Update - 27 May 2004 - click

Peruvian national police attack Aymara Indian community of Ilave, Peru

This story is an important example of the mobilization of millions of indigenous people in central and southern Indian America for the reclamation of their freedom. What makes this issue especially intriguing is that the president of Peru, Alejandro Toledo, is Indian himself. Sometimes, it appears, one's allegiance to the state surpasses one's allegiance to Indian people. It seems inevitible that Toledo's misplaced loyalities to the Peruvian state will be his political undoing. The question now arises how many other Indian people will die before the inevitible comes to pass?

Read this article for a perspective about how indigenous peoples are shaking up the political status quo throughout the Andean region: click
Indigenous woman in Bolivia calling for the removal of the central government in October, 2003.

3 Native families sent fetus' via mail

In Ontario Canada, 3 different families have reported that they were sent the remains of miscarried fetus' through the mail.

The first report came from a member of community of North Caribou Lake. Here is an excerpt from the CBC article
"The mother went hysterical after she found out the unborn child came through the mail."

Kenequanash is calling for a full police investigation and a coroner's inquest into the incident. The family, who live in North Caribou Lake, a remote community hundreds of kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay has also retained a lawyer.

In March, the woman was medevaced to Sioux Lookout hospital, said Kimberly Whetung a senior policy adviser with the Chiefs of Ontario, which represents 134 First Nations across Ontario.

The woman had completed her first trimester but miscarried at the hospital. Because the hospital did not have a pathologist on staff, the fetus was sent to Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, Whetung said.
The family requested the fetus be returned to the community. The mother was told that the remains would be taken from the hospital to a funeral home.

Instead, the fetus was sent by Purolator in a cardboard box to the wrong address – a post office in Pickle Lake, a community about 300 kilometres from North Caribou Lake. It was labelled "diagnostic specimen" and "room temperature." full article

Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman ordered an investigation after a second family,from the Fort Hope First Nation, revealed that their daughter had received her miscarried fetus in the mail. The hospital put the blame on a new employee.

A third family has come forward, stating that they have also received their miscarried fetus through the mail system. Here is another excerpt from the latest article

Amid claims that a third aboriginal family had been mailed the remains of a miscarried fetus, Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman said yesterday he had ordered an investigation into how human tissue is handled.

Smitherman, who said he was "angered and deeply concerned," asked the head of Toronto's University Health Network, Tom Closson, to investigate the allegations against the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

"This just does not mesh with anyone's thinking of what's appropriate in the circumstances," Smitherman said.

"So I want some advice from someone I deeply respect."

Yesterday, an aboriginal family from northern Ontario, this one from the remote Poplar Hill First Nation, became the third this week to say it had received mailed fetal remains.

Charles Fox, Ontario regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations, said the family would provide details next week but that the remains arrived two weeks ago and were buried after a funeral.

The Thunder Bay hospital was investigating the third claim. full article

It looks like the Ontario officials have 3 varying explanations.
1. The contents of the packages were "human tissue" and could not be classified as a fetus.
2. A new employee, unfamiliar with standard procedures, sent the remains through the mail the to the Fort Hope First Nation.
3. The areas were so remote that the only way to send the remains was via the mail.

If the contents were simply "human tissue" then why would the hospital have sent them in the first place? Do these same hospitals also routinely send removed kidneys, via the mail, to their patients as a courtesy? The answer could be that it was requested by the families. The question then becomes, were the families informed that they would be receiving the fetus in the mail? It would be incumbent upon the hospital to have made an arrangement with the families and that the families would have been fully informed as to what the arrangement would be. One family received the fetus in a package marked "diagnostic specimens." The remoteness of a community should not exclude it's members from being afforded the same common decency that other urban citizens enjoy.

Since this story broke last week, 3 First Nation Families have come forward with similar stories. Are there other First Nation Families out with similar experiences? The Assembly of First Nations should demand a nationwide investigation by the Minister of Indian Affairs and hold an inquest to receive testimonials from other First Nation families.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Percy Schmeiser case

Yesterday, May 21, 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada decided that Percy Schmeiser, a canola farmer in Saskatchewan, Canada, was guilty of stealing genetically-modified seeds from Monsanto. Schmeiser maintains that he did not steal the seeds, but that seeds and pollen from Monsanto's GMO crops blew onto his land and invaded his seed stocks. The implications of this decision, for Native and non-Native people in the Americas, is enormous. A minor victory was achieved for Schmeiser when he was relieved of a $200,000 fine that was imposed by a lower court. Monsanto's legal position that it can genetically modify plant life, allow its Frankenseeds to invade other fields/seed stocks/crops, and and claim that Monsanto's seeds were then "stolen" by a farmer harvesting all of the seeds on his lands -- including Monsanto's trespassing seeds, is incredible. This is a case of the expansion of corporate imperialism in the realm of agriculture, with potentially catastrophic impacts on the future of food production for the entire planet. Full article here

Percy Schmeiser's website: click

Also, see this excellent article by Vandana Shiva on Monsanto's biopiracy:click