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American Indian Movement of Colorado

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Sunday, January 30, 2005

2 more unpublished letters

Here are a two more letters that were submitted to the local papers and have gone unpublished.

Letter 1

To the Editor:

Considering the uproar over Ward Churchill's essay on 9/11, it is very instructive that almost nowhere have I read anything that considers some basic points:

What is the larger context of the remarks and the reaction to them? hy is this only coming up now, years after the essay was written? Why is it that the dominant culture can and does say many things that are disrespectful, ignorant, and even dangerous, with no outcry, but if an indigenous person says something challenging, there are repercussions?Why is it that some people cannot disagree with another person respectfully, without calling for his dismissal from the University?

The larger context is the general history of the United States government and its relationship not only to indigenous peoples within its borders but also to other nations on the planet, of which Ward Churchill, among others such as Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky have so eloquently written.

This essay has been available since 9/11/2001. Can the fact that this controversy is erupting now have anything to do with the victory that Ward Churchill and 239 others had last week with the acquittals and dismissals of charges against those protesting the celebration of genocide posing as 'Columbus Day'? Go to www.transformcolumbusday.org or coloradoaim.org for more information.

Many times there are racist and ignorant things written and said about indigenous people with nary a comment or reaction. There is definitely a double standard when it comes to something written by an indigenous person, especially someone as astute as Ward. It seems that, when all else fails, there are ad hominem attacks. I urge readers to not be distracted by reactions to a few words, but rather to look more deeply at the validity of his arguments.

It doesn't have to be difficult to disagree with someone's words and still maintain respect for the writer and his work. I don't personally agree with calling victims of the 9/11 attacks 'little Eichmans', but if one reads the entire essay, there is much more nuance and many valid points that are being ignored. Additionally,Ward Churchill's books, such as "A Little Matter of Genocide", should be required reading for anyone in this country whose ancestors came from elsewhere. To try to dismiss a writer as prolific, authoritative, and eloquent as Ward over one comment suggests an organized campaign to discredit not only him, but his ideas, something that should be anathema at a university.

Sincerely, Ellen Klaver

Letter 2

After reading Richard Cohen's piece, "Prince Harry and the Nazis," I was struck by the parallels to the Columbus controversy. The final paragraph epitomizes how the efforts of REWA, TCD and other organizations are interpreted. It becomes an issue of convenience and one cannot be bothered with the truths of Columbus and would rather remain comfortable with the comfort of a lie.

With respect to Mr. Cohen, I have taken some liberty: Our (TCD, REWA and many, many other organizations) ongoing efforts seem like nagging, and because of genocide there are no actual survivors, and the obligation to remember the truth and honor it diminishes. Our efforts to tell the truth are trivialized, mocked and questioned because some people believe and may insist that those "Indians, savages, primitive peoples" had it coming anyway, "We won you lost, get over it."

For most will not attempt to understand because the ongoing painfully unjust treatment of the native peoples of this land is "too dense, a historic burden, a hideously heavy truth about who we can be, no just who we would like to be."

As eyewitness history fades, our purpose burns brighter and we become more dedicated to educate and remember the voices of our ancestors. And so regardless of how far away we get from the event, the truth must still be known and never diminished.

Sincerely,

Stephanie Rossi

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