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American Indian Movement of Colorado

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Monday, February 21, 2005

Ward Churchill's February 8th speech

http://www.counterpunch.org/churchill02212005.html

What Did I Really Say? And Why Did I Say It?

By WARD CHURCHILL

Editors' Note: The following is a the first written transcript of Ward Churchill's February 8, 2005 speech at the University of Colorado. CounterPunch thanks Clarke Iakovakis for laboriously transcribing the introductions by Emma Perez and Russell Means, Churchill's speech and the rowdy Q&A. A video of the event is available online at: http://www.c-span.org/. --AC / JSC

Ward Churchill: Hello my relatives; you humble me. Bill Owens: do you get it now? [applause] If you can count on your toes, you'll be able to count the percentage points of contribution to the budget the University of Colorado you and your ilk have reduced the taxpayer contribution to. It comes to seven. I do not work for the taxpayers of the state of Colorado. I do not work for Bill Owens. [applause] I work for you. [loud student cheers & applause] That's my institutional role and I take it very seriously; I take the institution and its well being, its mission, it's ability to perform that mission very seriously. That's one piece. That's where I am and that's who's invited me to speak. But here is another reality: I am not an abstract, detached academic. I have responsibilities and grounding in an actual community. I take those responsibilities very seriously - in fact, they are preeminent. I don't answer to Bill Owens; I don't answer (in the sense that they think I do) to the Board of Regents. The Board of Regents should do its job and let me do mine. [applause] And if Tom Lucero and his friends want to debate the propriety of that, I welcome them to come and join an open dialogue. I have not yet been officially informed they are even having a meeting about me. I read it in the Rocky Mountain News, I watch it on TV, I understand I am being reviewed. I haven't been notified of that in any official sense either. [audience boos]

But my [inaudible] as I said, is that I come from an actual community and I have responsibilities to that community. And it comes from what I was taught and the values that were imparted to me within that community, and a piece comes from a Muskogee elder by the name of Phillip Dare, which some of you older people in the room may actually even have heard speak on this campus; he's a very important man. And he gave me certain instruction at one point, which had to do with the way I was raised, which was outstanding outside of my tradition; it was in my twenties before I was even allowed the opportunity, given the nature of the experience of my people at the hands of the United States. I was in my twenties before I was given any opportunity to make a direct connection , and Phil said that can be to your advantage: 'You understand our ways - you did not grow up in them, you understand them, you understand the values, you understand the issues and you are able to frame those - because of the way you were raised - in terms that are understood by others, and it's your job, you take that, which your Creator gave you, and you follow that path. You make your words your weapons and you say things that you understand to be true, and you understand them clearly and you never, ever back up.' And that's what I do. [applause]
full speech at: http://www.counterpunch.org/churchill02212005.html

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