(Note: The following weirded-out diatribe is presented here in its entirety with no corrections as to spelling or proper writing techniques. --Melvin Martin, 4/18/09)
Editor's Note: Despite everything I have seen over the past couple of decades in my time as an activist, it always amazes me how some of the very people we are working to defend are seemingly so eager to remove us from the field of discourse. And what really bothers me is their willingness to insult, disparage and make use of the very same White racism we all suffer under.
Mr. Melvin Martin, a marketing executive and member of the Oglala Lakota Nation seems to believe that what Prof. Churchill talks about in his books, public talks and recordings has absolutely no bearing on his own life. I suppose Mr. Martin feels proud to call himself a member of the colonial nation that did its very best to exterminate his Lakota people and that the sterilisation of Native females by the BIA is something that "might" have happened but has no empirical bearing on how Indians live today.
And how are Indians living today? Well, we are surviving given the fact that we have one of the shortest life-spans in the United States, (African males in the U.S. have already passed the mark for an 'endangered human group') and that we suffer in dispropotionate dimensions from preventable diseases, suicide and depression in comparison to our Euro-settler "brethren".
I have heard it all when it comes to Ward Churchill and unlike most folks, actually met him briefly in Seattle some years back when he popped up at the old Seattle Indymedia office to give a brief give-and-take session with the local activist community. He seems no more or less "Native" than many of the "authentic" First Nations folks I've run into in the city. Meaning, most are mostly European and many when pressed cannot even give you a straight answer as to their geneology or the claimed "tribal" origins. New-agers aside, as long as Indians do what is expected of them, (i.e., raising the American flag during pow-wows, standing up for European religion and cultural values as long as they make room for some Injun stuff) then we are told that those individuals walk the "Red Road" like Dick Wilson and represent the "real Indians" as oppossed to the "Fake Indians" Mr. Martin states made up the rank and file of the American Indian Movement.
Funny, Indians who wilfully enlisted in the military to help White people do to others what was done to us get respect. Indians who tell the truth about what was and is done to Indian people by the United States today are treated like lepers.
I ask, what has Mr. Martin done for Indian Country today other than stab his own people in the back in defense of the Great White Father who he thiks respects his white-collar job title?
As the administrator of one of the Internet's largest blog sites that hardly anyone ever visits, much less comments on any postings, surely you, The Angryindian (if indeed you are Indian at all), should not be so quick to criticize someone you know next to nothing about: in this case, me, whom you have chosen to belittle as a "Vichy Indian."
Definition of a "Vichy Indian": 1. Any Indian person who chooses not to buy into the rabid, nauseatingly deranged, socio-political belief system of any one of a number of self-proclaimed "Indigenous" radical figures who narcissistically (and quite pathologically) desire to speak on behalf of all Indian people throughout the Americas. 2. The current target of any vain, self-centered, morally depleted nincompoop who became hopelessly enamored of the coursework contained in "Commie 101" as a freshman at any junior college (or as a senior in high school) in the U.S. or in Canada, and who continues to waddle through life mindlessly espousing such drivel.
I, as I approach my sixtieth winter, certainly meet this definition and description of a "Vichy Indian." Enough said on this particular point as it isn't even worthy of a response to any significant degree.
You assert that I have done nothing in my life for Indian Country other than to "stab his own people in the back in defense of the Great White Father who he thiks [sic] respects his white-collar job title."
Over the course of my nearly forty-year work history, I devoted half of that time to working in the field of health care, social services and alcohol-drug rehabilitation almost exclusively within the American Indian community at both rural and urban locations.
In the ten years that I functioned as a marketing and sales executive, that whole time period was principally devoted to the realm of American Indian print media as both a trainer and consultant to Indian employers and employees.
I have also lent my skills as a public speaker and voice-over specialist to a series of public service announcements since 1995 that were directed towards the Indian community in the areas of public health, mental health, education and environmental issues, and in the support and promotion of various Indian-owned businesses.
As an individual, I have personally fought against anti-Indian racism all of my life: in school at off-reservation locales from kindergarten through college; in the U.S. military during the Vietnam conflict; and throughout my assorted careers (at times at extreme risk to my own physical safety and economic comfort). And I will continue to do so until I breathe my last breath.
So, Mr. "The Angryindian"--I challenge you to rebut any of what I have stated here about what I have done for Indian Country as a "Vichy Indian" and lastly, I strongly exhort you to use your own real name as I do on all of my commentary.
1) One can criticize Churchill's "exaggerations" and arrogance without criticizing what he professes. The vast majority of Newspaper Rock's readers would agree that Americans tried to exterminate the Lakota, sterilized Native women, and keep Indians in deplorable conditions today. So the hell what? That's completely irrelevant to this argument. Repeat: Criticizing Churchill isn't the same as criticizing his beliefs.
Stop wasting our time pretending that you and Churchill are some holier-than-thou experts compared to the rest of us, Angryindian. I'm guessing you don't know any more than the average Newspaper Rock reader. Judging by your uncritical shilling for Churchill, you may know less.
More to the point, stop wasting our time with your straw-man arguments. Nobody except you has said that Churchill's pro-Indian ("indigenist") philosophy is wrong. If you can't address the arguments about Churchill's "Indian" heritage or his academic transgressions, you lose. Give up and move on.
2) Like journalist Jodi Rave, Melvin Martin seems to have done a lot more for Indians than you or Churchill have. Your belief that Churchill's little-known lectures and articles have had an impact is just that...your belief. You keep braying this belief because you have no tangible evidence that Churchill has accomplished anything significant.
Fact is, hundreds of thousands of thinkers and writers--from Vine Deloria Jr. to Howard Zinn to Melvin Martin to me--have made the same points about America's colonialism. If Churchill disappeared from the face of the earth, little or nothing would change. Again, many people have done what he's done. With or without Churchill, they'll continue doing it.
3) "Stabbing his own people in the back" isn't the same as stabbing Churchill in the back, since Melvin is a Lakota Sioux and Churchill is a white man with no known Indian blood. This is a key point you've failed to grasp.
When you say you've "heard it all" about Churchill...apparently you haven't heard about the research done on him by the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post. I'll be educating you on this point shortly.
But I see you're backing way off your claim that Churchill is a genuine Indian. Smart move to avoid being nailed for fawning idol worship. Now Churchill is only as much of an Indian as any other wannabe with a tiny fraction of Cherokee blood. Congratulations, Angryindian...you finally got something right.
4) Melvin has a point about people who use pseudonyms rather than full names. You have to wonder what they're afraid of. Why don't you tell us your name, location, and tribal affiliation, if any? Then we'll know how seriously we should take your "indigenist" opinion.
For more on the subject, see Only "Vichy Indians" Criticize Churchill?
P.S. Melvin is also right about your spelling. Learn to use a spell-checker, buddy. Your hero Churchill spells like the Anglo he is, so you should too.