by Walks With Thunder
It is time to let that hatred go. We are a conquered people and we should own that. The Japanese are also a conquered people, but they’re doing it with style. Did you know that Japan owns much of the United States? Ever hear of Sony, Honda, and Toyota—those Japanese companies that have invested in real estate here in the United States? Yes, we Native Americans are a conquered people, but let’s use that casino money and reinvest in our people and real estate here in our ancestral lands. Let’s buy our heritage back!
To my people I say: Stop drinking, drugging, and abusing. Let go of the negative feelings about those who conquered our people. That is a past generation’s burden, not ours. It is time to use our Liberty and hold our heads up because we are the Native People of this land.
Comment: So this t-shirt is negative? Why, because it suggests the reality of Native history? How is it "hatred" to state a fact: that the attacks Indians suffered fit the dictionary definition of "terrorism"?
What's with his "the White people whom they feel took our way of life and our land"? "They feel"?! Is Walks with Thunder saying this statement isn't objectively true? That it's just someone's feeling, not a historical reality?
What is Walks with Thunder suggesting, exactly? That we never mention Native history? That we don't educate people about it? That we literally focus only on the positive? Ridiculous.
Why stop there?
If that's his position, why limit it to history? It's "negative" to talk about the present poverty, unemployment, alcoholism, crime, and suicide on many reservations. Should we pretend these problems don't exist? If we ignore them, will they go away?
One could just as easily say the t-shirt expresses pride. Indians faced terrorism but they fought back with strength and determination. Why do you think the shirt shows armed Apache warriors and not dead bodies at Wounded Knee?
If you ask me, Walks with Thunder's opinion is stupid. One could find a positive and negative side to almost anything. The sky is blue? Better put on sunscreen or you'll get skin cancer. A puppy loves you? Sorry, you'll have to put it to sleep in a decade or two.
Walks with Thunder can pretend the shirt is negative, but that says more about him than it does about the shirt. He's apparently blind to the concept of pride and where it comes from. Many people would say that fighting back, as Geronimo and his people did, is the epitome of self-empowerment.
And linking the t-shirt to "drinking, drugging, and abusing" is even stupider. I'm pretty sure the shirt hasn't caused anyone to turn to substance abuse. The negative reality of Indian life is why people turn to substance abuse, not the shirt's "negative" message.
For more on the subject of negativity, see Not Enough Good Native News?, Bitchin' and Moanin', and Why Does Rob Keep Criticizing?
A point about gaming
Walks with Thunder sounds a little naive about Indian gaming. Every gaming tribe is reinvesting its income in its people, since it's the reason for gaming and it's required by law. Many tribes are buying back land or trying to.
But these days it's difficult to take that land into trust. If a tribe can't do that, the land doesn't become part of its reservation. It remains and investment property with no special tax benefits.
Maybe Walks with Thunder thinks gaming isn't working because many tribes are still poor. If so, that's a common misconception. Actually, a few tribes are already wealthy and many tribes have reached the middle class. The remainder are slowly but steadily lifting themselves out of poverty.
Incidentally, here's some information on Walks With Thunder from the article and his website:
WalksWithThunder is Shaman Born. His grandfather was a Shaman for the Caddo tribe, as was his father before him. He has been able to see Grandfather Spirits since the age of two, and could bi-locate (literally in two places at once) at fourteen.
For more reactions to the t-shirt, see "Fighting Terrorists Since 1492" T-Shirt Offends Conservative.