August 31, 2007

Enemy territory as "Indian Country"

Indian Country

Beyond the Green Zone in IraqAs an American Indian I can state unequivocally that this telling catch phrase that projects the warzones of the "wars on terror" as "Indian Country" is as deeply offensive as it is counter-productive to the stated mission in Iraq. My immediate thoughts—the first time that I heard the reference to the war torn streets of Baghdad as "Indian Country"—was that after 515 years of conquest—in the minds of Imperial America—the First Nations of the "Americas" are still regarded as enemies, hostiles, obstacles to progress... as terrorists. "Indians" then, in the American mindscape are yet sub-humans with no intrinsic value and no redeeming qualities and no contribution and/or partnership in contemporary society save as cartoonish sports mascots and fodder for the myth making propaganda of manifest destiny and fantasies of the "master race" as portrayed in Hollywood western movies and literature.

Take heed that this collective psychosis, this self adulation and lack of self criticism that plagues America is well noted by those who oppose us in the bloody streets of Baghdad and in the "Indian Country" of Afghanistan. One can accuse voices such as mine as emboldening the enemy by offering critical analysis of the situation in America's wars in the "Middle East" ("Middle East" being another colloquialism coined from the Western perspective of the planet). But—with these not so subtle attitudes couched within the phraseology of "Indian Country"—is it any wonder that they have resolved to fight us to the death—there in their home territory? Is it any wonder that America is seen as invaders, imperialists and controllers rather than liberators? Indian country they call it? Isn't it more likely that the attitude that lies behind colloquialisms like this are what emboldens our enemies and gives them the resolve to oppose the American agenda as they perceive it?
Comment:  This article makes a nice addition to my posting on Enemy Territory as "Indian Country."

Chief WahooOsama Bin Laden


writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
There only is one explanation for the terminology, 'Indian Country,' for "enemy territory" and it is this: besides the French and the British and the Spanish and the Mexicans (Canadians?), WHO ELSE did Americans have to fight in their wars? Of course, the Native peoples on the lands that they fully were intent upon on claiming as theirs. Consequently, then, past the last of the "Indian Wars," their enemies are the 'Indians' and whatever land they found themselves fighting upon became 'Indian territory.' Even Viet Nam and the war there was described and proscribed with that very same set of terminologies. Who says that EuroMan ever forgets anything?
All Best
Russ Bates

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
POSTSCRIPTUM: except for the 'treaties' EuroMan made with the Native peoples...
All Best
Russ Bates

Anonymous said...

I just can't figure out "American Indians".

I'm First Nations, Nehiyaw, and no one I know of in my family or community considers themselves "Canadian Indians" because that whole term is just chock full of insulting connotations and no one with an iota of tribal pride, knowledge of their tribe's history and a crack of understanding of the dynamics of (psychological) colonization (again, you don't need a Ph.D to get it) would ever allow anyone to call themselves that.

I'm also a tribal nationalist. I owe no allegiance to any other nation, country, community than the Cree Nation.

You don't have to be a college graduate to see the writing on the wall--any colonial government & society that has as part of its history the dehumanization, displacement, physical and cultural genocide of ndgns peoples simply for lust of gold, land and material wealth is not going to miraculously wake up one morning and say: wow, we're wrong. Let's begin restoring justice and balance.

So I don't get why you "American Indians" accept first of all the names your colonizer gives you, 2.) identify with your colonizer's nationality, 3.) willingly enlist to fight his illegal wars for him, 4.) consider yourself a part of his society, a society that wasn't made for you & could care less about the "plight of the Indian".

It's like that old dynamic between house niggers and field niggers: that Malcolm X talked about:

There was two kinds of slaves. There was the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negroes - they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good 'cause they ate his food -- what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near the master; and they loved their master more than the master loved himself. They would give their life to save the master's house quicker than the master would. The house Negro, if the master said, "We got a good house here," the house Negro would say, "Yeah, we got a good house here." Whenever the master said "we," he said "we." That's how you can tell a house Negro.

If the master's house caught on fire, the house Negro would fight harder to put the blaze out than the master would. If the master got sick, the house Negro would say, "What's the matter, boss, we sick?" We sick! He identified himself with his master more than his master identified with himself. And if you came to the house Negro and said, "Let's run away, let's escape, let's separate," the house Negro would look at you and say, "Man, you crazy. What you mean, separate? Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?" That was that house Negro. In those days he was called a "house nigger." And that's what we call him today, because we've still got some house niggers running around here.

This modern house Negro loves his master. He wants to live near him. He'll pay three times as much as the house is worth just to live near his master, and then brag about "I'm the only Negro out here." "I'm the only one on my job." "I'm the only one in this school." You're nothing but a house Negro. And if someone comes to you right now and says, "Let's separate," you say the same thing that the house Negro said on the plantation. "What you mean, separate? From America? This good white man? Where you going to get a better job than you get here?" I mean, this is what you say. "I ain't left nothing in Africa," that's what you say. Why, you left your mind in Africa.

On that same plantation, there was the field Negro. The field Negro -- those were the masses. There were always more Negroes in the field than there was Negroes in the house. The Negro in the field caught hell. He ate leftovers. In the house they ate high up on the hog. The Negro in the field didn't get nothing but what was left of the insides of the hog. They call 'em "chitt'lin'" nowadays. In those days they called them what they were: guts. That's what you were -- a gut-eater. And some of you all still gut-eaters.

The field Negro was beaten from morning to night. He lived in a shack, in a hut; He wore old, castoff clothes. He hated his master. I say he hated his master. He was intelligent. That house Negro loved his master. But that field Negro -- remember, they were in the majority, and they hated the master. When the house caught on fire, he didn't try and put it out; that field Negro prayed for a wind, for a breeze. When the master got sick, the field Negro prayed that he'd die. If someone come [sic] to the field Negro and said, "Let's separate, let's run," he didn't say "Where we going?" He'd say, "Any place is better than here." You've got field Negroes in America today. I'm a field Negro. The masses are the field Negroes. When they see this man's house on fire, you don't hear these little Negroes talking about "our government is in trouble." They say, "The government is in trouble." Imagine a Negro: "Our government"! I even heard one say "our astronauts." They won't even let him near the plant -- and "our astronauts"! "Our Navy" -- that's a Negro that's out of his mind. That's a Negro that's out of his mind.

Sikak Iskwew
Cree Nation