July 04, 2010

Happy Merciless Indian Savages Day!

Some Native thoughts on Independence Day--aka the Fourth of You Lie. First, someone posted this on Facebook:Happy Merciless Indian Savages Day! Y'all be careful out there as you apply our rule of warfare ... you know, that "undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions" thing that we do! ... Oh, and don't let the kids play with sparklers unattended.
Someone else posted this link to the White House:

Message from the President Regarding Independence DayAmerica again faces a daunting set of challenges, yet our history shows these are not insurmountable. We need only to draw upon the perseverance of those before us ... our Founders who declared and fought for their ideals; our ancestors who emigrated here and struggled to build a better future for their children; and our pioneers and entrepreneurs who blazed trails that have continually expanded our horizons. Their spirit ... our spirit ... will guide our Nation now and in our bright future.As usual, Obama offers the pure "we're immigrants who settled the land" line. As usual, he slights Native Americans.

A Facebook response to Obama's message:We're waiting!!!!

Just as this day serves as a reminder of the immeasurable bravery of those who have made America what it is today, it also renews in us the solemn duty we share to ensure our nation lives up to its promise.
Another person posted "an assertion of independence--and personal liberty--from a pre-colonial perspective":Treat all men alike. Give them all the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers. The Earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it....Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade...where I choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to think and talk and act for myself, and I will obey every law, or submit to the penalty.

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce
Interesting that Chief Joseph had a better grasp of the American dream than his non-Indian contemporaries. They had barely freed the South's slaves and still treated women, minorities, and immigrants as subhuman species.

When to start celebrating

Finally, James Magaska Swan writes:

When will our Native Brothers and Sisters recognize "Independence Day"?When the lands are given back to us, and we don't have to do fund raisers or occupations to get them back;

When the buffalo are not hazed and killed by government agencies;

When rocks are not sold as souvenirs on Alcatraz;

When Indian names and images are not used as sports mascots or for commercial selling of products;

When we can have equal time in our classrooms across the United States to learn and speak our languages so they are not lost forever;

When we have funding in our schools so our children can learn;

When all tribes can be "recognized";

When we can keep our casino monies and take care of our own;

When we all have health care, card carrying or not;

When we can have statues that also commemorate our own people;

When we can change historical markers to reflect the truth and not glamorize the murders;

When we can see curriculum in our school books and classrooms that are not romanticized or glossed over when it comes to what really happened in and around Indian country;

When we don't have to ask permission to hunt and gather for sustenance, ceremony, or for medicinal reasons;

When all sacred sites are in place (and protected);

When our ancestors remains or artifacts are uncovered, the corporation or construction companies JUST STOP and find a different place to build;
and so forth. This is only about 40% of the list, which goes on too long to be truly effective as a piece of writing.

I'd just like to note how Swan sees the big and small items as equally important. Indians want their land back, federal recognition, health care, education, and casino money. They also want sacred sites and remains protected, Indian stories told in schools and history displays, and an end to stereotypical Indian mascots and commercial products.

Most Indians get it and most non-Indians don't, but these things are interrelated. Not romanticizing or stereotyping Indians means treating them as political, economic, and social equals--as sovereign people. The two go hand in hand.

For more on the subject, see Tribes Celebrate July 4th and Fun 4th of July Facts.


dmarks said...

"As usual, Obama offers the pure "we're immigrants who settled the land" line. As usual, he slights Native Americans."

Curiously, the paragraph you condemn also slights African-Americans, and probably many Latinos. A very poorly written speech.

Accurately written speech said...

I disagree with you dmarks because it might surprise you to know that many African Americans and Hispanics of European descent are of immigrant blood.

It might also surprise you to find that MANY African and Latino Americans are in fact a large part of the anti-Indian crowd that are pro-sports mascot defenders and know little to nothing of American Indian tribes or culture.

Rob is correct in his wording about what the "Declaration of Independence" states about Native Americans.

Have you ever read this document dmarks?

m. said...

Yeah, I'm also going to have to disagree with you, dmarks. Despite the fact that not all men are "created equal", in this "nation of immigrants", everyone can still "belong"...just so long as they're not Indigenous.

Immigrants/settlers/occupiers (whatever you wanna call them) here in this single "nation" of theirs have it better off than those of us still residing within the continent of our ancestors own homelands. It doesn't matter if they are black, Hispanic (whatever that entails) or Asian - they all play a part in marginalizing Indians, benefit from the colonial project, are virtually living off of our backs. It pisses people off to hear this, but it's an undeniable truth. While both black and Asian people have to deal with two different, yet equally ugly forms of racism directed towards them, both groups also share a similar privilege - and despite it being one of great immensity that works for them constantly, most are oblivious to it (that's how privilege works, though): it's simply the privilege of not being Indigenous.

"Do you know what it's like to be a sliver of the census pie in your own land, the numbers at the bottom of every statistical list if you're listed at all? This is what it's like to be Native when you're born in Chicago in 1961: you exist in the mirror, in your mother's face, you exist in the angry poems that drizzle from the clutch of your pen, all your words upon words upon words, your exhibit, your proof of life, shouting with ink -- we are here!" - Susan Power

m. said...

Basically, I could have made that tl;dr comment a bit more concise by just saying "the proverbial 'we', 'us' and 'our' in contrived speeches like this refers to everybody who crashed the party uninvited, and all the acquaintances they brought over".

dmarks said...

"Accurate": Most African-Americans had slave ancestors, so the pioneer heritage is not theirs. While some such as President Obama and Colin Powell had ancestors come to America as willing immigrants, this is not a majority.

And yes it is obvious that many Hispanics come to the US as immigrants, and have for a long time. I know that. My mention of slighting "many Latinos" refers to the fact that the ancestors of many Hispanics, the US came to them instead of them coming to the US.

"It might also surprise you to find that MANY African and Latino Americans are in fact a large part of the anti-Indian crowd that are pro-sports mascot defenders"

Actually, this does not surprise me. I have referred to this in the past, and also how liberals just as easily as conservatives embrace mascots such as Chief Wahoo.

And I was not commenting/objecting about Rob and the Declaration.

M: Looking at your summary comment, I think I now see that "Accurate" and you were misreading. I was not objecting to Rob's case that the speech slighted Natives at all. I think you misread me.

Southern Plainsman said...

Thanks for the reply dmarks, you would be surprised on just how many strong willed patriots in America have never read the complete Declaration of Independence or Constitution either.

Like the bible, they dissect whichever parables, chapters and verses to fit their extremist and shortsighted ideologies.

This is why as Deloria points out in Custer Died For Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto with Christianity, the right hand never knows what the left hand is doing. In other words, American Chritianity is divided into Presbyterians, Methodists, Protestants, Episcopilians etc,. Why does God need so many different temples to be served and why do they all fight one another?

I also do not buy into the liberalist and conservative arguments of divisions. To me, they all serve the same master, money. The division of the people profit only the few on top whether its the media moguls, the military industry, corporate and consumer markets etc,.

Which is why it serves everyone to not be so racist or prejudiced since we are all equally screwed in the end and we all serve and die alongside each other in combat.

The stereotype and racist efforts are alive and aimed at all minority groups, poor whites and gays included, except today, the divisions are becoming more and more economic divisions between the rich and the poor.

It is inevitable that African and Latino Americans prosper and be successful in America, justly so, but as long as they do not do so at the cost of others demise, which is what the mascot issue does! It inflames and continues ignorance as an acceptable cultural heritage in the American populous.

Rob said...

Obama's line about "our ancestors who emigrated here and struggled to build a better future for their children" could refer to anyone except Indians. If you include forced emigration, it could refer to African slaves. But as people have noted, some blacks came here voluntarily.

His next line, "our pioneers and entrepreneurs who blazed trails that have continually expanded our horizons," reinforces the previous line. Again, some pioneers and entrepreneurs were black, Latino, Asian, and so forth. Few if any were Indians.

Taken together, you get the standard American myth. People emigrated to this uninhabited land, pioneered and settled it, and built it into something great. This slights the Indians, who didn't need to pioneer or build anything because their cultures already filled the land.

P.S. It was a written proclamation, not a speech.