HOME FOR ARTISTS, INDIANS, AND OTHER SOCIAL OUTCASTS
As artist living among the Oglala on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, I stumbled across the nightmare, Kaufkaesque world that Native Americans have been thrust into. After my son, Damon was killed by a self-styled Rambo, my life was changed forever. Just seventeen, Damon was lured to have a drink with some older kids. They got into a political argument over "freedom fighters" in Central America. Damon said that America had no right to kill Indians for their land and Ollie North was no hero. That's when the self-styled Rambo stabbed my son to death.
This all happened in a small town near Minot, North Dakota, close to where I was born and raised. I lived close to a reservation, but I never knew any Indians. I believe I was drawn to live with the Indians in ways I do not have the words to tell you. After nine years of living in the big city of Denver, one day I moved to the Pine Ridge, and made it my home for the past 15 years.
Everyone goes to Pine Ridge, to Wounded Knee. Tourists come from all over the world. I know; I talked with them. Everyone is looking for the "real" Indian. Like my friend, the late, great Tony Black Feather, said when people asked him, "Where are the real Indians?" He said, "You'll find them in the back alleys of Pine Ridge, and staggering in the streets of White Clay."
This is the story of American apartheid, which has proven every bit as cruel and disgusting as apartheid in South Africa or the rubber slaves of the Congo under King Leopold, or any of the horrific abuses of indigenous people anywhere, but it has been ignored.
The Indian is largely invisible to Americans because if they became something more than the Hollywood Indian, Americans would be forced to confront their abiding racism towards the red man. They would be forced to admit that their shoot-from-the-hip solutions to their "Indian problem" has caused untold misery and suffering, and almost eliminated the Indian, along with the buffalo, from the face of the earth.
I didn't live by or near the Indians; I lived with them. I took up for them, told their stories, revealed their truths. For my efforts, I was evicted, arrested, jailed and banned from the reservation. But I returned, taken into the home of a full blood who considered me his wife. I formed a civil rights organization for Indian rights, and took up the fight. These are some of the stories.
COLONIZATION THROUGH EDUCATION
The ideal place for colonization was through education. It still is today. I have been forbidden to talk about Indian history and culture to Indian students because it "frightens them and makes them feel unsafe in the classroom." For such an offense, I was terminated before the end of the school year, placed on permanent leave and told I had not been fired, just placed on administrative leave. When I applied for Unemployment I discovered I had been charged with misconduct, and was not eligible for unemployment. I also discovered I could not get another teaching job, with a misconduct label attached to my record. I feel a little like Socrates, accused of corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens, especially by teaching that 4 values are important to live by: respect, courage, generosity, and wisdom.
STORIES OF INJUSTICE
White America is now using the criminal justice system to eliminate Indians. Stories of Arlo Looking Cloud, Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, the investigation, and more....
ORIGINAL MISSION STATEMENT
We live in incredibly dangerous times. No one trusts anyone. We are filled with fear, hatred, jealousy, revenge. We, the people, have no leaders we can trust, we have no privacy, we have no reliable news service. We are told to prepare for a vague impending doom, yet we don't know who the enemy is. Not only are we isolated and alienated from each other, we are encouraged to spy on our neighbor to see if he is behaving like a terrorist.
Our economy has failed. Our values have collapsed. Our faith has dwindled. Our education has become a distracting side show. People are out of work There is no welfare. Our Social Security is being ransomed so that our government can bomb Arabs, who, we are told, are the enemy. Do I need to tell you this is insanity? No, you know it. In the midst of all this insanity, we must do our part, no matter how small. We must create dangerously.
Before we pass into a totalitarian dark age, we must preserve our culture to keep it safe for future generations. Do not go gentle into that evil night. Rage for your freedom. Let it be said you didn't go like a dumb sheep to the slaughter. Let your voice be heard, before they snatch that freedom away, too. We, who are still living, have a moral and intellectual duty to expose what is false and reveal what is true. This much we owe to all the innocent dead.
How do we stop this mad circus and get off the facist merry-go-round? You have to start standing up for your rights, and testify to the wrongdoing of the perpetrator, who is a bully and a coward. The most vulnerable are the Indians, the prisoners of the justice system and the school system, systems that would stamp out the virtues and values that were never surrendered by your ancesters. Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and many others fought every inch of the way to try keep this land for you, so that you would have a home, so that you would remember them, and more importantly, remember who you are, that you would remember to practice respect, courage, generosity and wisdom. Give thanks every day for your life.
And, if ever I have the time, I will start writing the story of my incredible life, little chapters at a time. Peace, remember to make it count, your life, live it every day. Remember, nothing was ever created out of hate, but out of love. And remember, you count and so do your ideas. We must defang this monster together because he isn't going to just go away. That way, we can sleep better at night.
Your true friend,
418 Griffin St.
Warwick, ND 58381