Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hate - The Real Issue

I received a call a few days ago from someone with the same last name as one of the antiwhalers. It is common for several Indians to have the same last name. But not white people. I assume he is the brother.

He said he remembers me from school. He had an antagonistic tone in his voice. He said he played ball with my brother.

My brother was a good ball player, better than the white boys and they resented him for it. Apparently they still do.

In Junior High I started taking the classes that would get me into college. Indians weren't encouraged or expected to go to college in those days. We weren't even expected to graduate from high school.

I was the only Indian in those classes and I was tortured. This man was trying to remind me of that. I have become an uppity Indian and he was trying to put me back in my place.

I am no longer a 13 year old girl. I am a middle aged woman. I did go to college. I have been to Europe and Cuba representing this country. I have worked in New York City and Washington DC.

The local racists and their kids make up the rank and file of the antiwhaling groups. They spout the same garbage as they did when we were in school.

My first day of school was my first time away from my family. I was ALONE. At recess I went out to the playground. I was immediately surrounded by a bunch of bigger, older white boys.

They told me that the reason Indians aren't white is because we bathe in shit. They said other ugly things to me but that is the one I remember.

That was my first day in school. It didn't change. The white kids tortured me until I left for BIA boarding school.

When the Makah whaling began all that hate against Indians was once again ignited. It was intentionally used by the antiwhaling leaders.

They brought out all the old stereotypes. They said that all Indians get money from the federal government. Some how I have been overlooked by that program.

They accused us of drug addiction and alcoholism. It is true that many Native Americans became alcoholic. We have no immunity to that disease. That is why the US government deliberately introduced alcohol to us. Most of the adults on my reservation have stopped drinking today. Some of us never did drink.

Dan Spomer and Paul Watson rant about white people being tax paying citizens. When the Makah got their first whale, Anna Hall, (Seashepherd board member) stated to the press that she was going home, she had a job and taxes to pay. Again the insinuation is that Indians feed at the federal trough at white people's expense.

There were many hate letters in the local paper. They called for boycott's of Indian smokeshops and casinos. The Makah don't have a smokeshop or casino. Why boycott other Tribes unless the real issue is hate?

I responded to those letters of hate. I corrected the many lies about the Treaties and our culture. I had to pass hurdles not required of the racist antiwhalers. The paper allowed them to attack me by name. I wasn't allowed to respond to them by name.

The fight to stop racism has been long and hard. Many white people feel they couldn't possibly be racist because they make a comfortable living and they are educated. Yet they accept the abuse of Indian people as natural. It's not.

They think racists are from the South and they are only prejudiced against Blacks. I call Port Angeles the Selma of the Pacific Northwest. Oh, they didn't turn the dogs on us or hang us, but it was going that way. That was where Dan Spomer and Paul Watson were trying to take us.

The phone call from the faceless man who snarled that he remembers me was disconcerting. He has the same last name as Mark Olson. When I asked him if he was Mark's brother he simply laughed. It was the laugh of a bully.

Like I said, I am no longer thirteen years old, or even five years old. I didn't have the skills to deal with racist bullies then. It is different now.

I know how to document incidents. I know how to contact civil rights organizations. I know how to expose racist agendas.

I have lived with racism in Port Angeles for over half a century. I recognize it even when it is disguised in sheepskin.

The antiwhalers are not flower children dancing in fields of wild flowers. They called death threats to the Makah and the Coast Guard. They called bomb threats to the Puyallup and Tulalip schools.

One day I came home at about noon from a doctor's appointment. That was the day that the first Environmental Assessment report came out in favor of the Makah.

I stopped at my mailbox. It had a rope tied around it. My first thought was "The antiwhalers. They lost and now they are trying to scare me."

I reached for the hook to open the door. It had a rope tied to it and was pegged into the ground. I was going to pull it then I got chills down my spine. I thought that if the rope triggered a projectile it would hit me in the side of the head.

I left it and went to find a police man. I found one and dragged him to see my mailbox. He told me to leave and not come back until he came for me.

I went to my mothers and waited until about ten that night. He came and told me I could go home. He said that a rope and been tied to my mailbox and stretched to a telephone pole on the other side of the road. When a car touched that rope it triggered a projectile that shattered the windshield. The victim was an off duty policewoman. That technique is called monkey wrenching and was developed by radical environmentalists to stop logging.

The antiwhalers must have found out that they didn't get me. They did it again at my mailbox. This time they got a non-Tribal member. The Tribal police watched my mailbox for a full week but the terrorists never came back.

I testified before the first Multicultural Taskforce meeting on racism. The Peninsula Daily News printed a photo of me testifying. Up until that time the antiwhalers didn't know what I looked like. The only ones who could recognize me on sight was Dan Spomer and Chuck and Margaret Owens.

One day I was shopping at the Plaza in Port Angeles. When I came out my car had been rammed so hard that the license plate was knocked off. I was never able to repair it. These are extremely dangerous people.

Safe Passing is an antiwhaling site. I call it a repository of hate. Why did they post my photo? Was it so that another lunatic in their ranks would learn to recognize me and take violent action? That is what I believe. The issue is hate. It always has been.

The antiwhalers are losing ground. Their hate is becoming visible. A cousin told me that this most recent attack on me will rebound on the antiwhalers. The public will ask why are they doing that to me. They will ask what happened to elicit that kind of response from me. The antiwhalers real agenda will be exposed.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Halley's Comet

John Amos brought his play "Halley's Comet" to Port Angeles on November 11, 2005. It is a one man show about an old man that plans to return to the hills where his father took him to see the comet. He was ten years old at the time. His father talked to the comet, telling him his life story and current events of the world.

Now Halley's comet is coming back. The old man announces his plan to return to the same spot and make his report to the comet. His friends and family tease him about it. He goes anyway.

He is confused because the scenery has changed. He places his picnic basket on a stump and searches for the maple tree that marks the spot.

He sees Halley's comet on the horizon. He excitedly introduces himself. He says people are always wondering where the Indians have gone. There are people called archaeologists. They dig up bones in old Indian cemeteries to study them. The old man says it is killing the Indians. The auditorium was so silent, the kind when EVERYONE holds their breath.

He said he went on a cattle drive when he was young. That was when he learned to believe in the Great Spirit. An Englishman who considered himself an Indian fighter was on the trip. He wore a necklace made of scalps. The old man explained that scalping was introduced by the Europeans. They paid a bounty for Indian scalps, men, women, and children.

The Englishman had participated in the Sand Creek Massacre. He bragged about the scalps of Indian women he had taken while the men were away hunting. It is one of the many dark times in American History that is being denied and/or ignored.

They entered tall grass country. All of a sudden Indians on horseback stood up. There was a Chief and Medicine Man leading. The medicine man rode up to the Englishman and pointed at his scalp necklace. He said "That is my mother." The medicine man started singing. The Chief and warriors joined in as they circled the cowboys.

In the distance they saw the biggest dust cloud they had ever seen. They also heard thunder as the dust cloud approached. There was a big male buffalo at the head of the cloud leading the charge. He put his head down and picked up the Englishman with his horns. The herd passed through the other cowboys without touching them.

When the cloud passed, everything went with it. There were no more Indians, no buffalo, no thunder, and the cloud itself disappeared taking the murderous Englishman. That was when the old man knew that the Great Spirit was real.

The old man said he had 16 children and 3 wives. He lost 3 sons in the wars and one daughter. He told of one son that died on an island in the Pacific during World War 2. Until that time black soldiers were only allowed to clean up and serve white soldiers.

The enemy was coming to invade the island. It was decided that it was necessary to arm the Black soldiers to repel the enemy.

The Japanese soldiers parachuted in. The American soldiers opened fire on them. So many men were killed midair that it rained blood. His son died defending that island. He lost two other sons in Korea and Vietnam.

The old man would hear a bell ringing. To him it sounded like the laughter of his daughter. He would run towards the sound calling her name. Then he would stop and look inward, remembering.

His daughter wanted to go down south to register Black People to vote. He told her no, that it was too dangerous. She must let someone else do it. The girl couldn't do that. She felt compelled to do her part to better the lives of others. He was proud of her, though afraid.

One day a call came telling the old man that his daughter had died of exposure. It didn't make sense, how did she die from exposure? He traveled south to claim her body.

He could barely recognize her. They had turned the dogs loose on her. She didn't die from exposure. Dogs had killed her.

Racism in Port Angeles still exists. A couple days ago there was another meeting of the Community Multicultural Alliance. The article in the paper said that there were no reports of racism at the meeting.

That doesn't mean racism has been overcome. I have recently started going to the pool. Three or four tall white women came in while I was getting ready to go into the water. One women threw her bag at me. I turned in shock as it hit me. They kept on talking as if nothing happened. I decided to ignore them. She hit me again with her stuff. One of my cousins said that another woman always does that to her. A small group of us from the reservation had begun taking exercise classes at the pool. Apparently some people didn't like it. The woman hit me again with her stuff. This time I pushed them back at her hitting her. This time she looked at me in shock. I said "Excuse me, am I in your way?" She got scared and said "No, of course not." I asked her name and she told me. I finished getting ready without further incident and they no longer bother me. My cousin just tells her tormentor that she will pray for her.

I had hoped to go to the CMT meeting and testify. I didn't make it.

Just because no community members were there to testify about ongoing racism does not mean that it has been overcome.

There have been new incidents of harrassment of Coast Guardsmen that are Pacific Islanders.

I do believe we can beat racism. It will take commitment and work to educate people who accept racism as natural.