(Ward in Wonderland)
We understand each other through myth. During the Creation times our world was dark. We had to steal light and fire. I can say we flew to the sun and stole light. A Mohawk and Cherokee from back east, a Sioux from the plains and a Pueblo from the desert will understand that an act of mythic proportion has just taken place. They may have different Creation stories, but they will understand the meaning.
We can call each other into line and remind each other of familial obligations with one word, “cuz.” “Don’t hurt me, we have the same blood,” or “Watch it, don’t shame our family.”
We mourn with the Cherokee when they tell the story of how their Ancestors were hounded from their homelands and force marched halfway across this continent. We can feel the old ones and babies, those too weak to keep up and those that starved.
Our eyes shine with tears and pride and defiance when we see photos of the great Chiefs that broke out of our reservations and made the last desperate fights. They were killed or exiled to lands they weren’t made for, an unspeakable punishment for an Indian. You are born of your land. She takes care of you and feeds you and holds you in her embrace when your journey is over.
I received emails from people who told me they bawled like a baby when they read about my Tribe having to remove the remains of our Ancestors from an old village site where the State of Washington wanted to build a graving yard. It took over a year for the Tribal Council to get a backbone and tell the State to stop and leave.
Today is Tribal elections. I received a flyer from a campaigning councilman telling how much he has done and will do. He talked of how many jobs the graving yard will provide and how much money it will bring in. They have sold us out for money. That is their admission. Both councilmen rewon their positions. We had a chance to change things, to protect our ancestors and we blew it……….again.
We have all these stories in common. We have experienced the loss of lands, the death of our people, the outlawing of our religions and languages and the betrayal of our own leaders.
We have survived the genocide. Many “tax paying citizens” now deny that a holocaust happened here in the United States, like the skinheads deny that a holocaust in Germany happened.
We know that aging is a natural progression. On our reservations there are people that everyone calls Aunty and Uncle. There are those everyone calls Mom and Dad. There are the blessed ones that everyone calls Grandma and Grampa. We know that not everyone is allowed to live such a long life. We know that they have earned a lot of knowledge.
White people think that aging is a failure. Anti-aging is a multimillion dollar business as they fight the certainty of growing older.
How do we talk with the white man without a common mythical background, or an understanding of how the world works? We understand their language and religion because it was beaten into our parents and grandparents.
DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
A friend gave me one of Ward Churchill’s books to read. A couple chapters upset me. One was about the Indian Arts and Crafts Act. The other was about the reign of terror on Pine Ridge during the 1970’s.
Churchill attacked a friend of mine, blaming him for creating the Indian Arts and Crafts act to get rid of competition. My friend Earl Biss has made the transition back home, a common theme in his paintings. http://www.earl-biss.com/
Churchill made fun of Earl’s style of dress, saying it set the standard for “The Santa Fe Indian Artist.” According to Churchill, Earl wore “Blanket vests and coats and a big brimmed hat.” He was a striking figure.
Pendleton jackets and vests are the Rez version of black tie. Only slightly behind that is a red teeshirt with an eagle, wolf or killer whale on it.
The Indian Arts and Crafts Act simply states that art being presented as Indian Art has to be made by real Indians. The act protects the integrity of Indian art.
Those of us who attended The Institute of American Indian Arts have a special bond. We forged new pathways for our work. Painters like Earl Biss, TC Cannon, Alfred Youngman and Bill Soza also made political statements, not just pretty pictures. Mixed media also included poetry.
Arlo Looking Cloud attended the Institute of American Indian Arts. He was a painting major.
The other chapter upset and prompted me to contact Ward Churchill. At the end of his chronicle of the reign of terror (1973 to 1976) he listed all those that died. He listed the men as AIM members and the women as AIM supporters.
The internet was fuming with discussions about the Anna Mae case. Many thought the movement was dead or dying. I thought it was worth trying to save. Before that could be done we have to confront and stop the sexism. I said on one list I wished I could talk with Churchill about the examples of sexism in his book. Someone sent me his address.
I emailed Ward Churchill and told him I wanted to talk with him about the sexism in his book. I told him that declaring the men killed during the reign of terror as AIM members, and the women as AIM supporters was an insult.
Churchill called me a dipshit and told me to prove that those women were AIM members. Those women are dead so I can’t get a statement. I gave up after a few more emails.
I was aware of Ward Churchill now. I saw proclamations made by him. He seemed to thrive on controversy and chaos.
I knew that Colorado AIM had not supported Arlo Looking Cloud during his trial. They did not contend the obvious lies made by the Federal Government. They were with Robert Branscombe on the steps of Federal Building when he gave a press conference.
I began wondering why Colorado AIM was supporting the FBI story. I couldn’t reconcile an AIM chapter being in the pocket of the FBI. When did the FBI and AIM become friends?
A friend told me to check out a blog called tryworks. They are supposedly a group of students that support Ward Churchill. They claimed to be a reading group. I checked out the archives. They don’t discuss books. They make adolescent attacks on any who question Churchill.
They were attacking another friend for questioning the FBI story about Anna Mae’s death. I posted and asked why Colorado AIM supported the FBI against Arlo. Their story is full of holes after all.
The Churchill gang attacked me. They demanded that I prove he isn’t Indian and that he killed Jon Benet. Others have proven he isn’t Indian. He can’t prove that he is Indian. I restated my question. Why is Colorado AIM supporting the FBI. That is so unaimlike.
They tried to distract me from that issue by demanding that I prove that I am Indian. I had seen him do that before. He can’t prove that he has an Indian ancestor. He attacks those of us whose ancestry is documented.
I told them to do their own research. They could contact my Tribe and the BIA. Both organizations don’t like my politics, but I am enrolled. He called me a sell out for registering with a federal agency. I knew he would.
He claims that having no status as an Indian is an act of defiance. You have to have Indian blood to be enrolled.
I signed one of my posts “Veteran of Wounded Knee 1973.” He said he had heard that I wasn’t there. He said I was like Vernon Bellecourt. He spent that time in Rosebud and Minneapolis according to Churchill. I told him my photo and an interview with me was in the “Voices from Wounded Knee” book.
We had been told that Vernon was on the outside organizing food and supplies for us. One day a group of young men from Minneapolis AIM packed in supplies for us. They didn’t sneak by the FBI and Marshals. They shot their way in. They said they wanted to be here with us. They were told that they were needed to organize on the outside. They spent the day talking with us, They reluctantly left at dark time. We could hear a furious gun battle moving away from us. We didn’t see them again.
I held to my question. Why did Colorado AIM support the federal government against Arlo? I had pointed out federal lies, why didn’t they? I have always believed that the FBI killed Anna Mae.
THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
I responded to one of tryworks posts. When I hit the send button I was taken to a private chatroom. I was told “You have accused us of murder, tell us your evidence and give us your timeline.”
These were obviously feds. What were they doing on the tryworks blog? Who gave them a key to the back door?
They tried to bully me and scare me away from defending Arlo Looking Cloud’s right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. There was no evidence presented at his trial linking him to the kidnap rape or murder of Anna Mae Aquash.
I told them that neither coroner said there was evidence of a beating or rape. They agreed there was no evidence of that. They said that a bullet in her head was found.
I said yes, the government couldn’t link that bullet to Arlo Looking Cloud and John Graham.
They told me I wasn’t in the loop and knew nothing. They demanded to know who I thought killed Anna Mae.
I said David Price. They spit me out of that chatroom as quickly as they grabbed me.
Ward Churchill pretends there is a grand conspiracy out to get him. He doesn’t think it’s because of his lies and masquerading as an Indian. He writes like a white man about Indian issues. He doesn’t write from the perspective of an Indian on the inside of those issues. He has stolen the job intended for Native American faculty. He steals and twists our voice in his books.
He accused me of being buddies with Vernon Bellecourt, Suzan Harjo and Ernesto Vigil.
I don’t know Vernon personally. I have heard him speak several times. I saw him at the occupation of the BIA in Washington DC.
I met Suzan Harjo in New York City when she worked at WBAI radio. I was the playwright in residence at the first Native American Theatre Ensemble at Cafe La Mama in New York. Most of us were hired out of the Institute of American Indian Arts. Suzan was one of the founding members of the American Indian Press Association.
I have never met Ernesto Vigil, but of course I knew of him. He was part of that prominent Chicano group The Crusade for Justice headed by Corky Gonzales. They were part of the Poor People’s Campaign and supported Indian Treaty rights. Ernesto was the first or one of the first Chicanos to refuse induction into the Vietnam war. He was wounded and a friend killed by police. He has written a book about those fiery times. I pulled Churchill’s nose by saying if I ever DID meet Ernesto I would call him cuz.
Vernon and Suzan have said that Churchill is not Indian. His membership in a Cherokee band is honorary because he cannot prove actual blood. Churchill and his grizzled band of students continually attack Suzan and Vernon for their expose of his lies about his Indian blood.
Ward Churchill’s attack on Vigil is the most puzzling and alarming. He accuses the Crusade for Justice of helping AIM when they were being hunted by the FBI.
If that incident actually did happen why is Churchill attacking the Crusade for helping AIM? Is he trying to cause trouble and disruption between Chicanos and other Native groups? That makes no sense.
I was banned from the tryworks site when I was ejected from that chatroom. They continued to attack me and I was unable to respond.
A woman called Rose tried to scare me with Bob Robideau. She asked me if I knew him, Bob from Seattle AIM. To my knowledge he hasn’t made a statement about this mess.
Another women called me Granny after she finished her tirade. Poor girl doesn’t know that she called me Commander and swore allegiance to me. Not many reach the rank of Grandmother.
It is obvious to me that tryworks is a fed site. The question is why are they supporting the head of Colorado AIM?