Hanh mitakuyapi. I tried to post this yesterday but it wouldn’t go, so here it is today.
On June 25, 1876, a thug named George Custer and soldiers of the U.S. 7th Cavalry under his command attacked a peaceful village of Plains ITI once again – but this time, they got what they had coming, and were annihilated.
We ITI call this “the battle of the Greasy Grass” for the river where it happened; the majority culture calls it “Custer’s Last Stand” or “the battle of the Little Bighorn”. A national monument or park has been made of the area, and for decades, we ITI were villified for having the audacity to fight back, let alone to win, while many crocodile tears were shed for the “massacre” of Custer and his goons.
George Custer and his brother Tom were widely known to have thrown Indn babies in the air and caught them on their bayonets while shouting, “nits make lice”. These are not heroes. Yet, we Indns have been abused by “people in power” since we won this battle – 132 years ago.
Out here in Dakota Territory, Indns of all Nations have been abused since that time – systematically, by means of government programs, agencies, and agents, and in general have been denied loans, access to credit, grants by state agencies, etc. The way federal programs for Indns have been set up, the states have to join in to make things “go”. I saw this up close when I was on the local SBA SCORE “team”.
The SCORE team had several good members, but the ‘head’ of it was an unabashed bigot, who shouted at me in a meeting, “I’m going to whip you into shape yet!” I told her she was never going to whip me at all, let alone “into shape”, and I quit the “team”. I raised quite a stink about her and was told, “but she’s from an “Old Family” here. We couldn’t embarrass them that way.” I saw no reason then why not, and I still don’t. A bigot is a bigot and deserves a good swift kick – and preferably, public embarrassment in the form of publishing the truth about them.
Just the same – The first Tribal College in the U.S. is here – at Bismarck, ND. It was established in 1969, when the Tribal Councils of the 5 Reservations in ND joined together to form this college, and so put a crack in the wall the majority culture put up out here to keep us down.
As you should know from my posting of a couple of days ago, bigotry is alive and well in all of Dakota Territory, and reaches to the highest levels of state government. A former governor of SD bragged openly about his “kills” of “Indn lovers” – and of Indns. Linda Butts – whose last name is spelled correctly, note – told me in open grant hearings such gems as, “I don’t ever want to make a grant to any company whose mission statement says it means to provide jobs for Indns.” – while she was ND’s Deputy Director of Economic Development and Finance in 2001. When my Board complained to the governor, he backed her, writing, “I must allow my Deputy Director of Economic Development and Finance to manifest her vision for ND’s economic future development as she best sees fit”. And then this former ‘business friend’ snubbed me until other Republicans saw it and made him stop.
Also in 2001, I heard the Lt. Governor tell a Republican big wig, “We had to get rid of John Dorso and Gary Nelson from House and Senate Majority Leadership because they were starting to listen to the wrong kind of people – Indians.”
When they came around the corner and saw me, the big wig said, “There she is! Carel Two-Eagle! What if she heard us!!” Jack Dalrymple replied, “I told you – she’s nothing; she’s nobody! She has no money, no votes, no power! Besides, even if she heard us, she wouldn’t know what to do with it; she wouldn’t know where to go with it; and who’d believe her?? She’s an Indian, and I’m the Lt. Governor, for gods’ sake! Now let’s go have some coffee and talk about something important.”
Takoszja, I knew what to do with it; I knew where to take it; and they believed me. Two or 3 days after I got this information to Gary Nelson, he stepped out of his office as Senate Majority Leader of ND with no warning, took a job heading the Federal Rural Development office at West Fargo (effective at the end of the Session), and threw the Republican “power structure” here into chaos. Like jackstraws. It was quite an interesting thing to watch.
Told people I am his “best buddy after my wife” and made them call her on his cell phone for verification. Not bad for someone with no money (true), no votes (depends on who you talk to; I don’t peddle influence, I influence by educating); and no power (depends on whether you consider spiritual power or merely temporal power as more important. I vote for the spirits any time, although that isn’t “my” power; I simply have access to influencing it.)
In 2005, Jack Dalrymple refused to shake my hand in the Inaugural Line, and his wife saw it – along with a large number of other people. She insisted I tell her why he did that, and eventually, after she “demanded” I tell her “and call me Betsy!” – I did. It was kind of fun to watch the Lt. Governor stand there holding his stomach and to listen to him groan.. She read him the riot act that night, apologized to me, and said if there were any further incidents to tell her. OK, this is good, in my eyes.
Also in 2005, State Sen. Dwight Cook, from Mandan, gavelled me with a full-arm swing – in Committee in front of 26 people – pointed at me with his arm fully outstretched, and roared, “Stop! LEAVE this room!”
Eight white people jumped up and ran out, and he stammered, “Wait! Wait! I didn’t mean you! I meant her!” They stammered back, “That’s OK! We don’t need to testify! We see how things are!” and they beat a hasty retreat. I stood stock still, fixed him with my best steely-eyed glare, and said quietly, “Is the Senator from Mandan… attempting to violate my Con-sti-tu-tional RIGHT to be HEARD?!? Senator?” The exchange is long, but since this occurred in an official Committee meeting (Senate Political Subdivisions), it was taped, and I have copies of the official tape recording of that meeting. What this exchange proves is that bigotry is alive and well in “America” yet today, and it certainly was in 2005, in this hearing room.
The subject of the bill? Tax dollars for non-government entities, particularly “faith-based” ones, to perform social reform functions. I was the only person to testify against it.
I finished my testimony, of course, but before I went back to it, I thanked “nobody’s Senator at all” – whom I also call Dwight Cooked – for proving the thesis of my opposition to the bill. He asked what that was, and I replied, “That any non-Christian organization, particularly if it is a Traditional Indn organization, will not get fair consideration under the law if this bill passes as written, and likely will not get any consideration at all.”
Indns in “America” are kept at the bottom of the economic totem pole as much as is possible by bigots in positions of political and financial power even today in 2008, in the supposed Age of Enlightenment – and at least out here, it is mainly because some of us beat the crap out of George Custer and his goons at the Battle of the Greasy Grass on June 25, 1876. It’s time to correct that. Mother Theresa was utterly wrong when she said, “the poor are beautiful in their poverty”. There isn’t anything ‘beautiful’ about poverty, unless you count being lawsuit-proof, and I’m not entirely sure about that except in a few circumstances.
Money doesn’t cure many things – the lives of the rich we hear about daily prove that – but the lack of money causes many other evils to crop up in peoples’ lives, and what we need to shoot for is the happy medium where Indn people have, as the country western song says, “we’d be havin’ a pretty good life, if we had a little bigger piece of the pie”.