“Yellowtail” | Indian Country News | #ICWA | Food Insecurity

Yellowtail from Keenan Wetzel on Vimeo.

“Yellowtail” by Keenan Wetzel

A poetic short by Detroit-based director Keenan Wetzel, “Yellowtail” tells the story of a young Native American cowboy (Stephen Yellowtail) searching for purpose amidst a chaotic lifestyle. (previously featured here). Shot in Wyoming and the Crow Reservation in Montana, “Yellowtail” tells the story of a young Native American cowboy (Stephen Yellowtail) searching for purpose as his chaotic lifestyle begins

READ: Premiere: “Yellowtail” by Keenan Wetzel – BOOOOOOOM TV – A daily selection of the best short films, music videos, and animations.

You will recognize that narrator’s voice – it is John Trudell!

In the News

The Navajo Nation and Utah Governor signed an inter-governmental agreement Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, to strengthen and further protect the Indian Child Welfare Act for the benefit of Navajo children in the State of Utah. Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer met with Governor Gary Herbert to make it official at the Utah State Capitol during the annual American Indian Caucus Day.

Read why ICWA is so important

GOOD NEWS: Navajo Leaders Boost ICWA with Utah | News for Page Lake Powell Arizona

Let’s take a quick look at the erratic history of federal Indian policy.

In the early republic, the federal government made treaties of friendship with Indian tribes east of the Mississippi. In the 1830s, it stopped feeling friendly and removed the eastern Indians to the West. It set up reservations for eastern and western tribes and solemnly promised in treaties that the land would be theirs forever. In 1871, Congress decided there would be no more treaties, because Indian nations were no longer sovereigns; the courts soon confirmed that Congress could void any treaty without the consent of the tribes that had signed it. Next, from the 1880s until the 1930s, came the “allotment era.” The government decided to break up the reservations and “allot” much of the land to individuals, who could sell them. By the 1930s tribes had lost 60 percent of their previous land base. The New Deal was a brief respite: Allotment ended and tribes were allowed to re-form their governments. Then in 1953 came the “termination era,” when Congress decided that the federal government would no longer provide services to tribes, or deal with their governments. It sold off some tribes’ reservation lands and proclaimed that those tribes no longer existed.

BIG READ: Herrera v. Wyoming: Can U.S. Void Any Tribe’s Treaty? – The Atlantic

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No records of the size of Native American populations before 1492 and the arrival of Europeans survive. A new study has found answers.

WOW: European colonisation of the Americas killed 10% of world population and caused global cooling

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University College London researchers estimate that settlers killed 56 million indigenous people, causing farmland to be reforested. That increase in vegetation resulted in a massive decrease in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

WOW: European slaughter of Native Americans changed the climate, study says – CNN

I call this the (his)story “We’re Not Supposed to Know”

 

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But they conceal another side of Columbus: the exploitation and repression of Native Americans, said the Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. It is a “darker side of this story, a side we must acknowledge,” Jenkins said in a letter Sunday.

READ: Notre Dame to cover 19th century Columbus murals due to portrayal of Native Americans | CBC News

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By LT

In December 2018, the Trump administration plotted to gut SNAP, the food assistance program more than 40 million Americans rely on to feed themselves.  (I have friends and relatives on SNAP, what used to be food stamps).  This attack on the poor would impose oppressive work requirements that will have a devastating impact on our nation’s most vulnerable and the “food insecure.”    This rule will drive 755,000 poor folks deeper into poverty across the country over the next three years.  It’s a cruel and cynical attempt to chip away at our social safety net by defining who is and who isn’t suffering in our nation.  Read about the Poor People’s Campaign.

Food insecurity is very real and a war on the poor.  And when the climate fails and disaster hits, what new countries start a new land grab?  Will they hit Third World Countries? Indian Country?  Will they take children to accomplish this again?  History repeats itself over and over until we get it right…and so we are entering a dangerous new age of food insecurity… and climate change.

If I were in charge, I’d have two priorities: ending poverty and improving the existing infrastructure.

Trudell said it best in an interview I have in my new book Mental Midgets | Musqonocihte :

“I called the album Blue Indians because there is a kind of spiritual and cultural genocide perpetrated on everyone that is poor in this country,” Trudell said. “The advance of technology has put all of us on a kind of reservation.  These are the people who can’t educate their children, or afford health care. They’ve been robbed of life, which is what happened to Native people, so in that context, we’re all Indians.”

I follow up in a few weeks with my doctors… See you soon! xox

 

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The Power of John Trudell #BlueIndians

john trudell
James “Jimmy” Looks Twice in Thunderheart, played by John Trudell.

 

By Lara Trace (former editor of the Pequot Times 1999-2004)

It happened years ago… but I can still feel myself outside the Pequot Museum on a bench and the wind is really blowing and John is speaking about his album, and latest tour.

I knew I’d have to read what he said a few times after I listened to the tape I made.  John Trudell was deep, so deep, with level upon level of meaning in both his spoken words and lyrics.  I’d hear him, then I’d process more after a second or third listen… I can’t forget what he said about power and responsibility – you’ll read what he said in this interview.  With the next presidential election whirling around us, it’s hard not to feel powerless. But we are not powerless.

You all know John was an great actor. He was unforgettable in the movie THUNDERHEART.  (Top Photo.) I was lucky to interview him more than once.  (I spoke with him at the Honor the Earth powwow in 1999 in Wisconsin.)  John had a fiery spirit yet he was also fragile.  I felt good energy all around him; his strength was palpable.  After he lost his family, everyone wondered how he’d survive that, even years later. I don’t know how any human could survive intact after your entire family was killed by a house fire.  John did.  John mourned deeply and soared above loss.

From my notes, I was glad when Trudell explained how belief (as in religion belief) takes the place of thinking. I jotted in my notes, “Don’t believe – THINK.  We put a whole lot of energy into HOPE and BELIEF and that energy falls into a void and disappears…. You BELIEVE so you don’t have to think…… You HOPE so you don’t have to truly act – it’s a sedation (drug). Nothing changes, religion is brainwashing the consciousness of people desperate to believe…. this just puts the mind in a prison…

“Violence, terror and traumas has defeated tribal belief systems from tribal Europe thru today… and then the traumatized blame themselves….. and the beast continues to get bigger.  The answer is NON-COOPERATION and a clear thinking human being….”  Trudell didn’t waste any words.

The story I’d heard about Trudell (more than once) was he could walk into a group of angry white ranchers full of their prejudice about Indian people and they’d all walk out of the room with their arms over each others shoulders.  That was John.

Here’s what I wrote up back in 2000…

 

Trudell kicks off Pequot Museum concert series

Poet, activist, prophet, American Indian Movement (AIM) founder, actor and recording artist John Trudell (Santee), made a concert stop with his band Bad Dog, at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in May (2000).

Trudell uses words as medicine, so his political and poetic abilities created the new album Blue Indians, on Dangerous Discs records, released in 1999, his ninth album, produced by Jackson Browne.

“I called the album Blue Indians because there is a kind of spiritual and cultural genocide perpetrated on everyone that is poor in this country,” Trudell said. “The advance of technology has put all of us on a kind of reservation.  These are the people who can’t educate their children, or afford health care. They’ve been robbed of life, which is what happened to Native people, so in that context, we’re all Indians.”

The “spoken word” artist said he didn’t set out to be a poet or writer.  After an unspeakable tragedy took the lives of his wife, Tina, their three children and Tina’s mother, back in 1979, he started writing.  The fire that killed them was declared an accident by the FBI who declined to investigate.  This happened just 12 hours after a group marched to FBI headquarters in Wash. DC, where Trudell delivered an address on the FBI’s war against Native Americans.  He burned an American flag in protest of racism and class injustice.  To this day, Trudell believes government operatives set the blaze, “It was murder. They were murdered as an act of war.”  [READ MORE ABOUT TINA]

After 1971, Native men and women formed the national American Indian Movement, in response to the horrific conditions on reservations and the many unsolved murders.  Trudell served as National AIM Chairman from 1973-79.  During that time the FBI compiled a 17,000 page file (covering Trudell’s activities from 1969-80).

Of some 60 pages obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, describing Trudell as a major threat to national security, the memo said, “Extremely eloquent – therefore extremely dangerous.”

Writing has helped Trudell keep some sanity and continue to survive.  In 1981, he published a book of poetry “Living in Reality” and by 1982 combined music and poetry, with the help of his musician friends Jackson Browne and future collaborator Jesse Ed Davis, a Kiowa from Oklahoma.

When asked how he deals with anger, Trudell told one reviewer, “I look at it as healthy.  It’s like sadness.  There’s a reason we’re given certain feelings. I think anger is necessary to our survival and reality, but now we live in a technology reality where people are programmed not to accept their anger.  I think we can use it as fuel for clarity, focus and accomplishment.  Anger doesn’t have to be a distorting experience.”

In May, the band played songs from the album Blue Indians, while Trudell spoke his poetic lyrics.  About promoting the album, he said later, “We don’t tour like other bands.  We hit the road sometimes for a week, or several weeks.  It’s more practical for us.”

I met John at LCO in 1999
I met John at LCO in 1999 and he signed it!

In concert, Trudell referred to humans as being mined, like resources, such as minerals, and reminded us we are indeed composed of the earth’s materials.  After the concert, he explained the effects of mining humans, “The feeling of powerlessness that this society has, I think is a result of mining humans because the people do feel powerless.  I think no clear, coherent thinking people, would accept as normal the conditions that they have to accept.  So, the only reason I can see that people would accept the inequities, are because they feel powerless to deal with them.  The powerlessness may disguise itself as rage, or racial hatred, or sexism, it may disguise itself in many ways, but basically the common thread is a feeling of powerlessness among the people.

“That means all the aggressive attitudes basically get internalized.  I think that’s the obvious result of being mined as an individual.  If they are being real with themselves, no pretending, no justification or rationalization, how many people feel that they have any real power?

“How many people feel powerless to deal with situations put in their life?  It’s got to do with perceptional reality.  If you use our intelligence as clearly and coherently as we can, I think we’d understand that we are not necessarily powerless.  But we don’t know how to relate to power, or recognize it, therefore we don’t know how to exercise it.”

And, Trudell said we can’t accept this idea of being mined because we can’t recognize it or see it.

“We’re not taught about our personal relationship to power.  We’re not taught about our relationship to the Great Spirit.  Recognizing power is what you have to do.  When you recognize it, you exercise it.

“You can’t take back what they have already taken but you can stop the taking of your power, once you recognize it.”

On the importance of prayer, John said he prays for balance.  “Prayer is often a misused word.  There are people who pray for things to make them happy so I don’t know if they’re really praying.  Then there are people who pray for the welfare of others.  Some people don’t pray so much for their own individualized ego, but understand that prayer is a way of thinking in harmony with the Creator.  Praying is a way of participating with the Creator.

“Prayer that is based upon thought and feeling, then that prayer is participating.  Prayer that is based upon need and emotion, that prayer is not participating in a synchronized manner, because it’s based on the ego’s need and emotion.”

“Responsibility is the way to fulfillment, when one recognizes and exercises their responsibility, this is how one is to be free.  It’s a way of reconnecting with power for us as humans.”

On his own life, Trudell said, “I see as clearly as I can. The objective is for me to be as real to myself as I can possibly be.  The more real I can be to myself, the more real maybe I can be to other people.  It’s a challenge.”

(Published in the Pequot Times.)

trudell truth trudell_no sense

 

We lost John in 2015.

Indian Country Today on John Trudell Legacy

This entire post is relevant to this quote:

Clarke quote

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