America’s Slaves Were More Valuable Than All Its Industrial Capital Combined

Thomas Piketty and Gabriel Zucman have a new paper out (PDF) about the historical evolution of wealth in a number of different prominent countries, and it features this chart for the United States that really drives home the amazing reality of America’s antebellum slave economy. The “human capital” consisting of black men and women held as chattel in the states of the south was more valuable than all the industrial and transportation capital (“other domestic capital”) of the country in the first half of the nineteenth century. When you consider that the institution of slavery was limited to specific subset of the country, you can see that in the region where it held sway slave wealth was wealth.

In their discussion, the point Piketty and Zucman make about this is that slave wealth was the functional equivalent of land wealth in a country where agricultural land was abundant. The typical European wealth-holding pattern was of an economic elite composed of wealthy landowners in a environment of scarce usable land. In America, land was plentiful since you could steal it from Native Americans. That should could have led to an egalitarian distribution of wealth, but instead an alternative agrarian elite emerged that did happen to own large stocks of land but whose wealthy was primarily composed of owning the human beings who worked the land rather than owning the land itself.


Wealth in America

champions for change: Native youth

Early Indian Languages of the USA
Early Indian Languages of the USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Five Native American “Champions” Call for Change

Inter Press Service

UNITED NATIONS, May 31 (IPS)  – It’s Sarah Schilling’s usual manner of greeting when she meets other members of her tribe: “Aanii Sarah Schilling n’diznakaas, which translates to ‘Hello, Sarah is my name’ in English,” she said.

“The language is called Anishnaabemowin, the Odawa native language,” Schilling explained.

She belongs to Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, a Native American tribe. It was in 2009 that she and her peers decided to come up with the tribe’s first youth council.

And it’s no child’s play. Schilling and other members of the council created their own constitution, bylaws and code of conduct. Schilling organises conferences and retreats to address issues that teenagers like her are grappling with, such as drinking and suicide prevention.

“I guess young people from the tribe are confused as to what their role is as Native Americans,” Schilling told IPS.

While she acknowledges that straddling two worlds can be a challenge, she also thinks that the U.S. educational system often depicts Native Americans as “aggressive and bad guys”.

There’s more to Native Americans than beads and feathers, but in an urban setting Native teens have a hard time fitting in, said Schilling, who chose home schooling over public school after sixth grade.

She is one of the “2013 class of Champions for Change”, a new programme run by the Center for Native American Youth, a non-profit organisation in Washington.

Native Americans make up about one and a half percent of the total U.S. population, but 12 percent of the homeless population, said Erin Bailey, the centre’s director.

“Through this programme we wanted to create a narrative about what was really working within the community, and share inspirational stories that are impacting people’s lives,” Bailey said.

The programme honoured five young Native Americans for their services to the community. From healthcare to education, these “champions” range from 14 to 22 years old.

Like Schilling, Cierra Fields is a “champion”. A brave heart, who conquered cancer when she was barely five years old, Fields says she “was actually born with melanoma”.

Fields, who is 14, belongs to the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Through her personal story, she encourages people to talk about cancer. She also shares tips on preventing cancer.

For the audience, Fields’ story is a huge wake-up call.

“Some of the young people are shocked when I tell them that I had melanoma,” Fields said. “When I share my story they realise that one could get melanoma even when they are really young.”

Fields is also part of the Cherokee Nation Youth Choir and can speak conversational Cherokee.

While Fields tries to spread awareness about cancer, 19-year-old Vance Home Gun from Arlee, Montana tries to spread awareness about the Salish language, which he says is dying.

Gun belongs to the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes. Every Sunday for four hours, Gun teaches the Salish language to a motley group of students interested in learning it.

Gun also helps make Salish language curriculum available in public schools.

He believes that language is more than a mere medium of communication but an integral part of culture.

“Salish is spoken by 40 to 50 people. Therefore, it is very important to keep our culture alive through our language,” said Gun, who intends to major in linguistics and anthropology in college.

Some of these “champions” have already charted out their career path in their heads.

For 14-year-old Dahkota Brown from Jackson, California, aspirations extend beyond going to a law school. “I want to be a tribal judge, possibly the first United States Supreme Court judge who is a Native American,” said Brown, who belongs to the Wilton Miwok tribe.

Brown started a study group called Native Education Raising Dedicated Students (NERDS). NERD helps Native American students with their grades in schools. Browns’ aim is to “instill confidence” among students who approach the group for help.

A magazine article on high suicide and dropout rates among Native American youth triggered the idea to come up with a project to help such students, Brown said. “Also, I noticed that Native American students around me weren’t doing well in school,” Brown said.

The reasons could be many, but “Bullying and criticism could kill their self-confidence,” he said.

Brown himself has been a victim of bullying. He was teased as “a girl” for his long hair.

“There is a custom in my family according to which I cannot cut my hair until someone in my family dies. Other students did not understand this when I tried to explain,” he said.

His peers also did not approve of his dress. “I love wearing feathers on my hat and Native American shirts. Therefore I stood out because of my traditional regalia and people would make fun of me,” Brown said.

But that did not stop him from identifying himself as a Native American or emerging as one of the winners in the “champions for change” programme, thus adding another feather in his cap.

But some are quick to point out the United States’ government’s failure to address Indigenous issues.

Joaquin Gallegos from Denver, Colorado doesn’t mince words. The United States has not done justice to internationally recognised treaties it has made with these Indigenous sovereign Nations, he said.

“Since the U.S. has not fulfilled these obligations, negative outcomes are seen in virtually all sectors of these populations including education, economic conditions, and health status,” said Gallegos, who belongs to the Jicarilla Apache Nation and Pueblo of Santa Ana. “This is the legal and political reasoning behind the conditions present in the U.S. indigenous population.”

One of the “champions” awarded for his work, Gallegos is part of a project that aims at improving the oral health status of Indian Tribes in the Southwest United States.

This 22-year-old also wants to work toward providing Native Americans with improved healthcare facilities.

COMMENTS: spam or real?

WordPress (Photo credit: Adriano Gasparri)

By Trace/Lara

I have tons of comments (30+ on some days) which hit the spam folder saying things like “how do I design a blog like this?” and “How do you find the information you include?” (some are gibberish while others are trying to sell us shit.)

Well, I have been an editor (for newspapers mostly) since 1996 and prior to that I was a writer-in-training and in pursuit of writing full-time. (I have unpublished stories and plays and poems to prove it, truly).

The articles I choose for this blog are either in the news or relevant to what I am researching. I love film and photography. I want to keep learning so I am posting what I learn about human trafficking and modern day slavery and the most important one to me: Adoption! (I am an adoptee) Other hot topics (for me) are Indian Country and news affecting all Native Americans.

I have two books out on adoption (a memoir One Small Sacrifice and an anthology Two Worlds: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects) (and a poetry chapbook SLEEPS WITH KNIVES) and I do constantly read other blogger’s writing: to be smarter, more compassionate and understand other viewpoints.

And I am a publisher for other Native writers so that keeps my mind and hands extra busy doing BLUE HAND BOOKS.

Thanks for commenting on this blog – some are so wise and very appreciated, others were spam but some were questions I did want to answer….

PS: I have other blogs:

I am still learning, how about you?

Lara Hentz is Trace DeMeyer



slave traders(Yup, I am a really big reader)

Digital Public Library – hooray!


History of Survivance: Upper Midwest 19th Century Native American Narratives


Dakota quillwork leather vest, approximately 1890-1899. Minnesota Historical Society,


Minnesota Digital Library.

For every object that ends up in a library or museum collection – whether it’s a manucript, a photograph, or something more approaching the concept of “art” – there is a narrative, a story that gets told. The story a visitor to an exhibit ends up hearing, of course, is dependent upon who is telling the story and the slant of their own perspective. When the subject of the exhibit is Native Americans in the Upper Midwestern United States during the extraordinary upheaval of the 19th century, one must be particularly careful about the story being told since the narrative that largely exists is one of cultural denouement, of endings, as told by a colonizing population to its descendants.

The dominant narrative of the demise of traditional Native American culture in the face of colonization, conversion to Christianity, confinement to reservations and economic collapse is, however, not the only story that can be told. The accounts of the lives of Native Americans during the 19th century that are told by Native peoples themselves are strikingly different to those recounted in history books, movies, and all too frequently in museums. Rather than narratives solely recounting destruction and demise, Native stories about Native history tend to focus on what White Earth Ojibwe scholar Gerald Vizenor has called survivance – a narrative incorporating themes of survival and resistance that insist on the inclusion of the Native presence.

The following is an exhibit of resources that can be found within the Digital Public Library of America retold through the lens of Native American survivance in the Minnesota region. Within are a series of objects of both Native and non-Native origin that tell a story of extraordinary culture disruption, change and continuity during 19th c., and how that affects the Native population of Minnesota today.



Taskforce to Improve Responses to Violence Against Children in Tribal Communities

April 17th, 2013 Posted by

On Friday, Attorney General Holder outlined the initial steps to implement the recommendations of the department’s Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, part of the Defending Childhood Initiative.  Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West, Attorney General Eric Holder, OJJDP Administrator Robert Listenbee Jr., and Senior Juvenile Justice Policy and Legal Advisor Kathi Grasso

The Attorney General announced that Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West will oversee the creation of an American Indian/Alaska Native Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence.   The announcement was made at the new tribal task force during a quarterly meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which is administered by the Office of Justice Programs’ (OJP) Office on Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention.

The proposed task force will be a joint effort between the Departments of Justice and Interior and tribal governments. The task force will focus on:

  • Improving the identification and treatment of American Indian and Alaska Native children exposed to violence;
  • Supporting American Indian and Alaska Native communities and tribes as they define their own responses to this problem; and
  • Involving American Indian and Alaska Native youth in developing solutions.

The creation of the American Indian/Alaska Native Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence was one of 56 recommendations made by the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence. The National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence presented its final report and recommendations to Attorney General Holder in December 2012.  The recommendations called for universal identification, assessment and treatment of children who witness or are victims of violence. They also called for training for professionals who work with children to identify and respond to trauma caused by violence.

The Justice Department will provide additional details on the implementation of the recommendations in the coming months. These efforts will build on the task force’s call to support and train professionals working with children, raise public awareness, build knowledge and increase department and federal coordination and capacity.

OJP provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP has six components: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking.

Follow the Office of Justice Programs on Twitter at

Crow woman aims to break stigma after son’s suicide


GARRYOWEN – Many American Indians, particularly those on the Crow Reservation, are taught by their elders not to invoke the name of loved ones who have died.

They believe they are not really gone. Their spirit lives on in the “Other Side Camp.”

Jackie YellowTail dares to break the Crow taboo by calling out the name of her dead son. She wants to break the stigma of suicide, especially on Indian reservations.

“Even though the tradition of not saying my baby’s name is there, these stories need to come out so that our children can be educated and our adults can be made aware,” YellowTail said. “They can be educated so that another mother doesn’t have to go through this.”

Despite living in Indian Country where suicide rates are epidemically high, YellowTail said that until her 16-year-old son killed himself she knew no one who had committed suicide. She was ignorant of the warning signs.

“I’m not saying my son was mentally ill,” YellowTail said. “I’m saying he had problems.”

The problems stemmed primarily from growing pains, YellowTail said.

As such, she sought help from the Indian Health Service. She entrusted educational leaders at St. Labre Indian Catholic High School, a private, Roman Catholic boarding school in Ashland, with her son’s care.

Both, she said, disappointed her.

“I’m not blaming them,” YellowTail said. “I’m just saying I don’t think they did their job in a thorough manner.”


Her son, Lance Bird in Ground, shot himself in the head with a .22-caliber hunting rifle on Jan. 28, 2001. He was 16. It was a Sunday night about 9:15.

The teen, who was beginning to take an interest in girls, wanted to go into Crow Agency with his buddies, cruise and flirt. He asked to borrow either his father’s pickup truck or his mother’s Camaro. Both refused.

The 15-minute argument he had with his mother at about 8:45 p.m. was emotionally taxing. She had to work in the morning and told him she could not continue to argue and perhaps they could discuss it further the next day.

“I really didn’t pay attention when he said, ‘I might as well kill myself,’ ” YellowTail said. “I thought he was just mad. I didn’t think he would do it.”

It was one of several warning signs the 56-year-old mother of seven said she missed.

“I learned a lot since this happened to my baby,” she said. “Up to that point, I didn’t know the signs of suicide. I didn’t know the things I know today.”

After his death, a cousin told YellowTail that Bird in Ground had attempted suicide before, during his freshman year at boarding school. He attempted to overdose on aspirin, and no one from the school told her, she said.

Deb Cady, an administrative assistant at St. Labre, said she couldn’t confirm that Bird in Ground had made a suicide attempt because records from his time there are no longer available.

YellowTail now knows that previous suicide attempts are the biggest risk factor of a person successfully completing suicide.

And there were other signs of trouble. In March 2000, Bird in Ground had taken his mother’s car to go drinking with friends, leaving his parents to wonder where he was. When they finally found him, he bolted. It wasn’t until 4:30 a.m. the next day that they found him passed out drunk in a snow-covered ditch. They took him to the emergency room.

The attending physician made an appointment for an assessment with a tribal-run program to determine if Bird in Ground had a drinking problem. Program leaders assured YellowTail her son did not have an alcohol problem and advised that no follow-up was needed.

“I turned to the professionals for help for my son and I don’t believe he got that help,” she said. “They let me down. This is who we are as a people. I’m not blaming.”

It was one more sign YellowTail believes was ignored. Alcohol has long been known to play a role in suicides. About 7 percent of the suicides in Montana during 2010 and 2011 involved alcohol, according to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.


Since her son’s death, YellowTail has made it her business to know about the warning signs and to speak candidly about suicide among American Indian youth.

“A lot of our children are falling between the cracks,” she said. “I believe that’s what happened to my baby.”

Indian Health Service officials declined to be interviewed. Officials would answer only questions that had been submitted in advance, and refused to answer follow-up questions.

In a prepared response, Hillary Corson, a behavioral health consultant for the Billings-area Indian Health Service, said risk factors occur both on and off the reservation.

“We consider suicides an emergency and as a result … we’ve been focusing our efforts on our suicide prevention programs and initiatives in our tribal and urban communities,” Corson said.

YellowTail said both Indian Health Service and the tribal court system are ill-prepared to address the suicide rate in Indian Country.

“I hate to be the person that says the glass is half empty but there is a lot of work that we as community members still need to do,” she said. “We don’t talk about it. That’s the start.”

The Thick Dark Fog Producers Profile: Randy Vasquez and Jonathan Skurnik


Jonathan Skurnik and Randy Vasquez

Related Links
Download Randy Vasquez and Jonathan Skurnik Producer Profile MP3  The Thick Dark Fog trailer  The Thick Dark Fog website

By Ben Kreimer (

As  a child, Walter Littlemoon, Lakota, was forcefully taken from his mother by the U.S. government and placed into a federally operated Native American boarding school on the Pine Ridge Reservation. There, Littlemoon and his peers received a cultural purging to erase their Native identity. Humiliation, beatings and abuse were a part of this process. Littlemoon’s traumatic experience at the boarding school became deeply rooted into his being, causing him great mental and emotional pain well into his adult years. He had a name for his mental unrest:  “The thick dark fog.”
The new documentary, The Thick Dark Fog, by Director/Producer Randy Vasquez and Co-Producer Jonathan Skurnik, tells the story of how Littlemoon confronted the dark events of his past  to help heal himself, his family, and other Native Americans suffering from similar trauma on the Pine Ridge Reservation and elsewhere.
“His (Littlemoon’s) mission was to let other Native folk around the country know that they can deal with what happened to them at the boarding  schools–those that had a traumatic experience like he did,” Vasquez said.
Despite the impact of the boarding schools on Native communities, their contribution to Native culture and history has been largely withheld  from America’s mainstream Native American narrative.
“Here was this legacy of oppression that was on par with slavery that  American children don’t learn about in school,” Skurnik said.
Doing research for a screenplay, Vasquez got in touch with Littlemoon while looking into complex post traumatic stress disorder as it relates to Native American boarding schools. At the time, Littlemoon had just finished his book, They Called Me Uncivilized: The Memoir of an Everyday Lakota Man from Wounded Knee, co-written by his partner Jane Ridgway, that documented his boarding school memories. They sent Vasquez a manuscript.
“I was wowed by it,” Vasquez said.
Shortly thereafter, Vasquez proposed his idea of creating a documentary about Littlemoon.  Liking the idea, Vasquez went to stay with Littlemoon and Ridgway at their home in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, and began filming The Thick Dark Fog.
Skurnik became involved as the film’s co-producer two years after Vasquez began the project. Seeking the assistance of a producer, Vasquez met Skurnik through, “a want ads for documentary filmmakers,” Vasquez  said.
Skurnik has previously done film work on a variety of human condition topics connected to oppression including disabilities, religious freedom, sexual orientation and poverty. He co-produced the award-winning ITVS documentary, A Day’s Work, A Day’s Pay, a film about three welfare recipients in New York City who fight for a more just and effective welfare to work system.
Skurnik’s films focus on the effects of oppression and the ways people summon the will-power to heal themselves of the damage it has caused, and how they then bring that power and healing back to their community.
“That would be the common thread that links them all,” Skurnik said. “I think  that comes from my own experience of wanting to find my own truth and my own vision for what I want to be in the world.”
Vasquez, also an actor, got his first on-screen role in 1983. He made his first documentary in 1996, Concert of the South, a short film about the Zapatista uprising in the Mexican state of Chiapas.
“In ‘96 I got fed up with it all and decided I wanted to make the world a better place and think of other people besides myself,” he said.
His award-winning 2002 feature documentary entitled Testimony: The Maria Guardado Story, traces the journey of a Salvadoran political activist from her torture at the  hands of a death squad in El Salvador to gaining asylum in the U.S.
“I think that the messages that these people are trying to get out are worthwhile,” Vasquez said.
As a filmmaker, Vasquez said he is most focused on films about disenfranchised people, people of color and “the voiceless that are  struggling to have their voices heard.” The Thick Dark Fog is Vasquez’s third documentary.
“We’re going to finish this film and it’s going to get out into the world,” he said. “It will make positive change.”

See more on my blog about Walter’s story and when this film was released in 2012! Click here:

NOTE: I do write about this in my memoir ONE SMALL SACRIFICE- I felt I walked out of my DARK FOG in the 1990s. What happened to those in the residential boarding schools is another atrocity that few Americans realize happened to Indigenous People of North America…LARA/TRACE (AN ADOPTEE)


Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women #VAWA

Seal of the United States Department of Justice
Seal of the United States Department of Justice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West Speaks at the  Federal Advisory Task Force on Research on Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women Living in Tribal Communities

Washington, D.C. ~ Friday, March 8, 2013

Thank you, Bea, for that kind introduction and your leadership on this task force and in our Office on Violence Against Women.

It’s a great privilege to be here and on behalf of all of us at the Department of Justice, I want to thank all of you, for your dedication to addressing violence against Native American women.

We have had a lot to celebrate the last couple days, and yesterday I was proud to witness President Obama sign the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act into law.   The reauthorization not only includes the provisions that Vice President Biden fought so hard for 20 years ago to protect all women, but it also includes the critical tribal jurisdiction provisions to help Indian tribes combat violence against Native women.   From the time non-Indians first came to this continent, and right up through the founding of our Nation, Indian tribes routinely exercised authority over all individuals who committed acts of violence on Indian lands.   In 1978, in the Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe case, the U.S. Supreme Court took that power away, holding that tribes lacked criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians, absent express authorization from Congress.   Last week, thanks largely to your efforts, we got that authorization, and now perpetrators of domestic and dating violence will be held accountable, whether they’re Indian or non-Indian.   And countless Indian women will enjoy safer lives as a result.

I know that no one has fought harder for Native American women than the people in this room and serving on this Task Force, so I congratulate you on this landmark occasion.

Now, our challenge, our collective challenge, is to make sure that this new law is well implemented.   This is important for at least three reasons.   First, it will benefit public safety.   Second, it will protect the legitimate rights of the accused.   And third, it will maximize our ability to protect this law from challenge.   So we’ve already begun to meet with tribes to talk about how we can best prepare tribal judicial systems for successful implementation.

This is also a great chapter in our government-to-government relationships.   You and your colleagues raised these issues with Senator Obama when he was running for President in 2008, and you raised it with Justice Department officials in a long series of formal and informal tribal consultations.   And we heard you, and we took action – just as the President promised more than four years ago.   In July 2011, the Department proposed the very language that, with a few tweaks, has now been enacted by Congress.   And every step of the way, we profited from the strength of tribal leaders and Federal officials, working hand in glove, in a true partnership.

Over the last four years, this Administration has cultivated that partnership, and under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, we at the Justice Department have worked hard to strengthen tribal sovereignty and improve tribal safety.   We have established the Office of Tribal Justice as a permanent component within the Justice Department.   We’ve created the Tribal Nations Leadership Council to facilitate consultation and advise the Attorney General on issues critical to tribal governments.   Under the leadership of Leslie Hagen, we’ve launched a National Indian Country Training Initiative, which has trained more than 2,000 criminal-justice professionals.   And we’ve assigned additional federal personnel to investigate and prosecute cases on Indian lands, including a dozen FBI Indian Country Victim Specialists.

So we’ve made some excellent progress.   While we celebrate the past and current successes, we must also look toward the future.   Our work in Indian country is far from over, and if we’re to build on that progress and tackle the uniquely difficult challenges that tribal communities still face, we cannot rest.

We cannot rest as long as crime rates in many tribal communities remain far above the national average.   We cannot rest as long as tribal members suffer disproportionately from violence, property offenses, and other criminal acts.

As I have stated many times in the past, there is an urgent need for more and better research, evaluation, and data, and the Department is committed to making this happen.

At the heart of our research efforts is NIJ’s research program on violence against women that will collect information from enrolled American Indian and Alaska Native women living in Indian country and Alaska Native villages.   This is the first comprehensive national research program of its kind.   NIJ’s groundbreaking program of research aims to achieve the mandates outlined in the the 2005 reauthorization of VAWA to decrease the incidence of violent crimes against Indian women; to strengthen the capacity of Indian tribes to exercise their sovereign authority to respond to violent crimes committed against Indian women; and to ensure that perpetrators of violent crimes committed against Indian women are held accountable for their criminal behavior.

Once again, I would like to thank each Task Force member for your participation. Your expertise and insights are invaluable, and this partnership–much like our partnership in the reauthorization of VAWA with critical tribal jurisdiction provisions–has been pivotal to developing, and now, implementing this much needed program of research.

NYTs: Timothy Egan on Indian Country Crime (“Science and Sensibility”)

For American Indians, living nearly invisible lives on archipelagos of native culture, irrational Republican philosophy has been particularly cruel. There are more than 300 reservations throughout the land — nations within a nation, sovereign to a point.

Non-Indians are responsible for most of the domestic violence in Indian country. The tribes can’t prosecute them — without the blessing of Congress — and the distant and detached feds usually won’t. Thus, the need for the change written into the renewed Violence Against Women law.

“We have serial rapists on the reservation,” Charon Asetoyer, a Native rights health advocate in South Dakota, has pointed out, “because they know they can get away with it.”

Oh, but bringing these brutes to justice in the jurisdictions where they commit their crimes would be unconstitutional, says Representative Eric Cantor, the House Majority leader. A jury of Indians, well — they’re incapable of giving a white man a fair trial. Such was the view expressed by Senator Charles Grassley, the mumble-voiced Iowa senator known for his 19th-century insight.

Both men voted against the act, and both are flat-out wrong in their interpretation. The Sixth Amendment guarantees the accused a right to a jury trial in “the state or district” where the crime was committed. It says nothing about ethnicity. The latest census found that almost half of people living on reservations were non-Indians. And more than half of Indian women are married to men who are not tribal members by blood.

Turtle Talk


An excerpt:

For American Indians, living nearly invisible lives on archipelagos of native culture, irrational Republican philosophy has been particularly cruel. There are more than 300 reservations throughout the land — nations within a nation, sovereign to a point.

Non-Indians are responsible for most of the domestic violence in Indian country. The tribes can’t prosecute them — without the blessing of Congress — and the distant and detached feds usually won’t. Thus, the need for the change written into the renewed Violence Against Women law.

“We have serial rapists on the reservation,” Charon Asetoyer, a Native rights health advocate in South Dakota, has pointed out, “because they know they can get away with it.”

Oh, but bringing these brutes to justice in the jurisdictions where they commit their crimes would be unconstitutional, says Representative Eric Cantor, the House Majority leader. A jury of Indians, well — they’re incapable…

View original post 99 more words

Forced Sterilizations, Racist Terror, and the Native American Uprising of 1972-1973

by Steven Argue (Feb 3rd, 2013)

[Photo: Native American rancher, Raymond Yellow Thunder, in 1972 was attacked by racists, stripped from the waste down, and forced into an American Legion bar where people made fun of him, forced him to dance, and put cigarettes out on him.  Raymond was then taken out back, beaten nearly to his death, and stuffed into the trunk of a car where he died.  Before AIM became involved, two of the white murderers of Raymond Yellow Thunder, Melvin and Leslie Hare, were charged with assault and battery and released without even needing to pay bail.]

For Native American Liberation through Socialist Revolution!
(Part 1) Forced Sterilizations, Racist Terror, and the Native American Uprising of 1972-1973
By Steven Argue
Currently, there are roughly 5.2 million Native Americans in the United States.  From the beginnings of European colonization they have suffered genocide and theft of land.  On the small tracts of land left to Native Americans they suffer 70% unemployment.  One out of every four Native Americans is officially living in poverty.  29.9% of Native Americans have no health insurance.  Many Native Americans on reservations still lack running water and electricity.  Native Americans are three times more likely to be homeless than are non-Natives.  Life expectancy for Native Americans in South Dakota is 65.99 years while it is 80.79 years for whites in the same state.  Native American infant mortality is nearly double what it is for whites, with Native American infants 1.7 times more likely to die than white infants in their first year of life.
Poverty and neglect is common on reservations.  For instance, on the Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota median income is $2,600 to $3,400 a year, unemployment is 83-85%, 97% of people are below the federal poverty line, housing is of poor quality and scarce, and there is a lack of commercial infrastructure, technology, and industry to provide any income.  Life expectancy on the reservation is 48 years for men and 54 years for women.  Radioactive contamination from uranium mining is blamed for an epidemic of cancers and miscarriages on the reservation.
Native Americans are also subjected to environmental racism and, as a result, suffer increased cancers and other problems inflicted on their economy, health, and environment.  For instance, in 1997 the Clinton / Gore administration abandoned 1993 rules directed at controlling paper mill dioxin pollutants.  That dioxin is being dumped into rivers where contaminated fish are eaten by Native American residents of reservations.  Radiation is also a problem.  For instance, Navajo, Ogallala Lakota, Nez Perce, Hopi, South Piute, Spokane, Western Shoshone, Yakima, Colville, Coeur d’Alene, Kalispell, Umatilla, Klickitat, and Cherokee reservation lands and waters have all been horribly contaminated by uranium tailings and other nuclear wastes.  For example, radioactive waste was disposed of across the ground on Cherokee land, supposedly as fertilizer.
In 1973, when traditional Indians of the Pine Ridge Reservation and the American Indian Movement (AIM) occupied the town of Wounded Knee, all of these conditions existed, and much worse.  Native American women suffered rampant forced sterilization by the government.  Native children were sent to boarding schools where they suffered many injustices, including beatings for speaking their native languages.  In addition to being subjected to continued genocide, Native Americans were among those being drafted and commanded to carry out the American War in Vietnam.  Violence against Natives in the United States, including rape and murder, was so prevalent in some areas that Natives avoided even driving through certain towns.  In addition, in the movies, the hero John Wayne murdered Indians while racist stereotypes prevailed.   While the struggle for the rights of Native Americans is far from complete, the heroic struggles of AIM members and allies helped remedy some of these problems.
Today AIM has been splintered and nearly destroyed through a combination of FBI sponsored death squad murders, police violence, FBI violence, frame-ups, infiltration, disruption, and a tactic known as “snitch jacketing”, where FBI infiltrators create animosity, distrust, and violence by accusing loyal members of being FBI.  From that violence, and still existing infiltrators, the FBI has done much to destroy the unity and reputation of AIM.  Before considering such accusations, one must become familiar with AIM’s accomplishments and the murderous enemy they were up against.
AIM’s Exposure of Forced Sterilization
One of AIM’s first big successes was in exposing the U.S. government’s genocidal policy of forced sterilization.  Documentation of the policy was discovered and exposed by AIM when they occupied and trashed the Washington headquarters of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for a week in 1972.  The sterilizations were carried out with federal funding by the Indian Health Service (IHS) through coercion or without the knowledge or consent of the victims.  As documents revealed, this forced sterilization program was carried out by the IHS under the leadership of the BIA.
Sterilizations would be carried out without consent while performing other procedures, like appendectomies, or, in other cases, women would be falsely convinced of the need for hysterectomies.  In other cases, coercion was used, with healthcare professionals demanding sterilizations in return for future health care needs or keeping their children.  Women were lied to in other ways as well, like being convinced that hysterectomies were reversible.  Full blooded Indians were particularly targeted.
A 1974 study found that 42% of Native American women of child bearing age had been sterilized.  And, not surprisingly, the Bureau of Census Reports documented a steep decline in Native American births between 1960 and 1980.
Native American women were not the only victims.  Similar government programs have been uncovered that targeted Blacks, Latinas, and the poor in a number of states, including 20,000 women who were sterilized in the state of California.  The United States carried out similar programs internationally.  For instance, the Peace Corps carried out sterilizations of Quechua Indian women in Bolivia without their knowledge or consent.  In Peru, the brutal U.S. backed government of Alberto Fujimori carried out 300,000 forced sterilizations of Quechua women between 1996 and 2000.
In 1975 the U.S. Congress, for the first time, passed laws making the use of federal funds in carrying out forced sterilizations and forced abortions illegal.  In 1976, the U.S. government, through the General Accounting Office, admitted to a policy of forced sterilization directed at Native American women.  In 1988, the U.S. government, for the first time, adopted the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide which prohibits “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, such as…imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group…”
Many people think that eugenics fell out of favor in the United States after Adolf Hitler’s infamous go at it, but the practice was alive and well in the United States up until at least the mid-1970s.  AIM’s exposure of these crimes, found out through occupying enemy territory at BIA headquarters in 1972, was a first step towards the apparent elimination of the policy in the United States.
Racist Terror, Government Impunity
In 1972, Native American rancher, Raymond Yellow Thunder, was attacked by racists, stripped from the waste down, and forced into an American Legion bar where people made fun of him, forced him to dance, and put cigarettes out on him.  Raymond was then taken out back, beaten nearly to his death, and stuffed into the trunk of a car where he died.  Before AIM became involved, two of the white murderers of Raymond Yellow Thunder, Melvin and Leslie Hare, were charged with assault and battery and released without bail.
This was par for the course in South Dakota where, despite murderous violence against Native Americans being common, no white had ever been convicted for murdering a Native American in South Dakota’s entire history.  Whites faced the same impunity for their racist terror against Native Americans in South Dakota as occurred against Blacks in the South.  In South Dakota, racists freely kept signs up on their bars, stores and restaurants saying, “No Dogs or Indians Allowed”.  The capitalist state was allowing the same kind of racist terror as had occurred in the south under the semi-fascist rule of KKK death squads working with local police, courts, and the Democrat Party.
Protesting for justice for Raymond Yellow Thunder, 4,000 Native Americans marched on the town of Porcupine and took it over for four days. After AIM protests, criminal charges were upped from the meaningless charges of “assault and battery” to three people being charged with second-degree manslaughter and a fourth charged with false imprisonment. The Hare brothers were convicted and sentenced to a year in prison.  For the first time in South Dakota’s history, whites did time for murdering a Native American.
While a year’s sentence is obviously insufficient for kidnapping, torture, and murder, this punishment by the U.S. government marked the end of a 200 year open season on the lives of Native Americans.  The last time there had been any justice for the murder of Native Americans in South Dakota was in 1876 when warriors of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho nations, led by Crazy Horse, defeated Custer’s forces at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.  Custer was killed along with 267 of the Indian murdering soldiers under his command.  Custer and his forces were involved in an ongoing genocide against Native Americans.  This included Custer’s attack on a Cheyenne village on the Washita River on November 27, 1868 where Custer’s forces slaughtered 100 Cheyenne men, women, and children, burned their village, and slaughtered 800 horses.  At the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Custer had it coming.
Part of the reason Crazy Horse brought a unified force of Native Americans together against the U.S. military was the fact that he could see what was coming for the future of Plains Indians as a stream of devastated Native American refugees flowed into the Dakotas from Minnesota.  In Minnesota it was open season on Native Americans.  Mass murder included the hanging of 38 Native Americans in Mankato, Minnesota on December 26, 1862.  It was the biggest mass hanging in U.S. history.  Abraham Lincoln actually gave it his official OK.
This author grew-up in Minnesota.  I was taught in elementary school that there had only been one hanging in Minnesota’s history, the hanging of a woman, and it was botched.  Minnesota patriotism was instilled in us as we were taught that this was why Minnesotans got upset with the death penalty early on and abolished it.  As usual, America’s propagandistic history treated Native Americans as non-people, and by the way it was written, the Mankato mass hanging of 38 people never happened.
In 1973, of all places, a town named Custer, South Dakota became the next horrific ground zero in the struggle against racist murder.  The incident started at Buffalo Gap, South Dakota when a 22 year-old Native American, Wesley Bad Heart Bull, tried to order a drink at a bar.  For this “crime”, the whites in the bar dragged him out and beat him.  One person involved, a white businessman named Darold Schmidt, said, “I’m going to kill an Indian” before he stabbed and killed Wesley Bad Heart Bull.  Despite witnesses to this premeditated murder, Schmidt was charged with second degree manslaughter and released on a $5000 bond.
Wesley’s mother, Sarah Bad Heart Bull, called in AIM.  A court hearing on the case was being held in Custer and AIM brought 200 people.  All but four of the people supporting Wesley were denied entrance to the court by cops in full riot gear.  Cops attacked protesters, Native Americans fought back, grabbing the swinging night sticks from the cops and giving back what the cops had attempted to deliver.  Fed up with the racist police violence and lack of justice, people ran to a gas station where they got gasoline to make Molotov cocktails.  With these they burned down the courthouse, chamber of commerce, and two police cars causing $2 million dollars in damage.
Darold Schmidt pleaded guilty to Second Degree Involuntary Manslaughter and served one day in jail.  For trying to enter the courthouse, Sarah Bad Heart Bull, was struck by police in the face with a baton and she served a five month sentence on a charge of assaulting an officer.  AIM leaders Dennis Banks and Russell Means were convicted on charges of inciting a riot.  In reality, it was a brutal and racist system that incited that riot.
It was the audacious action in Custer, combined with festering anger over a multitude of injustices that helped serve as an inspiration for the next action, the 73 day armed occupation of the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota.
Today, as the propaganda campaign has intensified against everything done by AIM, including Wounded Knee, it is important to review the gains Native American people made, in large part as a result of the sacrifices made at Wounded Knee.   Wounded Knee woke many Native Americans up to a struggle for their own survival, woke the majority of Americans to the continued existence of Native Americans as an oppressed people who deserved support, and put the U.S. government in a position of desiring those sorts of situations to go away, granted, partly through the brutal repression that took place, but also through granting concessions.
Don’t miss the next parts of this series,  (Part 2) The Historic Gains of the Wounded Knee Occupation by subscribing free to Liberation News
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Back to the Future: Hopi Farming

Back to the Future: Restoring Traditional Hopi Farm Plots and Helping Elders

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) wants to eliminate food insecurity among senior citizens in Native American communities, and we are joined in that effort by AARP Foundation.  With foundation funding, we were able to award four grants to Native American communities this past summer in Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma that will help address the issue. It’s part of our Native American Food Security project which, in turn, is part of our larger Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI).

One of those grant recipients is Sipaulovi Development Corporation in Arizona. Sipaulovi is a self-governing Hopi village founded in the early 1700s on Second Mesa. Of the 900 village residents, 28% are elders over 55, while 40% are youth up to age 18.

With its $25,000 grant, Sipaulovi is working to ensure elder food security by reclaiming locally controlled food systems based on traditional knowledge, contemporary practices, and coming together for the common good. Activities focus on restoring seed and water sources, reviving community farming and gardening, and growing, processing and sharing food in the traditional manner.

The gardens will be a reliable source of healthy food for elders, who have restored and revived traditional farm plots and are working to engage community members in farming and reviving traditional farming practices while providing foods for families and individuals.

Besides the grant funding, First Nations has also provided technical assistance to Sipaulovi.  In July 2012, we provided training on program evaluation, food policy and food assessment.  We did this in association with other NAFSI grantees so Sipaulovi and the others could benefit by networking with each other.

Other $25,000 food-security grants went to Santo Domingo Pueblo and Pueblo of Nambé, both in New Mexico, and to the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma.

The Native American Food Security project assists Native American tribes or organizations working to eliminate food insecurity among senior populations. National statistics document that Native Americans continue to experience high rates of poverty, contributing to significant food insecurity in many Native American communities. According to the most recent American Community Survey, about 26% of American Indians live at or below the poverty line. The same survey indicates that roughly 12% of all Native Americans living in poverty are age 55 and older. Other studies conducted by the National Resource Center on Native American Aging note that Native American seniors suffer from higher rates of obesity, diabetes and other negative health indicators when compared to other senior groups in the United States.

First Nations’ work in food systems is at the intersection between food systems/food security and economic development. We support tribes and Native communities as they strengthen food systems in their communities, improve health and nutrition and build food security. First Nations increases the control over Native agriculture and food systems by providing financial and technical support, including training materials, to projects that address the agriculture and food sectors in Native communities.

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The Real Criminals: Adoption Mafia

Please read this post THE REAL CRIMINALS on my other blog:

Jay Winter Nightwolf’s
American Indians’ Truths … the Most Dangerous and Enlightening Show on Radio”
WPFW 89.3 FM (Pacifica) – Friday Evenings – 7-8 PM
Online Live Stream …
Friday, November 30th, 2012
Two Worlds: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects and Some of the Many Re-Connections”
Author and Award-Winning Native Journalist Trace A. DeMeyer (Shawnee/Cherokee) and Her Second Book (Co-Edited with Patricia Cotter-Busbee)
From the preface of “Two Worlds:  Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects”
“It’s a big world.  With the invention of miraculous worldwide web, connecting is fast and free.  Humans can interact at the touch of a key.  Because of the internet, it connects me to a new people every day, new friends who are also adopted.
In this big world, where do adoptees go to find information?  How do we reconnect with our tribes after adoption?  How do we learn about culture?  Do we find adoptees to get advice?  Do we devour and search books, newspapers, or the web for clues?  Or do we hear someone, an ancient voice, a soul who lives with us, inside us, who guides us, even inspire us, after adoption.
Reading this book, you’ll know the answers.
In their words, adoptees were destined to live in two worlds, and each has a spirit uniquely their own.  We adoptees are like birds who migrate by memory and feed our hunger for culture by instinct and blood memory.  Our spirit was not killed by adoption, even if we lived far away from our families and our tribal lands.  We knew to be brave.  We hoped away loneliness.  We felt this was a test.  We knew it is not good to be isolated and went to look for other Indian people and relatives when we could.  Even as children we were aware we’d need to find answers to find our relatives.  More than one adoptee told me they heard the drum pounding inside them and calling them.”

(I will be on Jay Winter Night Wolf’s Radio Program on Nov. 30, at 7 pm (Eastern
Time). Listen in at

Native American Heritage Month a century old – really!

Ernest Thompson Seton (1860-1946), founder of ...
Ernest Thompson Seton (1860-1946), founder of the Woodcraft Indians and pioneer leader of the Boy Scouts of America. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first of November is the beginning of Native American Heritage Month in the United States. Its celebration varies considerably across the continent. In communities where indigenous peoples are numerous and politically influential, government agencies, schools and historic commissions sponsor exhibits, student projects and lectures.  In many other communities, citizens are not even aware that November has any special significance to Native Americans.

Generally thought to be a relatively recent phenomenon created by Congress, the roots of Native American Heritage Month go back over a century.  It was Native Americans, themselves, who first promoted national recognition of their heritage. The Boy Scouts of America then became their political ally.

Most Americans are not aware that citizenship in the United States was granted to indigenous peoples four years after women were granted the right to vote. The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 finally made it a law that if you were a Native American, you were an American citizen.  However, many states and local governments in the Southwestern and Southeastern United States continued to ignore that law until the Civil Rights Act was passed by Congress during the Lyndon Johnson Administration.

Typical of the situation in the Sun Belt, the state of Georgia had laws on the books that forbade American Indians from voting, owning real estate, attending public schools or even testifying in their own behalf in court. In the early 1970s, Governor Jimmy Carter pressured the state’s General Assembly to abolish these, now unconstitutional, statutes.

The first outcries for Native American constitutional rights came in Oklahoma as a result of the dissolution of tribal governments and the allotment of parcels to former tribe members by the Dawes Act of 1895. In particular, members of the Five Civilized Tribes (Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole and Cherokee) found themselves stripped of protection by the law, when they were theoretically made citizens of the Territory of Oklahoma.  Most Native American tribes that originated in the eastern United States had long traditions of women being able to vote and own property. Suddenly, the Native women were put into the quasi-citizenship situation of Caucasian women. Both Native men and women were often subjected to abuses by the courts of the Oklahoma Territory.

In 1902 the Woodcraft Indians was organized in Connecticut.  Caucasian boys were organized into “tribes” and “bands,” then taught woodland survival and artistic skills, based on a Native American theme.  In 1910 the Woodcraft Indians merged with several other groups to form the Boy Scouts of America. The American Boy Scout program had a distinctive “Indian and frontiersmen” theme that was different than the parent organization in the United Kingdom, which essentially prepared boys for military service and expansion of the British Empire.

In 1914 Red Fox James, a Western Blackfoot Indian, rode on horseback throughout much of the United States in a campaign to establish a national holiday honoring American Indians. On December 14, 1915 he presented petitions from 24 states to President Woodrow Wilson at the Whitehouse.  There is no evidence that Wilson proclaimed such a holiday.

The Boy Scouts of America was the first institution in the United States to recognize a day that honored Native Americans.  Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Tribe member, was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, NY. From the turn of the century onward he campaigned for special recognition of the indigenous people’s many contributions to North American civilization.  He finally convinced leaders of the recently formed, Boy Scouts of America, to set aside a day for honoring the “First Americans” in 1915.

That same year, E. Urner Goodman, a 25 year old Scoutmaster in Philadelphia, accepted the job of camp director of the Philadelphia Boy Scout Council’s Treasure Island camp on the Delaware River.  He implemented Native American themes in the camp, based on the characters in Jame Fenimore Cooper’s “Last of the Mohicans.”  At the end of their time at the camp, the boys would vote on a select few scouts who they thought best projected the ideals of “Scouting.”  Those so honored, were inducted into an Indian lodge with elaborate Delaware Indian rituals.

By 1921 Goodman’s special recognition program had spread to some other parts of the nation, and was known as the Order of the Arrow.   It was originally more of a popularity contest than a measure of Native American traits. Apparently, no American Indians were members of the Order of the Arrow in its early days. Nevertheless, this special fraternity within the Boy Scouts of America has  continued to honor the indigenous heritage of North America for almost a century.

In May of 1916, again at the behest of Albert C. Parker, the State of New York declared American Indian Day. Illinois legislators designated American Indian Day in 1919. Soon several states began designating the fourth Friday in September as American Indian Day.  Several states continue to have a Native American Day, but it has never had the status of a national legal holiday.

Throughout the 20th Century, the Boy Scouts of America continued to be the only national institution that consistently presented Native American culture in a positive manner. As generation after generation of boys went through Scouting, this positive image began to spread outward into American society.   Former Boy Scouts became local, state and national leaders.

During the 1970s several Native American entertainment and sports celebrities, along with Hollywood actors such as Martin Sheen, Anthony Quinn, Jane Fonda and Marlon Brando began advocating that Columbus Day be changed to Native American Day.  Some states have designated Columbus Day as Native American Day, but this co-designation also had no national legal status.

After over 20 years of agitation by Native American leaders, celebrities and some members of Congress, a joint House-Senate resolution was finally passed that designated November 1990 as “National Native American Heritage Month.”  It was signed by George H. W. Bush.  In 1994 a similar resolution was signed by Bill Clinton.  Since that time, similar resolutions have been passed each year by Congress, but Native American Heritage Month still has no permanent legal status within the federal government.

Readers wishing to contact Richard Thornton with questions concerning architecture, urban planning or Native American history may reach him at .

Major contribution to Native American history published

TWO WORLDS, Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects offers astounding narratives that challenge views on adoption

    After generations of Native children were forcibly removed from their Tribes and placed in residential boarding schools, children were also being placed in closed adoptions with non-Indian families in North America.

Finding those children became a mission for award-winning Native American journalist-adoptee Trace A. DeMeyer who started research in 2004 which culminated in her memoir “One Small Sacrifice” in 2010.  DeMeyer was introduced to Cherokee adoptee Patricia Cotter-Busbee, and the collaborated on their new anthology, “TWO WORLDS: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects.”  The book hits Amazon and Kindle in September. (ISBN: 978-1479318285, Price: $19.95 (PAPERBACK), $6.99 (EBOOK).

“Readers will be astonished since these narratives document a page of North American history that few even know happened,” DeMeyer said. “Today tribal families hope to reconnect with adoptees but we know closed adoptions were planned to assimilate children, to erase their culture and end contact with their tribe. I started this project in 2008 after my memoir, then adoptees wrote to me.  When I met Patricia in 2010, she shared her own amazing story and I knew she had to be part of this book.”

A recent MFA graduate of Goddard in writing, Patricia Cotter-Busbee welcomed the chance to contribute and help edit. “I could not resist helping with this important book. I felt that this was the project I had been waiting for. I kept thinking where are all these adult adoptees? I am an adoptee and know how badly I wanted to reconnect with my first families. If 1/4 of all Indian children were removed and placed in non-Indian adoptive homes, these adoptees must be looking for help, trying to open records and find clues to their identity. One study even found in sixteen states in 1969, 85 percentof the Indian children were placed in non-Indian homes. This book will help lost adoptees reconnect.”

The Lost Children in Two Worlds share details of their personal lives, their search for identity and their feelings about what happened to them.

“The history of the Indian Adoption Projects is troubling since it was unofficially ethnic cleansing by the US and Canadian governments, and this practice went on for years without public knowledge, but I am happy to report it failed because we are still here and still Indians; and this book explains how we adoptees did it,” DeMeyer said.

DeMeyer and Busbee agreed that “TWO WORLDS: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects” is an important contribution to American Indian history.

“Indigenous identity takes on a whole new meaning in this anthology,” Busbee said, “both for the adoptee and those who adopted them.  Adoptees definitely live in two worlds and we show you how.”

The book covers the history of Indian child removals in North America, the adoption projects, their impact on Indian Country and how it impacts the adoptee and their families, Congressional testimony, quotes, news and several narratives from adoptees in the US and Canada in the 375-page anthology.

“Two Worlds is really the first book to debunk the billion dollar adoption industry that operated for years under the guise of caring for destitute Indigenous children,” DeMeyer said. “Readers will be astonished since very little is known or published on this history.”

DeMeyer lives in western Massachusetts and Busbee lives in North Carolina.