20. "THE INDIAN PROBLEM"
According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), "As of 1988 the
federal government recognized and acknowledged that it had a special
relationship with, and a trust responsibility for, 307 federally recognized
Indian entities in the continental U.S., plus some 200 tribal entities
After centuries of persecution, ranging from genocide to racism, one
would hardly expect the one and one half million American Indians to
be relieved at the BIA statement. The following examples of how we still
treat our Native American population could explain why they should be
more cynical than relieved:
* American Indian Leonard Peltier, America's internationally recognized
political prisoner, remains in Leavenworth prison despite a "West
57th Street" segment which revealed how the FBI and the U.S.
judicial system conspired to convict Peltier by falsifying evidence
from the defense. Peltier was a "censored" nomination in
1985 & 1986.
* "Save a walleye, spear a pregnant squaw!" was the rallying
cry last spring for hundreds of angry whites in northern Wisconsin
as they confronted a small number of Chippewas who sought to exercise
a federally protected right to spearfsh walleyed pike.
* A Supreme Court decision held that the First Amendment does not
prohibit the federal government from permitting timber harvesting
in, or constructing a road through, 25 square miles of Six Rivers
National Forest traditionally used for religious purposes by Yurok,
Karok, and Tolowa Indians of northwestern California.
* On June 30, 1989, A California Municipal Court Judge refused Eddie
Hatcher, a Tuscarora Indian, a stay of his extradition to Robeson
County in North Carolina where he took over a newspaper office to
draw attention to the appalling conditions of lawlessness, corruption,
drug trafficking and racial discrimin-ation and violence against Indians
and Blacks. He has ample reason to fear for his freedom and life in
Robeson County where Indians are jailed at a rate three times that
of whites and convicted at the rate of 94% and, he's been told, the
local authorities are out "to get him."
* After more than a decade spent protesting his innocence, Patrick
Hooty Croy, a Shasta/Karuk Indian in northern California, was granted
a change of venue, by the California Supreme Court due in part to
community racism, and finally a new trial.
* The St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, on the St. Lawrence River near
Massena, New York, has been defiled by chemical garbage from General
Motors, Reynolds Metal, and other corporate polluters.
* Finally, Indians and non-Indians alike feel that the personal growth
movement is increasingly exploiting sacred American Indian spiritual
practices and shamanism for profit. Some angry Indians liken the distortion
and exploitation of their beliefs to the genocide and appropriation
of land and resources of the past.
SSU CENSORED RESEARCHER: TANYA GUMP
SOURCE: TREATY COUNCIL NEWS 710 Clayton Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
DATE: August 1989
TITLE: "LEONARD PELTIER'S CASE"
SOURCE: THE NATION 72 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10011
TITLE: "SPEARING FISH, PLAYING 'CHICKEN"'
AUTHOR: JIM OBERLY
55 West Oak Ridge Drive Hagertown, MD 21740
DATE: March/April 1989
TITLE: "COURT BURIES INDIAN RIGHTS"
AUTHOR: ROBERT W. NIXON
SOURCE: UTNE READER 1624 Harmon Place Minneapolis, MN 55403
DATE: July/August 1989
TITLE: "SHARMANS OR CHARLATANS?"
AUTHOR: MORDECAI SPECKTOR
COMMENTS: A resurgence of racism directed at the nation's native
American population is beginning to be reported in alternative publications
such as those cited above but has not yet caught the attention of our
mainstream media. Another aspect to the issue was provided by Mordecai
Specktor, who wrote about the exploitation of American Indian spiritual
practices. He said his article generated more controversy than anything
he'd ever written. "It seemed to mine a vein of bad conscience
among non-Indians who are looking for a spiritual path and believe they
have the right to trifle with traditions from another culture. Like
earlier generations of imperialists who came to this land and murdered
its inhabitants and exploited its resources, today's spiritual imperialists
are trampling on the ceremonies and sacraments that Indians have preserved."