Outlawing American Indian Religions

This is the second in a three-part series on the Dark Ages of American Indian Religious Freedom.

For the past five centuries, American Indians have had their religions suppressed (sometimes brutally and violently) and denied. With the formation of the United States and the adoption of the Bill of Rights which speaks of freedom of religion, this freedom has been denied to American Indians based on the notion that they were not citizens and therefore this freedom did not apply to them. The period of time from 1870 to 1934 can be considered the Dark Ages for American Indian Religious Freedom. During this time, the active suppression of American Indian religions reached its peak.

In this diary, we are going to look at how the United States outlawed American Indian religions.  

In 1883, the Secretary of the Interior reported that the heathen practices of American Indians had to be eliminated. He instructed the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to compel the discontinuance of dances and feasts. He asked Congress for greater power to deal with the Indian spiritual leaders (often called “medicine men”). He asked that steps be taken to compel “these impostors to abandon this deception and discontinue their practices.”

Following the recommendations of the Secretary of the Interior, missionaries, and other influential “friends of the Indian,” the United States formally outlawed “pagan” ceremonies in 1884. Indians who were found guilty of participating in traditional religious ceremonies were to be imprisoned for 30 days. This was seen as an important step in the destruction of the Indian way of life.

In 1892, Congress strengthened the law against Indian religions. Under the new regulations, Indians who openly advocated Indian beliefs, those who performed religious dances, and those involved in religious ceremonies were to be imprisoned.

On a regular basis, the Secretary of the Interior and the Commissioner of Indian Affairs reminded the Indian agents of the need to suppress Indian religions. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in 1902 told reservation agents: “You are therefore directed to induce your male Indians to cut their hair.” According to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs: “The wearing of short hair by the males will be a great step in advance, and will certainly hasten their progress toward civilization.”  Under the new guidelines, Indian men with long hair were to be denied rations. If they still refused to cut their hair, “short confinement in the guardhouse at hard labor with shorn locks, should furnish a cure.”

On the Hopi Reservation, the Indian agent forced a number of men to cut their hair. The agent disregarded the ceremonial purpose of long hair. Hopi men traditionally grew their hair long in the back as a symbol of the falling rain for which they prayed. For the Hopi, for a man to have his hair cut during the growing season was tantamount to asking that the corn stop growing.

Indian agents were also instructed to stop Indians from using face paint. According to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs: “The use of this paint leads to many disease of the eyes among those Indians who paint. Persons who have given considerable thought and investigation to the subject are satisfied that this custom causes the majority of cases of blindness among the Indians of the United States.”

In addition, Indian dances and feasts were to be prohibited. According to the BIA: “Feasts are simply subterfuges to cover degrading acts and to disguise immoral purposes.”  

American Indian Citizenship

Since the very beginning of the United States, the idea of American citizenship for Indians has been a controversial subject. American government is based on Native American models. American democracy was inspired in part by the Indian democracies which the European colonists saw around them. After independence from England, the newly formed United States wrote a constitution which was inspired by the Iroquois Confederacy.  

Citizenship for Indians is a unique situation. It is important to remember that Indians were not immigrants to this country and therefore the ways in which they have become citizens are not the same as immigrants from Europe, Africa, Asia, and other parts of the world. Long before there was a United States, Indians were citizens of sovereign Indian nations. Today, many continue to be citizens of these sovereign nations.

One of the first ideas about Indian citizenship was that Indian nations might be admitted to the United States as states with their own representatives and senators. This first emerges in 1778 in the first treaty between the United States and an Indian tribe – the Lenni Lenape. This treaty contains a clause indicating that the tribe might form their own state and have representatives in Congress. Chief White Eyes insisted upon this clause.

Later, promises of an Indian state were made to the tribes who were removed from their homelands and sent to Indian territory (part of which later became the state of Oklahoma). However, by the time that Oklahoma became a state these promises were long forgotten. Not only did Oklahoma statehood mean that all tribal governments within the state were to be dissolved, it also meant that the Indian name Sequoya which had been proposed for the new state was rejected by the federal government. Sequoya was the Cherokee who invented Cherokee writing. This name had been suggested for the new state by both Indians and non-Indians and was favored by most of the residents of the territory.

In 1856 the Attorney General of the United States noted that while Indians were subjects of the United States they could not become naturalized citizens because this was an option available only to foreigners. In other words, Indians were in a kind of limbo with regard to citizenship: they were not citizens nor could they become citizens.

While Indians as a group were denied citizenship, there were instances in which individual Indians were granted citizenship under special circumstances. In North Carolina, Cherokee warrior Junaluska was given citizenship in 1847 and a track of land. The state recognized him as a “distinguished son” who had fought with Andrew Jackson.

Following the Civil War, the United States altered its Constitution with the Fourteenth Amendment. Adopted in 1868, this Amendment states that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” Reading these words today it would seem that this Amendment would grant citizenship to Indians. However, the Amendment was intended to give citizenship to male African-American former slaves and not to Indians. Subsequent court cases and legal rulings made it clear that the Fourteenth Amendment was not intended to grant citizenship to Indians. For example, in 1871 in McKay v. Campbell, the federal district court in Oregon ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment had not made Indians citizens. Another ruling in 1873 in the Washington Territorial Court found that Indians could not become citizens by simply severing tribal connections. According to the court, citizenship for Indians required a naturalization act by Congress.  

For Americans during the nineteenth century, the idea of United States citizenship for Indians was very closely associated with private land ownership (and the myth of the family farm). The idea of communal land ownership – the kind of land ownership which Indian nations had been exercising for centuries – was deemed repugnant and a barrier to civilization.

The United States took a giant step toward “civilizing” Indians and paving the way for them to become U.S. citizens with the passage of the General Allotment Act (more commonly called the Dawes Act) in 1887. In order to assimilate Indians into American society, the act broke up the communally held Indian lands and gave each family its own allotment of land. Ignoring the fact that most people in the United States at this time could not make a living on family farms, the philosophy of the Dawes Act was to make Indians into farmers on their own land and in this way to pave the way for them to become citizens. The Dawes Act was seen as a “pulverizing machine” to break up the tribes and to turn Indians into American citizens.

Once Indians were placed on their allotments, the “surplus” Indian lands were opened for settlement by non-Indians. Under this act, Indian lands were reduced from 138 million acres to 48 million acres by 1934.

Indians were to live and farm their allotments for twenty years. During this time their land was to be held in trust for them – in other words, it could not be sold. After twenty years, the Indians could be declared “competent” and allowed to sell their land. Assuming that these “competent” Indians had severed their tribal relationships, they could then become citizens.

From the perspective of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), this meant that the BIA maintained their control over Indians during this twenty year time period. However, in 1905 the Supreme Court complicated the matter. In Matter of Heff the Supreme Court held that Indians became American citizens as soon as they accepted their land allotment. The decision infuriated Congress and the Bureau of Indian Affairs who had insisted that Indians who accepted allotments could not become citizens until the end of their trust period of twenty years.

In 1890 Congress passed the Indian Territory Naturalization Act which allowed any member of an Indian tribe in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) to become a United States citizen by applying for such status in federal courts. The act allowed these Indians to maintain dual citizenship by maintaining tribal citizenship.

During World War I Indians were not subject to the draft because they were not citizens. However, they volunteered in large numbers to serve in the American Armed Forces. In recognition of the service of American Indians during this war, Congress passed an act in 1919 which provided citizenship for all Indians who served in the military or in naval establishments during World War I.

Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924 which granted citizenship to all Indians. This citizenship decree was the logical political manifestation of the assimilation program and brought with it the expectation that Indians would be brought in line with other Americans in the areas of civil and criminal law. The Indian Citizenship Act supposedly gave Indians the privilege of voting, the obligation to perform compulsory military duty when called, and to pay taxes on off-reservation revenues. It is estimated that two-thirds of the Indians had acquired citizenship before the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act.

Some Indian nations, such as the Iroquois did not recognize the Citizenship Act because they did not feel that one sovereign nation had the right to impose citizenship on the citizens of another sovereign nation.

Citizenship for Indians in the United States has involved, at least in part, the conflict over states rights. The states have often argued that Indians were citizens and therefore subject to state law. At the same time, the states have often argued that Indians were “wards” of the government and therefore a class of citizens who were not allowed to vote or to give testimony in legal proceedings.

American Indians were officially given citizenship again in 1940 when Congress passed the Nationality Act. In addition to conferring citizenship on Indians, it required that Indian men register for the draft. In spite of the reconfirmation of citizenship, some states, such as New Mexico and Arizona, refused to allow Indians to vote. Passage of this act was opposed by the Indian Defense League of America. Tuscarora leader Clinton Rickard urged those who wished to volunteer for the armed services do so as alien non-residents.  

Following World War II, debates in Congress over Indian matters showed that many still felt that Indians were not citizens. Similarly, many state legislators seem to be unaware that Indians are citizens.

Today, Indians are citizens of the United States. Many are also citizens of a federally recognized Indian nation, a nation recognized by the Supreme Court as a domestic, dependent nation.  

Faith-Based Reservations

This is the first in a three-part series on the Dark Ages of American Indian Religious Freedom.

For the past five centuries, American Indians have had their religions suppressed (sometimes brutally and violently) and denied. With the formation of the United States and the adoption of the Bill of Rights which speaks of freedom of religion, this freedom has been denied to American Indians based on the notion that they were not citizens and therefore this freedom did not apply to them. The period of time from 1870 to 1934 can be considered the Dark Ages for American Indian Religious Freedom. During this time, the active suppression of American Indian religions reached its peak.

In this first part, we are going to look the faith-based administration of Indian reservations which sometimes resulted in theocracies.  

In 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant faced a major problem: the Indian Service (now the Bureau of Indian Affairs) was notoriously corrupt. The solution to this problem appeared obvious: to turn over the administration of the reservations to Christian (preferably Protestant) church groups. In his 1870 message to Congress, President Ulysses Grant explained that he had “determined to give all the agencies to such religious denominations as had heretofore established missionaries among the Indians, and perhaps to some other denominations who would undertake the work on the same terms – i.e. as missionary work.” This became the policy known as the Peace Policy.

Under the policy, a single Christian denomination would become responsible for administering all Indian programs on each reservation and would have a monopoly on proselytization. Under American policy at this time, the efforts to “civilize” the Indians required them to become Christian. Therefore conversion, by force if necessary, was an important part of American policy.  

There was no concern at this time for either the existence or validity of any Indian religions. In fact, Indian religious leaders were seen as barriers to progress and could be jailed for expressing their religious concerns.

In accordance with President Ulysses Grant’s Peace Policy, the Secretary of the Interior allocated 80 reservations among 13 Christian denominations. The anti-Catholic sentiment of the time is clearly evident in the allocation of the Indian agencies among the various Christian denominations. By the terms stated in Grant’s policy, namely that missions should be allocated among the missionaries already at work there, Catholic officials expected to receive thirty-eight missions; instead they were accorded only eight, all of them in either the Rio Grande valley or the Pacific Northwest. Subsequently, Catholic missionaries began to be ordered off certain reservations.

In response to the anti-Catholic actions of the government, the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions was created in 1874 to protect and advance the missionary work which was threatened by President Grant’s Peace Policy.  

One of the examples of this faith-based administration of an Indian reservation can be seen in Idaho where the Nez Perce Reservation became a model theocracy and helped contribute to the 1877 Nez Perce War.

While the Nez Perce Reservation was originally assigned to the Catholics, the Presbyterians protested and acquired the reservation. Under this administration, the traditional Nez Perce ways were not only frowned upon, but they were openly ridiculed and prohibited. In the schools, the teachers (who were often missionaries) deliberately made the Indians ashamed of their own traditions, history, culture, and lore. New regulations prohibited plural marriage, gambling, shamanism, and traditional drumming, singing, dancing, and ceremonial clothing. The new Indian agent also condemned long hair on men.

Under the new Peace Policy, each reservation was to be a monopoly. In the case of the Nez Perce Reservation, the new Indian agent ordered the Methodist missionary off the reservation and refused to allow the Catholics to build a mission.

Not only was the faith-based administration of the Indian reservations biased against the Catholics, it also actively opposed missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (commonly called the Mormons). In 1875, for example, government officials not only barred Mormon missionaries from the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in Idaho, they also sent out troops to break up Mormon gatherings and bring the Indians back to the reservation.

When the Mormons established an off-reservation farm for the Shoshone, there were demands that the Indians be returned, by force of arms if necessary, to the Fort Hall Reservation. While the Indian agent reported that the Indians at the farm had never resided on the reservation, it was still felt that they should be moved to the reservation and away from the influences of the Mormons.  

Dam Indians: The Background

In Oregon and California, an agreement has been reached for the removal of four hydroelectric dams from the Klamath River. The tribes in the area have fought for decades for the removal of these dams because they block salmon from their spawning grounds.

The struggle for the removal of the Klamath River dams is only one small part of the story of Dam Indians-the fight between the United States and the Indians over dams. In this diary, I would like to look at some of the background of this struggle.  

When the Europeans first came to this continent, they found it filled with free-flowing, unpolluted rivers which were filled with fish. For the Indians – and subsequently for the European explorers, trappers, and traders – the rivers served as highways. For Indian people the rivers were also a source of their livelihood as fish was an important part of the diet throughout the country. In addition, Indian people saw the rivers as living spiritual entities and an important part of their own spiritual existence.

It wasn’t long before there were clashes between the Indians and Europeans over the rivers. In the name of “development” the Europeans blocked the flow of the water in the rivers to provide power to their mills. The Indians soon found that there were fewer fish in the river.

The real conflict between European and Indian cultures over rivers, however, happened during the twentieth century and continues today. The United States in the name of “progress”, “development,” and “civilization,” sought to dam the rivers for flood control, for hydroelectric power, and for irrigation. Often led by the Army Corps of Engineers – a military body not particularly friendly to Indians – the government constructed dams that often ignored treaty rights, Supreme Court decisions, and human decency.

The assault on Indian people through the construction of dams during the twentieth century is not a pleasant story. It is, at times, an account of disgraceful and dishonorable actions sometimes motivated by greed and racism. The need to build dams is more important to the United States than honoring the solemn pledge of President George Washington.

Dams have caused a number of problems for Native Americans. First, they often destroy spawning runs for fish. Not only are fish a traditional food source, but they are often an integral part of tribal spirituality.

In many instances, the dams have flooded the best farm lands on the reservations. This seems to contradict the history of federal government efforts to turn Indians into self-sufficient farmers.

The dams have also destroyed many Native American spiritual areas. This has included ceremonial areas as well as grave sites.

In the west, water rights are a major concern. Water law in the west grants the right to use water, both from streams and from groundwater, on the date of first use of this water. According to the Winters Doctrine, a legal concept which has been upheld by the Supreme Court, Indian reservations have first priority for water. Many dams, and particularly those which provide irrigation to non-Indians, have been constructed which ignore Indian water rights and have caused water shortages on the reservation.  

For those who view dams as evidence of progress and civilization, it should be pointed out that Indian people were building dams long before European people were aware of the existence of this continent. In the Southwest, the Anasazi people in New Mexico and the Hohokam in Arizona were building dams more than a thousand years ago.  

Just my thoughts

How can I dry your tears? How can I make right the things that have been so wrongly done to you? Where is justice that was promised? Would you hate us all? If you did you are justified in doing so. My heart aches as I read the life accounts of the brave men and women of long ago. I feel so connected to them but yet worlds apart from anything that is theirs. We all go searching for answers to questions and non are found. Must injustice always prevail? Now I see a country devouring us all in the wake of the same old lies and greed that consumed you so long ago.

What if?? Thats the question that burns within me.. what if?? what if things where done differently.. peace honored.. love given instead of lies and betrayal. There is no excuse under the sun for the sins of those who hurt you. Governments pride themselves on lies and run from the greater truths.

To go back in time and to have lived amoung you and learned your ways i would give my everything to do. You are strong, nobel and brave to face the past decades of what you have indured. Its hard to read the true accounts of history with out tears swelling in my eyes. Your grandfathers ghosts haunts my soul. I want to see change happen and the rightful sons and daughters reclaim the land that was stolen from them. I believe one day you will have that chance to do so. I am sorry for my grandfathers sins against you. Please do not hate us all.. for some of us know the truth of your history.. some of us see what amazing, beautiful people you where and still are to this day. I will change who I am and teach my children the truth about you. To show them that you where and still are the bravest of all people. With love I honor you and your fathers before you.  

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One of the concerns of American Indians has been the ongoing desecration of American Indian graves and the sale of sacred artifacts. There has been a long history of the ghoulish exploitation of Native American remains in museums and popular tourist attractions. After decades of struggles by Native American tribal governments and individual Indians, in 1990 Congress passed the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). This act requires a number of institutions, such as museums, federal agencies, and universities, to inventory certain categories of human remains and associated funerary objects. Culturally affiliated tribes are then to be notified of these remains and objects so that they can be reclaimed by the tribes.

With NAGPRA Indians are allowed to designate what is sacred to them. Previous legislation, in the form of several archaeological acts, had defined the past, and who determines what is important in the past, without consultation with Indians. NAGPRA has marked a significant change with regard to the rights of Indian people and the practice of American archaeology. No longer does science (i.e. archaeology) have a monopoly on defining the meanings of the past: with NAGPRA, American Indian groups are invited to assign their own spiritual and historical meanings to archaeological sites and artifacts.

NAGPRA jurisdiction includes Indian burials, burial artifacts, and sacred cultural objects whether they are found on federal, state, local, or private land. Items do not need to cross state lines to be subject to this law. Under NAGPRA, any human remains found in North America that predate European contact, of whatever age, are considered American Indian.  

NAGPRA also makes it a felony to traffic in Native American human remains and burial artifacts. NAGPRA attempts to undercut the lucrative market in Indian grave goods and cultural treasures, especially items that have sacred significance. NAGPRA makes it possible to prosecute dealers and collectors as well as looters. Previous archaeological laws had focused solely on the prosecution of looters.

NAGPRA has brought about changes in the tribes. Many tribes responded to NAGPRA by creating advisory councils to deal with cultural issues, including outsiders who are dealing with cultural issues. For anthropologists and other researchers, this often means that fieldwork has to begin by contacting and making presentations before the cultural committees. NAGPRA is a powerful tool which enables the tribes to control and direct archaeological exploration.

One of the most visible impacts of NAGPRA involves museums. While most visitors to museums notice only the displays, museums also house a great deal of material which is not displayed, but is held for further analysis. With NAGPRA, museums can no longer hold onto American Indian human remains and funerary objects indefinitely, but must contact the culturally affiliated tribes to discuss the management of these items. In many cases, the tribes have demanded the return of human remains for reburial. Because of NAGPRA, museums now consult with Native American tribal elders regarding exhibits which might be culturally offensive.

There are some archaeologists and physical anthropologists who feel that NAPGRA, by making it more difficult to excavate aboriginal grave sites and to study the bones of the dead, has limited their ability to make new findings regarding the past. They feel that future advances in knowledge from continuing archaeological and osteological research are in doubt.

One of the major challenges to NAGPRA began in 1996 when a skeleton was found on the banks of the Columbia River. Law enforcement was notified of the finding and law enforcement then called in forensic anthropologist James C. Chatters to look at the remains. His initial impression is that the remains are not recent, but are most likely those of a European settler. However, the discovery of a leaf-shaped stone spear point in the man’s pelvis was unusual. Radiocarbon dating showed that the man died about 7265 BCE, thus making him Native American under the law.

Under the terms of the NAGPRA, four tribes — Colville Confederated Tribes, Nez Perce, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, and the Yakama Indian Nation — claimed the remains as ancestral. Three of the four tribes wanted the skeleton buried without further study, but the Colville indicated a willingness to have it studied first.

The scientists were dismayed as only a handful of skeletons of this age have been discovered in North America. A group of eight scientists filed the first lawsuit – Bonnichsen et al v. United States – to ever challenge a repatriation under the NAGPRA. One of the points raised in the lawsuit is that the skeleton did not have a demonstrated relationship with any present-day Native Americans and that this relationship may be determined by further study. The lawsuit also raised First Amendment concerns about NAGPRA and government control and manipulation of information. If scientists were prohibited from studying the skeleton, they and the American people would be deprived of potentially irreplaceable information about the past.

The lawsuit stopped immediate repatriation and court decisions permitted the scientists to study the remains. Eventually, the skeleton will be repatriated, but first the scientists hope to give him an opportunity to teach us about the past.  


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An ongoing series sponsored by the Native American Netroots team focusing on the current issues faced by American Indian Tribes and current solutions to those issues.


NAN Masthead Profile Picnavajo (Neeta Lind) Navajo Nation

Neeta is the community organizer of SFKossacks, the readers of Daily Kos in the San Francisco Bay Area. She also founded Native American Netroots, an online forum for the discussion of political, social and economic issues affecting the indigenous peoples of the United States, including their lack of political representation, economic deprivation, health care issues, and the on-going struggle for preservation of identity and cultural history. Neeta has led the Native American Caucus at Netroots Nation every year since 2006. Her recent 2010 blogging caught the attention of Keith Olbermann to focus a couple of segments of Countdown on the winter ice storm disaster in South Dakota that devastated the Lakota Reservations; hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised to help these tribes as a result.

Executive Editor

Meteor BladesMeteor Blades (Timothy Lange) Seminole

Tim has blogged on-line as Meteor Blades since 2003. Born in 1946, he has been politically active since 1964 when he participated in voter registration in Mississippi with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee in Freedom Summer. He was involved as an organizer in Students for a Democratic Society and, for 16 years, as a member of the American Indian Movement. He was incarcerated at the Industrial School for Boys in Golden, Colorado, for 23 months and spent 13 months at a federal prison camp for refusing the draft.

He has remained active as a foot-soldier in the antiwar and anti-intervention movement ever since. His most serious political campaign work was in third-tier paid positions for Pat Schroeder and Tim Wirth during their first election efforts in 1972 and 1974, respectively. He continues to do precinct work in Los Angeles.

In 1973, together with 14 other women and men, he co-founded and served on the board of the Boulder Valley Clinic, one of nation’s first nonprofit abortion providers. He has been a reporter, editor and publisher for both alternative and mainstream publications, including Front Range Publishing, Westword, the Associated Press, Rocky Mountain News, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and Los Angeles Times.

Contributing Editor

Aji2Aji, Anishinaabe Nation

Aji is a wiisaakodewikwe, a woman of mixed-raced ancestry (Anishinaabe, Irish/German, and African American).  A contributing editor at Native American Netroots and a blogger at DailyKos and her own site, she writes regularly on NDN and tribal issues; women’s issues; the environment; and law, politics, and public policy.  She also maintains the site for her spouse’s gallery, where she also writes about Native American art.

Senior Historian & Writer

DSCF1790Ojibwa, as his blog name indicates, is of Canadian Anishinabe heritage. He currently serves as a traditional ceremonial leader in an off-reservation community. Professionally, he is a retired pollster with a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Arizona. While most of his professional work has focused on non-Indian communities, a number of years ago a Blackfoot elder offered him tobacco and asked him to write a series of books on American Indian cultures and histories. The result has been nearly 20 books and a newsletter, Spirit Talk News, published 6 times a year. He is also an adjunct instructor at a small, rural community college where he teaches Native American Studies as well as some classes in Anthropology, Archaeology, and Geography.

Veterans Affairs Correspondent

DaNang65  DaNang65 USMC Combat Engineer, 1963-’67, RVN ’65-’66, ’66-’67

Past Post Commander, IN AMVETS Post 20, Certified AMVETS Service Officer, Indiana AMVETS Distinguished Service Award winner, Life Member VFW Post 969, Member AZ American Legion Post 68

Featured Writers

430933687_0a9ba2ad65_s (2) winter rabbit

Mark_TrahantMark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock Nations

Mark is the former editor of the editorial page for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He lives in Fort Hall, Idaho.


exmeardenR I P November 26, 2010 We love you Kris.

exmearden, 51, is a writer, mother of three adult children, newly minted grandmother, and lifelong Pacific Northwesterner, aside from a brief habitation in LA and San Francisco in the early 1980’s. Her first memories of politics are pegged to family dinner discussions at a certain yellow formica table in a small coastal Oregon motel owned and operated by her “Kennedy Democrat” parents in the 1960’s.

Once upon a time, exmearden had thoughts of becoming a professional golfer, a hermit driftwood sculptor, a CIA agent, a maritime attorney, or a civil war historian. Real life endeavors in advertising, property management, high school teaching, library research, a two-week stint as a an X-rated film projectionist, software trainer for the Air Force Reserve, and her subsequent two decades in the software industry persuaded her that alternative paths also offer a curious narrative.

exmearden resides with most of the loves of her life – her two younger adult daughters, three pug-a-poos, and two pomeranians – in a suburb of the greater Seattle area, the city of her birth in 1958. Additionally, she lives with cardiac angiosarcoma and each month she goes on a five day “chemo” vacation hosted at the University of Washington Medical Center in liaison with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Land of Enchantment


Rosebud Reservation

Carter Camp 1993cacamp (Carter Camp) Ponca Nation

Carter, a long time political activist was one of the original AIM organizers who took over Wounded Knee in 1973 and held it for 71 days. Carter was in charge of Military Actions. Under his leadership with several others they brought much needed national and international attention to American Indian issues.




Pine Ridge Reservation

Kevin Killer

Oglala Lakota

Standing Rock Reservation

Prairie Rose Seminole

Contributing Writers


Bill in MD: B.S. in Physics, M.S. in Physics. 22 years working for federal government.

DeepHarm: BS degrees in emergency management and geosciences. Sixteen years experience helping federal, state, local and tribal governments plan for disasters, including weapons of mass destruction. Currently retired from the federal government.


Kitsap River


No Way Lack of Brain


2010 South Dakota Ice Storm Brigade:






Richard Blair


Tom Lemon


Chris Rodda


Kentucky Kat

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The Richest Indian in the World

One way of getting to know and understand Indian people is through biography. However, too often Indian biographies focus on war leaders (almost always male) and on leaders from the nineteenth century. What is often lost is the twentieth century and common people. Jackson Barnett was one of those ordinary twentieth century Indians and it just happened that he became the richest Indian in the World. His story follows.  

In 1830, the United States passed the Indian Removal Act which was intended to remove all Indians from the eastern portion of the United States and to relocate them on reservations west of the Mississippi River. Of particular concern to the Americans, was the removal of Indians from the Southern states. Tribes such as the Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Choctaw, who had assimilated much of American culture, would be required to leave the lands which they had been farming and improving for thousands of years, travel to what is now Oklahoma, and start over with unimproved lands.

President Andrew Jackson, one of the biggest advocates of removal, stressed that the removal plan had four major benefits for the Indians: (1) fixed and permanent boundaries outside of the existing American states and territories, (2) tribal self-government which was to be free from state interference, (3) the opportunity to become “civilized” — that is, to become Christian, to learn to covet private property, and to engage in European-American style agriculture, and (4) isolation from “corrupt” Americans.

In 1837, the Creek were placed in concentration camps in Alabama to await their removal to Oklahoma. Here they began the process of starting over, of continuing their cultural traditions in a new land. Among these cultural traditions was the organization of Creek society in towns or talwas.

Nearly 20 years after the Creek had been removed to Oklahoma, in 1856, Jackson Barnett was born. Since his mother belonged to the Tuckabatchee Town, Jackson also belonged to this town even though he never lived within the geographic Tuckabatchee town in the Creek nation. Like many other children during this era, his first language was Muskogee (one of the Creek languages) and he learned English as a child so that he became fully bilingual.

Like many other Creek Indians during this time, Jackson Barnett earned his living any way he could: he worked as a ferryman for his maternal half-brother; sometimes he worked as a cowboy; sometimes he worked as a bootlegger. While herding cattle, his leg became hung up in a strap on his horse and he sustained a head injury. One witness would later report that the injury left him in constant pain and that it took more than a year for him to recover. While we don’t really know how serious this injury was, in later times this head injury would be credited for making him “a little slow” and “not quite right in the head.”  

In spite of his injuries and his mental capabilities, Jackson Barnett was able to support himself as an unskilled laborer for most of his life. Many described him as being an amiable and gentle man who enjoyed Creek communal society.

American promises to the tribes which were removed to Oklahoma did not last long. Following the Civil War, the pressure on the tribes to give up their land, their governments, their religions, and their traditional ways was intense. The American vision for the Indians required them to become Christian farmers. This meant that Indian should own their farms privately.  The American goal was to destroy Indian tribalism and substitute individualism for it.

Indians in Oklahoma did not passively accept the American pressure to change. Among the Creek in 1897, a fundamentalist group known as the Snakes or Crazy Snakes under the leadership of Chitto Harjo advocated retaining common ownership of land and an independent government. In 1901, the American government put down the Snake Uprising by sending in the cavalry and jailing 100 traditionals, including Chitto Harjo.

In 1902, many of the traditionals involved with the Crazy Snakes once again gathered at the Hickory Ground (a traditional ceremonial area). The government responded by sending in marshals to arrest the leaders and cut off their long hair.

While Jackson Barnett was not among those arrested in any of the raids, he was involved with the Crazy Snakes. It is estimated that about 5,000 Creek were Crazy Snake sympathizers (about one-third of the Creek Nation). He was one of many Creek at this time who was neither Christian nor traditional, but was interested in continuing Creek culture.

Most of the Crazy Snakes, including Jackson Barnett, opposed the breaking up of Creek lands by refusing to take an allotment. In response, the government simply assigned them a parcel of land, usually good for growing rocks but little else. Thus Jackson Barnett received his 160-acre allotment. While this land was “private,” it was also restricted by the government. Indians, particularly full-bloods, were viewed as being incompetent and therefore the government was empowered to act as guardians on their behalf.

In addition to the federal government acting as a guardian for the Indian allottees, the Oklahoma courts also appointed guardians for all full-blooded Indians when valuable resources-such as oil or natural gas-were found on their allotments. The court-appointed guardians for these Indians collected large fees for their “services.”

In 1912, the Department of the Interior approved oil leases on Jackson Barnett’s 160-acre allotment. Six to eight wells were drilled and by 1913 his monthly royalty income was $14,000 to $15,000. As a ward of the government, this money was not paid to him, but was collected on his behalf by the Department of the Interior and deposited into his Individual Indian Money (IIM) account with the Treasury Department. Barnett was only allowed a few hundred dollars a year: the rest was managed for him by the Department of the Interior.

The policies of the Indian Department (later to become the Bureau of Indian Affairs) of the Department of the Interior emphasized the need for hard work. Not only did Indian agents discourage the use of labor-saving devices, they also viewed income from oil leases as unearned income and thus a corrupting influence on the Indians. To access the money in their IIM accounts, Indians had to show that they needed the money and that it wasn’t going to be spent on something which the agent felt was frivolous or labor-saving.

It did not take long for the world to discover that the World’s Richest Indian-as the press soon labeled Jackson Barnett-was only allowed to have a few hundred dollars on which to live. As his millions accumulated in the Treasury Department many people other than Jackson Barnett became interested in spending this money.

In 1919, the building committee from the First Baptist Church of Henryetta visited Jackson Barnett. While Barnett was not a church member (in fact, he does not appear to have been a Christian), the committee reported that he was receptive to their request. Barnett, who was illiterate, then signed papers authorizing $25,000 for the church building fund. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, endorsed the request as a good use of his money. The success in getting the $25,000 donation fueled the ambitions of other church groups in obtaining even more of his money.

The Commissioner of Indians Affairs at this time, Cato Sells, was a Baptist who worked with church groups to obtain donations from Indians with oil wealth. Such gifts were always sanctioned by the Indian Bureau even when they benefited non-Indians.

In 1920, Jackson Barnett put his thumbprint on a document which gave away nearly $1.5 million to charity. The deal, wholeheartedly approved by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, included $1 million to the Indian hospital in Henryetta; $200,000 for the missionary, educational, and benevolent fund of the Southern Baptist Convention; $50,000 for the Oklahoma City Children’s Home Finding and Welfare League; $50,000 for the Murrow Orphans home at Bacone College; and $25,000 each to several Oklahoma churches. However, the Treasury Department reported that Barnett had only $1.1 million on deposit. In addition, a suit was filed by Barnett’s Oklahoma guardian preventing the dispersion of the funds until the legality of the actions could be determined by the courts.

There was at this time another interesting twist in the rush to help Jackson Barnett spend his millions: Anna Lowe, a 39-year-old non-Indian who is generally described as a “gold digger,” set her sights on marrying him. She managed to seduce the 64-year-old Barnett and persuaded him to elope to Kansas with her.  The marriage was opposed by  both the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Baptist Church. However, they were in a bit of dilemma: if they argued that the marriage should be annulled because Barnett lacked mental competency, then they could cast doubts upon his competence in donating to the church. In spite of the objections, a Kansas court sustained the marriage.

Commissioner of Indian Affairs Cato Sells hired a private investigator to work with BIA inspector W. L. Bowie to look into the private life of Anna Lowe and to provide him his ammunition which could be used to get the marriage annulled. The resulting report-The Bowie Report-provided the reader with information showing that Anna was artful and designing. It covered her alleged activities as a prostitute and blackmailer across Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Kansas. The report detailed her pattern of forming liaisons with wealthy married men.

When harassed about his marriage, Jackson simply replied: “Indians get married like other people. Why don’t you let us alone?”

With the help of his new wife, Jackson Barnett managed to increase his monthly allowance from the government in order to support a more extravagant lifestyle. The couple moved to California and purchased a large home. It was not uncommon for Barnett to stand in the street and direct the tourist traffic past the house. This was simply one of the activities that gained him a reputation for being a little eccentric.

The BIA was not happy with Barnett spending his money on his wife rather than donating to the Church charities which they had selected for him. In 1926, Jackson Barnett was seized by U.S. Marshals and the Secret Service. His wife, Anna Lowe, told the press that her husband had been kidnapped in a gross abuse of power by the Justice Department.

Barnett was taken to Oklahoma. There he was released to the custody of his wife. However, federal agents again staged a daring daylight kidnapping on Muskogee’s principal street. Once again, the courts ordered that he be released into the custody of his wife.

In 1927, Oklahoma Judge John C. Knox struck down the government-established trust for Creek millionaire Jackson Barnett. The judge summarized the case: “Solicited and importuned for donations, to which he readily affixed his thumbprint for most anyone who asked it; kidnapped and married by an adventuress and annoyed by her attorneys and their allies, who enlisted the support of officials of the Government-and who were probably convinced of the justification of their subsequent action-he was finally induced to assent to part with Liberty bonds in the vast sum of $1,100,000.” The judge found that the rationale by the Department of the Interior in creating the trust for Barnett did not justify their redistribution of his money.

What followed was a long and loud legal struggle to obtain control of Jackson Barnett’s money. It was a struggle that involved the BIA (and its parent, the Department of the Interior), the state of Oklahoma, and the Baptist Church. The one who seemed least concerned was Jackson Barnett. He sat through numerous hearings both in the court and in Congress as people argued over his money and his competence to manage this money. Through it all he continued to be a gentle, amiable Creek man.

While Jackson Barnett continued to remain loyal to his wife, the BIA sought to have his marriage annulled. Finally, in 1934 they succeeded. A judge annulled the marriage in part because of Jackson Barnett’s incapacity to make sound choices and Anna Lowe’s bad character. All property acquired by Anna Lowe since the marriage was ordered returned to the Department of the Interior.

In 1934, shortly after his marriage was annulled, Jackson Barnett died in his sleep of heart disease. He was 78 years old. He was buried in the Hollywood Memorial Cemetery in a ceremony presided over by an Episcopalian minister. A request for a marble headstone for his grave was refused by the BIA.

With his death, the battle to control his estate continued. More than 800 people came forward to claim a portion of his estate. The court case, In the Matter of the Estate of Jackson Barnett, took five years to resolve and its findings filled 25 bound volumes. In deciding the case, the judge ignored Creek preference for matrilineality, and imposed his own notions of patrilineal inheritance. He also refused to consider the idea of intermarriage with blacks.

It is estimated that because of his marriage to Anna Lowe, Jackson Barnett may have spent 15% of his fortune (without this marriage, he would have had access to significantly less); 25% of his fortune was distributed among his heirs as determined by the court; 30% went to lawyers; and the remainder just sort of disappeared into assorted fees and costs.  

Dakotas Snow Emergency: Charity and Beyond

Thanks to navajo and a robust crew of volunteers and diarists, the snow emergency on the Indian Reservations in the Dakotas found its way to the TV (thanks, Keith!) and more donations have started to flow.  (Navajo’s excellent compilation of donation contact info and links here.)  My intention is to add a little background to the story, because it’s annoying as all get-out that this has ever become a situation for charity.

In the early days of the United States, Indian Affairs was an agency under the War (later Defense) Department.  Not unlike the private contractors in Iraq, the Indian agents in the field typically did much better than the people they were charged with protecting and assisting.  Often much better.

With much bloodshed and ruthless, duplicitous behavior, the indigenous population of the US was driven from its homelands, and confined to reservations.  (Except for the tribes, like the Mandans on the Plains, that died off completely.)  Tactics included wanton slaughter of the buffalo to deprive the natives of their means of material survival, thus forcing them into submission and opening up their territories for white settlers.  Public debate back in the 1800s centered on questions like whether or not the Indians were human possessing souls, and whether the nations first peoples should be “civilized” or simply killed off by genocide.

Private Allotments

The latter option was only partially accomplished (via bounties for Indian scalps, and other atrocities), and the former eventually became policy.  In the 1880s, the Dawes Act was passed, dividing much reservation land into individually owned allotments, meant to be developed as family farms.  In short order, most Indian land ended up in non-Indian ownership.  This is not so surprising, if one considers that the Indians had non-written languages, and concepts like foreclosure and executed contracts and arguing cases before judges in courtrooms were utterly and completely alien to them.  The very concept of individuals owning a piece of ground wasn’t how they’d ever thought about their relationship to Mother Earth.  Of course, this is grossly oversimplified, since there are a wide array of cultures amongst the hundreds of different tribes once native within the present U.S. boundaries.  But it applies pretty well to the nomadic Plains tribes with reservations on the High Plains.

In time, the ability to transfer title of Indian land to non-Indian owners was curtailed.  (Except when the Congress declares an emergency – like in World War II, when large tracts of Lakota and Washington state’s Nisqually lands got annexed to military facilities, never to be returned.  But I digress.)

Legally, to this day, the federal government has a trust responsibility towards the tribes.  Tribes exist, legally, as dependent sovereign entities, with all the ambiguity and confusion that oxymoronic phrase suggests.  There are treaty obligations the U.S. government owes the tribes, in exchange for giving up most of the country.  For laying down their arms, and not contesting (i.e. killing) settlers taking over most all of what was once theirs.  Those obligations include health care, education and various general welfare items such as roads.

Too often, uninformed people tend to think of those obligations as some kind of welfare.  I think of it is as if there were an “interest-only” mortgage on the entire country, and the U.S. owes, in perpetuity, to make good on the deal.  

The Cobell Case

There’s another frequently overlooked angle on the impoverished state of the reservations.  The federal government, via the Bureau of Indian affairs (long since transferred from War to Interior Dept.), acts as a trustee for both the tribes and the owners of the individual land allotments.  Remembering that the allotments were first carved up back in the 1800s, and that the owners typically died without written wills or even file change of title (much less have a survey done) when a piece of land was sold or given away, keeping track of the ownership of these tracts is a non-trivial problem.

The feds, as trustees, have leased out lands for various purposes over the decades – purposes such as logging, mining, grazing, farming (where non-Indians could get soil bank payments for not planting crops, but Indians could not) and oil and gas drilling.  As trustees, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) was supposed to account for those payments, and disburse them to the land owners.

The records were bad, and back in the 1990s, a Blackfeet woman from Montana called Eloise Cobell, a banker, started getting serious about getting those records accounted for, and proper payments made to landowners for said leases.  Let me restate the problem: For well over a century, the US government had been taking in lease payments, but couldn’t account for something in excess of $100 billion dollars dating back to the 1880s.  A trustee in any other context would have had their ass tossed in jail long since for such sloppy work.  To be clear, payments were made over, but there weren’t records to account for it all.

And so was born the Cobell class action lawsuit, filed in 1996:

On June 10, 1996, Indian plaintiffs including Elouise P. Cobell, Mildred Cleghorn, Thomas Maulson and James Louis Larose, filed a class action lawsuit against the federal government for its failure to properly manage Indian trust assets on behalf of all present and past individual Indian trust beneficiaries, including over 300,000 current Individual Indian Money (IIM) account holders. The assets at issue are the monies that belong to the individual Indians. The named defendants are the Secretaries of the Interior and Treasury and the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs

The case moved along slowly under a Reagan-appointed federal judge, until the Bush-Cheney years.  Gale Norton and her minions got declared in contempt of court by Judge Lambeth, who had strong language about their lack of good faith action in the matter.  So strong that the Bush Justice Department successfully moved to have him removed, nearly a decade into the case.  John McCain, Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee while the Republicans were in the majority in the Senate insisted that $25 million was too large a sum to settle on the case.  So it went nowhere.

On June 10, 1996, Indian plaintiffs including Elouise P. Cobell, Mildred Cleghorn, Thomas Maulson and James Louis Larose, filed a class action lawsuit against the federal government for its failure to properly manage Indian trust assets on behalf of all present and past individual Indian trust beneficiaries, including over 300,000 current Individual Indian Money (IIM) account holders. The assets at issue are the monies that belong to the individual Indians. The named defendants are the Secretaries of the Interior and Treasury and the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs.

also in 2008, the District Court granted equitable restitution to the plaintiff class based on the unproven shortfall of the trust’s actual value as compared with its statistically likely value. It stressed that breaching the duty to account did not generate the government’s financial liability. Rather, it said the government’s failure properly to allocate and pay trust funds to beneficiaries gave rise to restitution or disgorgement of the very money that had been withheld. The plaintiff class was awarded $455,600,000 (although this figure did not include interest).

A settlement was announced two months ago on December 8, 2009 – a specific case where the Democrats are different from (and better than) the Republicans:

Yes. The federal government has agreed to create a $1.412 billion Accounting/Trust Administration Fund and $2 billion Trust Land Consolidation Fund. The Settlement also creates a federal Indian Education Scholarship fund of up to $60 million to improve access to higher education for Indian youth.

Needless to say, it’s too soon for this all to have been implemented, but it’s a step in the right direction.  And, too, remember that none of this is welfare or charity.  It’s what’s due – long past due.

The Current Situation

What I’ve written above isn’t immediately germane to the acute crisis currently unfolding on the reservations.  That’s the consequence of other kinds of neglect and malfeasance than just that covered in the Cobell suit, which litigation only covers accounting for leases of individually-owned land allotments.

Basic welfare issues on the Reservations are the responsibility of the federal government.  State jurisdiction is limited, and rightly so, owing to disputes like those of salmon fishing rights of Coast Salish tribes in western Washington.  As it happens, I was in the courtroom when the 1974 Boldt decision was delivered, and the wiki description comports with my own understanding of the case:

The decision was the culmination of years of State of Washington limitation of treaty fishing by the Tribes, resulting in the United States suing the State of Washington to force the state to comply with the treaties. It was immediately met with shock and outrage by non-Native fishermen, but the ruling has held for more than 30 years.

The Boldt decision also upheld that U.S. federal treaties signed with the Native Americans continue to be in effect as are all International Treaties agreed to with the U.S. government.

So, the donations are good, as a humanitarian effort to rescue people in trouble in an emergency situation.  Navajo’s diary from yesterday is full of contact information and links for donations, such as:

Thanks to Kossack Keith Olbermann, 3 major charities benefiting the South Dakota reservations will get some huge donations now.  Today, I want to call your attention to a faster and more direct way you can help.  The LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Home Assistance) programs ran out of winter funding in early December. Here’s the hard part; you will need to write a check because of no online presence for any tribe.

But Keith got it right in the bolded words below:

Transcript courtesy of Kimberley:
“And now tonight’s first Quick Comment, and you overwhelm me–as usual.  

“Last night, continuing our coverage of the humanitarian crisis on the ice storm and blizzard ravaged reservations of South Dakota, I mentioned a Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Storm Relief emergency assistance fund, and we linked to it. They were hoping, by the end of the month, to have raised $35,000.

In 24 hours, you donated approximately $185,000. They thank you and I thank you.  

“If anybody wants to go further, the chairman of the tribe tells us the consciousness of politicians is as important as donations right now. FEMA has yet to declare the region a disaster area, and there’s something else that could kill about 40 birds with one stone there: They’ve patched much of the water and power infrastructure back together but they really need an overhaul and something in the jobs bill, or some stimulus money, could not only protect power, heat and water there, it could also put some of the thousands of unemployed Native Americans to work in their own communities. So you could call, write, or e-mail your congressmen and or senator.

So this diary is a call for action that way – putting a little pressure on the political will.  Reminding our elected officials that the nation has a trust obligation to the tribes.  It’s not charity, and it’s not welfare, and there’s a lot of room for improvement.  Contacting any Senator or House member could help, but those serving on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee are particularly relevant, so here’s their contact information.  You know what to do from here:

Senate Indian Affairs Committee


Daniel Akaka (Hawaii) 202-224-6361

Maria Cantwell (Washington) 202-224-3441

Kent Conrad (North Dakota) 202-224-2043

Bryon Dorgan, chair (South Dakota) 202-224-2551

Al Franken (Minnesota) 202-224-5641

Daniel Inouye (Hawaii) 202-224-3934

Tim Johnson (South Dakota) 202-224-5842

Jon Tester, (Montana) 202-224-2644

Tom Udall (New Mexico) 202-224-6621


John Barrasso, Vice Chairman (Wyoming) 202-224-6441

Tom Coburn (Oklahoma) 202-224-5754

Michael Crapo (Idaho) 202-224-6142

Mike Johanns (Nebraska) 202-224-4224

John McCain (Arizona) 202-224-2235

Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) 202-224-6665


There are nine reservations In South Dakota. News reports are covering only two reservations, Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River.      


Full size photo

courtesy of South Dakota Office of Tribal Government Relations

We’ve also had a number of Kossacks volunteer to be a part of a new team (currently un-named) that will focus on a continuing diary series on the current conditions of our poorest reservations and discuss proactive and preventative measures that could be taken to prevent similar disasters next winter.  

Daily Kos volunteers for this effort currently are:

4Freedom, Aji, bablhous, Bill in MD, cacamp, Deep Harm, exmearden, KentuckyKat, Kimberley, Kitsap River, Land of Enchantment, Lexalou, No Way Lack of Brain, oke, ParkRanger, Richard Cranium, SarahLee, Soothsayer, swampus, TiaRachel, tlemon, translatorpro, Zenox

Many thanks to them for all their research and support.  

Thomas Jefferson and American Indians

Thomas Jefferson is not only one of the best-known founders of the United States and a former President: he also helped formulate American Indian policy during the early years of the nation.  

Indian History:

While many Americans during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries strongly denied the antiquity of Indian people in North America and assumed that the great mounds found throughout the east had to have been constructed by non-Indians, Jefferson looked at the data in a scientific perspective and concluded that Indians had in fact constructed the mounds.

In 1784, Thomas Jefferson dug out a small, twelve-foot high mound on his Virginia property near the Rivanna River. He uncovered several layers of burials and concluded that the mound had been the work of the present Indians’ ancestors. In 1787, Thomas Jefferson published his Notes on the State of Virginia which examined the origins of native people in the area. The book included a description of his excavations of the Indian mound. Jefferson felt that American Indians had arrived at this continent from Asia, that they had arrived speaking only one language, and that, once here, their language had divided into a thousand different languages. He also postulated that Indians have been on the continent for an immense length of time. He wrote:

I suppose the settlement of our continent is of the most remote antiquity.”

With regard to the linguistic diversity of American Indians, he writes:

“The time necessary for the generation of so many languages must be intense.”

His views were attacked and he was called “a howling atheist.” Modern archaeological and linguistic studies, however, have supported Jefferson’s claims.

In archaeology classes, we often consider Jefferson to be the “father of American archaeology” in reference to the fact that he conducted the first systematic, scientific archaeological excavation in the U.S.

Indian Sovereignty:

The sovereignty of Indian nations was expressed in the U.S. Constitution. Under the new U.S. Constitution, the American leadership-President George Washington, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, and Secretary of War Henry Knox-assumed that Indian policies were now vested in the federal government rather than in the state governments. Furthermore, they saw Indian affairs being directed by the executive branch. They saw Indian policy as a branch of foreign policy and viewed Indian tribes as foreign nations.

In a 1793 report to President Washington, Thomas Jefferson wrote:

“The Indians had the full, undivided and independent sovereignty as long as they choose to keep it, and this might be forever.”

Indian Land:

Recognizing Indian sovereignty implied a recognition of Indian ownership of their land. In 1786 Thomas Jefferson stated:

“It may be taken for a certainty that not a foot of land will be taken from the Indians without their consent.”

The basic problem for land-hungry Americans was, therefore, how to obtain Indian consent to sell their land. In an 1802 letter to Secretary of War Henry Dearborn, President Jefferson put forth a plan on how to extinguish Indian title to their lands:

“There is perhaps no method more irresistible of obtaining lands from them than by letting them get in debt, which when too heavy to be paid, they are always willing to lop off by a cession of land.”

President Jefferson in 1803 told a Choctaw delegation:

“It is hereby announced and declared, by the authority of the United States, that all lands belonging to you, lying within the territory of the United States shall be and remain the property of your Nation forever, unless you shall voluntarily relinquish or dispose of the same.”

Indian Marriage:

Another solution to the Indian problem, in Jefferson’s view, was intermarriage. On a number of occasions he told delegations of visiting Indians:

“You will unite yourselves with us and we shall all be Americans. You will mix with us by marriage. Your blood will run in our veins and will spread with us over this great Island.”

Americans were less than enthusiastic for that solution and no responses from the Indian delegations were recorded. During the next two centuries, however, there was massive intermarriage between Indians and non-Indians.

Indian Removal:

Early in his first term as President, Thomas Jefferson made a secret agreement with Georgia in which he indicated that the United States would remove all Indians from the state. With growing anti-Indian sentiments in the United States, Jefferson began to formulate a plan to remove all Indians from the East. The problem, of course, was what to do with them when they were removed. Part of the problem was solved with the purchase of the Louisiana Territory as this provided a place for the displaced Indians. In 1803 he formally proposed that all Indians in the United States be removed to west of the Mississippi. While a bill to this effect passed the Senate, it failed to gain the support of the House.

On other occasions, Jefferson authorized Indian delegations to travel west of the Mississippi to see if there were lands which would be suitable for them. While removal did not take place during his lifetime, the process which he set in motion did take place.


Like nearly all Europeans in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and like many Americans today, Jefferson failed to acknowledge American Indian agriculture. While American Indians had a highly developed agricultural system which provided a surplus to support many European immigrants, Jefferson insisted that the Indians lived primarily by hunting. Part of this was a male bias which is often found today: hunting tended to be men’s work and therefore it was assumed that it was more important than women’s work (farming). This ignores the fact that women’s work provided the majority of the calories which were consumed.

Thomas Jefferson writes about his Indian policy:

“First: to encourage them to abandon hunting, to apply to the raising stock, to agriculture and domestic manufactures, and thereby prove to themselves that less land and labor will maintain them in this better than in their former mode of living.”  

“Secondly, to multiply trading houses among them, and place within their reach those things which will contribute more to their domestic comfort than the possession of extensive and uncultivated wilds.”

“When they withdraw themselves to the culture of a small piece of land, they will perceive how useless to them are their extensive forests, and will be willing to pare them off from time to time in exchange for necessaries for their farms and families.”

Like many others, Jefferson failed to understand that Indians had more leisure time than did Europeans and that it took fewer hours of work in their agricultural system to provide them with the calories needed to survive. However, as Jefferson appears to understand, when a desire for new material goods is introduced, then the economic system has to change from one based on filled needs to one based on filling wants. The purpose of the trading houses was to convert luxuries into necessities.


In many respects, Thomas Jefferson’s views of Indians reflect those commonly found in eighteenth century America, but these views are often tempered with more of a scientific approach than a religious approach. More importantly, his views on Indians, and on government, set the stage for nineteenth century American Indian policies (including the forced removal of Indians from their homelands) and even twentieth century policies. It is not possible to study the history of U.S. policies regarding Indians without seeing the hand of Thomas Jefferson.

An Aha Moment

Today I finished watching the We Shall Remain, Wounded Knee, Episode 5 that navajo recommended, and near the end I had an Aha! moment I wanted to share.  

I was watching part about forcing the children into schools and away from their parents, and I realized something. The people who did that may have had good intentions. I realized that they may have decided what was good for the natives (without consulting them) and then acted on it. I saw the result of that in the movie.

I do not want to be a part of this group if we end up doing what we think is right, without consulting those affected. I’m not talking here about the current emergency situation. I’m looking at the long term. It is my hope that we will partner with a native-run organization (for each nation) whom we trust, and who trusts us, and who is in a position to advise what their people’s needs are, and we can be the one’s who do our best to provide the resources to fill those needs.

In the last week, I’ve found myself filled with ideas of what we could do over the long term to help, but I realized that my ideas were the types of things I would want if I were in their place. But I’m not in their place. I can’t ever be. I’m as white and as privileged as anyone can be (except without all the CEO riches some have). I can’t know what would be best for each nation. It is my goal to keep that in mind as I propose projects, and it is my hope you all do the same.

I not saying this to stifle the flow of energy or ideas. I do it so that maybe we can keep the empowerment and the dignity of the natives in mind as we decide what we will do and how we will do it.

I’d like your thoughts on the matter.  

Criticizing Indian Affairs: SD Winter Storms

Keith Olbermann tells us (quoted in navajo’s “Dakota’s Rezs Winter Heating Funds Ran Out In December”)

“If anybody wants to go further, the chairman of the tribe tells us the consciousness of politicians is as important as donations right now.

FEMA has yet to declare the region a disaster area, and there’s something else that could kill about 40 birds with one stone there: They’ve patched much of the water and power infrastructure back together but they really need an overhaul and something in the jobs bill, or some stimulus money, could not only protect power, heat and water there, it could also put some of the thousands of unemployed Native Americans to work in their own communities. So you could call, write, or e-mail your congressmen and or senator.

To reiterate, “The consciousness of politicians is as important as donations right now.”


Indian Affairs Committee

Address: 838 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

Phone: (202) 224-2251   Fax: (202) 228-2589

Email: comments@indian.senate.gov

Web site: http://indian.senate.gov

Committee Chair


Byron L. Dorgan (DEM-ND)

Ranking Member


John Barrasso (REP-WY)

Democrats (9)

Sen. Daniel Inouye (DEM-HI)

Sen. Kent Conrad (DEM-ND)

Sen. Daniel Akaka (DEM-HI)

Sen. Tim Johnson (DEM-SD)

Sen. Maria Cantwell (DEM-WA)

Sen. Jon Tester (DEM-MT)

Sen. Tom Udall (DEM-NM)

Sen. Al Franken (DEM-MN)

Republicans (6)

Sen. John McCain (REP-AZ)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (REP-AK)

Sen. Tom Coburn (REP-OK)

Sen. Mike Crapo (REP-ID)

Sen. Mike Johanns (REP-NE)

So, let us begin enlightening “the consciousness of politicians” with some required reading from the Consolidated Indigenous Shadow Report, which “The International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), in coordination with the Western Shoshone Defense Project, submitted a Consolidated Indigenous Shadow Report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) on January 6th, 2008.”

III. Indian Reservation Apartheid

“Apartheid” is certainly a strong word. And certainly, there are recognized tribes in the U.S. that are now achieving certain levels of relative prosperity primarily due to federal law allowing them to operate casinos, But the data contained in this section as well as others in this report (see, e.g., Violence Against Women, The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health) reflect what only can be described as a system of Apartheid on many Indian Reservations, where Indigenous people are warehoused in poverty and neglect. By purpose or effect, their only option is forced assimilation, the abandonment of their land, families, language and cultures in search of a better life.

The Shadow Report Outlines the following: critical things the U.S. Periodic Report omitted that were supposed to have been reported to the Human Rights Committee; Un – recognized Indigenous Peoples of which “many have waited decades” for recognition; the “Indian Reservation Apartheid;” the “Life Expectancy on the Indian Reservation” with its “high rate of infant mortality, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease;” poverty and unemployment, overall problems with justice;  “Racially Discriminatory Constitutional Foundations;” religious freedom as it relates to access to sacred lands; “Environmental Racism and  its effects on Indigenous Human Rights,” that “you cannot damage the land without damaging those who live upon it;” “The Denial of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the Political, Economic, Social, Cultural, or any Other Field of Public Life;”  “Racist Science and the Collective Right of Free, Prior and Informed Consent;” “Articles 6 and 7,” which mention the devastation of Indian Boarding Schools and “Racist Sports Mascots and Logos;” and finally, “The United States and its Transnational Companies and Violations of the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples Abroad.”

Continuing with enlightening “the consciousness of politicians” in this most current example wherein “FEMA has yet to declare the region a disaster area,” let’s focus on “But the data contained in this section as well as others in this report (see, e.g., Violence Against Women, The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health) reflect what only can be described as a system of Apartheid on many Indian Reservations, where Indigenous people are warehoused in poverty and neglect.” What are the enlightening questions?

Why has “FEMA has yet to declare the region a disaster area” in a location(s) where “Life Expectancy on the Indian Reservation” is:

Mortality rates and life expectancy on the reservation are not reported by the US in their Periodic Report. Neither is comprehensive data collected for Indians on Reservations. The grossly disproportionate poverty that Indigenous Peoples experience in the United States is accompanied by disturbingly low life expectancy as demonstrated by the few scattered statistics available. Recent research on diverse racial-geographic population groupings in the United States has shown “disparities in mortality experiences” to be “enormous.”[10] Among those found to be most disadvantaged in this major national study were American Indians who live on or near reservation lands.

For that matter, why hasn’t John McCain of the Indian Affairs Committee done anything?

McCain(was) Instrumental in Removing Dine(h)-Navajo Tribe

A public research website: http://www.cain2008.org has brought together diverse historical elements of factual proof that Senator John McCain’s was the key “point man” introducing, enacting and enforcing law that removed Dineh-Navajo Families from their reservation on the Black Mesa in Arizona.

Perhaps the reason why McCain hasn’t, is that it’s not over yet.

Although there’s been a recent victory against the reopening of the Black Mesa Complex, the Kayenta mine is still operating and elders on the front lines fighting the continued impacts of coal mining and forced relocation efforts are still requesting support.

When “the consciousness of politicians” allows for “…the largest forced relocation of U.S. citizens since the relocation of Japanese-Americans during World War II,” then they needn’t be sought for help, but helped to the Hague. So what might be pragmatic?

Obama can make the apology he signed public with an actual statement.

“I am concerned about people doing political calculations in the White House, looking at it that way,” Brownback said regarding an apology resolution Obama quietly signed Dec. 19 – to no fanfare.

What would that do for “The consciousness of politicians?” As much as this apology did in 2000.

“This agency participated in the ethnic cleansing that befell the Western tribes,” Gover said. “It must be acknowledged that the deliberate spread of disease, the decimation of the mighty bison herds, the use of the poison alcohol to destroy mind and body, and the cowardly killing of women and children made for tragedy on a scale so ghastly that it cannot be dismissed as merely the inevitable consequence of the clash of competing ways of life.”

Concluding, while the “consciousness of politicians” motivates them to ignore the devastation that winter storms have brought to many Tribal Nations, I have but one question for them – “”What does it mean to be civilized?”



American Indians and the United Nations

In 1923 Deskaheh, a Cayuga chief from the Six Nations Reserve in Canada, traveled to Geneva, Switzerland. For more than a year he attempted to present his people’s case to the League of Nations so that the League of Six Nations could receive international recognition as a sovereign state. His mission failed and he returned home without having been able to speak to the League of Nations. Deskaheh’s journey to Switzerland marks the beginning of many attempts by Indian nations in the United States and Canada to bring their concerns to an international forum.  

Following World War II, many of the nations of the world came together to form the United Nations to serve as a forum for international relations. Indian nations as colonial entities were not viewed as sovereign nations as thus were not a part of the United Nations when it was formed.

In 1948 the United Nations classified genocide as a crime against humanity. Genocide is identified as an activity against a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group which includes one or more of the following: (1) killing members of the group, (2) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, (3) inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction, (4) imposing measures to prevent births within the group, and (5) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. Many Indian people realized that the actions of the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries can be viewed as genocide under this definition.

In 1977 the United Nations gave the International Indian Treaty Council status as a Non-Governmental Organization. Several Indian leaders addressed a United Nations conference in Geneva. However, the demands of Indian leaders for international recognition of their sovereign nationhood were unheeded. The conference had no effect on the legal status of Indian tribes in the United States or on their treaties.

The United Nations adopted “Convention On the Rights of the Child” in 1989. This act states that indigenous children “have the right to enjoy their own culture and to practice their own religion and language.” Two nations – the United States and Somalia – did not sign the covenant.  

On Human Rights Day in 1992, several indigenous leaders, including Native American leaders, addressed the United Nations as a part of the opening ceremonies of the International Year of the World’s Indigenous People.

Onondaga chief Oren Lyons reminded the United Nations: “Our lands were declared vacant by papal bulls. You created laws to justify the pillaging of our lands. We were systematically stripped of our resources, religions, and dignity.” He goes on to say: “Yet we survive. I stand before you as a manifestation of the spirit of our people and our will to survive. The wolf, our spiritual brother, stands beside us, and we are alike in the Western mind: hated, admired, and still a mystery to you. And still undefeated.”

Thomas Banyacya, a Hopi elder from Arizona, told the United Nations that “we still have our ancient sacred stone tablets and spiritual religious societies which are the foundations of the Hopi way of life,” and “if we humans do not wake up to the warnings, the great purification will come to destroy this world just as the previous worlds were destroyed.”

In 2006 the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues called upon the Catholic Pope to revoke and renounce the fifteenth century papal bulls which are the foundation for the Discovery Doctrine. According to Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Onondaga Nation: “These bulls provide the foundation for the theft of indigenous lands throughout the world that continues up to this day. These bulls subjugated innocent and unsuspecting Native peoples and subjected them to more than 500 years of slavery, genocide, and a less than human identity.”

Steven Newcomb (Shawnee/Lenape), the Indigenous Law Coordinator at Kumeyaay Community College, writes: “American Indian nations never freely consented to be bound by or to abide by the ideas historically known as the international law of Christendom.” He goes on to say “The principle of Christian discovery and its accompanying principle of Christian dominion are the illegitimate foundation concepts of U.S. federal Indian law and policy.”

A 2005 report to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights found that Indian prisoners in the United States were facing restrictions on their spiritual practices. These restrictions included English-only mandates on ceremonies, such as the sweatlodge, and unrealistic time limits on ceremonies which did not allow them to be concluded in native fashion. According to the report, prison chaplains, who are usually trained as Christian ministers, were required to oversee traditional Native American ceremonies.

In 2005 the United Nations committee on racial discrimination asked the United States to respond to the Western Shoshone appeal for intervention regarding the attack on their spiritual and cultural areas by the United States and mining corporations. The United Nations asked the United States why Western Shoshone sacred land and treaty rights were not being honored. The U.S. failed to respond to a list of 10 questions from the United Nations regarding this matter.

In 2005 a formal human rights complaint against the United States was submitted to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The complaint stemmed from methyl-mercury contamination of subsistence fish caused by gold mines which were abandoned following the mid-nineteenth century gold rush in California and by the dumping of contaminates by the U.S. military in Alaska. These actions, according to the complaint, have impacted the Pit River tribe in California and the Yupik in Alaska.

In California, hundreds of tons of mercury from the abandoned gold mines have resulted in toxic levels of mercury in fish. For California Indians, these fish have both a food value and a spiritual value. In Alaska, the occurrence of cancer among Alaska Natives has been rising since 1990 at a rate 30% higher than for the general population.

Evidence was also included in the complaint that the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Energy, and other federal and state agencies, frequently dismiss links with contaminants as ‘anecdotal’ or blame the life-styles of those who are suffering from health problems.

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2006 discussed a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Article 3 states: “All indigenous peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development.” Three nations-the United States, Canada, and Australia-argued that this statement was in violation of international human rights law.

In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly voted to adopt the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration is a nonbinding agreement that formally established the individual and collective rights of indigenous people. The United States and Canada were among the four nations that vote against the Declaration.  Some observers of indigenous rights feel that this was most significant development in international human rights law in decades.

As Indian nations become more frustrated with their ability to obtain fairness and understanding in the political process-Congress and the state legislatures-and in the legal process-the courts-they are turning more to international organizations, such as the United Nations and the Organization of American States, to help bring pressure to resolve issues of concern to them.  

Olbermann: Sen. Comm. Indian Affairs Worst Person (S. Dakota Winter Storms)

Thank you Mr. Olbermann, just thank you.

But our winner, the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Where are you guys? Three major Native American reservations in South Dakota, particularly the Cheyenne River Reservation, have been buried under snow and ice with major power failures, for two weeks.

Power lines down, thousands of other Lakota and other tribes people, already face 75 to 85% unemployment, before a blizzard and an ice storm that added six inches of ice weight to utility poles – hit. Two weeks since those lines were knocked down and most of the electricity went with it. They managed to get the water turned back on at Cheyenne River, unfortunately most of the water goes into a pipe system that failed during the storm. The pipes are broken. With the wind chill it was minus 19 there today. What we find out about this on the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs – some means of donating to the affected tribes, means of underwriting the energy companies now distributing propane tanks by hand? An emergency hearing on a crisis there? Nothing. There’s a committee meeting Thursday to discuss regular business. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs – AWOL. Today’s worst persons in the world.

Mr. Olbermann, I wrote you a letter a long time ago after your Special Comment about the Military Commissions Act, that maybe you were the next Edward Murrow. Since that time, I definitely say yes, with your own style and voice. The ironic thing is, after the MCA passed I was scared and a lot of others were too. Speaking for myself, I needed someone to have the courage to speak out about it.  What’s different about this is, while the Democratic Party was bullied into the MCA that was “redrafted” at the last minute, the primary culprit here is apathy, not fear.

Where else could they get by with this?

The planned uranium mine site in the southern Black Hills can impact four aquifers. Powertech, Inc. USA plans to begin uranium extraction in 2011 and operate for 15 years in the permit area of 10,580 acres located in Dewey and Burdock Counties, north of Edgemont, SD.

Or this?


On Dec. 4 an action was taken against Crow Creek tribal land near my district that shook the absolute foundations of Indian law all the way back to the 1800s. Yet, few people were in the small room in Highmore, S.D. to see this monumental action and few other tribes even know it has taken place. Any tribe with land should shutter with the magnitude of what this precedent could mean for themselves or their individual tribal members. The Internal Revenue Service collected against 7,100 acres – 11 square miles – of Indian owned land in Hyde County, S.D. This particular parcel was part of the original Crow Creek treaty boundaries, but the treaty was subsequently broken and this land was sold to LeMaster. Interestingly enough, our tribe was able to use settlement money from another federal land taking to purchase this land back in 1998.

I don’t want to speculate any more on as you so said, “There’s a committee meeting Thursday to discuss regular business.” However, sadly this is “business as usual” from my point of view. What isn’t, is your covering it with conviction and integrity. Thank you Mr. Olbermann, thank you from the bottom of my heart. If the people get some more help, they can better fight for their land.

Native Singer Dons Baseball Cap in Lieu of Feathers

When Native American singer and activist Floyd Red Crow Westerman passed away in 2007, Jeremy Goodfeather’s Hunka (adopoted) mother asked him to play a few songs at the Oakland memorial, a request that launched an unexpected series of events for the San Francisco resident. “I had established myself as a community member within the Native circle, but people had no idea I could sing,” recalls Goodfeather, who’s debut album is out now on Round Whirled Records. “When they heard me playing Floyd’s songs, and some of my own, Native Americans are so politically involved that they began asking me to play shows and perform in public. Basically, the community instantly plugged me in.”

Another community member suggested that Jeremy Goodfeather apply for the Native American Cultural Equity grant through the San Francisco Arts Commission, culminating in his collaboration with four-time Grammy®-nomminated record producer and San Francisco native Greg Landau, who produced his touching and profound 12-song album, simply titled “Goodfeather.”

“With all this support from the Native community, I feel like I just wandered into music again,” Goodfeather modestly proclaims. But in reality the road to discovering his true inner songwriter was a long and arduous one; sharing the conservative hometown of Wasilla, Alaska with Sarah Palin left it’s mark on the songwriter as well. His father was a Mohawk from New York State and his mother was a mexicana from Texas, tracing her roots to before it was part of US, it’s own country, or part of Mexico. When his family dissolved, young Jeremy became a ward of the state, living between extended family and foster homes until he finally emancipated himself at 16.

“I wanted to be a rock star, so I moved to LA and joined a bunch of heavy alt-metal bands.” But after struggling with drug and alcohol abuse and the LA lifestyle, Jeremy realized that he didn’t have anything to say and called it quits. “I stopped writing music, hung up my guitar, and just traveled around with my uncle for a few years. I learned about what it is to be native, ideals, values, belief systems. That also includes political views, because as Native Americans we have no separation between church and state, political parties, and all that. It’s all the same to us.

“My whole world view changed during that period traveling around with my uncle. I learned who I was, or at least who I wanted to be. But I was just doing all that for myself, so I could find a way to live that worked for me. It wasn’t about the music.” The song “Wonderful Teacher,” track 10 on Goodfeather’s new album, is dedicated to his uncle, who passed away.

But the lessons live on in Jeremy’s songs. “When I write, I have no agenda of portraying any particular thing. It’s a reversal of me, me, me, self, self, self, and a move toward interdependence, interconnectedness, and symbiotics. The truth.” In his song “Dance Into the Light” he describes that relationship:

And everything is beautiful/

And everything is good/

From an insect to the space shuttle/

To this strung-up piece of wood

“We’re all part of the same system. Everything depends on everything else. If essentially we’re all related, we should respect one another. It’s real simple. You wouldn’t chop off your own foot.”

While Goodfeather’s songs stem organically from this basic philosophy, he is wary of classifying his music as “Native American.” After all, music is music. “I’ve seen performers on stage wearing fake feathers, loin clothes, just doing it up. I don’t carry that external image, and the Native community seems to really appreciate it. It’s Hollywood that pushes the image, but Native people are hungry for something more authentic. Now I’ve wandered into this area where the Native community has asked me to represent it, and when I go on as ‘the Native American act’ many people are surprised that the music actually has substance.”

And the substance is there. Each song has a story, a deeper message inspired by his connection with his community. “Many people might not know it,” Goodfeather explains, “but there is a large Native American population right here in the Bay Area. They were lured here off of the reservations with the promise of jobs in the 1960s.”  It’s this very community that has encouraged Goodfeather’s creative spirit and pushed him to the forefront of the Native American music scene, armed not with the cliché feathers and hackneyed songs about the four directions, but with his everyday construction worker’s baseball cap and something real to sing about.

“I struggle against the stereotypes because they’re limiting,” Goodfeather asserts. “‘Oh, you’re the Native artist, we’ll put you between the magician and the marionettes.’ You end up being treated like a novelty act.” But when you hear Jeremy belting out his heartfelt lyrics while he strums his “strung-up piece of wood” also known as a guitar, it’s clear that the vibrations causing the air to transmit sound are modern-day continuations of something set in motion ages ago, and that those vibrations are being transmitted throughout the universe for all to feel and hear.  

Find out more about Jeremy Goodfeather at http://www.goodfeather.com. His new album, Goodfeather, is available on iTunes and http://www.roundwhirledrecords…

Roll Call for New Diaries Series Group for DailyKos

( – promoted by navajo)

You have just received an invite to join this blog. Please leave a comment with your Daily Kos screen name and let us know you are signed up.

Thanks again for volunteering to help us focus attention on pro-active and preventative applications to improve current conditions on our Nation’s neediest reservations.

We will create a diary series devoted to bringing attention to conditions on our reservations and promoting long term solutions such as alternative energy, green housing, creating jobs, emergency responding plans, etc.

We have contacts now on:


cacamp (Carter Camp)


Pine Ridge

Autumn TwoBulls (not signed up yet here or Dkos)


navajo (I don’t live there but have many contacts)

I believe some of you live near rezs, let us know.

It would be nice to eventually have a contact on each rez.

Check in below and feel free to tell us a little about yourself, maybe what state you live in and anything to help us develop an understanding of each other.

Group Name Ideas from 4Freedom:

First Response for First Americans

Americans Support Native Americans

Native Relief

Relief for Native Americans in Need

Helping to Right Centuries of Wrong for Native Americans

Native American Aid Network (NAAN)

The Honor Society for First Americans

Sharing and Caring for Native Americans

Aid for Native Neighbors

Native Aid

The Native American Relief Network (NARN)

We Will Not Forget Our Native Neighbors

Native American Response Network (NARN)

Network for Native American Need (NNAN)

Help Now for Native Americans

First American Relief Effort (FARE)

Emergency Relief for Native Americans (ERNA)

Help for Native Americans

Support for Our Native Brothers and Sisters

American Outreach to Native Americans (AONA)

Americans Reach Out to Native Americans (ARONA)

The Circle of Support for Native Americans (COSNA)

Native Peoples’ Need Network

First American Service Team (FAST)

Group Name Idea from Kimberley:

Serious Reservations

Group Name Idea from Aji:

Sacred Lands

Group Name Ideas from ParkRanger:

Renewing Reservations Netroots

Greening the Rez

Rez Green Energy Renewal Group

Rez Green Energy Group

Sacred Lands Renewal

Sacred Lands Netroots

Sacred Lands Green Energy Transformation

Sacred Lands Green Energy Renewal

Sacred Lands Green Energy Group

MAKE CNN Cover Winter Emergency In Dakotas

( – promoted by navajo)

Here’s what you get if you go to CNN’s website and search for “South Dakota    tribes  state of emergency   winter storms.” Zero.


I have been told that your area news and the National news will not carry the story for my people unless and until CNN carries it. Each day someone has told me they have gone to CNN on Facebook, their website, or called into report our story, since the 12/20/09 State of Emergency was issued.

The Press of the past called for the extermination of the American Indian, and was even upset when Custer was killed.

Peter R Decker’s “The Utes Must Go!

Its title drawn from a newspaper advertisement championing the removal of Utes in the Denver Tribune, “The Utes Must Go!” is a powerful true drama of a proud people who suffered from pioneer settlement and racisim, and who also experienced tragedy from misguided intentions, such as Indian Agent Nathan Meeker’s ill-fated attempt to turn Indian hunters into farmers, which brought about tragedy at Milk Creek in 1879.

New York Herald

Who slew Custer? The celebrated peace policy of General Grant, which feeds, clothes and takes care of the their noncombatant  force while men are killing our troops…the Indian Bureau with its thriving agents and favorites as Indian Traders, and its mock humanity and pretense as piety – that is what killed Custer.

The press of today ignores the American Indian, even when a State of Emergency is declared. See Navajo’sEmergency: Ice Storms Devastate Pine Ridge Reservation and Others,where there are some great ways to help out, please do if you can.

What is CNN’s problem?

I am asking that we all come together TODAY, Friday, January 29th, 2010 at 6pm Atlantic; 5pm Eastern time, 4pm Central, etc. pick up your phone and call the direct line to the CNN News Room at 404-827-2658. Someone needs to post here all phone numbers into CNN. We want to inundate CNN with the voices of people who care and you must be relentless in your call. At the same time we want you to handle an email campaign listed below.

Isn’t this big enough?

Here’s the iReport link Autumn Two Bulls mentions.

At the same time that those of you who can afford to call CNN are calling, to those of you who can multi-task or be online, please go now to cnn . com and click on the iReport button and register. If you are on or near one of the Reservations in South & North Dakota, please upload your pictures – but wait – lets all do this together for three full hours.

If it bleeds it leads, unless it’s concerning the American Indian – Right CNN???

Here’s a long list of people at CNN on twitter; furthermore, Here is CNN on Facebook

Once more, Navajo’sEmergency: Ice Storms Devastate Pine Ridge Reservation and Others has some great ways to help out, please do if you can.

I have to say this in a good way, and I have to be honest. I knew someone from this general area who passed away a few years ago, he helped change my life. He stood up for me when others made fun of me; he gave time he didn’t have to give and taught me some things he didn’t have to. His daughter was going to come see him one year and he was excited and a little apprehensive. She never came that year, the year after was the year he died. If I had to imagine what he’d want me to say now, he wouldn’t want me to keep attacking  CNN – that’d make him uncomfortable. All I know for sure is this: hypothermia kills, and he thought he’d see his daughter the year he died.  There’s some people down there I think I’m going to see again, and I pray for their safety and well being.