The National Museum of the American Indian

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Today is the anniversary of the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian in 2004. I attended the opening and walked with over 25,000 other indigenous people in the Native Nations Procession that started the festivities.  My photo collection is here. I don’t live on or near a reservation so it was rewarding to be with so many other people who look like me. Complete strangers would smile at me as I walked around D.C. because we could see that we shared blood, the same cheekbones and dark eyes.

Below I’m going to excerpt some important comments about the opening of the museum and then end with an essay written by my friend, former original AIM organizer and Kossack Carter Camp aka cacamp.

100_0266 It was an extremely hot day to sit in the burning sun but I enjoyed being one of thousands in the huge crowd and listening to all the speakers. Senator Inouye had an important statement:

Speakers included Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), who with [Sen. Ben Nighthorse] Campbell (R-Colo.), sponsored the 1989 legislation passed by Congress that mandated the museum’s construction. It is the Smithsonian’s 18th museum and the first on the Mall since 1987.

Inouye told the crowd that nearly two decades ago he made a discovery about the nation’s capital that inspired him to propose the creation of a museum.

“I couldn’t believe that out of 400 statues and monuments, there was not one for the Native American,” he said. “This monument to the first American is long overdue.”

Most of the comments and reviews about the opening were positive and along the lines of let’s put the history in the past and look forward, American Indians are still here and this museum celebrates that.

But then there was this from the L.A. Times:


The museum was approved by Congress in 1989, the same year the Smithsonian took over George Gustav Heye’s collection in New York. An investment banker who amassed one of the world’s largest collections of Indian artifacts – including Sitting Bull’s war bonnet and a collection of scalps – Heye left objects that date back more than 10,000 years and form the heart of the new collection. The Smithsonian umbrella covers not only the new museum and the George Gustav Heye Center, a permanent museum in Lower Manhattan, but also the Cultural Resources Center, a research and collections facility in Suitland, Md.

Almost 90% of the new museum’s holdings comes from Heye, who collected from native communities in the first half of the 20th century. Because some of his acquisitions were less than scrupulous, the museum has placed “our highest priority” on repatriation of human remains, such as war-trophy scalps and bones, said Pepper Henry.

A full-time staff of four is charged with researching the collections to see if human remains, sacred and ceremonial objects or other important cultural artifacts should be returned. Pepper Henry said that since the museum staff first began working in 1990, more than 2,000 objects have been returned to 100 native communities throughout the hemisphere.

The essay below was written by Carter Camp aka cacamp. In 1973, Carter was one of the original organizers of AIM, he was in charge of Military Operations in the take over of Wounded Knee. They held Wounded Knee for more than 70 days and brought important national and international media attention to the current American Indian issues. (An aside; Meteor Blades was at the take over for 51 days.)

I have Carter’s permission to post in full.


HIDING GENOCIDE: The National Museum of the American Indian

By Carter Camp

There is an enormous cultural rip-off being foisted upon our Nations by Washington D.C. I’ve warned of it before, but a small voice is easily drowned out when millions of dollars are being spent and the voice of the Great White Father anoints Indian leaders.

IMG_2793For a decade or more the Smithsonian fundraising machine has gone merrily along, draining much needed funds away from the Indian community and diverting America’s attention away from the economic, cultural and legal devastation going on across our homelands. Many interest groups coveted the final two vacant spaces on the National Mall. Congress in its wisdom awarded one site to a very politically powerful (and deserving) Jewish applicant and another to the very politically powerful Smithsonian Institution, their ‘keeper of the loot’.

Contrast the two new museums and you can see how they are used to support a conqueror’s cleansed view of history: For the Jewish museum no thought at all was given to using it to show the world ancient Jewish culture and artifacts. They could have displayed scenes of ancient Jewish life: hunting, tanning hides and pastoral living. Like an Indian museum, it would have been beautiful and easy for people to enjoy.

IMG_2796It wasn’t done that way for one reason…The Jewish people were in charge and they decided for themselves what aspect of their history to show the world. They decided with one voice to use the rare space as a shield to protect their people against a repeat of the Nazi holocaust. Jewish politicians funded and protected Jewish intellectuals, artists, historians, Rabbis, and survivors as they crafted a way to commemorate their dead and to use their past to protect their future. They refused to allow the dreams of others to distort the truth of their horror, and now their museum is a powerful testament to a Jewish dream, not a gentile revision of reality. Our space, and the world’s window to our Nations, was turned over to the Smithsonian Institution to enshrine the lie of ‘manifest destiny’ and the historical inevitability of the American Holocaust.

America’s museums have always been a prime purveyor of the big lies of American history, now the largest and worst is given an army of non-Indian historians, anthros, romance writers and a couple of Indian scouts, to define us to the world.

IMG_2792THEY decided with one voice NOT to use our rare and precious space as a shield of truth against the American Holocaust or to prevent the conclusion of its evil purpose against my people. We still die, our sacred sites are paved over, our dead dug up, our children stolen and mis-educated. Missionaries search the jungle for the last of us.

American’s sensibilities are being spared at the cost of continuing depredations against Indian people. Americans will go to the Holocaust Museum and be told the horrible truths of what Hitler and the Nazi’s did to the Jews. They will cry for the victims and mourn with the survivors, in the end they too will be determined to protect the Jewish people from a repeat of the Holocaust. All thinking people support this. They will also be comforted (and exempted) to know that America defeated the Nazi, stopped the killing, and helped Jews return to their homeland. Next, Americans can walk over to the museum of ‘Indian’ history.

They will be amazed and pleased at the beauty of our past. Scenes of tipis, tanning hides and pastoral living will hide the blood covering every-square-inch of America. Our blood. They will go home marveling at our ancient art and beauty and a little sad we had to pass into history.

IMG_2804They may even feel a twinge of guilt at the part their ancestors played in our demise. But they will go away without seeing or knowing the “time of horror” each and every Tribe went through upon contact with the European. They will go home without realizing how much of the slaughter was an officially inspired, government planned, and racist policy of genocide. They will not realize the depth of the crime committed so they will not understand the crimes being committed today or the need for reparations to heal the devastation. They will not understand that there were entire Societies for whom the “final solution” worked.

Entire Tribes, as whole and complete as the Jewish Tribes, were completely erased from Mother Earth. Their language will never be heard, their poetry, music, science and art is lost to the world because they met a people who believed in their own, god given, superiority and the inferiority of all else. (The base cause of all genocide.) They will go home without feeling the need to help Indian Nations secure their own homelands or becoming determined there never is another American Holocaust.

IMG_2811Worst of all, they will go home and not know that our people still suffer ongoing policies of genocide and attacks on our existence. Missionaries and Governments still work and plan to erase us from the face of our Mother Earth. Indian Country, from the Artic to Antarctica, is still awash in the blood of our People.

Should American Indians be suspicious about the placement and content of these two Museums? Jew and “Indian?” Did it take some C.I.A. psy-war expert to figure out how best to cover-up the murder of over 200 million people? Will this museum, with a mere nod to the 500-year holocaust, stand as the permanent enshrinement of the American lie and the final resting place of Indian history? I believe there should be a holocaust museum on America’s National Mall, in America’s Capitol city. But not one of the European disasters. It must be a Bright Red Museum of the American Holocaust! It must call the roll of entire Nations of beautiful people who succumbed to the genocidal onslaught.

“IT MUST BEGIN OUR TIME OF MOURNING BY ENDING OUR TIME OF FEAR”

…for all my relations.

I remember the international news coverage of Australia apologizing in Parliament to the Aboriginal people for “laws and policies that inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss” in 2008?

(For further reading see The Stolen Generation.)

A few months later Canada follows suit and in the House of Commons the Prime Minister says:

“Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country,” he said to applause.

“The government now recognizes that the consequences of the Indian residential schools policy were profoundly negative and that this policy has had a lasting and damaging impact on aboriginal culture, heritage and language,” Harper said.

On Dec. 19, 2010 President Obama signed off on the Native American Apology Resolution but the White House drew no attention to it.

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., originally introduced the measure intending “to officially apologize for the past ill-conceived policies by the U.S. government toward the Native peoples of this land and re-affirm our commitment toward healing our nation’s wounds and working toward establishing better relationships rooted in reconciliation.” His bill passed the Senate in 2008 and 2009.

The version signed by Obama became watered down, not making a direct apology from the government, but rather apologizing “on behalf of the people of the United States to all Native peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted on Native peoples by citizens of the United States.”

The resolution also includes a disclaimer: Nothing in it authorizes or supports any legal claims against the United States, and the resolution does not settle any claims.

An official apology to the first inhabitants of these United States is important but apologies are not enough.

The museum cost $219 million.  The museum does a lot of good but I’m conflicted when I see and read about the suffering and despair on our reservations today. It’s obvious that millions of dollars are needed on our reservations for proper housing, schools, power and water systems to build our people back up. These were promises made to our tribes in exchange for land and other things decades ago. It is common knowledge that these treaties have not been honored.

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“Remembering Wounded Knee 1973” by Carter Camp

Wounded Knee 1973, a remembrance


Ah-ho My Relations,

Each year with the changing of the season I post this rememberance of Wounded Knee 73. I wrote it a few years ago when some of our brave people had walked to Yellowstone to stop the slaughter of our Buffalo relations. When I did I was surprised at the response from people who were too young to remember WK’73 and I was pleased that some old WK vets wrote to me afterwards. So each year on this date I post the short story again and invite you-all to send it around or use as you will.

As you do I ask you to remember that our reasons for going to Wounded Knee still exist and that means the need for struggle and resistance also still exist. Our land and sacred sites are threatened as never before even our sacred Mother herself is faced with unnatural warming caused by extreme greed.

In some areas of conflict between our people and those we signed treaties with, it is best to negotiate or “work within the system” but, because our struggle is one of survival, there are also times when a warrior must stand fast even at the risk of one’s life. I believed that in 1973 when I was thirty and I believe it today in my sixties. But to me Wounded Knee 73 was really not about the fight , it was about the strong statement that our traditional way of living in this world is not about to disappear and our people are not a “vanishing race” as wasicu education would have you believe. As time has passed and I see so many of our young people taking part in a traditional way of living and believing I know our fight was worth it and those we lost for our movement died worthy deaths.

Carter Camp 2010


“Remembering Wounded Knee 1973”

Ah-ho My Relations,

Today is heavy with prayer and reminisces for me.  Not only are those who walk for the Yellowstone Buffalo reaching their destination, today is the anniversary of the night when, at the direction of the Oglala Chiefs, I went with a special squad of warriors to liberate Wounded Knee in advance of the main AIM caravan.

For security reasons the people had been told everyone was going to a meeting/wacipi in Porcupine, the road goes through Wounded Knee. When the People arrived at the Trading Post we had already set up a perimeter, taken eleven hostages, run the B.I.A. cops out of town, cut most phone lines, and began 73 days of the best, most free time of my life. The honor of being chosen to go first still lives strong in my heart.

That night we had no idea what fate awaited us.  It was a cold night with not much moonlight and I clearly remember the nervous anticipation I felt as we drove the back-way from Oglala into Wounded Knee.  The Chiefs had tasked me with a mission and we were sworn to succeed, of that I was sure, but I couldn’t help wondering if we were prepared.  The FBI, BIA and Marshalls had fortified Pine Ridge with machine gun bunkers and A.P.C.s with M-60’s.  They had unleashed the goon squad on the people and a reign of terror had begun, we knew we had to fight but we could not fight on wasicu terms.  We were lightly armed and dependent on the weapons and ammo inside the Wounded Knee trading post, I worried that we would not get to them before the shooting started.

As we stared silently into the darkness driving into the hamlet I tried to forsee what opposition we would encounter and how to neutralize it… We were approaching a sacred place and each of us knew it.  We could feel it deep inside.  As a warrior leading warriors I humbly prayed to Wakonda for the lives of all and the wisdom to do things right.  Never before or since have I offered my tobacco with such a plea nor put on my feathers with such purpose.  It was the birth of the Independent Oglala Nation.

Things went well for us that night, we accomplished our task without loss of life. Then, in the cold darkness as we waited for Dennis and Russ to bring in the caravan (or for the fight to start), I stood on the bank of the shallow ravine where our people had been murdered by Custers’ 7th Cavalry.  There I prayed for the defenseless ones, torn apart by Hotchkiss cannon and trampled under hooves of steel by drunken wasicu.  I could feel the touch of their spirits as I eased quietly into the gully and stood silently… waiting for my future, touching my past.

Finally, I bent over and picked a sprig of sage – whose ancestors in 1890 had been nourished by the blood of Red babies, ripped from their mothers dying grasp and bayonetted by the evil ones. As I washed myself with that sacred herb I became cold in my determination and cleansed of fear.  I looked for Big Foot and YellowBird in the darkness and I said aloud — “We are back my relations, we are home”. Hoka-Hey

Carter Camp- Ponca Nation AIM

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Carter Camp’s Update On His Son :: UPDATED 2x

( – promoted by navajo)

For those of you who are interested our friend Carter Camp’s son has been seriously injured in a car accident.  Carter and his wife Linda traveled from Rose Bud Reservation to the Kansas Hospital to be with Ahmbaska.

Carter’s update:

:: Published with permission ::

—– Original Message —–

From: Carter Camp

To:  

Sent: Friday, October 03, 2008 6:43 PM

Subject: Fw: update on Ahmbaska

Neeta, my son was in a car wreck so I’m down in Kansas for awhile. Here’s an update I sent out to some people. Carter

— On Fri, 10/3/08, Carter Camp wrote:

Ah-ho my Friends and Relations,

This is to update you all on my son Ahmbaska’s condition etc. There has been an out pouring of love and concern since his accident, so many that I haven’t had time to answer folks. First for those who haven’t heard; my son Ahmbaska was involved in a very bad auto accident down in Oklahoma.

He was thrown from the car and suffered severe injuries the worst of which is a head injury which required an operation to relieve pressure from his brain, he also suffered broken ribs, ankle, and a cracked shoulder blade. The head injury is the worst of course. He was life-flighted from Ponca to Wichita, Kansas to the Wesley Medical Center where the brain surgery was done.

Since the accident last weekend he has been kept in a drug induced coma while his swelling goes down. The good news is that the operation went well and Ahmbaska is doing better. He is now able to recognize us and move his arms and legs on command. The surgeon tells us he is a remarkably strong young man and is doing better than expected.

I attribute that to so many prayers and good wishes that have been sent to us from around the country and world. His Mom and I have been pleasantly surprised at how fast word of his injury spread throughout Indian Country and by how many people have taken it upon themselves to pray for us and help us out in our time of dire need.

Kind people also from Canada, Mexico and even France have joined us in praying for our boy and I truly believe it has made all the difference. As some of you know, old activists don’t have any retirement plan so coming when it did this accident put quite a strain on my wife and I but good people like my brother Gene McCowan help provide us enough gas money to get from Rosebud to Wichita and my nephews kindly drove from Oklahoma to pick me up and take us down to the hospital. Others have had ceremonies for us on their own and did things for his healing that I’ll probably never be able to thank them for, but I want to tell you all that every prayer and good thought has been received by Ahmbaska, I know they have because he has defied the odds and come out of that critical time with hope for recovery.

He’s still in the Surgical ICU but each day brings some improvement and he’s battling for his life like a Sundancer should. I thank each and every one of you from the very bottom of my heart. The next few weeks Linda and I will have to remain in Kansas and take care of him during a long convalescence before he’ll be released to go home.

So far we haven’t left the hospital but many family and friends have made their way here to help out and we’re glad Chief Crowdog is on his way to help too. As I said there has been so many messages I can’t answer them all right now(I’m using a hospital computer when I step away from his bed) so I hope this update can take the place of my personal thank you (Weebla-ha) and that of my wife Linda.

Again Ahmbaska is getting better every day and we hope that Wakonda will see fit to return him to us whole and strong once more… and that it will be soon. I love you my people, my friends, my loved ones. One day maybe I can return some of the kindness you have shown me during this hard time in my life.

ight now I humbly ask that you continue your prayers on his behalf. They are working.

I say this,

For All My Relations,

Carter Camp

cartercamp@yahoo.com  

If you feel like helping there’s more below:

Many of you know Carter Camp’s history but for those of you who don’t here is a very short bit of his history:

Carter Camp was one of the original AIM organizers. In 1973 he was directly in charge of the military action group that went in advance of the main group to take over Wounded Knee.  He and his group took 11 hostages, safely, I believe most were released. They held Wounded Knee for 71 days and brought much needed attention to the horrible police state that the reservation was trying to survive under. Not only that but attention was brought to other Indian issues that were consistently being ignored by government.   AIM helped bring more Indian issues into the National and International news coverage.

Since then Carter has continued his Indian activism by organizing various groups like the one that is currently trying to protect the sacred Bear Butte from development.

As some of you know, old activists don’t have any retirement plan so coming when it did this accident put quite a strain on my wife and I but good people like my brother Gene McCowan help provide us enough gas money to get from Rosebud to Wichita and my nephews kindly drove from Oklahoma to pick me up and take us down to the hospital.

This excert above from Carter’s update spoke to me and I would like to give something back to a true warrior who has helped all of us with his activism.

I asked to mail a little financial help to Carter and his family.  He responded with an address.

If you would like to help also you can mail a money order or check to:

Ahmbaska Camp,

c/o Carter Camp, Room 1018,

Wesley Medical Center,

550 N. Hillside,

Wichita, Kansas 67214-4976.

Please make the check out to Linda Camp (since she is the brains of the family…I’m told)

Also if you are tapped out like many are during this donation season I am sure get well cards would be welcomed also.

And if you encounter anyone in the threads at DailyKos that might want to help please link to this diary.  

Thanks everyone!

Carter,  Our positive energy and blessings are being directed to you and your family, particularly Ahmbaska.  We look forward to your next update.

Update 11/6/2008:

Ah-ho My Relations,

 I wanted to write this update about Ahmbaska just before what we hope is his final operation. Since the last update I wrote Linda and I have stayed here in the hospital with Ahmby. It has been a long five weeks but the reward has been watching my son overcome in his fight for life and grow stronger every day. For the first couple of weeks it was touch and go, he could have died from his injuries then and I didn’t want to leave his side for a moment. His head and brain were swollen and he was kept under sedation in a drug induced coma until the swelling could go down and he could heal somewhat. It worked and after two weeks they began to bring him up to consciousness every day to test his reactions and progress. Slowly but surly he improved until one by one they could take him off the various machines they were using to keep him alive. Tubes were removed and the biggie, his “ventilator” was finally taken off and he began to breath on his own. After that he was moved from the surgical ICU up to the intermediate care unit.

That was a big step for him (and us) and then we finally knew he was going to recover from his wounds. Then we had a setback, the surgery to replace his skull-piece failed because his brain re swelled when he was under sedation and it couldn’t be done. Now it was back to the S-ICU and we began our journey all over again. This time wasn’t as life threatening and after a few days he was moved up to the IMU again and began his recovery and healing. His head healed just fine again and he began therapy once again.

Here’s the good news… Ahmbaska has regained all his mental faculties and has regained the full use of his arms and legs even though they are weak from being in bed for so long! I’m very happy to report that to all of you because I know everyone has been worried about how he would be post-surgery. Except for the accident itself, which remains fuzzy to him, his memory seems fine and he talks and thinks just fine also.

You guys know me and that I’m a believer in prayer so I truly believe that all of you, your prayers, thoughts and best wishes had a big effect on Ahmby’s recovery. So many of you called and wrote about the ceremonies and prayers you were having on our behalf, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for each and every one. Some of the local skins here in Wichita fixed up a sweat lodge for me and allowed me to have some Inipi for him. This was a big thing to Linda and I as it gave us a place to pray too. I’m eternally grateful to everyone for all these efforts on our behalf, I hope one day I’ll be able to shake each and every one of your hands and tell you personally how much you helped us get through this hard time.

On the more mundane side some of you have seen fit to help us out with money so we could stay here in a town where we have no support system or place to stay. You know, even though we had a cot in Ahmby’s room we still had to eat a big mac every once in  awhile:) and we had to buy the necessities of living for this past five or six weeks. Like everyone I hate to ask anyone for money or make a big deal of my needs, with good friends and family like you all I didn’t have to, you took it upon yourselves to help and I truly appreciate your thoughtfulness. Without that and the support from our families Linda and I would have had a very hard time of it. We still have those needs and I’ll put our address at the bottom of this update in case you care to help once more.

Today, this evening, Ahmbaska is going into surgery for another try at replacing his skull part which should finish his surgery and clear the way for him to be released from the hospital soon. He may have to go to a rehab place for awhile but we look forward to that part of the recovery. So I’m asking you all once more for your prayers and kind thoughts for my son. Shortly after sundown we’ll be praying together as he is taken in for the operation and I know if you’ll join me it will all come out ok and he’ll begin his final road to good health.

Weebla-ha means thank you in my Ponca language, Wopila in Lakota. So I say WEEBLA-HA to all of you who have helped us through our trying time. Wopila for your powerful prayers and kind feelings for my son. On behalf of Linda and our whole family…

I remain your friend and relative, Carter Camp.

The address here is…  Ahmbaska Camp, c/o Carter Camp, Room 1018, Wesley Medical Center, 550 N. Hillside, Wichita, Kansas 67214-4976.

Update: 11/18/2008

Ahmbaska is being released from the hospital today.

Ah-ho navajo, we’re now at a friends apartment in Wichita, it sure feels good to be out of there even though Ahmby has slept most of the time he’s been here. He still needs some rehab and another operation in three months to replace the piece of skull they took out. He’s shocked at how he looks with that portion of his head sunk in but he looks damn good to me compared to what he looked like that first night….(snip)…mention that Ahmbaska is better and being released… after 54 days here, damn, it seems like a dream, from the fear of those first days until the relief of these final days in the hospital and watching them wheel him out today. It’ll be nice to resume my life soon. We’ll drive up to Rosebud tomorrow.  

If you’d like to help Carter with these unplanned for expenses his addy is:

Carter Camp

P.O. Box 1012

Rosebud S.D.   57570