By Denis Campbell
As we have seen in the blizzards in Washington and New York 100s of crews of snowploughs and front-end loaders work feverishly to open roads, airports and railway tracks. But, what if you lived in the Cheyenne Sioux Indian Reservation of South Dakota and there were only three snowploughs to clear an area nearly the size of Connecticut?
Most of the reservation is covered with rural 2-lane asphalt and dirt roads that even this meagre snow removal equipment cannot reach because of the drifts. Their only hope is for the temperature to rise above freezing.
If 8,000 telephone poles snapped in Potomac, Westchester, or Greenwich, crews would work 24/7 to restore power. Yet many in the Cheyenne Sioux Reservation have been without power or heat for more than five days. They daily brave temperatures and wind chills of -19◦.
“Many people have died, not only of exposure but of complications from sugar diabetes,” said Russell Means, Chairman of the Lakota Republic. “Diabetes is an epidemic on Indian Reservations,” he continued “and in rural areas of Sioux country the reservations are very isolated.”
We take for granted that the snowploughs will be there to clear our roadways, yet those living on the reservation died because they could not get out of their driveway to transport loved ones to kidney dialysis centres. Heart attacks and exposure claimed even those with cars to transport loved ones, because the snow trapped them in their homes. And forget 911, it does not exist. Nearly everyone is without heat or electricity. Russell Means’ daughter called from her home 200-miles away asking to borrow a generator, but it was stolen.
When asked what the most pressing immediate needs were, his reply was: “come out, come on out, the whole Congress should come and check. We definitely need the funds, The Bureau of Indian Affairs needs the funds, the tribes need the funds just for snow removal and emergency equipment. THAT WOULD SAVE LIVES. Then we need adequate healthcare.”
Generous Americans sent millions to Haiti, New Orleans and Texas when disasters struck sending shockwaves through the media. Yet here is an ongoing, some would say daily, tragedy that affect millions of Americans. They live under the control of a broken federal agency, The Bureau of Indian Affairs, with 85% unemployment, record levels of alcoholism, Type 2 diabetes and unspeakable poverty.
As Keith Olbermann of MSNBC’s Countdown said, “this tragedy is 450 miles from Minneapolis.” Russell Means described it more aptly as “genocide of the Indian people.”
It certainly is, at minimum, gross neglect that entire tribes across massive state-sized territories have people freezing inside their paper thin walled and ill-equipped homes, dying from both exposure and CO2 asphyxiation from bad propane heaters.
Massive Sioux Indian Reservation Battles Snow with 3 Ploughs
Posted on 10 February 2010 by Denis Campbell
Denis Campbell is the American Editor of UK Progressive. He is a political and business pundit contributor to both BBC television and radio. Denis specializes in translating the American electoral and governing process for UK and EU audiences and vice versa, contributing regularly on UK elections and issues to the Huffington Post. He has contributed to newspapers and magazines around the globe. In his “spare” time, he is managing director of Target Point Ltd focused on social media, communication strategy, leveraging technology, corporate change and building world class selling organisations. Denis has lived in the EU since 1998.
In this edition of Weekend Update, Russell Means speaks to the racist portrayals of Indians by Hollywood, the U.S. Government and the media of the left. He speaks as well to the soft racism of exclusion that too often ignores the Indigenous communites of the world and their concerns of their land and their people.
On December 22, 1997 paramilitary (state-trained and state-funded pro-governing party civil defense) forces surrounded a Catholic chapel in the pacifistTsotsil Mayan community of Acteal, Chiapas state, Mexico. During a period of several hours, this armed force, with the apparent consent of local Mexican Army units stationed not far away, proceeded to surround Acteal’s chapel, and shot to death those inside, and as many of those who escaped as they could find. A number of residents survived the massacre. Those murdered on that day included 15 children, 21 women (four of them pregnant) and 9 men.
On June 6, 2009, Police, supplied by the U.S. ‘War Against Drugs, shot dead more than 38 people. The government of Peru ordered for the National Police to attack the Amazonian Indigenous peoples. Civilians were shot from building roofs and helicopters.
Indigenous peoples in Peru were on strike for the previous 52 days protesting against free trade policies that would allow multinationals to take over their territories. The attack occurred around 5:00 AM in the morning, a day after the Congress of Peru decided not to debate one of the most important decrees that allow the sale of Indigenous land. The number of casualities is according to a Twetter sent by a Peruvian journalist who is in the area of Bagua, a city located in the Amazonas region of Peru.
In the first week of February, according to indigenous witnesses, Columbian FARC rebels massacred up to 27 Awa people in the southern Narino province, including women and young children (from ages 3 to 6), bringing the total number of murdered Native people to 50 since the national march in the fall.
FARC press statements have only acknowledged the “execution” of eight indigenous due to their alleged assistance of Columbian military, but witnesses deny that figure and the assertion that the Awa willingly assisted anyone.
The National Indigenous Organization of Columbia, ONIC and regional UNIPA, Indigenous Unity of the Awa People, issued a joint statement the week after the massacre, decrying the murders.
“The UNIPA and ONIC denounce the grave violation of human rights and the collective rights of the Awa people of Narino, which is nothing new. … in the last 10 years [in the AWA territory] there have been four massacres, approximately 200 murders and 50 people affected by antipersonnel mines (land mines). … and now 1,300 Awa people are trapped in the area due to confrontations between the army, the guerillas and the para-militaries.”
Guatemalan Civil War:
In its final report, the Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH- Guatemalan Truth Commission) concluded that army massacres had destroyed 626 villages, more than 200,000 people were killed or disappeared, 1.5 million were displaced by the violence, and more than 150,000 were driven to seek refuge in Mexico. Further, the Commission found the state (funded largely by the United States) responsible for ninety-three percent of the acts of violence and the guerrillas (URNG-Guatemalan Revolutionary Union) responsible for three percent. All told, eighty-three percent of the victims were Maya and seventeen percent were ladino.
Acteal: <em>Originally posted on: http://www.libertadlatina.org/Crisis_Mexico_Chiapas_Acteal_Massacre.htm</em>
On April 2nd, 2009, A jury returned a decision stating that Ward Churchill had been wrongfully fired from his position as a tenured professor at Colorado University. The cause stemmed from the publication of his now infamous essay ‘The Ghosts of 9-1-1: Reflections on History, Justice and Roosting Chickens’. After its initial publication, three years passed until a section of the esay entitled ‘Some People Push Back’ was brought to light by a college newspaper reporter that the essay came under public criticism and caused the circumstances under which Churchill was subsequently fired.
In the full text, Churchill contends that the events of September 11th, 2001 were made inevitable by a foreign policy that puts the rights of corporations inexorably in front of the rights of people, histories or environments, and that the systemic amnesia engendered and perpetuated within the system is its own form of culpability.
Citing the failures of popular movements to cease the sanctions in Iraq during the 1990s, abolish the WTO or its colluding powers at the IMF/World Bank, he charges the left with acquiescing to state powers in deference to that which is comfortable and secure. The phrase, ‘Little Eichmans’ is largely credited for having drawn attention to the essay, a curious objection as the phrase itself was borrowed from a John Zerzan article, published in 1997.
The jury found for Churchill’s suit and held CU liable for the costs of his legal team and an additional one dollar.
The proceedings come at a time of increased scrutinity of college professors. From Norman Finkelstein’s being denied tenure, to Dr. Cornell West’s somewhat fiery departure from Harvard for Princeton, the high halls of academia have held witness to more power struggles than usual of late. The common thread underlying them all though would seem to be a charge of anti-zionism leveled at all the actors involved here. Finkelstein wrote ‘Beyond Ghutspa: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History’ and West chose to leave Harvard after a public row with Larry Summers, a man who equates Anti-Zionism, the refusal of the State of Israel to exist, and Anti-Semitism, the racist bigotry towards a Jewish person. All three, Churchill, Finkelstein and West are all outspoken critics of US Foreign policy, vis-a-vis Palestine. All three have faced massive scrutiny that others in their fields are hardly ever subject to.
The case in point, Churchill was a tenured professor, but was abruptly demonized at the hint of equivalency of complicity of those who oversaw speculative investing and those who who punched tickets for Auschwitz victims. To be sure, there is a very real difference between the two, but what of those who ran the books for the SS? What of those who currently oversee the World Bank funding of dams that have flooded out perhaps 60 million people in India. Tens of thousands of these were farmers who have now committed suicide. What of the one million farmers displaced by US agribusiness in Mexico in the last 8 years who have no choice but to leave their villages and either enter a sweatshop or take the uncertain road north? The US does not send any of these people to be incinerated, but what level of collusion is acceptably equivalent? At what point will the American or even the progressive voices in America cease being voices and become actions in solidarity against such practices? Until Americans, and in particular those Americans who know something is wrong, answer this question, there will continue to be rhetoric, but no response, and the chickens are still out in the field, waiting to come home.
For Churchill, he has been proved triumphant against the school system that fired him. Unrelenting, he is now seeking the school to either reinstate him or award him one million dollars in damages. A Denver District Court Judge will decide within 30 days of the ruling whether additional damages will be awarded.
This week Russell talks to us about self-esteem and how important it is that we rebuild a strong sense of self-worth in the Children now growing up on the Reservations. We are given a first-hand glimpse of how the charitable act of one man really made the day for some kids here at the Porcupine School. He also illustrates the two-faced nature of our sicko, wacked-out USA Government by revealing how the fabulous “new school” is just a fascist coverup for what really goes on here on the Pine Ridge Sioux Indian Reservation.
Why is the USA the way it is? Colonialism! Why are American Indian Reservations in the deplorable state they are? Colonialism! Where are the Global Banking Powers leading the World to?
The (Former) Governor
Takes the Stand
by J. Robert Brown
Former Governor Bill Owens was on the stand for a couple of hours. Not long after the 9/11 essay surfaced, the Governor called on CU to fire Churchill.
David Lane’s main point was to show that the Governor, with line item veto authority over the University of Colorado, applied pressure to get the University to fire Ward Churchill.
The jury heard the former president of CU, Betsy Hoffman, describe a conversation with the Governor where she said he told her to fire Ward Churchill “tomorrow,” that his tone was “threatening,” and that if she didn’t he would “unleash his plan.”
Governor Owens did not specifically recall the conversation but doubted that it was not “in that tenor” and that he did not have a “plan.”
Later, when a partial transcript of an interview on the O’Reilly Factor was put up on the screen, Lane pointed to an exchange where Owens denied he had the authority to fire Churchill but then admitted: “I do have some budget authority over the budget.” Owens declined to admit that this was a threat, noting that its a true statement and repeated over and over that he had actually raised the CU budget during his administration.
On recross, Lane asked whether in fact Governor Owens had a “strategy” for CU if Churchill wasn’t fired. He answered in the negative. Lane then pointed to this exchange on the O’Reilly transcript:
- O’REILLY: One more question for you. You have basically a strategy, and I want to get this right. You’re not going to pay him off, so he’s not going to get the big bucks. You’re going to go through the lengthy process to prove that he did something that you can legitimately fire him [for], and then he goes — “See you.”
- OWENS: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. That process is starting. I think it will ultimately result in him being fired.
The quick denial followed by the reference in the O’Reilly Factor caused a slight stir in the courtroom. Governor Owens then repeated that he didn’t have a strategy and that he was merely acknowledging that based on the evidence that he knew, there was sufficient basis to fire Churchill.
Governor Owens did acknowledge in his testimony that he was glad the University had not heeded his advice and fired Churchill immediately after the 9/11 essay surface.