T.R.E.A.T.Y. Strategic Planning

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The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak

March 10, 2009 by Russell Means Freedom  
Filed under News

Russell Means:

“Hau Mi Kola (Hello My Friends).  The following missive which I am forwarding to you all, is nothing more than a mirror and this is for those that can think critically.”

Mitaku Oyasin
(we are all related)

The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak

[Note to TomDispatch Readers: This week, the website Foreign Policy In Focus, whose work I greatly admire and whose co-director John Feffer is a TomDispatch regular, will be using this piece to kick off its new strategic focus on empire. FPIF will be exploring the question of whether the Obama administration is likely to wind down our empire or will simply try to implement a somewhat kinder and gentler version of the same. Its weekly e-newsletter, World Beat, is particularly useful and can be subscribed to by clicking here. Tom]

The Imperial Unconscious

Afghan Faces, Predators, Reapers, Terrorist Stars, Roman Conquerors, Imperial Graveyards, and Other Oddities of the Truncated American Century By Tom Engelhardt

Sometimes, it’s the everyday things, the ones that fly below the radar, that matter.

Here, according to Bloomberg News, is part of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s recent testimony on the Afghan War before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

“U.S. goals in Afghanistan must be ‘modest, realistic,’ and ‘above all, there must be an Afghan face on this war,’ Gates said. ‘The Afghan people must believe this is their war and we are there to help them. If they think we are there for our own purposes, then we will go the way of every other foreign army that has been in Afghanistan.’”

Now, in our world, a statement like this seems so obvious, so reasonable as to be beyond comment. And yet, stop a moment and think about this part of it: “there must be an Afghan face on this war.” U.S. military and civilian officials used an equivalent phrase in 2005-2006 when things were going really, really wrong in Iraq. It was then commonplace — and no less unremarked upon — for them to urgently suggest that an “Iraqi face” be put on events there.

Evidently back in vogue for a different war, the phrase is revelatory — and oddly blunt. As an image, there’s really only one way to understand it (not that anyone here stops to do so). After all, what does it mean to “put a face” on something that assumedly already has a face? In this case, it has to mean putting an Afghan mask over what we know to be the actual “face” of the Afghan War — ours — a foreign face that men like Gates recognize, quite correctly, is not the one most Afghans want to see. It’s hardly surprising that the Secretary of Defense would pick up such a phrase, part of Washington’s everyday arsenal of words and images when it comes to geopolitics, power, and war.

And yet, make no mistake, this is Empire-speak, American-style. It’s the language — behind which lies a deeper structure of argument and thought — that is essential to Washington’s vision of itself as a planet-straddling goliath. Think of that “Afghan face”/mask, in fact, as part of the flotsam and jetsam that regularly bubbles up from the American imperial unconscious.

Of course, words create realities even though such language, in all its strangeness, essentially passes unnoticed here. Largely uncommented upon, it helps normalize American practices in the world, comfortably shielding us from certain global realities; but it also has the potential to blind us to those realities, which, in perilous times, can be dangerous indeed. So let’s consider just a few entries in what might be thought of as The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak.

War Hidden in Plain Sight: There has recently been much reporting on, and even some debate here about, the efficacy of the Obama administration’s decision to increase the intensity of CIA missile attacks from drone aircraft in what Washington, in a newly coined neologism reflecting a widening war, now calls “Af-Pak” — the Pashtun tribal borderlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Since August 2008, more than 30 such missile attacks have been launched on the Pakistani side of that border against suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban targets. The pace of attacks has actually risen since Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, as have casualties from the missile strikes, as well as popular outrage in Pakistan over the attacks.

Thanks to Senator Diane Feinstein, we also know that, despite strong official Pakistani government protests, someone official in that country is doing more than looking the other way while they occur. As the Senator revealed recently, at least some of the CIA’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) cruising the skies over Af-Pak are evidently stationed at Pakistani bases. We learned recently as well that American Special Operations units are now regularly making forays inside Pakistan “primarily to gather intelligence”; that a unit of 70 American Special Forces advisors, a “secret task force, overseen by the United States Central Command and Special Operations Command,” is now aiding and training Pakistani Army and Frontier Corps paramilitary troops, again inside Pakistan; and that, despite (or perhaps, in part, because of) these American efforts, the influence of the Pakistani Taliban is actually expanding, even as Pakistan threatens to melt down.

Mystifyingly enough, however, this Pakistani part of the American war in Afghanistan is still referred to in major U.S. papers as a “covert war.” As news about it pours out, who it’s being hidden from is one of those questions no one bothers to ask.

On February 20th, the New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti and David E. Sanger typically wrote:

“With two missile strikes over the past week, the Obama administration has expanded the covert war run by the Central Intelligence Agency inside Pakistan, attacking a militant network seeking to topple the Pakistani government… Under standard policy for covert operations, the C.I.A. strikes inside Pakistan have not been publicly acknowledged either by the Obama administration or the Bush administration.”

On February 25th, Mazzetti and Helene Cooper reported that new CIA head Leon Panetta essentially bragged to reporters that “the agency’s campaign against militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas was the ‘most effective weapon’ the Obama administration had to combat Al Qaeda’s top leadership… Mr. Panetta stopped short of directly acknowledging the missile strikes, but he said that ‘operational efforts’ focusing on Qaeda leaders had been successful.” Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal reported the next day that Panetta said the attacks are “probably the most effective weapon we have to try to disrupt al Qaeda right now.” She added, “Mr. Obama and National Security Adviser James Jones have strongly endorsed their use, [Panetta] said.”

Uh, covert war? These “covert” “operational efforts” have been front-page news in the Pakistani press for months, they were part of the U.S. presidential campaign debates, and they certainly can’t be a secret for the Pashtuns in those border areas who must see drone aircraft overhead relatively regularly, or experience the missiles arriving in their neighborhoods.

In the U.S., “covert war” has long been a term for wars like the U.S.-backed Contra War against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in the 1980s, which were openly discussed, debated, and often lauded in this country. To a large extent, when aspects of these wars have actually been “covert” — that is, purposely hidden from anyone — it has been from the American public, not the enemies being warred upon. At the very least, however, such language, however threadbare, offers official Washington a kind of “plausible deniability” when it comes to thinking about what kind of an “American face” we present to the world.

Imperial Naming Practices: In our press, anonymous U.S. officials now point with pride to the increasing “precision” and “accuracy” of those drone missile attacks in taking out Taliban or al-Qaeda figures without (supposedly) taking out the tribespeople who live in the same villages or neighboring compounds. Such pieces lend our air war an almost sterile quality. They tend to emphasize the extraordinary lengths to which planners go to avoid “collateral damage.” To many Americans, it must then seem strange, even irrational, that perfectly non-fundamentalist Pakistanis should be quite so outraged about attacks aimed at the world’s worst terrorists.

On the other hand, consider for a moment the names of those drones now regularly in the skies over “Pashtunistan.” These are no less regularly published in our press to no comment at all. The most basic of the armed drones goes by the name of Predator, a moniker which might as well have come directly from those nightmarish sci-fi movies about an alien that feasts on humans. Undoubtedly, however, it was used in the way Col. Michael Steele of the 101st Airborne Division meant it when he exhorted his brigade deploying to Iraq (according to Thomas E. Ricks’ new book The Gamble) to remember: “You’re the predator.”

The Predator drone is armed with “only” two missiles. The more advanced drone, originally called the Predator B, now being deployed to the skies over Af-Pak, has been dubbed the Reaper — as in the Grim Reaper. Now, there’s only one thing such a “hunter-killer UAV” could be reaping, and you know just what that is: lives. It can be armed with up to 14 missiles (or four missiles and two 500-pound bombs), which means it packs quite a deadly wallop.

Oh, by the way, those missiles are named as well. They’re Hellfire missiles. So, if you want to consider the nature of this covert war in terms of names alone: Predators and Reapers are bringing down the fire from some satanic hell upon the peasants, fundamentalist guerrillas, and terrorists of the Af-Pak border regions.

In Washington, when the Af-Pak War is discussed, it’s in the bloodless, bureaucratic language of “global counterinsurgency” or “irregular warfare” (IW), of “soft power,” “hard power,” and “smart power.” But flying over the Pashtun wildlands is the blunt-edged face of predation and death, ready at a moment’s notice to deliver hellfire to those below.

Imperial Arguments: Let’s pursue this just a little further. Faced with rising numbers of civilian casualties from U.S. and NATO air strikes in Afghanistan and an increasingly outraged Afghan public, American officials tend to place the blame for most sky-borne “collateral damage” squarely on the Taliban. As Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen bluntly explained recently, “[T]he enemy hides behind civilians.” Hence, so this Empire-speak argument goes, dead civilians are actually the Taliban’s doing.

U.S. military and civilian spokespeople have long accused Taliban guerrillas of using civilians as “shields,” or even of purposely luring devastating air strikes down on Afghan wedding parties to create civilian casualties and so inflame the sensibilities of rural Afghanistan. This commonplace argument has two key features: a claim that they made us do it (kill civilians) and the implication that the Taliban fighters “hiding” among innocent villagers or wedding revelers are so many cowards, willing to put their fellow Pashtuns at risk rather than come out and fight like men — and, of course, given the firepower arrayed against them, die.

The U.S. media regularly records this argument without reflecting on it. In this country, in fact, the evil of combatants “hiding” among civilians seems so self-evident, especially given the larger evil of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, that no one thinks twice about it.

And yet like so much of Empire-speak on a one-way planet, this argument is distinctly uni-directional. What’s good for the guerrilla goose, so to speak, is inapplicable to the imperial gander. To illustrate, consider the American “pilots” flying those unmanned Predators and Reapers. We don’t know exactly where all of them are (other than not in the drones), but some are certainly at Nellis Air Force Base just outside Las Vegas.

In other words, were the Taliban guerrillas to leave the protection of those civilians and come out into the open, there would be no enemy to fight in the usual sense, not even a predatory one. The pilot firing that Hellfire missile into some Pakistani border village or compound is, after all, using the UAV’s cameras, including by next year a new system hair-raisingly dubbed “Gorgon Stare,” to locate his target and then, via console, as in a single-shooter video game, firing the missile, possibly from many thousands of miles away.

And yet nowhere in our world will you find anyone making the argument that those pilots are in “hiding” like so many cowards. Such a thought seems absurd to us, as it would if it were applied to the F-18 pilots taking off from aircraft carriers off the Afghan coast or the B-1 pilots flying out of unnamed Middle Eastern bases or the Indian Ocean island base of Diego Garcia. And yet, whatever those pilots may do in Afghan skies, unless they experience a mechanical malfunction, they are in no more danger than if they, too, were somewhere outside Las Vegas. In the last seven years, a few helicopters, but no planes, have gone down in Afghanistan.

When the Afghan mujahedeen fought the Soviets in the 1980s, the CIA supplied them with hand-held Stinger missiles, the most advanced surface-to-air missile in the U.S. arsenal, and they did indeed start knocking Soviet helicopters and planes out of the skies (which proved the beginning of the end for the Russians). The Afghan or Pakistani Taliban or al-Qaeda terrorists have no such capability today, which means, if you think about it, that what we here imagine as an “air war” involves none of the dangers we would normally associate with war. Looked at in another light, those missile strikes and bombings are really one-way acts of slaughter.

The Taliban’s tactics are, of course, the essence of guerrilla warfare, which always involves an asymmetrical battle against more powerful armies and weaponry, and which, if successful, always depends on the ability of the guerrilla to blend into the environment, natural and human, or, as Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong so famously put it, to “swim” in the “sea of the people.”

If you imagine your enemy simply using the villagers of Afghanistan as “shields” or “hiding” like so many cowards among them, you are speaking the language of imperial power but also blinding yourself (or the American public) to the actual realities of the war you’re fighting.

Imperial Jokes: In October 2008, Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, refused to renew the U.S. lease at Manta Air Base, one of at least 761 foreign bases, macro to micro, that the U.S. garrisons worldwide. Correa reportedly said: “We’ll renew the base on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami — an Ecuadorean base. If there’s no problem having foreign soldiers on a country’s soil, surely they’ll let us have an Ecuadorean base in the United States.”

This qualifies as an anti-imperial joke. The “leftist” president of Ecuador was doing no more than tweaking the nose of goliath. An Ecuadorian base in Miami? Absurd. No one on the planet could take such a suggestion seriously.

On the other hand, when it comes to the U.S. having a major base in Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian land that not one in a million Americans has ever heard of, that’s no laughing matter. After all, Washington has been paying $20 million a year in direct rent for the use of that country’s Manas Air Base (and, as indirect rent, another $80 million has gone to various Kyrgyzstani programs). As late as last October, the Pentagon was planning to sink another $100 million into construction at Manas “to expand aircraft parking areas at the base and provide a ‘hot cargo pad’ — an area safe enough to load and unload hazardous and explosive cargo — to be located away from inhabited facilities.” That, however, was when things started to go wrong. Now, Kyrgyzstan’s parliament has voted to expel the U.S. from Manas within six months, a serious blow to our resupply efforts for the Afghan War. More outrageous yet to Washington, the Kyrgyzstanis seem to have done this at the bidding of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has the nerve to want to reestablish a Russian sphere of influence in what used to be the borderlands of the old Soviet Union.

Put in a nutshell, despite the crumbling U.S. economic situation and the rising costs of the Afghan War, we still act as if we live on a one-way planet. Some country demanding a base in the U.S.? That’s a joke or an insult, while the U.S. potentially gaining or losing a base almost anywhere on the planet may be an insult, but it’s never a laughing matter.

Imperial Thought: Recently, to justify those missile attacks in Pakistan, U.S. officials have been leaking details on the program’s “successes” to reporters. Anonymous officials have offered the “possibly wishful estimate” that the CIA “covert war” has led to the deaths (or capture) of 11 of al Qaeda’s top 20 commanders, including, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report, “Abu Layth al-Libi, whom U.S. officials described as ‘a rising star’ in the group.”

“Rising star” is such an American phrase, melding as it does imagined terror hierarchies with the lingo of celebrity tabloids. In fact, one problem with Empire-speak, and imperial thought more generally, is the way it prevents imperial officials from imagining a world not in their own image. So it’s not surprising that, despite their best efforts, they regularly conjure up their enemies as a warped version of themselves — hierarchical, overly reliant on leaders, and top heavy.

In the Vietnam era, for instance, American officials spent a remarkable amount of effort sending troops to search for, and planes to bomb, the border sanctuaries of Cambodia and Laos on a fruitless hunt for COSVN (the so-called Central Office for South Vietnam), the supposed nerve center of the communist enemy, aka “the bamboo Pentagon.” Of course, it wasn’t there to be found, except in Washington’s imperial imagination.

In the Af-Pak “theater,” we may be seeing a similar phenomenon. Underpinning the CIA killer-drone program is a belief that the key to combating al-Qaeda (and possibly the Taliban) is destroying its leadership one by one. As key Pakistani officials have tried to explain, the missile attacks, which have indeed killed some al-Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban figures (as well as whoever was in their vicinity), are distinctly counterproductive. The deaths of those figures in no way compensates for the outrage, the destabilization, the radicalization that the attacks engender in the region. They may, in fact, be functionally strengthening each of those movements.

What it’s hard for Washington to grasp is this: “decapitation,” to use another American imperial term, is not a particularly effective strategy with a decentralized guerrilla or terror organization. The fact is a headless guerrilla movement is nowhere near as brainless or helpless as a headless Washington would be.

Only recently, Eric Schmitt and Jane Perlez of the New York Times reported that, while top U.S. officials were exhibiting optimism about the effectiveness of the missile strikes, Pakistani officials were pointing to “ominous signs of Al Qaeda’s resilience” and suggesting “that Al Qaeda was replenishing killed fighters and midlevel leaders with less experienced but more hard-core militants, who are considered more dangerous because they have fewer allegiances to local Pakistani tribes… The Pakistani intelligence assessment found that Al Qaeda had adapted to the blows to its command structure by shifting ‘to conduct decentralized operations under small but well-organized regional groups’ within Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Imperial Dreams and Nightmares: Americans have rarely liked to think of themselves as “imperial,” so what is it about Rome in these last years? First, the neocons, in the flush of seeming victory in 2002-2003 began to imagine the U.S. as a “new Rome” (or new British Empire), or as Charles Krauthammer wrote as early as February 2001 in Time Magazine, “America is no mere international citizen. It is the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome.”

All roads on this planet, they were then convinced, led ineluctably to Washington. Now, of course, they visibly don’t, and the imperial bragging about surpassing the Roman or British empires has long since faded away. When it comes to the Afghan War, in fact, those (resupply) “roads” seem to lead, embarrassingly enough, through Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, and Iran. But the comparison to conquering Rome evidently remains on the brain.

When, for instance, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post recently, drumming up support for the revised, age-of-Obama American mission in Afghanistan, he just couldn’t help starting off with an inspiring tale about the Romans and a small Italian city-state, Locri, that they conquered. As he tells it, the ruler the Romans installed in Locri, a rapacious fellow named Pleminius, proved a looter and a tyrant. And yet, Mullen assures us, the Locrians so believed in “the reputation for equanimity and fairness that Rome had built” that they sent a delegation to the Roman Senate, knowing they could get a hearing, and demanded restitution; and indeed, the tyrant was removed.

Admittedly, this seems a far-fetched analogy to the U.S. in Afghanistan (and don’t for a second mix up Pleminius, that rogue, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, even though the Obama-ites evidently now believe him corrupt and replaceable). Still, as Mullen sees it, the point is: “We don’t always get it right. But like the early Romans, we strive in the end to make it right. We strive to earn trust. And that makes all the difference.”

Mullen is, it seems, the Aesop of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and, in his somewhat overheated brain, we evidently remain the conquering (but just) “early” Romans — before, of course, the fatal rot set in.

And then there’s the Washington Post’s Thomas Ricks, a superb reporter who, in his latest book, gives voice to the views of Centcom Commander David Petraeus. Reflecting on Iraq, where he (like the general) believes we could still be fighting in “2015,” Ricks begins a recent Post piece this way:

“In October 2008, as I was finishing my latest book on the Iraq war, I visited the Roman Forum during a stop in Italy. I sat on a stone wall on the south side of the Capitoline Hill and studied the two triumphal arches at either end of the Forum, both commemorating Roman wars in the Middle East… The structures brought home a sad realization: It’s simply unrealistic to believe that the U.S. military will be able to pull out of the Middle East… It was a week when U.S. forces had engaged in combat in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan — a string of countries stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean — following in the footsteps of Alexander the Great, the Romans and the British.”

With the waning of British power, Ricks continues, it “has been the United States’ turn to take the lead there.” And our turn, as it happens, just isn’t over yet. Evidently that, at least, is the view from our imperial capital and from our military viceroys out on the peripheries.

Honestly, Freud would have loved these guys. They seem to channel the imperial unconscious. Take David Petraeus. For him, too, the duties and dangers of empire evidently weigh heavily on the brain. Like a number of key figures, civilian and military, he has lately begun to issue warnings about Afghanistan’s dangers. As the Washington Post reported, “[Petraeus] suggested that the odds of success were low, given that foreign military powers have historically met with defeat in Afghanistan. ‘Afghanistan has been known over the years as the graveyard of empires,’ he said. ‘We cannot take that history lightly.’”

Of course, he’s worrying about the graveyard aspect of this, but what I find curious — exactly because no one thinks it odd enough to comment on here — is the functional admission in the use of this old adage about Afghanistan that we fall into the category of empires, whether or not in search of a graveyard in which to die.

And he’s not alone in this. Secretary of Defense Gates put the matter similarly recently: “Without the support of the Afghan people, Gates said, the U.S. would simply ‘go the way of every other foreign army that’s ever been in Afghanistan.’”

Imperial Blindness: Think of the above as just a few prospective entries in The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak that will, of course, never be compiled. We’re so used to such language, so inured to it and to the thinking behind it, so used, in fact, to living on a one-way planet in which all roads lead to and from Washington, that it doesn’t seem like a language at all. It’s just part of the unexamined warp and woof of everyday life in a country that still believes it normal to garrison the planet, regularly fight wars halfway across the globe, find triumph or tragedy in the gain or loss of an air base in a country few Americans could locate on a map, and produce military manuals on counterinsurgency warfare the way a do-it-yourself furniture maker would produce instructions for constructing a cabinet from a kit.

We don’t find it strange to have 16 intelligence agencies, some devoted to listening in on, and spying on, the planet, or capable of running “covert wars” in tribal borderlands thousands of miles distant, or of flying unmanned drones over those same borderlands destroying those who come into camera view. We’re inured to the bizarreness of it all and of the language (and pretensions) that go with it.

If The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak were ever produced, who here would buy it? Who would feel the need to check out what seems like the only reasonable and self-evident language for describing the world? How else, after all, would we operate? How else would any American in a position of authority talk in Washington or Baghdad or Islamabad or Rome?

So it undoubtedly seemed to the Romans, too. And we know what finally happened to their empire and the language that went with it. Such a language plays its role in normalizing the running of an empire. It allows officials (and in our case the media as well) not to see what would be inconvenient to the smooth functioning of such an enormous undertaking. Embedded in its words and phrases is a fierce way of thinking (even if we don’t see it that way), as well as plausible deniability. And in the good times, its uses are obvious.

On the other hand, when the normal ways of empire cease to function well, that same language can suddenly work to blind the imperial custodians — which is, after all, what the foreign policy “team” of the Obama era is — to necessary realities. At a moment when it might be important to grasp what the “American face” in the mirror actually looks like, you can’t see it.

And sometimes what you can’t bring yourself to see can, as now, hurt you.

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of the American Age of Denial. He also edited The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire (Verso, 2008), a collection of some of the best pieces from his site and an alternative history of the mad Bush years.

[Note: In thinking about a prospective Dictionary of American Empire-Speak, I found four websites particularly useful for keeping me up to date: Juan Cole's invaluable Informed Comment (I don't know how he stays at day-in, day-out, year after year); Antiwar.com and the War in Context, where editors with sharp eyes for global developments seem to be on the prowl 24/7; and last but by no means least, Noah Shachtman's Danger Room blog at Wired.com. Focused on the latest military developments, from strategy and tactics to hunter-killer drones and "robo-beasts," Danger Room is not only a must-follow site, but gives an everyday sense of the imperial bizarreness of our American world. Finally, a deep bow of thanks to Christopher Holmes, who keeps the copyediting lights burning in Japan, and TomDispatch eternally chugging along.]

Copyright 2009 Tom Engelhardt

T.R.E.A.T.Y. School Update #3

March 1, 2009 by Russell Means Freedom  
Filed under News

TREATY School Update #3

Dear Fellow Freedom Lovers and T.R.E.A.T.Y. Total Immersion School Supporters,

We have received many inquires as to the status of the school project so we are writing today to share a fuller update than the previous two. Over the last several years, Russell and Pearl Means have laid a solid foundation for this project, including traveling to New Zealand to investigate the Total Immersion educational philosophy in action.
This method of preserving indigenous cultures has been very successful there.  ”In the early 1980s, the Maori people of New Zealand began a dynamic language revitalization movement. The establishment of Maori immersion programs in state funded schools constituted one major aspect of the movement.

In 1985, the first immersion classroom of 5-year-olds was established. Immersion classrooms were added year by year as the first class of children progressed through primary school, junior high, and high school. The first class completed the final year of high school in 1997, and students entered polytechnics or university programs in 1998. READ MORE AT: http://www.russellmeansfreedom.com/?p=1051

Achievements to Date:

T.R.E.A.T.Y School and Ranch

  • Purchasing of 160 acres of land.
  • Phase I Construction of the School Building at a cost of $160,000.00.
  • Purchase and breeding of “papered” Lakotah bred Mustangs (16 hands) which now number 13 with three more to be born in the spring.
  • Purchase and remodeling of the Administration building.
  • Development of volunteers including:
  1. David Grefrath, who now serves as our volunteer coordinator.  treatyschoolbuild@gmail.com
  2. Dezeray Rubinchik & Brian Bucher who have been working tirelessly to assemble volunteers and secure funding:
    The Better World Project
  3. Eric Klein of www.can-do.org who is organizing the construction of the greenhouses.
  4. and many, many generous supporters who have donated time and money to support these efforts.

Next Steps:

  1. We will be finishing the construction of the T.R.E.A.T.Y. Total Immersion School as well as building a prototype of compressed earth, sustainable dormitory building.
  2. Installation of wind turbines.
  3. Construction of two greenhouses to provide a biology lab for the students as well as nutritious foods.
  4. We will need carpenters, electricians, plumbers, painters, excavators (septic system), solar technicians, wind turbine technicians, cooks, labors, architects, engineers.
  5. Construction will begin with the laying of foundations in May and continue through August.
  6. If you wish to join in these projects, e-mail David Grefrath at treatyschoolbuild@gmail.com
  7. Implementation of www.onecause.com on-line shopping and donation program:

Online Shopping with OneCause


Preliminary 3-D Renderings

T.R.E.A.T.Y. Total Immersion School Energy Plan:

  1. PHASE I – The School Project has been expanded to include a dorm building and a wind turbine. Click to view a preliminary 3-D fly around showing the TREATY Total Immersion School Ranch and Dormitory Building. The dorm will be used to house volunteers and teachers involved with the project. As you can see, there is also a wind turbine depicted on a bluff overlooking the school. This will be a 10 – 30 KW turbine utilizing a micro-hydroelectric plant situated in an adjacent ravine for power storage. Additionally, the turbine is sized large enough to generate excess power which can be sold back to the grid and thus develop revenue for the school.
  2. PHASE II - Here we intend to build a small scale wind farm to both generate endowment money for the construction of additional schools and to demonstrate to the local government our expertise. At this phase, we would also begin training a team of local Lakotah to install and maintain the turbines.
  3. PHASE III - Construction of a small, community-based wind farm in the Village of Wounded Knee, which has about 700 residents. This facility would utilize a privately owned grid and be designed to provide free electricity to the residents and generate income for additional projects.
  4. PHASE IV – Here we plan to develop a full-scale commercial wind farm adjacent to the 115,000 volt power transmission line which runs east/west through the Pine Ridge Reservation. We intend to form a Lakotah energy cooperative which would sale power via contracts, thus bypassing the local power monopoly on the web. IF WE CAN MANIFEST THIS VISION, this Phase will generate enough revenue to begin the construction of the approximately 100 Schools which will be needed to serve all 13 Lakotah Reservations!

We are currently in negotiations with the Renewable Energy Institute affiliated with Texas Tech Univesity to add professional expertise to our team. Additionally, we are in contact with several wind turbine companies seeking both technical assistance and partners for joint ventures.

Total Immersion Education in New Zealand

March 1, 2009 by Russell Means Freedom  
Filed under News

Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga:

The Development of an Indigenous Language Immersion School

Barbara Harrison University of Waikato


In the early 1980s, the Maori people of New Zealand began a dynamic language revitalization movement. The establishment of Maori immersion programs in state funded schools constituted one major aspect of the movement. This article describes the development of the Maori language immersion program in one New Zealand school for children ages 5 to 17. In 1985, the first immersion classroom of 5-year-olds was established. Immersion classrooms were added year by year as the first class of children progressed through primary school, junior high, and high school. The first class completed the final year of high school in 1997, and students entered polytechnics or university programs in 1998. The article briefly summarizes the historical background, cultural context, and program of the school. Indicators of school performance, including student achievement on national examinations, are considered. The findings are examined in terms of a selection of the research and theoretical literature. This case study has implications for researchers and educators who are working in indigenous language schooling and for those who are interested in theoretical explanations relating to the success or failure of minority students in school.

In 1984, New Zealand’s national Department of Education granted permission to a primary school in Huntly in the Waikato region of the country to establish Maori language immersion programs. When Rakaumanga School was re-designated as a bilingual school in July 1984, an outside observer might have had many reasons for pessimism about the future of the school.

Nearly all of the 180 children, ages 5 to 12, were Maori, and the socioeconomic level of the community would later be classified as “1” on a scale of 1-10, where 1 was the lowest level. The first language of nearly all the children was English. There were almost no teaching resources available in Maori and no formal Maori curricula. No funding was available specifically to support Maori language instruction. There were few courses at teacher training institutions for Maori teachers, and there were too few certified teachers fluent in Maori to meet the national demand. The school had no computers or staff who were competent in the use of computers, and the buildings and furnishings were overcrowded and in dire need of refurbishment.

No high school in the country offered a secondary program in Maori to meet the needs of students who might emerge from bilingual primary schools such as Rakaumanga. Parents 104 Bilingual Research Journal, 22:2, 3, & 4 Spring, Summer, & Fall 1998 and other members of the local community had limited roles in the management of the school through the School Committee and the PTA. By the end of 1997, however, the first group of six students had completed the 7th Form (the final year of high school) at Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga. (For convenience, the school is commonly referred to simply as “Rakaumanga”.) With the exception of English transition classes, these students had completed their entire school program in Maori immersion classrooms. All six entered polytechnics or university programs in 1998. Younger students at the school were demonstrating their achievements with good scores on the national School Certificate and Bursary examinations, and the Education Review Office had issued glowing reports based on their reviews.

The author visited the school in 1986/87 and completed a research paper using standard methods of participant observation, interviews, and reviews of historical and other documentary data (Harrison, 1987). She then became a permanent resident of the Waahi community, participating in several educational programs and countless community events over the following decade. She continued her association with Rakaumanga, serving as minutes secretary to the trustees and attending numerous meetings and events within the school. She utilized her extensive field notes, minutes, other documentation, and interviews to complete this article in consultation with members of the school staff and trustees.


A Brief History of the Waikato Tribe Ogbu (1978) and Barrington (1991) provided international audiences with concise histories of contact between Europeans and Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. Their descriptions included general histories of Maori schooling in the 19th and 20th centuries. Each of them pointed out the similarities between the impact of colonization on Native Americans and on Maori in New Zealand. They concluded that Maori school underachievement was related to New Zealand’s history of conquest, colonization, and indigenous subordination in much the same way that similar factors have contributed to underachievement of involuntary minorities in the United States.

As a rule, Maori do not see themselves as a single ethnic group but rather as members of more than 60 distinct tribes. The generic term is commonly used when it is necessary or convenient to refer to the indigenous people as a whole, but each tribe sees its particular history as important.

The history of the Waikato tribe in the 19th and 20th centuries is of particular importance to this case study because Rakaumanga is located within the tribe’s territory, the majority of the school’s children are affiliated to this tribe, and specific traditional and historical conditions continue to influence the school and its program today. In 1858, tribes from around New Zealand selected the Waikato chief, Potatau Te Wherowhero, as King. The political and spiritual movement Indigenous Language Immersion 105 surrounding the King’s selection became known as the King Movement.

Te Wherowhero died in 1860 and was succeeded by his son Tawhiao who became the second Maori King. King Tawhiao’s descendant, Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, was crowned as Queen in 1967, and she continued to serve as paramount leader of the King Movement at the time of this writing. British and settler armies invaded the Waikato region of New Zealand in 1863, driving the Maori King Tawhiao and his people into exile in a neighboring region of the country for more than 20 years.

Tawhiao and other members of the tribe returned to the region in the 1880s, but the government had confiscated 1.2 million acres of their land leaving only small parcels in Maori ownership. Because of the loss of its economic base, the tribe suffered terribly from poverty and disease through the remainder of the 19th century and through much of the 20th century. However, almost as soon as the wars of the 1860s ended, Tawhiao and his descendants began to negotiate with the government for the return of the tribe’s ancestral land (McCan, 1993). These negotiations continued into the 1990s and resulted in a major settlement in 1995. The remembrance of the land confiscation, the effects of the loss of the economic base, and the settlement negotiations were significant dimensions of the social and political context for Rakaumanga and its community during the development of the school’s immersion program.

The Community Huntly was a town of about 7,000 on the Waikato River, just south of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest metropolis. The town’s population was more than half Maori. The river divided the town into Huntly East and Huntly West. Rakaumanga was in Huntly West within walking distance of Waahi Marae and the Maori community surrounding the marae. (A marae can be briefly defined as a Maori community center.) Waahi was the home marae of the Maori Queen Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu and her immediate family, including her brother, Professor Sir Robert Mahuta.

As Director of the Centre for Maaori Studies and Research at the University of Waikato in nearby Hamilton, Professor Mahuta encouraged a number of researchers to investigate various aspects of the community of Waahi so a number of reports are available about the community (Centre for Maaori Studies and Research, 1984; Egan & Mahuta, 1983; Mahuta & Egan, 1981; Shear- Wood, 1982; Stokes, 1977, 1978). A brief summary is given here.

The main township of Huntly East developed in the late 19th century because of the coal mines in the vicinity and because the railroad and main highway from Auckland passed along the east side of the Waikato River through the township. Maori residence in the vicinity dates from pre-contact times but was interrupted when the tribe was driven out of the Waikato region by the British and settler army in 1863-64. King Tawhiao’s people returned to the area in the late 19th century, and Waahi and its community have served as an important center of the King Movement throughout the 20th century. The 106 Bilingual Research Journal, 22:2, 3, & 4 Spring, Summer, & Fall 1998 King Movement, its history, ideology, spirituality, ceremonies, and other events were central to life in the Waahi community.

During the 20th century, Maori in and around Huntly West became farmers, coal miners, slaughterhouse workers, laborers, and tradesmen. In the 1970s, the New Zealand government decided to build a massive coal-fired power station on the west side of the river, immediately adjacent to Waahi Marae. This necessitated the relocation of Rakaumanga from a position north of Waahi to one south of the marae. It also set in motion political activity by Professor Mahuta and the Waahi community, which led to compensation from the government, the rebuilding of the marae, and continuing programs of small-scale economic and political development for the community.

By the late 1980s, development activity began to focus on negotiating a settlement with the government over the longstanding grievance regarding the confiscation of more than 1 million acres of Waikato land in the 1860s. The negotiations formally began in 1989 and continued until 1995. Professor Mahuta led the negotiations as principal negotiator for the Tainui Maaori Trust Board. (The Trust Board was the legally recognized authority of the local Waikato tribe.) The negotiations seemed to be important to everyone in the community. They were a constant topic of discussion. In the early stages, the tribe had to fund its own legal costs and other activities associated with the negotiations so many members of the community participated in fund-raising activities that contributed to the negotiation process. On one occasion, a train called The Tainui Express was chartered to take several hundred tribal members to Wellington. On arrival in Wellington, passengers participated in an emotional and moving display of tribal loyalty and strength during a march on the Court of Appeals where a case relevant to the negotiations was being heard. The negotiations and surrounding political action contributed to an atmosphere where people believed that positive political action would have positive social consequences.

Schooling, Language Shift, and Revitalization As with other indigenous peoples in European colonies, the introduction of schooling to New Zealand Maori resulted in a shift away from the indigenous language toward the language of the majority society. By the 1980s, most Maori children in New Zealand were learning English as their first language. However, a major language revitalization movement began in the early 1980s. There have been a number of manifestations of this movement. A claim was lodged with the Waitangi Tribunal, the tribunal that considers claims related to the Treaty that was signed in 1840 between Maori chiefs and representatives of the British Crown. This claim was lodged early in 1985 stating that the Maori language was a taonga (treasure) and that the government should enact legislation recognizing Maori as an official language.

The Tribunal’s 1986 finding was unequivocally in favor of the claimants (Benton, 1987, p. 68). Shortly thereafter, a Maori Language Act was passed that established Maori as an official language of New Zealand; the Maori Indigenous Language Immersion 107 Language Commission was established with the stated purpose of undertaking activities to support the maintenance of the Maori language; and the government began to provide financial support for Maori language programs at several different levels of schooling.

These events led to increased demands for Maori speakers to be employed as teachers in schools, in government agencies, in radio and television broadcasting, and in other institutions. Another significant dimension of the revitalization movement was the establishment of Kohanga Reo, the early childhood Maori language “nests”: Te Kohanga Reo programs were initiated in the early 1980s. The language nests are Maori language immersion preschool programs for infants from birth to five years of age. They were initiated in response to the realization that the Maori language was disappearing because children were learning only English, but it was also an attempt to place both the authority and the responsibility for the preschools with local family groups or whanau. (Harrison, 1993, p. 157) By 1994, more than 13,000 Maori children were enrolled in 819 Kohanga Reo programs (Ministry of Education, 1995, p. 38).

Maori educators soon realized that children would quickly lose the Maori they had learned in Kohanga Reo when they entered English-speaking primary schools at age 5. As more and more children entered Kohanga Reo during the 1980s, the pressure to establish Maori language primary school programs intensified. It is important to note that the immersion program at Rakaumanga depended on children entering school at age 5 with a background in Maori language developed during attendance at Kohanga Reo. Without the six local Kohanga Reo sending children on to primary school at Rakaumanga, the immersion program could not have operated as it did. It is also important to note that Rakaumanga was not the only school in New Zealand seeking and gaining permission to teach in Maori. In 1994, the Ministry of Education recognized 28 schools as Kura Kauapa Maori (Maori philosophy schools), and some level of Maori medium instruction was taking place in 379 other schools (Ministry of Education, 1995, p. 40). Although Rakaumanga chose not to seek official status as a Kura Kaupapa, it was part of a general movement within the country toward the provision of Maori immersion or bilingual programs for those families who wanted to send their children to such programs.

Changes in teacher training affected the development of Maori immersion programs. Between 1986 and 1998, the number of Maori students at the University of Waikato increased from 417 to 2634. The number of Maori students in the Teachers College/School of Education grew from 87 to 572. Programs were established to teach the Maori language to Maori students, to train fluent Maori speakers as teachers, and to improve the fluency of certified Maori teachers. Some Maori-speaking teacher trainees were sent to Rakaumanga to complete a portion of their training under the supervision of Rakaumanga’s teachers. Although the University did not provide funding to 108 Bilingual Research Journal, 22:2, 3, & 4 Spring, Summer, & Fall 1998 Rakaumanga to cover the costs involved, this arrangement enhanced opportunities for the school to recruit and train teachers to suit the school’s needs.

It would have been much more difficult for Rakaumanga to establish their immersion program if the new programs to train Maori teachers had not been established at about the same time. Policy changes within the Ministry of Education improved the availability of teaching resources in Maori. A portion of the budget for resource development was set aside for development of resources in Maori including mathematics and science curricula. Although the commercial materials available were still extremely limited, those that were available helped to alleviate the persistent problem for teachers of preparing resources by hand. School Restructuring In 1988, the government issued Administering for Excellence: Effective Administration in Education (Taskforce to Review Education Administration, 1988), and in 1989 restructuring of the school system began in accordance with the recommendations in this report.

From Rakaumanga’s standpoint, the most important changes included the devolution of responsibility for recruiting staff, developing policies, and managing the school’s operating budget to a locally elected Board of Trustees. Basic funding for all schools would be issued on a per pupil basis with supplementary funding for schools in low socioeconomic communities and for Maori language instruction. If a school could attract more students, it would receive more funds for its operating budget. Also, the Education Review Office (ERO) was established to review and evaluate the performance of schools. The ERO included a Maori division charged with bringing a Maori perspective to reviewing activities of schools with a Maori philosophy.

The restructuring helped to establish a context where it was politically possible for Rakaumanga to develop a Maori immersion program, but persistent political activity by the school community with support from the Tainui Maaori Trust Board also contributed to change. Because there were three schools in different regions of the country—Rakaumanga in Huntly, Ruatoki in the rural Tuhoe region near the East Coast, and Hoani Waititi in South Auckland— seeking to expand their Maori immersion programs into the secondary level at about the same time and because of the national emphasis on language revitalization, it was difficult for the Ministry of Education to ignore the political pressure being generated by the Maori community in Huntly.

The School Program

A Community School The school program was anchored in the local community. The complementary roles of the school and community were recurrent themes in the school’s strategic plan, developed in 1993. The Waikato dialect of Maori Indigenous Language Immersion 109 was the dialect of instruction. The curriculum incorporated history, customs, values, and the natural environment of the local community. School activities were closely linked to activities of the King Movement and to activities at local marae. Parents, elders, and other community members were encouraged to visit classrooms, participate as volunteers, join the trustees, engage in fundraising, attend parent-teacher conferences, and chaperone school trips. Fluent Maori speakers from the local community were trained by the school to serve as substitute teachers for one day at a time.

The school’s multipurpose hall served as a community education center where members of the local community were enrolled in informal or university Maori language classes in the evenings. Members of the community were encouraged to enroll in teacher training programs and were expected to return to the school to teach when they had completed the training programs. The principal, Barna Heremia, described his relationship with the community: If I need something to be done, I can call on anyone from Taniwharau Club or Waahi or the other marae. I can ask for anything from a karakia (prayer) to unveil something to a plumber. When they want me or something from the school, they just need to ring. The parent community is more informed now because of the open door nature of the school. Parents have seen the success with the older students and that has added to their confidence.

From the very beginning, it was important for the school to be out in the community. The school cannot survive insulated within its boundaries. The school is there at every major gathering, either the school as a whole or myself. Although there were strong relationships between the school and community, the school made a concerted effort to remain neutral with respect to conflicts between factious in the community. There were a number of conflicts especailly regarding the land claims negotiations and settlement. However, Rakaumanga’s principal, staff, and trustees insisted that differences of opinion be respected and that those differences have minimum impact on the functioning of the school and the education of the children. School Organization In 1985, the first immersion classroom of new entrants (5-year-olds) was established.

There were eight children in the first immersion group but the number later increased to nine when one student transferred from an immersion school in the Auckland region. Class sizes for classes following the initial group have averaged about 28 students, so patterns tested with the small group were later put into practice with larger groups. There were approximately 180 students in the entire school in 1985. As the first group of children grew older, immersion classrooms were added year by year until the primary school reached full immersion in 1992. Then, the school opened new classes at the junior high school level and, in 1995, at the senior school level. Six of the nine children in the initial 1985 classroom completed secondary school in 1997 and 110 Bilingual Research Journal, 22:2, 3, & 4 Spring, Summer, & Fall 1998 continued into polytechnic or university programs. The second class (22 students) was in the final year of high school at the time of this writing. When the school was redesignated as a bilingual school in 1986, the goals of the school were given as follows:

• Acquire sufficient fluency in the Maaori language to assure the maintenance of that language over time.

• Acquire knowledge of and confidence in their heritage to enable them to successfully confront contemporary institutions within New Zealand.

• Acquire appropriate academic skills and knowledge to allow them to succeed at the secondary level and in later life experiences. (Harrison, 1987, p. 21)

In 1993, when a strategic plan was developed, the goals were restated in more expansive language and new goals were added; however, the essential elements did not change (Te Wharekura Kaupapa Maori a Rohe o Rakaumanga, 1993). The strategic plan also stated that the school would operate as one unit for students from age 5 (new entrants) through high school (Form 7). There would be one governing board, one principal, one staff, and one guiding philosophy. Curriculum Organization In 1993, the Ministry of Education established a national curriculum framework for all primary and secondary schools in the country (Ministry of Education, 1993).

The framework defined seven essential learning areas (languages, technology, mathematics, health and well-being, social sciences, art/performing arts, and science) and essential skills for all age levels from age 5 through age 17. The framework was broad enough to allow Rakaumanga to include local perspectives in the essential learning areas so that the Rakaumanga curriculum included local as well as mainstream content. The school made every effort to utilize resources from the local community and the local environment. However, the system of national examinations for students at ages 15 to 17 meant that Rakaumanga students had to take examinations comparable to those taken by other students in New Zealand so mainstream resources-such as a science laboratory–were essential for successful student performance. While the school’s primary focus was on instruction in Maori, it also aimed to promote fluency and literacy in English for its students.

The aim was for all children to become bicultural and bilingual so they could thrive in both Maori and in English environments. The assumption was that because children were living in a predominantly English-speaking country, they would learn English at home, in the community, and through the media. Children began formal instruction in English in English transition classes at about age 10 for 2 hours each week until they finished school. Indigenous Language Immersion 111 Pedagogy The group attending the retreat in 1993 agreed on the following principles of instruction (Te Wharekura Kaupapa Maori a Rohe o Rakaumanga, 1993, p. 4): We believe that the curriculum must be based on a Maori pedagogy.

An holistic approach must be taught through te reo Maori (the Maori language). Teaching must be whanau (family) based and must cater to the individual and to the collective group. The principal described the school’s teaching philosophy: Our program is not just language. It is also Maori knowledge and practices. You cannot teach the language without teaching those other two things and you can’t teach those other two things without the language. You can only understand the term by using it in the proper Maori context… Teacher expectations equal student achievement. All of the teachers believe that their kids can succeed. Teachers see failure as their fault.

Resources Teachers and parents created most of the Maori teaching resources by hand. The Learning Media division of the Ministry of Education provided some Maori teaching resources, but in some cases, teachers and parents created resources by pasting Maori text over the English text in books. The Ministry contracted Maori staff to develop science and mathematics curricula in Maori in the early 1990s. Staffing When Rakaumanga was designated as a “bilingual school” in the mid- 1980s, all staff of the school were Maori but only a small number were fluent speakers of the language. As non-Maori-speaking staff moved on to other positions, fluent Maori speakers were recruited to replace them.

By 1998, all teachers were fluent speakers. Two teachers had been raised in homes where Maori was the only language used. Four others had been raised in homes where Maori was the predominant language. The other teachers had learned Maori as a second language through university study. In 1998, there were 25 certified teachers in the school. Six support staff were paid and six support staff worked voluntarily five days a week, every week that the school was open. There were about six other parents who worked voluntarily a couple of days a week. Four of the teaching staff were members of the Waikato tribe, two were of European descent, and the others were Maori from other tribes. All of the support staff were from the local tribe. The principal described the motivation of the support staff: 112 Bilingual Research Journal, 22:2, 3, & 4 Spring, Summer, & Fall 1998 Over half are from the old Native School.

In the early years, we had to work really hard to change negative feelings about the school with parents. They were from a generation who went through real hard years when the school was suppressing anything Maori, but those same people are the ones that are here and are determined that their mokopuna (grandchildren) would have things they never received when they were here. The principal had a preference for first-or second-year teachers because they were often highly motivated, were eager to prove themselves, and would offer fresh ideas on teaching techniques. If they were carefully supported, he believed they could be productive. He said: With the exception of four teachers, everyone else began here as Year 1 teachers. All of them were part of those groups we helped train. They apply their own techniques about how a piece of learning should be conducted.

There is a curriculum but there is flexibility . . . We capitalize on the individual skills of teachers.

Assessment of School Performance

The Education Review Office The ERO was established in 1990 with the primary responsibility of monitoring and reviewing performance of schools. One section of the ERO was staffed by Maori speakers. This division had responsibility for monitoring performance of schools with Maori philosophies. When conducting a review, the ERO sent a team to visit the school for several days. The team examined written documentation, observed in classrooms, and collected information from staff, members of the trustees, and others. Since 1990, the ERO had conducted both a compliance review and an effectiveness review at Rakaumanga.

The 1997 Effectiveness Review Report summarized their findings: The Wharekura o Rakaumanga provides a high quality educational service to students, whanau and iwi (tribe). Education is centred on holistic needs of all, resulting in the development and achievement of relative outcomes for all. A wharekura community with a shared vision contributes to its effectiveness. The challenge to the wharekura is the retention of this united commitment from all concerned parties, to ensure the kaupapa of the wharekura continues to grow from strength to strength. (Education Review Office, 1997, p. 9) National Examinations In New Zealand, the major measures of academic achievement at the secondary level were scores on national examinations. Students ordinarily took School Indigenous Language Immersion 113 Certificate examinations at age 15 (Form 5).

Students needed to pass the examinations in three subject areas before they could progress to the next grade level. At age 16, students ordinarily took 6th Form Certificate examinations. In the 7th Form (the final year of secondary school), students took Bursary examinations, which determined their eligibility to enter polytechnic or university programs. Rakaumanga’s first concern was with national examinations in Maori. The school negotiated with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority to accelerate the examinations in Maori so that students took these exams when they were three years younger than other students. The school believed that because its students were in immersion programs, they would be ready to take the exams three years in advance of other New Zealand students.

By accelerating the Maori examinations, more contact time was available for study in other subjects in the 5th Form year and students would already have passed one School Certificate subject, thus alleviating some of the pressure associated with these examinations which were so crucial to the future of every New Zealand child. The first group of nine students took the School Certificate in Maori at age 12 in 1992. All nine students passed. Six of these students took the 6th Form Certificate Maori in 1993 and Bursary Maori in 1994. All six passed each of these exams.

The same pattern has prevailed for all students in classes following the first small group. All of the students who have taken the examinations at the accelerated times have passed all of the examinations in Maori. In addition, the Maori Language Commission assessed Maori language competence of the students. All 5th, 6th, and 7th Formers from Rakaumanga, Hoani Waititi, and Ruatoki schools participated in Kura Reo Wananga (intensive language courses) with the Language Commission. The chairperson of the commission stated that students had, by the 7th Form, achieved a level comparable with the third year of university study in Maori. Rakaumanga students also took examinations in English, math, science, geography, history, and graphic design at the 5th, 6th, and 7th Form levels. Students had achieved an 80% passing rate in all subject areas except English. The school negotiated with NZQA to offer all the examinations except English and art in Maori at the 5th, 6th, and 7th Form levels.

The process for doing this was very complicated, and, as the result of the complications, the school had sought and obtained accreditation to assess student progress in terms of a new system of “unit standards” in the future. School staff and parents were concerned about the low scores on the English examinations, and the school had requested that the Ministry of Education conduct research to assist them in identifying and solving problems with English achievement. Growth in Student Numbers Another easily calculated measure of success was the growing number of students who enrolled each year. No parent was compelled to send his or her child to Rakaumanga.

A primary school with a predominantly Maori population and a 114 Bilingual Research Journal, 22:2, 3, & 4 Spring, Summer, & Fall 1998 program taught in English was within walking distance of Rakaumanga. Huntly College, the town’s central secondary school with a program taught in English, was also within walking distance. But Rakaumanga’s enrollment expanded from approximately 180 to more than 300 between 1985 and 1997. There was no comparable expansion in the total population of Huntly during this period. Secondary School Retention Nationally, there had been a steady increase in the percentage of Maori students completing 7th Form from less than 5% in 1981 to about 30% 1994. The disparity between Maori and non-Maori persisted, however, with about 16% of Maori receiving a Seventh Form Award in 1994 compared with about 42% of non-Maori (Ministry of Education, 1995, p. 41).

The secondary program at Rakaumanga was too new and the numbers at Rakaumanga were too small for sensible statistical comparisons with other secondary schools in New Zealand. The school was pleased, though, with its retention rate. The principal described it as follows: All of the 22 students started as new entrants (age 5). The stability of the student population is really important, critical. This group was originally 28. Two moved because parents moved. Three girls became pregnant. We tried to have them back but it didn’t work. Four students in the 7th Form have been in special education needs programs since they were 5. They have learning disabilities. They are now 17, turning 18. Kids drop out when they start to struggle.

Those four would have dropped out if they had been at other schools. They are as much a part of Rakaumanga’s success as the ones at university. These four want to go into trades: joiner, engineer, interior decorator, and brick layer. Those four are the only ones who have opted for a career in trades. The other 18 will go on to university or polytechs. Those four are as much a success as anything else. The kids in that class, they love one another. The other 18 care about those four and they show they care. They are patient. For every success, everyone celebrates it.

Other Indicators In 1992, Clive Aspin conducted research at Rakaumanga and used his findings to complete his Master of Arts thesis for Victoria University (Aspin, 1994). Aspin found that students at Rakaumanga who had been taught mathematics in Maori did better on mathematics achievement tests at age 10 than students at a comparable school who had been taught in English. Perhaps the number of researchers who are attracted to a school can also be called a measure of success. Aspin (1994), Harrison (1987), Jefferies (McConnell & Jefferies, 1991), and Tuteao (1998) had completed research at the school. Haupai Puke and Anaru Vercoe were conducting doctoral studies at the school in 1998. Indigenous Language Immersion 115


Rakaumanga’s principal was very careful about the claims that were made for the school. He said that Rakaumanga had demonstrated the following: Learning in your own language and learning in your own culture do not in any way disadvantage you in carrying out examinations. The Maori language immersion instruction for children ages 5 through 17 was the school’s most notable characteristic, but the school also provided a notable example of academic achievement for indigenous children.

In the Rakaumanga case, there were a number of factors operating in such a way as to hinder development of the program and success in school for Maori children (cf Ogbu, 1978; Barrington, 1991). These factors included a history of conquest and colonization, negative or unsuccessful experiences in school for several generations of Maori, loss of the indigenous language and the tribal economic base, low socioeconomic status, discrimination in employment, and high unemployment. At the same time, changes in policies and perceptions that occurred during the 1980s and 1990s can be identified that have been advantageous for the development of the immersion program. These changes included the following: Recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Treaty of Waitangi came to be recognized in the 1980s and 1990s as an agreement for Maori and non-Maori to act in a partnership relationship in all aspects of life. Barrington noted the close relationship between recognition of the Treaty and the educational rights of Maori: Much greater prominence is also now being given to the Treaty of Waitangi, signed in 1840 between the crown and Maori tribes as a basis for the resolution of land claims and as a symbol of the move for greater acknowledgment of the rights of the Maori partner in all areas of New Zealand life including schooling. (Barrington, 1991, p. 309) Recent recognition of the partnership relationships inherent in the Treaty has led to the establishment of bicultural policies in government agencies, universities, and other institutions.

These policies resulted in improved employment prospects for Maori, especially Maori who were fluent in the language, and these policies made it easier for Maori to survive in mainstream institutions. Bicultural policies also resulted in increased program offerings aimed at Maori students at all levels of the educational system, including polytechnics and universities. No one would claim that these policies have solved all the problems associated with colonialism in New Zealand, but most would agree that the policies represented an improvement over assimilationist or integrationist policies of the past. 116 Bilingual Research Journal, 22:2, 3, & 4 Spring, Summer, & Fall 1998 Maori Language Policy An on-going language revitalization movement in combination with political action and increased recognition of the Treaty contributed to the recognition of Maori as an official language of New Zealand.

The national language policy supported the allocation of government funding for Kohanga Reo and other Maori language education programs. Management and Governance Factors in Education The restructuring of the education system, which began in 1989, established local boards of trustees with authority for formulating policies, hiring staff, and managing the operating budget. Local communities throughout the country—mainstream as well as Maori—were empowered.

The Ministry of Education and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority retained authority for many decisions, but local boards of trustees gained authority for decisions that they hadn’t previously enjoyed. The national system of education in New Zealand provided stable funding for all schools based on a per pupil basis. Funding for Rakaumanga increased each year as the student population increased. The school received supplementary funding because of the low socioeconomic status of its student population, and a small amount of funding per pupil to support Maori language instruction. Additional funding supported Maori language instruction by providing positions such as the Resource Teacher of Maori. Teacher Training

The system for training teachers in New Zealand facilitated the entry of Maori teachers into classrooms at Rakaumanga. All teacher trainees spent three years taking courses in teacher training institutions. These courses were primarily on campus, but trainees spent a few weeks in each of the three years working in schools under the supervision of experienced teachers. In the fourth and fifth years of training, teacher trainees worked full-time in schools under the supervision of experienced teachers with additional supervision from staff of the teacher training institution. The trainees received a full-time salary for the fourth and fifth years of training. This system made it possible for Maori teachers to enter classrooms at Rakaumanga on a short-term basis during the first three years of their training. Then, at the beginning of the fourth year, they could become full-time salaried staff of Rakaumanga while they completed their training. New programs specifically for Maori teachers had been established at the universities of Waikato and Auckland as well as at other institutions in the 1980s and 1990s.

The New Zealand primary school principal was viewed as a headmaster rather than as an administrator or manager of the school. Individuals were appointed the position of principal because they were outstanding teachers. They did not have to have formal educational qualifications beyond their Indigenous Language Immersion 117 teaching certification, but, for Rakaumanga, the principal did have to be a fluent speaker of Maori. This system facilitated the recruitment of someone who was Maori for the position of principal. (Fortunately, the principal at Rakaumanga was able to acquire the necessary managerial expertise through on the job experience and training.) Community Factors There were a number of significant factors in the particular community that were indirectly advantageous to the school. There was strong leadership in support of education from Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu and Professor Sir Robert Mahuta. Dame Te Ata was a trustee for the national Te Kohanga Reo Trust, and she supported the development of local Kohanga Reo and other language instruction programs.

The land claim settlement negotiations led by Robert Mahuta gave hope to the local tribal community for an improved economic situation and greater autonomy in tribal affairs. The settlement itself provided funding for polytechnic and university scholarships for tribal members and for Kohanga Reo programs in the tribal area. From the early 1990s, Te Arikinui and other highly ranked community members presented the scholarships and educational grants at the annual Coronation celebrations in May. Other community leaders and parents were deeply committed to the establishment of Kohanga Reo and to the immersion program at Rakaumanga. The six Kohanga Reo in the local area were essential in preparing children to enter an immersion program at Rakaumanga. A stable student population at the school was the result of commitment on the part of parents to the goals of the school.

The strong extended family ties within the local Maori community and the national benefit system also contributed to the stability of the student population. Individual Leadership The development of the immersion program at Rakaumanga might never have happened without the leadership of a small group of teachers and parents. This small group was committed to the maintenance and revitalization of the Maori language and to the establishment of a school program that would allow their children to study in Maori. For nearly two decades, this small group was involved in political action and negotiations with the Ministry of Education, which resulted in the development of the school. The principal gave this description: In the early period people would lay their bodies down. A staunch, small number of committed people saw the vision. The biggest number in the community were uncertain or skeptical. Now that has shifted. The bulk of the people share in the realization. The small group are facilitators now. There has been a lessening of fanaticism.

This small group had clearly stated goals and strong individual leadership. Without the leadership of Barna Heremia, a teacher in the school since the 118 Bilingual Research Journal, 22:2, 3, & 4 Spring, Summer, & Fall 1998 1970s and principal since 1990, the program might never have developed. The Chairperson of the Trustees, Taitimu Maipi, was also the Chairperson of the School Committee in the 1980s. Several members of the trustees had been staunch supporters of the immersion program since its establishment. Two teachers, Wiha Malcolm and Shirley Rarere, had been staff of the school since its redesignation as a bilingual school in 1984.

Related Literature

Indigenous Language Schooling The Rakaumanga case has shown that a national language policy can contribute to the maintenance and revitalization of an indigenous language. Benton pointed out that, “The ad hoc nature of language policy formulation in New Zealand has been a feature of the national political culture since the country’s establishment.” However, in recent decades, there has been “. . . the acceptance of the special status of Maori, aided no doubt by perceptions of its symbolic value to a nation in search of a unique identity, and indeed of its potential economic values, but grounded in legal obligations reinforced by politically astute and determined activism” (Benton, 1996, p. 95). The immersion program at Rakaumanga could not have developed as it did without the national Maori language policy.

It was taken for granted in New Zealand at the time of this study that Maori people had the basic human right to use, maintain, and revitalize their traditional language. While the Rakaumanga community had to undertake substantial political action in order to convince the Ministry of Education that they could also use Maori effectively as a medium of instruction for children, New Zealand’s language policy contributed to their ability to win that argument.

Unfortunately, there are no comparable language policies in North America to support the right of indigenous people to develop programs in their own languages. Burnaby described the fragmented schooling situation and its impact on a potential language policy for Aboriginal people in Canada: “The essential characteristic of this picture is that the administration of Aboriginal education is so fragmented geographically and administratively that coordination and cooperation on policy is virtually impossible” (Burnaby, 1996, p. 212). In the United States, the Indian Nations at Risk Task Force recommended in 1992 that “. . . all schools serving Native students will provide opportunities for students to maintain and develop their tribal languages . . .” (Ricento, 1996, p. 144).

However, there are multiple factors that prevent implementation of this recommendation. Holm and Holm (1995, p. 150) reported that they were unable to extend instructional programs in Navajo beyond the fifth grade, and California recently passed an initiative to require “that all children be placed in English language classrooms” (Section 305 of the Initiative Statute: English Language Education for Children in Public Schools). Indigenous Language Immersion 119 The Rakaumanga case suggests that policies should be established which would give Native American communities the flexibility to institute programs of community choice, including programs in Native American languages where such programs are desired. The Rakaumanga case reinforces the importance of programs to prepare indigenous people as teachers and principals for indigenous language schools.

Statements regarding the contribution of indigenous teachers to successful schooling for indigenous children appear repeatedly in the literature (Begay et. al, 1995; Holm & Holm, 1995; Lipka & Ilutsik, 1995). It is clear that the Rakaumanga immersion program could not have operated without the Maori teachers who constituted the majority of its staff, and the school could not have recruited sufficient numbers of Maori teachers without the programs at the University of Waikato designed for Maori teachers. The Rakaumanga case points to the advantages of stable per pupil funding, as opposed to the fluctuating patterns resulting from various political shifts in the United States which caused such disruption at Rough Rock (McCarty, 1989). The Rakaumanga case also reinforces the importance of school structures that empower local communities, especially local communities of indigenous people. Tuteao (1998), a member of the local Waikato tribe, identified empowerment as a major component of the ethos of the school, from the early years of the 20th century when the school was a Native School to the present day. Cummins (1997) and others have also written about the importance of self-determination among minority groups in North America.

New Zealand’s school restructuring in 1989 empowered the Rakaumanga community and facilitated the opportunity for them to develop a program that “worked.” Minorities and School Achievement The Rakaumanga case sheds some light on another strand of research literature focusing on the relationship between involuntary or subordinate minorities and school achievement. In 1978, Ogbu proposed a theoretical explanation for the success or failure of minority students in school. One of the cases he used to support his theory was the case of Maori in New Zealand. In 1991, Barrington developed a more detailed description of the history of relationships between European settlers and Maori, and the history of Maori schooling. Barrington’s description supported Ogbu’s view that Maori school underachievement could be attributed, at least in part, to a history of conquest, colonization, and subordination. Barrington added that school policy changes in recent years had the potential for improving Maori schooling, and the Rakaumanga case has shown that Barrington’s optimism was justified.

The grassroots movements to reclaim the right to teach in Maori which he described have had positive outcomes, at least in the one case described here. 120 Bilingual Research Journal, 22:2, 3, & 4 Spring, Summer, & Fall 1998 Gibson (1991) pointed out that minority groups are dynamic in their adaptations. The cultural models and educational strategies of minority communities are in a constant process of renegotiation. Mobility strategies change as the societal context changes and as the minority group’s situation within a given society itself changes… Educational institutions have become more responsive to the needs of minorities because the minorities themselves have refused to accept the status quo and have demanded that the system uphold their rights and address their needs. (Gibson, 1991, pp. 370-71) Recent publications by Ogbu and Simon also emphasize the dynamics within minority communities and in the relationships between minorities and the larger societies: “Structural barriers and school factors affect minority school performance; however, minorities are also autonomous human beings who actively interpret and respond to their situation.

Minorities are not helpless victims” (Ogbu and Simons, 1998, p. 158). We see from the New Zealand case in general (Barrington, 1991) and the Rakaumanga case in particular that the relationship between Maori and the majority society has been a dynamic relationship with rapid change occurring on all sides in the past 15 years. Indigenous people can change but so can the majority societies and their institutions. In spite of a history of colonization and subordination, interaction between the development of appropriate policies, funding, and “beliefs about or interpretations of schooling” (Ogbu and Simon, 1998, p. 163) in one local community led to improvement in schooling for the community’s children. Rakaumanga has shown that national policy changes and institutional adaptations can create contexts where it is possible for indigenous and other involuntary minority people to establish successful school programs for their children.

Note: My thanks to Harry F. Wolcott, who visited Rakaumanga in November 1997 and then suggested that this article be prepared for publication. Thanks to Barna Heremia, Taitimu Maipi, and an anonymous reviewer who offered helpful comments on earlier versions of the paper.


Aspin, S. (1994). A study of mathematics achievement in a kura kaupapa Maori. Wellington, New Zealand: Unpublished Master of Arts in applied linguistics thesis, Victoria University.

Barrington, J. (1991). The New Zealand experience: Maoris. In M. Gibson & J. Ogbu (Eds.), Minority status and schooling: A comparative study of immigrant and involuntary minorities (pp. 309-326). New York: Garland Publishing. Indigenous Language Immersion 121

Begay, S., Dick, G., Estell, D., Estell, J., McCarty, T., & Sells, A. (1995). Change from the inside out: A story of transformation in a Navajo community school. Bilingual Research Journal, 19 (1), 121-140. Benton, R. (1987). From the Treaty of Waitangi to the Waitangi Tribunal. In W. Hirsh (Ed.), Living languages: Bilingualism and community languages in New Zealand (pp. 63-74). Auckland, New Zealand: Heinemann.

Benton, R. (1996). Language policy in New Zealand: Defining the ineffable. In M. Herriman, & B. Burnaby (Eds.), Language policies in English-dominant countries: Six case studies (pp. 62-98). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters Ltd.

Burnaby, B. (1996). Language policies in Canada. In M. Herriman & B. Burnaby (Eds.), Language policies in English-dominant countries: Six case studies (pp. 159-219).

Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters Ltd. Centre for Maaori Studies and Research (1984). The development of coal-fired power stations in the Waikato: A Maori perspective. Occasional paper No. 24. Hamilton, New Zealand:

The Centre, University of Waikato. Cummins, J. (1997). Minority status and schooling in Canada. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 28 (3), 411-430. Education Review Office (1997). Effectiveness review report: Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga. Wellington, New Zealand: The Office.

Egan, K., & Mahuta, R. (1983). The Tainui report. Occasional paper no. 19 (revised edition).

Hamilton, New Zealand: Centre for Maori Studies and Research, University of Waikato. Gibson, M. (1991). Minorities and schooling: Some implications. In M. Gibson, & J. Ogbu (Eds.), Minority status and schooling: A comparative study of immigrant and involuntary minorities (pp. 357-381). New York: Garland Publishing, Inc.

Harrison, B. (1987). Rakaumanga school: A study of issues in bilingual education. Hamilton, New Zealand: Centre for Maaori Studies and Research, University of Waikato.

Harrison, B. (1993). Building our house from the rubbish tree: Minority-directed education. In E. Jacob, & C. Jordan (Eds.), Minority education: Anthropological perspectives (pp. 147-164).

Norwood, NJ: Ablex. Holm, A., & Holm, W. (1995). Navajo language education; Retrospect and prospects. Bilingual Research Journal, 19 (1), 141-168.

Lipka, J., & Ilutsik, E. (1995). Negotiated change: Yup’ik perspectives on indigenous schooling. Bilingual Research Journal, 19 (1), 195-208.

Mahuta, R., & Egan, K. (1981). Waahi: A case study of social and economic development in a New Zealand Maori community. Occasional paper No. 12. Hamilton, New Zealand: Centre for Maori Studies and Research, University of Waikato. 122 Bilingual Research Journal, 22:2, 3, & 4 Spring, Summer, & Fall 1998 McCan, D. (1993). Whatiwhatihoe: The Waikato raupatu claim. Waltham, MA: Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts.

McCarty, T. (1989). School as community: The Rough Rock demonstration. Harvard Educational Review, 59 (4), 482-503. McConnell, R., & Jefferies, R. (1991). The first year: Tomorrow’s schools as perceived by members of boards of trustees, principals and staff after the first year. Hamilton, New Zealand: Monitoring Today’s Schools Research Project, University of Waikato.

Ministry of Education (1993). A guide to the New Zealand curriculum framework. Wellington, New Zealand: The Ministry.

Ministry of Education (1995). Nga haeata matauranga: Annual report on Maori education 1994/95 and strategic direction for 1995/96. Wellington, New Zealand: The Ministry.

Ogbu, J. (1978). Minority education and caste: The American system in crosscultural perspective. New York: Academic Press.

Ogbu, J., & Simons, H. (1998). Voluntary and involuntary minorities: A culturalecological theory of school performance with some implications for education. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 29 (2), 155-188.

Ricento, T. (1996). Language policy in the United States. In M. Herriman & B. Burnaby (Eds.), Language policies in English-dominant countries: Six case studies (pp. 122-158). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters Ltd.

Shear-Wood, C. (1982). Blood pressure and related factors among the Maori and Pakeha communities of Huntly. Occasional paper No. 17. Hamilton, New Zealand: Centre for Maori Studies and Research, University of Waikato.

Stokes, E. (1977). Te iwi o Waahi: The people of Waahi Huntly. Occasional paper No. 1. Hamilton, New Zealand: Centre for Maori Studies and Research, University of Waikato.

Stokes, E. (1978). Local perceptions of the impact of the Huntly Power Project 1971-1973. Occasional paper No. 4. Hamilton, New Zealand: Centre for Maori Studies and Research, University of Waikato.

Taskforce to Review Education Administration (1988). Administering for excellence: Effective administration in education: Report of the taskforce to review education administration. Wellington, New Zealand: The Taskforce.

Te Wharekura Kaupapa Maori a Rohe o Rakaumanga (1993). Rakaumanga kura strategic plan 1993-1998. Huntly, New Zealand: Te Wharekura.

Tuteao, V. (1998). Maaku anoo e hanga tooku nei whare ko ngaa pou o roto, he maahoe, he patatee, ko te taahuhu he hiinau, te wharekura kaupapa Maaori aa rohe o Raakaumangamanga. Unpublished Master of Arts in education thesis, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

Families Freezing in Nation’s Poorest County

February 27, 2009 by Russell Means Freedom  
Filed under News

Families Freezing in Nation’s Poorest County:


(Fort Thompson, SD) Electric company caught “pulling meters” (CLICK TO VIEW THE VIDEO) in the poorest community in the nation, leaving America’s most vulnerable people without power in the dead of winter. Predatory electric companies continue to conduct these atrocious practices amid growing public outcry and damning national media scrutiny. Headlines in newspapers across the country highlight unnecessary tragedies as arctic winter months reveal the electric company’s controversial conduct of shutting off the community’s power, despite the rest of South Dakota having Seasonal Termination Protection Regulations.[1]

CORRECTION: “Central Power Electric Cooperative, Inc” is the wholesale provider, not the retail provider that has been illegally disconnecting the meters on Crow Creek Reservation. The real culprits are at the “Central Electric Cooperative:” We apologize for any confusion caused by this error and our happy to oblige the request of Loren Noess - General Manager of CENTRAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE to post his information here for your convenience. See his e-mail request below.


NoessLoren Noess - General Manager

Text of Mr. Noess’ e-mail with:

To Whom it may concern:

Please change the address of Central you have on your web site. Also if you do some research on this video it was played last June on Utube [sic] and we know they were at Crow Creek last March of 2008 doing taping This video we believe is a year old. Our employees are on this video. They are doing their and should not be explosed[sic].

Please refer to the attached letter that I emailed to Eric Klein yesterday and also sent by mail.

I have sent copies of this letter to all 3 Congressional Leaders in Washington and the South Dakota PUC. The 3 Offices in Washington indicated they haven’t received any calls from the Reservation about disconnects. As you’ll read in our letter we haven’t disconnected any[sic] for the months of Dec. Jan and Feb.

Any questions please give me a call.

Loren Noess

General Manager

PO Box 850

1420 North Main

Mitchell, SD 57301



Contact Information

Office Hours: Monday – Friday 8 am – 5 pm
E-mail: cec@centralec.coop
Phone: 605.996.7516
Toll Free in SD: 800.477.2892
Fax: 605.996.0869

Office Locations:

Headquarters Office:
PO Box 850
1420 North Main Street
Mitchell, SD 57301 USA

Plankinton Branch Office:
PO Box 130
102 South Main Street
Plankinton, SD 57301 USA

Putting LIVES on the Line:

This winter, the Crow Creek Indian Reservation is experiencing record-low temperatures reaching fifty below zero. Hundreds of families living in government housing have had their electric meters removed by Central Electric Cooperative, the local electric cooperative. When these power meters are pulled the residents are left without power; the propane heaters do not run; pipes freeze; and there is no water for cooking, drinking, bathing or flushing toilets. Many of these households have family members whose lives depend upon electronic medical equipment such as defibrillators.

Ironically these families are paying some of the highest electricity rates in the country even though they live adjacent to the Big Bend Hydro-Electric Dam on the Missouri river. These homes are poorly insulated causing electric bills in excess of $300.00 in the coldest months.

Median income in the region is approximately $5,000 a year (typical of the thirteen Lakotah (Sioux) Reservations in the “Great Sioux Nation” as defined in the Treaties of 1851 and 1868 with the US Government).

“I’ve been to disaster areas around the world including Sri Lanka after the tsunami, hurricane Katrina, and after the Iowa floods, but, I have never witnessed such blatant disregard for human life as I have here in my own country on the Crow Creek reservation,” stated Eric Klein, Founder and CEO of Compassion into Action Network – Direct Outcome Organization (CAN-DO). “Especially now, with the new administration focusing on the development of America’s infrastructure, we need to focus our energies and resources immediately to address this critical situation where such infrastructure is being blatantly misutilized.”

Appalled by the abuse and neglect, one US Marine and Crow Creek resident took action to publicize the exploitation. Using a hand-held video recorder, he documented local power companies physically cutting electricity lines and removing meters in the peak of winter.

Watch the footage at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=wIVgpMK5-Jo&feature=channel

Utilizing their proven approach to providing lasting solutions with full accountability, efficiency and results, CAN-DO is addressing the operation at the Crow Creek Indian Reservation on the local level to raise the nation’s awareness of the urgent human right abuses taking place in the South Dakota region.

“We are calling for a collaborative effort by ethical individuals, organizations, schools and political leaders to assure that this damage is reversed,” said Klein. “Together, we can contribute to real change here at home.”

View the complete Crow Creek plan at www.can-do.org. Join in the ‘Call to Action.’



49-34A-2. Service required of utilities. Every public utility shall furnish adequate, efficient, and reasonable service.

49-34A-6. Rates to be reasonable and just – Regulation by commission. Every rate made, demanded or received by any public utility shall be just and reasonable. Every unjust or unreasonable rate shall be prohibited. The Public Utilities Commission is hereby authorized, empowered and directed to regulate all rates, fees and charges for the public utility service of all public utilities, including penalty for late payments, to the end that the public shall pay only just and reasonable rates for service rendered.

Source: SL 1975, ch 283, § 16.


Crow Creek Sioux Tribe:

“Every night, the sun slips quietly away behind the bluffs of the Missouri River. These bluffs flank the western edge of the Crow Creek Reservation in central South Dakota. Located one mile south of tribal headquarters at Fort Thompson is Lake Sharpe, one of South Dakota’s Great Lakes. Water recreation abounds on the 80-mile reservoir created by the Big Bend Dam. Visitors enjoy boating, fishing and swimming as well as picnicking and camping along the water’s edge. The tribe’s wildlife department offers guided fishing and hunting trips. It also maintains a buffalo herd that often grazes north of Fort Thompson. ” http://www.travelsd.com/ourhistory/sioux/tribes/crowcreek.asp


… thousands of hectares of Indian land have been lost to dams. In North Dakota, a quarter of the Fort Berthold Reservation, shared by the Arikara, Mandan and Hidatsa peoples of the upper Missouri, for example, was flooded as a result of a staircase of dams (the Missouri River Development Project (MRDP), built during the 1950s and 1960s. The land lost included the best and most valuable and productive land on the reservation – the bottom lands along the river where most people lived.105 Five different Sioux reservations also lost land. Again, the impact was quite severe: the dams destroyed nearly 90 per cent of the tribes’ timberland, 75 per cent of the wild game, and the best agricultural lands.106

Ultimately, the Missouri dams cost the indigenous nations of the Missouri Valley an estimated 142,000 hectares of their best land – including a number of burial and other sacred sites – as well as further impoverishment and severe cultural and emotional trauma. A guarantee, used to rationalise the plan in the first place, that some 87,000 hectares of Indian land would be irrigated was simply scrapped as the project neared completion. As researcher Bernard Shanks puts it: “MRDP replaced the subsistence economy of the Missouri River Indians . . . with a welfare economy . . . As a result of the project, the Indians bore a disproportionate share of the social
cost of water development, while having no share in the benefits.”.107

104 Pittja 1994:54.
105 Guerrero 1992.
106 United States v David Sohappy, Snr et al., 477 US 906 (1986), cert. denied. Cited in Guerrero 1992.
107 Guerrero 1992.

About CAN-DO:

Founded by Eric Klein, CAN-DO has set a new standard for humanitarianism and is changing the face of philanthropy. It quickly has become an organization people can trust and depend upon to “get it done” fast and effectively. It is a 501c3, relief organization dedicated to working on the local level to provide lasting solutions, with full accountability, efficiency, and results.
Video footage, photographs and the web site offer documentation of the organization’s efforts at every phase. CAN-DO supporters take pride in watching their generosity directly affect the lives of those in need through the organization’s VirtualVolunteer.TV.

CAN-DO’s successful missions to bring immediate and direct relief to areas in need have captured the attention of renowned philanthropists including Oprah Winfrey and former president Bill Clinton. The organization was recently awarded the Global Compassion Award at the United Nations for its global impact, unparalleled transparency and accountability. For further information, please visit www.can-do.org or email Eric Klein at ek@can-do.org.

About the Republic of Lakotah:

We are the freedom loving Lakotah from the Sioux Indian reservations of Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana who have suffered from cultural and physical genocide in the colonial apartheid system we have been forced to live under.

We are continuing the work that we were asked to do by the traditional chiefs and treaty councils at the first Indian Treaty Council meeting at Standing Rock Sioux Indian Country in 1974.

During the week of December 17-19, 2007, we traveled to Washington DC and withdrew from the constitutionally mandated treaties to become a free and independent country. We are alerting the Family of Nations we have now reassumed our freedom and independence with the backing of Natural, International, and United States law.

We do not represent those BIA or IRA governments beholden to the colonial apartheid system, or those “hang around the fort” Indians who are unwilling to claim their freedom.

For further information, please visit www.republicoflakotah.com or call 605-867-1111.

– END –

The Illusion of Democracy

February 16, 2009 by Russell Means Freedom  
Filed under News





There are three points of view when it comes to the federal government:

1) Everything is more or less going along just fine. Sure we have some problems but we’ll work them out.

2) It’s too cumbersome and intrusive, taxes are excessive, the national debt is a disgrace, and our foreign policy is long on machismo and short on goodwill. The Democrats and Republicans got us into this mess and probably can’t get us out.

3) If you ignore it, it will go away.

Our recent presidential election took place in November of 2008. As usual, our so-called democracy basically gave us two choices.

The Democrats want an extensive, intrusive federal government to engineer social change and redistribute wealth. Higher taxes and more government involvement (intervention), thereby suffocating free enterprise and diminishing individual freedom. Their goal is to nurture (control) their subjects from cradle to grave.

The Republicans want a strong federal government to engineer endless economic growth and support a vast military-industrial complex. Increased military expenditures and more self-appointed international police action, thereby contributing to global strife and tarnishing our relationship with the rest of the world.

Both of these philosophies are extremely costly. Democrats and Republicans have driven our national debt up to nearly $12 trillion, and it continues to rise. Future generations will bear the burden for this insane federal spending recklessness.

If you’re enthusiastic about one of these two options, by all means stay the course.

But if you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place trying to choose the lesser of two evils, perhaps it’s time to unscrew your head back out of the sand and seek an alternative. Even though the media will try to convince you that a vote for anyone other than a Democrat or a Republican is a wasted vote, there are other alternatives.

The election process is meant to give the voters the illusion of a free democracy without actually having one.

The two major candidates for president, one Democrat and one Republican, are basically chosen by a handful of small states (the New Hampshire Primary, the Iowa Caucuses, etc.), then each of the candidates personally selects their respective running mate and potential successor.

To maintain their position of power and control, the two major political parties enacted election laws that have given them a decisive advantage over any emerging alternative philosophies.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress have awarded matching campaign funds to the two major political parties (themselves) while making it difficult for third parties to qualify for them. The candidates of these two parties are automatically placed on ballots in every state, while third party candidates must contend with legal quagmires on a state by state basis to get on ballots. And so on.

To anyone with a brain larger than a pinto bean this doesn’t seem like much of a democracy.

To make matter worse, the mass media focuses only on the two major political parties, as if they’re the only two points of view, further diminishing a free democracy.

There aren’t many choices when there are only two alternatives.

This unbalanced, unfair system wasn’t the result of evil intent. But government operates on endless compromise and those in power tend to manipulate the system to favor those in power. And the mass media goes along with it to maintain a positive relationship with those in power in order to obtain access.

Basically, the system is rigged.

The two parties in power have made it difficult for a third party to compete and the mass media has become their ally by promoting an illusion of a democracy, encouraging everyone to participate in the process under the mistaken premise that the public is apathetic rather than disgusted.

So the masses turn out every four years to do their civic duty and vote for the lesser of two evils. But a vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil and an illusion of a democracy is only an illusion.

A two-party system is not a democracy – it’s a closed system tightly controlled by the two parties in power. Anyone who enthusiastically supports such a system is perpetuating a narrow, unjust form of government.

Every citizen has three choices:

1) You can participate in a rigged system, giving legitimacy to that system, by voting for one of the two major candidates as usual. Be sure to pat yourself on the back for doing your civic duty.

2) You can vote for a third party candidate, preferably one that seeks to limit the power and scope of government, sending a message to the two major parties and the mass media that politics as usual is unacceptable. Be sure to pat yourself on the back for having a mind of your own.

3) You can choose to ignore your enslavement by ever increasing government forces and bang your head against the wall. Be sure to pat yourself on the back so you don’t swallow your gum.

Choose wisely. The fate of eternity is in your hands.


Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. Contact bret@centurytel.net

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