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"My Heroes Have Always Killed Cowboys": Why Columbus Day Should Be Native-American Day

"1890...this is the year of the Wounded Knee Massacre. On September 29, US Troops surrounded a Sioux encampment at Wounded Knee Creek and massacred Chief Bigfoot and 300 prisoners of War using a new rapid fire weapon that fired exploding shells, called a Hotchkiss gun. For this so-called battle, 20 Congressional Medals of Honor for valor were given to 7th Cavalry. To this day, this is the most medals of honor ever awarded for a single battle. More medals of honor were given for the indiscriminate slaughter of women and children than for any battle in WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan.

At the conclusion of our retreat this weekend, my dad, who is ordained in the Native American Church and who holds ceremonial fireplaces of several tribes, led us in a sweat lodge- a practice I am grateful to have had apart of my life since a young age.

By the end of the second round, an amazing and unexpected thing happened. The door was raised to reveal a parade of winged ants making their way from a hole directly in front of the sponsor's seat out the east door. The sponsor of the ceremony called the meeting because he wanted to start new, let go of the past and any anger he had, and go forward with confidence- and here were thousands of creatures that traditionally represent anger being birthed from the earth right in front of him. They were emerging from underground, spreading their wings for the very first time in their lives, and venturing out to the light. They could have gone any direction, they could have scattered and gone many different ways, but together they marched with purpose directly out the east door- where the sun first rises, and a new day is born. It's the same reason we, as humans, leave out the east door, as well. Somehow they knew.

Across from the sponsor- the seat that represents a mirror of the reciprocal individual- sat a beautiful Chinese women who wept. "I know now why I was brought here today. Many of you know me by my American name, but my traditional name given to me by my mother is Hui Yee. In Chinese, this means 'new beginnings.'"

As my dad always says, "I'm not a superstitious man. I just see these things happen, and I can't explain them."

Yet today, we celebrate not the people who first formed a relationship with these lands. The people who greeted many of our ancestors with open arms, welcoming them by sharing their most sacred medicines, their most sacred foods. We celebrate not the people who instilled their trust in us, and whose trust was broken time and time again with horrifying, catastrophic consequences. You think our 9% unemployment rate is bad? On the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, unemployment fluctuates between 85-90%. More than 90% of the reservation's population lives below the poverty line. The life expectancy for men is between 46-48 years, roughly the same as Afghanistan and Somalia.

If you want the real history of our nation- and you should- please watch this short, incredibly moving and informative TED talk, which includes stunning photographs of our native people. Educate yourselves. It will shock you. Know that this genocide and injustice continues today. Know that with all the outcries of racial injustice, prejudice against minorites, lack of opportunities for people of color, and health disparities between whites and non-whites, Native-Americans have it worst of all and far, far worse at that.


There are many ways that you can get involved, and I encourage you to do so. A follow-up post on how to do so will follow. These cultures are on the brink of extinction. The time to act is now.
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Patrick Metzdorf's profile photoCerstin von Döhren's profile photoShane Potter's profile photoMarcos Gomes's profile photo
15 comments
 
My brother shared a video with me recently about the use of depleted uranium in Iraq and how it is effecting children. It really disgusts me to a point where I don't like to write and contribute my thoughts.
 
Truth has no perspective or race- it wears no guise but it has been hidden from the masses for fear that if their eyes were opened they would surely see it for what it is. They will give us reality in doses both large and small, laden with the perspectives of those who are evil. There is evil and it lives, but it does not know the open hand. Thank you for sharing. +Alida Brandenburg
 
have money in our wallet, education and technology. lack a philosophy of life. I love TED.
"Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing" - Oscar Wilde
 
I have shared that video on my Facebook profile as well +Andreas Knüttel http://www.facebook.com/shane.c.potter I did add some comments also. There is a thing I would like to magnify, and that is we are all born- brought into this world this world is not born unto us, and we will pass out of it, while we are here, let us be known as the people of the open hands. When the illusion fades both evil and that which is good will be evident to all, speak softly but wisely.
 
+Alida Brandenburg, each time I read something that you've posted I love you more each time. Reading your post gave me the feeling that I wished I could've participated in the retreat this past weekend. Your post is very moving. Thank you for sharing of yourself. I await the chance to meet you in person some day.
 
beam My sincerest thanks, +Kimberly A Edwards! That was very kind of you. Wish you had been there, too! We do these retreats regularly, though, so should you ever feel inspired... ;)
 
Thank you +Alida Brandenburg This story is so painfully familiar that watching this video feels like having a six inch hole cut through the middle of my soul..

I am Maori, which is a collective term for the indigenous tribes of Aotearoa (New Zealand).

These stories are the same stories that we tell our children only with the names slightly altered, same broken treaties, massacres, abusive legislation and long running court battles with token offerings of compensation.

The ongoing fight for my people has been for "Tino Rangatiratanga" which means self government, self determination.

For me the best metaphor that illustrates what it is like to live as a colonised indigenous person is this:-

Imagine that you are a child and that your parents over the course of you childhood promised to look after you, care for you, keep you warm and safe and kept saying these things over and over again.

However instead what they did was beat you, sell your body on the street to strangers, take the food from your plate and keep you locked away from the rest of the world.

Luckily you manage to escape and live a subsistence life on the street, it is not much, but it is YOUR life!

Then imagine that as an adult you are asked again to trust your parents to support and look after you.

What would your response be?

This is what is being asked of indigenous peoples the world over.

Come, trust the governments/structures that abused and killed your ancestors, adhere to the systems and obey the authorities that silenced and abused your grandparents. Laugh it off when people in power use the words nigger/kaffir/abbo and belittle your struggle to be heard.

There is a beautiful story that comes from the tribes of the Taranaki - of passive resistance.
An amazing group of Maori resisted the government using passive "non violent" techniques.

This is the story of Parihaka:-

http://www.parihaka.com/About.aspx

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For me it is through stories of transformation, redemption and reclamation that we rise.
 
Must watching this Video. We are working for a the Lakota Winterproject - Helping People with Heating-Material in Pine Ridge and the Rosebudreservation. Aaron Huey is my Favorite for appalling the World for this poorest Place in the USA.
 
My sincerest thanks to you for what you're doing, +Cerstin von Döhren. I have relatives there. I know how badly they need help. My gratitude to you for your generous support.
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