Whether the argument is made or not that indigenous people shouldn’t serve in the military the fact that they do and have died as a result of that makes this a personal issue to indigenous people I would think.
While indigenous people may live in a vacuum of sorts it isn’t one that is hermetically sealed-what impacts this country will in one way or another impact the nations-it is a measure of common sense to be aware of that.
Both Iraq and Afghanistan are failed policies-Afghanistan in particular is composed of a tribal, sovereign people, and the attempt to impose a system of governance reflective of the West’s will predictably be as corrupt and inept as it has been among the nations.
Should any be accepting of a reality that reduces the status of women to property? A property that can be publicly flogged at whim by “religious police”, or physically mutilated for some perceived transgression?
Should it be found acceptable that in their desperation women will resort to self immolation? I think the answers to these questions are obvious-especially when similar attitudes exists toward indigenous women, when they are marginalized to the extent that a young high school age girl states in a interview dealing with rape and abuse on the rez, “that’s just the way it is”.
The question becomes not only is this America’s fight, but also one of whether indigenous people should take part in it? The decision to do so is, and should be, an individual one.
Too often military service is viewed as an opportunity to gain a job, training, an education, and later employment-while the scarcity of such opportunities exist within indigenous communities this is a phenomena that will continue, and rather than castigate the young people who see it as a way out of poverty and the mind numbing predictability of daily rez
live, the attention should be redirected to the conditions that make it appear as a viable option.
If we are looking for fight let it begin within our own communities and let it be directed at the abuses inflicted upon us by outsiders, and perhaps most importantly, by ourselves.
Geronimo/Bin Laden-yet another grandiose display of ignorance and the arrogance of those in power. It is something that should be addressed, but I suspect it will have a short shelf life. Some, and I think we all know who they are, will find an opportunity to make a video commentary about this, and in doing so garner a little more air time-it will be presented as a part of their service and personal wisdom.
To them I would say comment at the same time on the shared miseries our women and those of Afghanistan are commonly familiar with.
Jefferson Keel, as president of the National Congress of American Indians, made the statement that Bin Laden was a shared enemy-I agree with that in the context that the moment one of our own lost their life that was set in stone, and I know of no natural immunity possessed by indigenous people that would immunize them against a single act of terrorism-it hasn’t since 1492.
To date 77 of our own have been killed in action, and more than 400 have been wounded in this “war on terrorism”, that makes it personal as hell to me irregardless of other considerations or talking points.
This sacrifice also demands something more for these 477 than bestowing a code name on a shared enemy that is an inexcusable affront not only to them, those of ours serving in the military, the memory of a legendary leader, and every man, woman, and child among the nations.
Should we be angry? Absolutely, but let’s not forget to be as angry and vocal about the countless other issues that bear a physical reality in the day to day.
An apology will no doubt be forthcoming, more words that may even lead to yet another committee which will produce a new list of acceptable names for military incursions-that’s a step forward and will serve to mollify and defuse this flashpoint-but it will do nothing to mitigate entrenched attitudes, policies, or legislation that are the root cause.
Even worse is the knowledge that it will not stop a single abuse on the rez-that to me is the greater effrontery.
Honestly, are any to be surprised Bin Laden and Goyaałé are held in the same low esteem by an oppressive government that has always believed might makes right?
This is an issue that should motivate every indigenous person to raise their voice-my hope is it won’t be seized upon by figureheads to create another walk to generate donations.
Onondaga acting in the roll of the lead voice for the Six Nations Confederacy has issued a statement regarding the use of Geronimo’s name in the context it was used, and addressed the larger implications.
Onondaga, the six nations, have always been a staunch voice for indigenous people-one worth listening to-they rely on reasoned and well thought out positions rather than media events, or self promotion, as we are becoming all too familiar with at the hands of others.
A classic example of this is a book entitled Basic Call to Consciousness as edited by Akwesasne Notes, and published by Native Voices of Summertown, Tennessee-I would recommend it as a must read for those who are interested in the issues, as opposed to autobiographies that by their very nature are fraught with revision and generous layers