BUFFALO CALF ROBE WOMAN
LITTLE WOLF AND DULL KNIFE
Unlike Willie Nelson’s song my heroes have never been cowboys – they’ve been men like Little Wolf, Dull Knife, Chief Joseph, and Quanah Parker to name just a few.
Women number among my heroes as well – women like Lozen, Buffalo Calf Road Woman, Running Eagle, and Moving Robe – again just to name a few.
I didn’t grow up with tales of cattle drives, little houses on the prairie, exaggerated stories of gunslingers, and great “victories” over the red savages, nor the romantic imagery of Gunsmoke, Bonanza, and Hollywood.
I was raised in the midst of an oral history passing through generations with a personal ancestry shrouded in the midst of a history written by others.
No Dukes, Earls, Princesses, signers of the Magna Carta, vague associations with royalty and signators of the Constitution or six plus degrees of separation with celebrities.
A history of those whose names were never recorded and precious few mementos only a generation or two old.
Artifacts remain that a tribal attribution can be given to, but in most instances it cannot be said this belonged to a specific person – that’s true in other cultures as well but the time line is different.
As was said to me where the land is red that is the blood of our people, the same red when the sun sets or rises ……. my people, ancestors I will never know so much as their name.
The land is the final resting place of every living breathing thing that has ever lived or will live – as such it should be considered sacred, treated with respect and reverence.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
I think to begin with an essential premise to understand is that all governments and their agencies lie.
They always have, and if the past is prologue there’s no reason to believe they won’t continue to.
For all the discussions about rights and the Constitution what is often ignored are a few simple words in the Preamble and they are to “promote the general welfare”.
That’s a very broad an inclusive statement – it can be assumed taking note of the remaining words that the general welfare includes the pursuit of justice, domestic tranquility, and providing a common defence against enemies both foreign and domestic while insuring the “Blessings of Liberty”.
In this promotion no mention is made of creating a caste system where any are favored above another – nowhere does it state that the wealthy or corporations are more deserving.
And yet it cannot be denied a caste system does exist – that corporations and the wealthy have the greater influence, receive special attention, and are routinely attended to by both political parties.
As long as such inequities exist the common welfare and domestic tranquility will amount to little more than words penned long ago.
Government and a majority of politicians have always been corrupt, but the bar has been so lowered that some demographics seem to believe this to be an acceptable norm – they in fact appear to revel in it.
And to what end? Do rhetoric or blatant lies possess a greater substance than truthfulness and the common welfare of all citizens?
Is it a “Blessing of Liberty” or an example of “justice” for people to work for substandard wages while the wealthy with influence and lobbyists literally make millions?
Does passing out ethics waivers to bring individuals into an administration or increasing the number of swamp denizens serve the common welfare?
Are Elders blessed when they don’t receive a cost of living adjustment for years in the midst of politicians giving themselves one? Is “justice” to be found in that?
If you believe so then you should support both the Republican Party and this administration because that is what they stand for.
This and nothing more, not “family values”, not justice and equity, not leaving no child behind, not clean water nor clean air and food, not consumer protections or regulations holding Wall Street and the banking industry accountable, nor a healthcare system that every over “civilized” nation has.
The current administration is the predictable culmination of an erosion of ethics in government and by extension voters who have served to enable the decline by ignoring their responsibility to hold elected officials accountable in lieu of swearing a loyalty oath to the party of their choice.
Whatever integrity the Republican party had went out the window when they allowed Evangelicals the influence they have – Evangelicals who thump their bibles and support a man who is the very antithesis of the principles they claim to live their life by……. which in my opinion makes them as fraudulent as Trump is.
Barry Goldwater a former long serving Republican senator warned of this, Eisenhower warned of the industrial/military complex and corporate greed.
Acceptance is an embrace, a surrender, to an in your face arrogance and dystopian belief that a lie has a greater value than the truth – that a bankruptcy prone pathologically lying real estate developer is in actuality a political savant.
That it’s acceptable to kick everyone else but the wealthy, robber baron corporations and their CEOs to the curb.
I submit there is really nothing new in any of this – it is a matter of degrees, and having gone down that path the nation has turned against itself, a nation in the midst of an ideological civil war the toll of which is yet to be determined, and in so doing cannibalizing itself and the very precepts it claims to hold dear above all others.
The evidence continues to mount that Trump supporters haven’t a clue about much of anything.
They’re like mass produced wind up toys coming off an assembly line – wind them up and they march in the same lock step saying what they’ve been programmed to say.
I’m not a Constitutional expert nor have I ever claimed to be one, but in researching many of the treaties the nations entered into with the government it was only natural if not essential to become familiar with the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and related Supreme Court rulings.
Additionally that led to familiarizing myself with the Federalist Papers and Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.
My suggestion for Trump’s supporters is that they put down the yellow journalism rag mags they favor, take a break from Dumbbart, Fox News etc, their favored “reality shows”, and instead familiarize themselves with the precepts this nation was supposedly founded upon.
If their professed concern is indeed about making America great the Constitution and Bill of Rights as written would be a good starting point.
I have a friend whose given to say when a person makes a fool of themselves that they “tore their ass” – in this instance tore seems kind of mild, shredded would be more like it.
I sometimes wonder how many among those who wave the flag the most and couch all things in terms of patriotism actually have a working knowledge of the Constitution or those they refer to as “founding fathers”?
More than that who they personally elevate to iconic status and why?
Among conservatives Reagan and Lincoln are popular figures, for Democrats it may be FDR and the Clintons, though the Clintons popularity is on the decline save for the most diehard.
It isn’t difficult to understand populism, but for populism to result in positive change it needs to be informed – if not then history records it becomes a vehicle for despots.
Examples would be individuals like Hitler, Mussolini, and even Stalin who rode waves of popular opinion to become leaders.
It’s a long list and those who qualify subject to opinion, but I believe the three I’ve mentioned would find common agreement.
I’m inclined to believe terms like populism are over used when taking into consideration all candidates focus on what they believe is popular and will resonate.
That’s when the need to be informed becomes important – the ability and willingness to separate what merely sounds good from reality.
The mere fact that something may be popular doesn’t translate to being meaningful – social media sites like FB and others speak to that what with the ongoing homages to “celebrities”.
Let Kim Kardashian post another nude photo or Kanye another incoherent rant and the board lights up – for me it’s like really, does any of this actually make a difference?
Popularity is subjective, it can be harmless, amusing, beneficial, and even destructive.
Both the campaigns that Bernie Sanders and Trump mounted were routinely labeled as populist in nature – one fact based and the other predicated upon tweets, the one lacking factual substance prevailed clearly demonstrating the danger of being misinformed that can accompany populist movements.
Knowledge they say is power, so it stands to reason that the lack of knowledge is debilitating, at times a self inflicted wound that could rightfully be compared to a syndrome known as “self hurting”.
I’ve never known anyone I would consider a genius, though I’ve known a few who believed they were.
I’m not a genius, never will be, nor aspire to be one, but that doesn’t imply I can’t make an effort to make informed decisions and employ a little common sense along the way.
Common sense implies that if you remove clean water regulations and allow pollutants and assorted toxins to be dumped in the nations waterways nothing good can come from that.
Common sense makes it obvious that if an individual favors lies over truth they aren’t someone to believe or bestow trust in.
Common sense says if governmental leadership is opposed to a livable wage and cuts taxes for the wealthy and corporations it isn’t people friendly.
Common sense dictates that you move away from fossil fuels and focus on clean renewable energy, not rape the environment to wring the last dollar from it.
Common sense acknowledges climate change and a national global effort to address it, not deny the reality or obstruct efforts to address it.
Common sense should tell you if elected leaders attempt to do things behind closed doors there’s a reason for that and it isn’t in the public good.
Lastly, a common sense question is which serves the great purpose – uninformed populism or a willingness to do the math and in doing so accept the results?
The immigration debate that’s taking place in this country is a serious one, serious enough to warrant sticking to the facts and rejecting hyperbole.
The vetting of applicants shouldn’t rattle anyone’s cage, the extent and method should be constitutional in nature and wherever warranted accompanied by the professed values of compassion and understanding.
Regrettably scapegoating is as much a national tradition here in this country as it is anywhere else.
An easy approach that requires little more than fiction vs fact and what is becoming an embedded desultory bias.
Presidential positions, especially opinions, are noted for setting the national tone, a responsibility that should be accompanied by honesty, not alternative facts and an overtly transparent hatred.
Such is the potential influence and power of the office that the term for it has been referred to as a “bully pulpit” – in the current administration the word bully has been quite literally taken to heart.
In a free society the concept of freedom becomes anathema – free speech is attacked, freedom of assembly declared a conspiratorial plot, freedom of the press becomes an obstacle going so far as to be incessantly ridiculed and portrayed as an enemy of the state.
Known tactics from the likes of Fidel Castro, Mao Tse Tung, Vladimir Putin, Benito Mussolini, Adolph Hitler, Pol Pot (Saloth Sar), and an endless list of others.
Attacking freedoms can never be qualified as acts of patriotism, such attacks are what they are, attempts to undermine, control, manipulate, subjugate, and rend the fabric of a nation.
Patriotism isn’t meant to be an instrument to further such agendas, it should in fact be the first line of defense.
The sort of patriotism that embraced the oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic that led a large number of military veterans both men and women to travel to Standing Rock at their own expense and join protestors.
This wasn’t an officially ordered deployment, rather one based upon conviction and dedication.
And while I’m not familiar with the personal or service oriented history of these individuals vets I have no hesitation in saying it was among their finest of hours, a lesson in patriotism for all the world to see, and I have nothing but gratitude and respect for them.
The history of our nations and the military has been one of bloodshed and loss – wounds have been deep and generational.
Inspite of the occasional press handout or campaign photo op referencing the need to heal wounds little in the way of that has eventuated, yet for a moment in time a healing took place as the result of an act(s) of conscience and a faithful remembrance of a pledge made with good intentions.
Lincoln’s call to bind up the nation’s wounds following the Civil War was a call to patriotism, a patriotism that recognizes inclusivity, the overriding need for it, and the rights of all people.
This nation is locked in yet another civil war, not an armed war, but a war of ideology, of my party right or wrong – the Secessionist this time is not the South but a handful of people in the halls of power who seek to once again divide a nation, empower themselves, and the only emancipation they are interested in is freeing and legitimizing corporate greed.
An emancipation that will subjugate the common welfare and visit a Sherman like scorched earth policy or a Viet Nam era Operation Rolling Thunder upon the environment in the midst of unleashing a new generation of carpetbaggers to rape and pillage.
Patriotism is becoming a dirty word? That, as is the way of all things is solely dependent on the examples provided.
The United States has always demonstrated a marked ability to cultivate enemies, some it might be argued were unavoidable, others due to a sense of entitlement.
With Trump’s inauguration even the relationship with those considered to be allies have become strained and a bill will come due at some point.
The cover of Der Spiegel, a German magazine, speaks to the global revulsion at the election of a man whose talents make him better suited as a carnival barker or street corner shell game huckster than to hold any elected position, much less that of president.
What’s missing in Der Spiegels cover portrayal is Trump’s “advisor” Steve Bannon, the alt right’s poster boy dressed as Rasputin whispering in Trump’s ear.
Patrick Henry’s “give me liberty or give me death” is a well known quote but there are other quotes by Henry that speak to governance and the way it should be conducted that people aren’t as familiar with.
Now you’d think the “patriots” and god fearing conservatives would be and give them equal time, but the reality may be they are inconvenient truths and as such unsettling.
“ The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers are concealed from them”.
“ The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”
Such beliefs are apparently untenable to a great many who hold public office, and no doubt the reason why they speak about the Constitution as a living document that requires legislation that circumvents it.
Historically speaking the Constitution never meant a damn thing to the nations, when it came to inclusion we were excluded.
It’s ironic that now a growing number of the very ones it was written for are likewise being excluded, enter fascism.
Do they care, does the exclusion matter to them? Apparently for some it doesn’t, but for those who do they’re taking it to the streets and any other available venue to express their disdain and raise hell about it, that’s not only a good thing but a Constitutional guarantee as well for as long as it lasts.
Here’s one by Reagan who has been elevated to cult status:
“I used to say Politics is the second oldest profession, prostitution being the oldest, but I have come to realize that it bears a gross similarity to the first”.
A red light is a recognized symbol indicating danger, the need to stop, but also has been associated with what are referred to as “red light districts”.
In the context of all three it might be more to the point if the porch lights at the White House were replaced with red ones.
How fitting that Reagan’s own words indict those who sing his praises the loudest.
It’s more than a little disconcerting to me and should be to everyone that a first generation citizen honors and knows more about liberty, freedom, justice, and equality than does the newly elected president, his cabinet appointees and a dysfunctionally conservative stacked Congress and Senate.
In the sixties during the UFW strikes and boycotts the treatment and abuse of farmer labourers became so egregious that Senator Robert Kennedy went to California to discuss the issues with growers and workers.
During one such discussion as they broke for lunch Kennedy suggested the growers take the opportunity to read the Constitution.
To read the Constitution isn’t enough in itself, nor to pay lip service to it’s contents in the midst of attempting to undermine it.
If the Constitution is a “living document” as often referred to then it must also be nurtured rather than suffer the slow death of a thousand cuts.
American Exceptionalism has come to mean taking exception to the basic fundamental rights of all people and those specifically enumerated in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
On the subject of rights people should also familiarize themselves with the 9th Amendment that speaks to rights not specified but none the less exist and have not been ceded.
As indigenous nations we are capable of telling others what it means to have these rights abridged, to be excluded from the protections they afford, to be denied the vote, what being denied a voice or being held captive by a hostile government means.
And make no mistake about it, the current administration is a hostile one seeking only to impose it’s will.
Those who protest and resist will become known as a “problem” just as our people became the “ndn problem”.
Justice if it follows the model applied to us as nations and individuals will be withheld, manipulated, or ignored.
Five hundred plus years speaks to this from the landing of Columbus, to Plymouth Rock, and now to Standing Rock and comparable sites where corporate greed takes priority over people and the environment.
I submit that it is a revealing commentary when a first generation woman born of immigrant parents seeking a better life and the nations have a greater understanding and respect for liberty and equality than elected officials, Wall Streeters, and beer guzzling Neanderthals waving the discredited flag of the Confederacy.
Photo by bearspawprint
First Amendment :
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Fourteenth Amendment – Section One:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
In an earlier blog I offered the opinion that the election of Trump inspite of the scrutiny law enforcement has been under related to abuses of power in which some cases entailed outright murder that law enforcement officials and the rank and file would become more aggressive.
My personal opinion was that this wouldn’t actually occur until Trump had taken the oath of office – I obviously was wrong.
I think this is due in no small part to the selection of appointees to various positions that have been announced hastening the disregard for fundamental rights.
Consider as well the looming ultra conservative Supreme Court Trump will fashion and not only the Constitution but the Bill of Rights are going to be trashed.
Apparently Republicans value the Constitution and Bill of Rights as much as they do the “family values” they always go on about.
Democracy as it exists now is represented by a cadre of corporate thugs and Brown Shirts masquerading as “private security forces” and law enforcement.
Somewhere we read that as a nations we are a sovereign people that didn’t cede rights to the government but granted specific limited rights while retaining others.
Somewhere we read that the treaties we entered into were in effect the supreme law of the land and would remain as such for as long as the rivers flow and the grasses grow.
Somewhere we read that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.
And so as a people, as nations, we too say be true to what you said on paper.