Introduction: The same corrupt system that wrongly accused, convicted and imprisoned eleven innocent young men is the same system, with many of the exact same players, who are currently profiting from rampant sexual abuse of children on Spirit Lake Nation Reservation in North Dakota, as well as most if not all reservations in Indian Country, and beyond.
This Blog is documenting ongoing events at all levels of government. Events on the rez itself, often require someone to speak up and speak out, but since those who do are often abused, assaulted, threatened and intimidated by the abusers in authority, this blog is their voice.
I ignore morons but the rest of you can reach me at: Cat West Email
This is the NEW model Blog. Not all the links hook up to pages that are also smart phone/tablet friendly. Eventually, they all will be, but with over 5000 pages on this site, it may take some time to get everything on the raft.
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April 29, 2019
“Mitakuye Oyasin” , “All My Relations”… We say that in prayers, in ceremony. It reminds us that we are connected not just to those we know, not just to our families, but to every living thing, and everything is alive.
It comes from a time before Contact. A time when there was balance and respect for the resources that provided life and a living.
It’s almost forgotten now. Watch daily just the battle to survive, and the competition is with greed that takes more than it could ever use, destroys what it doesn’t want, and discards, wastes, more than it ever uses.
Gold mining companies in remote parts of the world, ravage the rivers, the lands and enslaves the Native People to gouge it out of the earth so it can go into the profits of CEO’s who never get their hands dirty, directly, but who hire people to do the dirty work for them.
Resources are all up for grabs, and the greedy are grabbing as fast as they can. The waters are being polluted by manufacturing plants, chemicals, coal slurry, and every kind of oil spill. There is no accountability. The waters we depend on for life, are being treated like sewers so the greedy can become even more rich, and buy even more politicians, who will make laws that benefit them while hurting the rest of us.
You watch the Water Protectors battle police by standing on the grounds that are theirs by rights, by treaties and by law. Native men and women stand against tear gas, pepper spray, projectiles, water cannons, to stop a pipeline that benefits only a handful of oil barons, and which has already leaked everywhere it has been installed, and those leaks have never been cleaned up.
Even as the courts rule on the side of Indians, the bulldozers rip across the lands, even digging up burial grounds, and it’s not by accident. It is to enrage and demoralize those fighting to save their lands, and the waters that they, and frankly, everyone in the region, depends on for life itself.
You know who should be alongside them, defending their lands and taking up their cause? All of us. Farmers who will lose their farms when the waters are fouled …
“I get my water from the aquifer! It matters not to me!”
Actually, more than you know, it does. What do you think feeds the aquifers? And when that pipeline bursts and that oil soaks into the lands, as it is doing in so many places already, it seeps into those aquifers…
And that’s not just the agriculture, it’s the towns, cities, everyone will be affected… but it’s Indians on the line, doing the battle, and no one reporting on it except as a side story, locally, occasionally, and not the very fight for life that it should be portrayed as to all of us.
It’s how media (97% owned by 6 Corporations) puts us to sleep while firehosing us with junk chatter panels
I remember when news was delivered by journalists. Now they have “newsreaders”. No one checks for veracity, facts, and they don’t even remember what they read. They fill their time slots with chit chat among themselves, more time on sports and the stock market (How many of you are invested in the stock market?) And almost nothing on the underfunded schools that are falling apart, underpaid teachers that are working 2 or more jobs to make ends meet, while buying supplies for their students out of their own pockets…
And let us not forget the panel discussions. Those are great. No one is an expert, but they have strong opinions and they rile each other up until you feel like you are watching a cage match and don’t know who or what to believe. Celebrities in place of experts. Pundits in place of experts. Chatter. Chit chat.
While the resources are being raided, environment destroyed, and nobody goes to jail when your kids get cancer from the chemicals. Look at Flint Michigan. Lead in the water. Children are poisoned for life by lead… Adults sickened by lead. And they never told anyone what they did, they just saved $30 a day by switching over to an unsafe water supply. Legionnairs Disease sickened and killed people, and those who didn’t die in the first 30 days are still dying from the effects…
Killing people should be considered a crime. Poisoning Children and adults, should be considered a crime. But no one is going to jail. There are ‘fines’ but no one is in prison. The taxpayers they poisoned are the ones who had to pay for their legal defense as well as the legal prosecution, and they have to use bottled water, that is not always available, to drink, cook, wash dishes, bathe… they can’t even water a vegetable garden with the water. It’s going on 5 years that we’ve known about this.
By the way, Notre Dame Cathedral had a fire. Within 24 hours there was over a BILLION DOLLARS raised to rebuild it. (Because the Catholic Church is so poor?). Those same Billionaires taking a bow for their noble donations, could have given the people of Flint, clean water.
Our priorities are a mess, people.
There are hundreds of cities throughout the country, with the same or worse levels of lead in their drinking water. But for some reason, that’s not news.
And what the Water Protectors are trying to save us all from, is even worse–– but the enforcement is on the side of the pipeline company.
By the way. When the Pipeline is finished and running, that oil goes directly to export. That makes the Oil Barons rich. There will be 35 permanent jobs on that pipeline. Millions of people will suffer, the environment will be damaged beyond repair in our lifetime, or our children’s lifetime… or their children’s.
We are ALL Related. What happens to those in one place, happens to everyone everyplace eventually. The time to pay attention is when it is in that small beginning place, where it can be stopped.
If media was not all consolidated into the hands of six corporations (most if not all, pay no taxes, get government grants, etc) we’d know more what we were fighting for, a long time ago.
If media was not all consolidated into the hands of six corporations (most if not all, pay no taxes, get government grants, etc) we’d know more what we were fighting for, a long time ago.
We know that if Black Churches or if Mosques in our neighborhoods are firebombed, those billionaires don’t even smell the smoke. Local communities come together to donate and rebuild. It takes longer. The people sacrifice more, but it is the communities that rebuild.
Now you know who cares about you, and who only cares about opulence.
Back To The Beginning
When I woke this blog up from it’s 2-1/2 years sleep, at the beginning of this month, the theme was we are all related on a physical, spiritual, ethereal level and that connection is a powerful one if we recognize it.
It’s a connection taught and handed down thru millennia in Native Culture. It’s second nature to Native People. It’s just understood. Like breathing. Western Civilization needs to be taught, reminded, over and over again, that we are all Related.
A Haida Woman, whom I admire greatly, writes frequently on her FaceBook page, about the Forests and the trees, and their connection to the land, the rivers, oceans, animals and people, and how the logging companies are coming in and clear cutting, even illegally in many cases, destroying the irreplaceable environmental web-work that supports all life on the islands where she lives.
I asked for and received permission to post in this blog, a short piece she wrote on her page. She’s a Haida Woman. Her family are carvers, weavers, painters, dancers, fishermen, teachers, leaders (her father was the Chief of his clan). Without further adieu, here is her posting:
It’s a funny thing. I learned that scientifically they can measure ocean nitrogen in ancient trees. This is because the salmon swim up the river and the bears or eagles hunt the salmon and bring the carcasses into the forest.
At least this used to be the case in a healthy forest. Our ancestors lived and died here for thousands of years. Now wouldn’t you say that our ancestors DNA could be a part of those ancient trees? Is that the amazing connection we feel while carving a tree or weaving its bark or roots? It’s all connected as they say. What we do to the earth, we do to ourselves. We cannot have ‘reserves’ of healthy forest when the adjacent area is devastated. The respect must be shown across the land! My thoughts.
Old Massett, Haida Gwaii
(You can see Lisa’s store, here.)
It’s simple, straightforward. “What we do to the Earth we do to ourselves”. We have to keep our eyes open. We have to look around. We have to see what’s really happening, and we have to understand the battles we see around us. They are all about us. This isn’t happening to some distant planet, it’s happening all around us.
So, while your news is giving you chitty chat chit, and cage match punditry, demand more and better information. Educate yourself. Learn to think critically. Stop clapping & cheering for liars and idiots.
And yes, Billionaires can pay their fair share and still have more money than God. It won’t kill them. But us paying their share? Us paying to clean up their messes? Us getting sickened by their greedy tactics? That is killing us.
You know where to find me.
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April 22, 2019
Nothing “JUST HAPPENS”
History teaches us how things came to be. But sadly, we are not taught history in the curriculum of Elementary, Secondary or even some College Courses. Instead, we are taught White Patriarchy renditions of events, which in fact played out very differently at the time. We lose all sense of how things really happened, what was done, and especially the damage that was done along the way.
Very hard to fix something if we have a distorted view of events that led up to it, including leading up to today. We are by generations of being kept in the dark, of being fed Dime Novel conceptions of historical events, even current events, at a loss in general to understand events of today, especially as everything around us seems to be broken.
In place of truth we were fed lies about other people. We became grievous against people we never met, never knew, believing that they were the cause of our despair, when in fact, it was series after series of events, painted over by prejudices, bigotry, racism that is the cause of what ails us today.
Trump didn’t just happen. He is the ultimate goal of the Conservative movement that in the time of Reagan, began in earnest to repaint all of history as something it was not. There was no ‘Welfare Queen”, but there was a welfare cheat and she was black, and St. Ronnie’s team used her to define not only all People Of Color, but all people on Public Assistance and most egregiously, all women who were raising their children or grandchildren on their own for a myriad of reasons: Poverty being foremost.
Poverty caused by sickness, disability, low wages, fathers who skipped out on child support because despite the rulings saying they owed it, there was, for decades, no enforcement mechanism to make them pay it.
This might surprise you but you have to know: More White People depend on Social assistance and Government Assistance than there are POC on the dole. But that’s not the image in our minds, thanks to endless decades of racist propaganda fed to us directly, indirectly repeated by just about every politician running a grievance based campaign: i.e., telling us that it was the “other” person who was taking everything away from us (Immigrants, poor people, the disabled) and that if we elect them, there will be better times for us (the superior class by default of assumptions).
And true to their words, when elected, they cut social assistance and made it even harder to get. Reagan years was when in California I noticed a sudden and sharp increase in people living on the streets. Poverty increased. And with that, crime, addictions, and a general mistrust of other human beings as being potentially out to harm us. Especially the raggedy ones. They were the real danger
But the truth was and still is, the poor are not robbing us. It’s not the raggedy ones shuffling down the sidewalk throwing you surly looks that is a danger to you and I, it is the men in suits, and who carry briefcases.
They are the ones who rob us. They give themselves multi-million-dollar bonuses while cutting our wages and benefits. They blame the unions for jobs being lost when in fact it is a level of unbridled greed that takes corporations with billions in profits, which they give themselves massive bonuses from, and a portion of which goes to those lucky wealthy shareholders, and they take their businesses out of the US & Canada and over to Third World Countries where they can exploit slave labor conditions, not be held accountable to worker safety, and can do all the environmental damage they want without penalty because the governments of those nations are run by greedy men who live in palaces while their citizens live in squalid slums.
The greedy blame the poor for the economic collapse that about sunk the entire global economy. Remember how Teachers, TEACHERS for crying out loud, were the blame of banks failing? Teachers who mostly have to work two jobs to try and scrape out a living, and who use their own money to buy supplies for their students because our taxes no longer cover paper, pens, books. Our Counties and State governments give enormous breaks to mega corporations because they bring jobs to town… jobs that pay less and less as the cost of living goes up and up, and those tax breaks mean we don’t get the quality of life we deserve. We pay more for everything. They pay less for everything.
But, they have the money and the people that get elected like to be seen with the rich and powerful so they make laws and tax laws that appeal to those very wealthy people. And of course there’s a downside: Bad roads, crumbling bridges, fewer resources, higher cost of health care, schools with black mold, no heat, (Charter Schools get more tax dollars to spend than do our public schools, and are not held to any of the same standards for outcomes, or even for attendance, nor qualifications for teachers. We are literally paying for the private schools for the very rich.).
But if we complain, the very rich, along with the Conservative Politicians and Corporate Media (96% of all media: TV, Movies, Books, Newspapers, Magazines, radio is owned by a mere handful, SIX Corporations) will have these panel discussions wherein they conclude that:
A: Poverty is the fault of the very poor who are ‘draining the system’ (Corporate welfare is over 700 times greater than all social assistance combined, FYI) and they will point to Teachers, Unions, and the disabled as being those who are the cause of it. Not the mortgage bankers, not the hedge fund managers, not the mega corporations like GE, Viacom, etc. who pay “$0” in taxes and yet receive grant moneys from the Federal and State governments (we pay them more than they pay us) in order to keep their profits high.
Using Racism, and especially racism against immigrants as their rallying cry, we become distracted from both the cause and the cure for what ails us, economically, as a nation. Quick Note Here: Immigrants are the leading cause of Job Creation. They come from countries where there never was a social safety net, so they learned to survive without one. They learned skills and have the know-how that actually creates jobs in this country. Restaurants, food processing, the arts… and look at who founded Apple, Google, Yahoo, etc… Most of our tech giants were started by immigrants or first generation children of immigrants.
Therefore, immigrants are not the cause of our poverty, they are a source of our wealth. Every business they start hires people, hires us, our neighbors. They pay taxes. We pay taxes. Our communities get stronger, healthier.
Further, without immigrants in the workforce, we will soon, within a decade, find that our Social Security & Medicare will collapse because we won’t have enough people putting into the system and we are cutting the taxes of the super wealthy to a point where we can no longer sustain our infrastructure. Why do you think our bridges are crumbling?
Raising taxes on the wealthy will not cause poverty. They are not going to flee the country that has given them their wealth, to live in a country that has fewer protections for them, fewer opportunities for them.
Under Eisenhower ( the 1950’s) we had a 90% tax rate on millionaires. We still had millionaires! But we built cities, roads, interstate highways, bridges that are the marvels of engineering the world over. We had first rate schools, hospitals and a low prison population. We were thriving.
But the wealthy, the wealthiest always want more. They don’t take from each other, that would be too much work. They buy the governments that rule over us and they take from us.
We must abandon Conservatism as a cure-all for anything. It is not the cure, it is the poison. We need to make the wealthy pay a fairer share of the wealth they accumulate. Taxing multi-millionaires at a 70% rate sounds horrible! (But underpaying teachers for decades doesn’t?), until you realize that their first 5 million is not taxed at that rate. Only the millions that come after that. How can anyone expect a person to live a decent life on only Millions of Dollars a year? Please! Think of the Wealthy! Their suffering would be immense!
How can anyone expect a person to live a decent life on only Millions of Dollars a year? Please! Think of the Wealthy! Their suffering would be immense!
The propaganda machines of the mass media is killing us. We spend more time fighting other poor people, and alienating our natural allies, than we do in addressing the actual root of our suffering.
It works. Those who are doing the work of trying to fix the problems are demonized. Look what happens when teachers go on strike for a livable wage (they do not live in mansions and they do not drive new cars, they barely scrape by).
Look what happens when people protest the summary executions of POC. Every racist dog whistle is sounded to make us see them as the enemy, rather than the cruelty and abuse of systematic racism that justifies killing them on the spot, and then lying about it in their reports.
Think about it: If you lie to a police investigator, you are filing a false report – you are committing a crime and will go to jail. If the cops do it to cover up their killings, they get suspended with pay (VACATION) for up to two years or so while it’s being investigated, and they are, most of them (more than 90%) cleared despite their violating every protocol and lying on their reports. They get reinstated. What’s the message there?
Look what happens when First Nations people put their lives on the line to stop a pipeline project that is cutting through their lands without their consent. A pipeline that was moved from the place where White People live because of the potential leaks to poison their water, and just shoved down the throats of Native Americans, because who minds if their waters get poisoned, amiright?
1. Media does NOT cover it. If they do cover it, it’s from a distance and terms (dog whistles) such as “warpath”, “renegades” “drumbeats” are used to let the White Audience know who the real enemy is.
2. As people of and on their own lands they are treated as trespassers while law enforcement gets a free reign to inflict any amount of abuse on them. Hosing them down in mid-winter, cutting off food/water supplies, beating them, caging them in dog kennels where they don’t even have room to stand up or sit up.
All because they don’t want their waters poisoned. They are helpless and horrified as bulldozers rake over their tribal burial grounds, ignoring a court order saying they can’t. Paper doesn’t stop big machinery. They do what they want. Because they can. They can because we don’t hear about it, we don’t know what is going on and we are told they are just ‘in the way of progress’. And we go on our merry way.
People of Color don’t count. Immigrants don’t count. The Original People don’t count. What on earth makes anyone think that any of us count?
Conservatives have always been Trump. You don’t believe me? You think they of are horrified at what he is doing? Why then, do they go out their way to thank him, praise him, and to not stand up to him on anything?
He didn’t just happen. A place was made for him, a nest if you will. He is safely surrounded by men of ignorance, greed and racism. He makes them richer. He promises they will have no consequences. They in turn, turn against us as a nation, our values and our place in this world.
When those 8 congressmen, all Republicans, all Conservatives, went over to Russia to celebrate our Fourth of July, what do you think that message was to all of us? They were exactly where they wanted to be, and it was not with us.
Our fathers, grandfathers, Uncles and brothers fought against the Nazis, and made us proud of them and ourselves in WWII.
Now, there are Nazis marching in our streets, and our President calls them “Very Fine People”.
The Mueller Report is out ¬¬¬¬–– sort of. What little we see shows that the 2016 election was defeated by a crooked campaign that relied heavily on the assistance of a hostile foreign country. Voting machines, Voter Registration Rolls were heavily infiltrated and tampered with.
Trump has cut the funding for any defense against Election Interference by a foreign power when he eliminated the Cyber Security Agency of our National Security. States run by Republicans have insisted on using voting machines that are known to be easily hackable, and where you cannot do a recount because you can’t even check your own ballot against the printout which is in barcode or QR Code.
They know we are catching onto them. Instead of changing their ways, they’re doubling down at making it harder for us to protect ourselves from them. The levers of power are in the wrong hands in too many places. We can change that. We must change that.
Demand Paper Ballots for your votes if you want your votes to count. That’s all you can do. Start demanding now, or they won’t have them when it’s time and they will say you didn’t want them.
We have to find ways to save ourselves by doing what we can against a corrupted system. We have to find ways to unite and form alliances with those whose interests are the same as ours. The more we are divided by race, and the ignorance of false history, the mindless xenophobic utterances that try to get us to believe immigrants are the threat when in fact they are a source of strength, the weaker we become. We must cast aside our ignorance, learn to see what is true, build a common sense mindset regarding other people that shows what we have in common and what we can do together.
We must change our educational system to one that resources true history, not just one-side fits all, but to learn from the records and the histories of everyone involved to give us a more accurate picture of who and what we are, and how we can become even better.
We can’t fix anything if we can’t see what is and what really happened. We have to want to see, at this point. We have to want to know. It will change us, for sure. It will change us for the better.
Our education system needs to put in as mandatory, courses in economics so that the tropes of candidates who tell us “running a government is no different than running a household budget,” can be laughed at because we will know that running a household budget is not the same as running a business and running a business is not the same as running a government –– and why it is different.
Simple Slogan Slingers won’t snare so many gullible voters if we know how things really are run, and what it takes to build better, do better and be truly more safe and secure in this world.
Too many politicians have relied on voters who have been dumbed down for generations. Used to be in the early 1900’s you could run a business on an 8th Grade level education. Most college grads couldn’t pass the exams of those levels, today. We need to get smarter to get stronger.
Fear, hatred don’t make us stronger. They make us suspicious, weaker, more angry and easy prey for the greedy. Racism doesn’t work without fear and hatred. Racism doesn’t make us stronger. It destroys us. Racism is a form of social suicide.
Turn off your talk radio. It’s lying to you. Turn off FOX news and conservative programs: They aren’t on your side, they’re dividing you from others by making you think it’s other poor & struggling people that are keeping you down. It’s not. It’s their bosses.
Higher taxes on the very wealthy means lower taxes on the middle class. Lower taxes on the wealthy means higher taxes on the middle class. Figure out where you are and find your natural allies. Wealthy people are not suffering. They are enjoying the suffering of others. It makes them immune from consequences. They don’t care that he’s a liar, an idiot and a national, even global embarrassment, he’s their immunity idol, and they’ll protect him.
You put on a MAGA hat, you announce your willingness to blame the poor, POC, Immigrants and everyone else for your struggles and failures, and you don’t care that the man you worship is stealing you blind. You’re announcing that you’re a complete and utter idiot.
Now, stand up with and for the people who are out there standing up against this monstrosity. Stand up against racism. Stand up against the Pipeline that only makes a few already extremely rich people even more wealthy while the river and the aquifers from which you drink & bathe, are put in harm’s way. Stand up against the summary executions of People of Color.
Stand up against the concentration camps that traffic in children ripped from the arms of their parents. People are getting very rich from that, and it isn’t you. It’s wrong. It’s evil.
Stand up for having your vote count.
Find a place, your place, and stand up, donate, participate, speak up and speak out. Time is short.
Ignorance got us here. The Truth will get us out of here. We have so much work to do to repair, rebuild and become a better, stronger nation.
Find your place, stand. You will find, much to your surprise, you are not standing alone. Reach out and hold on tight.
If you don’t think it’s important or worth fighting for, I urge you to take a look at what has happened in Indian Country. They have all these rights, and they even have “Sovereignty” and it makes not one bit of difference to anyone out there because only the rich and powerful get to use either.
What they can do in Indian Country sets “Precedent” for the Federal Courts because it’s considered Federal Lands. What is Precedent in Indian Country can be used against anyone anywhere in the entire USA. Whom do you think it will most adversely affect? You, or that really powerful billionaire?
You know where to find me.
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April 15, 2019
I’m not a religious person, as many of you know. I am a spiritual person, and that is enough for me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know about or don’t understand Religion and how it plays into the fabric of our society.
Remember the whole “Garden of Eden, Snake, Apple, eviction “ thing? Nobody blames the snake. Nobody blames Adam, everyone blames Eve. Blame the woman became the go-to politically and socially, from that moment on.
The woman is the only one responsible. The woman who satisfies the desires of a man is denigrated as “a fallen woman”, but the man is elevated as a “stud”.
Women weren’t allowed to work in administrative positions because they would be a distraction to men. Get that? The man can’t control himself, so that’s on the woman, not on the man. And the general consensus is that ‘women are too emotional, don’t have enough self control’… but the men never seem to be required to have self control. If they don’t have self-control, it’s her fault, not his.
Women were paid less (and still are) because it is presumed that a man “needs the money more” and I asked about it once, at a job where the Union made it so I would be paid the same. “What’s the Big Deal?”
I asked. The answer floored me: “Because men have families to raise, so they need more money.” I kid you not. That is the logic.
Given the high divorce rate, and how many women are the ones single-handedly raising their children, because many men either can’t pay or skip out, that logic makes about as much sense as a talking snake.
To this day, if a woman is raped, she is interrogated so that the police can figure out what part of it was her fault. Whatever she was wearing, wherever she was walking, whatever she was doing, whatever people she was trusting, whatever she was drinking… all that or any of that is interpreted as “permission” to rape.
Even young girls, under the age of 10, are asked the kind of questions that would lead a jury to think she must’ve done something, had to be “something” she did, because the man cannot be entirely responsible for his own actions, his own ugly behaviors.
Rape is something so vicious, so ugly, we don’t even want to know a person who is a rapist. It’s evil. We can’t think of our relative or our friend or co-worker as someone capable of something that horrific. It would make us, somehow stained with that evil.
The Original Sin blames women for all the wrong that befalls them, and it absolves all the men who commit it against them. Of course, on rare occasions, men get convicted of rape, child rape. But there are more who commit it that don’t. There’s a reason most victims never report it. Being raped by the rapist is one thing. Being raped by the system, the police who mock you, the court system that blames you, and society that looks at you like you’re dirty, is a hella price to pay for telling the truth. Especially for children.
By the way, men and boys also get raped. They don’t report for the same reason, but we’re sticking with the Original Sin/blame the woman for the actions of men here to keep it from becoming a 50 page post.
Now you see how quickly & easily Society, Police, and our Government are to not blame the Man, let’s take it a few steps further along.
Because the levers of power are firmly in the hands of White Men, who also control Law Enforcement, the Courts and our Government, Victims have few if any resources. Men, White Men, have most of the economic leverage because despite there being laws (Lily Ledbetter) to pay women the same, there is no enforcement. It’s incumbent on the victim of unfair pay to find out how much she’s being underpaid, and when she does, if the time has elapsed between her starting her employment and her finding out about the discrepancy, ahhh sorry! Your statute of limitations to file a lawsuit against the company that underpaid you for decades, has expired!
See? Put enough hurdles and hoops in the way, and women are kept down by a system that designs to keep them down because it is designed by men and they program the entire beast.
Ok, now you see how women are to blame for all that ails men, to blame for their worst behaviors, and how even laws meant to help them, still have trap doors to thwart them and keep them from gaining power.
Ok, stop right there. You’re already thinking, probably talking amongst yourselves about how so many more women are in business, so many more women are in government… so, problem solved right?
Women are 52% of the makeup of Society. Women hold less than 10% of the positions that would move them to power or economic equality. Keep them down. Blame them for what befalls them.
Oh, and if there’s a Hurricane or some other natural disaster, some hellfire evangelical will tell you it’s because of women. Religion always comes in to reinforce the Patriarchy. How many priests are women? How many women are parishioners? See the Power Imbalance?
Power Imbalance, The Real Sin
Well, here we are, our speed read on how the power imbalance in our society, our government had its roots way back in the day when religion first stepped onto the scene, and declared that women were the cause of all suffering in this world, including their own. And how everything has formed itself around that religious precept.
The Church had the power over the “soul” of society. It ruled by fear and guilt. People gave wealth to the church so they would appear to be ‘good people’. The poor gave what little they have to the church so the church would ‘bless’ them in the midst of their poverty. So it was only natural that governments would also form themselves around a concept that had already gripped the people, most of whom were by law, uneducated.
Back in the Day, education was for the elite, the wealthy and those of Royal Blood.) (Royal Blood, btw, was determined by the Church who ordained the Kings and Queens. So, there you have it: The Church was not a government, but it controlled government by guilt & fear, and for a price, those who ruled were blessed, therefore their crimes against their own subjects or attacks on other kingdoms, were deemed “God’s Will”
Nifty, eh? You get the masses to believe they are born into sin, that their poverty, sickness & suffering is brought on by themselves, and the levers of power & the authority of religion, form an alliance that keeps them from learning differently or thinking differently.
Control their Thinking, their Minds and you Control everything. We’re back in Today, in case you are wondering, and these mechanisms, instilled in our ancestors are practically part of our DNA, and we are easily led by Anger, Fear, Guilt and lookin’ around for a scapegoat to blame for the failures of our society to protect us.
Education became more accessible to the masses, so we needed to get more scapegoats. Besides, the women are fighting back and the Patriarchy is losing ground. Now comes Racism. We need Racism to keep that Imbalance of Power in effect.
Racism is easy. It feeds on Ignorance, creates Fear, and uses Scapegoats to justify the worst abuses of Humans upon Humans. It’s like a religion of its. We’ve been programmed for generations to accept Fear & Guilt, to blame others for our plight in life. Blame the Woman for she is evil, (Translation: Men are weak. So weak they can’t handle the Guilt, so Women were the first scapegoat). Blame the Black Man. Blame the Red Man. Blame anyone but the White Man.
Racism works because our society has been indoctrinated from the beginning, to not hold those who are in power, who commit abominable acts, accountable.
So, when you see Racism and Bigotry on the rise, it is a signal that those in power are doing abominable things and they want you, me, all of us, to not look at them, but to blame each other.
They want to pit us against each other because if we ever unite, we become stronger. We become stronger, they start to lose absolute power, and run the risk of being held accountable.
The levers are straining to keep us all in our place: Education comes with so much debt that if you get higher education, you can’t pay off the debt until you are ready to collect social security. The banks are allowed to rip off anyone seeking a Student Loan. This current administration is working day and night to undo the protections that were put in place during the Obama administration.
I say “Obama” and how many of you started to boil? How many of you blame him for all your troubles? You can leave now. If you stay, you might learn how badly you’ve been conditioned by the power structure that worked to prevent him from taking office (Because he’s Black and if you have a Black President, how are you going to keep that Racist meme of Blacks being inferior alive? You’ll need another Scapegoat! Run!)
I know what you’re going to come at me with: “Obama wasn’t perfect y’know,” (*spit).
Yah, I know. I never said he was. For the record, there are no, none, nada, zip, nunca, never ever been a perfect Human Being, and no President is expected to be perfect.
But he did save our economy, which was in free fall from decades of deregulation, and worked to make the economy better, and to pass the ACA (By the way, your Republicans are working Day and Night to take away your healthcare, and Social Security and Medicaid, so you might want to get on that. Nah, don’t bother, you’ll find a scapegoat.
Those in power will point their boney white fingers at someone who is different from you in some way, and the press, most of which are owned by Corporations, most of which are owned and run by White Men, will steer you directly into that cage match and then marvel at the violence appearing, almost out of nowhere…It’s a pattern. Can you see it now?)
… I digress. It happens a lot. Anyhow, you have a president now that disregards every law, embraces every enemy and alienates every ally. That’s what all that Social Conditioning we’ve experienced for hundreds of generations has done for us.
There is so much that has happened that needs accountability, that we can’t keep track. It’s local, it’s in our neighborhoods, our schools, our governments, and at the very top of the heap, the Federal Government.
They are so invested in keeping themselves from being held accountable, and so many that are complicit by bribe or blackmail, that they have to keep us hating and not trusting the intentions of people who don’t look like us, don’t worship like us, and we have to keep blaming them for all that ails us, because if we don’t, if we don’t… all that evil that has been building for centuries, will begin to crumble like sand castles in the rushing tide.
The one thing that would make us all stronger is JUSTICE.
The very core of every misery is a sense of injustice, of where we were wronged. It is an imperfect world and we learn to live with disappointment and even betrayal by friends. But what we cannot live with is the betrayal of Justice.
When the police can just walk in and take someone out of your life by putting a bullet in their head, for no reason. That’s injustice. When they are cleared of wrong-doing despite the fact that they have a history of not following procedures or protocols, and of violating rights, and in a case where there is video of the murder, or witnesses to the murder, and they are cleared because… of Power Imbalance. An imbalance sustained by Injustice.
When we look at the victim and say: “They were less than me because …they weren’t perfect, they had problems, they’d done bad things in the past (who hasn’t?)” … WE become part of that imbalance. We let it go.
When the Victim is a Person of Color (POC for short), we don’t identify with them. We assume, like the raped woman syndrome, he or she. “Did something to bring this on themselves.”, WE become complicit in the Power Imbalance. It’s easier to be complicit than it is to stand up for a stranger because we have forgotten how to recognize ourselves in others.
We see the outrage of police who target minorities, and we don’t get involved. Remember that conditioning? “DON’T GET INVOLVED”.
I’m here to tell you this much: Unless we do get involved, and get proactive, and start seeing ourselves in the faces of strangers who are suffering Injustice, we will fail as citizens, and as Human Beings.
Unless we pursue through the unity of alliances, the cause of JUSTICE, especially for those who have suffered injustices at the hands of Law Enforcement or the System, we are surely doomed to lose everything, and quickly.
We can only gain through Unity. We can only lose through disunity. Racism, Bigotry and Misogyny are designed to divide us into smaller and smaller (think “Bitesize”) pieces.
Talk To Me
This blog was started because of Injustice. That injustice continues to grow. We can defeat it, but it takes us letting go of racism, bigotry, and the fear of people who don’t look like us or worship like us.
Contact was the design of European men who wanted to expand their power and their realms. We were not founded because of religion (that’s part of the false mythology put forward by the Church to keep people submissive and paying), it was founded because of trade. It was the traders that came to our shores, and saw opportunities for wealth.
It was the Church that came here and justified the taking of lands as “empty” based on the most ridiculous predicate that “If there are no Churches, the lands are free for the taking”.
The Church justified the taking of lands, the slaughter of innocents (they blessed their weapons and absolved their killers in advance… a practice still held in the wars of today)
Injustice is Sanctified by the Church. Ask yourself if your Jesus would feel welcome walking into a Televangelist’s gilded buildings. Ask if Jesus would ride in their limousines or fly in their private jets… Injustice is protected by government agencies run by people who rub shoulders with predators. They flaunt it now.
EIGHT Republican Congressmen flew to Russia on the Fourth of July. Eight. Do you think they care about this country? Or are worried we’ll find out how much Russian Money has been filling their pockets and for how long? They don’t fear us. They have us so divided they don’t even have to hide it anymore. They rub our noses in it.
The same cops that go out and beat up little kids because they aren’t White, or kill them because they can get away with it, and then keep their badges, or even get promoted, don’t fear accountability because they know we are too divided to seek Justice. They strut around our towns, rub our noses in it.
You see a pattern?
You stay quiet on this and everything because you’re scared. I don’t blame you. We have to find a way to make alliances for accountability and for Justice.
I say we start in Indian Country. Where every Treaty has been broken by the White Man, but none by The Native Americans. Every day, that Injustice robs them and robs us. Everyday that creates a climate of injustice that makes criminals wealthy and decent people fearing retaliation.
I will do my part, as I did before, to shine a light on these issues, to create a greater understanding of who we are as a Society, and who we can be if we really want something better.
Eddie’s spirit never left the Rez. He’s been seeking Justice ever since he was murdered. Those who murdered him are part of something much bigger. Something that reaches all the way into those marble halls of government and touches every lever of power.
Until we can do something to unite in the cause of Justice for Native Americans, for People of Color, for people who just want to live their lives in Peace, we will never know how truly great we can be.
We are on the verge of losing everything before we realize it. The Republican Party has become nakedly corrupt, and drunk with power.
But their power is based on fear, racism, bigotry, greed, misogyny… those aren’t strengths, they are weaknesses.
Women are not to blame for the abuses they endure. Abusers are.
People of Color are not to blame for the Injustices they endure. Those who commit those injustices upon them, are.
Native Americans are not to blame for the violations of their Rights and Dignity. Those who violated the Treaties and stole the lands & resources are.
Immigrants are not to blame for low wages. Greedy corporations whose top level management & CEO’s have seen their salaries & wealth increase from 40 x the rate of pay for their workers to 5,000 x the rate of their workers’ pay, are.
Our crumbling infrastructure, failing schools, and other ails are not caused by an Angry God, but by the very wealthiest not paying their fair share of taxes, while the little guy pays more and more, and the safety net crumbles around the most vulnerable.
We can build better, safer and we can take care of our sick, wounded, disabled and poor and help them to get on their feet. We can have compassion for those less fortunate. We can build a thriving society. But it requires Justice, Accountability and Unity.
We can become a Great Nation again. We can rise above mindless hate and racism. Or we will drown ourselves in it by our silence.
Speak where you can, out loud or in whispers. Stand where you can, for those standing up to all that is wrong and unjust. Bullies lose their power when we gain our voices. Start small. Start with yourself. Start with your family and your friends.
Find in ourselves, each of us, that which is good. That which is good is strong. And know one thing for certain true: You matter. Even if you are at your lowest point of despair, you matter. And I am not the only one that thinks so.
You know where to find me.
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April 8, 2019
Yell Baby, Yell!
It was in the 80’s—the 1980’s. A warm, sunny day I spent with 2 of my friends at Marriott’s Great America, in California. While standing indoors, in one of the shops, I glanced outside at the crowd.
It was a sea of people, moving in mostly two directions. There I saw a little boy, maybe three-years old, standing alone, crying, as the herds of people, none of whom seemed to notice him (he was literally barely above their knees in height).
All my life I have felt very protective of children, especially the littlest, most vulnerable. That whole swarm of people, and no one heard his distress.
I told the shopkeeper to phone Security because he was lost. I was going to bring him in.
“It’ll take them half an hour to get here,” she said. I was already out the door, focused on him so I didn’t lose track. My greatest fear was that someone would grab him. His parents would never see him again.
I got to him, knelt down to his eye level.
“Are you lost?” I asked.
“Did you see which way your parents went?”
He nodded and pointed.
“We’re gonna get you to your parents right now,” I told him.
I knew that if he had to wait half an hour, he’d be traumatized. I knew his parents would be losing their minds soon as they realized he was gone. I knew that there would be a report filed if Security had to PA system the entire park. I knew that was a last resort.
Here’s what we’re gonna do,” I said. “I’m going to put you on my shoulders, and you’re going to scream for your mom, do you hear me?”
He nodded. I put him on my shoulders. “Yell, Baby, Yell!” I told him.
“MOM!” he yelled as we kept walking in the direction he pointed. “MOM!!!”
“Do you see her?” I asked.
“Keep yelling. LOUDER!”
“MOM! MOM! MOM!”
Some distance ahead, I could hear a frantic mother yell “Where’s???”
“Yell Baby! Yell!”
He kept yelling. She and her husband saw him and headed in our direction, pushing against the tide of amusement park goers, none of whom seemed to notice.
She yelled to him, he yelled to her and we met up!
She was pushing a stroller, her husband grabbed him off my shoulders, and knocked me down, flat on my butt.
“You’re welcome.” I said. I had to laugh. I totally understood why he did that. Kids disappear in a split second. It is a parent’s worst nightmare. Somehow, both of them thought the other had him in tow, and neither did.
Here was a total stranger, with his child on her shoulders, and their baby was screaming for his mom. I totally got it.
He didn’t have time to think that no one stealing a child would put them on their shoulders and proceed to go right to them, wading through a crowd to reunite them.
It was the panic of Baby is GONE! I Hear my baby yelling! Someone has my baby!
I totally got that. And I knew that if I reported the assault, they’d also be reported for losing their child and that could mean months of agencies looking into their parenting. They were already traumatized enough.
The Dad looked at me, a spark of confusion, embarrassment crossed over his face, but he wasn’t big enough, at least not in that moment, his arm around the shoulders of his sobbing wife, relieved as they both were, to say “sorry”.
He turned his family around and they melted into the crowd. The mother turned for a second to look at me as they were melting into the herd. I waved. There was nothing more I could do.
I wasn’t expecting it. I was just glad that the little boy lost had been so quickly reunited with his family. Helping children in crisis is risky.
People may not understand what you are doing, and they may not have the capacity to find out. Emotions run high. Most people don’t know what to do.
Security never showed up. At least not in the next half hour that my friends and I waited. Helping a child who is in distress is a natural instinct for most Humans. It’s what we do. We want them to be safe.
This Also Is True
Sometimes we get knocked on our butt. Sometimes worse.
I have a letter from Tom Sullivan, who has endured more than his fair share of getting knocked down for doing his job, for helping to protect children, for trying to stop the corruption and the incompetence that leads, every year, to children who are trafficked, abused, raped, murdered, forgotten.
I am going to include his letter, a summary of events, recent events, ongoing events, and I want you to understand that he is being punished because he tried to help.
And, after you read his summary, think of the abuses happening to children at the border. Children being unnecessarily abused, tortured, raped and dying in the custody of an agency that answers to no one, and no agency oversees them.
Because the agencies that are supposed to protect the children have been protecting the corrupt, harassing, threatening an attacking the whistle-blowers, for over a decade.
You’re seeing it play out, under our noses, right now, but it’s passed over for whatever lesser squirrels the “News” media chooses to chase in their chatty formats where banter replaces facts, opinions rendered by factless morons, become the grist that grinds uneducated minds into a sludge of mindless fears, all of which justify treating people as sub humans, as “animals”, as “vermin”… all tactics used by Hitler to create the worst Crimes Against Humanity, the world has ever seen.
The corruption in the system back then, made possible the decades of national disgrace that Germany had to claw its way out of. It’s now becoming our disgrace.
A corrupt system protects the corrupt. It places the weak and the weak-minded in high places to ensure that the corruption isn’t stopped. We have, throughout our system, corruption in just about every agency. Political appointments of the weak and the weak minded insure it will only get worse, until we stop it or until other nations stop it for us, and we fall into the disgrace that has been a stain on Germany ever since WWII.
Remember: Our Fathers, Grandfathers, Mothers, Grandmothers, Uncles & Aunts all fought on the Right Side of that war. We are on the Wrong Side of the next war if we don’t clean up the corruption, oust the weak and the weak-minded, and hold accountable, those who have betrayed us as a Nation, as a Society, and everything we claimed to stand for, back when we were heroes.
Our Nation, Our Society starts where all great nations start: With our Children. If we don’t protect the children, we don’t protect the Future—our future.
And our children are not safe in a society that protects the corrupt and attacks the Whistle Blowers. You cannot protect the Lie and hide the Truth forever, but you can do a world of damage in the meantime.
We’ll get back to the murders soon enough. They’re still going on. Especially in Indian Country, because the corruption has been allowed to thrive where the people have been the most disempowered, and where the agencies answer to no one.
Follow The Bouncing Ball
The abuses that we allow in Indian Country don’t stay in Indian Country. The pollution spreads. Don’t for a minute think that this is not benefiting people at the very top of the food chain: The top government officials, the ones running these agencies, year after year, and those who fail to do their job and enforce the laws that are supposed to protect us all.
If Indians are not protected, no one is. If corporations are not held accountable for the damage they do in Indian Country, they’re not held accountable anywhere. See how that works?
Being allowed to abuse asylum seekers, immigrants, and to make policies and practices that are deliberately cruel. Newborns torn from their mother’s breast, and deliberately trafficked through the system that destroys paperwork so the children can’t be found and reunited with their parents… isn’t something new. They did that at Spirit Lake. They got away with it. Now Immigrants & Asylum Seekers. Who’s next? No consequences for these abuses means the abusers push the boundaries even more.
Well, better get onto that summary from Sullivan. It’s just the tip of the iceberg.
And rest assured, I will post and re post this summary from time to time, in case someone forgets.
Child Sexual Abuse Crisis at DHHS -- by Thomas F. Sullivan
The last few weeks have seen many stories about the inability of the Indian Health Service (an agency within DHHS) to manage the behavior of sexual predator pediatrician, Dr Weber. working on several reservations. Claims have been made that factual complaints about this man’s behavior were ignored by agency leadership for more than 20 years.
The Secretary of DHHS announced his request to the Inspector General to investigate this situation. No date has been established for the IG to report back the results of his investigation.
In my experience the child sexual abuse problems in Indian Country are epidemic. What does that mean? Let me explain what I have been told from communities all across Indian Country - places like Wolf Point, MT, St. Michael, ND, Cherry Creek, SD, Fort Washakie, WY, Kyle, SD, Pablo, MT, Hays, MT, Eagle Butte, SD, and many other communities too numerous to name. I have been told by residents of one of these communities, “Our child protection staff have been investigating every reported case of child sexual abuse/statutory rape on our reservation, using rigorous standards and have confirmed, on average, two cases of child sexual abuse for every week during the last 10 years.”
I heard that report in October, 2004 from Ms. Patricia McGeshick, an enrolled member of the Assiniboine Sioux Nation, Fort Peck, MT and the long term Executive Director of its’ Family Violence Resource Center. I was shocked. I was even more shocked to experience the stonewalling of my agency’s leaders whenever I proposed minimal steps to begin addressing and stopping the epidemic of child sexual abuse Ms. McGeshick and her staff had documented.
It is now 2019, four years since Ms. McGeshick’s untimely death, 15 years since my first report to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) leadership about the extraordinary level of child sexual abuse at Fort Peck. The epidemic continues there.
Mike Tilus, an IHS psychologist forced to retire from IHS in December, 2018. On August 9, 2018 Dr. Tilus, working at Fort Peck wrote, “I see a lot of suicidal patients here ….and an extremely high history of child sexual abuse - the highest I have seen on any reservation.”
Based on Dr. Tilus’ message I believe that Fort Peck is in the midst of its 25th year of investigating every reported case of child sexual abuse/statutory rape, using rigorous standards, and confirming, on average 2 cases of child sexual abuse for every week in those 25 years.
On the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations their child protection staffs have been following the same drill as at Fort Peck and confirming on each of these reservations on average 2 and 1/2 cases of child sexual abuse per week for every week during the last 10 years.
When I forwarded these facts to the ACF leadership about these and other reservations their reaction initially was silence and inaction. Later they lied, saying, “Conditions for American Indian kids (on this reservation or on every reservation) are improving”; “have never been better.”
"I would have been delighted if these claims were true. But my sources from all across Indian Country nationally, enrolled tribal members, Tribal Elders, Tribal employees spoke of a different reality, “Conditions have never been worse”, “Those higher-ups who got your reports did nothing to protect our kids.”
My sources were threatened, fired from any tribal employment and ostracized. Anyone caught speaking to them were threatened with violence, loss of their children and firebombing of their homes at midnight. One of my sources was almost killed in a combine harvester fire. The state Fire Marshall said it was arson. It was attempted murder.
I was libeled and slandered. That continues to this day. My ability to do my job as Regional Administrator was limited by that leadership, preventing all of my travel into Indian Country and requiring all facts to be stripped from any speech I was asked to deliver. My Denver apartment was broken into twice. Paperwork was reviewed and some removed. Some money was taken. One ACF staff member working in Denver was told by his Washington, DC boss, “I understand you are friendly with Tom Sullivan. That will not help your career”. I was forced to retire under threat of being fired after a lengthy career noted for accomplishment, my integrity and my ability to work with anyone. The lies told about me persist to this day from that leadership.
People who I considered some of the finest, most dedicated employees I have ever worked with are being selectively removed with little or no cause.
All of this is occurring because I took phone calls from American Indian reservations, listened to stories of unchecked abuse in these remote, politically powerless communities, confirmed the accuracy of their accounts and tried to assist these citizens. I was stonewalled by ACF leadership.
More importantly the predator class discovered they had allies at the highest levels in DHHS, allies who would protect them. I have never been able to discover how these lazy, corrupt bureaucrats have profited from their silence and inaction.
Because of their silence and inaction:
1. Today hundreds of American Indian children will be raped;
2. Some of them will attempt suicide;
3. Some of them will complete;
4. Tomorrow that cycle will repeat itself;
5. This pattern will continue until the Secretary publicly acknowledges the harm done by this past silence and inaction and clearly states that the failure to protect any child from abuse is a firing offense and means it.
6. The Secretary must also commit DHHS to establishing a Blue Ribbon Panel to investigate past failures to protect children, and make recommendations to prevent future failures. American Indians and others who have been demanding answers for these failures for years must lead this Panel.
Thomas F. Sullivan
(Redacted Phone Number)
You know where to find me.
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April 1, 2019
This Never Happened
I lived on an island we often referred to as “The Edge of the World” because it was so remote. The First Nations Tribes up there were called “Bands”. There were two main Clans: one in the North, one in the South.
The bands were comprised of Clans and the Clans made up of families. Eagles & Ravens were the two top tiers from which all the other clans descended, married into, etc. Each Clan had its “House” and each House had a Chief, and each Clan had its Chief.
Traditions were thousands of years deep and in all directions, far. Their reputations, even among other bands from other places, was one of a fierce people, who never forgot their culture, despite every abuse colonial governments came at them with.
They maintained their language, their skills of carving, seafaring, fishing, dance, song, art & healing. Spiritual warfare is never spoken about, but people walked softly & wide around certain people, certain graves. The unknown has kept to itself.
The islands were magical. You’d see, hear and learn things there you’d never find anywhere else. The animals would talk, and they’d tell you when you were being stupid.
“Silly Woman!” An Eagle once yelled at me, her voice as clear as any. She turned to her mate, “Help her find her way!”.
I was lost on the beach (ya think it can’t happen, but it does). He never said a word, but he flew ahead of me, about fifty yards ahead at a time, and waited until I caught up, and then another fifty yards, and another, and another, until I was at the place where the truck was parked, and he flew in.
(I felt both silly and blessed. Mostly silly. But I was happy to no longer be lost. The tide was coming in, and the beaches at high tide, left no room for lost wanderers. )
Potlatches were both political & spiritual. It’s where the clans gathered to do the business of unity, of settling doubts, honoring, celebrating. All the things that needed to be done in the ways they have always been done. Outsiders, even if invited as guests, missed 99% of what went on at these celebrations, simply because they do not have the 10,000 years of social weaving, unity, language, songs, stories to make it all more than just entertainment when the drumming, singing, dancing & feasting began.
Potlatches & Pole Raisings are where you’d see the finery come out. The Button Blankets, Cedar Hats, Masks, Regalia, that represented stories, clans, families. The Button Blankets were status symbols of the highest order. The motifs were of the clan you were from or adopted into. Elaborate, and made by stitching tiny and tinier abalone buttons onto a heavy wool cloth that was contrasted with Red or Black or Blue. If you received your Button Blanket, it was because someone put in a thousand hours to make it for you.
The Cedar and Spruce Roots hats were made by only the most skilled artisans whose hands followed the patterns that had been laid down for thousands of years… from the harvesting of the cedar bark or the spruce roots, to the stripping, the weaving, all done as it has always been done. The culture flowed through the people the way currents flow through oceans. Every part of nature, from the skies to the bottom of the seas, to the tips of mountains and hidden caves and valleys, all flowed through the People.
Our Untrue Story takes place at one such Potlatch at a time that never was. You must not believe a word of this. But many of you will, to one degree or another, because it is based on a real place, real traditions, and by all counts could… and for that reason, somewhere on down the line, you might forget and think you remember that it happened, but it never did.
The Potlatch began in the Great Hall. The people gathered from the North & from the South, and some from the Mainland. All the Chiefs were seated in the place of Honor. All the Elders were in their places at the front… Honored Guests, visiting from other lands, and sometimes politicians, also seated but behind the Elders. The tables were end to end filled with every kind of food the Islands could offer: Salmon, Venison, berries, Halibut Stew, baked goods, pies & cakes, fresh buns, all prepared by the hands of the women & their families. Some brought the goods with them, and the rest was prepared in the community kitchen. These feasts were built to go on for days, even if some of the honored guests were not.
The drumming started, and the dancers entered, singing and swaying their songs of welcome… their blankets bearing the emblems of their clans, moving to the steps of songs thousands of years old. Those who wore cedar hats or headbands, felt the strength of the forests, connected to their minds, their spirits the way cedar connected to the people for tens of thousands of years.
And then it happened. The lights went out. (This is where the story diverges depending on whom you never heard it from. I will tell it to you as it was never told to me, and do my best to not confuse you any more than I was when it never happened.
The lights went out and the great hall was plunged into darkness, little flecks of light, like embers from a fire, seemed to whirl around, like a tiny tornado, in the center of the room, casting a weird amber light upon the center of the room. All that could be seen was shadows of the people in front of you, turning to your left or right, was only darkness. All eyes were drawn to the center.
The drumming continued, the singing continued. The dancers entrance flowed as the darkness was in its way, in motion, surrounding the Great Hall in a warmth and a comfort, like sleep, like dreams. Dancers sang & swayed, twirled in slow circles until they ringed the perimeter of the open space. The circle in motion made it look as if they were going both East & West, North & South at the same time. Dizzying to behold.
A bright light descended from the ceiling, whirling & twirling until it took the shape of a button blanket, wrapped around the shoulders of a woman, dancing in the center. I wasn’t told that she danced in the ancient way, and tiny sparks of light flew about her as she slowly turned & swayed to the songs. I wasn’t told that she was an old woman, who danced with the strength of a young woman.
The dancers held to the perimeter, but she beckoned them to come closer, and they did.
The men dancers came in next. Their heavy foot beats, stomping, leaping, the clacking of their masks punctuated the air like a flight of Ravens in the forest, chattering their magical stories to be carried by the breezes, by the winds and in the stands of trees so thick that the four directions become one. “Tell your children who they are!” “Remind them!”
Still, the women swayed, & twirled, and the lights came up or everyone’s eyes had adjusted to the darkness, everyone disremembers it differently. But there she was, dancing in the center, beckoning the dancers to come closer in. And they did. There was no fear, only the beauty of the dance.
She weaved among the dancers, the women first, and leaned in…
And that’s where everyone didn’t see what they saw, and everyone saw it differently.
As it wasn’t told afterwards: “She was an old, old woman! She looked like my Nuni! And she said something I will never forget!”
Another said: “She looked like my young daughter, whom I missed so much! She smiled at me and my grief both came and went in an instant!”
Some saw her Cedar Hat, some saw her Spruce Roots Hat, and some saw only a Cedar Headband that she wore. Nobody saw her, but everyone saw her.
Another said: “She looked like my best friend, whom I have missed for so long…”
She was an old Grandmother, and young child, an old friend, a long lost loved one… every person saw something different. But they all saw a woman, except for those who didn’t see anything at all.
Her hair was jet black, steel gray, pure white, smooth as silk, swaying like seaweed, covered in moss… there was only one woman, but she was not there.
She whirled past the men dancers in their Eagle & Raven Regalia. The tips of their feathers barely touched her button blanket, and their masks lit up and clacked and snapped as she moved by.
“I saw the oldest woman in the world!” one man didn’t say. “Her skin the color of Copper, her hair streaming like starlight!”
“ I saw nothing, but I heard my Chini’s voice remind me to take care of my family…”
And on and on… everyone didn’t see something different. Her Button Blanket was to each of them, their clan’s motif.
Everyone saw something different, but everyone knew they had seen the same event.
No one is clear on how it ended. The dancing & the drumming went on and on it seemed like forever. The Great Hall didn’t always seem like it had walls & a ceiling. There were moments where it was all outdoors, and the stars shining down, and moments when the hall was as it always was…
But it had to end and end it did.
They maintained their language, their skills of carving, seafaring, fishing, dance, song, art & healing. Spiritual warfare is never spoken about, but people walked softly & wide around certain people, certain graves. The unknown has kept to itself.
She went to the center of the floor, turning, turning, turning and with a BANG! The drumming stopped. The distant thunder seemed to roll around the entire hall. There was sudden darkness, and suddenly lights were on and everyone seemed momentarily blinded.
There in the center of the floor, was a Red & Black Button Blanket… but the woman who had danced in it was gone. Everyone stared, not knowing what not to think. Without warning, as if pulled on a wire, the blanket didn’t fly up to the ceiling of the Great Hall and spread like a pair of wings, disappearing as all eyes lifted, every head tilted, no one seeing what they were seeing.
The feasting and the gifting went on through the night. The speeches and the discussions, went all night long. And when the doors opened, the guests expected to see the parking lots and sidewalks bathed in moonlight, but it was sunrise. The sun was on the horizon, flaming and swaying in the lifting fog.
No one ever spoke of it except in hushed tones, around family gatherings where Elders spoke to their younger ones to tell them about the beauty of belonging, of having understanding of things that have existed forever, that no one can explain to anyone that doesn’t know their thousands of years connection to their world, and all the worlds connected by culture and by tradition. Of being a part of the world, not apart from the world. Of connection, and respect. Each button hand sewn. Each child hand raised.
These were secret stories that were never told because they never happened. And when they did, everyone remembered, for that moment and that moment only, all of it.
The rest of their lives, they walked in between two worlds: That of their Ancestors and every connection to every worldly and magical thing that entails; and to the world of the White Man who is surrounded by things he cannot see, and so is never told. One world brilliant and promising only asking courage. The other world flat, grabbing, taking, pushing, shoving, discarding things and people as if of no value.
This story never happened. But you can’t forget it, and everyone will remember it differently.
Feel free to not share it. But remember: You must always remind those you tell, that this has never happened. And that when they never tell it, they have to do the same.
You know where to find me.