Reckoning with What is Owed — and What Can Never be Repaid — for Racial Privilege

Nietzsche’s “guilt”, whiteness, and what the real cost is to live in the land of another | Oh, and the difference between freedom and liberty

[I once feared buying a house because I didn’t want to be owned. I had saved money with no purpose in mind other than the freedom to do whatever I wanted. Now I’m bound to this house, though I’m still free to lose it if I choose. But that isn’t the version of freedom that interests me at the moment. I’m more compelled by a freedom that would allow me to deserve what I have. Call it liberation, maybe. If debt can be repaid incrementally, resulting eventually in ownership, perhaps so can guilt.

What is the condition of white life? We are moral debtors who act as material creditors. Our banks make bad loans. Our police, like Nietzsche’s creditors, act out their power on black bodies. And, as I see in my own language, we confuse whiteness with ownership.]

 

By the Ones We Left Behind

The Apache Indians are divided into six sub tribes. To one of these, the Be-don-ko-he, I belong.

Our tribe inhabited that region of [Arizona and New Mexico] mountainous country which lies west from the east line of Arizona, and south from the head waters of the Gila River.
East of us lived the Chi-hé-nné (Ojo Caliente), (Hot Springs) Apaches. Our tribe never had any difficulty with them. Victorio, their chief, was always a friend to me. He always helped our tribe when we asked him for help. He lost his life in the defense of the rights of his people. He was a good man and a brave warrior. His son Charlie now lives here in this reservation with us.
North of us lived the White Mountain Apaches. They were not always on the best of terms with our tribe, yet we seldom had any war with them. I knew their chief, Hash-ka-á-í-la, personally, and I considered him a good warrior. Their range was next to that of the Navajo Indians, who were not of the same blood as the Apaches. We held councils with all Apache tribes, but never with the Navajo Indians. However, we traded with them and sometimes visited them.
To the west of our country ranged the Chi-e-á-hen Apaches. They had two chiefs within my time, Co-si-to and Co-da-hoo-yah. They were friendly, but not intimate with our tribe.
South of us lived the Cho-kon-en (Chiricahua) Apaches, whose chief in the old days was Cochise and later his son, Naiche. This tribe was always on the most friendly terms with us. We were often in camp and on the trail together. Naiche, who was my companion in arms, is now my companion in bondage.
To the south and west of us lived the Ned-ní Apaches. Their chief was Whoa, called by the Mexicans Capitan Whoa. They were our firm friends. The land of this tribe lies partly in Old Mexico and partly in Arizona. Whoa and I often camped and fought side by side as brothers. My enemies were his enemies, my friends his friends. He is dead now, but his son Asa is interpreting this story for me.
Still the four tribes (Bedonkóhe, Chokónen, Chihénné, and Nední), who were fast friends in the days of freedom, cling together as they decrease in number. Only the destruction of all our people would dissolve our bonds of friendship.

We are vanishing from the earth, yet I cannot think we are useless or Ussen would not have created us. He created all tribes of men and certainly had a righteous purpose in creating each.
For each tribe of men Ussen created He also made a home. In the land created for any particular tribe. He placed whatever would be best for the welfare of that tribe.
When Ussen created the Apaches He also created their homes in the West. He gave to them such grain, fruits, and game as they needed to eat. To restore their health when disease attacked them. He made many different herbs to grow. He taught them where to find these herbs, and how to prepare them for medicine. He gave them a pleasant climate and all they needed for clothing and shelter was at hand.

Thus it was in the beginning: the Apaches and their homes each created for the other by Ussen himself. When they are taken from these homes they sicken and die. How long will it be until it is said, there are no Apaches?”

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Photograph by E. Rinehart, 1898

—by Chief Geronimo, as taken down by S.M. Barrett

 

A Humble Celebration of Immense Symbolic Power in Indian Country

Banana bread, hot coffee, and later on mutton stew with frybread for all, that bone chilly Saturday. And a heart felt praise to President Barack Obama. It was about the first time in American history first nations were acknowledged, ratified, and officially included in the management of federal lands. And it was the beginning of a ceremony of healing long overdue.

It barely made the news.

On Saturday 7, 2017 people celebrated the designation of Bears Ears as a National Monument, at the Navajo Nation Monument Valley Welcome Center at the Arizona-Utah borders. About 400 people gathered, embraced the news, cheered, and reflected upon what it took to bring that victory, what it means, and what is yet to come.

Navajo Nation President, Mr. Russell Begaye, was there, along with Vice President Jonathan Nez, Alfred Lomaquahu, Vice Chairman of the Hopi Tribe, former Ute Mountain Ute Councilwoman Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk (the first person contacted by the White House to nreak the news about the designation back in December), Shaun Chapoose, Chairman of the Ute Tribe of Uinta Ouray Reservation, Eric Descheenie, Representative-elect for the Arizona House of Representatives and former Co-Chair of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, and Navajo Nation Council Delegate Davis Filfred, who represents five Utah Navajo districts.

“Bears Ears is our place of healing,” observed Eric Descheenie.“The opposition cannot compromise our ability to heal. It is absolutely critical that we develop a space for high-level intellectual conversation where we can talk about who we are and what it means to be human. Bears Ears Commission has created such a space.

The narrative has to shift. Please recognize that indigenous people carry a different body of knowledge. Let’s embrace that difference, support one another, and champion the new narrative.”
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Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” is Becoming a Film

The film, which centers on a Spokane Indian Reservation teen who transfers to an all-white high school where the only other “Indian” is the school mascot, will mark the first known instance of a studio movie featuring a Native American protagonist. Jackman is eyeing a supporting role.

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Getty Images

For an industry that long has relegated Native Americans to the nefarious periphery (John Ford’s The Searchers), whitewashed them (Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily in Pan) or lampooned them (Adam Sandler’s The Ridiculous 6), Part-Time Indian is a welcome change. Throughout its nearly decade-long run, the book continues to build momentum on The New York Times‘ best-seller list, hitting No. 1 for the first time in May. It remains a favorite among middle-school teachers for its realistic depictions of harsh issues including poverty and bulimia.

Alexie, who grew up on the reservation depicted in the book, is adapting the screenplay and will executive produce. He promises, “This is going to be culturally authentic.”

All this comes at a time when Native American actor and activist Myrton Running Wolf (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) is petitioning SAG-AFTRA to reverse its policy of not recognizing tribal enrollment (SAG-AFTRA has maintained it is illegal to request tribal verification from potential Native American employees or show preference based on it). Read the full article | Hollywood Reporter

I’m a Foreign Journalist and I Was Stopped From Covering Standing Rock

Ed Ou, a photojournalist and documentary filmmaker, is currently working as a producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation covering indigenous communities in North America and is a TED Senior Fellow

[I didn’t even begin to worry until later, when I was told to hand over my phones. The officer said: “Now we just need to look into your cell phone to be sure there’s no photos of you posing next to some dead body somewhere.”

I told the officer that as a journalist, I have a responsibility to not share information that could compromise my sources. This is the same ethical obligation that doctors have to their patients and lawyers have to their clients. The officer demanded my passwords and threatened that if I didn’t provide them, I could be refused entry into the country.

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Journalist Ed Ou

The American government says it can use the fact that you are at a border to take everything about your life, comb through it and store it forever. Police officers need a search warrant. Border officers have more latitude. That latitude has limits, but the officers seemed oblivious to those limits. One of them bragged, “Everything you bring through here is mine to go through and take.”

It felt like deja vu. I’ve heard that line before. It was in Crimea after Russian special forces invaded a Ukrainian military base where I was filming. They rounded up all the journalists and seized our memory cards—“for security.” We protested. They told us the same thing. “You’re in our country now, we can do whatever we want.”

I ultimately refused to turn over my passwords. They confiscated my phones anyway, read pages of my journals and photocopied my notes. I felt like I had betrayed my own consciousness. They asked which “extremists” I have been in contact with and how many people I have seen die. Later, I could see that the phones had been tampered with.

After six hours, I was told I was being denied entry. When I asked why, I was told the reasons were “classified.” I wondered if the real reasons had anything to do with the fact that I was going to cover Standing Rock.

On my way out of the interrogation room, the supervisor had one more thing to add. “You’re probably going to write about this. Well, we’re not scared of you. You can say what you want. It won’t change anything.”

We’ll see.

Editor’s Note: The following is a comment from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

Due to the restrictions of the Privacy Act, Customs and Border Protection does not discuss individual travelers; however, all international travelers arriving to the U.S. are subject to CBP inspection.

This inspection may include electronic devices such as computers, disks, drives, tapes, mobile phones and other communication devices, cameras, music and other media players and any other electronic or digital device.

Keeping America safe and enforcing our nation’s laws in an increasingly digital world depends on our ability to lawfully examine all materials entering the U.S. In Fiscal Year 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection processed more than 383 million U.S. arrivals and conducted 4,764 inspections of electronic media, including 4,444 cell phone inspections. This equates to .0012 percent of travelers undergoing an inspection of electronic media. Fiscal Year 2016 numbers are not available just yet.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection realizes the importance of international travel to the U.S. economy and we strive to process arriving travelers as efficiently and securely as possible while ensuring compliance with laws and regulations governing the international arrival process.]

Read the full story:

I’m a Journalist and I Was Stopped From Covering Standing Rock

The Oldest Member of the Standing Rock Reservation

She has lived through every foreign war the United States has participated in, the Great Depression and more than 15 Presidents. She has witnessed some of this country’s most historical pieces of legislation including the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978.

Although born in the United States, it wasn’t until she was 16 that she was considered a citizen. And it wasn’t until she was 60 that she was able to legally witness the ceremonies and hear the language of her people. Full story | Indian Country Today

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Photo credit Shane Balkowitsch

Navajo Republican Leader Carlyle Begay Has a New Job at The White House | Politics, the Future of Energy Policy, the Envirnment, and What was Missed in the Process

Dine’ (Navajo) Nation officially supported Hillary Clinton during the elections. But was the sentiment of the majority of the Dine’ people equally clear? Let ‘s trace the dots.

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Donald Trump with Arizona tribal leaders and State Sen. Carlyle Begay (R), second from left, on June 18, 2016 | Photo by Francisco Valencia via The Navajo Post

Leaders of three Arizona tribes met with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on June 18, 2016, Indian Country Today and The Navajo Post reported. Representatives of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, the Cocopah Tribe, and the Pascua Yaqui Tribe spent about 30 minutes with the real estate mogul during a campaign stop in Phoenix on Saturday, ICT said. Carlyle Begay, a Republican state lawmaker who is a member of the Navajo Nation and is running for Congress, also took part.“It’s important to build bridges,” Begay told ICT of the encounter. “I don’t think we should turn down the opportunity to meet with any candidates and get them to understand the importance of federal trust responsibilities, about the history of tribes, which is replete with mistakes, tragic actions and lost opportunities. We can’t change that history, but we’re not condemned to repeat it.” (Read the full article here)

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Donald Trump Jr. speaking in Shiprock AZ at a Trump rally in Navajo Nation (November 4, 2016) | from the Instagram page of Donald Trump Jr.

Trump Jr. spoke for about 20 minutes. Although he was grateful for the support shown for his father on the reservation, he did not talk about any tribal issues.He used the word “sovereignty” at least once but did not elaborate on what it means to the candidate. He also didn’t discuss what Trump would do for Indian Country if he wins the election on November 8.Despite the warm welcome for candidate’s son, other tribal citizens were out in force to express their distaste for the man on top the Republican ticket. (Indianz.Com)

The event marked the Trump campaign’s second foray in Indian Country. Vice presidential nominee Mike Pence hosted a town hall at a venue at Sandia Pueblo in New Mexico in August although tribal issues did not play a role at all in the event.

After the elections, the top two leaders of the Navajo Nation encouraged unity, as they congratulated President elect, Donald Trump on his victory. Here is the official announcement:

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A significant issue the Navajo Nation faces is their energy sources. Overwhelmingly dependent on fossil fuel for the nation’s energy needs (which is provided for free to a large number of the reservation’s rural residents), the Navajo Nation also contributes to the largest methane concentration in the USA, at the Four Corners region.

  • Arizona’s Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, rated at 3,937 net megawatts, is the largest nuclear power plant and the second largest power plant of any kind in the nation.
  • Arizona’s only operating coal mine, Kayenta, on the Navajo and Hopi reservations, supplies the 7-to-8 million short tons burned annually by the Navajo Generating Station’s three 750-megawatt units.
  • Arizona’s Renewable Environmental Standard requires 15% of the state’s electricity consumed in 2025 to come from renewable energy resources; in 2014, 8.9% of Arizona’s net electricity generation came from renewable resources, primarily from the Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams.(US Energy Information Organization)