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Native perspectives since September 11



Not in My Name

(from a Native perspective)


By Emmanuel Ortiz ,
September 11, 2002


Before I start this poem, I'd like to ask you to join me in a moment of silence in honor of those who died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon last September 11th.

I would also like to ask you to offer up a moment of silence for all of those who have been harassed, imprisoned, disappeared, tortured, raped, or killed in retaliation for those strikes, for the victims in both Afghanistan and the U.S.

And if I could just add one more thing
A full day of silence for the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have died at the hands of U.S.-backed Israeli forces over decades of occupation.

Six months of silence for the million and-a-half Iraqi people, mostly children, who have died of malnourishment or starvation as a result of an 11-year U.S. embargo against the country.

Before I begin this poem, two months of silence for the Blacks under Apartheid in South Africa, where homeland security made them aliens in their own country

Nine months of silence for the dead in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where death rained down and peeled back every layer of concrete, steel, earth and skin and the survivors went on as if alive.

A year of silence for the millions of dead in Viet Nam - a people, not a war - for those who know a thing or two about the scent of burning fuel, their relatives' bones buried in it, their babies born of it.

A year of silence for the dead in Cambodia and Laos, victims of a secret war ... ssssshhhhh .... Say nothing ... we don't want them to learn that they are dead.

Two months of silence for the decades of dead in Colombia, whose names, like the corpses they once represented, have piled up and slipped off our tongues.

Before I begin this poem,
An hour of silence for El Salvador ...
An afternoon of silence for Nicaragua ...
Two days of silence for the Guetmaltecos ...
None of whom ever knew a moment of peace in their living years.
45 seconds of silence for the 45 dead at Acteal, Chiapas
25 years of silence for the hundred million Africans who found their graves far deeper in the ocean than any building could poke into the sky.
There will be no DNA testing or dental records to identify their remains.
And for those who were strung and swung from the heights of sycamore trees in the south, the north, the east, and the west ... 100 years of silence ...

For the hundreds of millions of indigenous peoples from this half of right here,
Whose land and lives were stolen,
In postcard-perfect plots like Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, Fallen Timbers, or the Trail of Tears.
Names now reduced to innocuous magnetic poetry on the refrigerator of our consciousness ...

So you want a moment of silence?
And we are all left speechless
Our tongues snatched from our mouths
Our eyes stapled shu

A moment of silence
And the poets have all been laid to rest
The drums disintegrating into dust

Before I begin this poem,
You want a moment of silence
You mourn now as if the world will never be the same

And the rest of us hope to hell it won't be.
Not like it always has been

Because this is not a 9-1-1 poem
This is a 9/10 poem,
It is a 9/9 poem,
A 9/8 poem,
A 9/7 poem

This is a 1492 poem.
This is a poem about what causes poems like this to be written

And if this is a 9/11 poem, then
This is a September 11th poem for Chile, 1971
This is a September 12th poem for Steven Biko in South Africa, 1977
This is a September 13th poem for the brothers at Attica Prison, New York, 1971.

This is a September 14th poem for Somalia, 1992.
This is a poem for every date that falls to the ground in ashes
This is a poem for the 110 stories that were never told
The 110 stories that history chose not to write in textbooks
The 110 stories that that CNN, BBC, The New York Times, and Newsweek ignored
This is a poem for interrupting this program.

And still you want a moment of silence for your dead?
We could give you lifetimes of empty:
The unmarked graves
The lost languages
The uprooted trees and histories
The dead stares on the faces of nameless children

Before I start this poem we could be silent forever
Or just long enough to hunger,
For the dust to bury us
And you would still ask us
For more of our silence.

If you want a moment of silence
Then stop the oil pumps
Turn off the engines and the televisions
Sink the cruise ships
Crash the stock markets
Unplug the marquee lights,
Delete the instant messages,
Derail the trains, the light rail transit
If you want a moment of silence, put a brick through the window of Taco Bell,
And pay the workers for wages lost
Tear down the liquor stores,
The townhouses, the White Houses, the jailhouses, the Penthouses and the

If you want a moment of silence,
Then take it
On Super Bowl Sunday,
The Fourth of July
During Dayton's 13 hour sale
Or the next time your white guilt fills the room where my beautiful people have gathered

You want a moment of silence
Then take it
Before this poem begins.
Here, in the echo of my voice,
In the pause between goosesteps of the second hand
In the space between bodies in embrace,
Here is your silence
Take it.
But take it all
Don't cut in line.
Let your silence begin at the beginning of crime.

But we,
Tonight we will keep right on singing
For our dead.




Is smallpox as a weapon unthinkable?

Not according to ancestors of decimated Montana tribes

By CAROL BRADLEY Tribune Staff Writer

That bioterrorists might hatch a plot to spread the lethal smallpox virus across the United States likely seems farfetched to some Americans, but not to the Blackfeet, the Assinboine, the Crow and the Gros Ventre.

Montana's Indian tribes know only too well how deadly the disease known to their ancestors as "Rotting Face" can be.

Since 1980, smallpox has all but disappeared around the globe. But in 1837-38, the highly contagious virus decimated tribes in the Northern Plains, killing nearly 20,000 Indians and helping open the doors of the West to white settlers.

"With Indian tribes, the evidence can be unrefutable that germ warfare can actually exterminate a whole group of people, so it's frightening," Joe McGeshick, a history professor at Fort Peck Community College, said.

One hundred and sixty-five years later, tribal members know only the time-worn tales of how entire tribal villages suddenly contracted itchy rashes and mysterious blister-like lesions on their faces. Of warriors returning home not to cheers and celebration but to bloated bodies. Of tribal members shooting themselves and their children to avoid smallpox's wrath.

In a matter of weeks, Indians "lost their philosophers, their botanists ... a wide spectrum of people in the tribe," said Darrell Kipp, founder and director of the Piegan Institute, a private research facility in Browning.

"As a result, the remaining survivors lost a large body of knowledge," Kipp added. "Consequently, you could probably say the disease had not only a profound impact on them physically but also impacted their cultures, their whole being."

Whether the U.S. government deliberately issued blankets infested with smallpox to western tribes is a matter of debate.

It is known that during the French and Indian Wars of the 1760s, British soldiers distributed blankets used by smallpox patients to native Indian populations back East. The resulting epidemics killed as many as half of those tribes.

In his 1985 book "Atlas of the North American Indian," author Carl Waldman writes that a British captain, Simeon Ecuyer, sent blankets and handkerchiefs contaminated with smallpox to Indians surrounding a fort. He did so at the suggestion of Lord Jeffrey Amherst, commanding general of the British forces in North America.

"Could it not be contrived to send the Small Pox among those disaffected tribes of Indians?" Amherst wrote another subordinate in 1763. "We must of this occasion use every stratagem in our power to reduce them."

Many modern-day tribal members believe steadfastly that western Indian tribes also were contaminated intentionally with smallpox. Legend has it that in the 1860s white men distributed to the Gros Ventre little strips of infected cloth or materials that spewed the virus in a mist when opened, tribal member Harold Main says.

Scholars maintain the 1837 epidemic was accidental -- the result of infested linens carelessly packed aboard a steamboat that made its way up the Missouri in the summer of 1837.

According to the federal Indian Health Services, health services for Native Americans began in the early 1800s when Army doctors worked to stave off smallpox and other contagious diseases among tribes living near military posts.

The 1837 plague wasn't the first or the last, only the worst.

Crow Indians escaped huge losses. Having gotten wind of smallpox's spread, they steered clear of their trading post, Fort Van Buren, along the Yellowstone River, and lost just 20 percent of their population.

Although Gros Ventre Indians -- many of whom now reside on the Fort Belknap reservation -- were said to have developed partial immunity as the result of an earlier smallpox epidemic, Main says three quarters of the population died from the disease. That's the number Chief Old Lame Bull quoted in the late 1800s. Main's grandfather served as his interpreter.

The Assiniboine also lost thousands. The Blackfoot Nation lost an estimated 6,000 members -- nearly two-thirds of its population.

Stories are still told of Assiniboine bodies being tossed into the Missouri because the ground was too frozen to dig a burial pit. Legend tells of two Crow warriors who, after discovering their village depleted by a later smallpox epidemic, committed suicide by blindfolding their gray horse and riding it off the cliff located behind where the Metra Expo Center in Billings now stands.

To this day, Crow Indians recount the lives of famous leaders who were able to fend off every threat but smallpox, said Tim McCleary, head of general studies at Little Big Horn College on the Crow Indian Reservation southeast of Billings.

"One man was named Two Face or Double Face," McCleary said. "He had gone against the enemy a number of times and never been injured. ... The oral tradition talks about him because (his death) was such a great loss."

Greg Campbell, a professor of anthropology and head of the University of Montana's anthropology department, is fascinated more by how Northern Plains Indian tribes managed to rebound and rebuild viable societies despite the onset of a major disease every 8.3 years.

For example, when smallpox all but wiped out the Mandan tribe in what's now North Dakota, the survivors -- mostly women -- married men from other tribes. The Mandans traced their descent through women, so the children born to the couple were raised as Mandans, Campbell said.

By the time Indians were cordoned off on reservations, epidemics like smallpox began to be replaced by more chronic diseases such as diabetes, Campbell said.

McGeshick, who has a Ph.D. in American studies from Washington State University, says smallpox left an enormous legacy, not just physically but spiritually.

Most Indian populations attribute sickness, death and bad luck to a moral breakdown in their community, McGeshick said. When Indian people watched their own dying by the thousands at the same time white people were multiplying, "they probably felt white people had more power," he said.

That would explain why so many Indians were willing to convert to Christianity not long afterward, McGeshick added.

Given the past, it's also not surprising that Blackfeet tribal members willingly lined up to receive smallpox vaccinations when he was a child, recalled Kipp, who's now 57.

Vaccinations were "very common in those days," he said. "It was something no one argued with."

Doctors stopped giving smallpox vaccinations altogether in the United States in 1971. That means there's at least one generation of Americans that has no clue about this treacherous disease.

"I think we've really become complacent in terms of the impact of what smallpox had," Kipp said. Today, "we're probably more cognizant of the impacts of AIDS than what smallpox could do."




Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2002 15:05:03 -0600
To: "President George W. Bush" <>
From: "UTOSI" <>
Subject: Mr. President we are not Osama bin Laden's Indians!
"Vice President Dick Cheney" <>,
"First Lady Laura Bush" <First.Lady@Whitehouse.Gov>,
"Mrs. Lynne Cheney" <Mrs.Cheney@Whitehouse.Gov>,
"UTOSI" <>

Dear Mr. President: If "a senior U.S. official" made the below reported statement, please inform your senior officials the American Indians are not Osama bin Laden's Indians.

Thank you.

Very truly yours.

Jimmie D. Oyler, Principal Chief
United Tribe of Shawnee Indians
Shawnee Reserve Number 206
De Soto, Kansas 66018

Bin Laden's cronies quiet

By Rowan Scarborough

U.S. intelligence has noticed a lack of communication in recent weeks by those close to Osama bin Laden, causing some analysts to believe he may be executing a ruse to convince Washington he is dead, officials say.

"We don't see any of his Indians doing anything on his behalf," a senior U.S. official said.

After the al Qaeda haven of Tora Bora fell to anti-Taliban forces Dec. 17, the United States concluded that bin Laden was still alive based, in part, on tracking individuals known to help the master terrorist.

But intelligence officials said in interviews that those activities had recently stopped.....



September 22, 2002
New York Times magazine
by Gregg Bourland as told to Susan Burton

A Pox on Our House

I'm the tribal chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe. We're in west-central South Dakota, probably farther away from civilization than any other reservation in the United States. You would think that being out here, we wouldn't be so worried about potential terrorist attacks. I don't think that Al Qaeda is the least bit concerned about Native America. But smallpox is highly contagious. A lot of the tribal council members are jet-setting around the country. One carrier could travel to 10 major cities in the United States in just a couple days' time and spread it God knows where.

I was reared by my grandparents on the reservation. My grandmother would tell me how she had lost uncles and her grandma to the disease, how it had devastated our family. The recent talk about smallpox brought back those horror stories.

It's estimated that smallpox and European-borne diseases killed at least half of the Native Americans on this continent. Of course, some diseases also had devastating effects on the European populations. Native Americans had virtually no tolerance, no immunity, to smallpox. It's a historical fact that in the 18th century, some Europeans deliberately tried to infect Native Americans with the disease. In 1763, British officials gave Native Americans blankets that had been used in a hospital for people with smallpox. The rest of the world just might get a taste of what Native Americans went through when conquistadors planted their feet on our soil.

I wrote a letter to Senator Tom Daschle. Because his office had an anthrax attack, I felt that my letter would be very close to his heart. I was asking that vaccines be provided for every Native American who wishes to be immunized. I'm all for the health-care workers, doctors, nurses, people on the front lines, soldiers -- I'm all for them getting it. But the Native American people have always been the last to get anything. Our feeling is that we better start shouting now. What are the plans in the event of an outbreak? None of the politicians want to talk about it. Native America wants to talk about it. We all need to be aware of the symptoms. If I came down with smallpox today, I wouldn't even know what the heck it was.

When I was a kid, the entire reservation was inoculated for smallpox. I remember the day that I got it because the big to-do was that it always left a little round mark on your arm. But when they vaccinated me, it didn't leave the little round mark. It left no mark at all. So I always used to wonder if I was really vaccinated or not.

Last November, I was on a radio talk show, ''Native America Calling.'' Quite a few people called in. One lady said, ''Maybe Native Americans built up an immunity; maybe you guys are more immune than the rest of us.''

I told her, ''It would be nice if your theory would work, but how do you test that?''

On the same show, I chastised one guy, a Native American, who was ready to give up. He said, ''If smallpox hits . . . well, we're at war; people will die.''

I told him: ''That's not a warrior's attitude. That's a defeatist's. When you go to war, you're going to have your weapons to fight back. Smallpox is preventable. We can fight back.''

Smallpox is personal for me because of the stories my grandmother told me as I was growing up. My grandma's grandma, my great-great-grandmother, her name was Blue Earrings. She was a powerful Lakota medicine woman. They say that she drank water all the time. She got sick from smallpox, and when she was getting ready to die, she asked for a bowl of water. She said, ''I'm going to show you part of my powers, and why I'm sick.''

They put the bowl in front of her, and she spit into it, and out of her mouth flew four little water creatures. Here in the Dakotas, around the edge of lakes, there are these insects. They look as if they can walk on the water. They skitter. Three of them were jumping around in the bowl, and the other was dead. She pointed and said: ''See, that one got sick from this white man's disease, from smallpox. If that one can't live, I can't live, either.'' And she died.

I don't know if you believe in spiritual things. But I think Blue Earrings would want me to do what I'm doing right now, fighting for my people, for their right to survive in a world free from smallpox. These stories are very real to us. They're vivid in our memory yet. Unfortunately they're not vivid in the memory of the general populace.

In our Lakota way, the children are the future, and the elders are the keepers of wisdom. I am very concerned that the elders and the children are protected first, then the rest. If there isn't enough vaccine to go around, fine, I've lived 45 years, I'll be glad to donate mine to some child or elder. I don't want to see anyone suffer. I just hope that they come up with enough vaccine for everybody in our country. I don't want to seem selfish just for Native Americans. But I have to defend my people first.




Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2002 15:05:03 -0600
To: "President George W. Bush" <>
From: "UTOSI" <>
Subject: Mr. President we are not Osama bin Laden's Indians!
"Vice President Dick Cheney" <>,
"First Lady Laura Bush" <First.Lady@Whitehouse.Gov>,
"Mrs. Lynne Cheney" <Mrs.Cheney@Whitehouse.Gov>,
"UTOSI" <>

Dear Mr. President: If "a senior U.S. official" made the below reported statement, please inform your senior officials the American Indians are not Osama bin Laden's Indians.

Thank you.

Very truly yours.

Jimmie D. Oyler, Principal Chief
United Tribe of Shawnee Indians
Shawnee Reserve Number 206
De Soto, Kansas 66018

Bin Laden's cronies quiet

By Rowan Scarborough

U.S. intelligence has noticed a lack of communication in recent weeks by those close to Osama bin Laden, causing some analysts to believe he may be executing a ruse to convince Washington he is dead, officials say.

"We don't see any of his Indians doing anything on his behalf," a senior U.S. official said.

After the al Qaeda haven of Tora Bora fell to anti-Taliban forces Dec. 17, the United States concluded that bin Laden was still alive based, in part, on tracking individuals known to help the master terrorist.

But intelligence officials said in interviews that those activities had recently stopped.....




Afghanistan to Big Mountain -
Censored Native Voices


by Brenda Norrell
reprinted with permission by 4:23pm Thu Dec 20 '01 (Modified on 6:25pm Thu Dec 20 '01)

Native Americans say it is time for America to re-examine itself Native poets, filmmakers and spiritual leaders say war is no remedy for hatred

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Native American poets, filmmakers and spiritual leaders say America is being deceived by the national media about the intent behind the bombing of Afghanistan.

It reflects the deception and murder of the voiceless that Indigenous peoples have long known.

Simon Ortiz, Acoma Pueblo N.M. poet and professor in Canada, said images of the bombing of Afghanistan are the nightmares Indigenous peoples have always lived with.

Ortiz said it is now carried out in the conquest for oil.

"When I've seen the few photos of the destruction and killings caused by U.S. bombs in Afghanistan, I immediately think of what Acoma and the other Pueblos would look like if the same hellish madness were ever visited upon them," Ortiz said.

"People standing amidst the ruins and rubble of their adobe and stone homes. Children and old men and women stunned, weeping quietly. It is horrible to envision.

"This is victory over the enemy?

"And then I think of January 1599 when Acoma was laid to waste and hundreds of Acomas died at the hands of Spanish conquistadors under Don Juan de Onate.

"That was victory over the enemy?

"No, that was an obscenity of death and conquest committed so that Native land and its resources could be gained, just like what is taking place now in Afghanistan and the Mideast -- obscenity of death and conquest committed so that control over oil resources can be gained."

Ortiz, internationally-known author of "Woven Stone," and dozens of other books of poetry and essays, like Navajo filmmaker Arlene Bowman, relocated to Canada because of professional opportunities for Indigenous peoples.

Bowman, independent filmmaker living in Vancouver, British Columbia, said the war on Afghanistan is an energy war and at home, President

Bush is rapidly undoing the preservations of sacred lands put in place by the Clinton administration.

"I observe mostly the drive by the federal government to get to the energy sources in Canada and the United States fast!"

"Bush is definitely a redneck of a president."

Bowman, producer of "Navajo Talking Picture," shown in international film festivals and "Song Journey," shown on PBS, was born in Fort Defiance and grew up in Phoenix. She is concerned for Navajos at home and elsewhere.

"Probably Bush doesn't care about Aboriginal peoples and is racist. What else is new?

"He doesn't care if the Dineh people will not get enough water on their land and if digging for uranium will affect Dineh people, leaving them with cancer and radiation.

"It's not his brain and body or children. Has anything really changed for us?"

Bowman said Bush has become an opportunist by way of the tragedies of others, "ramming through" his energy policy while the mainstream media has acted with complicity in a crime against humanity.

"The opposition voice is censored out literally. The United States is becoming a 'banana republic,' a police state."

Bowman said racism towards people of color has not diminished, but major networks refuse to cover America as it is.

"Just observe the major television news networks. It's all 'Rah! Rah!' for the flag and gun-ho flag waving.

"The censorship bothers me a lot. Big Brother is watching and it's real."

Meanwhile, at the southern border of the United States, Pascua Yaqui border rights activist Jose Matus says all of the work done in recent years to halt abuse of Indigenous at the border was lost after the attacks in New York.

"We have lost whatever little ground we gained in our fight and struggle to stem the tide of law enforcement abuse of authority and violations of rights," said Matus, a Yaqui ceremonial leader.

While the militarization of the United States and Mexico border intensified, Matus said the so-called war on terror has terrorized Indigenous people crossing the border with an intensified climate of "racism, hatred, xenophobia and vigilantism."

Matus and other members of Derechos Humanos in Tucson have documented assaults and harassment if Indian people by border and immigration officials. The human rights organization has also pressed for the easing of visa requirements for ceremonial leaders. With more than 30,000 Yaqui living in Sonora, Mexico, the border has divided families and is a barrier to cultural and spiritual gatherings.

Matus said Bush continues to press for legislation, which will endanger Indian people and result in further abuse of civil and human rights.

"The September 11 attacks have taken away whatever little civil liberties we had and have given rise to hatred and xenophobia against immigrants of color more than ever before."

The profiling of people of color is a violation of rights Indigenous in the borderzone have long known.

"Why are people of color always profiled and not whites?" Matus asked.

American Indians have long warned it is time for America to reexamine itself and its treatment of Indigenous peoples and Mother Earth.

In April, a presentation to Lehman Brothers stockholders at the World Trade Center was censored by the media.

Following a protest outside, a delegation of Navajo, Hopi and Lakota elders and spiritual leaders addressed a stockholders meeting of Lehman Brothers, the parent company of Peabody Coal which mines coal on Navajo and Hopi lands on Black Mesa, Arizona.

Joe Chasing Horse, Lakota, told stockholders, "You have taken all of our land, now we have come to show you how to take care of it."

A traditional Hopi elder told stockholders, "Lehman Brothers, even though we are just a few here, we speak for the Creator, who is the majority."

In comments never publicized by the mainstream media, the Hopi elder said, "Therefore we demand you to stop the Peabody coal mining and the slurry. We demand again," said the Hopi elder who asked that his name not be published.

"Traditional and priesthood people don't want this mining. The Hopi prophecies say that we have to protect land and life. If we don't protect our beautiful Earth -- our Heaven, our Mother, we will suffer with her."

"Our ancestors warned that someday this would happen. White men will say that it is our own people that sold this land. I will not accept this.

"Our roots are rooted in our villages and it goes up to the whole universe. If we break these roots the world will get out of balance.

"I pray for you and hope that we open your eyes and you find the majority in your heart."

Before their deaths, Hopi elders Thomas Banyacya and Dan Evehema warned that calamities would befall all of humanity if Navajos were forced to relocate and the Earth was desecrated with further coal and uranium mining on Black Mesa.

After returning from New York to Big Mountain, Ariz., in the so-called Navajo-Hopi land dispute area, John Benally said the people have been struggling for 32 years because of the turmoil created by Hopi and Navajo tribal leaders intent on making money from the 92 billion tons of coal beneath the ground at Black Mesa.

Benally said the resistance actually goes back 500 years to the Spanish invasion, followed by invasions of Europeans and Kit Carson.

Benally said the Navajo, Hopi and Lakota delegation moved in solidarity with the Zapatistas whose caravan through Mexico in the spring gave them hope.

"We felt the wind, it came from the South. It is telling the Indigenous people to rise up for their beliefs, their culture. These things are not being respected by anyone but the Indigenous people."



We Are All Native Americans Today

Sept. 15, 2001
John Potter
Billings Gazette

Terror and death filled the air.

The attack was totally unpredictable, and our people taken completely by surprise.

One minute, we were living our peaceful, ordinary lives, savoring a beautiful morning, playing with our children or going about our "business as usual." In the next moment, explosions, balls of fire and smoke, the air filled with the screams of helpless men, women and children, the bodies of friends and family falling torn and lifeless at our feet.

And the children. What about our children?

In the first moments of the attack, brave ones charged forward in valiant efforts to rescue the wounded and hasten survivors to places of safety. Then another vicious and cowardly attack, explosions rock the air, and our world comes down in fire, taking the lives of the rescuers as well.

Through the horror, the chaos and the savagery of these assaults on our people, we know that our lives � our very way of life � will never be the same again. Attacked by a foreign and hateful presence, the lives of innocent people torn from our hearts on our own native soil, we wrestle with emotions and decisions heretofore unknown to us. Ones that we thought we were forever insulated from.

We have been violated.

History lessons

And what about our children? Will they ever feel safe again?

We need time to find our relatives, for some might still survive. We need time to mourn the loss of our people. We need to gather what food we can find, find our weapons and find our ponies scattered in the hills. Above all, we need to gather together and pray for the future of our people.

You see, this account of horror could've been written dozens of times throughout the brief and glorious history of our nation.

Perhaps after the Baker Massacre of the Blackfeet Indians. Innocent men, women and children killed senselessly and brutally.

Perhaps after the Sand Creek Massacre of the Cheyennes in Colorado. Again, innocent noncombatants slaughtered beneath not only a white flag of truce, but an American flag as well.

Or perhaps the same could've been written after the "battle" of the Washita, where Black Kettle and the rest of his family and survivors of Sand Creek were cut down by Custer.

Need I even mention Wounded Knee?

Terror is not new to American soil, nor is our government a stranger to it.

This nation was begun, expanded, and founded on terrorism � but in those times it was cloaked in the shimmering mantle of "Manifest Destiny." Thousands of innocent Native American men, women and children were murdered in the name of this particular form of terrorism.

You may argue that was war, but does any war justify the killing of women? Of the elderly? The killing of babies?

Make no mistake, whoever attacked our nation last Tuesday certainly is at war with us, but does that justify the horrific deaths of so many innocent men, women and children?

Know our enemy

The point is, all governments, all people are capable of terrorism. The United States stands proudly as the world's defender of truth, justice, democracy and human rights, yet our government is not innocent.

Remember Kent State? Innocent people died.

Remember My Lai?

And if you DON'T think that thousands of innocent people have been killed so that we can put gasoline in our SUVs, perhaps you need to think again....

Our government and our nation is outraged, filled with righteous indignation, and rightly so. I am as hurt and angered and hungry to retaliate against those responsible as anyone else.

But we cannot go forward under the blind belief that our own government has not carried out acts of terror, on our own soil and around the world. We need to remember that our own government, throughout its brief history, has committed horrible acts of terrorism against innocent people, as well. In this way, we can begin to know our enemy, begin to understand the anger and the hatred they feel for us. It is not an unjustified anger. Not something that they've made up.

Native Americans have known that anger. Native Americans cannot help but remember certain moments in our history that stand out as events that forever changed our way of life, changed the way we look at the world, and changed the stories that we tell our children. Our history and destiny were forever altered by the terrorism of the late 1800s.

But we have survived.

And so shall our great nation.

For now, we need time to find our relatives, for some of them might still survive. We need time to mourn the loss of so many of our people. We need time to grieve.

We then need to solidify, gather our strength, unify behind our leaders, take steps to protect our people and our homeland and somehow punish the enemy.

For we are all one people now, we are ALL Native Americans.

And above all, we need to gather together as one and pray for the future of our people. Because, what about the children?



Mohawk Ironworkers See Terrorist Plane Pass By;
St. Regis Families Worry

Posted: September 12, 2001 - 13:45 est
by: Jim Adams / Indian Country Today

HOGANSBURG, N. Y. -. Mohawk ironworkers were working 50 floors up at a lower Manhattan job when an airliner passed within what seemed like 50 feet of their crane on the way to its collision with the World Trade Center about 10 blocks away.

Richard Otto immediately got on his cell phone with Michael Swamp, Business Manager of Ironworkers Local 440 at the St. Regis (Akwesasne) Mohawk Reservation.

"He called in all shook up after the first plane passed," Swamp told ICT. "He was telling me the wing of a plane had just missed their crane."

Then as they were talking the second plane came by, headed for the other World Trade Center Tower. "He got excited and said another plane was coming," Swamp said. "'Listen, this is going to hit,'" Otto said. He started telling people to get out.

In the background, the sound of workers screaming and yelling came over the phone. Then said Swamp, "I could hear the ruffle. I could hear the boom. That's when I lost the phone connection."

From the same site, about 8:45 a.m., ironworker Norman Big Tree got in a call to his father, St. Regis subchief John Big Tree, Jr. "The chiefs came into my office and we turned on the TV," said St. Regis tribal spokeswoman Rowena General. "That was when the second plane hit the south tower."

Shock immediately hit the St. Regis Reservation, perhaps the part of Indian country most directly affected by the terrorist attack which collapsed the giant World Trade Center towers and showered debris for blocks around with still unknown loss of life. About 100 Mohawk men from the famed Ironworkers union were working at construction sites in New York City and New Jersey at the time of the attack.

Swamp set up an emergency clearing house at the union hall in Hogansburg to locate the ironworkers. By Wednesday morning, Swamp said that 79 had called in or gotten in touch with relatives. "I'm still looking for about 20 of my men," he said. But he added that the union agent in Manhattan thought they were safely away from the disaster.

As families on the reservation called the union hall and tribal offices for news, the tribe also coped with sudden tension along the Canadian border, which cuts through the Akwesasne community. Tribal Chief of Police Andrew Thomas called for all tribal members to look for any suspicious activity along the border.

Suspects in the hijacking of planes from Boston's Logan Airport used in the attack were reported to have flown in from Portland, Maine, after crossing the border in the vicinity of Vermont and Maine, said General, a distance to the east from Akwesasne. But she said that tribal police and community members were on alert. Tribal authorities, she said, "assist state and federal agencies on security matters and will continue to do so." "Many of our men have contributed to watching the borders through our community, for anyone trying to come into the U. S. or trying to get back into Canada."

Although the border remained formally open, said General, the heightened security was causing up to 45 minute delays for Mohawk families divided by the boundary. School children were especially affected, said General.

"A lot of our families who live on the Canadian side have children who attend tribal schools here," she said. "Many of our children attend school in the city of Cornwall [in Canada]."

In addition to the immediate impact, she said, the community had a sentimental attachment to the Twin Towers. "Quite a few Mohawk men from Akwesasne actually built the World Trade Center."

Mohawk ironworkers became famous through the mid-20th century for their role in putting up the skyline of New York and other northeast cities. About a thousand Akwesasne Mohawk still work on high-rise construction, said Swamp.



The Day the World Stopped

Mohawk Skywalkers at Ground Zero, the heart of rescue effort to find survivors at World Trade Centre carnage

NEW YORK (CP) _ Mohawk steelworker Kyle Beauvais said he's seen things in the rubble of the World Trade Center that he wouldn't wish on his worst enemy. "We found 50 (bodies) in one area of the rubble," said Beauvais, who finished his third consecutive overnight shift early Friday searching for survivors and clearing the rubble.

"You see the wildest things. Half a head, half a hand, one finger with a ring on it." Such are some of the grim realities at what's being called ground zero, where Mohawk steelworkers from Quebec perform much of the difficult work.

They have to get on top of the rubble with acetylene torches to cut massive steel beams before they can be safely taken away by crane to give rescue workers access to what lies underneath.

Fifty Mohawks have participated in the relief effort since Tuesday's terrorist attack collapsed the twin towers of the World Trade Center. They hail from Kahnawake, south of Montreal, and Akwesasne, which straddles the Quebec, Ontario and New York State borders and Six Nations. Many helped build the twin 110-story towers 30 years ago.

"The first thing you think when you get there is that you're looking at what used to be 220 floors of steel, and you wonder where it all is," said Chester Goodleaf, 47.

Roy Phillips, 38, whose hard hat has a Mohawk Warrior logo on it, said the height of the rubble suggests that most of what was the twin towers has been compressed into it's seven basement floors. "It seems like the floors collapsed downward one on top of the other, while the exterior walls collapsed outward," he said.

Many of the Mohawk steelworkers were working on an overpass on the Bruckner Expressway in Bronx, when they suddenly found themselves at the epicenter of the biggest story of the young 21st century. It wasn't as if they were not used to pressure, given that many were Warriors who played active roles in the 78-day Oka standoff in 1990.

"Your adrenaline gets going," said Rusty Phillips, who predicted it will take months before the cleanup is completed and reconstruction can begin.


September 11th cont...

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