By Anonymous (not verified) on December 27, 2010

The 120th anniversary of the Wounded Knee Massacre should serve as a reminder of the U.S. government’s brutal war on American Indians.

On the morning of Dec. 29, 1890, the U.S. 7th Calvary attacked a Lakota community camped along Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota. Soldiers indiscriminately shot the Lakota, killing at least 150. Most of them were women and children. About 30 soldiers also died, some from friendly fire.

Many historians consider this bloodbath to be the sad endpoint of the Indian Wars. To make way for the white conquest of the West, the U.S. army subjugated the Indian nations, and Congress forced them into giving up most of their lands through coerced treaties. But America’s failure to live up to its end of the bargain— food, clothing and other provisions — led to great Indian unrest.

By the turn of the 20th century,. the West was secured for white settlers. Indian tribes were, for the most part, demoralized and forgotten.

But the Indian Wars did not end on the frozen banks of Wounded Knee Creek. America continued its efforts to subdue the Indian with new strategies.

A policy of privatizing Indian property allowed for increased white land-grabbing. Tribes lost millions of acreage. The oppressive practice of sending Indian kids off to white boarding schools remained in effect. Thousands of Indian children were removed from their homes and shipped off to military-style schools designed to “kill the Indian, but save the man.”

In the 1950s, President Eisenhower signed legislation aimed at dismantling the tribal reservation system. “Indian termination” cut off treaty-based provisions such as health care and other critical services to tribes like the Menominee, Klamath and Potawatomi.

In the mid-1970s, Congress finally shredded the Indian termination policy — allowing tribes to reclaim nationhood.

In recent decades, tribes have reasserted themselves.

They have called on the nation’s courts to force the federal government into upholding treaty rights, and the courts have largely done so.

Tribes have demanded an end to corruption within the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the federal institution charged with funding and overseeing services to tribes, and this has led to measurable reform.

And on the cultural and spiritual front, American Indians are reviving their languages, customs and religions, which Washington once outlawed.

But Washington has yet to set the historical record straight.

In the days that followed the massacre at Wounded Knee, the U.S. Army awarded medals of honor to twenty of their soldiers. Indians have urged the federal government to strip away those medals. But the government not only refuses to withdraw the medals; it also refuses to apologize for the genocide it inflicted.

To the American Indian that means only one thing: the Indian Wars are far from over.

Mark Anthony Rolo is an enrolled member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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