Mark Anthony Rolo

It's been 40 years since American Indian activists ended their occupation of Wounded Knee, S.D., but thanks to them, life has improved in Indian country.

In February 1973, activists in the American Indian Movement came to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to protest against a corrupt tribal government and to call attention to the U.S. government's record of breaking treaties with tribes.

We don’t celebrate 500 years of being dominated, exploited, enslaved and nearly exterminated by Europeans. But we do celebrate our survival. By Mark Anthony Rolo

By Mark Anthony Rolo

This Thanksgiving, don’t call on me, as an American Indian, to offer up a prayer of thanks.

I sure wouldn’t want to offend anyone with a prayer that dredges up key events of the dark past such as the forced, deadly removal of Cherokee Indians from their eastern homelands back in 1830. From the Carolinas to Oklahoma, 15,000 Cherokee were ordered to march through snow, ice and mountains. At least, 4,000 of them died of starvation or exposure.

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.

As a nation, we need to gain enough distance from our history of colonialism to move forward peacefully and treat other peoples respectfully. Our insistence on honoring Christopher Columbus with ticker tape only makes that journey longer and more difficult.

As an American Indian, I can’t think of anything more depressing than sitting around the dinner table tracing the legacy of a holiday that began with a questionable decision to save a band of starving pilgrims at Plymouth Rock.

On Monday, Oct. 13, schoolteachers across the nation should find the courage to speak the truth about the man who sailed the ocean blue in 1492.

It’s not time for black people to hit the mute button.

Progressive black critics of Sen. Barack Obama are facing a lot of criticism.

The Trail of Tears began 170 years ago this week. We should recall it not as an aberration but as a logical outgrowth of an inhumane policy.


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Earl Holloway

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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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