I wrote this essay a year ago, to be put up on my web site www.lakotaperspectives.com In April of 2004, my webmaster got ensnared in a COITELPRO operation and removed my web site from the Internet. In particular, I was writing about Arlo Looking Cloud, an innocent Lakota full blood who was framed by the FBI for the murder of Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash along with a Canadian, John Graham, who the US is vigorously attempting to get him extradited to the US so they can send him off, too. Because I live on the Pine Ridge Reservation and am close friends with Arlo's relatives, I have an inside edge that no one else has. Barry Bachrach, Leonard Peltier's attorney, who has become my friend and advisor says that the truth is an absolute defense.
Thanks to Dr. Caleb my web site is up and running. And soon we will have all the Arlo stories restored to Lakota Perspectives. It only goes to show that the late, great Tony Black Feather was right when he said, "It isn't money that makes the world go round, but good will." I am indebted to Vive and Dr. C.
This article is from Lakota Perspectives, where I try to present the views and beliefs of the Lakota whom I have come to know and love.
SOME THOUGHTS ON 9-11, TWO YEARS LATER
by Janis Schmidt
The fall semester has started, and I am teaching 3 classes in Music and Culture. As I decided a year ago, I also include critical thinking in my classes. All my students are adults with children, ranging in age from 18 to 50. Class size is incredibly small due to the fact that Oglala Lakota College does not have a central campus. Instead, it has community college centers. In other words, the college comes to the students, not the other way round.
Since I happened to have class on 9-ll-03, I thought it appropiate to ask my students for comments on 9-11. First of all, I had a most interesting conversation with the Center Director. I had mentioned to her that I was going to bring up 9-11 in my class. I think her commentary is incredible. She said:
"Most everyone (Lakotas) had mixed feelings about 9-11. The first reaction was, 'we are glad it happened. Now, you Americans, can know how it feels. How do you like to be killed for no reason?' We also felt sorry for the victims, the ones who died in that fire.'
I heard this same thing from many Lakotas right after 9-11. This diabolical attack on the Twin Towers really caused Lakotas to remember Wounded Knee and other attacks on Indians by the Whites. I am talking to the relatives of the survivors. And it wasn't that long ago.
But Lakotas identify more with the Iraqis and the senseless and diabolical (shock and awe, Hitler style) bombing of Baghdad. It, apparently, is very difficult for Americans to understand the total devastation and destruction of a culture, and what it means to have to go on after your world has been laid to waste. All for oil. And with the Lakotas, all for gold and land. It took them 100 years but Homesteak Goldmine got the last ounce of gold in the Black Hills and closed the mine this summer. A Lakota full blood was telling me they never got anything out of it, not even a dime. Plus, there is mine tailings (toxic waste) all over the Black Hills and Homesteak just walks away. Maybe a project for the EPA. So, who's going to clean up those TONS of depleted uranium, the mess, that the Americans dropped all over Iraq? Bush keeps wanting to make a connection between 9-11 and Iraq-----I think this is it.
I asked my students what they thought. One woman said, "The only one with the technology and knowhow is the one responsible for 9-11. If Bush didn't actually plan 9-11, and I don't think he is smart enough for that, I think he knew in advance and cooperated with the perpatrators (CIA and the US gov). That way he could scare the public and get his way, whatever he wanted. Which is the oil."
I asked my students, where is Osama? Where is Saddam? Where are the WMD? One bright young man answered, "They are probably hiding out in Craford, Texas. And the WMD. Most of those are scattered throughout the United States. Amazing that most people don't know that."
I went over with my students what difines a civilization. What is necessary to have a civilization? A civilization is a living, breathing entity. It has needs just like a human or it will die. What are the human needs? There aren't many.
4. clean air
5. clean water
6. compassion or love
So, what defines a civilization?
1. a common language
2. a belief system or religion
3. a common economy (means of exchange)
4. a common set of laws or government
5. a common morality (right and wrong)
6. a means of passing on the knowledge (education)
If any of these are disrupted for a generation, that civilization may die. This really set off a reaction among the students. "We are losing our language (Lakota). We no longer practice the values. We are slaves to the dollar." I asked, "What did you use for exchange in times past?" He said, "Horses and hides." It was a very sobering moment as the meaning of my words settled in. Then he said, "We know it, but we don't practice it." I said, "We study ancient history. We must live or practice the values of a civilization or it will die." Then he told me a sobering thought, "At least we know what our culture is even if we can't practice it. What do you white people consider to be your culture or civilization? And how do you practice it?" "Good question," I said.
Read through the 6 basic necessities for a civilization again. How many of those did the U.S. destroy for the Iraqis? Their world is in chaotic turmoil, while the monster just keeps flailing about. If American can't understand what they did to the Indian tribes right under their nose, how are they going to understand what is going on in Iraq? If someone comes along to kill you and destroy your civilization, in the name of freedom and democracy, how do you relate to them?
The deep, deep sadness of an occupied people, what they were forced to give up, only their identity, is at the bottom of most of the anger. And Americans cannot seem to understand this. Americans seem to feel that the victim should be grateful to that mass murderer has come to liberate them.