Give Me Your Stiffest Sentence.
If You Don't, Then Resign.
by Cindy Sheehan
October 27, 2005
From - CommonDreams.org
"If you believe in what you are doing, give me your stiffest sentence. If you don't, then resign."
Yesterday, started off with a "bang" when we went to Arlington Cemetery to lay a wreath in the section where the Iraq War dead are buried. In our group yesterday morning were 3 other members of Gold Star Families for Peace. Juan Torres was with us and his son, Juan, was murdered in Afghanistan.
First of all, I was followed all morning by the Park Police. I guess because I am a very dangerous subversive. I would never hurt a flea, but what I am dangerous to is the lies and corruption of our government.
Secondly, Juan, Beatriz Saldivar, and Julie Cuniglio who have all had loved ones killed in this war had brought pictures of their dead loved ones with them to Arlington. We were told by the administration of the cemetery that they couldn't take the pictures into the cemetery because they were "political statements!!" We were stunned that pictures of our children that have been killed for lies and betrayals and for purely political reasons can't be shown in a cemetery that supposedly honors those who have served, some making the ultimate sacrifice in war. We are living in a state that kills our children then calls them political statements. That speaks volumes to the chicken hawks who we are allowing to ruin our country.
After Arlington, I met with Sen. Carl Levin from Michigan who has been a strong and outspoken critic against the war. The mess that George Bush has unleashed on our country and on the innocent world weighs heavily on his shoulders. He knows something needs to be done. Let's support him in doing so. Today, I will meet with Sen. Stabenow from the same state.
We headed to the vigil at the White House for our hours long wait in the freezing cold. There was a man there who had several signs which among them said: "Saddam loves Cindy." This man didn't care that Rumsfeld (or Rumsfailed as I accidentally called him on an interview yesterday) was buddy, buddy with Saddam and gave him or sold him tons of WMDs before he became our enemy. I told this man that he didn't bother me, and he told me I don't bother him either. Well, if I don't bother him, why did he come down and make signs and march for hours screaming that I kill our soldiers? We found out why. He was making 60 dollars an hour to do so from some non-profit, right wing group. He said he would switch signs if we gave him more money.
At 7:30 PM about 100 patriots symbolically died in front of the White House. Then 26 of us refused to get up and were arrested. As usual, the Park Police were very polite and efficient and many whisper words of support and encouragement to us. We are planning another die-in tonight at 7 PM. We need more Americans to come out and symbolically die with us here in DC…or do it in your own communities at relevant places, like a federal building, congressperson or senator's office.
When I was being processed out the Lieutenant warned me if I got arrested again that I may have to stay in jail until January since this was my second arrest and I already have one under my belt that hasn't been resolved (which I plan on going to court for anyway). The Lt went to bat for me, he said, so the judge wouldn't keep me until my November court date this time.
I appreciate the warning of the Lt., but I plan on doing Civil Disobedience again this evening. I cannot live freely in a country where people are allowed to commit murder and roam free to commit more mayhem while other people who are exercising their first amendment rights to free speech are locked up in jail. I cannot live freely in a country where others are allowed to lie to retaliate against a person who had the temerity to challenge previous lies. I cannot live freely in a country where bereaved family members aren't allowed to carry pictures of their murdered loved ones into a national cemetery.
If I go before a magistrate tonight or tomorrow after my next arrest, I will tell him/her: If you believe in what you are doing, give me the stiffest sentence possible. If you don't, then resign.
From: Common Dreams. Org http://www.commondreams.org/views05/1027-20.ht
by: Suzan Shown Harjo / Indian Country Today
October 20, 2005
In traditional Native cultures, a person's word is sacred and history told by one generation to the next is trusted.
Increasingly in modern American society, Native oral history accounts are disbelieved until and unless they can be substantiated by documents from non-Native sources. Some of these sources seem to have full-time jobs coming up with documents to undercut Native oral history, especially involving ongoing court cases.
One of the many ''Indian experts'' on the federal payroll - a Smithsonian linguist - recently produced a sketchy paper to support his claim that Indians dreamed up the term ''redskins'' and that it wasn't insulting at the outset. He cited other white men from the 1800s who wrote that Indian men used that term to describe themselves.
Of course, the words of the Indian men were translated by white men, but the linguist's paper does not make that point; and there is no record of what Native-language words the Native men actually used. Another white man - a reporter for The Washington Post - made the linguist's paper a news story, without making any of these linguistic points.
Native oral history relates that ''redskins'' originated in the days when white officials paid white bounty hunters monies for proof of ''Indian kill.''
One bounty proclamation from the Massachusetts Bay Province in 1755 required ''pursuing, captivating, killing and Destroying all and every of the [Penobscot] Indians.'' It promised to pay 50 pounds for male prisoners; 25 pounds for female or boy prisoners; and 40 pounds for scalps of males and 20 pounds for scalps of females and boys ''that shall be killed and brought in as Evidence of their being killed.''
Since bounties were paid on a sliding scale for Indian men, women and children, the bounty hunters had to produce either the whole bodies or the skinned genitalia in order to authenticate their claim. Scalps from the heads alone would not provide the required proof of adulthood or gender.
Before Native people located documentation of bounty hunting, that heinous practice was denied by most non-Native historians and government officials. Because Native people have not found the documents spelling out that the bloody custom of skinning Indians resulted in the term ''redskins,'' many non-Indians deny there is a connection at all. When and if such documentation is found, their response is likely to be ''so what.''
More and more, the recording of Native history has become a game of catch-me-if-you-can. In the decades leading up to enactment of repatriation laws, officials of most federal, state and private museums and universities vehemently denied that their Indian collections contained Indian human remains. When that lie was exposed, they tried to downplay the vast numbers involved, denying that they held more dead Indians than there were living Indians at the time.
The same ''Indian experts'' who studied the Native human remains in these institutions were the very voices of authority that challenged Native peoples' claims about the nature of these collections.
American Indian oral histories relate myriad specific instances of Euro-Americans beheading Native people. But the ''experts'' and collectors denied that Native people were decapitated until documents were produced on the federal ''Indian Crania Study'' of the 1800s and until the Smithsonian revealed its collection of 4,500 Indian skulls.
Similarly, the existence of the federal ''Civilization Regulations'' that criminalized Indian religions and languages from the 1880s to the 1930s was denied until a bound copy surfaced in the 1980s.
There was even a white lawyer who was supposed to be on the Native side of the campaign for repatriation laws who questioned the existence of the ''Civilization Regulations,'' telling a mutual friend: ''I don't have a copy of them. How do I know they exist?''
There used to be a debate about which diseases the Europeans spread to Native people in this hemisphere. In the ramp-up period to the Columbus Quincentenary, Newsweek devoted an edition of its magazine to the history and legacy of the 1492 invasion.
I wrote the ''My Turn'' column for that issue. Unbeknownst to me, the Smithsonian Institution was deeply involved in the project and one of its ''Indian experts'' reviewed my piece, resulting in a number of changes, including the deletion of syphilis from the list of foreign diseases.
The ''expert'' claimed that Indians infected Europeans with syphilis, even though there is no evidence to support that theory. I was asked if I had any evidence to support my contention. There are myriad oral history accounts of syphilis being brought here by the Europeans, but that didn't satisfy the ''expert'' or the editors, and syphilis was deleted.
Not too long after the magazine went to print, there was an announcement that evidence of syphilis was found in Greece, millennia before Europeans arrived here.
Tribal oral history was not believed in the Kennewick Man case, either. One of the ways that federally-paid scientists ''proved'' in court that the ancient one was not legally an American Indian under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act was to discount the oral history of his Northwest Native relatives.
The 9th Circuit stated: ''Because oral accounts have been inevitably changed in context of transmission, because the traditions include myths that cannot be considered as if factual histories, because the value of such accounts is limited by concerns of authenticity, reliability, and accuracy, and because the record as a whole does not show where historical fact ends and mythic tale begins, we do not think that the oral traditions ... were adequate to show the required significant relationship of the Kennewick Man's remains to the Tribal Claimants.''
Many Native people are picking up the lazy habit of denigrating Native histories as ''legends,'' ''myths'' and ''stories,'' and are relying on non-Native ''experts'' to record and validate tribal histories. These practices may adversely affect the outcome of future court cases, as well as the very way family and tribal history unfolds.
© Indian Country Today
Suzan Shown Harjo, Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee, is the president of the
Morning Star Institute in Washington, D.C. and a columnist for Indian Country Today.