Chase Iron Eyes: Should Indians Support Armed Anti-Government Standoff in Oregon?

Chase Iron Eyes has offered up some points and perspective on the armed take over of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge Headquarters in Oregon. Many of his points are similar to ones I made during the Nevada stand off in 2014.

Iron Eyes:

On the other hand, it is refreshing to see people committed to protecting the Constitution of the United States and expressing willingness to protect the rights of citizens of this country against the repressive state that imposes its will on Tribal Nations and citizens with its control of the departments used to expropriate & imprison the aforementioned. These people are willing to take up arms as many in the Tribal Nation community say they are willing to do.

If Native Americans and Tribal Nations look past the blatant racist double standard being applied to the armed militia and the racism of at least the Bundys of the Military (Cliven is a known racist) these are potential allies against the oppressive neo-liberal colonization machine. These armed militia-men are those who are protecting your rights as Americans, not necessarily those over-seas in U.S. Military uniform at the behest of the financial-military-industrial-complex and big oil.

Yes! We can play the “who’s more oppressed” game all day long, and completely forget the fact that there is a severe disconnect between the interests of the people of America (be they white, brown or black) and the interests of the “financial-military-industrial-complex and big oil.” This system used white settlers and ranchers as a useful tool to subjugate Indian Country, but the system has since moved on to become a global capitalist machine which has adapted Indian Policy to the Middle East, Central America, South America, Africa, Southeast Asia and any part of the globe that doesn’t bend to it’s will. As it expands it’s power globally it must crush any internal dissent against it’s legitimacy at home. These white settlers have essentially withdrawn their support from the system and refuse to recognize it’s legitimacy. This is a good thing for Native peoples.

The United States, as currently controlled by Too Big to Fail Banks & Finance Conglomerates, Too Big to Fail Oil, Gas, Carbon & ancillary business interests, and other Too Big to Fail Big Money Having Lobby Sects, is considered to already be a fascist state. An oligarchy moving in for the kill on the last freedoms of Constitution-defending Americans. This is tyranny. Those controlling the oligarchy have moved in on our privacy (Edward Snowden exposed that); they are moving in on Americans’ right to oppose the questionable policies of the American Government (the NDAA allows the President to arrest anyone suspected of “terrorism” without any due process protections or defining what terrorism is); they are moving in on Americans’ right to bear arms albeit justified by every school shooting; they have already moved in on Americans’ right to free speech, press and assembly by punishing anyone who calls for real action by inciting others to take action (inciting riots, etc.).

This is the state of affairs we find ourselves lumped into as Native Americans and Tribal Nations and we need as many allies as we can get. Even if the enemy of your enemy is your friend. At the very least prominent Native Americans and Tribal Nations should involve themselves in popular discourse. Can you imagine a completely legit, open-carry, armed, peaceful take-over of the Black Hills? That is in the imagination of many but while we ponder on our keyboards Steve and Dwight Hammond Jr. are set to go back to prison Jan. 4, 2016 for the same helpful controlled burn they already did prison time for.

Iron Eyes is demonstrating here that the United States is largely an enemy of the people, something that 1 out of 4 Americans recognize. Resistance to this neo-liberal system will look different coming from Native people than it does coming from conservative whites or liberal whites.

Just like the occupy movement you had Indians criticizing the name of the movement and refusing to support it online because these immigrant occupiers were not recognizing Indian title to the places they were occupying. At strategic times we have to think of the bigger picture. I cannot sit here and downplay the impact an armed take-over could have if for instance the Paiute people who have original claims to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and much more would join the armed struggle with the militias agreeing to advocate for their claims where there could be agreement.

Iron Eyes lays out a strategy here that is a true threat to the system’s hold on our lands. Too often we make racism our #1 enemy, and side with the greater threat of the United States’ global, corporate oligarchy by criticizing popular dissent that doesn’t come in our favorite flavor. The US is moving away from racism and Manifest Destiny as it’s legitimizing ideology and is attempting to forge a shallow, multicultural identity for all Americans that is conveniently all inclusive now that it has a firm and unchallenged grip on it’s portion of the North American continent.

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Reading Through An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States: Multiculturalism


An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Photo: Vince Rinehart

I’ve finally picked up Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s book, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. The book is an attack on the legitimizing ideology and narrative of the United States’s subjugation of the indigenous people of North America. Though I have only just begun reading it, I am familiar with indigenous decolonization efforts and thought. Even in the little I’ve read so far, I am more than impressed with Dunbar-Ortiz’s critique of the founding myths of the US, which attempt to erase the deep and rich history of this continent and the Native peoples who have lived on it for millennia.

As I read through I will be recording some of my thoughts and highlights from the book, both as a way to remember and to analyze what I’ve read. Maybe you’ll find this useful, or maybe it will just be a series of articles that I may reflect on myself.

The Introduction


Multiculturalism became the cutting edge of post-civil-rights-movement US history revisionism. For this scheme to work-and affirm US historical progress-Indigenous nations and communities had to be left out of the picture. As territorially and treaty-based peoples in North America, they did not fit the grid of multiculturalism but were included by transforming them into an inchoate oppressed racial group, while colonized Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans were dissolved into another such group, variously called “Hispanic” or Latino.” The multicultural approach emphasized “contributions” of individuals from oppressed groups to the country’s assumed greatness. Indigenous peoples were thus credited with corn, beans, buckskin, log cabins, parkas, maple syrup, canoes, hundreds of place names, Thanksgiving, and even the concepts of democracy and federalism. But this idea of the gift-giving Indian helping to establish and enrich the development of the United States is an insidious smoke screen meant to obscure the fact that the very existence of the oucntry is a result of the looting of an entire continent and its resources. The fundamental unresolved issues of Indigenous lands, treaties, and sovereignty could not but scuttle the premises of multiculturalism.

With multiculturalism, manifest destiny won the day.

pp. 5

I believe that Dunbar-Ortiz has identified a key shift in tactics in the United State’s claim to power and legitimacy. Originally manifest destiny was the belief system which legitimized expansion and colonization of indigenous lands. This fit well with the overarching narrative of the United States: pilgrims and outcasts from Europe escaped to the new world for religious freedom, carved out a living from the soil, threw off their old world tyrants and did God’s will by settling the rest of North America.

Over the past 200 years the US has had to integrate African slaves, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and other Latinos of various nationalities, Native Americans, Chinese, Irish, Italians, and the peoples of hundreds of countries, ethnic groups and religions. Largely in a bid to quell internal dissent and legitimize its rule over this continent and it’s people, the US has revised it’s belief system to include these various groups. This belief system is backwards. In order for it to work we must:

  1. accept out of hand that the US and it’s colonial system are the legitimate rulers of this land and then
  2. convince ourselves that our history and it’s history are not at odds with one another, rationalize the violent occupation of indigenous lands and tell ourselves that the values the US claims to hold justify the predatory means by which it accumulates land, resources and power.

Rejecting this multicultural belief system is an uncomfortable proposition, because it undermines everything that the US has taught us through it’s school and media. Many of us are inclined to vote Democrat, support President Obama, and tell ourselves that the US and it’s democracy are the defenders of human rights in the face of racism and sexism. Still others of us are inclined to vote Republican, serve in the military (because our warriors defend our land, which is within US borders,) and tell ourselves that the US and it’s democracy are the defenders of human rights and all that is good in the world. None of this is true if you reject the assumption that the US and it’s colonial system are legitimate rulers of indigenous lands. Multiculturalism, democracy, unity for the sake of unity and even human rights are among the modern day equivalents of manifest destiny. These are the values and beliefs that the US uses (or co-opts) to legitimize it’s hold on Native lands, hoping that you’ll ignore the past 500 years of injustice. So long as we support any part of the US as the purveyor of these values then we are accepting the legitimizing ideology of a predatory, expansionist empire that started with forts in Indian Country.

Posted in Decolonization, Sovereignty | 2 Comments

Language matters: The alleged disappearance of Áak’w Kwáan, T’aaku Kwáan


What happened to the Áak’w Kwáan and T’aaku Kwáan? Did they all die of disease? Become assimilated? Move away?

A state researcher challenges the modern day, persistent narrative implying that local Tlingits seemed to have just vanished as soon as non-Native settlers arrived in the area.

Anastasia Tarmann with the Alaska State Library and Historical Collections explained her ongoing research during a session at “Sharing our Knowledge” clan conference held recently in Juneau.

“The stories that we tell ourselves, these interpretations, they reinforce or they cultivate relationships,” Tarmann said. “They can make relationships. Or they can just reinforce old messages. … They are our identities. And they also are possibilities.”

Tarmann pointed to recent interpretive signs for the new Brotherhood Bridge and the Auke Village Recreation Area as examples. The wording and the past-tense language implies that the Áak’w Kwáan either moved on from the area or abandoned their winter village early last century.

Tarmann highlighted the Brotherhood Bridge sign: “It says, ‘Although changes in Áak’w Kwáan lifestyle occurred, they continued to live in their traditional homeland.’ That bothers me. I’m sure it bothers you.”
Then, for the Auke Village sign, Tarmann noted: “By 1900, most of the Natives had moved to Juneau to work in the mines, and by 1926 all structural remains of the village were gone.”

“It’s like Áak’w history is a preface to Western history,” Tarmann said.
In Berners Bay, the forest was clear cut by gold miners in the area.
In 1962, Douglas Village Natives were forced from their homes without compensation and the village was burned down while many villagers were at their fish camp on the Taku River. The City of Douglas seized the land for a harbor project.

There’s an old saying that history is written by the victors, or the occupiers. Based on Western ideology and values, Tarmann said it seems that local history really didn’t start until after the United States took possession of the territory and the Gold Rush started. Does morality and virtue really only begin with Western civilization?

Posted in Decolonization | 2 Comments

Conservation interests fear prized yellow cedar may face extinction

Paul E. Hennon, USDA Forest Service Commons Attribution 3.0 License

Paul E. Hennon, USDA Forest Service Commons Attribution 3.0 License


By Theresa Soley

In some areas, yellow cedar trees stand white and empty of needles against a background of green hemlock. The places appear skeleton-like, bare trees standing with limbs exposed, said Paul Hennon, a research forest pathologist with the U.S. Forest Service.

He said in some of its range, 75 percent of mature trees have died.

Gregory is Tlingit Raven Beaver from Angoon, but was raised in Juneau. He began carving at a young age, inspired by other local artists.
Gregory carves almost exclusively with yellow cedar. Its wood is strong, yet easy to carve, and the tree has natural anti-fungal properties that inhibit decay. It is one of the few local woods that can withstand the elements over time and avoid rot outdoors.

These are the reasons that yellow cedar is valuable in the market.
Research suggests that yellow cedar could live up to 3,500 years. The tree grows slowly and can survive in nutrient-poor soils. Bears gnaw on yellow cedar bark and deer shelter within the tree for warmth in winter.

In a 2012 paper published in the journal BioScience, researchers identified climate change as a culprit of yellow cedar deaths. A warmer climate has reduced snow cover and created areas with poor soil drainage. With no blanket of snow for protection, roots freeze, causing immense injury to the base of the tree system.

This has killed swaths of trees prematurely.


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Public Testimony Against S. 872

Canoe - Wrangell, AK

Canoe – Wrangell, AK

The following is public testimony given by John Martin, Sr. of Hoonah, AK against S.872 – Unrecognized Southeast Alaska Native Communities Recognition and Compensation Act. The bill is currently being considered by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. If passed, it would convey land to the five landless communities of Wrangell, Petersburg, Tenakee, Ketchikan and Haines in the form of ANCSA Corporations.

Members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,

I am presenting a written document in lieu of a video clip that was prepared for this hearing.

Gunal’cheesh gaaw ux’ jeet ye teeyi ya x’ax’ da taani ha tlatke daat.
(Thank you for allowing me time to speak about our Tribal Lands in Tenakee.)
Keiheenouk’ yu x’at duwa sakw Lingit xei nax.
(My Lingit name is Keiheenouk’)

My English name is John Martin, Sr. I was born and raised in Tenakee, Alaska. I am the Clan Leader for the members of the Sockeye House. Our Clans occupied and utilized all of the traditional lands in the Tenakee/Hoonah/Angoon area until we were forced to move to Hoonah to enable the children to attend the Hoonah Territorial School. My parents had a place to live and a beautiful garden that provided our family with fresh vegetables for the dinner table. We had access to all species of fish in the waters of Tenakee Inlet and nearby.

I oppose S. 872, as it is written. Our true Lingit people want culture and language. We oppose corporations. They are profit-making corporations and have nothing to do with traditional cultural values. The future of our traditional culture depends on safeguarding the integrity of the indigenous habitat that remain in this Senate Bill as it is written, will convey indigenous habitat to a short-term, profit-driven corporation, the antithesis of traditional culture.

Some people say that they represent Tenakee and that’s a fallacy. They were not born there and did not live there as children. They were not occupants of our traditional lands. I am a blood descendant and was placed in leadership properly by our forefathers.

Tenakee is the last Tlingit village in Southeast Alaska that is not corrupted by corporations. Please help us keep it that way! Don’t let the corporation steal our Lingit land!

The Federal Government with Governor Brady, allowed the Tsimpshians to have their cultural village on Lingit land. Please consider filling the balance by doing the same for the Lingit blood descendants to have Tenakee as a Lingit cultural village to keep our culture, language, songs and dance alive for our Children and grandchildren.

We have less than eight fluent Lingit speakers in the northern saltwater area. Don’t let our language die. This also was a vision of the late William Paul, Lingit Attorney from the village of Wrangell, Alaska.

Thank you very much for your time.

Posted in ANCSA, Clan Based Property, Decolonization, Village Resilience | 1 Comment

8th Annual Abolish Columbus Day March – Seattle Washington


From the event page on Facebook:

Sunday, October 11 at 12:00pm
Westlake Park, Seattle, WA

The state of Washington, and several other areas across the so called “United States” still celebrate the man who helped to initiate the worlds worst cultural genocide and slave trade.

Join an all star list of powerful presenters and leaders as we take it to the streets until the state of Washington, and Federal level governments recognize that Columbus was no hero!

Everyone is welcome! We need your support to raise the awareness and motivation of the general public and shift the atmosphere of the world we live in for a better tomorrow

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Realpolitik: Obama’s Visit to Alaska

Obama prepares to take Uncle Sam’s share of the fish! Alaska Public Media

Obama’s visit to Alaska and wooing of Alaska Natives, while friendly and nice and even commendable on a personal level, is really a part of a greater trend to legitimize the US Government’s brutal occupation of North America and it’s attempted extermination of indigenous peoples. Why does the President of the US suddenly care after so many Presidents have been commended for leading military campaigns against us? Probably because there’s a general leftward trend in the legitimizing ideology of ruling class: gay rights, women’s rights, racial justice, etc. In the past Manifest Destiny legitimized the US conquering and ruling of Indian Country. Now social justice, protection of Human Rights, and making sure a Republican doesn’t end up in the White House is what is used to legitimize their rule. All of this is extremely convenient now that their control of Indian Country and North America is consolidated and absolute.

Until this leftward trend began, some of the most fiercest internal opposition to the United State’s domestic power came from revolutionary movements from minority groups, including such organizations as AIM. Now it’s “carrot and stick” approach is to reward some members of this population while unleashing it’s police state on those who won’t or can’t prove their loyalty; typically the urban poor and reservation poor. In the meantime, some of us Natives have been and will continue to be accepted into the middle class in return for our loyalty and votes.

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