SAGE BRUSH AND NATION:  SOME CONTEMPORARY ISSUES [HUNTER GRAY   AUGUST 15  2006]  AND -- NOTES ON A FIRST RATE DOCUMENTARY:  WATERBUSTER  [HUNTER GRAY  SEPTEMBER 5 2006]

 

Hunter: I always thought you were dangerous. (More power to you.) Steve

Steven F. McNichols [Civil Rights and Liberties Attorney]:
San Francisco, CA 94104-3503
lawcenter@
 

NOTES BY HUNTER BEAR:

First:   Since this past late winter, we have been having strange
problems with our telephones and especially computers -- leading us to
wonder if the older patterns of  some "lawmen"  harassment which
greeted us upon our arrival in Idaho in the summer of '97 may, at least in
some part, be resuming. Footprints in the snow appeared in our back yard
area -- obviously a night thing -- and, a couple of nights later, Cameron
[with Josie] driving up to our place, spotted a man coming out of our back
area and climbing over our fence and quickly disappearing.  There have been
a number of other odd things, including  midnight visits to our main power
pole on the edge of our  darkened property.  There has been some surveillance.

Well, hard to tell, but we do think something is underway. 

Our neighbors have certainly always been most friendly and supportive.

 

And now, on the Bigger Picture:
 

Many of our good readers have histories that involve fighting
against such evils as racism and cultural ethnocentrism -- and for a full
measure of social justice for all.  Some of us have had intensive and direct
experiences with the old Southern Closed Societies [not restricted, I should
add, to Mississippi alone] and/or with the equally poisonous versions in
other parts of this country and Canada as well.  So, as have others, we can
only stand appalled at the depth, breadth and intensity of anti-Muslim
prejudice and discrimination presently so rampant across the land -- and
abroad as well -- encouraged by media bias, both open and implicit, and
demagogically so by much of "our" national leadership.

Without carrying any brief for the kind of sanguinary and indiscriminate
"propaganda of the deed" openly espoused by Osama & Co. and attributed,
sometimes accurately and sometimes not, to Wannabees, the current
media/politico use of the term, "terrorist", is now blatantly and callously
current in virtually all mainline media presentations of "the situation."
Now and then, to be sure, there is an occasional hint that the root causes
of this Bloodshed are complex and lie deep in social injustice, but it's a
very rare public "authority" who chances that venture.

Geronimo [not to ever be confused with Osama] is held, like Sitting Bull and
a myriad of other Native patriots, in very high esteem by any Hemispheric
Native American who has heard that Name and those other Names. [Our family
certainly does.]  But the great Apache guerilla fighter who held off for
years thousands of venomous U.S. Army troopers and many more akin
adversaries as well, was, with his kindred fighters across all tribal nation
lines, regularly and consistently denounced by virtually all American media
and much more in this country by such terms as "terrorist" and "butcher."
Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont, champions of the profoundly impoverished
Métis of the Central Provinces, were duly reviled by most of Anglo Canada.
Now Geronimo and Sitting Bull and Joseph Brant [Thayendanegea] and
comparable others are sometimes found in the "respectable" frameworks of
even some mainline films and books -- and, ninety years after Canada hanged
him on a trumped up charge, a postage stamp was issued by Canada
commemorating Louis Riel.  [But the Métis and all other Natives must and do
continue to struggle always for  a genuinely full measure of Food and
Freedom.]

In a message to the Europeans, Joseph Brant, Mohawk, commented:

"Our wise men are called Fathers, and they truly sustain that character. Do
you call yourselves Christians? Does the religion of Him who you call your
Savior inspire your spirit, and guide your practices? Surely not . . ."

Current efforts to interpret the Koran as "terroristic" sound like the rants
of the [white] Citizens Councils and even Klaverns.  As some thoughtful
critics of this approach have suggested, look at candid zealotry in certain
historical portions of the Holy Bible of the Judeo/Christian tradition.
Even more alarming would be the sadly not surprising national poll results
provided recently [August 12] by national NBC which showed deep and
pervasive anti-Muslim racial and cultural prejudices held by a large number
of Americans [roughly two out of five in some instances, three out of five
in others -- with a very heavy proportion not wanting a Muslim as a "next
door neighbor." [Israeli leaders, when interviewed frequently by national
media, are invariably well dressed, articulate in English, and "white."  We
hear little on television from the many Israeli people-of-conscience who
oppose this militaristic Madness.]

A parenthetical aside:  While I probably know many more American "Black
Muslims" than I do people of Middle Eastern Muslim background, our family
gets along well with just about everyone.  In the spring of '91, when I
strongly sensed eventual flood problems with the Red River of the North, and
moved our family well to the west of Grand Forks, N.D., we purchased the
nice home being vacated by Dr. H, a fellow University of North Dakota prof
who was moving to Maryland.  This was in the Glow of the First Iraq War.  Dr
H was originally from that general region and we were contributing what we
could to the work of the broadly based American-Arab Anti-Discrimination
Committee, headed by Lebanese-American and former U.S. Senator James
Abourezk of South Dakota, whose wife is Sioux.  In any case, we found Dr H
and family to be just fine and our new home very satisfactory.

We assumed the H family was Muslim and that was confirmed, some months after
we moved in when a family of out-of-town Middle Eastern folk arrived at our
address, seeking the Hs.  I indicated they had moved on and was happy to
oblige these visitors with the use of our phone so they could reach other
local contacts.  They were politely curious about us [without asking
questions] and about the inside of our home:  a conservative Catholic
crucifix on the wall, the large and ancient and impressive stone Toltec head
on the New England red dresser, our very very old Onondaga [Iroquois] beaded
shell belt depicting the structure of the Great Confederacy, and much more.
Then suddenly, the man of the family understood -- and smiled.  He spoke to
the others -- who then smiled.  We had a pleasant visit and it developed our
house had been for years a religious Muslim meeting location.  Soon
thereafter, another always cordial Muslim prof moved in across the street --
and the periodic religious gatherings occurred there.  Those attending, not
many but an obviously cohesive group, were consistently  friendly as we were
to them.  In this same enclave, a Sioux family lived across from a Sikh
professor.  And there were diverse others in that outlying and isolated
little neighborhood which, perhaps thanks to the all-embracive Creator,
spared us by 300 yards when the Red flooded in April of 1997 and forced more
than 50,000 others out of a much destroyed Grand Forks.

The obviously deeply rooted and flaring bigotry afoot in the land -- coupled
with hysterical violations of the civil rights and liberties of its
targets -- strikes us as more of an infinitely profound and sadly enduring
threat than any military or quasi-military challenges abroad.

HUNTER GRAY  [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR]   Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
www.hunterbear.org
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
 and Ohkwari'

Honored with The Elder Recognition Award by Wordcraft Circle of Native
Writers and Storytellers:
http://www.hunterbear.org/elder_recognition_award_for_2005.htm
 

And check out my page on Community Organizing and Activism:
http://www.hunterbear.org/my_combined_community_organizing.htm 

NOTES ON A FIRST RATE DOCUMENTARY:  WATERBUSTER [HUNTER GRAY  SEPTEMBER 5 2006]

FROM HUNTER TO BOB GATELY:

Dear Bob [Gately]:
 
We want to thank you very much indeed for your thoughtfulness and generosity in sending us the very fine 2006 documentary film, WATERBUSTER, produced by your good friend, J. Carlos Peinado and his associate, Daphne Ross.  [Information on this DVD is available via www.waterbuster.org ]  I am taking the liberty of posting this note of mine since I think many others will be quite interested.
 
Having spent a fair number of years in North Dakota, we are familiar with the land and the people and the issue focus of the film -- the Garrison Dam tragedy of the mid-twentieth century  which disrupted the upper Missouri, created a vast artificial lake,  and resulted in the massive displacement of Native people from the Three Affiliated Tribes [Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara] at the Fort Berthold Reservation [as well as a number of adjoining Anglo families.]  Via the sensitive journey trail of Carlos Peinado in his return to his family roots on the reservation, the film encompasses historical and contemporary epochs; and very much the endurance and more-than-just-survival of the people of the Three Tribes caught up in colossal tragedy and its on-going ramifications engendered by the often thoughtless, callous, and downright self-serving policies of the Federal government.
 
The film footage from the various historical and contemporary periods, the depthy interviews and reflections with and from the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara, and others; the judicious usage of traditional music, and that from various "mainline" American periods, and the Land itself -- high plains, badlands, the Missouri -- and certainly the Sun and Sky, are all blended in masterful and splendid fashion.  For us, and we're sure for a great many others, this truly excellent work ranks 'way 'way up in its socially and environmentally conscious genre.
 
In a personal vein, we recognized many of the family names involved -- and indeed, among the several thousand Native students from a number of  reservations that I had while teaching Indian Studies at the University of North Dakota, were many from those very families.  And we certainly know personally several of the Ft Berthold people interviewed.
 
Obviously, we recommend this work with much enthusiasm!
 
In Solidarity, Hunter
 
 
HUNTER GRAY  [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR]   Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
 and Ohkwari'

 

Bob Gately comments:

Hunter, Indeed you caught the essence of Carlos work
and your blessing will be well received by him. It has
been forwarded, he too will be well informed by your
thoughful read on the work. Thanks for the read,
thoughts. We pray it will give comfort to the people
of the Three Rivers and give them resolve to right the
injustice imposed upon them by government inepitude.

You sound so strong, the spirit of the bear echoes
through the canons....

Bob

 

HUNTER GRAY  [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR]   Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
 and Ohkwari'
 

 
Check out our massive social justice website:  www.hunterbear.org
 
Honored with The Elder Recognition Award by Wordcraft Circle of Native
Writers and Storytellers:
http://www.hunterbear.org/elder_recognition_award_for_2005.htm
 
In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings.  Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunter Bear]
 
 

 

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