Wednesday, January 12, 2011


“Let all that is Indian in you die! You cannot become truly American Citizens – industrious, intelligent, cultured, civilized until the INDIAN within you is DEAD.” These are the words of Rev J.A. Lippincott who, in 1898, gave the commencement speech to Carlisle Indian School graduates. I’ve heard this and other similar statements before, but for some reason when I recently read this, it hit me very differently. I have been reading materials on boarding schools lately and reviewed a book written by Michael C. Coleman titled, American Indians, the Irish, and Government Schooling: A Comparative Study.

About the same time as the US government was setting up Indian boarding school policies, the British government was also developing policies to educate their own “savages” over in Ireland! Coleman does a good job remaining emotionally detached as he lays out the evolution of these similar policies. While I’m reading Coleman’s text, it just so happened that the shooting in Arizona consumed all of the news on TV. If you have not heard about this story it is here. Although there were six people killed, the majority of the news topic was and has been on the US congress person who survived being shot in the head. Reading this book and watching the news caused me to think more deeply about what it might take to alter someone’s “being.”

It seems we know the familiar story of someone getting killed. What we are waiting for and watching is to see if the congress person who was shot in the head will survive and if so, will she remain who she was. She was a certain type person with specific characteristics that made her who she was. Now that her brain has been damaged, what will she become? Is who she was -- DEAD?

Thinking of Parables

I heard my Grandma speak many times about a great teacher who traveled around talking to folks about the ways of a certain religion. He had a teaching technique where he would make a strong point by telling stories in a way that made sense to the person being taught. This technique is considered teaching in parables. For instance, if this man was talking with…say…a fisherman, he would talk about fishing. He would say something like, ‘Come, I will make you fishers of men.” If he was speaking with builders, he would make a statement like, “build your house upon a sound foundation.” And when he would meet with academic professors, he would say, “Those who can’t do, teach.” Well... not so much that last one!  

Anyway, I like this style of teaching. I can always get more out of a common sense story related to a topic I know something about. When I thought about the boarding school policies of the US and their intended goals, I see them as being more horrific than a policy of straight out genocide. When a person is killed, they remain who they are/were. When we speak about some of the great Indian leaders who were killed throughout our history, although they are not physically present – the INDIAN in them is not DEAD. Killing does not alter or remove the INDIAN from within the Indian. Removing the INIDIAN from an Indian is impossible – at least this is what I hope we have all learned.

The WOLF Is DEAD in You

What is the story (parable) of another living being that experienced similar events from a policy intended to remove it or its “being?” It seems it could be the story of the Wolf. There was a time when the Wolf was viewed as being a ruthless killer. It had the reputation as being an animal that solely could destroy the way of life for new settlers – The Lone Wolf! Because of this label, Wolves could be killed without any regard – which they were.

As it turns out, the Wolf is a magnificent creature. There is no such thing as a lone Wolf. They live within a structured community and select a mate for life. They speak to each other, have rules, systems, and can survive without any human's help! When the Wolf was finally eradicated from certain parts of the US, like Yellowstone Park, it resulted in that entire ecological system being severely disrupted and out of balance.

There was no way to kill the WOLF in the Wolf. Left alone, Wolves will carry out their purpose as they have ever since there were Wolves. Now, we could kill every Wolf but that would not alter the idea of the WOLF -- it would only devastate the ecological environment. A person cannot kill the WOLF within the Wolf, even if they cut its hair, remove it from its territory, remove its pups, train it to sit and roll over, or force it to graduate from obedience school. Humans will never be able to alter the “being” of another living creature through policy development. When you see a Wolf, what you are really seeing is the WOLF. Those two items are one-in-the-same. They are inseparable. Just like when you see a cake, you are not viewing each individual ingredients making up the cake, nor can you remove those individual ingredients like the eggs, flour or milk. The same is true when you see an Indian. The ingredients making up the INDIAN once born into the Indian is inseparable!

The best statement during a commencement speech would be…“Let all that is INDIAN in you flourish! You cannot become truly HUMAN – until the INDIAN within you is ALIVE.”
Peace, DAP


  1. I can't determine if the lack of a response to your blogs is because you are relatively new to the blogasphere and you have no viewership or whether your readers are just apathetic to your opinions put forth so far.

    This appears to be another one of those "whoa is me-I am the victim Indian" blogs. Exactly how long is mankind supposed to try to recify a situation you yourself could solve. Germans experienced complete anilhilation of their culture numerous times throughout history. African Americans didn't just step up their game they now have the pride and achievement notched in their chains of having a black president.

    Japan was literally destroyed at the end of WWII an now they are a global powerhouse. In all cases the mentioned cultures adapted, perservered, suffered immensely and emerged stronger than ever-language and culture intact.

    At some point leaving the victim archtype behind makes sense. It would eliminate most of the deseases that NDN's suffer from because they constantly let resentment fester and permiate the core of their very existence. At some point accepting and aggressively pursuing any type of education would advantage the NDN.

    Most of the worldview today is that the only one kicking the Native American's ass is themself.

    I don't consider myself a controverial type but maybe a little challenge here and request to others to weigh in on this could be a relevant topic that for some unknown reason seems to be taboo. It is becoming bullshit and it gets old listening and hearing about the constant wallowing.

    Sieze today and quit living in tomorrow!


  2. Sorry to say but your post leaves out the most important part of the equation. Each of these groups, as you say, who pulled up their boots straps and prospered had their own land base in which to do so. We as Indian people have had most of the land taken away, as well as the resources and revenues from those resources and it was only in the mid 1900's that we could begin to address the destruction of our culture and people without being arrested or put in jail for doing so. It is very easy to tell us what we are doing wrong when the United States and Canada still everyday steal and rob us of revenues to those resources that were promised us in treaty agreements. So you sit in a position of living off from the stolen lands, resources and revenues of our people and maintain the right to tell us how to fix ourselves. Kinda like a thief sitting in court telling the judge that his methods for doing what he did was okay while the person he stole from should have known better than to trust the thief.

  3. In regards to anonymous comment "Sieze today and quit living in tomorrow!" We are still trying to clean up the mess that successive governments have made from yesterday before we can even begin to look at how things should be today. Also if you wish to comment on issues that affect us and our people please at least be respectful enough to give your name.

  4. One thing most people fail to consider is the necessity of a people having a land base that allows them through access to that land base to retain their language, customs and culture. All other peoples on this earth have that land base where if they begin to lose any of these vital elements for retention of identity, culture and customs they can return to it to find it. Where do Indian people go when we have had our lands taken and have to deal with this continuous onslaught of more land being taken all the time?

    In most if not all of these other countries the governments speak the languages of the people so there is little risk of the language being lost. That is not the case here in North America where the governments speak a foreign language that came here from another country and use that language to destroy the native languages of the original peoples of this continent. With these continued losses it is almost impossible for our people to return to a sense or way of good health and well being when this trauma of genocidal activity still affects us and we live with it everyday.

    People like anonymous need to dig deep to understand it is not our people who are living off the system but the system that continues to thrive because of our losses.

  5. Very well written post and the comments by Sakoieta are equally true and well written. Anonymous, I always wonder why people with such strong opinions on things dont want to let people know who is voicing these opinions.....

  6. Nia:wen Sakoieta, ioianeratie! May I add to Sakoieta's comment and responses, to Anonymous that still to this day we continue to fight for our land not to be taken away and used for the non native's wallet. Do your research, 1990 a town of Oka, Quebec Canada, decided that they were going to extend an existing 9 hole golf course to an 18 hole course, all that meant tearing down our trees over our ancestral burial grounds, YES OUR CEMETARY as well as build condos for their profit. a small community of Kanienkehaka(Mohawks)stood our ground and said NO! If we were to think of doing anything to deface their 'catholic' cemetery, we would all be thrown in the slammer! but it was ok for them to do so with our little cemetery might I add they had already many years before built their Golf course entrance right through! The village of Oka, and the 'National Park' they have there in which they profit big time from, was once ours but they forced and bullied and killed their way in and took, and took, till what little we had left we fought and fought and fought for to keep, so little that our ancestors who are buried there are buried on top of each other. So getting back to what I started, the village of Oka got the provincial police to come in and 'take care' of the situation. As early as 4:30in the morning July 11th, 1990, the Q.P.P came rushing in, in full gear, riffles and all and attacked the few women and children, and men that were holding camp to stop any movements on our land, they tear gassed them, and in the midst of all this one cop was shot dead, but we didn't back down. eventually the cops backed away down the hill to the village of Oka, where they stayed for weeks,we barricaded the highway so no traffic went through our territory,taking a stand to say we will not be attacked any longer. Then the government of canada sent the canadian army in to dismantle our barricades and end the stand off no matter what it takes, tanks, assault riffles, razor wire. This we are still fighting to this day for what we have and what we stand for..YES IN THIS CENTURY, THIS DAY AND AGE. Do you see anyone do this to the jewish people? To the African Americans? NOPE Just to the FIRST PEOPLE OF THIS CONTINENT! We are not whining, or crying boo hoo, we are still fighting the fight from years gone by, and it seems that this will go on for a while still. So before you go blowing hot air about our rights and our people, DO RESEARCH! African American's have freakin Black History month! What the hell do they give us??!! No recognition, because they know what they did and still do to this day is wrong and they can't fess up to it.

  7. Anonymous, you seem to have totally missed the point of the opening post. I doubt that you even read it in it's entirety before your explosion of verbal diarrhea against native people. Your comments are in no way relevant to what is being said.

    You display your arrogance and ignorance further when you assume that attacks on natives and native culture are history and not current events also. Knife us with one hand and then point the finger at us for not healing fast enough with the other.

    Thank you anyway for showing us a perfect example of what is being discussed. Apparently you can't remove the fool from a fool either.

  8. I also would like to include, in light of this day marked in the U.S. as Martin Luther King Day??!!! Yep a black man who stood up for his rights against racism and all that has been thrown against his race....but have Canada and the U.S. any days honoring Red Cloud? Geronimo? Sitting Bull?....The list of our people fighting against the same thing AND also the land, goes on and on...We were beaten, tortured, enslaved, raped and murdered with not so much as thought. Our men killed, our women and children raped and beaten then left to starve and freeze to death in the winters, our people sold to slavery. The church's consent to raping us because they deemed us 'sub humans' and it was ok with their god to do so.
    If a black man(Martin L King) stood up for his rights, it is deemed courageous, and he is titled a hero and praised. But Should any Native person do the same, he is deemed a terrorist. What the heck is that?! My great uncle and his brother(my grandfather) were victims of Residential schools, my great uncle was beaten to with an inch of his life, refused of any clothes but a potato sack over him, then thrown in a well bucket and was placed down the well in the middle of winter as a young boy because he refused to talk any other language but his own! They managed to run away and survive, they walked WAY OVER 600 miles and found their way back home. But they were some of the lucky ones! My grandmother watched as some RCMP officers beat her father to death for cutting some fire wood. What the heck is that?! As for more recent events, just I mentioned earlier, like the 'Oka Crisis' there was a similar event that took place in South Western Ontario Canada at Camp Ipperwash where the O.P.P shot and killed a native man Dudley George for standing up for his rights in 1995, yes a peaceful man and yes 1995. Wounded Knee, I can go on and still happens in this century against our peoples, if you think the Jewish Holocaust is the only unthinkable event that has ever happened to a race of people, THINK AGAIN! The FIRST Holocaust was against THE FIRST PEOPLES OF THIS CONTINENT! So to this person who is named Anonymous, OPEN YOUR MIND! This isn't a boo hoo story of the past, this is a factual historical event that still is happening today as we speak. What you read in history books, is only a one sided story...research!

  9. One of the most despicable acts of genocide against a people is for another group to take it upon themselves to decide who is or is not a member of that Nation of race of people. Both the United States and Canada have done this through the Indian Act legislation in Canada and through Federal recognition policies in the states. In this manner the governments can eventually extinguish a race of Indian people at the mere whim of passing a law. An even worse part is that both of these governments stand against allowing us to name our children in our own manner and language. It is next to impossible for an Iroquois Indian to name there child legally with an Iroquois name since in doing that there is no surname only the given name of the child. When a government does this and the people who support that government allow this to happen this is the ultimate racist action that ever could be taken in a genocidal manner against a people.

  10. HI, these are some great comments. It seems anonymous's comment may be the attitude of many folks.