Noahvose: Nea'ese


Wisconsin, USA
February 21
History Teacher
A Great Plains guy living in the Great Northwoods and feeling Claustrophobic.-- Masters in Anthropology (I thought we could use some Indians digging up white people).-- I have an amazing wife and two beautiful boys.-- I teach high school history and at an Alternative School for at-risk youth.-- ...and I have a serious Jelly Belly problem


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MARCH 10, 2009 12:51PM

Welcome to Rapid

Rate: 35 Flag


No Indians Allowed


I moved to Rapid City, South Dakota in ’97. I drove into town in the middle of a sleet storm (anyone who’s ever driven through a storm on the Great Plains knows what that’s like…there’s nowhere to hide.) Yeah, I knew about Rapid. In the 60s and 70s, Indians knew this place as the most racist city in America. It’s where two cowboys stabbed Wesley Bad Heart Bull through the chest, locked him in the trunk of their car where he died, and were charged with involuntary manslaughter. It’s where Lizzy Fast Horse, a great grandmother, climbed to the top of Mt. Rushmore to claim the Black Hills back for the Lakota people, and then was hauled back down to jail, cuffed to her granddaughter. “But that was back then,” I thought to myself. Besides, this is where Bear Butte is, and that’s why I came, as do so many other Cheyenne from Oklahoma every summer. So, my second night there I ventured out to one of the local bars. I had no furniture or TV, and I wanted to watch the football game. After pouring my drink, the bartender strode down the bar to the group of about 4 or 5 regulars and said, “Hey, what do you call a bus full of Indians?…a full set of teeth.” They laughed and shot a couple of awkward glances my direction. I got the hint…welcome to Rapid.


While getting certified to teach high school history, I worked as a teacher’s aid at the local high school and at a store called Prairie Edge. It’s the largest Native American book, music, and craft store in the world, and I made a lot of good Lakota friends there. When you work at a place like that, you see a lot of strange things. One day, a group of guys from Norway came in wearing all fur. They asked to talk to a full blood and were directed up to the book & music department, where I worked, to talk to my boss, Marty Frog. As they came up the stairs, everyone…Indians and non-Indians…workers and customers…stood silent, watching. The Norwegians reverently approached Marty, got on their knees, and asked his forgiveness on behalf of their ancestors, who stole his land. Marty said, uncomfortably, “Sure, OK.” And just like that they left, as quickly and quietly as they had come. Another time, I sat and watched as a German tourist, who spoke fluent Lakota, actually argued with a lady from Pine Ridge Reservation about the correct way to say something in her language. Those are just a small sample of the funnier moments, but I was young, struggling with my own mixed-blood identity, and my first reaction was always anger. After four years of living and working in Rapid, I’d seen and heard about everything.


Then, starting in the fall of 1998 we were all reminded that Rapid City could be a lot darker than the funny tourist stories we’d collected. In the span of 18 months, there was a dramatic increase in violence and murders of Indians around Rapid City and in other parts of South Dakota. Two young men were found on Pine Ridge, near the Nebraska border. Their arms had been tied behind them, and they had both been shot dead. Rumors circulated that it was a Nebraska sheriff, but charges were never filed, and the investigation finally ended with no leads. Then, in another SD town, a teenage Lakota boy with Downs Syndrome was forced by a group of white teens to drink until he passed out. When they couldn’t wake him up, they shoved him upside down in a garbage can in an alley until morning, where he died. The court ruled that since he died of alcohol poisoning and not being upside down in the can, he couldn’t charge the defendants with murder. Their parents and other community members actually asked the court to go easy on them, since several of them had already been accepted to college. But the eeriest events took place in Rapid City. Within 18 months, eight homeless Indians had mysteriously “drowned” in the shallow creek that runs through the city. Investigations had turned up nothing, and when law enforcement was going to chalk the eighth one up to a drunken accident, the people went crazy. Not because there were no leads, but because it didn’t seem the investigators were even looking for them. Homeless Indians didn’t suddenly get drunker, and the river certainly didn’t suddenly get deeper and more dangerous. But the police were ready to simply assume that these people must have just passed out and rolled into the river.


The protests got so loud, that Washington finally sent a Civil Rights Commission to Rapid in December 1999. Most people I talked to thought it was just a token gesture. They and their ancestors have been through centuries of this, someone shows up and records the complaints and brings them back to Washington, never to be heard from again. The files of complaints must be huge, or at least the bonfires were when they burned them. But it didn’t stop half the Indians in SD from showing up to tell their stories to the commissioners. It went on for several days, and I was able to go and listen on one of them. As I stated before, I was younger then (27), and anger was my best motivator. The more personal testimonies that were told and the more denials and justifications by state and county officials I heard, the angrier I got. I turned to Heidi, my girlfriend at the time and now my wife, and said, “I think I have to say something.” I remember this vividly; she looked at me with the same frustration and hurt I was feeling and said, “I know.” Her faith in me has always inspired me to try anything. So, I prepared some notes on a few napkins and placed my name on the list of speakers. After a long wait, almost long enough to calm down and loose my nerve, they called my name. I tried not to notice everyone turning to look at who was next, as I walked down the isle and sat at the table facing the panel, which included Mary Frances Berry, a woman whose achievements and career I had read about. Currently the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History at the U. of Pennsylvania, she had worked on civil rights issues under three presidents and was fired by Reagan when she had the nerve to criticize his record on civil rights…and I was about to address her, what arrogance. Nervously I adjusted the mike, looked quickly at my notes, and began.


I spoke for about three minutes, which is all we were allowed, and I swear I couldn’t have told anyone what I had just said; it went so fast. All I really remember is Commissioner Berry smiling at me when I was done, like a mother would, and saying, “Very well done.” But was it? Would it really achieve anything? But as I walked out with Heidi, one old Indian man, a stranger, reached out and shook my hand and nodded without saying a word. That was one of my proudest days.


Several months later, I got a letter from the Civil Rights Commission. It was a transcript of what I had said that day. It took me a while to open it, but with a little prodding from Heidi, I sat down and read it:


     CHAIRPERSON FEINSTEIN: Thank you. Next Scott

Herron, state your name and where you're from for the record,


     MR. HERRON: My name is Scott Herron. I am not

originally from here. My mother is Southern Cheyenne, we are

from Kansas, but I have lived here the past three years where

I spent most of my time in the school system as a teacher's

aide. I would like to start off by apologizing. I feel like

I am probably too young to be up here voicing my opinion, but

I had some things to say and I wouldn't have felt good about

myself if I didn't say them, so I apologize for my boldness.

I have heard a lot of good things said here

tonight, but two things especially stand out in my mind. I

heard Mr. Abourezk say, "Responsibility lies with everyone,

the rich and the poor." And I heard Scott Germane say that,

"The road to truth is a lonely one." I think it is lonely

because it's difficult, but most importantly, it's lonely

because it takes courage. I read an old speech once where

the speaker said, "English is a funny language. It can make

right look like wrong and wrong look like right." So I guess

it shouldn't surprise us that maybe we live in the only

country that a people could take over the entire continent

and somehow never have done anything wrong. And maybe it

shouldn't surprise me that in a state with a room full of

people with so many stories like this that I heard an

attorney sit up here today and tell you there was no

discrimination in the court system.

I am afraid that when we focus so closely on the

details of each case, it's like missing the forest for the

trees. I am glad to hear people talking about the past

tonight. There are a lot of people in this country who would

like to forget the past and they would wish Indian people

would do so also. Everyone in this room and everyone in this

country knows there's inequality, but let's face the truth,

most people are unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to

fix it.

As an example, some friends of mine and I got

together a drum group when I was here in Central High School

and we did so because we were worried about what we saw in

the school system, the closing of several Lakota

classes including the Lakota history -- Lakota language

class. We encountered a lot of barriers, and I remember

finally a couple students asked if we could sing at the

graduation and they wanted to do so to show the people what

they had learned and to show their pride and to show honoring

to those graduates. And they approached me for it and I went

to one faculty member I won't mention, and he told me, “no.” And

he explained that if the Native students wanted to do

something, then the black students would want to do something

and the Asian students would want to do something. I wonder

where we've gone in this country when that's a bad thing.

I have learned one thing in this life, that if you

are walking along and drop something, you can't pick it up if

you keep moving forward. We have dropped something special

in this country that's very important, but no one seems

willing to stop, back up and pick it up. You don't take

everything from a people and then ask with seriousness why

they or their descendents have alcoholism problems, why they

have the highest suicide rate, why they are distrusting and

why they are angry.

So in summary you ask what the solutions are here

tonight. I think all of us know what the solutions are. We

have to have the courage to say it. It's going to take

self-sacrifice from the top to the bottom, and so I wanted to

thank you for the sacrifice of your time and energy to come

here. Thank you.

     CHAIRPERSON FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Scott.

     CHAIRPERSON BERRY: Very well done.



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Scott, your comments resonated long after the 3 minutes passed. This posting is thought proving and educational. I learned something reading this, and I thank you. (rated)
Thank you very much for sharing ALL of this.
Thanks for making me more aware of this injustice. Living my whole life on the east coast makes less aware of the pain and suffering that is experienced by others. It was very important that you posted this. It was even more important that I read it and that I share it with others.
This is a very moving piece of writing. Thanks for sharing the story....I hope there are newer, brighter things happening with the change in Washington, and with good changes I see across the country.

Your speech.......brilliant, brief, but poignant, said from the heart.
You testified:

You don't take

everything from a people and then ask with seriousness why

they or their descendents have alcoholism problems, why they

have the highest suicide rate, why they are distrusting and

why they are angry.

People of conscience would not. Apparently being a person of conscience made you a minority in Rapid.

Rated and appreciated.
Sao Kay - Thank you so much for all of your effort at sharing my post. It really means a lot, since I'm always so humbled by your writing and your stories, especially your latest "Bahamas"

Mean Mr. Mustard - Thanks. After reading some of your posts, it seems I'm not the only one motivated by anger. Great thoughts. Hope you don't mind if I've added you as a friend. I often need a ranting partner.

Verbal, Sheepdog, and Justis - thanks a lot for taking the time to read it and commenting. I really appreciated your thoughts. Justis, I'm hoping for that brighter horizon, as well.
Dorinda, interesting point you made about being a person of conscience. I wonder if being a person of conscience always puts someone in the minority, no matter where he/she is. (except on OS, right?) Thanks for your response.
Seems like South Dakota hasn't come that far since the days depicted in Deadwood. If you want a theory about why the police aren't looking into the drownings, it's because they may very well be responsible. We have some horrible incidents in Canada of police dumping natives with drinking problems in snowbanks to die.

Last week I read a new biography of Samuel de Champlain, the only European explorer who ever really formed respectful alliances with Indians in the 17th Century. Canada has a lot to answer for, but we all owe a lot to Champlain. More and more Canadian and American historian are chalking up some Canada's more left leaning ways to how influenced we were by native culture in the early years of our formation. Especially the French. Quebec owes the survival of it's language and culture from what it learned negotiating political and trade treaties with many Indian tribes through continental america. They learned the true meaning of the word "sovereignty", which in native cultures does not mean isolated power, it means a just balance of power between tribes.

Indians have suffered worse for the lack of justice in America's early years. But Americans have suffered, I think, in ways they're not aware of by believing that they had nothing to learn.
Oh my - Thank you - Your words show so much heart and power. Sao Kay thanks for the heads up.
Strong, moving post. The task is impossible, but thank you for trying.
This is a great story. It deserves more than a "thank you" and a "very well done." My uncle worked on a reservation in Wanblee, SD, in those years. We visited him in the summer of '99 and went to Rapid City. I had no idea that all this tension---or, to be blunt, hatred--went on. I knew things weren't fair and noticed things about the res, but I didn't know how things were in the city. (We were only there for a few hours, but still...)
I am glad that you shared this and that you stood up. You should be proud.
Juliet - Thanks for your thoughtful response. You have some interesting ideas about how First Nations have influenced Canada and America, whether by what was learned or what wasn't learned or acknowledged. As far as the police being responsible for the deaths, I had never thought it was that conspiratorial, but there were certainly rumors of something like that.

I will have to study up more on de Champlain. I'm not sure the Iroquois would have such glowing memories of him. Wasn't it he who allied with the Huron and taught the Iroquois what a gun was by shooting their chief dead? You'll have to tell me more about his history. I do enjoy the story of Bartolome de las Casas, though. Have you heard his story? More people should. Thanks again for your thoughts.
Sao, thanks for writing if you haven't done enough. I agree with your take on the media. Much like African Americans feel they mostly show up in stories having to do with crime. Natives aren't ever mentioned unless it has to do with casinos. It's funny to me that when I go over with my students the racial and ethnic stereotypes that are still present, their image of Indians has completely flipped from even 10 years ago. Now, the image is, still lazy of course, but wealthy. What they don't realize is casinos only account for 7% of reservations. I've been impressed that Obama at least mentions natives when he goes over his list of diverse people in this country. Whether that will translate into policies, we'll see.

About the Iroquois influence, Benjamin Franklin was sent several times to meetings of the Iroquois confederacy to take notes on how they were able to unify. His Albany plan was based on this same idea and he even made a famous speech to several of the Founding Fathers in which he said, "If a group of ignorant savages can unify, why can't our colonies?" He even used their symbol of unity to make his point: one arrow is easily broken, but a bundle of arrows is strong. That's why the eagle on the back of the quarter is carrying a bundle of five arrows (for the original five nations of Iroquois) and the eagle on the back of the dollar is carrying a bundle of 13 arrows (for the colonies). So, very well observed on your part about their influence. Unfortunately, he wasn't ready to model their custom of women electing the leader.

Thanks again for all your help and thoughts. It does mean a lot.
Gramps & Steven - thanks for taking the time to read it and leaving such nice responses.

Delia - I'm glad you got to go out there for even a short time. Don't get me wrong, I still love Rapid and the Black Hills. There are great people and the land will last longer than any racism. I guess it's somewhat like reservations, themselves. They might be difficult places to live, but they are part of the people's identity. It can't be separated.

Jane - I moved to WI with my wife in 2001. There has never been anyone arrested, and last I heard the case was officially closed.
Sao Kay led me here and I'm glad she did. Thank you so much for sharing this. Living on the east coast, these types of issues are not reported, although I do learn of them through an organization I support, Friends Council on National Legislation. Nothing beats hearing a first person account, however. Your words are wise, especially about sometimes needing to stop and pick something up that's been dropped.

I'm going to share this with my son who is currently studying the Lakota. History books don't often tell the truth and I want him to know the true story. Thank you for giving this issue a voice.
I am very proud of your words - you who I have never met. I would have been proud, sitting there listening to you, as a Native woman listening to a Native man say what needed to be said.

Our problems up here are different - but of course not. Maybe different on the specifics, but certainly not the tone, or the results. Many people in this city, in this state, don't even believe racism against Native people is a problem.

You may not be AN Elder, but you are my elder, by a bit. Your words have impacted me, and I hope to hear more of your stories. Maybe more importantly, I hope to live by your words.

Gunalchéesh, ho, ho
good story, and an important reminder that racism in America isn't just a matter of black and white

I'm glad you're teaching history, students can use a perspective like yours
Scott, you bring up a very sore subject with me. The treatment of Indians in the West remains very similar to the treatment of blacks in the South back in the 50s. That includes the use of the disgusting slur "prairie nigger". Most of America seems to think that an apology should be sufficient for Indians. Maybe -- for the sins of the past, but that does nothing for the sins of the present.

While America can take some small measure of solace in having owned up to some of its awful past, it is a mighty small measure. America only did so when forced to by the Great Awakening of The Sixties too often dismissed and disparaged as the hippie movement.

But the cultural resurrection of the Noble Savage of the 1800s on the western plains doesn't do much to compensate for the evils of the past or to alleviate the evils of the present.

Our schools still do a poor job of teaching the truth about some of these matters. Most students are not taught that President Jackson openly defied an order of the Supreme Court, seized Cherokee lands and sent the Cherokee off illegally on The Trail of Tears.

And they certainly aren't' taught that the phrase The Final Solution was coined by General William Tecumseh Sherman, a phrase used to describe a govt policy that should politely be described as ethnic cleansing, but was in fact genocide epitomized by Sherman's frequent crack that "the only good Indian is a dead one."

Nor are students taught that Hitler greatly admired America's handling of the Indian Problem, and used it as model for his Final Solution of the The Jewish Question.

While some Americans express regret for the sins of the past, damned few care to address the sins of the present -- that costs money. Instead, as a people we look the other way while our country continues to violate treaties like the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.

The govt tried to put one over on the Lakota again in 1980 in a Supreme Court ruling that granted the tribe an award of $17.5 million for their land that the US citizens were illegally occupying, plus another $105 million to cover 100 years interest. The Lakota told the govt to stick it, and demanded their land back. As far as I know, the matter is still in dispute.

Sorry to have run on so long here, but this subject inflames me. I return the talking feather to you, Scott.
Lisa - thanks for your response. That's great that your son is studying the Lakota. What class is this? In the AP U.S. text we use in my school, it gives them 2 paragraphs. I hope his class does them more justice.

Writing Raven - I really appreciate your blogs from up north and your taking the time to read mine. It's funny that usually the only people to think racism against Indians is not a problem is non-Indians...coincidence? Thanks again and keep up all the good work you do. Nea'ese

Roy - thanks for your thoughts. It's funny, though, how often a different perspectives makes them uncomfortable. I always tell them at the beginning of the year that if I only taught to make them comfortable, I'd be teaching propaganda, not history.
Hey Noah, if you're in a bookstore, keep an eye out for Champlain's Dream by David Hackett Fischer. Just came out in October. It's a fascinating book, filled with Champlain's writings and drawings (he was an excellent artist.)

You should read the chapter on Iroquoia. It's really interesting. What stands out for me is how Champlain wrote about the Mohawk warriors he was up against (he was allied with the Huron, Montaignais, and Algonquin--who like most tribes at the time were at war with the Iroquois.)
From Champlain's writing "they advanced slowly to meet us with a gravity and assurance that I greatly admired." But the reality was that his force was comprised of two french soldiers and sixty Indian allies. They were up against two hundred Mohawk warriors, who were legendary for their war skills. So yes, the first thing he did was shoot their chief.
Hackett argues, however, that Champlain sent out peace feelers to the Iroquois that were rejected before this incident.

I don't want to romanticize him. He was a complicated man, and a man of his times. But there is no question from his writings ,and his actions, that whatever happened between him and the Iroquois, he saw them as equal human beings.

And that's a very different situation than leaving someone in a garbage can to die.
Tom - I really enjoyed and appreciated your thoughts. Clearly, you are well-educated on this topic. I always ask my students why our textbooks give three entire chapters to the Civil War, which only lasted 5 years, and only one sub-section of one chapter to the Indian Wars, which lasted roughly thirty years. It makes them think deeper about it, but I still haven't had an adequate answer from them. I believe the reason is that the U.S. can look proudly, if a little romantically, at the outcome. They can claim that morality won. You're right, though, about people wanting an apology to be enough to Indians. The reason the Indian Wars are so neglected in school, I believe, is because the country can't look to that period with pride. It's as if they know it was wrong, and they're still not willing to do what it would take to make it right, so they hope people will just forget.

I also sometimes get the feeling from my students that they're uncomfortable studying this topic, because they feel it places guilt on them, personally. My response is that none of us are GUILTY for past events we had no part in. However, we are all RESPONSIBLE for today. We have to do what is necessary to fix the injustices that come from the past, so that we won't be the next guilty generation who thought it wasn't our responsibility.

Thanks again for your input.
Juliet, Thanks for the additional info on Champain. I also find his description of the Iroquois slatted armor interesting. Without his journal, I wasn't aware of that Iroquois custom. I'll have to do more reading about him...I'll add it to my already overwhelming list of must reads. That's what I love about history, it's ever changing as we allow in the different perspectives and interpretations. Again, check out the story of Bartolome de Las Casas. I use him in class to prove why it's incorrect to say "we can't judge historical people by today's standards." He proves that those standards were very much alive back then, they were just silenced.
I'm trying not to dominate the conversation, but you are touching on matters I have long had to deal with, matters I dealt with in my book The Disappearing Cemetery.

One of those matters is the vile canard you mentioned that "we can't judge historical people by today's standards" or as it is sometimes more simply rendered "people didn't know any better back then". Bullshit.

That lie is frequently offered up in my part of the world to excuse slavery. The truth apologists don't want to hear is the Catholic Church had a ongoing debate about slavery for centuries before Columbus. The truth is when Columbus found no gold or spices, he returned with Indian slaves as a sop to Queen Isabella. Ironically, the woman who unleashed The Inquisition refused to accept these Indian captives as slaves. She insisted Columbus return them to their home -- after converting them to Christianity, of course.

It is also alleged that "back then" Indians and blacks were considered sub-human, which provided a convenient excuse to treat them like livestock. But I submit that men didn't believe that nonsense, for if they did, their frequent sexual encounters with these "beasts" would by the teachings of their faith render them guilty of bestiality, a crime punishable by death.

You won't find that taught in our schools -- and certainly not in our churches.
Tom, you make a number of great points that I try to address in my classes. A number of historians are theorizing that racism is a construct out of convenience, rather than some innate belief of any given time period. Howard Zinn makes this argument when he points out the random law that forbid Irish from congregating with blacks...the reason being is that if they could talk, they might realize they were in the same boat. So, instead, just give the Irish a few token benefits to make sure that they and the Af. Amer. will never side with each other...genius.

Also, to your point about slavery in the South, the South was close to freeing slaves until the development of the cotton gin and worldwide cotton demand skyrocketed. Then, the South needed new racial justifications for their renewed dependence on slaves. The economic "need" came first, then the racial ideology followed.

Remember, even Rome had a black emperor.

Thanks again for all of your thoughts, and don't worry about controlling the conversation. Your arguments need to be heard.
The unwillingness of those at the top to participate in "self-sacrifice from the top to the bottom" is destroying our nation. But things seem to be turning around slowly. Let's hope the good effects are seen from the bottom to the top.
If we are going to be fair about this, it is important to keep in mind that race (a term many experts on the subject are beginning to doubt has much scientific value) isn't just about color or other physical distinctions. One way of looking at race, at least as we commonly use the term, is as a cultural extension of tribalism.

Thus Jews and Arabs, "tribes" most casual observers might have a hard time distinguishing between, see themselves as opposites. It is disingenuous at best to ignore that this same sort of distinction without a difference was -- and still is -- common among tribal peoples, whether in the Middle East, Africa or the American West.

In many tribes, tribal members are referred by some version of the term "The People" and those outside the tribe as something less. Us and Them was not an invention of the white man, but the white men did develop the technology to enforce their version of The People on much of the rest of the world, a world they populated with Redskins, Chinks, Jews, Japs, Wogs, etc, etc, etc.

The irony, of course, is that such artificial or at best cultural distinctions came back to haunt whites, too, justifying the troubles in Northern Ireland and two World Wars, to name but a few examples. But it is also important to keep in mind that while such conflicts are ostensibly about Us and Them, which is how they are sold to the masses, they are in reality about power and resources, such as the two World Wars that were in reality fought for control of oil.

Unfortunately, as a species, we don't seem to have learned a lot from our experience with the Politics of Division.
Tom, you're right about science holding virtually no credence to any valid measure of race. Anyway, you're also correct in that the idea of race being about skin color ignores centuries of ethnic conflict (i.e. the English writing about the primitive Irish and Scottish races and the debate which raged in the U.S. in the early 1900s about the superiority of the Teuton race over those of southern and eastern Europe. Certainly, no one is arguing that there weren't always separations of Us and Them. I think the difference is that when that division became institutionilized in America, it became impossible for anyone among Them to become one of Us. Even though there were tribal distinctions, evidence shows that one could cross over that threshold, whether by adoption or capture. Furthermore, tribes allowed just as easy a transition for non-Indians who became members of the tribe (again by choice, like in Jamestown, and by force, like Mary Jemmison of the Iroquois). Indentured servants in the South were still seen as Them, but when their service was over they could become Us. Slaves could not, that is the difference...but again, that difference was constructed out of a desire for white, economic and social security.
You are quite right about "adoption" being common among tribes, though I wonder if all adoptees had the same status as "natives". Certainly, there was resistance by some "full-bloods" against "half-breeds".

On the other hand, many mixed bloods achieved legendary status. Some suggest Crazy Horse was lighter-skinned and curly-headed -- though oddly, that's not how he's portrayed in movies made by white men. The most famous Cherokee, Sequoyah, inventor of the Cherokee alphabet, was said to be of mixed parentage, too.

Don't know how much you've followed the sad tale, but The Removal caused bitter divisions among the Cherokee, divisions exacerbated by the fact that it was mostly full-bloods who preferred to stay and fight rather than leave, and it was the more wealthy, educated and successful "half-breeds" who reluctantly agreed to resettlement as the only viable option.

I happen to live next door to Starr Mountain, the home of Caleb Starr and his mixed-breed family, who were tragically involved in those troubles, troubles that resulted in many deaths in Oklahoma Territory, troubles that have only recently begun to be resolved between the Eastern and Western bands of the Cherokee.

It is my understanding that the Eastern Band of the Cherokee would not likely exist save for the fact that the Cherokee who remained behind after The Removal pooled their resources and bought title in land through an eighth-blood Cherokee who passed for white. Thus they were able to purchase ancestral lands in the NC mountains that eventually became the Eastern Reservation, land that is now home to a Harrah's Casino -- another subject I have strong feelings about.

But I'm wandering again, forgive me, Brother.
When you go back before white contact, or at least early in it, those who survived war party raids and were brought back to the tribe were usually allowed full membership. The only boundary between changing identity was language and belief. If one changed those two things, one was integrated in. Again, someone could make the argument that this was economic in nature, it meant more food could be procured. I have heard a convincing argument that the whold full vs. mixed blood division really began with the Dawes Act. It forced Indians to prove their blood quantum to be given land and resources. Then, many agents gave out most of those resources to mixed-bloods who hung around the agency, rather than the more traditional full-bloods who lived way out. Of course, the greater context of racial theory at the time believed whole heartedly in breeding out the Indian to save them, so greater privileges were given to mixed-bloods.

I know quite a bit about the Cherokee Removal and have been to the Eastern reservation...beautiful land. My grandfather is from the Cheyenne/Arapaho reservation in OK, but I've never been to the western Cherokee land.

As far as Crazy Horse being mixed, that's not something you'd want to mention on Pine Ridge Rez. But, again, back then it wouldn't have made any difference. It does now to those living on the rez, because they see that theory as being just one more way for whites to suggest that one must be part white to do great things.

I get a chance in two years to start a Race and Ethnicity class in the high school where I teach...I can't wait for those discussions. By the way, nice post about the Stem Cell research. Keep it up.
Thanks for the kind words and for visiting my post.

I've met a few Lakota, and you're right -- they wouldn't take kindly to the suggestion Crazy Horse may be part white. I should send you one of my CDs, SoulofHawk. It has several original songs about the troubles of various tribes, including one about Crazy Horse. I think the latter-day Lakota braves would appreciate it. The chorus goes:

A white buffalo is born upon the plains
And a war cry is roaring on the wind
Lightning flashed
Flames burst from a horse's mane
And Crazy Horse is riding again
Damn. Beautiful. I would need a thesaurus to better describe this post.

May I just say that in each of the few posts of yours that I have read, you teach without teaching. That is truly a gift. And I thank you for sharing it.
Read. Rated. Reread
Rijaxn, Thank you for your very nice response. I look forward to reading your next post and hope the situation you wrote about last time works out for the best.
i'm overwhelmed by the in-depth responses on here, which show you what an excellent job you've done writing this post and giving that heartfelt powerful speech. i can't believe that was only 3 minutes. i too came here because of sao kay and i'm grateful that she led me here. your message will filter out from here. i hope that you will write and speak more and more. love love love love and gratitude.
This was a wonderfully informative post. I knew SD was bad as far as anti-Indian sentiment (I grew up in Nebraska), but I didn't realize it extended to not even trying to find out who may have murdered 8 (or more?) Native Americans. Thank you for the education.
I’ll add my voice to the chorus here in thanking you for this heartfelt and informative post.

I also enjoyed hearing about the Iroquois and Mohawk in the discussion thread. Growing up in upstate New York near the Mohawk River, having gone to Iroquois Middle School and Niskayuna High School, I’m a bit in awe of the struggles and history of the area. Something I hope to investigate more fully one day.
Theodora, Merwoman, & David, thanks for your very nice responses. About your school names, David, I remind my students that 26 of our states are actually different tribal words. Wisconsin, for example, is Ojibwa for "where the waters gather".
Amen. Rated and posted!
Scot, you'll be happy to know that Bartolome de las Casas is a major "primary source" when I teach my 11th grade World History classes that time period. There are now many provocative, thoughtful and earnest attempts by writers of that level of textbook to remedy the years of horridly wanting depictions of the reality of conquest.

Interesting reading indeed, as de las Casas WAS a priest and missionary. The Catholic church had many raging debates about the humanity and rights of native peoples at the time. He has a website dedicated to him: One of his most poignant writings discussed the decimation of native populations in the early islands "settled" by the Spanish, Puerto Rico and Cuba.

In addition, I would say than anyone in want of more knowledge about such things would do well to read the remaining Aztec codices, called the "Florentine" and "Madrid" codex respectively.

Further research might also lead to learning about the Paraguayan Jesuit "reductions" which were the basis of the film "The Mission". Compelling reading all.

Thanks so much for your rendering your own piece of this continuing struggle into so poignant a story.
(sorry for mispelling your name, Scott!)
JRDOG, thanks for reading and responding
Yekdeli, thank you so much for the info on Las Casas, but more importantly, thank you for what you teach. I teach about him in a Human Rights unit, and though the textbook neglects to mention him, I squeeze him into my AP U.S. class. We desperately need more teachers like you, who remind our students that history wasn't as black and white as our oversimplified texts suggest, and that there were, in fact, those who spoke out against the majority. Thanks again.
Thanks Scott, it is just too bad that those like Las Casas were the exception. I grieve that there still are not more like him. Obviously, he is still needed in Rapid City!
Rated - I have no words to properly express myself, but just, Thank You -
In my humble opinion, this story would make an excellent Editor's Pick. Well done, Noahvose. I Digg'd it, and encourage others to do the same.
Thank you Scott. This story/information is not one I read much about, but I always appreciate a personal perspective. I have visited Rapid City and the Black Hills area a number of times but honestly never knew the level of racist violence that exists there. I guess I am not surprised and I will pay more attention. I look forward to reading more from you.
Your words are so visual and inspiring. Thank you for speaking out when you were younger and for doing so again. The transcript of your speech wa s full of words I will quote to others in my life!

My mom lives in Wyoming, her property borders the Crow reservation. When she moved ther over 20 years ago, I was stunned at how much prejudice still existed ,and continues to exist today, between the ranchers and the Crow. I remember once, at the Crow Fair, watching a tourist ask a small girl who was dressed for a dancce competition to "do a little dance" so she could video tape it. The girl was obviously shy, did a few steps, and then had to listen to the tourist berate her for not doing a good enough job. I was so embarassed that this woman would in anyway represent my race of people. I wish I would have had your courage and spoken up. I always tell my friends that if they want to see true poverty they do not need to travel to a 3rd world country but only to our own country's reservations.

I look forward to reading more of your writing...
Jimenace - thanks for reading and responding. I really enjoyed your poetry, as well.

Pablo - That's an especially nice compliment, because of all the incredibly talented writers on this site. Thanks. I'll check out your site.

grif - I'm glad you've been able to make it to the Black Hills. I still love it there. My wife and I try to take our kids back once a year to see our friends. There's something about that land that always calls me back. It's hard to see what goes on beneath the surface there, because it bases its economy on tourism...can't let that other stuff get center stage. Thanks again.

Melissa - I went to grad school in Missoula, MT and always tried to make it over to Crow Fair. They're not so much our enemies anymore.haha. My grandfather is Cheyenne from the OK res, but I tried to make it over to the northern res in MT quite a bit to Lame Deer. It's beautiful country. Thanks for reading and responding.
My mom lives near the mouth of the Little Big Horn amazingly beautiful place and you sense the history of the place as soon as you set foot in it.
These stories make me nauseous. My heart chakra actually hurts! The pain people go through on this earth that is totally undeserving, unnecessary and down right WRONG makes me sick. You obviously have much love... Thank you for sharing.
MiddleAged - Thanks for taking the time to read and respond. I'm not sure how much love I have...more like much anger. haha.
Great post, and thanks Sao Kay for leading so many of us here.
So glad that Sao Kay sent me here. Wonderful speech.
I was born in SD near Bonesteel--a hard country with harder people. This proceeding reminded me of Peter Mathiesson's book about Leonard Peltier when it was the FBI killing Indians.
I think the racism is so bad towards Indians because it is still ongoing. I have a First Nations club at high school here and have had not only students but staff express racism.
I love that you are a history teacher and it appears that you are strong on real history. In my club, I had a friend who is Cheyenne, a descendent of Romannose, who came to talk about how her great-great grandmother had barely escaped the Sand Creek Massacre. It wasn't ancient history to her--she told the kids that all families have lessons that they pass on and her family's was survival. That is worth a whole lot more than learning how to bead.
Bless you.
O'Steph - thanks for taking the time to read and respond. My grandfather is from the Cheyenne reservation in OK. That's great that you had a Cheyenne woman come to talk about Sand Creek. Textbooks only began to include that event and Chivington's role in it a few years ago. If she is from Roman Nose's family, then she must be very proud. His is a great story and lesson. Where do you teach that you have a First Nations club. I wish more schools had that. Keep it up.
I am in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Actually, my school has nothing to do with it. I started the club last year when kids kept asking me if I was Indian--I'd ask them back and they had grandparents who were. It's such a cool thing for kids because the indigenous view is one the kids need. I'm in grad school and wanted to give it up but no one would take it. I have posted about the club before.
We have a great book written mostly by our nine federally recognized tribes called The First Oregonians and I use that a lot. I think they need to know who lived on this land for thousands of years. I teach about Celilo Falls which was the longest inhabited place in North America. There is still a village there but the falls are under water backed up by the dam. But they are still there.
So glad to have you here.
Scott, This makes me want to cry too. I wonder if there is something wrong with me that I feel so angry at the injustice this country perpetuates. I don't know why I feel a kinship with Native Americans, or the Indigina of Central America, but when I'm with them, I feel like there is a healing that they can show us and help us bring to the Earth. I feel like I don't have the right to ask, when our government has done so much wrong. What a powerful story you tell. Keep on telling it. Eventually if enough people tell, it will be heard if it's not too late. Thank you.
Obviously, I'm looking through your old posts. You're a great ambassador for Native peoples. Please press on. I look forward to keeping in touch. Peace.