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Monday, December 1, 2008

For Future Reference: Each Death is Different

Nathan Goodiron's wake was held two years ago, today, at Mandaree North Dakota. He was the eldest son of Harriet and Paul Goodiron. The father of three and the husband of Eileen, of Minot, was a graduate of Mandaree Senior High School. He enlisted in the North Dakota Army National Guard on April 17, 2001. In May he was promoted to Private E-2. The following April he was promoted to Private First Class, E-3 and in December 2003 he was promoted to Specialist E-4.

He was killed in Afghanistan on November 23, 2006, Thanksgiving. That day, posthumously, he was promoted to Corporal. He was 25 years of age, a Hidatsa.

Roughly 1,500 people from the MHA Nation, Fort Berthold Reservation, filled the halls and gyms of two schools for the funeral. After a prayer, a Flag Song by the Oakdale Singers, the Veterans Posts and Ladies Auxiliary marched in procession. Chairman Wells, Eah-Bah-Dah-Gish (Bald Eagle), offered words to everyone and a memorial song was sung for Cpl. Goodiron, Young Eagle. A closing prayer was given for him and for all the TAT men and women soldiers serving the U. S. Armed Forces.

At the Bearstail Family Cemetery in Mandaree, Cpl. Goodiron's uncle, James Johnson, watched over the graveside ceremony ensuring the Honor Guard was in place.

Young Eagle's mother said, "It's hard to accept how he died. When kids are growing up I never knew I was raising my son to go into war and be killed. You read it in the paper and see it on tv, but you never know it could be you."

In 1969 Vine Deloria Jr., wrote: "consider the history of America closely. Never has America lost a war...but name, if you can, the last peace the United States won. Victory, yes, but this country has never made a successful peace because peace requires exchanging ideas, concepts, thoughts and recognizing the fact that two distinct systems of life can exist together without conflict." offers the following numbers: the official count of the U.S. wounded, as of 25 November 2008, is 30,832, the estimated count is over 100,000. Since the war began, at least 3,395 American servicemen and women have died. estimates that over 1,288,426 Iraqi's have died as a result of the U.S. invasion.

CNN offers larger numbers, noting that 97 U.S. women have died in combat, and 3,979 U.S. men have died. Of these men, 1,205 were under the age of 22, and 991 were under the age of 24, 1,033 were in Nathan Goodiron's age classification (25-30). Of the total 30,275 U.S. wounded 20,710 were his fellows from the Army, 620 were Navy, 8,462 Marine and 390 Air Force.

This Thanksgiving was an especially cruel one.

Jdimytai Damour was killed in a stampede at the Valley Stream Wal-Mart in New Jersey. His mother is traveling from Port-Au-Prince Haiti to Jamaica Queens to prepare his funeral.

30 years after the original God Is Red, Vine Deloria Jr., revised the entire text and reissued an anniversary edition. Unlike most anniversary editions, his 30 years later offers a true revision and update to the original. In both books he offers a painstakingly detailed indictment of Christianity, naming it as the source of the U.S.'s weakness and consequent inability to keep a peace.

Christianity as a program of Assimilation and resource management gains its strength from its inability to respect and tolerate those who are different. Evidence lies in the article, the. While the Christian faith may be a bitter pill to swallow for some, it is an easy pill and by its own declaration to the world, it is the only pill. I am the Resurrection and the light.

Assimilation is to the United States as conversion is to Christianity. Holidays and Holy Days are more than symbols of faith, they actually keep the faith by clearing space and forcing observance, even if that observance is in opposition (ie., a Thanks for Taking Day, or a Gratitude Day). Holidays force participation. They form a present axis around which everything, in some way, spins. Offices are closed. Mail is undelivered. I am forced to either ignore or answer, politely or rudely, honestly or dishonestly, when people offer a perfunctory "Have a Nice Thanksgiving."

The United States national culture is characterized by the feeding frenzy known as shopping. It's a positive feedback system of sameness and speed. Everyone has to have it; they have to have it now; and they have to have it cheap.

Poverty and subjegation go hand in hand. We've known this for generations. During the Navajo Round Up the U.S. sought to exterminate the People by burning our fields and stealing or slaughtering our livestock. In this way they brought even the wealthiest and most isolated of our community in to the agency. Once there they were forced to make the Long Walk to be incarcerated at Bosque Redondo. Through ceremony were won a return to our traditional lands, in exchange we were given education.

Chief Manuelito said it was a ladder. Taking us where?

In exchange for our culture and traditional knowledge we were asked to assimilate. Once we (all of us) knew who we were, how we came to be and how we were to act in relation to the land and each other. At great cost to our intellect and spirit, and at great cost to the earth, we have been asked to become full participants in the U.S. economy and to adopt the Christian faith.

Poverty and subjegation form a positive feedback loop it is difficult to get outside of. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan is an unequivocal example of hatred and intolerance. Some call it a Holy War, some say it's about U.S. security, each explanation is fueled by fundamentalist thought and greed.

The Church is a fiscal entity and a political institution.

Black Friday and the credit crunch (a.k.a. World Financial Crises) reflect the use of poverty to subjegate. The passage of the hateful Proposition 8 in California is a direct consequence of the unwillingness to hold Christians and bigots accountable for their beliefs and actions.

Wealth, today, is largely created by the adoption of new, instantly obsolete, technologies and the manipulation of tax law. We, at the bottom, are left with two options in this reality: get what money you can and spend what money you have. When our participation in this system is given we are left alone, to work and shop. Those who refuse to play the parts set aside for them are targets of violence and poverty, personally and communally.

War in Iraq and Afghanistan, here on the Americas, and in our most private and sacred of spaces, our homes, takes two approaches: the Christian and the consumer.

As the world attempts to stabilize the economies of the most affluent nations, and the wealthiest citizens of those nations, people and land are still being destroyed by armed violence, environmental abuses, dehumanizing and inappropriate technologies and the assault on individual and communal land based identities.

The U.S. has been driving its car into a granite wall at 190 miles per hour. The Land and Housing Era was driven by credit and the fanatical desire for endless growth. Instead of calling out the perversion of this way of living many developing nations (like China and the Navajo Nation) are following the model, though a few steps behind, laid out before them.

Every death has meaning.

Each death is different.

A man was murdered and people continued to shop. They want toys, clothes, food, all the same products, made by strangers. Their desire driven by marketing campaigns, not by self awareness or self possession, they lined up to prepare for the celebration of their Christ by buying things. They did it because it's an American thing to do. They did it because it's a good deal. And in the process Jdimytai Damour died, at work.

The key to understanding the obscenity of his death is to acknowledge its relationship to the blind faith of Christianity and commerce.

About Me

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I believe we can be more beautiful than broken. Devotion to language and literature, stories and storytelling, writing and reading will restore humanity and heal severed relations. There is no alibi in being.