President Obama's words to as-Aribiya refuse to leave my ear hole:
"[I]f you look at the track record, as you say, America was not born as a colonial power, and that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there’s no reason why we can’t restore that. And that I think is going to be an important task."
When Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication of Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) Bishop Richard Williamson there was a swift and strident outcry. Williamson's denial of the Holocaust is unpardonable. Few could tolerate his statement: "I believe there were no gas chambers."
In the midst of the uproar his SSPX colleague Father Floriano Abrahamowicz, another of the four "traditionalist" bishops excummunicated by Pope John Paul II, told the Italian newspaper, the Tribuna, "I know the gas chambers existed—at least, for disinfecting—but not whether they caused deaths or not."
In response to Obama's recent words, there has only been shrill silence.
Even when I repeat his words to others the response has been, "Yeah. Right. What's the problem."
This is hardly the same.
No it isn't.
Recognize: 2., to know by some detail
The United States of America is a settler colony. The settlers moved in and continue to occupy our homelands. In response the Nations within (Indigenous Nations) have continued to assert three things: we exist, it happened here, and it is happening now. The details of America's history as a colonial power go beyond this writing.
Historically we, Indigenous People of the America, have failed to register as a people. Our history does not seem to bare weight. Our elders lack authority. We've spent the last 517 years simply asserting our existence.
Invisibility is a power many of our ancestors used to great strategic affect. This is different.
Recognize: 4., to acknowledge the existence, validity, authority or genuineness
The day after the oral arguments for the California case against Proposition 8 opened and closed, the San Francisco Chronicle was already reporting that the court seems to favor the validity of Proposition 8.
During the arguments proponents for Proposition 8 said that the weddings performed during the 5 months when same sex marriages were legal, would not be invalidated, but they would not be recognized.
Where is Duane Big Eagle when you need him?
Obama's election has been hailed as a turning point in the U. S. national consciousness, a day after of sorts, a moment in linear time reflecting an evolution of thought, a wholescale shift in character, a now to oppose a then.
We are flooded every day with words and images that deny our humanity and experience. On June 6 of 2008, in McLean VA, the USPS issued the new priority mail stamp. On Janaury first of 2009, additional postage was already required. Regardless it was my only option. I refuse to send an elder a SASE with the defaced Black Hills as postage. I asked for other stamps. The Postmaster said there were none. I can do math. So I asked for other stamps that would add up to the new rate. It took nearly 15 minutes and her constant sighing, but I left with a SASE that looked not unlike the image on the official USPS poster for suspect mail.
California AAA's western wonder page sports the "Mountain Men" this month. Sculpting of Gutzon Borglum's giant homage to four U.S. presidents—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln—began in 1927. Fourteen years later, Mount Rushmore National Memorial stood head and shoulders above South Dakota's Black Hills. The magazine arrived shortly after my frustration at the post office.
These are trifles. Yes. But these trifles wear us down in a relentless assault on our souls, as we face our occupied homelands today, as we face an academic and popular insistence that we don't exist, we did not know who we were, or where we came from, and our conquest is complete and definitive.
Recognize: 9., to acknowledge as having the right to speak.
The most painful memory I have, in relation to homophobia, is the trip my wife and I took to Minneapolis to bless our nephew. His maternal grandmother introduced me to her mother as "This is Reid. We met her at the wedding."
I stood there, dumb. What do you say to that? How do you maintain your dignity in silence?
I was not even a friend, or a roommate. I was someone met at the wedding.
I am the oldest of the generation of "children" and my wife and I have been together the longest. We flew at great cost, to my health and our one income household. In a sentence I was reduced to no one of no consequence. And I stood there and swallowed.
Some say the Navajo philosophy is to walk around the rock.
My soul is tired and my feet not rested.
No matter how many times my wife and I marry there are many who will refuse to recognize our vows. My own Nation included. I understand that we are asking precisely for what they refuse to give: an acknowledgement of our humanity.
In the 3 years since my nephew's baptism I've developed a fetish for Nebraska, somehow convincing myself that if I could understand their minds I could somehow make a space within it.
There's the rock. Walk around it.
When I was little I used to run the house singing Neil Diamond.
"I am," I said
To no one there
And no one heard at all
Not even the chair
"I am," I cried
"I am," said I
And I am lost, and I can't even say why
Leavin' me lonely still
1971 Prophet Music, Inc. (ASCAP)
Some things are old. We feel them even when we are young. We do not know how. We do not always know why. But we know we do.
painting: Sitting Bear by Niki Lee
- ▼ March (3)