This is an opinion piece. If you can’t handle opinions step away from the kitchen nice and slowly. It’s a powerful one. It’s one from the depths of my heart. It hits on topics that mean a lot to me. New Orleans, The Battle of Blair Mountain, and The War All Around Us.
It’s not about politics, it’s not about policies or conspiracies it’s about people. If you have the stomach to bear it continue on…
In 1803 the United States faced a constitutional battle much like today. It was the first Katrina. A storm welled in the Gulf Coast region, and was largely questioned by many. The federal government acted swift to purchase 22.3% of our modern nation. Thomas Jefferson moved swift to counter public opinion on the issue and quickly set out to declare dominion over the area even with some controversy swelling over land rights with the local population. Spain declared dominion over parts and the US declared dominion overall. The French also had a large population in and around New Orleans. But the battle didnt take place in New Orleans.
In 1804 Lewis And Clark set out to explore the Louisiana Purchase. Millions of Native Americans lived in the territory purchased by the Federal Government. In a period of 26 years the government set out to persecute the local Native Americans from Georgia to Montana. Yes, some were outside the purchase area. But it all started in Georgia and only continued as the federal government sought to clear lands of unwanted populations and to revoke titles to land so they could take over for natural resources and the use of rich northerners, and state rights. It was chiefly rooted in greed.
In the disaster that struck Katrina the rich fled, and the poor remained behind. White middle class folk had to scavenge for food and supplies, all the while lower class Americans of racial differential were blasted on national tv as looters. Labels were issued, and judgements passed.
As a case in point, recent disclosures about the level of corruption and fraud related to the relief efforts involving Hurricane Katrina show a pattern of dishonesty and “greed” among all sectors, among businesses, government and the general population.
Nunna daul Tsuny (or The Trail Where We Cried)
This is all old news. History again repeats itself. At first it was rich white overlords claiming dominion over the Native population, today its corporate interest groups, and corrupt individuals. Same story different ending?
The ending of the previous history was horrific. In 1830, the US was struck with the largest single handed disaster we’ve seen on our continent. The Indian Removal Act. Oh, lets start at the beginning for conscious sake. PBS has done a great job of documenting this so I’m going to cut out a nice section for you with a link back to the origanal source.
Early in the 19th century, while the rapidly-growing United States expanded into the lower South, white settlers faced what they considered an obstacle. This area was home to the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chicasaw and Seminole nations. These Indian nations, in the view of the settlers and many other white Americans, were standing in the way of progress. Eager for land to raise cotton, the settlers pressured the federal government to acquire Indian territory.
Andrew Jackson, from Tennessee, was a forceful proponent of Indian removal. In 1814 he commanded the U.S. military forces that defeated a faction of the Creek nation. In their defeat, the Creeks lost 22 million acres of land in southern Georgia and central Alabama. The U.S. acquired more land in 1818 when, spurred in part by the motivation to punish the Seminoles for their practice of harboring fugitive slaves, Jackson’s troops invaded Spanish Florida.
From 1814 to 1824, Jackson was instrumental in negotiating nine out of eleven treaties which divested the southern tribes of their eastern lands in exchange for lands in the west. The tribes agreed to the treaties for strategic reasons. They wanted to appease the government in the hopes of retaining some of their land, and they wanted to protect themselves from white harassment. As a result of the treaties, the United States gained control over three-quarters of Alabama and Florida, as well as parts of Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky and North Carolina. This was a period of voluntary Indian migration, however, and only a small number of Creeks, Cherokee and Choctaws actually moved to the new lands.
In 1823 the Supreme Court handed down a decision which stated that Indians could occupy lands within the United States, but could not hold title to those lands. This was because their “right of occupancy” was subordinate to the United States’ “right of discovery.” In response to the great threat this posed, the Creeks, Cherokee, and Chicasaw instituted policies of restricting land sales to the government. They wanted to protect what remained of their land before it was too late.
Although the five Indian nations had made earlier attempts at resistance, many of their strategies were non-violent. One method was to adopt Anglo-American practices such as large-scale farming, Western education, and slave-holding. This earned the nations the designation of the “Five Civilized Tribes.” They adopted this policy of assimilation in an attempt to coexist with settlers and ward off hostility. But it only made whites jealous and resentful.
Other attempts involved ceding portions of their land to the United States with a view to retaining control over at least part of their territory, or of the new territory they received in exchange. Some Indian nations simply refused to leave their land — the Creeks and the Seminoles even waged war to protect their territory. The First Seminole War lasted from 1817 to 1818. The Seminoles were aided by fugitive slaves who had found protection among them and had been living with them for years. The presence of the fugitives enraged white planters and fueled their desire to defeat the Seminoles.
The Cherokee used legal means in their attempt to safeguard their rights. They sought protection from land-hungry white settlers, who continually harassed them by stealing their livestock, burning their towns, and sqatting on their land. In 1827 the Cherokee adopted a written constitution declaring themselves to be a sovereign nation. They based this on United States policy; in former treaties, Indian nations had been declared sovereign so they would be legally capable of ceding their lands. Now the Cherokee hoped to use this status to their advantage. The state of Georgia, however, did not recognize their sovereign status, but saw them as tenants living on state land. The Cherokee took their case to the Supreme Court, which ruled against them.
The Cherokee went to the Supreme Court again in 1831. This time they based their appeal on an 1830 Georgia law which prohibited whites from living on Indian territory after March 31, 1831, without a license from the state. The state legislature had written this law to justify removing white missionaries who were helping the Indians resist removal. The court this time decided in favor of the Cherokee. It stated that the Cherokee had the right to self-government, and declared Georgia’s extension of state law over them to be unconstitutional. The state of Georgia refused to abide by the Court decision, however, and President Jackson refused to enforce the law.
In 1830, just a year after taking office, Jackson pushed a new piece of legislation called the “Indian Removal Act” through both houses of Congress. It gave the president power to negotiate removal treaties with Indian tribes living east of the Mississippi. Under these treaties, the Indians were to give up their lands east of the Mississippi in exchange for lands to the west. Those wishing to remain in the east would become citizens of their home state. This act affected not only the southeastern nations, but many others further north. The removal was supposed to be voluntary and peaceful, and it was that way for the tribes that agreed to the conditions. But the southeastern nations resisted, and Jackson forced them to leave.
Jackson’s attitude toward Native Americans was paternalistic and patronizing — he described them as children in need of guidance. and believed the removal policy was beneficial to the Indians. Most white Americans thought that the United States would never extend beyond the Mississippi. Removal would save Indian people from the depredations of whites, and would resettle them in an area where they could govern themselves in peace. But some Americans saw this as an excuse for a brutal and inhumane course of action, and protested loudly against removal.
The story continued on. Leading to the eventual massacre of hundreds of thousands possibly as high as millions of Native Americans and countless untraceable displaced people. Greed again prevailed and the rich held dominion over the poor. It’s always been about empire building.
The War in New Orleans (or Life in Post Katrina)
My problem with today’s post-Katrina is its only going to continue to be a sad story as long as we don’t stop for a moment and understand the cultral impact of being a displaced people, a people who for many many years have been shit upon. Let’s not let the arrogance and denial continue. My people yes I’m 1/8 Native American, and I did spend a number of years on an Indian Reservation in Montana have suffered countless loss at the hands of rich white ( yes, I’m white too) land owning greedy people. It’s a race issue, its a poverty issue and it will continue. In New Orleans and in areas afflicted by poverty, by natural disaster, and economic hard times. But we have no reports or New Media about this. And why? Because New Orleans is easy. The Big Easy. It’s easy sensationalised.
The FEMA trailers will still be there in 30 years. Just like the Native Americans today live in poor conditions sometimes with no running water, no electricity,and no telephone for miles. Nothing will change because it is a war. Produce a great set of videos. Expose the truth but in the end history is always written by the victor. And the victor is always the man with the biggest gun, the biggest pocket book, and the man with plenty of ignorant souls to sacrifice.
But please stop insulting the people suffering through it. Stop supporting ignorance.
Work with the bloggers on the ground. Support them. Rally around them, behind them. Share meals with them. Cry with them. Do whatever you can to engage conversation that helps promote a solution. Don’t promote your blogroll in some sidebar. Dont promote yourself. Promote a solution, a lasting solution not only to this disaster but to the escalating war between the rich and the poor. The ones with power and control and the ones without. In 200 years you don’t want to see the Gulf Coast region with the highest rate of suicides, mental health issues, violence, poverty and drunkeness. This is what humanity does when greed rapes a people, using sensationalism for its own cause. Then we stand around and point fingers saying they deserve it.
The Battle of Blair Mountain (or the Day The Bombs fell on us)
History always repeats itself. And we are never taught in school about the lies that the rich have brought upon us by slavery, by greed, and power. The lives of those who have faught and died for economic freedom are never remembered. The only bombs dropped on our own people by our federal government have long been forgotten. And again we head down this road to the loss of freedom, the seizing of power by the rich, and the imposition of federalism upon states, and upon those less fortunate. All at the hands of corporate interests and to benefit the rich. Yet we are still here crying out, some yes are dying. Some are benefiting from a disaster and others only want to help.
The Wars continue. The losers are you and me. The names change. Nunna daul Tsuny. Blair Mountain. Katrina. Drugs. Terror. All concepts where the end is never about winning but about how much you can coverup. How many lies are told before that generation will pass away and the memories of the sacrifices are gone.
Let’s keep the pursuit of New Orleans Truth just that. A story to help the local community and not about publicity of New Media, your companies, or other worthless stuff that really is just a drop in the bucket in a war that begin before our country and will continue until the end of mankind. Help New Orleans. Leave your agendas at home. Good luck, keep your heads up but remember if you mess up it may never fix itself.
I leave you with the reason you go.