When I was a boy my family lived in South Dakota, just near the Black Hills. We arrived at Ellsworth AFB in a blinding blizzard one winter. I became completely mesmerized by Indian history, culture, and religion. I read everything I could get my hands on about the "people" as the Indians called themselves.
Our Sunday drives into the Badlands and the Black Hills, and my hunting trips with my dad into the Black Hills, provided me with up close contact with the land the Lakota called the "paha sapa" - the heart of the Earth.
All of my adult life I have continued to read about Native Americans and I try to return to South Dakota whenever I can. The oldest poster on my wall in my study is one I got in 1980, when my son Julian was in his mothers womb, at the Black Hills International Survival Gathering
. The poster says "Don't weep for the earth - fight to save her!" At that time we drove from Florida to the Black Hills to participate in this event that was held just outside the gate of the B-52 bomber base at Ellsworth - the same base I had lived on as a kid. The circle was complete.
A wonderful book I'd highly recommend is Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas
by Mari Sandoz. I want to share one story from the book.
After gold was discovered in the Black Hills the U.S. Army was sent in to clear the Indians out of their paha sapa even though they had been promised in a previous treaty that they would "own" this territory as long as the grass grew green. The inevitable battle led to Custer's last stand and the resulting major military campaign to bring the "hostiles" onto reservations in the dusty lands of southwest South Dakota.
Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull held out as long as they could. But the cold winters and diminishing buffalo and other wild game forced them ultimately to surrender. This process literally broke the hearts of the people. The conditions of surrender were that they had to give up their guns and their horses - essentially their very way of life.
The government was to provide them with all they needed from then on. Food, clothes, and even tepees. But they soon found out the promises were not honored. The blankets they were given were so thin they could not keep the people warm at night. The flour had bugs in it and the bacon was rancid. The people could not even go and hunt anymore as their guns and horses were gone. They continued to starve and die. But they honored their word to the white man's government and stayed peaceful.
The weapons contractors, that had grown rich from the Indian wars in the 1860's, were getting restless. This peace with Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull was cutting into their previous enormous profits. So they came up with a plan.
They created a national public relations campaign and had artists create renderings of Crazy Horse on the war path again killing farmers and raping white women and children. These stories were placed in the big newspapers across the country and the public became outraged. Soon the Congress appropriated more funds to return the "hostiles" to the reservation.
In fact, during this campaign of deception, Crazy Horse was sitting in his tepee on the reservation without a gun or horse to his name.
When you think about it the story is virtually the same today in Iraq. The government creates a pubic relations campaign about weapons of mass destruction and then sells the story using the mainstream media to justify a war and make enormous profits for the weapons corporations.
When I was in the Air Force, during the Vietnam War, I learned how they did the same thing to sell that war as I read The Pentagon Papers
- the government's own secret history of how they lied to create that war.
The process is again under way today in Asia as we see the U.S. beginning to provoke and demonize China in a new arms race
that would bring huge profits to the war industry.
They say that every criminal has an MO - modus operandi - method of operation. When I was young I wanted to be an FBI agent when I grew up so I could fight against organized crime.
Then one day I woke up and realized that the military industrial complex was the essence of organized crime. So I took myself to the peace movement where I could fulfill my boyhood promise to work for "truth, justice, and the American way."
Sometimes I wonder if the fate of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull and the other native people will be the fate of the American people of today as well. In order to pay for endless war the government, clearly under the control of the military industrial complex as former President Dwight Eisenhower warned us
, is now moving to destroy social progress in our country as they cut education, health care, and the like. In a way I wonder, are we now being brought onto the reservation too?
Under the New World Order job # 1 of corporate globalization is to maximize profits internationally. Allegiance to country is a thing of the past. Corporations move overseas to seek the lowest wage workers possible. Unemployment grows and the local tax base drys up as jobs leave the U.S. The process of corporate disinvestment in America is underway. The Pentagon says that "security export"
will be our role under corporate globalization. Endless war.
What can we learn from the time of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull?
Crazy Horse is remembered for these words: "A very great vision is needed and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky."
What is our vision for the future of North America and for our Mother Earth?