Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

THE SACRED PLACE


I left the Black Hills on Thursday morning and made the eight-hour drive to northwest Iowa (corn and pig country) to visit my sister.  As I was hitting the interstate highway in Rapid City there was a homeless man hitchhiking so I picked him up.  He was a fascinating guy and I listened to him tell me his story for the five hours it took to get to Sioux Falls, South Dakota where he got out to head south to his home town in Missouri.  He had just spent two weeks on the Pine Ridge reservation and was taken in by an 84 year old Indian man and his son.  They treated him like family.  They fed him even though they had virtually nothing of their own.  The homeless man told me the Indians had no running water or refrigeration in their run down home.

I heard on KILI radio that 75% of Indians in South Dakota are unemployed.  In many beat up trailers on the reservations three families are living together.  Drug and alcohol addiction is rampant.  The federal government is cutting back on programs to help people with addictions, housing programs are being cut, food stamps are being cut, Indian health service is being cut.

This is a sign of the future in America and in places like Greece, Spain and other nations around the world.  Corporate capital is pushing hard to get rid of social spending so they can continue to accumulate all resources into their greedy hands.  It is indeed a war on the poor and the middle class - a reordering of the social structure - a return to feudalism.

My time away was truly a gift - I needed some separation from my work so my head could clear a bit.  The walks in the woods, drives through the mountain roads, and sitting by the campfire outside my cabin were good therapy.  On my last day in South Dakota I went north of the Black Hills to Bear Butte State Park (photo above) and followed the switch-back trail to the top of the 4,400 foot sacred mountain.  All along the narrow and rocky path there were pieces of colorful prayer cloth, many holding tobacco, that had been tied to trees and bushes by Lakota and Cheyenne who come for ceremonies to this sacred place.  From the top you can see for miles in every direction and it was a moving experience to view the open prairie from this mountain.  Only two other people, both Indians, were on the mountain while I was there.  On the way down I gathered some sage to take home.

Tomorrow I head back to Sioux Falls and fly home from the airport there early on Monday morning. Part of my heart always stays behind when I leave South Dakota.  It keeps me coming back.

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