From Navajo To Washington To Wounded Knee - 1st of 4 Articles
Submitted by Kathy Helms
By Kathy Helms - firstname.lastname@example.org
Dine Bureau – Friday, March 2nd,’07
Gallup Independent – email@example.com
WINDOW ROCK – February 27th, 2007 marked the 34th anniversary of Wounded Knee. The heroic stand for Native American rights didn't garner much attention here, but some like Lenny Foster remember.
Foster, now program supervisor for the Navajo Nation Corrections Project under the Department of Behavioral Health Services, was young and idealistic back in September 1969.
He was a junior at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, and 65 miles away from the nearest Native Americans who gathered at the Indian Center in Denver. There he met a lot of Lakotas from Pine Ridge and Rosebud, befriending many of them at the pow-wows in Denver. It eventually led to Foster joining up with the American Indian Movement in Denver, under the leadership of Vernon Bellecourt.
"I met him at the Indian Center and then he introduced me to some of his other friends, like his brother Clyde Bellecourt, Dennis Banks, Leonard CrowDog, Russell Means," Foster said Tuesday.
"It was at the Indian Center that I met a lot of the American Indians. They invited me to Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee and Porcupine. I attended the Sun Dance that summer, 1970."
From its headquarters in Minneapolis, AIM branched out and pockets sprung up in Cleveland, Denver, the West Coast. "AIM was formed in the Minnesota State Prison by Eddie Benton Banai, Clyde Bellecourt and Dennis Banks," Foster said. "I think in 1968 it finally became a movement. They formed the AIM patrol and a civil rights group and tackled such issues as legal aid, housing, education, discrimination, police brutality."
Foster began traveling with some of the leaders and ended up in Minnesota, participating in a fishing rights struggle. Other campaigns followed; Alcatraz Island, 1970; Raymond Yellow Thunder Protest, 1972; Trail of Broken Treaties Caravan and BIA Takeover, 1972; Seige of Wounded Knee, 1973; Occupation of Menominee Novitiate, 1975; Shiprock Fairchild, 1975; The Longest Walk, 1978, and Big Mountain, 1978-98.
Foster attended the Sun Dance ceremonies in South Dakota "and eventually ended up right there in Wounded Knee and participated in the whole 73-day occupation, right from the beginning to the end.
Wounded Knee Occupation
"In Wounded Knee itself, it was very diverse groups of Native Americans from all over the country. It was a community that had a lot of freedom," he recalled. "We weren't under the jurisdiction or supervision of the BIA or tribal government or FBI or Department of Interior. We were free, just like our ancestors.
"I, myself, was in the Little Big Horn Bunker and made friends with Percy Casper, who was a Shuswap from British Columbia, Canada; John Carlson, an Ojibway from White Earth, Minnesota; John Perotte, a Menominee from Wisconsin, and the Menominee Warrior Society," he said. Their bunker was on the eastern part of the community, right near Wounded Knee Creek, he added.
"I counted 11 firefights that we survived. These firefights would last all day, into the evening. It was firefights with the FBI and the federal marshals. "I was there in Wounded Knee when Frank Clearwater was killed on April 17, and Buddy Lamont was killed on Friday, April 27, 1973."
Foster sees that as a turning moment in the relations between the American Indians and the United States government, "that they would use extreme deadly force to suppress us and to continue to oppress us," he said. "We made a heroic stand, and one of the results of Wounded Knee was that there was a lot of pride and a lot of dignity as a result of the stand that was taken by the Indian people in this country."
Foster participated in the sweat lodge ceremony every morning and prayed with the pipe and corn pollen. That provided him and the others with spiritual guidance and protection, he said. "Leonard Crow Dog and Wallace Black Elk were the medicine men who provided spiritual guidance in the sweat lodge ceremonies for us inside Wounded Knee. The spiritual strength inspired us to have courage and bravery against the tremendous odds."
A Stand For Indian Rights
To Foster, the struggle at Wounded Knee was for treaty rights, religious freedom, human rights, sovereignty, and exposing a corrupt tribal government. "It brought to light the corruption and graft in tribal government. The tribal government was supported by the FBI, BIA and the federal government, he said.
"The traditional people, the elders, communities could count on the American Indian Movement to help them with their civil rights and human rights." Foster said the majority of the people inside Wounded Knee were from the Lakota, Cheyenne, Ojibway, Ponca, and Dine. "Myself, Joe Begay, Angie Begay, Albert Moss, Dave Begay, Larry Anderson, Merle Anderson and Sarah Platero were the ones.
"I was the only one initially that was Navajo from the beginning. Larry Anderson and his brother Merle came in from Haskell. As time passed along, Angie Begay came in from Salt Lake City, Albert Moss came down from here (Navajo Nation), and Dave Begay came from Albuquerque," Foster said. "I think we were frustrated with the racism and the discrimination and decided to make a stand. We resorted to an armed struggle because we were pushed into it.
"By nature, we're peaceful people. But it became an armed struggle because of the deadly force that was being used by the federal marshals. At that time, the GOONS, or Guardians of the Oglala Nation, were the auxiliary police force.
"They were death squads, that's what it was. They terrorized and threatened the livelihood and the lives of the elders in the community. The FBI and the BIA sided with them and gave them ammunition and terrorized the people," he said.
Foster, Capser, Henry Wauwasuck (Potawatomie), and Frank Blackhorse (Lakota) were the warriors chosen by Dennis Banks to escort the AIM leader out of Wounded Knee on May 6, 1973, the day before the May 7 stand-down. Banks was the only leader who didn't surrender.
"I walked point through the night and got him out of Wounded Knee,"Foster said, "but that happened as a result of using the sweat lodge and smoking the pipe with Leonard Crow Dog and Wallace Black Elk, he made us invisible," using the prayer of Crazy Horse.
"The whole experience for me was a very profound life experience. I was young and idealistic. Now as I reflect back on what happened, I think the pride and dignity of the Indian people blossomed and developed at Wounded Knee as a result of this heroic stand," he said.
Today, as program supervisor for the Corrections Project, Foster visits 96 prisons, state and federal. The project serves over 2,000 Navajo and other Native Americans with spiritual counseling and advocates for their spiritual and culture practice and belief, he said.
A lot of his work today is due to his life experience at Wounded Knee. "I think many of the people that were there will take time today (Tuesday, Feb.27) to reflect and make a prayer to remember what we did," he said.
"I think it was a turning point in the history of the relationship between the American Indian nations and the federal government, because they realized the seriousness of what took place. We gave up some lives for the treaty rights to be looked at," he said.
Part 2 by Kathy Helms - 'BIA Takeover In Washington'
Maya Priests Purify Site After Bush Visit
Submitted by WSDP
By JUAN CARLOS LLORCAThe Associated Press
GUATEMALA CITY - Mayan priests purified a sacred archaeological site to eliminate "bad spirits" after President Bush visited the site on Monday, March 12th., an official with close ties to the group said Thursday.
"That a person like (Bush), with the persecution of our migrant brothers in the United States, with the wars he has provoked, is going to walk in our sacred lands, is an offense for the Mayan people and their culture," Juan Tiney, the director of a Mayan nongovernmental organization with close ties to Mayan religious and political leaders, said.
Bush's seven-day tour of Latin America included a stopover beginning late Sunday in Guatemala. On Monday morning he visited the archaeological site Iximche on the high western plateau in a region of the Central American country populated mostly by Mayans.
Tiney said the "spirit guides of the Mayan community" decided it would be necessary to cleanse the sacred site of "bad spirits" after Bush's visit so that their ancestors could rest in peace. He also said the rites - which entail chanting and burning incense, herbs and candles - would prepare the site for the third summit of LatinAmerican Indians March 26-30.
Bush's trip had already has sparked protests elsewhere in Latin America, including protests and clashes with police in Brazil hours before his arrival. In Bogota, Colombia, which Bush visited on Sunday, 200 masked students battled 300 riot police with rocks and small homemade explosives.
The tour aimed at challenging a widespread perception that the United States has neglected the region and at combatting the rising influence of Venezuelan leftist President Hugo Chavez, who has called Bush "history's greatest killer" and "the devil.
"Iximche, 30 miles west of the capital of Guatemala City, was founded as the capital of the Kaqchiqueles kingdom before the Spanish conquest in 1524.
This story was edited for timeframe content – Bobbie.
Federal Court Blocks Artificial Snowmaking On Sacred lands
Submitted by WSDP
Sierra Club, Tribes Affirm Groundbreaking Decision that Protects Peaks and People
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the San Francisco 9th Circuit Court of Appeals delivered justice to the sacred San Francisco Peaks and the Southwest tribes that consider it sacred by stopping the development of the Arizona Snowbowl Resort and Coconino National Forest Service’s proposed artificial snowmaking plan.
Sierra Club, various tribes and other appellants argued successfully that using treated sewage to make artificial snow would pollute the mountain, significantly burden southwest tribal members’ ability to practice their religions, and violated the public’s rights for environmental justice. The Sierra Club and tribes were represented in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by Howard Shanker of the Shanker Law Firm.
“This is a national wake up call for those that will try to desecrate sacred mountains like the San Francisco Peaks,” said Robert Tohe, Environmental Justice Organizer for the Sierra Club in Flagstaff, Arizona. “We will not allow our voices to be ignored.”
The San Francisco Peaks, north of Flagstaff, Arizona, are sacred to 13 tribes, and are important spiritual and geographic boundaries.
“I am really thankful and deeply appreciate the 9th circuit court’s decision,” said Bucky Preston, one of the Hopi plaintiffs. “Some of the judges in the courts must have a good heart and looked deeply into themselves to realize that the Peaks are so sacred to us and they understood our beliefs.”
This overruling of a district court decision is one of the most important in recent years under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In addition to finding that the plan would have desecrated this sacred area, the court decided that the U.S. Forest Service failed to fully disclose the risks posed by human ingestion of artificial snow.
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