As a long-time, behind-the-scenes activist who is deeply concerned about the current (and historical) state-of-affairs in and around Rapid City, South Dakota (in my humble estimation, the most anti-Indian place in all of North America), I proudly salute the Greenpeace organization for their courageous, timely and highly commendable actions taken Wednesday morning at the so-called Mount Rushmore National Monument. (With banner stunt, Greenpeace scores publicity coup
Greenpeace climbers hang Obama banner on Mount Rushmore
Greenpeace´s political and pro-environmental statement has already resonated around the world via the wonder of today´s global communicative capacities. And it is also quite an extraordinary feat of technical prowess to unfurl a 2,275 square foot banner at such an altitude at a location that is ostensibly highly protected by "the most powerful nation in the world" in terms of its symbolic value as a "terror target." Again, Greenpeace--I proudly salute you!
My heart now, that not only soars with great joy at this particular demonstration, is also filled with a great expectation that the whole world will become quite curious as to other issues that are related to so-called "radical and leftist causes" there--such as the horrible legacy of racism towards the American Indian population of western South Dakota. I have extremely high hopes that millions of curious eyes world-wide will now focus much-needed attention on this part of the country and on this city specifically.
For years and years, I attended various community-based meetings that were held in Rapid City to address the problems associated with racism--and for years and years I strongly advocated that those of us involved in combating racial issues in this town must reach out to the media on an international basis; forming alliances and working relationships with foreign media outlets in those countries that have exhibited a significant amount of interest in life for Indian people here and on South Dakota´s reservations. My suggestions relative to these matters invariably fell upon deaf ears, reactions that can only be "chalked up" to that old "Sioux" saying: "They have no ears!"
But now, an internationally renowned activist organization has done within a few hours what probably would have taken me, acting as a lone individual, a virtual lifetime to accomplish--they have strategically and spectacularly, illuminated a place that has long been considered to be in the very "trenches" of ecological (as well as racial) concern to many.
If one but goes to the aforementioned Rapid City Journal articles and checks out the comments sections, you will be absolutely horrified as to the raw, unbridled hatred expressed by scores of local residents as to Greenpeace´s actions on behalf of the environment--and, to me, there is indeed a very direct and alarming correlation between this negative commentary and all of the hate-filled, toxic and dangerous opinions on race that have appeared in previous stories.
These grotesque reactions on the part of the stupidly conservative element in Rapid City, the ugly, rancid thoughts and feelings of those still in a state of total denial as to the grim realities of global warming are as the mere tip of the stick that disturbs the hornet´s proverbial nest. I, for one, expect some form of payback on the part of these "true believers" -- a demographic component that unfortunately constitutes the vast majority of the residents in that area.
And at this time, my most heart-felt admiration for this brave act, as well as my prayers for their continued success, go out to the members of Greenpeace for their desperately needed work on behalf of humanity.
Melvin Martin is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of
South Dakota. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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