Opinion

Ernestine Chasing Hawk: Tribe honors man who pushed genocide





The following is the opinion of Ernestine Chasing Hawk. All content © Native Sun News.


The victims of the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee are loaded up on carts for burial. Photo from Wikipedia

Oneida honor man who called for genocide of Sioux Nation
By Ernestine Chasing Hawk

When politicians and celebrities make offensive remarks about Indians, Indian history and Indian policy, I usually just laugh at their ignorance and say, “Don’t worry, the Indians will get em,” and they usually do.

But when the misstep comes from someone we count on to protect our dignity, our voice, our rights as Indian people, when there’s been a betrayal of the duty we’ve entrusted to them, I must speak.

The Oneida Nation, owners of Indian Country Today “proudly” announced their plan to open a casino called the “Yellow Brick Road” that pays “homage” to Frank Baum, author of “Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” Baum, in 1890, just days after Lala Tatanka Iyotaka, (grandfather Sitting Bull) was brutality gunned down by a Federal officer, scribed the following in the Aberdeen Pioneer:
“The proud spirit of the original owners of these vast prairies inherited through centuries of fierce and bloody wars for their possession, lingered last in the bosom of Sitting Bull. With his fall the nobility of the Redskin is extinguished, and what few are left are a pack of whining curs who lick the hand that smites them."
Baum continues, “The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians. Why not annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit broken, their manhood effaced; better that they die than live the miserable wretches that they are.”

What followed was a brutal attack on my people, the Mnicoujou and Hunkpapa Lakota who had sojourned south after grandfather Sitting Bull was killed, seeking refuge with Makpiya Luta (Red Cloud).

Following the brutal massacre of more than 300 of our relatives, inciting the masses to genocide, Baum wrote: “The Pioneer has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extirmination [sic] of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth.”

Every year, during the holiday season, my relatives from the north “pay homage” to our ancestors who were massacred at Wounded Knee. They start the 280 mile trek at Sitting Bulls camp along the Grand River, where I spent time as a young girl with my unci Cecelia One Bull, daughter of One Bull, Sitting Bulls nephew.

Among the riders who begin this annual journey are my nephew, Ron His Horse is Thunder, former Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and his tiyospaye (family), my uncle Dana Dupris and his crew from Cheyenne River and our spiritual leader Chief Arvol Looking Horse, keeper of the sacred Canunpa, and his tiyospaye at Green Grass.

And the trek is no “Yellow Brick Road” as this year they are enduring freezing rain, blinding snow and blistering cold winds in their commitment to “pay homage” to our ancestors who lost their lives along Wounded Knee Creek more than a century ago.

The grandfather of my children, Two Shields, who is known as Blue Arm, who along with his sister were the lone survivors of their family. Their mother and father along with seven siblings were among the dead at Wounded Knee. The pair, along with other survivors, made their way back to the place that is named for them Takini, which means “to die and come back” or “survivors,” of the Wounded Knee Massacre.

Takini is located on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in Ziebach County which according to the 2010 U.S. Census is the poorest county in the United States.

On Dec. 29, a group led by the former Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Joseph Brings Plenty will begin a journey on foot starting at the massacre site that retraces the steps of the survivors who made their way home, along the Cheyenne River, back to Takini.

The historical trauma of what happened more than a century ago still haunts my people and the economic impact still lingers. Congress passed the Sioux Depredations Act of 1891 to compensate the so-called “innocent victims” of the 1890 Massacre and the Ghost Dance troubles for their losses, which included white people and the churches. Everyone but my people, the Mnicoujou and Hunkpapa who were the victims of the 1890 Massacre, were compensated. (For a list of those who were compensated see Mario Gonzalez book, “Politics on Hallowed Ground”).

Having said all that, I cannot understate the betrayal I feel from the announcement that the Oneida are building the “Yellow Brick Road Casino” to “pay homage to L. Frank Baum” that is projected to open in the spring of 2015. How can they be so ignorant of history and traitors to their own race?

Would the Jews build a casino to honor Adolph Hitler?

(Ernestine Chasing Hawk can be reached at staffwriter2@nsweekly.com)

Copyright permission Native Sun News