Federally sanctioned ‘blood quantum’ divided the PeopleBy Ivan Star Comes Out
Native Sun News Today Columnist
nativesunnews.today Why do contemporary Euro-Americans continue to think in the past when it comes to “Indians?” I ask this because the majority in this country still believes the original inhabitants of the North American continent were a primitive people. Some even think we grow feathers! Many Indians are forced to endure this erroneous perception as it is solidly established in the “civilized” psyche of the mainstream. Although American history depicted Indian people and their cultures as simple and barbaric, the exact opposite is now emerging. Modern archeological excavations have unearthed ruins of ancient cultured cities and pyramids rivaling those of Egypt. Natives themselves are now stepping forward revealing cultural knowledge which they tenaciously maintained since 1492. These ancient cultures were largely targeted for obliteration by a hostile and violent newcomer to the “new land.” At the same time, the Hopi, Navajo, Cherokee, the Maya and Australian Aborigines, and many others, including the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Fires) went gone underground with their ancient ancestral knowledge to preserve them. This cultural knowledge is now coming to light. Our ancestors did not create their cultures by means of some concocted “black magic” type of activity. They were naturally “spiritual” and seriously reverent about their culture. Many speak of the suffering of Unci Maka (Grandmother Earth) and that the people’s choices today will determine the future course of human evolution. Alas, they are being ignored under a banner of science. For example, John G. Neihardt’s recording of Black Elk (Lakota) prayer vigil, he saw that his oyate (people) would endure a state of distress and war. He saw that the sacred hoop of his nation would be broken (Wounded Knee, 1890) and that the people would lose heart. He also saw the people being reunited after seven generations and becoming part of “the greater hoop of all the nations of the earth.”
Crazy Horse (Lakota) also saw a time of darkness that would consume the oyate. He too saw the people gradually awakening after “the last war” (Vietnam?) and dancing again under the “Sacred Tree.” He saw representatives of all nations dancing among the people and that the world would be made whole again, not just by his own nation but by all peoples. A relatively unknown Lakota man, Isnala Wicasa (Lone Man) also saw that the people were destined to undergo suffering but that there was an end to it. He was instructed to use gunpowder to pass the time and to feed their families. In other words, a time is coming when the people will “live again.” Accordingly, the Oceti Sakowin and their descendants suffered for decades (1854 to the present). Their language, culture, and history were systematically obliterated and their lands stolen. Women were raped, sterilized, and the people were slaughtered by the hostile and violent invader. Survivors continue to struggle in a controlled state of oppression and poverty on their last remaining piece of treaty land. Sadly, many residents of my home land took advantage of this Euro-American unnatural domination by establishing a niche for themselves within the new federal and “tribal” government systems. We must absolutely acknowledge this situation and its severity before we can move on with a renewed life. Our predicament will not go away on its own accord. In a cultural sense, we must symbolically “cut our hair” before we can begin walking a path of renewed life. Traditionally, cutting hair was a gesture of acknowledging one’s trauma (s) and accepting it for whatever it is. It was believed that the hair contains the trauma or severe loss one experiences and cutting it allows for new growth or a renewed life. Many residents appear incapable of seeing why present-day reservation life is the way it is. Under a banner of “trust responsibility,” congress is responsible for even our basic needs. All of our assets are managed on our behalf and often mismanaged by a government bureaucracy. Every important decision made requires bureaucratic approval and every approval comes with volumes of perplexing regulations.
This hostile and violent appropriation of the land on which the United States is built and the slaughter and subjugation of the original inhabitants continues to plague the surviving residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation. At the same time, it is disheartening to see many natives failing and even refusing to acknowledge their being placed under the total control of the federal government. Scholars have determined that one way to keep a people subjugated is to control their healthcare. Although it is a treaty (1868) obligation of the federal government, our healthcare is actually used as a control mechanism. Ever since the treaty was signed, the people have endured inadequate healthcare. Local attempts to alleviate this difficulty have been stifled and forgotten. Of course there is the ever-present poverty. Poor people are easier to control and will not “rock the boat.” Another point of control is debt. Our so-called “tribal” government is perpetually in debt. Actually, it is totally dependent on congressional appropriations. And then there is the government corruption that seems to flourish within the system. Recently I received a phone call (anonymity provided) telling me that the current Oglala Sioux Tribe debt is in the millions. Then I heard the rumor that someone purchased all the papers in Pine Ridge Village because an article exposing the debt was printed in it. This may be a rumor but it is known among the people that the truth always comes out in the long run. Gun control is another method of keeping people subjugated. Since the Oceti Sakowin treaty signers (Fort Laramie Peace Treaty of 1868) agreed to never take up arms against the United States, a federally sanctioned police force was installed. It is also common knowledge that an effort to take control of this colonial police was sabotaged and effectively dismantled. Today, on Pine Ridge, we are at the complete mercy of the federal and tribal governments as they control every aspect of our lives on the reservation, from food to housing to employment. U. S. government control of what students learn in school is another form of maintaining control. In other words, take control of what children learn in school and one controls their future. Separating people into the wealthy and the poor, or “us and them,” is also used to maintain domination. In our case, a federally sanctioned blood quantum criterion has effectively created the disparaging “full-blood” and “mixed-blood” divide. True to prophesies the “full-blood” is usually at the bottom of this pile. Their efforts to move in any direction have been stopped by those in power. Regardless of how painful and dismal our existence has been, and is, the future remains open-ended. I believe we must acknowledge our past and only then will we achieve the capability to come together for the purpose of building a better future not only for our children, but for all. Ivan F. Star Comes Out can be reached at P.O. Box 147, Oglala, South Dakota, 57764; via phone at 605-867-2448 or via email at email@example.com. Copyright permission Native Sun News Today