To free the land, you must first free your mind...

This is a conceptual platform for the expression of ideas and issues initiating discussion and action. The communiqué's are my perceptions, opinions and vision about contemporary issues/causes, people I admire & respect, and my goals for the future. My main focus is on the Chahta People by sharing our past to plan for the future today!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Carter Camp: R.I.P. 2013

"We Decided that our Indian people are more
important to us than long jail terms."

Carter Camp, Ponca Nation, Wounded Knee 1973

Carter Camp painted as a warrior at Wounded Knee
Remembering people of their words and actions has been my way of mourning, as a way to keep their spirit alive in our memories. His words above exemplified what it means to commit to being a true Warrior for the people. He lived this way of life as so many people can attest to. Those words take me back to when I began to understand what the American Indian Movement was about in the early 70's. It began as a civil rights organization in Minneapolis in 68, but through the influences of Henry Crow Dog, it soon evolved into a spiritual based movement as Crow Dog stated that in order for AIM to be successful, it had to have a spiritual foundation.

That foundation inspired a spiritual/cultural revival among Native people across these lands and into the urban areas and the prisons. Carter Camp was one of those who formed multiple AIM chapters in Oklahoma, and Indian people began to stand up, while so many who had assimilated into being an American quickly deplored those actions, such as the occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs by the Trail of Broken Treaties in 1972, Wounded Knee 1973, and so many other actions that have taken place around the country.

In 1983 or 1984, I met Craig Camp while I was serving a 12 year sentence for burglary. Craig and I visited often during the time I was temporarily assigned to a medium security facility for use of its core law library. It wasn't too long after that I received a letter written on the back of a poster (that is probably floating around in Canada now) from Carter. One thing he wrote that stuck in my mind is that we have to determine the direction of our struggle, we cannot allow non-Natives determine this for us. Just a few years later when I was litigating Native prisoners right to wear their hair long, Carter, along with Richard Ray Whitman organized a press conference in our support.

Finally, after serving over 7 1/2 years, I was kicked out of maximum security, and then the prison system altogether. The words of strong Indian people like Carter Camp, Steve Robideau and Standing Deer inspired me to to commit to my own way of being "In Total Resistance". The sacrifices of so many people in the movement, including their lives, assured me the ones I made were nothing. I had chosen to remain in prison while our lawsuit was ongoing. I waived my parole for about three years until our case was appealed to the state supreme court. Even though we lost the case in district court, by the time we went to trial, we had forced the Oklahoma Department of Corrections to back up from "No Exceptions" to their repressive grooming code; to acknowledging that wearing our hair long was a spiritual practice and constitutionally protected. When the case went on appeal, I agreed to appear before the parole board. In record time, I was out and on the campus of the University of Oklahoma.

The very next month, I ran into Carter at a pow wow for Dukakis in Shawnee. We were visiting with Karen Koassechony when an Oklahoma-style thunderstorm exploded. Carters ride had left so we ended up at Karen's house for coffee and discussions about the movement and Leonard Peltier. When the storm passed, Carter and I walked to the bus station so he could get a bus to White Eagle. While we were waiting, the cops rolled up on us and asked us for our ID's and what we were doing out so late. Carter said, "Our ID's? Isn't this still America? What do you need our ID's for? We are just waiting for the bus so I can get home I was stranded at the pow wow when the storm hit!" We produced our ID's and had the flashlights in our face before he gave them back and left. Carter said, "I bet you that he won't be asking any white people tonight for their ID's for standing around like we were. He's looking for Indians to bust!

Since that time, we've done benefits, rallies and campaigns together. In November 1999, Peltier sent word to me to ask Carter if he would come to DC for the Leonard Peltier Freedom Month. That was a powerful month as many people came from the Dakota's, I learned so much more about history, true Indian history that many people will never know unless you were there and lived it.

Carter and Linda Camp at Crow Dogs Paradise

I think how fortunate I have been to visit with him and his family at his home or at Crow Dogs, there was always something more to listen to. Maybe I can not recall so much of his exact words, but those were words that have influenced me. And that is why I am reflecting at this time, because there is no more discussions around the campfire. And even more importantly, there is no more for his wife of a lifetime and his family. Their grief and loss is more than immense. My thoughts...prayers go out to them.

As difficult as it may be for some at this time, we should all give thanks for Indian people like Carter who fought to make a difference. We should pray their sacrifices will not be forgotten, nor should we stand aside to wait for the next warrior to stand up to risk it all by saying "No more!".
Honoring Dance for Carter at White Eagle with brothers and sister
We should all be that voice that says "NO MORE!
NO MORE will I swear blind allegiance to a government that has no honor to uphold its promises to our Indian people!
NO MORE will I allow corrupt tribal governments to grow fat off of the people by selling out!
NO MORE will I accept that our people are defeated nor allow my childrens identity be confiscated!
NO MORE will I accept the illegal national boundaries imposed by European immigrants across the lands of Indigenous Peoples!
NO More will I allow the next sports team, TV fake/reality show or electronic gadgets become more important to me than our Indian People!
Our voices should echo through intent and deed what our departed relative said at Wounded Knee 1973 when surrounded by federal forces who fired tens of thousands of rounds at our Indian people! The same place where in Dec. 29, 1890, the US soldiers fired cannons and rifles killing about 200 women and children and 90 men. When those words were said in such a sacred place, those were a commitment to a way of life!

Achukma and Yakoke for those lessons and your support Brother. Journey well!

Ben Carnes,
Chahta Nation, Indian Territory

Yesterday evening after conclusion of ceremonies at the center, Carter led us in his last caravan to his final resting place at the Ponca Tribal Cemetery. I estimated a two mile procession as vehicles pulled over on both sides of the highway a show of respect. As we turned left towards the cemetery, I saw one Elderly Indian man who had parked on the side of the road and stood beside his truck, a solitary figure wrapped in a blanket with his fist held high in the air giving honor to a warrior. It was a very tearful moment for me seeing this.
At graveside more prayers were offered and written statements were read, including one from Leonard Peltier. Then it was done, families and friends began making the trip home. As I drove home, I reflected upon the past few days. It had ranged from sadness/grief to exuberance and celebration when it was announced that Carter Camp would be receiving a citation from the State of Oklahoma recognizing him for his lifetime of service to Native people.
When I got home, I saw another statement as follows:

Carter is my AIM brother and friend for 40 years. He was not afraid to speak, write or confront the HIDDEN TRUTH or THE BIG LIE [AMERICAN GENOCIDE ON THE NATIVE PEOPLE] that the U.S. tries to HIDE IN THEIR MANIFEST DESTINY POLICY. In the 1973 occupation of Wounded KNEE, he was the first one in and the last one out and then was imprisoned for his heroic actions. THIS DID NOT BREAK HIS SPIRIT and he continued the resistance for 40 more years. I am very honored to have walked with him on the Red Road.I am sure that he received a Honored Welcome in the spirit world by the ancestors. Thank you for your example. Chief Billy Redwing Tayac, Piscataway Indian Nation


Monday, November 11, 2013

Primer on the Realities of Thanksgiving

As Native people we know that not every American has been taught the truth in the public education system, and that even includes our own Native people. Over the years, I've taken the time to learn the truths and I'm always willing to share from my own perspective. So many of the holidays are heavily marketed through "feel good" narratives to increase profits, thus fairy tales become fact. Thanksgiving, for example, is one I do not celebrate, nor New Years, or even the 4th of July, but that is another blog.

Truth is often elusive, but it is there if you know what you are looking for. What was the real first Thanksgiving? From my reading, it was a celebration of mass murder - genocide of a people:

"The first Thanksgiving Day did occur in the year 1637, but it was nothing like our Thanksgiving today. On that day the Massachusetts Colony Governor, John Winthrop, proclaimed such a "Thanksgiving" to celebrate the safe return of a band of heavily armed hunters, all colonial volunteers. They had just returned from their journey to what is now Mystic, Connecticut where they massacred 700 Pequot Indians. Seven hundred Indians - men, women and children - all murdered." Richard Greener
 Yet, when Wamsutta was asked to speak, he was prepared to offer the truth, but it was suppressed:

 (To have been delivered at Plymouth, Massachusetts, 1970)

"Three hundred fifty years after the Pilgrims began their invasion of the land of the Wampanoag, their "American" descendants planned an anniversary celebration. Still clinging to the white schoolbook myth of friendly relations between their forefathers and the Wampanoag, the anniversary planners thought it would be nice to have an Indian make an appreciative and complimentary speech at their state dinner. Frank James was asked to speak at the celebration. He accepted. The planners, however , asked to see his speech in advance of the occasion, and it turned out that Frank James' views — based on history rather than mythology — were not what the Pilgrims' descendants wanted to hear. Frank James refused to deliver a speech written by a public relations person. Frank James did not speak at the anniversary celebration. If he had spoken, this is what he would have said:
I speak to you as a man -- a Wampanoag Man. I am a proud man, proud of my ancestry, my accomplishments won by a strict parental direction ("You must succeed - your face is a different color in this small Cape Cod community!"). I am a product of poverty and discrimination from these two social and economic diseases. I, and my brothers and sisters, have painfully overcome, and to some extent we have earned the respect of our community. We are Indians first - but we are termed "good citizens." Sometimes we are arrogant but only because society has pressured us to be so.
It is with mixed emotion that I stand here to share my thoughts. This is a time of celebration for you - celebrating an anniversary of a beginning for the white man in America. A time of looking back, of reflection. It is with a heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my People.Even before the Pilgrims landed it was common practice for explorers to capture Indians, take them to Europe and sell them as slaves for 220 shillings apiece. The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod for four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors and stolen their corn and beans. Mourt's Relation describes a searching party of sixteen men. Mourt goes on to say that this party took as much of the Indians' winter provisions as they were able to carry.
Massasoit, the great Sachem of the Wampanoag, knew these facts, yet he and his People welcomed and befriended the settlers of the Plymouth Plantation. Perhaps he did this because his Tribe had been depleted by an epidemic. Or his knowledge of the harsh oncoming winter was the reason for his peaceful acceptance of these acts. This action by Massasoit was perhaps our biggest mistake. We, the Wampanoag, welcomed you, the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end; that before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a free people.
What happened in those short 50 years? What has happened in the last 300 years? History gives us facts and there were atrocities; there were broken promises - and most of these centered around land ownership. Among ourselves we understood that there were boundaries, but never before had we had to deal with fences and stone walls. But the white man had a need to prove his worth by the amount of land that he owned. Only ten years later, when the Puritans came, they treated the Wampanoag with even less kindness in converting the souls of the so-called "savages." Although the Puritans were harsh to members of their own society, the Indian was pressed between stone slabs and hanged as quickly as any other "witch."
And so down through the years there is record after record of Indian lands taken and, in token, reservations set up for him upon which to live. The Indian, having been stripped of his power, could only stand by and watch while the white man took his land and used it for his personal gain. This the Indian could not understand; for to him, land was survival, to farm, to hunt, to be enjoyed. It was not to be abused. We see incident after incident, where the white man sought to tame the "savage" and convert him to the Christian ways of life. The early Pilgrim settlers led the Indian to believe that if he did not behave, they would dig up the ground and unleash the great epidemic again.
The white man used the Indian's nautical skills and abilities. They let him be only a seaman -- but never a captain. Time and time again, in the white man's society, we Indians have been termed "low man on the totem pole."
Has the Wampanoag really disappeared? There is still an aura of mystery. We know there was an epidemic that took many Indian lives - some Wampanoags moved west and joined the Cherokee and Cheyenne. They were forced to move. Some even went north to Canada! Many Wampanoag put aside their Indian heritage and accepted the white man's way for their own survival. There are some Wampanoag who do not wish it known they are Indian for social or economic reasons.
What happened to those Wampanoags who chose to remain and live among the early settlers? What kind of existence did they live as "civilized" people? True, living was not as complex as life today, but they dealt with the confusion and the change. Honesty, trust, concern, pride, and politics wove themselves in and out of their [the Wampanoags'] daily living. Hence, he was termed crafty, cunning, rapacious, and dirty.
History wants us to believe that the Indian was a savage, illiterate, uncivilized animal. A history that was written by an organized, disciplined people, to expose us as an unorganized and undisciplined entity. Two distinctly different cultures met. One thought they must control life; the other believed life was to be enjoyed, because nature decreed it. Let us remember, the Indian is and was just as human as the white man. The Indian feels pain, gets hurt, and becomes defensive, has dreams, bears tragedy and failure, suffers from loneliness, needs to cry as well as laugh. He, too, is often misunderstood.
The white man in the presence of the Indian is still mystified by his uncanny ability to make him feel uncomfortable. This may be the image the white man has created of the Indian; his "savageness" has boomeranged and isn't a mystery; it is fear; fear of the Indian's temperament!
High on a hill, overlooking the famed Plymouth Rock, stands the statue of our great Sachem, Massasoit. Massasoit has stood there many years in silence. We the descendants of this great Sachem have been a silent people. The necessity of making a living in this materialistic society of the white man caused us to be silent. Today, I and many of my people are choosing to face the truth. We ARE Indians!
Although time has drained our culture, and our language is almost extinct, we the Wampanoags still walk the lands of Massachusetts. We may be fragmented, we may be confused. Many years have passed since we have been a people together. Our lands were invaded. We fought as hard to keep our land as you the whites did to take our land away from us. We were conquered, we became the American prisoners of war in many cases, and wards of the United States Government, until only recently.
Our spirit refuses to die. Yesterday we walked the woodland paths and sandy trails. Today we must walk the macadam highways and roads. We are uniting We're standing not in our wigwams but in your concrete tent. We stand tall and proud, and before too many moons pass we'll right the wrongs we have allowed to happen to us.
We forfeited our country. Our lands have fallen into the hands of the aggressor. We have allowed the white man to keep us on our knees. What has happened cannot be changed, but today we must work towards a more humane America, a more Indian America, where men and nature once again are important; where the Indian values of honor, truth, and brotherhood prevail.
You the white man are celebrating an anniversary. We the Wampanoags will help you celebrate in the concept of a beginning. It was the beginning of a new life for the Pilgrims. Now, 350 years later it is a beginning of a new determination for the original American: the American Indian.There are some factors concerning the Wampanoags and other Indians across this vast nation. We now have 350 years of experience living amongst the white man. We can now speak his language. We can now think as a white man thinks. We can now compete with him for the top jobs. We're being heard; we are now being listened to. The important point is that along with these necessities of everyday living, we still have the spirit, we still have the unique culture, we still have the will and, most important of all, the determination to remain as Indians. We are determined, and our presence here this evening is living testimony that this is only the beginning of the American Indian, particularly the Wampanoag, to regain the position in this country that is rightfully ours." Wamsutta September 10, 1970

Later that year the National Day of Mourning came into existence, and has been held annually. However, the participants in this observance were physically attacked by the police:

25 of us were arrested at Plymouth, MA in 1997 for the "crime" of attempting to march down the street at National Day of Mourning. After nearly a year of struggle, we were able to get all the charges dropped. As part of the settlement, Plymouth acknowledged our right to walk on our own land without a permit on National Day of Mourning. The National Day of Mourning plaque that you posted above was paid for from the settlement, as well as another plaque that tells the history of Metacomet ("King Philip"). Now when tourists come to "America's hometown" of Plymouth, they see at least a couple of installations that address the lies and inaccuracies about "thanksgiving."

Text of the Metacomet Plaque:
After the Pilgrims' arrival, Native Americans in New England grew increasingly frustrated with the English settlers' abuse and treachery. Metacomet (King Philip), a son of the Wampanoag sachem known as the Massasoit (Ousameqin), called upon all Native people to unite to defend their homelands against encroachment. The resulting "King Philip's War" lasted from 1675-1676. Metacomet was murdered in Rhode Island in August 1676, and his body was mutilated. His head was impaled on a pike and was displayed near this site for more than 20 years. One hand was sent to Boston, the other to England. Metacomet's wife and son, along with the families of many of the Native American combatants, were sold into slavery in the West Indies by the English victors."  Mahtowin Munro, UAINE
This year (2015), the United American Indians of New England are hosting the 46th National Day of Mourning, and in solidarity, I fast on this day because it is important to stand and represent the truth, not to participate or enable a myth that affirms our colonization. As Native people, we give thanks each and everyday, we remember and honor our mothers, fathers and our warriors who died defending these lands and their people from America. We don't wait for a holiday to tell us to do so, not when it is a way of life.

Just place yourselves in the ancestry of another people who have survived and endured centuries of attempts to annihilate you, and it continues in even subtle and blatant forms today. Would you celebrate the murders of your people, be a patriot to the flag that waved over the bodies of men, women and children? So many times we have been told to get over it, but we haven't forgotten the heart wrenching acts of terrorism against our people. The worst act of a terrorist is when they whitewash the truth. We are the living evidence of the truth because we remember the truths and keep it alive. Until the day comes where the truths is allowed in public education systems, WE WILL LIVE IN TOTAL RESISTANCE TO THE LIES!

Come and support the

47th Annual National Day of Mourning

next year on Nov. 24, 2016

12:00 noon

Coles Hill Plymouth, MA

for more info:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Eaglemanz: Chahta Nation on Indian Child Welfare

Our last show has had almost 3,000 listens in the past week. I hope that you will come and listen in tomorrow evening as we discuss the Indian Child Welfare Act. Thursday, 7:30 - 9:30 PM Central time.
More details can be found at this link:

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Eaglemanz Inaugural Blog Talk Radio Show

Its been a year since I've posted, yet I have several drafts in my folder of unfinished pieces. They will be written, but I wanted to bring to your attention a blog radio show I will be doing starting next week so come and listen in: