Rethinking 4th Of July With Historical Truths

Ray Raphael offers some context for the Declaration of Independence:

In 1997, Pauline Maier published American Scripture, where she uncovered 90 state and local “declarations of independence” that preceded the U.S. Declaration of Independence. The consequence of this historical tidbit is profound: Jefferson was not a lonely genius conjuring his notions from the ether; he was part of a nationwide political upheaval.

Similarly, Raphael reports:

[I]n 1774 common farmers and artisans from throughout Massachusetts rose up by the thousands and overthrew all British authority. In the small town of Worcester (only 300 voters), 4,622 militiamen from 37 surrounding communities lined both sides of Main Street and forced British-appointed officials to walk the gauntlet, hats in hand, reciting their recantations 30 times each so everyone could hear. There were no famous “leaders” for this event. The people elected representatives who served for one day only, the ultimate in term limits. “The body of the people” made decisions and the people decided that the old regime must fall.

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Columbus, The Indigenous, And Human Progress

Columbus and his successors were not coming into an empty wilderness, but into a world which in some places was as densely populated as Europe itself, where the culture was complex, where human relations were more egalitarian than in Europe, and where the relations among men, women, children, and nature were more beautifully worked out than perhaps any place in the world.

They were people without a written language, but with their own laws, their poetry, their history kept in memory and passed on, in an oral vocabulary more complex than Europe’s, accompanied by song, dance, and ceremonial drama. They paid careful attention to the development of personality, intensity of will, independence and flexibility, passion and potency, to their partnership with one another and with nature.

John Collier, an American scholar who lived among Indians in the 1920s and 1930s in the American Southwest, said of their spirit: “Could we make it our own, there would be an eternally inexhaustible earth and a forever lasting peace.”

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The Dakota Access Pipeline And Doctrine Of Native Genocide

By Tim Scott for Truthout – The peaceful Native Water Protectors who have been resisting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) on sacred land belonging to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have succeeded in winning federal accommodations to temporarily halt DAPL construction, but the energy company behind DAPL has pledged to proceed (with state support). Knowing the enduring historic and structural nature of this modern struggle — a struggle in which the Water Protectors have courageously confronted violent local, state and private militarized forces, inspiring support from thousands of US military veterans — is vital to understanding its significance.

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Quebec Mohawk Chief Vows Civil Unrest If B.C. Pipeline Moves Forward

By Christopher Curtis for Montreal Gazette – A Quebec Mohawk chief is promising a coordinated campaign of civil disobedience if recently approved pipeline construction encroaches on aboriginal territory in British Columbia. The actions could range from demonstrations and rail blockades to people occupying government offices across Canada, according to Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon. “I’ve always said my favourite form of action is civil disobedience,” said Simon, in an interview with the Montreal Gazette. “If the government insists on ignoring its commitment to First Nations, we’re looking at unrest in many areas of the country, not just in British Columbia.”

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Forgiveness Ceremony Unites Veterans And Natives At Standing Rock Casino

By Jenna Amatul for The Huffington Post – Many of us, me particularly, are from the units that have hurt you over the many years. We came. We fought you. We took your land. We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faces of our presidents onto your sacred mountain. When we took still more land and then we took your children and then we tried to make your language and we tried to eliminate your language that God gave you, and the Creator gave you. We didn’t respect you, we polluted your Earth, we’ve hurt you in so many ways but we’ve come to say that we are sorry. We are at your service and we beg for your forgiveness.

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WikiLeaks: Decades Long Proof Of Surveillance Of Native Americans

It’s an ordinary day at Akwesasne: drones fly high overhead; Border Patrol’s presence is palpable; and cellphones are rarely used because they may be tapped.

The village spans the northeastern New York-Canada border, and with listening devices, chemical detectors and X-ray equipment, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection station is among the most sophisticated in the country. As Mohawks travel back and forth through their community, going to work and visiting family on each side of the border, their cars are even weighed.

The people here say the government has been spying on the Mohawk Indian reservation for decades. But until recently, these concerns were mostly just suspicions.

WikiLeaks has released documents revealing corporate and government surveillance of the Mohawk people’s relationships with foreign countries, as well as evidence that movements that could block corporate plans for oil and gas were tracked and that Native American communities were monitored for the U.S. Department Homeland Security.

The documents — among 5 million of WikiLeaks’ Global Intelligence Files — were released this month.

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U.N. To Confront US On Persistent Racial Discrimination

Imagine the government taking away your two children in a hearing that lasts less than 60 seconds.

Madonna Pappan and her husband, members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, don’t have to imagine it, because it happened to them. And they’re not alone: An American Indian child in South Dakota is 11 times more likely to be sent to foster care than a non-Indian child.

Imagine receiving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for serving as a go-between in the sale of two small $5 bags of marijuana. That’s exactly what happened to Fate Vincent Winslow, an African American homeless man who says that he accepted the offer of an undercover police officer for a $5 commission in order to earn some money to get something to eat. Mr. Winslow is now serving a life sentence, without the possibility of parole, in Louisiana for this and his other prior non-violent crimes. In that state, African Americans are serving life without parole sentences for nonviolent crimes at approximately 23 times the rate of whites. Nationwide, an estimated 65.4 percent of the prisoners serving such sentences are African American.

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Government Seeks To Take Land From Sioux

The Department of Interior is now going to steal protected land on Pine Ridge in South Dakota.

The Oglala Sioux and Lakota Sioux of the reservation have been told by the Federal Government that the National Parks Service will take over land in the South Unit of the Badlands National Park.

Interior claims it will be a “Tribal National Park” in an effort to camouflage the theft. They will hold the land in “trust” for the Indians. Thousands of Indians will be affected, losing their residence and their income from grazing allotments. The remaining independent ranchers will go out of business.

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Videomap Shows How Colonizers Took US Land

Above is a map showing the stealing of indigenous territory by “Treaties” – never honored for long, the “big guns” of the time against some (today’s names: Apache helicopters, Tomahawk missiles), divide and rule, attack “hostiles” and soon afterwards, “friendlies”, move ever West even to Hawaii and the Philippines: Manifest Destiny. The currently forgotten phrase Manifest Destiny, that of American racism and ethnic cleansing, ought to be taught as a theme of American political science and history.

The video is brief, worth looking at several times to take in American rapacity “towards”/as “savages”…


The aggressors came from across the sea and stole everything with their guns. Who were the “roamers,” the “raiders,” the “savages”? (h/t Tink Tinker, Billy Stratton, and Nancy Wadsworth)


The Christian aggressors raided stable Indian communities, as at Sand Creek, butchering the inhabitants. Who were the “savages”?

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A.I.M. Founding Member Calls For Reinvigoration of American Indian Movement

Dennis Banks, founding member of the American Indian Movement, has issued a call for the reinvigorating of AIM. Banks, who served as the National Field Director of AIM, calls for a National and International gathering of AIM families, chapters, support groups and individuals to be held in October in Green Bay, WI.

The gathering seeks to address issues impacting Indian Country such as:

the Keystone XL Pipeline
Non-compliance of several States on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
Non-compliance of several States with the Native American Graves Protection and Rehabilitation Act (NAGPRA)
Rejuvenate and reinvigorate the American Indian Movement

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Minneapolis Changes Columbus Day To Indigenous People’s Day

The Minneapolis City Council voted on Friday, April 25, 2014, unanimously to approve a resolution to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day. Hundreds of American Indians were on hand at Minneapolis City Hall for Friday’s vote.

Many American Indians have long resisted the observance of a day to honor Christopher Columbus, who is credited with “discovering” the Americas in American history.

“It’s been a long time coming,” commented Clyde Bellecourt, American Indian Movement leader after Friday’s vote. “For me, it’s been almost 50 years that we’ve been talking about this pirate.”

The American Indian Movement has long sought to eliminate the observance of Columbus Day.

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Thousands March To Reject KXL Protect The Enviornment

Thousands of people joined the farmers, ranchers, and tribal leaders of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance for a ceremonial procession along the National Mall to protest the Keystone XL pipeline this afternoon. The procession was the largest event yet of the five-day “Reject and Protect” encampment.

“Today, boots and moccasins showed President Obama an unlikely alliance has his back to reject Keystone XL to protect our land and water,” said Jane Kleeb, Executive Director of Bold Nebraska, one of the key organizers of Reject and Protect.

Legendary musician Neil Young and actress Daryl Hannah were amongst the crowd of thousands who rallied on the National Mall and then marched past the Capitol building. “We need to end the age of fossil fuels and move on to something better,” Mr. Young told the crowd.

The day’s procession included the presentation of a hand-painted tipi to the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian as a gift to President Obama.

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On Anniversary of Wounded Knee: The Battle Now Is To Protect Water

On Feburary 27th, 2014 I was on Pine Ridge reservation for, Liberation Day, the anniversary of the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee. This was the 41st anniversary of the occupation and I stood outside of the Wounded Knee district school, holding a flyer for today’s“Four Directions Walk.” I stood with the northern part of the four directions. Three other walks from the east, west, and south were going to meet at Wounded Knee, the site of both the massacre of 1890 and the Occupation of 1973. I checked my GPS, “ten miles to Wounded Knee.” I stared at my feet. A member of the To’kala warrior society saw me staring at my brown hiking boots and suggested I bring a vehicle for our media team to rotate out of during the walk. The warrior walked off and joined other members of the warrior society. The men and women in camouflage talked amongst themselves, then spread out around the edges of the gathering people. I worried I’d be out of place with a vehicle, but saw a long convoy of cars,vans and trucks lining up behind everyone preparing for the walk.

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Photo Essay By Jenna Pope: Cowboy Indian Alliance

Jenna Pope has been documenting the social movement since the Wisconsin uprising. Her photography always amazes us in how it captures the moment. Below are a few photographs from a photo essay she has published on the Reject and Protect protest in the nation’s capital. Jenna describes the action “On April 22nd, a group of ranchers, farmers and tribal communities from along the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline route, called the Cowboy Indian Alliance, came to Washington DC and set up camp on the National Mall to tell President Obama to reject the pipeline.”

Today is the finale of the Cowboy Indian Alliance in Washington, DC. It is an unusual alliance that set up camp on the Nation’s mall to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline. Jenna will be live tweeting at

We urge you to visit her website to see the full story and her Facebook page for more images.

More info here:

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Cowboy Indian Alliance And Other Unlikely Environmental Alliances

The Cowboy Indian Alliance may seem like an unprecedented type of environmental movement–multiracial, rooted in struggling rural communities, and often more effective in its grassroots organizing than traditional urban-based white upper/middle class environmental groups–but it is also part of a long, proud tradition that has been conveniently covered up in American history.

It’s not everyday you see cowboys helping to set up a tipi encampment, but that’s what is happening this week on the National Mall. An unlikely alliance of white ranchers and Native American activists, known as the Cowboy Indian Alliance, has erected the tipi encampment in the nation’s capital to protest plans for the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The Alliance (with the ironic acronym ‘CIA’) brings together Native Americans with white ranchers and farmers–the archetypal enemies of the American West–to protect their common land and water.

The Cowboy Indian Alliance may seem like an unprecedented type of environmental movement–multiracial, rooted in struggling rural communities, and often more effective in its grassroots organizing than traditional urban-based white upper/middle class environmental groups–but it is also part of a long, proud tradition that has been conveniently covered up in American history.

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