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A Victory for Native Power: Just Say No to Ted Nugent's Ugliness

What do the cancellations of two Ted Nugent concerts mean to Indian country? A lot, actually. Welcome to Native Power, 2014-style.
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Both the Coeur d'Alene Tribe and the Puyallup Tribe displayed Native Power 2014-style. Ted Nugent (and really anybody else) has an absolute legal right to say hateful, ugly and/or racist things ("Subhuman mongrel," anyone?); yet Tribes are thankfully showing that they do not have to be complicit in hateful ugliness and/or REWARD the ugliness. Both the Coeur d'Alene Tribe as well as the Puyallup Tribe flexed that ability—to express displeasure with their pocketbooks. At first glance, these steps might not appear huge, yet these are steps that Tribes would not have the ability to make 20 years ago. In that regard, this is a huge deal—a thousand mile journey starts with one step.

Symbols matter. The ability and fortitude to disallow hate is a big deal. 

RELATED:Coeur d'Alene Cancel Ted Nugent Concert Over Rocker's "Racist Remarks"

Now, as Tribes build economic resources and engage in the electoral process, no matter how imperfect, they have the ability to weigh in on discussions that we previously were simply not invited to. Ultimately, reasonable people can differ on Ted Nugent specifically—I personally am not convinced he's a racist. But I do think he's a pretty nasty human being who has a penchant for saying really ugly things. Yet, irrespective of personal opinion, he's just one redneck who happens to wear his stupidity on his sleeve. If you enjoy his music, whatever. But what he represents is much larger—a disruption to the status quo of folks not needing to respect Tribes' purchasing power. "Hey Ted Nugent/Federal Express/Bank of America, if you're gonna make money off of us, that's cool, but you better come correct." The Puyallup Tribe and the Coeur d'Alene Tribe were both willing to take action and pass on a very likely highly profitable concert for principle. Principle over profit??? That's a rare and beautiful thing. We should all be proud of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe and the Puyallup Tribe for creating this discussion and we should all be proud of all the activism that's happened around this topic. This could and should continue. Someone needs to be keeping score of this: Who are our friends, are and who are not our friends.

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Let's hope Tribes follow suit—not just with Ted Nugent, but with anyone who creates an environment of hate or who doesn't help Native people.

The destruction of Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1921. An armed white man watches over African American prisoners and a dead man. In one day, the thriving black neighborhood was destroyed.

Gyasi Ross
Blackfeet Nation/Suquamish Territories
Twitter: @BigIndianGyasi