After recently reviewing a new book about the Osage Headrights Murders I asked myself, ‘What has changed in Oklahoma and Indian country in the last 100 years?’ Now we Native Americans have genetic and ethnic Indians ‘walking the halls of Congress,’ yet what does it get us? Blood for Oil was the apt description given to the review of Killers of the Flower Moon, by masterful storyteller David Grann, a staff writer for the New Yorker. Grann also wrote The Lost City of Z and The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, but while Grann’s writing has led to Hollywood movies, we are living real life horror stories of oil vampires sucking the sovereignty right out of our homelands.
The future is green, clean, renewable energy that will produce thousands of more jobs and rely on education, re-education and new technologies. Some of it may even be old technology of the indigenous kind, as in we-are-all-related and what-happens-to-one-happens-to-all. Instead we get so-called progressive Indians wanting to burden our future generations with oil, gas and coal—all for short-term dollars that will disappear, and jobs that will go away, leaving behind poverty and pollution, while benefiting the donor class at the top. Consider these “jobs” more like “pods” where humans are interchangeable in the matrix and live off diesel fumes.
There is some kind of difference here between (internal) colonization and (external) appropriation. We got appropriation by fake Indians, pretendians and wannabees. It’s become a business, a religion and a lifestyle. They got degrees, they got tribal ID cards, some just got crappy family stories, some got high cheekbones and that seems to be enough. We had whites playing Indian as Jack Crabb in Little Big Man; before that there were five-dollar Indians who were white men who paid Indian agents $5 to be listed and enrolled under the Dawes Act so they could get such Indian benefits as land or food rations. This also led to voting in tribal elections, education benefits, and passing down fraudulent family claims. Once it becomes generational, their spawn would marry inside the tribe to produce authentic paper-carrying ethnic Indians who could cover-up the original sin. Still others continued to marry out yet could retain that percentage of blood quantum as an enrollment entitlement ace up the sleeve.
They take our places, they take grants from deserving Natives because they know how to game the system; they are articulate in the English language, media, history and how to bullshit, because they were raised bullshitting about their Indian heritage. They steal our voices, stories and names. They call us names, they get offended when people call them names, then they get offended when Natives who struggle sell a little culture just to survive. Now they run for political office using their genetic Indian-ness to propel their career and search out the highest bidders.
Generational trauma has now been passed from the likes of Charles Curtis to WW Keeler to Ross Swimmer to Markwayne Mullin, all progressives whose actions and backgrounds reinforce the Blood for Oil concept, all willing to sell out rights and titles for currency of the realm in the name of progress and sovereignty. I don’t see much difference in the end game here than with the Osage after they were infiltrated through marriage and then murdered for their headrights, titles, land and resources. Sure Indians can do as they want, it’s called sovereignty and these vampires claim sovereignty every chance they get because it’s the justification behind good bullshit. Remember that a vampire has to be invited in before sucking your blood.
America is different for everyone because the myth, the concept, and the narrative are different for everyone, their story of where it starts and how it ends and each chapter along the way. It is different for Native, immigrant, white, black, brown, yellow, rich and poor, north and south, east and west, coastal and flyover. But we are seeing the reinforcement of the empty land as wilderness to be civilized by compassionate, conservative Christians, who really are just born-again savages.
Congressional Representative and Cherokee Nation citizen Markwayne Mullin, who claims to be an “Honest Injun” by some slight percentage of Cherokee, has said he got into politics because the evil government was making it difficult to make money, due to evil Environmental Protection Agency or other governmental regulations, yet he still used Indian preference to apply for contracts. Just like the Bundy Militia family used and abused government programs and public lands.
It’s not just the Cherokees—we all pick on their blood percentage issues—but it happens around Indian country. Sometimes even some so-called full bloods feel extra entitled to bend the environmental, legal and ethical rules to deliver cash and enable their tribal dynasties. Generations ago, titles that belonged to the clans and the land and the women were absconded, purchased or married off and maybe today walk the Halls of Congress. Just like the Osage murders where whites married in for money, it’s been a common occurrence that when things get a shade paler, the money gets greener. Dirty money, as in dirty energy and dirty ethics, not the greener, cleaner kind.
By happenstance and cruelty, Natives were forced onto marginal lands only to outfox the greedy ones, the fat stealers. One hundred years later, we have sell-out ethnic oil Indians colluding with white politicians who offer promises and contracts for still more Native lands. But it just sounds crazier down in Oklahoma with all the oil, gas and Godly politicians, who are willing to let God sort out climate change while industry-shill and EPA-jihadist Scott Pruitt calls the faithful to pray as the heartland shudders and Wall Street toasts. Listen as Trump leaves the Paris Climate Accords, we hear the meaty hands of thick necked sweaty men clap and maul the air in the Rose Garden. Whose American dream is this?
Alex Jacobs, Mohawk, is a visual artist and poet living in Santa Fe.