“We won't leave until these lands have been turned over to the their rightful owners, more than 100 ranchers and farmers used to work this land, which was taken illegally by the federal government.”
- Ammon Bundy, Ironic Philosopher
"Will we let ourselves be destroyed in our turn without a struggle, give up our homes, our country bequeathed to us by the Great Spirit, the graves of our dead and everything that is dear and sacred to us? I know you will cry with me, 'Never! Never!'"
- Tecumseh, Shawnee
“These are people that shouldn’t be in our country. They flow in like water.”
- Donald Trump
"A long time ago this land belonged to our fathers, but when I go up to the river I see camps of soldiers on its banks. These soldiers cut down my timber, they kill my buffalo and when I see that, my heart feels like bursting."
- Satanta, Kiowa Chief
I think it started with that damned Woody Guthrie.
See, before Woody Guthrie’s stupid song, most white folks knew that they were just fortunate visitors of this land of plenty. They came from Europe starving and knowing that they would never own their own house, so they came through. Cool—I get it. And yeah, most of you folks set up shop and did the whole “Manifest Destiny” thing. Not cool. Still, in spite of that you all knew this was our land first. And you respect “firsts”—the Wright Brothers, Bruce Jenner, Caitlyn Jenner, etc. That’s why every third one of you say that your great-grandmother was a Cherokee princess—because you respect firsts and…
We were here first. That’s obvious. We get the trophy! Oh sure, many white folks tried to convince themselves that Natives shared everything so that you could pass off that “Doctrine of Discovery” nonsense and take land and that was pretty dirty too. “Communal living,” painting with the colors of the wind, all that jazz.
But still they knew. Somebody was here. It wasn’t them. Somebody fed those starving ivory tummies that first Thanksgiving. Racist white people killed all those tens of millions of buffalo for some reason—because they knew that those buffalo were Native people’s power pellets and eventually those Native Nations were gonna replenish their power and populations and…
Someone was here. That was clear. This land wasn’t white people’s; it was somebody else’s. And those people didn’t look anything like you.
“This land is your land…this land is my land….from California, to the New York Island…”
No it’s not, Woody Guthrie. You’re lying to them.
So now when I hear these crazy white people—Donald Trump, Ammon Bundy, Alex Jones, etc—you’d think you were listening to some Natives talk about their beautiful homelands where their ancestors have resided for thousands of years. When I hear these silly and hairy militia men in Oregon talk about the government taking “their land,” my first thought is “take a number.” By the way, that number—if they were at the DMV trying to get their license renewed—would be like 327,000,000. Similarly, when I hear Donald Trump talk about people who “shouldn’t be in our country” and how Mexico is sending criminals to this nation, my first thought is they’re immigrating to Germany? The second thought is why wouldn’t they? That’s the lesson they learned from Europe.
Hence, we inherited such treasures as Donald Trump, Ammon Bundy, Alex Jones and other European-Americans.
Thing is, the data shows that Mexico is not following Europe’s lead; statistically Mexico is sending quality folks simply looking for opportunity and not looking to kill the people who are already here, enslave the people who are already here, steal the people who are already here’s land or change the religion of the people who are already here.
And in that way, Mexico’s immigrants are much different than the European immigrants who came to this Nation in the fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were.
Yeah, we had to go there. Because these fools keep bringing it up. And if they keep bringing it up, we have to tell the truth.
So no, Woody Guthrie and Donald Trump and Ammon Bundy and Alex Jones, this land is not your land. This is Native land. Unquestionably, unequivocally, no doubt. Yes, we can play nice and we can all get along; we are all stuck here together, so we might as well all work together. But since they brought it up, as a matter of fact most white people are the descendants of VERY recent immigrants to this country. A very small amount of white folks are the descendants of immigrants who have been here slightly longer—still, a teenie, tiny drop in the bucket to how long Native people have been here. And that’s cool—absolutely, if you’ve ever been over to my auntie Wilma Faye’s house or my mom’s house or pretty much ANY Native auntie’s house, Native people are incredible house guests. Feed you, make you drink some coffee and eat bannock and talk your ear off. Heck, they might even let you stay there for awhile.
But no amount of visiting, coffee or hanging will ever make it your house. Just to be clear.
Wesley Roach, Skan Photography
Gyasi Ross, Editor at Large
Blackfeet Nation/Suquamish Territories
AUTHOR: PROJECT "ISSKOOTSIK" (BEFORE HERE WAS HERE)
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