Blackhawk helicopter flies a mission over Iraq
For those unfamiliar with the background of Wounded Knee, read the text here, and please sign the petition: Wounded Knee Medals of Dis Honor
The situation is still a bit unclear. But here's what we know right now.
After months of coordinated days of action, calling and writing to get the White House, or anyone, to help out with the crumbling infrastructure on the reservations in the Dakotas, the suicide epidemic, the grinding poverty and lack of jobs, there was finally a response. Sort of:
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 30, 2010
President Obama Signs North Dakota Disaster Declaration
The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of North Dakota and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by flooding beginning on February 26, 2010, and continuing.
Federal funding is available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the flooding in the counties of Barnes, Benson, Cass, Dickey, Emmons, Foster, Grand Forks, LaMoure, Logan, Mercer, Morton, Nelson, Pembina, Ramsey, Ransom, Richland, Sargent, Steele, Stutsman, Traill, Walsh, and Wells and the portions of the Spirit Lake Reservation that lie within these counties.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures for all counties and Tribes within the State.
W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Justo Hernández as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.
FEMA said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the State and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: FEMA (202) 646-3272.
Then late yesterday afternoon, the relatives network led to a few Oglala people finding out about a private meeting scheduled at Pine Ridge. Word leaked that the helicopters would be coming. Allegedly the meeting was so some representatives of the military could hear the NDNs side of the Wounded Knee Massacre. Huh? Why now? Why all of a sudden, with no real notice, without the descendants being notified at all, without anyone but a few people on the tribal council even being told this would happen? The traditional way would have been for the military to ask permission to come to Pine Ridge. Then, if permission was granted, to call a community meeting, with the appropriate representatives there, and everything done respectfully and openly. But this was about as far from that as you can get.
Perhaps they wanted a photo op of a military-style wreath-laying, with no one but a few token NDNs there. Perhaps they just wanted to land as close to the cemetery as possible then get out fast, before anyone who might have a problem with this could find out.
Now, if you've read the above links, you'll know that:
1. You don't send the modern Seventh Cavalry to Wounded Knee. Not unless it's to crawl on their knees in abject apology for the actions of those whose legacy they have chosen to carry on; not unless you've come to return the medals that were given to soldiers, and are still displayed, for their massacre of unarmed women, children and elders.
2. You do not land gunships on a burial ground. You just don't. How about if we drive monster trucks loaded with armed civilians into Arlington National Cemetery? Maybe armed warriors on horseback, with the horses taking a dump on the graves? How about if a bunch of Iraqis and Afghanis drive ATV's over the graves of soldiers who died in the Gulf Wars? Maybe some Nazis having target practice on the graves of World War II dead? How about that?
So, some are saying this was some sort of attempted PR stunt. Some kind of "apology". Well... maybe they should have talked to the people first instead of rampaging in in their colonialist, militarist, macho "glory". No glory for you, dudes. You messed it up once again.
Still waiting to hear where they landed, if they landed. But all the military, and the White House, has accomplished today is scaring the crap out of a bunch of women and children, who, despite any fear, put their bodies on the line to protect their land, to protect the graves of their ancestors.
History repeats at Wounded Knee.
The mass grave at the Wounded Knee Massacre site
in South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation
Listen to the archived show with the live calls from the site as the choppers are trying to land: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wanbli/2010/05/01/indigenous-rights-movement-radio-live-from-wounded-knee-emergency And stay tuned, I'm sure there will be another show on this later today or tomorrow.
Black Hawks equipped with M60 machine guns
near An Najaf, Iraq in May 2005
ETA: I don't want to forget the brave men who also stood up today. Alex White Plume and other men also stood against the choppers, and like the women, are still on site dealing with this. I was just so excited about these brave young women charging out there, and that was the first report that came in, that I had to run with it :-)
ETA: 4:30pm EST - Alex White Plume is reporting that, "A large number of people from three rezzes came to defend the ground of Wounded Knee. At 11:45 am three helicopters appeared above Wounded Knee. We were all in shock. It was true: the 7th Cavalry. I seen women and children running under the killing machines to keep them from landing. One chopper landed 50 feet from the cemetery. A society leader stood his ground and so he lifted off."
ETA: 6:45pm EST - This is footage of a Blackhawk helicopter over Iraq. You can see the guns, like the ones they used on women and children in Vietnam. Be ready for loud sounds... much like those that ripped the sky open over sacred ground in NDN Country today.