Theme Layout

Boxed or Wide or Framed

Theme Translation

Display Featured Slider

Featured Slider Styles

Display Grid Slider

Grid Slider Styles

Display Trending Posts

Display Author Bio

Display Instagram Footer

Dark or Light Style

Powered by Blogger.

Disqus Shortname

Comments system

Blog Archive

Blog Archive

top navigation

Weather (state,county)




Pages - Menu

Popular Posts

Popular Posts

Delusional Leadership?

At, Paul Craig Roberts asks the question Is President Bush Sane? I'm beginning to notice a theme here. Because not only does Roberts ask the question, but there is a totally unrelated Table Talk forum that asks: Is the President Mentally Ill? At the Table Talk forum, Ed. S lays his case as follows:
I think it is time to bring this out in the open. From Wikipedia

Although non-specific concepts of madness have been around for several thousand years, the psychiatrist and philosopher Karl Jaspers was the first to define the three main criteria for a belief to be considered delusional in his book General Psychopathology. These criteria are:

* certainty (held with absolute conviction)

* incorrigibility (not changeable by compelling counterargument or proof to the contrary)

* impossibility or falsity of content (implausible, bizarre or patently untrue)

These criteria still live on in modern psychiatric diagnosis. In the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a delusion is defined as:

A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everybody else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture or subculture (e.g. it is not an article of religious faith).

And Roberts notes the same, but within the context of Impeachment:
Tens of millions of Americans want President George W. Bush to be impeached for the lies and deceit he used to launch an illegal war and for violating his oath of office to uphold the US Constitution. Millions of other Americans want Bush turned over to the war crimes tribunal at the Hague. The true fate that awaits Bush is psychiatric incarceration.

The president of the United States is so deep into denial that he is no longer among the sane.

Delusion still rules Bush three weeks after the American people repudiated him and his catastrophic war in elections that delivered both House and Senate to the Democrats in the hope that control over Congress would give the opposition party the strength to oppose the mad occupant of the White House.

On November 28 Bush insisted that US troops would not be withdrawn from Iraq until he had completed his mission of building a stable Iraqi democracy capable of spreading democratic change in the Middle East.

Bush made this astonishing statement the day after NBC News, a major television network, declared Iraq to be in the midst of a civil war, a judgment with which former Secretary of State Colin Powell concurs.

The same day that Bush reaffirmed his commitment to building a stable Iraqi democracy, a secret US Marine Corps intelligence report was leaked. According to the Washington Post, the report concludes: "the social and political situation has deteriorated to a point that US and Iraqi troops are no longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency in al-Anbar province."

The Marine Corps intelligence report says that al-Qaeda is the "dominant organization of influence" in Anbar province, and is more important than local authorities, the Iraqi government and US troops "in its ability to control the day-to-day life of the average Sunni."

Bush’s astonishing determination to deny Iraq reality was made the same day that the US-installed Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki and US puppet King Abdullah II of Jordan abruptly cancelled a meeting with Bush after Bush was already in route to Jordan on Air Force One. Bush could not meet with Maliki in Iraq, because violence in Baghdad is out of control. For security reasons, the US Secret Service would not allow President Bush to go to Iraq, where he is "building a stable democracy."

Bush made his astonishing statement in the face of news leaks of the Iraq Study Group’s call for a withdrawal of all US combat forces from Iraq. The Iraq Study Group is led by Bush family operative James A. Baker, a former White House chief of staff, former Secretary of the Treasury, and former Secretary of State. Baker was tasked by father Bush to save the son. Apparently, son Bush hasn’t enough sanity to allow himself to be saved.

Bush’s denial of Iraqi reality was made even as one of the most influential Iraqi Shi'ite leaders, Moqtada al-Sadr, is building an anti-US parliamentary alliance to demand the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

Maliki himself appears on the verge of desertion by his American sponsors. The White House has reportedly "lost confidence" in Maliki’s "ability to control violence." Fox "News" disinformation agency immediately began blaming Maliki for the defeat the US has suffered in Iraq. NY Governor Pataki told Fox "News" that "Maliki is not doing his job." Pataki claimed that US troops were doing "a great job."

A number of other politicians and talking heads joined in the scapegoating of Maliki. No one explained how Maliki can be expected to save Iraq when US troops cannot provide enough security for the Iraqi government to go outside the heavily fortified "green zone" that occupies a small area of Baghdad. If the US Marines cannot control Anbar province, what chance is there for Maliki? What can Maliki do if the security provided by US troops is so bad that the president of the US cannot even visit the country?

Meanwhile, of course, The Center for Constitutional Rights has filed a complaint in Germany against Donald Rumsfield for war crimes under the Code of Crimes against International Law (CCIL) which allows for the prosecution of foreigners engaged in war crimes or crimes against humanity in other foreign countries. The complaints are being filed in Germany because the United States refuses to join the International Criminal Court and Iraq does not have the authority to prosecute. Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski will testify against Rumsfield.
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

The Buddha on Traditionalism

I found this quote from the Buddha at the Liberty Fellowship Center site. Even an unbeliever like myself can agree with the Buddha on a great many things.

"'Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumoured by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is written in your religious books. Do not believe anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason, and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.'"
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

Thanksgiving, Hope and the Hidden Heart of Evil

This is a piece I wrote some years ago before I had children. I did, however, feel I was writing it for them as I sat with my editor pestering me with calls to get it done. Typing away at my laptop on our kitchen table in Berkeley I could feel myself addressing my unborn children. Strange, I know. Now that I have children, I am faced with the question, how does one explain these things to a child? My mother had taken the route in the consciousness-raising 1970's of filling me with stories about what had happened and allowing the chips fall where they may. I experienced as a child of five or so the first true feelings of political outrage. Outrage on behalf of a people, the poli. A feeling beyond my normal childish outrage at the loss of a toy or the singular attention of a parent. Outrage at not just the past, but the continued injustice of the basic fact of the invasion and the additional burden of living under the myth of American moral superiority. And I was filled with a desire to change that when I was just five. I think we forget, sometimes, the great wells of desire to do good that each of us are born with. I see this in my children all the time. My mother lit that fire in me as she talked to me about the stolen land, the Long Walk and smaller injustices as we washed dishes together over the kitchen sink in Denver. And those feelings have never been assuaged or lessened-- as I wish they might have been by now. Now, when I tell my daughter who is six, as I am in this piece, and who looks and talks so much like me at that age, I see the same tightening of the tiny fists and that same look of determination coming over her young, bright eyes. And I wonder, is it right to tell her? But how long could I keep up the lie?

So, here it is, my ode to the holiday. Enjoy.

I celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving.

This may surprise those people who wonder what Native Americans think of this official U.S. celebration of the survival of early arrivals in a European invasion that culminated in the death of 10 to 30 million native people.

Thanksgiving to me has never been about Pilgrims. When I was six, my mother, a woman of the Dineh nation, told my sister and me not to sing "Land of the Pilgrim's pride" in "America the Beautiful." Our people, she said, had been here much longer and taken much better care of the land. We were to sing "Land of the Indian's pride" instead.

I was proud to sing the new lyrics in school, but I sang softly. It was enough for me to know the difference. At six, I felt I had learned something very important. As a child of a Native American family, you are part of a very select group of survivors, and I learned that my family possessed some "inside" knowledge of what really happened when those poor, tired masses came to our homes.

When the Pilgrims came to Plymouth Rock, they were poor and hungry -- half of them died within a few months from disease and hunger. When Squanto, a Wampanoag man, found them, they were in a pitiful state. He spoke English, having traveled to Europe, and took pity on them. Their English crops had failed. The native people fed them through the winter and taught them how to grow their food.

These were not merely "friendly Indians." They had already experienced European slave traders raiding their villages for a hundred years or so, and they were wary -- but it was their way to give freely to those who had nothing. Among many of our peoples, showing that you can give without holding back is the way to earn respect. Among the Dakota, my father's people, they say, when asked to give, "Are we not Dakota and alive?" It was believed that by giving there would be enough for all -- the exact opposite of the system we live in now, which is based on selling, not giving.

To the Pilgrims, and most English and European peoples, the Wampanoags were heathens, and of the Devil. They saw Squanto not as an equal but as an instrument of their God to help his chosen people, themselves.

Since that initial sharing, Native American food has spread around the world. Nearly 70 percent of all crops grown today were originally cultivated by Native American peoples. I sometimes wonder what they ate in Europe before they met us. Spaghetti without tomatoes? Meat and potatoes without potatoes? And at the "first Thanksgiving" the Wampanoags provided most of the food -- and signed a treaty granting Pilgrims the right to the land at Plymouth, the real reason for the first Thanksgiving.

What did the Europeans give in return? Within 20 years European disease and treachery had decimated the Wampanoags. Most diseases then came from animals that Europeans had domesticated. Cowpox from cows led to smallpox, one of the great killers of our people, spread through gifts of blankets used by infected Europeans. Some estimate that diseases accounted for a death toll reaching 90 percent in some Native American communities. By 1623, Mather the elder, a Puritan leader, was giving thanks to his God for destroying the heathen savages to make way "for a better growth," meaning his people.

In stories told by the Dakota people, an evil person always keeps his or her heart in a secret place separate from the body. The hero must find that secret place and destroy the heart in order to stop the evil.

I see, in the "First Thanksgiving" story, a hidden Pilgrim heart. The story of that heart is the real tale than needs to be told. What did it hold? Bigotry, hatred, greed, self-righteousness? We have seen the evil that it caused in the 350 years since. Genocide, environmental devastation, poverty, world wars, racism.

Where is the hero who will destroy that heart of evil? I believe it must be each of us. Indeed, when I give thanks this Thursday and I cook my native food, I will be thinking of this hidden heart and how my ancestors survived the evil it caused.

Because if we can survive, with our ability to share and to give intact, then the evil and the good will that met that Thanksgiving day in the land of the Wampanoag will have come full circle.

And the healing can begin.

Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

Bush stance on al-Qaida suspects is morally wrong, says Colin Powell

Well, this made the front page of even The Oregonian today. Finally, Powell is speaking out. I hope he does more of that if he has any integrity at all. It was disappointing to see him kowtowing to the Bush Administration line on Iraq. One sensed (and later read) that as a seasoned soldier he knew better. Of course, it brings up the oft repeated line about good people doing nothing.

He should listen to another soldier Lt. Watada and rethink his past loyalties and use what is left of his reputation to truly defend the people of this country.
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

Remembering Anne Mae and the Terrible Price of a Movement

Indian Country Today had this interview with John Trudell about the death of Anne Mae Aquash, a young, idealistic Micmac woman from Nova Scotia who came to the Pine Ridge reservation in the 1970's to help the people and was murdered. It is believed that she was murdered for being "jacketed" by the FBI as an informant. In other words, they painted this big-hearted woman and mother as an informant in order to protect their real informant which led to her death at the hands of the people she tried to help.

I still remember as a young girl in Denver at the Indian Center when they did a dance for her and everyone stood up and honored her memory. They also did that for all the Wounded Knee participants. Her death and the decline of AIM and the movement for human rights for all indigenous people has always been linked in my heart since then. She is in our movement history canon of saints. Of people who tried to make a difference. I will always honor her spirit in my heart as I look at the pictures of her always young face full of purpose and meaning and hope. Aren't these the sort of people we should be trying to grow? Like beautiful grass that grows long like the hair on our mother's head. So Anna Mae is reborn from the land where she last laid her head every spring on the Great Plains. In those endless fields of tall sweet grass waving, filling the air with sweetness, reminding us that life is meant for so much more. And it is sweet.
"Theory of the planted operative: 'A jacket was created for Annie Mae'
Part two
Editors' note: In a running conversation with Indian Country Today's Senior Editor Jose Barreiro, John Trudell seeks to address lingering issues in the dissolution of the early American Indian Movement leadership and to comment on the case of Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash, the Micmac activist murdered in South Dakota during the winter of 1975 - '76. Part two of the series covers Trudell's perspective on the issues of violence in the activist movement. The renowned poet-apostle of Indian activism proposes his theory of a government operative deeply embedded to discredit the movement, during a time of rogue government infiltration programs that sometimes stimulated violence in social and political organizing. Trudell discussed the shootout at Oglala, S.D., in 1975 that resulted in the deaths of one Indian activist and two FBI agents, and other incidents from those tempestuous times. Next week, Trudell addresses his own shift from direct political activities to musical poetics of stage and film."
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

Gloria Steinem Forming All-Female Talk Radio Network

Cheers! Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda are helping to launch GreenStone Media, an all-female, all-talk radio network. Finally, some one to take on The View. Can't wait to hear what the shows will cover. Here's a link to the New York Times Sunday magazine interview with her this past Sunday. It's nice to hear someone so refreshingly direct. Here she is answering the first ridiculous question lobbed by Deborah Solomon to the tune of "Why, in this day and age, do women need a radio show?"
The radio has become overbalanced toward the ultraright. AM talk radio does not reflect the fact that only 30 percent of the country, at the most, is anywhere near Rush Limbaugh.

But women, too, can be noisy right-wingers. Look at Ann Coulter.

If you create a movement, you create jobs and profits for someone to sell it out. That's true of Phyllis Schlafly. It's true of Ann Coulter; with both of them, I couldn't invent a better adversary.

Who do you see as an ally? What about Hillary Clinton?

I disagree with her very much on the war. I feel otherwise she's good on issues. But the war is huge.

Is Condoleezza Rice an ally of women?

I wish someone would write an article called 'How Did Condoleezza Rice Get That Way?' She's so separate from the welfare of the majority of Americans and especially the female and African-American communities to which she belongs."
I must admit, I've asked myself that very question about Condi many a time. Never really heard it articulated in the mass media, though. I'd have to disagree with Gloria on one item, Ann Coulter is not a worthy adversary for Steinem. She is propped up by the media and given every advantage in pushing her venom at the American people. As shown on Hannity Colmes as featured in Truthdig.
When conservative hate mistress Ann Coulter told two Democratic strategists on Fox News that Afghanistan was “going swimmingly,” they went to town on her, and Coulter cut her interview short.
And the same scene as recounted by Crooks and Liars:
Whenever Ann is faced with the reality that Osama hasn’t been caught yet by this administration–well–Poor Ann. Kirsten Powers actually responds to Coulter’s ridiculous line that Afghanistan is going swimmingly and brings up the fact that Osama is still alive and well. Coulter then plays her usual Clinton card and freaks. "Sean, help me–Sean, where are you? Sean, these mean people are talking…I can’t get my 10,000 words of Liberal hate speech in…I’m melting." Michael Brown didn’t mind that Hannity talked over him during the segment..
Watch the video here: Crooks and Liars - Ann Coulter gets her freak on.
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

Labor Day & U. Utah Phillips

I wanted to do a post honoring our Labor history. I got my first clue of what that past was like when I was given a tape of some labor union songs by my friend Jane Blume's husband, Phil. The songs "Joe Hill" and "Pie in the Sky" with lyrics like "don't mourn-- organize!"-- and "Work all day, live on hay, you'll get pie in the sky when you die-- now, that's a lie," opened my eyes to a past of workers who gave everything, their lives, their bodies to fight for better working conditions in this country. Things that we take for granted, the eight-hour day, the forty-hour work week, even weekends were fought for, not given by the powers that be.

This "American way" was fought for by immigrants, men and women, who faced off policemen with billy clubs, deportation and imprisonment and violent death. The Blumes didn't have to tell me any history, because it was all right there in the songs. That's why I recommend this Labor Day to take some time from hitting the sales, or the bbq and go out and buy this album, Fellow Workers featuring the storytelling and songs of the labor movement and sung by U. Utah Phillips and Ani DiFranco. I was fortunate to get to know and listen to the stories of U. Utah Phillips when I lived in Nevada City, California, where he lives. It was an amazing education about our history.

In a review by, reviewer Richard Marcus says:
They are the stories of the men and women who fought for the right to work only eight hours a day, for safe working conditions, and for the dignity of working men and women across the United States. From the textile mills of Laurence Maine to the lumber camps of Spokane Washington the strikes and personal stories are recounted with reverence and dignity.

He tells us of Mother Jones, who at 83 was named the most dangerous woman in America by Teddy Roosevelt. She spent her whole life agitating for a better life for the miners of Kentucky and all the other coal producing states. We hear how when the Governor of Colorado sent out the militia to disburse the miners she went out on her own to face them down and won.

We learn about the young women who were sold into near slavery in the textile mills of Laurence; girls shipped over from France and the low countries in Europe who could speak no English and who were wedded to the looms. How that during an awful strike they had to send their children away to homes as far off as New York to ensure that they would be fed. That during the walk to the train station they were attacked by the militia in an attempt to break their spirit.

We are told of the attempts to silence Union organizers in the logging camps out in Washington by passing ordinances prohibiting public speaking. And how in response the unions gathered all the workers and lined them up for blocks and each one would climb up a soap box and start to speak only to be arrested. The cost of feeding four thousand workers proved too great so they had to rescind the law.

Utah's story telling is magnificent, his enthusiasm for the subject matter combined with an imposing gift for narrative make this collection both entertainment and an education. At times the musical accompaniment is appropriate, during the occasional song for instance("Pie In The Sky" is a hilarious send up of "The Sweet Bye and Bye" and the version on this c.d. is particularly good) but I'd have preferred they had left Utah's stories to stand on their own.

Although, Loafer's Glory, his old radio show on KVMR, the local community radio station in Nevada City is no more-- it lost it's sponsorship, you can order copies of his tapes from his website.

Here is an excerpt from a recent interview with Unlikely 2.0 in 2005:
"GR: Anyone familiar with your work is aware of the wealth of knowledge you possesses about the history of this country. The stuff that isn't taught in any high school textbook. What compelled you to seek out this information, collect it, and share it with other people?
UP: The world that I inhabit, the one that I have created for myself, is built out of speakers and listeners. I'm more comfortable in that world. I learn more easily from sitting in front of somebody and asking them questions and listening to what their answers than I do from books. I respect books. I have many of them around me. But I keep them in their place. The people that I've sought out lived extraordinary lives that just can't be lived again. And most of my great teachers were born in the century before last. I met many of them when they were my age now, seventy. Those were the immigrant workers, the industrial workers. They were the people working down at the bottom, in the forest, in the mines, in the wheat harvest. Old Jack Miller, who ran the Citizen's Center up in Seattle, Washington, once said, 'When we started in the forest, we spoke two different languages, and most of us had never been to school, and we couldn't read or write. We lived in our emotions, and we were comfortable there. We made decisions in our lives for which there is no language. We made commitments to change, to struggle for which there are no words. But those commitments carried us through fifty or sixty years of struggle. You show me people who make the same commitments intellectually, and I don't know where they'll be next week.' And then he added to that hardest of all things, he said that, 'We, speaking all those languages, hardly speak to each other. Armed only with our degradation as human beings, we came together and changed the conditions of our labor and the conditions of our lives. You young people, with all you've got, why can't you do that?' Now, that's a very serious charge to lay at our feet."
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

In Navajo country, racism rides again

I was surprised to see this article as the lead piece on It was nice to see a Navajo face in a fairly white on-line publication. The story however was not so great. Apparently, in Farmington, the "Selma, Ala. of the Southwest" more hate crimes against Navajos are occuring.
This all started with a beating in Farmington in June. A 47-year-old Navajo man who was offered a ride by three white teenagers in Farmington was driven to the outskirts of town, beaten with a stick and punched and kicked. He said they used racial slurs as they pummeled him.

The beating reminded everyone of the 1970s, the heyday of "Injun rollin'," where white youths in the border towns beat up Navajos (usually sleeping alcoholics they could easily "roll" around) as a rite of passage. In April 1974, when three white Farmington youths tortured, mutilated and bludgeoned three Navajo men, tossing their burned and broken bodies into a canyon, the Navajo Nation organized weeks of peaceful protests in Farmington. When marchers were denied a permit the day after the murderers were sentenced to reform school, clashes with police led to dozens of arrests.

The June beating could hardly compare to the torture murders of years ago. But six days after the beating, a 21-year-old Navajo man was killed by a police officer responding to a call about a domestic dispute at a Wal-Mart parking lot. When Farmington police declared the shooting a justifiable homicide and the FBI declined to investigate -- the agency is now reconsidering its decision -- Navajo leaders announced they would set aside $300,000 for the man's family to file a wrongful death suit against Farmington, and for an investigation of border-town racism.

Whether or not things will change or not is unknown. Navajos are planning more peaceful protest led by Shiprock Chapter President Duane "Chili" Yazzie, who lost his right arm to racist violence. He picked up a white hitchhiker in 1978 who shot off his arm and then got only five years in prison for it.
Since the latest incidents, white leaders in Farmington, a plain little city (population 40,000) that is 63 percent white, 17 percent Native American and 17 percent Hispanic, have repeatedly denied that Navajos are singled out. They've also pointed out that the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, in a 2005 report examining Farmington 30 years after the torture murders, noted marked improvements in attitudes toward the Navajo.

But that report also concluded that major challenges remain. This summer's incidents are the latest in a long string of border-town attacks on Navajos since the infamous murders. To name a few, in 2001, a 16-year-old Navajo youth was murdered in Colorado by a Farmington man in what police called either a gay hate crime or an Indian hate crime, or both. In 2000, a 36-year-old Navajo woman, Betty Lee, was bludgeoned to death by two Farmington men who were also charged with killing a Navajo man. One of the suspects, Robert Fry (now on death row for Lee's murder), remains a suspect in at least three other brutal Navajo murders and has been implicated in the disappearance of a tribal man.

Navajos keep disappearing, tribal members say. The tribe does not have the numbers, but organizers of the peace walk are hoping relatives of the missing will come out so that they could be counted. Many people here believe that the missing must be victims of Indian rolling whose bodies are somewhere in the vast canyons of the desert, yet -- or never -- to be found.
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

Fire Thunder Running For President Again

Tom Giago, founder of Indian Country Today wrote a strong response to the present situation on the Pine Ridge Reservation where the tribal president was impeached for taking a stand against the state of South Dakota's new strigent anti-abortion law. He is himself an Oglala tribal member.
"Hopefully some candidates fed up with the hypocrisy and lethargy of the present tribal council will prevail and bring some semblance of order back to a once proud tribal council. At a time when the Lakota people of the Oglala Sioux Tribe needed, nay demanded, strong, honest and decent leadership, this council became so enamored of its own power that it threw out all of the rules of good conduct and sank into a mud puddle of indecision and a viciousness unseen since the 1970s.

By first suspending and then impeaching the first woman ever elected to serve as President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Cecilia Fire Thunder, and doing these dirty deeds while she was not even present or was never given the opportunity to face her accusers, this tribal council has brought great shame upon itself and tarnished those members of this same council that did not go along with its shameful acts of self-indulgence.

The list of presidential candidates includes a few members of this disgraced council apparently hoping to win the presidency in order to carry on their chicanery on a higher level. "
He goes on to note that Cecelia Fire Thunder, knowing that she will not get a fair hearing about the legality of the impeachment proceedings is concentrating her efforts on getting re-elected. It is a shame that she has not been allowed to represent the people who elected her as president due to the machinations of the council. "Shameful acts of self-indulgence?" I could think of stronger words . . .

And one wonders, if the democratically-elected leader of a nation could be so easily sidelined, how strong is the democratic process? I mean, Clinton endured impeachment proceedings, but they were not done behind his back and with no recourse through the courts. And his presidency was not put into deep freeze until the next election. The Republicans tried to subvert the electoral process, but failed. Now they focus on fixing the elections through tampering with Diabold electronic voting machines. Will Peters and his crew won't have to do that, since the Oglala tribal democratic system is heavily weighted in their favor. And the similarity of their tactics to that of the neoconservative Republicans is striking as they have received so much support from the religious right in their anti-abortion/pro-life stance.

The judicial committee is made up of council members who initiated impeachment proceedings against her. They have yet to appoint a tribal judge for her case and it seems, will not before the elections in November. There are only two judges on the Oglala reservation and one has already recused herself from the case. So, the appointment should be obvious, but has not been done. The conflict of interest of some of the judicial committee members calls into question the undue influence of the council on the tribal courts.

Now, acting tribal president and presidential candidate Alex White Plume, a traditionalist, has proposed a law that would forbid members of the tribe from running for president who do not speak their language. His take on the tug of war between the council and the president that landed him in the presidency is as follows:
I know. I came to a realization that we created all these problems by using the English language because that's the general rule of thumb; now we are trying to solve the problems using the same language, and it's not working. So my feelings have to use a different language to solve those problems, this is the only way this can happen.
Someone tell White Plume (someone fluent in Lakota) that corruption and the venality of politicians is the same in any language. So how will they enforce the rule? Not many fluent in Lakota anymore-- how to explain the disenfranchisement of such a large number of Oglala? There are about 18,000 Oglala, 3,000 self-identified as Lakota-speaking. In the entire hemisphere there are only 14,000 Lakota speakers (that's including Canada). In a previous post I noted that the latest census numbers for Sioux was 120,000 (not including Canada, but including Nakota and Dakota). In Pine Ridge, that leaves about 16 per cent of the population to rule the rest. Probably less than that since the number is self-reported and of various abilities. Who knows how many would pass a Lakota fluency test if required for the Presidency?

I'm all for learning the language. I've actually made more headway learning Nakota than Navajo, but the price the tribe would pay in a dearth of qualified candidates makes the trade-off unreasonable. Or is White Plume using a cultural issue that should unify the people to divide the electorate and eliminate the competition? If so, it is a politically clumsy move and solves nothing. Take for example the Navajo tribe, which has had president after president who speaks Navajo fluently. I have not seen one that seems uniquely gifted to deal with the issues at hand. If it were not for the political necessity to give speeches in Navajo (most of the elderly electorate does not speak English and they vote at very high rates), I don't know if it would be absolutely necessary. I mean it's preferable, but good leadership is a combination of many things. Mainly the ability to form coalitions, a working governmental structure, the power to negotiate relationships with foreign entities, economic policy planning, management of social services and education, planning and, of course, "the vision thing". If a Lakota speaker shows signs of being a particularly promising leader people will notice. It doesn't matter if non-Lakota speaking Oglala are running against her.

In a perfect world, all Oglala would speak Lakota, but today, here and now, I think the Oglala people need the very best leadership and need to spread the net as wide as they can to find those leaders. Even 18,000 is not a lot to choose from. And that may require considering some off reservation-raised, non-Lakota speaking Oglala. I mean, you can learn a language, but the qualities that make a great leader are nebulous and rare-- as history has shown us over and over again. I suppose a lot of Lakota male traditionalists cloaked in the superiority of their purity are probably choking on their tunspina, oh, I mean tunspila right now.

Anyway, the problem in Pine Ridge at hand is not language. Language is something we can agree upon. The problem is a crisis in ethics and civil rights. I think White Plume's analysis of the situation is frighteningly flawed. Strengthen the separation of powers and a recommitment to civil rights and law. These are the answers in any language.

In his article entitled "Where Have All the Leaders Gone?" Giago goes on to say,
Former Principle Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller, told Fire Thunder two weeks ago to forget trying to get a fair hearing from the present tribal council and judiciary, but instead to concentrate on her efforts to get re-elected. I agree. There is an old saying that is senseless to kick a dead horse and that is where Fire Thunder’s efforts to get re-instated now rest. With only two months left to campaign it will take all of her will power and persuasion to re-enforce minds and to clear her good name.

Every member of the tribe who cast ballots for the current members of the tribal council should re-examine the reasons they supported those candidates. They should be asking themselves the following question: What did those people now serving on the tribal council accomplish for them and their districts in the past two years? And more important, what did they accomplish for the good of the Oglala Sioux Tribe?

If this sounds like I am supporting any single candidate it is not intended that way. I am a strong believer in justice and the way this council used its power to defraud the legal president of the OST, Ms. Fire Thunder, draws my ire. She did nothing that was deserving of this harsh and unfair treatment. As I said in a previous column, she was punished for her thoughts instead of her deeds.

But if every member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe would take an open-minded look at the things she did accomplish while under siege, I think they would be sufficiently impressed to re-consider her position as president.
I agree!
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

Watada Speech

This is an excerpt from a speech given by Lt. Watada at the Veterans For Peace National Convention last month. Watada is facing a court martial for refusing to serve in Iraq and for speaking out politically. Yes, you can face court martial for making political statements-- he is facing five counts on that alone. As he gave this speech 50 members of Iraq Veterans Against the War stood behind him giving their support.
"Though the American soldier wants to do right, the illegitimacy of the occupation itself, the policies of this administration, and rules of engagement of desperate field commanders will ultimately force them to be party to war crimes. They must know some of these facts, if not all, in order to act.

Mark Twain once remarked, 'Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country.' By this, each and every American soldier, marine, airman, and sailor is responsible for their choices and their actions. The freedom to choose is only one that we can deny ourselves.

The oath we take swears allegiance not to one man but to a document of principles and laws designed to protect the people. Enlisting in the military does not relinquish one's right to seek the truth - neither does it excuse one from rational thought nor the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. 'I was only following orders' is never an excuse.

The Nuremburg Trials showed America and the world that citizenry as well as soldiers have the unrelinquishable obligation to refuse complicity in war crimes perpetrated by their government. Widespread torture and inhumane treatment of detainees is a war crime. A war of aggression born through an unofficial policy of prevention is a crime against the peace. An occupation violating the very essence of international humanitarian law and sovereignty is a crime against humanity. These crimes are funded by our tax dollars.

Should citizens choose to remain silent through self-imposed ignorance or choice, it makes them as culpable as the soldier in these crimes. The Constitution is no mere document - neither is it old, out-dated, or irrelevant. It is the embodiment of all that Americans hold dear: truth, justice, and equality for all. It is the formula for a government of the people and by the people. It is a government that is transparent and accountable to whom they serve. It dictates a system of checks and balances and separation of powers to prevent the evil that is tyranny."
To read the rest of his speech check out the article. He also notes the Catch-22 situation defined by the modern army's strict military obedience:
The American soldier is not a mercenary. He or she does not simply fight wars for payment. Indeed, the state of the American soldier is worse than that of a mercenary. For a soldier-for-hire can walk away if they are disgusted by their employer's actions. Instead, especially when it comes to war, American soldiers become indentured servants whether they volunteer out of patriotism or are drafted through economic desperation. Does it matter what the soldier believes is morally right? If this is a war of necessity, why force men and women to fight? When it comes to a war of ideology, the lines between right and wrong are blurred. How tragic it is when the term Catch-22 defines the modern American military.
I had quoted my ancestor Chief White Swan in a previous post who had noted that the servitude of the soldier is very different from the freedom to choose that a warrior in our tribe had. He gave a speech to a General (whom he called a "monster") saying that our warriors could leave the field of battle if they chose and others would say, "Maybe he will be braver next time." If a U.S. soldier fled his superiors would have him shot. Meanwhile, the officers sat on the fastest horses on a hill, watching the battle through a spyglass. He was basically describing a form of servitude that was alien and in his mind, wrong. How can one be a warrior if one is in the end, a soldier? There is in American society the desire to limit choice, to enforce loyalties and to impose strict hierarchies that is very feudal in nature. I call it a "serf mentality". Hard to shake, that.

If you would like to support Lt. Watada, please check out the website:
Thank You Lt. Ehren Watada

He needs all the support you can give. Even Sen. Inouye, a long-time supporter of Native issues, has recommended that Watada be court-martialed. Watada's father will be touring Oregon raising support for his son and money for his defense. Here are his speaking dates:

Eugene, Oregon - Tuesday, August 29, Noon - Rally at the Federal Building, 7th and Pearl Streets.
Eugene, Oregon - Tuesday, August 29, 7PM - Event at First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive Street.
Salem, Oregon - Wednesday, August 30 - Meet Bob at the Lt. Watada/peace both at the Oregon State Fair (near the enterance).
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

Jimmy Carter Calls Out Blair

I saw this article this weekend in the British press. Carter takes Blair to task.
"I have been surprised and extremely disappointed by Tony Blair's behaviour," he told The Sunday Telegraph.

"I think that more than any other person in the world the Prime Minister could have had a moderating influence on Washington - and he has not. I really thought that Tony Blair, who I know personally to some degree, would be a constraint on President Bush's policies towards Iraq."
He's probably right about that. I've never understood the Labor Party leader's (sort of the British version of the Dems) standing by Bush all these years. To the point of being labeled "Bush's poodle" in the press. The only way I can understand his support of Bush's illegal pre-emptive war on Iraq is that the United Kingdom has had a long time interest in the area, since before WW1. I mean, remember Lawrence of Arabia? They've been wanting that oil for a good, long time and probably don't want to lose out now to the Yanks. They gambled their empire on their Mid-East policy and well, lost their empire. So, now that the area is up for grabs again and they want a piece of it. I'm sure Blaire's financial backers made that perfectly clear to him.
At 81, Mr Carter - the 39th American president, from 1977 to 1981, and the winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize - plainly has no intention of sitting on his porch and nodding quietly away as the sun goes down over his peanut farm. He has just published a book, Faith and Freedom, in which he savages the American administration for leading the country into insularity and intolerance.

"We've never before had an administration that would endorse pre-emptive war - that is a basic policy of going to war against another country even though our own security was not directly threatened," he said. In his book, President Carter writes: "I have been sorely tempted to launch a military attack on foreigners."

But had he still been president, he says that he would never have considered invading Iraq in 2003.

"No," he said, "I would never have ordered it. However, I wouldn't have excluded going into Afghanistan, because I think we had to strike at al-Qaeda and its leadership. But then, to a major degree, we abandoned the anti-terrorist effort and went almost unilaterally with Great Britain into Iraq."

This, Mr Carter believes, subverted the effectiveness of anti-terrorist efforts. Far from achieving peace and stability, the result has been a disaster on all fronts. "My own personal opinion is that the Iraqi people are not better off as a result of the invasion and people in America and Great Britain are not safer."
I'm glad he's speaking up. I wonder what the fallout will be? The right-wing seem to think they have so discredited Carter as a person that there will be none. Carter may be Christian, Southern, white, and well-heeled Greatest Generationite, but he does not speak to their base and that is the only way they would view him as a threat. Hopefully, he represents a large segment of the Christian moderates who are finally getting outraged enough by the excesses of the religious right to get organized to reclaim their religion and our political system from the neoconservative agenda. Remember what a big help they were and what a force of positive change when they joined the Civil Rights movement. Even for the American Indian Movement, it was the National Council of Churches that helped pay the legal fees of many AIM leaders. Now, religious right groups fund Lakota traditionalists to pass anti-abortion laws and remove female leaders from power.
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

War Widow To Bush: "You're Here To Serve The People. And The People Are Not Being Served With This War."

I just saw this at TPMCafe by Greg Sargent:
I just got off the phone with Hildi Halley, a woman from Maine whose husband is a fallen soldier. Yesterday President Bush met with her privately, and news of their meeting was reported in a local Maine paper, the Kennebec Journal. The paper shared few details of the meeting, saying simply that Halley objected to Bush's policies and that she said Bush responded that there was no point in them having a 'philosophical discussion about the pros and cons of the war.'

But Halley has just given me a much more detailed account of her meeting with Bush. She told me that she went much farther in her criticism of the President, telling him directly that he was 'responsible' for the deaths of American soldiers and that as a 'Christian man,' he should recognize that he's 'made a mistake' and that it was his 'responsibility to end this.' She recounted to me that she was 'very direct,' telling Bush: 'As President, you're here to serve the people. And the people are not being served with this war.'

Sargent goes on to say that she was actually sitting knee to knee with Bush and he actually cried with her and appeared moved. Although Halley says, "I feel he responded to me emotionally. I don't know if that's going to change policy."
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

The Top 10 Corporate Democrats-For-Hire

AlterNet has this article by Russ Baker who founded the The Real News Project. A great website I highly recommend checking it out. It is a "non-profit, noncommercial investigative reporting outfit." He gives a great take on the Lieberman loss, one that the press has ignored:
The media like a simple story line -- and Joe Lieberman's defeat in the Connecticut Senate primary fits the bill: Pro-war senator goes down. Anti-war progressives ascendant, Republicans gleeful, and so forth. But Lieberman is more than an ally in the Bush administration's dissembling on Iraq. He is yet another example of someone who came to Washington as a purported idealist and turned into a creature of the capital's big-money culture. Lieberman's loss is a loss for Cheney and Rumsfeld to be sure, but it's also a loss for an army of sleazy political operatives and consultants.

While Lieberman is best known outside of Washington for his neocon views, he's famous in the capital for his undying support for corporate causes. There are countless examples: Remember Lieberman's role in blocking the reforms of stock option accounting that former SEC chair Arthur Levitt was trying to enact? This was a question of honest accounting that became part and parcel of the corporate corruption scandals of recent years, and Lieberman was a champion of the wrong side.

Beyond that, Lieberman happily has done the bidding of the pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies and many others, thus establishing an unsavory underside to his more admirable record on environmental and other issues. And of course, his support of and continued rationalization of the Iraq invasion, like many of Lieberman's other stances, has served chiefly to benefit large corporations, in this case the "national security/homeland defense" industry that got a huge boost from Bush's reckless military adventurism. It's no great surprise to learn that Karl Rove called Lieberman the other day after his loss, and described him as a "friend."

Lieberman and his defenders have tried to portray his brand of politics as "centrism." But it has little to do with mainstream voters and much to do with the money culture of Washington of which many Democrats have become a part. And yet, Ralph Nader is wrong in his blanket condemnations of Democrats: You still are more likely to find someone willing to stand up to the big money boys among Democrats than Republicans. But the gap is narrowing. Voters sense it.

There is more at the website. It's a sad picture, but knowledge is power. It is why the Democratic Party never seems to take a stand and never live up to its obligations as the "loyal opposition".
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

Lovejoy picks Phelps; VP candidates introduced

In the Gallup Independent they reported that Lynda Lovejoy, the first Navajo woman to run for the Presidency has picked her running mate, Walter Phelps, a member of Congressman Rick Renzi's staff. The congressman's district in Arizona has the largest number of Native American voters of any district in the country. Renzi has shown a desire to work with tribes by opening Congressional offices in the capitals of the Navajo Nation, White Moutain Apache, and San Carlos Apache Reservations. A first for a Congressman from this district.

I checked out Lovejoy's website. It's pretty simple. Can anyone out there help her develop a better one? She deserves something more than this!
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

Ann Beeson Salute!

I've been meaning to comment on the ACLU v. NSA ruling. It was great to wakeup in the morning and read The Oregonian above the fold print the words in large print:
". . . There are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not granted by the Constitution."

Now Truthdig has chosen to honor Ann Beeson the lead attorney in the case as Truthdigger of the Week saying:
Truthdig salutes Ann Beeson, the American Civil Liberties Union officer and lead attorney for the plaintiffs in ACLU v. NSA, the case that persuaded a Detroit judge to order a halt to the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program.

By holding that even the president is not above the law, the court has done its duty under our Constitution to serve as a check on executive power, Beeson said after the victory. Throwing out the Constitution will not make Americans any safer.

Of course, I love quoting from the ruling.
The President of the United States, a creature of the same Constitution which gave us these Amendments, has undisputably violated the Fourth, in failing to procure judicial orders as required by FISA, and accordingly has violated the First Amendment Rights of the plaintiffs as well.

A creature of the Constitution? A creature, certainly, but of the Constitution? I wish! Federal District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor also wrote:
It was never the intent of the Framers to give the President such unfettered control, particularly where his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights. The three separate branches of government were developed as a check and balance for one another.

Wow, activist judges again! She's a revolutionary isn't she? Definitely on the side of the revolution. The American revolution agains the King. King George.
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

New Orleans Women Struggling to Get By

Once again, yet another study, The Women of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast published by the Institute for Women's Policy Research has found that poor women have benefited the least from the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans and few have returned because they cannot afford to return (housing costs have risen) and jobs for women are fewer (women now account for 10% less of the workforce than before the hurricane) and use of foodstamps has quadrupled.

As noted in Salon's Broadsheet:
A favorite approach of some cultural anthropologists is to look at the women of a given society as a gauge of its overall well-being. By that approach, post-Katrina New Orleans is floundering. No surprise there: We're all familiar with the criticism leveled at the government for the city’s still lingering disaster. But the Times-Picayune reports that, according to a study released Friday, the women-as-indicator approach paints an even grimmer image than we're used to.

Even for women in the highest paying jobs, the inequality grows, it doesn't lessen. With women earning between $30,000-$63,000 and men earning between $38,700-$130,000. The answer is, of course, always the same:
The answer, you ask? Jones-DeWeever pointed to the need to encourage women to return by offering "better opportunities for good jobs along with child care and schools for their children." Also, the report "calls on federal, state and local officials to step up their efforts to provide housing for the working poor and offer women a bigger role in the planning and rebuilding process," according to the Times-Picayune.

Always, it's child care, education, housing, and (not mentioned, but always in the background) healthcare. When is the United States going to join the rest of the "Developed World" in providing these basic services? Aren't we supposed to be "the best"?

If you want to do something for the women of New Orleans here is one group that is pushing for more Federal funding for relief and rebuilding projects that will help women, Women of the Storm.
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

Census Bureau update says 2.4 million Indians

Part of the recent 10% growth per year of Native Americans in the United States, my two little ones. Their tribe? The Nava-Sioux-Mohawkian-Seneca-Tuscarora-Cayuga one.

At the article Census Bureau update provides look at Indian Country caught my eye. It says there are 2.4 million Indian people counted. 4.2 million if you count mixed-race Native Americans, although, why are we (I am 13/16th's American Indian) counted separately? Or are you only counted separately if you mark two boxes? Being 3/16th's European ancestry means I generally don't do that, but what the heck? It says that the four largest tribal affiliations named were: Cherokee (310,000), Navajo (294,000), and Sioux (120,000), and Ojibwe (115,00). I had no idea there were so many Ojibwe. I know a lot of Navajos get mad that they have lost their place as "the largest tribe" to the recent increase in Cherokee Nation enrollments. Many Americans have been tracing their lineage and taking greater pride in their Indian ancestry (it's no longer the skeleton in the closet). Consequently, enrollment in most of the Five Civilized Tribes does not require blood quantums which is enlightened for this day and age we live in. I think all tribes should do that. We're not prized poodles now are we? We're people. We mix. Although, Navajos still have far and away the most tribal members who speak their own language (nearly half of all Native language speakers are Navajo) as a first language. But let's hope someday we can all have that again. Even me. My Navajo is a source of constant humor to my relatives.

Navajo numbers may also be diminished by Navajo unwillingness to be counted. My friend Rob Nez, who worked as a Census worker on the rez was greeted by a shotgun when he tried to count some homes out in the middle of nowhere. So, he just guessed how many people were there. But still, being Navajo and Sioux, I have to say that's a lot of relatives! Perhaps, not as many as my husband's Kelly clan from County Claire, Ireland, but close! The Kelly's, now that's one big tribe!
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

HR 676, The National Health Insurance Act-- Call your Representative!

I've been following a group called Moms Rising founded by Joan Blades, co-founder of and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner author of the book, The F Word: Feminism in Jeopardy, since I first heard about them a few months ago. They have centered their efforts on a concise, yet comprehensive 6-point platform M.O.T.H.E.R.--
Maternity/Paternity Leave,
Open Flexible Work,
TV We Choose and Other After School Programs,
Healthcare for All Kids, Excellent Childcare,
and Realistic and Fair Wages.

Here's an email I got from them this morning:
Dear MomsRising Member -

For the past couple of weeks we've been e-mailing you about the current state of healthcare in America. Now we're highlighting a specific bill in Congress, The National Health Insurance Act, which is a single-payer national health plan. This bill needs the support of citizens like you in order to gain momentum.

Frankly, real healthcare solutions have been in gridlock for far too long. This bill, for example, was first introduced in 2003, and while it has 75 co-sponsors, there is not nearly enough momentum yet for passage.

TAKE ACTION NOW: Let your U.S. Representative know you support HR 676, The National Health Insurance Act--and that it's time for a real healthcare solution, not just another band-aid fix. Congressional leaders have to be able to overcome the demands of the powerful insurance and pharmaceutical industries, and to do this they must know citizens stand behind them.

HOW TO CALL: To contact your U.S. Representative, just call the main U.S. Congress switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be transferred to the appropriate office. If you're not sure who's representing you now, go to: to find out.

*Want to know if your Representative is signed on to the bill as a co-sponsor? Go to: If your leader has signed on, then please thank them and let them know you'll be behind them all the way. If your leader hasn't yet signed on, then let them know universal healthcare coverage is a priority for you and your family.

TALKING POINTS: You can tell your U.S. Representative-

1. I support HR 676, The National Health Insurance Act, a single-payer national health plan. This Act provides full coverage for every American for ALL medically necessary services: doctor, hospital, long-term care, mental health, dental, vision, prescription drugs and medical supplies. With passage of this Act there wouldn't be anymore insurance premiums, deductibles, or co-pays.

2- The United States spends more on healthcare per person than any other nation in the world, yet ranks in at a low 37th of all nations in childhood mortality of children to age five. We aren't getting much for the money we spend. It's time for a change.

3- It's unconscionable that 46 million Americans are without health coverage, and many are dying from treatable diseases.

4- Many businesses are relocating to Canada or other countries with universal coverage to avoid the high costs of healthcare here.

ABOUT THE LEGISLATION: This plan provides full coverage for all medically necessary services, and also gives everyone full choice of doctor and hospital because it isn't managed by the insurance companies. This single-payer national health insurance plan would recover the one-third of our health care dollars currently wasted on the paperwork generated by our private insurance system, and save money currently spent on high executive salaries. A single-payer national health insurance program, such as the one outlined in HR 676, puts the coverage and control back in the hands of citizens.

Let's get to work and fix our failing healthcare system. And, please tell your friends about MomsRising, so they too can join us supporting action on these issues.

Best - The MomsRising Team

p.s. Read a recent San Diego Union-Tribune Op-Ed piece about the single-payer health care system: .

p.p.s. HR 676 is adapted from a plan written by doctors from the group Physicians for a National Health Program. For more information on a single-payer plan, or to request a speaker for your group, visit or e-mail

Definitely check out the Physicians for a National Health Program website. They have great articles like, Disputing the Myth that Canada's Healthcare is 'Communism' and Paying for National Health Insurance-- and Not Getting It: Taxes pay for a larger share of U.S. health care than most Americans think they do. Read, read, read!

Getting back to the Moms Rising site, they have great excerpts from Blades and Rowe-Finkbeiner's book The Motherhood Manifesto: What America's Moms Want and What to Do about It. Here's a pertinent chapter on Health care:
Chapter 5: Healthcare for All Kids

The family—fully insured, with Sharon’s husband basically working the equivalent of two full-time jobs--was losing the battle of the medical bills. “When Zach was diagnosed with a primary immune deficiency we knew it wasn’t going to end,” Sharon recalls. “We already had re-mortgaged our house to pay for medical bills—so when we found out how much the new treatment was going to cost we knew we couldn’t pay our higher mortgage payment, the cost of his medicines, and other costs every month.” That was the breaking point.

Sharon and Arnold finally waved the white flag of surrender when it became clear that there simply weren’t enough hours in the workweek to keep up with the constant incoming flow of bills. They made an appointment with an attorney to declare bankruptcy.

“The attorney cried when we told him what had been happening with us. My husband really needed that because when we went there it was just breaking him. His theory was that he could just keep working more,” recalls Sharon. But there weren’t any more hours in the week left to work.

Medical issues are a leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States. A February 2005 study published in the journal Health Affairs, authored by a well-respected team of experts that includes several Harvard University professors, found that families like Sharon’s are part of a growing trend of medical bankruptcies. In fact, half of all bankruptcy filings in 2001 were related to medical issues.

And medical related bankruptcies are skyrocketing. There’s been a twenty-threefold (2,300 percent) increase in medical related bankruptcy filings between 1981, when only 8 percent of bankruptcies were medical related, and 2001. And, it turns out, these medical related bankruptcies look a lot like what Sharon’s family experienced—most of those who went bankrupt had health insurance (a full 76 percent had insurance when their illness started), and those filing for bankruptcy are “predominantly in the middle or working classes.”

“Our study is frightening. Unless you’re Bill Gates, you’re just one serious illness away from bankruptcy,” notes Dr. David Himmelstein, the lead author of the study and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard in a Harvard Medical School Office of Public Affairs press release. “Most of the medically bankrupt were average Americans who happened to get sick.

Health insurance offered little protection. Families with coverage faced unaffordable co-payments, deductibles, and bills for uncovered items like physical therapy, psychiatric care, and prescription drugs. And even the best job-based health insurance often vanished when prolonged illness caused job loss precisely when families needed it most. Too often, private health insurance is an umbrella that melts in the rain.”

And to further beat the drums for single payer health insurance and how important it is to American families, I saw Morgan Spurlock and his fiance Alex on Oprah in a segment of his FX channel show, 30 days called Minimum Wage: Working Poor for 30 Days. If you haven't heard about his show, he's the filmmaker of Super Size Me Fame, and he continues the themes of that film by taking on the lives of others in society (mostly poor) for 30 days. They showed how even working long hours at minimum wage provided no security if medical expenses wiped out all their gains. Since, they didn't have healthcare for the month, the couple had to seek treatment in the Emergency Room and quickly found themselves in a mountain of debt.
Living without medical insurance is like "living right on the edge of a knife every single day," Morgan says. As they found out, it can lead to financial ruin overnight.

Morgan says manual labor had aggravated a wrist injury, but he couldn't afford a doctor's visit. When he tried to visit a free clinic, he was told there weren't enough doctors to see him that day.

The free clinic was not even an option when Alex woke up in the middle of the night with a urinary tract infection. They went to the emergency room and to a 24-hour pharmacy to fill Alex's prescription. Later that day, the pain in Morgan's wrist forced him to go to the emergency room as well.

The bills from the emergency room were enough to significantly harm their budget. "We went to the hospital to get Alex's bill. Just for walking into the emergency room it was $300," Morgan said. "My bill? Just to walk in the door, $551. It's incredible."

So, let's support Congressman Conyer's bill, H.R. 676
The United States National Health Insurance Act
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

6 Native Nations, and None Have a Word for 'Suburbia'

I found this article in the paper of record, the New York Times as my children-- the great-grandchildren of the last traditionally-elected chief of the Six Nations Mohawk Bear Clan, sipped their iced, whipped creme-topped chocolate milks at Starbucks. All this in the middle of a carefully constructed "New Urbanist" environment where we live, called Orenco Station, recently chosen as Best New Burb in the country by Sunset Magazine.
CALEDONIA, Ontario, Aug. 10 — Blame it on the American Revolution.

The Six Nations Reserve is located in southern Ontario.

At the time, six Indian tribes that had lived for centuries in what is now upstate New York sided with the British Crown, lost and were forced from their lands. For their troubles, however, Britain granted them a paradise rich in moose and deer, across the new border, in southern Ontario.

Today the game are largely gone. The wilderness has been transformed into suburban sprawl. The once pristine lands of the so-called Six Nations Reserve have been whittled away.

This year, one more housing development on the edge of town was one too many, and the Native Canadians decided to make a stand.

Since February, hundreds have blockaded roads, set bonfires, confronted the police with bags of rocks and lacrosse sticks, cut the maple leaf out of a Canadian flag and refused to obey court orders to vacate. During the height of tensions, a van was driven into a power station and set on fire, leaving residents in the dark for days.

Since February, hundreds have blockaded roads, set bonfires, confronted the police with bags of rocks and lacrosse sticks, cut the maple leaf out of a Canadian flag and refused to obey court orders to vacate. During the height of tensions, a van was driven into a power station and set on fire, leaving residents in the dark for days.

And it's true. I was shocked when I went to the reserve for my husband's grandmother's funeral. Just down the road was a suburban bedroom community. Even as we slept at The Bear's Inn, a lovely place run by my husband's cousins on the farm of his great-grandparents, down the road the bucolic lifestyle ended. I didn't really realize what this meant at the time.
“We had a tremendous amount of housing growth in recent years,” Mr. Clark said. “But that’s come to a complete stop. That occupation is creating a lot of economic hardships in Caledonia.”

The police conducted a raid on the protesters in April, but they retreated when waves of Native Canadians arrived to reinforce the occupation.

“They really did us a favor,” Mrs. Hill said of the raid. “That’s when internal politics were put aside and everyone came together.”

The occupied land covers 100 acres among tens of thousands taken over by the government from the Native Canadians in the 19th century after a disagreement that lasted decades over whether the Native Canadians had the right to sell their land to British settlers.

The Native Canadians filed a lawsuit over the land in 1995, on behalf of the Six Nations: the Mohawk, Onondaga, Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida and Tuscarora. But, tired of waiting while housing developments encroached on the land, they took matters into their own hands.

A younger generation of Native Canadians has led a resurgence of indigenous culture across the country. Unlike many of their parents and grandparents, these Native Canadians did not attend residential schools, where Native Canadian students were often hit with a strap for speaking their own languages. Entire generations of culture were submerged.

The revival has not only restored pride; it has also opened old wounds over how the British and, later, Canadian governments negotiated land deals with chiefs.

In one such deal, chiefs had signed a document that the British interpreted as surrendering the land where Toronto now sits, but it was later disclosed that the chiefs had signed a blank piece of paper.

The raid, here, this is of course, "all the news that's fit to print" is rather euphemistically described here. To get a fuller account, of course, you must read the Indigenous Press (in this case, Indian Country Today).
OHSWEKEN, Ontario - More than 1,000 residents of Canada's Six Nations Reserve rushed to the site of a standoff between Native protesters and the Ontario Provincial Police during the early hours of April 20 after an armed police raid resulted in 10 arrests and several hospitalizations.

According to one report, two of the hospitalized were non-Native supporters of the protest. About 15 protesters were sleeping at the ''reclamation site'' when a caravan of at least eight police vehicles raided and made arrests.

According to the TV report, police were armed with drawn guns, Taser devices and tear gas, although the weapons were not used.

Protesters at the contested construction site regrouped and pushed police back to the nearby road as the call went out for support from the largely Iroquois community, Amos Key, director of the community radio station CKRZ-FM, said. The Native-run station is broadcasting a live feed from the standoff on its Internet site,

Key said that urgent talks were now under way between the Confederation chiefs and officials of the provincial and federal governments.

Lisa Johnson, of the Bear's Inn in Ohsweken, was following live television coverage of the events all morning and said that residents of the reserve poured into the site as news of the early morning raid spread through the community of 22,000 and by 7:50 a.m. had gathered in sufficient numbers to force the police to leave. As of noon, no police were on the site, although talk spread throughout the community that they were regrouping in riot gear with about 1,000 reinforcements.

The arrests could total up to 15, but protesters who had been arrested were released after being fingerprinted and photographed, although they were warned that they faced jail time if they returned to the site. Several had reportedly rejoined the protesters.

The television coverage resulted by accident. An employee of Hamilton CHTV, noticed the police activity as he drove to work and notified a camera crew, which broadcast from the site all morning. All other reporters were barred from the site by provincial police.

And I thought Canada was such a sweet, mild place. Let's Keep Canada Tidy! I remember the sign saying when we crossed over the border as a child. Maybe, not so quaint after all.
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

Gates Breaks Ranks with Attack on US AIDS Policy

I just read this great article at Common Yay! Bill and Melinda rule! Beyond the fact that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has single handedly (to the shame of the United States government) been funding much needed health programs in Africa, they have finally said what needs to be said:
The so-called ABC programme - abstain, be faithful and use a condom - has saved many lives, Mr Gates told the conference of more than 20,000 delegates. But he said that for many at the highest risk of infection, ABC had its limits. "Abstinence is often not an option for poor women and girls who have no choice but to marry at an early age. Being faithful will not protect a woman whose partner is not faithful. And using condoms is not a decision that a woman can make by herself; it depends on a man.

"We need to put the power to prevent HIV in the hands of women. This is true whether the woman is a faithful married mother of small children or a sex worker trying to scrape out a living in a slum. No matter where she lives or what she does, a woman should never need her partner's permission to save her own life."

The Gates Foundation is funding research into microbicides - gels or barrier creams that a woman can use before sex and that could destroy the virus.

Although, I admit to being a Mac user I really admire the Gates Foundation and their work and dedication. Who knows how many lives their foundation has saved while everyone else seems willing to look the other way while Africa falls apart? Bill Gates was my mentor in high school (yet, another mentor!) and it still impresses me to this day that in the midst of taking his company public he still took the time to meet with us high school students attending the Governor's School for Citizen Leadership in Seattle in 1986. He's one great guy. I won't comment on Windows, but as a human being, I admire him greatly.
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

First Navajo Woman Lynda Lovejoy to run for President

I saw this article, "Lovejoy to vie for presidency in Navajo's November elections" in Indian Country Today and it made my day! No, my week! I was just talking about her to a friend yesterday. I didn't know she was running in the primaries for Navajo President, but I knew her when I was lobbying for Navajo communities at the New Mexico state legislature in Sante Fe in 1996. She mentored me and helped me along and her office was my homebase while I was there. The other male Navajo state senators didn't give me the time of day-- and I was lobbying to pass a bill to bring electricity to a Navajo community! She is an amazing woman, a great example to younger women and truly cares about the people. She will make a great Navajo president! Hooray! President Lovejoy!
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

Millennium Ark: Hot News

Well, I thought that Indians didn't have "end of the world" scenarios, but I guess, I was wrong. I had posted earlier that Native peoples did not have the apocalyptic gene that pervades so many oppressed peoples, but I was wrong. This prophecy of destruction was made by Sidney Has No Horses, a grandson of the Chief Frank Fools Crow, who was the subject of the book by Thomas E. Mails Fools Crow.
SIDNEY HAS NO HORSES: Mitakuye Oyasin. All my relatives. I'd like to get in the middle if I could, I really don't like to use the mic. My name is Sidney Has No Horses. I'm from the Pine Ridge Reservation. You probably know my father, his name was Dawson Has No Horses. He was a yuwipi man, a powerful medicine man. My grandfather's name is Frank Fools Crow. He was also a powerful medicine man. Six months ago, we had a ceremony, in this ceremony, two angels came to me and they talked to me and they told us of the devastation that would happen to the islands and the Indian Ocean.

They told us of the earthquakes that would hit Japan. They told us of the earthquakes that will hit South American and the they also told us of the Tsunami that wiped out all the people and they told us of the hurricanes that came to Florida, the one that came to New Orleans and the one that went to Texas.

There's one more hurricane coming to wipe out another city. Two weeks ago, we has a ceremony, Sitting Bull came in and he talked to me; Crazy Horse, he talked to me; Chief Big Foot talked to me and they asked me to go to the Seven Council Fires and to the Council People and to warn all of these Fires, within six months. There's going to be a tidal wave that's going to wipe out Los Angeles. Within six months, there 's going to be an eruption in the northwest with the volcanoes. Two eruptions within six months. They say from the eruptions of theses volcanoes, the ash is coming, the Missouri River will be destroyed. They say the water that we drink from the ground is going to be no longer drinkable.

These hardships are coming because God is bringing this. Whether you believe in Christianity, Native American Church or the traditional way, if you read the Bible, we are going into the fourth seal. There's diseases coming that are going to wipe out our children and like this man said here, meth -methamphetamine on our rez is very bad too. If we don't stop that, it's going to destroy the next generation. Many vegetables are going to be born into our tribes. When I'm done here, I am going to Standing Rock and I am going to stand in front of them, their council and tell them the same thing I am telling you now.

This winter is going to be very cold for a long time. Ranchers are going to lose their horses and cows because it is not going to warm up. The price of propane is going to skyrocket and sometimes they are not going to be able to deliver the propane to our families. This food issue in the Bible, it says one day there will be no food in the store's shelves. If you look at the hurricane, a lot of the stores, there's no food on the shelves. These people lost their homes. They can't drink the water and so I come because of the mighty chiefs that talked to me and because of who I am. They tell me, I need to warn the tribes.

Well, this prophecy is dated October 17, 2005. Six months later would have been April of this year-- four months ago. Did the people repent? Were our holy men successful in turning aside this tragedy with some personal sacrifice? Who knows. I can only say what kind of God destroys the innocent? To save us from the meth addicts? Have to destroy the village to save it? I had thought we were different. Perhaps, I am wrong yet again. Feeding and living off the thrill of total annihilation. Imbuing everyday life with the excitement of complete change that would lift us from the drudgery of our every day lives and every day problems. Problems that are intractable as they always were whether in the days of Roman occupation in Jerusalem or today on the plains of South Dakota. This is not what I want. I want real change, real solutions to real problems and real leadership on the things that matter to the people today, now. Not just post apocalypse.
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

Right Wing Continues Attacks on Fire Thunder

Here is a post from the blog of anti-abortion right wing nut Jill Stanek. It is from April, but the right wing have continued their assault on President Fire Thunder's character unabated. Even as most progessive blogs have forgotten the issue entirely. Wonder why they are winning?
"In my previous column, I wrote about Oglala Sioux President Cecilia Fire Thunder, who has threatened to open an abortion clinic on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation if the new state abortion ban is enacted.

It turns out Fire Thunder is a former abortion clinic worker, something she omitted from her resume until two weeks ago.

Before then, Fire Thunder described that time of her career as 'healthcare giver' intriguing terminology, since she helped kill at least half her patients.

Now it all makes sense. I am reminded of the proverb: 'As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.'"

She entitles her blog entry "More on leader planning tribal genocide". This from the right wing. I have yet to find any online commentary by Indigenous women's rights groups on the impeachment of a tribal president for supporting women's rights at all. Where are my sisters?
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

Ex-president Fire Thunder on the offensive

Indian Country Today published an article. Ex-president Fire Thunder on the offensive by David Melmer about the corruption in tribal government on the Oglala reservation.
A tribal court hearing was scheduled to hear Fire Thunder's complaint against the tribal council, and then canceled when Chief Tribal Judge Lisa Adams recused herself and ordered that a new judge be appointed and a new hearing date set. No date has been set as of press time.

At a July 28 press conference, Fire Thunder - the day her canceled hearing was to be held - said Adams was pressured to recuse herself under threats of job security. She had not spoken with witnesses that said any threats occurred, but said she could find some.

''We know that goes on; it is a common practice to influence a judge,'' she said. The alleged threats would have come from the tribal council or judiciary committee. The tribal council appoints all tribal judges.

Alex White Plume, Oglala Lakota president, the former vice president, said he was not aware that any decisions had been made to appoint a hearing judge or a new hearing date for Fire Thunder.

The complaint filed by Fire Thunder is against the tribal council - the body that impeached her and the same body that will appoint a new judge and hearing date. Fire Thunder said she believed the council will try to drag the issue out so a hearing may not be held before the elections in November.

Fire Thunder said she filed an order with the Tribal Supreme Court to expedite the situation and appeal to regain her position.

''I encourage the people to ask how this has gotten so out of hand. This is now about the separation of powers,'' Fire Thunder said.

''I am asking the people to ask for a separation of powers. The council interferes with the court. We must ask for accountability,'' she said.

Fire Thunder said the disarray within the government has affected outside interests that may have been negotiating on business investments on the reservation. A reliable source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that negotiations for a business in the million-dollar range were halted after the shake-up with tribal government.

Fire Thunder's mission is to hold the tribal council accountable for not abiding by the tribal constitution and bylaws. She said her rights were violated from the very beginning of the process. A motion to impeach made at a regular meeting was out of order because a complaint must be filed first; the complaint was filed after the motion was approved, she argues. She claims the motion should not have been accepted by then-Vice President Alex White Plume.

She did not receive documented evidence against her until the day of her impeachment hearing, June 29, she insists. Fire Thunder and her attorneys also maintain that a two-thirds majority of the entire council is required to impeach a sitting president and not a two-thirds majority of those present, as happened.

Three council members were absent and one was not recognized by the tribal secretary at the time of the vote. The two council members who brought the complaint forward participated in the negotiation process and al
so voted, which Fire Thunder said was ''a violation of tribal law.''

''They violated the tribal constitution, they violated my rights; do they know what they are doing?''
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

Traumatised and Afraid - 300,000 Children Who Want to Go Home

"I don't want to die. I want to go to school," says Jamal, a four-year-old Lebanese boy scarred by the Israeli bombing of his country. Home for Jamal is now a "displacement centre" in the southern town of Jezzine, where his family fled in fear for their lives.

"We've had our picnic, and we want to go home now," says another child,staying in a makeshift refugee camp in the Sanayeh public gardens in Beirut. "We are bored and afraid and we want to go home," says another.

These are the voices of the dispossessed of Lebanon, the hundreds of thousands of children whose world was changed forever in the seconds that followed the explosion of a bomb. "Mummy, what is a massacre?" another child asks.

About 300,000 Lebanese children have been displaced by Israel's three-week war against Hizbollah - a third of the number of people who have abandoned their homes. In many cases they were ordered out by Israeli army leaflets. They are living in open-air camps, like the one in the Beirut park, or in schools, where many sought refuge. Many children have been housed with host families - in the port of Sidon, 48km (30 miles) south of the capital, 40 per cent of the 22,700 children in temporary accommodation are doing so. The rest are in displacement centres.

Ribka Amsale, an aid worker with Save the Children, visited a school in Sidon yesterday. Children were playing football as their mothers cheered them on. The children seemed cheerful enough, but the stress and trauma are already etched in their psyches.

Traumatised and Afraid - 300,000 Children Who Want to Go Home
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :

More On President Fire Thunder: A Woman of Character

This is an excerpt from an article written by Theda New Breast (pictured below), a Blackfeet Tribal member with a masters in public health and a long- time friend of Cecelia Fire Thunder.

I have known Cecelia for 30 years. I first met her when she was fighting to establish a free clinic in Los Angeles for struggling Native families who were FOR (Fresh of the Rez). She was open with her own struggles and inspired other Native women with her story of how she was once a single welfare mom raising two sons, and then went to nursing school. She motivated them to have hopes and dreams.

Theda remembers a speech Fire Thunder gave some years ago and how it inspires her still. Fire Thunder's words are strong, and I can see how men on the reservation would not want to hear them.
Among my sacred things, I keep a video of a speech that Cecelia delivered after losing her bid to be elected President in 1990. Out of eight candidates, she had the third highest vote.

At a keynote address she delivered on May 8, 1990, at the National Indian Child Welfare Association meeting, her topic was “Community Empowerment.” She said, “My journey began 43 years ago. I was brought into this world, as many of you have experienced, I was delivered at home by a midwife as we say in the English language. An Indian woman helped my mother bring me into the world. Today she is 83 years-old. She is my teacher and she is my guide, she is the person I go to when I need to know if what I am doing is right. She told me one day, ‘you know its right when it hurts, you know its right when you cry, don’t even hesitate, DO IT, do what you have to do.’

“And that taught me a very important lesson, cause as Indian people, too often we put up these barriers — we can’t talk about it, or discuss it — we have roles that only women are suppose to do this, and only men can do that. I have come to the realization that when I look at the statistics in my community, I don’t give a damn anymore. I have to do something. I will step on toes, it is my responsibility. And that leads me to something else. In our communities, because of that oppression we talked about, we hurt each other more, and what I started to realize was that these barriers that people put in front of me can be overcome.

“I was driving across the Pine Ridge Reservation late one night and a drunk driver almost ran me off the road. I began to think, and as I looked at the statistics on homicide on my reservation, I looked at the statistics of women being brought into the emergency room because they were battered, and as I looked at the statistics of child abuse, and looked at the high school drop out rates, I looked at the number of kids that were being sent away for treatment. And as I looked at all these statistics, I began to realize that WE as Indian people, in our own communities are hurting each other more than any white man.

“Indian people have killed more Indian people on highways than any white man. Who is hurting our kids? Who is hitting them? With words? Who is hitting them emotionally? And who is hitting them with our fists? We are, their mothers, and their fathers, and their guardians. No one is making me do that, no one is taking my hand to hit my child, no one is making me take that drink, no one is making me drive drunk across the reservation, I am doing it myself.

“So when I look at the statistics in my community and across Indian Country, I realized that first and foremost before we blame anybody, before we blame any government, before we blame any Tribal Council, we have to start taking some responsibility for those problems in our lives. As I looked at the statistics, and the number of prosecutions, I realized that nothing is sacred in my community anymore.

“I am not going to respect somebody just because they are old, and I am not going to respect somebody just because they are in office. I am ONLY going to respect them as they respect themselves, and they respect their families, and they do things to help us provide, and start to realize what respect really means. The bottom line is this, my friends and my relatives — when our children are being used for sex — six, seven, and eight year-olds are being used for sex by grown adults, people we’re at the very bottom as Indian people on our reservations and communities.
And we have to start to come back up, to re-build, and this is your responsibility, it is our responsibility, this is my responsibility. It is the responsibility of leaders, tribal leaders, natural leaders, community leaders, of medicine people, of holy people, that these things are going wrong or caused by us, its done by our hands and our words. So we need to start to heal ourselves, we need to take ownership of the problems. And once we recognize it is our problems, then we start to build and address it.”

Its been sixteen years since that speech, and I have not seen her deter from her commitments, and from taking action, when others would just “give up” and take a job with retirement. I have watched her take on the next wellness effort without hesitation. She traveled the country and brought the Gathering of Native Americans (GONA) to Pine Ridge, Eagle Butte, Rosebud, in South Dakota, and even helped facilitate the Montana Tribes including the Crow Nation. I have seen her step forward and help the Native Wellness Institute move away from the University of Oklahoma, which was white controlled after Billy Rogers left.

She is on the new Board of the Native Wellness Institute and helped build it to its current success. She helped White Bison with a lot of their initial Community Mobilizations efforts. She gave her heart and soul to Karen Artichoker and her efforts to protect women on the Pine Ridge reservation. She worked on getting funds and passing legislation to protect Native women. She went to NCAI and other tribal leader gatherings and put the topic of stopping violence against women on the map.

To lead a Nation
The life of Cecelia Fire Thunder | Well Nations Magazine
Jacqueline Keeler
Share This Post :
[name=Jacqueline Keeler] [img=] [description=Diné-kota writer] (facebook= (twitter= (instagram= (pinterest=

Follow @@jfkeeler