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HONORING THE FALLEN

Dear Supporters: Every year FBI field offices and FBI Headquarters hold a Memorial Service to honor those in the FBI who were killed in...

Monday, March 26, 2018

THE REDSKINS ISSUE

Dear Supporters:

Setting aside the Leonard Peltier matter for a moment, there is a recent development at a local Cincinnati area high school.

The Issue: In 1937 the School Board decided to change the name from the bland “Comets” to the Anderson Redskins.

Much later, the name provoked controversy for its potential racism and in 1999, apparently after much debate and emotion on both sides, the School Board decided to keep the name. However, out of respect for Native American religious beliefs the Board later modified the school mascot and removed the Peace Pipe and Tomahawk from its logo.

The issue has resurfaced and on March 19th there was a well-attended School Board meeting. The matter of the school name was not on the agenda but the Board did allow some community comment.

I had no desire or intention to begin the debate; I was there only to support an eighty-year tradition. I placed my name on the roster believing that I would be one among many given a few minutes to voice an opinion on the issue to change or not to change the school’s name. It didn’t go as planned, and I was the first one to broach the Redskins issue. I had been doing more research during the day and prepared a brief statement.

Background: There are a few fundamental facts that need to be understood or at a minimum aired for community awareness.

There is no doubt where I stand when it comes to Native American history and rights. Prominent on the home page of the NPPA website since its inception on April 30, 2000 is the following:

Correcting Wrongs of the Past : Anyone who has even a basic understanding of the history and plight of Native Americans recognizes their terrible treatment at the hands of the U.S. Government. That history cannot be altered. Nothing can change the broken promises and treaties and subjugation of the first peoples to inhabit this continent. (Footnote 1)

Two young people spoke passionately in support of changing the school’s name. One mentioned a number of abuses including the infamous Trail of Tears.

There are many fundamental facts relevant to early North American history and the First Americans. There is often a misconception that before the arrival of the white Europeans that in some way the continent was a peaceful place, a Valhalla where the various tribes lived in harmony with their neighbors. History shows otherwise. Before the Pilgrims arrived there was ample inter-tribal warfare where some tribes destroyed or enslaved others. This was no different than what was happening during this same period, and throughout history, in Europe, Asia and elsewhere around the world—quite simply the result of human nature.

As heinous as the Trail of Tears was, it’s also important to remember that the displaced Cherokees brought with them their own African slaves. (Fn.2)

It is undeniable that American history is replete with white supremacy. Theodore Roosevelt wrote that Indian “life was but a few degrees less meaningless, squalid and ferocious than that of the wild beasts who seemed to the White settlers devils and not men,” and that “Nineteenth-century democracy needs no more complete vindication for its existence than the fact that it has kept for the white race the best portions of the new world’s surface.”

The recent efforts to remove Confederate monuments are arguably a reaction against those early attitudes and perceptions. Many monuments were erected in the 1960s as a backlash to the Civil Rights Movement. But, as we know, many of our early Presidents and founding fathers were slave owners. Recently some, to the extreme, have even suggested renaming Washington D.C. Would it be beneficial to call it, for instance, D.C. Town?

But at what point do we stop? All the good, bad and ugly that built this great nation is integral to our collective history.

If one person is offended by a word that matters to them—a perceived slur—they   must be heard, along with all others who offer the same or differing opinions.

However, and without fostering a rhetorical premise, there are at least three Native American high schools in the country that proudly proclaim themselves as Home of the Redskins.*

Would it be appropriate to force the same standard on those schools and communities that have embraced the term as one of pride, honor, bravery, and their shared history and heritage?

At the school board meeting many people on both sides of the issue were wearing orange, the high school’s color. Some showed support to keep the school name, others also wore buttons with #wordsmatter. Certainly they do, but the color worn showed that people were concerned and passionate, regardless of their opinion. Does the connotation of certain words change with time? Certainly, and in that regard, context also should matter.

Eight decades ago when the School Board chose the Redskins name, its meaning and history—and unquestionably it did have a dual meaning—they apparently chose the one that represented all those positive traits of Native culture that they wanted to proudly represent their school. (Fn.3)

(Not altogether ironically, just the other evening (3/21/18) on the History Channel was a segment entitled, The Men who Built America/Frontiersmen, and at one point showed the storied Warrior Chief Tecumseh preparing for battle against the U.S. Militia by applying red paint to his face [not an uncommon practice]. That was the final battle he lost as his coalition with the British collapsed. Our collective American history is very complex.)

The School Board has formed a Committee that as of the moment is but a mere shadow of the previous one that contemplated the naming issue. That early Committee was broad and inclusive of many interests in the community. Half of the current Committee consists of School Board members that give the appearance that the Board will be making a recommendation to itself. Perhaps this may be challenged as a procedural issue or legal matter. The Committee undoubtedly should listen, unbiased, to all opinions, research the matter thoroughly and honor their mandate for due diligence and make a recommendation independently to the School Board. The Board will make the final decision but the entire community needs to be heard.

Please see the 2004 Editorial Essay, Pilgrimage to Pine Ridge. (Fn.4)

“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
Ed Woods

Footnotes:
3) As early as 1769 references to the term Redskin:

* Red Mesa High School, Arizona; Wellpinit High School (Middle school; Warriors), Washington State; Kingston High School, Oklahoma.

Monday, March 5, 2018

FBI Director makes historic visit to Navajo Nation

Dear Supporters:

On March 2nd Director Wray arrived in the tribal capital in Window Rock, Ariz., on Friday, March 2 and spoke with Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and other tribal and federal law enforcement officials, including FBI agents from New Mexico. FBI spokesman Frank Fisher says Wray's visit to the Navajo Nation was the first by a director.

FBI Director Christopher Wray met with tribal officials of the largest
Indian reservation in the U.S. this week, becoming the first head of the
federal law enforcement agency to visit the Navajo Nation.

His visit to the Navajo Nation was the first by a director and was intended
to allow Wray to introduce himself to tribal leaders during a visit to FBI
field offices, FBI spokesman Frank Fisher said.

Wray visited the tribal capital in Window Rock, Arizona, on Friday and
spoke with Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and other tribal and
federal law enforcement officials, including FBI agents stationed in New
Mexico, the Gallup Independent reported.

The FBI investigates major crimes on tribal reservations and Wray said his
visit, which included a stop at a crime scene, helped give him a look at
law enforcement "on the front lines."

After the meeting, Wray said he was "very impressed by the partnership"
between Navajo and FBI officials.

The Navajo Nation reservation covers 27,000 square miles in northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico and southeastern Utah, making it larger than West Virginia.

The visit to where a homicide occurred was intended to show Wray "the
remoteness of the Navajo Nation," said Nation Police Chief Phillip
Francisco.

Large areas of the reservation have little or no cell phone coverage and
have roads that are impassable in bad weather.

President Begaye said he was honored to have Wray in his office and glad to
hear him acknowledge the tribe's sovereignty. He asked Wray for his
agency's support and possible training to handle cybercrime, human and drug
trafficking, meth labs, and shooting threats against schools.

“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
Ed Woods


PELTIER: IMPORTANT REMINDERS

Dear Supporters:

There has been a slight delay in reporting on Peltier’s latest public statements; this is due in large part to several other NPPA projects that needed attention.

In the meantime it is important to remind Peltier supporters and detractors of just a few, but very crucial events, in the legal history of the Peltier saga:

The trial witnesses unanimously testified that there was only one AR-15 in the compound prior to the murders, that this weapon was used exclusively by Peltier and carried out by Peltier after the murders.” (Emphasis added) (Footnote.1)

Peltier’s arguments fail because their underlying premises are fatally flawed. (A) The government tried the case on alternative theories; it asserted that Peltier personally killed the agents at point blank range, but that if he had not done so, then he was equally guilty of the murder as an aider and abettor.”

The Government’s statement at a prior oral argument, upon which Peltier relies, was not a concession.” “In any event, this eight-word comment in response to Judge Heaney‘s statements, is a totally inadequate basis for asserting that the government conceded that it had not proved that Peltier personally shot the agents at close range…” (Emphasis added) (Fn.2)

“The direct and circumstantial evidence of Peltier’s guilt was strong…” “…Peltier’s contention of manufactured evidence are far from convincing.”
[Direct Appeal; 8th Circuit, 9/14/78]

The record as a whole leaves no doubt that the jury accepted the government’s theory that Peltier had personally killed the two agents, after they were seriously wounded, by shooting them at point blank range with an AR-15 rifle.” [Rule 35 Motion, 8th Circuit, 12/18/02]

“I believe he got a fair trial, not a perfect trial, but a fair trial.” [8th Circuit Court Judge Gerald Heaney]. Fn.3

“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
Ed Woods

Footnotes:
1) Eighth Circuit decision: http://www.noparolepeltier.com/800.html
After the three-day ‘ballistics’ hearing: http://www.noparolepeltier.com/609.html