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How does history repeat itself? Let’s count some of the ways.



The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830, authorizing the president to grant unsettled lands west of the Mississippi in exchange for Indian lands within existing state borders. A few tribes went peacefully, but many resisted the relocation policy. During the fall and winter of 1838 and 1839, the Cherokees were forcibly moved west by the United States government. Approximately 4,000 Cherokees died on this forced march, which became known as the "Trail of Tears."

In 1974 the U.S. Government legally endorsed genocide when Congress passed Public Law 93-531, which enabled Peabody Coal Company to strip mine Black Mesa by ripping the traditional Navajo and Hopi peoples from the land.


"The Dawes Commission" by Kent Carter. p. 208.

The debate continued and shifted to the controversial subject of what to do with the valuable coal deposits in the Choctaw Nation that had been segregated from allotment. Senator Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin objected to the provision in the bill that authorized selling the deposits because he believed the railroads would gain control.


The Dineh (otherwise known as Navajo) were stripped of all land title and forced to relocate. Their land was turned over to the coal companies without making any provisions to protect the burial or sacred sites that would be destroyed by the mines. People whose lives were based in their deep spiritual and life-giving relationship with the land were relocated into cities, often without compensation, forbidden to return to the land that their families had occupied for generations. People became homeless with significant increases in alcoholism, suicide, family break up, emotional abuse and death.

And on and on, ad infinitum.

The ACSA challenges Senator McCain on his legislative history of Human Rights Violations: "a Skeleton in his closet: UNFIT to hold public office!"

A public research website: has brought together diverse historical elements of factual proof that Senator John McCain's was the key "point man" introducing, enacting and enforcing law that removed Dineh-Navajo Families from their reservation on the Black Mesa in Arizona. The McCain revised law relocated them to Church's Hill, Nevada (a Nuclear Waste Superfund Site, called "the New Lands" in PL 93-531). The Dineh-Navajo, a deeply spiritual and peaceful people, engaged in only peaceful resistance to being moved off lands they'd owned since 1500 A.D. Nonetheless, the Public Press and UN depicted brutalization, rights deprivation and forcible relocation.

Perhaps everyone’s hopes and prayers for peace should be,"Please don’t let them find natural resources on our land."

Crossposted at Progressive Historians

Native American Netroots

A couple people asked me for more information after posting this. I’m intentionally not linking to the diary where this comment is, but here’s what I said.

I’d be honored

Here’s the Kos diary on it and

Here's some comments from a commenter at culture kitchen who was there,

Way back in my college days, a bunch of us took a road trip bringing supplies to the Navajo of Big Mountain who were resisting relocation. We drove three cars from San Diego to Big Mountain and stayed with the Navajo for a couple of days. We helped them clear some land for a Sun Dance ceremony (not usually their tradition, as I understand it, but they were doing it as a solidarity thing with other tribes I believe) and sat around with them talking in the evening. Was an interesting experience and we brought them supplies they had asked for. Have to admit I later forgot about the issue, though more recently wondered what had happened. I guess I always assumed Peabody would win in the end, though I did my little part to oppose them. Not surprising that McCain was helping them, I guess.

This is from the UN website:

Response to the Environmental Crisis

In 1996, Congress passed a law endorsing a 75-year lease arrangement that would allow a few of the families to remain as tenants on the land. The law sanctions the relocation of families not eligible for these leases and forces the families who sign the leases to live without benefit of civil and religious rights exercised by other Americans. In April 1997, when all efforts to obtain justice in the U.S. judicial system failed, and in order to get the relocation laws repealed, the Dineh filed a formal request for the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to conduct an investigation of human rights violations against them by the U.S. government. Several visits to New York by Dineh helped create an Inter-faith coalition of faith-based Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). A delegation of NGOs traveled to Black Mesa to witness the historic meeting between the traditional Dineh and Hopi people and Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Mr. Amor traveled to Black Mesa in early February 1998 to investigate charges of human rights violations by the U.S. government. This is the first time the U.S. is being formally investigated by the United Nations for violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief. It is the hope of the Dineh people that the UN will cite the U.S. for violations of International Human Rights law.

"The forcible relocation of over 10,000 Navajo people is a tragedy of genocide and injustice that will be a blot on the conscience of this country for many generations."

-- Leon Berger, Executive Director, Navajo-Hopi Indian Relocation Commission upon resignation.

"I feel that in relocating these elderly people, we are as bad as the Nazis that ran the concentration camps in World War II."

-- Roger Lewis, federally appointed Relocation Commissioner upon resignation

"I believe that the forced relocation of Navajo and Hopi people that followed from the passage in 1974 of Public Law 93-531 is a major violation of these people's human rights. Indeed this forced relocation of over 12,000 Native Americans is one of the worst cases of involuntary community resettlement that I have studied throughout the world over the past 40 years."

-- Thayer Scudder, Professor of Anthropology, California Institute of Technology in a letter to Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance

This from 2006.

February of 2008 article.


Look for a couple things with treaties and "laws."

Look for the deceptive smile or handshake, overt or covert "laws," treaties (written documents), and so on that have no intent to benefit the American Indian in any way, and look for allowing it conveniently  to happen by not doing anything about it (except of course, lip service), or the "Willingness to be unwilling" like I've put in this essay here.
Read up until "And while Congress remains reluctant to repeal" and you'll get my point.

(emphasis mine)


...Jets fly low over the area on an almost daily basis, livestock is impounded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the pretense that resisters are "overgrazing" the land, and, due to the special Bennet Freeze clause of P.L.93-531 (which foresaw the possibility of a resistance) Dine people living on what is now Hopi Partitioned Land cannot legally upgrade their housing (i.e. repair a hole in their roof during the winter) without facing the threat of arrest because they no longer legally own the property their families have lived on for centuries. This type of regular harassment has been described as "low intensity psychological warfare" and it has become commonplace against families resisting relocation at Big Mountain.

These families continue to hope that public outcry will become so loud that Congress will no longer be able to ignore the damage which is done every day to people affected by relocation policies. In order to truly respect Native American self-determination, Congress must submit a full repeal of P.L.93-531 and use the money allocated for "relocation benefits" to repair the damage done to those people who have already been relocated (many of whom have yet to receive alternative housing). And while Congress remains reluctant to repeal...

Ask yourself why would congress be reluctant to repeal a law wherein "Dine people living on what is now Hopi Partitioned Land cannot legally upgrade their housing" and thus were forcibly relocated resulting in being "forbidden to return to the land that their families had occupied for generations. People became homeless with significant increases in alcoholism, suicide, family break up, emotional abuse and death." (from the UN website again)

It's very complex and it's very simple,

III. Indian Reservation Apartheid

"Apartheid" is certainly a strong word. And certainly, there are recognized tribes in the U.S. that are now achieving certain levels of relative prosperity primarily due to federal law allowing them to operate casinos, But the data contained in this section as well as others in this report (see, e.g., Violence Against Women, The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health) reflect what only can be described as a system of Apartheid on many Indian Reservations, where Indigenous people are warehoused in poverty and neglect. By purpose or effect, their only option is forced assimilation, the abandonment of their land, families, language and cultures in search of a better life.

I think we have to answer "how" simply, and the "whys" can only start to be answered by recognizing that there's very good reason that

(It is worth noting also that the Fuhrer from time to time expressed admiration for the "efficiency" of the American genocide campaign against the Indians, viewing it as a forerunner for his own plans and programs.)

because that seems to give people a safer distance with which to look at what has happened here and what is still happening here "by purpose or effect."

I hope all that helps.

(Video from July of 2005)

Originally posted to Winter Rabbit on Sat Mar 15, 2008 at 09:28 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (32+ / 0-)

    I have to go soon, but I can hang around for a little bit.


    She nourishes us; that which we put into the ground she returns to us. Big Thunder

    by Winter Rabbit on Sat Mar 15, 2008 at 09:28:17 AM PDT

  •  This needs wider distribution and highlighting (8+ / 0-)
    Thanks, Winter Rabbit for your research and for putting this together.

    I live on the Navajo Nation, not far from Black Mesa.  The most recent controversy was about Peabody taking a huge amount of water out of the aquifer that a lot of people draw from so that coal can be powdered and mixed into a "slurry" and sent through pipelines to power plants.  For the company's purposes, this would just be cost effective.  

    A lot of people rose up in protest because it would ruin a water supply resource valuable in an otherwise arid high desert landsape to people and livestock.  

    The Navajo people seem to be generally doing better than most people would think.  At the tribal college here (Dine' College) there are a lot of people working to create a viable middle class and it seems to be working - and on Navajo terms.

    Arizona passed a referendum requiring English teaching to the exclusion of non-English languages and this was done without considering the effort underway in schools in this area to teach native languages so they and the cultural context will not be eradicated.

    McCain seems to be getting away with looking avuncular and saying generally sympathetic things that sound good to the 22 tribes of this state, without being questioned on the specifics.

    You might wonder how it is that politicians can get away with this.  There seems to be an ancient traditional expectation among Indian people that leaders rise to leadership because they have integrity and because their word can be trusted.  Using such a position to fool people is a distinctly Euro-centric approach.  A lot of people like McCain and just don't want to believe that he would use deceit in representing such important issues.

    I hope you send some material to the Navajo Times.  They have a website, use email and
    cover election issues with a lot of ink.

    •  Thankyou Stuart, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SarahLee, rincewind, mint julep

      I didn't know the current situation there, and that's pretty urgent. Very much so.

      I'd say more, but I'm speechless over the overall lack of response about this right now.

      I really appreciate the ones who have tipped & recced, but you'd think something like this that should cost McCain the election would be getting more attention.

      She nourishes us; that which we put into the ground she returns to us. Big Thunder

      by Winter Rabbit on Sat Mar 15, 2008 at 10:06:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do You Publish Articles Anywhere? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rincewind, mint julep, Winter Rabbit
        There are probably a variety of publications that might appreciate your take on issues.

        It may be that this blog is too much of a food fight for slinging political slop; and soberminded and serious attempts to relate to issues isn't in the right place.

        Have you looked at publications like Rocky Mountain News or maybe the Progressive or Z magazine?

        The same thing is a problem.  People who like to think they are progressive are actually dismissive of Indians when it comes to politics even if they like to watch movies like Dances with Wolves or go to sweat lodges.

        But editors can be appealed to by a persistent writer with something to say because they are responsible for gatekeeping.  Bloggers have no real responsibility.  It is however, a good place to practice.  Kind of like running scales on a musical instrument...

  •  Why Kos Readers Should Pay Attention (6+ / 0-)
    The media in general will ignore this.  The number of people affected by an issue that to most, will seem obscure and irrelevant, is small.  At least in an immediate sense.

    However, everybody has a stake in this whether aware of this or not.

    It shows McCain showing devious judgment. He is aware of how few and how vulnerable the people involved here and it shows him capable of calculating that they can be toast and no one will pay attention.

    That is an instance of the sort of judgment he would bring to the White House, and is pretty ominous in terms of the history he would make, given this proclivity.

    There have been people posting on this and other sites, who as progressives have said that Indians are irrelevant and that we should ignore whatever happens because they ought to just accept that their place in history is, as one poster put it, "so over."

    That is not only ignorant, but it is an attitude that plays into the hands of calculating politicians who can and will use that against Democrats.

    The fact is that this should be as important as the issue of what Pastor Wright said in a sermon.  

    If you contemplate why it is not, you see the reason for the internet as an alternative to a massively blind mass media.

    Be the Media.  Spread the story.

  •  Will it ever change? (6+ / 0-)

    Da go Te'

    Would an Obama Administration address the rights of Native Americans?  I would hope he would let them be free, and rid them of the BIA.  Clinton's, not so much they had their chance and what exactly did Hillary do for the NA ?  Nada.

    Thanks White Rabbit!

    We have returned from the ashes.

    by Morgana on Sat Mar 15, 2008 at 10:11:59 AM PDT

    •  Institutional Racism (4+ / 0-)
      A very pervasive aspect of modern politics is the "out of sight, out of mind" aspect that creates a virtual black hole in the landscape.

      Progressives are just as likely to fall into the trap of thinking they know something when in fact they have no information, as anyone.  Thus, Democrats are largely unaware of and unable to relate to what is going on in Indian country.

      One of the reasons for this is the lack of Indian presence in places where issues are pressed, with candidates for national office or even on blogs such as this.  I have come to respect and understand that there is a long tradition that most people might relate to as sort of zen-like, but which is rooted in very ancient ways of looking at things.  When you combine that with a sense that the United States is in a sense, a foreign country.  From the perspective out here, it is kind of like a Roman Empire in its arrogant disregard and contempt, and its racism.  

      When the government does get interested in Indian Country, often the results are tragic because of arbitrary and capricious action based on ignorance and dismissal of any local intelligence.

      A lot of people are cynical about participation in politics and focus on families and getting somewhere on a day-to-day basis.

      Democrats and particularly those who identify with the term, "progressive" really ought to recognize the institutional racism inherent in issues that relate to Native American concerns and try to locate some ways to reform the way all this is.

      A way to begin would be to take diaries like this more seriously.

    •  I hope it does change one day (0+ / 0-)

      Morgana, I really, really do.

      And thankyou.

      She nourishes us; that which we put into the ground she returns to us. Big Thunder

      by Winter Rabbit on Sun Mar 16, 2008 at 09:37:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  thanks, wr (5+ / 0-)

    just thanks for all your efforts.

    Bush is listening - use big words. (h/t Jeff Y)

    by rincewind on Sat Mar 15, 2008 at 10:49:17 AM PDT

  •  Sorry I missed this earlier - (3+ / 0-)

    outstanding work as always.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Sat Mar 15, 2008 at 11:10:40 PM PDT

  •  Anyone going to The Big One in Santa Fe? n/t (0+ / 0-)
    •  I wish. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Abra Crabcakeya

      She nourishes us; that which we put into the ground she returns to us. Big Thunder

      by Winter Rabbit on Sun Mar 16, 2008 at 09:34:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A nice lady(sounded beautiful on phone) (0+ / 0-)

        named Melanie sent me a poster that is just like the ad on the back of News From Indian Country, two editions ago , I think.It's going up on wall above desk. Would like to go to Vicksburg , two weekends from now , but that is about 300 miles total one way. Tough for me. We are going up to Qualla Boundary anyway for a few days in April; will have to hang on until then to experience the deep comfort of being in certain places with certain people , even if I don't know but a few names. No doubt you have experienced this.

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