We met with the Teton Tribe's Richard Shangreaux who was protesting in South Dakota.
We followed the Trail of Tears.
A scene from the Osage Reservation in Oklahoma.
Native America Policy in Short
*To read the policy in full, read further below.
"We think the country was built on ethnic cleansing, and we have never owned up to that, said Schriner"
-Lewiston (ID) Journal.
"This is an era of American history we not only need to remember, we need to make I right, said Schriner" -Sequoya County Times, Sallisaw, OK.
A heartfelt formal apology to Native Americans for past atrocities.
Land give backs and Native American relocation moratorium.
Creative land give-backs (for instance, subsidies to help finance Native American land restoration projects like the White Earth Land Recovery Project in Minnesota).
Much improved healthcare, alcohol and drug treatment on the Reservations.
More programs to reverse poverty and establish sustainability on the Reservations.
Spark a nationwide Native American Renaissance
Native American Commission to revise history books
Many more grade school and high school classes on Native American history and culture
Collegiate level minors and majors in Native American Studies
National Native American History Month.
Native American Position Paper
The candidate (Schriner) also said another form of amends (to the Native Americans) could come in the form of more… health care, job opportunity and other social services. – Pawhuska Journal-Capita newspaper, Pawhuska, OK.
Schriner added he believes it was God’s intention the Europeans and Native Americans were to share with each other and create a society based on trust, on love. And while that isn’t how it played out initially: “It’s still not too late,” he said. –Pawhuska Journal-Capital, Pawhuska, OK.
“Is there still a new world of sorts to be found? One of camaraderie between cultures? Average Joe Schriner believes so.” – columnist Leah Beth Bryson, The Vision newspaper, Lambuth University, Tennessee.
***The following position paper was used as an essay in the college text book: "Social Justice (Opposing Viewpoints Series)" [Greenhaven Press]. It ran opposite an “opposing” essay by radio talk show host Michael Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan.
Categories covered below include: 1) Preface; 2) The Issues; 3) The Plan, a) Apology and Native American Renaissance, b) History Revision and More Native American School Curriculum Options, c) Tangible Direct Amends (Land Give Backs and Relocation Moratorium), d) Indirect Land Give Backs, e) More Indirect Amends (Cash Reparations), f) More Quality Drug and Alcohol Treatment, g) Native American Cultural Education for/and about Native Americans, h) National Mourning and “National Native American Holiday”
“Instead of turning around and going back and fixing things, we rush madly forward toward we know not what and call ourselves ‘progressive.’” –author G.K. Chesterton
This quote is key to the Native American issue.
And it is key to shifting our country in the direction it needs to go.
We have extensively crisscrossed the country looking, in depth, at Native American issues within the context of the above paradigm. We have been on South Dakota’s Rosebud Reservation, Minnesota’s White Earth Reservation, the Osage Reservation in Oklahoma, the Hopi and Hualapai Reservations in Arizona… We followed the “Trail of Tears” some 1,000 miles to Oklahoma. And in addition, from Missoula, Montana, to Gallup, New Mexico, to North Augusta, South Carolina, to Camden, Maine…, we have talked to a wide cross section of people close to this issue.
2) The Issues
Something happened at the inception of our nation that pointed us in the wrong direction. And we’re still going in the wrong direction with Native American affairs.
What’s more, it’s a blot on the collective American culture that has never really been reconciled. And we’ve never really made adequate amends for either.
What hasn’t been reconciled is the following:
In Camden, Maine, Fr. Eugene Gaffey, who worked at the St. Francis Apache River Reservation in Arizona, offered this take on history:
For 2,000 years God creatively inspired many parts of the Native American culture, as God inspired many parts of the European culture, said Fr. Gaffey. In 1492, God began to orchestrate a “coming together” to create a wonderfully improved society, mixing the best of both cultures.
What happened instead was “perhaps the biggest incidence of genocide in the world,” Native American activist Bruce Two Eagles was quoted in an edition of the Mountain Xpress newspaper. The article noted that in 1492, there was an estimated 20 million Native Americans. The 1890 U.S. Census showed only 250,000 Native Americans.
We’d picked up the Mountain Xpress on a campaign stop in North Carolina. On our next stop in North Augusta, South Carolina, Tina Grover (a half-blood Native American) said to us that it wasn’t just physical genocide – it was “cultural genocide.”
In the process, land was taken by force or swindled by deceitful treaties.
Native American children were taken from their parents, put in boarding schools, forced to cut their hair, abandon their language and culture, so they could be “civilized.”
And Ms. Grover added that the white man didn’t just take Native American children, lives, land… “The white man took the Native American’s spirit,” she lamented.
How this translated, Harrison Jim of the Eagle Plume Society in Gallup, New Mexico told us on a stop there, was that many Native Americans are still today experiencing the effects of “Post Colonial Stress Syndrome.” (Same psychological features as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.)
And this affliction has passed from generation to generation, resulting in high incidence of poverty, alcoholism, domestic violence, suicide…
3) The Plan
a) Apology and “Native American Renaissance”
As president, at the outset I would go to a Reservation(s) and offer a heartfelt apology to the Native Americans for all the past atrocities committed by our forefathers and perpetuated, in part, by racist tendencies even until today.
Then to start heading in the direction we should have been going since the beginning, I believe that there needs to be a nationwide “Native American Renaissance.”
We should start by creating a “Native American Awareness Division” within the Bureau of Indian Affairs expressly to design and institute a multi-dimensional plan for getting the uncensored, Native American message and story to the general populace in a broad-brush fashion.
The Division should include things like: a Native American Speaker’s Bureau; a documentary production arm; the generation of more Native American literature; Native American theatre troupes… (In Cortez, Colorado, I took our children to the Black Shawl Drama. Sponsored by the Cortez Cultural Center, it was a poignant re-enactment of the tragic, early days of our country as seen through Native American eyes.)
b) History Revision and Curriculum Change
In tandem with this push, I would also appoint a Native American Commission to help revise history books to better reflect Native American cultures, tribal dynamics and offer a closer (and much more expanded) look at the atrocities to Native Americans, not only at the beginning of this country, but throughout our history.
“The cost in human life (to the Native Americans) can’t be accurately measured. And the suffering not even roughly measured,” wrote Howard Zinn in his book A Peoples’ History of the United States. “Most of the history books given to children pass quickly over it.”
On a campaign stop in Florence, Alabama – along the Trail of Tears – a newspaper reporter said to us that history often gets skewed “because the victors always write the history books.”
I would also propose that grade school and high school curriculum include classes specifically about Native Americans, and when possible, they be taught by Native Americans.
On a campaign stop in Wyoming, I learned that school trustees in Ranchester, Wyoming, approved a class on American Indian culture and hired an instructor from the nearby Crow Reservation to teach it.
Besides existing Native American classes at a collegiate level, we would propose actual minors, and majors, in Native American Studies. And we would propose the Federal Government provide grants to get such programs going.
In Missoula, Montana, Chris Landis told us that she had taken college courses on Native American culture and has a personal quest of helping to save as much of the culture as possible. She also said she wanted to incorporate as much of the culture and spiritual practices into her own personal life, while still maintaining her Catholicism.
In Carmel Valley, California, I met with Fr. Scott McCarthy, a Catholic priest who has spent a considerable amount of time on Native American Reservations around the country and wrote the book Earth Centered Theology. The book explains how Fr. McCarthy draws from Native American rituals in practicing his Catholic faith. (For instance during some Masses, Fr. McCarthy burns sage on the altar and says the Our Father in the Lakota Tribe’s language.)
It is in these types of pursuits (as with studying the Native American environmental stewardship model, the intricacies of their tribal village orientation, family and ancestral traditions…) that we will learn what we should have learned from the beginning.
And while it will take generations to meld the cultures, we will – at last – collectively be going in the right direction.
Note: And this is if the Native Americans even want to move toward a melding of cultures. This would need to be explored at an in-depth level at the outset.
c) Tangible Direct Amends (Land Give Backs and Relocation Moratorium)
To continue in the “right direction,” there needs to be a series of tangible amends (reimbursements) to the Native Americans for past wrongs.
We took much of their land through unadulterated greed. We consistently killed the Native Americans, drove others from the land (like in the Trail of Tears), or took the land through broken treaties and other deceits.
I met with Teton Tribe member Richard Shangreaux in a tipi in Pierre, South Dakota. He told me amends should encompass making right the treaties and returning some of the land.
As an example, he said the Black Hills of South Dakota were an incredibly “sacred place” to the Native Americans. But once gold was discovered there, the U.S. Government took the land from the Native Americans.
Our administration would propose giving it back. And our administration would propose giving, for instance, a percentage of some of the National Forests to the Native Americans.
And while the tribes in the South Dakota area look at the Black Hills as sacred, the Dine Tribe in Hoteville, Arizona, look at their land as sacred as well. However, the Dine’s Tom Bedonie had been traveling the country trying to raise awareness that the Dine land was in jeopardy. I heard him talk in Columbia, Missouri, where he said energy companies interested in extracting coal from that area of Arizona were creating pressure for the relocation of 10,000 Dine Tribe members.
This simply harkens back to the forced Native American relocations of old, for material gain. As president, I would push for a moratorium on any more Native American re-locations.
d) Indirect Land Give Backs
And while logistically it would be difficult to return all the land, a series of creative initiatives could be undertaken to come at this in a variety of ways.
For instance, the Federal Government (in tandem with private citizen fundraising) could help fund the White Earth Land Preservation Project, and similar projects on Reservations across the country.
On a campaign stop at White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota, we talked with White Earth Preservation Project Director Winnona La Duke. (Ms. La Duke, an Ojibwe Tribe member, ran as Ralph Nader’s vice-presidential candidate during Campaign 2000.)
We learned the project had established a fund to buy back Reservation property sold to such concerns as corporate farms. On this land, they were replanting indigenous trees, reintroducing sturgeon to the area rivers, teaching the Native Americans the ways of ancestral organic farming, traditional hunting, and so on.
Ms. La Duke said the Ojibwe’s ethos is to respect the earth and live as if one is responsible for “the next seven generations.”
Another way to give back some of the land would be to get behind an initiative of the Nez Perce Tribe living along the Columbia River in Idaho.
At Findlay College in Ohio, we heard the Nez Perce’s Allen Pinkham say that, for generations, his people relied heavily on Columbia River salmon runs. But as more and more people moved to the Pacific Northwest, there was a greater demand for electrical power. So the Columbia River was tapped for power with a series of hydroelectric dams – that all but ended the salmon runs.
Pinkham said his tribe was trying to get some of the dams in the area removed and was asking people to “shut off one light for one salmon.” That is, Pinkham’s tribe is asking people in the Northwest to cut back on their energy use in general to decrease the need for as many dams.
We would shut off more than one light (cut back the thermostat, stop using air conditioning, put up a wind turbine…) in the White House for this – not to mention to reverse global warming. And we would give some of the money to the Nez Perce’s Chief Joseph Foundation, which our family personally has already done.
e) More “Indirect” Amends (Cash Reparations)
A famous quote by the Nez Perce’s Chief Joseph summed up the Native American plight of the past: “…The old men are all dead. The little children are freezing to death. My people – some of them have run away to the hills and have no blankets, no food… I want to have time to look for my children… I will fight no more forever.”
Then to make even more amends, our administration would propose every Native American, trans-generational war victim – and that would be every Native American – would receive $25,000 in reparations. (The U.S. government has recently awarded every Japanese WWII internment camp prisoner $20,000 in reparations.)
And because of the trans-generational nature of Post Colonial Stress Syndrome, many of these Native Americans have been mental and emotional “prisoners” as well.
At a seminar on Racism that I attended at Ohio’s Bluffton College, it was explained colonialism is: “An act of aggression against a people by a country which takes land, exploits resources (including the indigenous people of the land), destroys indigenous culture and requires allegiance to the conquering country.”
f) More Quality Drug and Alcohol Treatment
Post Colonial Stress Syndrome has, in part, led to trans-generational alcoholism in some of the Native American people.
In Gallup, New Mexico, the Navahos Gabe Kanawite is trying to do something about this. Out of a sense of personal responsibility and grief about what is happening to his people, Kanawite told me he shifted his college major from accounting to drug and alcohol counseling.
Likewise on the Osage Reservation in Oklahoma, Osage Tribe member Monte Roubideaux told me he was at nearby Bacon College majoring in drug and alcohol counseling as well. “I want to give back to my people,” he said.
As part of reparations, our administration would propose providing more college grants to Native Americans like Kanawite and Roubideaux for pursuing this type of major. What’s more, our administration would propose more funding for such Reservation Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centers as the Eagle Plume Society Center (mentioned earlier) in Gallup.
g) Native American Cultural Education for/and about Native Americans
The Eagle Plume Society not only helps Native Americans get clean and sober, it helps them “Get Navaho!” On a tour of the center, Harrison Jim told us he tries to help the Navaho recover from Post Traumatic Colonial Stress Syndrome through “talking circles” to deal, not only with their addiction, but also the trauma of western philosophy encroachment. These Navahos are encouraged to reconnect with their native roots, sacred songs, sacred prayers, age-old ceremonies… (Our administration would propose financial help for more treatment models like the Eagle Plume Society.)
Osage Monte Roubideaux is also trying to learn as much about his tribe’s culture, including learning the language. And he is now teaching it to his children as well.
In Pawhuska, Oklahoma (also on the Osage Indian Reservation), Stephanie Mashunkashey told me she would like to see the Federal Government help subsidize more Native American cultural education for all tribal youth, and adults – because of the cultural genocide that was committed against her people, leading many to be quite out of touch with their roots. (Our administration would agree, and push for more funding help in this area as well.)
Note: I would not support any type of subsidizing of casinos on the Reservations. In Benson, Arizona, I interviewed Sergeant Jashawa Cloud, who is with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Sgt. Cloud, who is from the Osage Tribe, said he travels among the 26 Native American Reservations in Arizona as an investigative police officer. And he said casinos are a big problem. Sgt. Cloud said with the casinos come “mobsters, prostitutes and other vice related activity.” He said that in his own opinion, the Native Americans don’t need fast money, but rather sustainability. That is, they need the establishment of more local businesses that pay a fair wage, etc.
h) National Mourning and National Native American History Month
As we followed the 1,200 mile Trail of Tears on a research trip, we learned gold had been discovered in southern Georgia, and shortly after the Georgia legislature declared Cherokee land confiscated, opening the door to the force march – through the winter – to Oklahoma.
Men were seized from their fields, women from their spinning wheels and children from their play. Some 4,000 of these men, women and children (almost one-fourth) died along the way, according to literature about the Trail.
“It was the cruelest work I ever knew,” said one U.S. militiaman.
Congress has designated some of the main routes west as the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.
Our administration would go much further.
We would call for a week of national mourning for, not only the Trail of Tears deaths, but all the Native American deaths at the U.S. hands. These would be days filled with graphic eulogies about these things, town education forums, TV specials, marches…
And as a follow-up, we would propose a yearly “Native American National History Month” every year.
Photos by Joe
Joe's long position paper below was used as an essay in the college text book Social Justice "Opposing View Points".