My recent interest in an expanded subject

Some months ago a friend asked me for deeper information about two spirit Native American people. I replied that I knew the term and had some basic knowledge on the subject, but that I would be happy to do some study and expand my knowledge in this area.

Shortly after that I began my investigation for good sources of information. Almost immediately I discovered the following excellent resource:

Brown, Lester B, PhD, Editor. Two Spirit People: American Indian Lesbian Women and Gay Men. New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2011.

NOTE: The copyright date for this work is 1997 and is held by The Haworth Press, Inc., Binghamton, NY. It was simultaneously published in the Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, Volume 6, Number 2 1997.

I highly recommend this volume to anyone who has interest in knowing more about this topic. This is a very extensive reference source and is also available for Kindle. Following are some brief excerpts from the beginning of the text which I offer here as an invitation for further study of this important subject.

NOTE from the Introduction:  The terms American Indian and Native American are used interchangeably in this volume. They are intended to mean the same, referring to the indigenous peoples of the continental United States.

American Indian tribal groups have a variety of customs unfamiliar to us. One particular occurrence is alternative gender styles for females and males. Gender has always been viewed as a spiritual calling and not determined by a person’s anatomy.

American Indian cultures and societies have had and many presently have a variety of ways in which gender is expressed. Social services professionals need to understand that gender has not always been defined in dichotomies: boy/girl, man/woman. American Indian groups have at least six alternative gender styles: women and men, not-men (biological women who assume some aspects of male roles) and not-women (biological men who assume some aspects of female roles), lesbians and gays.

The early accounts of immigrants to this country from Europe contain many references to the ‘hedonistic’ nature of the way American Indians lived at that time (Angelino & Shedd, 1955). Most of these reports were written after 1700. In these writings newcomers failed to make any effort to understand and appreciate the new cultures they were encountering. In their haste to lay waste to the resources available in this hemisphere, they simply enslaved, killed or shunted aside any tribal groups that got in their way (Weeks, 1988). Those few newcomers who made efforts to observe what they encountered had mixed responses. However, most decided that American Indian groups needed civilization to save them.

Many of the newcomers to this hemisphere were from religious groups (Weeks, 1988). These clerics, of various kinds, and their strict followers very charitably proceeded to try to salvage the souls of American Indians. Although a number of behaviors bothered them, American Indians sexual practices proved to be most disturbing in their sensibilities (Roscoe, 1992).

American Indians had very simple beliefs about human sexuality and those beliefs were based on their experience. Briefly stated, sexual expression between women and men was essential for survival of the group; procreation was important. However, sexual expression was also fun and enjoyable irrespective of the partner’s gender. As a consequence, adults engaged in sexual activities with persons of the same and different gender (Callender & Kochems, 1986). Sexual play was play, and no one could be harmed by it. Children, exploring sexual play as they still do today in most families in this country (American Indian and others), were not punished for trying something adults did in their spare time for pleasure (Crooks & Bauer, 1990). Children grew up and became adults with very few ‘hang-ups’ about expressing themselves sexually (1-3, Kindle version).

The difficulty for Native Americans to be understood and not dismissed as savages is not a new problem. Sadly, it is an ongoing saga dating from the earliest times of this country.

To be continued in the next post . . .

 

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Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Yesterday, July 27,2017, I posted a lengthy status update on my Facebook page. It concluded with these words:

For me, today is a day of both culmination and commencement. These two actions placed two too many straws on the back of the camel – the camel’s back is broken.

But it is also a day of commencement for me as I begin a renewed and stronger time of resistance. It is a day when I once again contemplate the actions that I am called to follow – both in Texas as well as in the nation.

Some will advise that I should not isolate myself in this manner. I am not able to pursue in any other approach at this time. I will repost my return to normal when, and if, this time of crisis is past. I hope you will thoughtfully read the blog posts that I publish, and I invite you to offer your comments to those posts. 

Thank you all for your patience. I covet your prayers and I pray with confidence that God will hear the prayers of all people.

For the foreseeable future this blog will be filled with my words, with the words of writers I respect and enjoy – writers who also provide inspiration and guidance, and comments from readers of this blog who would like to join in conversation. It is my intention to add a new post at least every other day. I hope that you will take the time to read thoughtfully and, if you desire, replay with your own thoughts.

Today I begin with the words of one of my favorite writers – Leonard Pitts, Jr.

Sorry your son’s real sick but … tough’

BY LEONARD PITTS, JR.
lpitts@miamiherald.com
June 27, 2017 8:20 PM

He called it a lesson in “How Republicans are born.”

Grover Norquist, the anti-tax crusader, was on Twitter Sunday, recounting how his 8-year-old “has been saving up to buy her first Guitar. Found it for $35. She had 35 exact. Then … sales tax.”

If he could, one suspects Norquist would have accompanied the last two words with scary music. Say, the shark theme from “Jaws” or the shower music from “Psycho.”

“Everybody run! It’s … it’s … the sales tax!”

The twitterverse, as you might expect, was only too happy to point out the obvious to Norquist and his traumatized daughter. Namely, that the tax on her guitar — that princely $2 and change — helps pay for the road over which the guitar traveled to the store. And the police who defend the store from being robbed. And the firefighters who respond if it catches fire. And, in whole or in part, the school where Norquist’s daughter learned to count to 35 in the first place.

But at risk of piling on, there is another point that bears making here, a simple and obvious one that tends to get lost in the GOP’s loud acrimony toward this government surcharge. Namely, that we pay taxes as an investment in the common good. It’s a prosaic, unlovely little ritual which is nevertheless more patriotic — and certainly more substantive — than fireworks on the Fourth of July.

That’s not to say it’s fun. Sacrifice seldom is. Nor is this an endorsement of wasteful government spending. To the degree Republicans or anybody else oppose that, no sensible person can disagree.

But as Norquist’s tweet suggests, the contention of many Republicans is not that over-taxing is bad, but that all taxing is bad. And that amounts to a retreat from the very idea of a common good. Exhibit A: the party’s latest proposal to overhaul healthcare, and the “Let ’em eat cake responses” to the idea that 22 million people will be be deprived of coverage in order to finance tax breaks for the very wealthy.

For example, Vice President Mike Pence touted this as a new system based on “personal responsibility.” He did not specify what failure of “personal responsibility” he finds in people with disabilities who won’t be able to get treatment under the Republican plan.

Kellyanne Conway opined that those who lose their Medicaid “can always get jobs.”

Which will doubtless surprise many low-income workers who depend on it. They thought they already had jobs, albeit jobs that don’t offer health insurance.

A woman on Twitter asked what will happen to her son “born at 26 weeks with a serious heart condition.” Another woman replied: “Sorry about your son, but what would he have done 200 years ago things are much better but nothing is promised to anyone.”

“Sorry about your son.”

There is something chilling about that dismissal, something deeply selfish and antithetical to a nation founded upon an ideal of individual human worth. One is reminded of a Springsteen song: “We Take Care of Our Own.”

But do we still believe that? Or are we now a nation where we only take care of ourselves?

“Sorry about your son?!”

No. That’s not good enough.

We pay taxes, fund libraries, schools, fire and police departments and, yes, healthcare, so that her son and all our sons and daughters have the best possible shot at the best possible life. At some point, you have to grow up and realize that you are not in this world only to gratify yourself, that each of us has an obligation to all of us, and that this is where our goodness — and thus, our greatness — resides.

That’s how Americans are born.

http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/leonard-pitts-jr/article158531204.html

About Leonard Pitts, Jr.

In a career spanning more than 35 years, Leonard Pitts, Jr. has been a columnist, a college professor, a radio producer and a lecturer. But if you ask him to define himself, he will invariably choose one word. He is a writer, period, author of one of the most popular newspaper columns in the country and of a series of critically-acclaimed books, including his latest, a novel called Freeman. And his lifelong devotion to the art and craft of words has yielded stellar results, chief among them the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary.

But that is only the capstone of a career filled with prizes for literary excellence. In 1997, Pitts took first place for commentary in division four (newspapers with a circulation of over 300,000) in the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors’ Ninth Annual Writing Awards competition. He is a three-time recipient of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Award of Excellence, and was chosen NABJ’s 2008 Journalist of the Year. Pitts is a five-time recipient of the Atlantic City Press Club’s National Headliners Award and a seven-time recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Green Eyeshade Award.

In 2001, he received the American Society of Newspaper Editors prestigious ASNE Award for Commentary Writing and was named Feature of the Year – Columnist by Editor and Publisher magazine. In 2002, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists awarded Pitts its inaugural Columnist of the Year award. In 2002 and in 2009, GLAAD Media awarded Pitts the Outstanding Newspaper Columnist award. In 2008, he received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Old Dominion University.

Twice each week, millions of newspaper readers around the country seek out his rich and uncommonly resonant voice. In a word, he connects with them. Nowhere was this demonstrated more forcefully than in the response to his initial column on the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Pitts’ column, “We’ll Go Forward From This Moment,” an angry and defiant open letter to the terrorists, circulated the globe via the Internet. It generated upwards of 30,000 emails, and has since been set to music, reprinted in poster form, read on television by Regis Philbin and quoted by Congressman Richard Gephardt as part of the Democratic Party’s weekly radio address.

Leonard Pitts was born and raised in Southern California. He was awarded a degree in English from the University of Southern California at the age of 19, having entered school at 15 on a special honors program. Since 1995, he has lived in Bowie, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC with his wife and family.
From Meet Leonard Pitts, Jr. <http://www.leonardpittsjr.com/Biography.html&gt;

 

 

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Seeing hope at the edge of the distant horizon

  1. Right now the future looks very discouraging and hope is just barely visible on the far distant horizon. I have come to the conclusion that the only thing that might save us – the world – is a massive and unified uprising of people in revolution – standing together at all times, in all ways, and in all places for what is good and what is true.

    My prayer is that I may be remembered as one who stood at the heart of the beginning of that revolution – one who cared and believed enough to devote the remainder of my life to that cause. I do not have money, I do have a disabling medical condition, there are many things that I no longer am able to do which for many years I basically took for granted.

    I proudly bring my Native American heritage to this cause in memory of the many years that our Native American sisters and brothers have endured continuous oppression and hate – always being pushed to the edges of life where they become for the most part – invisible. We the people must move from the fringes of visibility to the core of humanity – coming together to save life as we know it and as it may become in the future.

    I also bring my artist’s view of the world to this cause! Without art moving the soul, no amount of scientific data and facts will save this planet. Revolution begins in the heart and in the soul of the human being and becomes most powerful when it is given space and support to involve all of the human senses together in a unified expression of love, justice, and mercy.

    One nice thing about the form of the disease that I have – it does not effect the heart or the lungs – and, so far anyway, not the brain. So – I do have a heart, I do have a brain, and I am able to breathe well and so today I dedicate those things to the beginning of the revolution that is required to save this planet!

    God, hear our prayer!!

    See More

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And then . . .

When this blog site was started a number of years ago, I gave it the title Human Beings Anonymous. That title was also the intended title for a book that I had started to write at that time – basically a Twelve Steps book for people who seem to believe that they do not have any addictions or attachments. That book is yet to be completed.

This blog site has had several beginnings and restarts during those years, and has addressed a wide variety of topics – some more effectively than others. It has also  had several false starts – just like the one that brought me back to writing just a few weeks ago.

Over the years I have never found a center to give this blog site a focus and a true reason to be. That all changed the morning of Wednesday, November 9, 2016 – the morning following the recent election.

That morning I was convicted to change this blog site to one that tells the stories of people who made left invisible by society – the true anonymous human beings – women, people of color, LGBTQ people, senior citizens, ethnic and religious groups that society has  forced to the fringes of existence, and for me especially, our Native American sisters and brothers who continue to exist with the oppressions that have existed since the very earliest days of this country – and I know that this is not a complete list.

From this point forward this site will be dedicated to telling the stories of those who find it difficult for their voice to be heard. This site will be a communication ally for the marginalized, the oppressed, the hurting, and the invisible anonymous human beings that share life with us on this planet.

If anyone knows a story that needs to be told, or if you have a story that you need to tell, please be in contact with me so that we might find the most effective way to assist you in moving from anonymous and invisible to a place of love, respect, and compassion.

i know that there is some risk in committing to this work, but it is my calling, and I must begin this part of my life adventure!

Grace, peace, and love

Tom

 

 

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Your assistance is needed

I just signed the petition to President Obama to join us in taking the important step to STOP the Dakota Access Pipeline. The text of the request from CREDO follows and I have also reposed this request on my Facebook page. I encourage everyone to sign this petition and lend your support to this important cause for all of humanity.

Tell President Obama: Stop the Dakota Access pipeline.

It’s Keystone XL all over again: The Dakota Access pipeline would carry 450,000 barrels of dirty oil per day from North Dakota to Illinois and cut through fragile wildlife habitat, environmentally sensitive areas and sovereign tribal property. Worse, the pipeline would cross under the Missouri River, threatening drinking water downstream if a catastrophic oil spill occurs.

The Army Corps of Engineers granted the Dakota Access pipeline’s permits using a controversial fast-tracking process called “Nationwide Permit 12.” This allows the Corps to essentially rubber-stamp pipeline projects on private property or Native American lands with little environmental review and no meaningful public input.

The Corps incorrectly applied this fast-track process in conflict with numerous federal laws and agreements, including the “Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Historic Preservation Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, as well as federal trust responsibilities guaranteed in the 1851 and 1868 United States treaties with the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota tribes.”

Tell President Obama: Stop the Dakota Access pipeline.

The Standing Rock Sioux have been protesting for months in peaceful prayer camps in North Dakota, and farmers and landowners in Iowa have been fighting to stop the pipeline there for more than two years. Now, thousands of people have joined in solidarity. In recent days, activists in Iowa and North Dakota have been arrested for physically blocking the pipeline’s construction, with more protests planned in the coming weeks and months.

We must stand with the local leaders and communities who are holding the line against this dirty and dangerous oil pipeline.

This fight is winnable. Hundreds of thousands of CREDO activists, along with our allies across the country, applied massive public pressure on the Obama administration and stopped the Keystone XL pipeline. We can – and must – do it again.

Tell President Obama: Stop the Dakota Access pipeline.

Grace and peace

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A Sad and Tragic History

Today, I dedicate this space to the writing of Kahentinetha Horn from 2005. It offers a sobering summary of some of the darkest times in the history of this country.

More tomorrow

Grace and peace

The North American Indian Holocaust
Kahentinetha Horn

 The “final solution” of the North American Indian problem was the model for the subsequent Jewish holocaust and South African apartheid.

      Why is the biggest holocaust in all humanity being hidden from history? Is it because it lasted so long that it has become a habit? It’s been well documented that the killing of Indigenous people in the Western Hemisphere since the beginning of colonization has been estimated at 120 million. Yet nobody wants to speak about it.

      Today historians, anthropologists and archaeologists are revealing that information on this holocaust is being deliberately eliminated from the knowledge base and consciousness of North Americans and the world. A completely false picture is being painted of our people as suffering from social ills of our own making.

      It could be argued that the loss of 120 million from 1500 to 1800 isn’t the same as the loss of 6 million people during World War II. Can 6 million in 1945 be compared to 1 million in 1500?

      School children are still being taught that large areas of North America are uninhabited as if this land belongs to no one and never did. The role of our ancestors as caretakers is constantly and habitually overlooked by colonial society.

      Before the arrival of Europeans, cities and towns here were flourishing. Mexico City had a larger population than any city in Europe. The people were healthy and well-fed. The first Europeans were amazed. The agricultural products developed by the Indigenous people transformed human nutrition internationally.

      The North American Indian holocaust was studied by South Africa for their apartheid program and by Hitler for his genocide of the Jews during World War II. Hitler commented that he admired the great job Americans had done in taking care of the Indian problem. The policies used to kill us off was so successful that people today generally assume that our population was low. Hitler told a past US President when he remarked about their maltreatment of the Jewish people, he mind your own business. You’re the worst.

      Where are the monuments? Where are the memorial ceremonies? Why is it being concealed? The survivors of the WWII holocaust have not yet died and already there is a movement afoot to forget what happened.

      Unlike post-war Germany, North Americans refuse to acknowledge this genocide. Almost one and a quarter million Kanien’ke:haka (Mohawk) were killed off leaving us only a few thousand survivors.

      North Americans do not want to reveal that there was and still is a systematic plan to destroy most of the native people by outright murder by bounty hunters and land grabbers, disease through distributing small pox infested blankets, relocation, theft of children who were placed in concentration camps called “residential schools” and assimilation.

      As with the Jews, they could not have accomplished this without their collaborators who they trained to serve their genocidal system through their “re-education camps”.

      The policy changed from outright slaughter to killing the Indian inside. Governments, army, police, church, corporations, doctors, judges and common people were complicit in this killing machine. An elaborate campaign has covered up this genocide which was engineered at the highest levels of power in the United States and Canada. This cover up continues to this day. When they killed off all the Indians, they brought in Blacks to be their labourers.

      In the residential schools many eye witnesses have recently come forward to describe the atrocities. They called these places “death camps” where, according to government records, nearly half of all these innocent Indigenous children died or disappeared as if they never existed. In the 1920’s when Dr. Bryce was alarmed by the high death rate of children in residential schools, his report was suppressed.

      The term “Final Solution” was not coined by the Nazis. It was Indian Affairs Superintendent, Duncan Campbell Scott, Canada’s Adolph Eichmann, who in April 1910 plotted out the planned murder to take care of the “Indian problem”.

      “It is readily acknowledged that Indian children lose their natural resistance to illness by habitating so closely in these schools, and that they die at a much higher rate than in their villages. But this alone does not justify a change in the policy of this Department, which is geared towards the final solution of our Indian Problem”. (DIA Archives, RG 10 series).

      In the 1930’s he brought German doctors over here to do medical experiments on our children. According to the study the majority of the lives of these children was extinguished. School children are taught his poetry with no mention of his role as the butcher of the Indian people.

      Those who carried out this annihilation of our people were protected so they could declare full-scale war on us. North Americans as heirs of the fruits of this murderous system have blood on their hands. If people are sincere about preventing holocausts they must remember it. History must be told as it really happened in all its tragic details.

      It’s not good enough to just remember the holocaust that took place during the lifetime of some of the survivors. We have to remember the larger holocaust. Isn’t it time to uncover the truth and make the perpetrators face up to this?

      In the west there are a whole series of Eichmanns. General Amherst ordered the distribution of small pox infested blankets to kill of our people. But his name is shamelessly preserved in the names of towns and streets. George Washington is called the “village burner” in Mohawk because of all the villages he ordered burnt. Villages would be surrounded. As the people came running out, they would be shot, stabbed, women, children and elders alike. In one campaign alone “hundreds of thousand died, from New York across Pennsylvania, West Virgina and into Ohio”. His name graces the capital of the United States.

      The smell of death in their own backyard does not seem to bother North Americans. This is obscene.

By Kahentinetha Horn, MNN Mohawk Nation News, kahentinetha2@yahoo.com
First published in
Akwesasne Phoenix, Jan. 30, 2005 issue

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Breaking news . . .

The world is a mess! That may even be an understatement. I have been hoping that it would not be necessary for me to break our current focus, but the time has come and I can no longer stay silent.

For years, many many years – since before the beginning of this country our Native American brothers and sisters have been treated as less than human. The following words appear four paragraphs from the end of the Declaration of Independence:

He [the present King of Great Btitain] has executed insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontier, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

Our Native American ancestors are excluded by name, “merciless Imdian Savages, from the beloved words found in the early part of the document.

We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I WRITE THIS POST IN SUPPORT OF THE BRAVE NATIVE AMERICANS WHO ARE CURRENTLY TAKING A STAND TO PROTECT THEIR LAND AND WATER FROM LARGE COMPANIES AND MAJOR BANKS WITH THE COMPLICITY OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT AND THE MAIN STREAM MEDIA. THIS IS YET ANOTHER OCCURENCE OF THE RICH AND POWERFUL TREATING THE NATIVE PEOPLES AS THOSE WHO REMAIN SUB-HUMAN.

Following is some more information to help our understanding of this outrageous situation.

The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished, and continues to prohibit, slavery, and, with limited exceptions, prohibits involuntary servitude. Prior to its ratification, slavery remained legal only in Delaware and Kentucky, everywhere else; the slaves had been freed by state action and the federal government’s Emancipation Proclamation executive order.

The 14th Amendment is one of the post-Civil War amendments, also known as the Reconstruction Amendments that was first intended to secure rights for former slaves. It includes the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses among others. It was proposed on June 13, 1866, and ratified on July 28, 1868. It is perhaps the most significant structural change to the Constitution since the passage of the  Bill of Rights . . . This Amendment provides a broad definition of national citizenship, and overturned the Dred Scott case, which excluded Blacks. It requires the states to provide equal protection under the law to all persons, not just to citizens, within their jurisdictions and was used in the mid-20th century to dismantle legal segregation, as in Brown v. Board of Education. The Due Process Clause has driven important and controversial cases regarding privacy rights, abortion, and other issues.
The 15th Amendment is the last of the three “Reconstruction amendments” that passed after the Civil War. This amendment prohibits the states or the federal government from using a citizen’s race, color or previous status as a slave to be a voting qualification. Its basic purpose was to enfranchise former slaves who weren’t allowed to vote and weren’t even considered American citizens prior. The first person to vote under the provisions of the amendment was Thomas Mundy Peterson who cast his ballot in a school board election held on February 4, 1870, the day after the 15th Amendment was ratified. But it was not really until the Voting Rights Act in 1965, almost a century later, that the full promise of the 15th Amendment was actually achieved in all states.
After the passage on a per capita and absolute basis, more Blacks were elected to political office during the period from 1865 to 1880 than at any other time in American history. Although no state elected a Black governor during Reconstruction, a number of state legislatures were effectively under the control of a substantial Black caucus. These legislatures brought in programs such as, universal public education that are considered part of government’s new duty, but at the time were seen as radical. They also set aside all racially-biased laws, even those prohibiting interracial marriage, or miscegenation. (http://www.blackhistory.com/content/60916/13th-14th-and-15th-amendments).
Sadly, however, Native Americans were not granted citizenship until 1924, because the reservations and territories of the Native peoples were not considered to be part of the United States. Also, voting rights and qualifications remained under the prevue of the individual states. Native Americans who resided in New Mexico and Arizona still had not been granted voting privileges as late as 1948.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 should have solved the problem, but it was not until a 1976 amendment of that act that Native Americans were designated as a group that could no longer suffer from voting exclusion.
And that is not the end – the Supreme Court gutted many provisions of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 when it ruled that certain sections were not constitutional because the provisions were ruled to “no longer be responsive to current conditions.”
In a related situation my own ancestors were part of the forced relocation later known as the Trail of Tears. I will speak to that matter in my next post.
Grace and peace

 

 

 

 

 

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