Re: Amerindian resistance mode (was: amerindian an offensive

Stephen W. Russell (
Sat, 10 Aug 1996 07:30:00 -0500

On Thu, 8 Aug 1996, Matt Silberstein wrote:

> (Gerold Firl) wrote:
> >In article <>, "Stephen W. Russell" <> writes:
> >|> On 5 Aug 1996, Gerold Firl wrote:
> >|> > What is your longterm vision for the american indians?
> >|> Truthfully? I think we ARE going to die out.
> >When you say "die out", you must refer to the culture, rather than the
> >people, since the indian people will not die out.

A quick look a the yearly reports of the Indian Health Service might cast
some doubt on whether that statement could be taken literally. I did not
mean it literally, that you mention it....

The culture is more
> >questionable, but even there I'm not so sure. Indian culture held out
> >pretty well against the open warfare pre-20th century, and against the
> >forced-assimilation policies of the early 1900's, and against the
> >consumer culture of the late 20th century. Indian culture is very
> >fashionable in mainstream american culture.

If I could explain America's fascination with dead Indians to the
detriment of live Indians I would probably be writing it somewhere
besides usenet.

Traditionally, our medicine people would choose a child at about age
seven to become the recipient of knowledge that took thirty years or so
to understand. No one is studying this way to my knowledge, and the last
people who did are really old.

The clan wampum--some of them--still exist, but very few people can
narrate the stories contained upon them.

While the boarding schools bred a lively underground Indian culture as
they tried to stamp it out, the connection with the elders was interrupted.

Every time a traditional elder dies, a little more is lost forever.

There is a pan-Indian culture developing based more on Plains culture and
political solidarity than clan ties. After this post, I am off to the
Leon River Medicine Wheel where I will participate in ceremonies
conducted by a Shoshone elder who is trying to teach us the ways of the
Wheel before he has to make the journey. The Cheyenne elder who helped
us rebuild the Wheel passed on last year.

Although I did as poorly in primary and secondary schools as most Indian
kids and never finished, I now have three college degrees and I
understand the arguments for letting this stuff go. But I cannot and
will not let it go.

Yes, we are hanging over a chasm by our fingers. But most of do not
expect the dominant culture to give us a hand up---just to quit stomping
on our fingers.

Steve Russell