By Guest Contributor Megan Red-Shirt Shaw
Only four United States presidents have ever visited an Indian reservation during their terms: Calvin Coolidge in 1927, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936, Bill Clinton in 1999 and now, Barack Obama, here in the year 2014. Last week ended a 15-year-long gap between visits by our country’s leader to Indian Country. As I watched footage of President Obama and First Lady Michelle sitting at a powwow hosted by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation, the thought shocked me: over the past 80 years, the president of our country has only come knocking on our doors four times.
Clinton’s visit ended a 63-year gap between presidential Rez visits. During that time, the Indian Reorganization Act was created; roughly 25,000 American Indians served in World War II; the National Congress of American Indians and the National Indian Youth Council came into existence; the American Indian Movement seized Alcatraz Island; Wounded Knee was reoccupied; the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs was reestablished; and the United States v. Sioux Indian case was decided by the Supreme Court. Yet, in sixty-three years, within Indian Country – none of these happenings warranted a visit from the President of the United States.
By Arturo R. García
Dan Snyder apparently attempted to sidestep the continuing criticism around his National Football League franchise on Monday, announcing the formation of an “Original Americans Foundation” in a four-page letter on his team’s website, the Washington Post reported.
A young Russell Means. Image via Race-Talk.org
By Guest Contributor Gyasi Ross, cross-posted from Race-Talk
… After I die, I’m coming back as lightning. When it zaps the White House, they’ll know it’s me.
– Russell Means
I never met Russell Means. I had the chance to meet him when I was a kid. In fact, I saw him a few times as a youngster, but I was so intimidated by him—he seemed bigger than life—I never actually went to speak to him. I heard a lot of things about him as I grew older; good stuff, bad stuff. However, he was somebody about whom, as Native people, everybody seemed to hold an opinion.
When I heard of his passing, I was sad, just like when you hear about anyone of your heroes passing. I know members of his family, and that made it even more painful; yet, I thought it was appropriate the fashion and time in which he passed—on his own terms, loudly, and with the world taking notice.
I don’t think that it was a coincidence that he passed at the exact moment that the National Congress of American Indians’ Annual Conference was convening. Big Brother Means was a throwback, a non-conformist, a fighter. He wanted nothing to do with this current era of conciliatory politics, where many tribal leaders work hand-in-hand with the same US government that has historically worked for Native peoples’ demise.