The Joy of Victory, the Irony of Kinship, and something from Buffy

Sunday, December 11

Joy

Celebrating brunch today with the first of my friends to return home from Standing Rock since last Sunday’s victory. Three generations of beautiful heroic American Indian women! Humbly and bravely triumphant in the face of so much terror and trauma before the US Department of the Army blessedly ordered a halt to the dreaded pipeline being constructed against the treaty rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. Grandma M had gone up first, taking the pickup filled with medical supplies, Mom T & Kiddo S (already 4 years old now!) drove up later. They just got back in town last night.

There’s no guarantee yet, of course, that last week’s Federal order halting further construction of the Dakota Access Pipe Line will hold beyond the end of winter. But everyone’s very hopeful, and of course prayerful. Nonetheless, it’s an historic victory, for now, no matter what!

[The Dakota Access Pipe Line (DAPL) is a tar sands sludge oil pipeline, partially owned by the current “president-elect” Donald Trump, that has been under construction as a private commercial enterprise to pump dirty tar sands oil across North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and half way across Illinois. Once the pipeline was to be completed, the oil was to be refined and then sold exclusively to foreign commercial markets. There is no financial benefit to the American people from this project, only to the company’s billionaire owners.

The pipeline would transport highly toxic, and explosively flammable sludge oil across four states and run underwater across the bed of both the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, with extremely highly probable danger of deadly contamination to the drinking water supply of millions, to the quality of air, and the health and safety of many millions of Americans. There would also be a potential cost of many billions in tax-payer dollars, if and when inevitable contamination would sooner or later occur from leaks, breaks, spills, explosions, and fires. The government of North Dakota has recently failed in its years’-long attempts to hide from the public the shocking number of pipeline spills that have already caused tremendous public damage, harm, and danger.

Construction of this pipeline so far has brought it close to the planned crossing site of the Missouri River, on land held by the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Before being forced to halt, the oil company ignored earlier Federal injunctions and proceeded to excavate and lay pipe across the Tribe’s burial land, causing damage to its sacred sites.]

Among the many thousands of folks gathered and camped for months at Standing Rock to protect the water and people, most don’t live permanently there within the Sioux Nation. Most of these allies are now breaking camp and leaving for the rest of the winter. Thousands are now coming back at last to their homes all over the country and all over the world. Allies from over 300 Native American nations had been gathered there for months to join and support the Standing Rock Sioux during the massive Water Protection Pray-In, along with thousands of other fellow-supporters from all 50 states and from more than 100 other countries, representing the people of over half the world’s nations.

Altogether, the prayer camp residents included 5,000+ Water Protectors present full-time with an additional 5,000+ others present only on weekends. These 10,000 + protectors were joined during the last few days before the victory by an additional approximately 4,000 US military veterans who arrived from all over the nation committed to stand together indefinitely as human shields to protect the Sioux and their gathered peaceful allies-in-prayer from the daily violent attacks being perpetrated by hundreds of private mercenaries hired by the oil company who were joined in carrying out these attacks by thousands of public tax-paid police troops from several states ordered there through pressure from the oil company in a corrupt misuse of legislation mandating interstate emergency disaster relief assistance. Instead of helping relieve the Native citizens in the face of this very real horrific disaster, the police gathered from numerous states in order to shoot the Indians and their allied friends with potentially lethal rubber bullets! 

So, confronting the Water Protectors, were combined interstate forces of public police officers paid by public taxes joining the goon squads of mercenaries, “private security guard contractors,” hired by the fat-cat oil company which has been attempting to push through with the pipeline construction against already standing Federal injunctions ordering its halt. These combined armed mercenary and police forces engaged daily in repeated attacks upon the peaceful Water Protectors. The illegally-amassed police and mercenaries attacked the crowds of Natives-and-allies with pepper-spray, tear gas, water canons, sound canons, potentially lethal rubber bullet barrages, and with trained attack dogs who were set upon the unarmed activists to bite and maim them.

Such organized dog attacks have not been seen on American TV since Southern racist police forces under Sheriff Bull Connor used attack dogs to maul, terrorize, and subjugate Civil Rights activists in the mid 1960s. This was a scene also reminiscent of the dog attacks against Native people perpetrated during the early Spanish colonial era by invading Conquistators and their mercenary troops of hired criminals and utterly thuggish fortune hunters.

Regarding other Standing Rock defender friends, I’ve heard from the Sisters H, both of whom have been back in California for a while already, having had to come home to be with their kids; they’ll all be headed through here soon on their way up to the Mesa to be with their Gram for the holidays.

Haven’t heard yet from Dr. P. since the successful ruling and the gradual dispersal of the camp. She had hauled her tipi up to the gathering early on from her long-term camp in NM.

What a season it’s been! What a blessed relief that the federal “authorities” (the US Department of the Army, no less!!) finally, just in the last nick of time, decided in favour of Native people and their treaty rights, in favour of protecting everyone’s water and land, and protecting all of our American family from the dangers of predatory oil barons. These oil barons have no regard for the well-being of anyone but themselves while they further line their pockets and further feather their own relatively safer McMansion nests at the expense of everyone else! Let’s pray this Federal halt to the pipeline sticks! Despite the wicked greedy intentions of those shrivel-hearted pipeline-pushing billionaires, including major DAPL shareholder Trumpled Frackedskin, who is seemingly about to be our next presidential CEO and COO.

 

Irony

Speaking of despicable presidential personages preying on Indian Country and American Indian People: I recently discovered, much to my chagrin, that I am first cousins, six generations removed, with disgusting old Andrew Jackson!

Image result for andrew jackson photo

It turns out that my immigrant Hutchinson ancestral granddad of seven generations back, an Ulster Scot (Scotch-Irish) immigrant to colonial America, and President Jackson’s immigrant mother, Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson (c 1740-1781), were brother and sister. Thus, this ancestral grandfather of mine was President Jackson’s maternal uncle, and hence Jackson and I are first cousins, at only just a few generations’ remove.

To appreciate the irony of this, you must realize that among my many other ancestors from various ethnic backgrounds and nations, are some who were members of various American Indian nations, including Creeks. My family and I have always detested Jackson, particularly because he murdered many of our Creek and Creek-Métis family forebears and their relatives, friends, and neighbors, as well as others of our ancestors of that era belonging to other Southeast American Indian nations.

Jackson’s campaign of genocide slaughtered outright thousands of Creeks and their neighbours, while many who survived Jackson’s wars died soon thereafter on the forced winter death marches along the Trail of Tears — almost 50% of the Creeks and Métis (persons of mixed white and Indian heredity) forced to relocate to Oklahoma died on route while walking the Trail of Tears. And a similar rate of death prevailed among the war-survivors of the other tribes whom Jackson also forced to evacuate their homelands in the Southeast and to march along the deadly Trail.

So, I have always felt only a minimal amount of shared-human affinity with Jackson, about as much charitable warmth as I feel personally toward Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Bush, and others who have perpetrated genocide &/or mass-murderous “ethnic cleansing.” But now it turns out that President Jackson, that genocidal historic leader of our American nation, is literally my cousin!

Anya Dot Tethl ! — “Respect for all beings as our own kin! All beings are my relations!” Indeed. This is one of the most sacred of ancient affirmative prayers recited several times daily by many Native populations (in their respective languages, as well as in English). I had to gasp and cackle, sigh and shake my head at myself, all at the same time, with shock, horror and humbling ironical dark humor, when I learned of this close ancestral family kinship relation of mine with Andrew Jackson! Laughing darkly and humbly at myself for my now-ironic lifelong lack of respect and family feeling toward my cousin Jackson, that murderer of so many of my other ancestors of that time. But, “All beings are my own relations” indeed! Even Evil Old Andrew Adolf Joseph Pol Pot Mao Shrub Jackson, as it turns out, is a first cousin of mine! Of course. For better and worse, we are all cousins, we are all one family.

Jackson was known to Creeks of his day (and to some even now) by a number of darkly sardonic nicknames. The most common was “Killer Always Hungry For More Land” which was often shortened to “King of Dirt” or “Dirt King Jacksuh.” Another wording would be “He Who Always Devours More of Earth and Her people.” Here the word translated as Killer literally meaning “mass-murderer who gobbles up all”, or in effect, “Grim Reaper Cannibal,” or “Insatiable Cannibal-Glutton.” Something like that.

There are first hand contemporary accounts penned by some of Jackson’s white volunteer soldiers, writing home to their wives and families (!), describing how they had just in the past few days attacked and jubilantly exterminated entire Creek towns, burning alive both unprepared warriors, and hundreds of defenseless women and children huddled together in their log homes with their elders, their sick and wounded. After these mass torchings, the soldiers described how they feasted on the half-burned grain and other food supplies stored in the cellars of the now destroyed homes, food which they found was “warm from the consuming flames and now greatly enriched with the melted and dripped fat from the dead bodies.” 

Jackson’s Creek nickname “King of Cannibals,” alternately translated as “King of Dirt (or filth),” carries the negative sense of “king” as “evil tyrant” or “ruthless despot”, while here “dirt” implies soil composed in part of the bodies of the ancestral dead, and hence a punning double meaning of earth that is at once both the sacred ground source of the living and also of earth composted with the unclean remains of recent murder victims, the “dirt” of countless cadavers.

“Mad Cannibal Jacksuh the Dirt King,” “Crazed Devourer of Sacred Land and of the Dead,” “Gobbler-in-Chief of torched Creek Land and of torched Creek corpses.” Yup, creepily, horribly enough (and how much worse can it get?), it turns out Jackson’s another dead US president who is one of my cousins, in his case the nephew of one of my ancestral grandfathers…of seven generations ago. “All beings are my relations”—this is an ageless insight (both an ancient universal truth & modern scientific fact), and a traditional Native affirmative prayer, whose ever-deepening layers of meaning and value I am even now at this late date still further discovering and aspiring to more fully comprehend and live. 

I’m not likely now to suddenly abandon the family tradition, and my own life-long childish habit, of drawing insulting grotesque funny-faces of protest graffiti on Jackson’s hateful angry ugly mug portrayed on US 20 dollar bills (each of which bills, symbolically speaking, is soaked in Indian blood). It’s just too much fun keeping up this little bit of silly but pointed satiric protest.  But I am going to make a point of sending his wretched soul, wherever and as whoever he may presently be reincarnated, some supportive goodwill vibes and wishes for upliftment, for a softening and expansion of heart, a spiritual evolutionary refinement of understanding and inspiration toward universal compassionate action, of aspiration toward giving and receiving loving-kindness to and from all other beings, to and from all his relations and mine. You know, try to deliberately generate from my side some fellow-human feeling of forgiveness and goodwill from one estranged cousin to another. Heaven knows he can doubtlessly use it. As can we all.  Anya Dot Tethl !  Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.

“No! No! Keshagesh!”  by Buffy Sainte-Marie (b. 1941), the world famous Canadian-born Cree Indian singer-songwriter. [The First Nations Canadian Cree Indians are not the same nation as the US American Indian Creek Nation.]  I hope you enjoy the article about the background for this song (in links below), as well as the videos and the lyrics.

Buffy wrote this song in 2009, at the outset of the ongoing global financial Great Crash of ’08-’09. She is perhaps most famous as the author of the earlier classic modern folk song “Universal Soldier”, written in the basement of the Purple Onion coffeehouse nightclub in Greenwich Village NYC in the early 1960s & first recorded by her in 1964. A year later, Donovan’s cover version of “Universal Soldier” became an international hit. It’s hard to say who helped whose career more by their sharing of this song.

“No! No! Keshagesh!” represents a kind of come-back hit for Sainte-Marie’s career, which had been cut short by President Nixon. Tastes—especially musical tastes, perhaps—vary greatly, of course, and it’s just my personal opinion, but I think you’ll find that for a veteran of the early 1960s folkie scene, Buffy really holds her own in these recordings against such sister powerhouse women popsingers of her era like Tina Turner and Janis Joplin (and whatever hit young rocker/blues/folk women singers are out there today, as well!).

And unlike many singers, Buffy’s passion is not just performative or artistic;—she’s paid her dues as a performing artist, and woman of colour, and as a radical peace and eco-social justice activist as well. Nixon himself, always threatened by any effective dissent, made it a personal mission to try to ruin her career, having undercover agents constantly harass her and secretly confiscate and destroy her records before they could be distributed to radio stations and retail stores, along with much else. Buffy never caved or retreated. She even found refuge for years as a regular presenter on the hit PBS TV children’s educational show, “Sesame Street.”

But it had been years since she’d recorded or toured when the 2008-09 crash-&-bailout occurred, and it prompted this response from her as part of her album Running for the Drum. As she mentions in the article posted below, keshagesh means “greedy guts” in her native Cree language—someone who is not content with their own fair share, but must gobble up all others’ shares as well, just to kept them from thriving or surviving, to exercise complete control over others—even to the point of killing them.

No! No! Keshagesh!

words and music by Buffy Sainte-Marie

I never saw so many business suits!
Never knew a dollar sign could look so cute
Never knew a junkie with a money jones!

He’s singin’: “Who’s selllin’ Park Place? Who’s buying Boardwalk?”

These old men they make their dirty deals
Go in the back room and see what they can steal
Talk about your “Beautiful, for spacious skies”!
It’s about uranium. It’s about the water rights

Got Mother Nature on a luncheon plate
They carve her up and call it real estate!
Want all the resources and all of the land
They make a war over it! Blow brains up for it!

The reservation now is Poverty Row
There’s somethin cookin and the lights are low
Somebody’s tryin to save our Mother Earth

I’m gonna help em Save it, and Sing it, and Pray it, singin:

No! No! Keshagesh! you can’t do that no more!

No more! no more!

No-no-no! No-no, no-no, Keshagesh!

you can’t do that no more! no more! no more!

Ol’ Columbus, he was lookin good
When he got lost in our neighborhood
Garden of Eden right before his eyes!
Now it’s all spyware; now it’s all income tax!

Ol’ Brother Midas lookin hungry today
What he can’t buy he’ll get some other way!
Send in the troopers if the Natives resist
Old, old story, boys; that’s how ya do it, boys!

Look at these people, Lord! they’re on a roll!
Gotta have it all; gotta have complete control
Want all the resources and all of the land
They’ll break the law for it! Blow things up for it!

While all our champions are off in the war
Their final rip-off here at home is on!

Mister Greed, I think your time has come

We gonna Sing it, and Pray, and Live with and Say it, singin;

No! No! Keshagesh! you can’t do that no more!

no more! no more!

No-no-no! No-no-no-no! Keshagesh!

you can’t do that no more! no more! no more!

(2009)

Article about Buffy’s song “No No Keshagesh”

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/11/27/808528/-Native-American-Heritage-Day-No-No-Keshagesh

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