October 17, 2007

BE AFRAID, SAYS DAVID YEAGLEY

from the Bad Eagle journal

Be Afraid. Be very afraid. The world of men is full of “very nasty, bad, naughty boys” (Republican Larry Craig). Humanity comes from the chimps you see, and American Indians are the lowest of the human species, closer to being chimps ourselves. Warfare, savagery, and all things war, are in the Native DNA, so decries David Yeagley.

Yeagley — “Chimpanzees were vicious, male-dominated, practically rapists, and all too willing to reap the reproductive benefits of dominance... Yes, [Jane] Goodall's work contained the requisite denigration of humanity--via the exaltation of the animal... This work pertains to the American Indian, and his way of life. It is abundantly clear that he was the "blood-thirsty," heartless savage everyone always thought he was” (19-14-07).
Okay, so Jane was ‘exalting’ animals to an unnatural equivalent status to humans, as if a lower form of being. First mistake, chimps are not of lower value, they are simply different. Comparing Indians as somehow lower too, when compared to non-Indians? Mistake number two, though Indians have been sometimes on the warpath, it is not war that defines Indian culture, it is “being related” in communities of love and solidarity.

It is this relatedness that is the bond holding Indian cultures together and sustaining us throughout time. Being "related” is the reason Indians are still around — including David Yeagley himself — though he would be blind toward acknowledging that birthright with his fake warrior persona that obscures the true reason he evens exists, of course, as the born offspring of a Mexican mother.

There are many great socialistic heroes of humanity that according to Yeagley’s notion, would also be included in his “blood-thirsty” DNA theory, such as Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Jesus, the Dalai Lama, and many others. All these great people seem to understand that being human (and being Indian) does not involve fighting but avoids war. Being human involves the sustainability of kindness, the vibrancy of peace and the respect for community. Native people call this living in the hoop, the cycle of life, the circle, or simply of being related.

With his ‘who-would-Jesus-kill’ mentality, Yeagley simply cannot “get” this fact. As we have pointed out before, it is stereotyped nonsense to try positing that being Indian means being a warrior. This is reductionist and an outright mischaracterization of the heart of Indian culture.

Being Indian is being related. Yeagley misses this holistic truth, probably because he did not grow up Comanche and did not grow up around other Indians. Yeagley is a book-learned Indian, an Indian who only knows about Indians from books but not from real life experience. And just because a Mexican man can read books about Indians, does not mean he understands anything of Indian life. It is painfully clear that David Yeagley knows little beyond what he so desperately clings to: warmongering, blind patriotism, narrow-minded white supremacy, and most things considered anti-community and anti-Indian.

Don’t be afraid, but recognize the respect of a larger community that cherishes the common good, in a life reciprocity that we call “being related.” Being Native is not about fear — Being Native is about respecting other cultures not fighting them for oil. Being Native is about kindness for others, not the “nasty boy” intolerance of the world’s David Yeagleys. Instead of sucking up to little david’s outlandishly inflated ego, why not read something from a true American Indian leader. It is far better to learn from someone who has earned the respect of her community and is a champion of Indian rights and culture.

MARGE ANDERSON

Chief Executive, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Delivered to the First Friday Club of the Twin Cities, Sponsored by St. Thomas Alumni, St. Paul, Minnesota, March 5, 1999.
THE VALUE OF INDIAN CULTURE
Aaniin. Thank you for inviting me here today. When I was asked to speak to you, I was told you are interested in hearing about the improvements we are making on the Mille Lacs Reservation, and about our investment of casino dollars back into our community through schools, health care facilities, and other services. And I do want to talk to you about these things, because they are tremendously important, and I am very proud of them.

But before I do, I want to take a few minutes to talk to you about something else, something I'm not asked about very often. I want to talk to you about what it means to be Indian. About how my people experience the world. About the fundamental way in which our culture differs from yours. And about why you should care about all this.


The differences between Indians and non-Indians have created a lot of controversy lately. Casinos, treaty rights, tribal sovereignty - these issues have stirred such anger and bitterness. I believe the accusations against us are made out of ignorance. The vast majority of non-Indians do not understand how my people view the world, what we value, what motivates us.

They do not know these things for one simple reason: they've never heard us talk about them. For many years, the only stories that non-Indians heard about my people came from other non-Indians. As a result, the picture you got of us was fanciful, or distorted, or so shadowy, it hardly existed at all. It's time for Indian voices to tell Indian stories.


Now, I'm sure at least a few of you are wondering, "Why do I need to hear these stories? Why should I care about what Indian people think, and feel, and believe?" I think the most eloquent answer I can give you comes from the namesake of this university, St. Thomas Aquinas. St. Thomas wrote that dialogue is the struggle to learn from each other. This struggle, he said, is like Jacob wrestling the angel - it leaves one wounded and blessed at the same time.

Indian people know this struggle very well. The wounds we've suffered in our dialogue with non-Indians are well-documented; I don't need to give you a laundry list of complaints.
We also know some of the blessings of this struggle. As American Indians, we live in two worlds - ours, and yours.

In the 500 years since you first came to our lands, we have struggled to learn how to take the best of what your culture has to offer in arts, science, technology and more, and then weave them into the fabric of our traditional ways. But for non-Indians, the struggle is new. Now that our people have begun to achieve success, now that we are in business and in the headlines, you are starting to wrestle with understanding us. Your wounds from this struggle are fresh, and the pain might make it hard for you to see beyond them. But if you try, you'll begin to see the blessings as well - the blessings of what a deepened knowledge of Indian culture can bring to you.

I'd like to share a few of those blessings with you today.
Earlier I mentioned that there is a fundamental difference between the way Indians and non-Indians experience the world. This difference goes all the way back to the bible, and Genesis. In Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, God creates man in his own image. Then God says, "be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of the heaven, and all living animals on the earth."

Masters. Conquer. Nothing, nothing could be further from the way Indian people view the world and our place in it. Here are the words of the great nineteenth century Chief Seattle: "You are a part of the earth, and the earth is a part of you. You did not weave the web of life, you are merely a strand in it. Whatever you do to the web, you do to yourself."

In our tradition, there is no mastery. There is no conquering. Instead, there is kinship among all creation-humans, animals, birds, plants, even rocks. We are all part of the sacred hoop of the world, and we must all live in harmony with each other if that hoop is to remain unbroken.


When you begin to see the world this way - through Indian eyes - you will begin to understand our view of land, and treaties, very differently. You will begin to understand that when we speak of Father Sun and Mother Earth, these are not new-age catchwords - they are very real terms of respect for very real beings.

And when you understand this, then you will understand that our fight for treaty rights is not just about hunting deer or catching fish. It is about teaching our children to honor Mother Earth and Father Sun. It is about teaching them to respectfully receive the gifts these loving parents offer us in return for the care we give them. And it is about teaching this generation and the generations yet to come about their place in the web of life.

Our culture and the fish, our values and the deer, the lessons we learn and the rice we harvest- everything is tied together. You can no more separate one from the other than you can divide a person's spirit from his body. When you understand how we view the world and our place in it, it's easier to appreciate why our casinos are so important to us. The reason we defend our businesses so fiercely isn't because we want to have something that others don't. The reason is because these businesses allow us to give back to others - to our People, our communities, and the Creator.

I'd like to take a minute and mention just a few of the ways we've already given back:
We've opened new schools, new health care facilities, and new community centers where our children get a better education, where our elders get better medical care, and where our families can gather to socialize and keep our traditions alive.

We've built new ceremonial buildings, and new powwow and celebration grounds. We've renovated an elderly center, and plan to build three culturally sensitive assisted living facilities for our elders. We've created programs to teach and preserve our language and cultural traditions. We've created a Small Business Development Program to help band members start their own businesses.

We've created more than twenty-eight hundred jobs for band members, people from other tribes, and non-Indians. We've spurred the development of more than one thousand jobs in other local businesses. We've generated more than fifty million dollars in federal taxes, and more than fifteen million dollars in state taxes through wages paid to employees. And we've given back more than two million dollars in charitable donations.

The list goes on and on. But rather than flood you with more numbers, I'll tell you a story that sums up how my people view business through the lens of our traditional values. Last year, the Woodlands National Bank, which is owned and operated by the Mille Lacs Band, was approached by the city of Onamia and asked to forgive a mortgage on a building in the downtown area. The building had been abandoned and was an eyesore on Main Street. The city planned to renovate and sell the building, and return it to the tax rolls.

Although the band would lose money by forgiving the mortgage, our business leaders could see the wisdom in improving the community. The opportunity to help our neighbors was an opportunity to strengthen the web of life. So we forgave the mortgage.
Now, I know this is not a decision everyone would agree with. Some people feel that in business, you have to look out for number one. But my people feel that in business - and in life - you have to look out for every one.

And this, I believe, is one of the blessings that Indian culture has to offer you and other non-Indians. We have a different perspective on so many things, from caring for the environment, to healing the body, mind and soul. But if our culture disappears, if the Indian ways are swallowed up by the dominant American culture, no one will be able to learn from them. Not Indian children. Not your children. No one. All that knowledge, all that wisdom, will be lost forever. The struggle of dialogue will be over. Yes, there will be no more wounds. But there will also be no more blessings.

There is still so much we have to learn from each other, and we have already wasted so much time. Our world grows smaller every day. And every day, more of our unsettling, surprising, wonderful differences vanish. And when that happens, part of each of us vanishes, too. I'd like to end with one of my favorite stories. It's a funny little story about Indians and non-Indians, but its message is serious: you can see something differently if you are willing to learn from those around you.


This is the story: Years ago, white settlers came to this area and built the first European-style homes. When Indian People walked by these homes and saw see-through things in the walls, they looked through them to see what the strangers inside were doing. The settlers were shocked, but it makes sense when you think about it: windows are made to be looked through from both sides. Since then, my people have spent many years looking at the world through your window. I hope today I've given you a reason to look at it through ours. Mii gwetch.

5 comments:

Rob said...

Excellent posting!

You should enable Permalinks so we can link to postings like this one directly.

Anonymous said...

Just came across this, I thought it was excellent also.

Why can't more people that are anti-Indian understand this kind of reason?

The anti-Indian like Morris and Yeagley's of the World won't change their ideals and ideas, they just keep drudging on and promoting the White Supremists views. They can speak of the Native American on their blogs, yet they intimidate the Real Native American when they try to make a statement on their own behalf, saying we need to quit whining and living in the past and calling it dysfunctional to bring up the real story of the First Americans. We are stiffled if we let them stiffle us, but more of this reasoning and excellent views are needed to let others we are still here, we care, we are assimulated for the most part, yet we can Stand Alone if we chose to. We are the ones that chose to be who we are, we should let no other race try to stiffle our ancestry and History. We are a force to be reckon with. I love being Full Blood Comanche and I will stand with any other Native American who believes in their cause to keep our image alive, but by our own and thier own standards of their Nation.

Comanchemoon

Anonymous said...

Here is an interesting thing, that I heard with my own ears at last months' (July 2008)Comanche Business Committee meeting.

Yeagley asking to look into old records of the Comanche Nation for any of his family history...I thought he knew it all...I thought he wrote it all. If he isn't careful, he may find himself in total oblivion. If he is honest with himself...what he finds may be just that he is not really enough Comanche to be on our rolls, I just thought that was a strange request for him to make given his published Badeagle Tale. He would not ever admit he was wrong.

Actually I think it is strange that he has the nerve to even show up at a Comanche Business Committee meeting at all, given his recent filming career with the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Horrible Danish Documentay.

I'd like to see him show up at a Robert Redfords Sundance Film Festival, and walk around with either his white cowboy hat or better still his beaded head band, wearing his cowboy boots, jacket with fringes 12 inches long and his lucky sioux choker betty ann gave him....I wonder what they would think of him...wonder what they would do to him?

Marge Anderson, you spoke so eloquently of what it means to be Indian, it was beautifully stated.

BRENT MICHAEL DAVIDS said...

Yes, Marge expresses what being Indian means in a good way, to be related. I doubt the Daughter of Dawn score goes to Sundance but if it does I may review it and post the review. Or not, simply let it die in obscurity. At any rate, I do believe the director of the OHS was duped by Yeagley and the Comanche Nation has suffered another loss resulting from Yeagley's ranting. It appears that Yeagley "ranted" himself into the scoring job, and the OHS spread a known lie to do enable it. I suspect it is largely the fault of the OHS director, and I publicly dare him to challenge me on this.

BRENT MICHAEL DAVIDS said...

[quote] "Yeagley asking to look into old records of the Comanche Nation for any of his family history...I thought he knew it all...I thought he wrote it all. If he isn't careful, he may find himself in total oblivion. If he is honest with himself...what he finds may be just that he is not really enough Comanche to be on our rolls, I just thought that was a strange request for him to make given his published Badeagle Tale. He would not ever admit he was wrong."

I'm sure he realizes he is vulnerable on the facts of his supposed lineage. If he's showing up at Council meetings with his requests, it smacks of desperation as well. A simple quiet trip to the tribal offices might have yielded more answers, but I'm sure Yeagley's apparent haughtiness prompted the public display.