Every year Indian country is filled with leaders, politicians, broadcasters and talking heads provide memorable quotes for anyone listening to catch. Some ignorant, some out of touch, and some commendable. Indian Country Today Media Network has compiled a list of quotes that we will break down into three parts, Perceptions, Politics, and On The Past, the Present, the Future, that will be shared over the New Year’s weekend.
On the Past, the Present, the Future
“I remember the chaos. I remember bullets whizzing through the windows.”—Jessica Lynch, recalling the circumstances of her capture during the Gulf War and the heroism of her fellow soldier, Lori Piestewa who was killed in the attack.
“I had no one to turn to, not even God, because God’s representative on Earth was the one hurting me.”—Howard Wanna, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, in discussing the sexual abuse he remembers while attending a South Dakota boarding school.
“All those people burning and jumping out. Oh, I felt it.”—Les Albany, former World Trade Center worker, reflecting ten years later on the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
“We want to make sure that our way of life is not destroyed.”—Chief Roger Wesley, Constance Lake First Nation of the Matawa First Nations, lobbying for the Canadian government to change their environmental assessment plans for a massive chromite mine in the resource-rich Ring of Fire in Northern Ontario.
“Apathy is killing us with what we are eating now.”—Jamescita Peshlakai, making a case for American Indians to turn to the principles of the ‘Paleolithic Diet.’
“We’re going to try to make sure that all you kids grow up healthy, knowing what to eat, knowing how to exercise”—First Lady Michelle Obama to Native American children attending an event at the White House in June.
“Elouise will always be remembered by me as a woman who fought the battle many of us didn’t know how to fight, and she did it with integrity despite the bullets to her chest and the arrows in her back. She will be remembered as the one and only modern-day female warrior who honored all those individual land owners who passed before her.”—Jackie Trotchie, a friend of Cobell’s and an Indian advocate in Montana, upon Cobell’s death from cancer in October.
“Andrew Jackson was a total complete bastard! Some Native people refuse to use twenty dollar bills because of his face on it.” –Donna Loring, a Vietnam veteran, former representative for the Penobscot Indian Nation to the Maine legislature, and author of In the Shadow of the Eagle: A Tribal Representative in Maine, expressing her astonishment at the government’s use of Jackson as a legal precedent.
“I’m in everybody else’s books. It was never a priority to me (to have my poems published in book form). It was important to get my work out and there are other ways to do that, so I’ve been in a lot of journals and newspapers and anthologies. A lot of them are community poems written to serve the people and give people a way to articulate certain kinds of issues. Books have not been my choice of outlet. They take too long.” – Suzan Shown Harjo in talking about the work she has done throughout her career earlier this year with ICTMN.
“It really is a crisis. We are in a third-world situation.”—Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence on the substandard housing in her community that has put many people at risk as the onslaught of winter approaches.
“Indian gaming should be an American success story of an impoverished people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and addressing the social and economic needs of their people. Instead it’s painted as a special interest, with so many negative connotations. I’m sure Indian country would rather do something else, but gaming has proved to be the sole source of major economic development to lift up and build economies in Indian country.”—Brian Patterson, President of United South and Eastern Tribes discussing what gaming has meant to Indian country as a whole.
“We’re doing exactly what Tecumseh said we’d do 150 years ago – we’re splintering and each going our own way. What’s most important here is we’re losing the narrative, we’re losing our ability to tell our story, and pretty soon we’ll just become like Las Vegas – commercial gaming – because it’s becoming about the money. We need to be reminded that when you do something, it’s not just about you. Everyone in this room knows what’s the right thing to do about Carcieri. The question is will you do it?”—Lobbyist and activist Tom Rodgers on those lobbying against a clean Carcieri fix.
“Anytime tribal nations had something of value, someone was waiting in the wings to take it away from us!”—James C. Ramos, chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, discussing the paradox of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in its almost 25 years of existence.
“The per capita income of American Indians on reservations has been growing approximately three times more rapidly than the United States as a whole since the early 1990s…”—Kennedy School of Government Report
“I would hope that at some point OWS announces that it seeks, among other things, a true-cost ‘global market’ in which we incorporate real costs of continuing down the oil-slicked road and further engaging the carbon economy.”—ICTMN columnist Chase Iron Eyes on the potential for Occupy Wall Street to empower real change.