A news tabloid of the type that favors headlines like FAMOUS PSYCHIC’S HEAD EXPLODES has published what it claims are “secret Indian predictions” that can now be revealed.
The Sun, a weekly tabloid published by American Media, Inc. of New York, proclaims on the front page of its January 9 issue: “Stunning PROPHECIES that will change your life: SECRET INDIAN PREDICTIONS FOR PEACE & PROSPERITY.”
“Your life will be soon be (sic) changed for the better, say scholars studying the long-lost final writings of two Native American elders,” reporter Alan Burgroft says in his lead sentence. Burgroft goes on to tell the fantastic tale of an alleged prophet, a “Brule Sioux veteran and wise man named Follows Bear” who passed away at a Christian mission outside Minot, South Dakota in 1953. As he was dying, his nephew, a college student wrote down Follows Bear’s last words and, following the elder’s instructions, placed the notes inside a small iron box inside an elm tree growing near his uncle’s grave.
As chance would have it, the following year an alleged Paiute elder named Simon Muha Ebboowee also passed away in his home near Pyramid Lake, Nevada, “after writing down everything he remembered from his long life” – including tribal history, legends and the lessons he’d learned from Wovoka – a real historical Northern Pauite religious leader who founded the Ghost Dance movement. Ebbooee’s daughter, Burgroft says, traveled to Follows Bear’s grave and added her father’s notes to the iron box.
The iron box was “discovered” last month, Burgroft says, “when a lightning bolt felled the elm tree, which toppled over onto Follows Bear’s grave.” As chance would have it, a couple of college students who happened to be visiting the cemetery – as college students often do during Christmas break – moved the elm tree and found the iron box containing the two elder’s “secret predictions.” Now that the predictions have been found, the events they predict will come true, Burgroft says.
So what are these secret predictions?
- Soldiers will return home from all the wars as conflicts in the Middle East and threats of civil war in Russia and Africa wind down.
- “Diplomats” will build “an international city of peace.”
- A new political movement will heal American society.
- The Great Recession will spawn a new coalition of business and unions that will, among other things, replace too-big-to-fail banks with community savings plan, “leading to pay increases, more affordable housing and cheaper goods at the mall and grocery store.”
- Technology will start working harmoniously with nature and an “incredible setoff massive towers in California, Nevada, Arizona and Texas” will “defeat’ pollution and climate change.
- A discovery in space will create “thousands of new jobs.”
As amusing as such tabloid stories may be, they raise questions about the portrayal of American Indians in popular culture. Do such stories continue to support the false stereotypes so familiar in the Hollywood cowboy-and-Indian shoot ’em up movies? And if they do, what can be done about it, if anything? Where does the First Amendment right of free speech and a free press intersect with the cultural patrimony of a people and their right to be portrayed accurately or even to tell their own stories? ICTMN hoped to ask the Brule Sioux and Pyramid Lake Paiute nations these questions, but neither tribe could be reached for comment.