[sixties-l] Fwd: North America's Ongoing Indian War

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: 12/21/00

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    >[source: NativeNews; Wed, 20 Dec 2000 19:39:36 -0500]
    >  >>>>>>>----- Original Message ----->
    >From: "Anthony Hall" <hall@uleth.ca>
    >   Confronting the Hard Realities  of North America's Ongoing Indian War
    >   by Anthony J. Hall
    >   Dept. of Native American Studies
    >   University of Lethbridge
    >Just days after the US Supreme Court exposed its thoroughgoing
    >politicization in the case of Bush versus Gore, the federal government's
    >top law enforcers followed the judges by leaping into the political fray.
    >For the first time in the 92-year history of the FBI, hundreds of federal
    >agents gathered to protest at the White House in Washington DC. Their
    >declared aim was to pre-empt the possibility that outgoing President Bill
    >Clinton would pardon Leornard Peltier.
    >Peltier is the jailed activist of the American Indian Movement (AIM)
    >believed by many, including Nelson Mandela, Robert Redford and Amnesty
    >International, to have been wrongfully framed for the murder of two FBI
    >agents.  The killing of  FBI agents, Jack Coler and Ronald Williams, took
    >place during the virtual civil war on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South
    >Dakota in 1975.  In many bloody exchanges about 100 AIM activists were also
    >murdered by the federally-supported, para-military forces led by the Pine
    >Ridge Reservation's infamous Tribal Chairman, Richard Wilson.
    >The Peltier case lies at the centre of a number of long-festering
    >controversies that combine to form an amazing saga of official wrongdoing
    >with sweeping international implications. As elaborately chronicled in a
    >growing array of books, articles and films, including Peter Matthiessen's
    >monumental " In The  Spirit of Crazy Horse", there is a huge and growing
    >mass of evidence to demonstrate that government agencies have
    >systematically violated many of their  own laws in what amounts to an
    >ongoing Indian war of hemispheric dimensions. This covert campaign has been
    >directed at incapacitating the most militant wing  of the First Nations
    >sovereignty movement.
    >The co-ordinated, international character of the war on the American Indian
    >Movement and its many branches, including the Mohawk Warriors and the
    >Ts'peten  Defenders in Canada, has come to light through many venues
    >including revelations about the dubious proceeedings leading to the
    >extradition of Leonard Peltier from British Columbia in 1976.  The tainted
    >character of the evidence used to remove Peltier from Canada was
    >highlighted recently during hearings in Toronto.  At these quasi-judicial
    >proceedings, Myrtle Poor Bear,  whose affidavit was crucial in securing
    >Peltier's extradition in 1976, testified how FBI agents had threatened to
    >take away her child if she did not  agree to lie in order to incriminate
    >Peltier. Ms. Poor Bear went further, explaining how the FBI taunted her
    >with pictures of the mutilated corpse of AIM activist, Anna Mae Aquash,
    >threatening her with a similar fate if she did not co-operate with those
    >FBI's Inquisitors charged to exorcise AIM's perceived  heresies.
    >The USA's careless treatment of its Canadian ally in the Peltier case has
    >long  been an irritant in foreign relations between the two countries. In
    >his long campaign for some reckoning with the legacy of the falsified
    >evidence used in gaining Peltier's extradition, Warren Allmand, a former
    >Solicitor General of  Canada, has gradually won over a number of
    >influential allies.  They include about 60 parliamentarians, the Royal
    >Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and, most  recently, Peter Hogg, Dean of
    >Toronto's prestigious Osgoode Law School. Said  Hogg recently, "Mr. Peltier
    >has served 25 years in prison, which is a terrible  burden for someone who
    >is probably innocent."
    >The international campaign to free Leonard Peltier, who many see as the
    >USA's  most obvious political prisoner, received a surprising boost in late
    >November  when a judge in Portland Oregon overruled the US State Department
    >in a case  that replayed in reverse some of the central features of the
    >Peltier extradition case. In her ruling in the case of United States of
    >America versus  James Pitawanakwat, Judge Janice Stewart found that a
    >Native veteran of the  Battle of Gustafsen Lake, which took place in
    >British Columbia in 1995, could  not be extradited back to Canada because
    >he qualified for the same kind of  political asylum sought unsuccessfully
    >by Leonard Peltier in 1976.
    >The extradition hearing in Portland last October matched lawyers for the
    >State  Department against Pitawanakwat's defence team in the Federal Public
    >Defender's  Office.  The latter successfully argued that Canada's
    >criminalization of Pitawanakwat fulfilled the "political offenses
    >exception" in the Extradition  Treaty between Canada and the USA.  That
    >provision is designed to afford  protection to genuine freedom fighters
    >whose criminalized actions arise in the  context of legitimate liberation
    >struggles waged against unjust, oppressive regimes.
    >In her ruling Judge Stewart drew attention to the tainted testimony used in
    >  Peltier's extradition hearings, even as she implicitly criticized Canadian
    >  officials for failing to extend the political offenses exception to their
    >ward  in 1976.  In a passage that has provided President Clinton with
    >American judicial backing to help edify the overwhelmingly compelling case
    >for a grant of executive clemency to Peltier, Judge Stewart decided, "The
    >Canadian tribunal  ruled that Peltier should be extradited back to the
    >United States, to a large  extent on the basis of what subsequently turned
    >out to be false affidavits.... [Peltier] sought review by the Canadian
    >Minister of Justice on the basis that  he was being extradited for a
    >political offense, but the Minister refused relief. Unfortunately, this
    >court has been unable to determine why Canada deemed the political offense
    >exception inapplicable."
    >In deciding the case Judge Stewart detailed a saga of Canadian government
    >lawlessness reminiscent of the same kind of campaign waged by the US
    >government  to invalidate the political legitimacy of the American Indian
    >Movement in the  mid-1970s.  Where AIM attracted enormous attention based
    >largely on its armed  stand in 1973 at Wounded Knee, the site of an
    >infamous slaughter of Native  people by the American military almost a
    >century earlier, Mr. Pitawankwat was  involved in a similar armed
    >confrontation near Gustafsen Lake BC in 1995. That confrontation pitted
    >members of the AIM-related Ts'peten Defenders against the  largest
    >mobilization of police and military in Western Canada since the stand  of
    >Louis Riel and the Canadian Metis was crushed by the regime of Prime
    >Minister John A. Macdonald in 1885.
    >In her ruling Judge Stewart placed high geopolitical significance on the
    >involvement of the Canadian military in the operation at Gustafsen Lake.
    >The  Canadian army's role marked "the seriousness of the challenge to
    >Canadian jurisdiction over unceded tribal lands." She pointed to evidence
    >of the confrontation's severity, noting that the trees on the site were
    >"riddled with  77,000 rounds of bullet holes fired by the RCMP toward the
    >camp."  She also  referred to the existence of Camp Zulu, the military
    >headquarters for Canada's  undeclared Indian war.  This installation, she
    >explained in her ruling, was  "replete with armored personnel carriers, a
    >field hospital, a communications centre, a landing field, military assault
    >weapons, and a heavily armed militarized police force of 400 officers in
    >camouflage gear." Moreover, Mr. Pitawanakwat was personally exposed to
    >"10,000 to 20,000 government rounds" on  September 11th after he fled from
    >a red truck that ran over a government-detonated land mine.
    >One of the most disturbing features of Judge Stewart's historic ruling is
    >her reference to "uncontradicted evidence that the Canadian government
    >engaged in a  smear and disinformation campaign to prevent the media from
    >learning and publicizing the true extent of the political nature of the
    >events." What is to  be said of the apparent ease with which the security
    >police in both Canada and  the United States have been able to manipulate
    >the mainstream media into  knowing or inadvertent complicity in
    >officialdom's persistent deployment of  systematic lies to steer public
    >attention away from those most serious  constitutional arguments
    >consistently raised by the most militant wing of the  First Nations
    >sovereignty movement? How sadly easy it so often was for offending
    >governments to gain media co-operation in wrongfully characterizing what
    >was at issue at Wounded Knee in 1973, at Oka in 1990 or at Gustafsen Lake
    >and Ipperwash in 1995.  As Judge Stewart's ruling attests, all these
    >episodes  tended to be misreported as episodes of mere Native criminality
    >rather than as  confrontations which highlighted consistent failures on the
    >part of governments  to live up even to their own commitments to recognize
    >and affirm what is known  in the Canadian constitution as "existing
    >Aboriginal and treaty rights."
    >In her own judicial characterization of what was really at issue in the
    >episodes leading up to Canada's request to extradite Mr. Pitawankwat from
    >the  USA, Judge Stewart ruled that "the Gustafsen incident involved an
    >organized  group rising up in their homeland against the occupation by the
    >government of Canada of their sacred and unceded tribal land."  In her
    >statement of "facts"  surrounding the case, she referred to "various acts
    >in the 1800s" whereby the  governments of Canada and British Columbia
    >"illegally usurped jurisdiction over  unsurrendered hunting grounds." In
    >detailing the nature of this illegal  usurpation, Judge Stewart drew
    >attention to the arguments of the now-disbarred  lawyer for the Ts'peten
    >Defenders, Dr. Bruce Clark.  Before Dr. Clark was  criminalized for
    >aggressively questioning the jurisdictional capacity of the  British
    >Columbian courts to hear the case of the Ts'peten Defenders, this
    >controversial legal scholar advanced British imperial law as the true
    >foundation of Canada's constitutional affirmation of Aboriginal rights and
    >The US judge rounded out her decision by indicating how the language of
    >land  claims or land disputes served "to trivialize" the true nature of the
    >conflict  over lands and resources in British Columbia.  As in large parts
    >of the USA and  Canada, Indian title remains uncompromised through treaty
    >negotiations with  First Nations.  "Control over land," concluded Judge
    >Stewart, "is one of the  primary reasons for the existence of a government
    >and is often the cause of  wars between nations." She added, "Given its
    >substantial economic consequences,  the Aboriginal land title question in
    >Canada clearly is a highly charged issue  for Native and non-Native people."
    >As I see it, the unprecedented, White-House protest of FBI agents is an
    >indication of the extent of both the desperation and determination on the
    >part  of the security police, who have been assigned the dirtiest jobs
    >entailed in  the continuation of the continent's undeclared Indian war.
    >The basic task  assigned the federal agents has been to keep one of this
    >continent's oldest and  most profound human rights issues from spilling
    >beyond the arena of the  domestic courts into venues of international law.
    >The aim has been to smear,  discredit, criminalize, destabilize and
    >dehabilitate those parts of the First  Nations sovereignty movement who
    >have refused to accept as legitimate that  branch of Indian leadership
    >whose funding and legislative authority comes primarily from federal as
    >opposed to First Nations sources.
    >Where the murderous regime of Pine Ridge Tribal Chairman, Dick Wilson, once
    >  embodied the internalized corruption that AIM was formed to combat, the
    >dynamics of indirect rule in Indian Country have become more elaborate and
    >complex during subsequent decades.  At present it would be hard to locate a
    >  more illustrative example of the contamination through patronage politics
    >of a  once-promising initiative in federal-First Nation relations, than in
    >the so-called treaty negotiations currently underway in British Columbia.
    >It is more than mere coincidence that also made BC the site of Leonard
    >Peltier's wrongful extradition without due process to the USA as well as
    >the  site of Canada's most infamous undeclared Indian war in 1995. The
    >execution of  that war represented a new frontier of federal-provincial co
    >operation as  expressed particularly in the operations of Camp Zulu.  Its
    >currency of effectiveness was as much media manipulation, in other words
    >"smear and disinformation," as land mines and army armoured personnel
    >carriers.  In the  final analysis the rationale for this expensive
    >mobilization of the most coercive forms of state power were to retain the
    >domestic framework of the  negotiations on title and jurisdiction with the
    >First Nations of BC.
    >With Judge Stewart's ruling in the Pitawankwat case  the domestication of
    >negotiations on Indigenous peoples' title to land and resources has
    >effectively  been obliterated.  Regardless of any future challenges to the
    >ruling, this  ground-breaking judgment has unalterably made the matter of
    >the Original title  of North America's First Nations an issue of foreign
    >policy for the world's  only remaining superpower.  That fact alone
    >promises to have tremendous implications for the future course of Canada-US
    >relations in a hemisphere dominated by nation states who uniformly have
    >risen up from the European side  of the Columbian conquests that began in
    >1492 and arguably continue until this  day.  The underlying theme of the
    >Columbian conquests has been empire and nation building through the
    >genocidal extinguishment of First Nations titles to  lands and resources.
    >The federal agents who gathered at the White House cannot be blind to the
    >fact  that a critical information mass is fast being reached in bringing to
    >light  their own central role in North America's continuing Indian war.
    >Thus their  opposition to clemency for Leonard Peltier can be seen as
    >tangential to a more  basic agenda on the part of the continent's security
    >forces.  As I see it, they  have been signalling an understandable
    >unwillingness to be made the sole scapegoats in the upcoming revelations
    >about the extent of government lawlessness in the covert and largely
    >successful campaign to sabotage AIM as  well as its many devotees and
    >attending organizations.
    >In spite of the covert assaults on AIM, an organization born of shared
    >struggle  in the prisons of North America where a disproportionate
    >percentage of Native  people spend many of their days, its influence has
    >been present at virtually  every assertive expression of First Nations
    >jurisdiction, from the fish wars at  Cheam or Burnt Church to the contested
    >sun dance grounds at Gustafsen Lake.  In  the final analysis those most
    >responsible for government lawlessness in the  continuing war on AIM and in
    >the illegal subjugation Indian Country are not the secret police or even
    >the media purveyors of smear and disinformation. The  individuals who need
    >to be held most accountable are rather our elected officials, who have
    >consistently failed to find viable means of expressing politically those
    >legal protections of Aboriginal and treaty rights entrenched in North
    >America's founding constitutional instruments.  The sacrifices of rule  of
    >law to fulfill the expediencies of the rule of politics has effectively
    >cleared the way for the consolidation of ruthless and arbitrary forms of
    >tyranny.  Thus officialdom's crimes against the marginalized few become
    >crimes  against the mainstream many, as law enforcement agencies protest in
    >the streets  and as judges pre-empt the sanctity of the electoral process
    >in the heartland  of the American empire.<<<<<<<

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