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Political Matters
Political Matters: 'An act of war against our people'
Friday, January 09 2015
 
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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mordecai_specktor_some.jpg‘An act of war against our people’

I tried to call Cyril Scott, the president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (Sicangu Lakota Oyate), after Thanksgiving. Nobody in his office was answering the phone; but I was a little surprised that the on-hold music was “Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix. So, there’s that.

On another tangent, I recall visiting Rosebud more than 30 years ago. I stopped on the way to one of the Black Hills survival gatherings, in 1979 or 1980, and interviewed Leonard Crow Dog, a Lakota spiritual leader who came to prominence during Wounded Knee II. And I later spent time at Crow Dog’s Paradise to support a friend on a Vision Quest and at a Sun Dance.

On one of these trips, I traveled by car from Minneapolis with friends and we stopped in Winner, on the eastern border of the rez. The off-reservation towns in South Dakota and Nebraska have a reputation for anti-Indian racism. As we were about to enter a café in Winner, my friend, who was from Rosebud, commented, “Mordecai, they don’t like Indians here; but after Indians, they don’t like Jews.” I was a stranger in a strange land.


Political Matters: Pipelines on the rez
Saturday, November 01 2014
 
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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mordecai_specktor_some.jpgPipelines on the rez

This is separate from the column topic this month (oil pipelines running on and near reservations in Minnesota), but it’s a positive sign. Venerable rocker Bob Seger has a new album out titled “Ride Out.” One of his songs, “It’s Your World,” surveys various environmental threats and includes the lyrics: “Let’s talk about mining in Wisconsin, let’s talk about breathing in Beijing. / Let’s talk about chemicals in rivers, let’s talk about cash as king.”

The front man for the Silver Bullet Band seems to have weighed in with the environmental movement, including a nod to the Bad River band and others opposing the proposed Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) iron ore mine in Wisconsin.

Regarding pipelines in Minnesota, an Oct. 28 story in the Star Tribune caught my eye. The headline read: “Enbridge files to replace problem pipeline in Minnesota.” The story is about the decaying Line 3 pipeline, which runs from Joliette, N.D., to Superior, Wis. It’s part of what is called the Lakehead System.

Now, I’m not against all pipelines; as Enbridge, which has its headquarters in Calgary, Canada, points out on its Web site: “Petroleum products are part of our everyday lives – from how we fuel our cars and heat our homes, to the clothes we wear, the household products we buy, and how our food is grown. But before those products materialize, crude oil must be refined into petroleum.”

And then made into an attractive polyester suit.

 


Political Matters: Sports and degradation
Saturday, October 11 2014
 
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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mordecai_specktor_some.jpgSports and degradation

I’m happy to report that school board officials in Coachella Valley, California, decided to change the name and mascot of the high school sports teams. Al-Jazeera America reported in September that the “Coachella Valley High School Arabs will now be known as the Mighty Arabs … They also agreed to change CVHS' Arab mascot to look less barbaric and more distinguished.”

The old evil-looking “Mighty Arabs” logo image and mascot – apparently based on stories from “One Thousand and One Nights,” also known as “Arabian Nights” – have been recast, after complaints from Arab-American individuals and organizations.

Abed Ayoub, legal and policy director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said the old mascot is “basically an angry ‘Arab’ head – hooknose, long beard, headscarf and all.’”

Over many years, officials in charge of prep and college sports across this country have responded to complaints about ethnic and racial stereotyping and made changes to respect diversity. They’ve done the decent and right thing; but this has not been the case in pro sports. An egregious case of racial insensitivity is the National Football League, which also has been coming under attack for its tolerance of players who beat their wives and children.

 

Political Matters: Washington's 'R' word
Monday, September 08 2014
 
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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mordecai_specktor_some.jpgThe rhetoric is escalating in the run-up to the Minnesota-Washington NFL game. A new stadium is under construction downtown on the site of the former Metrodome, so the Vikes are playing their games at TCF Bank Stadium (“the Bank”) on the University of Minnesota campus.

As the Washington Post reported in early August, the Bank complex features a Tribal Nations Plaza, which honors “the 11 Native American tribes in Minnesota. It was built with a $10 million donation from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community — the largest private gift ever to Gophers athletics.” Last month, tribal officials released a statement expressing opposition to the Redskins’ name “and other sports-related logos, mascots and names which degrade a race of people,” according to the newspaper. The Shakopee band and other Minnesota Indian bands are working with the university to prepare “appropriate responses” to the NFL game and “minimize the damage that could be done by invoking the [“R”] name in a place that respects and honors the Minnesota Native American community.”

American Indian Movement (AIM) leader Clyde Bellecourt has threatened to organize mass civil disobedience to stop the Nov. 2 game, if Washington comes here with the Redskins name and logo. Bellecourt, who is the director of the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media, also has threatened to sue the University of Minnesota if the Washington franchise doesn’t tone it down. The coalition organized a large march to the Metrodome last November, when Washington visited Minneapolis for a nationally-broadcast Thursday Night Football game.


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