It’s About Damn Time….Native American in Charge of Interior Department, Including ‘Indian Affairs’
A First American Assumes Cabinet Post Despite Almost Universal Opposition from the ‘America First’ Party
Author’s Note: This is the first in a number of posts I will make throughout the course of the Biden presidency as he, hopefully, finally, not only ends but reverses the so-called “Reagan Revolution” that began exactly forty years ago against poor white, black, brown, red, and yellow people.
The principal theme of these essays will be analysis and assessment of Biden’s efforts, as he has promised, to end white supremacy and white racism. As most honest observers understand, the dismantling and destruction of structural, institutional, covert and overt white supremacy will solve and resolve every other problem or issue that this nation-state has ever, and certainly currently, faces.
None of us know what the future holds, but when “white” people finally learn, realize and accept that they are just another group among many groups, well….
My essays will be entitled, “It’s About Damn Time….”
The foremost reality that white people must face is that every square inch of land, every lake, river and stream, every mountain, every field and every single blade of grass or grain of desert sand that they proudly refer to as the “United States of America” is stolen property — stolen from a people who rarely, if ever, warrant even a back-handed mention in today’s socio-economic and political discourse.
This terrible reality lies at the bottom of a continent-wide and unimaginably deep sea of red blood which separates the blue eastern and western oceans.
— Herbert Dyer, Jr., Medium.com, “Redemption of the White Liberal,” May 22, 2020
From the beginning, theft, murder, and pillage have been the operative ways and means — the “tools” — employed and deployed by Euro-Americans against the First Americans.
That is, theft, murder, and pillage of Indigenous Americans have been the touchstones for white America’s ordained-by-God “progress” from the very first moment they set foot on these shores.
One more time: Theft, murder, and pillage (and not necessarily in that order) form the logical “rationale” for white racism and white supremacy and render all declarations of peace and harmony, of democracy and republican governance, as ephemeral and profoundly hypocritical ideas and words carrying no practical effect or meaning in the face of the reality that is and always has been “white” America.
Finally, and more specifically, for every single day of the last 529 years, since October 12, 1492, Europeans have systematically enslaved, stolen from, strong-armed robbed, and murdered the Indigenous peoples of this land. And they have never paused in their colonial-settler project — not for the briefest of respites — to take a breath, to ponder whether their interminable, continuing acts of genocide were anything other than God-ordained and therefore meant to be.
I have often wondered how people “who think that they are white,” as the great writer James Baldwin often said, can look themselves in the mirror each morning knowing that their ancestors and they themselves have committed and continue to benefit from the bloodiest crimes ever unleashed upon a whole continent filled with living, breathing human beings. How, I ask myself, do they go about their day without giving the slightest thought to the fact that the land upon which they so gleefully trod is soaked and seeps with the blood of millions. How can they blithely use their countless victims’ names and languages as quaint mascot place markers…and then still get on about their day.
As a “legal” matter, “consciousness of guilt” eludes them in the same sense that “cognitive dissonance” is just a fancy, purely academic, clinical, even philosophical, term, which in the case of “white” Americans, only applies to their victims anyway and never to themselves.
A First American Poised to Confront the “America First” Party
Yesterday, Deb Haaland was confirmed by the US Senate to become the first true and unadulterated (“full-blooded”) “First American” as Secretary of the Department of the Interior. That the Department of Interior, over which she now presides, includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs cannot be overstated.
Haaland, a dyed-in-the-wool progressive is a living, breathing and ever-present reminder of just exactly how the West was really won. Her deep-history perspective, together with her mere presence in this position, condemns Euro-America’s entire past and present.
And now, Secretary Haaland’s not-to-be-denied determination to actually change the prospective future renders her the exquisitely ironic but perfect choice to head this department and agency.
Interior is an agency that throughout its sordid history has sought to actually, literally, exterminate all so-called “Indians,” even as at the very same time it encouraged, aided and abetted fresh-off-the-boat “white” European immigrants and those multi-millions of already “settled” Euro-Americans. Since its inception, this agency tirelessly, incessantly exhorted “white” people to simply “Go West, Young Man!” and help themselves to Native Americans’, First Americans’, Indigenous Americans’ — INDIAN — lands and resources just waiting to be used “properly.”
Interior served not only as the clearinghouse for theft, murder and pillage of “Indian” land, but also as the Ministry of Propaganda for the violent clearing out of the Red vermin, or in more polite company, “savages,” who stood in the way of white folks’ “Manifest Destiny.”
To this end, the Bureau of Indian Affairs relentlessly, ruthlessly, sought to extinguish not just the Indigenes themselves, but every trace of their cultural, political, economic and social identities as well, including but not limited to, dress, art-forms (unless reduced to profit-making ventures for settlers), religion, language, “education” of “Indian” children, “domestic” life, and, of course, the abandonment of barter, hunting, fishing, and trapping as viable means of “making a living.” Instead, they were forced into tract, truck and dirt farming, and adoption at the point of the gun of a “market economy,” i.e., big-dog-eats-little-dog capitalism.
The sweet irony here is that Haaland, as head of the Interior Department, will re-structure and guide the federal government’s relationships with over 500 remaining Native American tribes.
This means that she will have the next-to-last word over twenty percent of the US landmass and not quite twenty-five percent of its oil and gas production. Here, naturally, we find the principal objection and sticking point to her nomination by most Republicans: Her control over extractive, insanely profitable energy production, sales and distribution. As a true “social justice advocate” and activist, Haaland has been one of the loudest, most persistent, and effective voices not only in Congress but often “on the ground,” as she has repeatedly declared that the US should “keep it in the ground.” She has not just offered speeches or literature to this end, but she has physically participated in protests against a pipeline in North Dakota.
These activities demonstrate her unyielding commitment to the environment and to the people who try to simply coexist with their environment and “use” Mother Nature for subsistence and sustenance rather than exploit her for financial gain.
None of this sits well with Republicans, again, especially those from western states whose economies are soaked in oil, asphyxiated by gas or smothered by coal production. These states are aghast that an actual “woke” Native American will now not just oversee but very likely reverse their heretofore ruinous, rent-seeking, exploitative practices in favor of benefiting the peoples whose land and resources it originally and still really belongs to.