HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » Thank You, Nathan Phillip...

Tue Jan 22, 2019, 05:30 PM

Thank You, Nathan Phillips

“ 'The men told me there weren't any human bones; it was a prehistoric campsite, not a burial ground; they had a right to dig, and I had no business there since it was private land. But looking at all those craters, well ….I know amateurs don't destroy whole sites like that. These people were literally mining the place. It had every sign of a commercial operation.' “
Sgt. Mike Hart; Who Owns the Past?; National Geographic; March, 1989; page 378.


This weekend's incident involving a gang of Catholic students, a small group of black people, and a Native American Elder reminded me of an event in Kentucky in the 1980s. As reported in National Geographic, ghouls excavated more than 650 Indian graves. The Slack Farm had been a major village site between approximately 1450 and 1650.

That some of the students from the Kentucky school shouted, “You stole the land from the indigenous people” struck me as central to understanding the conflict. And while that conflict began in the ignorance of the students, the weekend incident highlights the potential for violence that has seeped to the surface of American society since Trump began campaigning for the presidency.

Before I focus on the weekend, I'll take a minute to discuss the Slack Farm. This was on Shawnee territory. Native leaders called upon, among others, representatives of the Haudenosaunee, or Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, to conduct the repatriation ceremonies. When Tadodaho Leon Shenandoah and Chiefs Vince Johnson and Paul Waterman arrived in Kentucky, the governor said he had no idea who they were, or what right they had to be there. Vince had a copy of the September 1987 Nation Geographic with him; the article “The Iroquois: Keepers of the Fire” convinced the governor that the three men had jurisdiction.

The grave-robbers were intent upon were focused on finding “artifacts” to market. The National Geographic article showed, for example, a small pipe that sold for $4,500. They were not interested in the human remains. Thus, there were huge piles of skulls, of jaw-bones, etc. I'll never forget Paul's telling me about the largest pile of jaws. The only good that came from this outrageous situation is that it helped us get the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act passed into federal law in 1990.

But for every action, there is a reaction. The reaction mimicked the corporate strategy, still in use, to justify taking mineral wealth from, and/or putting pipelines through, Indian territory. The outdated theory that paleo-era people entering North America killed large game at a rate that caused mass extinctions – hence Indians were not “conservationists. The original theory that connected the melting of glaciers, the peopling of North America, and the extinction of many large mammals was started by scientists in the mid-1900s. However, as Vine Deloria Jr. wrote in “Red Earth, White Lies,” the myth of the Pleistocene Hit Man ignored the many small animals and tiny creatures that also became extinct in that era of great environmental change.

Likewise, theories about where the original inhabitants to the Americas came from, along with when and how, has been expanded in recent decades by serious scientists. Without question, groups of people did walk across the Bering Strait, and this accounts for much of the population that resulted. But there are theories about other means, including small boats with people who traveled along the coastline. More, just as the once popular myth that Columbus was the first European to reach the Americas have been proven incorrect, scientists have theorized on other people coming to the North American coasts, both east and west, primarily to trade.

There is one more myth that comes into play with this weekend's events. After the end of the US v Indian wars in the west, a curious factor effected many white families in America. This was best described by Deloria in another of his outstanding books: these families claimed they had an Indian in their family tree. Usually, it was a Mohawk, a Cherokee, or a Sioux, perhaps because were the most famous for having produced “noble savages.” Curiously, there was no common claim of an Agrican or Asian ancstor.

The combination of the loss of access to burial grounds to plunder, combined with a shallow understanding of the reality of science, took the old”family tree” myth a giant step further. The pseudo-science that too often plays on the History Channel, and claims, for example, that the Cherokee are Hebrews, has convinced these people that Europeans were the “first Americans,” and that Indians stold their land from them. Thus, the sad call that the Native Americans stole the land from the indigenous people. (The Cherokee, by the way, were from Iroquois peoples who moved south, just the same as their relatives, the Susquehannock, around 2,000 bc.)

The viciousness that we witnessed over the weekend should remind us that it is but a thin veil between civilization and barbarism. Nathan Phillips stood as the conscience against the mindless hate that threatens to destroy that veil.

Peace,
H2O Man

20 replies, 1597 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 20 replies Author Time Post
Reply Thank You, Nathan Phillips (Original post)
H2O Man Jan 22 OP
coeur_de_lion Jan 22 #1
H2O Man Jan 23 #6
coeur_de_lion Jan 23 #8
H2O Man Jan 24 #13
coeur_de_lion Jan 24 #20
H2O Man Jan 22 #2
coeur_de_lion Jan 22 #3
H2O Man Jan 22 #4
Hekate Jan 23 #5
H2O Man Jan 23 #7
cp Jan 23 #9
H2O Man Jan 24 #14
Hermit-The-Prog Jan 23 #10
H2O Man Jan 24 #15
malaise Jan 23 #11
H2O Man Jan 24 #16
grantcart Jan 23 #12
H2O Man Jan 24 #17
nolabear Jan 24 #18
grantcart Jan 24 #19

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2019, 06:41 PM

1. I work at a Catholic school

I'm not sure if I told you that before. Today at lunch we all discussed the incident in DC. Two of us are Democrats and the rest were trump humpers, about 4 of them. I was worried all weekend about how people at my school would react, knowing so many like trump.

My boss is the principal, and he was furious. And he is a trump humper. First words out of his mouth were, "where were the chaperones?" followed by "what were they doing wearing those hats?" Every single person at the table agreed that this behavior reflected very badly on the Catholic church as a whole. And that it was extremely irresponsible to leave those kids on their own in DC and just inexcusable that they would be wearing MAGA hats along with their school logo. This would never have happened at any school in our Diocese. We don't even let kids wear hats by non-school sports teams, never mind any that are politically charged. If they do they have to go home.

My boss said there is nothing he can do about what parents teach their kids when they aren't in school but he would have had those kids back on the bus so fast their heads would spin. He said at the first sign of trouble he would have asked the kids if they wanted to graduate and if they did, they better get back on the bus pronto. Or move away from the situation physically however they needed to.

I was happy about the response, even though there was one guy who said he didn't trust Nathan because he felt he might have been trying to instigate. That pissed me off. But on the whole every single person, trumper or not, thought the boys should be expelled, and the chaperones (if they were teachers) should be fired.

I knew you would have some history to relate about your own experiences and I was looking forward to your essay. Thanks for providing some background and wise perspective about other incidents involving our Native American brothers and sisters. Based on the reaction at my school I'd say that even most trumpers were disgusted by what happened to Nathan. I hope that's true.

I loved how Nathan remained so peaceful no matter what the kids were doing. He deserves our respect. Reminded me of you, and how you always stay peaceful when my Irish temper gets the better of me. You're a wise sage now H, and I hope we have the benefit of your wisdom for years to come.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to coeur_de_lion (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 23, 2019, 12:56 PM

6. Thank you.

We can see the growing disrespect for "others" who are different taking deeper root in our society. It's not new, of course, but has certainly become more visible in the era of Trump. Too many people believe they have license to act on their rude and even violent impulses.

There is a theme in Traditional Native American belief systems, that can be summed up with an old saying: "The womb and the ancestor are the same thing." Thus, for some non-Indians, the disrespect for sacred burial grounds is the same as the disrespect for the living people. Does that make sense? Paul used to say that it is best to respect other peoples' cultures, even when you don't understand them.

Though it seems obvious -- at least to me -- the Democratic Party, generally speaking, has respect for differences, while the republican party does not. Surely, Trump's base is composed of white people who are very uncomfortable with the concept that they are not going to be the ruling majority forever. Life on Earth just doesn't work that way ….it's not Natural Law. And thus we see the ignorance of, and utter contempt for, Natural Law. It may be the desecration of a non-white grave yard. Or the refusal to grasp the obvious implications of our culture and climate change.

Those students were certainly not conscious of all of this. Yet that is exactly the danger: what is the likely outcome of the unconscious energy of 100 young men in a tense situation? And I'm not saying that only young men are violent. Every one of us has that potential. And surely, if there had been even one angry older adult with those students, egging them on, there would have been a terrible outbreak of violence directed at the most vulnerable targets -- for that is what group psychology dictates. Indeed, militaries and para-militaries have exploited this for thousands of years. Young men that age tend to do what the gym teacher wants.

As you know, in 1998 my nephew was attacked and left for dead in a dark field by a gang of 17 young men. These fellows traveled 35 miles with him as their target. They resented seeing a black high school student getting positive media coverage as a scholar/athlete. When three of the 17 were charged and went to trial, it came out that they called my nephew "a dumb ni___r" and informed him that blacks "don't belong here." When the judge, after hearing this, said he didn't believe race was an issue, we knew they would be treated very differently than if that same judge was hearing a case where 17 black men attacked a white student. I told reporters outside the court that this would lead to more violence by the gang members, and it did. Guns were fired into a house where gang members knew a black student was visiting a white girl. A junior high student had his skull fractured by a group hitting him with a rock. And Asian-American students at Binghamton University were targeted; one had his skull fractured in an attack.

Again, there is but a thin veil between civilization and savagery. And we need to step up to make sure it holds.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to H2O Man (Reply #6)

Wed Jan 23, 2019, 07:13 PM

8. I learned a bit more today

Those students were certainly not conscious of all of this. Yet that is exactly the danger: what is the likely outcome of the unconscious energy of 100 young men in a tense situation? And I'm not saying that only young men are violent. Every one of us has that potential. And surely, if there had been even one angry older adult with those students, egging them on, there would have been a terrible outbreak of violence directed at the most vulnerable targets -- for that is what group psychology dictates. Indeed, militaries and para-militaries have exploited this for thousands of years. Young men that age tend to do what the gym teacher wants.


There were 5 chaperones with the boys, who encouraged them to shout back at the other protesters. If the chaperones hadn't done so the whole situation with Nathan would never have happened. Nathan was trying to defuse the tension between the two different protest groups. But the situation could easily have escalated into something far worse, and the adults in charge seemed to have no inclination to stop it if it did. Looking at it from this angle I can see why Nathan did what he did.

Maybe it's a good thing it happened. The events you described above that happened to your family are just escalations of that same kind of ugly energy. Nathan's way is a better way to defuse it than fighting fire with fire. Nathan showed us that day how best to deal with ugly crowds.

I'm so sorry for what your family and many families like yours have been through because of racial violence. It makes me sick.

Again, there is but a thin veil between civilization and savagery. And we need to step up to make sure it holds.


Individual 1 and his minions are showing us just how close we are to total savagery in this country, We all do need to step up. As Nathan did. Meanwhile I'm glad you're my friend and I have the benefit of your wise counsel.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to coeur_de_lion (Reply #8)

Thu Jan 24, 2019, 12:49 PM

13. In the hours

that my nephew was in the ICU -- doctors said they were surprised he was alive -- my brother-in-law called me to task me with keeping my nephew's friends from seeking revenge. And his buddies were definitely making plans to travel to the gang's hometown, to hunt for them. Luckily, they trusted me when I said that more violence was not the answer. (Had they spoken with my brother instead of me, it would have been ugly. He was furious that I nixed his agenda to travel in the night to "splatter some blood on the walls."

Avoiding gross violence demands that we know how to read situations. That ability helped me in responding to "community crises" when I worked at the mental health clinic. It's come in mighty handy in many, many other situations over the decades, even when I was young and enjoyed fighting. It requires a combination of instinct and experience -- including exposure to a higher level of thinking and understanding.

Rather than more violence, we used the resulting legal process to educate the public. For three months, court hearings took place. The news media from this region of the state covered it closely. Besides local community members, from young to old, we had two chapters of the NAACP there every week. At the first few hearings, law enforcement feared outbreaks of violence. Instead, we had 100+ well behaved people attending. That the only two black cops in the area were there with us may have reassured the police.

The head thug had hired our region's best criminal defense attorney. As I was tasked with being our side's public voice, I would go toe-to-toe with him in front of the tv cameras. No local prosecutors in a five-county area liked debating him. (Two of my uncles who were retired BCI Senior Investigators had kicked both this fellow and his late father's asses in court years before. So it was again the Irish vs the Irish in heated debate!) I reviewed my Malcolm X per public debate. And I kicked his behind, getting him to completely lose his cool before the reporters, time after time. Finally, he avoided me.

Those were strange times. To be honest, my first nature was to resort to violence in an attempt to get revenge. But I was able to rise to my second nature. My friend RFK, Jr. took a public stance on the case, and became my family's friend and advocate. Sports Illustrated considered doing an article on the case, but threats of a law suit ended that. And the court system ended up failing us, a the DA was close friends with the one defense attorney. The NYS Committee on Judicial Misconduct investigated, and reported that the DA had protected the gang members.

Afterwards, several of my nephew's friends thought I had failed them. (My brother called me a "fucking coward." But these days, those same young men tell me that I was right when we bump into each other. It was an event that students should never be exposed to. There are still scars.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to H2O Man (Reply #13)

Thu Jan 24, 2019, 09:27 PM

20. Your hard earned wisdom

is what makes you a great friend and a great writer. I would have wanted revenge too and I'm not sure even you could have talked me out of it.

That story is simply unbelievable. Horrible. But you handled it with grace. That's why you're the Waterman!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2019, 06:42 PM

2. Yikes!

A distant cousin, several times removed, just splattered an insult about Nathan on my facebook page. He is now more distant.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to H2O Man (Reply #2)

Tue Jan 22, 2019, 07:19 PM

3. And more removed

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to coeur_de_lion (Reply #3)

Tue Jan 22, 2019, 11:38 PM

4. This is true.

He shouldn't insult me like that.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2019, 12:07 AM

5. Waterman, I just want to weep for the howling dogs that have been unleashed on our nation

Foolish me, I thought that the majority of us had outgrown such behavior, the aggression, the hate, the violence. I thought the remainder were consigned to live under rocks and bridges. Then along came Trump.

About the only thing that keeps me from complete despair over my fellow Americans is that Hillary won by a substantial number.

But the fate of the republic? I just do not know if it can survive.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hekate (Reply #5)

Wed Jan 23, 2019, 03:38 PM

7. It's painful to watch.

There were a lot of struggles that we made significant progress on in the 1960s and early '70s. But our culture has had a portion of it resisting change, and that portion has taken deeper root and grown. It will take a serious and persistent effort to root it out.

I share your concern about our form of government …..it is certainly less "for the people, by the people" these days. There's too much corporate influence, among other things. More, all of organic life on Earth either grows, or decays. And society is organic. We will either grow, as many individuals and groups have, or we will decay, in the manner that Trump promotes. I'm usually rather confident that we will grow, despite the stumbling blocks we are encountering. For tension can promote growth. But I know it can also be destructive.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2019, 07:43 PM

9. Yes, thank you

And thank you, too, H2O Man.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cp (Reply #9)

Thu Jan 24, 2019, 12:49 PM

14. Thank you.

I appreciate that.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2019, 08:09 PM

10. who to contact

There are some bumps on my land, in the woods. Not big enough to be called mounds, but they don't look like they should be there. I've always thought they might be extremely old and have not disturbed them. Any idea about who to contact to find out if they're natural or man-made, and, if man-made, who and when?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Hermit-The-Prog (Reply #10)

Thu Jan 24, 2019, 12:57 PM

15. Interesting.

I'm not sure where you live, and that would make a difference, both in who you might contact, and if they are that type of burial, their historic time frame. In this region, there are similar burials from around what is known as the Hunter's Home phase. The largest group of them in my hometown was bulldozed for a parking lot when I was a little boy.

Were the ones you spoke of every threatened, I'd recommend contacting the current Tadodaho. Otherwise, I'd suggest simply being aware that they are there. Bringing attention to them runs the risk of notifying looters that they are there.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2019, 08:15 PM

11. You are a born educator

Thank you my brother

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to malaise (Reply #11)

Thu Jan 24, 2019, 01:02 PM

16. Thank you!

Thinking about all the work I did with Chief Waterman gives me pleasure. We didn't "win" every legal case to protect Sacred Grounds over the decades. But each and every "loss" resulted in more victories in the long run.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2019, 11:10 PM

12. Kick

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to grantcart (Reply #12)

Thu Jan 24, 2019, 01:06 PM

17. Thanks!

My son fights in the first round of the NYS Golden Gloves on Sunday. The opponent for my other fighter dropped out yesterday, after finding out who he was matched against …..he told the promoter that his grandmother wasn't feeling well. Don told me he had a number of guys backing out, and three used the grandmother excuse! Maybe their grannies trained them and worked their corners? Anyhow, it led to several verses of "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" in the gym last night!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Jan 24, 2019, 01:17 PM

18. Thanks to you and all the respondents for an actual discussion.

I learned a lot about not only the hard history of this country but the ability of DUers to have nuanced discussions.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Jan 24, 2019, 01:46 PM

19. Your examples of historical revisionism is so reminiscent of South Africa in the 70's and 80's

Racism is so counter to the human reality of 10s of thousands of Yeats of intermixing that it always leads to the most nonsensical bullshit.

It is so endemic to our world view that the most ridiculous bs is put on display with no blushing.

Here is an example We have all seen: commercial comes up with someone talking about how the family grew up thinking that they were Norwegians but when they did the test they found out they were Germans.

Then the pie chart appears showing 8 different colored slices and the largest slice, about 30%, is German. Now free to shred their life long affinity with everything Norwegian and wear German costumes. And in so doing they negate their real heritage, a wonderful tapestry of many tribes and heritages. In order to grasp a pure European brand they flush 70% of their ancestors down the drain.

For only $ 10 I will identify your oldest known living relative:

Mithochrondial Eve.

PM me for details where to send the $ 10 bucks.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread