A Personal Perspictive and Plea
CLYDE BELLECOURT, American Indian Movement. At Hill Auditorium, February 22.
"Many people got a distorted view from the press about the Wounded Knee occupation. All you read about was a bunch of militant urban Indians, ex-convicts and discontents occupying Wounded Knee, S. Dakota. Not once did you hear that:
Close to 85% of the people in Wounded Knee were residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation or Wounded Knee itself.
Close to 80% were women and children.
Medical supplies and food were shut off by the FBI and Justice Dept.
Two babies were born and the federal government refused to let people in to deliver them.
*Spiritual power and unity took place in Wounded Knee.
White, Black, and Chicano brothers and sisters joined in the struggle at Wounded Knee.
The American Indian Movement (AlM)-formed in July 1968 when we as Indian people realized that little or nothing was being done to upgrade the condition of Indian people in the western hemisphere. This was because white people in the U.S. government, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Office of Education and the churches had control over Indian people 's lives in this country. These basic institutions had worked in a conspiracy not only to rip Indian people off from their land and natural resources, but to strip them of their identity and culture. We found out, in an intensive study sponsored by the Ford Foundation, that Indian people are at the bottom of the poverty level, live to be 43.5 years on an average, have a 5.5 grade level and 65% dropout rate, and that reservation housing is 87% substandard. The most critical statistic of all is that Indian people have a suicide rate 20 times the national average.
AIM formed to change these conditions. We decided all the way back in 1968 that if necessary, we would sacrifice our lives to see that real change came about.
We are urging you to join the Wounded Knee legal defense effort: send a telegram, letter or petition to the attorney general of the U.S. demanding that these trials be stopped. l.et this government know that you are not going to stand by and let them run people through their judicial process like this."
In order to give financial support to defray phenomenal court costs of the more than 100 Wounded Knee defendants, and for other information on how you can help support the legal defense effort, contact the Wounded Knee Defense Committee, 333 Sibley St. Suite 605, St. Paul, Minn. 55101, 224-5631.
PAT SUMI, Third World Women's Alliance, At Power Center, February 21.
"130 years ago:
The system of slavery still flourished on Southern plantations.
Nations groaned under the weight of European imperialist exploitation.
And two relatively unknown poltical economists, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, served notice to a skeptical but soon-to-be revolutionary Europe that capitalism would be swept away by the combined might of the world 's people.
And in those 130 years, the people have not been standing still. Already third of the world's people, on the continents of Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe, are now busy building socialism, building a society free from exploitation of human beings by other human beings. They are learning that such a system is possible, that it is necessary, and that a glorious future waits at the end.
In the 9th century, the great dynamics of imperialism and colonization forced many Asians to leave their homeland; an imperialism fueled by the African slave trade, the robbery of Latin America, and the confiscation of Native American lands. In America, we added our sweat and blood to a land already wet with the tears of other Third World people.
Legally we were classified the same as Native Americans and Blacks, unable to testify in court against white people and unable to marry outside our race. From the anti-Chinese riots in the 1930's, which killed hundreds of Asian men, women and children, to the incarceration ofJapanese-American citizens in military concentration camps during WWII, we Asian-Americans have known the wrath of racism, and the brutality of exploitation together.
But historically, we have shown that where there is exploitation, there is resistance. Today, the unity of Asian Americans with all Third World people in America is a window through which to see ourselves as part of the long and glorious tradition of slave rebellions, workers' strikes, civil rights movements, and anti-imperialist struggles. Most of all, this unity is the only door through. which we can enter the future."
ANGELA DAVIS at Hill Auditorium Feb. 22
Recent Causes of Renewed Racism
"1. Those who wield power in this country are finding it increasingly profitable to use the most blatant forms of racism, interwoven in the woof of economic, political, and social institutions.
2. There has been a relaxation of mass, organized pressure on those who presume to govern our lives. Those of us who know what racism is all about should realize that nothing has ever been handed to us on a golden platter, we've had to fight for every single crumb."
Examples of Racist Attacks
*There is an intense campaign defending the "right" of Harvard Professor Shockley to teach his theory that Blacks are an irretrievably inferior race by heredity.
*U-M's own behavior modification Professor James McConnell has worked with the Michigan Intensive Program Center, where prisoners are used as guinea pigs for psychological "experiments". *1634 women, mostly Blacks, were sterilized in North Carolina-many against their will.
*Further, N. Carolina has organized a group "The Rights of White People", which criticizes the Ku Klux Klan as being "too moderate", and patrols the streets with automatic rifles in broad daylight.
*The RWP spokesperson, Leroy Gibson, has stated that if necessary, a move will be made to eliminate Blacks from the human race!
*Significant decline in the enrollment of people of color in institutions of higher education all over this country, for the first time. College is becoming increasingly expensive without a corresponding allocation of funds to insure that poor and working class students can get an education. After the strike led by the Black Action Movement, U-M's own administration promised a 10% black enrollment by 1973. This is 1974 and there is just 7% enrollment, less than the national average.
The Solution to Racist Oppression
Consolidation alone can guarantee our survival. We have have got the answer, we have found the solution--the key is unity: unity in struggle. A unity, which for the sake of struggle, would transcend and subsume all the national liberation movements and thus protect the right of all people to struggle for liberation; a unity of black, brown, red, yellow and white people.
In traditional journalistic form, I originally tried to cover the Third World People's Solidarity Conference (Feb. 21-23) as an "objective outside observer" of scheduled events. I found that, far more than a mere "event," the Conference affected many people as a personally eye-opening series of human interactions and emotional experiences. Impressions and reactions varied considerably. It is much easier to say something genuinely meaningful on my own overview, if this is accepted as a single, personal viewpoint, not as the standard "third person" report.
There is no question that some very heavy things were revealed at the Conference, from the commitment by Wounded Knee defendants to die for what they believe in rather than allow this oppressive administration to incarcerate them for their just struggle, to the evidenced possibility of racial genocide. It can't happen here??! Famous last words by pre-WWII skeptics in Nazi Germany. This is not a possibility to be brushed away lightly. Examine what this government has already done to the entire Native American race, growing instances of unwilling sterilization, psychological "experiments" of behavior modification and psychosurgery on prisoners, and an entire, interwoven web of renewed racism. Examine all facts and draw your own conclusions carefully.
I speak for all Third World people involved with the Conference when I say that a Third World unified struggle is inevitable and of immediate priority. I also speak for many in addressing myself to deeply concerned white brothers and sisters who have repeatedly asked the question, "Where do I fit in a Third World alliance - will I be turned away because of the color of my own skin?" Overall the answer is "No, we cannot afford to alienate genuine supporters in this massive struggle against a powerful and oppressive system."
Angela Davis urged repeatedly, "We have got the answer, we have found the solution, the key is UNITY." Not just a Third World unity, but "A unity in struggle, with all the progressive forces in society."
At the Wounded Knee rally on Saturday, Feb. 23, a Native American speaker related how, before white faces had even been seen on this continent, spiritual leaders predicted that all races of mankind would one day join together. This unity was represented by a sphere whose four quarters were colored red, brown, yellow and white. The circle would only be a true circle when all colors blended harmoniously. The same basic truth holds in regards to a mass, unified struggle against racism.
How will the fight against racism manifest itself? What can people do to participate? Many avenues were suggested at the conference, from picketing stores that sell non-union lettuce to supporting the efforts of Wounded Knee defendants, both politically and financially. Third World spokespersons on campus, finding avenues such as U of M's Student Government Council and administration to be totally unresponsive barriers, are planning for both a Third World Coalition and a sister organization, the Progressive People's Coalition. Already implemented is a 1-credit mini-course, taking up where the conference workshops left off, and sponsored through LS&A (Psych 401 Special Projects).
It is quite significant to note that Ann Arbor's Third World People's Solidarity Conference may be the first held in this country, certainly the first in Michigan, in the last decade or more. Students travelled from many campuses across the country, such as Antioch and Oberlin, to attend this conference, and have hinted that Ann Arbor's own conference idea may be repeated soon at other colleges and universities.
The conference, overall, was extremely successful. And it was only a start, too, of a greater struggle that hopefully will solidify both here and nation-wide. Keep your eyes and ears tuned to more news on this subject, as your own support and involvement is welcome and vitally needed. Just a note, in conclusion: complete, unedited transcripts of the speeches by Angela Davis, Clyde Bellecourt, Ramsey Muniz and Pat Sumi will be available free of charge to all those who were unable to attend, or who wish to have a record of what they did hear. Contact the SUN at 761-7148 or ask for Jeanne Hing at 761-2449.