This isn’t America, Charlie Brown; this Badger & Bear Lakota Story is.
[I’m updating this post as many prepare for Thanksgiving amidst the worst COVID spike since the beginning of the pandemic. And as stories of Pilgrims and Indians play again, construction of a new, unnecessary and dangerous Enbridge Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline is set to begin November 30. Please, as you read, get involved in prayerful, political and material support of Water Protectors. Honor the water and our indigenous siblings. Here are ways to get involved: https://www.stopline3.org/take-action
If you’re in Minnesota, take politcal action today and join in the effort to reach Attorney General Keith Ellison asking for a stay on construction until legal appeals are heard this spring. Contact his office: https://www.ag.state.mn.us/Office/ContactUs.asp And sign this petition by clicking the link: https://secure.everyaction.com/j4EDJL--xkSWCAphhw0tqQ2
Contact Governor Walz and the MN Health Department and ask them to delay construction while COVID is surging. Please call the Governor (https://mn.gov/governor/contact/) and MDH Commissioner Jan Malcom (https://www.health.state.mn.us/about/org/eo/index.html) to voice those concerns — this is imperative, as rural healthcare systems are on the brink already.
Threats to land, water and indigenous peoples are happening elsewhere, like in Alaska: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/18/climate/trumps-arctic-refuge-drilling-push.html
Get involved. It’s time to heal, friends.
Thank you for your care for water and neighbor.]
It’s Thanksgiving-time. “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” will air on one of the major networks. It’ll be followed by “This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers.” Sorry, Charles Schultz (Peanuts creator), but this isn’t America. The story you were told, and the one you retold in Norman Rockwell-esque fashion, was mostly a lie.
I’m a 36 year old white man, currently living in Schultz’s hometown, St. Paul. My 1990’s public school education meant I was raised on the Pilgrim story. I was raised on the wisdom of forefathers who “founded” a country on religious and individual freedom. I was told of Squantos and Pocahonti who aided these brave and faithful settlers in creating the most exceptional nation under God that would ever exist. Manifest destiny…
When I moved to Como Park about 10 years ago, I started biking along the Mississippi River. My rides often took me on the trails below Fort Snelling. It’s beautiful down there, and there was something cool about looking up and seeing that historic fort. The old bricks can make you wonder about the his/story of a place.
It wasn’t until two years ago, when I participated in a “Sacred Sites Tour,” led by Bob Klanderud (Dakota) and Jim Bear Jacobs (Mohican), that I heard the stories that actually happened in that place. I learned that it was Bdote — a sacred origination place in Lakota/Dakota story (comparable to the Garden of Eden in the Judeo-Christian story). I learned this sacred place that bike paths now meander through was at one time an internment/concentration camp where hundreds of Dakota women, children, and grandparents died.
Stories of Peanuts and Pilgrims and “indians” sitting down at the dinner table seems “nice.” But perpetuating these stories intentionally distracts us from what those of us in the dominant white culture want to ignore or deny (i.e., the stories of the acculturation, theft, and genocide of Native lives).
Now that I am coming to know more of stories of indigenous peoples in the very place I call home, I can’t get the same nostalgia fix I used to get from Linus and Lucy. It’s time to get clean of these dominant narrative imperial opioids. It’s time to ask Wakan Tanka to remove the scales from our eyes and to wash in the baptismal waters of Bdote.
I cannot accept, anymore, the pumpkin-pie-in-the-sky Pilgrim stories. They are too dangerous. Ask one of the few Dakota people who still inhabits Mni Sota, the land of their ancestors. Ask the Anishinabe who live on the White Earth Reservation, and others, whose land and lives are threatened by Enbridge’s Line 3 Corridor.
This week, State of Minnesota Public Utilities Commission “unanimously reaffirmed [without and debate or questions] its earlier support for the pipeline and denied requests from environmental groups, Indian tribes and the state Department of Commerce to reconsider its June decision to approve the project…” (Read more https://www.mprnews.org/story/2018/11/19/line-3-oil-pipeline-moves-closer-to-construction-in-northern-minnesota)
Instead, tonight, as Charlie Brown’s racist tale plays (sorry, not sorry, it just simply is), I will read my daughter the Lakota legend of “The Badger and the Bear.” This seems like the more accurate American and Thanksgiving story.
What stories are you telling? What stories are you accepting as true?
Where in our lives are we the bear? Who are the badgers? And, if we persist, what Avenger awaits us?