Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Off the keyboard of RE

Published originally on Reverse Engineering on November 29, 2010

Discuss this article at the Frosbite Falls Daily Rant table inside the Diner

I was over at a friends house tonight cooking up some Halibut Scampi, after
which we watched the film “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”, a historical film
produced by HBO which covered the period from 1876 to 1890, when what was left
of the native population of Lakota in the FSofA got progressively pushed back
into Reservations in South Dakota, successive treaties were reneged on, various
massacres occurred, until in the end as we all know, the Natives thoroughly got
shafted and South Dakota was made safe for the Railroads to build a spur into
the Black Hills to pull out the Gold discovered in them thar hills.

It was a well produced film, and of course for me a sad thing to see dramatized
the history of the inexorable death of this culture in the face of overwhelming
technological advantage of the oncoming swarm of European locusts. Not to
mention of course all the diseases that decimated the population during that
time as well.

A few things stood out for me in the film, one thing is at the end its revealed
that the US Supreme Court did in the end come down with the opinion that the
Lakota had been horribly wronged, though they would not return the lands stolen
from them, and instead offered them $600M in Damages, which to this day remains
uncollected, because the Lakota will not accept it as compensation.

Even more important though is some of the methodology that was used by the
Bureau of Indian Affairs through this period to try and disposess these people
of their lands through “Legal” means. Once they had herded them onto
Reservations, what they tried to do was to get each individual Lakota to sign
for a piece of Property of 160 Acres he would “Own”. Problem was, Lakota didn’t
even have a word in their language for “owning land”. Besides this, under the
technology of the time, 160 Acres of that land couldn’t support farming, it was
grazing land. So anyone who actually signed for such a property grant was
signing his own death warrant, after a year or two he wouldn’t be able to grow
much off of it.

The myth with small farms through this period of history was that an individual
farmer could both grow enough food to feed his family, AND produce enough Cash
crop to sell at market so he would also have enough Gold or Silver to pay his
Taxes. Problems being of course that first off many of these tracts of land
weren’t well suited for farming, Lakota weren’t farmers, and besides all that
this is all occurring during the Long Depression of the 1870s when there just
wasn’t much money circulating, Gold, Silver or Fiat. Even if you had a tract of
land growing enough excess to sell, you could not sell it because consumers of
said food had no money to buy it!

There is no way to hold onto your “ownership” of the land once confronted with
the three way problem of Taxation and commodity Speculation and monetary cycles
based on compounding debt which can drive down prices below your costs of
production. As it progressed, even beyond the Natives who had their land
outright stolen from the beginning, from the mid 1800s onward, progressively
over time individual farmers were bankrupted and the land consolidated by
agribuisiness run by the Banksters. The Lakota never bought into this paradigm,
and they still haven’t, refusing to this day to accept $600M for land they don’t
believe anyone can own individually. They were of course incapable of defending
their communal ownership of said land also, so they became amongst the first of
the FSA, squashed down onto small reservations and totally dependent on Handouts
of Goobermint Food. Really here in Amerika the modern Welfare State and the FSA
began with the Bureau of Indian Affairs distributing out food rations to the
underclass they had dispossessed of their land.

In the process of this, their culture was destroyed, and so also destroyed was
any pride they had. The remaining survivors for the most part descended into
Alcoholism, a thoroughly broken people. This is little different from the modern
day Ruskies who have descended into alcoholism as their civilization has
devolved, nor is it different from the FSA of former Slaves here in the FSofA
who became mirrors of the Lakota on an industrial level.

I know many Native people, as I mentioned in a post a while back I have known
numerous of them since I was a boy, friends of my Grandfather who worked the
High Steel in NYC of the 1920s. I know more now since I moved up here to
Alaska, where really the locals didn’t sell out until after Seward’s Folly, and
the “purchase” of this tract of land from the heirs of Peter the Great. In both
cases of the Lakota and my Inuit friends, they went through a very bad period,
and still suffer extremely high levels of alcoholism to this day, but even so
the survivors ended up doing better than the descendants of the Black Slaves who
became a big part of our FSA today. They actually did get some land, they did
get some big payoffs (Native tribes up here did pretty well with the Oil
leases), they retained National Sovereignty also. Meaning, they don’t pay TAXES
on the crappy scraps of land they were left with, and they get to make their OWN
laws. So through the last 30 years, they have built Casinos and in a few cases
done pretty well scarfing up Fiat money out of the system.

For the descendants of the ex-slaves, no such luck. They got yanked off their
land in Africa, they have no claim whatsoever to anything here in the FSofA,
they served only as agricultural labor for a while then industrial labor until
that played out, and then they became the broken people they are, the FSA so
reviled here on the pages of TBP. They don’t even have what the Lakota and the
Inuit still have, PRIDE in their culture, because these natives are still
together, often living in poverty but still more or less on their ancestral
lands and still TOGETHER. The FSA of the Big Shitties has NOTHING. No pride,
no ancestral lands, no casinos, NADA. Absolutely everything was ripped from
under them the day they were herded into steerage in the Slave trade.

Of course, all along the way some Natives and some descendants of ex-Slaves
joined the Capitalist system, and to varying degrees of success made their way
in the world that came to be as a result. The main protagonist in fact in “Bury
My Heart at Wounded Knee” is Charles Eastwood, a Lakota who was taken and taught
at Dartmouth and then Boston College and became a Doctor. Lots of politics
involved there of course, but thing is here it’s an anomaly. MOST Natives did
not end up doctors, most ended up broken Alcoholics. If you were lucky and/or
assimilated well into the Capitalist culture the Europeans brought here to Rape
the Earth, you might have done well from the years of 1876 to 2008. Today
however, unless you happen to be one of those ultra powerful mega rich who have
succeeded in sucking all the wealth of the world into their Greedy little hands
by virtue of legal contracts for OWNERSHIP, you are just SOL here. You are soon
to be just like the Lakota, just like the African Slaves deposited on the shores
of AmeriKa. You’ll be accepting Goobermint Handouts also, or you will starve.
That is how it has always gone down, and it will go down that way again now,
unless maybe I am right and the Meek get Angry. Very, VERY Angry. That is the
only chance here it might change, and with the failure of the Conduits, it just
might.

In any event, I just shake my head in Sadness for what was lost, and in my
mind’s eye as I look out over the vast landscape of mountains and trees here
surrounding my cabin, I often spend time imagining how life was before the
European Locusts brought their Plagues of Money and Capitalism to these shores.
Clearly the life was much tougher on a physical level, particularly up here
where the environment is so harsh in the winter, but for the most part when a
given population found its balance in numbers with the food resource available,
starvation wasn’t a big problem. In fact looking back in the fossil record in
the Middle East when Agriculture was just beginning, the Hunter Gatherers of the
time were better nourished and didn’t suffer from the boom bust cycles of famine
that swept in waves over Ag communities.

In lands like the Pacific Northwest where the environment isn’t so harsh and
where the bounty of nature provided enormous quantities of food to harvest,
there was so much available that they developed the system of Potlatch, the Gift
Economy. In terms of how much time it took out of a person’s day to gather
food, it generally was not more than about 2 hours. Sadly of course, this
civilization and culture went the way of the Dinosaur when confronted by the
Guns, Germs and Steel the European Locusts brought with them, along with a
monetary system designed to enrich a few at the expense of the many.

As we spin down here off the Peak of the Age of Oil, if we do not end up going
extinct, over a very long timeline the Earth will heal herself. Once the last
of the Oil and Coal has been spent, it won’t be possible to roll steel into the
Barrel shape of a Gun. It won’t be possible to pump up water from the Ogalala
Aquifer to irrigate grazing lands, drop high energy phosphates on top of them
and turn them into Food Factories plowed and harvested by the great metal beasts
of the Machine Age, the Tractors and the Combines. It won’t be possible anymore
to hoist tons of metal up into the skies to drop Death from Above on the people
who live in balance with nature on their lands.

I will not be alive to see this happen of course, anymore that I was alive when
those first Polynesian Navigators made landfall on the Big Island of Hawaii
around a millennia ago. Or was I? Perhaps my soul cycled through living back
then, and will cycle around again to live in the far future when we are reborn
into a culture and civilization that once again is Pay as You Go, in balance
with the energy dropped down by the Sun on the Earth each day until it burns
itself out a few million years into the future. In this iteration of the cycle,
I got dropped down into the maw of the great machine, and my soul wandered
around looking for a place to be Free, and found the closest thing still left to
that here on the Last Great Frontier. Its not real Freedom of course, and I
still remain dependent on the systems of the Age of Oil in my daily life. It
does provide me though a good perch from which to muse on what was, what is, and
what will come to be.

For the Lakota, for the Inuit, for the Slaves ripped from their homelands in
Africa, the years of colonial expansion turned many once proud people into the
FSA often reviled here on the pages of TBP. The Lakota were left to live on
Food Handouts from Da Goobermint, or starve or fight. Some starved, some
fought, many died. The survivors were those who took the food handouts, but
they did so at the expense of their pride in themselves as the Tsunami of
History overwhelmed their cultures and methods of living. They were overcome by
the Thermodynamic Energy of Oil. There was no winning that battle, there was
only becoming very meek and waiting for oh so long until the Oil spent itself,
as it is doing now. To be sure, it will still be many years before it is
completely gone, but the writing is on the wall now, and in many places I see
the spirit reawakening as individuals and communities begin to prepare for the
long slog off the energy addiction.

It is of course a sad thing that to get from here to there, the path that is
likely to be followed is the one laid out in the Book of Revelation, as the Four
Horsemen of the Apocalypse come down to ride herd upon Humanity. It seems
unavoidable now that this is the path we will follow to arrive at a Better
Tomorrow. For myself, to not lose hope, to not become mired in the belief that
Evil will Forever rule on Earth in the company of men, I turn outward and look
outside my cabin window at the Wilderness which surrounds me, and in the far
distance the Great Mountain called Denali. I know that not even a Supervolcano
can forever wipe life off this planet, and not even Toba was successful with
wiping all sentient life off its surface either. 1000 Breeding pairs of Homo
Sapiens did survive that cataclysm, and they did populate up the earth to the
6.3B people living on its surface now, courtesy of the one time exploitation of
the thermodynamic energy of Oil. In the next go round, that Oil will not be
available, all to the good there.

There will still be battles over land and resources as time goes by, but they
will be battles played out on a level playing field. Not Muskets and Cannon
against Bow and Arrow, not Drone Aircraft and Death from Above against
Kalishnikov Rifles and RPGs. The battles will be Bow against Bow, Trebuchet
against Castle Walls, Mano-a-Mano fighting for your own community and its
survival. A fair fight that will keep each population in check, a part of the
nature of survival. War of this kind is inevitable in a world of constrained
resources, and is naturally limited as the populations become exhausted by the
war. Certainly, the brief moment in time you had after Toba, when the entire
WORLD was empty and to find freedom all you had to do was take a hike for a few
weeks to go to untamed lands had to be as close to Nirvana as you could achieve
in the corporeal life, and short of a near extinction level event that time
won’t ever come again. The next best level to that was the level achieved in
the New World prior to the infection and infestation of the European Locusts.
That level can come again, and I believe it will.

Regardless however of how it does all play out, I can close my eyes and imagine
how it once was, I can imagine how it might come to be. When I walk into the
Great Beyond, I will become part of the Timeless existence of all of this, and I
will be able to pick my place and time to rest for all eternity. I will place
myself on the deck of the first Catamaran Sailing Canoe that successfully made
the Journey from the Marquesas Islands to the Hawaiian Islands, and in the
distance one night on the Journey I will see Mauna Loa erupting off in the
distance, and I will direct my Canoe toward it. I will find an archipelago
teeming with life, unoccupied by any other people, and I will be FREE. For all
the rest of Eternity. I remain trapped here for only so long as my soul stays
trapped inside this body in this place. Its not such a bad place to be,
certainly a better place than many people are stuck living in these days, but
its not the kind of freedom I seek. I’ll only find that Freedom when I walk
into the Great Beyond.

See you on the Other Side.

RE

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