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This week in America, Through the Kaleidoscope of American Indian Eyes

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When I was a child I used to love kaleidoscopes. Watching the images turn, split, come back together and divide again. That such a simple device could hold my attention for so long is humorous now. Lately, our national media and all the talking heads have provided their own version of kaleidoscope images. Turning and spinning, dividing and altering what should be so clear. But then, issues crystal clear to the American Indian have never been as cut and dried to the rest of America or Canada. In that, we Indians remain an inconvenience.

First we have Clive Bundy, reported by some sources as taking medicaid and social security, but claiming to not believe in the federal government. The same federal government he paid grazing fees to for his cows to feed on public land for years. Somehow Clive developed an altered sense of patriotism and figured it was tyranny for him to pay the same fees other ranchers do. So he called a few of his best buds and they all came to Nevada with a couple of hundred firearms to insure liberty. You can bet if a bunch of Indians showed up with rifles and defied the government they'd all be dead or in prison. Anyway, this was of course before Mr, Bundy enlightened us all with his views on slavery. And abortion. And welfare. Spinning, spinning....

As the kaleidoscope turns we see other ranchers, these being American Indians. Some are named Dann, others are not. For standing up peacefully against the United States government and claiming their right enshrined in treaty law, to their ancestral land, and for that land to be free from a foreign power, especially that powers nuclear waste. For their peaceful, legal efforts these ranchers, unlike Clive, are not given a pass, much less their cattle back. No, the Danns and others are harassed for decades, losing their cattle, livelihood, and even their freedom as they were sent to jail. Sometimes the view in the 'scope isn't so good after all.

And then there is Daniel Sterling, the soon to be ex-owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. Seems he likes to see black people play basketball, to be romantically involved with much younger African American women, and to make money as an NBA franchisee. He just doesn't want his mixed race girlfriend to hang out with or bring those same black people around to the massa's house. Caught on tape uttering this nonsense, the NBA now seeks to separate him from their league. 'Course Mr. Sterling was using his influence to deny minorities housing for years and should never have been in this position of ownership to begin with. But hey, nothing is quite so clear as common sense when you're an Indian. Turning, spinning....

All the while we see yet another image in our spinning vortex. Another professional sports team owner whose team name is actually a racial epithet. Probably the worst racial epithet, and in our nation's capitol no less. He doesn't face criminal prosecution or even professional banishment. For some reason he gets to keep making his money and selling merchandise with his Washington team's vile name. He does get to feign concern for us Indian people by throwing money at a few problems and buying a tractor. Gee, thanks Dan, but it seems your ruse didn't work. Imagine that, a group of people not willing to sell their dignity for any price in this day and age. Not even a backhoe. Man, these images sure get skewed sometimes. Indian people's ideas, rights, and expressions of fairness sure can be an inconvenience. Meanwhile that wheel keeps spinning. Look at all the pretty colors, just don't think about the unaltered image. The real thing. The right thing. Or the truth. It tends to be messy.

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