OUR REPLY TO WANNABES: YOU ARE NOT LAKOTA!
Open Letter of the editorial team of the Information Center of the Republic of Lakotah in the Russian Federation
Recently on various Russian so-called “indianist” forums, social networks and other internet resources there increased the cases of sweeping defamation of Lakota plight for their rights by representatives of different trends of wannabes and certain “specialists” on indianistics, history and culture of American Indians. Since those Russian speaking wasicu’s not only rudely assault the Republic of Lakota, but insult the memory of Russell Means and Crazy Horse, and considering the fact that Lakota people do not speak on Russian internet resources, the editorial team of the Information Center of the Republic of Lakotah replies to those, who assign themselves to societies of “Indian friends” on words, while in deed support the colonization policy of the United States and in fact share racist ideas and chauvinistic ideology.
It is not a mere assertion; we can quote some utterances and statements of “the specialists on Lakota” and on other Indian nations. We also express sincere regrets that among such detractors of Lakota people there are such well-known personalities as Yuri Stukalin, a writer, and his followers. Having succeed in ridiculing and defamation of the deeds of the nation, which serves as an object for their “researches”, those personalities casted discredit on their reputation as scientists, writers and journalists, creating for themselves famous names on the “subject of Indians”.
One little Indian girl, when asked to bring a family photo to school, said to her mother that she didn’t want somebody’s hands touch something very dear to her. Why? That’s just a picture, you may say. To answer this question it is enough to take a look at what’s going on today. And it concerns not only the indigenous nations of Americas, there are too much stuff that prevents us from seeing people in people.
In view of the plight “Idle No More” many publications contain such epithets as “revolted”, “on the war path”, “demand”… The subject of some Indians speaking of their rights is being discussed on forums. The forum members laugh, “What Indians, what human rights?”
Mo'ohtavo'nehe: “The Canadians gave them too much rope… these “First Nations” have got to understand (that’ll be real fun when it is discovered that they are not first, the Solutreans were the first to come), what if the world economic crisis will get worse (and it will get worse), probably the state will cut the cash flow… So may they take what they are given for free and keep quiet. I think the term “own land” should be put aside. There is no such thing as “own land’. The land belongs to the one who takes possession of it. To the strongest. The law of the jungle, so to say. That’s the way things have been and are all over the world”. - (Mesoamerica Forum)
In due time, with full accordance with a famous Gandhi’s statement (“First they laugh of you...”) the Russian speaking wasicus were having lots of fun over Russell Means and Republic of Lakotah:
Vadim Namanjigabo: “Phooey, dreamboat… picturesque, yes.. And in fact is just a popstar. Means (in my opinion) has no excuse for the Republic of Lakota, and regarding movies and cinema – everybody needs money. If there is demand, there is supply. It’s not the only thing the injuns do for suckers” – Hozho Group.
Yuri Stukalin:: “Russell Means was a good man, but not so simple. And of course, on his part with quite certain purposes to remind of him he used arm-waver ideas, for example, independence of the Lakotas from the United States.” - Mesoamerica Forum
Eagle Feather: “Russell Means is a politician, and is flirting with feelings, nice words with damaged Indian youth and the rest. /.../ Means knows little what he writes about (about Marx and other Einsteins), he just plays on feelings, don’t buy into it. In my opinion, it is ok to listen ONLY to holy men (wicasa wakan), the “shamans” of traditional Lakota beliefs, who are recognized among the Lakota (Fools Crow and Pit Catchez, first of all). And not AIM activists.” – Forum Red Path.
Sure, what Indians may demand and how may they demand, who are they, after all? For many generations born in the former Soviet Union, the Indians are cinema “goiko mitiches”, “chingachgooks” to be played, and it is not only the children who plays “Indians” but adult copycats-indianists. And for some it’s like “Indians? Do they still exist, really?”
Quite often our “hobbyists” or, as they call themselves, “indianists” claim that their intents are good, that they popularize Indian culture by carrying out “tipifests” and other entertaining activities like “powwows”. There is no harm in taking interest in other nations’ culture, but when this interest is respectful and doesn’t play into further destruction of unique cultures, claiming that no culture can be in possession of just one nation. Making TV and other media appearances under the headlines of “Real Russian Indians” (such as http://www.nvspb.ru/) they speak about their hobby but never mention the problems the real Indians are facing. The real Indians are useful when it comes to organizing “Indian shows” such as “Chante-Shah”, “Wild West Show” and others, where indianists dance for those who buys them just like toys are bought in the toyshops and take pictures with celebrities. Though why not dance in bast shoes with a bear? Or, maybe this gap in the market has been covered? And why not call themselves “Buffalobillists”, and not “indinianists”? What about girls in bikini wearing war headdresses on their websites, which is considered an insult by many representatives of the indigenous nations of America?
OlgaPak: “Recently I read on Facebook Peltier’s letter where he thanks people all over the world who have been supporting him in jail for more than 30 years. The majority of these people are not Indians. So popularization sometimes can do good.”
So, according to indianists world-wide support for Leonard Peltier in his plight for freedom is their “feather in the cap”. And what if there was no such “popularization” Leonard would have already been released from jail?
Myths on Wild West, cinema and great many writers of adventure genre do their bit in shaping the image of an Indian, which is very far from the reality and create lots of stereotypes that are wide-spread even today. And though American Indians may resist and confront such stereotypes, the hobbyists are wondering why.
OlgaPak: “Sure enough, the Indians take offence. And what do they take offence at? The girl is pretty, the picture is glamorous, the magazine is famous, and so on. Would an actress be starred in the role she didn’t like? She is not a clown. If there were no books, movies and magazines, who would remember them at all? But for Goiko Mitich who didn’t look better than this girl, where would our indianists in 70-ies come from and make their first powwow in 80s? And what are we to do with our feathers? We are not clowns either. What if there is a protest tomorrow against our powwows, and for many it is one of the most significant events in life for more than thirty years now. ))) Oh come on, we are far away, we have nothing to do with it, and we have common DNA )))”
EvilEye: “The team shouldn’t have apologized! Playing up to the idiots. If it goes like this, soon Seton-Thompson’s books will be prohibited, not mentioning Karl May. Why just not tell them to go to hell with their claims. Fashion! Political correctness...” - Forum Pow-wow (Sbp).
It never occurs to indianists that all the stereotypes related to Indians just prevent from seeing people in them, and sexualization of Indian women on the covers and TV makes them suffer from violence more than women of other ethnic groups. In Indian reservations rape has become an epidemic. Though contemporary, everyday life is not of hobbyists’ interest; and if Indians speak of their rights, in the opinion of the hobbyists it is just to appear on TV-screen or newspaper pages. For example, if the Indians put forward demands relating to environment protection, the hobbyists react like:
Yuri Stukalin: “The Indians – nature keepers – belong only to the fantasies of Cooper and their contemporary nebbishes, that can turn on waterworks about their caring for animals and trees of their ancestors.”
In general, according to the conclusions of certain “researchers”-indianists, it turns out that if “Indians fought, they didn’t know why and what for”:
Yuri Stukalin: “Brant and Crazy Horse are incomparable; it is like comparing a dolphin and a stool. The first object is highly intelligent, and the second one is even devoid of instincts. The national heroes, such as Joseph and Crazy Horse, upon a closer view, turn out to be phonies. What did Sitting Bull did of serious kind? Well, he was chosen a leader from what was available, and there was actually nobody to choose from.” - Hozho Group.
Yuri Stukalin: “And Wounded Knee is not a coincidence, it is a regularity, and it could happen to the Sioux only. Come on, do tell me, who else has suffered because of the Ghost Dance? Their history, beginning in 1870s, is a collection of desperate foolishness of their leaders, their disability to find a direction under new circumstances, failures in diplomacy and misleading the people they were in charge of, impotence of the war leaders, and continuous failures in the battle field (don’t tell me about Little Big Horn, they should praise stupid Custer for this victory, and not themselves). There is nothing in their war history to inspire respect versus the Cheyenne and Nez-perce. Nothing. A crowd with guns, incapable of anything. Absolute mediocrity of Crazy Horse, from who finally all ran away and later those wiser than him set him up at the capitulation; on the reservation he proved to be a complete idiot, afraid of his own shadow, incapable to live and to lead the people. And the Sioux position of today is its regular continuation. What is the difference between the Navajo and the Sioux of 20th century? The absence of brain, that’s it. Bawling instead of acting. There are many examples to it. One of them is rejecting of the compensation of 105 bln. dollars for Black Hills in 1980. Oh yes, I forgot!!! These are sacred hills for the Sioux!!! For sixty years. And before that there were no Sioux by these Hills. The same slapstick as protection of their land, which the Sioux had just taken away from the Crow (Little Big Horn). You may ask, what would the Navajo do in the place of the Sioux in the matter of Black Hills? It’s 2013 today. For 33 years that had passed the Navajo would have been giving their children the best education at Harvard during at least two generations, the level of healthcare, schooling, press would be one of the highest in the country, with best specialists working there; besides, they will be getting dividends from the rest of the sum, and nobody put an end to giving them grants. And, by the way, if their best lawyers discovered a couple more of broken treaties and would exhaust the government with trials so much that the government would simply return Black Hills to them, just to be rid of them. That what the Navajo would do, because they have brains, and they understand what is important for the good of the people. But the Navajo don’t have Black Hills. In any case, the Navajo live fine. The Sioux don’t have Black Hills either, but as they had no brains back then, they don’t have brains now. That’s why they are whining about their life being so bad and wait for the “bad white guys” to come and make their life better. In general I take the Sioux well just like any other Indians. Just their history and the deeds of many of them are of different starting points, not the ones imposed by stereotypes. And many events are doubtful as well, but habitually many just don’t consider them well. They demand their rights just because they don’t want to work even 150 years later, and “demanding rights” gives an opportunity to obtain grants and cover their own laziness. P.S. I would have given the Sioux Black Hills back, but would push forward a counterclaim for the sums spent on their food, clothes, specialists sent to them, etc. under the treaty of 1877, and the percent the government could have if this money were in banks for 150 years. I’m quite positive the Sioux would not have even mention Black Hills. I’ll reveal a secret – there was NO genocide of Indians in the United States.” - Mesoamerica.
Sure, there has never been genocide for the whites, the genocide was for the Sioux and Cherokees, Navajo, Cheyenne and hundreds of other indigenous nations, who keep the memory of their heroes and will be keeping it through many generations; it is their heroes, and the white racists, who deny the Indian genocide, probably have another cult figures. The murderer of the Sioux and Cheyenne general Custer is applauding to you, Mr. Stukalin, removing his hat in a deep bow, and all the Seventh Cavalry is saluting with their sabers. Congratulations, as a full spiritual co-participant of the massacre at Wounded Knee you have rightfully won your own Medal of Dishonor!
For many of the hobbyists “real Indians” are dead, and if some remained somewhere, the modern Indians are “sottish and degrading nation”:
Arapah: “Yeah, and those carriers and keepers of ancient knowledge quite often behave in a way that if we take it for an example you would stop greeting me in the street.” - Red Path.
That’s exactly the way they are being presented now, claiming that the lever of the indigenous nations lacks the enzyme responsible for splitting alcohol. Look around you! Are you living among the indigenous nations of America? Is your neighbor an aborigine? Maybe we should admit that the problem of alcoholic addiction is characteristic of all nations without religious taboos to alcohol consumption, no matter indigenous or not?
So, removing the scruples, it is quite possible to use the Indians as “material for researches”, “material for mimicking”, gradually turning all that into “material for business”. And it is not by coincidence that hobbyists of all continents claim themselves no less than “true keepers of Indian culture”, the culture which they are trying to copy so hard to “become somebody” but never themselves. And the question how it is possible to “keep” a culture without keeping your own, remains open. No matter how hobbyists try to be “identical Indians” their “Hollywood identity” will always be false not only towards themselves, but to the others; that’s why they are perplexed when Indians say, “you are stealing our culture”:
Òanto: “I cannot get calm… Such a strange phrase “stolen culture”. And it can be heard only from the Indians. I don’t get it, how it can ever be stolen?” - Pow-wow Forum (Sbp).
How it can be stolen? Quite easily, if you call yourself “Indian”, showing others “true and not so true sources”, calling your tawdry fancywork and amateur dancing “Indian”, practicing “Indian beliefs”, making money on the go-go “Indian” stuff, be it beading or paid-for dancing to the accompaniment of drums and calling a party a “powwow”. And be amazed that the Indians don’t like it, to put it mildly. Still, there is a question: who wants what from who more? Indians want something from hobbyists and “populizers” or hobbyists and populizers from Indians? It’s ridiculous when indianists make fun out of modern “Cossacks” who seek to revive their ancestors’ lifeways on their land and call them “quisers”. Though it all falls into a perfect Hollywood scenario when “a white person coming in touch with an Indian culture soon becomes more “Indian” than Indians themselves”.
Have you ever met any indigenous people of America claiming to be “Kriviches”, “Vyatiches”, or “Radzimiches” or other ancient Slavonic tribes, or, that they have read all the most authentic sources starting with Herodotus, and thus they have ultimate knowledge of what the Slavs could and could not do?
Stukalin: “I’ve been into Indians for forty years and have passed all the stages: from childish idolization to understanding. It’s you who are perplexed because you lack knowledge, and thus you can think only with imposed stereotypes. You cannot analyze this or that situation and cannot understand why and how an Indian could behave and how and why couldn’t.” - Mesoamerica.
Indianists come to Facebook and other social networks in full “warpaint” and don’t understand why they are being laughed at, they look like “real Indians” and they try to get in contact with Indians, adding them to friends and contact lists; the human being is not important; what matters is that he or she is an “Indian”. And then to their surprise they discover that contemporary real descendants of the Sioux, Cherokee and Cheyenne quite often are not like the images created in the hobbyists’ imagination under the influence of various “trustworthy sources” and hit movies by DEFA (Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft); having got disappointed with their new friends they hurry to their forum pages to brag about lots of Indian friends and pick them to pieces, time and again calling them “savages”.
Yes, undoubtedly you are “far away and you cannot be got”, and besides, who may want a wannabe? As the indigenous people of America say, “you know a lot about us, but comprehend so little”.
Show business industry follows the demand of the society, presenting it a surrogate of “shamanism”, “Indians”, “crystal keepers” and other fantasy run-of-the-mill. Yet let us remember that without respect towards other cultures you can become just another nicely selling trend, without your own historical memory, your roots, lands and burial grounds of your ancestors.
A great friend of ours Dean Lookinghawk says, “They can speak and write about our peoples, the Lakota peoples, whatever they want and how they want. They can call their words true and even refer to “trustworthy sources” and their WHITE researchers. But every time doing so, they will do it not like Lakota. First of all, because they are not Lakota. They will never become Lakota or any other Indians. It is not their history and culture, it is not their relatives killed at Wounded Knee and Sand Creek. They don’t think and will never be able to think like Lakota. If they try to speak Lakota, they do it like the WHITES, not like us. They don’t believe so sincerely in what Indians still believe. If they want to revive a culture, why not? May they revive their own. Is it not being consumed by modern industrial world just like Indian cultures? But they don’t walk the Lakota way and cannot walk it, because every nation has its own way. And only having comprehended that you may find your way. And then you will find peace in your hearts, and you will feel your unity with the Universe, and then you may really become like Lakotas in spirit”.