F! Columbus, but Still VoteTweet
By : Chase IronEyes
F! Columbus; let’s get that out in the open, again. As President Barack Obama and the United States celebrate Columbus Day and honor the memory of this vile monster, we the Indigenous peoples of this hemisphere are smiling our way into our own self-propelled revolutions, armed with our beautiful languages, songs, ceremonies, sacred sites, lands, ways of life, senses of humor, bows, arrows and, when necessary, AK-47s (read “old taped up 22s and 30-30s with feathers hanging from the barrels” but whatever). We Indians have a harsh history. The United States has inflicted horrible trauma upon us and has committed genocide on the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island, and they deny it. Everytime an American sees us we call into question the whole of their legitimacy to exist on this continent –awkward silence. They thought they could kill the Last Real Indians and make caricatures out of the rest. Those of us still kicking are survivors –Takini. We will never die. We will never be conquered. We do not need an apology from anyone. We are the life that springs when water returns, water which was held hostage by the negative doers, monsters who were forced to free the water only by threat and force of the mighty thunderbird’s chief so that we will live. The universal powers have appointed us protectors of Earth, with our lives and our votes. Yes, let’s move onto voting.
I know our grassroots hardliners see voting as an “end of the trail” gesture by our powerful first nations; a kissing of the feet of the Christian based invaders. Likewise, I know our assimilationist, pro-America, hardliners are getting new haircuts, sweater vests and bowties anticipating the debate parties and other civic American gatherings at which hors d’oeuvres will be served by former banquet servers like me, who would deliberately not give a shit about American elections because it meant these old white guys, now Black as well, would be talking on the Tele and playing politrix about what oil rich country we’d be invading –I mean freeing- next, how we would continue our “growth myth” increasing our GDP while killing the planet, silently. Ok, where was I? Voting: what is it, and why should Indians, or anyone for that matter, vote?
Growing up on the Rez I did not care at all for state or federal elections, but when it came to tribal elections our people pitched in limited resources to haul voters in barely running –off season- powwow vans so that our turnout to elect one of our cousin’s cousins resulted in record turnouts. We do our civic duty in tribal elections because we have direct stake in the potential outcomes. Tribal elections are the difference between a job and a house or hustling from mom’s basement. Why, Indians Why!, do we ignore state and federal elections?
As you know Indigenous people function as tri-partite citizens, meaning we vote in Tribal, State and Federal elections. At least we are eligible to; our voter turnout in state and federal elections is “piss poor” to put it nicely. I can think of a few reasons why:
1. We are indigenous first and foremost, and we’re poor. Fair enough. We should protect our land and future on instinct, and we who are largely disenfranchised but free-thinking simply do not see how a vote, in an electoral system much less, is going to mean we will know where the next meal is coming from. A heirarchy of needs is very real when we have been raised in poverty culture. I don’t know how to pull us out of that but apathy is no excuse.
2. We see the U.S. as an occupier whose purported “dominion” over us in federal-Indian relations has no real legal or moral basis. We simply do not relate to “outsider” politics though half our populations live in “outsider” urban areas. Still, I understand our people who simply refuse to submit to the voter system. The United States is the attempted conqueror; Americans are occupying the southern half of Turtle Island. We will never be conquered because we walk in balance with the universe and with Mother Earth. A choice between Democrats and Republicans is no choice at all as far as Mother Earth is concerned; but still I say vote. The Earth is being destroyed by the corporate west. The United States is a primary guilty party and the face of the modern corporate west. The United States should be charged in a Court of Law, Natural Law, with Genocide, War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity and Possession of Stolen Property, to name a few “allegations” with no Statute of Limitations; and still I say vote.
It is pretty well common knowledge around Indigenous homelands that we should strengthen ourselves and pursue true igluha– independence instead of asking the feds for more sovereignty. We should cast aside the bad things in America’s road and only pick up the good, to paraphrase Sitting Bull. We should grow our own food, make our own clothing, build our own homes, provide our own water, and supply our basic domestic energy needs (heating/cooling). We should also learn and regenerate our languages, songs, ceremonies and ways of life. These are all hallmarks of Indigenous evolution and mark an informed path to true prosperity.
There is no one-right way to healing, but there is a way, and that way includes all pro-active efforts advancing Indigenous peoples into the future. I judge none. We all have varying roles in our forward movement with each of us who want to do the right thing. We are all moving us in the right direction.
I am for protecting our ceremonies, languages, sacred sites, and water against the United States, with our lives. I am also for furthering our positions by using tools of this same system, the same system set up by the USA to expropriate and disenfranchise us. So, still I say vote. I say vote when in some states our populations provide great enough influence that every single one of our votes has the potential to swing a state’s election and its electoral choices. I say vote because in some states there are enough of us such that evidence of our collective voter turnout, as much as 50-70% as in Tribal elections, would send the message to those who rely on our uniformed wallowing that we are coming for our dignity, on all fronts –as mother earth protectors, protestors, academics, professionals, legislators, business owners, athletes, voters and on and on. The longer we ignore our voting power, the longer we are ignored.