Nov 12, 2014 - Veteran’s Day, happy? By Noel Altaha
Here’s the thing, I am 100% sure that I support my US troops, but I also know that I don’t support my US government. Those in power have pulled a lot of **** through out its brief 500-year history, trust me I’m living proof of it. Some may say that any government is notorious for pulling **** but in particular the US government has been exceptionally the elite in this magnitude of atrocities. The blood in my veins is the same as the wild free N’dee (Apaches) before me and before “contact”. It is the same blood once targeted and labeled “the enemy” to the US government. The blood of my ancestors are forever stained on the hands of this US government.
I think of the forgotten, the silenced, the invisible and I wonder who pays them homage? Those in history who fought for their homeland when foreigners came and ravished our land and disrupted our ecosystems. I think of the original soldiers: Na-tio-tisha the Apache warrior who led a party of 60 White Mountain Apache warriors in one of the Apache Wars. Lozen, the Apache Warrior, who happened to be a woman and an all-around badass. Geronimo who fought for his land and way of life, he refused to back down until he realized how much he missed his wife and children. Days like today remind me of my original heroes and my spirit is filled with pride. I pay them homage.
Yet I understand and fully stand behind the modern day soldiers who sacrifice their time and lives so I can sit here and comfortably critically analyze the corrupted systems of oppression, racism, patriarchy, greed that make up the foundation of the US government. I sit here and decolonize and re-educate my mind from the brainwashing oppressed discrimination I’ve experienced as: (take your pick) a person of color, woman, minority, Native American, Apache, and low-income background. The audacity of me to write such a post right? Where do I come off? What right do I have? The past is the past, get over it. To this I say, “I support my troops but I do not support my government. I never asked for any of this, I never asked to be invaded, to be targeted for the largest genocide in the history of mankind. I never asked for my Native tongue to be washed away in suds of soap at the hands of Christian teachers. I never asked for my mountains to be carved and gutted. Nor did I ask for my water to be contaminated and wasted. I never asked for concrete jungles when there was a natural forest. What I will ask for is the world to not forget the real history of the Americas. To not forget I am a living Holocaust survivor. To acknowledge, even if you can never understand my collective experience, that I sit here with feelings of contradiction on days like today. My mother served in the Army (Private 1st class, Expert artillery and grenades. Armory operator/diesel operator. Stationed at Ft Dix in New Jersey. Involved in the Desert Storm/Desert Shield operations) she’s served so I can sit here exercising my freedom and rights. The same freedom and rights to criticize my government. I support her service and sacrifice just like any solider serving for their country and the caveat being I am and always will be an Apache Indigenous woman. My respect is for the original people of this continent. We are the soldiers fighting for what’s left of our homeland, our wildlife, our water and basic human rights. Indigenous rights protect everyone.”
Noel Altaha: A member of the White Mountain Apache tribe in Eastern AZ (Eagle clan and‘Tugain’ born of the White Water people). Noel has a B.A. in Psychology from Fort Lewis College. Noel is a graduate student at Columbia University School of Social work in New York City..