Napi / The Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) from Wonder Woman (2017) (dir. Patty Jenkins)
DOES THE NDN LIVE? : YES
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Some Natives take issue with the character’s nickname being “the Chief,” as it plays into a common stereotype for Native characters. Eugene Brave Rock confirms that the character’s name is Napi and introduces himself with his name to Diana in his native language (Blackfoot).
“To fly higher than the eagle, to run faster than the deer, to swim as freely as the fish, to have the cunning of the coyote and the sleekness of the lion ― this is to possess the spirit that sings in the wind and cries in the fire, the spirit that shall never leave my home.”
(As spoken by Sherlock Holmes in Fate/Grand Order)
Heracles and the witch Medea, as well as the other heroes of Greek mythology. Karna and Arjuna of Indian myth. Brave Celtic warriors and the legendary knights of King Arthur. The legendary paladins of Charlemagne, the giant-killing Beowulf. Raikou and the four Heavenly Kings which exterminated the Tsuchigumo. All these myriad myths and legends, and more, speak of the deeds of great heroes—Should you say that I was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, are those heroes not also the creations of others?
Though I am a person of the same era as Doyle’s writings, most heroes of legend were retroactively shaped by history. For example, though Siegfried’s tale is said to have occurred with the 5th century as the backdrop by its origin, the Elder Edda, that collection of poems only came to be after the 8th century. Similarly, Karna and Arjuna are from legends of the 4th century BC that place their story as being in 5000 BC. Mister Golden, Sakata Kintoki, has many brave anecdotes attributed to him, but those were mostly stories created during and after the Edo period. Besides him, there are many other examples of Heian-era heroes in Japan whose stories were handed down in the early Edo era.
Have you realized it? What difference is there between me, and the heroes of the past? Yes, we are mostly the same.
But there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that you existed…?
Evidence, hm. I see. Some may indeed say there is no proof that I truly existed in history. Certainly, there are no official records to show that I once resided at 221-B Baker Street….at least, the records became naught.
So, you actually existed then… is that what you’re saying?
It would be fine to say that, as far as it concerns me, but here, let us muddy the conversation a tad. Consider, those heroes other than myself. There have been almost no cases in which their existence could be proved from an anthropological or archaeological perspective.
Neither remains nor DNA have been forthcoming. No conclusive evidence has been found, even in those places that are considered to be the tombs of these heroes of myth and legend. The Trojan War is amongst the few exceptions. Schliemann’s spectacular discovery proved that the Trojan War was historical fact. Prior to that, the records in the Iliad were thought to be nothing but fiction and legend. The same applies for the other heroes. Are most of them not characters from fictitious legend?
If it’s about proof that they really existed, the other Heroic Spirits are in the same boat—
Precisely. It is contrary to reason that I alone am considered a fictitious existence. More often than not, is it not the case that these unrecorded legends and myths are stories born from the minds of men? The world is not flat, but more approximating a sphere, and it is not carried upon the shoulders of the giant Atlas, as told in Greek mythology.
Night is a natural phenomenon produced by the rotation of the Earth, and not the house of Nyx or other such myths. There are no records of the evil dragon Fafnir existing in the 5th century, and the legend of King Arthur was penned by Sir Mallory in later years.
That is to say, the thing which we call this world is—
He wakes up and the first word he hears is wait! and his lips start to form the word burr? but then he sees the speaker: a woman with red hair wearing something obscenely, splendidly tight and he wonders if this is heaven and God is more of a tomcat that he suspected – but then he tries to move and pain flares down his spine, one greedy white jag, and he amends his original assessment: this is Hell, surely. “Pray tell,” he says, “where am I?” and the woman is joined by a sandy-haired man with some strange flesh-coloured apparatus curling around his ears. “New York,” says the man, “who’re you?” The man has a bow. The arrow is notched and aimed at Hamilton’s face. It is frightfully, laughably primitive – but then again the Indian braves have done much damage to westbound farmers with less and so Hamilton bites his tongue on some of his more hysterical questions and says, “My name is Alexander Hamilton. I’m at your service, sir.”
They tell him where he is. He does not believe them. They tell him when he is and he does not believe them – just a moment ago, just a moment ago, there was Burr, the gunshot, the smoke and the blood and I died I died I heard my heart lurch to a stop I saw God, the great beyond and –
They say a lot of words. There is a man in a slim black suit with obnoxious facial hair and he talks far too much and Hamilton is too quivery and out-of-place to understand the absurdity of such a condemnation (Hamilton says Tony Stark talks too much; in other news, a garden pond accuses the Atlantic of being overly wet.) He understands. He weeps. His children are dead, his grandchildren are dead. His legacy is –
there’s a musical, says Stark in a hush to Captain America (tall and blonde and how ridiculous, how perfectly absurd, this nation should not have saints or idols or – )
There is a musical. There are books and television and the internet – God help the modern world, Hamilton learns about the internet and the first thing he does is write a twenty five thousand word blog on why the memory of Jefferson is overrated and false. He gets Jarvis to proofread it. He gets Jarvis to stick it on the New York Times and there’s a mass panic about someone hacking into the website for the sole purpose of slagging off a long-dead Founding Father. Nick Fury explains about firewalls and internet security. Hamilton rants at him – the Avengers listen through the door, hear things like Sally Hemings and how would you feel if the worst person you knew was remembered a hero and the article is taken down but somehow, somehow Hamilton learns what a blog is.
Things Hamilton loves about the modern world: twitter, blogging, Lin Manuel Miranda, swearing, loose sexual morality, Starbucks, minimal slavery (it still counts, he says hotly, in Africa and Asian it’s still there it isn’t gone yet – )
Yes he meets Lin Manuel Miranda. He rebukes him at length about inaccuracies. He thanks him. He sees his own play fifteen times and starts thinking about a sequel.
Oh yes. There’s a sequel.
Because the fact of the matter is this: Clinton’s corrupt and Sanders is well-meaning but doesn’t have the support and Trump is just…well. Hamilton breaks his nose and writes op-eds for every paper in the country declaring why he was right to do so.
Look: American politics is a mess. And in comes the Founding Father Without A Father, the Bastard Son of a Whore and he says: so what did I miss?
And he claps his hands and grins and says I’m not throwing away my shot and the internet goes mad and the public goes mad and no one is saying he’ll win this election but the next one, oh the next one. Four years is an eternity in politics and Senator Hamilton has the one thing he needed most: more time.
Summary: A trip to London was an opportunity you did not want to pass up. Fortunately and unfortunately, you didn’t see much of London. Then again, what was any city compared to that of the land of dreams, Neverland.
Word Count: 2223
London was an amazing place. You were… some young age that you don’t remember anymore when your school offered a summer trip to London. The sights were breathtaking. The culture, wonderful. The city, inspiring.
You and the other participants were staying in an old corner house in Bloomsbury. The house was abandoned after World War II. The family probably went to the countryside. Because of this, the government used it to house foreign students. It was a brilliant opportunity and a beautiful house. Your bedroom, shared with two other girls, was your favorite room. Mostly because there was a beautiful window seat where you could peacefully watch the stars.
You sighed. “Yes, Miss?”
“Close that window. You don’t want to let the wind in and ruin that new lavender dress of yours.”
You turned around and faced your teacher. “Can’t we leave it a crack open?”
“Why would you request such a thing?”
You crawled into your bed and tucked yourself in. “I want to see the clear sky.”
“Tell you what. I’ll close it, but I won’t lock it. Would you be ok with that?”
You nodded. “Thank you.” You closed your eyes and fell into a peaceful sleep.
The clock struck midnight.
Someone pushed the window open. It wasn’t you. It wasn’t your teacher. It was someone with a hook for a hand. “This is it,” he whispered to his pirate crew. “That Jane girl must be here somewhere.”
A short, pudgy man with gray hair pointed at your roommate. “What about his one here, Cap’n?”
Hook-for-hand took one look at her and scoffed. “Smee, tell me. What is she wearing?”
“Uh… Uh… White, Cap’n!”
“And Jane wears…”
Hook spoke slowly. “Then, find the girl. Who. Wears. Purple!”
“I found ‘er, Cap’n!”
“Right here.” The pirate pointed at your sleeping figure.
Hook’s lips curled into a devious smile. “Oh, Jane. Wake up. Someone’s back to see you.”
You heard something. But it was so far away, like you were underwater. You blinked, waking yourself up. “What is it?”
You gasped. Pirates! One with a sharp hook where his hand should be and several other shadows behind him.
Then, everything went black.
Next thing you know, you were on a beach. Tied to an anchor. You looked around frantically. Where were you? What had happened while you were asleep? While you were… You were knocked out!
“Hey!” you shouted. “Hey! Someone!”
“Shut your trap, Jane!” someone shouted.
“Jane?” You shook your head. “There must be a mistake. I’m not Jane!”
“Well, if you aren’t Jane, then why ya here?”
You groaned. these pirates were not that bright.
“He’s here! Pan’s here!”
The whole beach erupted.
That man with a hook for a hand sauntered up to you. “Well, Jane, I hope you learn your lesson.”
“I’m not Jane,” you explained. “So, if you don’t mind.” You pulled against the ropes.
“That won’t work, Jane. You have to be her.”
“And why’s that?”
He smirked. “Why, only Jane wears purple.”
You blinked. “I’m dreaming. That’s what’s going on. I am dreaming. Dreaming of dumb pirates, beautiful beaches, and a crow cawing.”
The pirate’s face fell. “A crow?”
“You don’t hear it?”
The caw of a crow echoed throughout the island.
“That crow,” you explained with a laugh.
The captain growled. “Put a bag over her. I don’t like Jane’s voice.”
“I’m not Jane!”
Someone pulled a bag over your head. You tried to get it off yourself, rubbing your head against the anchor and shrinking. However, it didn’t do much.
“Come at me, Codfish!” A boy, you knew. “Come on, boys! I’ve seen a walking fish!”
Laughter. Kid’s laughter.
“Good one, Peter!”
“Ha! A walking fish!”
Then, Hook’s voice cut through the boys’ laughter. “Oh, Peter! We found some treasure for you.”
“And you wanna share? How nice! What is it?”
“A certain…” You could practically hear the old pirate smirk. “Lost Girl?”
“Jane? Let her go now, Hook!”
There was cheering of boys. There was shouting of pirates. There was clanging of swords.
Suddenly, you were lifted into the air.
You did what any normal girl would do. You screamed.
“Calm down, Lost Girl! It’s Peter.”
Light flooded your vision. You squirmed and tried your best to escape your captor.
Then, he gasped. And the arms that held you disappeared.
You screamed, feeling your stomach drop and air hit every part of your body. The ocean was beneath you. That was it. You were going to wake up, and you were going to be in your bed.
But, nothing happened. Arms engulfed you again. “Gotcha!”
With no distractions, you were finally able to open your eyes. Light blinded you once again, but then… It started to come into focus. A boy. A boy with reddish hair and brown eyes. Pointy ears?
“You’re not Jane.”
You laughed. “I know. And you’re not real.”
“Not real?” The boy seemed to take a second to ponder this. “You sure sound like the old Jane!” He laughed and set you down on the beach. “So, old Jane, how’d you like to get a tour of Neverland from Peter Pan himself?”
He threw out his arms and jumped off the rock, flying and circling in the air.
It almost made you dizzy. “Neverland? Why would I name this place Neverland?”
“Ha!” He zoomed in close to you so that his nose was just touching yours. “You’re funny, Ole Jane.”
You swatted him away from you. “My name’s not Jane. I’m (Y/n), (Y/n) (Y/l/n).”
Peter tilted his head and crossed his legs as if he was sitting in the sky. “That’s a funny name, (Y/n) (Y/n).”
You opened your mouth to correct him, but the boy seemed very proud of himself for listening to you. You had another question anyway. “How are you doing that?”
“You don’t know how to fly?” Peter Pan exclaimed. “It’s so easy! Easier than pie!”
You crossed your arms and teased, “Well if it’s so easy, why don’t you teach me?”
“Great idea, Old Jane!”
“I told you my name’s-”
Peter grabbed your hand and threw you on his back. “Come on! We’ve got a lot to do before it gets dark!”
You squealed and held on tightly. You closed your eyes, feeling the wind whip your dress carelessly. Your stomach must’ve dropped several feet, because you felt the need to scream and hold on even tighter.
“Careful, girlie. You don’t wanna strangle your knight in shining armor.”
“Who said I needed one!” you screamed into his shirt.
“Sorry, can’t hear you! You can thank me when we land!”
You wanted to scoff, but the emptiness in your stomach prevented you from doing so.
Suddenly, the boy started speaking, but not to you. It was followed by a jingling of bells. “Hey, Tink. What are you talking about? (Y/n) loves flying! See- oh.”
The wind stopped.
“(Y/n)… you ok?”
You opened one eye slowly. Peter Pan was staring at you, worry shining in his eyes.
You gasped. The worry in his eyes was so overwhelming. You’ve never seen anyone look at anyone like how he was gazing at you. This couldn’t be a dream. If you’ve never seen that look, how could you ever dream it?
You blinked. “Just a bit… dizzy. I’ve never flown before.”
Peter’s sad frown and worried eyes immediately changed to an expression of childish hope and joy. “Well, in order to get over the fear of flying, you need to fly. It’s simple, really. Faith, trust, and pixie dust. that’s all you need. That’s why Tink is here to help!”
A ball of light appeared next to him. You blinked and used one hand to rub your eyes. It wasn’t just a ball of light. It was a person! … A tiny person with wings. “A fairy?” You gasped.
Peter laughed. “You look as if you’ve never seen one before.” He turned to the little lady, fairy, and instructed, “Let ‘er rip, Tink!”
Tinker Bell zoomed right to you and stopped in front of your eyes. She was beautiful and seemingly angry. Then, she jingled. and looked at Peter.
“Come on, Tinker Bell. Or I might just have to shake you.”
Tinker Belle huffed. She spun around above your head, showering you with pixie dust. She wasn’t stopping any time soon.
“That’s enough, Tink,” Peter laughed.
Tinker Bell narrowed her eyes and threw another ball of pixie dust at your head.
You closed your eyes and tried to wipe off all the excess dust on your face.
Peter smiled. “Now, think of a happy thought.”
“A happy thought?”
“Any happy thought! For Wendy, it was Mermaid Lagoon. John, the pirate’s cave. And Michael thought of being an Indian Brave.”
You tilted your head and closed your eyes. Your happiest thought made you smile. “Ok, I think I have it.”
Peter smiled. “Then, let go.”
“Let go, or I’ll do it for you,” he taunted.
Too late. He let you go.
You closed your eyes. Fear gutted you, and there was no air in your lungs.
Peter sputtered out a laugh. “Open your eyes, girlie.”
You slowly but surely did. You were flying! You were floating! All on your own!
You laughed and spun in the air. It felt so freeing. You didn’t have to rely on the ground. it was just you and the open sky. “Woohoo!”, you sang out, turning and twisting through the air.
Peter was beside you, laughing. “There you go, (Y/n)! That’s how you fly!”
You smiled. Then, you smirked. “Bet you can’t catch me.”
Peter blinked, obviously surprised by your challenge. Then, he smiled. “Ha! You think you can beat me? I am, clearly, the more experienced one.” He laid down on the air, placing his arms behind his head.
You stopped, propped your head on your hands, and rested your hands on Peter’s chest. “Well, scaredy-cat, are you saying no race?”
Peter’s jaw dropped. He flew out from under and flexed his muscles. “You are talking to Little Flying Eagle here. And Little Flying Eagle never backs down!”
“Then…” You bit your lip. “Let’s fly!” You sped off with your arms outstretched and a smile on your face.
“Hey!” Peter complained. He flew after you.
You, to be honest, forgot about the race. You were just flying, soaring over the island of Neverland. You flew through rainbows and bounced on cotton candy clouds. You touched the clear blue waters and danced under the snow clouds.
In all the fun you were having, you didn’t notice the Indian’s totem pole in front of you.
You gasped. You stared right into the face of a colorful bear. And Peter was behind you, one hand on your hip and the other holding your shoulder. His chest was not touching your back. It was close enough, however, that you could feel the heat coming from his body and his chest moving up and down as he breathed.
“Thanks,” you muttered, out of breath.
“No problem, (Y/n).”
Suddenly, Tinker Bell appeared beside the two of you. She pulled you away from Peter and floated in front of him, jingling frantically.
“Woah, Tink. The boys? Nearing sunset? Already?” Peter tilted his head and stared at the sun. “Oh.” He faced the fairy again. “Lost track of time, then. But, we can still get back in time!” He pulled your arm and flew. “Come on!”
Nights turned into moons. Soon, you had forgotten about London. About your old house. You lived in Neverland, the land of dreams. You had a family. You were a mother, a sister. And soon…
“You’ve earned it.” Peter hands you a lion’s hood. “Lost Girl.”
You blinked. You reached out to touch it, then you hesitated. “Really, Peter? Ya mean it?”
“Of course I do!” He beamed and insisted. “You’re one of us now, (Y/n).”
The Lost Boys cheered and jumped off the walls.
You laughed as one of the twins jumped on you. You held onto him and threw your head back with a joyful cry. “I’m a Lost Girl, boys!” You took the hood from Peter and ut it over your head. “Now, let’s go on an adventure!” You pulled out your machete and cheered with the boys.
Peter smiled. He flew above all of you. “Tink, let’s go!”
TinkerBell zoomed out of her room. She smiled at you, hitting you with her signature pixie dust ball before sprinkling the boys with the magical dust.
“You’ll pay for that, Tinker Bell!” you joked.
Tinker Bell just smirked and floated above your shoulder.
Peter raised his dagger. “All right, Lost Boys.” He bowed to you. “And Girl. Let’s go find some fun!”
“Yeah!” you all answered back with a cheer. The boys flew out first. Peter stayed behind and stared at you. “You coming, girlie?”
You floated to him. “Of course, I am. I am a Lost Girl after all.”
Peter laughed. “Then, Lost Girl, it would be an honor,” he bowed low and held out his hand, “to aid you in your next trip.”
You grinned. “Why, the pleasure’s all mine, Boy.” With that, You accepted his outstretched hand, and the two of you soared into the Neverland sky, looking for a new adventure.
Hello, everyone! Hope you like this one. I made it extra long because Peter Pan from Disney doesn’t have many imagines. All he has is fanfics about Wendy. A few with Jane. I think I found one with reader, but that’s one. It wasn’t even on tumblr. But, I hope this can be good enough to represent!
Have a great night everyone! Now, I need to catch up on math… Wish me luck!
Massacre At Wounded Knee, 1890
On the morning of December 29, 1890, the Sioux chief Big Foot and some 350 of his followers camped on the banks of Wounded Knee creek. Surrounding their camp was a force of U.S. troops charged with the responsibility of arresting Big Foot and disarming his warriors. The scene was tense. Trouble had been brewing for months.
The once proud Sioux found their free-roaming life destroyed, the buffalo gone, themselves confined to reservations dependent on Indian Agents for their existence. In a desperate attempt to return to the days of their glory, many sought salvation in a new mysticism preached by a Paiute shaman called Wovoka. Emissaries from the Sioux in South Dakota traveled to Nevada to hear his words. Wovoka called himself the Messiah and prophesied that the dead would soon join the living in a world in which the Indians could live in the old way surrounded by plentiful game. A tidal wave of new soil would cover the earth, bury the whites, and restore the prairie. To hasten the event, the Indians were to dance the Ghost Dance. Many dancers wore brightly colored shirts emblazoned with images of eagles and buffaloes. These “Ghost Shirts” they believed would protect them from the bluecoats’ bullets. During the fall of 1890, the Ghost Dance spread through the Sioux villages of the Dakota reservations, revitalizing the Indians and bringing fear to the whites. A desperate Indian Agent at Pine Ridge wired his superiors in Washington, “Indians are dancing in the snow and are wild and crazy….We need protection and we need it now. The leaders should be arrested and confined at some military post until the matter is quieted, and this should be done now.” The order went out to arrest Chief Sitting Bull at the Standing Rock Reservation. Sitting Bull was killed in the attempt on December 15. Chief Big Foot was next on the list.
When he heard of Sitting Bull’s death, Big Foot led his people south to seek protection at the Pine Ridge Reservation. The army intercepted the band on December 28 and brought them to the edge of the Wounded Knee to camp. The next morning the chief, racked with pneumonia and dying, sat among his warriors and powwowed with the army officers. Suddenly the sound of a shot pierced the early morning gloom. Within seconds the charged atmosphere erupted as Indian braves scurried to retrieve their discarded rifles and troopers fired volley after volley into the Sioux camp. From the heights above, the army’s Hotchkiss guns raked the Indian teepees with grapeshot. Clouds of gun smoke filled the air as men, women and children scrambled for their lives. Many ran for a ravine next to the camp only to be cut down in a withering cross fire.
When the smoke cleared and the shooting stopped, approximately 300 Sioux were dead, Big Foot among them. Twenty-five soldiers lost their lives. As the remaining troopers began the grim task of removing the dead, a blizzard swept in from the North. A few days later they returned to complete the job. Scattered fighting continued, but the massacre at Wounded Knee effectively squelched the Ghost Dance movement and ended the Indian Wars.
Eyewitness to a Massacre
Philip Wells was a mixed-blood Sioux who served as an interpreter for the Army. He later recounted what he saw that Monday morning:
“I was interpreting for General Forsyth (Forsyth was actually a colonel) just before the battle of Wounded Knee, December 29, 1890. The captured Indians had been ordered to give up their arms, but Big Foot replied that his people had no arms. Forsyth said to me, ‘Tell Big Foot he says the Indians have no arms, yet yesterday they were well armed when they surrendered. He is deceiving me. Tell him he need have no fear in giving up his arms, as I wish to treat him kindly.’ Big Foot replied, 'They have no guns, except such as you have found.’ Forsyth declared, 'You are lying to me in return for my kindness.’
During this time a medicine man, gaudily dressed and fantastically painted, executed the maneuvers of the ghost dance, raising and throwing dust into the air. He exclaimed 'Ha! Ha!’ as he did so, meaning he was about to do something terrible, and said, 'I have lived long enough,’ meaning he would fight until he died. Turning to the young warriors who were squatted together, he said 'Do not fear, but let your hearts be strong. Many soldiers are about us and have many bullets, but I am assured their bullets cannot penetrate us. The prairie is large, and their bullets will fly over the prairies and will not come toward us. If they do come toward us, they will float away like dust in the air.’ I turned to Major Whitside and said, 'That man is making mischief,’ and repeated what he had said. Whitside replied, 'Go direct to Colonel Forsyth and tell him about it,’ which I did.
Forsyth and I went to the circle of warriors where he told me to tell the medicine man to sit down and keep quiet, but he paid no attention to the order. Forsyth repeated the order. Big Foot’s brother-in-law answered, 'He will sit down when he gets around the circle.’ When the medicine man came to the end of the circle, he squatted down. A cavalry sergeant exclaimed, 'There goes an Indian with a gun under his blanket!’ Forsyth ordered him to take the gun from the Indian, which he did. Whitside then said to me, 'Tell the Indians it is necessary that they be searched one at a time.’ The young warriors paid no attention to what I told them. I heard someone on my left exclaim, 'Look out! Look out!’ I saw five or six young warriors cast off their blankets and pull guns out from under them and brandish them in the air. One of the warriors shot into the soldiers, who were ordered to fire into the Indians. I looked in the direction of the medicine man. He or some other medicine man approached to within three or four feet of me with a long cheese knife, ground to a sharp point and raised to stab me. He stabbed me during the melee and nearly cut off my nose. I held him off until I could swing my rifle to hit him, which I did. I shot and killed him in self-defense.
Troop 'K’ was drawn up between the tents of the women and children and the main body of the Indians, who had been summoned to deliver their arms. The Indians began firing into 'Troop K’ to gain the canyon of Wounded Knee creek. In doing so they exposed their women and children to their own fire. Captain Wallace was killed at this time while standing in front of his troops. A bullet, striking him in the forehead, plowed away the top of his head. I started to pull off my nose, which was hung by the skin, but Lieutenant Guy Preston shouted, 'My God Man! Don’t do that! That can be saved.’ He then led me away from the scene of the trouble.
You may have noticed if you roll in white liberal circles that, in recent months, they suddenly care about Native Americans…. As evidence of this, they come up to my brown ass at parties to anxiously educate me on #NoDAPL and #StandingRock.
At first I would reluctantly entertain these conversations, because I’m a delusional optimist who thinks that any minute now white people are going to surprise me by actually caring about POC, but it always ends up being this kind of conversation which first centralizes their outrage at corporations (whom they don’t name, let alone boycott) further endangering the environment, and then outsources any implications around race and settler colonialism to Middle America trailer parks and neo-nazis (or if they’re even more left leaning, they just say “white people” to somewhat tacitly identify themselves as one of the good ones, or “the resistance” lol).
Sometimes, they’ll say things like “Its so fucked up what they’re doing to the protesters, they’re literally shooting them” and sometimes they’ll just come out and say it because they can’t keep it in any longer –
“It’s horrifying the way this country treats Native Americans”
This is indisputably true, and it’s good that some white Americans can finally admit that, after committing the largest sustained genocide in human history.
But it still doesn’t add up: Why do white people suddenly care about Native Americans?
A few thoughts on this matter:
1) White people who don’t live near reservations can go their entire lives without noticing or interacting with a single Native American; which gives them the freedom to conceptualize indigenous people however they want – usually as cultural relics who need to be preserved.
Because White People have murdered most of the Indigenous Population and oppressed many of those still living into quarantined pockets of land with disproportionate access to resources, its fairly easy for a White American to keep the Disney romanticized image of the American Indian intact. More than likely, they will never be in a situation where they feel the need to be culturally sensitive to Native Americans, or rather in a situation where a Native American confronts them or calls them out on their racism. This places them in the privileged position of being able to revere and remember the Native Americans historically, as though the current Native population is an endangered species which needs to be preserved for cultural and historical edification. Like the bald eagle or the glaciers in Alaska, Native Americans are rarely seen by white people, but are important to the White national identity so long as they are oppressed into docile resignation under their assigned fate as forsaken cultural relics. By posturing them this way, it is not polarizing among white people to want to save them, especially when their politics can be whitewashed to align with white leftist ideals.
2) White liberals confuse ethnography with their own leftist politics, conflating themselves as like-minded or bound by circumstance to those they oppress the most.
Through the white lens, Native Americans – though denied a voice in the political sphere – are aspirational in their prescription to a white leftist ideal. They are anti-corporation, anti-military, anti-borders, and pro-environment, without being given the nuance or platform to invoke issues of race, gender, or sexuality. Exemplified by a White Hare Krishna or your average White Rasta with dreads, many white ethnographers form an unfounded connection with their interpretation of peoples and cultures, based on a vanilla blended understanding of history, mixed with a rejection of white middle class capitalist values and a deliberate ignorance of colonial power structures. This unfortunate practice spills over to white hippies and what started as their strategically necessary but ultimately problematic allegiance with Native Americans, to the point where the hippie movement and the new age movement became conflated with an entire cultural history that spanned back to the late Ice Age, reducing it to vague stereotypes of deep spirituality and living off the land. The early whitewashing of the Red Power movement by white hippies in the 60s and 70s makes less surprising the current iteration of white people coming to Standing Rock and treating it like a music festival, as the Woodstock generation of white liberals happily paved the way before them. From that standpoint, the #NoDAPL movement is attractive to white liberals who want to espouse what they perceive to be radically leftist politics without having to actually engage in discussions about privilege.
3) White liberals are able to feign solidarity with Native Americans without ever acknowledging colonialism or white supremacy, by framing #NoDAPL as solely a anti-corporate and environmental issue rather than an act of colonial violence.
The #NoDAPL movement, as co-opted by white liberals, centralizes corporate greed and environmental conservation as a threat which victimizes and oppresses white people, erasing the Native American struggle under the umbrella of the 99%. The hypocrisy of framing #NoDAPL as purely an environmental and anti-capitalist pursuit begs many questions – where was all of this white activism during Hurricane Katrina? Why aren’t white people flocking to Flint, Michigan to stand against environmental racism and privatization of public service? By positioning themselves in contradictory roles (the ivory tower of the white savior vs the identification with a hegemonic class struggle), white liberals can comfortably feign outrage at the election results and the rise of fascism while continuing to benefit from and further perpetuating the subjugation of the Muslim, Black, and Latinx Americans who are more polarizing.
4) White liberals outwardly express paternalistic solidarity with Native Americans to avoid advocating for more polarizing groups like Muslims, Black People, Undocumented Immigrants etc.
The romanticized image of the American Indian is not polarizing amongst white people. Both conservative and liberal whites have relegated the political identity of Native Americans to that of revisionist folklore – as a compassionate, spiritual, pre-racial foil to the civilized white man, teaching him valuable lessons on his ordained path toward manifest destiny, with the imagined resolution of “they don’t bother us, we don’t bother them” that pervades white American consciousness of Native Americans today. When white liberals tell me about the horrific treatment of Native Americans at Standing Rock, they are only referencing the violation of that imagined resolution, not necessarily in connection with the preceding genocide, displacement, and large scale accumulation by dispossession of indigenous people since the 1400s.
The historical mythology around Native Americans resonates with the White American national identity in a way that other minorities do not. The genocide of indigenous peoples in America, as a mechanism to justify the current occupation of the land by people of European ancestry, is recognized as a lamentable but ultimately inevitable means to an end, by which white people from the comfort of their settlements can now honor and praise the brave American Indian for his sacrifice. It is a strange relationship that both denies and admits settler colonialism, but ultimately determines its relevance only in relation to white subjectivity, which is able to go unchecked as Native Americans are largely excluded from modern American consciousness, and the accounts of surviving indigenous descendants are generally silenced. This allows for a deliberate de-linking of the Native American struggle with white supremacy. When it comes to advocating for Black, Muslim, or Latinx Americans, white people have to deal with a battle for inclusion that is ongoing, in their faces, and entirely dependent on the abolition of systems that privilege whiteness. Islamophobia and anti-muslim jingoism, systemic anti-black racism and police brutality, denaturalization and deportation of Latinx immigrants all share a common thread which is that these violences have been elevated to the white mainstream politic in a framework that makes them polarizing enough as “debatable issues” and not necessarily movements with which to align one’s white self. While fighting corporate tyranny and protecting the homeland from environmental hazard can be viewed as liberal American ideals – the inclusion or acceptance of Muslims by white people, the abolition of the systemic antiblackness, or the naturalization of undocumented Latinx immigrants are framed as diametrically un-American, as they require the undermining of white privilege and supremacy. In the domestic context of a Thanksgiving dinner (the height of racial tension for white progressives), these un-American positions are more likely to alienate white liberals from their white supremacist families, while issues framed as anti-corporate or pro-environment are seen as more topical and less divisive. The result of this is white liberals suddenly caring about Native Americans as an outlet to project liberal outrage so long as it doesn’t directly confront white supremacy.
Let it be spring!
Come, bubbling, surging tide of sap!
Come, rush of creation!
Come, life! surge through this mass of mortification!
Come, sweep away these exquisite, ghastly first-flowers,
which are rather last-flowers!
Come, thaw down their cool portentousness, dissolve them:
snowdrops, straight, death-veined exhalations of white and purple crocuses,
flowers of the penumbra, issue of corruption, nourished in mortification,
jets of exquisite finality;
Come, spring, make havoc of them!
I trample on the snowdrops, it gives me pleasure to tread down the jonquils,
to destroy the chill Lent lilies;
for I am sick of them, their faint-bloodedness,
slow-blooded, icy-fleshed, portentous.
I want the fine, kindling wine-sap of spring,
gold, and of inconceivably fine, quintessential brightness,
rare almost as beams, yet overwhelmingly potent,
strong like the greatest force of world-balancing.
This is the same that picks up the harvest of wheat
and rocks it, tons of grain, on the ripening wind;
the same that dangles the globe-shaped pleiads of fruit
temptingly in mid-air, between a playful thumb and finger;
oh, and suddenly, from out of nowhere, whirls the pear-bloom,
upon us, and apple- and almond- and apricot- and quince-blossom ,
storms and cumulus clouds of all imaginable blossom
about our bewildered faces,
though we do not worship.
I wish it were spring
cunningly blowing on the fallen sparks, odds and ends of the old, scattered fire,
and kindling shapely little conflagrations
curious long-legged foals, and wide-eared calves, and naked sparrow-bubs.
I wish that spring
would start the thundering traffic of feet
new feet on the earth, beating with impatience.
I wish it were spring, thundering
delicate, tender spring.
I wish these brittle, frost-lovely flowers of passionate, mysterious corruption
were not yet to come still more from the still-flickering discontent.
Oh, in the spring, the bluebell bows him down for very exuberance,
exulting with secret warm excess,
bowed down with his inner magnificence!
Oh, yes, the gush of spring is strong enough
to toss the globe of earth like a ball on a water-jet
as you see a tiny celluloid ball tossing on a squirt of water
for men to shoot at, penny-a-time, in a booth at a fair.
The gush of spring is strong enough
to play with the globe of earth like a ball on a fountain;
At the same time it opens the tiny hands of the hazel
with such infinite patience.
The power of the rising, golden, all-creative sap could take the earth
and heave it off among the stars, into the invisible;
the same sets the throstle at sunset on a bough
singing against the blackbird;
comes out in the hesitating tremor of the primrose,
and betrays its candour in the round white strawberry flower,
is dignified in the foxglove, like a Red-Indian brave.
Ah come, come quickly, spring!
come and lift us towards our culmination, we myriads;
we who have never flowered, like patient cactuses.
Come and lift us to our end, to blossom, bring us to our summer,
we who are winter-weary in the winter of the of the world.
Come making the chaffinch nests hollow and cosy,
come and soften the willow buds till they are puffed and furred,
then blow them over with gold.
Coma and cajole the gawky colt’s-foot flowers.
Come quickly, and vindicate us
against too much death.
Come quickly, and stir the rotten globe of the world from within,
burst it with germination, with world anew.
Come now, to us, your adherents, who cannot flower from the ice.
All the world gleams with the lilies of Death the Unconquerable,
but come, give us our turn.
Enough of the virgins and lilies, of passionate, suffocating perfume of corruption,
no more narcissus perfume, lily harlots, the blades of sensation
piercing the flesh to blossom of death.
Have done, have done with this shuddering, delicious business
of thrilling ruin in the flesh, of pungent passion, of rare, death-edged ecstasy .
Give us our turn, give us a chance, let our hour strike,
O soon, soon!
Let the darkness turn violet with rich dawn.
Let the darkness be warmed, warmed through to a ruddy violet,
incipient purpling towards summer in the world of the heart of man.
Are the violets already here!
Show me! I tremble so much to hear it, that even now
on the threshold of spring, I fear I shall die.
Show me the violets that are out.
Oh, if it be true, and the living darkness of the blood of man is purpling with violets,
if the violets are coming out from under the rack of men, winter-rotten and fallen,
we shall have spring.
Pray not to die on this Pisgah blossoming with violets.
Pray to live through.
If you catch a whiff of violets from the darkness of the shadow of man
it will be spring in the world,
it will be spring in the world of the living;
wonderment organising itself, heralding itself with the violets,
stirring of new seasons.
Ah, do not let me die on the brink of such anticipation!
Worse, let me not deceive myself.