26 November 2009


I refer to how white America's celebration of Thanksgiving tastes to most Native Americans -- like bitter ashes. European American invaders used disease, lies and the fine art of massacre to steal Indian land, and tried to obliterate their culture, language, traditions. Confined to ghettos euphemistically called "reservations", decimated by broken treaty after broken treaty, Indians have become the forgotten minority in the U.S. -- the most oppressed, the most impoverished, the most plagued by alcohol and unemployment.

And yet, against all odds, decent and informed (and sometimes justifiably angry) Indian voices persist -- writers, scholars, historians, activists. There is as much variety of opinion and behavior among Indians as there is among whites, with this difference -- whites hold the financial and political power, but seldom the moral high ground.

On this day, I am thankful for those other voices, which sit on my shoulder and whisper into my ear about conscience, honor, pride.


  1. Which is this man's tribe???
    I have seen this face painting in a vision.

  2. Hi HS,

    I do not know -- his raven headdress and shell earrings suggest the Pacific Northwest, but those items could easily have been traded inland. His facial features and paint suggest one of the Plains tribes, but that is only my guess. It is a powerful image. Thanks for your comment.

  3. I am from the Northwest and I have seen Tulalip dancers with paint like this at the fair-where they show their dances.