Photo Credit: UN Observer and International Report
UN Observer and International Report
Brenda Norrell

Lewis and Clark opened the door to the holocaust of the West

CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. (Sept. 18, 2004) — The American lie of Lewis and Clark unraveled as Lakota, Ponca and Kiowa told re-enactors to turn back downriver or face the consequences.

“What they wrote down was a blueprint for the genocide of my people. You are re-enacting something ugly, evil and hateful,” Carter Camp, Ponca, told the Discovery Expedition camped on the Missouri River.

On Saturday, an Indian delegation of elders, supported by young warriors, gave the expedition three days to go home and a stern warning. If they did not turn around, they would call on all Indians who are not assimilated, colonized and conquered to join them and stop the expedition.

“You are re-enacting the coming of death to our people,” Camp told the expedition, while seated in a circle with Indian elders and Lewis and Clark re-enactors, on the banks of the Missouri River. “You are re-enacting genocide.”

Deb White Plume of Pine Ridge gave the expedition a symbolic blanket of small pox. Another Lakota woman from Pine Ridge said she carries the DNA of the Lakota women who survived the slaughters that Lewis and Clark opened the door to. She said she is prepared to die for this cause.

 “I believe in armed struggle,” Wicahpi Wakia Wi of Pine Ridge said.  “The act of genocide stops here. We are tired of living poor. We are not afraid to die. I am willing to die.”  She told them they would not proceed up the river.  “You are not going on. I will organize every sister from here to Oregon to stop you.”

Lakota elder Floyd Hand, among four bands of Lakota here, told the expedition, “We are the descendants of Red Cloud and Crazy Horse.”  “I did not come here in peace.”  Hand said they would not smoke the pipe today and if the expedition continues up the Missouri River, the families of the expedition members would suffer the spiritual consequences of small pox.  Referring to the tribal governments who welcomed the expedition, Hand said those tribal governments reflect the same type thinking as the re-enactors and are not the voice of the grassroots people.  “The tribal governments are not a voice for us. They are imitating us, like you are imitating Lewis and Clark.”

“We want you to turn around and go home,” Alex White Plume, Lakota from Pine Ridge, told the expedition White Plume said Lakota are here on this land for a reason.  “We were put here by the spirits.” He said the Lakota never lost their language or ceremonies and now they are making these requests: Lakota want their territory back, their treaties to be honored and to be able to continue their healing ways.  White Plume said many Indian people have become assimilated and colonized.  “We pray for our own colonized people. We say they are in a prison in the white man’s world.”  White Plume said there was no point in the expedition coming here. “All you did was open up these old wounds.”

Carter Camp warned the expedition to halt or they would be stopped. He said the expedition has been told lies and are spreading lies.  Lewis and Clark are a part of the American lie.  “They had no honor. They came with the American lie. They murdered 60 million people.”  Camp said Lewis and Clark said they came in peace. Referring to their costumes, Camp said, “You guys probably believe that lie. That is why you are dressed so funny today.”  He said Lewis and Clark knew what happened to Indians in the eastern part of the country and they knew that the missionaries followed the soldiers. And it was the missionaries who left his people as remnants, homeless in the streets.  Camp said the young warriors would not be as patient as the elders seated in the circle. He also questioned whether the re-enactors had asked permission of the grassroots Indian people to come onto their territory.  “You chose to come amongst us without permission.”  Camp said Sacagawea was a woman struggling to return home. “We feel sorry for that woman. We don’t like the way she was treated.”  Camp said Indians here did not like the first Lewis and Clark and they sure don’t like the second ones.  “Take those silly clothes off and come back dressed like a normal human being. Don’t come here to tell me what your grandfather did to my grandfather.”  Referring to the re-enactors “silly clothes,” Camp said of the Natives  who came, “This is the way our people dress everyday. We are not trying to play a game.”  “Go home and try to re-enact some truth for the rest of your life.”

Alex White Plume said all that is good is being destroyed on the Earth because of actions like these.  “Our people are dying because our water is no good,” he said, adding that the wolves and bears are disappearing from the territory. Lakotas have to pay fees to go the Black Hills to pray.  “Today I can not even go up to the Black Hills to worship. We believe everyone should have access to spirituality.”  He said buffalo were once the basis of the ecosystem. Now, he said, “The whole West is drying up. “The Earth should be a priority and not your own personal needs.”  Referring to the red, white and blue flag flying over one of the expedition’s three boats docked on the Missouri River, White Plume said, “We want that flag taken down. We honor that flag because we won it at the Little Big Horn.”  He said the flag could be later given back, if their treaty was honored and sacred lands preserved.  “We would like to ask you to turn around and not to proceed into our territory. We didn’t bring our bows and arrows, but we will continue to
harass you.”

Alfred Bone Shirt of Rosebud told the expedition, “This is disgusting.  This is a slap in the face.”  Bone Shirt said the Lakota are a people who never quit fighting for what they believe in. “If you decide to go up river, it is bad, bad for you and bad for your families.”

Bone Shirt listed the town of Chamberlain in a long list of racist South Dakota towns. He described the testimony of the Indian Child Welfare Act on KILI Radio the previous day, testimony of Lakota children being taken away in large numbers and given to non-Indian
families.  “Our prisons are full, our children are being taken away.”  Pointing out the absurdity of the re-enactment, Bone Shirt asked if there would be a re-enactment of Bush and Cheney invading Iraq. “ If you go up this river, we have good warriors who can shoot arrows.  Bone Shirt was ready for action.  “Let’s sink some of those boats out here.”

Bone Shirt pointed out that the Indian people knew what the re-enactors were thinking. “When we leave, they will laugh behind our backs.”  And Bone Shirt said Indians here know this type of racism.  “The state of South Dakota is the most racist state and South Dakota condones this kind of behavior. We want you to know, it has to end here.”