Friday, December 18, 2009

The Spirit of Crazy Horse

Weez has been pitching The Spirit of Crazy Horse at Melba, which led me to re-explore the Peltier case.  This past summer he was up for parole, but of course he was denied.  It was also interesting to read that one of the reasons Geffen put his money behind Obama in the primaries, was because he was still upset with Clinton for not pardoning Peltier when he had the chance. 

There was quite a bit of campaigning on the Indian reservations last year.  More than usual.  North and South Dakota were both hotly contested states, and both Richardson and Napolitano campaigned for Obama on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico and Arizona.  So, it would seem that there are great expectations that Obama will look into the Peltier case and other Native American concerns.

All though, I have to wonder if Peltier is really a big deal for most Indians.  The A.I.M. had a very hard time gaining traction on the reservations, from what I have read, and gained most of its support from inner city Indians, especially in Minneapolis where it is based.  Anyway, I see Banks and Means both have autobiographies.  Dennis Banks' Ojibwa Warrior is the most recent.


  1. This is such a difficult story to read about. Believe it or not, I've never read Matthiessen's Crazy Horse -- I suppose I should.

    I've seen a couple of really good films -- one about the fight for the Black Hills generally and another about Peltier's case. For me, it isn't so much a question of guilt anymore -- someone killed those agents and it may very well have been Pelltier -- but more about social justice and what the FBI did generally terrorizing people on the reservation.

    It seems as though of all the "power" and civil rights movements in the US during that period, the Indians suffered from trying to create political power and their own sense of identity.

    I used to work a lot with tribal colleges here. They are slowly coming back, but it is a real struggle. The Blackfeet Reservation, for example, has (or had -- it may be even higher now) 79% unemployment.

  2. Both Obama and Clinton campaigned on Montana reservations. Interestingly, the Crow went for Clinton while the Northern Cheyenne (historical enemies and still not too friendly) went for Obama. Obama promised to have a board-level adviser from the Native community which I think he has done.

    I probably mentioned this at the time, but when I was out signing up voters, I was approached by a Native man who wanted to shake my hand and thank me for working for Obama. There was great hope in Obama on the reservations.

  3. I have never read this book either and Weezo leaves a very bad taste in my mouth so it may push reading it back even farther!

  4. Even weezo can pick a good book from time to time. I read it some years back and it is very good in providing a modern view of the Native American situation, focusing heavily on A.I.M.

  5. Matthiessen has been a life-long supporter of Native American rights. I think it's worth reading. I just haven't gotten around to it.

    Another book that came out awhile back is Ian Frazier's On the Rez. I think that's also about Pine Ridge. I haven't read that one yet either.

    There's something off putting about a New Yorker who comes west to write about Indians (this is true about Matthiessen, too), but I need to get over that to at least give these books a chance. In Frazier's case, he moved his family to Missoula when writing it -- although Pine Ridge is 1000 miles away (literally and figuratively). He moved away when the book was finished.

  6. I have On the Rez and likewise haven't gotten around to reading it. I think bosox recommended it a long time ago in the NYT forums.

  7. I read Russell Banks' ''Ojibwa Warrior'' a while ago and recommend it. What was especially interesting what his trust for people. In fact he was too trusting and readily allowed a Federal agent to be planted among his high ranking leadership.

  8. I really like the work of Vine Deloria. There's a chapter in Red Earth/White Lies that describes his experience in the academy that seems totally right on. He was really an interesting man.

  9. Just looked up Ojibwa Warrior -- it's Dennis Banks.