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OPEN LETTER TO WINONA LADUKE AND RALPH NADER

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  • Glenn Welker
    WORDS OF VERNON BELLECOURT...U. S. WHITE EARTH ANISHINABE OJIBWA AN OPEN LETTER TO WINONA LADUKE AND RALPH NADER Released: October 30, 2000 By: WaBun-Inini,
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2000
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      WORDS OF VERNON BELLECOURT...U. S. WHITE EARTH ANISHINABE OJIBWA

      AN OPEN LETTER TO WINONA LADUKE AND RALPH NADER
      Released: October 30, 2000
      By: WaBun-Inini, aka, Vernon Bellecourt, White Earth Anishinabe Ojibwa
      Nation
      Telephone: 612-721-3914
      Fax: 612-721-7826
      Email: aimggc@... Web Address: http://www.aimovement.org

      Dear Winona,

      I write this letter to you as an elder, counselor, and citizen of
      the
      sovereign Ga-wa-ba-be-ka-neekag Anishinabe
      Ojibwa En-da-na-kee-wad (White Earth Peoples Ojibwa Nation) in
      northern
      Minnesota, which we both are member citizens
      first and foremost. Secondly, we are also citizens of these United
      States,
      a citizenship, which was imposed on the
      nations of Indian peoples arbitrarily and unilaterally with the
      passage of
      the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act by the
      United States Congress.

      The passage of the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act created for Indian
      people
      special rights and responsibilities, and a
      unique relationship with federal and state government in that we have
      dual
      citizenship. We are able to vote in both
      our Indian government elections, and run for office, as well are able
      to
      vote in federal and state government
      elections and run for office.

      As a fellow citizen of the White Earth Anishinabe Ojibwa Nation,
      and one
      of your many elders, I want to have a frank
      discussion with you as to the dangers that exist for our Indian people
      across America due to your involvement with
      the Green Party. Specifically, your campaign for Vice-President of the
      United States as running mate to Ralph Nader.

      First of all, I have always believed that the two-party system
      dominated
      by the Democrats and Republicans is one and
      the same beast with the head of an elephant on one end, and the head
      of a
      donkey on the other. The consequences of
      this reality is that this beast has a gluttonous appetite
      historically, and
      to the present, that continues to consume
      Indian lands, water, petroleum, timber, and other resources which
      makes the
      two-party system totally constipated for
      Indian people, and all others who are people without power or rights.

      Second, I have always been a strong advocate for the development
      of an
      alternative third political party. In 1983,
      I, along with Ned Anderson, who was then the President of the San
      Carlos
      Apache Nation were founding members of the
      Rainbow Coalition, which was formed that year in Washington, D.C.
      Later
      both Mr. Anderson and I, as well as many
      other Indian people were present at the Washington D.C. Convention
      Center
      when Ned Anderson and I endorsed Jesse
      Jackson for the Presidency of the United States. President Ned
      Anderson
      coined the phrase, which became the call to
      action for the campaign, "Run Jesse, Run." This phrase was first
      popularized for the great Olympic star, Jesse Owens
      at the Berlin Olympics. I am convinced that had Jesse Jackson stayed
      the
      course, the Rainbow Coalition with Jesse
      Jackson as candidate for the Presidency would be a serious threat to
      the
      two-party system in this 2000 election.
      However, when Jesse Jackson took the Rainbow Coalition into the center
      of
      the Democratic Party many progressives
      including myself bolted from the coalition.

      In 1988, I supported Dr. Lenora Fulani who was on the ballot in
      all 50
      states, and she had asked me to be her
      vice-president running mate. While I declined the offer, I worked
      nationwide for her candidacy as she was raising
      important issues affecting Indian people, as well as other Americans.
      I was
      strongly criticized by many of the
      progressives and liberals across the county for supporting her.

      Winona, while I completely support the Nader/LaDuke 2000 Green
      Party
      Native American platform, which supports tribal
      sovereignty and government to government relations; the right and
      responsible exercise of retained treaty rights;
      return of public landholdings to Indian property owners, settlement of
      claims; restitution and reconciliation for
      loss of billions of dollars by Democrat and Republican administrations
      of
      Indian money trust accounts; the breaching
      of dams in order to save the salmon; clemency for Leonard Peltier; the
      protection of native intellectual and other
      property rights to name a few of the many issues facing Native people
      in
      your platform, unfortunately your message is
      not being heard. You should be on all media outlets, television,
      radio,
      print media, and all news and talk shows
      nationwide along with Ralph Nader. The fact is, we see more of the
      vice-presidential candidate of fringe candidate
      Pat Buchanan.

      George W. Bush does not and will not support tribal sovereignty,
      or the
      positions of the Green Party Platform. In
      1999 George W. Bush made a statement to the effect that he was opposed
      to
      Indian nations returning land to trust
      status, contrary to the provisions of the American Indian Gaming
      Regulatory
      Act, he was opposed to Indian casinos,
      and stated further that Indian affairs were best left to individual
      states.
      He also said, "Now is the time not to
      defend outdated treaties, but to defend the American people." The
      question
      we have to ask ourselves is, does this
      mean treaties made between Indian nations and the United States? We
      have
      seen the United States walk on their own
      words each and every time before the ink was even dry on the paper.

      On the other hand, on August 29, 2000 Vice-President Al Gore
      received the
      endorsement of the All-Indian Pueblo
      Council when he pledged to support vital concerns such as sovereignty,
      economic development, clean water, law
      enforcement, health care, school construction, and improving the
      education
      of Indian youth. He went on to say he
      would support the right of Indian nations to acquire lands that would
      be
      put back into trust status, and would oppose
      any efforts to prevent it.

      Winona, recently Reverend Jerry Falwell, an avid supporter of
      George W.
      Bush, when asked on a national television
      program what the makeup of the Supreme Court would look like should
      Bush
      win the election, responded by saying he
      wished that there were nine Clarence Thomas's on the Supreme Court. We
      have
      to ask the same question, what would a
      Bush Supreme Court mean to Indian nations? In regards to the 1837
      Treaty
      case affecting all the Ojibwa Nations of
      Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, treaties which protect our
      spiritual,
      cultural, and property rights, the present
      Supreme Court with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor voted five to four with
      the
      majority upholding the treaty. Clarence
      Thomas wrote a second opinion supporting Chief Justice Rehnquist in
      opposition to Indian people.

      The Supreme Court previously ruled against Indian nations in
      Montana vs.
      Crow Tribe; Oliphant vs. Suquamish Tribe
      just to name two of many cases having to do with the sovereignty and
      jurisdictional authority of Indian nations to
      enforce their laws against non-Indians committing crimes on Indian
      lands.

      What would a Bush Supreme Court mean for Roe vs. Wade, a women's
      right to
      choose? What would a Bush Presidency and
      Supreme Court mean to the environment, the Arctic National Wildlife
      Refuge,
      and what little remains of our sacred
      lands and resources?

      These are just a few of the questions that both you and Ralph
      Nader have
      to ask yourselves. Winona, I know that you
      are sincere in your efforts, and want to serve the best interest of
      Indian
      people as well other Americans who support
      the campaign of the Green Party. I hope you are successful in
      obtaining 5%
      of the vote, which would qualify the Green
      Party to receive the $12 million in matching funds in the year 2004.
      But I
      also believe that in the battleground
      states of California, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Minnesota,
      Wisconsin,
      Michigan, and New Mexico that have large
      Indian populations, and are also close races, the Nader/LaDuke ticket
      could
      bring about a defeat for Gore/Lieberman,
      and victory for Bush/Chaney, in which case the Green Party wins 5% of
      the
      vote, and we all end up losers.

      Perhaps you have consulted with your elders on this matter. If you
      have
      not, it may be too late. However, you should
      know that all the tribal leadership in Minnesota including the seven
      Ojibwa
      Nation leaders, which includes the White
      Earth Ojibwa Nation of which you are a member support the
      Gore/Lieberman
      ticket. In addition to the All-Indian Pueblo
      Council of New Mexico, other tribes nationwide who understand the
      critical
      aspects of this election are on record
      supporting the Gore/Lieberman ticket.

      Maybe Ralph and all others of the Green Party supporters can
      afford to
      play Nader Roulette, and risk having a
      Bush/Chaney Presidency for four years, and a Bush Supreme Court for
      the
      next 50 years. We Indian people, and many
      other Americans cannot take that chance. The risks are too high!

      What can you do at this late hour? The choice is yours. You may
      consider
      releasing your supporters to vote their
      conscience. In doing so, they may make the correct choice when they
      enter
      the polling booth. I recommend that all
      Indian nations in the key states and nationwide follow the example of
      the
      California tribes who spared no expense or
      efforts to defeat Republican Governor, Pete Wilson's
      anti-Indian/anti-gaming Proposition 5 and Proposition 1-A.

      I urge all Indian nations to get the vote out for Gore/Lieberman.
      It is
      that important. For myself, let me suggest
      that a Gore in hand is worth two in the Bush.

      WaBun-Inini, Indiz-ni-kaz
      Member and Elder of the White Earth
      Anishinabe Ojibwa Nation
      Aka, Vernon Bellecourt, National Representative
      American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council,
      And President, National Coalition of Racism in Sports and Media
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