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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Honor the Treaties

Posted by on Tue, Jun 21, 2011 at 1:44 PM


Two great artists have gotten together to kick off a serious debate—or what I hope will be a serious debate—about what the United States and Canada would look like if it honored its treaties with the Sioux, the Potawatomi, the Choctaw, the Chippewa, and the rest of the indigenous tribes/nations of North America.


The campaign is called Honor the Treaties and the artists are Shepard Fairey (the OBEY giant and iconic Obama posters) and local superstar photographer Aaron Huey, whose TED Talk about his many visits to the Pine Ridge Reservation—aka "Prisoner of War Camp #334"—is required, required viewing, especially if you're wondering exactly how the U.S. failed to live up to its side of the treaties with the Lakota:

Unemployment on the Pine Ridge Reservation fluctuates between 85 and 90%... 39% of homes on Pine Ridge have no electricity. At least 60% of the homes on the reservation are infested with black mold. More than 90% of the population lives below the federal poverty line. The tuberculosis rate on Pine Ridge is approximately eight times higher than the US national average. The infant mortality rate is the highest on the continent... cervical cancer is five times higher than the US national average... The life expectancy for men is between 46 and 48 years old, roughly the same as Afghanistan and Somalia.

Detail photos after the jump.





Comments (46) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Interesting. I don't think it will get people talking about the bad/bordering-on-genocidal treatment of native peoples in the past. People still don't seem to understand how colonialism/taking of native land/residential schools effected (and continue to effect) the lives of native people. In Canada at least, a lot of people would see something like this as "native people complaining again"
Posted by KatTheCanuckistan on June 21, 2011 at 1:52 PM · Report this
SchmuckyTheCat 2
Honky writer: Ojibwa please, not Chippewa.
Posted by SchmuckyTheCat on June 21, 2011 at 1:55 PM · Report this
@ 1 - bordering on genocidal? That's like saying Chicago is bordering on the midwest.
Posted by UnoriginalAndrew on June 21, 2011 at 2:01 PM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 4
I wonder whose photos Fairey ripped-off for these posters.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on June 21, 2011 at 2:04 PM · Report this
@ 4. Aaron Huey. The collaborator on the project. Or were you trying to be funny?

@ 2. Cracker please, not honky.
Posted by Brendan Kiley on June 21, 2011 at 2:24 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 6
Meanwhile the CBC has a report about how Canada lied about honoring the treaties AND THE NON-EXISTENT TREATIES with First Nation people in BC and elsewhere.


Maybe they hope it won't be noticed in the post-riot hoopla ...
Posted by Will in Seattle on June 21, 2011 at 2:28 PM · Report this
I like the ones wheatpasted right around the corner, underneath the John T Williams memorial painting.

John T. Williams, Ditidaht First Nation, British Columbia
Posted by Kelly O on June 21, 2011 at 2:45 PM · Report this
Posted by Kelly O on June 21, 2011 at 2:47 PM · Report this
Posted by SchmuckyTheCat on June 21, 2011 at 2:48 PM · Report this
Of course there would be high unemployment on those pointless reservations, there's nothing there. If you create a separate sovereign "nation" that needs to be propped up and supported by tax payers all you have are a bunch of eternal welfare dependents with an ethnic chip on their shoulder.
Posted by robot ghost on June 21, 2011 at 3:23 PM · Report this
Yeah, they are the ones "kicking off" the debate... riiiight...

Posted by My Great-Great Grandmother was a Cherokee Princess on June 21, 2011 at 3:30 PM · Report this
More, I Say! 12
@2 can explain the names please? All I get from wiki is that it varies regionally, with Chippewa being more common in the US, Objiwa in Canada. But I want to know more.
Posted by More, I Say! on June 21, 2011 at 3:43 PM · Report this
@10 many nations were forcibly removed from their traditional homes, where they knew how to sustain themselves, and onto the most desolate, barren lands to be found. Look up the Trail of Tears, read and learn.

In addition, Coll Thrush (though not Native, did a great job documenting) wrote a book called Native Seattle. If you really want to understand how relocation forced Indian Country into poverty, read and learn.
Posted by poenoel on June 21, 2011 at 3:52 PM · Report this
PS, thank you Brendan for covering the effort.
Posted by poenoel on June 21, 2011 at 3:58 PM · Report this
venomlash 15
"I don't see why the Trail of Tears was so bad."
--this one asshole guy in my dorm
(He's mellowed out a lot since he came out as gay, though.)
Posted by venomlash on June 21, 2011 at 4:01 PM · Report this
@10, if you don't like the treaties, we'd be happy to void them. Just be prepared to vacate much of the US. I'll be happy to take back Sonoma (Pomos represent!)
Posted by Luckier on June 21, 2011 at 4:11 PM · Report this
@13 I hope you aren't talking about Dan Savage...
Posted by poenoel on June 21, 2011 at 4:14 PM · Report this
The traditional recourse when one side breaks a treaty is to resume hostilities. Native Americans looking for redress purely via the courts is like the unions trying to negotiate without recourse to strikes.
Posted by tiktok on June 21, 2011 at 4:14 PM · Report this
@16 I think a lot of this comes from the idea that somehow the Indians owned this land before us. They didn't. They didn't own this land any more than the buffalo did. They were a nomadic stone age culture. They didn't have the wheel or even a written language. The southwest natives were cannibals for god sake. It was a war and your primitive inferior culture lost. Time to get your act together and move on.
Posted by robot ghost on June 21, 2011 at 4:22 PM · Report this
rezbilly 20
these are fantastic! thanks Brendan for covering. time to get to know the real Seattle!
Posted by rezbilly on June 21, 2011 at 4:32 PM · Report this
@19, WOW you are so wrong in so many ways. SO MANY.

You are telling me ALL TRIBES WERE NOMADIC before Europeans stumbled across what you now know as America?

First strike. Secondly, quite a few tribes had written languages, Mr. Robot Ghost. Most notably the Cherokee Nation.

Did not have the wheel??? Please tell me what rock you crawled under and I'll lobby your congressional district for increased funding to the educational system in your district.

Posted by poenoel on June 21, 2011 at 4:34 PM · Report this
And I would love your ideas about what "moving on" looks like. That is not even a sarcastic statement. I would.
Posted by poenoel on June 21, 2011 at 4:39 PM · Report this
scary tyler moore 23
brendan, may we hear from someone who lives on the pine ridge reservation? someone right in the middle of all this? thank you.
Posted by scary tyler moore on June 21, 2011 at 4:47 PM · Report this
@23 That is a great idea, but in terms of being right in the middle of all this?

You're soaking in it. Seattle is home to one of the largest treaty/federal recognition battles in America, with the Duwamish. And has several major treaty rights cases of note-possibly the most high-profile being U.S. v. Washington (commonly known as the Boldt decision).
Posted by poenoel on June 21, 2011 at 4:52 PM · Report this
samktg 25
@Robot Ghost, fuck you man.
Posted by samktg on June 21, 2011 at 4:56 PM · Report this

And that written Cherokee language was developed from European characters. You can look up that link as well or not.

Not all cultures are equally valid. Aztecs and Mayas had super advanced calendars but also performed human sacrifice and canibalism. All I'm saying is that natives should be grateful every day that whites came here and civilized it.
Posted by robot ghost on June 21, 2011 at 5:13 PM · Report this
So which "white" culture are you from, aptly named ghost robot?

Is it the one that was so civilized that it passed out small pox blankets, because that was kinda uncool. As in, uncivilized.

Posted by poenoel on June 21, 2011 at 5:42 PM · Report this
The question of why some cultures go on to develop technology, and others don't move forward in that way (or in some cases, technologically regress) is an interesting one. I'm not sure it's actually relevant to this issue, though. The fact that a culture is technologically backward doesn't make exploiting it okay.
Posted by Orv on June 21, 2011 at 5:54 PM · Report this
lauramae 31
Hey Ghost Rocket; I challenge you to go into Lummi and spew your crap. Poenoel will be there with a camera to entertain the rest of us.

Listen, Ghost, lots of men have tiny penises. I'm sure you'll learn to get by all the same.

Posted by lauramae on June 21, 2011 at 7:58 PM · Report this
Irena 32
I'm pretty sure robot ghost is just trolling. That level of stupidity is not worth engaging.

Orv @28, "technologically backward"? Many of the Europeans who came to Canada would not have survived without native knowledge of the land and rivers. You might want to refresh your understanding of the terms "Imperialism" and "Eurocentrism".
Posted by Irena on June 21, 2011 at 8:04 PM · Report this
tunanator 33
"People still don't seem to understand ... the lives of native people."

Small wonder. Look at your state map. See the reservations clearly marked? Isn't taught in high school, or on TV, or in the newspapers, or in popular films. INVISIBLE BY CONSENT.

"native people ... complaining again"

Climate change ... how long before we turn to the real experts for help?
Posted by tunanator on June 21, 2011 at 8:08 PM · Report this
Thanks for posting this!! Posters are going up in Seattle, New York and Los Angeles it's a start. If you like to help hit up the facebook page. There may be art you can buy to help with the cost of doing this. Here is a link to OBEY page for the print.…
Posted by sugarbear on June 21, 2011 at 9:03 PM · Report this
Oh and there is one more artistst Ernesto Yerena he did the little girl and the head dress one here is a story about it in indian country…

There is a tumbir page for it

and here is the page for it…
Posted by sugarbear on June 21, 2011 at 9:28 PM · Report this
and here is the video about the Pine Ridge Billboard Project
Posted by sugarbear on June 21, 2011 at 9:40 PM · Report this
RebR 38
Thanks! I've been seeing these downtown and wondered about them.
Posted by RebR on June 22, 2011 at 6:36 AM · Report this

I helped coordinate a ceremony between the nonprofit who operates the Lady Washington tall ship and local area Natives.

The white operators of the Lady Washington SPECIFICALLY sought to symbolically apologize for the fact (you know, FACTS) that the original Lady Washington deliberately distributed small-pox infested blankets to local area tribes.

They wanted to acknowledge and make what amends they could in the face of the devastation that followed.

I was lucky enough to not only help coordinate participation with the City of Seattle and the Blue Heron canoe family, but to be a passenger aboard the Lady Washington as it rode through the docks and to Lake Union where it was met by the Blue Heron canoe, which circled the ship 3 times counter-clockwise (a symbol of turning back time) and boarded to exchange gifts and words of kindness.

Unfortunate that not everyone can be that open-minded and gracious. Or up on their history. Take a moment to get educated before you start hating.

Posted by poenoel on June 22, 2011 at 10:21 AM · Report this
@34 sugarbear, I can't seem to find you on FB. ALSO if you need any help here in Seatown let me know!
Posted by poenoel on June 22, 2011 at 10:32 AM · Report this
@19 lol! At least you have answered the question @1!!

People know - they just don't care and/or they feel justified because they are more 'civilized' than natives! Might equals right in such dullards...
Posted by subwlf on June 22, 2011 at 4:01 PM · Report this
The facebook page is on the web site click on the bullhorn.
Posted by sugarbear on June 22, 2011 at 11:25 PM · Report this
Simone 43
i should try to walk by there before they all get pasted over.
Posted by Simone on June 23, 2011 at 1:24 AM · Report this
Hey Robot Ghost, not all tribes were nomadic in the sense I believe you might be thinking. Here on the NW coast tribes lived in longhouses, the walls and roofs of which could be transported from summer to winter villages where permanent base structures were erected.
They don't live backwards with regard to technology in any sense. I've never seen a native person wearing cedar clothing, or living in a long house, or in tipis.
And they did own the land, as well as the buffalo on it. Here on the NW coast heads of lineages owned the rights to land and the resources on it. Sometimes they would share with others to provide and thereby gaining prominence. Ownership of land can be learned of if you read about the function of placenames and oral history. I say history because that's what it is, the human mind is much better at remembering oral narrative, because it invokes emotion, than it is at remembering written word which does not emote.

You are super right about one thing you've written though. Many reservations are pointless where there is nothing to sustain a population on or build industry around, and for that reason many reservations are welfare states.
However, there are others, specifically here on the NW coast, which are very valuable for bottom fishing, halibut fishing, salmon and steelhead of course, and for forest resources. You see, it's here where the settler government couldn't push tribes any further away from white settlers. So Isaac Stevens let many tribes choose their land, and the treaties gave access to their traditional and accustomed hunting and gathering land.

We aren't honoring those treaties right now.
Posted by CitizenShip on June 24, 2011 at 1:48 AM · Report this
scary tyler moore 45
224, no, i mean someone fron pine ridge, who can tell us about the place, please.
Posted by scary tyler moore on June 24, 2011 at 7:24 AM · Report this
I'm sorry, but what does it matter whether the native tribal groups were nomadic or not, advanced or not?

They lost in war. Period. Or are you going to re-draw the map of Europe to reflect political reality in 1492 as well? Africa? Asia? The principle that we somehow now are responsible for the acts of our distant forebears is idiotic, but if you're going to hold to it, at least do so consistently.

Yes, we should re-negotiate the treaties. Want a reservation? Get a passport and a work visa to travel to or work within the United States. No more dual citizenship. Forgo all federal or state funding or assistance from the United States. Find a way to maintain infrastructure and education and all the other requirements of government without the financial assistance of the US. In other words, if you're going to call yourself a nation, accept the duties of nationhood.

But they, like most of the whiny left, want it both ways. They would never want to forgo their victim status, because then they'd have to start taking responsibility for their own lives.

Posted by Seattleblues on June 24, 2011 at 1:02 PM · Report this

I realize in your all consuming hatred of America and everything it stands for this may be difficult to understand, but I don't think genocide means what you think it does.

A truly tragic series of epidemics happened in the Americas affecting native populations. Estimates of population loss vary but around 90% is generally conceded over roughly 2 centuries from first contact with Europeans. For purposes of comparison Bubonic plague had mortality rates that averaged around 30%.

Neither side had a good grasp of disease causes and prevention. Additionally, genetic diversity was remarkably low in the Americas, so what caused tragic results in the Southwest might be equally virulent in the far Northwest or in what would become Chile or Brazil. This lack of genetic diversity is considered by recent scholarship to be a major reason for the extremely high mortality rates experienced. A good balanced view can be had by reading '1492' which just cites historically verifiable facts, not Naomi Klein type lies pretending to be scholarship.

Genocide implies an intent to erase another ethnic group by murder. No such intent was present in the main in our contact with native populations. It was just stunningly bad luck, as well as being entirely inevitable. Had the British not explored the Northeast coast someone else would have. Had Spain not spent so much time in the Central and South American regions the French or Portuguese or British would have. And when contact was made the diseases to which European populations had developed relative immunities would have decimated native tribal populations.
Posted by Seattleblues on June 24, 2011 at 1:31 PM · Report this
@ Seattleblues. Distant ancestors? Up to the 1950's native children in this country were kidnapped from their parents and sent to Catholic boarding schools (…). This is not an issue of the 1500's it is an issue of the last 50 years. This is not ancient history, the wrongs committed against native peoples is recent and deserves redress.
Posted by Marine Mammal on June 24, 2011 at 1:33 PM · Report this
To Robot Ghost, you are a Nazi ignorant, get informed and read the Indian history before you write another comment, you should be ashamed of how stupid you sound with your racist commentaries.
Posted by Inca Princess on July 9, 2011 at 6:13 PM · Report this

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