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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Another Day that Will Live in Infamy: Wounded Knee, Hotchkiss guns and the My Lai Massacre

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

On this day, December 29, 1891, the U.S. 7th Cavalry committed the outrageous genocidal cold-blooded murder of more than 150 defenseless Lakota men, women and children at a place called Wounded Knee.

A force of some 500 U.S. 7th Cavalry terrorists equipped with four Hotchkiss guns surrounded the Lakota camp in the early morning as families slept in their tipis, and opened fire. Most of the Lakota men died in the first few minutes, and were mostly unarmed. After that, it was mostly a matter of slaughtering women, children, babies and anything that moved.

7th Cavalry butchers pose with three of the four Hotchkiss guns they used
at Wounded Knee massacre

“(The Hotchkiss guns were) used with devastating effect at San Juan Hill and Wounded Knee.”—narrator, The History Channel

Thanks to modern technology, you can see for yourself the damage a Hotchkiss gun can do:

Top Shot: Hotchkiss mountain gun, pt 1

Top Shot: Hotchkiss mountain gun, pt 2

Among the 51 wounded Lakota who survived the massacre were 47 women and children, but only 4 men. Many of the wounded died later, on the cold ground or on the floor of the church where they were taken. Several babies were found alive in the snow days later, wrapped in their murdered mothers’ shawls.

7th Cavalry butchers pose with massacred Lakota corpses, men, women and children

The American public mainly supported the slaughter, and the Army awarded Congressional Medals of Honor to twenty of these terrorists. L. Frank Baum, who later became the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, wrote in the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer several days after the massacre:

“The Pioneer has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extermination of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth. In this lies future safety for our settlers and the soldiers who are under incompetent commands. Otherwise, we may expect future years to be as full of trouble with the redskins as those have been in the past.”

The atrocities at Wounded Knee were described by a number of witnesses:

American Horse (1840–1908); Chief, Oglala Lakota:

"There was a woman with an infant in her arms who was killed as she almost touched the flag of truce...A mother was shot down with her infant; the child not knowing that its mother was dead was still nursing...The women as they were fleeing with their babies were killed together, shot right through...and after most all of them had been killed a cry was made that all those who were not killed or wounded should come forth and they would be safe. Little boys...came out of their places of refuge, and as soon as they came in sight a number of soldiers surrounded them and butchered them there."

Edward S. Godfrey; Captain; commanded Co. D of the Seventh Cavalry:

"I know the men did not aim deliberately and they were greatly excited. I don't believe they saw their sights. They fired rapidly but it seemed to me only a few seconds till there was not a living thing before us; warriors, squaws, children, ponies, and dogs...went down before that unaimed fire."

Hugh McGinnis; First Battalion, Co. K, Seventh Cavalry:

General Nelson A. Miles who visited the scene of carnage, following a three day blizzard, estimated that around 300 snow shrouded forms were strewn over the countryside. He also discovered to his horror that helpless children and women with babes in their arms had been chased as far as two miles from the original scene of encounter and cut down without mercy by the troopers. ... Judging by the slaughter on the battlefield it was suggested that the soldiers simply went berserk. For who could explain such a merciless disregard for life?... As I see it the battle was more or less a matter of spontaneous combustion, sparked by mutual distrust....”

Three weeks after the massacre, there were still unburied Lakota men, women and children

The U.S. Army committed a similar atrocity on the other side of the world on March 16, 1968, when soldiers rounded up more than 500 unarmed civilians, men, women and children, and gunned them down at a place called My Lai.

Seconds after this photo was taken, these terrified civilians were slaughtered.

Although no medals were awarded for the My Lai massacre, only one soldier, Lt. William Calley, was tried for the crimes. Although found guilty of 26 homicides, he was sentenced to just three years of home confinement and released.

Not much distinguishes the two events from each other, mostly warmer weather, color photography and much more efficient weaponry in Vietnam, but the Wounded Knee massacre was an act of genocide, an overt expression of long-accepted U.S. policy towards Indian populations wherever they were found on the American continent.


Source: photos and quotations: Wikipedia

Friday, December 23, 2011

The last Christmas gift, the Story of Abduction Eve

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

We were three generations gathered together, my mother, my four children and I, that Christmas Eve so long ago. A fire burned in the hearth against the winter night. Love and tradition making up for what we lacked in money, we exchanged gifts for what we did not yet know would be the last time, our last holiday together, this Eve of Abduction, the night before Christmas, 1995.

I had become my medically fragile mother’s sole caregiver, and had maintained this home for us and for my children under an order for joint custody. My former wife and I had shared the children for the holidays for the five years that had followed the divorce, but that was about to come to an abrupt end, vicious and cruel, a cold-blooded kidnapping in the making, a Mormon shunning in the first degree.

Mormons in three states were planning to cause my children to disappear into a series of secret locations in Utah, were in fact finalizing their plans during this very Christmas holiday, furtively arranging housing, employment and a rousing Mormon welcome for my former wife and her four freshly abducted children with Mormon zealots Chris and Kory Wright.

But my mother, my children and I were unaware of all of this at the time, and the video we shot of ourselves that Christmas Eve captured some of the last moments of childhood innocence the Cruz family would ever experience. After this evening, there would be no more holiday gatherings, no birthdays, no communications at all to record. Only the Mormons knew what was about to come, criminally complicit and firm in their fucked-up self-importance.

My mother would live for four more years, without seeing or hearing from her grandchildren again. That’s the way the Mormons roll, separating families into Mormon and non-Mormon contingents, among the most intolerant, controlling and hypocritical of religious sects, the American Taliban, some of them.

My eldest son, Aaron, 14 years old at the time, surprised me with a wonderful gift, a wrist watch. He had saved his money for some time to pay for it, and I asked him “How did you do this?” when I opened the box. He had just smiled, enjoying the moment even more than I did.

The Mormons caused my children to disappear on Monday, February 12, 1995, a day when they should have been in school with their friends. They were taken by a roundabout, circuitous route to the home of Chris and Kory Wright, I would later learn, in the mountains east of Ogden, Utah.

When my son’s 15th birthday came around on March 21, I had no address to even send him a card. And later that year, he would begin carving up his arms with a knife, isolated and depressed, held captive in Mormon Utah.

The watch Aaron gave me that last Christmas Eve has become perhaps my most treasured possession. It stopped running years ago, and a piece of clear tape holds the crystal together. I have never taken it off since that night, now sixteen years ago, other than to keep it dry. I keep the clasp closed with another piece of tape, so that it stays on my wrist always.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night….

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Reflections on an unsaved life and the last day of the Iraq War

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

The last day of the war in Iraq has finally arrived, although the Nation will be stuck to the Iraqi tar baby for generations to come. The US was the first of the “Coalition forces” to invade Iraq, and the last to leave, its partners’ token contributions long removed.

The longest war in its history has ended, and yet the Nation sleepwalks through the day. Victory dances are scarce. Only those who are coming home, and those that won’t have to return to Iraq, dance the victory dance. The public shops.

The last U.S. soldier risks loss of life and limb, risks the Signature Injury of the war and of the era, Traumatic Brain Injury, risks PTSD and a lifetime of pain and loss. This alone ought to be cause for celebration, but the Nation looks for bargains in this the holiday season. We are a nation of shoppers.

Those that still have jobs look forward to holiday vacations and glad tidings, as a new tide of veterans reverse-deploy their way to unemployment, homelessness and failing medical support systems. Hoo-Rah!

The death and destruction is winding down in the region, a problem for the locals now, as it has always been, from the beginnings of civilization, as it will always be….

Iraq and Iran are, after all, neither much more than a hundred years old, political lines drawn on a map by the British and French, carving up the Ottoman Empire.

The infinitely more important lines are those that have existed since the great schism in Islam, separating the Sunni and the Shiite, and those before that, as the story of Jerusalem makes clear.

Those differences will last forever, while no permanent political boundary has ever existed anywhere, not in the history of the world.

And then there are the numbers.

Co-Presidents Bush and Cheney, having persuaded themselves that Iraq had something to do with the September 11 attacks and was developing stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction despite all the evidence to the contrary, and rendered impotent in their failure to find Osama bin Laden, spent more than a trillion dollars and the lives of about 5,000 US soldiers and 100,000 Iraqis, mostly civilians, not counting the wounded, just to kill Saddam Hussein.

Osama bin Laden, and his Saudi and Yemeni highjack teams, killed about 3,000 people on September 11, 2003.

That same year, more than 16,000 Americans died from homicides committed by other Americans.

During the span of the war in Iraq, 2003-2010, 129,964 Americans died from homicides committed by other Americans, proving that you don’t need WMDs or airplanes to kill a lot of Americans. They do it themselves every day, and they are getting even better armed.

It is important to note that this was a war fought in Iraq, not against Iraq. The Nation ostensibly went to war in Iraq to liberate the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein, as friends of the Iraqi people. The GOP Tea Party complains that the Iraqis are ungrateful….

I remember this period of my life with great pain, with acute sorrow. Dreading the start of the invasion came early in the war for me.

From the beginning, it was clear that the lying bunglers in the Bush/Cheney White House had little understanding of the region, and were lashing out half-blind, setting things in motion that they could not hope to control.

From the beginning, it was clear that Rumsfeld was trying to fight the war on the cheap, with too few troops and resources, and would have to rely on the states to supply National Guard soldiers in great numbers to save his arrogant ass, and both of my sons were thus at risk.

My sons’ Utah National Guard unit had been among the first put on alert for deployment to Iraq, in early 2003, but that is only part of the story.

They had disappeared into Utah in a Mormon abduction in 1996, had become estranged under tremendous pressure from their mother and her Mormon friends, and I was just starting to connect with my son Aaron, through a cell phone I had smuggled to him, as the Shock and Awe campaign unfolded.

In August of 2003, I recovered Aaron from Utah, and only then realized that he was desperately ill and in need of medical attention. I learned that he had suffered terribly during his years of isolation among the Mormons, had been assaulted by his 2nd stepdad, his mother’s fourth husband, and had been force-fed Mormon dogma to the point that he had begun cutting his arms with a knife when he was just fifteen years old.

I spent hours every day, caring for my son. He was too sick to drive anywhere on his own, through August, September, October, into November.

And every day I felt the pain of separation from my still-abducted and estranged other three children, still in Utah, fully enveloped by Mormons and Mormonism.

Then came the day his deployment orders arrived. His unit was going to Iraq, and he was determined to join it, to serve alongside his brother, Tyler.

I pleaded with him not to go, but there was no stopping him.

On Thanksgiving Day, I watched him pack. We ate our last meal together. The next day he was gone, in no condition to drive, and with a suspended license.

When he left our home here in Portland on his drive to Utah, reporting as ordered, his access to medical care ended, although we did not know it at the time.

He picked up tickets for speeding and driving with a suspended license. I paid those fines, as he was too ill to work, and I supported him until the end of his life.

The Army sent Tyler to Iraq for two tours, but provided no medical care for his brother.

The Army held Aaron back for medical review, and then discharged him honorably, but without providing treatment.

And he died there in Utah, sick and alone, when he could have been here, home with me, and receiving the care he so desperately needed, that he had needed for years.

We are also casualties of the Iraq war, my sons and I, although we will never be counted as such.

We are among the 1% who paid a price, the invisible ones.

And so the day comes to an end….

Saturday, December 03, 2011

On the Mormon core of Mitt Romney

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

“Instead of obsessing over whether an element of humanity might disqualify Gingrich with some Iowa voters, the media would be better served focusing on whether out-and-out lying should disqualify Romney with all voters.” –Arianna Huffington

The Romney and Huntsman presidential campaigns will draw a level of public scrutiny to Mormonism unlike anything the secretive, polytheistic, mock-Christian sect has ever experienced heretofore, and the Mormon church is ultimately not going to like the results.

Although his campaign portrays him as a businessman, Mitt Romney, a former bishop, is a product of the Mormon institution, and in the social values of the church is the only place where he can be counted on to have a core, the loci of his few absolute values.

The problem for shape-shifting Romney is that Mormonism itself waves in the wind, has a particularly loose grip on facts and is packed full of hypocrisy and some of the weirdest ideas on the planet.

The Mormon church is as against polygamy and the raising of child brides today as it was for its practices not so long ago, and its officially racist doctrine about people with dark skin tones was changed in just the past twenty years, to cite just two examples of major flip flops on fundamental values.

The Mormon church has a gigantic investment in erasing its own past. It’s future growth (and cash flow) is nearly entirely dependent upon teams of skilled missionaries working one on one in their prospects’ homes, feeding information in a carefully controlled program, not out in public in group settings. You never hear the details until you’re in.

Through the nomination process, the public is about to learn much about the details of Mormonism and how it controls its members, particularly women and children, who have no real power in the organization, and who hold no positions of authority in the church.

Romney’s attitudes toward the place of women (it’s in the home), is fundamental to Mormon society, as is the Mormon church’s antipathy towards independent-minded women.

But Romney is going to tell you that he can be on both sides of these issues at the same time, with no sense of hypocrisy.

As chameleonesque Mitt Romney pursues the GOP nomination, many ponder the question “Is the country ready for a Mormon president?”

But that’s the wrong question. A better, more-informed discussion would be had should we consider whether the country is ready for a president whose beliefs and character are based in a white-male-dominated, highly secretive, polytheistic, mock-Christian sect with extreme right-wing social views that is openly hostile to all other faiths and that comprises less than 3% of the US population.

That’s a long question, but it gets to the real heart of the matter. Romney’s success depends on the public remaining largely ignorant of the tenets and practices of Mormonism, and tolerating its hypocritical weirdness.

My views were formed by direct experience, including the abduction of my four children and the death of my son Aaron in the course of a Mormon kidnapping.

Oregon’s landmark 2005 anti-kidnapping “Aaron’s Law”, Senate Bill 1041, is named for my son. The statute addresses the failures of both the criminal and family law systems to protect my family, and with Aaron’s Law Oregon is the only state in the nation where kidnapping a child creates a civil cause of action.

You can thank the Mormon church for inspiring the law….

Posted on Arianna Huffington’s blog, Nov 29, 2011:

Mitt Romney Brazenly Lies and the Media Lets Him Slide

By Arianna Huffington

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On child abuse, Mormonism, Mitt Romney, the Penn State Scandal and the People of the Lie

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

That Jerry Sanduski loved to play grabass naked with children not much taller than his crotch in the Penn State athletic department showers (he calls it “horsing around) is not in dispute. Nor is the fact that many adults had some awareness of Sanduski’s “problem”, and kept silent or otherwise minimized his criminal conduct in order to protect their own careers and their respective institutions, Penn State mostly, but the web of guilt and the repercussions will not end there.

The combination of power, greed, vast sums of money and valuable perks, an organization that commands and rewards loyalty in a climate of religious fervor, and a culture financially and otherwise dependent upon the public stature of iconic individuals and the continuation of fabricated legends, has led to this end.

Religious fervor and sports zealotry are very similar, and how individuals think and act within institutions that strive to increase levels of fervor and zealotry (and the financial rewards that ensue) within its manufactured belief system exactly alike. Where do people exhibit more raw, emotional zealotry as a group than in church or sports settings?

The behavior of Penn State as an institution and as a collective of individuals in the Sandusky scandal is similar to that exercised by the Mormon Church and its TBMs “True Believer Mormons” as everyday practice, as the norm. This explains in large part why the mock-Christian sect is so secretive, shielding itself from scrutiny concerning the rampant domestic and child abuse so thoroughly ingrained in its white-male-dominant, female-submissive culture.

In his book “People of the Lie”, examining the psychology of evil in everyday life and in how the roles of individuals within groups operate in such situations, Dr. Scott Peck called these persons exactly that, the People of the Lie, describing a mechanism he termed “the fragmentation of conscience.”

“Whenever the roles of individuals within a group become specialized, it becomes both possible and easy for the individual to pass the moral buck to some other part of the group. In this way, not only does the individual forsake his conscience but the conscience of the group as a whole can become so fragmented and diluted as to be nonexistent…The plain fact of the matter is that any group will remain inevitably potentially conscienceless and evil until such time as each and every individual holds himself or herself directly responsible for the behavior of the whole group—the organism—of which he or she is a part.”

The coming legal process will reveal the names of many whose inaction, while not strictly criminal, served to enable the continuation of heinous crimes against defenseless children fallen into the Penn State-Sandusky orbit. We will learn the identities of those who kept a lid on clear evidence of child abuse in order to protect the system and their place in it. The investigation will follow both the money and the amorality and cowardice.

The same processes were at work in the Mormon abduction and long-term abuse of my four children, in the series of crimes that took place beginning in 1995, when the kidnapping was planned, and after February 12, 1996, the day my children vanished into Mormon enclaves in remote areas of Utah.

Mormon officials, bishops and the like, in three states were criminally involved in the abduction, and that fact created powerful incentives to protect themselves, each other, and their institution once the kidnapping had become a fact. Like at Penn State, these were crimes of great shame, and reputations and prison sentences were at stake, and thus the People of the Lie conspired to sustain a kidnapping, and the systematic abuse of four innocent children.

Bob Schaeffer had these words to say on the Penn State scandal, in his commentary on Face the Nation, broadcast November 13:

“It is hard to believe that anyone who had an inkling of what was going on at Penn State did not understand its significance… As the Catholic church learned, when protecting the institution is put ahead of those it is intended to serve, it is eventually the institution that is put at risk. That is unfortunate, but let us remember those the institution forgot, the victims, children who may have been scarred for life (italics added).

“They deserve to know that those who wronged them and those who knew about it are being brought to justice; and, yes, that includes the icons.”

There were Mormons who knew in advance that my children were to be abducted, and there were Mormons who became involved later, that worked to protect the first group, and thus themselves, as the crimes metastasized through the church organizations, all well aware of the significance of their actions, these People of the Lie.

To deliberately cause a child to lose a beloved parent, a beloved grandparent, is an act of child abuse as cruelly destructive as any other form, and has lifelong consequences. Each of the perpetrators understood this fact perfectly well, and would have considered the treatment that they were happy to give the Cruz children as child abuse were it applied in their own families. They were knowingly People of the Lie.

And thus, I will identify them, as I have many times over the years, again in this essay. Lifetime consequences for the victims must be balanced by lifetime consequences for the perpetrators; even if they are never brought to justice, their conduct must be brought out into the open and kept there, as both punishment and deterrent.

The statue of limitations has probably long expired over many of the Sandusky crimes, as it has for the crimes of child abuse perpetrated in the Mormon kidnapping of the Cruz children. The passage of Senate Bill 1041, named after my late son Aaron Cruz, whose death is directly attributable to the abuse and isolation he endured during his years in Mormon captivity, did not pose any threat of justice against his abusers. The law applies only to those cases that originated after its passage in 2005.

These People of the Lie, complicit in the Mormon kidnappings, individually and institutionally, often acting in their official LDS capacity, and bearing a share of responsibility in the death of my son Aaron, include:

Kory and Chris Wright; bishop Donald Taylor; bishop David Holiday, Evelyn Taylor, Tony Micheletti, Cynthia Anderson, Steve Nielson, Ben and Gina Foulk, Barry and Connie Dunford, Edwin Poyfair, James Rulli, and others whose names I do not know or who escape recall at this writing.

The presidential aspirations of Mitt Romney is bringing new attention to Mormonism and how the church operates, how it controls its members, particularly women and children, who have no real power in the organization.

The fragmentation of conscience is far more potent a path and cover for evildoing in the Mormon church than it is in collegiate sports, as would be expected in any secret society.

Although his campaign portrays him very effectively as a businessman and a moderate (despite his crazy talk on the stump), Mitt Romney, a former bishop, is a product of the Mormon institution, and the social values of the church are the only place where he can be counted on to have a core, the loci of his few absolute values.

“As bishop, Romney exercised great power over his congregation. Besides appointing staff members, from the local church librarian to choir master, he interviewed people in the congregation to determine fealty to the church. He decided who could carry a ‘recommend,’ a physical card that serves as proof of a person’s good doctrinal standing and suitability to enter the sacred temples. --“In Boston, Mitt Romney ‘evolved’ in Mormon leadership, some churchwomen say”, By Jason Horowitz, The Washington Post

Mr. Horowitz delved into the “evolution” of Romney’s attitudes toward the place of women (it’s in the home), concluding that he shares the Mormon church’s antipathy towards independent-minded women.

These temple recommends are an effective tool for keeping the people in line, and any Mormon who commits an act of child abuse is sure to lose it and much more, should the crime become known.

Therein lies the incentives and the path for child abuse, Mormonism, Mitt Romney, Penn State, the Cruz kidnappings and the People of the Lie….


Friday, October 21, 2011

On Faith, Religion, Mormonism and Presidential Politics

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

The candidacies of Mormons Mitt Romney and John Huntsman have put the issue of religion on the Presidential debate stage, which is where it belongs.

The President is the nation’s Decider-in-Chief.

We should be concerned with all of the factors that will influence the future President’s decision-making. When the candidates identify a particular school of thought, worldview, religion or set of beliefs as central to their lives, then the public should vet those aspects. This is no place to grant a candidate a pass.

It’s one thing to have faith in a given creation story or adhere to a given religious tradition. It’s another thing entirely, however, to believe that the Earth is 6,000 years old, or that a person rapped a stick on a rock and the sea actually parted, or a story about golden plates, the Lost-Tribe-of-Israel origins of Native Americans and real rocking, talking angels. Do we want a Commander-in-Chief who is convinced that any of this is factual?

If the next Decider-in-Chief has crazy beliefs in his or her head, we need to know about it. Does the candidate believe that God drawls in his or her ear? Like George W. Bush? Have we forgotten how that worked out already?

(sound track: The Who: “Won’t Get Fooled Again!” is playing right here)

I don’t much care what church they do or do not go to, but I do want to know--long before election night, long before the anointed one ascends—if they are spending way too much time in an imaginary world, measured in cubits. That’s not the problem-solver I want to see in the Oval Office.

The Mormon church is powerful, enormously wealthy, highly secretive, and amounts to about 3% of the US population. These are well-established facts that have nothing to do with the theology of the sect or its relationship to Christian points of view, or with the First Amendment, for that matter.

Mormonism is controversial for many reasons, not just whether it meets the dictionary definition of a cult or is a bizarre form of polytheistic Christianity, or for its polygamist and officially racist recent past.

One of those reasons is the Mormon practice of shunning, and how Mormon shunnings are enforced, which speaks to how the Mormon Church operates as if it were a cult. That’s a different issue altogether, and should be part of the discussion.

Another issue is the position of women in the Mormon Church and in the Mormon worldview. All of the higher positions in the church organization are reserved for men only. Mormon women belong in the home, not the workplace. Mormon women and girls are expected to be subservient to men, and are trained to be “meek and mild” as part of everyday practice.

I would never vote for a candidate that held this set of beliefs, not for any public office.

One of the issues that stood between me and unwelcome Mormonism in my family story was the status of its women and girls. I did not want my daughters to grow up believing that their roles were to be subservient to men, or my sons to believe that either.

If your child marries into the Mormon church, you can say goodbye to any plans you ever had to see your child’s wedding. You will be forbidden participation, an outsider to one of the most important events in your life. That is official Mormon policy, and it is enforced without exception. Voters need to be clear on this.

The Mormon notion of the family unit and the church’s willingness to sever families based on their membership status or fidelity to hard core Mormonism should be part of this public policy discussion, as the candidates debate their notions of family values, an essential component of each of their platforms.

My four children disappeared into Utah in a Mormon abduction more than 15 years ago. This is the story of a Mormon shunning.

Mormon officials in three states conspired to abduct and conceal my kids in a series of remote Mormon enclaves in order to immerse them in a completely Mormon environment, despite an order for joint custody. And they got what they wanted, too, although it cost the happiness and then the life of my son Aaron.

Oregon's landmark 2005 kidnapping law is named "Aaron's Law" after my late son Aaron Cruz, who died in Payson, Utah from long-term medical neglect, emotional abuse and abandonment. Aarons Law (Senate Bill 1041) is designed to remedy several common failures of the criminal and family law systems in preventing and resolving cases of child abduction.

Aarons Law provides abduction victims tools to hold their abductors, and those who provide financial, planning or logistical support to the abduction, accountable financially, including religious organizations that engage in shunning, like the Mormons, like the Mormons who abducted my children.

With Aaron’s Law, Oregon is the only state in the nation where the abduction of a child creates a civil cause of action. The law recognizes that the abduction of a child by any person is child abuse, as serious as any other form of abuse.

The provisions of Aaron’s Law arise from the failures of both the criminal and family law systems in the interstate kidnapping and concealment of my children, but these failures are commonplace, with more than 200,000 cases of parental and family abduction taking place in the United States each year, and increasing numbers of children disappearing into foreign countries forever.

Personally, I’m glad Romney’s in the race. The more people understand the ins and outs of Mormonism, the more will reject it. Bring it on, Mitt! You too, Mr. Huntsman. I didn’t buy the story about the golden plates, so your church destroyed my family. Now let’s talk about who you hypocrites really are.

Every candidate for public office has the right to believe whatever he or she believes, to belong or not belong to any religious organization. That is guaranteed by the First Amendment.
But the public does have a legitimate right to know the specifics of those beliefs, and to vote accordingly with a complete set of facts.

There is far too much at stake in the election of a President to give the candidates a pass on such a fundamental part of their character and how they view the world, particularly since they express such strong feelings about it. Let's talk it all out. There's plenty of time. I've waited for 15 years.

Monday, October 10, 2011

On Mitt Romney and the Mormonism controversy

by Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon--

My four children disappeared into Utah in a Mormon abduction more than 15 years ago.

Mormon officials in three states conspired to abduct and conceal my kids in a series of remote Mormon enclaves in order to immerse them in a completely Mormon environment, despite an order for joint custody.

Oregon's landmark 2005 kidnapping law is named "Aaron's Law" after my late son Aaron Cruz, who died in Payson, Utah. Aarons Law is designed to remedy several common failures of the criminal and family law systems in preventing and resolving cases of child abduction.

Mormons divide the world into "Members" (Mormons) and "Non-Members" (everybody else), and they carry a huge thin-skinned “Us vs Them” persecution complex that influences their relationships with non-members unlike any mainstream religion in America.

Mormonism’s essential tenets put it at odds with every branch of Christianity on the planet, along with the Mormon doctrine that every other church or belief system is fundamentally evil.

If your child marries into the Mormon church, you can say goodbye to any plans you ever had to see your child’s wedding. The Mormon notion of the family unit and their willingness to sever families based on their membership status should be part of this public policy discussion.

Personally, I’m glad Romney’s in the race. The more people understand the ins and outs of Mormonism, the more will reject it. Bring it on, Mitt!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

On Sarah P.T. Palin

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

Sarah Palin is the 21st century political epitome of P.T. Barnum’s classic dictum “Nobody ever lost a dollar by underestimating the taste of the American public.”

In this sense, and to paraphrase the great huckster and circus master Phineas Taylor Barnum, Sarah Palin is never going to a lose a dollar by underestimating the intelligence and common sense of a diminishing percentage of the American public.

The moose-fed former half-term governor of Alaska is having way too much fun and making way too much money to ever want to have a real job with real responsibilities ever again.

And, in the real world, the only set of circumstances in which Sarah Palin could ever be elected President of the United States would be if she happened to be the last person surviving the apocalypse. Even she understands this fact.

And, even if she does eventually enter the presidential race, it will be all part of the riff.

She doesn’t need the job; in fact, Palin doesn’t want the job. The job means work; and she hasn’t had any of that to do since she quit the governorship mid term. What she is doing right now is much better than actually being President, where she would have to think and read actual books and stuff. You can’t lead a nation by “going rogue” day after day, after all, even if God is drawling in your ear (this is a note to Bachman and Perry as well)….

She’s getting paid real well, crazy well, just for talking, and that is where she has found her niche, talking, nattering really, about practically anything that falls into her mind, anything that sets her dim bulb to gleaming, to gatherings of nitwits, and no one attending is any the wiser; that, she can (and does) bank on….

While it is likely that Barnum never said “there is a sucker born every minute”, he appears to be stuck with it in the collective American memory, and this is where Sarah Palin really shines, because there is definitely at least one sucker born-again in this country every minute, which is where Bachmann and Perry come into the picture. For all of their glaringly obvious faults, Bachmann and Perry
actually want to put in a day’s work, although not necessarily good or sensible work. This may be their one actually positive quality….

Sooner or later, the crowds she draws will find something better to do back at the trailer park, but Sarah P.T. Palin is going to milk this baby to the last drop of tea.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On the City of Portland's proposed Office of Equity

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon--

My name is Sean Cruz. I am a resident of NE Portland. I am openly Mexican-American, Chicano to be more specific, the descendant of Meso-American aboriginal people.

I do not self-identify as Latino or Hispanic because those are colonial labels of convenience that refer to no particular race, culture, ethnicity or nationality.

I am the grandson of Mexican farm workers, who came to serve Portland communities and the state of Oregon as former state senator Avel Gordly’s chief of staff for six years.

The first two bills that Senator Gordly assigned me to draft in the 2003 legislative session addressed the lack of equity for Oregon’s farm workers, who under state statute had no rights to meal and rest breaks during the work day or to overtime pay for overtime work. Every other worker in the state has those rights.

Neither bill received a hearing, but Senator Gordly and then-BOLI Commissioner Dan Gardner worked together outside of the legislative process to successfully change Oregon statutes, granting farm workers the right to meal and rest breaks, effective February, 2004.

Oregon’s farm workers still have no right to overtime pay for overtime work, the only class in the state bearing that burden.

I recently met with Francisco Lopez of CAUSA and Ramon Ramirez of PCUN, and I asked them who was the farm workers’ best friend in the legislature now that Senator Gordly has retired.

They answered “zero.” There is no one.

Every person in the City, in the County and in the State is dependent upon food produced by Oregon’s mostly Mexican farm workers, yet there is no equity for this population.

The fact is that no legislator or any other public official has wanted to touch farmworker issues since the street renaming fiasco, supposedly to “honor” Cesar Chavez, that fed not one hungry child nor kept one young person in school.

During the two years that the City was torn over renaming a street that to this very day has no connection to Portland’s farm worker population, there was much hate speech and invective directed specifically at Mexican people, yet during that entire period the Office of Human Relations, the Human Rights Commission and the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce stood silent and let the invective fly.

"Working toward equity requires an understanding of historical contexts, and active investment in social structures over time so that that all communities can experience their vision of success.”—From the Office of Equity draft plan

My question to the Council is: How will things be different in the new Office of Equity; will you still be taking advice from the same people who advocated for renaming a street; and, in the future, in the interests of accountability and transparency, will you require similar groups as the street renaming committee to publicly identify their membership, beyond the self-appointed chairs?


These comments were emailed to the Portland City Council and posted on The Oregonian, here:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

On the GOP target-rich lineup of Squirrels, Near-Imbeciles and one very dangerous SOB

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

In all the years that I’ve been interested in politics and elections, I’ve never seen the Republican Party offer such a target-rich lineup of squirrels and near-imbeciles, even multiple Mormons, and yet there is still time for more candidates to join the fun, particularly with the line has grown so blurry between candidates, former candidates, non-candidates and maybe-candidates.

Was it only four years ago that the GOP Laff Riot Comedy Team had just two players, moose-fed Sarah Palin and the utterly unselfconsciously stupid Joe the Plumber? Where the heck is Joe and his plumber’s butt these days, anyway? So fickle were his supporters, where did they go?

This election cycle, the characters are coming so fast and opining so frequently that it’s hard to keep up.

We owe this phenomenon in large part to the proliferation of cable TV and radio “news” channels with 24 hours to fill each day, and about 45 minutes of actual information to give the padding a veneer of topicality, and the extreme partisanship that dominates GOP primaries.

The rancor on the right is so extreme that the killing of Osama bin Laden is as swiftly forgotten as the fact that it was the Bush administration that set the nation into economic freefall just two short years ago. These people are not going to let themselves become confused by either facts or history. There’s less than a 50% chance that what the GOP candidates say is in the Constitution is actually in there, not that their base can tell one way or another.

For example, GOP “No-longer-a-witch” and soon-to-be-perennial cable nutball Christine O’Donnell is getting some national cable TV face time over something she calls a “book,” that ought to come bundled with crayons, like Sarah Palin’s.

Herman Cain is running a vanity campaign with absolutely no chance of success, attempting to make a direct transition from right wing cable TV commentator to president of the United States and, when you think about it, that’s pretty funny. Everything he says evaporates into thin air the moment the words come out of his mouth, but his presence on the debate stage masks the racism that inhabits the Republican base.

Although not officially campaigning, former Alaska half-term Governator Sarah Palin (aka “The Quitter”) has found life if not intelligence on cable TV, where she fills those spots when they have run out of actual news. I look forward to another Palinesque lesson in American history like her take on the famous ride of Paul Revere, who warned the British that we colonists have guns and so on and so forth. A camera and a microphone are like crack cocaine to Palin, which brings us to….

Michelle Bachmann’s bright-eyed declaration that she is going to bring back $2-dollar-a-gallon gas stirred some interest for half an afternoon, and the more she talks, the more she will take her campaign into Wackyville, where, to be fair, she will not be alone….

Ron Paul isn’t an actual Republican. He’s a Libertarian, but none of those nutballs ever get elected as a Libertarian, only as a Republican, and most hard-line Republicans can’t tell the difference anyway, because that would involve reading actual books….

Newt Gingrich is understandably mostly an embarrassment to the rest of the field, and this just 13 years after his run ended, ruling the Republican roost. Most of the GOP electorate has long forgotten whatever it was that he did back then that they liked the sound of so much, something about a Contract with America….

Tim Pawlenty’s candidacy was doomed when he demonstrated that he didn’t have the cojones to confront Mitt Romney to his face on national TV. Whenever the USA gets around to electing a woman president, she’ll have pa-lenty more cojones than Pawlenty ever dreamed of, let that be a lesson to somebody out there….

Mormons Mitt Romney and John Huntsman are keeping their heads down, avoiding public exposure even at this stage in the race and the questions about their Mormon magic panties and why God loves Salt Lake City best, and which planet do they plan to rule over in the afterlife, and do they think that their experience as President of the USA will make them a better God, that will surely be coming their way, better later rather than sooner….

The 2012 GOP presidential bench is as deep in numbers as it is shallow in brainpower, with this list of declared candidates that you probably never heard of, and with this writing probably the first and last time that you will ever see their names in print. I will boldface them so as not to give the frontrunners yet another advantage: Jon Greenspon, Gary Johnson, Fred Karger, Andy Martin, Thad McCotter, Jimmy McMillan, Tom Miller, Roy Moore, Buddy Roemer and Vern Wuensche. You’ve probably heard of Rick Santorum. He’s in there too, and just to prove that I didn’t make any of this up, here’s the link:

While it is easy to laugh at the inane antics of much of the GOP field, some candidates warrant attention for the potential dangers they pose to the nation, for the way they animate the lunatic fringes, none more so than Rick Perry.

Rick Perry’s blustery suggestion that Texans might treat Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke “ugly” recalls the ugly way they “treated” JFK down in Dallas or the “good old days” when Texas justice was meted out with a nearby tree and a rope.

There is no question that sort of talk appeals to the Timothy McVie’s out there, the gun nuts and White Power crazies. Even the Bible-thumpers out there on the religious right are drawn to this line of thinking, Old-Testament blood and slaughter, and a world only about six thousand years old, ruled by God’s Chosen People, who have formed the Tea Party….

Perry’s Texas swagger channels George W. Bush just when the former Moron-in-Chief was disappearing into the history books, if not the trillions of dollars of indebtedness and thousands of grief-stricken military families he saddled the nation with in eight very recent years….

The last thing this nation will ever need is another president who believes that the sun revolves around Texas and that God drawls into his ear….

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The most valuable fish in the Columbia River

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

The most valuable fish in the Columbia River will be one that looks exactly like this: Wild, dipnetted from a platform at Celilo Falls by a supremely lucky Native fisherman, on its way to restock an endangered species somewhere upriver from the dam at The Dalles.

Celilo Falls resides in their DNA as surely as their ancient places of origin and their anadromous journey of life, death and rebirth.

The absence of Celilo Falls is confusing to the salmon, goes against the grain of their DNA, and contributes to their decline as well as to the cost of recovery and restoration.

No single event could be more beneficial to the recovery of endangered species throughout the entire system everywhere above the dam at The Dalles than the rebirth and preservation of Celilo Falls, under the stewardship of the Columbia River tribes, who had done so successfully for more than ten thousand years, more than 42.53 times longer than the United States has existed as a nation.

The Friends of Celilo Falls is forming….

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Fundamentalist Mormon Warren Jeffs and LDS Hell on Earth

by Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon--

Mainstream Mormons may not grow their own child brides like Warren Jeffs, but Mormon zealots can be just as dangerous, and a non-Mormon has little chance to find justice in Utah (read Mormon) courts.

My four children disappeared into Utah in a Mormon abduction more than 15 years ago, eventually suffering life under a series of three Mormon step dads in three states.

My late son Aaron Cruz died in his mother’s empty house in Payson, Utah, from “undetermined causes”, and a phalanx of Mormon lawyers hired by 5th-husband Ben and Gina Foulk, who now live a country-club, Rotary life in El Dorado Hills and Cameron Park, California, are determined to keep it that way, with the circumstances of his death unknown and uninvestigated.

My son Aaron Cruz is memorialized in Oregon's landmark anti-parental-and-family-kidnapping Senate Bill 1041 "Aaron's Law", passed in 2005.

Oregon is still the only state in the nation that offers its children this level of protection from parental and family or other non-stranger kidnappings. Under Aaron's Law, taking any abducted child out of the state of Oregon creates a civil cause of action, and you should really think hard about how you want to protect your child from abduction by religious zealots, your ex or any other criminal.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Mormon mystery company slips a million mystery bucks to Mitt Romney

Mormon mystery company slips a million mystery bucks to Mitt Romney and then dissolves, recalling the pre-Watergate era of secret campaign finance.

From the Huffington Post:

“A mystery company that pumped $1 million into a political committee backing Mitt Romney has been dissolved just months after it was formed, leaving few clues as to who was behind one of the biggest contributions yet of the 2012 presidential campaign.

“The existence of the million-dollar donation — as gleaned from campaign and corporate records obtained by NBC News — provides a vivid example of how secret campaign cash is being funneled in ever more circuitous ways into the political system.

“The company, W Spann LLC, was formed in March by a Boston lawyer who specializes in estate tax planning for “high net worth individuals,” according to corporate records and the lawyer’s bio on her firm’s website.

“The corporate records provide no information about the owner of the firm, its address or its type of business.

“Six weeks later, W Spann LLC made its million-dollar donation to Restore Our Future — a new so-called “super PAC” started by a group of former Romney political aides to boost the former Massachusetts governor’s presidential bid. It listed its address as being in a midtown Manhattan office building that has no record of such a tenant.

“The Boston lawyer, Cameron Casey, dissolved the company on July 12 — two weeks before Restore Our Future made its first campaign filing of the year reporting the donation from the now-nonexistent company, the corporate records show.

“I don’t see how you can do this,” said Lawrence Noble, the former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission, when asked about the contribution from the now defunct company.

“Last week, Restore Our Future filed its first report of 2012, disclosing that it had received $12.2 million during the first six months of the year. Among the contributors: four donors who contributed $1 million apiece, including John Paulson, the Wall Street hedge fund kingpin who made billions betting against the housing market, and two corporate partnerships listed at the Provo, Utah, address of Steven J. Lund, a former chief executive of Nu Skin Enterprises and a longtime Romney backer who has been a leader in the Mormon Church.

Read the complete article here:

Monday, August 01, 2011

The last Columbia River barge

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—Sooner or later, the last barge will pass through the series of navigation locks that compartmentalize the Columbia River into a series of stepped slackwater ponds.

The scene will look something like this, much the same as on any other sunny day in the Columbia Gorge, with just a single barge plying its way; in this series, heading upriver towards the Bonneville navigation locks:

In the final analysis, barge traffic will die off for economic reasons, which can largely be explained by the simple fact that the Columbia River is not the Mississippi.

The Columbia lacks significant traffic, far short of what would justify the cost of maintaining the lock infrastructure; and the Mississippi lacks the salmon, which have evolved over thousands of years to thrive in the fast moving environment that preceded the construction of the dams.

The fact is that just about half of the barges that move up and down the river are empty. This one is loaded, but most of the barges that travel upriver are empty.

That tiny speck moving off into the distance is that same lonely barge….

It will pass through the navigation lock at Bonneville Dam, and it will do so for free. It may surprise you to know that there is no cost charged to the barge operators for using the navigation lock.

The Columbia River economy supports only one barge company, an effective monopoly on commercial and industrial traffic along the length of the river, and that company enjoys subsidies that few are probably aware of: free travel through the locks; no charge for lock maintenance; and, probably most significant, a slackwater subsidy that keeps the river at a level that best suits the occasional barge, like this one, to the detriment of the salmon and Celilo Falls, which costs the public tens of millions of dollars a year.

While commercial operators enjoy free use of the entire river, the public is faced with charges at the handful of places where there is public access, like this one:

Ironically, public access to the navigation locks is closed off, an issue of Homeland Security. When I arrived at the security kiosk to visit the Bonneville visitors center, the guard wanted to look into my trunk to see if I was carrying any weapons.

Geez, if I wanted to create a big mess at the dam, I think I’d just take a barge full of fertilizer and diesel fuel up into the lock. That ought to do it.

The Columbia River is not the Mississippi. It is time we recognized that fact.

The Friends of Celilo Falls is forming….

Monday, July 25, 2011

Nightmares of an abducted child, Terri Horman and the Casey Anthony trial

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon--

Some minutes after I woke from the nightmare this morning, I wrote some lines while the memory was still fresh. I’ve had several hundred of these since my four children disappeared into Utah in a Mormon abduction more than fifteen years ago, but there was something about this one that felt different, and it took some time for me to put it together….

This, I came to realize, was the first nightmare to trouble my sleep since the conclusion of the Casey Anthony trial, the young mother who couldn’t find the time to report the disappearance of her 3-year-old daughter Kaylee, whose skeletal remains were found months later, her lips and nose duct-taped shut, packed into a plastic bag and dumped by the side of the road.

What was different about this dream was that where my ex-wife Gina Foulk was in it, she had that emotionless Casey Anthony/Terri Horman demeanor, was indifferent to the fact that a small child was missing, although clearly unhappy with the inconvenience resulting, and aggravated at the notion that she might be thought somehow lacking in her role as a mother, an epic of pathological self-absorption….

Nicole Kidman had that look, too, in two of her movie roles: To Die For, and The Others. She was a dead ringer for my ex in those movies, almost like she’d studied scenes from our lives, watched home movies, in preparing for her parts.

Seeing the images of Kaylee Anthony over the course of the search, arrest and trial was always painful for me, and I never lingered on any of them or the horror story itself, but it was always there, has been there since July 2008, when Kaylee’s grandmother contacted the police and the media took an interest….

I saw my baby girl in every one of those pictures of Kaylee Anthony…so many memories triggered…Allie was a week past her eighth birthday on the day the Mormons took her away from the father who loved her, and set her on a path of three Mormon stepdads in three states. Memories of her early childhood were still very fresh.

These are the lines I wrote earlier this morning:

“Nightmares of an abducted child...struck early this morning....

“Sometimes they are focused on a single child, sometimes all four...

“This one was about Allie, missing with her mother for days in the dream, and I was reporting this to the police, over and over...feeling all the shock and horror...over and over...desperate...talking to the police, over and over...then I woke up, exhausted...and the nightmare is real....”

In actual fact, when my four children disappeared from Oregon in February 1996, they were driven more or less directly although by a circuitous route to the home of Mormon zealots Chris and Kory Wright, somewhere in the mountains east of Ogden, Utah, who had been in on planning the abduction for months beforehand.

While all of their friends were in school and safe at home, the Mormons were shuttling my children from place to place, knowing that they were violating a joint custody order that had been in place for five years, which is a serious felony, worth five years in prison, but infrequently and very poorly enforced.

The statute of limitations expires on these crimes after three years, even if the child is not recovered. Try to make some sense of that reality….

My children never recovered from the trauma academically or emotionally; and, of course, Aaron is dead, left behind ill and alone in that crappy little Mormon town on the edge of the desert, Payson Utah….

Years later, after many fruitless online searches, one panned out… I located kidnapper Kory Wright right here, where he works at Columbia Ultimate in Vancouver:

I counted coup….

But today my thoughts are still buffeted by this most recent nightmare…and that look in these eyes….

…the look of pathological self-absorption, epic…. You would never know there was a child in distress from these people.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

On America's Foreign Wars and the Debt Limit Ceiling

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon--

Over the past several years, as news of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have mostly faded to the back pages, the American public has largely forgotten that wars cost vast sums of money and have bankrupted countless empires, nations and regimes since the dawn of civilization.

Since the federal government does not keep a bottomless pot of money on hand with which to finance its foreign wars, those expenses must be covered either by raising taxes or borrowing money, or both.

Congress created the debt ceiling in 1917 with the Second Liberty Bond Act, which helped finance the U.S. entry into World War I.

The debt ceiling was raised each year of World War II, but the Korean War was mostly paid for with higher taxes.

Ronald Reagan, patron saint of the selfish and shortsighted, canonized by the religious right, the unread, and the Fox-fed talk-radio masses, raised the federal debt ceiling eighteen times during his two terms, tripling the nation’s debt in the process.

Reagan outspent the Soviets into oblivion to end the Cold War, but borrowing the funds to do so had an enormous long-term cost, as has maintaining the worldwide military empire created during that period to the present day.

Gross debt in nominal dollars quadrupled during the Reagan and Bush presidencies from 1980 to 1992, and the net public debt quintupled in nominal terms during their twelve years in power.

George H.W. Bush continued the Reagan legacy, raising the debt ceiling nine more times in just four years, driving the Iraqis out of Kuwait, but leaving Saddam Hussein in power, and setting the stage for the catastrophic presidency of his lesser, intellectually ungifted son.

Bumbling George W. Bush, the lesser brain of the Bush/Cheney Co-Presidency,
began squandering the federal budget surplus he had inherited from President Clinton almost immediately after his appointment to the top job by his father’s Supreme Court in early 2000.

By the time the carnival ride came to an inglorious end eight years later, Bush/Cheney had raised the debt ceiling seven times, leaving the nation
engulfed in two wars on the far side of the globe and the economy plunging over the precipice…without finding either Osama bin Laden or WMDs, I might add….

Indeed, on the night of their 2004 re-election, “The Decider” gloated that he and Cheney had accumulated a great deal of political capital, and that he was going to spend all of it, which he proceeded to do, leading the nation, and the American Empire with it, to economic collapse.

Between March 1962 and April 2008, Congress altered the debt ceiling 69 times, not without ideological and partisan arguments, but never on the multi-trillion dollar scale of Bush and Cheney.

Now we are deep in the crisis Bush/Cheney created, a product of unbridled arrogance and Texas swagger, and the logical result of initiating distant wars with no real plan on how to pay for them beyond borrowing the money from China.

I remember them selling the invasion of Iraq to the American people with the ludicrous claim that Iraqi oil revenues would pay for the war, and we would be in and out of there before you know it.

Small wonder that they stand silent today, and not a soul in the nation looks to Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld for advice on any matter at all, having left us with the mother of all turds-in-the-pocket and a firm push on the downward slide.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Mormon abduction, self injury and lousy medical care

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

Self injury became an issue for me when I learned that my son Aaron had been cutting himself with a knife during his captivity in Utah, the victim of a Mormon abduction, his despair and loneliness so intense that he would carve deep wounds into his beautiful arms, like the girl in this story in Indian Country Today:

“When she was 14 years old and living in a boarding school in Arizona, Alex Exendine cut her forearms with everything from broken mirrors to scissors to cope with her grief. The Lakota teen from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation had lost her best friend to a brain tumor, and the grandmother who helped raise her died shortly after.

“’I was so lonely,” Exendine told the Rapid City Journal. “I just never thought anyone understood how I felt.”

“Now 19, Exendine shared her struggle and how she overcame self-injury with Indian leaders and medical experts at the self-injury prevention conference "Wakanyeja Ihawicakta Pi, Looking Out for Our Children: a Cultural Learning Opportunity on Self-Injury Prevention” in Rapid City, South Dakota from May 12-13.

“Exendine told the Journal that her internal suffering and bottled feelings led to physical self-harm. “I felt like I had no emotions anymore,” she said. “I started cutting and I’d at least feel something.”

I first saw the knife-wound scars on my son’s arms while he lay comatose in Payson, Utah, in 2005, stared at them for much of the five days he lay there unresponsive. And then the doctors pronounced him dead.

They looked like those in the illustration, except Aaron’s were all above the elbow, on both arms. Deep, wide scars as much as four inches long. Many scars were laid across other earlier scars, indicating that this behavior had gone on for a prolonged period of time.

I counted 15 large scars.

Abducted children get lousy medical care.

Learn about how Alex Exendine overcame the urge to self-mutilate; see the complete article and illustration by Marty Two Bulls at Indian Country Today here:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Portland's Ethnic Grocery Stores: A Gap in the Diversity Aisle

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

In its annual publication titled “Devour 2011, a Hungry Shopper’s Guide” the Williamette Week recently identified 39 “world” or ethnic groceries in Portland, inadvertently exposing a huge gap in the diversity department.

None of these targeted markets feature American Indian foods, even though these foods sustained communities here for millennia and Portland is home to the ninth largest Native American population in the nation.

The WW article states: “There are those who say Portland lacks diversity, that it is little more than a playground for overeducated, underemployed white people, and that the city will never, for all the mayor’s talk of internationalism and manufactured weirdness, outgrow its white-bread personality…. Those people really need to spend more time shopping, because if it is all fair to judge a city’s diversity by its grocery stores (and it is!), Portland is far more cosmopolitan than a walk down SE Hawthorne Boulevard might lead you to believe. In the course of writing this guide, we sampled goods from every continent, amid shoppers speaking dozens of languages, and unfailingly discovered foods we’d never encountered before. The cultural riches of this city are boundless (italics added).”

The city is a long, long way from ever outgrowing its white bread personality, but that is another topic.

The WW researchers “sampled goods from every continent, amid shoppers speaking dozens of languages, and unfailingly discovered foods we’d never encountered before. The cultural riches of this city are boundless (italics added again).”

Yet, there is no Native American market…hmmm….

The sampling of goods…hmmm.

Shoppers speaking dozens of languages…hmmm….

Foods never encountered before…hmmm…..

“The cultural riches of this city are boundless”…hmmm….

That last one is something of a stretch, but there is a plan forming to create a Native American grocery in Portland, with the assistance of the Portland Development Commission, under its “Grocery Store Initiative”, and here’s an opportunity to find out how boundless the cultural riches of this city are…and to fill that gap in the diversity aisle.

Stay tuned on this one….

Here’s the Devour 2011 list, categorized as published:


G Mart


Caribbean Spice


Dutch American Market

East African

East Africa Market

East Asian

An Dong

East Indian, Fijian

Fiji Emporium

Eastern European

Anoush Deli
Good Neighbor


Awash Market
Merkato Ethiopian Music and Food


Foti’s Greek Deli

Indian (East Indian, like from Asia)

Apna Bazaar
India Sweets and Spices


Marinotti’s Café and Deli



Latin American

Dashen International Groceries (Central American)


International Food Supply
Zaky Grocery

Middle Eastern

Barbur World Foods
Bazaar International Market


Fruteria el Campesino
La Tapatia
Mercado Don Pancho
Su Casa Imports
Tienda Santa Cruz
Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon

Middle Eastern

Pars International Market

Pacific Islander

Island Foods

Pan-Asian, Chinese


Pan-Asian, Korean

H Mart


Roman Russian Market

Southeast Asian

Oriental Food Value


Lily Market


Hong Phat Vietnamese Market
Nam Phuong Market
Thanh Son Tofu

Vietnamese, East Asian

Thanh Thao Market

Link to Devour 2011:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Celilo Falls, the U.N., World Heritage Sites and Indigenous Peoples

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

The Tenth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is meeting in New York, May 16-27, and anyone interested in seeing Celilo Falls resurrected from its gravesite behind the obsolete and misplaced 1950’s-era dam at The Dalles ought to think about this….

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) “is the official Advisory Body to the World Heritage Committee on natural and mixed World Heritage sites and as such evaluates new site nominations and monitors the state of conservation of inscribed sites.”

The point that I’m going to get to in a minute is that there is a process to nominate new World Heritage sites, and that the time is right to begin the process to place Celilo Falls on the list of World Heritage 'inscribed’ sites.

Gonzalo Oviedo, IUCN Senior Advisor for Social Policy, presented a statement to the UNPFII that included these remarks:

“World Heritage sites are established under the World Heritage Convention; they are key places for the conservation of cultural and natural values of the world.

“As many of these sites overlap with traditional lands, the involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities in the establishment and management of World Heritage sites is paramount. Issues such as land rights, free prior and informed consent, access to resources and benefit sharing mechanisms are of crucial importance.

“We would like to convey to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues the importance we attach to these issues.

“We recognize the long-established indigenous peoples’ stewardship of areas contained in natural World Heritage sites and the associated tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

“We also value the commitment, ecological knowledge and customary practices of indigenous peoples living in and around World Heritage sites. Indigenous peoples therefore represent key actors and logical allies for us in the protection of these outstanding places.

“We believe that to assure realization of human rights gives the local populations long-term security and promotes lasting stewardship of their common heritage.”

The mission of IUCN is stated: “IUCN helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environmental and development challenges by supporting scientific research; managing field projects all over the world; and by bringing governments, NGOs, the United Nations, international conventions and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice. IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network. IUCN is a democratic union with more than 1000 government and NGO member organizations, and some 10,000 volunteer scientists in more than 150 countries and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world.”

Continuing his remarks, Mr. Oviedo stated:

“We consider that the Convention has much to offer in strengthening the appreciation of the heritage of indigenous peoples, but there is also much scope to enhance policy and practice to recognize local and indigenous peoples as key actors in the protection of their sites in full respect of their rights and responsibilities.

“We are keen to identify, with UNESCO and other partners, how best to meet the aim to focus more on indigenous peoples and local communities and promote and apply more inclusive conservation approaches.

“We are also keen to facilitate exchange with other stakeholders in preparation of the 40th Anniversary of the Convention in 2012, themed ‘World Heritage and Sustainable Development: The Role of Local Communities in the Management of World Heritage….”

The dam at The Dalles was the result of thinking and decision making as stupid and shortsighted and as willfully destructive as anything the Soviets did in the same era, yet there it sits….

It is time to form the Friends of Celilo Falls, to gather the Friends together, and to begin the process that will see Celilo Falls recovered and preserved, no less important than any other site the world treasures…hear the roar…the earth trembles…the flash of salmon and there the net….

Friday, May 06, 2011

Winona LaDuke Democracy Now! interview "The Militarization of Indian Country" and the abuse of the name Geronimo

Winona LaDuke was interviewed on Democracy Now! about her new book “The Militarization of Indian Country” and the abuse of the name “Geronimo”

“Native American activist and writer Winona LaDuke joins us (Democracy Now!) to discuss her new book, The Militarization of Indian Country. LaDuke covers the legacy of the seizure of Native American lands by the U.S. government—which became sites for industrial and military use, including army bases, nuclear testing sites, coal and uranium mining—and how the military-industrial complex is encroaching on native communities. LaDuke lives and works on the White Earth Nation in northern Minnesota and is executive director of the group Honor the Earth. ‘Indian country is not to be assaulted by the U.S. military,’ says LaDuke.” (from Democracy Now! website)

See/hear the interview:

Thursday, May 05, 2011

A slain son, a father's heartbreak and the end of poetry

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

Grief-stricken Mexican poet Javier Sicilia read a poem dedicated to his murdered son last Saturday, and then declared that this would be his last, that “Poetry does not exist in me anymore.”

I understand how he feels, find much in common, remember when the poetry died in my life…and how long it took to come back….

24-year-old Juan Francisco was found in an abandoned car along with six other bodies, their heads, faces, hands and feet bound with tape, suffocated to death under that tape, among the latest victims in the ongoing war that has its foundation in American demand for drugs and the many billions of dollars U.S. citizens are willing to export in order to feed their habits.

These seven are believed to be innocent, “collateral damage” in the incessant violence between the gangs, the cartels, for control of the smuggling routes, and the Mexican government, the battle for the soul of Mexico itself “so far from God, so close to the United States”….

More than 35,000 people have been murdered in Mexico in just the last five years, most often with guns supplied by U.S. gun dealers, and by criminal enterprises nearly entirely funded with U.S. dollars, smuggled back across the border or transferred electronically to offshore tax havens by corrupt American banking officials.

And now there is Mr. Sicilia’s last poem:

El mundo ya no es digno de la palabra
Nos la ahogaron adentro
Como te (asfixiaron),
Como te
desgarraron a ti los pulmones

Y el dolor no se me aparta
sólo queda un mundo
Por el silencio de los justos
Sólo por tu silencio y por mi silencio, Juanelo.

El mundo ya no es digno de la palabra, es mi último poema, no puedo escribir más poesí poesía ya no existe en mi.

The world is no longer worthy of the word
They suffocated it inside us
Like you (they asphyxiated)
Like you
they slashed your lungs
And pain won’t cleave from me
only a world is left
By the silence of the just
Only by your silence and by my silence, Juanelo.

The world is no longer worthy of the word—is my last poem, I can’t write any more poetry...poetry no longer exists in me. (Javier Sicilia)

I understand the grieving poet’s sentiments so well…nearly fifteen years went by following the loss of my children in a Mormon abduction…and more than five years passed after the death of my son Aaron, a death preventable had he received medical care of minimal competence…before I could find my way to the poetry, to the lyrics, to the music once again….

No one knows how long these things take….

No one knows how much time will pass before Mr. Sicilia finds the poetry in his soul once again….

A year ago, I would have been among the first to say, “Never…it will never exist in me again”….

But today I taste the bittersweetness of life with purpose and compassion…I hear songs, melodies, feel the pulse of the drumbeat in my heart…lyrics close to the surface, where tears used to abide…and down the road, perhaps, another poem will rise for Mr. Sicilia, as it has for me….

I greet the day gladly.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Winona LaDuke releases new book: "The Militarization of Indian Country" on Earth Day

I am grateful for the opportunity to co-author The Militarization of Indian Country with Winona. This article appeared in Indian Country Today:

LaDuke’s Earth Day Observations Resonate

Indian Country Today

By Carol Berry April 22, 2011
DENVER—Praising a draft United Nations treaty that would confer protections for Mother Earth, noted activist Winona LaDuke, White Earth Band of Ojibwe, also gave an Earth Day plug for indigenous sustainability and “creating something that is post-empire.”

The American Indian activist and author spoke at the University of Colorado Denver for an early commemoration of Earth Day 2011, whose theme this year is A Billion Acts of Green, “our people-powered campaign to generate a billion acts of environmental service and advocacy before Rio +20,” according to the site.

For her part, LaDuke drew attention to some decidedly un-green practices, pointing out that the American economy consumes from a fourth to a third of the world’s resources but that there is “a vast amount of waste” in the petroleum economy that distorts the oft-repeated argument that renewable energy can’t keep up with demand.

“But why try?” LaDuke queried, adding that “empire is inefficient.” She pointed out that 90 percent of energy from the common lightbulb is in the form of heat and only 10 percent is light. “It’s a false argument that we can’t meet demand without buttressing an inefficient system.”

Food security is a problem when food travels an average of 1,546 miles from producer to dinner table, the price of gas goes up and food cultivation may require 15 times more energy to produce than is consumed, she said.

Although she does not hate the military and believes veterans should be treated with honor and dignity, LaDuke does “despise militarization because those who are most likely to be impacted or killed by the military are civilian non-combatants” and because toxins and chemicals have severely impacted Indian lands, she said in the preface of a book she has co-written with Sean Cruz, The Militarization of Indian Country, put out by Honor the Earth, an organization that works internationally on issues of environmental justice and sustainability. She is the group’s executive director.

The two-time vice presidential candidate on the Green Party ticket also said she is considering another run for office—this time for tribal council on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota, a move that would be compatible with her belief that change is local—and probably inevitable.

“I’m proud of the casino economy, but if you can’t feed yourself, I don’t know if you can be sovereign again,” said LaDuke.

LaDuke said a study on her reservation showed that 14 percent of spending for food was on-reservation, primarily at convenience stores, but 86 per cent went off-reservation to big-box markets or other food sources; because half of total spending goes outside reservation boundaries, the economy is “systemically flawed” and additional wages would not be a solution.

The answer is “re-localizing food and energy systems to have control over the economy and health in the face of rising food uncertainty,” she said, noting that one-third of people on her reservation have diabetes and half of the children are obese by the eighth grade.

LaDuke recalled that her late father told her, “Winona, you’re a smart young woman, but I don’t want to hear your philosophy if you can’t grow corn.”

Today she grows heirloom varieties of corn, as well as squash and other food crops, and harvests wild rice in an on-reservation food production enterprise that also includes maple syrup.

She touted the nutritional and traditional value of the older corn varieties, which include Bear Island Flint Corn, Seneca Pink Lady Flour Corn (“I grow it because it’s pretty,” she said), and Pawnee Eagle Corn, grown by Pawnee people living near Kearney, Nebraska, before their removal to Oklahoma. The corn, languishing further south, was returned to Nebraska for an indigenous garden at the Gateway Museum, where it flourished.

She also talked about climate change, noting that a two-degree increase in average temperatures in the northern latitudes could mean rising oceans and relocating Native villages, despite the fact that the cost of one such relocation was $400 million.

The U.S. has consumed 60 percent of its known oil reserves, and the vast tar sands in Canada are the “single largest industrial project in world history,” mining a Lake Superior-size area for the oil trapped in sand and clay and then planning to send it via the TransCanada Pipeline to Nebraska, where ranchers and legislators fear pipeline spills and the contamination of a shallow aquifer.

She was introduced by Glenn Morris, associate professor of political science at the University of Colorado Denver, who hosted her appearance, and the presentation itself was sponsored by American Indian Student Services of UC-Denver, Metropolitan State College and Community College of Denver.