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Monday, January 09, 2012

On the future of the U.S. military and (American) Indian Country

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

The release of Winona LaDuke and Sean Cruz’s new book, "The Militarization of Indian Country", could hardly be more timely.

As the war in Iraq comes to an end and that other war over there in Afghanistan winds down, the U.S. military prepares to reverse-deploy tens of thousands of veterans home to join the ranks of unemployed veterans already standing in line for jobs that largely do not exist.

Wounded veterans, of which there are more than 30,000, including amputees in record numbers, and more than 100,000 veterans who suffer various degrees of lifetime consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), the Signature Injury of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, already languish in failing VA medical delivery systems, overwhelmed by the numbers for more than a decade.

In “The Militarization of Indian Country”, Winona points out that America’s Indian Country suffers the highest rates of unemployment and poverty in the nation at the same time that Native Americans serve in the U.S. military in higher percentages than any other race or ethnicity.

As the Pentagon prepares to downsize and modernize the modern military, the impact in Indian Country will therefore be deeply felt, and Winona suggests strategies to repurpose the military going forward to achieve true homeland security, and to ease veterans’ transitions to civilian employment.

According to Winona, true homeland security involves food sovereignty, protecting the land and everything needed to sustain life. The future US military’s role, therefore, should include protecting supplies of clean, potable water, such as the vital Oglalla Aquifer that is currently being threatened by the Keystone XL pipeline.

In “The Militarization of Indian Country”, Winona speaks to the US military’s habitual descriptions of any hostile or enemy territory anywhere in the world as “Indian Country”, the military’s use of Native American imagery and naming (Tomahawk missiles and Apache helicopters), and its shameful code-naming of Osama bin Laden as Geronimo.

The Honor the Earth edition of “The Militarization of Indian Country” sold out in a flash, but will soon be released by Michigan State University Press, in its prestigious Makwa Enewed Series, with much new material. The book goes to typesetting in February.

Makwa Enewed is a sub-imprint of the American Indian Studies Series, at Michigan State University Press. The series stands dedicated to books that encompass the varied views and perspectives of people working in American Indian communities. In that light, books published under the Makwa Enewed imprint rely less on formal academic critique, argument, methodology, and research conventions and more on experientially grounded views and perspectives on issues, activities and developments in Indian Country.

“While work published in Makwa Enewed may resound with certain personal, speculative, conversational, political and/or social concerns of individuals and groups of individual American Indian people, in a larger sense such concerns and their delivery reflects the import, strength, uniqueness, and potential viability of the series.

“The series will gather its strength from the voices of tribal leaders, community activists, and socially engaged Native people. Thus, each publication in the Makwa Enewed will call forth from tribally based people and places, reminding readers of the varied beliefs and pressing interests of American Indian tribal people and communities.”

In the meantime, Hoopa Tribal Radio KIDE FM in Northern California has produced a fantastic reading of the Honor the Earth edition of “The Militarization of Indian Country”, here:

Hoopa Tribal Radio KIDE FM

The Militarization of Indian Country reviewed

Georgianne Nienaber’s perceptive review is here:

Winona LaDuke Explores The Militarization of Indian Country From Geronimo to Bin Laden

By Georgianne Nienaber, Huffington Post Books, May 12, 2011

“Winona LaDuke, a Native American activist and twice Ralph Nader's Green Party Vice Presidential Candidate , has written a dramatic and prescient book, The Militarization of Indian Country (Honor the Earth)…. Which brings us to the timely publication of LaDuke's book. In it she uses considerable scholarly prowess to examine how and why Native culture has become inextricably entwined with military institutions….”

“Those who disagree might say that LaDuke is relying upon "political correctness" to make her point, but read the book and what emerges goes straight to the heart and soul of the militarization of not just Indian culture, but mainstream American ethos as well….”

“The Militarization of Indian Country examines in dreadful detail how the military has poisoned, murdered, and exterminated parts of indigenous populations. It is carefully organized into sections examining the deep ties between the military and indigenous people, how the economy drives the military and vice-versa, the military's appropriation of Indian lands, and a somewhat hopeful prognosis for future relations if America rethinks her priorities.”

“In this well-researched, critical, and historical analysis, LaDuke at times takes the stance of a spiritual teacher, redefining and correcting the common interpretation of what it means to be a "warrior." LaDuke uses both a scholarly and soulful process; reclaiming the breadth and depth of Native spirituality on behalf of her people, and giving the reader concise insight into a belief and honor system that is unique in its interpretation of war, its responsibilities, and its consequences.”

Bunky Echo-Hawk

Cover art by Bunky Echo-Hawk….

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