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Posted by Ayesha on July 04, 1999 at 16:04:28:

Hi Everyone,

Here is an article from a San Francisco newspaper I thought you might all enjoy.



I suppose that as an American Indian, I shouldn't watch fireworks this Fourth of July weekend. According to some experts on race (who are usually white), native people should condemn Independence Day as a celebration of freedom for a few and domination over many.

Celebrating the birth of this nation also means celebrating the death of many tribal nations, they say. Now, that's stupid. I am not too fond of those Pilgrims who invited native people over to dinner, only to steal their land during dessert. And I really wish that clueless sailor from Spain knew how to steer a ship better than he did.

But you know what? I love cranberries and pumpkin pie. And about the only thing I despise about Columbus Day is the closing of the post office. So now I'm supposed to be against the Fourth of July?

Throughout Indian country, we have a rule of sorts:
"Do not dare speak on behalf of our community." I never liked that rule. Because, while many Native people are silently trying to get through life, there are a lot of guilt-ridden academics who are speaking on our behalf. To me, it only seems worth the risk to speak for every American Indian on how we really feel about Independence Day.

The truth? In many ways we are like every other American group. We like hot dogs, potato salad, apple pie, and, yes, even Boston baked beans. We play with sparklers, we light cherry bombs and we wave the American flag. We play in tournament softball games, sell cake and ice cream for the small-town church and try to secure a nice spot along
the curb to watch the Fourth of July parade.

Most Native people see the Fourth of July as a coming together with the larger American community. There are also those Indians who find special significance in the Fourth of July, including many American Indian veterans who have defended this country. And when the celebrations are over, we struggle more with trying to remember where we parked than with remembering that colonial phrase about liverty and death however it's supposed to go.

Believe me, Native peoples remember that this country was taken from our ancestors. And the taking has not stopped. Whether it be a stripping away of our right to natural resources or cutbacks in health and education budgets, we are fully aware that colonialism is not dead. We do not need to form a picket line on the nation's Capitol on July 4 to know that.

But given the present struggle of my people to be Native in a still hostile white America, I can't be bothered with indulging the pleas of some white folks asking me to go rain on someone's Independce Day Parade.

Mark Anthony Rolo, member of the Bad River Band of Ojibwe in northern Wisconsin, is former editor of The Circle, a monthly Native American newspaper in Minneapolis. This commentary was written for Progressive Media Project in Madison, Wis.

Have a great 4th of July weekend everyone!


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