Supporting the Liberation of Indigenous People


Dark Night Press has been a leading voice on the Internet since 2000 dedicated to supporting the struggle for liberation of indigenous peoples against the powers responsible for the colonialization of their lands.

Indigenous peoples have been subject to a long history of oppression and dehumanizing conditions at the hands of their colonizers without garnering the attention given to other oppressed peoples.

Dark Night Press was established to give a voice to those involved in the struggle for freedom to share their thoughts and experiences with the hope of uniting all oppressed people in a movement advancing forward the dream of a unified and liberated continent. Those whose words have appeared in Dark Night Press publications are engaged in ending the darkness and recognizing The Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous peoples of the Americas currently number around 48 million and are descendants of the pre-Columbrian inhabitants of North and South America. Modern society labels indigenous people as “Native Americans”, “Aboriginals”, “First Nations” or simply “Indians” (due to Christopher Columbus’ mistake in geography), but indigenous people in reality cannot be broken down into neat categorizations developed by colonizers to group them together racially and take away their identity.

Housing Rights of Indigenous Peoples


Indigenous peoples’ rights extends to adequate housing which has been recognized by the United Nations as one of the most fundamental elements for human dignity, physical and mental health and overall quality of life. Yet indigenous peoples continue to be one of the most disadvantaged groups which is reflected in the poor housing conditions they continue to endure to this day. Colonization deprived indigenous peoples of vast land holdings and access to life-sustaining resources which have crippled them economically and socially destroying their cohesiveness as communities and undermining the integrity of their cultures.

Indigenous men and women face discrimination in most aspects of housing including the availability of mortgage financing to purchase property on tribal lands. Government programs that have been established to address this inequity, such as the Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee in the United States, continue to be woefully underfunded. This in turn has resulted in difficulty obtaining competitive Connecticut mortgage rates, Florida mortgage rates, Massachusetts mortgage rates, New Hampshire mortgage rates, Rhode Island mortgage rates and Washington state mortgage rates.

Fortunately, specialized state mortgage programs like the Mass Housing loan ( have been established to serve low to moderate income indigenous people who otherwise would not be able to obtain affordable housing.

Captain Misanthrope and the Great White Supremacist Whale


Captain Mistanthrope and the Great White Supremacist
Written by Jim Page

Published: Dark Night Press Web Site

“I’ve thought about class and it’s bullshit” – Paul Watson

“Class is an invention of the socialists.”  –  Margaret Thatcher

There’s an old saying:  “Mussolini made the trains run on time.”  It’s a warning about tunnel vision.  If all you want is a good rail system, Mussolini can get it for you.  But it’s a package deal; you get other things with it.  Case in point: the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the campaign to save the gray whale.  I will argue that the single-issue zealotry and cartoon romanticism of Paul Watson and Lisa Distefano of the Sea Shepherd have opened the door to some dark political rooms that we would all be better off keeping locked.  And I will maintain that in spite of their protests to the contrary, their method and vision are based on an inflated self image and a general dislike for the rest of humanity.  And my conclusion will be that animal rights without human civil rights can lead to fascism.

“Surely there will be some nonhuman animals whose lives, by any standards, are more valuable than the lives of some humans.”
-Peter Singer, Animal Liberation: A New Ethic for Our Treatment of Animals, 2nd edition, 1990.

My Name Is Buddy, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

This whole thing started when Paul Watson and Lisa Distefano showed up here in the Northwest in 1998 to keep the Makah people from engaging in what was reported to be a revival of their culture. The Makah, a whaling people living on the north coast of Washington State, had received legal permission via their treaty rights to re-institute their traditional hunt and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, along with several other organizations, were determined to stop them.  One day Lisa was quoted in the paper as saying, “We met a friendly gray whale named Buddy,” and things began to get weird.

You see, there’s a great deal of difference between meeting a gray whale that “I call Buddy” and meeting one “named Buddy.”  The first case is a rational acceptance of your place in the order of things and the second case is a little unhinged and reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons. Not a good sign coming from the adult director of a heavy-weight environmental organization.

I met Paul Watson years ago when I played a benefit for the Sea Shepherd and he told me that he listened to my music on the boat during his campaigns.  He’s real committed, no doubt about that.  But his ideology pits nature against humanity, which he often describes in terms of terminal diseases.   He makes no distinctions between the different power grids of our social existence and will get mad at you if you bring it up.  He’s the last person you’d want to have in a labor struggle.

In one of Paul’s letters to me he says “I am in fact unapologetic for my biocentric views and yes I put nature before the interests of humanity.”  Yeah, but humanity is natural; it’s our social systems which are creating the problem, not the fact that we exist.  

Ole Hickory Goes To Sea

When Watson was in custody several years ago I received a copy of the Sea Shepherd Log, a magazine for those who give financial support, in which Lisa had written a piece about him, creating an historical context for his activities.  In it she described Paul’s ancestors arriving on the east coast of Canada, encountering old growth forests, clear running water, and beautiful wild animals.  The existence of people, of whom there were many at the time, was conspicuously absent.  A few paragraphs later she described how Paul was like her distant relative who was a pirate in the Louisiana Territories and was one of a handful of brave men who had the foresight and courage to fight alongside Andrew Jackson against the British; and that if it wasn’t for men like these “the United States of America would have been a far different place. President Jackson never would have been, and the British would have redefined the destiny of America and denied the visions and dreams of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Patrick Henry.”  Jackson, if you recall, was the architect and chief prosecutor of the Trail Of Tears, a forced removal in which roughly half of the populations of several Native nations were killed.  A man who boasted that he never met an Indian he didn’t kill and never killed an Indian he didn’t scalp.  Lisa’s comparison here is disturbing, and revealing.  You can’t make this kind of a statement without being really ignorant or prone to tunnel vision.  Or both.

To Lisa and her friends the human being is only a weapon in the war for nature.  When nature is not under attack, as when the ancestral Watsons landed all those years ago, they are unnecessary and so they don’t exist.  When called into service they must be soldiers, such as Andrew Jackson who was, after all, good with his weapons.   Through the lens of the deified naturalist there is no politics.  This can create problems…

Enter Count Jackula

“Jack Metcalf is a political Maverick who votes his conscience.  He is on our side for one reason: he likes whales.”
– Andrew Christie, SSCS

“I want to preserve the unique character and beauty of my people the same way that, as an ecology-minded individual, I desire the preservation of the Blue Whale or the great African Elephant.”
– David Duke

In their efforts to stop the Makah whale hunt Watson and company enlisted the aid of Congressman Jack Metcalf, a well known anti-Indian Republican politician.  I have a bit of personal knowledge here.  Jack Metcalf is the son of John Metcalf, leading member of The Silver Shirts. They were a nazi-support group during the forties.  I used to work on a tree farm on Whidbey Island run by an old ex-Silver Shirt who couldn’t stop talking about World War II and the great things that Germany had tried to do before the Allies cut them short.  He told me about John Metcalf, how they used to have meetings at his house where he would lead séances and they would discuss the advances of the Reich.  Jack, who was raised by this man, has never addressed this so far as I know.  

These days, as a member of United Property Owners Of Washington, Jack Metcalf has called on Congress to “abrogate all existing treaties…”  He has introduced bills to make it more difficult for Indian People to petition for federal recognition.  In 1985 he was Co-Chair of “Redeem Our Country,” a right wing anti-Federal group.  Other co-chairs included anti-Semite Eustace Mullins and arch-segregationist John Rarick.  The group’s advisory board included white-supremacist Christian Identity advocates, a columnist from The Spotlight (an anti-Semitic right wing conspiracy newspaper which was the personal favorite of my ex-Silver Shirt employer) and extremist tax protesters.  As an influential anti-immigration spokesman he co-sponsored an attempt to overturn the 14th Amendment, with a further amendment barring children born in the US from receiving automatic citizenship.  He has received 100% rating from both the anti-immigrant lobby US Border Control and the Christian Coalition.  

From the journals of Lisa Distefano, November 4th, 1998 (taken from the Sea Shepherd web site):

“The decision was made to hold a press conference on Wednesday, with Congressman Jack Metcalf in Sieku. (Fortunately, he won his re-election bid the day before!) Buoyed by his victory, on a wave of righteousness that comes over one when one’s belief triumphs, he was impassioned. Metcalf is a survivor. A whale-loving Republican… who would have thought? Many attack him, and say he’s no friend of the environment. But he’s a friend of Buddy. And right now, that’s all that counts. He stands to lose, as well. He doesn’t represent just the desires of his constituency, he owns a local bed & breakfast.”

(I like the part where he “stands to lose” because he “owns a local bed and breakfast.”  This is heart wrenching stuff…)

The Makah are a treatied people.  The 1855 document created a “trust requirement” that the US government advocate for treaty rights.  This includes whaling.  The hunt was discontinued in the 1920’s when the gray whale population was faced with extinction, mainly due to commercial whalers.  They have recovered and are no longer considered endangered.  And so the government supported the hunt: they were forced to by their own laws.  When the Sea Shepherd called for the government to withdraw their advocacy they were in effect calling for the abrogation of the treaty, just as Metcalf has done.  Our boy Jack, and his right wing cammo buddies, have been clamoring for years that “Indians have special rights” and that therefore the rest of us “ordinary citizens” should support his work to dismantle their status.  Up here in the Northwest he has mostly been concentrating on fishing issues.  So the whale hunt was right down his alley.  

And then there’s this from Michael Kundu, Sea Shepherd Northwest Pacific Coordinator: “We find it ironic that the Makah consider themselves and are treated as a ‘sovereign’ nation within their own laws, pay no US taxes of any kind and yet they can ask for and get personal security privileges from a federal agency which no normal United States citizen can obtain.” (emphasis added) (notice the similar use of the terms “privilege” and “normal,” meaning the rest of us. This is typical of reactionaries trying to keep an already oppressed people down.)

By the way, the five whales the Makah are allowed to hunt, were in fact given to them by an indigenous tribe in Russia, who will now take five less than their usual number.  So the total kill remains the same, with or without the Makah.

It was quite a scene out there at Neah Bay when the hunt began.  Coast guard cutters, Sea Shepherd boats, and Makah people all crowded at the dock waiting for signs of a whale.  There was a scuffle when Lisa Distefano was invited on shore by a Makah elder, one of the few opposed to the hunt.  Lisa was, of course, persona non grata.  And the elder, Alberta Thompson, was experiencing pretty heavy harassment as a result of her principled stand.  She had lost her job and her dog had been killed.  She is 75 years old.  Anyway, Lisa went ashore and the shit hit the fan.  Surrounded by an angry mob she was pushed into the water and her inflatable boat was confiscated.  Arrests were made by the tribal police and Alberta was hustled away for her safety. Later she was threatened with banishment.  Lisa knew this would happen.  It’s hard on older women but it makes for good press.  Then Paul wanted his little rubber boat back saying that his First Amendment rights were violated.  First Amendment rights!  In another country no less… (I’ve heard Watson claim that the Makah were like the KKK in the days of the Mississippi Freedom Rides.  This means that he is the Freedom Riders and the whales are the unregistered Black voters. This is certifiable!  But crazier still is Lisa’s comparison of Paul with South African ANC martyr Steve Biko.  This means that the whales are in fact an oppressed majority nationality struggling for their freedom and that Paul, also a whale, is their fearless leader.  Is there a doctor in the house?)

Dances With Whales

To defend himself against charges of racism Watson refers to his story that he served as a medic for the American Indian Movement (AIM) at the Wounded Knee uprising in 1973.  In his own words:  “I was holding the other end of a stretcher when a US Marshall’s bullet struck down medic Rocky Madrid as we were running through a hail of lead.  I assisted Leonard Crow Dog in removing the bullet.  I was made a warrior brother to the Oglala Lakota Nation and was given the name Grey Wolf Clearwater.  In the sweat lodge ceremony, I had a vision, a dream wherein an arrow struck a buffalo.  The arrow had a long string attached to it.  The buffalo asked for my help and I broke the string and chased the hunter away.  Wallace Black Elk interpreted my dream.  ‘Your mission is to help the buffalo of the sea – the whales,’ he said.  ‘It will not be easy.'”

However, a few phone calls among AIM people themselves yield results like this:

“…it’s not just that his name doesn’t come up in any of the literature on Wounded Knee.  I’ve queried Ron Rosen, who was in fact a medic at the Knee, and he doesn’t remember Watson being there.  Uncle Wallace [Black Elk] doesn’t remember assigning any white guys to save a bunch of “buffalo of the sea.”  Neither Russ [Means] nor Aaron Two Elk recall Watson as having been there. Nobody recalls a naming ceremony being conducted for anyone, much less a white medic.  Nobody remembers any white guys being naturalized as Oglala citizens except the 7-member VVAW contingent – White Bob, Hillbilly, et al – and Watson was definitely not one of them.”
– Ward Churchill, Colorado AIM

“…we didn’t make ‘brothers’ like Hollywood and Watson would have you believe. We made certain people ‘citizens’ of the ‘Independent Oglala Nation’ and those we made citizens we awarded citizenship papers, as any other sovereignty would. Ask him for his citizenship papers if he was truly part of our Nation. Also remind him of his oath of loyalty upon pain of death for treason, we all took one.
– Carter Camp, Oklahoma AIM, Wounded Knee ’73 leader

As for being named Graywolf Clearwater that is an even bigger lie.  First, we do not GIVE first and last names.  Indians all over the country are laughing at that lie. Secondly, Clearwater is the honored name of our brother killed in Wounded Knee, funny how Watson missed that, but I assure you that we would NEVER give his name to a non-warrior.

Whatever he did ( if he was there) I am deeply offended by his assertions that he was guided in his misdeeds by a ‘vision’ he was given at WK73. We who were there would like to re-interpret his vision for him to show him the Makah, not eco-terrorists, are the ones saving our whale relatives.  Maybe we could politely invite him to return to the Knee to smoke once again with Rocky, Blackelk, Crowdog and myself (I’m sure they will agree) so we can hear his ‘vision’ once again and give him the true meaning.”

In his autobiography he tells the story like a chapter in an adventure novel.  How he snuck into the besieged area posing as a journalist from the Vancouver Sun.  But interestingly enough, he removes himself from the narrative immediately after he’s inside and goes on to detail how long the siege lasted, how many people were wounded or killed, what the outcome was, etc.  To the unwary reader it will appear that he was there for the duration.

As things continued to heat up Watson resorted to what could be seen as a classic racialist defense –  he quantified the racial makeup of his operation.  From the official Sea Shepherd response to the Declaration Against Racism:  “The captain of the Sea Shepherd III was Matahil Lawson of the Ojibway people. His entire family – mother, father, sister and brother – joined our crew to protect the Gray Whales. The expedition leader for the campaign was Lisa Distefano, whose grandmother, a Cherokee woman, was raised on a reservation in Louisiana. Our Pacific Northwest Coordinator Michael Kundu has been condemned for being a white racist because he met with Republican Congressman Jack Metcalf to discuss the whale hunt.  Mr. Kundu is an East Indian and cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called a ‘white racist.'”

And yet Kundu himself wrote one of the most amazing Steven King-like pieces, too long to quote here, called “A Whaler Prepares,” in which he describes a modern day Makah digging up the fresh corpse of a 9 year old accident victim and sawing it into pieces in order to get ready to “deceive” the heart of the whale.  Not unlike the old stories about Jews having horns and eating their children.  It would seem that Watson is a little over impressed with skin color. Or am I missing something?

Saint Brigitte

But wait, there’s more: Watson has formed another interesting alliance.  Brigitte Bardot, the famous French film star, joined him in 1977 to stop a Canadian seal hunt.  She was to participate again in ’98 but had to bag out due to mechanical difficulties.  I heard Paul explain to an audience a few years back that her presence was important as a way to get “media attention.” Brigitte Bardot is well known for her commitment to animal rights.  But according to Robert Crawford, of the Coalition For Human Dignity, she is also a “prominent opponent of Muslim religious rights, a venomous anti-immigrant spokesperson and an ally of the National Front, France’s leading neo-fascist political party.”  Her husband, Bernard d’Ormale, is a National Front activist.  She is quoted as saying, “now my country, France, my homeland, is with the blessing of successive governments again invaded by a foreign, especially Moslem, over-population to which we pay allegiance.”  (Recently Watson, Farley Mowat and Dave Foreman signed on to a campaign to get the Sierra Club to advocate immigration reduction.  Remember that?  David Duke prides himself in being a trail blazer on this issue.  (Oh, the company you keep…)

And now for the really nasty stuff.  Adolf Hitler was a “convinced vegetarian on principle” and a “hater of hunting.”  There’s a story about a maharaja giving Hitler a movie.  One part showed animals killing people; he watched impassively.  The other showed people killing animals; he covered his eyes and begged his aids to tell him when it was over.  And it was Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels who first said, “The more I get to know the human species, the more I care for my Benno.”  Benno was his dog.  In his diaries Goebbels said, “As soon as I am with a person for three days, I don’t like him any longer…I have learned to despise the human being from the bottom of my soul.”  When you get into the history and thinking of these very sick people you find that they despised humanity and romantically, illogically enshrined the non-human natural world as some kind of wild place that they alone, the true race, were worthy of fellowship with. It seems that the “too many people” theory often translates into “too many other people.”

Animal Fundamentalism

“Save A Whale, Harpoon A Makah”  – anti-whaling protest sign

“She died at the hands of ruthless thugs whose souls are stained with her blood forever” – Bill Moss, World Whale Police

On May 17th the Makah finally got their whale.  Most of the protesters were gone, either in jail or off refueling their boats.  This made Watson mad – he should’ve been able to stop them but the forces of evil had engineered things against him.  And like their close relatives in the anti-abortion movement, a dangerous and alarming crowd emerged from the shadows.  Thousands of death threats were emailed into the official Makah web site.  A bomb threat was called into the Puyallup tribal school.  Indians of different nationalities were refused service in restaurants and harassed on the ferry boats.  The call-in shows and letters pages were deluged with ugly sentiments like “If they would stop drumming all the time and get to work…”  and “they lost the war, why don’t they get with it..”  Words like “premeditated murder” and “baby killers” were thrown around, echoing the sentiments of the anti-abortion zealots.  Somebody built a fake Makah web site with stolen tribal designs and dripping blood, reminiscent of the Nuremberg Trials site that gave Right To Lifers a hit list of doctors.  While the domain name was registered to an activist in Canada, the site itself was generally believed to have been built by an American – some one too cowardly to take credit for their deeds.  It got real ugly real fast.

While it is unknown at this time who the culprits were, there is an interesting similarity between the fake site and this poem, written by Sea Defense Alliance “Commander” Athena McIntye (The Sea Defense Alliance and the Sea Shepherd are good buddies in this whale saving business.  Their web sites link up and they continually sing each other’s praises):












(The Sea Defense Alliance and the Sea Shepherd are good buddies in this whale saving business. Their web sites link up and they continually sing each other’s praises).

Says Watson, “We do not condone threats of violence against individuals, but we understand the rage and anguish that has been awakened in ordinary people who know something is very wrong here.” “We do not condone” but “we understand…”  This is a long way from a condemnation.  And in fact, it is an encouragement of the feelings that feed the behavior of those “ordinary people.”  The Christian Coalition speaks the same way when confronted with clinic bombings that it “understands” but mustn’t approve of publicly.  And it’s interesting to note that in response to the sight of one youthful Makah doing a back flip on the whale Watson wrote, “When the Makah Indian tribe started dancing on the back of the Gray whale…” as though he can’t even tell the difference between one person and a whole tribe.  

After repeatedly insisting that the hunt was in no way traditional because of the use of modern firepower, Watson wrote of the “prolonged, agonizing destruction of a 3-year-old Gray whale.” It was a ten minute death.  But as a whaler himself explained to radio station KIRO, in the “old traditional way” the whale would have taken anywhere from two days to two weeks to die.

And the world turned upside down when the whale was made human and the humans were made monstrous. From the Sea Shepherd web site: “On Wednesday, an anonymous mourner left a wreath, a flower lei, a candle and a note on the spot in the Makah marina where the whale was butchered.   The note read ‘Baby, you didn’t deserve this. We love you.’  The remains of the whale had been cordoned off with yellow police ‘crime scene’ tape.”  

They Brought It On Themselves

“Our phones have been ringing non-stop since Monday morning with people who are enraged or in tears or both. The horrific images from the evening news woke a lot of people up. They want to know what they can do about this…  We ask them if they’ve told their Congressmen that…it’s time to amend the whale-hunting clause in the Makah’s 1855 treaty…”
– Lisa Distefano, Sea Shepherd International Director

“We agree that it is unfortunate that the Makah’s actions have brought about great anger, and have given racists ammunition to use against them. The Makah Tribal Council may well have brought their people to ruin and a state of permanent ostracism.  The public anger and resentment generated by their act may now compel Congress to reexamine the legal standing of all First Nations.
– Andrew Christie, Dir. Information/SSCS

“We note your concern for the ‘misfortune of the Makah people’ that this situation has brought about, and that ‘we must correct this before it is too late and people are killed or hurt,’ but such is not within our power.  The Makah were made fully aware of the response their actions would bring for several years before they killed a whale, and chose to spurn all pleas, compromises, and offers of assistance. Hence, their misfortune now is of their own making. Never could it be more truly said that a people brought their fate upon themselves.”

“Reexamine the legal standing of all First Nations.”  Old Hickory would be proud.  Count Jackula is surely purring in his den.  Note the off-hand manner with which Mr. Christie resigns these people to their fate.

Some time later a petition was circulated around the internet calling for a condemnation of the racist response which the Sea Shepherd most certainly had a leading roll in creating.  Watson himself responded by saying, “…we reject the accusation that there is a racist backlash against the Makah for killing the whale. There is a backlash, and it is directed at human beings who slaughtered a whale in violation of international conservation law.”  This is called verbal deflection.  

The Demon Semantics

“Humanity is the AIDS of the planet”  – Paul Watson

Says Watson from his article The Politics Of Extinction: “The human species, reproducing with the malevolent design of a cancer cell, is mindlessly pursuing growth for the sake of growth alone.”  Besides its obvious stupidity, this is the language of genocide.  It’s an old technique whereby you dehumanize your enemy, making it easier to dispose of them with a clear conscience.  When Watson defines the human species in terms a deadly disease he is able to devalue people to the point of making them expendable.  It’s easy for a misanthrope.  Lisa’s old friend Andrew Jackson encouraged the killing of children as well as adults, saying to root them out from their “dens” and kill the women and their “whelps.”  In the Vietnam days General Westmoreland  referred to the people of that country as “termites.”  The Iraqis were “rag heads.”  And the Jews, of course, were a “parasite” upon the healthy body of the Aryans.  Ovens anyone?

It’s not that Paul or Lisa or any of the so-called animal rights fanatics that they hang out with are card carrying Nazis, but you have to see the tendencies, don’t you?  Such loathing for one’s own species leads to mental and emotional disorder.  It’s a painful place to be, to dislike humanity and yet to have to live with yourself as a human being.  And since the misanthrope never disposes of himself, this hatred and distrust must be externalized, usually in the name of some “great cause.”  Animal rights without human civil rights is a dark steel-lined tunnel with no light at the end of it.  And it carries within it something like the fundamentalist Christian view of original sin: the person is guilty because of their biology.  This is how disposable populations are defined, and it’s not much of leap from thinking about it to doing something about it.

Capital alienates people, and early 21st century corporate capital has magnified the rift to psychotic proportions.  Some people are so alienated that they can only relate to another species.  A whale won’t move in next door, or sit down next to you on the bus, or ask you for spare change, or go on strike.  A whale won’t ask you what in the world you think your doing.  But people will, and we need to start.

There must be a better way to save the whales besides enlisting the aid of known fascists. Relationships between Indians and white environmentalists are strained enough as it is.  A whale hunt is a messy business that most of us would just as soon have no part of.  But most of us don’t come from a whaling culture.  Most of us come from the dominator culture that kicked the shit out of the native whalers and we hold onto our positions of superiority by claiming a high moral ground and practicing an institutional ignorance.  And the victims of this whole scenario are usually dehumanized either into brutes (“If there had been more of them they would’ve completely trashed the place”) or romanticized ( the “Indian princess”).  Either way they don’t have to be dealt with as human beings.  

Paul says “I am opposing Japan and Norway at Neah Bay – not the Makah.”  But Jack Metcalf is opposing the Makah, and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has actually endorsed this man. And Brigitte Bardot.  And when Watson and company leave town these creeps will have achieved a higher standing in the minds of many people who out of the goodness of their hearts would like to protect the natural world.  This is not smart.

If you’re going to save whales you have to save them from something and into something.  The way this is going they will be saved into a world of the chosen few.  Who is going to decide who these few are?  And what will be the fate of the others?  It comes back to that old idea that nature needs to be saved from humans, period.  But all humans aren’t the same are they?  What’s the difference between Rigoberta Menchu and Charles Hurwitz?  And if there is a difference then maybe, considering the speed at which we seem to be dismantling the planet, it should be an emergency priority to address these things.  This probably means expanding the definition of “environment” into its more holistic meaning of “the circumstances, objects or conditions by which one is surrounded.”  This includes the workplace, the home, the street, the forest, and international historical treaty relations.  We have to.  They clear-cut people too.

Residential Schools [The Report]


Residential Schools [The Report]
by Dr. Roland Chrisjohn

Published: Dark Night field notes #17

On May 24, 2000; St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick hosted a conference called Residential Schools: The Past is Present. It brought together residential school survivors and speakers addressing the system and its effects. Two participants were Jim Craven, who has served as a judge in an Inter-Tribal Tribunal and prosecutor in a Blackfoot Tribunal on the roles of certain churches and the government of Canada in the Indian Residential School system, and Roland Chrisjohn, rapporteur to the Canadian Royal Commission on Aboriginal Justice for the psychosocial effects of residential schools. Dark night field notes here presents excerpts from talks and interviews related to the conference.

Roland Chrisjohn speaks:

I started writing my book on residential schooling, The Circle Game, in 1991, originally for Canada’s Royal Commission on Aboriginal Justice. I had done some work with the Williams Lake First Nations, seven or eight First Nations in and around British Columbia. And from that the Royal Commission approached me to write the psychosocial part of a three-pronged attack. Somebody was going to write about the legal aspects of residential schools, another person was going to write about the historical aspects and they were going to get a psychologist to write about the sociology and psychology of the residential schools.

At that point I was distancing myself quite drastically from psychology, so I asked “How could you be asking me to do this if you’d read anything I wrote on the residential schools?” “Well no, but we’ve heard good things.” I don’t know anyone who could have said anything complimentary about what I’d written before 1994, because I was taking to task a lot of what I call the standard account of the residential schools. But in 1994, I finished it. The Circle Game is essentially the 1994 report with appendices that answer questions arising from our presentation. The Royal Commission didn’t do anything with it. If you go through the volumes that came out later, you won’t find more than an occasional reference that this report ever existed.

The day after I delivered it to the Royal Commission, I got a call: “This is a marvelous report. Brilliant! We’re going to give this a big send-off.” They had done a report on suicide and another on native justice and the third was to be my take on the residential schools. Two days later, I get a second telephone call; “There’s been some problems with your paper. We’re wondering if you’ll summarize it in one page for us?” “No, it took me a hundred pages to say what I had to say. I never contracted to give you one page. If you don’t want to go with it, that’s your business.”

The interesting thing about working with the Royal Commission is the extent to which it tried to back away from the issues the report raised. For some reason, everybody has the idea that the Royal Commission report is an Indian report. It’s not an Indian report; it’s a government report done by government functionaries or by academics who were getting their support directly from the government. Indians didn’t write this. It doesn’t reflect an Indian view. It represents the same basic attack, the same spirit. You see the same mechanism in operation. They learned absolutely nothing or if they did learn anything, they certainly weren’t going to tell anyone about it.

And the other thing was the extent to which they were moral cowards. Just as a simple example, the legal expert consultant nowhere mentioned international law. I brought this to the attention of the lawyer. “Look, there’s no mention of the UN genocide convention, of the UN Charter on Civil and Political Rights, international law. You’ve treated this entirely as a case of tort law.” Tort law means somebody did an injury to somebody and we’re going to argue about it in a court, or I’ve made a promise of some sort and I don’t come through. A tort is a matter of “I’m arguing with you.” Genocide is a collective injury and requires a collective response of some sort. And the lawyer said, “I didn’t see that international law had anything to do with this.” And rather than argue with her, I decided I would put some international law in my book. I’m a psychologist. I don’t know international law but if a dog comes up and bites me, I know I’ve been bit. It doesn’t throw me into a metaphysical quandary to try to understand what’s happening.

The historian John Malloy, author of A National Crime, was a little bit better. During the Royal Commission work, he shared with us that there was direct conspiracy between the churches and the government to put a particular spin on what the residential schools had been about and what should be done about them, He had uncovered correspondence between all four of the major churches in which the government expresses that “What we’re going to play up is that the Indians are sick people and what they really need is a bunch of therapy, which, of course, we’ll provide for them. This way we’ll keep out of court, out of litigation, out of any notion of criminal responsibility.”

I had surmised in my work that there was such an agreement, but John Malloy had the piece of paper. But if you go through A National Crime, you don’t see that piece of paper published. He suppressed it. Now the word is he’s going to write a second book with those papers in it. Why he waited, I don’t know. Do you wait until the house is alreadv burned to the ground before you pull the fire alarm or do you wait until later? If I had the responsibility for publishing that piece of paper, it would have been on page one. I would have said “Look what’s being done to you in the name of responding to what happened in the residential schools.”

What has happened in terms of the response to the revelations of the residential schools? And what is that response designed to do? Why react the way the churches and the government and even the First Nations have reacted? What’s the purpose behind all that? Is this the only way to look at what happened? Or are there other ways? And why was this particular way chosen?

What happened with reservation schooling wasn’t kind of like genocide, it wasn’t cultural genocide, it wasn’t something approximating genocide. It was genocide. And when I say that, even from First Nations people, I often get these long looks. And nobody who’s ever given me those long looks has ever read the UN Convention on Genocide, so I put it in my book.
If you look at Article 2(e), “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group is an act of genocide.” This is the same UN Convention on Genocide that Canada bound itself to in 1949 and assented to in 1951 in a unanimous vote of both houses of Parliament. So for thirty years or more, Canada knowingly committed genocide.

Furthermore, genocide is actually against the law in the Canadian criminal code. It’s a crime like spitting on the sidewalk or driving too fast or running down people in walkers. All that’s illegal. Genocide is, too. When Canada decided that it was going to make genocide a crime, it made killing people and deliberately inflicting conditions calculated to bring about physical destruction a crime. But if you look at all the sections in Article 2 – I don’t know, maybe the typewriter ribbon ran out or somebody made a mistake that day – there are three sections that didn’t make it into the Canadian criminal code:

(b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group

(d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group

(e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group

I don’t have to argue whether Indians were taken away from their parents and were put under other peoples’ control. We can go up to Parliament right now and we can pull out the pages of the law that say Indians were required to turn over their kids under penalty of law: “You are hereby required to transfer….” We can find the RCMP reports on how they went out and did it. Could there be any doubt that if this had been included in the Canadian criminal code, whether genocide was committed? I don’t think so. If anyone can tell me why Canada taking Indian kids away from their parents, their families, their communities, their ways of life and putting them under the control of other peoples, whether they were churches or federal run institutions, is not an act of genocide, I’d like to hear the argument.

I do see why the other two sections are in. Because they think they can argue that they didn’t kill Indians in residential schools as a policy. And they can also argue that they didn’t deliberately inflict on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction because to do that you have to be able to look inside somebody’s head, don’t you? You have to show deliberate intent, you have to show mens rea. And one thing you hear over and over whether you’re talking to a church cleric or a government official is that they had the best intentions for Indians in mind. They can dispute the intentions, so they can put in the sections that depend on intent, but the section where the actions are not disputable – those were just left out. How interesting. What a coincidence.

Cast a glance at Article 3. Article 3 says there are a whole bunch of things you can do that are still a crime under international law. You don’t have to do genocide. You just have to conspire to commit genocide. As soon as the first prime minister sat down with the first minister of Indian affairs and said “Why don’t we get one of the churches to raise these Indian kids; we’ll take ’em away from their parents,” that’s a conspiracy and that’s a crime under international law. They didn’t actually have to do it. All they had to do was talk about doing it. “Direct and public incitement to commit genocide.” So you can’t advocate doing that – that’s inciting publicly. Attempts to commit genocide. You don’t have to succeed – you just have to grab the kid and get as far as the door and if they stop you and take the kid back, it’s still a crime.

And finally you have complicity. Complicity is not taking the steps to undo the wrong. It’s an act of omission as well as commission. And I have to strongly advise you that what Canada did to its population as a whole was to make them all complicit in genocide. People who were seventeen and younger in 1986, the Canadian government made complicit in an act of genocide that had been going on for a long time. The rest of us Canadians are complicit in international law.

In Nuremberg, a lot of people said they were only following orders when they were killing the Jews, as a defense. Nuremberg said that was not a defense. That somebody else was telling you to do something is not a defense. You have to take personal responsibility for what you did not do to prevent the destruction of the Jews. That’s an act of complicity. The Canadian public can’t say, “Oh well, we didn’t know what was going on in the residential schools, so we’re not responsible.” The churches can say “We were only doing what the government was demanding that we do,” the government bureaucracy can say, “We were only doing what Bureau of Indian Affairs told us to do,” but that’s a specious excuse. All those people were involved. “Oh well, we were only doing what we were told.” doesn’t absolve anybody of the crime of genocide.

Canada has been operating to make sure that you will not get the charge of genocide into a Canadian court. And they did that very interestingly under the guise of being nice and friendly. In the 1960s, First Nations people were still not citizens of Canada. And then the government woke up and said “Oh my, what an oversight. These Indians have been sitting around for almost a hundred years in Canada and we haven’t made citizens of them yet. Let’s make citizens of them.”

Now if you read what Indian organizations were doing back in the early 60s, none of them were complaining about that. None of them were angling for the vote or the right to bear arms or to work for Ontario Hydro. You couldn’t work for Ontario Hydro if
you weren’t a citizen. Indians weren’t Canadian citizens. You couldn’t go to university in some parts of Canada because you weren’t a Canadian citizen, but that wasn’t what they were angling for.

When you go back, you find that the Charter on Political and Civil Rights was coming into force in the early 60s. And what it says very clearly is that genocide is going to be an international crime that an international court of law will sit on. That means that we, in 1964 anyway, could have started to take the Canadian government to international court for the crimes of genocide that were going on – kids were still being taken away from their parents. We could have done that in 1964.

But in 1962, 1963, suddenly we find that we’re citizens. Now, why was that? Because under the Charter, these international rights were between nations, not within nations. If one part of the citizenry was complaining about its treatment by another part of the citizenry, that was considered an internal affair under international law and none of the UN’s business. We got declared citizens in the 60s so that we were now considered internal minorities of Canada, not separate governments and the proof of that is to look at the colonized peoples of the world who suddenly were named citizens of their countries in the 60s. Suddenly the Algerians, whom the French had been dumping on for hundreds of years, the Fijians, the Tahitians became French citizens. Suddenly the internal minorities, the Chukchi, the Khanty, the other First Nations people within the Soviet Union became its citizens. All throughout the British Empire, people became British citizens instead of oppressed minority populations.

Another coincidence, isn’t it? That suddenly when the UN creates an instrument and a forum for redress internationally, Canada obviates it with this blatant move. And ask the Supreme Court of Canada about that because the Supreme Court of Canada wants to treat its own treaties with First Nations as sui generis, of its own specific type. While its treaties with other countries are treaties between nations, its treaties with First Nations – “Well, they’re kind of like treaties and they’re kind of not like treaties.” Canada prefers to think of them not as legally binding treaties but as voluntary acts of generosity toward us. One of the problems of taking any of these things to the Canadian legal system is that the Canadian legal system finds ways of validating itself and saying what it wants to say. When the parliamentarians run into a problem, they legislate their way out of it.

You have to read between the lines of the Canadian cover-up version of what happened: “We’re welcoming you into the brotherhood and sisterhood of Canada, blah-blah-blah.” What does Article 2e say in the Genocide Convention? “Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” Am I to believe that the parliamentarians, like the Minister of Affairs, read those words and said “Oh. That’s ok.” Canada was very prominent in negotiating the terms of this document. The draft version was much more encompassing. It was primarily the US and Canada who eviscerated the force of the UN Convention on Genocide down to the five stipulations that have come through to us today. But they had still left that in.

In the draft that was defeated, there was actually a provision that forcible citizenship was an act of genocide. So Canada got rid of that in 1948, and then did it in 1960. Is still doing it. You can look it up. The important thing is how many have read it at all? You don’t get it in a civics class or a history class. Knowledge of what it contains is so rare, that when I explain that I mean not figurative but literal genocide, no one has been able to argue with me on the basis of the convention. Maybe, they’re arguing on the basis of the CNN or the ABC version of the convention.

Let me take this further because my book has been reviewed. All I do when I talk about genocide is let people read the genocide convention. If you can read Articles 2 and 3 and understand that the kids were taken away from their parents and put under the charge of churches, I don’t have to say anything more. People can figure it out. Yet here’s one nice review of my book by J. R. Miller who wrote his own book on residential schools. He writes: “What these authors call genocide in their terminology is more often labeled cultural assimilation by scholarly analysts.” Unless I misread it, it’s genocide in the UN terminology. I didn’t make that word up. I’m using it properly. It’s not my terminology. And then I must not be scholarly because of my use of the term. One day the scholarly analysts got together and held a vote to decide what genocide is going to be. But did the scholarly analysts inform the UN?

This is what Michael Parenti calls “distortion at the point of origin.” Whoever he’s writing this for, J. R. Miller knows his audience. Nobody’s going to bother to read my book after reading this. Or if they do, they’re not going to bother checking to see whether or not I’m abstrusely and arcanely twisting English language to fit my definition of the events. He knows his audience, that like most Canadians, they’re smug, complacent and lazy and they’re not going to bother. They’ll conclude “J. R. Miller wrote a book on the residential schools too, but he’s a scholar unlike the person he’s reviewing, so he must be right.” By the way, he makes his living by going around to Indians telling them “You had a great thing in residential schools, you know. Get over it.” and offering them therapy. Historians giving therapy – that’s really interesting. I’m in this because you’re denying history. If you deny that genocide typifies and characterizes the interaction between the aboriginal people of this continent and the European population, then you can’t understand what’s going on.

Let’s look at another work, Restoring Dignity – Responding to Child Abuse in Canadian Institutions by the Law Commission of Canada. It’s available on the Internet so you can get a free copy. Law! These guys are lawyers. So what do we read from the Law Commission of Canada about residential schools? “The effect of residential schools has been so pervasive that some believe the school system could only have been part of a larger campaign of genocide.” Footnote.

I look up the footnote – it’s my book! “They (that’s me) contend that the actions of the federal government and the churches that ran the residential schools violated Article 2c of the convention on genocide. That Article defines genocide as acts committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such or by means of deliberately inflicting conditions of life on the group calculated to physically destroy the group in whole or in part.

You can read my book and I do not talk about Article 2c. I talk about Articles 2b, 2d,and 2e. Why? Because Article 2c talks about deliberate intent. I can’t look into someone’s head and see intent. I’m a psychologist, so let me tell you a truth about psychologists. We’re no better at discerning anybody’s intent than anybody else. We don’t take the tops of people’s heads off and see the intent inside. But I do know that when someone takes your kid and tells you “You better not stop us or we’re gonna throw your ass in jail,” that that constitutes genocide. And that’s exactly what happened.

Is this an ancient report? It’s dated March-April 2000. The Law Commission of Canada knows its audience. They’re going to charge that “Some idiotic, hot-headed, stupid people – non-scholars – talk about genocide.” But they’re not going give me a fair hearing are they? Because they’re not going to tell people in their six million page report what the genocide convention actually says – they’re going to say I harp about Article 2c. Show me and I’ll eat it. I harp about those sections that didn’t make it into Canadian law – b,d and e – which, again, the average Canadian doesn’t know.

And this is what’s sold to the Canadian public who are supposed to believe that the Law Commission of Canada is dealing substantively with the problems of institutional abuse. But they aren’t. They’re lying to the public – suppression at the point of origin. How many generations of social workers, historians, social scientists are going to read “Yeah, there was that ‘blip’ there from some now extinct group of people who were so paranoid they thought we wanted to kill them. Of course, they’re all gone now.” How many generations of people are going to be misinformed by this?

You can’t let people understand what’s really going on because then they might start catching on. Canada does not want to have to say, “We committed genocide.” They want to pretend that they’re against it. “Heck, we’ll go to Rwanda. You name it. We’ll go there. We’ll stop genocide.” They just won’t stop it in their own country. Well, they may be good world citizens but they’re not very good Canadian citizens.

I have to say that I was extremely disappointed with the response of the churches, all of them. When I was working on this book, a number of things were very clear to me. One was and still is that I did not want to go the litigation route. Why? First of all, it validates the Canadian court system. Asking the Canadian court system to sit in judgment of criminal acts on the part of the government and the churches for what took place in residential schools just legitimates their ability to decide under tort law what the injuries are and what the compensation should be, and even whether the crime took place.

We’re going to argue about whether or not it was a crime? This is the same court system that from 1867 to 1986 did not see any difficulty with the residential schools. Think about it for a moment. Did the Jews, after the Holocaust, have to go to a Nazi court to say so-and-so did this to me? Were Nazis sitting in judgment on Nazis with respect to what happened in the concentration camps? They were not. Nuremberg had its limitations but at least nobody pretended the Jews would get a fair hearing of grievances from a Nazi court. Yet this is precisely the pretense that the litigation route requires First Nations people to be involved in. We have to argue before a court system that didn’t see any problem with the residential schools for more than a hundred years. They’re the ones who are going to sit in judgment of the injuries done us?

I also do not see any particular reason to enrich the legal profession. Preparing cases is expensive and lawyers are justly paid a lot of money for their work, but they take about a third if not more of any financial settlements associated with the cases. If there’s going to be a financial settlement, why would I want to give a third of it to this person?

And again, the court route brings us back to arguing whether genocide took place. While I’ve never heard a coherent argument that it wasn’t, I do find plenty of obfuscation, remaking history, and ignoring the subject. There shouldn’t be any arguing whether residential schooling is genocide. Noam Chomsky says that to even doubt the existence of the Holocaust denies the humanity of all sides involved in that conversation. The same thing applies here. For us to deny that the residential school was genocide, to have to argue about whether it was genocide or not is denying both our humanities. People are not willing to take their lumps over this, that genocide took place. Instead, it has to be turned into an argument of some sort.

And, as has been pointed out in other places, that’s not a reasonable process. A lot of the people who have to stand up and recount what happened to them twenty, twenty-five years ago, find that impossible to do in an adversarial proceeding. Not only do they find it so impossible that they do not sue. They find it so impossible that they commit suicide rather than face the task. “To bring some order of justice into my existence, I have to get up in front of a group of people and to argue first whether it happened to me and then whether it was a good thing or a bad thing.” In the early days of reactions to residential schools, I remember they used to bring Indians to these conferences who would stand up and say “I went to residential school and nothing bad happened to me.”

So my reponse is “So. It’s a vote now?” So the black people learned to read and write and now they play basketball – slavery was all right! When the people who got out of the concentration camp, a lot of them lost weight – hey, they didn’t have to diet! They learned reasonable trades! Are we supposed to look for the good side of genocide? Well, there was a good side and a bad side, and then we’ll decide whether it’s right or wrong. Well, I’m sorry. Genocide is an absolute immoral act. And I shouldn’t have to say that, particularly to churches. I don’t now how many ministers, priests and different people have given me one evasion after another. Why? It’s a moral issue. On a moral issue, I shouldn’t be arguing facts of law, subtle interpretations of this, that or the other. A person who’s morally grounded should be able to recognize the morality or immorality of the action.

And from that, you don’t start apologizing to yourself about it: “Oh well, we had the best intentions when we committed genocide on you.” Genocide with the best intentions is ok genocide? It’s the genocide with the bad intentions – if those Germans had only been polite during the Holocaust: “Please, will you walk into this gas chamber. Please, will you get on this train?” If the Nazis had only been polite, the Jews would have nothing to complain about. Really?

At the beginning of preparing this report, I don’t know how many times I went to different church officials. I sent all the churches my report while it was still in draft form. I said “Let’s avoid this. I do not want to argue about whether or not our genocide was a good genocide or a bad genocide in a court of genocidal law. What we need is for the churches to stand up and say “You’re right. What can we do to undo it? We can’t turn back the clock. We can’t undo the harm. But we can undertake from this moment forward to bend our full powers, our full efforts, our full spiritual weight toward undoing what we did.”

And you know, if somebody had said that, I don’t think any First Na tions person would have brought any charge in a court of law, of genocide or abuse or whatever. That would have been a sincere moral act on the part of people who were honestly contrite and were undertaking to undo it. But that’s not what we saw. When I was at Williams Lake, I heard “Well, you know those Indians. They’re complaining and lying.” That was the start. And then, “Oh, they’re exaggerating. Well, we’ll admit to some of it but there wasn’t that much.” It was all of these blockade tactics, these let’s-close-ranks tactics. It was never honesty; it was never a moral response.

The churches, like the government, reacted like a corporation does in a position of liability. Denigrate the victims as much The churches, like the government, reacted like a corporation does in a position of liability. Denigrate the victims as much as you can, and if that doesn’t work, then restructure yourself to limit your liability.

I’ve used this example many times and in many places. What did Dow Corning do when they suddenly realized they were in a liability position with breast implants? Dow Corning ceased to exist as a corporation. It had all these other different corporate centers and the one that was responsible for the improper breast implants suddenly became a very small sub-segment of Dow overall, and when people tried to sue it, the small sub-segment went bankrupt. And people had to sue a non-existent corporation that had no money to pay them. Thank goodness Dow Corning can continue to put Pyrex or whatever they make on the shelves and avoid that particular issue. Well, that’s what the Anglican church and the Catholic church did in Toronto recently. They corporately restructured themselves to limit liability. That’s not the response of an institution of morality. That’s the response of a business.

What other responses have there been? Alternative Dispute Resolution. I don’t know how mad I can get about this. The alternative dispute resolution mechanism that all the churches are going for, that the government is going for, that the Assembly of First Nations is going for, is a way of keeping things out of court and of making sure that the costs associated with it won’t be large. Now, I can understand on a corporate level why they would be involved in doing that. What I can’t understand is why they would be doing that on a moral level.

Nor do I like the term Alternative Dispute Resolution. So the fact and events of the residential schools is a dispute, now? I suppose what happened between the Jews and Nazis in Nazi Germany was a dispute, also? The Nazis wanted to make soap and slaves of the Jews and the Jews didn’t want to become soap and slaves. If only we had psychologists like me in Nazi Germany, they could have said “Ok, Jews and Nazis. There’s an authentic dispute here. Let’s resolve it. Jews, they want to make sweaters out of you. Maybe we can just shave your heads, as a beginning gesture of conciliation. That’s what we’ll do. OK, that’s resolved. Soap? Hmm, that’s a little tougher, but it’s a dispute so we can resolve it with this nice talking mechanism.”

That’s what we’re getting. What they’re going to do to deal with the genocide of First Nations and aboriginal peoples in Canada is to make it a dispute. If that’s a dispute – “We want to force you not to have your cultures and your languages and we certainly want to take all your land and your minerals and your trees and stuff.” If on the one side, you have one people who want to steal everything you have and on the other side you have people who want to retain it, that’s an authentic dispute and let’s resolve that. Well, it’s baloney, and again it’s a reconstruction of history on the line that Canada didn’t really do anything wrong. It’s a lie and I’m entirely against it.

There’s a perception among non-indigenous people that the Assembly of First Nations is an Indian organization. It is not. If the federal government pulled the funding for the Assembly of First Nations tomorrow, it wouldn’t be there the day after tomorrow. They all play golf together and their children go to the same private schools. Nobody can distinguish the Assembly of First Nations from the federal government. The government simply founded a group of people who will go along with their response to help them limit liability.

A third thing I want to talk about is this ridiculous Healing Fund. The Assembly of First Nations is willing to go along with this notion that storefront organizations are going to heal the sick Indians. That’s another bottom line. “Yeah, we established a genocidal institution to strip language and culture, and demean, humiliate, kill, disfigure, maim, and psychically destroy these children and the sick people are them. Yeah, they’re the ones who are sick.” It’s just like after the Holocaust. The problem with the Holocaust was that there weren’t enough psychologists around. If the Jews coming out of the concentration camps had only had enough psychologists to talk to, there would have been no need for a trial at Nuremberg because they would have dealt with the essential issue of genocide. It was a psychological problem.

Think for a moment. Make yourself a psychologist in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. Who do you work for? What’s your job? Your job is to talk to the inmates. You’re not supposed to be talking to the guards and the administration. Your job is to help the inmates accommodate themselves to their circumstances. “Oh, I know you’re not getting enough to eat, but buck up. You’re still looking pretty good. Just stay in there. Don’t feel so depressed. You know if you smile at the guards more, they’ll be nicer to you.” This is what a psychologist at a concentration camp would be doing. This is what your job would be.

And who is the sick person in the concentration camp? I don’t think it was the Jews who were brutalized, I don’t think it was the inmates of the residential schools that are the psychologically, psychically, spiritually disfigured people. I think it is the population of people who did it, who have lied to themselves about it and who are covering it up.

The resolution of the psychic, psychological problems of the Jews in the concentration camps wasn’t to send them therapists of some sort. The resolution was the destruction of the system of oppression that was doing that to them. The Jews had a suicide rate fifty times that of the non-Jewish German population during the Holocaust. That rate dropped to an ordinary average rate right after Hitler’s government fell. What an astonishing coincidence.

I think this pathologizing of the victims is another crime. It’s also just another way for the system to pay itself. Let me tell you, there are more people in this room than there are native psychologists in Canada or North America. Native people are not getting rich by calling Indians sick people and demanding that they go for psychotherapy to resolve what happened in the residential schools. Social work schools, psychology schools, psychiatric schools, universities, clinics, hospitals – they’re making money out of that. “You feel bad about your residential school experience. I’m going to make you feel really good. I’m going to give this guy money. Doesn’t that make you feel better?” Something’s missing in the equation.

I can believe that a business would do this. I can believe that a government would do this. And in 1993 and 1994, I warned the churches that if they did it, they would be held accountable by the same standard. If they can’t behave other than as a business or a government, then that’s how I have to regard the church – as just another business that’s trying to squirm out of a position of liability. And that makes it anything but a moral institution.

And I think it should mean that to a lot more people. It’s not hard to see once it’s pointed out, but if you’re in control of the media, if you’re in control of these 10,000 page reports, if you’re in control of what’s on CBC, of what’s in the newspapers, you can make it seem this way or that way. That therapy and healing and alternative dispute resolution are generous responses instead of what they really are – cover-ups.

You go to every church Web site and they’re all talking about how they’re facing bankruptcy. This does me absolutely no good whatsoever. In 1993 and 1994, I said “Don’t lie down with dogs or you’ll rise up with fleas. If you decide that you’re going to be on the side of the government when the dispute comes down between the government and the victims of the government, the government will get rid of you as it needs to.” I was just reading yesterday that the Catholic church in Saskatchewan is being driven into penury because every time a case comes forward where they’re holding the Department of Indian Affairs responsible for an abuse in a residential school, the government’s naming the church as a co-respondent. “Well, it wasn’t just us. The church did it too.” And the church is saying “They didn’t sue us! They’re suing you.” When one institution stabs the back of another institution, it’s no surprise. I told them this would happen in the early 90s – that the route to go was the moral route, to take the high ground, to tell their parishioners that they’re going to take the high ground and why. For church members to collectively advocate on the part of First Nations people not to redress specific personal injuries but to undo the damage of the residential school that existed to destroy our ways of life, however different they were.

And this is where the ripple effect comes in. The injury from the residential schools does not reside simply in the people who went to residential schools. It resides in their children and their grandchildren and their friends and their families and our very ways of life that were destroyed by that attack. What has to be undone is all of that – not just “Well, I’ll give you $25.00 and you’ll feel better.” That’s a useless response. It’s a worse than useless response. It’s a divide and conquer response. Because we start arguing “Well, you didn’t go to residential school so you’re not as worthy as I am because I went to residential school and so on…” We do not need to be divided on this issue.

Finally, the past is the present. The residential schools may have changed, may have dissipated, may have gone away, but the concerted attack on us as First Nations people has just changed tactics. It didn’t stop. It didn’t go anywhere. Just because you can run your residential schools now, for example, from a day school perspective doesn’t mean that the ideology behind the residential schools has been eliminated. No, it’s still there. We get the ideology through the television, the newspapers, our everyday interactions with the grocer and everybody else. And we don’t understand it that way or it’s not presented to us that way, so we don’t respond. The residential school is not the past – the past is right here.

I want to be really cheeky here, as if I haven’t been. As to bankruptcy, if the churches want to tell me that this was a moral response on their part, and that God was actually telling them to behave in this particular way, then all I can say is “Then God wants to eliminate your church.” If that’s the route that you’ve gone and now you’re feeling “poor us, we’re going to go bankrupt from this,” then if you were following the words of God, then that’s what God wanted. He wanted your church to go bankrupt. So you can argue with him, but you can’t argue with the Indians about this.

Now I don’t believe that though. I don’t believe the churches as institutions were responding to the voice of God in all this. They were responding to the voice of the government. And the voice of the government was “Let’s hang out. Let’s see if we can’t dissipate it.” It’s the same problem with the Jews and Nazi Germany. It’s only been in the last two or three years that people have even begun to talk about the restitution of the property that was taken from the Jews and held in Swiss banks. Switzerland had the operation of billions of dollars of capital for forty or fifty years and now they’re thinking of giving back some of the money to Jewish organizations. And the best estimates are that less than one penny on the dollar is actually going to make its way back by way of compensation for what was taken from them.

And why were they doing that? They were doing the same thing that the federal government is hoping to do with the residential schools situation. That if they can put off dealing with it long enough, “Maybe they’ll all die off. When there are no people around anymore to complain about it, we can rewrite history. If we can put a human face on our barbarism long enough, then maybe we’ll get away with it.

And if the Canadian government wants to get away with genocide, I’ll tell you, they’ve almost done it. The number of people who have my message are like a flea on an elephant compared to the number of people who have heard entirely differently. The court system doesn’t care, the government doesn’t care, the church as institutions do not care. I do not believe that Canadians as individuals want to believe they’re genocidal or that if they really understood what their involvement was, that they’d put up with it. Because I don’t know how many people I’ve met and they’re good honest people. They simply have been lied to up and down the line. They do not know the enormity of what they’ve done, so, as individuals, I think every Canadian can come to grips with the enormity of what’s been done, with what has to be undone.

But I don’t think the government, the judiciary, the churches as institutions have any moral aspect. One of the characteristics of institutions is that they subtract morality from decision-making processes. That’s elementary sociology. But what I want to say to Canadians in general is “Ok, you’re this close to getting away from genocide. If that’s the way you want to play it, fine. But if you really are moral people, if you really believe what you say about being accountable to St. Peter or somebody else at the point of your death, I’m telling you now that you haven’t got away with it. You haven’t dealt with it and you’re going to be responsible for it at some point even if it’s not in this world.”

“Some People Push Back” On the Justice of Roosting Chickens


Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens
by Ward Churchill

This article appeared in Pockets of Resistance #11 September 2001

When queried by reporters concerning his views on the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963, Malcolm X famously – and quite charitably, all things considered – replied that it was merely a case of “chickens coming home to roost.”

On the morning of September 11, 2001, a few more chickens – along with some half-million dead Iraqi children – came home to roost in a very big way at the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center. Well, actually, a few of them seem to have nestled in at the Pentagon as well.

The Iraqi youngsters, all of them under 12, died as a predictable – in fact, widely predicted – result of the 1991 US “surgical” bombing of their country’s water purification and sewage facilities, as well as other “infrastructural” targets upon which Iraq’s civilian population depends for its very survival.

If the nature of the bombing were not already bad enough – and it should be noted that this sort of “aerial warfare” constitutes a Class I Crime Against humanity, entailing myriad gross violations of international law, as well as every conceivable standard of “civilized” behavior – the death toll has been steadily ratcheted up by US-imposed sanctions for a full decade now. Enforced all the while by a massive military presence and periodic bombing raids, the embargo has greatly impaired the victims’ ability to import the nutrients, medicines and other materials necessary to saving the lives of even their toddlers.

All told, Iraq has a population of about 18 million. The 500,000 kids lost to date thus represent something on the order of 25 percent of their age group. Indisputably, the rest have suffered – are still suffering – a combination of physical debilitation and psychological trauma severe enough to prevent their ever fully recovering. In effect, an entire generation has been obliterated.

The reason for this holocaust was/is rather simple, and stated quite straightforwardly by President George Bush, the 41st “freedom-loving” father of the freedom-lover currently filling the Oval Office, George the 43rd: “The world must learn that what we say, goes,” intoned George the Elder to the enthusiastic applause of freedom-loving Americans everywhere. How Old George conveyed his message was certainly no mystery to the US public. One need only recall the 24-hour-per-day dissemination of bombardment videos on every available TV channel, and the exceedingly high ratings of these telecasts, to gain a sense of how much they knew.

In trying to affix a meaning to such things, we would do well to remember the wave of elation that swept America at reports of what was happening along the so-called Highway of Death: perhaps 100,000 “towel-heads” and “camel jockeys” – or was it “sand niggers” that week? – in full retreat, routed and effectively defenseless, many of them conscripted civilian laborers, slaughtered in a single day by jets firing the most hyper-lethal types of ordnance. It was a performance worthy of the nazis during the early months of their drive into Russia. And it should be borne in mind that Good Germans gleefully cheered that butchery, too. Indeed, support for Hitler suffered no serious erosion among Germany’s “innocent civilians” until the defeat at Stalingrad in 1943.

There may be a real utility to reflecting further, this time upon the fact that it was pious Americans who led the way in assigning the onus of collective guilt to the German people as a whole, not for things they as individuals had done, but for what they had allowed – nay, empowered – their leaders and their soldiers to do in their name.

If the principle was valid then, it remains so now, as applicable to Good Americans as it was the Good Germans. And the price exacted from the Germans for the faultiness of their moral fiber was truly ghastly. Returning now to the children, and to the effects of the post-Gulf War embargo – continued bull force by Bush the Elder’s successors in the Clinton administration as a gesture of its “resolve” to finalize what George himself had dubbed the “New World Order” of American military/economic domination – it should be noted that not one but two high United Nations officials attempting to coordinate delivery of humanitarian aid to Iraq resigned in succession as protests against US policy.

One of them, former U.N. Assistant Secretary General Denis Halladay, repeatedly denounced what was happening as “a systematic program . . . of deliberate genocide.” His statements appeared in the New York Times and other papers during the fall of 1998, so it can hardly be contended that the American public was “unaware” of them. Shortly thereafter, Secretary of State Madeline Albright openly confirmed Halladay’s assessment. Asked during the widely-viewed TV program Meet the Press to respond to his “allegations,” she calmly announced that she’d decided it was “worth the price” to see that U.S. objectives were achieved.

The Politics of a Perpetrator Population

As a whole, the American public greeted these revelations with yawns.. There were, after all, far more pressing things than the unrelenting misery/death of a few hundred thousand Iraqi tikes to be concerned with. Getting “Jeremy” and “Ellington” to their weekly soccer game, for instance, or seeing to it that little “Tiffany” and “Ashley” had just the right roll-neck sweaters to go with their new cords. And, to be sure, there was the yuppie holy war against ashtrays – for “our kids,” no less – as an all-absorbing point of political focus.

In fairness, it must be admitted that there was an infinitesimally small segment of the body politic who expressed opposition to what was/is being done to the children of Iraq. It must also be conceded, however, that those involved by-and-large contented themselves with signing petitions and conducting candle-lit prayer vigils, bearing “moral witness” as vast legions of brown-skinned five-year-olds sat shivering in the dark, wide-eyed in horror, whimpering as they expired in the most agonizing ways imaginable.

Be it said as well, and this is really the crux of it, that the “resistance” expended the bulk of its time and energy harnessed to the systemically-useful task of trying to ensure, as “a principle of moral virtue” that nobody went further than waving signs as a means of “challenging” the patently exterminatory pursuit of Pax Americana. So pure of principle were these “dissidents,” in fact, that they began literally to supplant the police in protecting corporations profiting by the carnage against suffering such retaliatory “violence” as having their windows broken by persons less “enlightened” – or perhaps more outraged – than the self-anointed “peacekeepers.”

Property before people, it seems – or at least the equation of property to people – is a value by no means restricted to America’s boardrooms. And the sanctimony with which such putrid sentiments are enunciated turns out to be nauseatingly similar, whether mouthed by the CEO of Standard Oil or any of the swarm of comfort zone “pacifists” queuing up to condemn the black block after it ever so slightly disturbed the functioning of business-as-usual in Seattle.

Small wonder, all-in-all, that people elsewhere in the world – the Mideast, for instance – began to wonder where, exactly, aside from the streets of the US itself, one was to find the peace America’s purportedly oppositional peacekeepers claimed they were keeping.

The answer, surely, was plain enough to anyone unblinded by the kind of delusions engendered by sheer vanity and self-absorption. So, too, were the implications in terms of anything changing, out there, in America’s free-fire zones.

Tellingly, it was at precisely this point – with the genocide in Iraq officially admitted and a public response demonstrating beyond a shadow of a doubt that there were virtually no Americans, including most of those professing otherwise, doing anything tangible to stop it – that the combat teams which eventually commandeered the aircraft used on September 11 began to infiltrate the United States.

Meet the “Terrorists”

Of the men who came, there are a few things demanding to be said in the face of the unending torrent of disinformational drivel unleashed by George Junior and the corporate “news” media immediately following their successful operation on September 11.

They did not, for starters, “initiate” a war with the US, much less commit “the first acts of war of the new millennium.”

A good case could be made that the war in which they were combatants has been waged more-or-less continuously by the “Christian West” – now proudly emblematized by the United States – against the “Islamic East” since the time of the First Crusade, about 1,000 years ago. More recently, one could argue that the war began when Lyndon Johnson first lent significant support to Israel’s dispossession/displacement of Palestinians during the 1960s, or when George the Elder ordered “Desert Shield” in 1990, or at any of several points in between. Any way you slice it, however, if what the combat teams did to the WTC and the Pentagon can be understood as acts of war – and they can – then the same is true of every US “overflight’ of Iraqi territory since day one. The first acts of war during the current millennium thus occurred on its very first day, and were carried out by U.S. aviators acting under orders from their then-commander-in-chief, Bill Clinton. The most that can honestly be said of those involved on September 11 is that they finally responded in kind to some of what this country has dispensed to their people as a matter of course.

That they waited so long to do so is, notwithstanding the 1993 action at the WTC, more than anything a testament to their patience and restraint.

They did not license themselves to “target innocent civilians.”

There is simply no argument to be made that the Pentagon personnel killed on September 11 fill that bill. The building and those inside comprised military targets, pure and simple. As to those in the World Trade Center . . .

Well, really. Let’s get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America’s global financial empire – the “mighty engine of profit” to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved – and they did so both willingly and knowingly. Recourse to “ignorance” – a derivative, after all, of the word “ignore” – counts as less than an excuse among this relatively well-educated elite. To the extent that any of them were unaware of the costs and consequences to others of what they were involved in – and in many cases excelling at – it was because of their absolute refusal to see. More likely, it was because they were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I’d really be interested in hearing about it.

The men who flew the missions against the WTC and Pentagon were not “cowards.” That distinction properly belongs to the “firm-jawed lads” who delighted in flying stealth aircraft through the undefended airspace of Baghdad, dropping payload after payload of bombs on anyone unfortunate enough to be below – including tens of thousands of genuinely innocent civilians – while themselves incurring all the risk one might expect during a visit to the local video arcade. Still more, the word describes all those “fighting men and women” who sat at computer consoles aboard ships in the Persian Gulf, enjoying air-conditioned comfort while launching cruise missiles into neighborhoods filled with random human beings. Whatever else can be said of them, the men who struck on September 11 manifested the courage of their convictions, willingly expending their own lives in attaining their objectives.

Nor were they “fanatics” devoted to “Islamic fundamentalism.”

One might rightly describe their actions as “desperate.” Feelings of desperation, however, are a perfectly reasonable – one is tempted to say “normal” – emotional response among persons confronted by the mass murder of their children, particularly when it appears that nobody else really gives a damn (ask a Jewish survivor about this one, or, even more poignantly, for all the attention paid them, a Gypsy).

That desperate circumstances generate desperate responses is no mysterious or irrational principle, of the sort motivating fanatics. Less is it one peculiar to Islam. Indeed, even the FBI’s investigative reports on the combat teams’ activities during the months leading up to September 11 make it clear that the members were not fundamentalist Muslims. Rather, it’s pretty obvious at this point that they were secular activists – soldiers, really – who, while undoubtedly enjoying cordial relations with the clerics of their countries, were motivated far more by the grisly realities of the U.S. war against them than by a set of religious beliefs.

And still less were they/their acts “insane.”

Insanity is a condition readily associable with the very American idea that one – or one’s country – holds what amounts to a “divine right” to commit genocide, and thus to forever do so with impunity. The term might also be reasonably applied to anyone suffering genocide without attempting in some material way to bring the process to a halt. Sanity itself, in this frame of reference, might be defined by a willingness to try and destroy the perpetrators and/or the sources of their ability to commit their crimes. (Shall we now discuss the US “strategic bombing campaign” against Germany during World War II, and the mental health of those involved in it?)

Which takes us to official characterizations of the combat teams as an embodiment of “evil.”

Evil – for those inclined to embrace the banality of such a concept – was perfectly incarnated in that malignant toad known as Madeline Albright, squatting in her studio chair like Jaba the Hutt, blandly spewing the news that she’d imposed a collective death sentence upon the unoffending youth of Iraq. Evil was to be heard in that great American hero “Stormin’ Norman” Schwartzkopf’s utterly dehumanizing dismissal of their systematic torture and annihilation as mere “collateral damage.” Evil, moreover, is a term appropriate to describing the mentality of a public that finds such perspectives and the policies attending them acceptable, or even momentarily tolerable.

Had it not been for these evils, the counterattacks of September 11 would never have occurred. And unless “the world is rid of such evil,” to lift a line from George Junior, September 11 may well end up looking like a lark.

There is no reason, after all, to believe that the teams deployed in the assaults on the WTC and the Pentagon were the only such, that the others are composed of “Arabic-looking individuals” – America’s indiscriminately lethal arrogance and psychotic sense of self-entitlement have long since given the great majority of the world’s peoples ample cause to be at war with it – or that they are in any way dependent upon the seizure of civilian airliners to complete their missions.

To the contrary, there is every reason to expect that there are many other teams in place, tasked to employ altogether different tactics in executing operational plans at least as well-crafted as those evident on September 11, and very well equipped for their jobs. This is to say that, since the assaults on the WTC and Pentagon were act of war – not “terrorist incidents” – they must be understood as components in a much broader strategy designed to achieve specific results. From this, it can only be adduced that there are plenty of other components ready to go, and that they will be used, should this become necessary in the eyes of the strategists. It also seems a safe bet that each component is calibrated to inflict damage at a level incrementally higher than the one before (during the 1960s, the Johnson administration employed a similar policy against Vietnam, referred to as “escalation”).

Since implementation of the overall plan began with the WTC/Pentagon assaults, it takes no rocket scientist to decipher what is likely to happen next, should the U.S. attempt a response of the inexcusable variety to which it has long entitled itself.

About Those Boys (and Girls) in the Bureau

There’s another matter begging for comment at this point. The idea that the FBI’s “counterterrorism task forces” can do a thing to prevent what will happen is yet another dimension of America’s delusional pathology.. The fact is that, for all its publicly-financed “image-building” exercises, the Bureau has never shown the least aptitude for anything of the sort.

Oh, yeah, FBI counterintelligence personnel have proven quite adept at framing anarchists, communists and Black Panthers, sometimes murdering them in their beds or the electric chair. The Bureau’s SWAT units have displayed their ability to combat child abuse in Waco by burning babies alive, and its vaunted Crime Lab has been shown to pad its “crime-fighting’ statistics by fabricating evidence against many an alleged car thief. But actual “heavy-duty bad guys” of the sort at issue now? This isn’t a Bruce Willis/Chuck Norris/Sly Stallone movie, after all.. And J. Edgar Hoover doesn’t get to approve either the script or the casting.

The number of spies, saboteurs and bona fide terrorists apprehended, or even detected by the FBI in the course of its long and slimy history could be counted on one’s fingers and toes. On occasion, its agents have even turned out to be the spies, and, in many instances, the terrorists as well.

To be fair once again, if the Bureau functions as at best a carnival of clowns where its “domestic security responsibilities” are concerned, this is because – regardless of official hype – it has none. It is now, as it’s always been, the national political police force, an instrument created and perfected to ensure that all Americans, not just the consenting mass, are “free” to do exactly as they’re told.

The FBI and “cooperating agencies” can be thus relied upon to set about “protecting freedom” by destroying whatever rights and liberties were left to U.S. citizens before September 11 (in fact, they’ve already received authorization to begin). Sheeplike, the great majority of Americans can also be counted upon to bleat their approval, at least in the short run, believing as they always do that the nasty implications of what they’re doing will pertain only to others.

Oh Yeah, and “The Company,” Too

A possibly even sicker joke is the notion, suddenly in vogue, that the CIA will be able to pinpoint “terrorist threats,” “rooting out their infrastructure” where it exists and/or “terminating” it before it can materialize, if only it’s allowed to beef up its “human intelligence gathering capacity” in an unrestrained manner (including full-bore operations inside the US, of course).

Yeah. Right.

Since America has a collective attention-span of about 15 minutes, a little refresher seems in order: “The Company” had something like a quarter-million people serving as “intelligence assets” by feeding it information in Vietnam in 1968, and it couldn’t even predict the Tet Offensive. God knows how many spies it was fielding against the USSR at the height of Ronald Reagan’s version of the Cold War, and it was still caught flatfooted by the collapse of the Soviet Union. As to destroying “terrorist infrastructures,” one would do well to remember Operation Phoenix, another product of its open season in Vietnam. In that one, the CIA enlisted elite US units like the Navy Seals and Army Special Forces, as well as those of friendly countries – the south Vietnamese Rangers, for example, and Australian SAS – to run around “neutralizing” folks targeted by The Company’s legion of snitches as “guerrillas” (as those now known as “terrorists” were then called).

Sound familiar?

Upwards of 40,000 people – mostly bystanders, as it turns out – were murdered by Phoenix hit teams before the guerrillas, stronger than ever, ran the US and its collaborators out of their country altogether. And these are the guys who are gonna save the day, if unleashed to do their thing in North America?

The net impact of all this “counterterrorism” activity upon the combat teams’ ability to do what they came to do, of course, will be nil.

Instead, it’s likely to make it easier for them to operate (it’s worked that way in places like Northern Ireland). And, since denying Americans the luxury of reaping the benefits of genocide in comfort was self-evidently a key objective of the WTC/Pentagon assaults, it can be stated unequivocally that a more overt display of the police state mentality already pervading this country simply confirms the magnitude of their victory.

On Matters of Proportion and Intent

As things stand, including the 1993 detonation at the WTC, “Arab terrorists” have responded to the massive and sustained American terror bombing of Iraq with a total of four assaults by explosives inside the US. That’s about 1% of the 50,000 bombs the Pentagon announced were rained on Baghdad alone during the Gulf War (add in Oklahoma City and you’ll get something nearer an actual 1%).

They’ve managed in the process to kill about 5,000 Americans, or roughly 1% of the dead Iraqi children (the percentage is far smaller if you factor in the killing of adult Iraqi civilians, not to mention troops butchered as/after they’d surrendered and/or after the “war-ending” ceasefire had been announced).

In terms undoubtedly more meaningful to the property/profit-minded American mainstream, they’ve knocked down a half-dozen buildings – albeit some very well-chosen ones – as opposed to the “strategic devastation” visited upon the whole of Iraq, and punched a $100 billion hole in the earnings outlook of major corporate shareholders, as opposed to the U.S. obliteration of Iraq’s entire economy.

With that, they’ve given Americans a tiny dose of their own medicine.. This might be seen as merely a matter of “vengeance” or “retribution,” and, unquestionably, America has earned it, even if it were to add up only to something so ultimately petty.

The problem is that vengeance is usually framed in terms of “getting even,” a concept which is plainly inapplicable in this instance. As the above data indicate, it would require another 49,996 detonations killing 495,000 more Americans, for the “terrorists” to “break even” for the bombing of Baghdad/extermination of Iraqi children alone. And that’s to achieve “real number” parity. To attain an actual proportional parity of damage – the US is about 15 times as large as Iraq in terms of population, even more in terms of territory – they would, at a minimum, have to blow up about 300,000 more buildings and kill something on the order of 7.5 million people.

Were this the intent of those who’ve entered the US to wage war against it, it would remain no less true that America and Americans were only receiving the bill for what they’d already done. Payback, as they say, can be a real motherfucker (ask the Germans). There is, however, no reason to believe that retributive parity is necessarily an item on the agenda of those who planned the WTC/Pentagon operation. If it were, given the virtual certainty that they possessed the capacity to have inflicted far more damage than they did, there would be a lot more American bodies lying about right now.

Hence, it can be concluded that ravings carried by the “news” media since September 11 have contained at least one grain of truth: The peoples of the Mideast “aren’t like” Americans, not least because they don’t “value life’ in the same way. By this, it should be understood that Middle-Easterners, unlike Americans, have no history of exterminating others purely for profit, or on the basis of racial animus. Thus, we can appreciate the fact that they value life – all lives, not just their own – far more highly than do their U.S. counterparts.

The Makings of a Humanitarian Strategy

In sum one can discern a certain optimism – it might even be call humanitarianism – imbedded in the thinking of those who presided over the very limited actions conducted on September 11.

Their logic seems to have devolved upon the notion that the American people have condoned what has been/is being done in their name – indeed, are to a significant extent actively complicit in it – mainly because they have no idea what it feels like to be on the receiving end.

Now they do.

That was the “medicinal” aspect of the attacks.

To all appearances, the idea is now to give the tonic a little time to take effect, jolting Americans into the realization that the sort of pain they’re now experiencing first-hand is no different from – or the least bit more excruciating than – that which they’ve been so cavalier in causing others, and thus to respond appropriately.

More bluntly, the hope was – and maybe still is – that Americans, stripped of their presumed immunity from incurring any real consequences for their behavior, would comprehend and act upon a formulation as uncomplicated as “stop killing our kids, if you want your own to be safe.”

Either way, it’s a kind of “reality therapy” approach, designed to afford the American people a chance to finally “do the right thing” on their own, without further coaxing.

Were the opportunity acted upon in some reasonably good faith fashion – a sufficiently large number of Americans rising up and doing whatever is necessary to force an immediate lifting of the sanctions on Iraq, for instance, or maybe hanging a few of America’s abundant supply of major war criminals (Henry Kissinger comes quickly to mind, as do Madeline Albright, Colin Powell, Bill Clinton and George the Elder) – there is every reason to expect that military operations against the US on its domestic front would be immediately suspended.

Whether they would remain so would of course be contingent upon follow-up. By that, it may be assumed that American acceptance of onsite inspections by international observers to verify destruction of its weapons of mass destruction (as well as dismantlement of all facilities in which more might be manufactured), Nuremberg-style trials in which a few thousand US military/corporate personnel could be properly adjudicated and punished for their Crimes Against humanity, and payment of reparations to the array of nations/peoples whose assets the US has plundered over the years, would suffice.

Since they’ve shown no sign of being unreasonable or vindictive, it may even be anticipated that, after a suitable period of adjustment and reeducation (mainly to allow them to acquire the skills necessary to living within their means), those restored to control over their own destinies by the gallant sacrifices of the combat teams the WTC and Pentagon will eventually (re)admit Americans to the global circle of civilized societies. Stranger things have happened.

In the Alternative

Unfortunately, noble as they may have been, such humanitarian aspirations were always doomed to remain unfulfilled. For it to have been otherwise, a far higher quality of character and intellect would have to prevail among average Americans than is actually the case. Perhaps the strategists underestimated the impact a couple of generations-worth of media indoctrination can produce in terms of demolishing the capacity of human beings to form coherent thoughts. Maybe they forgot to factor in the mind-numbing effects of the indoctrination passed off as education in the US. Then, again, it’s entirely possible they were aware that a decisive majority of American adults have been reduced by this point to a level much closer to the kind of immediate self-gratification entailed in Pavlovian stimulus/response patterns than anything accessible by appeals to higher logic, and still felt morally obliged to offer the dolts an option to quit while they were ahead.

What the hell? It was worth a try.

But it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the dosage of medicine administered was entirely insufficient to accomplish its purpose.

Although there are undoubtedly exceptions, Americans for the most part still don’t get it.

Already, they’ve desecrated the temporary tomb of those killed in the WTC, staging a veritable pep rally atop the mangled remains of those they profess to honor, treating the whole affair as if it were some bizarre breed of contact sport. And, of course, there are the inevitable pom-poms shaped like American flags, the school colors worn as little red-white-and-blue ribbons affixed to labels, sportscasters in the form of “counterterrorism experts” drooling mindless color commentary during the pregame warm-up.

Refusing the realization that the world has suddenly shifted its axis, and that they are therefore no longer “in charge,” they have by-and-large reverted instantly to type, working themselves into their usual bloodlust on the now obsolete premise that the bloodletting will “naturally” occur elsewhere and to someone else.

“Patriotism,” a wise man once observed, “is the last refuge of scoundrels.”

And the braided, he might of added.

Braided Scoundrel-in-Chief, George Junior, lacking even the sense to be careful what he wished for, has teamed up with a gaggle of fundamentalist Christian clerics like Billy Graham to proclaim a “New Crusade” called “Infinite Justice” aimed at “ridding the world of evil.”

One could easily make light of such rhetoric, remarking upon how unseemly it is for a son to threaten his father in such fashion – or a president to so publicly contemplate the murder/suicide of himself and his cabinet – but the matter is deadly serious.

They are preparing once again to sally forth for the purpose of roasting brown-skinned children by the scores of thousands. Already, the B-1 bombers and the aircraft carriers and the missile frigates are en route, the airborne divisions are gearing up to go.

To where? Afghanistan?

The Sudan?

Iraq, again (or still)?

How about Grenada (that was fun)?

Any of them or all. It doesn’t matter.

The desire to pummel the helpless runs rabid as ever.

Only, this time it’s different.

The time the helpless aren’t, or at least are not so helpless as they were.

This time, somewhere, perhaps in an Afghani mountain cave, possibly in a Brooklyn basement, maybe another local altogether – but somewhere, all the same – there’s a grim-visaged (wo)man wearing a Clint Eastwood smile.

“Go ahead, punks,” s/he’s saying, “Make my day.”

And when they do, when they launch these airstrikes abroad – or may a little later; it will be at a time conforming to the “terrorists”‘ own schedule, and at a place of their choosing – the next more intensive dose of medicine administered here “at home.”

Of what will it consist this time? Anthrax? Mustard gas? Sarin? A tactical nuclear device?

That, too, is their choice to make.

Looking back, it will seem to future generations inexplicable why Americans were unable on their own, and in time to save themselves, to accept a rule of nature so basic that it could be mouthed by an actor, Lawrence Fishburn, in a movie, The Cotton Club.

“You’ve got to learn, ” the line went, “that when you push people around, some people push back.”

As they should.

As they must.

And as they undoubtedly will.

There is justice in such symmetry.


The preceding was a “first take” reading, more a stream-of-consciousness interpretive reaction to the September 11 counterattack than a finished piece on the topic. Hence, I’ll readily admit that I’ve been far less than thorough, and quite likely wrong about a number of things.

For instance, it may not have been (only) the ghosts of Iraqi children who made their appearance that day. It could as easily have been some or all of their butchered Palestinian cousins.

Or maybe it was some or all of the at least 3.2 million Indochinese who perished as a result of America’s sustained and genocidal assault on Southeast Asia (1959-1975), not to mention the millions more who’ve died because of the sanctions imposed thereafter.

Perhaps there were a few of the Korean civilians massacred by US troops at places like No Gun Ri during the early ‘50s, or the hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians ruthlessly incinerated in the ghastly fire raids of World War II (only at Dresden did America bomb Germany in a similar manner).

And, of course, it could have been those vaporized in the militarily pointless nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

There are others, as well, a vast and silent queue of faceless victims, stretching from the million-odd Filipinos slaughtered during America’s “Indian War” in their islands at the beginning of the twentieth century, through the real Indians, America’s own, massacred wholesale at places like Horseshoe Bend and the Bad Axe, Sand Creek and Wounded Knee, the Washita, Bear River, and the Marias.

Was it those who expired along the Cherokee Trial of Tears of the Long Walk of the Navajo?

Those murdered by smallpox at Fort Clark in 1836?

Starved to death in the concentration camp at Bosque Redondo during the 1860s?

Maybe those native people claimed for scalp bounty in all 48 of the continental US states? Or the Raritans whose severed heads were kicked for sport along the streets of what was then called New Amsterdam, at the very site where the WTC once stood?

One hears, too, the whispers of those lost on the Middle Passage, and of those whose very flesh was sold in the slave market outside the human kennel from whence Wall Street takes its name. And of coolie laborers, imported by the gross-dozen to lay the tracks of empire across scorching desert sands, none of them allotted “a Chinaman’s chance” of surviving.

The list is too long, too awful to go on.

No matter what its eventual fate, America will have gotten off very, very cheap.

The full measure of its guilt can never be fully balanced or atoned for.

Kizhiibaabinesik A bright star, burning briefly


From the biographical preface to In My Own Voice: Explorations in the Sociopolitical Context of Art & Cinema
by Leah Renae Kelly

Copyright 2001 Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2-91 Albert St., Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3B 1G5
phone: 204.942.7058

Published: Dark Night field notes #17

Let it be said, first of all, that I don’t write on personal themes. It is not a form to which I’m accustomed, to which I’ve aspired, with which I’ve ever been the least comfortable. This is all the more true in the present instance, devolving as it does on the destruction and death of my wife, my chosen one, the person who in her very presence afforded me a sense of direction, fulfillment and completeness I’d neither known nor believed possible. In her absence, I will never know it again.

Whatever the scale of my anguish, its real measure can never be found within me. What was lost was, after all, vastly more decisive for her than me, no matter how tightly I was and will always remain bound to her. In ways both tangible and not, moreover, hers is a loss shared by everyone, without exception, irrespective of whether they know or are willing to admit it. Anything I might have to offer will come only in an effort to explain, however clumsily and imperfectly, why this is so.

Leah Renae Kelly was not simply an “inebriated pedestrian killed by [a] car,” as the local newspaper so casually remarked on the date she died. There were reasons why that young, beautiful, incredibly promising and catastrophically drunk Ojibwe woman was running barefoot down the middle of the road that night. Whether she thought she was running away from something, towards something else, or whether she was capable of thinking anything at all in that moment are things beyond my power of knowing. In a larger sense, however, I do know why she was drunk, why she was a drunk and therefore why things ended for her as they did. From there, I cannot avoid the meaning of it all. Leah’s is the quintessential story of contemporary North America. It is thus ours, each of us, to the extent that we live on this continent. From this, squirm as one might, there is, can be no escape.

The essential elements of Leah’s story emerge from the realities of her identity as an American Indian and, consequently, the nature of her life and sense of self. Inevitably, these take shape only within the framework of such considerations for Native North Americans more generally. And with equal certainty, this cannot be understood apart from the structural relationship presently existing between the continent’s immigrant (settler) society and the peoples indigenous to what many of us call Turtle Island. It follows that an honest accounting must be made of the flows of impact and benefit involved, as well as an unequivocal repudiation of the elaborate veils of evasion and denial behind which such unpleasantness is habitually concealed.

What Leah desired most – aside, perhaps, from the fleeting moments of happiness we spent together – was to “be somebody,” to “count for something” beyond the immediacy of herself. This she told me often, and with a yearning that quite literally broke my heart. No matter that she was in fact somebody, somebody very special, and that to me she counted for absolutely everything. I knew what she meant and why she meant it that way. To the extent that her suffering can now serve to illustrate and reveal the grinding horror that destroyed her, she will have in some way succeeded in her desire, claiming the dignity she was due all along from the very indignity forced upon her at the instant of her birth.

Nobody Loves a Drunken Indian

It should surprise no one that Leah might have ended her days an alcoholic. Liquor and other intoxicants, after all, replaced Gatling guns and smallpox as the greatest killers of native people during the twentieth century.1 Long before the dawn of the new millennium, upwards of half the continent’s indigenous people were known to be suffering or recovering from the effects of acute alcoholism, while on some Canadian reserves – Alkali Lake, Grassy Narrows, Cross Lake, Norway House and others – the tally included every adult.2 Children, too, are afflicted, although their chosen substances run more towards gasoline, spray paint and nail polish remover. Seventy percent of the youngsters in northern Manitoba were found to be addicted to such toxics by the mid-1980s. In some villages, it had become necessary to post guards outside implement buildings to prevent nine-year-olds from breaking in and sniffing gas or solvents, deliberately and permanently blotting out their consciousness through the resulting brain damage or death.3

The toll is everywhere apparent, evidenced not only along the skid rows of most North American cities, but in the disintegration of indigenous family structures and communities, sometimes whole societies.4 Alcohol-related patterns of domestic violence, spousal abandonment and child neglect or abuse, unheard of in traditional settings, have become endemic facts of contemporary native life.5 Deaths from accidents and exposure, the great majority involving inebriation, reached catastrophic levels decades since.6 So, too, deaths resulting from cirrhosis and other degenerative illnesses associated with chronic alcoholism.7 Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), a condition permanently impairing the offspring of alcoholic mothers, embodies yet another crisis for native people.8

Physical debilitation accruing from chronic alcoholism also figures prominently in the abysmal picture painted by American Indian health data overall.9 American Indians die from readily-survivable maladies like flu and pneumonia at a rate three times the norm in both Canada and the US.10 Nutrition related illnesses, often associated with binge drinking, abound. Diabetes is “almost a plague,” afflicting upwards of half of native adults.11 Death from tuberculosis occurs among Indians at a rate four times that of the general population.12 Hepatitis, eight times. Strep infections, ten times. Infant mortality, up to fourteen times. Meningitis, twenty times. Dysentery, a hundred times.13 Rounding out the picture, “the suicide rate for Indian youths ranges from 1,000 to 10,000 [percent] higher than for non-Indian youths.”14

The bottom line is that reservation-based aboriginal men experienced a life-expectancy of less than 45 years, our female counterparts only three years longer in 1990. This, in the world’s most advanced industrial countries, where “mainstream” women outstrip the 71.8 year average lifespans of males by nearly a decade.15 Viewed from this standpoint, it can be asserted with an undeniable degree of accuracy that every time an Indian dies on a reservation, one-third of a lifetime has been lost. And, since the pattern is intergenerational, having lasted now for more than a century, the observation can be inverted with equal precision: each baby born on a reserve represents a third of a lifetime that will remain unlived. Nor for their part, do urbanized natives fare appreciably better.16

So ubiquitous are the effects of alcohol among native people that a whole mythology of “drunken Indians” has been contrived by the interloping Euroderivative settler society.17 The centerpiece of this complex of fables, promoted by everyone from the “scientific community” to pseudoreligious “self-help groups” like Alcoholics Anonymous, and internalized as an article of faith by many native people, is the claim that aboriginals are “congenitally predisposed” to suffer the “disease” of alcoholism. 18 No one bothers to explain why, if this were so, we suffer it at rates virtually identical to those evident among the Irish, say, or the Scotch Irish “hillbillies” of Appalachia, inner city blacks and the poorer sectors of the Angloamerican mainstream itself.19 All told, there are some twenty million alcoholics in the US, only a half-million of them native; a similar proportionality prevails in Canada.20

In truth, there’s never been a shred of credible evidence to support claims that alcoholism is either “hereditary” or in any physiological sense a “disease.”21 On the contrary, there is every indication that such addictions are “normal” concomitants of poverty and feelings of powerlessness, irrespective of the racial/cultural pedigree of those afflicted.22 Frantz Fanon, Albert Memmi and others have further demonstrated that self-destructive pathologies like alcoholism correlate to conditions of colonial domination.23 Such conclusions are validated by the fact that while “drunken Indians” and “drunken Irish” share virtually nothing in terms of peculiarities in our DNA, we have everything in common when it comes to experiencing the ravages of centuries-long colonization.

For Indians, this translates into dispossession of some 98 percent of our lands, the balance and the astonishing abundance of resources with which it is endowed – administered in a unilaterally imposed and permanent “trust status” by Canada and the US.24 Exercise of this self-assigned “plenary power” has enabled the settler governments to siphon the residual assets of native peoples into their own economies – paying less than a dime on the dollar of market royalty rates for minerals extracted, to offer but one example – while leaving native peoples increasingly destitute.25 The upshot is that Indians, still in nominal possession of the largest per capita landholdings of any sector of the North American population and thus potentially the wealthiest of all groups on an individual basis, experience the practical reality of being far and away the poorest.26

As the remnants of traditional subsistence economies have been ever more thoroughly undermined, the very survival of native people has been rendered increasingly dependent upon our ability to participate in the settlers’ wage/cash system. Yet so complete has our marginalization been in this respect that our overall unemployment rate has hovered in the mid-sixtieth percentile for the past half century. On some reservations, more than ninety percent of the workforce has remained jobless during the same period.27 Per capita annual income in many communities barely exceeds $2,000 US, while it has been officially estimated that in places, over 85 percent of the housing units are unfit for human habitation.28 On balance,it is fair to say that the situation shows no sign of improvement. Indeed, there are indicators that it may actually be worsening.29

In and of themselves, such conditions contribute substantially to the grim health and longevity statistics recited above. More to the point, they combine to create among those perpetually burdened with them a sense of such utter disempowerment, despair and hopelessness as to make the oblivion of chronic intoxication seem an attractive alternative to conscious awareness of one’s circumstances. That the compulsion to opt for such figurative self-nullification, and/or the literal variety attainable through outright suicide, has by now become pronounced among aboriginal gradeschoolers bespeaks as little else can the depth of the misery the settler society has imposed upon native people.30

Others have evidenced strikingly similar patterns of response. German Jews, for example, when subjected to a harsh régime of discrimination, dispossession and disemployment by the nazis during the 1930s, shortly came to evidence a suicide rate some three times that of the German public as a whole. During the early 1940s, as they were being relocated to Poland and concentrated there in reservations and urban ghettos – they were not yet aware of being slated for outright extermination – the Jewish suicide rate rose to a level approximately fifty times higher than that of non-Jews.31 The response of the Sinti and Romani or Gypsies to nazi persecution was much the same, if somewhat less pronounced.32 For that matter, the suicide rate among Germans rose steeply during the first years of occupation following their defeat in World War II.33

It follows that, were the North American settler population subjected to circumstances comparable to those imposed upon native people, it would soon come to exhibit many of the same “negative group characteristics” as do Indians (or Jews, Gypsies, Irish and inner city blacks). Just as clearly, holding Indians in a state of perpetual subordination/destitution is a prerequisite to maintaining the relatively lavish level of comfort enjoyed by the settlers, collectively announced as their own entitlement. The implications of this cause/effect relationship are ready-made to instill a sense of guilt among beneficiaries, the settlers – those so prideful of their self-proclaimed “humanitarian enlightenment.” Since guilty feelings are at best an uncomfortable sensation, the implications – or the nature of the relationship itself must be denied.

Better still that the victims themselves should be “held accountable” – that is, blamed – for the very fact of their victimization.34 Vacuous assertions that American Indians are “innately endowed” with a “congenital predisposition” to alcoholism or suicide serve this purpose quite nicely, as do oft expressed “concerns” that there may be some mysterious set of “factors” at work in native cultures producing much the same effect.35 Thus handily self-absolved of responsibility for what the system underpinning their privilege has wrought, the settler beneficiaries free themselves to enjoy its fruits absent the least discomfiting pangs of conscience.36 Indeed, they position themselves thereby to adopt a lofty air of “moral superiority” vis-a-vis those whose relentless agony pays the tab.37 The mentality at issue is not dissimilar from that of the twisted little boys known to delight in torturing cats, its effect in exacerbating the pain of the victims self-evident.

“To Educate the Indian Out of Them”

If all this were not enough, still worse will be found in the legacy of a comprehensive system of residential “Indian Schools” established during the early 1880s and maintained for a century thereafter. A linchpin of “assimilationist” policies through which the US and Canada alike sought to eradicate the last traces of indigenous culture in North America, the schools were meant to serve, in the words of US Indian Commissioner Francis E. Leupp, as “a great pulverizing engine for breaking down the tribal mass.”38 Leupp’s northerly counterpart, Duncan Campbell Scott, was clearer and more blunt, observing that the “objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada” culturally identifiable as such.39

Such sentiments permeated the settler society. The goal of residential schooling, as articulated by the editors of the Calgary Herald in 1892, was nothing less than to “wipe out the whole Indian establishment.”40 At about the same time, US Superintendent of Indian Schools Richard Henry Pratt – an army captain whose main qualification for the job seems to have been that he’d earlier presided over a military prison in Florida to which Geronimo and other “recalcitrant” native adults were sent to be broken – explained to wide applause that his object was to “kill the Indian, spare the man” in every pupil.41 In Canada, the formulation was to “educate the Indian out of each student.”42 Statements of this sort were legion, and made right into the 1980s.”43

The techniques employed in such endeavors were as brutal as they were straightforward. Aboriginal children as young as five were “caught” by government agents and forcibly removed to facilities “located away from reserves so that parental influence would be reduced to a minimum.”44 Thus isolated from all that was familiar, the youngsters were shorn of their hair, outfitted in “proper” Euroamerican/ Eurocanadian attire, their personal effects impounded or destroyed. Thereafter, they were subject to military/penal style regimentation.”45 Crowded into barracks-like living quarters where disease often ran rampant, they were fed on about one-third the officially estimated minimum cost of providing adequate nutrition to children their age.46

Severe corporal punishment – whippings, solitary confinement, restriction to bread and water rations – was routinely employed to prevent students speaking their own languages, practicing or in many cases even knowing about their spiritual traditions or anything else associated with the autochthonous functioning of their cultures.47 Not infrequently, this harsh “discipline” was transmuted into outright torture, as when children were chained to walls or posts for days, sometimes weeks on end, burned or scalded, had needles run through their tongues, were forced to eat their own vomit, subjected to electrical shocks and/or denied medical attention.48 Sadism was often conjoined by the sexual predations of staff members, a pattern of abuse now proven to have been pervasive in many institutions (and covered up by responsible officials).49 Under such conditions, death rates among students were extraordinarily high.50

Those who survived were held for an average of ten years, living in a state of perpetual anxiety – or abject terror – as they were systematically “deculturated” through a process elsewhere described as “education for extinction.”51 In actuality, the entire procedure in many ways resembled the hideous “depatterning” techniques developed for the CIA by McGill University psychiatrist Ewen Cameron during the agency’s notorious MK-ULTRA Project of the early 1960s.52 More appropriate still, given Captain Pratt’s seminal role, it might be seen as prefiguring the methods currently employed in supermax penal units to force ideological conversion upon politicized inmates, or failing that, to reduce them to “psychological jelly.”53

The form of conversion demanded of residential school students is not especially mysterious. Operating under government authority, the schools were administered mainly by the Anglican, Catholic and other Christian churches.54 It follows that, as their own spiritual beliefs were expunged, students were subjected to intensive indoctrination in “the true faith,” spending about twice the time each day undergoing religious training as they did receiving academic instruction.55 As recently as 1993, the Anglicans were still prepared to defend this “civilizing mission” in terms of the unabashed white supremacism it entailed.

Canada … must increasingly become … a country of white men rooted and grounded in those fundamental scriptural conceptions of the individual, of society [and] of the state … as the same have been conceived and found expression through the struggles and conquests of the several peoples of British blood and tradition. The church felt it had a Christian responsibility to assist the Aboriginal people in this transition. Assimilation, like medicine, might be intrusive and unpleasant, might even hurt a great deal, but in the long run it was for the people’s own good…56

In other words, the idea was to infect students at the most primal level with a perception of Indians corresponding to the emphatically negative views embraced by their colonizers.57 Thus conditioned to see themselves and their heritage as consigned by god to a state of “natural inferiority” – if not as things “evil” or “satanic” – students suffered profound and permanent psychological/emotional damage. 58 Probably without exception, they left the residential schools with a deformed self-concept, their senses of self-esteem and confidence severely undermined. In the majority of cases, active self-loathing appears to be at issue.59

Meanwhile, in a rather close parallel to what the nazis planned for a residue of Slavs after conquering eastern Europe, initiatives were undertaken to “fit [students] into the lower echelons of the new economic order” in North America.60 To this end, many residential facilities were configured as “industrial schools” providing “vocational training to prepare their pupils to fill certain limited occupations.”61 In practice, this meant the children typically worked more hours per day than they spent in the classroom, the bulk of their wages impounded to offset the “expense of their education.”62 Thereby reduced to de facto slave status, it was drummed into them, year after year, that their “place” would be forever to toil as manual laborers and domestics serving the needs of their racial “betters” at discount rates.63

In the end, of course, the racial biases of the settlers were such that there were precious few jobs for graduates, even of these demeaning varieties. Thus “disemployed,” they were mostly forced into a posture of seemingly immutable material dependency upon those who most despised them. What the residential schools in effect produced were successive generations of increasingly desperate and dysfunctional human beings, incapable of valuing themselves as Indians and neither assimilated nor assimilable into the dominant society which had rendered them thus. Given the sheer impossibility of their situation, the self-negating pathologies evidenced by residential school graduates are, or should have been, perfectly predictable.64

Although it was originally intended that every aboriginal child between the ages of five and fifteen would be processed through the schools, attendance ultimately peaked at somewhere around half the youngsters in successive generations.65 The correlation between this proportion of the indigenous population and the percentage now suffering alcoholism is obvious. One suspects that were a list of native alcoholics compared to a list of those who endured the residential schools – along with their sons and daughters – a well-nigh perfect match would result.

Worlds of Pain

While the diagnosis has been rather scrupulously avoided by psychoanalysts and therapeutic practitioners over the years, the core of the devastation inflicted upon those incarcerated in the residential schools was a magnitude of psychological trauma most commonly associated with men suffering the aftereffects of heavy combat.66 “Emotional numbing,” “incomplete mourning” and a range of other symptoms of acute trauma afflicting survivors of the nazi genocide, the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings and comparable phenomena are equally apparent.67 So too, a confluence with the pathologies typically exhibited by hostages, rape victims, and the victims of political repression/state terrorism.68

The early age at which residential school victims typically incurred their traumas has also tended to amplify the impacts to a greater extent than those evident among the mostly adult counterpart groups noted above. In this sense, the pattern of ensuing pathologies more nearly resembles that displayed by victims of severe child abuse.69 This is especially true with respect to children suffering not a single traumatic incident (or cluster of incidents), but upon whom abuse has been visited in a chronic and protracted fashion.70 Thus layered and reinforced over a period of years, the result is not so much the classic “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD), with which so many combat veterans and rape victims are afflicted, as it is a sort of “Complex PTSD” recently described by Harvard Psychiatry Professor Judith Herman.71

Even Herman’s is an inadequate characterization of the “Residential School Syndrome” (RSS), however.72 For a condition to be accurately depicted as “post-traumatic,” it is of course necessary that the circumstance(s) generating the trauma first be eliminated. A rape victim, for example, is not experiencing “post-traumatic stress,” no matter how “complex,” while the rape is occurring. S/he is instead undergoing the trauma itself. By the same token, there can be no reasonable expectation that a child might be “cured” of the psychological ravages of abuse before s/he is removed from the abusive setting, or a Gypsy victim of the nazi genocide during his/her confinement in Neuengamme or Auschwitz.

Effective therapeutic strategies for those suffering trauma-induced pathologies, moreover, invariably devolve upon some form of generalized and tangible withdrawal of social sanction from those who perpetrated the trauma-inducing acts or processes.73 “Regular” rapists, child abusers and mass murderers are all viewed as criminals in a socially normative sense. They are not celebrated by the great majority of people in North America, nor are apologetics usually offered in their behalf asserting that however “misguided” they may have been in what they did, they acted on the basis of “the best of intentions.”74 Still less are their victims subjected to a broad and continuous bombardment of public scorn, ridicule and trivialization.

Where a supportive environment exists, “healing” the effects of severe trauma is extraordinarily difficult.75 Where it does not, as is to a noticeable extent the case with Vietnam combat veterans and much more so with the victims of political repression, it is largely impossible. Vietnam vets continued to suffer disproportionately high rates of alcoholism, drug usage, incarceration and suicide until those who’d borne the brunt of ground combat were largely and quite prematurely dead.76 Although far less research has been done with respect to those suffering the aftershocks of state terrorism, there are indications that they manifest the same pattern in a still more pronounced form.77

For survivors of the residential schools, none of the criteria requisite to psychological “recovery” apply. Although the facilities themselves have by-and-large been phased out, the material incentives prompting the settler society to establish them in the first place – that is, the comprehensive dispossession/disempowerment of native people – were fulfilled long since. The results remain very much in effect and are treated as a “natural entitlement” by the perpetrator population. Other than those judicially proven to have engaged in specific acts of sexual predation, even the persons most directly involved – those who worked in and presided over the schools – are not normatively viewed as criminals.78 Indeed, while the Canadian government has lately offered a tepid “expression of regret” for a carefully-limited range of “negative impacts,” it has formally declined to so much as apologize for the criminality inherent to the residential school system as a whole.”79 The US has yet to rise even to this token level of acknowledgement.80

Meanwhile, the iconography of settler triumphalism is everywhere and always apparent, from annual celebrations of “Thanksgiving” and “Columbus Day” to the enshrinement of patently genocidal personages like Andrew Jackson and Theodore Roosevelt on national currencies, from the exalted statuary littering public spaces to the names bestowed upon the places themselves. And then, to be sure, there is the haughty supremacist aura with which the settlers have imbued their culture – and by extension themselves – in the canons of their literature, their cinema and the academic (mis)representations that continue to be imposed upon native youth with more force and sophistication today than ever before.81

The flip side of the triumphalist coin concerns a proliferate iconography of degradation and outright dehumanization where aboriginal people are concerned. This will be found in the same literary and academic texts through which the settler society lends a false burnish to the contrivances of its own image in the 2,000-odd westerns released by Hollywood over the past century, in some 10,000 television segments produced between 1950 and 1990, in “Tumbleweeds” cartoons and product names like Jeep “Cherokee” and “Winnebago” recreational vehicles, in sports team names and mascots like those of the Washington “Redskins,” Cleveland “Indians,” Atlanta “Braves,” University of Illinois “Fighting Illini” and Florida State University “Seminoles,” in the wooden Indian caricatures adorning tobacco shops across the continent, and in the more than 1,000 North American place names presently featuring the word “squaw.”82

In effect, the consciousness of residential school survivors continues to be inundated with the “lessons” imparted in those institutions, every waking moment of their lives (and perhaps in their dreams as well). The primal source of their psychic wounding thus remains hyperactive at all times, ripping away emotional scabs before they’ve had the least opportunity to form. Exacerbating the victims’ situation still further is a grotesque and increasingly aggressive posture of denial on the part of the settlers that anything is being done to them at all.83 While some survivors have obviously found means of coping with these circumstances, theirs remains – how could it be otherwise? – an unremitting world of pain.84

By Any Other Name

My use of terms like “criminal” to describe the actions and attitudes of the settler society is neither rhetorical nor a mere “matter of personal conjecture or opinion.” A rather vast range of black letter law has been systematically violated, and in most cases continues to be violated, in the course of creating the situation sketched out in preceding sections.85 Not least is the 1948 Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, an element of international customary law making it a crime against humanity to undertake any policy intended “to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such” Indians, of course, fit all four classifications.86

Among the categories of policy/action specifically delineated as genocidal in the convention’s second article are those “causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group… deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”87 Unmistakably, the conditions imposed upon native people in both Canada and the US fall well within the parameters of these criteria, so much so that they tend to validate Jean-Paul Sartre’s “controversial” observation, made on entirely functionalist grounds, that “colonialism equals genocide.”88

Under the convention’s third article, it is made clear that, aside from direct involvement in the perpetration of the crime, one is guilty of genocide if one participates in planning or conspiring to commit it, inciting it or is otherwise complicit in the process.89 This last has been construed to mean simply ignoring or acquiescing in others’ commission of the crime. In effect, where genocide is concerned, virtually every member of a perpetrator society not actively engaged in opposing it is, by definition, legally guilty of it. Obfuscation and denial are thus to be seen as part and parcel of the crime itself.90

The complaint is usually heard at this juncture, always from those benefiting quite tangibly from the ongoing genocide of American Indians, and in the aggrieved tone invariably adopted by all such offenders, that such framing of legal obligation is “unreasonable.” That the opposite holds true is also a matter of black letter law. As the matter was put by US Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson during the trial of the nazi leadership at Nuremberg in 1945, responsibility for ensuring that its government adheres to the rule of law resides first, foremost, and by all available means in the citizenry of each country.91 Default upon this responsibility by any citizen is a matter of legal culpability. There can be nothing “apolitical,” no “bystanders” or “innocents” among beneficiaries of the “incomparable crime.”92 It follows that North America’s “Good Settlers” are no less guilty than were the “Good Germans” of the Third Reich.93

This is The Law to which all parties endorsing or participating in the Nuremberg proceedings bound themselves and their constituents. As Justice Jackson put it, “We are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we are not willing to have invoked against us.”94 His assertion was then enshrined in the 1946 “Affirmation of the Principles of International Law Recognized by the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal,” a covenant to which both Canada and the US are signatories.95 Further, neither the Nuremberg Doctrine nor customary law more generally affords either country a legitimate recourse but to comply with the principles, whether or not they’ve formally subscribed to or even agree with them.”96

Officially – and this speaks volumes to the extent of their mutual awareness that they are in violation of it – both governments have done their utmost to mask the implications of The Law. For its part, having taken the lead in formulating the noble principles espoused at Nuremberg, the US has adopted the naziesque posture of refusing the jurisdiction of any international judicial body.97 Similarly, having been instrumental in shaping the content of the Genocide Convention, it declined to ratify it for forty years, purporting to do so in 1988 only after attaching a “sovereignty package” through which it claims a unique “right” to exempt itself from compliance whenever it finds an interest in doing so.98 A list of international human rights laws the US has treated in similar fashion over the past half-century would be exceedingly long.99

Canada’s path to the same end has been more slippery. Although it claims to have ratified the Genocide Convention in 1952, it did so in a tellingly circumscribed fashion. After much discussion, the parliament simply deleted from the statute defining the crime in Canadian jurisprudence those criteria – causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of a target group, and the forced transfer of their children – describing the policies in which Canada was most clearly engaged with respect to native peoples.100 In 1985, the statute was further “revised” to remove yet another criterion (imposing measures intended to prevent births within a target group).101 Where the 1948 Convention lists five discrete categories of genocidal policy, the Canadian legal code now acknowledges but two.

In 1998, an Ontario judge, James McPherson, went still further, disregarding black letter law and expert witnesses alike to rule that abridged dictionary definitions would henceforth be considered binding in Canadian courts.” This juridical absurdity, which has prompted no correction from the country’s higher tribunals, had the effect of constraining Canada’s “legal understanding” of genocide to a single criterion: engagement in nazi-style mass extermination programs. Absent incontrovertible evidence that such actions are being undertaken as a matter of state policy, the judge opined that allegations of genocide constitute “an enormous injustice … bordering on the grotesque … cavalier and grossly unfair” to perpetrators.”102 He concluded with a gag order seeking to constrain anyone, especially the victims of Canada’s most genocidal policies, from saying otherwise.103

This, in a country where public denial of “the” Holocaust – by which is meant the fate of the Jews at the hands of the nazis, and exclusively so – has long been a criminal offense.”104 The significance of the disparity is by no means lost upon native people, residential school survivors perhaps most of all. McPherson’s performance, emblematic as it is of the overall settler sensibility, was precisely what one might have expected of a nazi jurist/intellectual a couple of generations after a German victory in World War II. Therein lies the distinction separating the nazis from North America’s settler élite: the former, unlike “the Nordics of North America” they consciously emulated, were losers in their drive to assert dominion on a continental scale. The mentality involved is neither more nor less genocidal, win or lose.105 And genocide denied or by any other name remains genocide. 106

Down Through Generations

Even had the full range of genocidal policies reflected in the residential schools been terminated when the schools themselves were phased out, and the mentality of the perpetrating society magically transformed into a complete opposite of itself, it would be unreasonable to expect that everything might suddenly have become “okay” for the victims or those in close proximity to them. While trauma is no more hereditary or a disease than its “symptoms,” alcoholism and suicide included, its effects are often extremely longlasting.107 It is also not especially uncommon for traumatic wounding to work along the lines of a time-delayed bomb, its effects reappearing, often quite suddenly, after extended periods of apparent dormancy.”108 Such characteristics mark the malady even in cases where trauma has been induced by natural disaster rather than the malevolence of human agency.”109

Given the nature of its effects, as well as their duration and sometime recurrence, they can be transmitted in an almost epidemiological fashion. This is to say that, unaddressed “trauma begets trauma.” People suffering complex traumatic stress are apt – and in some circumstances all but guaranteed – to traumatize others, especially those closest to and most dependent on them. In this sense, the spouses, and more particularly the children, of trauma victims are those most vulnerable to being traumatized by them. There is no reason to expect this to be less true among residential school survivors than among other victim groups: survivors of the nazi genocide, for instance, or former POWs and combat veterans.110 Quite the contrary, given the sources of ongoing wounding described above, it might be reasonably anticipated that it would be more so.

Such suspicions have been amply confirmed in a number of recent studies, the findings of which were partially – and rather politely – summarized in a 1992 report by the Health Commission of Canada’s Assembly of First Nations.111

The survivors of the Indian residential school system have … continued to have their lives shaped by their experiences in those schools. Persons who attended the schools continue to struggle with their identity after years of being taught to hate themselves and their culture. The residential school led to a disruption in the transference of parenting skills from one generation to the next. Without these skills, many survivors have difficulty in raising their own children. In residential schools, they learned that adults often exert power and control through abuse. The lessons learned in childhood are often repeated in adulthood with the result that many survivors of the residential school system often inflict abuse on their own children. These [victims] in turn use the same tools on their children.112

Much more is involved than nontransference of appropriate parenting skills, or the transference of inappropriate ones, of course. Even where residential school survivors both understand the requirements of good parenting and genuinely desire to be good parents – and this in all probability encompasses most cases – the dysfunctions with which they’ve been saddled by their trauma are likely to render them incapable of following through. The question is exactly how people burdened with a symptomology including somatism, dissociation, depression, fragmented personality structure, intense anxiety, hypersensitivity to slights (“paranoia”), inability to form stable or sustainable emotional bonds, panic attacks, nightmares and chronic insomnia, as well as a high degree of irritability may be expected to comport themselves as good parents irrespective of what they know or don’t know about the techniques of proper parenting.113

Add to their incapacity to meet the emotional needs of their children – or spouses – a systemically imposed inability to meet their material responsibilities faced by the preponderance of residential school survivors, and you’ve a perfect recipe for disaster. Ever deepening feelings of personal inadequacy, guilt, frustration and ultimately uncontrollable rage blend with the already volatile stew simmering in the survivor psyche.114 Unsurprisingly, especially but by no means exclusively among men, sometimes quickly, sometimes over a longer period, the process culminates in an explosion, a blind lashing out at whoever is unfortunate enough to be at hand.115 Assuming the victims are family members, which is most frequently the case, an even greater sense of guilt and unworthiness ensues. At this point, if not before, attempts at self-nullification via alcohol, other substances, or suicide typically set in, most often in conjunction with an escalating rate of externalized violence.116

For children caught up in this hideous cycle, the impact is in many ways far greater than that of the residential schools upon their parents. In the schools, those by whom youngsters were victimized could at least be seen as alien “others.” Such buffers are obviously removed when the victimizer is one’s own father, mother or both. Also, within the family setting, the pattern of abuse may well commence at an even earlier age than in the schools, sometimes at birth.117 Even in the relatively rare instances where domestic violence is not present, but where one or both parents are serious alcoholics, the depth of the traumatic effects upon children are very well-documented.118

The abused child’s existential task is … formidable. Though she perceives herself as abandoned to a power without mercy, she must find a way to preserve hope and meaning. The alternative is utter despair, something no child can bear. To preserve her faith in her parents, she must reject the first and most obvious conclusion that something is terribly wrong with them. She will go to all lengths to construct an explanation for her fate that absolves her parents of all blame and responsibility.119

In simplest terms, such “adaptations serve the fundamental purpose of preserving her primary attachment to her parents in the face of daily evidence of their malice, helplessness or indifference… Unable to alter the unbearable reality in fact, the child alters it in her mind.”120

When it is impossible to avoid the reality of the abuse, the child must construct some system of meaning that justifies it. Inevitably the child concludes that her innate badness is the cause. The child seizes upon this explanation early and clings to it tenaciously, for it enables her to preserve a sense of meaning, hope, and power. If she is bad, then her parents are good. If somehow she has brought this fate upon herself, then somehow she has the power to change it. If she has driven her parents to mistreat her, then if only she tries hard enough, she may someday earn their forgiveness and finally win the protection and care she so desperately needs.121

When this strategy also fails, as it all but inevitably must, the self-negation of gasoline sniffing and/or outright suicide often results. The disintegration of family/community structures in some quarters of Native North America has by now reached such a pass that parents traumatized in the residential schools have become desperate enough to request intervention by the very authorities who victimized them. Their premise, which holds a disquieting measure of undeniability, is that the youngsters probably stand a better prospect of physical survival in residential institutions than they do at home.122 Even in better case settings, the emotional damage already displayed by preschoolers is often staggering. Thus maimed before they begin, and trapped within an overall social construction in which they will be consistently denigrated, often openly reviled, and forever dispossessed of their birthright, they are forced with increasing frequency to hear sermons from their oppressors about how they should “stop whining and get over it,” that they’re now “as free as anyone else to become whoever or whatever they want.”123


It was in this nightmarish environment that Leah spent her formative years. A Lynx Clan Ojibwe, her name in her own language was Kizhiibaabinesik (roughly translated, “Being Who Circles with the Birds”). She entered the world on February 19, 1970, in Thunder Bay, Ontario, the youngest of six siblings born in rapid succession.124 Her father, John Peter Kelly, is from Sabaskong Bay, a reserve of the Onegaming Ojibwe First Nation located near the Ontario town of Kenora. Her mother, Barbara, is from the nearby Couchiching Reserve, outside Fort Francis, where she, John, their parents and most of their relatives in their own generation attended Roman Catholic residential schools.125

At the point Leah arrived, the family was living crammed eight-deep in a small trailer house, struggling to make ends meet while John pursued an MA in Educational Administration. The first in his Band to complete an undergraduate degree, much less to take up graduate studies, his internalization of mainstream ideals led him to an angry repudiation of Ojibwe tradition and a period of self-imposed isolation from his people. A dark-complected fullblood, however, he was shortly forced to face the harsh reality that his skin-tone was in itself sufficient to prevent either his acceptance among the Eurocanadians he’d been conditioned to model himself after or employment in the sorts of positions to which he correspondingly aspired.126

The situation was complicated considerably by the devout Catholicism, a faith noted for its preclusion of birth control, into which Barbara had been indoctrinated at Fort Francis. The demands, both material and emotional, attending the resulting – and, for a time, seemingly endless – avalanche of children became overwhelming, magnifying John’s already substantial sense of powerlessness and personal inadequacy. By the time Barbara became pregnant with Leah, he’d had already commenced what would become a seventeen-year descent into what he now calls “the bottomless pit of alcoholism and despair.” It did not end until his children were scattered to the winds.127

One of Leah’s earliest recollections was of being told that she’d been “unplanned for,” a “mistake,” observations the little girl easily translated as “unwanted.”128 It was a feeling she would never escape,” along with an abiding sense of guilt that things might have worked out differently for her father if only she’d never been born.129 Other memories centered mainly on John’s stumbling in, blind drunk, night after night, and of the violence that often ensued. For the most part, Leah was a witness, although, somewhere along the line, she was herself on the receiving end.130 Barbara – battered, emotionally and otherwise, depressed and in a state of perpetual exhaustion – could offer little comfort or protection.

Verbal abuse was also endemic, often manifested in vituperative denunciations of the children’s “stupidity,” their “laziness” and supposed lack of hygiene.131 More insidious still were John’s expressions of resentment towards the lighter-complected among his offspring. Barbara is half white, her coloration reflected in three of the children, including Leah. Glass was regularly ground into this wound when she was greeted with much the same disparagement by potential playmates during summers spent visiting her grandparents at Couchiching.132 By the time she was four, she’d been thoroughly infected with the idea that there was something dreadfully wrong with the way she looked, a debilitating misperception that would stay with her the rest of her life.133

As John’s alcoholism progressed, the family underwent periods of outright disintegration. The children were sent to live for varying intervals with relatives, themselves active or recovering alcoholics.134 At other times, they would sleep whenever possible at the homes of friends. It was on one of these overnights, when she was perhaps twelve, that Leah was first sexually molested. The man was apparently the father of her best and perhaps only real chum, a figure of trust whom she’d embraced as an “uncle.” Again, there is no clear indication whether the abuse was repeated or if so, whether more than a single predator was involved.135

Meanwhile, the Kellys had relocated to the Southdale area of Winnipeg, a predominantly white suburban sprawl largely devoid of anything resembling redeeming value. For Leah, however, it initially represented something of a new start. Twenty-odd years later, she’d recount how, having been consistently rebuffed as “too white” by her hoped-for friends on the reserves, she’d trotted off to school her first day fully expecting to be accepted, eager for someone – anyone – to like her. Instead, she was chased all the way home by a rabid pack of little settler kids taunting her as a “squaw and a ”wagon burner.” As she put it, “I tried and tried, but I never really fit in with anybody, anywhere, ever.” 136

At fifteen, desperate to escape the effects of her home life and Southdale’s “mindlessly racist climate,” Leah struck out on her own. Supporting herself as a waiter in Winnipeg, she enrolled at The Collegiate, a highly-touted local prep school. She did quite well academically, but finding the students’ and faculty’s attitudes “pretty much the same as [she’d] already experienced, only more so,” she left before graduating. Her raw test scores gained her an early admission to Laval University in Québec. A year later, having mastered conversational French,137 she was back in Winnipeg, waiting tables at an upscale restaurant in the city’s fashionable Cordon district.

For a while, it seemed enough. For the first time, she had a small circle of friends, her first live-in lover and was earning enough money to indulge in clothes, a car and other accoutrements of what she then saw as “class.” She appears to have reveled in the sheer novelty of it all.138 Making the rounds of Winnipeg’s surprisingly vibrant music and café scenes, she quickly built a reputation as something of a hipster and the ingredients of an affirmative identity began at last to congeal. Soon, however, her relationship with her boyfriend soured and she found herself pregnant and alone. Before informing her partner that she was with child, Leah confided in friends that she would keep the baby and get married, revealing the depth of her longing to create the kind of idealized family environment she’d craved all her life. Her lover’s response to what she thought glad tidings – that he wanted no part of either marriage or fatherhood – played directly into the already profound sense of unworthiness and rejection she harbored. It also destroyed at a single stroke the most important of the redemptive fantasies she’d been nurturing. His dropping her at a clinic, leaving her to walk home was merely a cruel redundancy. After the abortion, the world she’d been constructing for herself crumbled very rapidly.139

Her diary reveals that she berated herself endlessly for this abandonment and having dared to dream aloud, bringing on what she felt as humiliating public exposure, worrying that she’d “once again become a laughing stock,” feeling the image she’d so carefully crafted slipping away. For weeks she actively contemplated suicide.”140 Instead, she bolted, leaving all her worldly possessions behind and setting out on what is still sometimes fondly remembered by those who knew her as “Leah’s grand adventure.”141 In retrospect, it might more accurately be described as a hurt and terribly frightened young woman, trapped in a blind alley, running for her life.

Little Girl Lost (and Found?)

All I saw when I first met Leah in November 1993 was a remarkably beautiful young woman, palpably shy but with bright eyes and a radiant smile. I knew nothing of her background and cared less. I was completely unaware that Leah’s lifelong sense of lonely futility had resettled over her recently like the chill of a North Beach fog, leading her to late night searchings along the Golden Gate bridge for an excuse for a final plunge into the murky depths below. Her diary at that time brims with passages declaiming “how nice it would be to just lie down in the snow, go to sleep, and never wake up.” Had I known, I can honestly say it would not have deterred me in the least from loving her, but I might have been able to help her more.

We saw each other only intermittently for the next half year, but in May 1994 we agreed that, upon her return from a trip to Ireland, I’d stop in and visit for a “couple of weeks,” maybe driving her up along the coast for a few days camping in the redwoods. Once I arrived in early July, I never left. We spent time in the redwoods and in the vineyards of Simi Valley, in the forests below Mount Shasta, along beaches watching sunsets as far north as Coos Bay. Most of our time, however, was spent in the city, she working, me prowling bookstores or coffee houses, chain smoking as I read the postmodernists from Baudrillard to Lyotard, waiting every night in the Dalva, a bar across the street from Ti Cous, to share glasses of cider at the end of her shift. Her off hours we spent constantly together, probing, exploring, laughing, holding hands or she my arm, as we strolled the streets. Common tastes were discovered in food and films, literature and music, art and much else. She displayed her knowledge of wines, refined through years of serving others. I showed off my talents as a gourmet cook, making her a batch of cioppino. In restaurants, she’d order for us both to my delight. We went willy-nilly from infatuation through mutual astonishment to genuine love for one another. In late August, as I was preparing to go home for the start of another school year – I’d pushed my departure back to the last possible hour of the last possible day, driving straight through and pulling into town as new students were undergoing orientation – we conducted something of a summit conference to decide what should come next. She, fearing that I, I now realize, might be just one more strand in her lengthening skein of intense but ultimately transient unions, flashed visible signs of distress.

Surprised at her level of anxiety, unsure of its source, I sought to reassure her, I offered to take a year’s leave from my job and simply stay on in San Francisco, if necessary finding permanent employment there. She considered this offer for only a moment before dismissing it as ridiculous with an irritated wave of the hand, but posed no alternative plan herself. As the sense of stalemate grew, she grew steadily more agitated. There seemed little I might say or do to calm her. Things were sliding downhill in a hurry.

At some point, though, I hit on asking her what she really wanted to do not just with me or for the next few months but with her life. An indecipherable wistfulness passed across her face, her voice filling with a kind of yearning I’d not heard from her before. She’d been spinning her wheels for years, she said, going nowhere, but always meaning to finish college, to “get to know things,” become an artist, a painter, a photographer, and above all, a filmmaker. Her words rushed forth as if of their own volition, at once pensive and excited, seemingly propelled by some force disconnected from her will.

Then, quite abruptly, she caught herself. Like a slamming door, a resigned guarded look closed over her eager hopefulness. Bitterly canceling her previous torrent, she offered a curt endgame observation that “none of it will ever happen, of course.” “Why not?” I replied, “It sounds do-able enough to me.”  She appeared confused, unsure whether she should be startled, happy, or simply baffled. But I’d definitely captured her attention. “Really?” she asked, a bit incredulously. “Sure,” I said. ‘What’s the problem?”

An hour later, we had a plan. I’d base myself in San Francisco for the fall, commuting to-and-from Denver to teach my three days per week’s worth of classes at the University of Colorado. In December, Leah would move to Boulder and I’d arrange her admission at the University of Colorado. We’d live together in my house there and I’d support her living while she completed her undergraduate degree. After that, she’d take a job in some aspect of cinema and/or go to grad school. As she established her career, I’d begin phasing out of mine, turning an increasing share of our financial burden over to her. Perhaps I’d take early retirement and devote myself to writing, maybe even start painting again. Perhaps I’d secure an end-of-career position at a university in or near Winnipeg. In either event, we’d eventually move there. She’d be our primary breadwinner making movies or something similar, we’d buy a big house in an older neighborhood, possibly raise a kid or two. We were in for the long haul.

The Unraveling

There had always been signs that all was not well with her. In San Francisco, she’d whimper in her sleep or wake trembling and terrified, unwilling or unable to name her terror.142 And there were the sudden and equally inexplicable rages, like the one on my birthday that first fall when after treating me to dinner at a favorite seafood restaurant, she  me for no apparent reason with a looping right that split my lip so badly I was spitting blood two days later.143 The next morning, she tearfully apologized, saying she’d had too much wine and had confusedly lashed out at someone or something from another time, another place, she didn’t say who or what or why. I hugged her, said forget it, asked no questions, only too glad to believe her hostility had been directed at anyone, anything other than me….

Looking back, I see the undercurrents of what would happen surfacing mainly in the tension of her relationship with her father, the force of both their needs to bond with each other, the huge, futile efforts both made to achieve closeness and their mutual inability to get wherever it was they needed so badly to go. She would defend him fiercely to me about things I’d never said, thought or had any idea of, loving him in ways fathomable only in herself, struggling with all her might to absolve this small, remorse-ridden man of sins he’d long forgotten or perhaps never even knew he’d committed against her. Sometimes, she seemed to be displacing on me her anger at and hurt from her father, while reserving the tenderness that formed the other dimension of their compact for him.

From our first day in Boulder, she would spike a rage almost daily out of what I at first thought was a youthful unfettered jealousy of the fact that I’d had a wife and a life before her. I set myself to reassure her of the depth of my love and commitment to her, my respect and esteem for her. I spent virtually all my time with her, lavishing her with clothes, with shoes and boots and other such “finery” – her term – of the sorts she’d never had. We redecorated and furnished the house as hers. I constantly gave her presents, from new vehicles to drive to flowers, so thoroughly out of character it filled my friends with wonder.

Still, month after month, without warning, most often in the midst of something nice, she’d turn on me like a fury, disparaging me, my family, clawing, kicking, biting, jerking out clumps of hair.144  I reached my own snapping point in early 1996, when under this kind of assault, I broke and slammed her back against our bedroom wall, telling her that if she kept it up, she’d be apt to land in a hospital.145 The look on her face told me I’d confirmed some secret dread far surpassing anything I’d meant to say or do, but she never raised a hand to me again.146

Although our life seemed to level out for a while thereafter, even recapturing some of the richness of our first summer, later that spring, a miscarriage and Leah’s erroneous belief that I was unfaithful to her ended the fragile equilibrium.147 In the fall, she started drinking, abruptly, in full force, as if undertaking a conscious design.

Jumbled between the signs and signifiers of her life, Leah’s plunge into alcohol triggered not clarity but implosion, quickly eroding the feeble network of defenses she’d erected, stripping away the coping skills she’d fought so hard to gain. By the new year of 1997, there were nights when her frightened doe’s eyes, her mouth contorted into a Munch-like O, a ring of horror, her soundless screams – for help? mercy? – pierced me like rusty spikes. She’d found her own much worse version of that awful place where John had been. I was confronting a semblance of what that hideously maimed little girl had suffered, the one still hiding within the woman I valued above all others.

During the first months of her unraveling, I ran an emotional gamut from irritation to anger through frustration to confusion, arriving at bewilderment only to move on to a perpetual fearfulness, nibbling the edges of my soul constantly like a rat. My own feelings shifted with such swiftness and kaleidoscopic complexity, I never quite felt I had caught up with myself, reached a balance or perspective that might have let me grasp the magnitude of our trouble. I was nearly fifty when she began to crumble. I was used to thinking of myself as something of a tough guy I was completely unequipped with tools or toughness sufficient to retrieve Leah or even to hold myself together.

After I’d put her to bed when she passed out, I would later sit alone in the dark, swaying back and forth, hugging myself, weeping uncontrollably, mourning the comfort I’d last encountered as a three-year-old in the warmth of my mother’s protecting embrace. I myself had been some of the impossible places Leah had been, but I had been there as a full-grown man, battle-weary and seasoned. Unhappy, I could remember a good childhood place. Leah had gone to the impossible places as a child; unhappy, she had no such good place to go. How Leah or any child without that good place can possibly survive beggars my powers of comprehension. She held on for far longer than I could have.


What is usually called “consciousness” does not come preassembled. It is delivered along with each newborn in pieces, or more properly stated, in a cluster of flows or streams, each related to but operating more or less independently of the others. A foundational phase of both cognitive and emotional development in younger children concerns the integration of these discrete streams, bringing about a unified and internally coherent perception of both the child’s self and of the external world that self interacts with. Things like viable self-concept and personality formation depend entirely on this process occurring in an orderly fashion. Should it be significantly disrupted, psycho-emotional chaos can result, with one or more nonintegrated stream of consciousness competing and often conflicting with the others. The effect, which can be permanent, is that the child incurs multiple personalities or personality fragments, and thus, multiple perceptions of reality.”148

Early childhood trauma is a major – probably the major – cause of such disruption.149 Predictably, the pattern holds true particularly in cases where traumatic experience(s) is/are, chronic or prolonged.150 This, to an all but absolute certainty, is what happened to Leah. Almost from the start, she made mention of hearing “voices,” telling me of “others” who sometimes spoke to her and asking whether the same was so for me. At first, thinking she meant it in a traditional way, that this was her manner of informing me that she paid heed to messages conveyed by the spirits, I responded affirmatively, sometimes jokingly answering “yes, but only when I take the time to listen.” She’d laugh, but also look relieved, seeming glad to hear she was not the only one.

Later, neither of us was laughing. I’d find her in the kitchen, standing at the sink, muttering, apparently to herself. If I asked who she was talking to, she’d start as if jolted from a trance. “Them,” she’d say and that would be that. As time passed and her condition deteriorated, “they” became far more threatening. Eyes wild, trembling with terror, she’d argue frantically with unseen others, gesticulating, pointing to corners where she imagined them to be.151 My attempts to calm her, to wrap her in my arms, met with a horrified recoil. She cowered, assuming a near-fetal position, arms up as if to ward off blows, pleading in a disembodied little girl’s voice: “Oh, please! Please, please! Don’t do that to me!”152

Then it would pass. Some nights, I’d sit with her, stroking her hair, sometimes singing for her in my flat-toned croak, and she’d smile a childish contented smile before drifting off to sleep. Perhaps in those moments I served in some way as a surrogate for her mother, or perhaps I emerged as some altogether other “alter,” but I doubt I was ever simply me. I’ll never be sure just who she thought I was or who she feared.153

For the most part, I tried to attribute Leah’s “problems” to the alcohol, conflating symptoms and causes.154 Not that the symptoms weren’t themselves worthy of attention. Smallish like her father, Leah would regularly drink an entire quart of hard liquor at a single sitting, rapidly, for effect, like Nicholas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas. She drank not to get high but for oblivion, to black out. During her last year, she sometimes required hospitalization.155

From early 1997 on, our lives were defined by the orbit of her alcoholism. We couldn’t go to a concert or a movie, a restaurant, public events or openings without Leah getting sloshed, often becoming so drunk I’d have to carry her to the car. She’d invariably humiliate us both, sometimes others as well. Morning plans lovingly made for a dinner at home were foiled by her staggering in late to cold food and melted candles, a meal she could only paw at with her fingers.

After a while, an emotional and physical pall of fatigue settled over us, intermittently broken by reappearances of the Leah I loved. Leah reached out to friends, and so did I. Yet much as she craved friendship, she’d suddenly and viciously turn on them as she had on me, driving them away. As she isolated herself further, I sealed myself in with her, trying to give her some solid point, the knowledge that at least I would always be there for her. I think she felt this in what had become an endurance test for us both.

For her to finish school well became her grail and mine, infused with an almost mystical significance. It was as if we were assuming that if only she accomplish that, everything could yet turn out as we’d dreamed. I still marvel that she rose every day, mostly with a hangover to daunt Hemingway, haggard and vomiting, to focus on Foucault, a film, a painting, signing on for credit-hour overloads, acing nearly all of them, seldom missing class. The respect Leah garnered, she earned.

Nowhere to Turn

Nonetheless by mid-1998, we both knew we were in over our heads. None of my behavioral, “token system” gimmicks made a dent.156 We tried many alcohol programs and eventually psychiatry, even though I am generally skeptical of “the therapy racket” and oppose psychiatry as a matter of moral principle. The upshot was a diagnosis “Bipolar Disorder” and a prescription for Depakote to “stabilize her mood swings.” 157 The drug made her hair fall out by the handful, worsening her long-festering image of herself. The psychiatrist’s subsequent reaction to “her lack of responsiveness to treatment” was to increase her dosage. Appalled, she ditched the guy in short order.

There followed a parade of equally inept practitioners, one suggesting she undertake something called “rebirthing therapy,” another offering to waive her fees if Leah would spend a few hours telling her all about Indians, still another recommending a four-week, $7,000 “alcoholism retreat” (“no guarantees, of course”). It was not until the spring of 2000, nearly two years after she’d begun to seek help and barely two months before her death, that she was finally and properly diagnosed as suffering a severe case of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), “suicidally ideated” to a dangerous degree. Offered immediate inpatient placement – which she declined – she went on an accelerated outpatient schedule and a strict régime of Antabuse to halt her alcohol consumption and a pager number accessing round-the-clock emergency intervention services.

It is doubtful whether anyone could’ve done much for Leah in the time remaining to her. BPD is “notorious” among therapists and clinicians for its virulence and apparent intractability, the very term striking “terror into the heart of a middle-aged comfort-seeking psychiatrist.”158 Exhibiting a “bewildering array of symptoms,” overlapping heavily with both Multiple Personality Disorder and Somatization Disorder, many “caregivers” avoid BPD patients like the plague, the joke running that the best means of treatment is to “refer them to someone else.”159  Small wonder it took the ”experts” so long to call her problem by its right name. If one of them had done so earlier, perhaps things could have worked out differently.

Or maybe not. Even the Charter Centennial Peaks Adult Recovery Program whose therapists finally did correctly diagnose Leah, refuses with the vast majority of its peers to recognize the source of BPD for what it is, and so be able to treat it effectively. Almost exclusively preoccupied with the “proximate causes” of stress – that is, things in their patients’ immediate environment – and with searching for “organic triggers” or “genetic causes,” they habitually evade the obviously high probability that deep, acute and complex patterns of trauma are at issue. 160

The role of actual parental abuse in the development of this disorder has never been systematically investigated. Occasional case examples that include severe physical or sexual abuse in the background of borderline patients are found throughout the literature; generally these are reported without any impact of the trauma. In the main, the idea that borderline patients may have been severely abused tends to be discounted or dismissed. Gunderson for example, writes: “It is commonplace for the borderline patients to see themselves as having been repeatedly victimized and mistreated through a long series of relationships, often beginning with their parents.” The possibility that this perception might have some validity is not considered.161

Studies in which such queries have been not only posed but pursued reveal that between 75 and 90 percent of all patients diagnosed as Borderline suffer the lingering trauma of child abuse.162 Where therapists have been willing to acknowledge this, and treated their patients accordingly, the “intractability” so commonly associated with BPD tends to evaporate rather quickly.

PTSD is often undiagnosed in cases where secrecy or stigma prevent recognition of the traumatic origins of [Borderline Personality Disorder]. Such patients often improve dramatically when the connection between symptoms and trauma is instituted… The negative therapeutic reactions so frequently observed in borderline patients might be avoided by early and appropriate recognition of the relationship between the patient’s current symptomatology and its origins in a traumatic history.163

It has been argued, in fact, that, for Borderline patients, “integration of the trauma is a precondition for development of improved affect tolerance, impulse control, and defensive organization, the validation of trauma is a precondition for a restoration of any integrated self-identity and the capacity for appropriate relationships with others [emphasis added].”164 In the alternative, “treatment” strategies often tend to compound rather than alleviate, much less “fix,” the problem.

So why do the bulk of “caregivers,” even those willing to correctly diagnose BPD, so resist seeing the malady for what it is so they can then provide those who come to them in desperate need of help with the only kind of therapy known to be effective. Unerringly, an answer emerges from the fact that they are institutionally integral to the maintenance and functioning of the status quo. The overriding objective of “the therapeutic state” is and has been since its inception to rationalize the psychological ravages of business as usual, convincing its victims that their wellbeing is ultimately contingent upon acceptance of things as they are, that they must devise ways to “adjust,” to “cope,” accommodating themselves to whatever elite-defined psychosocial “norms” are most useful to the system at any given moment.165

While this hegemonic enterprise has for the most part proven spectacularly successful, it breaks down where trauma is concerned. No therapist, irrespective of his/her ability to dissemble, can be expected to persuade a rape victim, for example, that what s/he suffered is a structurally-justified phenomenon, the inherent legitimacy of which s/he is bound to accept. Nor can responsibility be conveniently dumped on the victim him/herself, whether as a “genetic flaw” or as some form of “character defect.” In such cases, the source of trauma can be neither denied nor effectively equivocated. It must therefore be acknowledged and condemned. In this, however, it is imperative that they be restricted to those which can readily defined as “deviant” or “anomalous,” and thus either correctable within the parameters of the extant system (e.g., rape) or outside it altogether (e.g., the Holocaust).166 Both diagnoses of trauma and attribution of its sources are thereby constrained to very narrow limits, susceptible to individuated responses. Consequently, the institutional posture is one devoted only marginally to “healing,” emphatically to minimization and containment.

In cases like Leah’s, where peeling the onion inevitably reveals systemic sources of trauma – “50-60 percent of psychiatric inpatients and 40-60 percent of outpatients,” as well as untold numbers of people who’ve never been diagnosed or treated at all – obfuscation is very much the rule. 167 For the real nature of their malady to be admitted would be to condemn the system itself, pointing to the urgency of the need for fundamental change in the existing social/political/economic order. An outcome more diametrically opposed to the mission embraced by the “caregiving” establishment is inconceivable. Of structural necessity, then, as well as the perceived self-interests of practitioners, patients, en masse and systematically, are simply herded, misled and deliberately confused, onto a conveyer belt into the oblivion of expendability.

So Leah was consigned, quite cynically, by those who knew better or had reason to, to wander about in the living hell of her “splitting,” her “good” self seeking frantically to excel, to please, to be well, to be happy even, while her “bad” self or selves waged what was for her an audible and visible campaign to subvert her every thought, move and gesture, transforming them into ghastly mirror images of themselves.168 The question is not why she drank to the point of undoing so much of what she might have been and said and done. The wonder is – and it truly is a wonder – that she was able to accomplish anything at all.

Losing Leah

Leah spent the last day of her life, May 31, 2000, in her studio, finishing one of a series of large, painterly canvases for a fall show of her work at a Denver gallery. 169 I stayed mostly in my study, reading, writing letters, reviewing a manuscript. We’d planned a quiet evening, dinner and a video at home, maybe a late night ride on the motorcycle I’d bought her for her graduation just two weeks before.

A sort of softness settled on us that May. Like weary boxers, we’d retired to our respective corners at the end of our long bout, awaiting the magical decision of judges who never materialized. Exhausted and flat, there were small signs of turning a corner. Leah had planted herbs just days earlier in a small plot I’d long ago shown her how to prepare and then quietly joined me planting vegetables, moving on to flowers, something she’d never done, in pots and the beds around our house.

We were resting up, gaining space, taking our time, regrouping for what would come next. Leah had interviewed well with Encore and applied to Canada’s Aboriginal Television Network. She spoke of learning Avid video editing at the Vancouver Film School, or Toronto’s. One morning she asked me if would I marry her again, renewing my vows. Embracing her so tightly she was startled, I’d said yes, oh yes, and this time by the Pipe, in a traditional way, taking tobacco to her Uncle Peter for the ceremony. She’d glowed then, briefly, showing me in that moment a glimpse of the radiance I’d neither seen nor felt for far too long.

Her new program seemed to be helping: the counseling engaged her more, the Antabuse slammed a lid down hard on her drinking. Still, there were undercurrents always leading in the opposite direction, as when despite all indications that she’d be hired in the field of her training and desire, she told me she was thinking of taking a job waiting tables in a nearby Italian restaurant. There was a sense of deflation about it, a peculiarly world-weary sadness, as if, rather than a triumph, her graduation marked the end of an illusion, a silly pretense. As if now she would resume her place in the life from whence she’d come.

When she finished her painting, she came inside, showered and sat a while at a table working with her Ojibwe tapes and flash cards. I went out to start the coals, then to buy the meat for dinner. At about seven, I went in to ask whether I should start to cook. She was on the phone, smiling, glassy-eyed, voice thickening, a nearly empty glass of dark beer on the floor by her foot. “Oops,” she said to whomever she was talking, “I gotta go now.” Then, hanging up, to me, the beginnings of belligerence in her tone: ‘What’s the problem, buddy?”

“You don’t know?” I replied.

And she, suddenly meek, “Yes. I do.”

She’d taken Antabuse that morning; drinking against the drug could make her violently ill.170 As she’d said I should, I told her to call her pager number. Without a word, she did. Fifteen minutes later, she called again. A few minutes after that, still again. She was starting to feel queasy, her face flushed, so I called, twice more. An hour after she’d first phoned, I asked her whether she was sure we were using the right number. She handed me a slip of paper on which was scribbled, in her counselor’s handwriting, that “for emergency intervention, day or night” she should ring the sequence we’d been dialing. By then my frustration was showing, and since she had talked up Centennial Peaks for weeks on end, she not only looked sick but embarrassed. She said she needed to walk a bit and since she wasn’t really drunk, I told her to go ahead, get some air, that I would wait for someone to call.

It dawned on me about five minutes later that I might’ve made a wrong move; a liquor store had recently opened less than a quarter-mile away. Walking to the corner, trying to spot her, she was nowhere in view. Returning to the house, I hopped on the motorcycle, thinking to find her, get her on the back, take her for a ride, reassure her that things would be all right. No luck. After a while, I went back to the house, parked the bike, and sat down on the porch to wait. About twenty minutes later – full dark – I saw her beneath a streetlamp, reeling towards me. Meeting her in the driveway, I said, “Well, did you manage to get good and drunk?” “You bet,” she answered. “Happy?” I asked. “Nope.”

I led her to a chair on the porch and lit her one of the filterless Pall Malls she liked so much, settling into a chair next to her for what looked like another long night. I expected her to throw up any moment, and I was unsure what to do if convulsions set in. Instead, after a few minutes of muttering, she dropped her cigarette on the floor, her head began to loll and she passed out. She was breathing regularly, so I decided to let things ride.

About 10 pm, two-and-a-half hours after we’d first called for an intervention, the phone finally rang. I went inside to answer. The counselor explained that she’d gone out for a movie, “forgetting” to take her pager along. After absorbing the initial blast of my anger, she asked me to outline the situation in more detail. When I’d finished, she sounded worried, telling me I should bring Leah to the clinic immediately and that she’d meet me there. In all, the conversation lasted less than ten minutes. I was still receiving directions when I walked back out onto the porch, intending to pick Leah up bodily, plop her in my truck and head for town. However, Leah was gone.

Then I saw the blue strobes flashing two blocks away on Arapahoe Road. Dropping the phone, I ran towards the corner, seeing people gathering around, emergency vehicles now arriving in droves, a hollow, sinking sensation in the pit of my stomach, hoping against hope. But there she lay, on the centerline of the road, like some broken little bird.

As they loaded Leah into an ambulance, I trotted back to the house to get my truck and follow, only stopping long enough to fetch an eagle feather and a small bag of white sage and cedar kept for times of need. At the small local hospital, they solemnly told me a flight-for-life helicopter was already en route, that she’d be taken to St. Joseph’s, a much larger place in Denver, and that I should stay close at hand as I’d soon be taken to the emergency room.

Knowing even then that she’d be lost, that loved ones are never ushered into such settings unless no other time remains, I went outside and squatted, back against a wall as I had in Vietnam, sightless, mind empty, chain-smoking, awaiting what I could not change.

There were no tears just then. I was not yet ready, and neither, I think, was she. A cop stopped, asking if I were alright. When I said “No problem,” he looked at me oddly as if to say more, but thought better of it and moved awkwardly away.

After, in the emergency room, witnessing the terrible damage for the first time close up – her broken knees and shattered hands, the missing teeth, the tongue bitten through –  hearing her struggle for every breath through all the blood, someone was all the while explaining that the worst damage could not be seen: her shattered pelvis and her skull, brain bruised and swelling against the fragments.

“You should talk to her,” a nurse said and knowing it was true, I knelt, taking one of Leah’s hands in both my own, speaking gently in her ear, telling her for the last time how very much I loved her, how proud I was to be with her, what a rare privilege it was even to have known her, how destitute I’d be in her absence. Then, first turning away to search for strength and calmness, I let her go.

“Be at peace, my angel,” I whispered. “You’ve suffered much too much.”

They didn’t allow me in the helicopter, of course, because if she died in transit, they feared I might lose control, become a danger to everyone within the small, unstable space. So I drove the thirty miles alone in my pickup, knowing she was lost to me forever, howling my despair. There were forms to sign and waits, an hour for the coroner to finish so that I could get permission to see but not touch her, prevented from even placing a kiss on her cheek, kneeling again beside the gurney she lay on, now so quiet, so pale and still, praying for the safety of her journey, offering a smudge, my feather, trying with all my heart to sing an honoring song. The tears came then, suddenly, against my will, driving me, impotent in my voicelessness, to the floor.

She Burned Too Briefly

I wrote this essay partly from my personal need to express the profundity of the sorrow I’ve incurred in the destruction of Leah Kelly…. Had she lived, had she even been whole, the measure of what she might have contributed is incalculable. But a point so easy and obvious would scarcely need my elaboration. My task, then, has been to avert the probability that such easy realization will be converted into the equally comfortable conclusion that her life and death add up to no more than an individual “tragedy.” What happened to Leah was indeed tragic, but it was no tragedy. To the contrary, it was a crime, an offense against humanity remarkable not in its singularity but because it is so common, conveniently and all but universally ignored, hushed up, pushed far from the most peripheral vision of polite society.

Give the crime its name. Call it, as I have, colonialism. Or, as I also have, call it genocide. Better still, join in my communion with Sartre, observing that the two while not identical are inseparable, comprising only different dimensions of the same process.171 Whichever descriptor you prefer, what’s described remains the most bedrock feature of business-as-usual in contemporary North America. It will be found in the relationship imposed by the continent’s settler population upon the peoples native to this land, a sociopolitical and economic structuration without which neither Canada nor the United States would or could ever have come to exist.

With many others, I have tried to address this reality in various ways, mostly resorting to the language and pretensions of “objective scholarship,” deploying our graphs and charts, our proportionalities and other statistics, our historiographical, sociological and legal definitions.172 Despite our best intentions, in doing so, we have in many respects, perhaps most, served mainly to consummate the very crime we purport to oppose, objectifying and thus dehumanizing its victims, making the nature and magnitude of their suffering seem sterile, academic, as lifeless and inconsequential as even the most vile of perpetrators might wish them to be. There is a distinctly repugnant aroma of detachment, of distance and unreality about it all, as if what were at issue amounted only to grist for study groups and parlor debates.173

Yet, undeniably, the victims are real. They were always real. They are not objects, and never were. Each of them was, as each victim continues, a human being, an historico-sociological subject, imbued with and therefore entitled to exercise agency. This holds true both in their individuality and within the collectivities of group nomenclature and processing to which they have been rendered increasingly subjacent. How then to (re)humanize them, to restore their agency, accord them their own meaning, redeem their stolen lives from the stultifying realm of “scholarly” abstraction, or worse still, the sanitizing sound bites of “news” commentary and “analysis”?174

Inverted, it becomes a question of visibility: How best to compel those fancying themselves outside the crime’s functioning, most especially the more smugly complacent strata of settler society, to confront full force the human costs of the colonial order from which they benefit, apprehending the actuality of business-as-usual not in the facile illusions of shopping malls and the Dow Jones Average, but in the faces of terrified three-year-olds, gaunt with privation, already trembling with the despair of being devalued and discarded? How to force such realities upon people who’ve made an art form of equivocating and avoiding them? How to overcome the genocidal mentality?

Such queries do not readily admit answers. The route to a solution, however partial or otherwise imperfect, can nonetheless be discerned in focusing attention upon the accounts of particular victims – that is, of individual people – in such a way as to inform the whole. The story of a single nine-year-old gasoline sniffer, properly told, can be used to illuminate the horror of gasoline sniffing in general in ways impossible through even the most sensitive and studied recitation of data. The same can be said with respect to native alcoholism and all the rest. A key, however, resides in the words “properly told.” Such stories, if they are to serve the desired purpose, cannot be recounted in the reductionist fashion of so much biographical/personal narrative.175 They must be contextualized, deeply and quite explicitly, the articulation of clearly-defined objective conditions explicating the character, actions and experience of the subject, the emotions elicited by the subject bringing home the import of objective conditions, subject and object interacting in a complex manner precipitating a synthesis of understanding unattainable by focusing upon either at the expense of the other.176

When I observed that Leah’s is “the quintessential North American story,” I meant the statement in precisely this way. Not because she was so special or unique – although she was by any reasonable estimation among the “best and brightest” of her generation – but because her experience so clearly resonates with what so many others have undergone. Best, worst, brightest, dumbest, it makes no matter. If you’re native, the settler system evidences no qualms in devouring you, your life, those you love, your very soul indiscriminately, without regard to attributes. Yes, Leah was special, but this merely exemplifies the situation. Every victim was special – is special, each in his or her own way. In their individuation, their uniqueness, they are united in the commonality of their destruction, finding solidarity in their dance of degeneration and death.177 Leah’s is thus the story of her people. Through her, with her, I’ve sought to tell it, to make it come alive….

We arrive here at a crux point. This concerns the veil of silence with which victims so often surround the facts of their victimization and its consequences. Clarity is absolutely vital in such connections: silence implies shame; shame, in turn, implies guilt. To this must be counterpoised a smattering of simple questions: Of what was Leah guilty? Or John? What was it either had done as children to warrant what was done to them? Without guilt, there can be no basis for shame; without shame, no reason not to speak openly. By our silence, we internalize the onus of a guilt belonging not to victims but to perpetrators, effectively absolving the criminals of their crimes, letting them slide off the moral and legal hooks of their culpability.178

Such behavior is truly pathological, integral to the much wider pathology or complex of pathologies, afflicting Native North America increasingly over the past half-century. The pathologies are unquestionably and increasingly there, but in acknowledging them, we must refuse to be “pathologized.”179 Leah was not “sick.” Neither is John. Both were wounded, mortally, she by him, he by the residential schools, each by their unwilling encapsulation within the society of which the schools were and remain emblematic.180 To be sick is one thing, wounded another; the latter requires healing, the former a cure. To describe and assert that distinction is an act of empowerment for native people, displacing the burden of guilt from our own shoulders to those upon whom it rightly belongs.181

In this way and most likely only in this way, can those who are truly sick be exposed for who and what they really are. They cannot be counted among the victims. That is a certainty. Those evidencing the characteristics of psychological illness and imbalance will be found all but exclusively among the victimizers, those inflicting the wounds, presuming that they are somehow vested with a right to do so, turning a blind eye to the resultant suffering, inventing pretexts to revile the maimed for the misfortune of their maiming. At issue is the virtual entirety of the settler population. Theirs is a genuinely diseased – delusional, narcissistic, sadistic, plainly sociopathic – mental condition.182

There has been much banter lately, mostly from settlers, about the need for “reconciliation” between natives and non-natives.183 While this makes for glowing rhetoric, under present conditions it is about as likely – and appropriate – as a rapist advancing a similar proposal to his victim while the rape is still in progress. For rape victims, the most elementary prerequisite to reconciliation with their rapist is that the crime stop. Usually, there will also need to be unambiguous indications that the rapist has been cured of whatever psychic disorder compelled him to rape in the first place, and that he sincerely wishes to atone for the injuries he’s dispensed. As well, the victim will typically have had time to heal from the trauma of her/his violation. Then, sometimes, a certain form of rapprochement is possible.184 For native people, it is no different. We have suffered violation every bit as intimate, and often rape as well.

Fortunately, however, in our case a process by which victims can be healed while perpetrators are cured of their psychoses immediately presents itself as a dialectical unity (a “reconciliation” of sorts). By speaking clearly, consistently and, above all, publicly, to the facts of what has been/is being done to us, and by whom, native people can force admissions from the perpetrators that they have done what we contend. On this foundation, we position ourselves to confront the question of why such things have occurred, asserting with ever-increasing force our right to the repossession of that which has always been ours, eroding their fictive claims to our sovereignty and our property, incrementally compelling a relinquishment of both. While this sketch is quite simplistic, it represents an essentially Fanonesque conception of decolonization, the material and the psychological interacting in ways engendering the emancipation of colonized and colonizer alike. 185

Is it possible to effect such a dismantlement of the internal colonial structures of North America’s “super states” (or any such state, for that matter)? Of this, one cannot be certain, although the place to begin any assessment of the prospects might be with asking the leaders of the former Soviet Union. In any event, it was exactly this sort of transcendent vision that Leah was refining in her last years, conceiving for herself a transformation of quantity into quality manifested through a social order entirely different from that we now inhabit, one in which not just she but all of us might fit, a place where we might at last be both well and whole.

Were she here, I believe Leah would have said or written something similar to what I’ve produced, validating its imperative as she always did, through the fragile contours of her life. Nevertheless, I’ve not attempted to speak for her, knowing that if I did I’d fail, as I failed her so often while she was alive….

But I will not allow her to be silenced by her fate. My waning years will be spent in truth to who she was, to the way we were and how it might have been for us, to how it might yet be for others. I can never cease in trying to be the one she thought and hoped I was. It is the very least I owe her, my own girl of the north country, my bright, bright star, the solitary gleam within the darkness of my night.

Oh Leah, I miss you so…


1 Roland J. Lamarine, “Alcohol Abuse among Native Americans,” Journal of Community Health, No. 13, 1988.

2 Anastasia M. Shkilnyk A Poison Stronger than Love: The Destruction of an Ojibuya Community (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985); Geoffrey York, The Dispossessed: Life and Death in Native Canada (Boston: Little, Brown, 1992) pp. 175-200.

3 York, Dispossessed, p. 10; Gary Remington and Brian Hoffrnan, “Gas Sniffing as Substance Abuse,” Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, No. 29,1984. The same pattern prevails on at least some reservations in the US; see, e.g., Arthur Kaufman, “Gasoline Sniffing among Children in a Pueblo Village,” Pediatrics, No. 51, 1973.

4 Steven Unger, ed., The Destruction of American Indian Families (New York: Association on American Indian Affairs, 1977); Patrick Johnson, Native Children and the Child Welfare System (Ottawa: Canadian Council on Social Development, 1983).

5 Deborah Jones-Saumty, et al.,”Psychological Factors of Familial Alcoholism in American Indians and Caucasians,” Journal of Clinical Psychology, No. 39, 1983; Lawrence R. Burger and Judith Kitzes, “Injuries to Children in a Native American Community,” Pediatrics, No. 84, 1989; Carol Lujan, et al., “Profile of Abused and Neglected American Indian Children in the Southwest,” Child Abuse and Neglect, No. 13, 1989.

6 Richard Goodman, et al., “Alcohol and Fatal Injuries in Oklahoma,” Journal of Substance Abuse, No. 52, 1991; Margaret M. Gallegher, et al., “Pedestrian and Hypothermia Deaths Among Native Americans in New Mexico,” JAMA, No. 267, 1992; George K. Jarvis and Menno Boldt, “Death Styles Among Canadas Indians,” Social Science Medicine, No. 16, 1982.

7 See, e.g., Steven J. Kunitz, Jerrold E. Levy and Michael Everett, “Alcohol Cirrhosis among the Navajo,” Quarterly Journal of Substance Abuse, No. 30, 1969.

8 Michael Dorris, The Broken Cord (New York: Harper & Row, 1989).

9 Dwight B. Heath, “American Indians and Alcohol: Epidemiological and Sociocultural Relevance,” in Daniel Speigler, et al., eds., Alcohol Use among US Ethnic Minorities (Rockville, MD: National Inst. on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Monograph 18, 1989) pp. 207-22.

10 T. Kue Young, “The Canadian North and the Third World: Is the Analogy Appropriate?” Canadian Journal of Public Health, No. 74, 1983; Rennard Strickland, Tonto’s Revenge: Reflections on American Indian Culture and Policy (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1997) p. 53.

11 Strickland, Tonto’s Revenge, p. 53.

12 T. Kue Young, “Epidemiology of Tuberculosis in Remote Native Communities,” Canadian Family Physician, No. 28, Jan. 1982; Donald A. Enarson, et al., “Incidence of Active Tuberculosis in the Native Population of Canada,” Canadian Medical Association Journal, No. 134, 1986; Strickland, Tonto’s Revenge, p. 53.

13 Strickland, Tonto’s Revenge, p. 53; US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Indian Health Care (Washington, DC: 99th Cong., 2nd Sess., 1986); Brian Postl, et al., Report of the Subcommittee on Indian Health Care (Winnipeg: Manitoba Health Services Review Committee, 1985); Berenice L Muir, Health Status of Canadian Indians and Inuit: 1987 Update (Ottawa: Health and Welfare Canada, 1987).

14 Strickland, Tonto’s Revenge, p. 53. Also see  J.A. Ward and Joseph Fox, “A Suicide Epidemic on an Indian Reserve,” Canadian Psychiatric Association Journal, No. 22, 1977; Thomas R. Thompson, “Childhood and Adolescent Suicide in Manitoba: A Demographic Study,” Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, No. 32, May 1987; Task Force on Suicide, Report on Suicide in Canada (Ottawa: Dept. of Health and Welfare, 1987); Paul Kettl and Edward 0. Bixler, “Alcohol and Suicide in Alaska Natives,” American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research, Vol. 5, No. 3, 1993.

15 Ministry of Indian and Northern Affairs, Indian Conditions: A Survey (Ottawa: Dept. of Indian Affairs, 1980); Yang Mao, et al., Mortality on Canadian Indian Reserves, 1977-1982,” Canadian Journal of Public Health, No. 77, 1986; US Bureau of the Census, US Census of the Population: General Population Characteristics, United States (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Div., 1991).

16 See generally, Indian Housing and Living Conditions (Ottawa: Assembly of First Nations, 1987); Public Health Service, Chart Series Book (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Health and Human Services, 1988).

17 Joseph Westermeyer, “The Drunken Indian: Myths and Realities,” Psychiatric Annals, No. 4, 1974; Joy Leland, Firewater Myths: North American Indian Drinking and Alcohol Addiction (New Brunswick. Rutgers University Center for Alcohol Studies No. 11, 1976); Frederick A. May, “The Epidemiology of Alcohol Abuse among American Indians: Mythical and Real Properties,” American Indian Culture and Research Journal, Vol. 18, No. 2, 1994.

18 For surveys of findings, see the booklet entitled Alcoholism: An Inherited Disease (Rockville, MD: National Institute on Substance Abuse and Alcoholism, 1985) and the special 1987 issue of Progress in Clinical and Biological Research, edited by H. Warner Geode and Dharam P. Agrawal under the title “Genetics and Alcoholism.” On AA, see Charles Bufe, Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure? (San Francisco: See Sharp Press, 1991). The extent to which this may be true is revealed in the interviews included by Brian Maracle in his Crazywater: Native Voices on Addiction and Recovery (New York, 1993).

19 See, e.g., Kirby A. Miller, Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985) pp. 112, 319-20, 506.  Joan Weibel-Orlando, “Indians, Ethnicity, and Alcohol: Contrasting Perceptions of the Ethnic Self and Alcohol Use,” in Linda A. Bennett and Genevieve M. Ames, eds., The American Experience with Alcohol: Contrasting Cultural Perspectives (New York: Plenum, 1985) pp. 201-26.

20 Dennis Calahan, Understanding America’s Drinking Problem (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1987) p. 31.

21 One can turn to rather conservative sources to find firm rebuttals of the genetic argument; see, e.g., Edward 0. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (New York: Vintage, 1998) p. 154. Also see Lillian Dyke, “Are North American Indians Biochemically More Susceptible to the Effects of Alcohol?” Native Studies Review, Vol. 2, No. 2, 1986; Herbert Fingarette, Heavy Drinking: The Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988).

22 The word “normal” is used here not in the sense of meaning “okay” but “usual and predictable.”

23 Frantz Fanon, Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 1966) esp. pp. 206-51; Albert Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized (Boston: Beacon Press, 1967) esp. pp. 90-118.

24 Janet McDonnell, The Dispossession of the American Indian, 1887-1934 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991); Brian Slattery, The Land Rights of Indigenous Canadian Peoples (Saskatoon: University of Saskatchewan Native Law Centre, 1979); Donald Purich, Our Land: Native Rights in Canada (Toronto: James Lorimer, 1986). The extension of “trust authority” by one nation over another on a sustained basis is the clinical definition of colonialism in international law; John Howard Clinebell and Jim Thompson, “Sovereignty and Self-Determination: The Rights of Native Americans Under International Law,” Buffalo Law Review, No. 27, 1978; Thomas Berger, “Native Rights and Self-Determination,” Canadian Journal of Native Studies, Vol. 3, No. 2, 1983; A. Kienetz, “Decolonization in the North: Canada and the United States,” Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism, Vol. 8, No. 1, 1986.

25 Michael Garrity, “The US Colonial Empire is as Close as the Nearest Reservation,” in Holly Sklar, ed., Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Government (Boston: South End Press, 1980) pp. 238-60.

26 Teresa L. Amott and Julie A. Matthaei, Race, Gender and Work: A Multicultural Economic History of Women in the United States (Boston: South End Press, 1991) pp. 56-61.

27 Ibid. Also see Fred Wien, Rebuilding the Economic Base of Native Communities (Montreal: Institute for Research on Public Policy, 1986); US Dept of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Service Population and Labor Force Estimates (Washington, DC: 101st Cong., 1st Sess., 1989).

28 On the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, for example, 88 percent of all housing units were found to be “substandard” in 1990, Strickland, Tonto’s Revenge, p. 53.

29 Rennard Strickland, “Indian Law and the Miner’s Canary: The Signs of Poison Gas,” Cleveland State Law Review, No. 39, 1991.

30 Fred Beauvais, “The Consequences of Drug and Alcohol Use for Native Youth,” American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research, Vol. 5, No. 1, 1992; Roland Chrisjohn, Suicide and Aboriginal Peoples: Professional Sins (Toronto: Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention, 1996).

31 Raul Hilberg, Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders: The Jewish Catastrophe, 1944-1945 (New York: Harper Collins, 1992) pp. 170-2.

32 Donald Kenrick and Grattan Paxton, Gypsies under the Swastika (Hertfordshire, UK: University of Hertfordshire Press, (1995) p. 101.

33 Richard Grunberger, The 12-Year Reich: A Social History of Nazi Germany, 1933-1945 (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971) p. 89.

34 For a dated but still excellent examination of the mechanics by which this psychosocial process of transference is undertaken, see William Ryan, Blaming the Victim (New York: Vintage, 1971).

35 The classic articulation of this proposition will be found in Craig MacAndrew’s and Robert B. Edgerton’s Drunken Comportment: A Social Explanation (Chicago: Aldine, 1969). Also see Dwight B. Heath, Jack 0. Waddell and Martin Topper, eds., Cultural Factors in Alcohol Research and Treatment of Drinking Problems Journal of Substance Abuse, Supp. No. 9, 1981) and Mary Douglas, ed., Constructive Drinking: Perspectives on Drink from Anthropology (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1987).

36 For explication, the essay entitled “The Relativity of Privilege” in Albert Memmi, Racism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000) pp. 197-203.

37 This dynamic is explored rather thoroughly by Memmi in his Dominated Man (New York: Orion, 1968).

38 Francis E. Leupp, The Indian and His Problem (New York: Scribner\rquote s, 1910) p. 93. For background, see Frederick E. Hoxie, A Final Promise: The Campaign to Assimilate the Indians, 1880-1920 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1985); J. Tobias, “Protection, Civilization, Assimilation: An Outline History of Canada’s Indian Policy,” Western Canadian Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 13, No. 3, 1976.

39 Quoted in E. Brian Titley, A Narrow Vision: Duncan Campbell Scott and the Administration of Indian Affairs in Canada (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1986) p. 50.

40 “Our Indian Schools,” Calgary Herald, Feb. 10, 1892.

41 Richard Henry Pratt, “The Advantages of Mingling Indians with Whites,” Proceedings and Addresses of the National Education Association, 1895 (Washington, DC: National Educational Association, 1895) pp. 761-2. On Pratt’s background, see his autobiography, Battlefield and Classroom: Four Decades with the American Indian, 1867-1904 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1967 reprint of 1906 original).

42 Anonymous teacher to Deputy Minister of Education, Dec. 1, 1918; quoted in Fraser Symington, The Canadian Indian: The Illustrated History of the Great Tribes of Canada (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1968) p. 228.

43 For a voluminous selection of quotations drawn from the Canadian context, see J.R. Miller, Shingwauk’s Vision: The History of Residential Schools (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996). On the US, see, e.g., Michael C. Coleman, American Indian Children at School, 1850-1930 (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1993); Estelle Fuchs and Robert Havighurst, To Live on This Earth: American Indian Education (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, [2nd ed.] 1983).

44 E. Brian Titley, “Red Deer Indian Industrial School: A Case Study of the History of Indian Education,” in Nick Kach and Kaz Mazurek, eds., Exploring Our Educational Past: Schooling in the Northwest Territories and Alberta (Calgary: Detselig, 1992) p. 55. The idea that students were “caught” is lifted from Nicholas Flood Davin, reputedly 19th century Canada’s foremost authority on Indian education; Nicholas F. Davin, Report on Industrial Schools for Indians and Halfbreeds (Ottawa: Ministry of Indian Affairs, Mar. 14, 1879) p. 12.

45 “The children were awakened between five and six in the morning and went to bed between eight and nine at night. In between there was little time for recreation. The daily routine was much like a military school”; Margaret Connell Szasz, Education and the American Indian: The Road to Self- Determination Since 1928 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, [3rd ed.] 1999) p. 20.

46 Tuberculosis, for example, was present at a rate 6.5 times that evident among the general population. Trachoma also ran unchecked; Lewis Meriam, et al., The Problem of Indian Administration (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1928) p. 13; US Senate, Subcommittee of the Committee on Indian Affairs, Survey of Conditions of the Indians (Washington, DC: 70th Cong., 1st Sess, 1928) pp. 5,217. In the US, 35 cents per day was required to support each student, 11 cents spent; Meriam, et al., Problems of Indian Administration, p. 12. Also see Walter W. Woehlke, “Starving the Nation’s Wards,” Sunset, No. 61, Nov. 1928, p. 14. On comparable conditions in Canadian institutions, see, e.g., Roland Chrisjohn and Sherri Young with Michael Maraun, The Circle Game: Shadows and Substance in the Indian Residential School Experience in Canada (Penticton, BC: Theytus Books, 1997) p. 75; Carl Urion, “The Experience of Indian Residential Schooling,” Canadian Journal of Native Education, No. 18 (Supp.), 1991.

47 Documentation in this area is substantial. See, as examples, David Wallace Adams, “From Bullets to Boarding Schools: The Educational Assault on the American Indian Identity,” in Philip Weeks, ed., The American Indian Experience: A Profile (Arlington Heights, IL: Forum Press, 1988) pp. 218-39; Robert A. Trennert, Jr., The Phoenix Indian School: Forced Assimilation in Arizona (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988); Robert A. Trennert, Jr., “Corporal Punishment and the Politics of Indian Reform,” History of Education Quarterly, No. 29, Winter 1989; Elizabeth M. Furniss, Victims of Benevolence: Discipline and Death at the Williams Lake Indian Residential School, 1891-1920 (Williams Lake, BC: Cariboo Tribal Council, 1992); Assembly of First Nations, Breaking the Silence: An Interpretive Study of Residential School Impact and Healing as Illustrated by the Stories of First Nations Individuals (Ottawa: Assembly of First Nations, 1994); Chrisjohn and Young with Maraun, Circle Game, esp. pp. 26-39, 230.

48 Chrisjohn and Young with Maraun, Circle Game, pp. 31-3. Also see Isabelle Knockwood, Out of the Depths: The Experiences of Mi`kmaw Children at the Indian Residential School at Schubenacadie, Nova Scotia (Lockeport, NS: Roseway, 1992).

49 York, Dispossessed, pp. 28-32. According to a recent issue of the New York Times, the Anglican Church of Canada has claimed it would be bankrupted if it were compelled to pay damages to those students already proven to have suffered sexual abuse in its residential schools. The Catholic Church is in much the same position. For in-depth case studies, see Elizabeth M. Furniss, Conspiracy of Silence: The Case of the Native Students at St. Joseph’s Residential School, 1891-1920 (Williams Lake, BC: Cariboo Tribal Council, 1991; Roland Chrisjohn, et al., “Faith Misplaced: The Lasting Effects of Abuse on a First Nations Community,” Canadian Journal of Native Education, No. 18, 1991.

50 An especially poignant treatment will be found in Ingrid Adams’ “The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack” Maclean’s, Feb. 1967. For additional details, see John S. Milloy, A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879-1986 (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999) pp. 142-6,152-3, 285-7.

51 David Wallace Adams, Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995).

52 The best overall study of Cameron and MK-ULTRA is John Marks’ The Search for the “Manchurian Candidate”:The CIA and Mind Control (New York: Times Books, 1979).

53 See, e.g., Richard Korn, M.D., “Report on the Effects of Confinement in the Lexington High Security Unit,” excerpted in Ward Churchill and J.J. Vander Wall, eds., Cages of Steel: The Politics of Imprisonment in the United States (Washington, DC: Maisonneuve Press, 1992) pp. 123-7.

54 Francis Paul Prucha, The Churches and the Indian Schools, 1888-1912 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979); Charles E. Hendry, Beyond Traplines: Towards an Assessment of the Work of the Anglican Church of Canada and Canada’s Native Peoples (Toronto: Anglican Church of Canada, 1969); Thomas A. Lascelles, “Indian Residential Schools,” Canadian Catholic Review, 1992.

55 Linda R. Bull, “Indian Residential Schooling: A Native Perspective,” Canadian Journal of Native Education, No.18 (Supp.), 1991, p. 39; Knockwood, Out of the Depths, chap. 3.

56 Anglican Church of Canada, brief submitted to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Affairs (Nov. 8-9, 1993, p. 4),quoted in Chrisjohn and Young with Maraun, Circle Game, p. 46.

57 The phenomenon is by no means unique either to American Indians or to the residential school system. Rather it seems typical of all colonial settings; see Martin Carnoy, Education as Cultural Imperialism (New York: David McKay, 1974); Philip G. Altbach and Gail P. Kelly, eds., Education and the Colonial Experience (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1984). Of particular interest may be the “educational” objectives pursued by the English against the Irish: “The chief lesson to be learned by the school children was ignorance – not to say contempt – of Ireland and everything Irish, and reverence for England and everything English”; Miller, Immigrants and Exiles, p.75.

58 This sort of drooling insanity has deep roots in Christian tradition; see, e.g., Richard Drinnon, Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating and Empire-Building (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1980). Also see Miroslav Hroch and Anna Skybovi, Ecclesia Militans: The Inquisition (New York: Dorset Press, 1990); Carol F. Karlson, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England (New York: Vintage, 1989); Anne Barstow, Witchcraze: A New History of the European Witch Hunts (San Francisco: Pandora, 1994).

59 Roland Chrisjohn and Sherri Young, “Among School Children: Psychological Imperialism and the Residential School Experience in Canada,” included as Appendix E in Chrisjohn and Young with Maraun, Circle Game, pp. 237-49. Also see T. Gladwin and A. Saidin, Slaves of the White Myth: The Psychology of Neocolonialism (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1980); Ashis Nandy, The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialism (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1983).

60 At issue is the Ost Politik Plan of spring 1940, in which the nazis detailed their intent to reduce the Slavic population by some 30 million people, remove another 31 million so that their land could be “resettled” by Germans, and concentrating the balance on reservations where they would provide a ready pool of manual labor for their conquerors; Georgily A. Kumanev, “The German Occupation Regime on Occupied Territory in the USSR” in Michael Berenbaum, ed., A Mosaic of Victims: Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis (New York: New York University Press, 1990) pp. 130-1. For complete details, see Alexander Dallin, German Rule in Russia, 1941-1945: A Study of Occupation Policies (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1957). Titley, “Red Deer,” p. 55.

61 Hana Samek, The Blackfoot Confederacy, 1880-1920: A Comparative Study of Canadian and US Indian Policy (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1991) p. 140. As SS leader Heinrich Himmler put it with respect to the Slavs, it was enough for them to be able to “count to 500, sign their names, and [believe] that the essence of God’s Law [was] to be subservient to the Germans”; quoted in Kumanev, “German Occupation,” p. 130.

62 Meriam, et al., Problem of Indian Administration, p. 13; Milloy, National Crime, pp. 169-71.

63 See, as examples, E. Brian Titley “Indian Industrial Schools in Western Canada,” in Nancy M. Sheehan, J. Donald Wilson and David C. Jones, eds., Schools in the West: Essays on Canadian Educational History (Calgary: Detselig, 1986); “Dunbow Indian Industrial School: An Oblate Experiment in Education,” Western Oblate Studies, No. 2, 1991; Jacqueline Gresko, “Everyday Life at Qu’Appelle Industrial School,” Western Oblate Studies, No. 2, 1991.

64 For a good case study, see Kenneth Coates, “‘Betwixt and Between’ : The Anglican Church and the Children of the Carcoss (Choutla) Residential School, 1911-1954,” BC Studies, No. 64, Winter 1984-85. Also see M. Hodgson, Impact of Residential Schools and Other Root Causes of Poor Mental Health (Edmonton: Nechi Institute on Alcohol and Drug Education, 1990). More broadly, see T. Gladwin and A. Saidin, Slaves of the White Myth: The Psychology of Neocolonialism (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1980).

65 Chrisjohn and Young with Maraun, Circle Game, p. 121; York, Dispossessed, p. 24. According to Szasz (Education and the American Indian, p. 18), the proportion in the US was only about one-third. She bases this only upon enrollment in a single year, 1928, however.

66 During World War 1, the traumatic effects of combat were referred to as “shell shock,” during World War II as “battle fatigue”; Abram Kardiner and Herbert Spiegel, The Traumatic Neuroses of War (New York: Hoeber, 1947). For more recent interpretations, see Herbert Hendin and Ann P. Haas, Wounds of War: The Psychological Aftermath of Combat in Vietnam (New York: Basic Books, 1984).

67 Robert Jay Lifton, “The Concept of the Survivor,” in Joel E. Dimsdale, ed., Survivors, Victim, and Perpetrators: Essays on the Nazi Holocaust (New York: Hemisphere, 1980) pp. 113-26; Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima (New York: Basic Books, 12th ed., 1982). Also see Emmanuel Tanay, “Psychotherapy with Survivors of Nazi Persecution,” in Henry Krystal, ed., Massive Psychic Trauma (New York: International Universities Press, 1968).

68 Ann W. Burgess and Lynda Holmstrom, “Rape Trauma Syndrome,” American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 131, 1974; D.S.Rose, “‘Worse Than Death’ : Psychodynamics of Rape Victims and the Need for Psychotherapy,” American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 143, 1986; Richard Mollica, “The Trauma Story: Psychiatric Care for Refugee Survivors of Violence and Torture,” in Frank Ochberg, ed., Post-Traumatic Therapy and Victims of Violence (New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1988); L. Comas-Diaz and A. Padilla, “Countertransference in Working with Victims of Political Repression,” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, No. 61, 1991; Y. Fischman, “Interacting with Trauma: Clinicians’ Responses to Treating Psychological Aftereffects of Political Repression,” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, No. 61, 1991; Metin Basoglu, ed., Torture and Its Consequences: Current Treatment Approaches (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992).

69 Herbert Krystal, “Trauma and Effects,” Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, No. 33, 1978; A.H. Green, “Dimensions of Psychological Trauma in Abused Children,” Journal of the American Association of Child Psychiatry, No. 22, 1983.

70 Leonard Shengold, Soul Murder: The Effects of Childhood Abuse and Deprivation (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989).

71 Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery (New York: Basic Books, [2nd ed.] 1997) pp. 115-29. On the more “standard” form of PTSD, see B.L. Green, J.P. Wilson and J. D. Lindy, “Conceptualizing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Psychosocial Framework,” in C.R. Figley, ed., Trauma and Its Wake, Vol. I (New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1985).

72 I use the term “Residential School Syndrome” with some trepidation, mindful of the critique advanced by Chrisjohn and his colleagues in The Circle Game (pp. 77-83). I believe, however, both that I employ the term in a manner avoiding the pitfalls described therein, and that it describes something real (which even they acknowledge at p. 81).

73 R.M. Scurfield, “Post-Trauma Stress Assessment and Treatment: Overview and Formulations,” in Figley, Trauma and Its Wake, pp. 219-56.

74 To be fair, it should be noted that the now discredited “good intentions” defense used to be standard with respect to several categories of child abusers; see Alice Miller, For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1983). For analogous polemics on behalf of rapists, see Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1975) esp. pp. 283-308.

75 E. Bass and L. Davis, The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (New York: Harper & Row, 1988); J.P. Wilson, Trauma, Transformation and Healing: An Integrative Approach to Theory, Research and Post-Traumatic Therapy (New York: Brunner/ Mazel, 1990).

76 D. A. Pollack, M. S. Rhodes and C. A. Boyle, et al., “Estimating the Number of Suicides Among Vietnam Veterans,” American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 147, 1990; Herbert Hendin and Ann P. Haas, “Suicide and Guilt as Manifestations of PTSD in Vietnam Combat Veterans,” American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 148, 1991.

77 See, e.g., Safiya Bukhari-Alston, “We Too Are Veterans: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders and the Black Panther Party,” The Black Panther, Feb. 1991.

78 Milloy, National Crime, p. 302.

79 Ibid., p. 301.

80 See, e.g., the apologist gush spewed by Szasz in Education and the American Indian.

81 For especially astute insights in this connection, see Jimmie Durham’s essay “Cowboys and…” in his A Certain Lack of Coherence: Writings on Art and Cultural Politics (London: Kala, 1993) pp. 170-86. This is certainly true of the public school system through which a majority of aboriginal youth are now “mainstreamed.” Unfortunately, it also seems more true than not of most reserve-situated day schools, including the “Indian-controlled” ones, through which the balance are processed. Educational “control” is doled out to Aboriginal Peoples as they “prove” themselves “worthy” by performing in a manner indistinguishable from what non- Aboriginals have been doing all along. Of course, when we are indistinguishable from our oppressors, we are our oppressors; Chrisjohn, Young and Maraun, Circle Game, p. 145.

82 See generally, the title essay in my Fantasies of the Master Race: Literature, Cinema and the Colonization of American Indians (San Francisco: City Lights, [2nd ed.] 1998) pp. 177-224; Daniel Francis, The Imaginary Indian: The Image of the Indian in Canadian Culture (Vancouver, BC: Arsenal Pulp Press, 1992). It should be noted that the term “redskin” comes from a 1755 proclamation of the Massachusetts Bay Colony wherein a bounty was offered for proof of death of Indians in the form of their heads, scalps or “bloody red skins”; Susan Lobos and Steve Talbot, eds., Native American Voices: A Reader (New York: Longman, 1998) p. 176. For further analysis of the implications of the sports team mascot issue, see the essays “Let’s Spread the ‘Fun’  Around: The Issue of Sports Team Names and Mascots” and “In the Matter of Julius Streicher,” in my From a Native Son: Essays in Indigenism, 1985-1995 (Boston: South End Press, 1996) pp. 439-54. The term “squaw” derives from the Mohawk word for female genitalia; Barbara Alice Mann, Iroquoian Women: The Gantowisas (New York: Peter Lang, 2000) p. 364. Used colloquially, as it is by the settler society, it is the equivalent of the English word “cunt.” On prevalence of the word’s current usage in place names, see Lobos and Talbot, Voices, p. 176.

83 Although a mass psychology of denial is at issue here, the amplifying effect upon the pathologies of trauma victims is in many ways comparable to those witnessed in instances where the denials of individual rapists, child molesters/abusers and wife batterers are treated as credible; see, e.g., Brownmiller, Against Our Will, pp. 228-34.

84 Analogously, see Ann W. Burgess and Lynda L Holmstrom, “Adaptive Strategies and Recovery from Rape,” American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 136, 1979; Joel Dimsdale, “The Coping Behavior of Nazi Concentration Camp Survivors,” in his Survivors, Victims, and Perpetrators, pp. 163-74; E. Kahana, B. Kahana, Z. Harel, et al., “Coping with Extreme Trauma,” in J. Wilson, Z Harel and B. Kahana, eds., Human Adaptation to Extreme Stress: From the Holocaust to Vietnam (New York: Plenum, 1988) pp. 55-80.

85 For an overview, see the essay entitled “The Tragedy and the Travesty: The Subversion of Indigenous Sovereignty in North America,” in my Struggle for the Land: Native North American Resistance to Genocide, Ecocide and Colonization (Winnipeg: Arbiter Ring, [2nd ed.] 1999) pp. 37-92.

86 The complete text will be found in Ian Brownlie, ed., Basic Documents on Human Rights (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, [3rd ed.] 1992) pp. 31-2.

87 Ibid., p. 31.

88 Jean-Paul Sartre, “On Genocide,” Ramparts, Feb. 1968. For critique, see Leo Kuper, Genocide (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1981) pp. 44-6. It should be noted that while Kuper reacts almost viscerally to Sartre’s formulation, he ends up accepting its validity.

89 Brownlie, Documents, p. 32.

90 There is a burgeoning literature on this point. See, as examples, Pierre Vidal-Niquet, Assassins of Memory. Essays on the Denial of the Holocaust (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992); Deborah Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory (New York: Free Press, 1993); Michael Shermer and Alex Grobmam Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000).

91 Explication will be found in Bradley F. Smith, Reaching Judgement at Nuremberg (New York: Basic Books, 1977).

92 See Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel, Incomparable Crime-Mass Extermination in the 20th Century: The Legacy of Guilt (London: Hinemann, 1967).

93 On the “Good German” thesis, see Eugene Davidson, The Trial of the Germans, 1945-1946 (New York: Macmillan, 1966) p. 7. On the comparable culpability of Euroamericans and Eurocanadians, see J. Sakai, Settlers: The Myth of the White Proletariat
(Chicago: Seeds Beneath the Snow, 1987).

94 Quoted in Bertrand Russell, War Crimes in Vietnam (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1967) p. 125.

95 Text will be found in Burns H. Weston, Richard A. Falk and Anthony D\rquote Amato, eds., Basic Documents in International Law and World Order (St. Paul, MN: West, 1990) p. 140.

96 This is true in exactly the same sense that the personal consent and agreement of each citizen is unnecessary to bind all citizens to comply with given statutes within their country’s legal codes. Such codes, of course, are themselves required to conform at least in their generalities to the higher body of legal articulation embodied in international law. A country is no more entitled to self-exemption from the latter than is an individual citizen from the former. A time-honored principle of international customary law, it was invoked against the nazi defendants at Nuremberg. For further explanation, see Adam Roberts and Richard Guelff, eds., Documents on the Laws of War (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1982) pp. 5,10,16. More broadly, see Theodor Meron, Human Rights and Humanitarian Norm as Customary Law (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1989).

97 Bradley F. Smith, The Road to Nuremberg (New York: Basic Books, 1981). In 1986, the US formally repudiated the prerogatives of the International Court of Justice with respect to matters other than resolution of trade disputes, thereby becoming the only United Nations member-state to refuse ICJ jurisdiction; “US Terminates Acceptance of ICJ Compulsory Jurisdiction,” Department of State Bulletin, No. 86, Jan. 1986. In 1997, it followed up by rejecting jurisdiction of the incipient International Criminal Court; Phyllis Bennis, Calling the Shots: How Washington Dominates Today’s UN (New York: Olive Branch Press, 2000) pp. 274-9.

98 Lawrence J. LeBlanc, The United States and the Genocide Convention (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1991); text of the so-called Sovereignty Package included as Appendix C, pp. 253-4.

99 Among many others, the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (1960), International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (1966), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1966), Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984), and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families (1990) are at issue; a more comprehensive itemization will be found in William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 2000) pp. 184-99. Most recently, the US refused to sign off on the 1994 Convention on the Rights of the Child on the basis that the law would impair its “sovereign right” to declare kids as young as 12 “adults” for purposes of criminal prosecution/punishment (including, theoretically, imposition of the death penalty); Bennis, Calling the Shots, pp. 280-1.

100 Robert Davis and Mark Zannis, The Genocide Machine in Canada: The Pacification of the North (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1973) pp. 21-4.

101 Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46.

102 McPherson’s preference seems to have been for the 7th College Edition of Webster’s Dictionary, although he quotes the OED and Shorter OED as well; Daishowa Inc. v. Friends of the Lubicon, Ontario Court of justice (Gen. Div.), File No. 95-CQ-59707, Verdict of Judge J. McPherson (Apr. 14,1998) p. 71.

103 Ibid., pp. 72, 76.

104 For further analysis, see the essay entitled “Last Stand at Lubicon Lake: Genocide and Ecocide in the Canadian North,” in my Struggle for the Land, esp. pp. 226-8.

105 See, e.g., Alan T. Davies, “The Queen Versus James Keegstra: Reflections on Christian Antisemitism in Canada,” American Journal of Theology and Philosophy, Vol. 9, Nos. 1-2, Jan-May 1988; Leonidas E. Hill, “The Trial of Ernst Zundel: Revisionism and the Law in Canada,” Simon Wiesenthal Annual, 1989. The term is Adolf Hitler’s; Norman Rich, Hitler’s War Aims: Ideology, the Nazi State, and the Course of Expansion (New York: W.W. Norton, 1973) p. 8, citing the 2-volume 1939 edition of Mein Kampf at pp. 403, 591. Also see Hitler’s Secret Book (New York: Grove Press, 1961) pp. 106-8.

106 Robert Jay Lifton and Eric Markusen, The Genocidal Mentality: Nazi Holocaust and Nuclear Threat (New York: Basic Books, 1990).

107 At issue here are attempts to recast offenses such as those embodied in forced assimilation policies as “ethnocide,” a presumptively different and lesser crime than genocide. This is mere semantic subterfuge. According to Raphael Lemkin, who coined both terms, they are synonyms; Raphael Lemkin, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation, Analysis of Government, Proposal for Redress (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1944) p. 79. A similar contrivance can be detected in dismissive observations that, “at worst,” the residential schools inflicted “only” cultural genocide upon native people, as if cultural were that less significant than physical or biological genocide. Be it noted that Lemkin, who devised all three classifications in the “Secretariat’s Draft” of the Genocide Convention he prepared in 1946, stated explicitly, repeatedly and emphatically that they were of equal significance and intended to carry the same weight in law; Morris Lippman, “The Drafting of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” Boston University Journal of International Law, No. 3, 1984.

108 Even in optimal circumstances – a decisive termination of the active source of trauma and a social environment facilitating potential recovery – there can be no realistic expectation that the aftershocks of traumatic damage ever completely dissipate; see W.W. Eaton, J.J. Sigal and M. Weinfeld, “Impairment in Holocaust Survivors after 33 Years: An Unbiased Community Sample,” American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 139, 1982, C.C. Tennant, K.G. Goulston and O.F. Dent, “The Psychological Effects of Being a Prisoner of War: Forty Years After Release,” American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 143, 1986.

109 C. Van Dyke, N.J. Zilberg and J.A. McKinnon, “PTSD: A 30-year Delay in a World War II Combat Veteran,” American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 142, 1985.

110 Kai T. Erikson, Everything in Its Path: Destruction of Community in the Buffalo Creek Flood (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1976); J.L. Tichener and F.T. Kapp, “Family and Character Change at Buffalo Creek, American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 133, 1976; B.L. Green, J.D. Lindy, M.C. Grace, et al., “Buffalo Creek Survivors in the Second Decade: Stability of Stress Symptoms,” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, No. 60, 1990.

111 There is a copious literature on this topic. See, as examples, J. Segal, E.J. Hunter and Z. Segal, “Universal Consequences of Captivity: Stress Reactions Among Divergent Populations of Prisoners of War and Their Families,” International Journal of Social Science, No. 28, 1976; Axel Russel, “Late Effects: Influence on the Children of a Concentration Camp Survivor,” in Dimsdale, Survivors, Victim, and Perpetrators; S. Haley,” The Vietnam Veteran and His Pre-School Child: Child-Rearing as a Delayed Stress in Combat Veterans,” Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, No. 41, 1983; Janice Bistritz, “Transgenerational Pathology in Families of Holocaust Survivors” and William Niederland, “The Clinical Aftereffects of the Holocaust in Survivors and Their Offspring,” in Randolph Braham, ed., The Psychological Perspectives of the Holocaust and Its Aftermath (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988); Norman Solkoff, “The Holocaust. Survivors and Their Children,” in Basoglu, Torture and Its Consequences; Yael Danieli, “Treating Survivors and Children of Survivors of the Nazi Holocaust” in Ochberg, Post-Traumatic Therapy, pp. 278-94.

112 See, e.g., Native Women’s Association of the Northwest Territories, Communications Strategy: Child Sexual Abuse in Residential Schools (Yellowknife, NWT: Native Women’s Association of the Northwest Territories, n.d.); Child Advocacy Project, New Justice for Indian Children (Winnipeg: Children’s Hospital, 1987).

113 First Nations Health Commission, Indian Residential School Study, Draft No. 4 (Ottawa: Assembly of First Nations, May 1992) p. 3. For further discussion of the transmissive principle articulated, see Rosalyn Ing, “The Effects of Residential Schools on Native Child Rearing Practices,” Canadian Journal of Native Education, No. 18 (Supp.), 1991.

114 For elaboration of symptomologies, see Herman, Trauma, esp. 122-9. Also see L.C. Kolb and L.R. Multipassi, “The Conditioned Emotional Response: A Subclass of Chronic and Delayed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” Psychiatric Annals, No. 12, 1982; B.A. van der Kolk, R. Blitz, W. Burr, et al., “Nightmares and Trauma,” American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 141, 1984; E.A. Brett and R Ostroff, “Imagery in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: An Overview,” American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 142, 1985; T.M. Keane, R.T. Zimmering and J.M. Caddell, “A Behavioral Formulation of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Vietnam Veterans,” Behavior Therapist, No. 8, 1985; R.J. Ross, W.A. Ball, K.A. SuIlivan, et al., “Sleep Disturbance as the Hallmark of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 148, 1989; W. De Loos, “Psychosomatic Manifestations of Chronic PTSD,” in M.E. Wolf and A.D. Mosnaim., Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Etiology, Phenomenology, and Treatment (Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, 1990) pp. 94-105; Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried (New York: Houghton-Mifflin, 1990).

115 H.B. Lewis, Shame and Guilt in Neurosis (New York: International University Press, 1971).

116 This is in many respects straight out of Fanon, who concluded in Wretched of the Earth that violence of the sort at issue is an inherent and thus unavoidable byproduct of colonial relations. For analysis, see Hussein Abdilahi, Frantz Fanon and the Psychology of Oppression (New York: Plenum, 1985).

117 G.T. Hotaling and D.G. Sugarman, “An Analysis of Risk Markers in Husband-to-Wife Violence: The Current State of Knowledge,” Violence and Victims, No. 1, 1986; L.H. Bowker, M. Arbitel and J.R. McFerron, “On the Relationship Between Wife-Beating and Child Abuse” in K. Yllo and M. Bograd, Feminist Perspectives in Wife Abuse (Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, 1988) pp. 158- 74; Steven Krugman, “Trauma in the Family: Perspectives on Intergenerational Transmission of Violence,” in Bessel A. van der Kolk, Psychological Trauma (Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, 1987) pp. 127-52; K.A. Dodge, J.E, Bates and G.S. Pettit, “Mechanisms in the Cycle of Violence,\’94 Science, No. 250,1990.

118 A.H. Green, “Dimensions of Psychological Trauma in Abused Children,” Journal of the American Association of Child Psychiatry, No. 22, 1983; Judith L. Herman, Diana E.H. Russell and Karen Trocki, “Long-Term Effects of Incestuous Abuse in Childhood,” American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 143,1986; J.B. Bryer, B.A. Nelson, J.B. Miller and P.A. Krol, “Childhood Physical and Sexual Abuse as Factors in Adult Psychiatric Illness,” American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 144, 1987; V.E. Pollack, J. Briere and L Schneider, et al., “Childhood Antecedents of Antisocial Behavior: Parental Alcoholism and Physical Abuse,” American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 147, 1990; Lenore C. Terr, “Childhood Traumas: An Overview and Outline,” American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 148, 1991. Additional background will be found in Lenore C. Terr, Too Scared to Cry: How Trauma Affects Children and Ultimately Us All (New York: Basic Books,1990).

119 R.M. Clark, The Forgotten Children (Toronto: Alcohol and Addiction Research Foundation, 1969); Charles Deutsch, Broken Bottles, Broken Dreams (New York: Teachers College Press, 1982); Judith S. Seixas and Geraldine Youcha, Children of Alcoholism: A Survivor’s Manual (New York: Harper Row, 1985).

120 Herman, Trauma, p. 101.

121 Ibid., pp. 102-3.

122 Mary Rogan, “Please Take Our Children Away,” New York Times Magazine, Mar. 4, 2001.

123 This has always been a mainstay of “conservative” settler discourse, and has over the past generation come to infest the rhetoric of liberalism as well. See the conversational and more formal snippets included in Chrisjohn and Young with Maraun, Circle Game, pp. 262-4.

124 Her two sisters by birth are Rhonda and Dawn, her three brothers, Mike, Byron and Ben. The eldest, Rhonda, was born seven years before Leah. Another girl, Krissy, was adopted by the family after Leah was grown and gone. Nonetheless, Leah was very clear that she considered Krissy her “little sister.”

125 On the Fort Francis School, see Milloy, National Crime, pp. 113, 240; J.R. Miller, Shingwauk’s Vision: A History of Native Residential Schools (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996) pp. 175-6, 233, 303, 346, 353.

126 Although John has never been able to effect a reintegration of Ojibwe tradition into his life, he long ago reconciled with his people. His route to this end was to take a leading role in organizing a boycott during the mid-70s which resulted in Sabaskong Bay wresting control over their schools from Canada (his MA thesis was ultimately devoted to explaining the process). Having served a stint as Grand Chief of Treaty 3 during the early 1980s, he still works as an administrator in the educational system he helped create; York, Dispossessed, pp. 26, 282.

127 This is only partially true. Two of the children, Ben and Dawn, now in their mid-30s, still live in their parents’  basement. Rhonda also resides close at hand. Mike, Byron and Leah all left at very young ages, however.

128 One of the things that struck me early was that, whenever she’d call on the phone, Leah would identify herself in a tone blending hope and hesitancy in a way suggesting strong doubts that I – or anyone else – might actually want to hear from her.

129 This would sometimes work itself out in rages concerning the fact that I and others were doing what she imagined that John might like to have done.

130 It was never completely clear to me whether the physical violence was inflicted at home, elsewhere, or both. On several occasions, she did remark upon being “smacked around” by unnamed parties outside the family. One of the problems I’ve had in trying to reconstruct Leah’s early years is that she herself would/could provide only fragmentary glimpses. John honestly doesn’t recall a lot of what he might have done to whom, or exactly when. Beyond acknowledging that “there were things that happened in her childhood,” the rest of the family adopts a frozen silence on the matter. This is characteristic of those, including victims of RSS, suffering the effects of acute trauma; see Assembly of First Nations, Breaking the Silence; Emily Schatzow and Judith Herman, “Breaking Secrecy: Adult Survivors Disclose to Their Families,” Psychiatric Clinics of America, No. 12, 1989.

131 These are, of course, all classic stereotypes implanted in the residential schools and reinforced at every turn by settler discourse; see Assembly of First Nations, Breaking the Silence; Bull, “Residential Schools,” esp. pp. 40-1. One upshot for Leah was an abiding preoccupation with personal cleanliness. She usually changed socks and underwear twice a day, and washed her hands with astonishing frequency. At times I’d find her scrubbing herself so harshly that it appeared she was trying to remove her skin. Her explanation was that she was trying to rid herself of a “dingy” or “yellowish” tinge.

132 This behavior, often misleadingly characterized as “reverse racism,” is a predictable reaction of those most arbitrarily victimized by the “hierarchy of color” imposed by settler society. It exists to a greater or lesser extent in virtually every community of color in North America, and will undoubtedly continue to do so until the settlers’ system of white skin privilege is finally abolished. For a good background reading, see Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks: The Experiences of a Black Man in a White World (New York: Grove Press, 1967).

133 Leah was in almost continuous – one could say obsessive – need of reassurance about her appearance. After her death I discovered a small box of photos, including school pictures taken during her early grades. On some, the face has been scribbled out with a ballpoint. Another is disfigured with horns and a Hitler mustache. One bears the hand-printed caption, “Ugly, Ugly, Ugly!” Yet as photos of her attest, she was by no means unattractive.

134 John’s four brothers were also victims of the residential schools, where at least two were sexually abused. All five of “the Kelly boys” became serious alcoholics. One still is. A decisive majority of their children now suffer or are recovering from alcoholism, and several exhibit other forms of psychological damage. In one uncle’s family, two teenagers committed suicide in a single year and it is suspected that a third, killed in a car wreck died by his own hand as well. This simple and decidedly incomplete recitation doesn’t begin to convey the magnitude or quality of the senses of pain and loss swirling through this “really fucked-up family” (Leah’s words). Nor is their situation atypical.

135 To me, Leah mentioned only a single such incident, and only when she’d been drinking heavily. When I’d ask who had done this to her, she’d invariably look confused, and reply that it had been her “uncle.” When I’d ask which uncle, she’d either claim not to remember, or confirm any name I posed, responses causing me to question whether the incident had occurred at all. It turns out, however, that she told the whole story to a woman friend, also sexually abused as a child – and thus inspiring of a certain intimacy – who shared it with me after Leah’s death. The predator was not an actual relative, but nonetheless trusted enough to be viewed as “an uncle” by his victim. The psychological damage inflicted by his betrayal was thus to all intents and purposes the equivalent of what she described.

136 I doubt this is all there was to the incident, since it seems to have resulted in a particularly severe scarring. Leah recounted the story as I’ve recapitulated it here on at least a dozen occasions, often tearfully, during the six years we were together.

137 Leah once explained to me that the only reason she’d gone to Laval was because her “dad said it would be a good place to learn a ‘useful language,’  like French.” She was a quick study, picking up French in less than a year, and reasonable degrees of fluency in Spanish and German thereafter. With her own language, however, she was stymied, attributing her “block” to John’s marked disinterest in teaching her. Towards the end of her life she struggled valiantly to learn it anyway, spending at least an hour each day with tapes and flashcards she’d made, increasingly frustrated that there were no Ojibwe speakers in the Denver area with whom she could converse or even check pronunciations. It is noteworthy, I think, that an hour spent learning ten new words comprised her last sober moments.

138 These were mostly other waiters. One of them, Wendy Lewis, would become by far the most committed and longlasting friend in Leah’s life. They talked on the phone regularly the entire time Leah lived in Boulder, and whenever we were in Winnipeg there was always time spent with Wendy. More importantly, in some respects, she always made time for Leah when we were up there, and actually undertook the effort of visiting her down here. The importance of this last, from Leah’s frame of reference, cannot be overstated.

139 This was actually her second. She’d had the first during her stint at Laval. According to Leah, the pregnancy resulted from casual sex and the loss of the child was thus inconsequential. On the other hand, this version of events may well have been one of her many defensive covers, the sex casual only for her partner, and the abortion a reason she left Quebec so abruptly. Either way, the fact that she’d had it, and the Winnipeg abortion as well, induced a lingering anxiety about how her mom might react if she found out. In fact, Barb knew, but kept it to herself.

140 “Why am I always such a fool? They’re all laughing at me again. How is it possible for one person to be so stupid? Nothing ever works out for me. I wish I could just die.”

141 Again, this is not quite true. She kept certain things, among them a dinner service for two she very carefully packed away and placed in storage. I remember being struck by the depth of the yearning this signified when she ever-so-shyly brought them forth after coming to Boulder. I have them still: a nicely-matched set of blue plates, saucers and wine glasses, complete with candle holders, collected for a couple.

142 See van der Kolk, Blitz, and Burr, “Nightmares and Trauma.”

143 “Explosive or extremely uninhibited anger” is listed as an indicator of Complex PTSD; Herman, Trauma and Recovery, p.121.

144 “The survivor’s intimate relationships are driven by the need for protection and care and are haunted by the fear of abandonment or exploitation. In a quest for rescue, she may seek out powerful authority figures who seem to offer the promise of a special caretaking relationship… Inevitably, however, the person fails to live up to her fantastic expectations. When disappointed, she may furiously denigrate the person she so recently adored… In the mind of the survivor, even minor slights evoke past experiences of callous neglect and minor hurts evoke past experiences of deliberate cruelty. These distortions are not easily corrected by experience”; Herman, Trauma and Recovery, p. 111.

145 “Abused children [often] form symbiotic relationships as adults in order to avoid reexperiencing the anxieties and vulnerabilities of childhood… Feelings of helplessness, inadequacy, and low self-esteem drive them towards this symbiotic merging. Any disruption of the symbiosis causes rage. Any thought, feeling, or action that suggests autonomy is a reminder of separateness, which reawakens memories of trauma and renders the traumatized individual to experience intolerable feelings of abandonment and helplessness. In such relationships, violence serves to punish the other for being autonomous, while also allowing intense emotional contact and the fantasy of repairing the damaged bond”; Steven Krugman, “Trauma in the Family: Perspectives on the Intergenerational Transmission of Violence,” in van der Kolk, ed., Psychological Trauma, pp. 135-6.

146 She did to others, however, including my sister and several women who sought to befriend her. An especially noteworthy incident occurred during the winter of 1997, when I received a phone call from the manager of a stereo store explaining that she was there, very drunk, and I had told him I’d come pick her up. By the time I arrived, the police were there, and Leah was being questioned – not very successfully, from the look of it – in the parking lot. Upon seeing me pull up, and apparently deciding I’d make an excellent means of get-away, she hauled off and kicked a cop (being much dismayed when she was promptly wrestled to the ground and cuffed). It took me about 20 minutes to convince them not to charge her with assaulting an officer, in Colorado a felony carrying a potential 5-year prison sentence.

147 I’ve never been certain whether Leah genuinely believed this to be true, whether the idea merely served as a useful cover for things she was feeling or some combination. Both the woman and I – we’d had a momentary “thing” two years before I met Leah, subsequently becoming friends – went to great lengths to convince her that no “affair” existed (or ever really had). Leah remained unconvinced, however, or said she did, and acted out, presumably on that basis, for years. Although I eventually jettisoned the friendship altogether, in what proved a useless attempt to quell her fears, she was still worrying to her diary that I was attracted to the “other woman” during the last month of her life. Such “persistent distrust” is a characteristic of Complex PTSD. “In the aftermath of traumatic events, survivors doubt both others and themselves… The damage to the survivor’s faith and sense of community is particularly severe when the traumatic events themselves involve the betrayal of important relationships” at an early age; Herman, Trauma and Recovery, pp. 121, 53, 55.

148 Ibid., pp. 102-3. Overall, see Frank W. Putnam, Diagnosis and Treatment of Multiple Personality Disorder (New York: Guilford, 1989).

149 “There is overwhelming evidence that [Multiple Personality Disorder] results from child abuse”; Bessel van der Kolk, “The Psychological Consequences of Overwhelming Life Experiences,” in van der Kolk, ed., Psychological Trauma,pp. 6-7.

150 Shengold, Soul Murder, p. 26.

151 This, of course, indicates that she was actively visualizing these “others,” at least intermittently, during waking states. Such visualization is symptomatic of acute trauma/Complex PTSD; Brett and Ostroff, “Imagery in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”; Herman, Trauma and Recovery, p. 121.

152 Such scenes, repeated perhaps two dozen times, are burned indelibly into my memory. Leah always said precisely the same thing, in precisely the same tone, accompanied by precisely the same gestures.

153 On “alters,” see Herman, Trauma and Recovery, pp. 102-3; Sylvia Fraser, My Father’s House: A Memoir of Incest and Healing (New York: Harper & Row, 1987) pp. 220-1.

154 This is the standard AA line; see, e.g., Margaret Bean, “Alcoholics Anonymous Principles and Methods,” Psychiatric Annals, Feb. 1975.

155 We’ve entered an area of behavior where it is difficult to distinguish severe alcohol dependency in an anesthetic sense from efforts to use the substance as a means of achieving outright suicide; see, e.g., Shkilnyk, Poison Stronger Than Love, pp. 16-8.

156 To get the drift of what I thought I was doing, see Peter M. Miller, Behavioral Treatment of Alcoholism (New York: Pergamon, 1976).

157 For insight into my reasoning, see Andrew Polsky, The Rise of the Therapeutic State (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991). Although there are exceptions, and I’ve cited many of them herein, I tend to view psychiatrists as participants in a criminal enterprise, psychiatry itself as a Crime Against Humanity. Its longstanding position at the forefront of the eugenics movement, its habitual usage of human beings as test animals, its routine employment of techniques like psychosurgery and electroshock, as well as its core reliance upon psychotropics and other such drugs leaves me no alternative. See generally, Thomas Szasz, The Therapeutic State: Psychiatry in the Mirror of Current Events (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1984); Thomas Roder Volker Kubillus and Anthony Burwell, Psychiatrists: The Men Behind Hitler (Los Angeles: Freedom Press, 1994); Stephan Kuhl, The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994). “Bipolar Disorder,” which was once and more instructively known as “Manic Depressive Psychosis,” has become the state-of-the-art catch-all term of the psychiatric vernacular.

158 Irvin Yalom, Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy (New York: Basic Books, 1989).

159 “70 percent of patients with an established diagnosis of multiple personality disorder also qualified for the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder”; Herman and van der Kolk, “Traumatic Antecedents,” p. 117. Also see Herman, Trauma and Recovery, p. 123. Letter to the Editor, American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 147, 1990, p. 1390.

160 A serious problem with this approach is that those suffering Complex PTSD accruing from childhood manifest a “disguised presentation” designed to protect the traumatic source. This renders them quite suggestible to anything that might conveniently serve as a cover. Leah’s case is a perfect example. A diary entry dating from the fall of 1996, when she first began to consume large amounts of alcohol, observes that, “My drinking is making my relationship with my husband crazy.” After a couple of weeks with the Centennial Peaks counselors during the spring of 2000, she noted in the diary that, “The craziness of my relationship with Ward makes me drink.” Nowhere in her assessment questionnaires was Leah asked a single question bearing on her childhood experiences (this is standard; Herman and van der Kolk, “Traumatic Antecedents,” (p. 116). One can only assume the counseling sessions followed suit. By implication, she was being led towards conclusions convenient for the therapist rather than probed as to the source of her problem. The effect – with BPD at least – can be to reinforce aspects of the problem itself.
Trauma “may produce long-lasting alteration in the regulation of endogenous opioids, which are natural substances having the same effects as opiates within the central nervous system.” If such organic chemical imbalances are detected by clinicians, and a patient’s background of trauma is not, the tendency is to attribute their malady to the imbalance rather than vice versa; Roger K. Pitman and van der Kolk, et al., “Naxoline Reversible Analgesic Response to Combat-Related Stimuli in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Pilot Study,” Archives of General Psychiatry, No. 47,1990, pp. 541-7. The longterm organic chemical imbalances generated by protracted trauma and/or Complex PTSD are now believed to bring about physiological alterations of the brain structure. Should the deep traumatic source of imbalance go undetected in therapy – as is all but invariably the case with BPD – and abnormalities of the brain structure discovered during postmortem examination, the tendency is to treat the abnormality as the source of symptoms rather than the other way around. This, in turn, suggests – quite erroneously – a “genetic predisposition”; van der Kolk, “The Body Keeps Score: Approaches to the Psychobiology of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder,” in  van der Kolk, A.C. MacFarlane and L. Weisbach, eds., Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on Mind and Body (New York Guilford, 1996) pp. 214-41.

161 Herman and van der Kolk, “Traumatic Antecedents,” p. 114; quoting John G. Gunderson. Borderline Personality Disorder (Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, 1984).

162 Herman and van der Kolk, “Traumatic Antecedents,” p. 118; citing, among other sources, M.H. Stone, “Borderline Syndrome: A Consideration of Subtypes and an Overview, Psychiatric Clinics of North America, No. 4, 1981; Judith L. Herman, “Histories of Violence in Outpatient Population,” American Journal of Ortho-psychiatry, No. 57, 1986. Also see M.C. Zanarini, J.G. Gunderson, M.F. Marino, et al., “Childhood Experiences of Borderline Patients,” Comprehensive Psychiatry, No. 30, 1989; Judith L. Herman, J. Perry and Bessel A. van der Kolk, “Childhood Trauma in Borderline Personality Disorder,” American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 146, 1989; S.N. Ogata, K.R. Silk, S. Goodrich, et al., “Childhood Sexual and Physical Abuse in Adult Patients with Borderline Personality Disorder,” American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 151, 1990.

163 Herman and van der Kolk, “Traumatic Antecedents,” p. 119.

164 Ibid.; citing, among other sources, Henry Krystal, “Trauma and Its Affects,” Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, No. 33, 1978; Judith L. Herman, Father-Daughter Incest (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981); Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Trauma Response as a Biopsychosocial Entity in Long-Term Effects of Violence: Cross-Cultural Treatment and Research Issues in PTSD (Washington, DC: National Institutes of Health Monographs, 1986); and Yael Danieli, “The Treatment and Prevention of Long-Term Effects and Intergenerational Transmission of Victimization: A Lesson from Holocaust Survivors and Their Children,” in Figley, Trauma and Its Wake.

165 Szasz, Therapeutic State; Polsky, Rise of the Therapeutic State. Also see R.D. Laing, The Politics of Experience (New York: Ballantine, 1968); Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Against Therapy (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, [2nd ed.] 1994).

166 Even with Vietnam vets, where the systemic linkages to trauma cannot be denied, it is, – can be, and usually is – argued that victimization resulted from a “mistake,” since corrected – the war is over, after all – and that the system itself is sound. This is as opposed to the general, and entirely correct, recognition that what the nazis did they did for reasons of structural imperative, and that it is thus the nazi system itself which must be condemned; see generally, Hendin and Haas, Wounds of War.

167 Herman, Trauma and Recovery, pp. 122-6. Also see J.B. Bryer, B.A. Nelson, J.B. Miller and P.A. Krol, “Childhood Sexual and Physical Abuse as Factors in Adult Psychiatric Illness,” American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 144,1987.

168 Fish-Murray, Koby and van der Kolk, “Effects of Abuse,” pp. 102-3; Herman, Trauma and Recovery, pp. 101-7, 125; Otto Kernberg, “Borderline Personality Organization,” American Journal of Psychiatry, No. 15, 1967.

169 The painting, entitled “Rug Motif #9,” was the centerpiece of a group exhibition conducted in conjunction with American Indian Awareness Week at the University of Colorado, April 19-27, 2001. The show was dedicated to Leah’s memory.

170 Antabuse is contraindicated to alcohol in such a way as to induce nausea, headache, hot flashes and other unpleasant side effects when the latter is ingested in small amounts. When combined with large amounts of alcohol, it can be dangerous, sometimes fatal.

171 Sartre, “On Genocide”; Churchill, Little Matter of Genocide, pp. 416, 433, 441.

172 As examples, see Drinnon, Facing West; Tzvetan Todorov, The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other (New York: Harper & Row, 1984); David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: Columbus and the Conquest of the New World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).

173 Aspects of the problem are explored quite well by Noam Chomsky, albeit in another connection, in the essay “Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship,” included in his American Power and the New Mandarins (New York: Pantheon, 1967) pp. 23-158.

174 For elaboration, see Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies (Boston: South End Press, 1989); Michael Parenti, Inventing Reality: The Politics of the News Media (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993).

175 For a classic example of emphasis upon personal experience to the virtual exclusion of much-needed contextualization, see Basil H. Johnson, Indian School Days (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988).

176 Even the best and most beautifully-composed examples of the extant biographical/personal narrative literature – e.g., Rudy Wiebe and Yvonne Johnson, Stolen Life: The Journey of a Cree Woman (Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998) – fall about as far short of bringing out the objective conditions and processes shaping the context of their subjects’ lives as objective studies do in addressing more subjective considerations.

177 The point here is important insofar as one of the primary defensive strategies deployed by apologists for the status quo has been to privilege analytical individuation to the exclusion of group and systemic analyses; Rajeev Bhargava, Individualism in Social Science: Forms and Limits of a Methodology (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1992).

178 For treatment of a somewhat analogous context, see John Duffet, ed., Against the Crime of Silence: Proceedings of the International War Crimes Tribunal (New York: Clarion Books, 1970). More directly, see Assembly of First Nations, Breaking the Silence; Furniss, Conspiracy of Silence.

179 Chrisjohn and Young with Maraun, Circle Game, pp. 81, 255, 277.

180 This is the exactly the distinction made in behalf of combat veterans by Hendin and Haas in Wounds of War.

181 Had candor rather than silence been the behavioral norm among native people, or at least her family, things might well have worked out very differently for Leah. Presumably, the same holds true for many others; Schatzow and Herman, “Breaking Secrecy.”

182 “If it is sickness you seek don’t look for it in the victims of genocide; it resides in the minds and hearts of the people who planned, designed, implemented, and operated the machinery of genocide, and who now seek to cover it up. The ‘meaning’ of Indian Residential Schooling is not the pathology it may have created in some Aboriginal Peoples; it is the pathology it reveals in the ‘system of order’ giving rise to it”; Chrisjohn and Young with Maraun, Circle Game, pp. 80-1.

183 And not just with native people here. Settler elites all over the planet have recently taken to offering apologies to and calling for reconciliation with those they’ve ravaged, meanwhile making no move to relinquish either the privileges or the lion’s share of the spoils they obtained in the process. For a global survey, see Roy L Brooks, When Sorry Isn’t Enough: The Controversy Over Apologies and Reparations for Human Injustice (New York: New York University Press, 1999).

184 “Folk wisdom recognizes that forgiveness is divine. And even divine forgiveness, in most religious systems, is not unconditional. True forgiveness cannot be granted until the perpetrator has sought and earned it through confession, repentance and restitution. Genuine contrition in a perpetrator is a rare miracle”; Herman, Trauma and Recovery, p. 190.

185 There is presently a tendency among the more radical native intellectuals – for which I am myself in significant part responsible – to privilege the material at the expense or even to the exclusion of the psychological. This is just as dangerous as discounting material considerations in favor of primarily “therapeutic” remedies. Leah’s example offers proof positive that alterations in material circumstance alone are not sufficient. Much of the material in Wretched of the Earth is of course relevant to this point. More germane still is Fanon’s A Dying Colonialism (New York: Grove Press, 1967) esp. pp. 147-62. Also see Lewis R. Gordon, Fanon and the Crisis of Western Man: An Essay on Philosophy and the Social Sciences (New York: Routledge, 1995) esp. pp. 37-66.