Mar 142011
 

To say the states of the Union are facing fiscal problems would be an understatement. With nearly every state in the country facing serious budget deficits as the recession takes its toll and stimulus funds drying up states are doing whatever they can to stay above water. Whether through steep cuts in spending in Texas, structural reforms in California, or weakening public unions in the Midwest all are united in their search for an answer. Nowhere is a more radical effort being waged than in the state of Michigan.

 

The Republican-controlled Michigan State Senate recently passed a highly controversial bill to address the fiscal crises facing state. In the name of fiscal responsibility a group of state officials appointed by the governor known as emergency financial maangers would gain virtually unchecked power over all aspects of the local government in their charge. Some argue thesepowers are necessary to address the multitude of fiscal problems in Michigan by giving the emergency managers the extra leverage needed to get the job done. As they see it emergency managers are necessary to clean up the state’s problems and they have been used successfully in Michigan previously. This does not answer the question of if the new powers, or the changes to process, go too far.

 

The first line crossed is in the process of declaring a state of fiscal emergency. The Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act grants a considerable amount of unchecked power to the governor’s office. In the new bill the governor would have the final say on if a local government is in a state of fiscal emergencyi. The governor have the sole power to appoint the emergency manager with no outside review or confirmationii. The new manager, once appointed, could only be removed by the governor or impeachmentiii. The law goes further by giving emergency managers full immunity from any legal liabilityiv.

 

So why would the emergency managers need protection from legal sanction? The Fiscal Accountability Act gives the emergency managers unprecedented authority over their municipalities. The list of powers given to the managers is staggering in its breadth and scope. Once in place there is little the emergency managers cannot do. From the outset they completely control the process being given the sole responsibility of developing the financial plan for the municipalityv. The plan does not need any outside approval of any kind; the public has no opportunity to vote on the issue. The state fiscal emergency remains until the emergency manager declares the crisis has been resolvedvi.

 

During this time the manager is charged to issue “all orders necessary” to make the plan happenvii. This is backed up by substantial authority explicitly spelled out in the bill. The manager is given the power to create the budgetviii, sell or transfer local government assetsix, and remove non-elected local officialsx at their sole discretion. They handle all contract negotiations and, at their discretion, can unilaterally terminate themxi. If a manager is put in charge of a school district they are given the power to set their educational planxii. Any municipal official deemed by the emergency manager to have “not reasonably” carried out an order can be barred from access to municipal facilities, mail, and internal informationxiii. In spite of being in a state of fiscal emergency the municipality is required to foot the bill for the emergency manager’s pay, expenses, and staff for the durationxiv.

 

These powers, while staggering in their totality, are not the most potent they receive. With the approval of the state treasurer they can waive any need for competitive bidding on any contract over $50,000xv. Based on their sole discretion and judgment they can recommend the municipality be declared a debtor and placed under their complete controlxvi or worse yet be legally dissolvedxvii. The governor alone makes the final call. Most astonishingly the law makes legal appeal of any of these actions impossible. The only chance given to the local government is during the investigation process which requires the municipality to request appeal with a 2/3rds majority votexviii. Once an emergency manager is appointed the locals have no legal recourse between the manager’s legal immunity and the law’s restrictions.

 

What is happening in Michigan could be waved away as unique, radical measure born of an economically devastated and desperate state. It could be argued given Michigan’s genuinely terrible situation extreme action might be justified. This all assumes that what happens in one state will remain in one state. Currently 44 of the 50 states of the Union are facing serious fiscal problems. While Michigan’s situation is especially grim they are not the only state with local governments facing serious deficits. We have already seen how Scott Walker’s union-busting bill in Wisconsin has been copied in Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Tennessee, and is being seriously considered in Maine. Public outcry proved, in the short term, to be in vain in Wisconsin and other governors press ahead in spite of the lack of popular support. If Michigan puts this law into effect what would stop other states from considering their own version of the Michigan solution?

 

Also published at Ryan’s Desk

iSenate copy of Michigan HB 4214, Sec. 15(1)

iiIbid Sec. 15(4)

iiiIbid Sec. 15(5d)

ivIbid Sec. 25(1)

vIbid Sec. 18(1)

viIbid Sec. 24

viiIbid Sec. 17(1)

viiiIbid Sec. 19(1b)

ixIbid Sec. 19(1r)

xIbid Sec. 19(1n)

xiIbid Sec. 18(1c)

xiiIbid Sec. 17(1)

xiiiIbid Sec. 17(2)

xivIbid Sec. 15(5e)

xvIbid Sec. 19(3)

xviIbid Sec. 23(1)

xviiIbid Sec. 19(1cc)

xviiiIbid Sec. 15(3)

 

Mar 042011
 

Just over a year ago, I (and several others) made my first post on PAGAN+politics.  I was excited beyond belief and so honored to have been contacted by Jason Pitzl-Waters to participate in a blog project whose objective was to feature Pagan voices from across the political spectrum and encourage civil discussion.  An additional hope what that this would help end the stigmatization of minority voices in our community and show non-Pagans (and Pagans) that we are as diverse politically as we are in other ways.

I think PAGAN+politics has made a good start on those goals, but it has also shown just how far we have to go.

In my first post, I wrote:  “Carrying that over to politics, I think that most people and political Parties want the same outcome; a happy, healthy, open and caring populace. Just because we disagree on how to accomplish that outcome, why should we denounce one another as evil and hateful? Our unity and harmony should derive from the goal, not the method. Many paths can lead to the same destination.” I still believe that.  One of the more frustrating things about participating in this project is the realization that many people don’t believe that and never will.  They will always see ‘the other side’ as inherently evil, operating from either ignorance or base motives.  Even within such a diverse umbrella group like Paganism.

I love writing for this blog.  I enjoy talking about politics in general and have found it fascinating to delve into how religion affects our political views.  And how it doesn’t. I enjoy our differences and appreciate even more how alike we are.  I have made many new friends, many of whom don’t agree with me on a single thing in politics and it doesn’t matter.  We respect one another.  I have been given new opportunities.  I am an editor for PNC-Minnesota.  It’s wild being back in the news business, never thought that would happen again.  I’ve been able to write for Patheos.  And I’m chairing Pagan Coming Out Day, which is starting to take off.  That was born right here on this blog.

And yet…because of some of those opportunities and changes in my professional life, I don’t have the time needed to write for PAGAN+politics on a weekly basis.  I’ve been struggling with this for a few months, but I’ve come to the decision that I need to pare down what projects I am involved in so I can do them justice.  I will no longer be a regular contributor to P+p.  I’m not sure if this is goodbye or see you later, but I do thank you for all the fish.  Perhaps my addiction to P+p will overcome me and I won’t be able to stay away.  Don’t celebrate too much just yet!

(Tangent – one of the reasons why I wrote “Wisconsin, it’s none of our business” is because while outsiders concentrated their time, energy, and money on Wisconsin…look what is happening in Ohio. This has taken some Ohio union supporting people I know by surprise.  It shouldn’t have.)

In keeping with the nature of this project, I wanted to leave you with this video.  Let me explain a bit about what you will see and why I felt it perfectly encapsulated both political bipartisanship and the nature of this blog project.

The video is of the rally in Wisconsin.  The protesters there, many of them, have been spending hours or days standing out in the reallyfuckingcold weather.  They are tired.  They are cold.  They are also determined.  Some are getting frustrated, feeling like those in power aren’t listening to them.  Worried they will lose and how that will affect their lives.  (My opinion – they will lose, for now.  The Democrats will come back and the Bill will pass)

In the first minute of the video, the crowd sees Sen. Grothman(R) walking to enter the capital building.  They follow him and chant “shame” at him.  It’s pretty loud.  I don’t mind these kinds of displays by voters as I feel our elected officials need to buck up and understand that sometimes the electorate is going to angry with them and their actions.  But then again, I wasn’t all shocked, horrified, and offended by the Health Care town hall meetings that Democrats faced last year.

Then something changes in the dynamic of the crowd.  The crowd corners him up against the side of the building at about 1 minute into the video.  The media make a corridor and he presses forward.  At about 2 minutes int the video, someone starts yelling “Fuck You” at the Senator.  There’s always one, right?  The crowd starts to turn ugly. Watching it, you can see things start to shift and when you have crowds, things can go south on you quickly.   If you’ve been in crowds (or are a police officer) you know its when the crowd stops a unified chant, but increases its intensity, that you have to watch out for.  The mob, no longer just a crowd, presses in at the Senator.

2:45 in the video – enter Rep. Hulsey(D), wearing his bright orange union shirt.  He goes to the assistance of his colleague.  Shielding him and physically holding the mob back from him.  Putting his arm around him.  At first the crowd is still pushing against Hulsey, trying to get to Grothman.  A man who appears to be an aid or assistant to Hulsey helps push the crowd back, then holds his fingers up in a ‘peace’ sign and yells PEACE to the mob.  He puts his back to the mob, spreads his arms out,  and continues to push back at them.  After a while, the crowd, no longer a mob, takes up the chant of “peaceful” and hold up fingers in the sign for peace.  The Senator is kept safe, but it was a very near thing.  You can then skip to about 5 minutes into the video. Hurley addresses the crowd, trying to calm them down.  Hurley:  “I know you’re angry.” Protestor:  “Damn right!” Hurley asks that the protests remain peaceful and respectful.  He claims Grothman as his friend.  “Glenn Grothman and I probably could not disagree on more things and yet he is my friend.  He is my friend and he is a good person.”

I bolded that last part because Hurley also appears to believe what I believe and sums up what this blog project stands for – people can be good, decent, intelligent and still have a point of view different from our own.  And we can passionately oppose their view without losing sight of that.

Conservative commentators have been playing these videos as signs that the protest in Wisconsin isn’t all that peaceful.  I understand that, but it’s been pretty good for that large a crowd for that long a time.  I’m shocked (but not surprised – if this was a Tea Party rally the media would be all over this) that more isn’t being shown of the signs and what people are saying at the rally.  And please note  – the National Jewish Democratic Council would like people to stop the Hitler signs, quotes, and references no matter what party you belong to. However, when I look at the video I see a Republican is safe because a Democrat protected him with his body and his words. If THAT isn’t reaching across the aisle, I don’t know what is.  Even though the two are in opposite political parties during a time of very heated disagreement, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in Wisconsin in decades, Hurley still went to the aid of Grothman.  The mob, seeing only an enemy and getting ready to become violent, turns back into a crowd of people exercising their right to peaceful assembly.

That, my friends, is bipartisanship when it mattered most.  That is also the spirit of this blog project.  The contributors to this project should strive to be like Hurley.  And in our discourse, we should all seek to be the crowd, not the mob.  We need more chants of “peaceful” and less of “fuck you!”

Mar 022011
 
200px-Moai_Rano_raraku

Moai

In the 17th century, the population of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) suddenly crashed — and, oddly enough, it does not appear to have been the fault of the Europeans. In 1600, the island’s population was about 15,000; by 1722, when Europeans arrived, it was probably no more than 3,000. No one is sure of the reason behind this 80% decline, but archaeological records of pollen count suggest an answer: deforestation.

When the Polynesians first arrived on the island, it was heavily forested, primarily with a rare kind of palm tree (now extinct). During the thousand years that Rapa Nui was inhabited before the Dutch arrived in 1722, the pollen count steadily dropped, probably due to a combination of factors — the clearing of land for agriculture, the fancy taken to the palm nuts by the rats the Polynesians brought with them, and the use of the palm logs to transport the mighty moai to their sentinel posts by the sea.

The moai are the famous Easter Island statues. According to oral tradition, they were built as part of the Rapa Nui ancestry religion, and represented the guardianship of the ancestors over the island. The statues were placed around the coast, facing away from the sea towards the land, as the ancestors faced away from the spirit world towards their children.

Historians conjecture that as the population (of humans and rats) grew, and more moai were built, and trees died, the climate changed, becoming drier and hotter. The island’s precarious ecosystem eventually toppled, leading to the end of the power of the moai and their priests, and famine, and perhaps cannibalism.

Were the islanders foolish? After all, if things are getting bad, one should build more moai, not less, right? They were the protectors, right?… Perhaps they seem short-sighted to us today, but this kind of short-sightedness is not uncommon in human societies.

No doubt they had their blind spots — as do we.

Oil

There is no resource more critical to modern life than oil. It’s not just used to power trains, planes, cars, and trucks, but it’s an enabling technology — it’s used to make other things work. Coal and oil and other petrochemicals build our homes, pave our roads, generate our electric power, and serve as the basis for plastic and pharmaceuticals. Take away petrochemicals and just about everything else unravels.

So — are we likely to run out, like the Rapa Nui ran out of trees?

Actually, the answer is no. We have something going for us that the islanders did not: capitalism.

This four-minute video (“Are We Running Out Of Resources?”) explains the situation succinctly. The basic summary is simple: when we start to run low of something, the price starts to rise. This encourages people to (a) use less, (b) find more sources of it, and (c) find substitutes. The video talks about how this already happened with copper, and has been happening with oil for over a hundred years.

When whale oil got too expensive, we started getting oil out of the ground. When the gushers stopped flowing, we dug deeper. When that got too hard, we started digging out in the ocean. When that got more difficult, we started using chemical extraction processes on oil sands… and so on. In the meantime, we have slowly, slowly started using less by developing hybrid vehicles, using wind and solar power, and so on. (You don’t see much of this in the US, because oil is unusually cheap here, but in Europe they’ve been moving away from petrochemicals for decades.) And we’re finding substitutes, such as ethanol and artificially-produced petroleum (made of sun, water, and carbon dioxide).

So we’re extremely unlikely to ever reach Peak Oil — at least, in a way that anyone cares about. By the time we start really running low on oil (if we ever do), it will be so expensive that we’ll have already switched to other technologies.

But to my mind, this isn’t really about how great capitalism is, or how clever our little monkey brains are. This is really about the bounty of the Earth. Whether you consider the Earth a goddess, or the slowly mouldering carcass of Ymir, or a ball of moist rock smeared with a thin sheen of green life, there is no question of its generosity.

There are many kinds of teachers. Some teach with pain, others with pleasure. Some teach by example, others by lists of rules, others by poetry or by visions or by music. The Earth is a teacher primarily by generosity; and it teaches you how to deal with abundance. You have only to look at an apple tree in autumn, laden and bowing under the weight of its fruit. Please! it seems to be saying. Please, please help yourself!

So why are there so many people in want? Ironically enough, it’s because of capitalism, and our clever monkey brains.

Are You Buyer, Seller, or Product?

Many people in the world are suffering from malnutrition, sickness, and lack of basic necessities like water. This isn’t because the Earth isn’t giving us enough; it’s because its resources are unfairly distributed. Capitalism ensures that there will always be plenty of food and energy for those who can pay, but it also ensures that there will never be enough for those who can’t.

Not only that. The same capitalism that adjusts prices based on scarcity also provides incentives to overconsume and pollute. A corporation that digs up more and more oil has a huge incentive to advertise it, to market it, to sell it — as much as it can, as expensively as it can. This leads to overconsumption — using more than we need, wastefully. (As Jerry Mander famously said, if they have to advertise it, it means you probably don’t really need it.) And oil companies have no capitalist incentive at all to clean up after themselves, to safely dispose of the chemicals they use to extract the oil, or step carefully on the Earth’s fragile ecosystems.

Here’s the basic problem: capitalism inherently divides the world into buyer, seller, and product. The more of the world you can make “product”, the more money you can make. And while capitalism does great things for the buyer and seller, it treats the product like — well, like dirt. The product gets no respect, and has no value other than the money it’s bought with.

And, oddly enough, Easter Island again provides the perfect example. Slavery — which is nothing more than productizing human beings, treating humans as thing to be bought and sold — a slightly more extreme form of capitalism — slavery did more than a thousand years of deforestation. Before the Europeans arrived, deforestation reduced the population by 80%; but after the Europeans arrived, the slave trade and invasive sheep ranching reduced it by another 96%. In 1877, just 150 years after European contact, only 111 people remained on Rapa Nui.

Today most of the island is a World Heritage Site, and national park. It has a population of about 5,000 (about 60% native), and its largest industry is tourism. Sounds pretty good! But lest you think that we people today are wiser or better than the shepherds and slave traders of the 1800′s, or the moai-builders of the 1600′s, just imagine what would happen if major oil reserves were discovered there.

Just because you’re sitting at a feast does not mean it’s ok to eat until you’re sick. The Earth is generous — she will give and give, long past what she owes us, long past the point of satiety, long past the point of her death, and ours. We haven’t yet learned the Earth’s lesson.

Feb 252011
 

…and probably none of yours.

Like many of you, I have been following the budget and union event in Wisconsin.  I’ve probably been following for longer than you because I live next door and this issue has been in the news for years here.  Yes, I have some opinions on the matter.  No, I don’t care to share most of them.  In fact, if it weren’t for my husband pushing me to write something about this you wouldn’t be reading this blog post.  So I’ll voice these two thoughts:  I find it unethical to try to affect the outcome of events in a state that I don’t pay taxes in, yet I see what is happening there as a serious threat to our form of government.  And both of these opinions have been formed by my religious beliefs.

Over my years as a Hellenic Polytheist I’ve become more and more libertarian in my political leanings.  I think that is a natural result of delving into both the ethical backbone of the religion and studying that in the context of the culture if was practiced in.  The Greek city-states were autonomous and were very different from one another.  When they weren’t waging war on one another they stayed out of each others business and let each city govern as it saw fit.  The city-states joined together to form defense leagues to repel foreign invaders and they cooperated for religious festivals.  This was a very early form of Federalism, which is a core concept in US libertarianism.  It had it’s weaknesses, but many of those weaknesses are minimized and the strengths of freedom and diversity are increased in modern Federalism.  Add to this the Delphic Maxim of ‘When you are a stranger, act like it’ – meaning that when you are outside of your home or city-state you should be act like a polite guest.  Don’t act like your way is the best and everyone should conform to you.

All of this leads me to be very uncomfortable with people traveling to Wisconsin to join in protests – on either side of this issue.   The citizens of Wisconsin are the ones who should be free to decide what their future should be as they are the ones who will live that future.  They are the ones who pay the taxes, union dues, and have children in the schools.  The protestors from outside the state will hop back on their buses and go home and that will be that for them.  I also wonder why people from outside the state, who don’t know or live with the complexities of the situation on a daily basis, feel compelled tell Wisconsinites what to do.  Are we smarter than the citizens of that state?  Do we not think that they are capable of deciding important issues like this?  When I enter another state or another person’s home I am very conscious of the fact that I am a guest and I try to act like one.  I have made a conscious decision in my life to live out the ethics of my religion in all aspects of my life and I honor the best ideals that my religion has brought forward into modern times.

There is one thing happening in Wisconsin that I will speak about – the Democrat Senators who have fled the state to stop the government from being able to function. On important issues like budget, a quorum of Senators must be in session to allow a vote to take place.  By fleeing the state, these Democrat Senators ensure that a quorum cannot be achieved.  Although I won’t join in the efforts to recall those Senators as I am not a voter in their districts, I see their actions as a threat to our form of government – representational democracy.  Another gift of ancient Athens and Rome which the USA has refined under the blessings of the Patron Goddess of our country, Columbia.

While many focus on elections as the heart of our republic, the true test of our form of government comes after the election. If the losing party recognize their loss and continues to participate, then representative democracy works. When the losing side refuses to participate and boycotts governance, as is happening in Wisconsin, then our form of government STOPS WORKING.  Our form of government rests on two things – free and open elections by an informed populace and the willingness of minority parties to continue to participate in governing.

It’s no fun to be in the minority, to be in the party that loses heavily in an election.  The GOP experienced that in our Federal government and had to stand by as laws were passed that they vehemently opposed.  The GOP didn’t leave the country, though. They complained, they grandstanded, but they participated in governance.  On Bills they opposed, they voted against the Bill and then they used that vote as part of their platform in the next election.

In Wisconsin, the budget crisis and public unions were a large part of the political discussion during the last election.  Republican ad Democrat candidates put forth their ideas on how to deal with the crisis and the voters cast their ballots.  In the last election they did something extremely unusual, especially for Wisconsin.  They voted in a Republican House, Senate, and Governor. Democrats became the minority.  But instead of doing their duty, upholding their sworn and sacred oath, they fled the state.  And that is a very dangerous thing for them to have done.  When elected officials do things like skip the state to shut down the government because you lost the last election, it puts our form of government in danger. It thwarts the will of the voters, it breaks the bonds of oaths, and it puts us out of balance with Columbia – which can bring Nemesis into the picture.  If it can’t be corrected, we could slip further into inbalance with the scales swinging wildly back and forth.  After all, don’t you think that when the Democrats are back in power, the other Republicans could use the same tactics?  What if this becomes more normal?

I’ll keep watching events in Wisconsin, but this is about as involved as I will get in the discussion.  And you certainly won’t see me crossing the border to join in the protests.

 Posted by at 10:13 am
Feb 232011
 

I’m back from PantheaCon, no thanks to those bastards at Delta airlines. PantheaCon is a gathering of approximately 3000 Pagans from across the country and hosts educational sessions and Pagan-friendly concerts over the course of 4 days.  The con was great and the conversations were even better.  This type of gathering is not only a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow through formal workshops, but it helps you take the pulse of the greater Pagan community.  You find out what the hot topics are and get a sense of the direction our communities are headed.  These are just a few of my observations from the con.

Electric Atmosphere
If you’ve gone to an outdoor festival, PantheaCon is nothing like that.  Very different vibe.  The pace is almost frantic, very high energy and there isn’t really any down time.  You weep as you look at your schedule of events, choosing between seven or more workshops happening simultaneously.   The workshops start at 9am and the last ones end at midnight or later.  I can’t tell you how many times I was torn between workshops and concerts.  In some cases I went between them, catching a few minutes here and there.

Even more exciting was meeting people I have known only online.  To see them, have a real life conversation, and hug them was worth the entire experience.  Star Foster and I roomed together and she is beautiful on the inside and the outside.  I liked her before, now I love her.  Some of you found out that I’m really not an asshole.  (“You know, you’re actually rather nice,” was my favorite comment.)  I chatted with bigwigs in the Troth, ADF, and COG.  I got their perspectives on how their organization is doing, how its membership is changing, and what they are planning for the next few years.  Two words came up over and over – infrastructure and families.

I got to have several ‘fangirl’ comments and I’m not the only one.  Many of us were meeting people we’ve read about for years and look up to.  Selena Fox hugged me.  I had a conversation with Margot Adler (No shit, I’m serious)  And…my most squeeeee-worthy moment:  I heard Charles Stein read his translations and arrangement of the Chaldean Oracles.  And I got to talk with him before the workshop, too.  I think I freaked him out because I was overly excited to meet him.  He kept his eye on me during the hour long presentation.  Hey, to a Hellenic Recon…Stein is a freaking rock star and if we both weren’t married/spoken for and if I wasn’t fixed and if I liked children I would so have his babies.  Those are the kind of moments you have at Pantheacon.

Respecting our Youngers
Pagans, generally, have great respect for our elders.  We respect their experience and honor the contributions and sacrifices they have made on behalf of our religions.  This contrasts with much of mainstream society in the USA.  However – we are treating our younger generation like shit.  That’s a blunt statement and it’s none too pretty, but that was driven home during the con.

I watched Pagans under the age of 30 told, in not so many words, to sit down and shut up.  The attitude was that they couldn’t possibly have anything of value to offer, after all, they probably had only read a book or two and didn’t have the 20, 30 or even 40 years of experience that many of our elders have.  Just watching body language, when younger folks approached or would try to enter into conversation, some Elders physically turned a shoulder to them to block them out, a dismissive and defensive gesture. This causes our younger generation to feel alienated.  Some of them are choosing to no longer be active in the greater community because their attempts at contributing have been rebuffed repeatedly.  One exchange I overheard encapsulates this.  A younger Pagan offer to help put a booklet of songs into a PDF format so that people could download it onto their eBook reader as a supplement to printing it out on paper.  The Elder ridiculed the idea commenting that it was a stupid idea and he don’t know why anyone would want to own an eReader.  After all, he barely uses email and hates computers.  The younger people in the group exchanged a look, went silent, and then left.

Not only taking into account the lack of basic respect from one human to another, this is disturbing behavior for our community.  Our Elders are overworked.  They are burning out from doing it all as they have been doing for the bast several decades.  Yet some can’t seem to give up control and allow a younger generation to assist them.  They are not using their wisdom to create a space for a new generation of Pagan leaders to grow and flourish.  This is a shame as many of these younger Pagans I spoke with are trustworthy, responsible seeming adults who are professionally successful and have knowledge and skills that our community needs.  They are lawyers, community organizers, financial professionals, work in media or PR, and in psychology.  They have life experiences and perspectives that we would do well to listen to.  They may have lived in countries where polytheism is the norm.  Some of them have grown up as Pagans and don’t have the baggage and ‘translation’ issues that us converts to Paganism carry around in our heads no matter how devoted and knowledgeable we are.  We need to develop future leaders, but we can’t do if we treat our younger generation with disregard and disrespect.

Infrastructure and Families
I mentioned above that those two topics kept coming up.  Pagans are trying to find ways to have their group survive and thrive after the passing of a charismatic leader.  Some already know that having some sort of organization and infrastructure is a needed while others are just coming to that conclusion.  I spoke with coven leaders who worry that Wicca is in danger of dying out, even while numbers of Wiccans continue to grow.  They said that the early leaders of Wicca set it up to be anti-establishment, which they like, but that built weaknesses into the religion.  They worry the coven model is not sustainable and cannot support the initiatives that many in the community wish to have such as temples, charitable organizations, and groups that survive a leader’s death or retirement.

Other groups, like ADF, are not only surviving the death of a beloved leader – they are thriving and planning for growth.  They have enough structure and organization to accomplish what they wish, but not so much that they stifle their members.  They, like the Heathen groups, are focusing on being family friendly while not scaring off the the solitaries.  Families are welcome at rituals and groves plan fun purely social events to build community ties.  They are seeing more members of the same family become active in ADF and that creates a stable membership base.  This was another area of concern for some Wiccans I spoke to – becoming more family friendly.  They feel only attracting adult converts is not a paradigm desirable to continue.  However, they didn’t have many ideas of how to bring families into the coven system successfully.

Wicca-Centric Language
PantheaCon does a good job of bringing in non-Wiccan speakers for the workshops.  If you are a recon of some flavor, there were many options for you and much you would find of interest.  One thing I’m losing patience with, though, is Wicca-centric language at supposedly Pagan events.  If it is a Wiccan event or topic I don’t begrudge using language and terminology that is exclusively Wiccan.  But when the workshop is for Pagans of all types it would be better to keep the language more neutral.  There is sometimes an assumption that we all use some type of coven system, believe in the God and the Goddess, and use magic.  That we work with deities and aren’t religious, but spiritual.  Looking around the audience at some of the workshops, I could tell I wasn’t the only one feeling like I was an outsider because of the language used and the assumptions made.  In a panel discussion a woman asked a question about how they see Pagan leadership changing, especially as leaders emerge in non-religious roles.  The panel, for the most part, couldn’t break free of their coven model mindset to understand the question.  They gave suggestions about how people could help the HP or the HPS in tasks, but that wasn’t what the question was about.  The question was about leaders who emerge in areas outside of religious authority.  For example – Patrick McCollum is a leader in the greater Pagan community due to his social justice and interfaith work and it doesn’t matter if he is a priest or not.  Jason Pitzl-Waters, Star Foster, and the Pagan Centered Podcast folks are leaders in our greater community, but they are not religious leaders.  I talked to a few people in the audience about the question and the answer and generally Wiccans felt the question was answered well while the non-Wiccans were frustrated that the question was ignored or misunderstood.

Suggestions
I do have a two suggestions for PantheaCon and cons in general, but my first suggestion is for the attendees of both festivals and cons.  TAKE A FRIGGIN SHOWER.  You may think I’m joking, but I’m not.  Getting on a crowded elevator or sitting next to someone for an hour who smells like old B.O. mixed with fresh B.O. is no treat.  I mean, you all paid to stay in a hotel for the con, right?  The room comes with a shower and free soaps and some shampoo.  You might as well use them, you already paid for them.  Heck, make it more fun and have a friend join you.  Please.  Because chances are, your friend smells just as ripe as you do.

Con organizers – have some side trip options.  I can tell you, if you sent out an email to those pre-registered saying there was a bus trip to see a Hindu temple (we had some Hindu speakers this year) and you could go for an extra fee – people would click the link and enter their credit card information.  If there was a day trip to wineries and a ritual for Dionysos offered, I would have done that too.  I was able to go with some friends and see the redwood trees and visit a Hoodoo shop and I got jealous texts from people wishing they could go.  These side trips could be offered a day before or after the con.  Heck, you wouldn’t even have to put any money out for it, just go through an established travel group and have them organize it all, the con just sends out the email invite.

Just go!
If you can attend PantheaCon, or another con or festival, I urge you to do so.  Yes, the workshops are great and you get every penny’s worth of your reg fee.  But it is the unexpected experiences and casual conversations that stay with you.   It’s the people you meet and who you can keep conversing with long after the event is over that continue to add value in your life.  Anything written about a con or a festival cannot capture the experience.  Its like the mysteries we have in our religions – they are not mysteries because we what happens is a secret, they are powerful mysteries because we cannot put the experience into words.  That is what Pantheacon is – a transformative mystery – one that you can’t fully appreciate while it is happening.  It has to seep into your soul and simmer in your brain.

Feb 232011
 

The clash over Governor Scott Walker’s effort to strip Wisconsin’s public unions of the right to collectively bargain has reached a new level of intensity. This morning Governor Walker gave his ultimatum to the absent Senate Democrats: return to Madison or state workers will receive layoff notices. In the latest of a string of escalations Walker’s stubborn refusal to compromise or negotiate has inflamed passions on all sides of the debate. The governor insists that his actions are backed by the people of Wisconsin riding the political wave that swept him into office. In spite of this his claims of popular mandate as justification are running aground of growing grassroots opposition to his radical agenda.

Scott Walker has advanced his union-busting bill under the cover of his recent election as vindication of his platform. Walker has insisted from the beginning his plan is in line with his platform of fiscal responsibility. Walker’s unsupported spending aside it is highly unlikely that most voters think of rolling back labor rights as necessary for fiscal responsibility. The elimination of the right of public employee unions to collectively bargain was something Walker never argued for while on the campaign trail. Far from being a major element of his message Scott Walker never discussed the possibility of breaking the backs of the public unions of Wisconsin. It would make sense for him to cite the public’s backing for an issue he actually discussed unless being successfully elected to state office allows the officeholder to campaign retroactively.

All of this assumes Walker has the public at his back. If anything Walker’s plan is running headlong into strong political winds. Before being sworn in the governor only enjoyed a 41% approval rating. His hardball tactics, far from inspiring the public with his resolve, have largely succeeded in solidifying public support for the unions. The growing opposition is not limited to college students, unions, and Democratic activists. The President of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce recently released a statement declaring that while they support pushing for a balanced budget, “That support ends at the adversarial way elected officials are approaching it.” She goes on to say that with Wisconsin’s long history of collective bargaining, “policy changes of this magnitude should be thoroughly debated for an adequate period of time, in good faith by both sides, with all potential consequences considered.”

Scott Walker’s most recent escalation, the threat of layoff notices, has exposed how weak his hand is. By Walker’s own statement no layoffs will happen yet. In Wisconsin public employees receive early notices of being laid off as prior warning. A layoff notice does not put anyone in the unemployment line. The actual layoffs are scheduled for July. This is not to say the threat of people losing their jobs over the budget fight is not serious but the details take a lot of the wind out of it. If anything it comes across as more of a desperate bluff than a genuine threat. That Walker’s ploy sounds more like hostage taking than negotiation undermines the credibility of his claims of seeking a fiscally responsible budget.

Scott Walker’s union busting campaign has been disguised as fixing a fiscal emergency. His claims of enjoying the public’s mandate to act so radically are adrift. For all his bravado in public Walker is sitting on a ticking time bomb. In Wisconsin any public official can be recalled if they have been in office for a year. With the budget bill only needing three votes to be defeated eight of the Republicans who supported it are in danger of facing a recall. One of the most popular chants is to recall Walker himself. While he will not be vulnerable until 2012 his allies in the state legislature are not so lucky. As the public’s anger rises Scott Walker and his party will reap the whirlwind sown by their ruthless campaign against a century of workers’ rights.

Also published at Ryan’s Desk

Feb 182011
 

The Vikings are thought of by most people as barbaric invaders, pillagers, and looters: violent, greedy, and wanton. Of course this is a caricature — the Vikings did more trading, exploring and settling than anything else. But there’s no denying that the Vikings inflicted great damage on the peoples of northern Europe and Russia, and their habit of attacking Christian holy sites made them seem especially fearsome.

Even after the Nordic nations became Christian, they had a reputation for their ferocity. During the Thirty Years War in the 1600′s, Swedish armies destroyed about one third of all the towns in Germany.

But now things are different. Today the five “Nordic” countries — Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Finland — have planted themselves at or near the top of most measures of human happiness for decades. None of them have invaded any other nation in modern times. They are not pagan, but neither are they particularly Christian — Norway has the lowest number of people calling themselves “religious” of any Western nation (36%). They are peaceful, free, and prosperous, with low crime rates, low infant mortality, high employment, universal medical care, low personal and institutional debt, and excellent low-cost furniture.

How? Socialism.

Socialism! It’s harder to imagine anything further from that old Viking spirit. Instead of trading, exploring, and settling, or even a little pillaging on the side, prosperity and living standards are kept high by strong governments, thick and hearty safety nets for the poor and elderly, and tax rates close to 60% of income.

At least, that’s the conventional wisdom. But a recent paper presented by the five Nordic countries at the Davos World Economic Forum challenged that notion. Instead, they say, the secret of the Norse is actually their particular brand of rugged individualism:

…it is the combination of extreme individualism and a strong state that has shaped the fertile ground for an efficient market economy: Less tied down by legal, practical or moral obligations within families, individuals of both sexes become more flexible and available for productive work in a market economy. Gender equality has resulted in both higher fertility rates and higher female participation on the labor market than in other parts of Europe. (from the introduction to the report)

The paper goes on to argue that strong government programs like universal health care, easily accessible child care, and retirement benefits allows individuals more personal choice and freedom. With health care taken care of, the sick and elderly have more choice of careers; with child care taken care of, more professional women can enter the workforce; with retirement benefits, people don’t have to scrimp and save all their lives, but can spend their money when they earn it. (Good thing, too, if they’re only keeping 40% of the check…) All of this, it’s argued, levels the employment playing field and allows more actual freedom — freedom for both men and women to get sick, have children, and grow old, without worrying unduly about employment.

The Nordic countries, they say, place their faith primarily in two loci: the state and the individual. The state is there to balance inequalities of opportunity, so that each individual has the maximum freedom to order their lives as they see fit.

The report also compares the Norse societies with those of Germany and the United States. Germans, they say, place their faith in different loci: the state and the family. German culture extols the virtues of family life, and compares the family to the state. The individual is important only insofar as the duties they have to the state and to their families. The state and the family will take care of you, and you owe them allegiance; your personal desires just aren’t as important.

The US, on the other hand, places its faith in the individual and the family — no state is involved. Americans don’t trust their government at all, and if you’re sick, old, or need child care, you should either take care of it yourself, or get your family to help you. The state owes you nothing, and shouldn’t be trusted with those responsibilities anyway. Do you want Obama telling you how to raise your kids?

If this report is anything like accurate, it means that the Nordic model of society isn’t really available for export. Germans can’t adopt the model, because they don’t trust individuals enough to place society’s burdens on them. (Of course, individuals aren’t given the training and resources to earn that trust.) The US can’t adopt the model, because Americans don’t trust the government enough. (Again: the government isn’t given the authority and resources to earn that trust.)

The authors of the report compare the rugged individualism of the Nordic countries to the heroine Pippi Longstocking, who is “the strongest girl in the world and an anarchic individualist who lives without parents in her own house, with only a monkey, horse, a bag of gold and a strong moral compass for company.” (Quoted from the Economist.) This seems a little odd to me — if she’s an anarchic individualist, how does that square with state-sponsored health care and so forth? But I think the intent of the report is clear: the people of the Norse countries use their governments to allow them to be rugged, anarchic individualists. At least, that’s how they see it.

Perhaps it’s not so different from Viking times, after all. The Nordic system allows individuals to sail away into the life or career of their choosing, to trade, explore, and settle as they like, unencumbered by family obligations, ill health, or fear of old age. Looked at that way, the government isn’t a thief taking 60% of their income for its own purposes, but a knarr, a seaworthy merchant ship, which opens up the sea of possibility and opportunity to every citizen.

(But a 60% tax rate?! …Well, those ships were mighty expensive…)

Given all of this, I’d like to invite any willing Heathens to comment. If you’ve lived or worked in the modern Nordic countries, would you say this portrayal of them is accurate? How do you think it squares with the pagan Norse societies of a thousand years ago? And does the modern American Heathen conception of the state / individual / family triad owe more to ancient pagan belief, or to modern American cultural biases?

Feb 182011
 

The political situation in Wisconsin has come to a head following the proposal of a budget bill by newly elected Republican Governor Scott Walker which would for all intents and purposes strip public employees with the exception of police, firefighters, and state troopers of the right to collectively bargain. Governor Walker has claimed this radical measure is necessary to avert a deficit crisis for the state of Wisconsin. The situation has rapidly escalated with Walker threatening to call out the National Guard shortly after introducing the bill. Demonstrations broke out almost immediately with Wisconsin State Senate Democrats leaving the state to prevent a vote on the bill. The conservative media has advanced in full force unconditionally supporting the Governor’s union-busting measure claiming the state is on the edge of total chaos. Glenn Beck has taken to the airwaves claiming the city of Madison is rioting as has the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. Voices like Rush Limbaugh and Republican Congressman Paul Ryan have repeated this assertion of chaos in the street. Above all they have consistently advanced the argument that gutting the rights of workers is necessary to balance Wisconsin’s budget.

All of these arguments and claims by the conservative movement are bald-faced lies.

This is not hyperbole or exaggeration. These claims of civil disorder in the streets and a deficit crisis are completely at odds with the facts. Contrary to the fear-mongering claims of Glenn Beck the demonstrators in Madison have remained orderly and peaceful. The Madison Police Department released a statement today saying they are proud of the way the protestors have conducted themselves. The only advisory from the Madison Police to the public is a notice to motorists of greater congestion in the vicinity of the Capitol. If you don’t believe the police there are the photos submitted by people in Madison showing large, energetic, and perfectly peaceful crowds. Hardly what one could seriously call a riot.

The next falsehood being circulated is the claims of a deficit crisis. The line of reasoning goes that it is only possible to balance the budget by completely destroying the right of public workers to collectively bargain. It skips straight past negotiations, furloughs, and other austerity measures to one of the most extreme solutions possible. 44 states are currently facing serious budget problems and yet the only other state considering such a radical tactic is Ohio. With such an extraordinary measure being advanced and the National Guard being readied in case of strikes it sounds like the deficit in Wisconsin must be insurmountable. This again is wrong. The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau issued a report on January 31st asserting the bulk of the budget shortfall of $202 million was caused by a series bills supported by Governor Walker. Quite contrary to his claims of union benefits and salaries being the cause it was his own deficit spending that created the alleged crisis.

Governor Scott Walker has created a crisis and rapidly escalated it in a bid to crush the public employee unions of the state of Wisconsin. There wouldn’t be a budget crisis of Walker genuinely practiced what he preached on the campaign trail. There are no facts supporting any of the claims of civil disorder or a deficit crisis. Walker’s attempt to ramrod a rollback of the rights of workers by a century has nothing to do with fiscal conservatism and everything to do with political opportunism. His readying of the National Guard over budget negotiations is extraordinary overkill. If Governor Walker was genuinely interested in serving the people and balancing the state budget he should sit down with the state workers and negotiate not threaten them with an unnecessary and malicious attack on their most basic rights.

Also published at Ryan’s Desk

Feb 172011
 

Call me the name of peace
as though it were a curse,
and I will bless you, saying,
Yes, and I will lift up
the white flower of cowardice
and trembling, I will lift up that blossom
the color of snow and ocean foam
and moonlight, cloud and empty wind
and bone. I will lift it up with these hands
worn and worried with bickering,
limp with the luxury of blood,
the hands I inherited from my ancestors
whose bones, too, are white beneath the mud.
The goddess of war climbs the mountain’s peak,
the hard, pale sunlight like the whites of her eyes.
Wonder, too, is a kind of power.
What curse she lays on the wearied earth, saying,
Yes, and Peace, and other fearful things.
The hills grow soft, will not be rushed
as last year’s dead lift up
the small, white blossoms of the spring.

Feb 112011
 
Little Crow

(This post originally appeared on PoliticusUSA on February 10, 2011 as part of a series of articles on Bryan Fischer’s attack on ethnic religion. As of today, Indian Country reports that the offending AFA blog post to which I refer here has been taken down – Hrafnkell)

To the left: Little Crow Being the European Bryan Fischer Insists No Indian Was

As the Huron Sachem is made to say in a Hollywood film, “The white man came, and night entered our future with him.” The Huron leader’s tone is fatalistic: he knows his world has been changed forever.[1] Among the Dakota of Minnesota, Little Crow knew this as well. Gary C. Anderson notes in his biography of the Mdewakanton leader that his “understanding of the nature of the Indian-White relationship was far superior to that of his contemporaries.” As a result, he pursued accommodation, not war. As he told his people when the first shots had been fired, they could not win: “you will die like rabbits when the hungry wolves hunt them in the Hard Moon.”[2]

Accommodation not only landed him on a reservation, it landed him in a war. Yet Brian Fischer would have us believe that the Native Americans refused accommodation with the whites. He claims that “the native American tribes ultimately resisted the appeal of Christian Europeans to leave behind their superstition and occult practices for the light of Christianity and civilization.” He goes on to assert that “they in the end resisted every attempt to ‘Christianize the Savages of the Wilderness,’ to use George Washington’s phrase.”

Let’s do something Fischer won’t, and look at some facts.

In 1838 Commissioner of Indian Affairs T. Hartley Crawford observed the Native American and concluded that the major impediment to “civilization” was their culture itself; specifically, the ownership of land in common. “Unless some system is marked out by which there shall be a separate allotment of land to each individual whom the scheme shall entitle to it, you will look in vain for any general casting off of savagism. Common property and civilization cannot co-exist.”[3] The Dakota had no concept of individual ownership of land. The idea was completely foreign to them and as long as tribal and band affiliations existed, the government could not successfully impose the idea of individuals owning specific tracts of land.

On 6 February 1851, before the treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota had ceded to the United States the Dakota lands that would become Minnesota, Territorial Governor Alexander Ramsey reported the recommendations of a meeting of the Dakota Mission held the previous year at Little Crow’s village, Kaposia:

We regard the Community System among the Dakotas as one of the most serious obstacles in the way of this civilization. And we would suggest that, in case of a treaty with them, arrangements should be entered into which will at present diminish its influence, and finally break it up entirely. For the accomplishment of this object individual rights should be secured and extended as far and as fast as possible.

To Luke Lea, the recipient of these recommendations, Ramsey stated that this was the view of men “who have long lived in the Indian Country, become familiar with the defects of the institutions of the Red man, and who certainly are disinterestedly devoted to the moral and material improvement of the Indian.”[4] Ramsey and Lea, in their post-treaty report of 6 August 1851, continued the anti-Community System bias, saying it “is now the bane and curse of these tribes.”[5]

It wasn’t really. It had worked just fine for the Indians before the white men came. But the white men were here change was upon the natives whether they wanted it or not.

The reservation system was the method adopted by the government of accomplishing this change, which essentially, meant turning the Native American population into whites, or as Northern Superintendent William J. Cullen said in his 1860 report, to make them “as part of our own people.” Cullen says “the means adopted to sustain this policy are:

First. Making their agricultural system one of individual, instead of tribal character.

Second. By inducing a voluntary abandonment of their nationality in dress costume.

Third. Furnishing them with houses and the comforts of civilized life.

Fourth. Protection by the government of those who assume the character of improvement Indians from all attacks upon their persons and property.

Fifth. Punishing by loss of annuities those who leave their reservations for the commission of depredations upon the white settlers, or to enter the war path against other tribes.

Sixth. By making intoxication an offense punishable by the loss of annuity and degradation from prominent position in the community.[6]

Indian Agent Thomas J. Galbraith (who must be Bryan Fischer’s personal hero) succinctly explains the perceived differences between white and Indian: “To be clear, the habits and customs of white men are at war with the habits and customs of the Indians. The former are civilization, industry, thrift, economy; the latter, idleness, superstition, and barbarism…”[7]

Dakota Being Farmers and Not Rejecting European “Civilization”

Dakota Farmers

What did this mean to the indigenous inhabitants? The utter destruction of Dakota culture was essential if the reservation system was to succeed in its goal: The community system practiced by the Dakota had to go. George W. Manypenny, commissioner from 1853-57, objected to the tribes retaining land as reservations and believed individual holdings were essential if the civilizing process were to succeed. Missionary Stephen R. Riggs supported the idea: “(T)hey should be individualized and encouraged to be industrious. First, the community system should not be fostered by the payment of any part of their annuity to the villages or bands… The result otherwise would be (here he sounds a lot like Galbraith) the fostering of “idleness and paganism.” Riggs’ fellow missionary, Thomas S. Williamson, echoes his view: “I entirely concur with Rev. S.R. Riggs…in regard to the importance of doing all the government can do to break up the community system.”[8]

Commissioner Manypenny was not optimistic about the Indians’ chances. He believed that the Native American was bound for extinction:

But if this be so, it does not discharge the government of the United States and its citizens from the performance of their duty; and every effort is demanded by humanity to avert a calamity of this kind.

But it did not have to be this way, if proper efforts were made to save him:

I believe that the Indian may be domesticated, improved, and elevated; that he may be completely and thoroughly civilized, and made a useful element of our population.[9]

Clearly then, given a “complete and thorough civilizing,” relocation to the reservations meant an irrevocable severing of their pasts and destruction of their culture. And while John Upton Terrel’s characterization of the reservations as “concentration camps” is extreme, there is no doubt that life there was doleful and hard.[10]

Christianization: According to Bryan Fischer, this could not have been happening

Missionary activity among the Dakota

That culture shock of an extreme nature resulted is easily imagined. From being self-sufficient and independent, able to go wherever and whenever they desired, the Dakota found themselves isolated from the bison herds and tied to the land in a way many of them had never imagined. They became farmers, and shopped at the traders’ stores instead of hunting and trapping. They subsisted on what was in many ways a welfare system.

Though the annuities represented their money, they had no control over it. The “Great Father” doled it out as he saw fit, withholding and deducting at will and explaining nothing. Historian Robert M. Utley believes that the resistance of the Native Americans was directed against the reservation, not against the white interlopers, with whom they had shown they could live at peace.[11]

Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer, popularly considered the archenemy of the free Indian, had this to say about the reservation system:

If I were an Indian, I often think that I would greatly prefer to cast my lot among those of my people who adhered to the free open plains, rather than submit to the confined limits of a reservation, there to be the recipient of the blessed benefits of civilization with its vices thrown in without stint or measure.[12]

Custer was not alone among frontier officers in feeling this way. Many of them had a great admiration, borne of long contact, for their opponents. Colonel Henry B. Carrington, commanding officer of Ft. Phil Kearney and famous for his role in the Fetterman Massacre of 1866, relates that he once said, “in an extreme hour, when all I held dear on earth was in danger of self-immolation, or slow death at the hands of the red man, that if I had been a red man as I was a white man, I should have fought as bitterly, if not as brutally, as the Indians fought.”[13]

In the preface to his book, Carrington gives the lie to Fischer’s assertions: He cites the 1876 report of Generals Sherman, Harney, Terry and Augur, and civilians Henderson, Terry and Sanborn: “It is said that our wars with them have been almost constant. Have we been uniformly unjust? We answer, emphatically, yes.”

This is the first article in a three-part series detailing Bryan Fischer’s delusions regarding the white treatment of Native Americans – HH


[1] For the Huron Sachem’s words, Michael Mann’s Last of the Mohicans, Twentieth Century Fox, 1992.

[2] Gary Clayton Anderson, Little Crow (St. Paul, 1986), 3.

[2] Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs (hereafter RCIA) cited in Francis Paul Prucha, Documents Of United States Indian Policy (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990)

[4] U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, Letters Received (hereafter cited as “Letters Received”), letter of Alexander Ramsey to Luke Lea, 6 February 1851. The idea of introducing private ownership of land to the Native American was not new. The first Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Elbert Herring, had suggested it in 1832. See Prucha, Documents of United States Indian Policy (Lincoln, 1990), 63.

[5] RCIA (1851). Washington: Gideon & Co., 1851, 22. Report of L. Lea and A. Ramsey to the Secretary of the Interior dated 6 August 1851.

[6] RCIA (1860). : George W. Bowman, 1860, 43. Report of W.J. Cullen dated 29 September 1860.

[7] RCIA (1863). Washington: Government Printing Office, 1864, 283. Report of Thomas Galbraith to Clark W. Thompson, dated 27 January 1863. Emphasis in the original.

[8] RCIA (1853), 78. Report of S.R. Riggs. Italics in original, and page 77 for the report of Thomas S. Williamson. For Manypenny, see Kvasnicka and Viola, ed. The Commissioners of Indian Affairs (Lincoln, 1979), 59. Also, Federal Indian Law (New York, 1966), 227.

[9] RCIA (1855). Washington: A.O.P. Nicholson, 1856, 17-18. Report of George W. Manypenny dated 26 November 1855.

[10] John Upton Terrel, Land Grab: The Truth about “The Winning of the West (New York, 1972), 33. Terrel is justified in his criticism of the reservation system, but the intent, however misguided, was not to exterminate, or even to imprison. As seen in this section, the hope was that the reservation would act as a sieve, dropping Native Americans in one end and having Europeans come out the other.

[11] Robert M. Utley, The Indian Frontier of the American West 1846-1890 (Albuquerque, NM, 1984), xx, 36, 63.

[12] Cited in Robert Utley, Cavalier in Buckskin (Norman, 1988), 149. The Native American was no more a “simple-minded son of nature” as seen by many, than a “creature possessing human form but divested of all other attributes of humanity.” Custer did not, however, have any doubt about the eventual fate of these people, or in the rightness of that course.

[13] Henry B. Carrington, The Indian Question (New York, 1884), 8.