Photos courtesy, and Gregg Deal
Native Americans Ashley Fairbanks, left, and Clyde Bellecourt both spoke up at separate Bernie Sanders speaking events in the Twin Cities. In order to be recognized, Native Americans have to speak up and disrupt the status quo, Indian Country Today Culture Editor Simon Moya-Smith writes.

Moya-Smith: Native Americans Are Forced to Speak Up, Disrupt

Simon Moya-Smith

Soon, the Obamas will vacate the premises, and the only thing that seems certain at this point in the primaries is that the White House will lose color in January 2017. Right. Back to white. That bumbling brain surgeon, Ben Carson, doesn’t have a prayer of making it to the general election. He should bow out now and realize that Trump The Troll “speaks to the snake” in Americans. Even Sir Jeb, of the Bush Dynasty – try as he might, hasn’t the capabilities of besting The Troll … because there are very few people on the this fading globe who can naturally parselmouth their way to power.

Make no mistake though, folks, this presidential race is a savage thrashing for the American throne, which sits precariously atop a crumbling foundation, sinking soil. Indeed. And so far the only one who’s championing environmental protection like a hippie on hash is Bernie Sanders, the loud Jew who frightens Christians back into their churches where they pray to God that the next American family to buy the crown will protect the fundamental rights of their semiautomatics.

But what about the rights of Native Americans?

What about Native Americans IN GENERAL?

I know I’m not the only indigenous skull who notices that whenever these POTUS candidates, GOP or Dem, rip and roar about justice and rights and equality, Native Americans routinely do not make it into their revered diversity list.

You know the list: Black, Latino, LGBTQ, women, veterans … and that’s it. Don’t hold your breath, chum. Better luck next time, right? Ah, shit. We know better. All of us. … It’s the same list CEOs use during annual gatherings when they pat themselves firmly on the ass for the company’s “inclusive excellence,” and then head out for lobster tails and cocktails with their criminal buddies.

Later, that same CEO bastard will claim to be “a quarter Native American.” Goddamn. These wretched jackasses.

But back to presidential hopefuls who omit Native Americans in their campaign speeches.

Are these old folks just being forgetful? Or are they blatantly excluding Native Americans? Maybe they’ve just got really shitty campaign staffers whose brains are slowly collapsing under the mounting weight of fast food.

In any case, we get it: In comparison to all the other minority groups in this country, at 5.2 million, Native Americans are an extremely small percentage of the overall American vote. … Earlier, we were mentioning the certainty that the White House will lose color next year. So here’s another certainty for you: If these throne seekers won’t mention and include Native Americans in their speeches, then fuck it. We’ll mention ourselves.

Last week, two Native Americans, American Indian Movement leader Clyde Bellecourt, and activist Ashley Fairbanks, both spoke up at separate Bernie rallies in the Twin Cities, thrusting the Native American voice into a presidential race that has largely ignored Indian country.

“Are you going to honor the treaties?” Bellecourt asked into a mic, to which Bernie, who was by then standing and waving goodbye to the crowd, responded, “I think Native American people have gotten a terrible deal from the federal government. I will do everything I can to redress that. Absolutely.”

Later that day, Bernie allegedly mentioned only blacks and Latinos during a speech on the disproportionate number of minority prisoners in the United States. Fairbanks, who was sitting only feet from the lectern, heckled.

“I yelled out from the front row ‘and Natives!’ And he repeated, ‘And Native Americans,’” Fairbanks wrote on her Facebook page.

Understand that this is necessary behavior. Native Americans in public schools and universities and conference rooms, and, yes, at political stump speeches across this country are left with no other option than to stand up, interrupt, and be recognized by those who cannot spot a Native American unless we saunter in donning bells and braids and beads and breastplates.

“Jeezus, that’s an Indian?” such sots say. “But he’s got a beard, and he’s in shoes. Where’s his long hair? Wait. Wait a minute. What’s his last name? … That’s not an Indian name. … Huh. I never would’ve guessed.”

Eight years we’ve nearly had with the Obamas, and only in the latter part of his presidency did Mr. Obama grow an “emotional” investment in Native American communities. Now, sadly, once again, we are left raising our hands in the clamoring crowd, reminding these presidential hopefuls that Native Americans are still here. We may not always look like the ones John Wayne hunted and killed for pleasure. We sure as shit don’t look like Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians. But, goddamnit, we are still here! And to ignore the Native American on OUR ancestral land is a gross offense to our continued existence and resiliency.

It also shows us how important we are to these people. Think about it: In such a tight race between Bernie and Hillary, the Native American vote may be that which tips the balance and sends one of them into the general election – possibly the White House. So they better start playing nice. Damn right.

In the meantime, here’s to Ashley Fairbanks and Clyde Bellecourt for disrupting and disturbing the status quo, and who, on that day, penetrated the incomplete diversity list.

Now, time to shape my beard, buy some new shoes, and get a haircut. Later.

Simon Moya-Smith [a.k.a. an Oglala and his beard].

Simon Moya-Smith, Oglala Lakota, is the Culture Editor at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter at @simonmoyasmith.

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TOMO's picture
Submitted by TOMO on
you are using an unauthorized image of Bellecourt in this article - the image appears on AJA with my copyright which your news-service removed ! Take it down ! Thank you ! TM

TOMO's picture
Submitted by TOMO on
your publication has no right to use my image of Mr Clyde Bellecourt - this is a copyrighted image from which my name was removed ! I never would have given Indian Country and SMS, its writer permission to do so ! I am working with professional writers and certainly do only published in Professional Publications - Please take this image down ASAP or you guys will be held liable ! TM

jamessimon500's picture
Submitted by jamessimon500 on
Ah, when will Clyde do "everything he can" to redress his role in the abduction and murder of fellow AIM member Anna Mae Pictou Aquash in 1975? Clyde was at Bill Means' house the night they brought her there and sentenced her to die. That legacy still follows him around like a dingleberry.

klevier's picture
Submitted by klevier on
I just wanted to make a comment. I saw this video and I was disapointed that Bernie Sanders did not take longer to give a reply. He must have had a tight schedule that did not allow him to say more. I can tell you that Bernie Sanders is one of the few politicians standing up for Native Americans. See here for an example: I honestly believe he would fight for the Native American people, and I trust him more than the other candidates.

onedman's picture
Submitted by onedman on
To Simon Moya-Smith...don't cut your hair or shave your beard. Just my opinion. That is unless you are in mourning.

tmsyr11's picture
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
Why not challege or take on internal issues to Indian Tribal nations that really matter! See below: re: Corruption running rampant in Oglala Sioux Tribe\ POLICE DEPARTMENT RIFE WITH CORRUPTION UNDER CURRENT POLICE ADMINISTRATION >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Republican or Democrat - it really doesn't matter to legitimate (enrolled, registered) Indian Tribal members. Ask any tribal members, their issues lie with the internal bureaucracy of scandals, corruption, cheating, firings, etc. These are every-day topics, concerns, and issues that should be brought to light than to waste time and give comedy. Indian peoples lives and choices are worth much more than democrat or republican.

mem's picture
Submitted by mem on
They've been hiding Natives from the world since their acts of genocide & relocation of many, many Americans. Of course European Americans are surprised to hear from one or see one without feathers. To reveal Natives would be to reveal the evil of what happened here on this continent. That's why they would rather we remain quiet and hidden in our reserved areas. That's why they excluded Natives from our own American history. The majority of humanity that has come here have no clue to the truth but only to the propaganda taught to them. Until Blacks had to holler and scream to reveal their history of evil slavery, the rest of the world never knew. Now the world knows how slavery was practiced by those held out as heroes and it is part of truth. The job of genocide & relocation was so efficient that it why there is such a low percentage of population compared to the tsunami of humanity brought here by European soldiers to assist in stealing the land. 5000 years of history - where is it?