75 Comments
Jan 11Liked by Sarah Kendzior

Dear Speaks With Fire:

Over the years, you and I have shared many good exchanges, mostly on Twitter. Lately I have seen your writing evolve to a beauty even I had not foreseen. Your eloquence is an inspiration.

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Jan 11Liked by Sarah Kendzior

Your writing is so beautiful and evocative and unbearably sad.

I share your horror and feelings of helplessness about the politics of this world. I hope 2024 bring some hope to us all.

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Jan 11Liked by Sarah Kendzior

Beautiful writing, as ever. This punched me in the gut: "The killers of children and of history have long been the same. They are people who seek to steal the present, so they murder the past and the future at once."

I'll never understand it. I'll never wrap my head around this horror and genocide and murder of innocents that I never thought to see happen like this, in cold blood, out in the open - almost a 100 days in... I know it's often difficult to speak out, but honestly - why can't all the parents out there I know of who are trying to raise their kids empathize with the nightmarish, awful pain of losing a child...? How do you stay silent, time and time again, on child harm and murder? I will never understand it.

Thank you, yet again Sarah, for putting words to all this angst so many of us are feeling.

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Jan 11Liked by Sarah Kendzior

Once again. Thank you! My maternal grandmother was born in the Cherokee Nation. Her great grandparents driven there from their ancestral home in what is now called Georgia and Tennessee. Our family never recovered. When the past is taken away the future’s foundation is cracked.

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Jan 11·edited Jan 11Liked by Sarah Kendzior

As it turns out I just finished watching Echo. Marvel's new show on Disney. It's a five episode series about a Choctaw women who is deaf and has one leg. Of course she is a martial artist and is badass. It is also rooted in the Choctaw culture and history. Alaqua Cox play Maya Lopez, Echo. She is a Choctaw actor. Really well done . Even if you're not into super hero stuff this is worth watching.

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Jan 11Liked by Sarah Kendzior

I'm currently doing a rewatch of Reservation Dogs, and those seemingly "nothing" episodes still make me tear up just like when I watched them for the first time. I had forgotten that the Deer Lady was introduced very early in the series...from the school episode made me weep uncontrollably to the lost boys sax guy cameo, its such an amazing show!

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Jan 11Liked by Sarah Kendzior

It may interest you and your readers to know that Reservation Dogs has a strong Canadian First Nations content in both the cast and the developers. Canada was just as egregious in it's mistreatment of Native Peoples, but not in an openly military way. Now we are slowly coming to terms with those social crimes, and have both APTN and regularly scheduled shows on CBC radio that feature Native issues and creative performers.

The link is to an article in Toronto's largest newspaper from 2021.

https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/television/canadian-reservation-dogs-star-on-increasing-indigenous-representation-in-the-u-s/article_4462a657-8ba4-5f67-93d8-eff6498f9c23.html

So glad that you know and value the series. Meegwetch !

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Jan 11Liked by Sarah Kendzior

This is a great piece and the parallels are very accurate. One aspect of America’s relationship with genocide and ethnic cleansing that I think also needs to be considered is how many of the peoples who now make up the powerful in the US were themselves fleeing from colonisation and ethnic cleansing. The history of Ireland is full of it - and the Irish today are ashamed of Joe Biden who claims to be one of us, and his collusion with this record-breakingly fast and entirely public attempt to remove and entire people from their land.

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Jan 13Liked by Sarah Kendzior

Thank you so much for this piece, Sarah. I love and respect all of your writing, but this particular piece hit home. I was born and raised in the Chickasaw Nation in Tishomingo, not far from Atoka, the land to which Chickasaws, like Choctaws, were removed from their ancestral home in Mississippi via the Trail of Tears. I am descended from poor, white Americans who moved to Indian Territory in search of jobs, and of land to steal, a point that no one in my family ever seemed to have realized (or, if they did, to say out loud), but that's there, bubbling right under the surface, speaking to why we ended up in Oklahoma in the first place. I have cousins and many old schoolmates who are enrolled Chickasaws, and my dad was a schoolmate and friend of Chickasaw Governer Bill Anoatubby, and I spent a semester in middle school taking once-per-week Chickasaw classes, but like most people around me growing up, I was never prompted to engage with Chickasaw culture in any meaningful way or given space or guidance to reckon with what Oklahoma's past meant, with what it meant to exist on Native land that became Native land through removal and genocide, and ultimately ended becoming white land anyway.

My studies and career took me to northwest China, where I learned Uyghur and lived among Uyghurs, and now I work on Uyghur issues back in the U.S. So many of the very same settler-colonial dynamics play out in the context of my professional work, which has made me understand and reckon with my upbringing in a completely different way as an adult. I don't really know what I'm saying here other than that I think about all of this a lot, and it feels heavy, and I'm not entirely sure what to do with it other than try to acknowledge it, to point it out, to figure out how to be a decent human. But again, thank you. Sometimes I grow a bit callous in the day-to-day, but reading your writing always breaks me back open in ways that I need.

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Jan 12Liked by Sarah Kendzior

This is such a powerful essay. Thank you for writing it. The cover up of how native Americans have been treated is wild. As a US teacher it’s rather disturbing to find out how much selective forgetting we do as a nation and how our nation created wonderful stories that are completely false like thanksgiving. Children grow up thinking it was all fun and happy when instead it was a brutal genocide. Mount Rushmore carved into the sacred site of the black hills. It’s disgusting but only those who seek out the true story underneath all the lies can truly grasp it. Thanks you Sarah for writing about this nations actual history. You and Heather Cox Richardson are such powerful voices speaking about history and truth and connecting it together with today. The continuity is so important as tells the true story.

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Jan 11Liked by Sarah Kendzior

“What people want is to live free and safe with their loved ones. That is what the US government stole from the Choctaw people. Languages and traditions can be revived, but you cannot bring back the dead.

Or the Murdered”

With those lines, the Police tune, “Murder by Numbers”, started playing in my head.

Today, South African Lawyer, Adila Hassim, in her opening statement to the International Court of Justice, stated:

“The first genocidal act committed by Israel is the mass killing of Palestinians in Gaza, in violation of Article II (a) of the Genocide Convention. As the U.N. secretary-general explained five weeks ago, the level of Israel’s killing is so extensive that nowhere is safe in Gaza. As I stand before you today, 23,210 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces during the sustained attacks over the last three months, at least 70% of whom are believed to be women and children. Some 7,000 Palestinians are still missing, presumed dead under the rubble.”

Pakistan and the Bengalis in 1971, and Sri Lanka and the Tamils in 2009. Myanmar and the Rohingya in 2017.

My father, older sister, and one of my brothers were born in Gainesville, Texas. He moved us all there in 1965, so that my mother would have help while he was away in Vietnam—another American attempt at genocide. I can remember when Sonic first arrived in Gainesville. I loved their Cherry Lime Ice the most, and the drive-in aspect of eating in your car, your order delivered and hung on your cars window. By 1975 it had become the turn-around point in the local “teenage drag”. The last time I visited my older sister, who moved back to Gainesville in the mid 90’s, was 2009(?). She picked me up at DFW, and we proceeded to a Sonic near the airport. I was nearing 50 at the time, so the gift of history affects my memories, and my diet—I became a vegetarian in 1990 at the age of 30. The burgers were twice as big—as is everything in Texas 😉 —in the 60’s, and a little less plastic. A graphic trend of most large American chains I began to notice in the 90’s. So, for me the Sonic represents both the “magic” and the “ruin” you mention. Please do not share this with you kids!

Your words, “— are enough to make me tear up. But it is also funny and wildly creative,” describes your work too.

As always, thank you.

🎶 “…Because it's murder by numbers, one, two, three

It's as easy to learn as your ABC's

Murder by numbers, one, two, three

It's as easy to learn as your ABC's

Now you can join the ranks of the illustrious

In history's great dark hall of fame

All our greatest killers were industrious

At least the ones that we all know by name”

But you can reach the top of your profession

If you become the leader of the land

For murder is the sport of the elected

And you don't need to lift a finger of your hand

Because it's murder by numbers, one, two, three

It's as easy to learn as your ABC's

Murder by numbers, one, two, three

It's as easy to learn as your A, B, C, D, E…” 🎶

https://www.democracynow.org/2024/1/11/south_africa_genocide_case_israel_gaza

https://youtu.be/FkM6Lx2KDWw?si=_mmCRAm8GONqg5Zu

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founding
Jan 11Liked by Sarah Kendzior

Another bracing gift, conjuring many favorite musical connections, but I'll limit myself to two. First, have you ever heard "Treaties," Sicangu Lakota hip-hop artist Frank Waln's clever, resonant mash-up of Leonard Cohen? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7q0GkKC8gU. Second, have you ever heard Robbie Robertson's 1994 album "Music for the Native Americans"? The entire album is marvelous, and "It is a Good Day to Die" is one of my half-dozen favorite songs by anyone anywhere anytime, but that one's too wrenching to share after reading your "Trails of Tears," so try this one instead: "Cherokee Morning Song." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQTYmWTnrSY

Thank you, Sarah, again and again.

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Jan 11·edited Jan 11Liked by Sarah Kendzior

I loved this one, particularly because we just finished binging all 3 seasons of Reservation Dogs last week (after starting it during our holiday break), and we absolutely loved it! It was such an amazing show, and we loved the realness of it all (it was both comedic and tragic - so thought-provoking), since it was made by Native Americans and featured a mostly Native American cast. We also love Dark Winds and look forward to its upcoming season. Zahn McClarnon has a lot of range! :-)

While we were watching, we were reminded of and again saddened by what happened to Native Americans during the early days of this country - the cruelty and robbery inflicted upon them by white settlers, who just thought it was perfectly fine to take what they wanted at any cost. We can't help but see the parallels between that awful history and the current war and cruelty happening in Palestine. It seems like history just keeps repeating itself and there are never the right type and number of people in charge to stop the slaughter and mistreatment of innocent people.

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Sarah, I believe I have seen posts where you said you have been to Monument Valley. I have made the drive between Flagstaff and Page, AZ and also to Monument Valley several times.What struck me the most was the fact that the land they were "given" is of almost no agricultural use. The abject poverty is so heart breaking. We as a nation have forced them into a life of selling trinkets by the side of the road. The contrast between the beauty of the area and the poverty weigh on anyone with a conscience.

"We are the wisps of rulers

And the jokers of kings"

We Are the People- Iggy Pop

(I encourage everyone to listen to this song, and understand).

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Jan 13Liked by Sarah Kendzior

Hi Sarah, I live in SE Washington State, with 4 indigenous territories in my zip code (Cayuse, Umatilla, Walla Walla, and Palouse/Palus), and am surrounded by many others. Oklahoma is part of their story too. Via treaties with the US government, the nations ceded/had stolen 6.4 MILLION acres of their land for 250,000, which was later reduced to 172,000. Chief Joseph (the Elder) of the Nez Perce nation refused to sign the 1863 treaty, and it was known as the "Thief Treaty" or "Steal Treaty" by the people. Eventually the "Indian War" of 1877 occurred, Chief Joseph (the Younger) surrendered in Montana, after being guaranteed settlement in Idaho. "My heart is sick and sad........I will fight no more forever". That promise was broken. They were exiled to Oklahoma as prisoners of war in 1878, beginning their Trail of Tears, and were not allowed to return until 1885, after losing almost half of their members. I have wept reading some of the milepost markers along the Trail of Tears in the Northwest. I am less than 100 miles from Fort Simcoe, where Yakama Nation children were removed from their homes and forced into a boarding school there. One does not have to look far to find these histories, and the details are sometimes convoluted but always involve incredible cruelty, inhumanity, and greed. These qualities in despots remain today, as we see repeatedly. I so appreciate that you help us see the heartbreaking beauty of this nation, and I still hope to visit Missouri someday because of your writings! Stay well.

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Jan 12Liked by Sarah Kendzior

Such a poignant and sorrowful tapestry you've woven, again. This line spoke to me "We are Missourians, and everything is in ruins,". One branch of my family lived in Cass County when Order # 11 was enacted during the Civil War. They became internal refugees and later tried their luck in OK when the 1893 land rush happened; lost two of their children to dysentery within two months of the relocation and moved back to Cass County, sharecropping on a homestead that had once been theirs. History lives within if we listen to our ancestors.

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