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Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Sunday, June 12, 2011

White House coopts 'Three Sisters' in offensive media event

White House coopts 'Three Sisters' for offensive media event

Eat your greens and be a good little soldier

Updated Tuesday at 4 pm

By Brenda Norrell
John Kane
Censored News.

WASHINGTON -- The White House co-opted the "Three Sisters" of corn, beans and squash for a staged media event with children in the White House kitchen garden, which included a Christian prayer for the military troops.
John Kane, Mohawk host of Let's Talk Native Pride, said it shows what kind of Indians are invited to the White House.
"I have no problem bringing a little Native culture to the White House. In fact, it's a great idea but instead of bringing the concept of 'our three sisters' with a traditional address that would have been full of acknowledgement of creation, good minds and health, our relationship to our entire environment from the tiniest creatures to the cosmos, they have some joker in a ribbon shirt praying to 'our lord, Jesus' to bless Mrs. Obama and the troops. He didn't even acknowledge the children and their safe travel which is the most basic idea of an opening address.
"Can you imagine if it were a Jewish food or something from a Muslim tradition and making these kind of religious references. It just goes to show the kind of 'Indians' the White House invites in," Kane said.
Robyn Jackson, Navajo, said the three sisters have nothing to do with the military and should not have been included. Instead, someone should have spoken on the cultural aspect of corn, beans and squash.
Jackson responded to the talk given by Jefferson Keel of Oklahoma, president of the National Congress of American Indians, in the White House kitchen garden.
"What amazes me is why a person would talk on a subject they know nothing about.
"Clearly, when you hear the man give his talk/prayer, he does not explain why corn, beans, and squash are called the three sisters. He gives a pretty good scientific explanation as to how these plants work well together.
"This whole episode just goes to show that the white house and government is still clueless about Native peoples. They think that our many diverse tribes are interchangeable. Both the government and Mr. Jefferson should have found a tribal member from which the three sisters originates from and had that person speak on this important cultural aspect.
"Mr. Jefferson may be a well intentioned man, but the story of the 3 sisters has nothing to do with the military. He should have refrained from bringing in his own personal opinions into his talk."
The media event in the White House kitchen garden was part of First Lady Obama's "Let's Move," campaign that she designed because she said children are too obese.
On Monday, following the media event in the White House kitchen garden, Keel was inducted into the US Military Memorial Museum.
Kane said, "I find ironic is that all these guys who are so proud of their military service, treat it as though they were somehow serving their own people.
"They boast about protecting freedom and while the US claims to have been stopping the spread of communism ( before their 'War on Terror'), in 'Indian Country' socialism is promoted by the US.
"Show me one example of the US promoting the private sector in our communities. Every 'program,' speech, resolution and ruling is always about the 'Tribe' and never about the Native person.
"I feel strongly that sovereignty is a birthright. It is as natural as the right to life. It is bestowed by creation to all, not by God to a few. Many willingly or unwillingly divest themselves of that sovereignty and give away many of their choices and freedoms to individuals who pledge to look after them or they leave their homelands rather than fix the messes they leave behind in search of new places to impose their will.
"We never institutionalized our lives. Our culture was always based on nature not some rigid man-made set of rules. Government was not an institution; we were the government. Just as we were mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts and uncles. If we could not prove ourselves in these roles we certainly were not looked at as community leaders."

Watch video of the White House kitchen garden media event:

Keel inducted into US Military Memorial Museum Hall of Honor:
John Kane is host of Let's Talk Native Pride online. Listen at


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