August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

AIM West Bill Means: America's payments meant to ease US conscience

AIM VICTORY SONG Tuesday, AIM West, Nov. 26, 2013 Video by Censored News

Bill Means: America's payouts are a way of clearing its conscience of genocide and stolen land
Bill Means

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News Exclusive
Dutch translation NAIS
SAN FRANCISCO -- The attacks on Indigenous Peoples, from the tarsands to Indian child welfare, were topics at the start of the second day of the sixth annual AIM West Conference here today, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013.

Bill Means, Lakota, began with an explanation of how the so-called origin of the word "Indians" is a myth and did not refer to Columbus believing he had landed in India. Means said India did not exist in 1492. Columbus had actually referred to the people of this land as "Indios." Columbus said the people here were spiritual people and "generous to a fault."

Means explained the dangers of TransCanada's tarsands that threatens Indian country. Further he described how South Dakota has declared Indian children as "special needs" in order to profiteer from child welfare.

Means described the corruption that resulted in the Cobell settlement and the hand-out mentality the Cobell payments and other current payments to American Indians perpetuate.

Means said there is now a rise once again in the "hand-out economy" attitude rather than people seeking work.

"Colonization is still taking place through these payments."
Madonna Thunder Hawk

"This creates the attitude that someone will take care of you if you stay at home and do nothing."

Means said these payments have become a way to "clear the conscience of America" for genocide and stolen land.

Means also described the corporations of extractive fossil fuels that are like PacMan. He said these are corporations that eat up everything. "They are the moral equipment of PacMan."

Means, founder and board member of the International Indian Treaty Council, said, "We have a worldwide movement. We are not just talking about the Americas anymore."

Means also described 30 years of international efforts at the United Nations. He said the United Nations works as a turtle, at a very slow rate, and sticks its head in at times, but the work continues. The Permanent Forum of Indigenous Peoples is the current step toward the next goal of obtaining Observer status at the United Nations.

Means said Indigenous Peoples gift to the United Nations is that the UN is realizing the importance of climate change, and the importance of matriarchal societies where women take the leadership, dissuading constant wars.

Madonna Thunder Hawk, Lakota, said her work is as a community organizer, "Moccasins on the Ground."

South Dakota is the main culprit of the Indian Child Welfare Act. It is still a frontier mentality, she said.

"Republi-crats" is what happens with issues in Indian country in South Dakota, she said of the political reality.

"They are taking our most precious resource, our children." Thunder Hawk said this is her seventh year of working on this campaign. "This is the fight that is most important."

"Our people are so colonized. How do you prioritize." Thunder Hawk said the tribal councils are involved in corruption and trying to imitate the colonizers.

Thunder Hawk said South Dakota had no resources, then they figured out they had nine reservations. She said when the Bushes were in control, the federal funding for child welfare services started going -- rather than through the federal government to Indian tribes-- to the state of South Dakota.

Tony Gonzales
Millions began going to the state of South Dakota. Thunder Hawk said the facts are online at

Thunder Hawk said Mormons are notorious for stealing Indian children. "They use them as indentured servants."

Thunder Hawk recommended reading the news at Last Real Indians. "Chase IronEyes is what we call an AIM baby. Now he is an attorney."

Of Last Real Indians, she said, "They talk about the fight against the pipeline, and the fight against neo-Nazis, and the battle against what is going on in Indian child welfare."

Tony Gonzales, AIM West coordinator, said the Washington Redskins added "salt to the wound" by using members of the Navajo Code Talkers Association in a presentation. Gonzales said, "They are playing with our elders," and "it is time to get serious." See background article at Washington Post:

Further, Gonzales said the Indian Child Welfare Act is being manipulated to benefit non-Indians, as was revealed in one recent child in the news. "The baby girl was taken away from her Cherokee father."

Gonzales said it is time to take action to keep the Indian Child Welfare Act "from being skirted."

"That's what this conference is about, finding solutions, finding partnerships, so we can all work together."

In the afternoon, there was a discussion of how to educate schools and the public about respect of Native images and protection of sacred places and burial grounds. The discussion centered on images and how this effects individuals as human beings. The discussion focused on the recent victory when Vallejo Schools in California removed an Apache mascot. Those gathered at AIM West pointed out that the media often reports on the image of mascots in a one-sided manner and fails to honor the words and perspectives of Native people.

Bill Means said AIM has challenged the churches to work on the issues of mascots and the use of racist images, because politicians work with churches. Means said it can be a means of establishing forums, or even drafting legislation as one organizing tactic.

During the discussion on genetically-modified seeds, Means said these seeds do not reproduce and must be repurchased each year. Further, the seeds which are taken and manipulated are part of Native culture, including what Natives know as the Three Sisters -- squash, beans and corn. Monsanto and other companies are polluting rivers and lakes with the runoff from GMOs.

Means said the lakes in Minnesota are polluted from the runoff from the pollution of farming, which includes genetically modified seeds. He said the fertilizer added to the soil, necessary to make these GMO seeds grow, further degrades the soil and pollutes the soil and waterways.

"We have to have the basic right to our traditional foods," Means said, pointing out that the Indigenous Peoples right to food sovereignty is even stated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In Central and South America, Indigenous Peoples are hard hit by the devastation caused by corporations seizing their farmlands and the destruction caused by GMOs.

"Many people coming across the border from the south are doing this because they can't feed their families," Means said.

During the discussion on international efforts, Tony Gonzales said intellectual property of Indigenous Peoples was found in 1992 to benefit non-Indians and corporations by $92 billion globally. "We are not getting one penny of that."

Gonzales said Indigenous Peoples issues are taken to the UN Human Rights Commission. The UN Forum on Indigenous Peoples in New York annually is a means of addressing many issues.

Earlier, there was also a discussion of Loop 202 in the Phoenix area. The proposed highway would require blasting through South Mountain which is sacred to Gila River O'otham and other Native Americans in the area.

In San Francisco on Monday, there was a protest of President Obama a few weeks blocks away from the AIM West Conference. The protest focused on President Obama's current immigration and other policies.

The protest of President Obama in San Francisco included a protest of the TransCanada tarsands protest which threatens Indian country and specifically the enormous Ogallala Aquifer in the Plains.

Already the gouging out of the earth for the southern route of the Keystone XL tarsands pipeline, promoted by Obama, has led to the destruction of small farms in Texas and Oklahoma and the jailing of elderly farmers in Texas who were trying to protect their little farms. The tarsands mining in Alberta, Canada, has created widespread devastation and pollution, threatening future generations of Cree and other First Nations.

"We are in solidarity," Gonzales said.

"Truth is speaking to power. They are not going to relinquish it easily."

Also: Day 1 AIM West "American Indian Movement, History of Struggle, History of Hope"

Censored News videos: Bill Means speaking on Day 2: Long struggle of Indigenous Peoples for recognition at UN:

Watch Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV Concluding comments

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Day 2 AIM West "Bill Means: America's payouts way to ease US conscience"

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