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                                    UP SAND CREEK WITHOUT A PADDLE

 

                                                            By Bob Black

 

Fantasies of the Master Race: Literature, Cinema and the Colonization of the American Indian.  Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1992. 

 

            In this miscellany of essays and reviews, Professor[1] Ward Churchill purports to discuss literature, cinema, and the colonization of American Indians.  Most of the texts declaim against depictions of Indians in fiction or film which Churchill considers, sometimes correctly, to be deceptive or demeaning.  Had he left it at that, he would have made a minor, if flawed, contribution to separating fact from fantasy in the way pop culture represents the Indians.

            Unfortunately Churchill has a more ambitious agenda.  A self-proclaimed “indigenist”ideologue,[2] he is out to institute apartheid in the United States, with approximately one-third of the area of the lower 48 states to be turned over to the less than two million Indians who make up less than one percent of the population.[3]  Churchill, for whom the forced relocation of 17,500 Navajos would be an act of genocide,[4] and who is appalled that 55% of the Cherokees perished on the Trail of Tears,[5] thus calls for the dispossession of at least 20 million people in a holocaust not seen on this scale on this continent since Cortez landed.  Harsh retribution indeed for media stereotyping! 

            Churchill cheapens the word genocide by applying it indiscriminately to everything from massacres to missions, from extermination to education.  Mel Brooks and George Armstrong Custer are twins to him.  To teach an Indian to read is the moral equivalent of killing him.  In her introduction,[6] Churchill’s editor (and former wife) M. Annette Jaimes quoted his longtime ally Russell Means: “If our culture is dissolved, Indian people as such will cease to exist.  By definition, the causing of any culture to cease to exist is genocide.  That’s a matter of international law; look it up in the 1948 Geneva Convention” (1).

            So I looked it up:

            In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or social group, as such:

            a)  Killing members of the group;

            b)  Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

c)  Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

            d)  Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

            e)  Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.[7]

 

Cultural assimilation was deliberately excluded from the Convention’s definition of genocide.[8]  And Churchill admitted as much, in articles first published four and six years before Fantasies of the Master Race![9]  International law subordinates indigenous and tribal peoples to the paramount power of the nation-states in which they live, with the objective of their eventual assimilation into the national societies.[10]  A proposed Draft Universal Declaration on Indigenous Rights would secure indigenous peoples against genocide and “ethnicide” (forced assimilation)[11] – reaffirming by implication the difference between the two.  Churchill knows this: he has reprinted the draft.[12]  Look it up.[13]

            A little pedantry is better than a lot of libel.  Whatever else might be said against John Ford’s Westerns, Tony Hillerman’s mysteries, or the New Age hokum of Sun Bear or Carlos Castaneda, they are just not genocide.  Conceivably their disinformation might be so deleterious as to promote genocide, but even a writer as reckless as Churchill does not even try to show this.

            If non-Indian Americans are engaged in genocide, they’re not very good at it.  Although it outnumbers the vanquished by more than 100-1, the Master Race looks less like the S.S. than the Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.  If the “Euro-Americans” are Nazis, the Indians must be Hogan’s Heroes.  Churchill himself acknowledges “the 50 percent increase in the number of recognized Indians recorded by the U.S. Census between 1900 and 1950.”[14]  The Indian population has grown in every decade since 1890, with the rate of increase accelerating since 1950.[15]  “In recent years,” wrote Murray L. Wax in 1971, “a variety of advantages – economic, political, and even social – have begun to accrue to those classified as ‘Indian.’”[16]  Indeed, it was when Ward Churchill realized this a few years later that he went into the business of being an Indian.[17]  Among the less undeserving examples of Churchill’s ire are the “plastic Indians” – whites who make money off imitating Indian religion (215-22).  But he fails to notice that their very existence refutes his blood libel.  How many Germans under Nazism went around pretending to be rabbis; or, as Churchill might say, “plastic Jews”?

            Although his scholarship is bogus and bigoted, Churchill has wormed his way into a very cozy situation.  Since he has tenure, it doesn’t matter that his pseudo-academic writings aren’t acceptable even to mediocre academic journals, and their standards are not high.  He has no standing in the field of Native American studies.  A recent monograph surveying the field does not mention or cite him.[18]  In fact, his theme – that, now and always, Indians are passive victims of oppression – with its implicit condescension, is passé.  Contemporary Native American Studies instead emphasize “the roles of Indians as agents in history.”[19]  But the image of Indian as pitiable wretch still plays well with the left.  Even the better anarchist publications, such as Anarchy and the Fifth Estate,[20] formerly published Churchill despite his authoritarian nationalist politics.  Even anarchists are unduly impressed by a professor, an ostensible Indian, and his show of footnotes.  Churchill gets flown all over the country to address audiences of white leftists who pay him to guilt-trip them.[21]  How sweet the pain!

            Churchill has hitherto enjoyed pretty much a free ride from academics,[22] leftists, anarchists and the disaffected – with the notable exception of his Indian critics.  His campus hustle is not unique – as a hustler, if in no other role, he has found a natural home in the academy – but his access to oppositional currents is troubling.  And it’s hard to see what to do about it.  As Lawrence Jarach says,

The trouble with examining any skilled dissimulator (not just Ward Churchill), trying to contextualize their heaps of lies and insinuations, and actually reading their footnotes is that it requires at least as much space (usually more) as they use to spread their crap, resulting in a long and detailed analysis.  Two further problems then arise: first is a nearly endless tome which no one would want to publish; second is that the exposer/analyzer would most likely be accused of being obsessed, or of having a vendetta or a personal grudge.[23]

 

Appreciating these problems, I was at a loss what to do about Churchill.  It is galling that he should get away with everything just because it was impractical to take him on about everything.  I decided I would just take apart (not “deconstruct”) a single short Churchill text.  That couldn’t establish the legitimacy of his scholarship generally, but if it showed that at least once his scholarship was severely shoddy, terribly tendentious, and willfully dishonest, that might post a warning about the rest of it.  I might have chosen anything.  I did not choose something easy, like international law or metaphorical media genocide.  Easiest of all, I might have joined the anvil chorus hammering Churchill for his now infamous celebration of the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11.[24]  With sadistic euphoria, he hailed the justice meted out to the “little Eichmanns” in the twin towers, such as the fry cooks and Kelly Girls.  Instead of addressing the psychopathic “little Eichmanns” tirade as everybody else has, I chose the one essay in this book about a real event, and the one which reveals the white devils at their worst.  If Churchill can’t push even this button, he must be a pushover.

                                    The Sand Creek Massacre

The Sand Creek (Colorado) massacre of 1864 has nothing to do with Churchill’s asserted subjects – literature and cinema – but dragging it in assimilates hyperbolic rhetoric to something more like the real thing.  The facts, to which Churchill makes no original contribution, are straightforward.  A Union force consisting mainly of temporarily enrolled cavalry (“hundred-day men”), acting without orders, attacked a peaceable encampment of Southern Cheyennes and a few Arapahos at Sand Creek on November 29, 1864.  Three U.S. government inquiries, two in 1865, one in 1867, concluded that there was no justification for the ensuing butchery (112-13).  Churchill complains that the commanding officer, Col. John Chivington (a Methodist minister known as “the fighting parson”), was not punished, although he acknowledges that the disgrace ended Chivington’s budding political career (113).  This, Churchill falsely asserts, was “the only tangible consequence visited upon anyone who had a major role in the mini-Holocaust” (113).[25]

Churchill does not explain that court-martial proceedings against Chivington had to be dropped because he and most of his men had already been mustered out.[26]  A murder prosecution would have been warranted on the facts, but under the circumstances, it would have been futile.  In 1862, Chivington commanded a Union cavalry force which forced the retreat of a Confederate army invading the Colorado Territory.  Now, with the Civil War and an Indian war still raging – the Sand Creek Cheyennes were peaceable, many others were not – a jury of twelve white men drawn from a panicky settler population would have had to agree unanimously to convict on capital charges the soldier who had saved them from conquest.  History does not excuse, but it does explain.  Churchill does not explain, he condemns.  Churchill is more a prosecutor than a historian, except that a prosecutor is not allowed to withhold information unfavorable to his case.[27] 

Whatever Churchill thinks he is doing in “It Did Happen Here,” it can hardly be exposing a cover-up.  He himself cites 19 books and a few articles which cover the event (113-15).  Of the modern volumes which focus on Sand Creek, one he dismisses – it may be correctly, but without demonstration – as “lies, distortions and unabashed polemics on behalf of Sand Creek’s perpetrators” (114).[28]  Another, by David Svaldi, wins Churchill’s praise for towing his own whites-as-Nazis line, though not quite explicitly enough for a hardened hater like Churchill (119-20).[29]  A third, by Stan Hoig,[30] he praises as honest and accurate.  Although, Churchill having never engaged in original research on this (or any other) historical subject, he has no apparent reason to think so except that its findings suit his political purposes.  The only primary sources cited in this book are novels and movies. 

Thus far, then, what Churchill calls “Euroamerican” historians – he means white historians, but saying so would underscore his own racism – are running 2-1 in favor of the story he thinks is good for the Indians.  If “It Did Happen Here,” he has Euroamericans to thank for the documentation to make sure that we never forget.  His attempt to say something important, that is, vilificatory about “Sand Creek, Scholarship and the American Character” has badly miscarried.  It reflects well on the American character, if it reflects on it at all, that Americans have recorded and recounted the shameful facts for over a century.  So, half-wittingly aware that he has debunked himself, Churchill goes all-out to smear the fourth modern Sand Creek book as culturally genocidal, although it is just as pro-Indian as two of the other three. 

The better – I should say, the larger – part of Churchill’s invective is aimed at Month of the Frozen Moon by Duane Schultz.[31]  It is, he says, “essentially duplicative” of Hoig’s superior volume (115) – although, as a full-length book, it is nowhere near as essentially duplicative as Churchill’s own two-paragraph paraphrase (111-12).  If, as Churchill fervently feels, this story cannot be told (that is, “duplicated”) too often, then any substantially accurate depiction should be welcomed.  Churchill quibbles over a few factual details (115-16), but in calling the book “essentially duplicative” and “vaguely plagiaristic” (115) of the book he endorses, he backhandedly vouches for it. 

Unless, of course, the hapless Schultz (I am again reminded of Hogan’s Heroes) has smuggled in gratuitous, anti-Indian, crypto-Nazi propaganda.  Needless to say, he hasn’t.  Needless to say, Churchill says he has (116-18).

Schultz is pilloried as “truly malicious and objectionable” because of his “adoption of the Euroamerican standard of ‘academic objectivity’ which decrees that whenever one addresses the atrocities committed by the status quo, one is duty-bound to ‘balance one’s view’ by depicting some negativity embodied in its victims” (116).  Since Churchill is himself an academic, when he voices contempt for academic objectivity, he must be disparaging it, not for being academic, but for being objective.  It is sporting of him to put the reader on notice not to trust what he says, but it also reinforces the prejudice that the work of minority scholars on their own group must be dismissed for inherent bias.[32]  The University of Colorado investigating committee recognized, as an aggravating factor in his research misconduct, the damage Churchill has done to ethnic studies.[33]  And Churchill is not even a member of the group for which he acts as self-appointed avenger.

Here is Schultz’s offending passage:

Before there were whites to rob and plunder and steal from, the [Indians] robbed and stole from each other.  Before there were white men in the country to kill, they killed each other.  Before there were white women and children to scalp and mutilate and torture, the Indians scalped and mutilated and tortured the women and children of the enemies of their own race.  They made slaves of each other when there were no palefaces to be captured and sold or held for ransom, and before they commenced lying in ambush along the trails of the white man to ambush unwary travelers, the Indians of one tribe would set the same sort of death traps for Indians of another tribe (116[34]).

 

That is all Schultz has to say which might possibly evidence the sort of invidious equalization Churchill decries.  All the rest of the book is about the massacre of unoffending Indians by racist whites.  Absolutely nothing in it justifies or mitigates the Sand Creek massacre itself.  Except for scalping, an Indian invention,[35] most peoples worldwide have engaged in these practices at one time or another.  Anglo-Americans engaged in them all in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries at Indian expense.  But one platitudinous paragraph does not nullify a bookful of uncomfortable history.  Any white who seizes on this paragraph to marginalize the Sand Creek massacre would find another pretext in its absence.  And this suppositious “settler” (another of Churchill’s absurd anti-white epithets) is as unlikely to read Churchill as he is to believe him.

            But Churchill does not criticize the passage as gratuitous or banal.  He says it’s a flat-out lie: “None of this is substantiated, or even substantiable [sic].  It instead flies directly in the face of most well researched and grounded [?] understandings of how the Cheyennes did business [!] in pre-contact times as well as in the early contact period” (117).  None of it, mind you is or ever could be substantiated.  Churchill’s choice of words reveals that he has projected onto the Cheyennes his own businesslike approach to being an Indian.  He elides the fact that Schultz referred to Indians in general, not Cheyennes in particular.  Not even a propagandist as cheeky as Churchill has the effrontery to allege expressly that there was no war or theft in pre-Columbian America, but that is the implication.  Not-so-adroitly changing the subject – not that this will save him, as we shall see – Churchill, now self-appointed as defense attorney, enters on behalf of his involuntary clients a plea of not guilty on all counts.  His denials are not, however, “substantiated.”  It is rare for Church to try to substantiate anything, for all his phony footnotes, and rarer still for him to succeed.  Most of Schultz’s commonplaces are not only true, they are substantiated for the Cheyennes by a Churchill-approved source, George Bird Grinnell (113). 

            The Cheyennes Robbed and Stole From Other Indians

            George Bird Grinnell lived with Plains Indians as early as 1874 – pre-Little Big Horn – and for many years thereafter.  In The Fighting Cheyennes (1913),[36] he told the story of Cheyenne warfare from their point of view.  Referring to the period before contact with Americans, he stated: “The Kiowas and Comanches made frequent raids into the territory of the Mexicans, in Texas and South of the Rio Grande, and from those forays brought back great herds of horses.  These in turn were taken from them by the Cheyennes and the Arapahos, from whom again they were captured by the Pawnees and by other tribes still farther to the north.”[37]  He observed in another book: “[Some Cheyenne] men went to war for the sole purposes of increasing their possessions by capturing horses; that is, they carried on war as a business – for profit.”[38]  So the Cheyennes did rob and steal from other Indians, and Churchill was perhaps not so anachronistic after all in saying that is how some of them “did business.”

            The Cheyennes Killed Other Indians

            To say the least!  The tribe was “almost constantly at war,” as Grinnell said, and as the aggressor – against the Assiniboins (northern Dakotas), Pawnees and Shoshones, and also against “the Kiowas, the Comanches, and the Crows, all of whom they gradually expelled from the country they had invaded.”[39]  As their friend Grinnell put it, the Cheyennes were “a people whose chief occupation was war.”[40]  To deny them their martial heritage is cultural genocide if anything is.  Churchill find fault with the American national character.  How did the Cheyennes compare?  A contemporary anthropologist writes: “Part of the Cheyenne national character was to invade the central plains, expel other tribes, and hunt there exclusively.  They claimed such new territory by right of conquest.”  Sound familiar?[41]  Sounds like something Did Happen Here. 

            The Cheyennes Scalped, Mutilated and Tortured Other Indian Men, Women and Children

 

            Of course they did.  My impression is that, in general, Indians when at war did not target women, children and old men to anything like the extent the Europeans and Americans did.  But at times the Indians, certainly including the Plains Indians, did it too.  Nor did they have to learn how from the whites.  At Wolf Creek in 1838, the Cheyennes butchered twelve or thirteen Kiowa women.[42]  In 1819, they attacked a Crow camp in which, like the Cheyenne camp at Sand Creek, “there were no fighting men, only middle-aged and old men, so there was not much fighting, but everyone in the camp was killed or captured.”[43]  In fairness, their atrocities were not confined to other Indians.  In 1856 they attacked two small wagon trains, killing several men, three women, and two children.[44]

            The Cheyennes routinely scalped their victims,[45] celebrating afterwards with scalp dances.  Other mutilations of enemy dead were also common.  In 1838 they cut up the bodies of eight slain Pawnees, “disjointing their bones.”[46]   An old Cheyenne recollected the time he and others killed a Crow horse thief: “After he was dead, we cut off his hands and feet and head.  It looked funny to see his body lying there without any hands or feet or head.  Even now, when I think of him I have to laugh.”[47]  That’s entertainment!  After the Custer Fight, as Grinnell wrote, “the women and children went up to the battleground, and as usual there was mutilation of the dead.”[48]  Grinnell failed to mention the most famous Cheyenne mutilation of all, which occurred on that occasion – but Duane Schultz does.  Two Cheyenne women found Custer’s body and punctured his eardrums with sewing needles.  Custer had once been warned that if he fought the Cheyenne, he and all his men would fall.  The women explained that Custer must not have heard the warning, so they were helping him hear better.[49]

            All this is more than enough to establish that Churchill’s denials are not only false, and not only willful – for he has at least heard of Grinnell – they are laughable.  To deny that the Cheyennes, like able warriors everywhere, set ambushes for their enemies[50] is really, on their own terms, to defame them.  As for torture, so popular among all the Plains Indians, there is no point troubling to discuss it.

            Now the pop historian Schultz did misspeak himself in several respects.  They Cheyennes had no institution properly called slavery.  Nor did they trade in captives, although in the 1870s an observer mentioned Leon, a Mexican “who had been a prisoner among the [Cheyenne] Indians almost like a slave from the time he was a boy.”[51]  They kidnapped many women and children from other Indians, and occasionally from the whites, not to enslave them in an economic sense, as chattels, but to incorporate them in their own tribe at the expense of their enemies.[52]  It was, in other words, genocide even within the literal meaning of the Geneva Convention on genocide (art. II.e)), and it was also forced cultural assimilation, which is Churchill’s “functional” definition of genocide.[53]  Except when Indians do it. 

            But then Schultz never accused the Cheyennes specifically of all these practices, although he could have.  If they were not exactly slaveholders and slave-traders, other Indians were.  Southeastern Indians such as the Creeks and Cherokees – claimed by Churchill as his ancestors – already formed stratified societies in pre-contact times.[54]  They enslaved other Indians in prehistoric times, and after white slaveholders established themselves along their borders, they borrowed from them the Peculiar Institution, black slavery.  When the Cherokees walked the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma, they brought their black slaves along.  During the Civil War, the Five Civilized Tribes allied with the Confederacy.[55]  As for the slave trade, in the 17th and 18th centuries, northeastern Indians kidnapped hundreds of Anglo-Americans, mostly women and children, torturing a few of the men to death for the fun of it, adopting some captives, ransoming others, and selling the rest to the French in Canada.[56]

            It DID Happen Here – in 1325 A.D.

            Sand Creek was the slaughter of peaceable Indians, most of them defenseless, most of them women and children, carried out by nervous, paranoid amateur soldiers with deep-seated anti-Indian prejudices.  It was, according to official and public opinion then and the settled judgment of history, indefensible.  And yet for Churchill it is emblematic of the “American Character.”  Nothing could more clearly mark the moral divide between the vicious “settlers”[57] and the virtuous Plains Indians, right?

            Wrong.  It did happen here – long before Custer, Chivington, Cortez or Columbus – and not all that far from Sand Creek.  Around the year 1325 A.D., at least 486 Arikara Indians – men, women and children, some 60% of the population (worse than the Trail of Tears) – were exterminated at the Crow Creek Village in south central South Dakota.  The “young adult females” are underrepresented in the remains, presumably because they were kidnapped for genocidal assimilation.  It is impossible to identify the assailants with any particular Plains tribe of historic times, although the cranial samples most resemble the Pawnees.  Scalping and mutilation were already in vogue: “There are many mutilations on the bones.  Scalping, skull fractures, evulsions, and decapitations are common.”[58]  The perpetrators were likely not Cheyennes, who were then probably living a semi-sedentary life along the shores of the western Great Lakes or the upper tributaries of the Mississippi.[59]  But precisely which Plains Indians exterminated which other Plains Indians in pre-contact times, hence with no inspiration or encouragement from Europeans, is beside the point.  The point is that Schultz is mostly right (perhaps unwittingly) whereas Churchill is mostly wrong (undoubtedly by design) about prehistoric red-on-red violence on the Great Plains.  Here was a mini-Holocaust.

            What All This Is Really About

            Not history, that’s for sure.  How is it possible for Churchill to pass off his racist fantasies as scholarship?[60]  And how did he ever gain the credibility of a tenured faculty position at the University of Colorado at Boulder without a Ph.D?  These are more interesting questions than any that Churchill falsifies the answers to. 

            It’s not that I accord reflexive respect to academic credentials.  I have four post-baccalaureate degrees myself, and I have had plenty of opportunity to see how little degrees may mean.  I’d consider it entirely appropriate if an American Indian shaman or elder were made a professor of American Indian studies as Churchill has been – not to the exclusion of professionally trained anthropologists, historians and others, but to complement their understanding of the Indian experience.  Moreover, professionally trained Indian academics, appointed without wire-pulling, are making major contributions to Indian scholarship, among them demographer/sociologist Russell Thornton (Cherokee), historian James Riding In (Pawnee), and economist Ronald L. Trosper (Flathead).[61]  But Churchill is another story.  He took a political shortcut to the podium.

            Although Churchill is confused about the definition of genocide, he perhaps had some hands-on experience of it – in Vietnam: “Churchill was airborne-qualified and in a 4th Infantry Division LRRP [long range reconnaissance patrol] in the highlands region in 1968.”[62]  These were the “search and destroy” boys.  Following his stint as a terrorizer of civilians, Churchill turns up in the authoritarian terrorist Weatherman faction of SDS.  He was a suspect in the 1970 bombing at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin in which a young man was killed.[63]  He even boasts of teaching the Weathermen how to make bombs,[64] which might explain why some of them accidentally blew themselves up.[65]  Thus he made his political debut as a Marxist, not a nationalist – but we need look no further than Russia or Serbia to see how slight the difference can be.  His modest proposal for the ethnic cleansing of one-third of the United States is on the scale of Stalin’s population relocations, and surpasses Hitler’s.  He refers to “’totalitarian’ Third World countries like Cuba and Libya” with ironic quotation marks (in themselves a form of political malpractice[66]) – implying that these regimes are not really totalitarian, or if they are, it doesn’t matter.  Churchill compared their incarceration rates favorably with those of the United States.[67] 

            A review of the Weatherman program establishes the extraordinary continuity in Churchill’s, for lack of a better word, thinking.  The Weathermen were white anti-white racists.  According to their mongrel Maoism, only the colonized Third World peoples within and without the Third World could be revolutionary.  The white working class could not be revolutionary, although white youth (namely, themselves) might play an auxiliary role.[68]  As they liked to say, “All white babies are pigs.”  Weatherwoman Bernadine Dohrn – now a lawyer – waxed ecstatic over the killings by the Manson Family.[69]  (Churchill was squarely in this tradition of white self-hatred when he hailed 9/11 as a just, if inadequate vengeance on all the “little Eichmanns,” the cogs of capitalism who worked in the World Trade Center.[70])  The white proletariat had been bought out, according to these privileged children of the parents who must have done the buying.  These vanguardists supposed they could escape the self-contradictory implications of their crude class analysis by the blustering vehemence of their unsolicited solidarity with the Third World.  Considering the variation on this theme which Churchill would make a career out of, it is a fine irony that Black Panther Fred Hampton condemned the Weathermen as “custeristic.”[71]  Churchill the Weatherman knew which way the wind was blowing: back to campus.  As Professor Kirby Olson has shown, the roots of Cultural Studies (ethnic studies, women’s gender studies, etc.) are, like Churchill’s roots, Maoist.[72]

            The 1970s were years in which the left both declined (in the size of its following) and decomposed (into various racial, sexual and ideological special-interest groups).[73]  Ex-Weathermen were even less popular than Vietnam veterans.  It took Churchill awhile to find his way from the warpath to the career path.  He became a staff writer for Soldier of Fortune magazine.[74]  Finally he discovered, or invented, his Indian heritage.  By 1983, he was “director of Planning, Research and Development for Educational Opportunity Programs at the University of Colorado/Boulder.”[75]  In plain English, he was an affirmative-action bureaucrat, a paid racemonger.  He quite possibly wrote his own job description to make his great leap forward into the faculty in 1990, then he was tenured, unbelievably, just one year later.  So he is now, without even possessing a doctorate, an ethnic studies full professor  – and until recently department chair – at the state university in the posh resort town of Boulder.  Does Churchill still think white babies are pigs?  That might have some bearing on the JonBenet Ramsey case.

            Along the way, Churchill has been inconsistent about his ethnicity, even before it came under close scrutiny once the press finally got wind of his “little Eichmanns” performance.  In 1983 he was claiming to be “Creek/Cherokee.”[76]  By 1992, he more modestly claimed to be “Creek/Cherokee/Metis” (303).  This too is misleading, in fact it is gibberish, but we are finding the range.  The expression is at once odd and deceptive.  Odd, because Metis are Canadians of mixed French and Indian ancestry, or in a broader sense someone of mixed white and Indian ancestry.[77] Aside from the fact that Churchill is not Canadian, “Creek/Cherokee/Metis” is odd in the same way that “black/mulatto” is odd.  It is like saying someone is Indian/Indian/Indian/white or black/black/white.  Churchill does not want to apply the W-word to his ancestry.  Besides being bizarre, the identification is deceptive.  It leaves the impression that Churchill is mostly Indian, maybe two-thirds or more, whereas he is, at best, mostly white.  By his own estimation, or one of them, which is likely generously self-serving, he is maybe one-sixteenth Creek and Cherokee.[78]  In 1996 he reverted to full dishonesty, again calling himself Creek/Cherokee.[79]  In 2002 he could write:

I am myself of Muscogee and Creek descent [these are synonyms!] on my father’s side, Cherokee on my mother’s, and an enrolled member [sic] of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians. . . . The truth is, although I’m best known by my colonial name, Ward Churchill, the name I prefer is Kenis, an Ojibwe name bestowed by my wife’s uncle.  So there’s that, and I suppose it speaks for itself.[80]

 

 By next year, he was “Keetoowah Cherokee” and he had acquired still another Indian-sounding name, “Kizhiinaabe,” which he is probably unable to pronounce.[81]

            In any sense of the word that makes any sense, Churchill is not an Indian.  He is not an enrolled member of any tribe.[82]  He does not speak any Indian language.  He did not grow up on, and has never resided on, a reservation, almost the only place where anything like traditional Indian cultures persist.  He prefers living outside the tony town of Boulder (“you don’t get older in Boulder,” the locals say – JonBenet didn’t).  He draws a good salary ($115,000/year) from the State of Colorado, whose volunteers carried out the Sand Creek massacre.  To qualify for it, he took the state employees’ oath of allegiance to Constitutions of the United States and the State of Colorado.  He disparages the “stark, pathetic emptiness” of Western religions, but he nowhere hints that he practices any Indian religion.  (Aside from his sacral use of tobacco: Churchill is a three pack a day Pall Mall smoker.[83]  Thus he is not an Indian in any political, legal, cultural, linguistic, religious or lifestyle aspect.  Self-identification alone merely makes him, in his own phrase, a plastic Indian.  The only other criterion he might satisfy is a racial one.

            Except he doesn’t, and least of all.  Tens of millions of whites, blacks, and especially Hispanics have more Indian ancestry than Churchill (I may be one of them) but they do not consider themselves Indians on that account alone.  Churchill has never identified any Indian ancestor.[84]  Geanealogical researches have found no Indian ancestors, and DNA testing on two relatives on his father’s side indicates exclusively northern European ancestry.[85] 

            Ward Churchill is a Trickster, but he would not understand the reference:   The sorry truth is that “for nearly as long as the United States has been in existence, there have been fake Indians.”[86]  Tom Giago, an enrolled Oglala Sioux born and raised on the Pine Hills reservation, the publisher of Indian Country Today, considers Churchill a “white profiteer, a police agent and a terrorist.”  The infiltration of New Left and New Age ersatz Indians like Churchill has bitterly divided the American Indian Movement, an organization which, despite its small size, the U.S. Government once genuinely feared.  Churchill was expelled in 1993,[87] but continues to bill himself as Co-Director of Colorado AIM and as “a member of the governing council of the American Indian Movement.”[88]  As Carole Standing Elk, a Dakota and director of the San Francisco Bay Area AIM chapter, says: “It’s obvious he has no spiritual base.  He’s trying to subvert the movement.”  David Bradley, a Chippewa artist, observes that Churchill is a white man, posing as an Indian” who “is victimizing Indian people, politically, morally and spiritually.”  For Standing Elk, Churchill is out “to exploit the American Indian Movement in order to further his personal career objectives.”[89] 

            AIM should shoulder some responsibility for opening opportunities for interlopers like Churchill.  The Indians who founded AIM in the 1960s were detribalized urban radicals emulating the white New Left and adopting its strategy of staging media spectacles.  One of these, the occupation of Alcatraz Island, came off very well.  Another, the occupation of Wounded Knee, turned into a bloody shambles.  These American Indians were much more American than Indian.  There were no “indigenists” in 1492.  Indigenism is an ideology invented in the 20th century by Mexican intellectuals of Spanish descent.  It’s a form of nationalism, which is a European invention.  As often as not, national identities – even the ones that take root – originate in the minds of disgruntled intellectuals, not as an upwelling from a solidary Volk.[90]  As Murray L. Wax observed, “’Indians’ were not entities who were present in pre-Columbian times, . . . this social identity emerged in relationship to the invasions of the Europeans.”[91]

            It is precisely detribalized Indians like Means (we cannot even include Churchill) who assert, in their own interest, a pan-Indian identity alien to how Indians traditionally understood themselves:

The American Indian Movement held the most headlines in the late sixties and seventies, a romantic inversion of racialism, and praise for generic cultures.  These urban radicals were tribal simulations with dubious constituencies, and their stoical poses, tragic and lonesome, were closer to photographic and visual images familiar to a commercial culture; these ersatz warriors were much closer to the invented tragedies of a vanishing race than were the crossbloods who endured the real politics and weather on reservations.[92]

 

This is not to say that there are not Indians who have come to see themselves as possessing a generic, more or less national identity, only that such identities are not primordial or natural, they are historically produced and in part contrived.  Indeed, they reflect Indian adoption of what was originally the discriminate Euro-American perception of the American indigenes.

            The definition of group identity is at once the crux of group identity and its fatal flaw.  It is necessarily a process of exclusion.  Thus when Koreans decided to be Koreans, they decided not to be Chinese, and when Lithuanians decided to be Lithuanian, they decided not to be Russian or Polish.  But what if what a self-constituted group excludes, the group they exclude continues to include?  Some Russian nationalists consider Ukrainians to be Russian; many Ukrainians disagree.  The group is not antecedent to its self-constitution but rather coextensive with it.  Groups may lay conflicting claims to some or all of the same people.  Identity politics provides no principle for resolving these jurisdictional disputes. 

            If the definition – which is in fact the construction – of group identity is ultimately aleatory, arbitrary or manipulable, identifying the group’s members adds another dimension of potential confusion and contestation.  Politically organized groups like nation-states or hierarchically organized religions like the Catholic Church can determine definitively who is a citizen or communicant.  But no authority can decide with finality who is a punk, an anarchist, a homosexual, a Wiccan, etc.

            Identity politics is especially treacherous for Indians because their identity is complex and constructed from often incongruent elements.[93]  The clearest definition is the legal one: an Indian is an enrolled member of a Federally recognized tribe, or someone eligible for enrollment.  Even for some legal purposes, that is inadequate; the State of New York, for instance, recognizes three Indian political entities in addition to the six recognized by the U.S. Government.[94]  The long disorderly course of U.S-Indian relations has not assigned everyone and everything Indian to a place in a set of well-bounded categories.  Some tribes are, rightly or wrongly, unrecognized.  Some people with some aboriginal ancestry (maybe not much, but maybe with as much as some enrolled Indians) share – they do not just have – significant, cultural, religious or social connections with (other) Indians.  If they identify as Indians, they should be accepted as Indians. However, government recognition at least has the merit of deferring the identity determinations to entities with some history behind them and with membership cores of the indisputably Indian-identified.  The inevitable zone of indeterminacy is vulnerable to infiltration by a fast-taking, well-funded paleface like Churchill whose red racist rhetoric occludes the fact that he is not a red man, just a Red. 

            If Churchill’s indigenism is so revolutionary, why has at least one government for so long paid him to propagate it?  He was tenured in 1991 and promoted to full professor in 1997.[95]  When he first surfaces, he is an Army PR man.  Next he is a member of the agent-ridden Weatherman SDS; then a staff writer for Soldier of Fortune; then, until expelled, a sachem in the agent-riddled American Indian Movement.  He supported the CIA-sponsored Nicaraguan contras.  Meanwhile he is hired, notwithstanding his unsavory background, as a university bureaucrat, then irregularly bootstrapped into a tenure-track faculty position.  His divisive maneuvers splinter the Amerindian nationalist movement.  For Churchill, the test, not only of indigenous orthodoxy but of Indian identity, is egocentric: you pass if – but only for so long as – you promote Churchill’s career.  Thus as recently as 1992 it was politically incorrect to disagree with the International Indian Treaty Council (137).  Now that these bona fide Indians have had the temerity to criticize Professor Churchill, just two years later they were “hang-around-the-forts, sell-outs and ‘nickel’ Indians . . . “[96]  Is Churchill, as many believe, a police agent, a provocateur?  Who got out of hand with his “little Eichmanns” diatribe,[97] and got too hot for his handlers to handle?  Or maybe it’s just that, as Churchill says himself, “You don’t have to be a cop to do a cop’s work.”[98] 

            Postscript: Ends and Means[99]

            Ward Churchill has no closer ally than perennial publicity hound Russell Means – ex-con and con-man -- who proclaims that Churchill’s “reputation for unflinching commitment as an American Indian leader is impeccable.”[100]  Actually this is probably Churchill proclaiming that Churchill’s reputation for unflinching commitment as an American Indian leader is impeccable.  Churchill is Means’s ghost writer.[101]  As the University of Colorado investigating committee discovered, Churchill is in the habit of citing as independent supporting authority material he has ghost-written for other authors.[102]  For a fact, he and Means are two of a kind.

            For Russell, the ends justify the means: Russell Means.  A Sioux (Lakota) Indian of mixed ancestry, Means is the finest showman the American Indians have produced since Sitting Bull joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s road show.[103]  Not as athletic as Jim Thorpe or Jack Dempsey, not as pretty as Pocahontas or Jay Silverheels, not as funny as Will Rogers or Ward Churchill, Means is more versatile than any of these (more or less) Indians.

            Means debuted in the 1960s as a leader of AIM, which, as noted, put on a good show at Alcatraz, but the sequel bombed, so to speak, at Wounded Knee.  As the winds of fashion shifted, Means turned traditionalist, adding New Age spirituality to his act.  Consistent with his rediscovery of First Nation values, in 1984 he ran for Vice-President on a ticket headed up by Hustler publisher Larry Flynt.[104]

            In 1987, Means sought the Presidential nomination of – get this – the Libertarian Party!  It was my privilege to observe, ostensibly as a journalist, the LP nominating convention in Seattle.  As usual, Means lost – this time to a Texan ex-Republican ex-Congressman, Ron Paul.  Libertarian palefaces fear persons of color, especially if, like Means, they open every campaign speech with a prayer, in Lakota, to the Great Spirit.  None of them knew that Means does not speak Lakota.[105]  Means brought along a picturesque Indian entourage, but I saw more Indians in the bar across the street.

            In Fantasies of the Master Race -- which opens, as we saw, with a quotation from Russell Means (1) -- Ward Churchill denounced all cinematic representations of Indians as colonialist, including Dances with Wolves, even if they feature Indian actors (231-41).  One gropes for a suitable, Indian-sounding name for Churchill.  Chief Standing Water?  Shitting Bull?  Dances with Tax-Free Foundations?  Only a film glorifying contemporary Indians, he insists – whom might he have in mind? – could be anything but counter-revolutionary.  

            Around the time that Ward – of the State? -- Churchill’s Fantasies book came out, so did a movie, The Last of the Mohicans, co-starring an Indian – an experienced actor – or as Churchill might say, “a cross between Mike Hammer and Tonto” (247).[106]  Who was this hang-around-the-fort, sell-out, nickel Indian?  Russell Means. 

 

           

. 

           

 

 



[1] “He is an Associate Professor [since 1997 a full professor] of American Indian Studies and Communication” at the University of Colorado at Boulder (303) [numerals in parentheses are page references to the book].  He holds this tenured position without possessing an earned doctorate.  Instead, he was subsequently awarded a doctorate (honoris causa) from Alfred University – apparently arranged by his then wife, M. Annette Jaimes, who was on the faculty there.  A UCB University Committee, and the Acting Chancellor, recently recommended Churchill’s dismissal for “serious research misconduct” – something demonstrated in the present review, a version of which appeared in Hit List, Vol. I, No. 2 (April/May 1999), 49-56. Report of the Investigative Committee of the Standing Committee on Research Misconduct at the University of Colorado at Boulder concerning Allegations of Academic Misconduct against Professor Ward Churchill, May 9, 2006 [hereafter Report].  He has been relieved of his minimal teaching duties, but still draws his salary ($115,000/year) pending appeal. 

[2] Ward Churchill, “I am Indigenist,” in Struggle for the Land: Indigenous Resistance to Genocide, Ecocide and Expropriation in Contemporary North America (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1993), 403-451; see also Matt Labach, “The Ward Churchill Notoriety Tour,” Weekly Standard,  April 25, 2005.

[3] This estimate, which I have previously published, is based on comparison of his map – which cannot be reproduced, as he copyrighted it – with 1990 census data.  Ibid., 430 & passim; 1990 Census of Population – General Population Characteristics – American Indian and Alaska Native Areas, 1990 CP-1-1A (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1992, 1 (reporting a total population of 28,709,873 in the proposed Amerindistan, and an Indian/Eskimo/Aleut population of 1,959,234.  There is no reason to suppose that more than a handful of Indians, if that, support this genocidal scheme.  The leading Indian nationalist organization, the American Indian Movement (AIM) – which does not endorse this modest proposal -- claims only 5,000 members.  Barry T. Klein, Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian (West Nyack, NY: Todd Publications, 1990), 98.  Although Churchill purports to be “co-director” of the Colorado chapter of AIM, national AIM expelled Churchill in 1993 and denies that he is even an Indian.  According to AIM, Churchill is an “academic literary and Indian fraud”: “Ward Churchill has been masquerading as an Indian for years behind his dark glasses and beaded headband.”  American Indian Movement Governing Council, Ministry of Information, “Statement on Ward Churchill,” Jan. 31, 2005, at www.aimovement.org.  (The glasses are actually Dolce & Grabbana wraparounds.) 

                Churchill’s copyright accusation against Anarchy is more irony.  Churchill, who is also a kitsch artist, has himself been accused of plagiarizing copyrighted art.  cbs4denver.com. 

[4] Churchill, “Genocide in Arizona?” in Struggle for the Land, 159-60.

[5] Churchill, “Perversions of Justice: Examining the Doctrine of U.S. Rights to Occupancy in North America,” in Struggle for the Land, 47.  Churchill’s source in fact estimated the loss at 50%.  Russell Thornton, Cherokee Population Losses During the ‘Trail of Tears’: A New Perspective and Estimate,” Ethnohistory, Vol. 31 (1984): 289-300, at 293.  Thornton has objected to other misrepresentations of his scholarship by Churchill.  Report 39-40 n. 15.

[6] Understandably, this introduction is omitted from the revised, enlarged edition (San Francisco: City Lights, 1998) [hereafter Churchill, Fantasies (1998)].  Churchill is now on his fourth wife. 

[7] “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” Art. II, in Basic Documents on Human Rights, ed. Ian Brownlie (2d ed.; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981), 31.

[8] Leo Kuper, Genocide: Its Political Use in the Twentieth Century (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1981), 30-31. 

[9] Ward Churchill, “Genocide: Toward a Functional Definition,” in Since Predator Came: Notes From the Struggle for American Indian Liberation (Littleton, CO: Aigis Publications, 1995), 89, 86; Ward Churchill, “Forbidding the ‘G-Word’: Holocaust Denial as Judicial Doctrine in Canada,” in Perversions of Justice: Indigenous Peoples and Angloamerican Law (San Francisco: City Lights, 2003), 250 (quoting Article II).

[10] Gordon Bennett, Aboriginal Rights in International Law, Occasional Paper No. 1 (London: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 1978).  U.S. constitutional law rejects the claims of Indian tribes to be sovereign and independent nations.  Johnson & Graham’s Lessee v. M’Intosh, 21 U.S. (Wheat.) 543 (1823).  Rather, they are “domestic dependent nations” whose “relation to the United States resembles that of a ward to his guardian.”  Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, 30 U.S. (1 Pet.) 1, 17 (1831).

[11] Appendix to Gudmundur Alfredsson, “The United Nations and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” Current Anthropology 30 (1989): 254-59, at 257-59.  Churchill’s writings on domestic and international law as they relate to American Indians are worthless.  Compare Churchill, Perversions of Justice with Felix S. Cohen, Cohen’s Handbook of FederalIndian Law (Newark, NJ: LexisNexis, 2005).  An oft-repeated misrepresentation of law – concerning the Dawes Act of 1887 – supports one of the findings of serious research misconduct by his university.  Report 23 & passim. 

[12] “Appendix C: Draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” in Churchill, Perversions of Justice, 414-26. 

[13] Just as absurd is Churchill’s chronic penchant for applying the law of nations to U.S.-Indian relations by characterizing the situation as internal colonialism, although by definition a colony “is geographically separate from and . . . distinct ethnically/culturally from the country administering it.”  U.N.G.A.  Res. 15-41, art. X.V. (1961), quoted in Churchill, “The Right of Conquest: The Devolution of a Myth in International Law,” Perversions of Justice, 67-68 n. 157.  He calls for Indians “to secede from a jurisdiction which has never legitimately extended over us in the first place.”  Ibid., 57.  International law is also hostile to secession.  “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples,” G.A. Res. 1514, 15 U.N. GAOR, 15th Sess., Supp. 66, art. 6, U.N. Doc. A/4864 (1960); see Robert C. Black, “If at First You Don’t Secede, Try, Try Again,” New England Law Review, Vol. 39, No. 4 (2005), 839-69, at 854 & n. 92.  Secession is also unconstitutional.  U.S. Const., art. IV, § 3, cl. 1; Texas v. White, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 700, 725 (1869); Black, “If at First You Don’t Secede,” 848-53. 

[14] Ward Churchill, “The Crucible of American Indian Identity: Native Tradition versus Colonial Imposition in Postconquest North America,” Perversions of Justice, 219.

[15] Murray L. Wax, Indian Americans: University and Diversity (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1971), 32-39, 220.  Churchill assiduously avoids the problems his “indigenism” poses for blacks.  Probably more blacks (as certainly many more whites) have Indian ancestry than the less than two million Americans reckoned as Indians.  And they have their claims too, not only against (some) whites, but against (some0 Indians – such as the slaveowning southeastern Indians from whom Churchill dubiously claims descent.  This consideration alone shows up Churchill’s secessionism to be absurd as well as pernicious.

[16] Ibid., 34.

[17] Ward Churchill, “Introduction: Journeying Toward a Debate,’ in Marxism and Native Americans, ed. Ward Churchill (Boston: South End Press, 1983), 1-4.

[18] Clara Sue Kidwell & Alan Velie, Native American Studies (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2005).

[19] Ibid., 42.

[20] Since this was written, the Fifth Estate has renounced anarchism in favor of hippie liberalism.  Anarchy would never publish Churchill today.

[21] Thus in March 2005, Churchill was keynote speaker at the Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair.  Labach, “The Ward Churchill Notoriety Tour.”  AK Press, nominally anarchist, is currently his principal book publisher. 

[22] Apparently the first academic criticism was by law professor John P. LaVelle in a review essay in American Indian Quarterly, Vol. 20 (1996): 109-18, and his motivation might not have been wholly disinterested, as LaVelle was associated with the American Indian Movement, which expelled Churchill in 1993.  Churchill’s rejoinder, he complains, was suppressed.  Churchill, “Introduction,” Fantasies, xix n. 35.  The editor declined it as libelous, and Churchill has never seen fit to place it in any of his many essay collections of the last eleven years.  However, this chicken came home to roost.  LaVelle’s allegations – and Churchill’s frivolous treatment of them -- were central to the eventual university investigation of Churchill’s research.  

[23] Lawrence Jarach, “Goodbye to Churchill,” letter, Anarchy, No. 46 (Vol. 16, No. 2) (Fall-Winter 1998-99), 82.  Jarach is now part of that magazine’s editorial collective.  According to Churchill, white Americans of the writing kind assert “that the U.S. has historically comported itself according to uniquely lofty legal and moral principles when interacting with ‘its’ indigenous peoples. . . . Nor, by and large, will one encounter much of an alternative among what are ostensibly the more radical sectors of the Euroamerican populace, a matter abundantly evidenced in the recent tirades of Bob Black, Lawrence Jarach and other prominent ‘antiauthoritarians’ [sic] in the pages of Anarchy magazine.”  Churchill, “Charades, Anyone? The Indian Claims Commission in Context,” in Perversions of Justice, 125, 126.  Here is the “abundantly evidenced” reference (p. 144 n. 6): “See the commentaries of Black in particular [sic] in the ‘Letters’ section of Anarchy, 1997-99, inclusive” – a (for Churchill) typically meaningless pseudo-citation which does not even pretend to “evidence” Jarach.  In fact, nowhere has either of us ever attributed lofty moral or legal principles to the United States in dealing with Indians or anyone else.  My letters said nothing about U.S. Indian policy, but they said plenty about Ward Churchill, for example, that he is a “lying, careerist, opportunist, homicidal, racist, fascist, leftist, nationalist, statist, authoritarian police agent,” and that “I’ve seen more authentic Indians standing very, very still outside of cigar stores.”  Bob Black, “Churchill No Indian,” letter, Anarchy No. 46 (Vol. 16, No. 2) (Fall-Winter 1998-89), 77-78, at 78.  In his last letter to Anarchy (No. 45), to which I was responding, Churchill called for my assassination. 

[24] Ward Churchill, “Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens,” On the Justice of Roosting Chickens: Reflections on the Consequences of U.S. Imperial Arrogance and Criminality (San Francisco: AK Press, 2003).

[25] “Less than two months later a few of his [Chivington’s] veterans, bound for the East, were approached by a band of those [Southern Cheyenne] Indians who carried out swift retribution.”  Robert G. Athearn, The Coloradans (Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1975), 75.

[26] Stan Hoig, The Sand Creek Massacre (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961), 161.

[27] Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419 (1995); Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963).

[28] William R. Dunn, “I Stand By Sand Creek”: A Defence of Colonel John M. Chivington and the Third Colorado Cavalry (Fort Collins, CO: Old Army Press, 1985).

[29] David  Svaldi, Sand Creek and the Rhetoric of Extermination: A Case Study in Indian-White Relations (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1989).

[30] N. 18.

[31] Duane Schultz, Month of the Frozen Moon: The Sand Creek Massacre, November 1864 (New York: St. Martin’s, 1990).

[32] George M. Frederickson, “Pioneer,” New York Review of Books, Sept. 23, 1993, 30-33, at 30.

[33] Report 97.

[34] Quoting Schultz, Month of the Frozen Moon, 36.

[35] James Axtell, The European and the Indian: Essays in the Ethnohistory of Colonial North America (New York: Oxford University Press, 19181), chs. 2 & 8.  Churchill acknowledged that Axtell’s scholarship is “widely respected” (186) although his acquaintance with it must be slight, since he gets the author’s first name wrong.  More recently, Churchill reversed himself: now Axtell is a “hack historian.”  Churchill, Since Predator Came, 63. 

[36] George Bird Grinnell, The Fighting Cheyennes (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1956),

[37] Ibid., 38.

[38] Ibid., George Bird Grinnell, The Cheyenne Indians: Their History and Ways of Life (2 vols.; New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1923), 2: 2.

[39] Grinnell, Fighting Cheyennes, ix, 6-7.

[40] Grinnell, Fighting Cheyennes, 6.

[41] John H. Moore, The Cheyenne Nation: A Social and Demographic History (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1963), 12.

[42] Grinnell, Fighting Cheyennes, 57-58; Donald J. Berthrong, The Southern Cheyennes (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1963), 83.

[43] Grinnell, Fighting Cheyennes, 29.

[44] Berthrong, Southern Cheyennes, 135.  In raids after January 14, 1865, Cheyennes killed five men, one woman and two children.  Ibid., 221.  Other examples, as is their wont, abound.

[45] Grinnell, Cheyenne Indians, 1: 166, 232; 2: 8, 29, 36, 163, 197, 201, 233-34.

[46] Grinnell, Fighting Cheyennes, 79.

[47] “A Cheyenne Old Man,” in Cheyenne and Sioux: The Reminiscences of Four Indians and a White Soldier, comp. Thomas R. Marquis, ed. Ronald H. Limbaugh (Stockton, CA: University of the Pacific, Center for Western Historical Studies, 1973), 29.

[48] Grinnell, Fighting Cheyennes, 354.

[49] Schultz, Month of the Freezing Moon, 208.

[50] Grinnell, Fighting Cheyennes, 56-57.

[51] John H. Seger, Early Days Among the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, ed. Stanley Vestal (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1956), 30.

[52] Moore, Cheyenne Nation, 189.

[53] NN. 6 & 8.

[54] Alex W. Barker & Timothy R. Pauketat, eds., Lords of the Southeast: Social Inequality and the Native Elites of Southeastern North America (Washington, DC: American Anthropological Association, 1992).

[55] R. Halliburton, Jr., Red Over Black: Black Slavery Among the Cherokee Indians (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1987); Theda Perdue, Slavery and the Evolution of Cherokee Society, 1540-1866 (Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1979); Annie Heloise Abel, The American Indian as Slaveholder and Secessionist (Cleveland, OH: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1915).

[56] James Axtell, The Invasion Within (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), ch. 13 (“The White Indian”) & passim.

[57] Churchill’s favorite epithet for white Americans – although nothing is as well-settled about the peopling of America as the fact that, to quote the first sentence of a leading college history text, “The First American was an immigrant,” that is to say, a settler.  John M. Blum et al., The National Experience (8th ed.; Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1992), 3. It is perhaps to avoid the implications of his insult that Churchill subscribes to the crackpot theory (or pretends to) that the human race originated in the Western Hemisphere.  Ward Churchill & Dora-Lee Larson, “The Same Old Song in Sad Refrain,” in Marxism and Native Americans, 66-67, 207, citing Jeffery Goodman, American Genesis: The American Indian and the Origins of Modern Man (New York: Summit Books, 1980), whose methodology Goodman called “psychic archaeology.”  On Goodman, who claims some Indian ancestry, see Stephen Williams, Fantastic Archaeology: The Wild Side of North American Prehistory (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991), 301-04.  Churchill fails to notice he has refuted himself.  If all humans are of New World origin, the immigration of whites was a homecoming, not an invasion.  Archaeologists are unanimous in affirming the Old World origins of humanity.  Leslie C. Aiello, “The Fossil Evidence for Modern Human Origins in Africa: A Revised View,” American Anthropologist 95 (March 1993): 73-96; see generally Entering America: Northeast Asia and Berengia Before the First Glacial Maximum, ed. D.B. Madson (Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press, 2004), reviewed (favorably) by Robert E. Ackerman, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1 (2006), 145-46.          

[58] P. Willey, Prehistoric Warfare on the Great Plains: Skeletal Analysis of the Crow Creek Massacre Victims (New York: Garland Publishing, 1990), xv.

[59] Grinnell, Cheyenne Indians, 1: 4; Berthrong, Southern Cheyennes, 4.

[60] In Fantasies of the Master Race, Churchill claimed that his Sand Creek diatribe was “forthcoming in the American Indian Culture and Research Journal” – a reputable publication – but it never appeared there.  Churchill has never been published there. 

[61] Colin G. Calloway, ed., New Directions in American Indian History (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988), 250.

[62] Ward Churchill & J.J. Vander Wall, eds., The COINTELPRO Papers (Boston: South End Press, 1990), 223 n. 3; see also Denver Post, Jan. 18, 1987.  There is now a suggestion that he fabricated this identity too: Army records reportedly indicate that he was trained as a jeep driver, and served as a “Public Information Specialist.”  “Ward Churchill’s Military Claims Prove False,” Men’s News Daily (Guerneville, CA), Feb. 11, 2005.  In that case his activity as a propagandist must be backdated by a decade. 

[63] Churchill & Vander Wall, COINTELPRO Papers, 380 n. 181.

[64] Denver Post, Jan. 18, 1987.

[65] Thomas Powers, Diana: The Making of a Terrorist (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1971), 3-5.

[66] Theodor W. Adorno, “Punctuation Marks,” Antioch Review, Summer 1990, 300-305, at 303.

[67]Ward Churchill & J.J. Vander Wall, eds., Cages of Steel: The Politics of Imprisonment in the United States (Washington, DC: Maisonneuve Press, 1992), 11.  One reason Cuba might have had a (slightly) lower incarceration rate then – in addition to a higher rate of executions – might be the Mariel boatlift, which filled America’s prisons by emptying Cuba’s.   In April 1983, defying a State Department travel ban, Churchill visited Libya and hobnobbed with its dictator Col. Muammar Qadaffi. 

[68] Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS (New York: Random House, 1973), 628; Irwin Unger, The Movement: A History of the American New Left, 1959-1972 (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1974), 164-66.

[69] Sale, SDS, 628.

[70]  Churchill, “Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens.”

[71] Sale, SDS, 174.

[72] Kirby Olson, “Is Cultural Studies Maoist?”, Anarchy No. 46 (Vol. 16, No. 2), Fall/Winter 1988-1989, 64-68.

[73] Bob Black, Withered Anarchism (London: Green Anarchist Books, 1988), 25-28;

[74] California American Indian Movement, “Nobody’s Pet Poodle?  Then Who Is Holding the Leash?” (unpaginated flyer, early 1990s).

[75] Churchill, “Introduction,” Marxism and Native Americans, 9, 220.

[76] Ibid., 220.

[77] Dennis F.K. Madill, “Riel, Red River, and Beyond: New Developments in Metis History,” in Calloway, ed., New Directions in American Indian History, 53.

[78] Jodi Rave, “Few Who Know Churchill Are Indifferent,” Colorado Daily, Nov. 23, 1993, at 3.

[79] Churchill, Since Predator Came (back cover).

[80] Ward Churchill, “An American Holocaust? The Structure of Denial,” Socialism and Democracy, No. 42 (Vol. 20, No. 3) (2002).

[81] Churchill, Perversions of Justice, back cover; Sharon H. Venne, “Introduction: ‘The Creator Knows Their Lies and So Must We’: Ward Churchill’s Pursuit of Truth and Justice,” in Perversions of Justice, xiv. 

[82] According to the official genealogist of the Cherokee Nation, Churchill is ineligible for enrollment.  Rave, “Few Who Know Churchill Are Indifferent,” 3.  For many years, Churchill disparaged enrollment by and in a tribe as a criterion of Indian identity, denouncing “card-carrying Indians” and “blood police.”  Harjo, “Harjo: Why Native Identity Matters.”  That, he argued, was relinquishing to the white Federal Government the authority to decide who was an Indian.  In fact it is the other way around.  Federal law delegates to recognized tribes the power to determine their membership.  Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, 436 U.S. 49 (1978).  It is the tribes themselves which have chosen to use blood quantum as the most common criterion for membership.  Melissa Meyer, “American Indian Blood Quantum Requirements: Blood is Thicker Than Family,” in Valerie J. Matsumoto & Blake Allmendinger, eds., Over the Edge: Remapping the American West (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 231-49; Report 29. But, as Oscar Wilde said, don’t put down Society, only people who can’t get into it do that.  In 1996, Churchill made another unacknowledged about-face.  On the back cover of Since Predator Came, he claimed to be “an enrolled associate member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees.”  There was and is no such category.  The real members are “enrolled,” the “associate” members – a category since discontinued -- were honorary. Churchill is thus an Indian in the same sense he is a Doctor of Philosophy, i.e., he isn’t.  Churchill became an honorary member in May 1994; two months later, the Band abolished associate membership.  When Churchill’s chickens recently came home to roost, the Keetoowahs made clear that Churchill was not one of them in any sense.  United Keetoowah Band, “Final Statement on Ward Churchill.” There are thus now 300 to 400 former “associate” members of the Band – including Bill Clinton.  American Indian Movement Governing Council, Ministry of Information, “Statement on Ward Churchill.”  Don’t that beat the Band?

                What Churchill had done was insert himself into an ancient dispute between the small Keetoowah Band and the mainstream Cherokee Nation.  He and they acted on the often untenable assumption that the enemy of your enemy is your friend, and now they regret it.  The Keetoowahs actually broke with the Cherokee Nation, ironically, because they considered the latter’s membership criteria too lax.  But, far from proudly disdaining Federal recognition, the Keetoowahs devoted the 20th century to obtaining Federal recognition as a band (in 1946) and in chronic applications for a cut of the Federal benefits for Cherokees.  Georgia Rae Leeds, The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma (New York: Peter Lang, 1995).

[83] Labach, “The Ward Churchill Notoriety Tour.”

[84] Suzan Shown Harjo, “Harjo: Why Native Identity Matters: A Cautionary Tale,” Indian Country Today, Feb. 10, 2005.

[85] Kevin Flynn, “Special Report: The Churchill Files: The Charge: Misrepresentation,” Rocky Mountain News, June 8, 2005.  Churchill now refuses to discuss his ancestry. 

[86] Laura Broder, “’What Does It Tell Us That We Are So Easily Deceived?’ Impostor Indians,” in American Indian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Contemporary Issues, ed. Dana Morrison (New York: Peter Lang, 1997), 313-34, at 313.

[87] Ward Churchill, “The Bloody Wake of Alcatraz: Repression of the American Indian Movement During the 1970s,” Perversions of Justice, 285.

[88] Quotations from Vince Bielski, “Trail of Blood,” SF Weekly, Oct. 6, 1993, 10-11.

[89] Rave, “Few Who Know Churchill Are Indifferent,” 3.  At a San Francisco press conference, Churchill once had Standing Elk, who is a grandmother, beaten up, after which he spit on her. 

[90] For example, Lithuanian nationalism was invented around 1900 when “a few educated people [who spoke Polish or Russian], influenced by modern nationalism, decided that they were Lithuanians, began to speak the Lithuanian language and recalled the military glories of the early Lithuanian State,” etc.  Hugh Seton-Watson, Eastern Europe Between the Wars, 1918-1941 (3d ed., rev.; New York: Harper & Row, 1967), 325, 326.  Churchill has cited another of this author’s books.  Churchill, “The Right of Conquest,” Perversions of Justice, 68 n. 161.

[91] Wax, Indian Americans, 25.

[92] Gerald Vizenor, Crossbloods, Bone Courts, Bingo, and Other Reports (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1990), xiii.

[93] Kidwell & Velie, Native American Studies, 10-11.

[94] ---, New York State Bar Journal, ---.

[95] Report 8.

[96] Ward Churchill, Indians Are Us? Culture and Genocide in Native North America (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1994), “Acknowledgements” (unpaginated).

[97] AK Press, 2007 Publishing & Distribution Catalog (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2006), 18 (“An expanded and meticulously annotated version”).

[98] Quoted in Bielski, “Trail of Blood,” 11.

[99] Adapted from my review of Russell Means, Lessons from Native America, Kaspahraster No. 15 (July 1995), 43.

[100] Quoted in Bielski, “Trail of Blood,’ 11.

[101] Harjo, “Harjo: Why Native Identity Matters.” 

[102] Report, 23-24 & passim.  One of these scholars, his ex-wife M. Annette Jaimes, denies the charge, calling Churchill “a liar” and “despicable.”  Berny Morison, “1993 Essay Also Raises Questions,” Rocky Mountain News, June 6, 2005.  The other one cannot be reached for comment.  The theme of impersonation runs all through Churchill’s career.

[103] As one Indian observer, Robert Burnette, put it, Means has (or had) a “bizarre knack for staging demonstrations and attracting the sort of press coverage Indians had been looking for”: he has a genius for public relations . . . “  Quoted in Ward Churchill & Jim Vander Wall, Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement (Boston: South End Press, 1988), 121-22. 

[104] Vizenor, Crossbloods, 21.

[105] Vizenor, Crossbloods, 49.

[106] He is referring to a Tony Hillerman protagonist.



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