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CNN's Trail of Tears By: David Yeagley
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, June 01, 2004

I’m still an American Indian patriot. Even after watching CNN’s 90 minute program featuring the May 29 dedications of the new National WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C., I still love this country, more than ever. 

No, I didn’t hear one mention of the American Indian. No one acknowledged themore than 190,000 living American Indian veterans, who represent nearly one out of every ten Indians. I didn’t hear any praise for the unique contribution Indians have made in all war efforts of the twentieth century.   


I heard instead repeated praise of black, Hispanic, and Japanese Americans and their contributions to the war effort, and American society in general.


Indeed, the featured musical moment of the program, was given to a black female, Denyse Graves, mezzo soprano opera singer. They could have chosen Barbara McAllister, a tall Cherokee mezzo, who is older but well-known in New York opera circles.  


Barry Black, the black chaplain of the U.S. Senate, gave the benediction. Apparently there no longer any living descendents of the “white” Sons of the Revolution who can pray; no, Black’s skin gave him special authority. Barry Black didn’t mention the name Jesus Christ. Would that name have blurred his image?     


After the program, Paula Zahn interviewed Martha S. Putney, a black female historian. Putney talked about black female contributions to the war effort. Paula apparently didn’t know Indian women veterans exist.


One got the impression that backs now constitute the core definition of what it means to be an American. Somehow, they have become the quintessential carrier of American values. The memorial service was like an ethnic pride parade in Washington, another Million Man March.   


But what is the image of blacks – at least as expressed by so-called black “leaders” – in this country? The demagogues proclaim the message: “America wronged me. You need to make it right. You need to put me on a pedestal, along with the greatest heroes of ‘white’ American history.” The image of blacks is a complaint, a cry for “equality.” It is a plea for acceptance, and an expression of utter dependency.  


This isn’t patriotism.


So, what is the Indian image? Before white liberals distorted it into another version of “I’ve been wronged” and added new images of casino corruption, vice, and greed, the Indian image used to be about bravery, self-sacrifice, and independence. The great Indian warrior never needed “equality,” applause or acceptance.   


Maybe CNN still regards the Indian like that; they certainly offered none.


After the CNN program, I realized, as never before, the American Indian is not part of the modern media image of America. The National WWII Memorial program proved that. The Indian warrior image is out – even at such moment, at such a memorial service for soldiers. Blacks, “Hispanics,” and Japanese are America’s new warriors now; the media says so.  


For me to call myself an American Indian patriot is a real stretch at times like this. How can I love the country so much, when it insults me in return, and instead honors people who never won anything in battle against the American Indian?


It’s simple: America is the most grand and beautiful country in the world – and it’s built on Indian land. I instinctively claim America as my own. Never mind media images: the foreigner’s society that developed here is like an adopted son, that’s all. He washed ashore here as a lost infant. We Indians raised him. He grew into the mightiest of the earth. As an Indian, can’t I be proud?  


But for me to love America, I must overlook the Indian holocaust.  I must “wink” at the horrors of yesterday. To have a positive outlook on life, I must immediately forgive my enemies today. This I must do, like no other race in America must do. American  Indians were destroyed on our own land, in our own home. More is required of us, spiritually, than of any other people.  


Indians must be superior. Just the basic feeling of loving America requires a miraculous transcendence of other races. If we do not achieve this, we consign ourselves to abject tragedy and disquietude. We are Ghost Dancers, forever.  


Perhaps I should be grateful that CNN and the program planners did not include the Indian. That doesn’t just mean that Indians are excluded, or that America simply can’t manage its collective guilt toward the Indian. It might mean that America has an unspoken feeling that Indians really are superior. We are on a higher plane. We are unmentioned because we are not seen in the nether regions where the media dwell. 

Dr. David A. Yeagley is a published scholar, professionally recorded composer, and an adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Liberal Studies. He's on the speakers list of Young America's Foundation. E-mail him at badeagle2000@yahoo.com. View his website at http://www.badeagle.com.

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