Monday, December 05, 2005


Friday, November 24, 2000
By DEAN BAKER, Columbian staff writer

The rhetoric is still red-hot, even though two months have passed since Jim Craven fired the first verbal shots in an American Indian war of words in Clark County.

The skirmish caused Craven, a Blackfoot tribal judge, to leave a countywide committee that’s planning a 200th anniversary for the Lewis and Clark expedition visit here. Now it threatens to grow into an American Indian protest in Vancouver.

“The only thing I mind is lies and cover-ups,” said Craven, 54, a Clark College economics professor and an expert and prolific writer on genocide of indigenous peoples. He either quit the committee or was fired by the mayor depending on whom you believe.

“There will be a protest,” said Craven, saying he expects 200 Indians to show up in Vancouver to protest mistreatment of the Blackfoot and other tribal people over the past 200 years. “I promise you that.” He didn’t say when they would come.

Craven left the 20-member Vancouver-Clark County Lewis and Clark Commemoration Committee after using explosive words such as “genocide” in a speech to the committee Sept. 14. He graphically described for the committee the rape and murder of American Indians that followed closely on the heels of Lewis and Clark’s odyssey on the Missouri and Columbia rivers in 1803-1806.

After he spoke, Craven said Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard fired him from the committee, but Pollard said that isn’t so. Pollard said he asked Craven in a private meeting to tone down his language or leave the group. It was Craven’s decision, the mayor said.

Fired or not, Craven left. He said the coming of the 31 Lewis and Clark explorers marked the beginning of a campaign against his people. That’s not something the Blackfoot celebrate or describe in a polite way, he said. But it wasn’t what Craven said that was offensive, Pollard said. It was the way he said it.

“He really had two options,” said Pollard, 61. “He had to modify his behavior or he had to leave the committee.”

Craven said this week he’s still upset, but not simply from being fired. “If they want to throw me off the committee, that’s OK,” he said. “I just don’t like dishonesty. No one has told me specifically what I said that was offensive. They didn’t have the guts. I heard they didn’t like my tone. If they don’t like my tone, too bad. I don’t like their tone either, or their pomposity and arrogance. This is like a cross between Joseph McCarthy and Franz Kafka.”

He said he’s being accused of offenses that are unclear. Craven said he was under a directive from Blackfoot Confederacy Chief Sikapii to tell the Blackfoot story unequivocally and directly, and he did so. Sikapii (also known as White Horse, or George YellowHorn), 62, is a hereditary Blackfoot chief who lives in Fort Macleod, Alberta. He told The Columbian this week that he dispatched Craven to tell the story of the exploitation of his tribe, which followed the coming of Lewis and Clark.

“Under the Bureau of Indian affairs, the U.S. and Canada are racist governments, white people saying we are their children, saying they are going to look after us while they steal our land and throw us scraps,” he said. “The Blackfoot pushed Lewis and Clark off their land in present-day Montana”, Sikapii said.

Pollard said he respected the grievances of the Blackfoot Confederacy but couldn’t abide Craven’s manner of speaking. He said it was he who asked Craven to join the committee in hope that he would bring a strong native voice.

“But he didn’t help,” the mayor said. “These people on the committee were volunteers and they were uncomfortable.”

The other American Indian on the committee, however, said he wasn’t offended and understood both points of view. Honorary Chinook Chief Cliff Snider said he held a milder view himself and asked Craven to speak softer.”I knew that he was rubbing some people wrong,” said Snider, 74, who lives in Milwaukie, Ore. “He was coming on strong, and I told him afterwards, ‘I think some people are taking offense to what you are saying.’ I could see that in the crowd, and I told him, ‘I know how you feel, and I know the outrage your tribe feels. I’m just asking you in these meetings to tone it down a little bit.'”

Snider said he represents 52 tribes along the Lewis and Clark trail, and every one has its own way of viewing Lewis and Clark. Some will join in the commemoration while others may boycott, he said. “I know the Blackfoot still feel their tribe lost in its encounter with Lewis and Clark,” he said.

Craven said he respected Snider’s point of view, but he had to speak plainly, as a Blackfoot. “We are contemptuous of phony politeness (‘smiling with the front teeth while grinding with the back teeth’),” wrote Craven in an e-mail to editors of The Columbian. “[We don’t believe in] schmoozing and networking, and we are mandated to tell the truth as we know it or believe it, and talk straight; this is often interpreted by those adept at schmoozing and phony politeness as being ‘impolite’ and ‘uncivil.’ Indeed history records hundreds of years of whites and sell-out Indians doing some very ‘impolite’ and very ‘uncivil’ acts of genocide, while hiding behind masks and postures of ‘civility’ and ‘politeness.'”

One committee member, Gerard Smith, a Clark College English professor, said he heard Craven’s presentation at an earlier meeting in August and wasn’t offended. He said Craven “read from several historic documents which supported his assertion that 18th century U.S.policy included genocide for the American Indian.” “I explained (to the mayor) his action was similar to asking a Jew not to speak about the inhumanity of the Nazis,” Smith said in an e-mail to the Columbian. “Here’s the crux of the matter,” he added. “The crimes committed in the name of manifest destiny are no different than the crimes committed in the name of Aryan superiority. Is such language intense? Is such language harassment? The truth can be painful, but it must be spoken.”

But it also stripped the committee of the Blackfoot Confederacy’s point of view.


About jimcraven10

About jimcraven10 1. Citizenship: Blackfoot, U.S. and Canadian; 2. Position: tenured Professor of Economics and Geography; Dept. Head, Economics; 3. Teaching, Consulting and Research experience: approx 40 + years all levels high school to post-doctoral U.S. Canada, Europe, China, India, Puerto Rico and parts of E. Asia; 4. Work past and present: U.S. Army 1963-66; Member: Veterans for Peace; former VVAW; Veterans for 9-11 Truth; Scholars for 9-11 Truth; Pilots for 9-11 Truth; World Association for Political Economy; Editorial Board International Critical Thought; 4.. U.S. Commercial-Instrument Pilot ; FAA Licensed Ground Instructor (Basic, Advanced, Instrument and Simulators); 5. Research Areas and Publications: International law (on genocide, rights of nations, war and war crimes); Imperialism (nature, history, logic, trajectories, mechanisms and effects); Economic Geography (time and space modeling in political economy; globalization--logic and effects; Political Economy and Geography of Imperialism); Indigenous versus non-Indigenous Law; Political Economy of Socialism and Socialist Construction; 6. Member, Editorial Board, "International Critical Thought" published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; International Advisory Board and Columnist 4th Media Group, http://www.4thMedia.org (Beijing); 7. Other Websites publications at http://www.aradicalblackfoot.blogspot.com; wwwthesixthestate.blogspot.com;https://jimcraven10.wordpress.com; 8.Biography available in: Marquis Who’s Who: in the World (16th-18th; 20th; 22nd -31st (2014) Editions); Who’s Who in America (51st-61st;63rd-68th(2014) Editions); Who’s Who in the West (24th- 27th Editions);Who’s Who in Science and Engineering (3rd to 6th, 8th, 11th (2011-2012) Editions); Who’s Who in Finance and Industry (29th to 37th Editions); Who’s Who in American Education (6th Edition). ------------------- There are times when you have to obey a call which is the highest of all, i.e. the voice of conscience even though such obedience may cost many a bitter tear, and even more, separation from friends, from family, from the state, to which you may belong, from all that you have held as dear as life itself. For this obedience is the law of our being. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
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