One of my friends recently asked me why I was interested in Native America…if I had a past life experience. The answer is no and a bit more complicated or maybe it just feels so.

When Clinton was president he visited Rosebud Indian reservation and the news did a story about it. I was sweeping or doing some sort of house cleaning while listening to the tv. The report said that Indians were the poorest people in the United States and they showed some pictures…I was flabbergasted! Thought it was some liberal propaganda. Indians were lazy drunks living off of my tax dollars. Period. Yeah I watched  I WILL FIGHT NO MORE FOREVERin high school and thought how unfair….

But  it was a long time ago…get over it… and for every negative you need 13 positives to change your mind…or a shift/miracle/fundamental change in how you view the world. I thought that it couldn’t possibly be true what the news was saying it went against everything I previously knew my entire world has changed because of that newscast. The next day I went to Borders and found the book WHERE WHITE MEN FEAR TO TREAD by Russell Means. Bought it as a sort of dare because of the title alone. Do I agree with all that Russel Means says? No but while I have the supreme white attitude, I’m working on just listening to others stories and truths. Not always easy for someone as opinionated as I. I haven’t turned into one of those people who think that Indians are all nature loving shamans who are connected with Earth and have magic powers to save the white people from ourselves. Native Americans do suffer high rates of addiction, poverty, abuse, pre-mature deaths and a long list of other issues. The reasons are not nearly as simple as being lazy or drunk but far more complex and has more weight and responsibility on the behavior of those who colonized their land.

I truly believe that as I become more willing to listen more stories reveal themselves…I discover more writers more history is unveiled. A new concept is introduced.

A few years ago one of  my nephews was in a youth correctional facility and was attending native services as that is what most interested him. He also started to enjoy reading so one day at Costco I saw a book  THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie. I bought it and read it before I sent it to him. (The ycf almost didn’t let him have it as there is a silhouette of a boy with a machine gun) The book was great so I bought more of his books. Sherman Alexie had something new to say…this was at a time when I had all but stopped reading fiction because it all sort of became the same…nothing new. Hard to explain but Sherman Alexie although he is writing about Indians…it is very familiar in the sense that what he writes about Indians on reservations is similar to rural redneck America where I grew up. Too much drinking, too much abuse, too much poverty, too many accidents, not enough food for some, country and western, and the odd characters that comes with it all…and the pain the pain of it all…Sherman Alexie has a way of making it all bearable with his sense of humor.

From there I moved to writers that Sherman Alexie  admired like Leslie Marmon Silko, Joy Harjo, N. Scott Momaday and I was blown away by them all… Each discovery a new gift.

Almost a year ago Amazon suggested a Buffy Sainte-Marie album and on it was a song with lyrics about a woman whose hands were cut off.

I was writing a blog post at the time…and mentioned it literally like one sentence. This opened a whole new world here is the original post.

I listened  to Bufffy Sainte-Marie again and some more lyrics caught my attention. Something about a woman being found dead,cutting her hands off and saying she died of exposure so I  HAD to look it up. With a few key words I found this…ANNA MAE AQUASH(click here) Scary stuff.

And the comments

Mark McKinney said February 4, 2009 at 4:21 am

Stay By The Fire
Learn your Culture
Live Your Culture
BE Your Culture

Monica said

February 4, 2009 at 1:14 pm

That wikipedia site is guarded and maintained by Paul Demain who is on the side of the real killers, the FBI. Do your own research, much more research. The truth is out there. If you listen to her own words at the end, it was the fbi she was afraid of, not AIM or Leonard Peltier. Anna Mae deserves the truth. Not the lies that have buried her and kept her silent all these years.

Monica J Charles

That is how I “met” Monica Charles she has been a continual source of encouragement and support as I wade through the painful history the conflicting stories of Anna Mae and others who share her story.

Now even after all of this time…I’m not sure I agree with Monica 100% about Anna Mae but she has never told me to do anything other than find my own truth.  It is a complicated story. I haven’t made any real judgments about who killed Anna Mae Aquash.  The only opinion I can state with certainty is that the FBI had less than stellar behavior and intentions which I believe they continue to have in 2010…

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  1. israel4zion says:


    Since you are interested in American Indian stuff, and if you haven’t already, I would suggest that you consider getting a copy of Trudell a film by Heather Rae on DVD. It’s about John Trudell and is available at Amazon.

    Here is a page that I wrote about John Trudell on my blog.

    And at the bottom is a YouTube video of John Trudell called, Crazy Horse, We Hear What You Say.

    • elizabethtool says:

      Thank you I discovered John Trudell about 4 years ago and regularly enjoy his music/poetry. I have also seen the movie on Netflix…rather compelling

  2. Janey says:

    I wish Monica had taken her own advice to you more seriously. Research has taken her to some very dark places and she has been completely unable to process the facts of what happened to Annie Mae. I feel pity for her because she started out seemingly with good intent, but she has turned this story into a chapter of her own life experience instead of recognizing that Annie Mae was killed by bad people who thought they had dominion over a defenseless woman, and that story has replayed on reservations throughout the North America ever since.
    If people, particularly native women, stood together for Annie Mae, and stood against violence against women, there could be change. But while ever Monica and her likenesses all over the internet spend their time spewing useless vitriol against people who really stand against this crime against women, they cannot be effective.
    Incidentally, the Wikipedia site is not a DeMain entity.

    Annie Mae had reason to be frightened of everyone, but her family was in touch with her and they knew and understood her real fears.
    But most of all I wanted to say it is not ‘your own’ truth you should look for, nor is it your place to make a judgment about what happened until you know what has been put in the public record under oath by many people who know things they wish they didn’t know and are saying things they never wanted to have to say aloud. There is one truth of how Annie Mae, and only one, because she was murdered once. People’s theories are inconsequential and finding ‘your own’ truth is disingenuous to her memory.
    Are you watching Dickie Marshall’s trial? No-one wants to be there, to have to speak what they know, and they are all there under duress, but one after another they are saying what went down under oath.

    One day Graham is going to have to tell his family what really happened. He’ll have to say he didn’t have to put them through this process, nor did he deserve the support of Mathew Lien’s unwitting music fans. He’s going to have to admit that those that put their homes on the line to get him bond to stay under house arrest took that risk unnecessarily, that the thousands of hours of so many people’s time have been wasted and could have been spent on helping native kids in the tough lives so many lead. Although admittedly Graham doesn’t seem to have spent much time on his own eight kids, three of whom have been in trouble themselves. He’s also going to have to admit to himself and his maker that finding technical loopholes in the law is not a substitute for being innocent.

    It is just a bad situation, it is terrible for Annie Mae’s family and for many others whose lives have been slammed by the shockwaves from her murder. But there are way too many bystanders here with opinions not knowledge.

    I wouldn’t doubt you will ‘moderate’ this comment off of this arena. But you may not have a choice whether you can moderate it out of your consciousness.

    • elizabethtool says:

      Actually if you were a regular reader of my other blog ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST you would know I only moderate racist comments….I even keep up the insults and name calling from the FBI cheerleaders SNAPPLE and JAMES SIMON…or anyone else. One day they (corrupt FBI agents not to be confused with GOOD FBI agents and corrupt Indians if they were involved) will all have to account for their actions in life as well as you and I.

      Like conservatives and liberals this is an issue that divides…but like I say as a question of the FBI/prosecution and all you get is hysteria insults and threats….ask the defense side and they will answer in a logical way and in a respectful manner citing facts providing links. Genuinely being helpful! It has been my experience that people who become angry and hysterical are lying and covering up ….sort of like catching a teenager skipping school….or a husband cheating….all hysteria as the curtain of lies is torn down.

      Yes all of this is terrible….but more terrible are the victims like Jancita Eagle Deer…..Hmmmm….funny how easy it is for the prosecution side and those who support them to escape their conscience when it comes to using the name of Bill Janklow. Where is the outrage about THAT fallen angel?

      The fact of the matter is that in the UNITED STATES there was not enough evidence to convict Richard Marshall. Personally I don’t care who was guilty….I honestly wish they would force lie detector tests on every single person involved during that time…. FBI agents and AIM leaders alike. And if DNA can be used….that too!

      That you bring up Graham not spending time with his children ….I have thought the same about Anna Mae. Maybe this will be a wake up call for him.. a time to reflect on what is important in life. I think though that it is a difficult decision and balancing family with activism is easier said than done. If only we knew the repercussions of our choices in life before we made them! But then I guess that wouldn’t be life.

      Like most people on this earth Monica is filled with lightness and dark….no more or less than others….if you have ever had the experience of listening to Monica talk about her reservation and the work she does for her people….you see the brightest light that shines pride, joy and hope across the distances. She will always have my deepest admiration and respect!

      I hope as I do for Monica and those involved that happiness is not contingent on the outcome of this series of trials.

      Thank You for correcting me about the Clinton visit……but the reservation name wasn’t what opened my mind and heart to rethink what I had learned and believed true for the previous thirty years!

      Lastly sorry that your comment took so long to post. I was ill earlier this month and have had to make up on my work and travel…the blog falls by the wayside due to things like food and rent!

  3. Janey says:

    Oh, and by the way Clinton visited Pine Ridge, not Rosebud. I was there and I heard him offer a whole package of help to the people. It was while Harold Salway was the tribal chair and he fought the council to get Clinton there but soon after the visit a rukkus broke out over the (bent) tribal treasurer, and all the help that had been offered was forgotten about while accusations flew and a fight took place. Once again, the Lakotas who had a chance to help their own people by getting some planning and work done instead let down the children, the elders and everyone in between by in-fighting. It was a sorry sight. Salway did the best he could but his efforts were for nothing while idiots stood about shouting ‘impeach’. Did they even know what impeach means? Maybe not, but they sure know what screwed means because that’s what they did to themselves.
    The media made a big deal out of the visit, but not so much because a president was visiting a reservation, but because it was a ‘poverty tour’. He went four places, but coverage was minimal.
    Facts always matter

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