Americans who don't live in the West may think that the historic clash of Native Americans and pioneering settlers is long past. Not so. That classic American narrative is back big time, only the cowboys -- well, their right-wing representatives, anyway -- are on the warpath, trying to grab 640 million acres of public lands that they can plunder as if it were yesteryear.
They say that America is the land of the free. It's a principle upon which our nation was built, enshrined in the First Amendment and the national anthem taught in schools. But as I hiked into the woods to find a place to hide my sacred eagle feathers out of fear of being arrested, I wondered how free we really are.
This past week, I joined 11 other medical students from the University of Chicago in volunteering at a Lakota Native American reservation in South Dakota. The experience was a great opportunity to not only learn about health care challenges on reservations, but also to reflect on the intersections between religion, service, and medicine.
In her short life,"Lost Bird" suffered every kind of injury and abuse the White Man imposed on Native Americans. She died on Valentine's Day in 1920, aged 29, and was buried in a pauper's grave in California, but 71 years later, her people, the Lakota, found her grave and brought her remains back to Wounded Knee, the place where she was found as an infant beneath her mother's frozen body.
Activist, orator, and former 1996 and 2000 Green Party Vice-Presidential candidate Winona LaDuke introduced a new video on YouTube this week. Produced by Honor the Earth and narrated by LaDuke, "The Triple Crown of Pipeline Rides" revisits three horseback journeys by native riders and their supporters along oil pipelines.