Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December 3rd: Sand Creek, the Dalai Lama, Michael Brown, Greg Hobbs



    Today is the final stage of the Cheyenne-Arapaho spiritual healing run.  It will go to Riverside Cemetery and honor Silas Soule and Joseph Cramer, two decent American officers who refused to join in the carnage.  It will then go to the State Capitol

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    The Sand Creek Massacre is present for the descendants of the survivors.

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    Those who have come to understand American genocide in the West want to knit anew the fabric of a decent society for all of us, gather in and support the spiritual healing run.  The University of Denver, I am glad to say, has made a significant contribution as has the Governor's Commission on the Massacre; the Methodist Church, led by Bishop Elaine Stanovsky, even more of one.

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      Today I am in Dharamsala, India with 15 students.  We listened to the Dalai Lama speak to Mongolian Buddhists in a teaching on Tsong-ka-pa's (a founder of Tibetan Buddhism's) extensive "Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment."

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        Many gathered at the Lha, monks and lay people.  The book itself and more the Dalai Lama emphasized believing teachings - when they are rational - but remembering to evaluate them.  The same goes for founding myths like "the Sand Creek battle" or "the Chinese are modernizing the backward Tibetans" (moving 8 million settlers into Tibet - more than the 6 million Tibetans - as part of a strategy of ethnic cleansing and demeaning).

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 This past Sunday, we all took a long circular walk around the Lha (the Dalai Lama's residence) and came to a beautiful temple with prayer flags and wheels.  There is a shrine there with the photos of most of those who have burned themselves.  This was a terrific jolt to each of us.




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       We went yesterday to Go Chu Sum (8 9 3), important months of Tibetan revolt in the 1980s, and today the name of an organization which enables formerly tortured political prisoners who have escaped to Dharamsala to find language partners.  We ask questions; they tell us of their daring treks across the mountains, moving two or three months through the snow at night, sleeping in the forest in the day, to avoid the Chinese soldiers who hunt and would shoot them.

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          Along the walls are photos of the implements of torture employed by the Chinese (the torture program instituted by the psychologists Mitchell and Jesson for the CIA in 2003 modeled itself on Chinese torture...).

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       The Tibetan men are, as a young woman tells us, macho.  But sometimes, they make the horrible discovery that torture, even survived, often generates organ failure...

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       A height of spiritual glory - the Dalai Lama radiates good nature and his words and touch to Tibetans often brings a surge of energy and enthusiasm.

        A pit of oppression and torture - Chinese ravaging of Tibet is one of the hells sometimes graphically referred to in Buddhist texts (America, too, has its hells of torture and killing...).

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       Sunday the St. Louis Rams football team came out on the field hands up for Michael Brown.  After the grand jury "show" (it wasn't a show trial since there was no legal official even pretending to represent Michael Brown), people walked off jobs in New York and elsewhere.

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      The rule of law is represented, at least to some extent, when a prosecutor seeks to bring charges before a grand jury.

       Burying that jury in a flood of evidence, refusing to question the officer or the witnesses who claim to justify him throws away the office of prosecutor.

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       Michael Brown was unarmed and far away from the officer who shot him down...

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About a recent post, Kay Hallam wrote to me:

    "Professor Gilbert, thank you so much for your wonderful email  here.

     This event of the 150th commemoration of Sand Creek, AND COLORADO'S COMMEMORATION OF IT, means that (to me) the larger society is seeing the genocide of American Indians in the 18th century as a PROBLEM

       This is a lot different from seeing it as "an unfortunate event in the past"

       The Lakota on their webpages still call American society genocidal towards the American Indian--why is this?

         The adoptions..  the loss of language.. the attitude that their reservation land is still "available" for development when it is against their cultural heritage (Keystone XL pipeline)

         The Hopi elders call their council sell outs for coal mining on their land

                        Kay Hallam"

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    There is much to mourn and fight against in America on this day.

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       Still, the spiritual healing run is a gathering of people, led by Cheyennes and Arapahos determined to tell the story of the Massacre aright and in this way, to set right a great wrong.  And many others reach out to them, join with them.

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       I send you a photographic poem by Justice Greg Hobbs which makes clear a new spirit in Colorado.  May it grow!

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"Dear Alan,
Here in text and attached in word document is the composite of the two photo poems leading to the Sand Creek visit Bobbie and I had Friday night as the teepees were being erected.
It was interesting tying Bent’s Fort and Boggsville together with Sand Creek on this trip. 
Best regards!  Greg"
***
"From the Family Farm to Sand Creek
Thanksgiving at the family farm, Avondale on the Arkansas
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Gathering on a hill, where those who go before scraped and knapped.
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Just down Olsen Road, Charles Autobees (William Bent’s associate)
remains in his plaza on the Vigil St.Vrain Mexican Land Grant
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Where the Huerfano joins the Arkansas.
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Downriver, William Bent and his Cheyenne Wife, Owl Woman,
greet and intermingle families and travelers at Bent’s Fort
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Depending on the buffalo

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Along the Arkansas
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Pressed, exported,
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Lands belonging to the Arapaho and Cheyenne.
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Another Cheyenne woman, Amache, daughter of Lone Bear,
wife of John Prowers (William Bent’s associate),
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Her father, many of her family members, slaughtered, scattered, dispossessed
at Sand Creek.  Amache and John, the buffalo gone,
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Take up cattle ranching at Boggsville two miles south of Las Animas
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Kit Carson, his third wife, Josefa, Native, Anglo, Hispanic children,
join the community
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Live, die, are buried here, until Taos moves Kit, Josefa on down the Trail.
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This story, about our worst our best, such as we are.
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On the very eve of Chivington’s march into darkness, 150 years later,
White Antelope Way leads us back to Sand Creek
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Where Cheyenne and Arapaho teepees stand.
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Live long the mountains and the ground! 
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On the road with Bobbie and Strider, Greg Hobbs 11/27-28, 2014
On the Eve of the 150th Anniversary of Sand Creek
 
Tonight, on White Antelope Way, a remembering sky
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Swells up from the Arkansas, from Big Timbers, from Fort Lyon,
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Blazes up the ground Chivington rode, into the night, a sneak attack
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But look! 150 years later, this very night, Cheyenne, Arapaho teepees stand
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On sacred ground, ancestors lend their hands, their voices
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To their descendants, woman, child, and man
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Assemble, each enduring tomorrow, at Sand Creek.
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Greg Hobbs 11/28/2014









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