Migration Reform from a Native American Perspective

Congress has agreed to a temporary funding measure to end the government shutdown, but there is still no guarantee for bipartisan immigration reform. Native American activist Bill Means discussed the issue of humane reform with Dennis J. Bernstein.

By Dennis J. Bernstein

Following a brief government shutdown over the weekend, House Democrats conceded to fund the government until February 8. The deal came after congressional Republicans agreed to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Programs for six years and promised a discussion on DACA. But many viewed this concession as a betrayal by the Democrats, who have not been guaranteed any reasonable action on immigration reform in return for re-opening the government.

The West Front of the U.S. Capitol

In the following freewheeling discussion, I spoke with Bill Means about the quest for truly humane immigration reform in the context of the current Trump crackdown on so-called illegal aliens. Means also addressed the nature of immigration and forced migration as a result of highly destructive U.S. free trade policies.

We also discussed the recent decision by a federal court to dismiss charges against renegade ranchers in Nevada, while still holding under lock and key protesters who stood bravely against the pipeline at Standing Rock.

Bill Means is co-founder of the American Indian Movement and also sits on the board of the International Indian Treaty Council. I spoke to Means on January 23rd, 2018.

Dennis Bernstein: We have now seen the weak-kneed, spineless Democrats take a half-assed stand and capitulate to the Republicans, and we find ourselves again at the mercy of right-wing extremists in terms of so-called immigration reform.

Bill Means: Real immigration reform is being opposed by all these white males, all of whom were immigrants as little as two or three generations ago.  They act as if they were indigenous peoples themselves!

It is disgraceful that we are treating in this manner people who are contributing greatly to the well-being of American society at all levels.  It is pretty audacious for this Congress to make deals on behalf of the so-called immigrants.

We call them “migrants” because they have a right to be here as our friends and relatives to the south.  Most of these people are Indian descendants.  They probably have more Indian blood than a lot of Indians alive today in America.

It used to be that if you had one-quarter Indian blood you were an Indian, according to the U.S. government.  A lot of these people should be allowed in based on their Indian heritage, if nothing else, or there should be some sort of path to citizenship for them.  There has been some talk among tribal governments giving amnesty to these migrants on their reservations so that they wouldn’t have to leave the country and could seek, in this way, a path to citizenship.

DB: Let’s talk about this concept of “border security.”  We know that there are many tribes that live on both sides of the border who are being devastated by these border policies.  We are hearing that we can’t have a deal without there being a wall.

BM: There has been a wall for many years, a partial one.  In some parts there are mountains and canyons that would make a wall almost impossible to erect.  But a wall was something that was tried in Berlin, has been tried in Palestine.  All it does is divide people from their relatives.

In the south of Arizona and New Mexico we have about twelve tribes living on or near the border.  Their people travel back and forth every day, either for employment or for social services like medical care.  Many of these people are already known by border control and the department of immigration.  This wall has been going up for many years.

We had a conference in Arizona in 2004 and at that time the border was still open, at least in the Indian areas. Then came law enforcement of all kinds: border patrol, U.S. marshals, FBI, National Guard. They all moved in to predominantly Indian territory and began to set up their operations, disrupting the everyday life of our communities and desecrating many of our sacred sites.

We have seen a diminishment of many of the rights that people had prior to this wall going up. The human rights of these Indian people are being violated, whether they consider themselves Indian or not. They still have the right to migrate to other countries.

When the Europeans were coming, they had signs all over Europe which said, “Free land!  Come to America!  Be part of the Homesteading!”  But they didn’t mention that this was already Indian land.  Now that they are here, they look on Hispanic people as aliens, as a detriment to American society.

They have built prisons to hold the children of immigrants once they have separated them from their parents. And all of these human rights violations are documented by sanctuary groups as well as the Indian tribes directly affected by this military occupation on the U.S./Mexico border.

DB: Our vice president is right now in Jerusalem congratulating Netanyahu on plans to move the U.S. embassy there.  For the Palestinians, it is like an endgame in the nature of ethnic cleansing.  It seems to parallel the government policy toward indigenous communities in the United States.

BM: We have always been allies with the Palestinian people.  The Palestinian is the Indian, and vice versa. We have a common history in terms of the human rights violations, the robbing of our lands when they are protected by various treaties and agreements and human rights standards.  In Palestine, people can be uprooted at any time, even though they have lived there for generations!  It is very close to the Indian struggle, which continues today.

DB: It was no surprise that one of Trump’s first actions after taking office was to try to remove the opposition at Standing Rock and open up the pipelines, endangering the sources of water.

Activists gather in Seattle to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline, September 16, 2016. (John Duffy Flickr)

BM: “Water is life” has become an international cry.  You cannot drink oil.  Now people figure that even if the water is polluted they can go to Walmart and pick up a case of bottled water.  Well, soon it will all be polluted by petroleum and there is no filtering that out.

Oil pipelines are running rampant.  In financial periodicals they are talking about investing in petroleum pipelines instead of investing in oil development.  There are thousands of new permits being issued in every state.

And it is the oil executives who are making the decisions on behalf of the government. They are on a full-scale operation to exploit every mineral they can. They have even begun to open up protected lands and monuments. But when they start to endanger the water, it is time for all people to come together in opposition.

You have to understand that all pipelines leak eventually.  It is unnatural to put a pipe in the ground and expect it to last. Mother Earth is moving all the time.  When oil leaks, it doesn’t go anywhere but into the earth and then into the water. You cannot do any recovery for water pollution by oil.

They say modern technology can provide warnings, but it never does.  We just experienced a huge spill in northeast South Dakota that they claimed at first was 200,000 barrels but which turned out to be 800,000 barrels.  And they spilled before anyone knew it, until a farmer discovered a lake of oil in his field.

These modern technologies are a myth.  There is no way to protect the environment, especially when it comes to water.

DB: We just saw that the “vigilantes” who destroyed indigenous, so-called government property and took over buildings have now been set free by a federal judge, whereas there are still resisters at Standing Rock in jail facing time.

BM: There has always been a dual standard of justice in this country.  When these armed cowboys took over a national park in the Northwest, [they were acquitted of the charges].  When we, on the other hand, act peacefully at Standing Rock, we had over 500 charged with various felonies.  Some were charged with a felony for even traveling to Standing Rock!

This is an absolute violation of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples signed at the United Nations by President Obama in 2007.  These standards have been set but no one is following them.  American law treats Indians and protesters one way and white people another way.  The dual standard of justice is alive and well in the US courts.

DB: Speaking of justice, in Arizona we have the pardoned former sheriff Joe Arpaio now running for public office.

BM: That is about standard operating procedure in this country.  Here is a guy who violated a federal judge’s court order, told him to go to hell publicly.  He would have been jailed because of his attitude, his violation of the law and his refusal to accept responsibility.  The president pardons him and now he has the audacity to run for public office.  And he may be elected, because Arizona has been a racist state for many years.

The reason Arpaio was able to get reelected time after time is that he represented a racist standard not only against migrants but also against American Indians.  The state of Arizona has the largest Indian population in America.  He went on violating the human rights of these populations and no one did anything about it.  This is the standard of human rights in America.

DB: We are now seeing expanded raids and mayors in sanctuary cities under threat of arrest.  Do you think they will be coming on to reservations to arrest people?

BM: I am sure that if the opportunity arises they won’t hesitate to, although they may find themselves in their own courts, because we have a legal relationship with the United States that no one else has.  We have a certain sovereignty whereby we can invite people in and allow them to live in our territory.  It will involve complicated legal maneuvering for the immigration people to enter our reservations.  No doubt they will try but we will fight them all the way in the courts and there will be public resistance.

DB:  Would you like to give a shout out to Leonard Peltier, the longest serving political prisoner in the United States?

BM:  Leonard has been in prison for over 41 years now. We are trying to get him moved closer to home where he can get more visitors. They have taken him as far as possible from his home in North Dakota to Florida, so that his relatives and supporters and advisers have to travel all that way and pay all the expenses just to provide him with the access to the legal system that every prisoner is entitled to.

Dennis J. Bernstein is a host of “Flashpoints” on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom. You can access the audio archives at www.flashpoints.net.

28 comments for “Migration Reform from a Native American Perspective

  1. Fran Macadam
    January 28, 2018 at 13:14

    I’ve talked with some tribal members, and I can tell you that they are not going to be welcoming non tribal members to come live on their reservations. Not one person they know has supported this idea. It won’t be the federal government and its troops putting a stop to illegal immigrants moving en masse onto Indian land, a fantasy that will never even be attempted. If it were, tribal authorities would deploy tribal police to prevent it.

    Contrary to popular belief, Indians aren’t going to be employing exploited undocumented immigrants to cut their lawns, wash their cars or babysit their children, or even pick their crops and husband their animals.

  2. Fran Macadam
    January 28, 2018 at 13:06

    Peltier was extradited from Canada on evidence admitted to be false by a former attorney general of the United States, Ramsey Clark.

    Why were federal agents even violating the sovereignty guaranteed by treaty and upheld by the United States Supreme Court, and deciding to occupy through violence an Indian Nation? When they fired at American Indians defending themselves on Indian land, they were violating the law. The left now seems oddly enamored of the FBI that used to persecute it, an organization that has absolved itself of guilt, exonerating itself in every single case of any deaths at its hands throughout its history.

    The FBI buried a lot of Indian hearts at Wounded Knee.

    I guess the FBI deciding to bring down Trump by electoral interference, has covered every grievous sin of the past, including trying to destroy (and probably colluding in the assassination) of MLK.

  3. Paul R. Jones
    January 26, 2018 at 23:19

    Reply to:Annie

    January 26, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    Why would my commentary be under moderation when Mr. Jones can spew his anti-Indian rhetoric?
    Answer to your question above: My posts are supported by the United States Constitution beginning with the 14th Amendment’s ‘equal protection’ provisions! That is not “…anti-Indian rhetoric’ by any stretch of the Constitution…that is defending the United States Constitution. Period.

  4. Virginia
    January 26, 2018 at 15:51

    Thank you, Bernstein and Means, for the enlightened and educational conversation. The many comments are helpful as well. Does the arch of time bend toward justice? May it be so.

  5. Fran Macadam
    January 26, 2018 at 05:40

    As a person from a reservation, I can tell you there is not going to be any support from ordinary folks on reservations already strapped economically to welcome a big influx of new foreigners onto the lands we still have. I think Bill must be in his dotage and has lost connection. He seems to think the southern migrants are more Indian than the Wisconsin Chippewa? But I agree with Dennis about Leonard, the last President surely was weak-kneed and spineless not to pardon him.

    • David Smith
      January 26, 2018 at 07:32

      Leonard Peltier’s two compadres were tried seperately and aquited(self defense). Leonard Peltier was charged with the head shot execution of the two grievously wounded FBI agents. They were each shot at very close range with a 223 Remington, the ammunition used in Peltier’s AR-15. Peltier executed two wounded men, begging for their lives. Peltier is not a political prisoner, does not deserve and will never get a pardon. What Peltier deserves is the death penalty, so he should be thankfull he lives and breathes. Peltier has never admitted what he obviously did nor has he shown any remorse.

      • Zachary Smith
        January 26, 2018 at 12:40

        From the wiki:

        Peltier has made a number of appeals against his murder convictions.

        In 1986, Federal Appeals Judge Gerald W. Heaney, concluded, “When all is said and done … a few simple but very important facts remain. The casing introduced into evidence had in fact been extracted from the Wichita AR-15.”[20][21] In his 1999 memoir, Peltier admitted that he fired at the agents, but denies that he fired the fatal shots that killed them.[22]

        I’d hate to be on a jury. A trial consists of “possibly” dishonest lawmen, “possibly” dishonest prosecutors, and “possibly” defendants who are murderers.

        That Peltier admitted to firing at the agents would be enough (for me!) to guarantee he never leaves prison. Except for actual self-defense, I’m of the opinion that people shouldn’t be shooting at lawmen of any kind.

        • David Smith
          January 26, 2018 at 16:09

          The trial judge must give permission to the accused to plead “innocent self defense”, without that permission the accused cannot.

    • D.R. Wheaton
      January 26, 2018 at 14:21

      I thought the same thing myself when I read Bill’s comments about offering sanctuary to illegals on reservations. The Fed’s would pull put their big guns just as they did at Standing Rock, endangering all the families in that rez. What good would that Do? Did being martyrs ever help our people? No. A few whites say ‘awww, tisk, tisk’…but no one makes the attacks stop. Means is by no means an equal savant as was his father, it seems.

  6. Paul R. Jones
    January 25, 2018 at 20:25

    It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for folks like Mr. Means along with politicians-state and federal-to dumb down as gullible non-Indian U.S./State citizens into believing that they-politicians-can pass common law that regulates from the womb to the tomb the health, welfare, safety, benefits, capacities, metes and boundaries of a select group of U.S./State citizens made distinguishable from all other non-Indian U.S./State citizens because of their “Indian ancestry/race” at the same time the Constitution’s 14th Amendment’s ‘equal protection’ foreclosed the very same politicians from enacting common law regulating from the womb to the tomb the health, welfare, safety, benefits, capacities, metes and boundaries for select group of U.S./State citizens with ‘slave ancestry/race’ all without a shred of Constitutional authority to do so.

    • Zachary Smith
      January 26, 2018 at 00:10

      It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for folks like Mr. Means along with politicians-state and federal-to dumb down as gullible non-Indian U.S./State citizens into believing that they-politicians-can pass common law that regulates from the womb to the tomb the health, welfare, safety, benefits, capacities, metes and boundaries of a select group of U.S./State citizens made distinguishable from all other non-Indian U.S./State citizens because of their “Indian ancestry/race”…

      So far as I can determine, you’re saying that people of “Indian ancestry/race” get treated differently than “non-Indian U.S./State citizens”. On that assumption I made a few searches.

      American Indians and Alaska Natives born today have a life expectancy that is 4.4 years less than the U.S. all races population (73.7 years to 78.1 years, respectively)

      American Indian/Alaska Natives have 1.6 times the infant mortality rate as non-Hispanic whites.
      American Indian/Alaska Native babies are twice as likely as non-Hispanic white babies to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
      American Indian/Alaska Native infants are 70 percent more likely than non-Hispanic white infants to die from accidental deaths before the age of one year.
      In 2014, American Indian/Alaska Native mothers were 2.5 as likely to receive late or no prenatal care as compared to non-Hispanic white mothers.

      In 1989, the median income of Native American households was $19,900. Average income varies by tribe and can range from $29,211 in the Osage tribe, to a mere $11,402 in the Tohono O’odham tribe.[15] Over 20% of Native American reservation households make less than $5,000 annually while only 6% of the overall US population has an annual income of less than $5,000.[16] The average Native American family (3.41) is larger than the American national average,[11] yet only 30% have health insurance.[11] The quality of life for many Native Americans are often comparable to that of developing nations.[17]

      So it appears you are right. The American Indians die younger, their babies die much more often, they live in greater poverty, and they have higher rates of smoking and drinking.

      So American Indians do indeed appear to be ‘treated differently’. Is this a situation which makes you more or less happy? It was really hard to decipher your remarks so asking that seems like a good idea.

      • Paul R. Jones
        January 26, 2018 at 09:18

        Mr. Smith,
        Your post fails to address the simple fact that the 560+ federally recognized Indian tribes are on the federal welfare rolls to the tune of billions and billions of taxpayer dollars ($8.2 billion per year in 2015 federal budget given to some 1.2-million enrolled tribal members not counting gaming and business revenue) given to these tribes year after year after year since 1924 that achieves what? Perpetual welfare?

        And, your post fails to account for revenue from gaming and business enterprise for these tribes. Your post fails to address enrolled members life-style and cultural issues that produce current living conditions that are their choices…no one is forcing a tribal member to live in a hut with no running water, sanitation or electricity!

        Once U.S./State citizenship with “Indian ancestry/race” was achieved, these newly minted citizens were provided the same opportunities to be successful under the Constitution as all other non-Indian U.S./State citizen; and yet, from all known public information, squandered their opportunities and continue to squander their taxpayer paid-for benefits!

        Your post notes median income but fails to address all federal taxpayer paid benefits such as free healthcare from the Indian Health Services, plus free food, housing, and education via federal grants that have no viable accountability means to determine where the money goes…into a select group of tribal members pockets?

        The ARIZONA REPUBLIC, in late 2017, ran a 2-part story on the Navajo Nation’s receipt of some $1.6-billion taxpayer dollars from 1998 to the present to ostensibly build homes for tribal members. Some 400 uninhabitable homes were built, the tribal council has $250-million sitting in a interest bearing account and the tribe cannot account for where $1.350 billion taxpayer dollars went. The $1.6-billion taxpayer dollars is on top of some $556-million paid in 2017 to the Navajo’s as their share of royalties from mining. Where did the money go?

        Your post fails to account for where billions and billions of taxpayer dollars go beyond the public information like you posted which affirms these billions and billions of taxpayer dollars are squandered!

        It is the cultural issues that keep enrolled members from improving their living conditions via tribal culture pressures and plain corruption of where the taxpayer monies go accounts for your data.

        The Tohono O’odham tribe has enough money to build a casino in Glendale, AZ., so your claim of poverty is a sham as it is for any tribe running a casino! Same for other tribes who build casinos…they have plenty of money for such business enterprise but you cannot provide any information on how gaming revenue is distributed to enrolled members can you…members who continue to be on federal welfare rolls?

        Lastly, no other U.S./State group of citizens receives such taxpayer largess except U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race!” Time to get off the federal welfare rolls! Time to earn your own keep. Time to stop whining about events more than 130-years old!

        Title 25-INDIANS from which all of this federal hoax flows has no Constitutional authority to exist! It is a plain fraud upon the Constitution as described in my initial post. Lastly, politicians-state and federal-created this fraud upon the Constitution not U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race!” Your post parrots back the usually canards spewed out by Indian advocates and tribal members of “Oh. Poor me. White man did us wrong!” victimhood scenarios that do not bear up under simple scrutiny of cultural ingrained issues and plain accountability of where does the money go? Nice try, though.

        • Zachary Smith
          January 26, 2018 at 12:17

          I don’t normally google people before making a “reply”, but I sure ought to have done that in this case.


          Paul R. Jones
          November 23, 2016 at 6:01 pm

          Bill Bodden:
          As of The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, there are no more “Indians” within the original meaning of the Constitution…only U.S./State citizens entitled to no more and no less than every other non-Indian U.S./State citizen. The Constitution makes for no provisions for treaties with constituency.


          Comments 5553

          Yes, that’s five thousand, five hundred, and fifty three comments on a single site.

          Nice try, though.

          Since I’m not in the habit of butting my head against concrete walls, I sure won’t “try” anymore.

        • Annie
          January 26, 2018 at 18:39

          If you don’t mind me saying Mr. Jones, your post sounds like an anti-Indian diatribe, and I don’t even get it. Indian land is owned and managed, controlled, in every aspect by the Federal Government, which makes it almost impossible for those living on reservations to garner wealth and determine their own futures. If anyone has mismanaged things it’s the Federal Government. They don’t even have control over their own resources, which means they can’t generate wealth from their lands. Remember it was Marshall way back in the 1800’s who set this in place and basically what he was saying is the government is the owner of all your land and all your assets, ergo your future. And lets not forget who put them on these reservations, and the reason which was they were an obstacle in our way for westward expansion not to mention get those “savages” out of our site. Let’s see you thrive under such repressive government control.

          • Annie
            January 26, 2018 at 19:22

            Why would my commentary be under moderation when Mr. Jones can spew his anti-Indian rhetoric?

          • Paul R. Jones
            January 26, 2018 at 23:15

            Your post fails to understand that as of the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, there are no more “Indians” within the original meaning of our U.S. Constitution…only U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” entitled to no more and no less than every other non-Indian U.S./State citizen.

            There is nothing in the Constitution that has authorized any politician-state or federal-to make a select group of U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” distinguishable from all other non-Indian U.S./State citizens. Title 25-INDIANS is a political fraud upon the Constitution that non-Indians have been dumb down as gullible into believing that they-politicians-can pass common law that regulates from the womb to the tomb the health, welfare, safety, benefits, capacities, metes and boundaries of a select group of U.S./State citizens because of their “Indian ancestry/race” all the while the Constitution’s14th Amendment foreclosed these very same politicians from passing common law that could regulate from the tomb to the womb the health, welfare, safety, benefits, capacities, metes and boundaries of a select group of U.S./State citizens because of their “ex-slave ancestry/race” all without any Constitutional authority to do so.

            I am troubled you don’t understand that politicians cannot regulate a U.S./State citizen because of their ancestry/race absent a Constitutional Amendment to do so…or, you are not old enough to remember the 1950s and 1960s with “Jim Crow Laws” passed by these very same politicians-state and federal.

            And yet, politicians and MSM continue to perpetuate willful blindness to the Constitutional absurdity that Congress, Presidents/Governors, Initiatives and Referendums can make distinguishable the capacities, metes and boundaries of a select group of U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” post citizenship.

            There is nothing in U.S.C. Title 25-INDIANS that speaks to the Constitution’s mandate that common law must be for “We, the People, By the People and For the People’s” health, welfare, safety and benefits for a specific geographic area of a State or the Union.
            The United States Constitution makes for no provisions for:
            1. Indian sovereign nations. None of the asserted tribes possess any of the attributes of being a ‘sovereign nation:’ a. No U.S. Constitution recognition b. No international recognition c. No fixed borders d. No military e. No currency f. No postal system g. No passports h. et al
            2. Treaties with its own constituency
            3. Indian reservations whereby a select group of U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” reside exclusively and to the exclusion of all others, on land-with rare exception-that is owned by the People of the United States according to a federal document readily available on-line that notes rights of renters as ‘occupancy and use’ by these distinguished U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” only with the land owned by the People of the United States.
            4. Recognition of ‘Indian citizenship’ asserted by various tribes. There is no international/U.S. Constitution recognition of “Indian citizenship” as there is no ‘nation-state’ from which citizenship is derived.
            A simple question for politicians and MSM to answer…a question so simple, it is hard:
            “Where is the proclamation ratified by 1/3rd of the voters in a demographic area of a state or the Union as a whole of the United States that amends the Constitution to make the health, welfare, safety and benefits of a select group of U.S./State citizens distinguishable because of their “Indian ancestry/race?”

            Lastly, We, the People, are the United States Government who elected politicians-state and federal-who promulgated this fraudulent Title 25-INDIANS because We, the People have been dumb down as gullible…that is the horror of this whole fraud!

            The United States Constitution protects all U.S./State citizens from political abuses like Title 25-INDIANS. Sadly, non-Indians don’t understand the fraud is by politicians-state and federal.

            Wake up.

        • Annie
          January 27, 2018 at 19:22

          Mr. Jones, You seem to have a personal stake in regard to Indian affairs. Is that true? First it’s a long account of how the Indians are bilking the system which so much reminded me of our former mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, who during his reign targeted those on welfare and of course the underlying agenda was to target Blacks and Hispanics, when in fact it is mostly whites who are the biggest beneficiaries of welfare. Then you respond with another long account of laws which was difficult to follow. If you want me to wake up I suggest you don’t give a long dissertation on law. Most people who have investigated the  poverty, which is severe, on too many reservations is due to the fact that these lands are commonly owned, so no one can really own land. Build a house, yes, but they don’t own the land it’s sitting on, and therefore they have no equity in their property, and as I said, the resources that reside on their land cannot profit them. To be honest I’m much more concerned that my tax dollars are spent on destroying other people’s countries , as well as the destruction of human life. They say every hour taxpayers are spending more then 8 million every hour for our wars which by the way seem to ignore international law.  

      • D.R. Wheaton
        January 26, 2018 at 14:16

        And your comment too is very pertinent to me as a Native American. I am at a technological disadvantage so could you please copy your comment here to me at [email protected]? Ever so grateful..

  7. Annie
    January 25, 2018 at 18:43

    Racism has always been a part of who we are as a nation.

    Papal Bull of 1493 by Pope Alexander VI.
    The Doctrine of Discovery, 1493
    “The Papal Bull “Inter Caetera,” issued by Pope Alexander VI on May 4, 1493, played a central role in the Spanish conquest of the New World. The document supported Spain’s strategy to ensure its exclusive right to the lands discovered by Columbus the previous year. The Bull stated that any land not inhabited by Christians was available to be “discovered,” claimed, and exploited by Christian rulers and declared that “the Catholic faith and the Christian religion be exalted and be everywhere increased and spread, that the health of souls be cared for and that barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself.” 

    So, Christopher Columbus and his crew as well as other European nations that followed got a full blessing from the Catholic church to exploit the indigenous people of the Americas. No doubt they would have pursued these dictates without the blessing of the church, and, exploit they did and ruthlessly, and we still have a parade for that lost sadist.

    Our founding fathers, all Anglo European, didn’t allow Blacks, women and indentured servants, as well as white males who didn’t own property the right to vote, because in their minds, only white men of Anglo-descent, the elite, were fit to rule America. In my opinion they were laying the groundwork for a society that could be nothing but racist.

    I recommend this book highly: “Working Toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became White: The Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs” by David R. Roediger
    “The story of how European immigrants during that era became white enlightens us on our current political realities. Italians, Greeks, Poles, Hungarians, Slavs and other European groups, at the time called “new immigrants,” sought to overcome their subordination by showing, through their behavior, to be deserving of being considered white.”

    • Annie
      January 26, 2018 at 13:14

      “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.”

      —Karl Marx, “The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon” (1851-52)

    • D.R. Wheaton
      January 26, 2018 at 14:14

      Your comment matters to me as a Native American. I wonder if you could copy it and email it to me at [email protected]? I would appreciate that very much.

  8. Drew Hunkins
    January 25, 2018 at 17:47

    Unfortunately the immigration issue is a sticky one for the progressive-left of which I consider myself a member. Obviously over the last few years the right-wing has been making substantial inroads with the struggling white (and African-American) working/middle class on this particular contentious issue.

    It’s axiomatic that a tight labor market is one the best friends to the working person in America. An “Employers’ Market” in which desperate un and under employed folks are scrambling for any job they can obtain, is a boon for the owning class and an albatross around the neck of working people across the nation.

    There’s little doubt that in certain industrial sectors, unfettered Latin American immigration (and south central Asian immigration in the I.T. sector) does indeed depress wages in the United States; this is why one of the key ruling class institutions: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is extremely pro massive immigration. As anyone with the sense of a billy goat knows: the Chamber of Commerce cares not at all whether American workers take home a family supporting living wage. The Chamber of Commerce has spent the last century lobbying against every single life affirming piece of legislation that can be construed as pro-worker.

    Though it makes some uneasy, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a little bit of economic nationalism, if of course civil liberties are strenuously upheld for all, and the militaristic-imperialist impulse is totally suppressed. After all, it’s largely due to foreign excursions by our Washington-Zio neo-liberal imperialists which have caused a massive wave of refugees seeking to flee the Anglo/Zio war zones for the West.

    It’s sometimes forgotten that the great humanitarian labor leader Cesar Chavez supported putting serious limits on unfettered immigration from Latin America. As an astute labor organizer he well knew that the death knell of struggling working people is a line of anxious potential workers willing to undercut them to feed and clothe their children.

    It’s now time that the progressive-left address this issue honestly, forthrightly and most importantly humanely by advocating for serious curbs on all types of immigration. The United States has far too many hopeless un and under employed American citizens in the hard pressed Rust Belt, Southwest, Deep South and Northeast to continue to neglect this provocative issue. With ever more automation, robotics and computerization on the near horizon, it’s ever more important the progressive-left take a stand for the American worker.

    Having pointed all this out, I want to emphasize that I have nothing against these fine folks who are desperate themselves, often fleeing lands in which Washington-Wall Street driven “free trade” agreements have decimated the workforce.

  9. Susan Siens
    January 25, 2018 at 16:55

    I am very pleased to see this. For quite a while I have been pointing out online that so-called illegal immigrants — undocumented workers, that is — look indigenous when one actually gets to see them. And there is little more vomit-worthy than seeing huge European males holding weapons standing over small brown people sitting on the ground. I am of European background and I think perhaps it’s past time that we all be shipped BACK TO WHERE WE CAME FROM.

    • David Smith
      January 25, 2018 at 19:10

      Susan Siens, the glorious plan you advocate would require Black Americans to be shipped back to Africa.

  10. Zachary Smith
    January 25, 2018 at 16:03

    As expected, the rest of the piece was darned good, too. The US Government has been totally captured by Big Everything. And that event has met with a lot of approval by the racists and “libertarians” as well. Quibble time on one point:

    Well, soon it will all be polluted by petroleum and there is no filtering that out.

    That’s not true in technical terms. There are several ways to remove oil from water, but none of them are inexpensive. It comes down to another example of “Privatizing Profit” while at the same time “Socializing Losses”. And of course Pollution. Water is going to remain much more expensive for hundreds if not thousands of years, and does the Captive Government care? Of course not. And most certainly not those worthless Democrats who vote with Big Everything at nearly every turn. A few of them may make a few noises about the injustice and pollution, but that’s all they’ll do. Most of those noteworthy loudmouths will tuck tail and run when it comes time to vote on the issue.

  11. Zachary Smith
    January 25, 2018 at 15:48

    Dennis Bernstein: We have now seen the weak-kneed, spineless Democrats take a half-assed stand and capitulate to the Republicans, and we find ourselves again at the mercy of right-wing extremists in terms of so-called immigration reform.

    First time I’ve ever made a comment after reading only the first line, but this remark by Mr. Bernstein makes me pretty darned sure I’m going to like the rest of it! The Democrats are simply pitiful – when they’re not engaged in acting like wannabe Republicans themselves and crawling into the “despicable” category.

  12. Joe Tedesky
    January 25, 2018 at 14:57

    My problem as to my reaction to this interview is none to original, and although my angst over the immigrants and Native-American problems may sound quite platitudinous, I seriously do feel for these people. I feel for any or all people who must suffer under the weight of a master, such as the U.S. and Israel have proved to be. After all my comments over time having sympathy for these struggling indigenous folk, and calling congressional delegates over such affairs, I have come to have only prayer to offer these poor souls. Call me any derogatory lilly limp liberal name you must for my having feelings for all people who are crushed under the boot of hegemony, but life should be better than what these good folk have encountered under our governments domain.

  13. Sally Snyder
    January 25, 2018 at 13:58

    As shown in this article, there is one significant health issue associated with Israel’s long-term “punishment” of Palestinians:


    It is interesting to note that the United States does very little about this human rights issue.

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