|Photo by Brenda Norrell|
Carter Camp, Ponca: "What they wrote down was a blueprint for the genocide of my people. You are re-enacting something ugly, evil and hateful."
By Brenda Norrell
CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. -- It has been nearly a decade since an American Indian delegation faced off with the Lewis and Clark Expedition on the shores of the Missouri River. What the Lakota, Dakota, Ponca, Dine’ and Kiowa warriors said that day will be recorded in history books. Here are some excerpts from the Lakota delegation’s statement, the full statement of Carter Camp, Ponca, and excerpts from my news article at the UN Observer and International Report at the Hague.
The impact of that meeting had far reaching effects. On the Longest Walk 2, four years later in Illinois, we met one of those Lewis and Clark enactors, Scott Mandrell, who had changed his life, and left the Expedition, because of the words spoken on this day, September 18, 2004.
Statement of Lakota delegation, organized by Alex White Plume
Today, tribal members from the Lakota, Dakota, Ponca, Kiowa and Dine'
Nations came to the Missouri River at Chamberlain, South Dakota to
give the opportunity to the Lewis & Clark Expedition to turn back and
cancel their re-enactment journey that began 200 years of genocide,
land theft and resource exploitation from the Plains tribes.
resistors who refused to smoke it. Strong words were made by tribal
leaders Alex White Plume, Floyd Hand, Carter Camp, Alfred Bone Shirt,
Russell Means and Vic Camp who advised the Lewis & Clark re-enactors
that they were perpetuating the lies of American history.
The spokespersons for the Lewis & Clark Commemoration continually
undercut the demands of the resistors to cease their re-enactment
voyage up the river. A few months after the original "Voyage of
Discovery", Clark wrote of the Teton Sioux, "These are the vilest
miscreants of the savage race, and must ever remain the pirates of the
Missouri, until such measures are pursued, by our government, as will
make them feel a dependence on its will for their supply of
The resistors contend that the original Lewis & Clark Expedition was
the dawn of genocide for the Plains Indian Tribes. The tribal
resistors have committed themselves to stopping the re-enactor's
expedition before they leave Lakota Country.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
By Carter Camp, Ponca, American Indian Movement
gather in South Dakota to stop the ignorant and racist celebration of
the Lewis and Clark slaveholding expedition into our lands. This
action will be led and organized by our young people who have turned
to some of us for advice and counsel. They are offended by the
continuing insults America seems determined to heap upon our People.
They see our leaders lining up in D.C. to bless the grave robbers
museum of our demise while at home on the rez the depredations
continue. They see our Tribes being changed into corporations that put
money over our culture and they watch as our lands and sovereignty is
eroded to nothing. And now they watch as the Lewis and Clark
'celebration' is endorsed, even by those Indian leaders who know how
ugly its truth is to our people. Our youth, our Tokala, our future,
are tired of standing by while these things are going on and they are
demanding something be done or they will be forced to act. When the
call goes out it will be too late for elders like me to mediate so I
must stand with them and I ask all those within the sound of my voice
to stand with us. Here's why….
Americans have an unfortunate penchant for big anniversary bashes
celebrating their various successes in their five centuries old
assault on Native people. The most glaring example is of course the
national holiday for Columbus, another is the many place names and
celebrations for famous "Indian Killers" like Amherst, Custer and
Chivington. These 'celebrations' are so common and ubiquitous across
our lands that Americans are surprised and hostile when a Native voice
is raised in opposition. If we dare ask that the usual distortions of
history be corrected or that sober thought be given to the
appropriateness of all or certain parts of the event, we are seen as
enemies to be overcome once more.
The first tactic employed is always to convince, bribe or coerce
some of our own people to join them and get them to denounce the
objectors as renegades. From 1492 through the genocidal centuries on
until today, the invader knows that if they can put a red face out
front they can hide their true intentions and escape responsibility.
The big "celebration" going on in D.C. right now for the "National
Museum of the American Indian" is a prime modern example of how the
conqueror uses Indians to hide their responsibility for the times of
horror they visited upon our nations.
The old but effective tactic is once again in use, this time the
wasicu seeks Indian cover for their "celebration" of what they call an
"expedition" instead of what it truly was… an attempt to cover-up once
again the ugly truth of genocide called "manifest destiny". In 1992
Indigenous people from throughout the hemisphere rejected the
colonialist portrayal of Columbus and his ill-fated journey. Our
scholars dug out the ugly words and actions of Columbus from among
ancient documents and gave the real truth to the people. We demanded
truth and taught those Columbus supporters among us the truth of his
legacy. To this day, each "Columbus Day" we raise our voices in
truthful remembrance of what was lost. But 1492 only began the parade
of invaders which were to wash up on our shores, each of them
proffering friendship before beginning to murder us.
Now the Americans are beginning a national "celebration" of the
"Columbus of the West" and spreading the same stories we heard for so
long about 1492! They portray Lewis and Clark as intrepid explorers in
an attempt to cover-up the true intent of exploitation. Jefferson
lusted after the wealth of our Nations in exactly the same way the
King of Spain did those Nations of our eastern shore and they each
sent their "explorers" as a prelude to invasion and conquest. The only
difference is that Columbus enslaved some of our people while L&C
brought their slave with them… in one of their more perverse
"celebrations" they have now carved her likeness on a coin.
Lewis and Clark came into our lands uninvited and used our
traditional hospitality to spread their lies. They looked our leaders
in the eye and attempted to convince them their mission was one of
peace and trade while they knew full well the American intent to
subjugate our people and steal our lands. In weakness they observed
our customs and shared our food while knowing that in their wake would
come the evil emissaries of their coercive state-church. They came
among us to probe for weaknesses and provide their army with vital
intelligence about our lands and defenses. Their report to their
leaders served as a blueprint for conquest.
Once I heard the Chief of the Nation that welcomed the pilgrims
apologize for letting them attach to our shores. Perhaps my Ponca
Nation owes all the People upstream an apology for not stopping Lewis
& Clark at the mouth of the Niobara, all of us have paid a huge price
for failing to understand that a handshake with Lewis & Clark meant
our time of horror was dawning. We are the survivors of that genocidal
onslaught, we must remember if we are to deny them their final
In those long ago days maybe we could be excused for not realizing
that evil and death dogged the heels of Lewis and Clark, but today we
know full well what the lasting effects of their visit would become…
has become. We know today that every circle of life in our world was
devastated after Lewis & Clark walked in our lands, some are gone
forever like the 'passenger pigeons' that once filled the sky but most
of us remain as remnants, clinging to an earth forever altered by the
rain of death which sailed up our life-giving river.
Ask the Buffalo, the Grizzly, Eagle or Elk Nations if they are
prepared to celebrate what came up the river two centuries ago. Does
the Salmon Nation miss Celilo Falls on the Columbia River or hate the
Hungry Horse Dam on the Snake? Does the moon miss the call of the Wolf
as she rises over our depleted lands? It was not only our human
circles that were slated for destruction by the forces of greed that
sent Lewis & Clark into our midst. Their ship was one of death, it
looked with vampire eyes across our lands and slavered with greedy
anticipation at the wealth of life it observed.
Should we join their celebration so we can "tell our side" as they
are suggesting to our leaders? Or should we stand as one red nation
and send the celebrants back down the river where they came from… as
we should have done so long ago? Prepare yourselves my relations…
Carter Camp, Ponca Nation, American Indian Movement----------------------------------------------------------------------
Lewis and Clark opened the door to the holocaust of the West
By Brenda Norrell
UN Observer and International Report
CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. (Sept. 18, 2004) -- The American lie of Lewis and
Clark unraveled as Lakota, Ponca, Kiowa and Dine' told re-enactors to
turn back downriver or face the consequences.
"What they wrote down was a blueprint for the genocide of my people.
You are re-enacting something ugly, evil and hateful," Carter Camp,
Ponca, told the Discovery Expedition camped on the Missouri River.
On Saturday, an Indian delegation of elders, supported by young
warriors, gave the expedition a stern warning. If they did not turn
around, they would call on all Indians who are not assimilated,
colonized and conquered to join them and stop the expedition.
"You are re-enacting the coming of death to our people," Camp told the
expedition, while seated in a circle with Indian elders and Lewis and
Clark re-enactors, on the banks of the Missouri River.
"You are re-enacting genocide."
Deb White Plume of Pine Ridge gave the expedition a symbolic blanket
of small pox. Another Lakota woman from Pine Ridge said she carries
the DNA of the Lakota women who survived the slaughters that Lewis and
Clark opened the door to. She said she is prepared to die for this
"I believe in armed struggle," Wicahpi Wakia Wi of Pine Ridge said.
"The act of genocide stops here. We are tired of living poor. We are
not afraid to die. I am willing to die."
She told them they would not proceed up the river.
"You are not going on. I will organize every sister from here to
Oregon to stop you."
Lakota elder Floyd Hand, among four bands of Lakota here, told the
expedition, "We are the descendants of Red Cloud and Crazy Horse."
"I did not come here in peace."
Hand said they would not smoke the pipe today and if the expedition
continues up the Missouri River, the families of the expedition
members would suffer the spiritual consequences of small pox.
Referring to the tribal governments who welcomed the expedition, Hand
said those tribal governments reflect the same type thinking as the
re-enactors and are not the voice of the grassroots people.
"The tribal governments are not a voice for us. They are imitating us,
like you are imitating Lewis and Clark."
"We want you to turn around and go home," Alex White Plume, Lakota
from Pine Ridge, told the expedition
White Plume said Lakota are here on this land for a reason.
"We were put here by the spirits." He said the Lakota never lost their
language or ceremonies and now they are making these requests: Lakota
want their territory back, their treaties to be honored and to be able
to continue their healing ways.
White Plume said many Indian people have become assimilated and colonized.
"We pray for our own colonized people. We say they are in a prison in
the white man's world."
White Plume said there was no point in the expedition coming here.
"All you did was open up these old wounds."
Carter Camp warned the expedition to halt or they would be stopped. He
said the expedition has been told lies and are spreading lies.
Lewis and Clark are apart of the American lie.
"They had no honor. They came with the American lie. They murdered 60
Camp said Lewis and Clark said they came in peace. Referring to their
costumes, Camp said, "You guys probably believe that lie. That is why
you are dressed so funny today."
He said Lewis and Clark knew what happened to Indians in the eastern
part of the country and they knew that the missionaries followed the
soldiers. And it was the missionaries who left his people as remnants,
homeless in the streets.
Camp said the young warriors would not be as patient as the elders
seated in the circle. He also questioned whether the re-enactors had
asked permission of the grassroots Indian people to come onto their
"You chose to come amongst us without permission."
Camp said Sacagawea was a woman struggling to return home. "We feel
sorry for that woman. We don't like the way she was treated."
Camp said Indians here did not like the first Lewis and Clark and they
sure don't like the second ones.
"Take those silly clothes off and come back dressed like a normal
human being. Don't come here to tell me what your grandfather did to
Referring to the re-enactors "silly clothes," Camp said of the Natives
who came, "This is the way our people dress everyday. We are not
trying to play a game."
"Go home and try to re-enact some truth for the rest of your life."
Alex White Plume said all that is good is being destroyed on the Earth
because of actions like these.
"Our people are dying because our water is no good," he said, adding
that the wolves and bears are disappearing from the territory. Lakotas
have to pay fees to go the Black Hills to pray.
"Today I can not even go up to the Black Hills to worship. We believe
everyone should have access to spirituality."
He said buffalo were once the basis of the ecosystem. Now, he said,
"The whole West is drying up.
"The Earth should be a priority and not your own personal needs."
Referring to the red, white and blue flag flying over one of the
expedition's three boats docked on the Missouri River, White Plume
said, "We want that flag taken down. We honor that flag because we won
it at the Little Big Horn."
He said the flag could be later given back, if their treaty was
honored and sacred lands preserved.
"We would like to ask you to turn around and not to proceed into our
territory. We didn't bring our bows and arrows, but we will continue
to harass you."
Alfred Bone Shirt of Rosebud told the expedition, "This is disgusting.
This is a slap in the face."
Bone Shirt said the Lakota are a people who never quit fighting for
what they believe in. "If you decide to go up river, it is bad, bad
for you and bad for your families."
Bone Shirt listed the town of Chamberlain in a long list of racist
South Dakota towns. He described the testimony of the Indian Child
Welfare Act on KILI Radio the previous day, testimony of Lakota
children being taken away in large numbers and given to non-Indian
"Our prisons are full, our children are being taken away."
Pointing out the absurdity of the re-enactment, Bone Shirt asked if
there would be a re-enactment of Bush and Cheney invading Iraq.
"If you go up this river, we have good warriors who can shoot arrows.
Bone Shirt was ready for action.
"Let's sink some of those boats out here."
Bone Shirt pointed out that the Indian people knew what the
re-enactors were thinking. "When we leave, they will laugh behind our
And Bone Shirt said Indians here know this type of racism.
"The state of South Dakota is the most racist state and South Dakota
condones this kind of behavior. We want you to know, it has to end
Russell Means said if the expedition continues up the river, the
Blackfeet are waiting for them.
Means said Lewis and Clark, like the myth of Columbus, are apart of
the great American lie.
And there are many parts to the great American lie. "Even the casino
Indians are not rich, that is another falsehood. They don't ever see
cash," Means said, adding that the money goes to investors and also to
the state, which is illegal.
Means said Indians can't even start a business on tribal land without
waiting an average of eight years, and then it is only if the
paperwork isn't lost.
"What you are perpetuating is part of the big lie," Means told the re-enactors.
Means said Indians have 40 percent of the nation's natural resources
on their lands, yet they are kept in concentration camps called
reservations and not allowed to participate.
"This is our river," Means said of the Missouri River running past. He
pointed out the water is being used by farmers, cities and power
plants without the permission of Indian people.
"They don't honor anything. This is an insult to our integrity."
While there is no Bureau of Irish Affairs or Bureau of other groups of
peoples' affairs, the Bureau of Indian Affairs remains an instrument
On Pine Ridge, the average lifespan is 44 years. "We are middle-aged at 22."
As Indians arrived at American Creek Marina bay on the river, there
were three police and Sheriff units waiting at the entrance.
Later, seated in the circle, Hand told the group there was no need for
the police to be sneaking in the bushes and taking photos; they could
do it in the open. "That is what the federal government does."
Hand said white people are always looking for identity and always
taking. He told the re-enactors to find out who they are and live who
Deb White Plume said for Lakota, halting the expedition is a spiritual
act. She reminded the expedition of the diseases brought by the
She presented Clark with a blanket and said, "Small pox. Have it
back." Clark accepted the blanket, a symbol of small pox, cautiously.
Deb White Plume chastised Clark and the other re-enactors for the tone
they addressed the Indians present with. "You are patronizing us, you
are condescending to us." She said their tone of voice said that they
were going on up the river no matter what.
"You hurt us. We don't want you here."
White Plume said she has only two children because she was sterilized
against her wishes. "I have two sons because your government
"Your government fought my family with guns and I survived and I am
here to tell you about it."
She said Lewis and Clark and those that followed "were the original
terrorists on this continent."
Pointing out they were surrounded by law enforcement here, she said,
police always surround Lakota.
She said to the expedition, "You are here with no respect."
White Plume said they could not allow the expedition to continue up
the river to their sacred Sun Dance grounds.
"How can you willingly want to trample on anyone's sacred grounds?"
Thanks to Paul Rafferty at the UN Observer and International Report for publishing this article when it happened. Hoping that someday this publication at the Hague will find funding to publish again. It was completely uncensored, among the first to publish US torture photos in Iraq, and did not censor news from Indian country.
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