"WE'RE STILL SEEKING JUSTICE FOR OUR LAND BEING STOLEN"


Tiny - Posted on 23 March 2011

Author: 
Ro Seidelman/PNN Media Mentee with PeopleSkool

 

"Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior, and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible, with the option of return."
    -Article 10 of UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples

On Friday, March 25th, the United Native Americans(UNA) will be demanding reparations and accountability from the people whom they know need to do the repairing: The Hearst family, and their media conglomerate that has made a fortune off of Lakota and Sioux native lands. The UNA's battle with the Hearsts is relavent to the lives of all landless people, especially those who've fallen prey to the Hearst Corp's dirty lies about poor folks.

 I work amongst a small group of folks in POOR Magazine’s Solidarity Board to mobilize peoples with privilege to think about the role of reparations for landless indigenous peoples in poverty like the poverty and indigenous scholars who lead the art, media, land and equity sharing project called Homefulness at POOR Magazine. We are speaking about what exactly reparations are, and about all of the oppressions that Western, Euro-centric wealth directly or indirectly rests upon—i.e., all the reasons that stolen lands and resources need to be restored to indigenous and poor peoples. This includes US Imperialism in the South Pacific, underpayment of employees, stolen indigenous land in Amerikkka, and displacement of urban poor communities. Our work includes talking to our friends and family about why land ownership is central to the processes of colonization and imperialism, and why land ownership should be at the center of reparations for those who have been displaced.

Reparations need to happen to heal the wounds that capitalism has inflicted upon the people the mainstream media indicates are the least important: indigenous communities, people of color, children, people in poverty, disabled people, migrants, elders, and mothers. Daily newspapers are the media through which we consume ideas about what to do and who to be, and tell stories to make us understand where we come from. These newspapers, like the Hearst-owned SF Examiner, tell us stories about what sort of ideal human we should all strive to be. The problem is, most media in wide circulation has been taken over by corporate interests, and ignores atrocities against folks who need their land back, like the Lakota people of the Black Hills, because indigenous folks, we are told, are not the ideal humans we all want to be. "Very few people know about these facts," says Quanah Brightman, a Lakota/Sioux leader of the UNA with whom I spoke. Manipulation of the media is a strategy that kkkolonizers like the Hearsts have used throughout history, and indigenous people at POOR and the UNA are turning the tables with their own people-led media!
 
In 1877, George Hearst, a patriarch of the Hearst newspaper fortune, "purchased" the Homestake Gold Mine in South Dakota. When residents in nearby Deadwood expressed concern over his business partnerships' plans to mine the gigantic lode of gold in the Black Hills, George Hearst founded a local newspaper to influence public opinion on the matter. A local journalist wrote ciritcally on the mining operation in a different newspaper, and was beat up in the streets of Deadwood as a result. The company used media to attack indigenous opposition to the advance of Capitalism into their sacred land.

Just the year before, in 1876, Custer's Last Stand marked a moment of displacement for the Sioux and Lakota folks living in the Black Hills. US Army troops were sent there to drive indigenous folks farther out onto the Great Plains and farther from ancestral lands. Contrary to the fact that "the statute of limitations on the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty is forever," says Quanah Brightman, the US Government supported corporate prospecting in the Black Hills and broke the promise. "What are treaties made for if they're allowed to be broken?," asks Quanah. This is what paved the way for three white miners to "purchase" the Black Hills site from the Indians, and sell it the next year George Hearst and his business associates.

"Where would three white miners get a land title from Indians who couldn't read or write?," asks Lehman Brightman, founding member of the UNA, community elder, and member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. At least $1billion is staked on the answer to Mr. Brightman's question for George Hearst's decendants and the media conglomerate that grew out of his early ventures into journalism in South Dakota and elsewhere. The Homestake Gold Mine is the largest and deepest gold mine in North America, and the Sioux and Lakota people who were kicked out of the Black Hills have not seen any of the profits. The Sioux and Lakota people have not seen any reparations at all in the aftermath of the Hearst Corp's atrocities.

The Hearst family has made a fortune off of similarly slimy acts of lying and betrayal throughout history, at the cost of poor people of color around the world. For the sake of bolstering profit and the interests of the white owning class in Amerikkka, they have combined military, journalistic, and ecological forces over the past century and more, consolidating wealth with the violent ownership they had stolen in the past.

William Randolph Hearst I, George Hearst's son, convinced George to buy the San Francisco Examiner after the family had earned millions from their silver mine in the Comstock Lode in Nevada and the Homestake site. The Hearsts envisioned the Examiner to be the first and only "populist" newspaper in US print. It denounced the corrupt deeds of Gilded Age corporate entities and advocated for fair prices and the security of poor farmers in middle America during the 1880s. However, the Examiner soon developed a character more akin to contemporary FOX News. William Randolph Hearst I found that low prices, color pictures, and big headlines could garner wider circulation of stories that reflected his personal political ambitions. Where the old "populist" kick served the family well in encouraging railroad construction and gold currency (at the expense of native lands in California, Nevada, and the Plains), the new "yellow journalism" trend solidified Hearst's position as a big-business politician, bringing him closer to power in government, while using his newspaper to "paper over" all the exploitation he used to gain it.

William Randolph I used fear-mongering stories to promote the Spanish-American War in 1896. In response to a photogaphers' protests that the photos he was asked to take in Cuba were too controversial and violent, William Randolph I famously replied, "You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war." This man was basically a war profiteer, set to use media to alienate people from Congressional decisions, and to wreak havoc upon the people of Cuba and the Philippines without accountability. Here again, Hearst demonstrated no desire for transparency, and in fact waxed opaque while he used cheap dramatic tactics to gather support for the imperialist war. The power of media to smash native sovereignty in this set of incidents is incontrovertible.

William Randolph Hearst I also bought hundreds of thousands of acres of land in Chihuahua, Mexico, after the indigenous warrior Geronimo lost that territory to Mexican troops in the 1880s. To justify the land claims, the Hearst-owned Examiner simultaneously began to publish racist articles on Mexicans and the Apache resistance. Later, when Pancho Villa looted the Hearsts' giant Chihuahua ranch, the family hired one hundred private security personnel to chase off the revolutionaries. And still later, in the 1930s, Hearst used anti-Mexican images and language in their newspapers to promote the criminalization of marijuana. Here again, the Hearsts exhibited a sound disrespect for indigenous folks by not only stealing their land, but also by criminalizing their political and economic strategies in media. By calling the shots on the media circuit, the Hearsts got away Scotch-free of accountability and any publicly legitmized call for reparations.

In the 1970s, the Hearst family was presented with a unique opportunity to repair some  of the damage their activities have caused, but basically blew it. When Patty Hearst was taken hostage by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) in the Bay Area, the SLA demanded that the Hearsts distribute $70 worth of food to every needy household in California, in return for Patty (which would total $400 million). The Hearsts gave up $6 million in food, but when they realized Patty wasn't going to be released, they closed up their pocket books once again.

In 2001, The Hearst-owned SF Examiner ran a series called "The Mess on Market," which used hygenic discourse to describe how folks in the TL needed to be "swept away," or at least under the rug. According to an archived article from POOR Correspondent Joe Bolden, the stigmatizing images that the Examiner used were a-historical, and strategically caused readers to forget what the neighborhood had contributed to the city, and to its low-income residents in particular. Article after article in the POOR Magazine archive, by Tiny Grey-Garcia, Joseph Bolden, Fiona Gow, and more, describe how the Examiner used words like "mess," "blight," and "clean up" to desribe what was going on in the neighborhood that people so dearly loved and could call their own.

Echoing what happened to Times Square under NY Mayor Giuliani, the Examiner worked in collaboration with the SF Redevelopment Agency and police forces to harrass, intimidate, institutionalize, and incarcerate folks out of the neighborhood and make way for the new Business Improvement District (BID) that Mid-Market is today. What a coincidence that the Hearsts happen to own real estate in that very area. What a coincidence that the Hearsts used the same exact tactics to steal land from the Lakota and Sioux people of the Black Hills; people of the Philippines and Cuba; people of Chihuahua Mexico; and many, many others.

Like the UNA resistors of the 1960s and 1970s, including elder Lehman Brightman; Geronimo, Pancho Villa, the victims of the 1890 Battle of Wounded Knee and Custer's Last Stand; Cuban resistors; the Ohlone people of the San Francisco Bay; and countless others, people who have stood up to Capitalist land interests have been named by the police and the mainstream media as "militants," according to Lehman. Some were exlied, many were killed, and some of the UNA protestors who will be at the March 25th rally and press conference were arrested by the FBI.

Quanah and Lehman Brightman trace their lineage of reistance back through time and across all the victims of US Imperialism. Quanah says, "We support all indigenous people who are trying to reclaim their ancestral lands."

There is so much to be repaired. The Hearsts and others like them have taken so much from people by spreading lies about the beneficial effects of capitalist land grabs. People's ancestral lands have been swept out from under their feet. White families like mine have been told stories by the mainstream media about why this doesn't matter. While folks like me can live securely on our bought/stolen/inherited land, it's obvious that this isn't the whole story: that our comfort rests on the unwilling sacrifices of others, that the Hearsts "basically became rich off the Sioux Nation," says Quanah, just like us privileged colonizers. That needs to be addressed through projects for reparations like Homefulness and the calls to action released by the UNA. Someone lived here before. Someone is trying to cover the fact up. Newspapers like the Hearsts' bloated media empire are making the land safe for capitalism, but Poverty Scholars at POOR Magazine and our allies with the United Native Americans are trying to turn that around with better media, people-led media.

Just like with HUD and the San Francisco Planning Department, the policy-making entities with jurisdiction over the Black Hills are allowing lands sacred and foundational to poor folks of color to go to the corporate hounds. Agencies like the California [Indian] Native American Heritage Commission and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), which claim indigenous leadership, have been "desecrated by their corporate interests" and "obviously, are co-opted," says Quanah. Lehman states that "the Interior Department have never been an advocate" and that "the BIA are supposed to act as a guardian of sort" but have shirked responsibilities in loyalty to US State interests. Native rights actually come under the sway of US law more than any other legal entity, such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Quanah says that "Ohlone ancestors are not being allowed to rest in a proper way" because the Ohlone are recognized by the State of California but not by the Federal government. Therefore, many peoples such as the Ohlone cannot gain control over their sacred lands. At this juncture, for instance, they are trying to build a Safeway supermarket on an Ohlone burial site in Pleasanton.

What has the Hearst Corporation contributed to the struggling folks they have stolen land and culture from? Not much. Lehman says that the Hearst Family "has never tried to make amends with the Sioux Nation." The heir to the Hearst fortune, William Randolph Hearst III, has "not given one red cent to the Sioux Indians. He could have set up a scholarship or something." Upon review of the Hearst Foundation (the NPIC charitable branch of the Hearst Corporation) grants of 2010, some of the biggest recipients of cash include the Stanford University Medical Center ($2.5 million), the Guggenheim Museum ($350 thousand), and other Non Profit Industrial Complex scams. "Office visits are generally discouraged, and except in rare cases, a site visit to the organization is required prior to Board review." Not only does the Hearst Foundation website make it real hard to understand what it's all about and how/why granting decisions are made; it also specifies that organizations with less than $1 million are very unlikely to "qualify" for a grant. In addition, they will not consider grants for organizations outside the United States, or organizations intending to use grant money outside the US.... Does that discount the indigenous folks of North America?

Obviously, the charitable face of the Hearst Corporation is not at all committed to a project of redistributing wealth or repairing stolen land or damage done to communities. Rather, the Foundation gives money to high-profile organizations that serve wealthy cultural and educational interests.

We cannot wait for the charity of folks like the Hearsts, for them to hand out crumbs. United Native Americans is demanding reparations, and we must join them in helping to spur on a widespread movement for the rights of indigenous and landless people. I am proud to be part of a media organization that actively counters what the mainstream media has got to say about the people most vulnerable to imperialistic, militaristic, capitalist, racist State-sponsored action. POOR Magazine and the UNA are taking poor people's voices back to demand land reparations from privileged people like me.

Please join the UNA in protest at the gates of Hearst Castle on Friday, March 25th, and Saturday, March 26th, from 8am to 3pm. 750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452.




Watch the UNA leaders speaking on this action in POOR Magazine's March Community Newsroom session

SCREW the United Nations. They are as big a joke as Obama.

OK, give us all back the money you have made off the US government and your casinos profit, and we'll think about it.

According to Native American custom, individual ownership of land did not exist. However, Native tribes fought repeated wars over tribal hunting territory. So how about this: the U.S. will discuss compensating tribes for lost lands as soon as the tribes determine who owned what, and when, amongst themselves. That should only take about two or three hundred years.

"When Patty Hearst was taken hostage by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) in the Bay Area, the SLA demanded that the Hearsts distribute $70 worth of food to every needy household in California, in return for Patty (which would total $400 million). The Hearsts gave up $6 million in food, but when they realized Patty wasn't going to be released, they closed up their pocket books once again."

Why is it unsurprising that this site supports Muamar Qadaffi?

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