I want to first say thank you--thank you for taking the time and making the commitment to come to this place--but thank you mostly for remembering. Sometimes I sit in this cage and I find myself wondering if anyone really remembers. Many days, remembering is all my mind allows me to do. So, again, thank you. Thank you for bearing witness and being a part of a living memory.
But maybe the most important thing I'd like to say is don't forget. Not ever.
You must be the historians who keep this lesson alive because this story isn't about one day, one event, one person, or even one lifetime. This is a story that goes all the way back to the day a misguided fool, whose name I won't even mention, led his troops in an attack on innocent people at the Greasy Grass, and in the process go himself and over two hundred of his troopers killed. And while the victors on that day had no choice but to defend themselves, we have been the victims of a genocidal revenge that continues until this very moment. So don't forget. Not ever.
It is vengeance that preoccupies the mind of the colonizer. It is this fervor to show us who is boss that led to the massacre at Wounded Knee, the theft of the Black Hills, the establishment of boarding schools, and the criminalization of our languages and traditional ways. It is vengeance that armed the GOON squads, killed our leaders, and surrounded our people at Wounded Knee again in 1973. Revenge is why they today prosecute Indian people for the crimes they know the government committed during their murderous campaigns of the last generation. Vengeance is what killed Joe Stuntz, Anna Mae Aquash, Buddy Lamont and so many others. Getting even is what keeps me in prison. So don't forget. Not ever.
All of these events are bound together, interrelated and interdependent. And quite clearly the lesson they intend for us to learn is don't defend yourselves. Don't stand up for what is right. Don't think for yourselves. Don't choose to be who you are. Don't remember your ancestors. Don't live in defense of the Earth. Don't you do it! Don't even think about it. If you do, this government--this mindset of control--will unleash an attack so vast it will even seek to destroy our genetic memories. So don't forget. Not ever. In days past, some among our people were induced to become "scouts". For whatever reasons, these individuals made possible the treacherous campaigns that resulted in the deaths of countless innocent people. These days--sadly--there are still these types amongst us. The government preys on the weaknesses of these people, inducing them to turn against the rest of us. The government uses this treachery to cover up state sanctioned murder and terrorism. They do this and then tell us that what we remember didn't really happen at all, as though memory or truth is something to be shaped and molded to fit a preconceived outcome. So don't forget. Not ever.
We gather today after decades and generations of blood and trauma.
We gather in defiance.
And we remember.
We remember not just one day or one event, because remembering what occurred on June 25 or June 26--or any particular date--is important, but not as important as an understanding of the ongoing campaign of colonization. This is a continuing human drama of slaughter and uncontrollable blood lust and we're still here, engaged in our running defense; praying for balance, peace and justice; and trying to make some sense of it all. Perhaps, in the face of such a menace, the most important thing we can do is remember. So teach your children. Pass this knowledge. Don't forget. Not ever.
Remembering is resisting and, if we remember, then we'll be free one day. Free of their mindset. Free of their theft. Free of their guns and their bombs. Free of their cages. Free to be who we are. And free of their fear. That's the truest freedom of all and true freedom is what this is really all about, not the illusion of freedom they offer us . So don't forget. Not ever.
I am JAHnessa and I am praying for Leonard Peltier's release. He is an innocent man that is still in prison even though "the bullets did not match the gun".
Remember the case against OJ Simpson and the million dollar team of Lawyers that said "If it doesn't fit you must acquit"? Well Leonard Peltier did not have a million dollar team on his side and that translated into unequal justice.