Friday, May 23, 2008

“Advances With Wolves”

(Photo: REUTERS/Rick Wilking)

Obama Named Honorary Member Of Crow Nation Tribe

This is a small story from last week that I found to be emblematic of the “feel-good” vibe of the Obama campaign in recent days.

CROW AGENCY, Mont., May 19 (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama became an honorary member of an American Indian tribe on Monday and promised a proactive policy to help tribal people if he wins the White House in November.


Obama said he would appoint a Native American adviser to his senior White House staff if he wins and would work on providing better health care and education to reservations across the country.

“Few have been ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans, the first Americans,” Obama said.


The Illinois senator who is leading rival Hillary Clinton in their race for the party's presidential nomination, joined the Crow Nation, a tribe of some 12,100 members in Montana, taking on a native name and honorary parents in a traditional ceremony.

Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president, was “adopted” by Hartford and Mary Black Eagle and given a name which means "one who helps all people of this land."

"I was just adopted into the tribe, so I'm still working on my pronunciation," Obama told a crowd after stumbling over some of the native names.

“I like my new name, Barack Black Eagle,” he said. “That is a good name.”

The pictures that from the event were quite amazing, depicting a clear bonding between Obama and the Crow Nation people as shown below:

(Photo: REUTERS/Rick Wilking)

(Photo: REUTERS/Rick Wilking)

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

What got to me here was his reaching out to the Crow Nation and his direct acknowledgment of this government's long-standing issues with this country's First Peoples. In a previous post, I wrote about “not writing people off”. The shunting away into the shadows of these people is one of America's two great original sins—the other being slavery—and I would like to think that a move like the one Obama is proposing in having a Native American as a direct report in his White House, while going to meet with the affected people is the beginning of a longer, from Albuquerque to Appalachia series of conversations with this country's downtrodden. In comments I stuck it to myself for such “Kum-ba-ya” musings, saying,“Maybe I've been watching too much old Bobby Kennedy footage.“

Maybe I have. But I'm starting to think that may not actually be a bad thing. One of the things that the last 7 1/2 years of smirk-faced curb-kicking of real Americans—not the gout-addled fat cats President Bush likes to joke about as being “his base” has done, is so sour the American people on the tragic folly of what has been, that they seem more willing than they've been since RFK's time to perhaps move towards what should be.

God, let that be the case. Please.

The part that was also smile-worthy for me though was the Tribal elders and the Black Eagle family's bestowing brotherhood and a rather prestigious family name upon him. It's not something they do lightly.

And whether you like him or not, “Barack Black Eagle” is one helluva great moniker to have placed upon you.

Although I can see some “equal time” issues cropping up with this ceremonial re-naming.

A potential complaint from John McCain about a pro-Obama bias is something we shouldn't scoff at.

Let me give you the pre-news report on how that would play out...

CHIRICUAHA APACHE AGENCY, Arizona, May 25 (GNB News) - In a response to Democratic Presidential front-runner Barack Obama's being honorarily inducted into the Montana Crow Nation, Arizona Senator (R) John McCain pushed for similar recognition by First Nations peoples himself.

“My friends” he said , “I think that it is only fair that no biases be shown here and that the grossly unfair press advantages granted to my Democrat opponent be countered for once with just a little consideration for me and my campaign.” Coincidentally, the sky seemed to rumble with that declaration, and several noted a bank of clouds spelling letters that appeared to read as “W.T.F.”

Senator McCain then put on a vintage Chief Wahoo baseball cap and loudly exhorted, “Now let's go Injuns! Whoo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woooooo!

This prompted ribal elder Raymond Blue Fire to look skyward and pronounce to the sprit elders the incantation “Haho wasichu-witke ska! Wonunicun!”, which brought nods of approval from the assembled tribe members. That statement would later be translated for this reporter as “Will you look at this crazy-ass, paleface geezer? Why is he even here?”

But much to Sen. McCain's relief, he was indeed bestowed a series of names by the elders, the first being John Many, Many Tree Rings, then John Mouth Like Geyser. Finding these a bit intemperate, the name finally decided on John Wasichu Schila Zuya Mahpuya, which is roughly translated into...

“John, The Old Man Who Yells At Clouds”.