By  :  Chase IronEyes

   What does 9-11 mean to Native America? Native America should think carefully about 9-11 and the reasons it happened. It did not happen just because all those dang Muslims are jealous of our “freedoms.” If we consider that a valid explanation we should also consider what our American Empire has done, and continues to do, in the world as possible explanations.
   The whole country should know by now that Natives loyally join the U.S. armed forces at higher proportions than any other population; I have close family members who gave their blood for the U.S. and many friends that are currently serving in American armed forces. So it is with tangible ambivalence that I write this piece. I do not know all the reasons we join the military so eagerly. Maybe it’s our warrior spirit; maybe it’s our poverty levels; maybe it’s our duty to defend our continent; maybe we love America. What I do know is that few of us, especially our leadership, make a conscious effort to understand the American Empire and discern for ourselves whether we should align our national choices and policies in lock step with the U.S. I think it is time some of us start pushing us in different directions.
   I am not advocating for anything “radical.” I am advocating for each of us to use our critical thinking abilities to decide for ourselves whether we should blindly wave the flag of the United States before our own Native national flags. No doubt, this is what all the American institutions train us to do, including the media, laws, school books, literature, fiction, non-fiction, radio, etc. Yet, I know the basic creator-given right to national Native self-determination lives in us and will never die. No doubt Native Americans, who are also proud Americans, will continue to sign up to fight beside other proud Americans. That is not necessarily a bad thing for us as our lives as Native Americans are so inextricably entwined with what makes the American Empire tick that we equate the exercise of our creator-given sovereignty with material success via corporate economics, making more money and creating more jobs for our people.  I cannot realistically envision a world, in the next 50 years, that does not involve Native America aligning itself, to a very significant degree, with what the American Empire is doing in the world; what I am saying is that Native America should think before it acts, regardless of the action.
   Native America should elevate our own individual and collective national esteems with that of other nations of the world community. I am Lakota first, then American, for example. By this, I do not mean to say that we should only strive to succeed by bettering the “quality/standard of life” indicators employed by “developed nations.” It does us no good to do that. Our people and our leaders should be thinking and doing anything necessary to provide for our own food, clothing, shelter, water and energy needs on a local level, preferably from the land we are already on. We do not need to be “rich”; we just need to sustain ourselves. This return to dignity obviously includes practicing our Native languages and instructions. Identifying ourselves as our own people will work wonders for our self-esteem; we do better when we are happy with who we are as indigenous peoples and we have a lot to share with the world.
   Native America needs to start demonstrating to the United States a different way of living on earth, a non-western way; a world without American Idol, Monday Night Football, Playoffs, Masters, Reality TV, Social networks, Commercialized religions, and Consumer-sheepdoms created by corporations to make a profit. Is that really possible? I do not know. But I do know, for my children’s sake, we need a new economy.
   The regimes in place, regardless of who is the head of state, will only change if somebody can make a profit. I have faith that most people are good; I have more faith that more people will keep performing their current functions, as I do, taking us on a path that leads to where no one wants to go. I am hopeful that we, as Indigenous people, will consider the direction of the United States and whether we keep blindly supporting the spread of the military-industrial complex and corporate-consumer way of the world. This way of life only mandates that we keep creating enemies (who are doing the same thing to other people in the world) and devouring human and natural resources. I am not encouraging anti-Americanism; I love the American experiment, to borrow Brother Cornell West’s words. However, I do think Native Americans and Native Nations should lead by example and take our American experiment in new directions. We should be part of the solution, not part of the problem
Hecegla (that is enough)