Native American Heritage

“Bias and prejudice are attitudes
to be kept in hand, not attitudes to be voided.”
Charles Curtis

Charles Curtis born on January 25, 1860
died on February 8, 1936

When Senator Kamala Harris was sworn in as Vice President last Wednesday, she made history as the first woman, first African American, and first person of South Asian heritage to become Vice President of the United States. But, she is not the first Vice President of color we’ve had to hold that office. That distinction belongs to Vice President Charles Curtis who was the first and only Native American Vice President sworn into office 92 years ago.

Prejudice against Native Americans was widespread at the time of the Curtis Vice Presidency. His climb to the office attests to his skillful navigation of the political system. It was also a story of how Native Americans viewed their communities and how they were forced to assimilate within a predominately white society and government.

Charles Curtis was born January 25, 1860, in Eugene, Kansas now known as North Topeka, Kansas. His white, Irish, English, Welch and Scots father was from a wealthy Topeka family while his mother was one-eighth each of Kansa Indian, of Osage Indian, of Potawatomi Indian. Curtis was a member of the Kaw Indian Nation which are a federally recognized Native American tribe in Oklahoma and parts of Kansas. They come from the central Midwestern United States. The Kaw tribe have also been known as the People of the South wind or People of water. Most of us don’t realize that the state of Kansas takes its name from the Kaw Indian people.

His mother died when he was just three years old and at the same time his father left to fight in the Civil War for the United States. Due to the lack of parental supervision, Curtis spent time living with both sets of grandparents and for eight years, he lived on the Kaw reservation where his first language was Kanza and French, he later learned English.

By 1873, the Kaw Nation, once millions of acres in area had dwindled to little more than a burial plot and the few 100 surviving Kaw members were being forcibly relocated South, which would become Oklahoma. The majority of the Kaw walked to their new locations which took about 17 days. During this relocation, a great many of the Kaw people got sick, contracted typhoid and even starved to death.

Thirteen year old Charles Curtis was expected to join the migration to Oklahoma but his Indian grandmother wanted what she believed was the best for her young grandson and commanded him to stay in Topeka with his white grandmother and to assimilate. Chances are, had Charles left Topeka for Oklahoma he may not have survived and we might never have heard of him.

Curtis learned to ride Indian ponies bareback and won a reputation as a “good and fearless rider.” His grandfather William Curtis had built a race track, and Charles rode in his first race. He soon became a full-fledged jockey and continued to ride until 1876. A fellow jockey described Curtis as “rather short and wiry” and “just another brush boy jockey,” explaining that eastern riders “called us brush boys because we rode in what would be called the sticks.”

As a winning jockey, Curtis was known throughout Kansas as “The Indian Boy.” His mounts made a lot of money for the local gamblers and prostitutes who bet on him, and he recalled that after one race a madam bought him “a new suit of clothes, boots, hat and all,” and had a new jockey suit made for him; others bought him candy and presents. “I had never been so petted in my life and I liked it,” Curtis reminisced.

After studying law and working for a Topeka attorney for several years, Curtis passed the Kansas bar exam in 1881 and was admitted to the bar. At 34 years old, he married Annie Elizabeth Baird on November 27, 1884. They had three children, Permelia Jeannette Curtis, Henry King Curtis, and Leona Virginia Curtis.

From 1885 to 1889 he was an attorney for Shawnee county in Topeka, Kansas.

His long political career began in 1893 to 1899, with a stint in the U.S. House of Representatives. He then served as a U.S. Senator from Kansas from 1907-13 and again from 1915-29.

During his political career, he served on numerous committees and authored many pieces of legislation. He was a staunch believer in laws and was quoted as saying, “If you don’t want the laws enforced, then don’t vote for me.” He understood that the federal policies he championed were conceived on the Indians’ behalf.

He was one of the early champions of women’s equal rights. Growing up in an Indian nation, he experienced how woman always had leadership roles and were often the backbone of the tribes. Senator Curtis proposed one of the first woman’s equal rights amendments in the country.

One of the largest pieces of legislation he brought forth was also one of the most controversial throughout Indian Country. Curtis devoted much of his attention to his service on the Committee on Indian Affairs, where he drafted the ‘Curtis Act’ in 1898.  Entitled, An Act for the Protection of the People of the Indian Territory and for Other Purposes, the Curtis Act actually overturned many treaty rights by allocating federal lands, abolishing tribal courts, and giving the Interior Department control over mineral leases on Indian lands.

The Act brought along allotments to the Five Civilized Tribes such as the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee Creek, and Seminole who were previously exempt from the General Allotment Act of 1887.

The Curtis Act helped weaken and dissolve Indian Territory tribal governments by abolishing tribal courts and subjecting all persons in the territory to federal law. This meant that there could be no enforcement of tribal laws and that any tribal legislation passed after 1898 had to be approved by the President of the United States.

In 1900, after pushing through Congress legislation that provide for the further allotment of tribal lands in Indian Territory, Curtis wrote to Secretary of the Interior Ethan Allen Hitchcock and proudly proclaimed, “I have done more to secure legislation for the Indian Territory than all others put together since the 54th Congress of 1896.”

Meanwhile, he and his wife had always provided a home in Topeka for his paternal sister Dolly Curtis. So, when his wife died of an undisclosed cause in 1924, Dolly took over the care of his home and later assisted him with his social calendar during his vice presidency.

Curtis sought the presidential nomination in 1928 and hoped a deadlocked convention would allow him to win as a dark horse candidate. However, Herbert Hoover won the nomination and then offered the VP nomination to Curtis, hoping that the senator from Kansas would balance the ticket and help Hoover overcome his unpopularity in farm states.

Truth be told, Charles Curtis had wanted to be President, but the rest of the nominating committee didn’t agree. He was on the first ballot for the presidency but did not have enough ballots, so he agreed to run as the Vice President instead for Herbert Hoover. Hoover easily won the presidential election with a margin of more than six million votes.

With the election of Hoover-Curtis, there were several firsts in the White House. One was that Curtis became the first unmarried Vice President during his entire time in office as well as the first Native American.  Another first was, Curtis arranged for a Native American jazz band to perform at the 1929 Presidential Inauguration.

The Hoover and Curtis association was one of political convenience, and prolonged hard feelings from their controversial battle for the 1928 nomination did little to promote a functional relationship. As VP, he was rarely consulted and had a distant relationship with Hoover. Curtis attended a few cabinet meetings, but as a whole did not significantly affect policy during his tenure.

Four years later, after the start of the 1929 Great Depression, the Hoover-Curtis ticket was badly defeated by the Democratic candidates, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Nance Garner. Voters felt that both Hoover and Curtis had caused the depression, so the people voted for another Presidential team.

After losing the 1932 election, Curtis retired from public life and practiced law in Washington, D.C.  He died of a heart attack at age 76, in the morning hours, alone at home on February 8, 1936.

Many Native Americans today say a great deal of Curtis’ policies were a disaster for their nations. Although Curtis tried his best for his Native people, he was concerned with issues like the education and health of Native American people. At the time, Curtis truly believed he was helping his people. However, in his later years, it has been said he regretted in the end, being an assimilationist. If he were alive today, he would most likely see how his policies had a very negative effect on Native Americans.

Curtis never forgot his Indian heritage. His major concerns were always, Indian rights, farmer’s rights, women’s rights as well as children’s rights. These concerns stayed with him throughout his lifetime. The policies and issues he pursued for Native Americans in Congress and as Vice President changed the world for the better and for some the worst. Still, he will be remembered in a good way, as the first Vice President of Native American heritage.

Shine On

Sowing Seeds

 “Keep on sowing your seed.
For you never know
which will grow. 
Perhaps it all will.”
Albert Einstein

Most of my fellow Blogaholics are too young to remember one of this countries scariest early domestic terrorist and dangerous white supremacist, Charles Manson.

Manson was an American criminal and cult leader. Early in 1967, he formed what became known as the “Manson Family”, a quasi-commune based in California. His followers, not him personally, committed a series of nine murders in 1969. The motive for the murders was intended to start a race war.

Another well-known supremacist was leader, David Eden Lane. In March 1985 Lane was arrested in Winston-Salem, N.C., and charged with conspiracy and racketeering, along with 22 other members of The Order, a white supremacist terrorist organization also known as The Silent Brotherhood, or Bruders Schweigen. The charges were for The Order’s 1984 machine-gun assassination of a Jewish talk radio host in Denver, Alan Berg, and its robbery of $3.6 million from an armored car in Ukiah, Calif.

Lane was caught only after the FBI arrested Order member Tom Martinez, who became an informant as part of his plea bargain. This was the first step in the FBI takedown, known as “Operation Clean Sweep,” that landed most members of The Order in prison and effectively ended the organization’s criminal activities.

Lane was additionally accused in 1987, of violating Berg’s civil rights by helping to assassinate him, a federal charge. Lane was also charged with sedition, conspiracy and civil rights violations in what was widely known as the “Fort Smith  sedition trial.” Thirteen other prominent white supremacists were also charged in a conspiracy to overthrow the government that allegedly ran between July 1983 and March 1985.

While both Manson and Lane did not pull the trigger, prosecutors said they played a large role in the planning of the murders they had committed by their followers.

White supremacy is not new to our nation. It has dominated in this country both before and after the American Civil War and continues today. Since the first white supremacist group, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in 1865, the United States has an expansive list of the different types of racial elitist groups operating in the U.S.

Some academics argue that outcomes from the 2016 United States Presidential Election reflect ongoing challenges with white supremacy. As of 2018, there are over 600 white supremacy organizations recorded in this country.

Christopher A. Wray, the head of the FBI said on July 23, 2019 at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that the agency had made around 100 domestic terrorism arrests since October 1, 2018, and that the majority of them were connected in some way with white supremacy. 

In an October 2020 assessment by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf declared that white supremacist violent extremists “have been exceptionally lethal in their abhorrent, targeted attacks in recent years.”

What we witnessed on January 6th is laden with white supremacists. Rioters wearing shirts with, “Camp Auschwitz and 6MWNE” which is a cry from racists, 6 MILLION DEAD JEWS WAS NOT ENOUGH. Hats and banners with these slogans are proof of white supremacists.

Not all Republicans and Trump supporters are white supremacist. In my point of view, all of the violent MAGA people at the capital attack are full blown white supremacists. These MAGA people stated clearly by carrying their confederate flags and confirming their white supremacy wearing proudly their merchandise with racists slogans.

Now, Republicans such as Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) were among the politicians to spread the baseless conspiracy theory as well as their leader President Trump are attempting to pin the blame on Antifa and other radical organizations. The FBI has stated emphatically that there is NO EVIDENCE Antifa was involved in the Capital Attacks.

For centuries, leaders around the world have affirmed, the swiftest way to bring down a country is to divide the country. The act of dividing potential allies and communities who could come together to rise up is one of the oldest and most effective tricks in the book. A key tool for countering such tactics is learning from the stories of how previous organizations and coalitions have avoided the pitfalls of divide and conquer.

Divide and conquer is a strategy used by the oppressors to break down the relationships and unity between subjugated (often racial) groups struggling for justice, freedom, and liberation, in order to maintain the status quo.

Often tactics used to divide and conquer is creating a narrative that blames each group for the other group’s problems. This works to foster mistrust amongst groups and to cloud the systematic inequalities of white supremacy, capitalism, and patriarchy.

Bribery is another tactic. This works to align some groups with the elite over other subjugated groups. The resources offered are never close to the original goals of the movement.

While all this violence and chaos ensues in the country, Trump continues to do what he has done since elected, which is to try to divide and conquer Americans for cynical gain. It’s all about winning, and everything else be damned.  Over the past five years, he has sown the seeds of racism, xenophobia, and religious bigotry. Everybody knows it, even his most staunch supporters who showed up at his January 6th political event to provoke violence. As long as he is standing in front of his adoring followers, where he can spew his special kind of wink and nod, dog whistle, cultural political rhetoric, he is fine.

I challenge our Republican representatives to name one thing Trump has done to unite the country. 

There is no denying, Trump has laid bare to all of us, who and what he embodies. Trump has yet to denounce what his MAGA people did January 6th. Trump may not have pulled the trigger that killed people during the raid on the Capital, he may not have used exact words to attack the Capital, but his support to MAGA people was loud and clear. To ensue violence and stop the confirmation of our election of our new president because in his words, it was stolen from him.

Trump has been placing a wedge between this country for over five years. A wedge that divides republicans from democrats. That divides race and religion and most importantly a wedge that attempted to divide our beliefs in our democratic society.

Ironically, Tuesday Trump held a political rally in Alamo, Texas to celebrate the “Trump Wall” he created. He bragged how successful his presidency was in building this wall.

I find it extremely telling that Trump chose his wall as his legacy. A wall to divide people. How ironic it is that days before he leaves office we have a new wall. A wall around all of our Capital buildings to protect our democracy not from foreign extremists but from homeland radicals.

Trump must be held accountable for what he has done to this country. Just like Manson and Lane, he has done damage without physically causing violence, deaths, division and threatening our democracy, but by sowing seeds.

 Shine On

Heal and Recover

“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” 
Christopher Reeve

On Monday morning I watched the ESPN news from our Capital. Washington DC Mayor, Muriel Elizabeth Bowser answered questions regarding the attempted take-over of the capital. She sadly reported how many of the capital police officers that had served our nation in the war in Iraq had stated they were more fearful of their lives on January 6th then when serving in Iraq. These veterans also told of their experiences of protests in other countries and never believed they would see similar violence in our country by its own people.

Men carrying weapons and zip ties into our Capital are not there to take friendly selfies of the Capital with our representatives.

Our previous Republican and Democratic President’s condone Trump and his incitement to cause violence. I can’t comprehend how anyone believes what these people did when storming, killing and violently attempting to take-over our capital was okay.

Later this morning, to add more salt to the wound, I read that some House Republicans sent essentially an extortion letter to Joe Biden asking him to get Nancy Pelosi to back off. “A presidential impeachment should not occur in the heat of the moment, but rather after great deliberation,” they said. Adding that “impeachment would undermine Biden’s priority of unifying Americans, and would be a further distraction to our nation at a time when millions of our fellow citizens are hurting because of the pandemic and the economic fallout.”

Vice President Pence late Tuesday evening, stated in a letter to Pelosi that he would not invoke the 25th Amendment. He does not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution.

Pence continued to say he “did not yield to pressure to exert power beyond my constitutional authority to determine the outcome of the election” last week, referring to when he oversaw the congressional tally of Electoral College ballots. Mr. Trump had falsely claimed that Pence had the power to reject Electoral College results from certain states.

“I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our Nation,” Pence said.

He also wrote, “the country needed to focus on the orderly transition of power and healing as a nation in the wake of last week’s attacks. I urge you and every member of Congress to avoid actions that would further divide and inflame the passions of the moment.”

My point of view is, Vice President Pence’s decision is no surprise. House Representatives and especially Trump, don’t give a rat’s ass about the people. All they care about is legal consequences from their actions and possible jail time.

As more and more large business pull their PAC money from Republicans and Trump affiliates, this will highly influence the Republicans decision to vote to remove the President from office. These two issues of jail time and money tells a great deal about our Representatives.

Our government leaders should be less concerned about the timing and more about their commitment to convicting a president who has lied about voter fraud, attempted to intimate and coerce government officials to flip the vote and incited violence which caused deaths. I want to believe that these Republicans have more to offer the republic than disloyalty, sabotage and treason.

My hope is that we can have open discussions without violence and hate. This country has a great deal of healing to take place. However, I believe without accountability for the actions from the perpetrators and our leaders who fed the fire of January 6th, there will be no healing. Healing not only from the Coronavirus but from the inflammation caused by lies, mistrusts and conspiracy theories.

We have been a dysfunctional family of people for a very long time. But, just like any dysfunctional person, we must be honest and we must admit we are dysfunctional before we can heal and recover.

Shine On

Coup d’état

“Most of wars or military coups or
invasions are done in the name
of democracy against democracy.”
Eduardo Galeano

After Wednesday’s attempt by gansta-Trump and his gang members to perform a coup d’état, I ask myself, how did this happen? I’m shocked, but not really that surprised.

On numerous occasions we were warned by Mary Trump about the possible attempts that her uncle would partake to stay as President. We ignored all the telltale signs of his maniacal personality and mental instability. Point of fact, we have been living in Trump’s world for the last four years.

As I watched the takeover of the Capital Building, I felt like I was watching a 2021 bad version of Diehard the movie. But, there was one thought that crossed my mind as I watched the violence unfold and witnessed government officials huddled and petrified on the floor of the Senate room. How apropos that some of these representatives, who had looked away at the violence when 20 first-graders were shot to pieces at Sandy Hook Elementary School, were now experiencing what thousands of our children felt when they were in lockdown after an active shooter was at their school.

These same representatives looked away from the Coronavirus which has killed over 373,584 US citizens as of January 7, 2021. They looked away when it came to helping Americans who lost family members, medical insurance and jobs. They looked away when BLM supporters marched throughout the country for equality. They looked away from senseless violence and death in this country.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
vetos 2019 bill to expand background
checks for gun purchases.

For the last five years, Trump has endorsed violence against political enemies and to anyone who was not as he perceived, on his side. In each case, his Republicans/followers never blamed Trump for his insidious behavior. Instead, they took refuge using the Second Amendment. When Trump inspired violence would  occur, these same Republicans would go on to say, this is the price of our freedom. Truth be told, many of Trump’s government appointees, celebrity backers and business associates are guilty of giving oxygen to his fire.

It’s a well-known fact, that people never change until they experience something personal to themselves. It took a coup d’état by our own President and his gangster followers to wake people up. What’s disturbing, is some still support the President as I write this post.

While we all watched in horror Wednesday, we were not the only ones watching. The entire world was watching along with us. As a country and as its people, we have humiliated and embarrassed ourselves, to say the least, by what this country has become. Let’s face it people, this is us. This is America. This is what we’ve become. But, I believe we have reached that tipping point where change for the better begins.

January 6, 2021s insurgence was an absolute first for this country in over two centuries. We cannot cast-off that it was a legitimate attempt to overthrow our democratic voting system.

It all began after news broke that the two democratic candidates had won the Senate runoff races in Georgia. Early Wednesday morning after that news broke, a pro-Trump rally in front of the White House by Trump and his supporters was taking place. Trump incited his followers to march to the Capital in protest. Meanwhile, as Vice President Pence was presiding in the chamber over the electoral final count, Trump follower’s broke windows and stormed the Capital, causing numerous deaths, damage, violence as well as terrorizing police. These rioters were brazened enough to actually break into the Senate chambers, congressional members offices, while taking selfies and stealing laptops, government documents and souvenirs. The aftermath left five people dead and many injured, mostly law enforcement.

The overall scene from yesterday, was a legitimate coup attempt by Trump and his supporters. The power of the Presidency is the power to inspire and/or to incite. There is no denying that Trump has been inciting violence with his lies and talk of conspiracy about the 2020 election process. The buck begins and ends with Trump and his Republican enablers. Not to mention the police who fled the scene when the rioters broke into the Capital building. All these people should be punished and  held accountable for their actions and lack of actions.

The big question today is, what is going to be done to these criminals and most importantly their leader, President Trump?

There is talk by our leaders both democrats and some republicans, to immediately remove Trump from office using the 25th Amendment or by impeachment. He only has 12 more days in office. But, as we’ve seen in the past, he can do a great deal of damage to this country in less than 24 hours.

In this Blogaholic’s point of view, I say enough is enough, is enough! To prevent Trump from inflicting any more deaths and damage to this country, we must not only remove him from office, but also try him as a criminal. This country has sufficient evidence on his blood-stained hands to convict him as well as remove his title as the 45th President.

The US Law reads: For a seditious conspiracy or Coup d’état charge to be affected, a crime need only be planned if two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

Twenty years sounds like an extremely tolerant sentence for Trump and his gang members. Some countries would behead a leader who instigated such a Coup d’état.

Shine On

NOTE: I’m not a big fan of Mary Trump, but her insights into her Uncle Donald are chilling.

Right and Wrong

“All mine!” Yertle cried.
“Oh, the things I now rule!
I’m the king of a cow!
And I’m the king of a mule!
I’m the king of a house!
And, what’s more, beyond that.
I’m the king of a blueberry bush and a cat!
I’m Yertle the Turtle!
Oh, marvelous me!
For I am the ruler of all that I see!”
Yertle the Turtle

If you follow my blog, you know I’m a fan of Dr. Seuss. His stories are not only entertaining but also teach morality.

Recently I read a thesis on Dr. Seuss written by a young woman. She wrote about how Dr. Seuss stories always have a political theme and because of this, his stories are not suitable to read to young children. She believes that young children are not smart enough to understand these political themes.

This young college student obviously does not have children. Unfortunately, because I don’t know how to contact this woman, I am unable to tell her how wrong she is.

When my son was very young I would read to him Yertle the Turtle, his favorite bedtime story. Before he could walk, he would crawl over to his bookcase in his room and drag this large green book to me. With little talking he could do, he would ask me to read this story. Up until he was two or three years of age, I must have read this book to my son well over 100s of times.

Yertle the Turtle made such an impact on my son, that I believe his values, his political beliefs and his compassion for the difference between right and wrong are due to this simple story, Yertle the Turtle.

If you are a young parent, and you wish to teach your child about standing up for their self, about compassion for every living thing, bullying, and yes a little about politics and power, then you should be reading this book to your child.

Yertle the Turtle and all of Dr. Seuss books are not just entertaining to read out loud, but they are a great way to teach our children the difference between right and wrong.

Shine On